J.P. Patches, Requiescat in Pace

J.P. Patches, Requiescat in Pace July 23, 2012

For Western Washingtonians of a certain age, this is like an ax blow to the roots, like waking up and finding the Space Needle not there any more. J.P. has been a fixture of Seattle culture since time and forever (for us Boomers). He brought joy to the world, the only clown who did not give me the creeps. I had the strange experience of passing his car on the freeway down by Boeing Field once about 30 years ago. And I used to park in his parking space at KIRO on weekends when I was going to the Seattle Center. He will be sorely missed. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace through Christ our Lord, amen.

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  • antigon

    Speaking of Requiescats, the great Alexander Cockburn died this weekend. Though a hard lefty of sorts, he had a ruthless perception uncongenial to the banalities. For example:

    “But what is a conservative meant to think? Since the major preoccupation of liberals for 30 years has been the right to kill embryos, why should they not be suspect in their intentions toward those gasping in the thin air of senility? There is a strong eugenic thread to American progressivism, most horribly expressed in its very successful campaign across much of the twentieth century to sterilize “imbeciles.” Abortion is now widening in its function as a eugenic device. Women in their 40s take fertility drugs, then abort the inconvenient twins, triplets or quadruplets when they show up on the scan.

    In 1972, a year before the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion on demand nationwide, virtually all children with trisomy 21, or Down syndrome, were born. Less than a decade later, with the widespread availability of pre-natal genetic testing, as many as 90 percent of women whose babies were pre-natally diagnosed with the genetic condition chose to abort the child.

    One survey of 499 primary care physicians treating women carrying these babies, however, indicated that only 4 percent actively encourage women to bring Down syndrome babies to term. A story on the CNS News Service last year quoted Dr. Will Johnston, president of Canadian Physicians for Life, reacted to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) pre-natal testing endorsement as another step toward eugenics.“The progress of eugenic abortion into the heart of our society is a classic example of “mission creep,’ ” Johnson said. “In the 1960s, we were told that legal abortion would be a rare tragic act in cases of exceptional hardship. In the ’70s abortion began to be both decried and accepted as birth control. In the ’80s respected geneticists pointed out that it was cheaper to hunt for and abort Down’s babies than to raise them. By the ’90s that observation had been widely put into action. Now we are refining and extending our eugenic vision, with new tests and abortion as our central tools.”

    So if we have mission creep in the opening round, what’s to persuade people that there won’t be mission creep at the other and the kindly official discussing living wills won’t tiptoe out of the ward and tell the hospital that the old fellow he’s just conferred with is ripe to meet his maker. The author of the provision – now dropped – in the health bill before Congress – for “end of life” counseling was Democratic Rep Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. Blumenauer has denounced the “death panel” description as a “terrible falsehood.” Maybe so. But Blumenauer is hot for “death with dignity”, as a speech he made in Congress in 2000 makes clear: “A major concern [in an attempted revision of the Balanced Budget Act]is a provision that would criminalize decisions doctors make on pain management for the most seriously ill and overturn Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. Oregonians have twice voted to support the assisted suicide law. H.R. 2614 not only is an attack on the Democratic process, but also threatens to pain management. There is evidence that doctors are increasingly hesitant to prescribe pain medications to terminally ill patients for fear of being accused of unlawfully assisting a suicide. The on-going attempts by Congress to criminalize the doctor-patient relationship are a threat to pain management in all fifty states.”

    Cockburn had an independence of mind, & brilliance of expression, with few equals (Raimondo & Greenwald come to mind, tho the latter is an awful writer).

    And I remember, but alas can’t find, a mildly (& rare) hysterical piece Cockburn once wrote insisting his friend Graham Greene died no longer believing in an afterlife. Am skeptical as to Greene, but noted Cockburn’s hopeful concern about it.

    A prayer thus, that his hope through Grace became more real at the end, & won mercy for his sins.

  • antigon

    Apologies, but there’s also this (from Raimondo!):

    “The death of Alexander Cockburn… [whose] populist brand of anarcho-syndicalism — the leftist equivalent of “crunchy conservatism” — set him apart from the bullhorn-shouters and sloganeering ideologues of the haute cuisine Left. His passing, after a two-year battle against cancer, marks nearly the end of what remained vital and interesting about the American left in this country. There is simply no one even remotely like him. As Jesse Walker described his first encounter with Cockburn’s prose: “I had never read anything like this before.
    What’s particularly poignant about his passing is that we’ll never read anything even remotely like it again. With his death, a certain current in American politics, with its roots on the left, has lost its only remaining voice…He wrote, not with the pen of an ideologue, but with an eye to the telling detail, the humorous aside, that made his prose stand out from the usual automatic writing that substitutes for real political commentary…Cockburn’s was almost a lone voice on the left raised against the centralizing, dehumanizing, “humanitarian” war-making trends of modern liberalism.

  • antigon

    Still more apologies (I think), but you should like this one Mr. Shea, from Cockburn

    “While the world’s climate is on a warming trend, there is zero evidence that the rise in CO2 levels has anthropogenic origins…In magazine articles and essays I have described in fairly considerable detail, with input from the scientist Martin Hertzberg, that you can account for the current warming by a number of well-known factors – to do with the elliptical course of the Earth in its relationship to the sun, the axis of the Earth in the current period, and possibly the influence of solar flares. There have been similar warming cycles in the past, such as the medieval warming period, when the warming levels were considerably higher than they are now.”

    …In truth, environmental catastrophism will, in fact it already has, play into the hands of sinister-as-always corporate interests…leading to a re-emphasis of the powers of the advanced industrial world, through its various trade mechanisms, to penalise Third World countries…[&] alarmism about population explosion is being revisited through the climate issue. Population alarmism goes back as far as Malthus, of course; and in the environmental movement there has always been a very sinister strain of Malthusianism.

    In today’s political climate, it has become fairly dangerous for a young scientist or professor to step up and say: ‘This is all nonsense.’ It is increasingly difficult to challenge the global warming consensus, on either a scientific or a political level. Academies can be incredibly cowardly institutions, and if one of their employees was to question the discussion of climate change he or she would be pulled to one side and told: ‘You’re threatening our funding and reputation – do you really want to do that?’ I don’t think we should underestimate the impact that kind of informal pressure can have on people’s willingness to think thoroughly and speak openly.

    One way in which critics are silenced is through the accusation that they are ignoring ‘peer-reviewed science’. Yet oftentimes, peer review is a nonsense. As anyone who has ever put his nose inside a university will know, peer review is usually a mode of excluding the unexpected, the unpredictable and the unrespectable, and forming a mutually back-scratching circle. The history of peer review and how it developed is not a pretty sight. Through the process of peer review, of certain papers being nodded through by experts and other papers being given a red cross, the controllers of the major scientific journals can include what they like and exclude what they don’t like. Peer review is frequently a way of controlling debate, even curtailing it. Many people who fall back on peer-reviewed science seem afraid to have out the intellectual argument.

    I think people have had enough of peer-reviewed science and experts telling them what they can and cannot think and say about climate change. Climate catastrophism, the impact it is having on people’s lives and on debate, can only really be challenged through rigorous open discussion and through a ‘battle of ideas’…”

  • Therese Z

    Antigon, bless your heart, get your own blog.

    Do today’s children have a character like J.P.Patches in their lives? A real person who, in makeup or not, was a part of their daily childhood and remembered by an age group en masse?

    In Chicago, we had Ray Rayner and Frazier Thomas and Bozo, of course.

    Too many channels have ruined this collective memory, I fear.

  • Big Tex

    My kids had a brief time with JP Patches when he would come to the Everett Sausage Festival and perform. They loved his show, and would not miss it for the world. It was great to see him interact with a new generation, making new fans young and old. May God grant him eternal rest.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Officer Don and the Popeye Club here in the Southeast. He went on to become a media mogul, which is weird I think. Well, anyway…


    In honor of JP, Ray and Don.

  • Scott E

    J.P. Patches is one of those characters who cannot really be fully explained to those from outside this area who did not grow up with him. As one who has lived here for almost 30 years, I know a lot of people who grew up with J.P. and they have tried to explain the special attraction that they have for the character, but it is so unlike anything from anywhere else that it is impossible. However, I see the underlying attitude of people in this region and I can’t help but think that there is a particular world view that is influenced by this unique childhood experience. A certain innocent irreverence (meant in the best of ways) that exists here and nowhere else. There seems to be a certain bond among people here that sets them apart from us newcomers. It seems you are not truly a Seattleite unless you were a Patches Pal, and I look on those who were with a certain sense of envy. I met Chris Wedes a few years ago when he came to my business because we made a J.P. Patches action figure. The first time, he came in full costume for the photo shoot. He came back a few weeks later without costume to see the proof sample of the figure and sign legal documents, etc. At that time he sat down with us and spent most of the afternoon telling stories. And did he have stories to tell! Many of them were R-rated (which should really be no surprise to those who new him), and he had us laughing so hard we could hardly breath. He was quite an entertainer, and those here in the upper lefthand corner will miss him tremendously.

  • Ted Seeber

    I felt the same way about Ramblin’ Rod about 10 years ago. In honor of him, at the end of the year I’m going to start collecting buttons on my Knight of the Year jacket my previous council bought for me.

    • Ramblin’ Rod!! I loved Ramblin’ Rod on Portland’s KPTV Channel 12 (an independent station until Fox bought them in the ’90s) – he’s the one responsible for my continuing love of Warner Bros. cartoons. Was it really 10 years ago he passed away? Gosh – I miss him.

  • Elaine S.

    “In Chicago, we had Ray Rayner and Frazier Thomas and Bozo, of course.”
    Ah yes… it was from regular airings of “The Song of Bernadette” on Frazier Thomas’ “Family Classics” Sunday afternoon movie that I learned about St. Bernadette and the apparition at Lourdes. And it was from the Ray Rayner Show (weekday mornings before school) that I learned The Irish Rovers’ “Unicorn Song” with the “green alligators and long-necked geese….” As for Bozo, at one time his show was so popular that parents would apply for tickets before their children were born, in hopes of getting them on the show by the time they were school age!
    Even some smaller stations in downstate Illinois had shows like Captain Jinks and Salty Sam (Ch. 25, Peoria) and Captain Ernie’s Showboat (Ch. 6, Quad Cities). These shows were nautically themed because they emanated from river towns. Yes, too many channels and too much media consolidation has “ruined this collective memory” for later generations, I fear.

  • trespinos

    Indeed, RIP, J.P. Patches. Although a Seattle native, a little older than Mark, I hardly knew ye. Instead, Hopalong Cassidy, Buffalo Bob and Kukla, Fran and Ollie were the cynosures of my beginning TV years. J.P. Patches somehow fell in with Captain Kangaroo and the soft-spoken guy who was always putting on and taking off his cardigan as non-influences on my viewing psyche.

    • Ted Seeber

      Mr Rogers? You never watched Fred Rogers? I mean, I know he was a Protestant- but he was a PBS staple. The Trolley is the reason I’m still into Model Trains to this day!

  • bob

    I knew a woman who worked in the Edmonds bank he used. He was the only person she was aware of who could deposit checks made to his actual name as well as someone named J. P. Patches. No questions at all, business as usual. He was the real thing, Paul Bunyan in person. Don’t forget his great partner in the biz, Bob Newman. A great personality.

  • Cantorboy

    The votes for “Mr. Seattle” are in.
    First place: J.P. Patches (RIP)
    (Distant) Second: Dave Niehaus, beloved iconic baseball announcer for the Mariners. (RIP)
    Third: ….can’t think of anybody…
    It’s true; if you didn’t grow up here in the 60’s and 70’s you won’t get it and it’s also no use trying to explain it to you.