Jack Phillips Lowe

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Multiple Ironies

Today is August 24, 2012.
It would’ve been the 68th birthday of Christine Chubbuck,Artwork by Gene McCormick
a TV newscaster from Sarasota, Florida.
I say “would’ve been,” because Christine isn’t here to see it.

On July 15, 1974, one month before her 30th birthday,
the attractive brunette opened her daily morning talk show
with the following announcement:
“And now, in keeping with Channel 40’s policy of always
bringing you the latest in blood and guts, in living color,
you’re about to see another first---an attempted suicide.”
Christine proceeded to reach under her desk,
pull out a .38-caliber revolver and
press the muzzle of the gun behind her right ear.
Staring directly into the lens,
she squeezed the trigger and ended her life.
The camera caught it all.

Today, I log on to a website called findagrave.com.
It’s allegedly dedicated to preserving the memories
of deceased celebrities by posting photos
of the notables and their gravesites.
Each celeb’s webpage also features a “guestbook”
on which surfers can post bouquets of virtual flowers
and express their sympathies---
as if the dead had Internet access.

Christine Chubbuck’s guestbook is chockfull
of birthday, Christmas and Valentine greetings
going back for several years.
Accompanying those are heartfelt notes
from people across the world, who say
they wish they could’ve known Christine.
Several men left messages expressing regret
for missing the chance to “know” Christine
in the biblical sense.

In the wake of her death, Christine’s mother sadly admitted
that her daughter had died a virgin,
and that outside of her seemingly glamorous job,
Christine lived the life of a recluse, trying but failing
to establish any meaningful relationship
beyond her immediate family.

Nearly 40 years later, this lonely, depressed
and tragically confused woman has become
an urban legend: the subject of countless blogs
and You Tube videos.  The “author” of a popular
Twitter account, a lauded icon for feminists
and journalism purists, the recipient of virtual bouquets
from “friends” all over the world.

This is a story of multiple ironies.
The biggest of them is this:
on what would’ve been her 68th birthday,
Christine Chubbuck has achieved nearly everything she wanted in life.
All she had to do was die.


Jack Phillips Lowe has most recently contributed poems to Barbaric Yawp, Clark Street Review and Nerve Cowboy. A native Chicagoan, Lowe currently resides in Addison, IL, an enchanted kingdom of foreclosed houses & fast food restaurants. http://pariahtales.blogspot.com