Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Hidden Hand

With President Dan Bernstine leaving Portland State it made me reminisce about working in the President's office back when I was employed in University Relations . Theoretically I worked for the Development Office which was housed in the same space, but I ended up helping out with the President's staff on tech stuff and other odds and ends of things. I was very fortunate to work with Dan, as he preferred to be called, and have the opportunity to see someone in action who quietly made things happen at PSU, and successfully completed a $150 million dollar capital campaign.

One of the interesting aspects of working there, especially at the reception desk, was dealing with some of the plain crazy people who would come in and want to meet with the president for a variety of reasons. One guy came in and sat and talked to his invisible friend for at least half an hour while he waited for a non-existant appointment. We also had a lot of people come in who wanted us to publish their "manuscripts" which included handwritten rants and carefully typed conspiracy theories.

Our favorite guy came in quite a few times. His name was Phillip and he had a head shaped like a potato. His "manuscript" that he'd been working on for years was called "The Hidden Hand." The title came from a 1942's B-movie, but had absolutely nothing to do with the content. It had a lot to do with christian homeless shelters, churchs, Satan's Pets, and Janet Beldon's Face!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (his punctuation). There were a lot of comments about 20' tall bears, especially polar bears, attacking at a church and various other places where polar bears hang out, like the lobby of an apartment building. He had a lot of biblical quotes, and mentions of demons, satan, the saviour, etc. He originally started out typing this 45 page tome and then I think got frustrated after the fifth page and started writing in freehand. You could tell his mood by how sporatic and crazed the writing would get in certain sections.

Alex was our receptionist at the time, and whenever a good piece would come in she would make a copy for me to check out. Our favorite part of Phillip's manuscript was when he listed "Satan's Pets!!" This was a list of demons and their earthly equivalents. Some of the examples are: Demon of the Clam (Clamato Juice); Demon of the Pig, Hog, Swine (Salisbury Steak, Bologna); Demon of the Tuna (Sandwiches); Demon of the Rabbit (Easter Bunny). I think you get the idea.
The entire 45 pages are sort of a freeform rant, conspiracy theory, and obsession with Janet Beldon's Face!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I would almost like to publish it because there is some great material buried under all the crazy talk. I think Satan's Pets would be an awesome name for a band. I've hung onto a copy of it for the past eight years as a source of inspiration when I'm looking for examples of words thrown together that might make sense if you were coming from that twisted point of logic.

Anyway, Dan will be missed at PSU but I'm sure he isn't going to miss some of the oddballs he no longer will have to deal with at the Law School Admissions Council in Pennsylvania where he's moving to. I'll just make sure to warn him about potential polar bears hanging out in the lobby.

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