31 January 2013

Stan Brock

My PhD supervisor sent me a link to this youtube video from the classic TV documentary series Wild Kingdom.

We've just published a paper about Kakadu National Park, Arnhem Land, Aboriginal burning, and introduced water buffalo.  Somewhere someone came across this posting of the 1960s show where the hosts go on this water buffalo roundup.  Very funny, very old school.  And also very cool to catch a glimpse of Kakadu before it was a National Park - actually looks pretty trashed by all the water buffalo:


Right at the start, this guy Stan Brock gets introduced as one of the hosts and I have this flash of recognition.  I'd heard that name before - but not through the 1960s nature show.

In 2007 I spent about a month with friends that manage Dadanawa ranch in Guyana.  One day we went for a jeep trip several hours south and west of the ranch.  One of the river crossings was flooded and we spent a very interesting evening at the home this old-time ranch hand, Uncle Jerome, at the foot of this mountain way, way out in the middle of the South Rupununi savanna. 
 
Uncle Jerome


He spoke in such a thick creole you'd probably not believe it was English...but he also had this mental tic where it was like he'd hit the rewind button and tell these same stories over and over again, as if they were scripted.  One of those stories probably explained his mental tic - years and years ago he fell back off a second story porch, piss drunk, and landed on his head.  Told me you could see his brain through the crack in his skull.


Jerome's spot in the South Rupununi

Long story short - he was going on and on about this guy Stan Brock - about how they were filming for this TV show and they had set up this shot where they were gonna lasso a bloody jaguar.  And he swore they did it - Stan Brock in front of the camera, roping a jaguar from horseback. And as I'm trying to decipher his creole and make sense of the story, Jerome keeps hitting the rewind button, and starting all over again.  Eventually, eventually, he reaches a point in the story and is cracking up laughing that it was he - Uncle Jerome - who actually lassoed the cat and the whole thing was a complete setup.  They trapped the jaguar beforehand, drugged the poor thing and staged this whole drama where Stan Brock gets to lasso the cat.  I remember thinking at the time - some day I gotta try to find this footage.  

And, of course, I forgot all about it...till I click on that video up above and get reintroduced to Stan Brock.

So...the connection?  Stan Brock was the manager of Dadanawa back in the 60s and was actually 'discovered' when Wild Kingdom went to shoot down there.  It ended up being his ticket out of Guyana and into show business.

And lo and behold, the jaguar video was uploaded to youtube as well:


You can actually see Jerome ride up after they lasso the poor cat.  Just a warning - the scene is a bit tough to watch.

And just to give you an idea of the thickness of Jerome's creole, here's a clip i took one night lens cap on just to get a sound recording.

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