majestic carcass: electrocuted in our back yard

If you look to the right, you’ll see a piece of the creature that was, until yesterday, draped over the power lines in our backyard. This photo doesn’t really do it justice. It was significantly more impressive when it was all in one piece, its paws dangling down over our heads, its thick brown fur blowing stiffly in the wind.

For those of you who haven’t been following along in the comments section for the past few days, the mother of one of Clementine’s friends pointed it out to Linette a few days ago when they were sitting in the back yard, drinking coffee and watching our kids try to steal toys from one another. She apparently looked up, pointed and said very mater-of-factly, “There’s something dead up there, above us.” Linette tried for a while to convince everyone that it was just some kind of nest, but once they discerned the paws, it was all over — the play date had been ruined.

So, I got home from work and called the power company. “It looks like a small electrocuted bear is sitting on the phone pole in our back yard,” I said. They responded by sending over an old, cigarette-stained man a few hours later. When he and I went back to look at it, he said he’d never seen anything quite like it… and then added (with a bit of a chuckle) that, as this was more of a two-person job, he’d have to leave it for the day crew to deal with. (As he was talking about bringing a truck into the yard, it was my assumption that this crew that he talked about would be using a crane or something to get at and retrieve the thing. He made it sound like a huge, complicated ordeal that required the utmost care and precision.)

The next day, two guys showed up. And, as they made it very clear, they had no intention of either using a crane or retrieving the thing. They were just there to get the thing down before it burst into flames… Linette, who was standing in the doorway with the baby, asked them if they could try to get it down in one piece, as she didn’t want Clementine or the dog getting into any chunks that they missed. At that point, they informed her that they’d just be poking at it with something until it fell apart and that it “wasn’t (their) problem” once it was off the pole. (Granted, that was nicer than just saying, “Fuck you, lady,” but it still pissed me off.)

They eventually nudged most of it off the power lines, as Linette stood in the kitchen window watching. (There still seems to be some hair and meat wrapped around a transformer, but most of it’s down now.)

According to Linette, once they got it down, the one Detroit Edison guy who’d been holding the long, metal, critter-poking pole, began chasing the other guy around our yard with it. (Apparently there was a large piece of gore still clinging to the end of the pole.) After a few minutes of fun, they wiped the meat and fur off of the pole, and into our grass, and then rang the buzzer to tell Linette that they’d be on their way. The good news, they said, was that most of it had fallen into the yard of the crack house next door, so we wouldn’t have to worry about it.

So, when I got home, it became my job to hunt down and pick up the bits of fur and flesh scattered around our yard and then to go over and tell the guys next door that they might want to do something about the large, rotting creature that landed somewhere behind their shed/meth lab. I walked over and rang the bell, but no one came. The door was wide open, so I assume that they were in, but since no one came, I just invited myself into their back yard to see if I could get a glimpse of the thing up close… Fortunately, I had my camera.

As the fur is clearly brown, my guess is that it’s either a very large, bloated housecat, or a small bear. Either that, or someone planted a non-climbing animal, like a beaver or a dog, up there in order to freak me out… If you’ve got a better theory, let me know.

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  1. srah
    Posted August 15, 2005 at 12:37 am | Permalink

    Holy crap!

    Do you have a larger picture of the beast so that we can look at it up close? I’d kind of like to know what kind of prehistoric giant rodents (ROUSes?) are wandering around my area…

    From this angle, my guess would be A Very Furry Deer or a tree sloth. I’m not sure I’m looking at it right, though.

  2. Posted August 15, 2005 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    Oh my God!! That picture makes it even more mysterious and scary.

  3. kez
    Posted August 15, 2005 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    i think that’s awesome. nothing fun like that ever happens to me in the city… but once, a long time ago, a dead black snake ended up on my sidewalk. so i kicked it to the curb, but the garbage men wouldn’t take it. it was winter, and the snake was a bit frozen and stiff. so my neighbor put on yellow dishwashing gloves and pick it up, broke it into three pieces and put it in a white garbage bag, then washed the gloves in a bucket of warm water while they were still on his hands. i asked why he’d want to save the yellow gloves after handling a dead frozen snake, and he said they were his wife’s gloves and she wanted them back. i guess he had small hands. i got so grossed out i never visited them again. i wouldn’t even shake his hand. but a dead bear in august is a different story.

  4. Dick Cheney's Extending Taint
    Posted August 15, 2005 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    Although it may smell like a rotting animal and have fur and claws, the origins of this animal may never be known. Therefore, my theory is that there was never a living animal on your electrical wires at all. You can’t identify it, right? And those organic molecules just didn’t arrange themselves there by chance. There was clearly some intelligence behind the arrangement of this circumstance.

    God planted this rotting furry mass with claws in your wires as a tribulation for you and Linette to overcome. This was a test Mark. For you, the electric company, the crack house, and all of mankind.

    I know of you will have other theories, but since we’ll never know for sure, I ask you to simply keep an open mind and give every side an equal chance.

  5. Kristin
    Posted August 15, 2005 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Can’t it just be a woodchuck? We had a dog that used to tree them, so I know they can climb.

  6. chris
    Posted August 15, 2005 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    possum? Did you visualize a tail? Save a piece for DNA testing? I’m sorry intelligently designed really teeny tiney body bits.

  7. Posted August 15, 2005 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    First off, I put all the blame for this on Tesla, whose AC current Thomas Edison personally showed to be very dangerous, especially to the dogs, monkeys, horses, elephants and men that he publicly electrocuted with it.

    More importantly, I was in the vicinity of your house a few weeks ago and took this photo, which I had assumed at the time was just you on your daily walk down to Deja Vu.

    I may have been mistaken. Hope this helps your investigation.

  8. Posted August 15, 2005 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Nain Rouge?

  9. Posted August 15, 2005 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    go bear, go!

  10. Posted August 15, 2005 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Food is falling from the sky and you complain? You need an attitude adjustment.

  11. Posted August 15, 2005 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    You went into the backyard of an occupied crackhouse with a camera and poked around? I’m impressed. I can’t believe that you were responsible for gathering the bits. Perhaps it was someone’s dog that fell out of a passing plane? And for that matter, what made poking at a critter with a stick a two man job? The bit at the end with the running around the yard? I thought that required a third man to smack them in the faces and call the “nuckleheads”.

  12. Posted August 15, 2005 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Attention Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area residents!
    It may interest you to know that bigfoots (bigfeet?) or tree sloths or flying groundhogs or something are loose in our neighborhoods and may require extensive poking with pointed sticks. Thank you for your attention….

  13. Posted August 17, 2005 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    How do you sleep at night? How will I sleep at night? …chilling

  14. Patty
    Posted August 19, 2005 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Hellooooo! You’re in Michigan. It’s obviously a WOLVERINE.

  15. Ken
    Posted August 19, 2005 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    I wish you could get a closer shot of that because it looks just like my Uncle Elvin’s toupee.

  16. Brian
    Posted August 19, 2005 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Kid in a bear costume is my guess. When’s Halloween?

  17. Brian
    Posted August 19, 2005 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

    Mystery solved:

    It’s ALF!

  18. Posted August 19, 2005 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    A couple of years ago I ran into Alf in Riverside Park. He was all cracked out asking me if he could have five dollars.

  19. Lava Bubble
    Posted August 20, 2005 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    Looks like a Spitting Cat that didn’t quite make it to the Heritage Fest as promised.

  20. mark
    Posted August 21, 2005 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

    Holy shit…. Great comments…. If only unidentifiable things could die in my yard every day!

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