This post accompanies my photography blog post at Bryan Farley Photography titled "Pop Television and Epilepsy Heroes." These images did not make the final photography gallery for the 2016 Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California Candlelight Gala.
I finished the other post with a reference to a future "Cameron Code." Cameron Hollopeter was a young man with epilepsy who fell onto subway tracks after having a seizure. According to several media reports, there were several people who allowed Cameron to stumble onto the tracks before he fell. Fortunately, Wesley Autrey risked his own life to save Cameron. In the other post, I didn't mention Autrey by name, because he is not the story... he is not my story. If I were to write the story about what happened to Cameron, I would have also interviewed the other bystanders who watched Cameron. I would have asked them why they allowed him to die. I would have wanted to know why more people created the unnecessary situation that led to Autrey risking his life.
I also intentionally omitted Autrey's name, because I was playing with words. Autry/Autrey and Cowboy Code/Cameron Code.
Gene Autry created the Cowboy Code. I knew about Autry, because he was the California Angels owner. (The Angels' retired #26 in his honor.) He also sang "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" (and Frosty the Snowman and Here Comes Santa Claus). Older folks remember Autry from his radio and rodeo career. Autry is the only person who has five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The Cowboy Code is surprisingly enlightened, especially considering our current political discourse, and I thought that people with epilepsy could find something similar. We could find our own heroes. We could tell our own stories. We could borrow #6 from Autry who said "(The Cowboy) must help people in distress." We could support each other and stand for each other above any political affiliation. Perhaps we could respect each other's privacy and right to remain hidden too. We can reward each other. We can create our own walk of stars.
I have belonged to many organizations and seen many awards presentations. I am tired of seeing people who don't have epilepsy being called My Epilepsy Hero... when there are too many of us with epilepsy living in the shadows. When we tell our stories about all the years when we did not tell our stories, we are indicating that discrimination exists today. We lose jobs, friends, relationships, and other opportunities because of perceptions that continue today.
I don't think people with epilepsy (and other people with disabilities) know how to exist in our country. I think that we are still trying to find our way... at least I am. I mentioned in the other post, that real life feels unreal (and it's not just the medication.) Our world seeks integrity and vulnerability. I hear that people want authenticity, but these characteristics do not seem to be rewarded even when they are a job requirement.
Some last thoughts about the previous post: I had considered using a different Andy Warhol quote about 15 minutes or words from a Travis Tritt song that mentioned "15 years ago," but I chose the quote about reality because the full paragraph has a richer context. Andy discusses how he felt after he was shot and I wanted to include something about how reality shifts after trauma. I also liked how his pop reference worked with the reality tv star's appearance. I also love the simple, but powerful message of Tritt's "It's A Great Day To Be Alive." While I am frustrated about the struggle, I am grateful that I am still alive and able to do so.
The two previous photography blog posts included something about 15 years, but it would have been forced this time. So would have using #26, but I often think about it.
I also considered expanding on the Katie Couric connection. If I could have found her initial audio news broadcast, I might have added more, but I couldn't find it. I am grateful that Couric covered the subway story, because I really felt that someone cared enough to risk their life for me. This was a few months after my father's suicide, so it was especially timely.
Couric's appearance on Pawn Star's is also interesting for two other reasons. When I met Brad Paisley, we discussed Mark Twain. I thought it was unreal that he mentioned Twain, but I had quoted Twain in other posts too. (The entire Paisley meeting felt unreal.) In the Pawn Stars episode, Harrison's son "pretends" to confuse Couric with two other stars named Katie. I have face blindness (prosopagnosia). I can't recognize Katie Perry or Katie Couric either... at least not by looking at their face.