LETTERS  PCR #392      (September 24--30, 2007)

  • Mike "Deadguy" Scott on "Bodies: The Exhibition" draws reader's ire (and Deadguy responds), 2 Parts.
  • Owners of the Artisan delighted with La Floridiana article on the motel.
  • A Romper Room alumnus finds Andy Lalino! (And Andy responds)

    Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.


    Part 1:


    [Re: Deadguy's Dementia, PCR #283, "Bodies: The Exhibition at MOSI" by Mike "Deadguy" Scott]

    Mike, Are you aware that these bodies come through our ports of entry without death certificate or documentation as required by our laws or health inspection by the CDC for health risk to the public as required by law.. Also in Durham county workers detected mold growing on several bodies there in Bodies the Exhibition. these corpses are supposed to be listed as human cadavers at the ports but indeed they are being titled on the customs documents as Plastic teaching models. Who exactly has made the momentous medical decision that a human is not a human???

    Eileen [no last name]


    The transfer of cadavers require different a type of preparation that differs from what these exhibit bodys require. I can go into gross detail on this, but I think you'll understand the differences when I say that a cadaver is a biohazard, these plastinated cadavers are not.

    Plastination is the replacement of body cells with plastic. Body material still exist within the structure, but it would be like claiming that silk garments are animal excretions (silk worms) and are therefore biohazardous material. Effectively, they ARE still what they are made of, but the treatments they've undergone, changes them in ways that eliminate the hazard. At that point, for shipping purposes, to treat them as "remains" would be a useless exercise as they don't require that level of care, nor are they a biological hazard.

    The "mold" discovered was no different from the mold that might accumulate on a shower curtain, it was not a mold infection in the body itself because there is not enough body material left for this to happen. Effectively, each cells of the body is encased by the same material that has replaced the moisture within it. No "edges" are exposed to the air because otherwise the rate of decay would destroy the models fairly quickly if the bodies weren't kept refridgerated.

    That addresses the CDC risk factors involved here. These are not just bodies under plastic, these are bodies with no moisture within them due to the plastination process. If you broke off a limb, it'd be plastic all the way through, on a cellular level. You cannot transfer diseases through plastic.

    As far as death certificates go, those are used for tracking a cadaver to be able to go back and determine where illnesses come from. For example a diseased corpse would hopefully have that information listed on the death certificate. A body without paperwork in the medical industry is a risk factor because it is assumed that without knowing a body is NOT diseased, there is always the risk that it IS diseased, or disease carrying. Of course, once a body has been plastinated, it's no longer disease carrying.

    The other "paperwork" you mentioned is the ones that have people so upset. This paperwork is a way to prove that someone wasn't just randomly snatched for medical research when they died. Some (not all) of the plastinated exhibit shows, contain chinese mental patients and people without money for burial, whose bodies WERE essentially "snatched" because it is legal to do so there. Some countries will not allow those bodies to cross into their borders. For the most part, investigations into this type of thing has discovered that the documentation DOES exist for 90% of an exhibit, and so they remove the offending 10% from display and go on like nothing hapened. For the most part the "missing" documentation is in reference to body parts, rather than whole body displays. This happened at the Tampa Showing, where some of the "parts" were then not permitted to be part of the exhibit.

    As for your ethical question about when does a human cease to be a human, that's something that you have to answer for yourself. To me, these bodies became plastic models when 99% of the body was replaced by plastic, and they stopped being able to transmit infections. There has been no official claims that anyone wasn't dead before the process began, and at that point, to me, it's a done deal. These folks were dead, their bodies because useful and they were used. Of course, I'm also a firm believer that people shouldn't have a say over whether or not they are organ donors when they die.

    However, perhaps a new distinction should be made, "a plasticized human model".. Until then though, I think it would be a useless to treat these as a potential biohazard by calling them human cadavers. In some states, the fact that they were cadavers would require each to be separately shipped in a hearse. It that useful somehow? It's time to accept something new.


    Part 2:

    I don't know what your scientific background is Mike, but as a physician's wife of many years, no matter WHAT you do to a human body, it remains just that, a human body and must be listed so on the customs documents as required by law. There are different rules and regs and fees and health inspections for human bodies. I might point you to the San Francisco fiasco when these plastinated bodies began to leak, silicone and body fluids. Indeed, pathogens dangerous to human health were found in this fluid and that is why the SF city council threw them out and banned such exhibits. If you go to the Exhibition Tour contract between the Chinese and Premier Productions you will find extensive instructions on how to conserve these plastinated bodies. They are NOT stable unless handled in a certain manner, i.e., temp, humidty, hot lights, etc. will begin deterioration of these bodies, if they are not in a constant environment. Interestingly enough, they ARE tested for AIDS, supposedly. Drips coming off a cadaver is not to be taken lightly. If this process was stable forever, they would not be cremating them upon return to China. They would be shown again and again. Stagehands in NC complained and complained for six months re: the conditions of these bodies and no one showed up to address the problems. These men certainly felt at risk.

    I hope this has been helpful.



    Hi Will,

    [Re: La Floridiana, PCR #390 "The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region, Part 4" by William Moriaty]

    I just returned from a visit to Denver yesterday and opened this email this morning. It was definitely worth coming home to. I am speechless! This is the most wonderful thing that has happened to us since the closing date for the motel. I really see your passion for Florida in this article and with your permission I would love to include it on our website. In addition, I’m making copies of it and putting it in all of our rooms. You are such a gifted writer and every time I read the article (at least 50 X so far) it excites me. If it’s alright with you, I would also like to send this email to our city commissioners and chamber of commerce. We are trying to get the land at the end of Victoria approved for a park and this might just put it over the top. We’ve been notified that we are 2nd highest in approval for a 6 million dollar state grant hopefully to be awarded in November for the purchase of this land. We only need 4 out of 5 of the commissioners to agree to it. The website is parksnotcondos, if you’re interested.

    If you ever need a getaway, please don’t hesitate to call. We’ll have a room waiting.

    Susie and Dan



    [Re: Oddservations, PCR #250, "Romper Room Memories" by Andy Lalino]

    I was also on Romper Room!! I was born in 1964 and appeared on the local Romper Room episodes sometime between 1968-1970. I have my Romper Room Certificate, but sadly, that is about the only piece of memorabilia that I have. I lived in Fargo, North Dakota at the time and I believe the episodes were televised by PBS, channel 13, but I’m not positive on that. I too, remember the milk truck. The one on our show was a Cass-Clay Milk Truck. Cass is the name of the County that Fargo is located in, and Clay is the name of the County that Moorhead, Minnesota is located in, the two cities are sister-cities, divided by the Red River of the North. Cass-Clay was the name of the local creamery! Anyhoo…. My best friend, Brad Hains, who was also born in 1964, was on the show as well. He and I would love to find another one of the “kids” that were on the episodes we were on!

    Thank you!!
    Melisa Lunsetter

    Thank you for writing, Melisa! I'm so glad you enjoyed the article. I've forwarded your email to Andy Lalino for review and comment. --- Nolan


    Hello, Melissa,
    Thanks for writing in regard to Romper Room. At the time when I appeared on the show in 1973, I don't think I quite understood that each TV market around the nation had their own local version of Romper Room. Now, it's fascinating to hear accounts such as yours who grew up in a completely different state.

    Sounds like most if not all the Romper Room characters (including the famous milk truck and the Do-Bee) stayed consistent from market-to-market. Did you all have the "Magic Mirror" (the hand-held mirror that the host would end the show with) and the Felix the Cat cartoons?

    I was on the show for a full week, curiously enough with two childhood friends who I knew from elementary school: Lisa Carr and Collette Ducheaunu (sp.) and I believe it was during my birthday, which they noted. Despite my ancient age of 40, I still have vivid Romper Room memories.

    - Andy

    To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com.  Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan

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