bonus friday chookooloonks update: number 104, photograph a corpse flower in bloom? CHECK.

FunkWatch 2010 is now complete. 

All indications online this morning were that the flower had finally bloomed.  I sent a message to my friend Erin that I was coming to the museum to see the flower, and she immediately texted me back.

"Um, when you come?  Be sure to wear clothes you don't mind losing.  I went to see it about 30 minutes ago, and I can still smell it on my clothes."


I looked down.  I was wearing a dress that I'd purchased about 10 years ago, but it's one of my favourites, and still looked rather new.  I quickly changed into a dress I bought at Target a month ago for about $12.

"Thanks for the tip," I texted back.  "I've changed.  I'm on my way."

When I got to the museum, Erin met me in the Grand Hall.  "Can you smell it?" 


"People in my office say they can't smell me, but I sure can.  You can't smell it?"

I sniffed her.  She smelt clean and fresh.

"You smell awesome.  I can't smell anything but your perfume."

"It must just be in my nose, then.  I just can't get it out of my nose."

We began walking to the exhibit.  "It's that bad?"

"Well, it was pretty bad this morning," she said.  As we neared the exhibit, she stopped short.  "There.  Do you smell that?"

I inhaled deeply.  "I ... think so?"

"Oh, you'll know so when we get out of the elevator," she said, as we walked in.  There were two people in the elevator ahead of us.  One was a woman with a cart full of cleaning chemicals.  She looked at me and rolled her eyes. 

"God, it's so bad," she said.

"Really?" I said. "It's that bad?"

The guy next to me murmured.  "Yes. It's that bad."

I turned to look at him, and jumped.  "Oh my God!" I said.  "You have a gas mask?"

"I'm a cameraman for one of the local news stations," he said, pulling the mask to his face. "I've been here since 4 in the morning.  Here," he said, holding out a small vial.  "Do you want some menthol?  It'll help."

"No, it's okay," I smiled.  "I want to get the full effect."

The door to the elevator opened.

And I inhaled.

I smelled it. 

It smelt like ... a dumpster.  It smelt like ... dirty socks.

It sort of smelt like the men's locker room in a very old YMCA at the end of the day.

But honestly?  It wasn't the scent of evil that I'd built myself up into believing it would be.

I started taking pictures, trying to get as close to the flower as I could get.  After about 2 minutes, though, I couldn't detect a smell at all.  I'd totally gotten used to it.  I've always had a pretty keen sense of smell, so this surprised me; but it's entirely possible I was catching the flower at the early part of its smell cycle, so perhaps it got worse as it got later in the day.

After I took enough photographs, I asked Zac the Horticulturalist (who is now quite the internet celebrity) if he would allow me to take his photograph for my 1000 faces project.  He's incredibly charming (and, bless him, incredibly tired), and he showed me the cigars ("It's a bloom!") and the leis that patrons of the museum were bringing to him all morning. 

"You must be just so thrilled," I said.

"I really am," he smiled.


And for the record, he smelt great.


Images:  Photographed with my Nikon D300 and my 24-85mm lens -- which, of course, decided that it wasn't going to focus once I arrived at the museum, so I had to go manual.  Oh well.  It's old.


SongAin't it funky by James Brown