It’s Sunday evening and I just saw through a friend’s Facebook a link indicating that Wellington icon Blanket Man (Ben Hana) died in hospital.
Since this is a blog devoted to the city of Wellington and its sense of place I can’t imagine that we could not mention his death. Â He was a permanent fixture of the streets of Wellington and was a bit of the spirit that, for me at least (and clearly others), made this city the interesting place it is to be.
I do really love the fact that the comments on the Stuff article are, at the point of writing, 100% in solace. Â http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/6260217/Wellington-Blanket-Man-Ben-Hana-dies While this seems like it would be a given reaction, I have read US based news articles about the deaths of similar characters and the comments are filled with vitriol and hatred. Â The response of readers only cements his place in Wellington and the qualities of this city that I like.
Of course, Ben Hana’s Wellington life was not without controversy. Â His public nudeness and pot smoking caused many run ins with the local constabulary, and shopkeepers (and other city dwellers.) Â I have to admit that I didn’t know much about Blanket Man’s philosophical thoughts, and it turns out he had concerns about the land that we live in and on, and some definite thoughts about we should change our ways. Â You can listen to some of his thoughts here http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6491252565278124054 (part 1 of a 4 part documentary video) although I have to admit, despite the interesting and amusing content, I’m not sure I understand his philosophy any better after watching…
So farewell Blanket Man, someone who has impacted all of our experience of Wellington in some way. Â Our city will definitely be different without you. Â Rest in peace.