February 26, 2007

Buddhist chaplain thrown out of jail

Philip Ryan

Buddhist chaplain Frank Tedesco was kicked out of the Pinellas County Jail recently for allegedly breaking jail rules and bringing contraband behind bars. (Pinellas County is in the Tampa Bay area and contains the city of St. Petersburg, Florida.) From The St. Petersburg Times:

Tedesco, 60, an unpaid volunteer, thinks the blowup stems at least in part from a Christian bias.

Prison authorities disagree, claiming Tedesco tried the patience of prison personnel and flouted the rules. Among his offenses were bringing in a calligraphy pen and books that were considered contraband. Tedesco, who got interested in Zen as a teenager, was described as "annoying" and "problematic" by those he worked with. He also wrote obituaries for the Clearwater desk of the paper that printed this story. Now that's an interesting job. In the movies that's how you show that a writer is depressed: He takes a job writing obituaries. Probably in real life it is a highly sought-after position.

So I guess there's a vacancy for a Buddhist prison chaplain in the St. Petersburg area. I always think of that city as the place Kerouac died, drunk, sick, and living with his mother. I wonder if his obit from the St. Petersburg Times is online?

Philip Ryan, Webmaster

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