My Partner in Crime

CR MandlerJul 10 · 5 min read

A manifestation of sibling love

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Photo by Chelsea Mandler

Many do not know, but Jason and I are known as the “Beacon Bandits.” The theft was unintentional because at any time we could have returned to the Beacon gas station where we had just filled up and paid the cashier what we owed. But, we did not. We were on a mission. A mission to get home.

You see anytime we are together we are actually home. We may not have always known this, but it has always been true.

My brother is the most amazing person I know. He is multi-talented in ways far superior to me but his heart always yields to my needs similar to the times he won the large Devil stuff animal at Magic Mountain and gave it to me to wipe away my tears. Of course, giving me what Jason won became a pattern and as an adult, and I have tried to give back to him all that has shared with me through time.

Jason believes that I raised him. I guess this is partially true. But underneath it all, Jason kept me from going too far astray on many occasions. Like the time I ditched school for a month claiming to be sick with mono on a forged note. He confronted me and said he would inform our father. I was back at school the next day.

Once he found out I was doing heavy drugs in high school and sat me down and had a serious talk with me. My erratic behavior was concerning to him but moreso he knew the path that I was choosing could lead to death. I have never touched the stuff since.


At five years old, Jason was diagnosed with a severe case of scoliosis. My parents, unequipped to handle the situation, yet doing the best they knew how to do, sent him to a chiropractor. The chiropractor claimed that Jason’s back would straighten out if he did laps on the monkey bars wearing roller skates every day for an hour. And like clockwork, he did this exercise every day for a year. However, the curve in his back was relentless.

After finally visiting a specialist, Jason was fitted for a brace and wore it diligently for ten years: only to find out he never needed the brace and that his spine needed to be completely fused. During the surgery, the physician added a rod to his spinal cord which left him in a cast for six months at fifteen.

Like much of our life, Jason was neglected, and the rod that was put in his back needed to be surgically removed a year later. My parents did not follow through with this operation, and now Jason has a condition called “flatback syndrome.” If he chose to remove the rod, he would be paralyzed for life. So, he deals with the pain, and still, he maintains a happy demeanor.


Jason’s ability as an artist knows no bounds. He draws in a wonderland of his own producing controversial paintings with glimpses of comedy and undertones of depth that only viewers can interpret.

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Painting and photo by Jason Tait

His portrait of “PeeWee,” which illuminates the wall of the buyer, Sean Foley’s home, is one of my favorites. “Peewee” is not only controversial but he brightens anyone’s day in a single glance. We watched the naughty version of Peewee on ShowTime as kids only to learn that he later became a child entertainer. And of course, we know the rest is simply unforeseen messy history.

His sense humor also shined on a piece he calls “Chefferey.” The picture is of Jeffery Daumer, and it is both daunting as well as intriguing to all that lay their eyes upon it.

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Painting and Photo by Jason Tait

While he has dozens upon dozens of amazing pieces, I would like to share a painting of the famous author, Charles Bukowski, coupled with some prose that explains a philosophy of which Jason and I both adhere.

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Painting and Photo by Jason Tait

“Understand me. I’m not like an ordinary world. I have my madness. I live in another dimension and I do not have time for things with no soul,” Bukowski proclaims.

Bukowski infamous notoriety lives on to this day. I am always taken back by his raw, direct, and all-consuming nature to write the thoughts that very few humans dare to speak.

Plus, the undertone of our lives has been surviving external madness. Instead of searching for normality, we both found a way to incorporate it into our being in a pleasant but unusual way. I hope Jason and I only continue to delve deeper into the unknown where much wonder and curiosity awaits.


A sibling is your memory, your best chance of remembering the significant parts of your life. Jason and I are so close that we have a meta-language where we can utter a word and know exactly what each other is talking about. This is amusing to outsiders because this normally only happens with twins.

Jason turns 46 years old today. One time he told me he would not make it to thirty. However, not only has he made it but he has a mind of a Budha, a passion for his children, a beautiful girlfriend, and an alliance to me to the end of time.

To top it off, he will become a GRANDPA this year. He was so happy that he moved to Louisiana from Oregon to be close to his new baby girl.

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Photo by Jason Tait

Jason is fun and he is witty. He is an old soul living outside the chains of social constructions and he is living well. Furthermore, we vehemently avoid Tapatatio for private reasons. And, Jason has a color-coded closet of shoes and adornments that he pretends does not exist.

He has mellowed through the years. I am not sure if he would be willing to jump out of an airplane again or throw handmade bologna and cheese sandwiches to the homeless people in the streets of Santa Barbara, at a time when he was penniless. But I am sure that he is a healer, teacher, lover, and friend. And most important of all, he is my brother. The one, the only, Jason Tait. Keep smiling, kid, it only gets better.

I love you! Chelsea

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