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By Christopher Gray, December 9, 2005, Music

Fear Yourself

Daniel Johnston, eccentric singer-songwriter, gifted artist, and Austin folk hero, remains in critical but stable condition in Houston's Ben Taub Hospital, his family said Monday. Johnston, 44, was taken to the Tomball Regional Medical Center near his home in Waller Nov. 25 after becoming incoherent and unable to walk, according to a report on the Web site, and transferred to Ben Taub last weekend. "No change," his father William said. "He's still in the hospital, still not communicating with us." The elder Johnston told the Web site last week he believed Daniel suffered from lithium poisoning – the singer, diagnosed as manic-depressive, has been taking lithium since the late Nineties – but added Monday that although Daniel's initial infection had cleared up, a subsequent battery of tests had yet to yield any conclusive results. "We're working on the assumption there's something there we hadn't seen," he said. "We've given him a lot of antibiotics and a lot of CAT scans, and an MRI, everything we can think of. Just give us time." Johnston's hospitalization comes at a high tide of career activity: His artwork will be featured in New York's famous Whitney biennial exhibition next March, and Jeff Feuerzeig's penetrating The Devil and Daniel Johnston documentary, which premiered at SXSW 05, made the final cut of potential Oscar nominees and will be released nationwide by Sony on March 31. Back in Houston, avant-garde theatre company Infernal Bridegroom Productions' plans to collaborate with Johnston on a rock opera, scheduled for next spring, have been postponed. "We're all just pulling for Daniel to get better," said Artistic Director Anthony Barrilla. So are we.

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