Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It's Raining Heroes

A local guy died some time ago after parachute jumping from a radio antenna tower, and then a local tv station eulogized this wonderful man who cared about family more than anything else, one of the best extreme sportsmen of our time.

So here's a guy who first trespassed on private property, then climbed a thousand feet in the fog, planning on freefalling without visual reference. The side of the tower he chose to jump from happened to face a rapid incline at ground level. I hear the ground on which he landed was some 30 feet higher than where the tower was anchored, and there's some question as to whether he took that into account when he was counting one mississippi, two mississippi...

I'm all for people living their death wish. If you want to jump from a helicopter onto a mountain peak and ski race the resultant avalanche, more power to ya; so long as if you're buried alive not a nickle of taxpayer money is spent to rescue you, and if your actions cause damages, your heirs are culpable financially. But, no one listens to me of course. What's happening instead (in this case for example) is that media outlets celebrate his near accomplishment by claiming him to be a hero and role model, a brave, bright man who suffered an unfortunate circumstance that took his life. I do have compassion for the family. Or I do unless they encouraged his behavior. But, a hero? You mean hero like any random celebrity you've chosen to elevate because you've deemed them popular and by attaching yourself to their coattails you too can share in their popularity? You mean hero like any random guy or girl who dances on the edge of any cliff they see even though they have a spouse and children they've sworn to cherish and protect? You mean hero as in we might have actually had to work to find someone whose accomplishments made a difference in the world, who was selfless in the defense of another, who gave everything to help one who had nothing... so instead we made a guy who jumped off tall stuff a hero cuz it seemed to make sense at the time? Oh and by the way...fog is an unfortunate circumstance?

The last time I watched this station's news there was a motorcycle accident in which a gasoline tank sprung a leak after a particularly deep pothole caused a metal from metal tear. The poor rider was covered in raw fuel within moments and somehow ignited as if a napalm rocket. The bike slowed to a crawl and finally just fell over as the quick death of the driver caused the release of the throttle yet the speed and balance of the machine kept it upright until the last. It was an amazing albeit tragic story, and I felt hollow as it was being told, thinking only "there but for the grace of God..." when the announcer sat upright, the camera zoomed into his face which cocked a bit leftward to accentuate the seriousness in which the next line would be delivered... "And the man wasn't wearing a helmet!" 

"Can you imagine?" his coanchor muttered as the two shook their heads and the camera panned back so as to segue into a commercial for auto insurance. Like what; helmets come with sprinklers installed?

I wish I could remember when my ship crash landed on this planet, but I seem to have amnesia. If only I could forget I'm not alone here.


  1. Poor biker, but I agree about the base jumping idiot.

  2. For your possible interest, here is a pdf copy of "The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction" in which Ursula Leguin, in her engaging and entertaining way, explains how hero stories (in the Western world) came to be.

    (This says I'm anonymous even though I registered as my Livejournal Silveredmane self.)