Saturday, December 1

Evil Knieval

Evil Knieval died yesterday, age 69, and probably 20 years past his shelf-life. As a kid I, and everybody else, had the Evil Knieval Motorcycle Action Kit which included a wind-up and ramp to mimic Knieval's feats like the Caesar's Palace Jump which landed him 40 broken bones. Just the name was fascinating to us and somehow a secret window into the weird ways of Adults. And of course the crazy outfits and insane daredevilry - his audience was the eight to eleven year old crowd and us at Washington Elementary happily obliged in those 1970s. Knieval began his career barn-storming in the West, doing motorcycle jumps from Colorado to California. He became a part of America's pop culture on September 8, 1974, for his attempt to clear the Snake River Canyon in Idaho in a rocket-powered "Skycycle" (pictured, photo from the Knieval archive). The Skycycle could be purchased (of course) and became a valuable addition to any boy's toy collection. The jump failed spectacularly when Evil's parachute opened early but still netted him more than $6 million from ticket sales, paid sponsors and ABC's "Wide World of Sports" (this during the era of "That's Incredible!" where idiots swam in shark tanks and etc. for money and the viewing public's titillation). At the same time, Mohammad Ali was The Greatest In The World and we school boys had some real heroes to aspire ourselves to be.

On the walk home from football, I ask Madeline to list her favorite things (in order):
1. Mum!
2. My family
3. Doggy
4. Bedroom
5. Eitan
6. California
7. My school
8. Charlie & Nugget (horses in Colorad)
9. Dad (who is happy to make the Top 10)
10. Performance class