Archive for the ‘The Stories’ Category
In my pot-smoking days of the early 1970’s marijuana was a lot like Tupperware – it was passed around at parties and purchased with great enthusiasm. Pot was so pervasive back then, all you had to do was breathe in and there was a chance you’d get high. Some people didn’t want to take that chance. They were fearful of this “reefer madness.” Then they’d try it, and suddenly, it was reefer gladness. Their transformation was not done with smoke and mirrors – it was just smoke.
From ages 10-14 I partook of the giggle smoke whenever my elders were around. Now these weren’t parental-type elders. These were just elders who were older than me – older than David-the-Younger. Older, and more importantly, they had pot. It was like elders with benefits. The 1970s were a less judgmental time when you shared what you had without distinction of rank or age (thank you very much Woodstock generation). And from almost 50 years hence I recognize the following strange story might give the impression I’m high right now. I’m not. Except for a few salmon, David-the-Elder hasn’t smoked anything in decades.
In revisiting my cannabis memories, I’ve reanimated that familiar fuzzy state and in the process activated one mother of a flashback. In this case it’s a harrowing incident I’d like to share with you – an incident that is a constant reminder of the importance of choosing the right parents. Of course, as far as I can tell, children have never been consulted on the matter, so it’s a moot point. But what’s a valid point is that you have to play the hand you’re dealt: or, more specifically, the body and circumstances you’re born into. Once the veil comes down…Game On. And this episode I present is just one volley in that game.
This flashback has enduring power and has taught me to practice eternal vigilance. It’s not that I’m forever suspicious, I just try to be aware of my local circumstances – to see around the corners of my actions and anticipate their consequences. And although this bizarre yet authentic tale may sound like the product of a THC-influenced imagination, I once again assure you, David-the-Elder has NOT been smoking anything mind expanding – unless you want to count the salmon. But remember, no matter how much salmon you smoke, it’s just waist-expanding, not mind-expanding. Read the rest of this entry »
When you’re an adult in a kid’s body you see things differently. So when our gang of little rascals got caught doorbell ditching, I knew I wasn’t on a highway to hell – maybe a highway to hijinks, but certainly not the road to ruin. And not to sound too streetwise, but while some say that being brought home in a police squad car at the age of 11 may have been a precursor to a life of crime, to me it was the smallest of small potatoes. Bogart in Casablanca had it right in another context when he pointed out that these problems, “don’t amount to a hill of beans.” Potatoes, beans…it’s all food for thought.
And as I air this cleanest of dirty laundry, I knew back in 1972 I was far, far removed from ever being churned, put through the wringer and then hung out to dry by the criminal justice system. And not to sound cleanlier than thou, I knew I’d not be taken to the cleaners by the authorities. Nope, I’d just be a little agitated. But by virtue of this “wrong of passage” (as opposed to a “rite of passage”), I’d get to be the coolest “bad boy” in Mr. Campbell’s 6th Grade class for a couple of weeks. Since I was 11 at the time of the “incident” allow me to kidsplain the story to you.
I understood limits – how far to push against something before it snapped back at you. Even as an 11-year-old stripling I was mightily aware of boundary lines and the importance of staying within them. Life was like a giant coloring book that way and I was savvy enough to stay inside the lines so my life wouldn’t become messy. In advertising my “brush with the law” to my schoolmates I was hoping for a measure of street cred to give the 11-year-old Hardiman brand a whiff of danger and a quantum of Bondian cachet (so much for kidsplainin’).
Yes, at the tender age of 11 in 1972 I was trying to create a buzz in the pre-social media influencer age. Maybe I could have it all at 11. I could be clever, tall, handsome and dangerous. That was the calculus anyway, even if this ego-driven fantasy was built on a sandcastle of collapsing truths. I wanted to be a bad ass, but in the easy, non-confrontational way – to be regarded as a bad ass, not by fighting or stealing, but by reputation so I wouldn’t have to do the heavy lifting required to be an actual bad ass. Read the rest of this entry »
Oh the Treasures to Be Found in the Wee, Small Hours of the Morning
Where to begin. It’s 1978. Jimmy Carter is in the White House. The disco hit Boogie Oogie Oogie has us shaking our booties till we just can’t boogie no more. Streaming services are something offered only by a urologist. And yours truly is a wide-eyed 17-year old luxuriating in the endless summer between high school graduation and the start of college.
Having been sprung like a jailbird from the confines of Henninger High School in Syracuse, NY, I felt the dizzying freedom an inmate must feel after serving their sentence and being released into the good graces of society. I had served my sentence – 12 long years (as opposed to the “short” ones?). And I believe I served my sentence with some distinction and even got time off for good behavior since I graduated after the 11th grade (woo-hoo!).
This rite of passage complete, any future schooling would be pursued on my terms. I would no longer be a burden to society. In the future, it would be a burden on me. But for now I was happy to navigate in this once in a lifetime twilight zone between high school and college. It seemed bizarre that having dearly earned the sweet release from mandatory public schooling and its free education, I would now immediately plunge voluntarily right back into it, and even pay my own way for the privilege. God works in mysterious ways, and so does higher education.
I mention all this by way of establishing set and setting for what was to be my 1978 Summer of Otherworldly Delights. It was a pleasantly disruptive time for me. One I looked forward to with dizzying anticipation. Up until this point in my life I’d always known what I’d be doing the next year. My GPS had come from the factory with the route of my formative years all mapped out till graduation, upon which it uttered the now commonplace phrase, “You have arrived?”
Really? That was it. That was the journey. Someone or something thinks I have arrived? Well OK boomer. Freed from the restraints of compulsory education, I could now plug in the GPS coordinates of my choice and travel there as I saw fit. This is the freedom everyone so dearly seeks. This is what it felt like in 1978. My choices would be limited only by my imagination and, of course, that sabotaging little voice inside that reminds you, “Oh, you couldn’t possibly aspire to that.”
Four Foremost Factors, Poorly Ranked
Long term I didn’t know what would occupy me, but in that short term summer I had fertile little plans gestating happily in my still maturing frontal lobes. First and foremost there would be, “no more pencils, no more books, no more teachers dirty looks.” In truth school wasn’t that bad, but I was glad the compulsory part of it was over and I was ready to move on.
Second and not foremost, I would work. Circumstances were such that I could be productively plugged into gainful employment whenever I chose to work (which was often) at our family glass and mirror business. A business my divorced, disinterested and dithering dad ran with all the aplomb of a dust bunny. I had developed a fondness for its mom and pop retail charms as well as an appreciation of its minor commerce with major players like Carrier, Conrail and GM’s Terex heavy equipment division. Anyway, the upshot of my unexceptional work ethic was that I enjoyed my time with dad and always had a little walkin’ around money.
Third and still not foremost, the “little plans” that I mentioned included one big plan. A strange and wonderful plan catalyzed by my new found freedom and a penchant for out-of-this-world experiences. I resolved to dissolve into the nocturnal abyss and share in the treasures to be found in the wee, small hours of the morning. This would be undertaken in the still of the night within the eerie confines of nearby and dear by Sunnycrest Park.
Fourth and kinda foremost without actually being foremost, my other plans that summer included playing pick-up basketball games, visiting with friends and moving my mother out of our top floor flat at the end of August when I was off to college and she off to a posh one bedroom apartment closer to her work in downtown Syracuse. With mommy lacking any extra rooms, and daddy sleeping on a cot and living in the back of the glass shop and unable to provide adequate shelter for anyone (not even himself), the umbilical cord was cut and I was now an emancipated child at 17. Read the rest of this entry »
As they say, “There’s a lot to unpack here.” But my stuff will never get unpacked. How can it? I have way too much baggage. You too? I thought so. I’m not worried though and neither should you, because eventually it all gets put in its place. Fraught, little David may experience pangs of free floating anxiety at his mountains of baggage to be dealt with, but serene, knowing David is completely equanimous about his barrage of baggage. More baggage, I might add, than can be found on Carousel 8 at LAX International Terminal after an Airbus 380 unloads its baggage hold for its 525 passengers. That’s a lot of baggage and a lot to unpack. So let’s start.
You may wonder how you produced so much baggage to begin with. I mean you were just going for one lifetime on planet earth. It was advertised as a 28,000 day, 27,999 night, no expense paid trip to the 3rd rock from the sun, but somehow you managed to pack enough for 3 lifetimes. And now you’re stuck with all this baggage. And because of the profligate manner in which you spent your onboard ship credits (Free Will), you managed to produce a whole other lifetime of karmic baggage. You forgot rule number one: when you’re in a hole, stop digging. Well at least you were smart enough to avoid the Time Share sales pitch. You were smart enough to avoid that right? Don’t tell me you’re going to do a 2-hour Time Share sales pitch – well, more baggage for you. I just think you could’ve invested your time more wisely.
This idea of “stop digging” is akin to the doctor’s creed of “First do no harm.” And as this pertains to the traveler’s journey here on earth the creed should be, “First, just bring what you need – which is nothing. Well nothing but an open heart and a closed mouth. And stop producing more baggage. Jesus Christ! Can’t your stuck mind be a little more flexible?” We wish it was that easy. But who among us isn’t guilty of trying to shape our world to suit us and consequently produce more baggage than Samsonite does in a year.
Oh, d-d-dear. What’s to be done about all this unbidden baggage? It feels like there are 1200 separate Pandora’s Boxes in my head. Who would want to open them, let alone unpack them? Let’s examine quickly the schemes and plans I’ve hatched to rid myself of unwanted baggage: Maybe Goodwill will take it. Maybe if I ignore it, it will just go away. Maybe if I get rich enough I can distract myself for an entire lifetime so I don’t really notice my challenges while I focus on fun stuff like writing clever little essays or choosing just the right tone for my spray tan or binge-watching Real Housewives of Cell Block H – Yuk! In all cases, never underestimate the power of distraction. Read the rest of this entry »
Drawing from their rich tradition of shunning modernity while embracing simplicity the Amish community has opened a 666-acre family fun park called The Amish Amusement Barn. Hoping to win converts to their joy of sober merriments, Church Elders say they raised this Barn as an analog antidote to today’s digital distress. Church Youngers say it puts the “fun” back in fundamentalism. Contrary to the generally positive inhouse reviews, Church traditionalists lament, “We have visited this so-called Amusement Barn – and we are not amused.”
For purposes of writing a review (full disclosure: This review was underwritten by Famous Aimish Chocolate Chip Cookies – a division of Mennonite Industries) yours truly visited this proper paean to God-given fun. And in keeping with the sentiments of the Amish community, this review is written by candlelight on a typewriter while sipping on some mead. I hereby submit the following review:
The Amusement Barn bespeaks good, clean fun the way God meant it to be pre-Garden of Eden – i.e., tempting, but not too tempting. And with a janitor to visitor ratio of 1:5 this Amusement Barn is a classic case of cleanliness being next to Godliness.
The park seems to be from a bygone era. But as wary visitors begin to participate in the Amusement Barn’s rides, games and reveries, they find themselves transformed from a nervous Nellie in digital distress to a serene Solomon in analog rapture as the yoke of modernity is lifted from their weary shoulders. That’s how I see it anyway. But maybe that’s just the mead talking.
Located deep in Mennonite country, where men are Mennonites and women are Womennonites, The Amish Amusement Barn begins to reorient their guests immediately upon arrival with visitors parking at a staging area about 1 mile from the Barn. From there they’re whisked away in an enchanting little horse and buggy driven by authentic Amish teamsters. As your stately open air conveyance gently jostles you on its journey to this Mecca of merriment, anxieties begin to melt away to the extent one hardly notices the 40 ton 18-wheelers rumbling by on the interstate at 70 mph, not 3 feet from the buggy.
In a move piggybacking on the popularity of its Hall of Animatronic Presidents, the Disney Co. announced a new attraction – The Hall of Stationary Bowling Pins. Disney hailed the new exhibit as a great way for haggard park guests to hit the reset button – especially if someone has just knocked down all the pins. In a fickle world of short attention spans and immediate gratification, the Hall’s celebration of Zenlike joy in promoting the quiet veneration of stationary bowling pins seems a risky bet – especially when set against thrill-seeking clientele expecting the exhilarating sprays of Splash Mountain.
The hushed museum quality of this static exhibit is as dialed down as they come. And yet, however counterintuitive it may be, this retro-move seems to have struck a nerve with parkgoers. And this strike has carried over to the bowling pins. For example, many visitors were overcome with emotion after viewing the shrine and commented how strange it was that something so very stationary, could also be so very moving. Go figure.
Visitors to this shrine can expect to swap out their shoes at the service desk in order to walk on the hallowed hardwood floors. And once inside the hall, patrons are asked to stay in their assigned lane and to keep their minds out of the gutter. Visitors are invited to commune with, and observe these proudly erect stationary pins. Some say they can even experience a pinsetters pride while gazing upon these 10 triangularly displayed pins in all their imperturbable glory.
They’re all there: The kingpin, the 7-pin and that rascally 10-pin. See them all spotlighted one by one in their unpainted, undifferentiated and motionless glory – standing at attention and bathed in patriotic light. The bowling pins possess a Presidential eminence despite betraying no movement, no speech and just the thinnest personification beheld in these wooden monoliths. They’re a lot like Calvin Coolidge that way. Keglers sometimes spend the whole day here, buffing there balls and dining on chili dogs at the 11th Frame Snack Bar.
Solemnly situated next to the stationary display is the venerated Tomb of the Unknown Bowling Pin. This orphaned and unidentified pin is resting fittingly in an old alley. As befits its status, the Tomb of the Unknown Bowling Pin is dutifully guarded 24/7 by an active-duty Pinsetter squatting at attention and resplendent in a crisp, camouflage bowling shirt. Rain or shine, the elaborate Changing of the Pinsetter ceremony is a well-attended, somber occasion played out every 2 hours or every 300 game – whichever comes first. They say whenever there’s a Changing of the Pinsetter at the Tomb of the Unknown Bowling Pin, you can hear a pin drop.
After emerging from the exhibit, Marty Cliché remarked, “The Hall of Stationary Bowling Pins is right up my alley. The entire experience just bowled me over. It strikes me as a great place to spend spare time.”
The Hall has not been without controversy with some calling it a pagan idolization of inanimate objects. This anti-bowling group would like nothing other than to see this Mecca to False Idols knocked down and scattered to the winds while the PBA (Professional Bowlers Association) strenuously disagrees saying, “Whomever shall knock down these pins has gotta have balls.”
Let it be known that when I become irretrievably incapacitated, or worse, unable to operate my iPhone, I choose to be euthanized and then cremated – in that order. I don’t want any surprise cremation until I’m good and flatlined. And this is not some morbid fascination with the great beyond. It’s all part of a grand strategy where I come out the other side of my death bigger, better and more magnificent than when I went in. My unorthodox plan for my cremation could become very popular and might suggest a societal trend. Then again it might suggest I’m a lunatic. It’s not a question for me to decide. I’ll leave that to my court-appointed conservator to resolve. In any event, I bequeath to posterity my cremation plan for a post-David life. And if posterity refuses my plan, I’ll bestow it upon a more ambitious and can-do heir capable of executing my wishes – listening Bezos or Musk.
Revered astrophysicist Sir Stephen Hawking’s ashes are buried in Westminster Abbey between Isaac Newton’s body at rest and Charles Darwin’s non-evolving corpse. When you’re a genius it’s easy to keep good company. I don’t fit the genius category (except when it comes to my knowledge of Hogan’s Heroes) so for my final resting place I resolved to have my unknighted ashes scattered to the wind and leave it at that.
But Sir Stephen Hawking’s genius gave me another idea on how to venerate and perhaps even invigorate my lifeless ashes. Instead of having them strewn piously in some verdant meadow or scattered ceremoniously into one of our fine, welcoming oceans, I’d have my ashes compressed into an infinite singularity. An infinite singularity – like the mighty primordial singularity from which the Big Bang boomed and all of creation sprang forth. Sir Stephen discusses infinite singularities in his monumental work A Brief History of Time. He describes this infinite singularity with unclouded professorial surety, but also in a manner that is completely impenetrable: “In the moment before the Big Bang, the universe is thought to have had zero size and so to have been infinitely hot.” Huh?
Now I don’t know what any of that means, or why one would follow the other – that is, why would a zero size universe (whatever that is) should be infinitely hot. But I’ll take it on faith that Mr. Hawking is on to something Big. Really Big. Amazon Prime big. So hitching the success of my afterlife to Sir Stephen’s luminous star seems like a good bet. More specifically, combining my quantum calculus with Sir Stephen’s theories, I believe that if my carboniferous ashes were compressed into an infinite singularity, my cremains would achieve Hawking’s vaunted “zero size and infinite heat.”
And don’t think this is some pie-in-the-sky idea. It’s more of a pi in the circumference idea I’ve thought through very carefully. The plan is to have my cremains launched toward each other at the speed of light in the 17 mile circumference loop of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland). The result of this collision would be the hyper-concentration of my cremains into an infinite singularity and would set the stage for a 2nd Big Bang. A 2nd Big Bang based on my cremains, whereby I might become the universe and permeate this new Davidverse with the unmistakable tang of my being. This isn’t about notions of legacy or immortality. It’s about us God sparklers retaking our rightful place in the Cosmos. Not just for me, but for everyone.
This new Davidverse would be a divine and accessible place where everyone would be cleansed by meteor showers. Where we wouldn’t need Intimacy Coordinators because we’d know just what to touch and when to touch it. Where never was heard a discouraging word and the skies were not cloudy all day. In this less formal Daveverse; napkin rings, finger bowls and grapefruit spoons would be optional. Other than to say, “Don’t play with matches,” you wouldn’t have to tip people any more. It would be a place where 2 additional hours of daylight would be available for busy people who complain, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day.” Guilt and depression will be so last week – so will 7 days ago. In this 2nd Big Bang universe, circumstances, predicaments and situations (which I believe are all about the same thing) will be replaced with a vitality of soul last seen when Bobby Sherman danced his way through an in-house milk commercial on Shindig. Bobby says not one word and exudes effortless energy drawn from some deep wellspring of joy we’d all do well to tap into.
I know. Becoming an infinite singularity is a Big Ask. Perhaps the biggest Ask ever. But what can I say? I’ve always been a big pain in the Ask.
Outtakes, Addenda and Bootleg Material from “A Brief History of My Cremation”
Now in the odd way I always have extra puzzle pieces leftover when I’m thru with a puzzle, I have extra material leftover from the above story A Brief History of My Creation. I’ll share this less cogent material with you below:
I don’t make the karmic laws, I just try to avoid them.
Stephen Hawking’s son went into the underwear business and wrote a book called A Brief History of Briefs.
I’m sure in some parallel universe they’ll be a Stephen Hawking avatar who is an Astro-herbalist and writes a groundbreaking new book called A Brief History of Thyme.
Some people call it euthanasia because they want their suicide to feel more virtuous.
And don’t you find it odd that the pedestrian term “Big Bang” has been applied to something so mysteriously magnificent. I mean the transcendent ignition point to the universe – an event so ineffably awesome releasing untold energies and the beginning of time – and the best descriptive term scientists can apply to it is…”Well, it’s like a Big Bang.” One can only imagine the Big Bang translated into other Languages:
- French: Le Grande Boom Boom
- Mexican: Habanero Supreme
- Ebonics: Boom Shaka Laka
- Japanese: Boomzilla or Shibumi
- Esperanto: Bam Bam Pebbles
- New Age: Cosmic Achoo
- Yiddish: Mazel Pop
I’ll always carry a torch for catalytic converters – an acetylene torch. I had to in my business. How else was I going to cut them out of the exhaust system?
Hello law-abiding citizens, my name is Eugene Clark and I was once a catalytic converter thief. My street name was Acetylene Gene and due to my dastardly deeds I had a carbon footprint the size of a crop circle. And while catalytic converters save the environment from ghastly gasses, they saved me from financial ruin. That is until I got caught platinum-handed by the Alameda County Sheriff while practicing my craft in a dark and unmonitored Costco employee parking lot. I had just harvested my 3rd converter of the night when Officer Malloy collared me. I knew I should’ve stopped at 1, but you know how it is when you’re at Costco – you always end up getting more than you planned on.
Since that eventful evening I’ve gone straight. I mean I’ve always been straight, it’s just that I no longer steal for a living (unless you count not paying rent at my girlfriend Stacy’s trailer). The Alameda County Probation Dept. sentenced me to house arrest and outfitted me with a hi-tech GPS tracking ankle bracelet. That didn’t last. I kept torching it off and selling the bracelet for its precious metals and valuable circuitry (old habits die hard). The Probation Dept. finally clamped on an unforgiving manacle of worthless iron and I got the message. I’m housebound once again (trailer-bound really) which is no different than my life during COVID. As part of my plea bargaining sentence I’m duty bound to enlighten the public on the nefarious ways catalytic converter thieves operate and how citizens can protect themselves against such rank thievery.
To the School Children of America
Kids, as the theme song for the TV series Baretta advised, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” Of course Robert Blake, the star of Baretta, is in jail for murder so I don’t know how valid this line of reasoning is. Let me come at you another way. I believe it really hurts your grades to spend too much time trying to picture your teacher naked. It’s a short term benefit that’s not helpful in the long run. But if I could say something more instructive and useful to the school children (and the court does order me to do so) it would be this: Kids, don’t meddle with precious metals. Rare earth materials belong either in the earth or under a car in the exhaust-scrubbing catacombs of a catalytic convertor. A life of larceny will eventually catch up with you so you might as well get on the straight and narrow so you can avoid living in a tin can with manacled ankles.
What do catalytic converters do? Yeah, what do day do?
Catalytic converters are like the automobile’s liver. They filter out (convert) harmful and poisonous exhaust gases into relatively harmless compounds. More specifically they transform carbon dioxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and hydrocarbons into more environmentally friendly carbon dioxides and water vapor by means of chemical reactions. As the polluting hot exhaust gases pass through honeycombed chambers coated with precious metals at temperatures of 400°, chemical reactions occur that essentially neuter the malevolent gases and convert them into less noxious vapors.
Catalytic convertors have a salutary effect on the environment depending on if you know the meaning of the word salutary. Some regard catalytic converters as solid state chimney sweeps. It’s worth noting that despite the ubiquity of catalytic converters, the average vehicle still produces roughly 8 tons of GHG (Greenhouse Gases) annually, mostly in the form of carbon dioxide. Now multiply that by 1.4 billion cars on earth and that’s a ton of CO2. Actually it’s 11.2 billion tons – almost as heavy as Homer’s The Odyssey.
That’s what’s different about today’s global warming. It’s not some endogenous cyclical process. It’s a gross imbalance of 11.2 billion tons of CO2 injected into the air annually. It’s not part of some organic long term cycle of heating and cooling that the Earth can naturally manage. The earth has never faced this level of unmitigated ecological imbalance since that asteroid impacted the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago, wiping out the dinosaurs and injuring Barbara Walters. Barbara has since recovered, but the earth may not be able to recover from this avalanche of CO2 as greenhouse gases slowly trap evermore heat. I’m not a doom and gloomer, I’m just stating it as a distinct possibility. It could be catastrophic. The only thing left would be Mt. Rushmore. Read the rest of this entry »
In 1975 at the tender and horny age of 14 I spied with my little eyes a glimpse of 2 glorious female breasts. At the time they were heaving provocatively and bathed in the pink smoky light of the Palace-a-Go-Go Lounge on James Street in my hometown of Syracuse, NY. These breasts possessed my ideal demographic – human, female, and naked. Through the eyes of a lovelorn 14 year-old, these priceless ornaments were like 2 Crown Jewels perched regally on the chest of a royal subject. I took one breathless glance at those twin charms and sighed “God Save the Queen.”
You may wonder what circumstances gave birth to a callow 14 year-old finding himself in a position to ogle a stripper gyrating onstage at midnight? Well the real story behind this wormhole into a forbidden dimension begins at the intersection of lust and wanderlust. Actually it began at the intersection of Wolf Street and 7th North Street where my sister Gail had an apartment.
And that’s where our story truly begins. But before we pick up things at the Danforth Arms Apartments, some background is needed so you may understand my journey from being a student with plenty of homework and chores to do on a quiet Sunday evening at home, to an outlaw truant drinking in a salacious eyeful of Gypsy Rose Lee strutting her fleshy stuff across a smoky stage. I don’t want to tell the story too quickly or you won’t appreciate the journey. Now that I’m 60 I know how to pace myself in elucidating a story so you’ll better appreciate it. No longer am I an excitable 14 year-old prone to premature elucidation. Read the rest of this entry »
And I’m neither referring to NASA landing and operating 5 rovers on Mars (not to mention a helicopter), nor am I referring to the fact that an Airbus 350 weighing 620,000 lbs. at takeoff can stay airborne for 19 hours and fly 9700 miles. While I marvel at these stellar (and interstellar) achievements, what I am referring to specifically is something even more miraculous and decidedly earthbound. It’s probably the most miraculous feat of forever and for all-time. What I’m referring to is free soloist Alex Honnold becoming the first human to summit the 3200′ sheer granite face of El Capitan. And he improbably accomplished this without benefit of any mountaineering equipment except for a pair of really good rubbery shoes and a keen sense of which way is up.
I use the term “the first human” advisedly because even though I’ve witnessed Mr. Honnold ascend El Capitan in the movie Free Solo, I still don’t believe it’s humanly possible to do what he did. Clearly his status as “human” is in question. Even hybrid human Jeff Goldblum in “The Fly” would have had difficulty traversing this unforgiving eminence. And Honnold made his ascent in only 3 hours and 56 minutes – or about as fast as it takes Elon Musk to manufacture 150 Teslas. So perhaps you can understand why, when I consider Mr. Honnold’s feat, I say, “Wait, did that really happen?”
Yes, it really did happen and there is much to say about this superhuman achievement. But words will only conjure a mental dimension of this experience and that’s why I’ve provided some video: Free Solo. It is a worthy exploration to comment on and marvel at this spectacle of indescribable derring-do. And as I share my sense of unalloyed awe at Alex’s outrageous feat and his courageous feet, I realize this endeavor is just business as usual for our uniquely wired Alex. He is not doing this with feigned swagger and false bravado. To Alex, this anti-acrophobic act is not some kind of flashy derring-do. It’s just…do. Read the rest of this entry »