Sunday, December 02, 2007

goodbye evel... (you were kind of a bastard but you will be missed)

evel knievel action figure from childhood

stepping a little bit outside of the airforms arena here, but if you were a child of the 60's and a kid of the 70's you had to feel at least a little pang of sadness at the death of motorcycle maniac evel knievel on november 30th. sure he was ornery at times, indeed he was a macho chauvinist at others, his ego was the size of a small country, and he most definitely was a politically incorrect sonofabitch... but, for many a young kid looking for a legend, he was the closest thing we had to an actual superhero.

like superman, he seemed, at times, able to fly; and like superman, there seemed to be only one mysterious thing that could stop him - gravity (instead of kryptonite). evel even had a younger, and much less exciting, counterpart - his son robbie knievel about as lackluster as superman's superboy.

of course, most fans remember the snake river canyon fiasco, the smaller successes, the cape, the cane, and of course the toys. remarkably, i found my childhood knievel "action figure" a few years ago in a box of old things and eventually added the missing helmet. instead of ending up in the goodwill pile, he's been hanging around my studio even since.

i remember a few years ago, driving from los angeles to sun valley idaho for an exhibition and passing signs for snake river canyon on the drive. i hadn't thought about this place, or knievel for years; but for some reason i didn't want to stop and take a peek - as i didn't really want to see the reality as the name snake river canyon seemed perfect for a more mythical place... a childhood place.

for me, one of knievel's finest moments came much later in life, probably a year or two ago, when he was the guest on jim rome's radio show. rome, who clearly idolized knievel as a kid, asked him why in the world he would've attempted the snake river canyon jump when he knew full well there was only a 50/50 chance he would survive. knievel paused for what seemed like an eternity and then answered with a kind of dirty harry inflection... "do you know who the hell you're talking to...?"

i am assuming that, wherever he's gone to, his spirit continues to spew heavy doses of similar attitude to just about everyone and everything it comes in contact with, regardless of whether it's got a pair of wings or, more likely, a pair of horns...

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Blogger Dan Goodsell said...

you are crazy but I think you really summed up Evel.

4:48 PM  

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