Rest in Peace: Three Giant Influences

May 22nd, 2008 | Category: Marginalia, Videos

Not normally one to dwell on such things, I thought it would be appropriate to acknowledge a few recent deaths, as the lives of these people impacted mine in profound ways.

Evel Knievel (October 17, 1938 -– November 30, 2007):

Evel in his later years. [photo by Spike Jonze]

Every kid who’s ever stacked up anything in the street, propped a piece of plywood up on it, and tried to jump his bike over his kid sister owes a debt to Evel Knievel. No one hucked himself over more rows of vehicles and gaping holes in the ground than Knievel. My first twenty-inch bicycle was a mock-Evel Knievel model. Whilst in kindergarten, I remember setting up a board on a rock in the driveway, cranking toward it, and barely leaving the ground as I tried to launch off of it. Seeing this, my grandfather told me to keep doing it, that one day it’d earn me some money. Now, I’ve never earned any money from launching my bike off the ground, but I’ve been doing it for a most of my life.

Gary Gygax (July 27, 1938 –- March 4, 2008):

Admitting that I ever played an RPG is like coming out of some sort of nerd closet, but from fourth through seventh grade, I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons. The recent passing of co-creator Gary Gygax made me remember rolling the multi-sided dice, negotiating those archaic maps, and dealing with overbearing DMs. I learned a lot on those all-night campaigns, and Gary Gygax is partly responsible/to blame.

Tony Silver (April 15, 1935 — February 1, 2008):

In 1983 Tony Silver directed what is still considered the graffiti documentary, Style Wars. Seeing this movie blew my head wide open, and it continues to change lives everyday. As El-P put it, “This man single handedly inspired me and many I know to make the connection between the paint on the walls and subways I grew up with in New York City and Hip-hop culture. Before then I just thought it was pretty. Tony connected the dots for me visually and contextually with the release of his movie many years ago. May he rest in peace.”

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Usually we see footage of the crashes, but here’s Evel Knievel making a seventeen-car jump in Portland, Oregon circa 1973 (runtime: 1:24):

Further Posting:

2 Comments »

  • William said:

    I’ve never seen Style Wars, but would the fact that I saw Beat Street (and purchased the soundtrack) earn me any points?

    Also, I was crazy for some Evel Knieval as a kid. I had an action figure set that came with a Barbie-sized Evel, a motorcycle, and a ramp. Fun stuff.

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