Saturday, December 1, 2007
EVEL KNIEVEL 1938-2007
As trail blazers go, Evel Knievel may have been the most underrated trail blazer of all time. (This does not include Jerome Kersey, who is the most underrated Trail Blazer, Portland-style, of all time.) Think about it. If it weren't for Evel Knievel, there would have been no inspiration for the Happy Days episodes where Fonzie jumped the trash cans on his motorcycle and where he jumped the shark on water skis, and thus the term "jump the shark" never becomes part of our lexicon. There would be no jumptheshark.net, and Fonzie's bag of tricks would begin and end with the ultra-lame bang-the-fist-on-the-jukebox gimmick. Knievel made Fonzie.
Also, Knievel single handedly kept thousands of physicians in business throughout the 70's and 80's as little boys everywhere spent summer afternoons building ramps, jumping their bikes over rows of shrubs, impaling themselves on the curb and breaking a bone or two in the process. The billions of dollars generated for our economy in physician visits and plaster for body casts for Evel wannabes is incalculable. Suffice to say, whatever status the United States has as an economic superpower, at least 50% of it can be attributed to the Evel Knievel Era of adolescent jackassery. (For the record, the remainder of the credit should go to internet porn and Britney Spears' frappucino addiction.)
In his later years, Knievel was beset with a lengthy list of ailments, to the point where I think a good medical school should now offer a course called Evel Knievel: The Twilight Years. In the end, I prefer to remember him as the devil-may-care, tough ass sonofabitch who would hurl his body hundreds of feet in the air at top speed for our pleasure. Rest in Peace, Evel.