Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Balloon Boy and the Struggle for Weird

I'm just going to come out and say it: The problem I have with your sports, your reality shows and your wack-ass worldview comes down to you being too scared to keep BEING WEIRD. The good stuff bubbles up and we sadly file it away without remembering our true freak natures. On the freeway, in school and at work our breathing stops as we stare at  flashy, purchasable things...the kind of gunk that covers up the streetlight between your eyebrows.

I'm no different but here's how I recently hit the pause button. Take the example of the Balloon Boy. Remember that? Some hick kid steals his dad's makeshift UFO/weather balloon, flies it out of control and crashes it in a field to a media blitz across the nation. The story changes a bit when it turns out he wasn't in the balloon and his pop just wanted to get on the tele.

What got me was how cool that kid could have been if he actually did fly around INSIDE that thing. I won't wax super poetic on the need to get away from it all, you already know it. However, remember the initial feeling: remember being a little shithead who wanted to get away from your parents. The need to escape never goes away though: how about them Control Systems you deal with now?

So when I heard of Kent Couch strapping balloons to his lawn chair and flying away 200 miles to land safely in a field, I felt a deep smile well up. You can pull off the crazy even if your beer gut hangs to your knees.

Remembering what the hell kept you going as a kid is the takeaway here, boss. Kent's risk was worth it because I recalled the value of what people call "weird", "strange" and "ridiculous"... The weird jolted me back to me.

 A grimoire from the past



Moving around in a storage unit popped up this old freakout book from the Eighties. Here I plotted utility belts, boats made of cardboard that could support a human, and a fucking lawn chair with enough Estes motor rockets and helium balloons strapped to it that would allow me to fly away.

I never pulled it off, maybe it was the early signs of the Demon of Procrastination finding a soul to feast on, but the idea seemed so reasonable to this kid. A lifetime later, I found some #daug from Oregon proving it could be done. That's just how the weird rolls... and that's why it is all that matters; because it ALL matters. 

Thanks, Mr. Couch.

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