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Wikipedia is Dangerous and Beautiful

Posted 16 July 2007, 5.55 am by The_Roach

This piece was originally posted last week in a rare update to my blog, The Face of Adversity, but since nobody reads that, it might as well reside here where someone might actually see it.

It's very early in the morning. I've had a fair bit to drink and smoked enough cigarettes to make my lungs ache from deep breath. I'm thinking about legend and myth, faces and heels, history, legacy, butterfly wings and ripples on ponds. Curiously enough, it has me remembering my grandfather, dead now eleven years.


I don't remember what inspired me to perform a Wikipedia search for Vince McMahon tonight. I know that I had been playing Fallout. I'd then wound up on MySpace as a result of an article I'm working on for PROVOKE magazine. There was a fascinating video posted in the comments of said article's subject about a "hip-hop church" that I'm curious to attend. Past this, I can't recall, despite it only being a few hours ago. I tend to jump around a bit, probably due to the multi-tasking options that have evolved during my time with computers. Now that I think about it, I remember the time when having multiple browser windows (let alone tabs within a browser) was unthinkable. It tends to make my memory a bit jumbled, which might be a good topic for a future post.

I traveled from Vince McMahon through a history of professional wrestling, opening many of these new-fangled tabs along the way. Degeneration X, Chris Benoit (and the scandal that I caught a glimpse of on FOX News the other day), Undertaker. I read all about the Montreal Screwjob and learned all sorts of new wrestling slang. It's been a very useless, educational experience. Click by click, I traveled through the life stories of names that were vaguely familiar to me from popular culture.

My experience with professional wrestling as an adult has been limited to a few parties thrown for Pay-Per-View events during the turn of this century. I wasn't interested in the "sport" so much as the people who watched it. I would show up at these get-togethers from time to time, which were treated akin to a Super-Bowl party, as an anthropological study. I think it was ego more than anything that drove me to attend, as I watched these peers of mine become enraptured by what I viewed as base entertainment. They weren't under any illusion as to the reality of the show, but the drama kept them coming back.

I had even less experience as a child but the explosion of the entertainment juggernaut in the mid-1980's made it impossible to be unaware of its existence. I remember being friends with a neighbor girl, two doors down (east, the companion piece to Mr. Wooley's semi-detached townhouse). The layout of her house seems very familiar to me, though I'm sure I confuse it to some extent in my memory with my father's childhood home a couple miles away. There was wrestling on the television in that girl's home, of that I'm certain.

You'll have to forgive me. I'm feeling emotional, even nostalgic to a certain degree and that always makes me ramble a bit. I promise that there's a point to all of this but I'm about to make a sharp turn that will seem jarring to some.

As a child, you visit Santa, tell him what you want and get a photo taken on his lap. It's the traditional Christmas ritual. I'm not sure if any photos of me on a mall Santa lap were ever purchased but I was taken yearly to sit and inform of my desires. Back then, they had these crappy, little shops attached to the Santa enclave that parents were forbidden to enter. While there, impressionable children could be coerced into buying assorted junk (at no doubt obscenely inflated profit margins) for their friends and family by teenagers in elf costumes. The Beautiful Girlfriend confirmed for me (after she woke up and wandered in here to see why I haven't come to bed yet) that the same sort of stores were a part of her childhood as well, so the phenomenon at least survived into the early 90's on the east coast. I cannot recall ever seeing one since moving to Arizona seventeen years ago.

One year, wandering through one of these wonderlands of cheap tinsel, I bought my grandfather a massive beer mug. Proportion and memory being what they are, I'm still certain that it was a fair sight larger than my skull. I did not know that he did not make a habit of drinking beer. My knowledge of beer drinking at that age is suspect, for what it's worth. It just seemed like the right thing to get him, I guess. Printed on the side of the mug was André the Giant, arms upraised in victory.

I never really needed to sit on some mall Santa's lap as I child, I don't think. Sure, there was the fantasy of a man who flew across the world in one night, giving gifts to all the good boys and girls, and fantasy is an integral part of our lives at that time. Looking back, the only Santa Claus I ever needed lived a six-hour drive away on our family farm in Slippery Rock. He looked the part, even acted the role for local schoolchildren, and that may have something to do with my memory of him. Even once I'd acknowledged the non-existence of a real St. Nick, that awareness never eliminated the desire to believe. I had seen him with my own eyes, year after year, that spirit of charity and goodwill towards man.

There are some people whose legends will never die. I'd like to think that Harry Thompson is one of those people. He was not famous, not renowned, just a good and humble man. Tonight, as I read legends of pop culture figures from a fake sport, the realization of why exactly I gave him that beer mug that he never needed in the first place became clear. He was a giant, larger than life, bigger than all the Paul Bunyans and John Henrys that ever lived.

He used that mug for coffee.

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Doggybag/baggy_dog is an artist living and working in Barga, Italy. Click here to read about this piece in his own words.


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Props to Green Mamba for bringing the weirdness

Hmph

80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!

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