Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Death Becomes You
How do you want to die?
Ever thought about what your last days on earth are going to be like?
If given the choice in some weird paradimensional setting, would you elect to buy that golden ticket that tells you when your train will stop? Or would you just leave it to chance, or fate, or God, or some other unexplainable Jedi-like force that provides the foundation for religion, science, and karma, and leisurely free fall backwards off life's highest peak? I mean really not bother and trod along, proceed with your daily rituals like you've got an eternity ahead of you.
Almost everyone fears death, because death is not a first hand experience. But we all bear witness to this phenomenon every day. Mostly its a friend of a friend, someone else's family, some poor souls in a truck half way across the globe, your favorite pet, the bad guys on the silver screen, your neighbor you never knew about..
And so if you were being cast for your last stage play, the fat lady rehearsing her runs in the background while you prepare for your final curtain call, would you 'choose' to die young but unexpectedly? or ancient and wrinkly but anxiously counting down? sick and in bed? or healthy but in a horrific accident? freakish and famous? or regular and discreet?
Call me morbid, Sunshine, but you know you can't but feel a little envious of how these legends and champions (except for the postal Vietnamese) got picked for their grand exits..
Steve Irwin: Impaled by a Stingray
Is it even possible to start a manly list about anything without the Crocodile Hunter? Steve died as manly as possible on 2006, while filming a documentary entitled "Ocean's Deadliest" in Queensland's Great Barrier Reef. His heart was impaled by nothing less than a short-tail stingray barb. His legacy will impale us forever.
Eleazar Maccabeus: Crushed to death by a War Elephant
Here's a guy with balls of steel, just like his whole family. During the Maccabean revolt, where Jewish people revolted against Seleucidic and Syrian rulers, Eleazar identified a war elephant that he believed to carry the Seleucid King Antiochus V --due to the special armor the elephant wore-- so he decided to endanger his life by attacking the elephant and thrusting a spear into its belly. Yes, the dead elephant then collapsed upon Eleazar, killing him as well, but remained a hero for eternity.
Empedocles: Jumped into a Volcano
Diogenes Laërtius records the legend that pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles died by throwing himself into an active volcano (Mount Etna in Sicily), so that people would believe his body had vanished and he had turned into an immortal god; however, the volcano threw back one of his bronze sandals, revealing the deceit. Another legend has it that he threw himself in the volcano to prove to his disciples that he was immortal; he believed he would come back as a god among man after being devoured by the fire. Ok, it didn't work, but here we are talking about him, which makes him inmortal in a way.
J. G. Parry-Thomas: Died breaking a Speed Record
In 1927, the Welsh racing driver J. G. Parry-Thomas was trying to regain his own world land speed record that had been broken just weeks earlier by Malcolm Campbell on the same beach of Pendine Sands. His car, Babs, used exposed chains to connect the engine to the drive wheels while the high engine cover required him to drive with his head tilted to one side – the right. On his final run the right-hand drive chain broke at a speed of 171 mph (270 km/h), setting a new record, but partially decapitating him as well.
Thích Quang Duc: Lit himself on Fire to make a point
Ok, we agree this wasn't the best way to protest, but he made his point. On 1963, Thích Quang Duc, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, sat down in the middle of a busy intersection in Saigon, covered himself in gasoline, and lit himself on fire, burning himself to death. He was protesting President Ngo Dinh Diem's administration for oppressing the Buddhist religion.
Kenji Urada: Killed by a Robot
After working on a broken robot at a Japanese Kawasaki plant, 37-year old Kenji Urada forgot to turn it off. Big mistake! The Robot woke up, said "hasta la vista", and pushed him into a grinding machine with its hydraulic arm. Ok, he died, that's awful, but we'll always remember him as the man who second man ever to be killed by a Robot. And by the way, the first ever, Robert Williams, went to hit himself with the robot; not manly enough for our list.
Les Harvey: Killed by Rock and Roll
Out of all music styles, only Rock and Roll is manly enough to kill you. On 1972, Scottish guitarist of Stone the Crows, Les Harvey, was rocking his guitar on stage with his band at the Top Rank Bingo club in Swansea, and then, rock and roll took his life: he was electrocuted by touching an unearthed microphone with wet hands.
Félix Faure: Killed by Sex
In 1899, French president Félix Faure died of a stroke while in his office. That's the official story, but it is popularly believed that he died in the arms of his 30-year-old mistress Marguerite Steinheil, while receiving oral sex. Au revoir!
Georg Richmann: Killed by a Ball Lightning
Yeah, that's right. Richmann was a German physicist living in Russia. On 1753, created a kite flying apparatus similar to the one built by Benjamin Franklin a year earlier. He was attending a meeting of the Academy of Sciences when he heard thunder, and ran home with his engraver to capture the event for posterity. While the experiment was underway, ball lightning appeared and collided with Richmann's forehead. He died, but we'll always remember him as the man who stood manly in the way of electricity.
Franz Reichelt: Fell to his death from Eiffel Tower while testing his invention
For being man enough to test his own invention and for giving us that awesome video, Franz Reichelt is number ten in our list. Reichelt (alias the flying tailor) designed an overcoat to fly or float its wearer gently to the ground like the modern parachute. To demonstrate his invention he made a jump of 60 meters from the first deck of the Eiffel Tower, at that time the tallest man-made structure in the world. The parachute failed and Reichelt fell to his death. But we'll always remember him for this video.
And if that's not enough to get you all excited about GR's visit, try browsing "1000 Ways To Die" (http://www.spike.com/show/27237) for more macabre inspiration. I personally like Death by Ichibone.. ;)
Life is for the living. But unfortunately so is death..