The [Monday] Papers
"Nik Wallenda successfully completed his controversial Chicago skywalk Sunday, breaking two world records and defying critics who claimed the stunt was too dangerous to perform without a harness," the Tribune reports.
I wonder if Wallenda paid those critics to ramp up the hype. Not only did Wallenda make the walk(s) look like a piece of cake, I'm sure it virtually was a piece of cake for him.
Wallenda engaged with the crowd and TV audience during his first walk, repeatedly commenting on the loud cheers coming from Wacker Drive and the bridges along the river.
Wallenda chatted during his walk.
Wallenda is a pro; while I'm sure he works very hard at his craft, and it's certainly not danger-free, he could do these walks quite literally blindfolded better than 99 times out of 100. Probably something on the order of 99,999 out of 100,000.
"The skywalk came after relentless build-up from the Discovery Channel, which aired the event live and rarely missed an opportunity to remind the audience that seven members of Wallenda's family had died while attempting high-wire stunts."
But that doesn't mean the danger of the spectacle wasn't ginned up.
"Wallenda did not step onto the wire until just after 7:30 p.m. - about 90 minutes into the program and after interviews with his wife, father, uncle and Pastor Joel Osteen.
"Wallenda's family repeatedly expressed concerns about the incline during the broadcast, though those concerns may have been exaggerated in the name of compelling television."
Wallenda can also count on local scourges like Eric Zorn wherever he goes. Zorn wrote in September that he would refuse to watch such a ghoulish stunt.
"Because, really, it's the possibility of a spectacular death on live TV that will draw huge audiences."
That's not really so. People, for sure, watched to see if he would fall and die, but I doubt many were pulling for that to happen. People tuned in to watch the man accomplish what to us is a spectacular feat. He was being cheered on, not cheered off the wire.
John Kass also turned watching Wallenda into a moral issue.
"I refuse to watch," Kass wrote over the weekend. "If Wallenda walks without safety lines, he risks death. If he walks with safety gear, then what is the audience watching, really, but a danger fantasy without risk?"
Wrong. The idea of watching him walk without a safety harness is that you are watching an endeavor with actual danger; if he's going to wear a safety harness, well, you and I could make that walk too. Big deal. Put Kass up there with a safety harness. So what. But put Wallenda up there without a net, both literally and figuratively, and you are now watching a man whose craft leaves little room for error.
I wonder if Zorn and Kass refused to watch Evel Knievel back in the day. Folks didn't watch him because they wanted to see him die; they watched him because he was a badass whom they wanted to see make every spectacular jump he thought up.
I loved Evel Knievel, but I don't have much interest in Nik Wallenda, by the way. I did watch the livestream, though. Thousands of Chicagoans actually gathered downtown to watch for themselves. They enjoyed themselves far, far more than they would have had Wallenda fallen to his death. They were there to watch him live.
Election Day Beachwood
Anti-Rauner, not pro-Quinn. Plus: Karen And Toni's Guy; Never Let A Bribery Scandal Go To Waste; This Is A Chickenshit Town; Bruce Rauner vs. Bill Brady; Kass Is For The Combine.
Deadly consequences in pursuit of profit and power.
Fighting back against rich environmentalists.
A new litmus test.
Large donors dominate.
Don't they already have two?
* Still to come in the next 24 hours: Beachwood Election Guide 2014!; our final pre-election Political Odds; The [Endorsement] Papers; ILGov2014: Election Notebook; and quite possibly more!
The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Area 2nd Grader Proves Anyone Can Do The Weather
Crime, Prejudice & The Eternal Thank You
Area Folk Hero Tops College Football Poll
SportsMonday: In Lieu Of The Bears
The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #24: The Maddoning Is Happening
LA Reid, Ben Affleck, Richie Cunningham, Mike Krzyzewski . . .
"Being 'on message' with the press called on a similar pragmatic readiness to be dull. The day after the endorsement, I gave a local CBS reporter a dozen versions of the same planned soundbite. We both knew what I was doing and why. He was only going to use three seconds of a five-minute interview; I was trying to make it the three we wanted. Soon we were sharing a complicit shrug that basically said, 'Isn't it weird that it has to be this way?'"
Ah, but it doesn't have to be that way. Just stop.
Missing the Bears this week? Here's Bill Belichick - smiling and talking - breaking down the key sequence against the Bears last week.
I like Doug Henwood and I'm certainly not a Clinton apologist but the facts are the facts, and nobody knows them like Gene Lyons.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Neither tight nor rope.
Posted on November 3, 2014
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