Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Denali Diogenes

The Denali Diogenes
Given my own recently revived interest in the outdoors, I've been reading about Christopher McCandless, a born-with-a-silver-Brunton-MY-Ti™-Spork-in-his-mouth hobo who journeyed into Palin country with minimal food and gear, hoping to turn an abandoned Fairbanks City Transit System bus into his own private Thoreauvian hermitage. It was there that he died in 1992, after living for five months off wild plants and the game he could bag with his Remington .22.

Before his grand adventure, McCandless matriculated at Emory University where he wrote a number of opinion pieces for the student newspaper, The Emory Wheel. Graduating in 1990, McCandless left behind a number of pieces that seem very interesting in light of the impending vice-presidency of Joe Biden, the election of America's first black president, and the hijackings on 9/11.

On September 11, 1987, penned the following about Joe Biden:
He has reportedly been seen wandering aimlessly, uttering incoherent phrases like, ‘...in light of Powell’s special role I want a justice with an open mind...I don’t want someone with a predisposition on every major issue...I can be President...’”

And now, twenty-one years later, he is about to be one heartbeat away.

Then, on April 1, 1988, on the subject of Jesse Jackson's ill-fated bid for the Presidency, McCandless wrote:
Some people might argue that Jackson ‘doesn’t want’ to be President. They maintain that Jackson is merely in the race to try to benefit the cause of black citizens. (...) Is it to become precedent that a black man can never be on the ticket because that ticket could then ‘never win’? Or is there supposed to be some ‘better time’ in the future for a black man to be on the ticket? When would this be, year 2000, year 3000?

The Democratic voters are the backbone of the party, and through their votes they have shown a strong interest in Jackson as the nominee. Let’s leave these ‘can’t’ win’ people to rot in their mire.”

The "better time," as we have seen, was 2008.

In April 12, 1988's “Hijacking crisis shows new tactics are needed to deal with hostages,” McCandless, a student of history and cultural anthropology, wrote:
“The recent events that have transpired in the Kuwaiti airliner hijacking clearly demonstrate that a bold new policy is needed to rectify such situations. (...)

First, airport security must be tremendously overhauled. It is essential that an adequate military force brandishing assault rifles be present at the airport. (...) A couple of security guards with pistols is not going to offer adequate protection of airport gates. (...)

Second, security measures during the flight must also be tightened. Central to this idea is the in-flight guard himself. In-flight guards should carry assault rifles and wear some type of body armor. (...)

Armed only with his Leatherman multi-tool, Mo' Atta would have had a hard time convincing an H&K-armed Air Marshal to let him fly the plane.

After Jon Krakauer's book Into the Wild and a film of the same name made McCandless famous, Emory University compiled several of these excerpts at The Emory Wheel's website. To read the full text of these excerpts, go to http://www.emorywheel.com/detail.php?n=24325.

  • Chris McCandless segment on 20/20
  • Into The Wild Trailer
  • Reel Geezers review Into The Wild
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