Monday, June 30, 2008

Super wire, super man.

June 30, 2008 - It's a bird. It's a plane. It's... it's... Nope - it's some French guy in tights. What? Did you think I meant Superman? Let's call him Le Grande Homme - or Charles Blondin. But to us, he shall be referred to as "The Great Blondin" (his choice). Charles Blondin was a French acrobat who had a thing for challenges (or media attention). He milked his abilities as an acrobat, and tightrope walker, in ways that would make publicists today jealous.

What really made him famous was his crossing of Niagara Falls on a tightrope on June 30, 1859.¹ He didn't just cross it once. Nope, not our man Chuck. Chucky crossed it the first time straight. Then crossed it blindfolded, then in a sack, pushing a wheelbarrow, on stilts, and once with a man on his back (his manager). That is one client you hope doesn't drop you. The final crossing he stopped half way, sat, then cooked and ate an omelet. Guess that deadly rushing water, and all those trips across a 335 meter rope really gets a guy peckish.

Charlie pulled off these high-wire stunts all over the world, until he retired. But, like any good sports celeb, he came out of retirement in 1880, and crossed a few more wires. It is reported that Blondin died of diabetes. He should have never switched to making Crepes Susette on the Ropes. So, in honour of "The Great Blondin", today is Tight Rope Day. You may not even need to walk the rope, after all, we get our wires crossed often enough.

I think Clark Kent would be proud of Blondin. Perhaps Blondin's tights gave him the idea for the ensemble he sported as his alter ego. Thankfully, Superman had powers of flight and strength. Somehow "Traversing between buildings while flipping pancakes" doesn't have the same je ne sais quoi as leaping them in a single bound. Superman also had the ability to generate some pretty strong lung power. It could come in handy as he blows the candles out on his birthday cake today. Today is Superman's Birthday (June 30th, 1938). It's a bird. It's a plane. Nope.. it IS Superman.

1. Read more about French acrobat Charles Blondin - there is speculation he didn't die, but rather changed his name to live out his life in anonymity.

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