Death Defying Daredevil

One of the top news stories last week was the death of Ryan Dunn, most well known for his appearance on Jackass and participating in stunts that most people would not try.  There were a few individuals on my Facebook friends list who had some rather negative comments about him, and even more on the world wide web as a whole who quite frankly were making jokes about his death.  Personally, I do not find anything humorous about death and feel that these comments were pretty disgusting.  As a society, we have been desensitized to death where our reaction to hearing such a story is to point, laugh and state some really disturbing things about an individual that we did not personally know.  While I do not expect everyone to understand or appreciate what Ryan did as a stunt man, or daredevil if you will, it is disrespetful to talk shit from behind the comfort of a computer screen.  There are people who considered him to be a valuable friend; they cared about him and obviously are hurt by his demise.  Not everyone has to feel that way, and if you are one of those people, I certainly do not expect you to have any positive or negative emotions about his story.

The fact of the matter is that we are a blood-thirsty society which thrives on seeing other people get hurt and put themselves in dangerous situations for our perverse entertainment.  The monkey dances and we laugh or shake our heads, wondering what we as people are becoming.  This is nothing new and was certainly not invited by the Jackass crew, as old episodes of America’s Funniest Home Videos certainly featured many instances of things going wrong, strangers smacking their heads, falling down, etc., which generated much laughter from the viewing audience.  There are also plenty examples of human stupidity all over YouTube that certainly has a fair amount of comments from people who laugh at the unfortunate lack of common sense displayed for public consumption.

In my own opinion, I do not believe that Ryan was as intoxicated as news reports have indicated.  Yes, he posted a picture to Twitter where he and two others were holding alcoholic beverages, but there is certainly no shortage of similar photos on other social networking sites, so I am certainly not going to condem an adult for making this choice.  There are other sources that say he had three light beers and a couple of shots, and I dare anyone who has consumed liquor prior to getting behind the wheel to talk shit.  No, it wasn’t the smartest thing to do; no one should ever drink and drive, but obviously alcohol impares the decision-making process.  Also, I find it hard to believe that it was even possible to test the level of his blood alcohol content, mostly due to the grizzly images of what was left of his Porsche after it crashed and burst into flames.  Finally, I do not believe that the vehichle was traveling as fast as reports state, because I feel the skid marks would have been much longer, and perhaps the path of destruction would have been as well.

My over all opinon about this whole story is that friends and family lost someone they loved and cared about, and it is really in bad taste to say that he deserved to die because he made the choice to drink and drive.  Alcoholism is a serious disease that is not spoken of as such, possibly due to the fact that drunken behavior is often viewed as hilarious instead of detrimental to the health.  In the end, everyone will make their own choice to whether or not they want to drink, but moderation is something that many fail to consider because they don’t think they have a problem.  If one cannot be held accountable for words or actions that are a direct result of drinking, then indeed there should be consideration that the alcohol is an enabler rather than a scapegoat.

The fact of the matter is that I can relate to this story because of my experiences with Jon and his constant battle with a variety of addictions.  There are several mentions of these within this blog, along with details of the nite where his demons caught up to him and caused a serious crash during a performance on the Wall of Death.  Jon’s motivation for performing feats that were in all honesty very dangerous and came with a high cost is something that only he knew for certain.  He was addicted to speed and the rush of adrenaline it gave him for reasons most will never comprehend.  After all, what is the point of risking one’s life?

While I cannot speak for Ryan Dunn, the other Jackass members, stuntmen or daredevils, at least I can use this space to share some personal words from Jon himself in regard to the earlier mentioned tragedy he experienced on the Wall of Death.  If nothing else, I hope it allows people a view inside the mind of an individiual that consciously makes the choice to put their body and even life on the line for the purpose of entertainment.  Jon rarely spoke of such things, and I do not have much of his posessions, so I feel fortunate that one very important item he left behind are scraps of paper where he jotted down random thoughts.  The following are his words, written a few weeks after that fateful evening where his performing career was changed forever.

11-14-2004

The Wall of Death has been my main stunt for the past few years, and I’ve had some scares.  That night was not thinking, just doing.  Getting myself in that mode where I don’t give a shit.  Daredevil has no fear; he is a super human to the feeble spectators, who can ooh and ahh, gasp, scream, cry and curse in delight for what he does.  No sane mind could commit to such a demand, right?

Off to the drag races with my friend.  Too fast for her, but she kept good pace.  Still I go too far, but you don’t know what that is until you’re there, but then it doesn’t matter, you are already somewhere else.

Details – they are precious to me now, especially since there are so few of them and my memory is failing me to the point of frustration.  Snorting coke, drinking whiskey and smoking blunts with the one woman who makes the world suck less.

We had a great time being kids and every time I kissed her it felt so right.  Had to ruin that with drugs because I wanted to push myself to the extreme.  That night I was just playing the part for all those who cared to come out into the woods and watch me risk my life on a fucking motorcycle.  No sane mind, right?

Faces blur.  Walls are flying at you; body and machine are high speed targets to this old Circus stunt.  Built to last and don’t dare fuck up.  Don’t even think about it.  The moment comes when you know.  Even through the drug haze, a part of your mind knows and it’s all happening in slow-motion.  The faces stop; wood grain is clear as the nose on your face.  You see them cheer; you see her smiling.  That smile is the last thing you see.

What?  Here?  Again?  No, I was just…oh…

The pain brings you back, but you’re not sure where you went.

Laid up in the hospital for days, body aches taken away with morphine which only stirs those nagging demons.  Escape is not easy, but I had to do it because I could not take another drop.  There were a number of ways I thought I’d die.  Having a bad ticker wasn’t one of those ways, and the drugs don’t help but I have a hard time saying no.

Something else is wrong.  Feeling…gone.  Gone?  Fuck it then.  Party it up.

Drive down to AC.  Hustle.  Watch others gamble and laugh when they steal off with some gross prostitute.  Get enough money to buy some drinks to gather up the courage.  To forget about the pain, or not having it.

Score some dope for the first time in many years.  It was a bad scene once, but now that doesn’t matter.

Off to the races it is then, snorting that cocktail like it’s going out of style.  Molotov should be my nickname then, as I’m staggered around by fiends who don’t care but want to see some tricks.    Delivering is no problem, and the days just slip away.

This story is getting boring.  Change of subject.

You just can’t run away from who you are, so why am I trying so hard?  Getting shit out of my system only makes me weak, and the urge to put it there remains, taunting.

Tired and just want to enjoy sleeping in my bed, but can’t do it without assistance.

Being with her has brought happiness, longing and confusion – the answers are always sought in drugs.

Sleep comes, but for how long?

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3 comments on “Death Defying Daredevil

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