Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Tragic Death of a Strongman

There is nothing real that is quite as delicious as my romantic ideas of what it was like to witness sideshows and traveling circuses in their heyday. Certainly the reality couldn't have been as fascinating as my fantasies of these spectacles, but I'll never know. Mass media and modern medicine have almost sucked all of the magic from the "unknown," freaks, superhumans and weirdos. (Luckily, TLC has picked up where the circus tents dropped off.)

Today, one of the last heroes of an era of intrigue and fascination was struck down and killed by a minivan. Joe Rollino, former strongman, and what sounds like one hell of a storyteller, died today at 104 years old. His story is amazing for its extreme tales of unbelievable physical strength and also the tragic, yet somewhat darkly comical details of his demise: that it was a minivan, that he was 104 and still going strong, that he could still bend a quarter in his teeth at an age where most have no teeth of their own. This sort of "real" life is more intriguing than literature (except in the case of John Irving). I wish there were more people still like Joe Rollino out there, telling their versions of the truth to make others' jaws drop. Every story encouraging the logical to say, "no way," while secretly, some small part of them, that faithful part, the young child inside, wants to believe, does still believe, that the incredible could possibly be a reality.

Read the NY Times story here.

1 comment:

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