(CBS) Daredevil Nik Wallenda will bring his death-defying talents to Chicago on Sunday night, when he plans a pair of tightrope walks suspended some 600 feet above the Chicago River. One of the walks will even be blind-folded.
The event will start at 6 p.m. and is expected to take a couple hours. It will be shown live on the Discovery Channel.
Wallenda is without a doubt crazy. He’s without a doubt fearless. He’s without a doubt pretty awesome.
But is he dumb too? That’s the opinion of Chicago Tribune columnist Rex W. Huppke, who absolutely brought the heat in a piece published Thursday.
Agree or no, it was terrific writing. A highlight, from which you can read the entire article here:
What worries me most about this event isn’t the fate of the walker but the possibility that people will attach the term “heroic” to Wallenda and, in the event something dreadful happens, describe his fall as “a tragedy.”
Let’s be clear, I hope nothing bad happens, and I wish Wallenda nothing but good fortune. But if walking a tightrope some 600 feet in the air above the Chicago River is heroic, then so is sticking your face in a fan. And dying while doing something that would make any logical person think, “I better not do that, I might die,” isn’t a tragedy — it’s just dying, and kind of dumb dying at that.
We have a tendency to conflate actual acts of heroism — soldiers parachuting into a war zone or firefighters running into a burning building — with things that are bold but, in the end, purposeless.
Huppke also added the line, “If humans were meant to walk across a city on narrow wires hundreds of feet in the air, God wouldn’t have invented taxis.” He brings a logical take.
In considering all this, it’s worth noting that Wallenda himself isn’t sure how the blindfolded aspect will factor in.
“I know how to walk a wire; I’ve done it my whole life,” he said. “But I don’t know how to walk a wire blindfolded. I’ve seen people do it, and I always figured they were fake.”