I just finished reading a hilarious book, Packing for Mars by Mary Roach. It is a very funny account of what goes on behind the scenes at NASA. I particularly liked her contention (presented with a straight face) that the first American in space was the chimp Ham (and not Alan Shepard) and the first American to orbit earth was the chimp Enos (and not John Glenn), and that the chimps went through the same rigorous training as the astronauts, and the astronauts did NOTHING more than the chimps while in space (i.e. they just sat there on top of the rocket), but the chimps did not get a ticker tape parade.
There go my youth heroes, those space cowboys with "The Right Stuff", reduced to a couple of chimps. It's disheartening to find out that one by one I am losing all my heroes, that all my heroes were either hollow puppets or else creeps; JFK as the handsome lecher that started the Vietnam War, Beethoven throwing a hot soup in the face of a waiter, Newton spending his time trying to turn lead into gold whenever he was not trying to prove that Leibnitz stole his idea of Calculus, and Jefferson just a cynical slave owner shagging his pretty slave.
I can't help feeling cheated somehow. Don't you think we need heroes, people capable of extraordinary feats that we can admire?
I live in constant fear of the next book exposing Salman Rushdie as a pedophile, or proving that the Dalai Lama is a closet Anti-Semite, or that Maurice Ravel was a kleptomaniac stealing purses from little old ladies.
Who is left?
The Kvetching Factory
"Start every day with a smile and get it over with" (W.C. Fields)