Danger Man works when I don’t try to put him into the spotlight.
Today I crossed the Tillikum Crossing, the newest bridge over the Willamette River. It’s not open to the public yet, but barbed wire fences don’t stop superheroes. I wanted to get a closer look at this bridge, and see what it would take to climb.
There was a concert at the waterfront, right between the bridge and OMSI, and thousands of people were there to listen to Matt & Kim and Cake. I drove right up to the front and found the best rock star parking space.
At first I didn’t change into my costume; I just wanted to take a jog across the bridge and cross the river and back. I stretched in my tank top and sunglasses on one of the deserted Orange Line platforms – 26 more days until the Orange Line opens! I’m using this last month to let Danger Man play on the stations and practice parkour on the wide, empty sidewalks and fresh rails.
When I went over to the bridge, I saw it blockaded with chain link and barbed wire, and made muy decision: it was time to go trespassing. And nobody does trespassing better than Danger Man. With his construction-looking costume, he never gets bothered on rooftops or any unsecure restricted areas.
I went back to my car and put on my gear; years ago, when I was doing this project anonymously, I would have done this on a deserted side street where nobody could see me. Now I don’t need the proverbial phone booth to change into my costume, but all the same, nobody watched me, and nobody cared.
This was the theme of the day: performing my feats next to a crowd, not in front of them.
I ran to the Orange Line station and practiced a few vaults. Some of the railings and fences were five feet high, and I took pleasure in leaping over them in a single bound. Then i went to the bridge, and on the north side were a bunch of squatters who hadn’t paid for tickets, but could see the stage and hear the music just fine.
I went to the south side and clambered over the fence, behind their backs. Leaping onto a narrow ledge, I ran up the length of the bridge, practicing high speed balance. Once I got to the first cable I turned and looked at the concert; the stage was just to the side of me, so everyone who was looking at the stage could see me standing on the bridge.
I didn’t wave. I didn’t strike my superhero pose. I didn’t try to get their attention. I just practiced my parkour.
I climbed what was safe to climb, and explored what made me curious. There were a few vantage points for the best selfies, and I took a few with the bridge in the background, but I was too late for the #Bridgie competition – this week, everyone is voting for their favorite selfie with the bridge in the background. The Unipiper was the poster boy for the campaign. If I had started this a week ago, I could have participated; but the timing isn’t right, as is often the case with Danger Man.
This has been my source of greatest discomfort with this alter ego – he is not well suited for the spotlight. He wants to be onstage, and the center of attention, but he’s just not that good at it. The timing doesn’t ever work out, and he’s too full of himself. He doesn’t help other people. He doesn’t participate in other people’s projects, he wants to pioneer his own.
Looking up at the top of the bridge, I worked out how I would climb it; sticky hans and feet, and a harness around my hips with a rope securely around the cable. The biggest difficulty would be wind. A safety harness would keep me from falling off, and I would just fall over.
But climbing bridges – it doesn’t get me anywhere. I started applying what I’d learned from the 12 Great Failures of Danger Man.
The Unipiper is already a mascot of the Orange line. There are a bunch of stations, and I know a bunch of Parkour athletes that I can dress up in superhero costumes. I could film a short video at each station, and tell a story from one end of the line to the other – a story that can be different backwards and forwards. The Hero’s Journey, and in reverse.
I worked out a whole plotline – there is a supervillain who takes over all these heroes through the ground, but because the Unipiper is on a unicycle, he is unaffected. He has to fight off all his former friends with his flaming bagpipes, and every station has a QR code with a video of the Unipier crossing the station, and the parkour guys all doing tricks around him.
I might go somewhere with that. Danger Man might make a cameo. But this could also be another distraction from my real work in the world: raising my children, and making my fortune.
Danger Man has always been a diversion from those two things. I thought, for a time, he could help me make my fortune, but the 12 Great Failures showed me how fruitless that was. It’s still possible, if I pursued it, I could make some headway there, but I’ve got too much stacked against me; I’m getting older, my body will wear out soon, and the character is cheesy and campy.
I need to find a new superhero.
Someone who takes my unique and show-stopping talent – juggling flaming torches – and combines it with a benevolent purpose. Something that lifts other people up, and helps those around me.