A true Canadian hero

"Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride: Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defense each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, NOT ONE HUMAN BEING EXCLUDED, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace."

— Bill Hicks, prophet

I'm ducking out to space for the next few days.

You'll have to enjoy the shrillness of our rapidly failing political establishment and decode the inner workings of Justin Bieber's Twitter rants without me.

See you later.

My mind has been overtaken with outer-space themes these past few weeks. I have to assume it has to do with the madness confronting me every time I do something stupid like turn on the television or check my Twitter feed.

However, I have found an island of sanity in the work of a man I consider to be the single coolest person on the planet right now.

I say right now, because he was not on the planet until a few days ago.

Dear readers, if you are not aware of one Commander Chris Hadfield, then I implore you to stop reading this and type his name into Google and then YouTube.

You won't be sorry.

OK. Now go research Commander Hadfield and get back to me.

(I would hope two hours have gone by as you've entered the world of supreme awesomeness that is Hadfield.)

Welcome back.

Hadfield recently dropped back to Earth after several months aboard the International Space Station.

Hadfield, the first Canadian to walk in space, did important astronaut things such as repairing panels and robotic arms. He facilitated experiments in human biology, physiology, physics and astronomy during his 2,336 orbits around the Earth.

And when he wasn't doing important astronaut things he was writing the most fascinating social-media posts you'll ever read and covering David Bowie songs.

His cover of "Space Oddity" is the single best thing the Internet has ever produced. I've watched it probably 345 times over the past week alone.

The clip begins with Hadfield strumming an acoustic guitar as he floats slowly through a long hallway inside the ISS. It then cuts to him sitting in a cockpit area as a luminescent backdrop of Earth glides behind him. He then begins singing the iconic opening lines of "Space Oddity."

"Ground control to Major Tom ..."

Meanwhile, the dude sports a tough crew cut and a Walter White moustache, giving him the look of a seventh-grade history teacher, though one who certainly looks like he could kick your ass if he were moved to do so.

Hadfield's Twitter posts were must-read material. He would peek out of the ISS at certain times and describe what he saw in tight prose that obeyed the first law of good writing: show, don't tell.

"It's strange to feel gravity on my lips," he wrote soon after touching down to Earth.

He took pictures that made me stop in my tracks as they hit my Twitter feed. One shot in particular of a large cloud bank creeping toward the Ukraine had me in tears. Tears, I tell you!

"Clouds swoop in on the Crimea, a white bird on the Black Sea," he wrote.

If some smartass starts running his mouth about how Twitter or social media is worthless, show him Hadfield's daily musings on the ISS. And if that doesn't shut him up, then fight him.

As things become more and more shrill (that word again) down here, I wonder how freeing it must be to chill out in a space station for a year, listening to David Bowie as the Earth swims by.

I'm leaving for Portland today to catch a Man or Astroman? show at the Doug Fir Lounge on Burnside. Man or Astroman? is one of my go-to bands from back in my college days.

They take outer space/cheesy sci-fi samples and bounce them through traditional surf-music riffs. And they rock. Man or Astro Man? went on hiatus for years and has only recently begun making music again.

So there's been a lot of space-junk floating through my head these days. I also read recently that a group called the Inspiration Mars Foundation is lobbying for one-way Mars missions.

Where do I drop my resume?

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or cconrad@mailtribune.com.


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