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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Four Degrees of Separation

It is said for each person on earth, there are no more than six degrees of seperation between them and everyone else on earth. I thought that was crap but then I found out I was only 3 degrees from a great star of my childhood. I am a friend of Don Peri (1st degree), who is a friend of Ollie Johnson (2nd degree) who is the artist who animated Bambi (3rd degree). Finding out I am only 3 degrees of seperation from Bambi was a humongus thrill for me and I revel that I am just two pen strokes and a wooded glade from the critter whose movies still make me tear up.

I am only 3 Degrees of Seperation from Bambi
I was thinking of the six degrees of separation thing since yesterday when I found out my friend Don Pendelton (1st degree) has an acquaintance (2nd degree) whose son-in-law (3rd degree) went to school in Australia with Steve Irwin (4th degree). I am only four degrees of seperation form a hero of mine, Steve Irwin - the Crocodile Hunter. Crikey - talk about your tearing up!
Of course as a ravid environmentalist and lover of all-things-creepy-&-crawly, Steve Irwin ranks high in the heart of anyone who loves wildlife. On September forth a freak accident ended Steve's life. I've grieved along with millions of others who have adored the guy as much as I do. Who didn't love to see the Crock Hunter, with that happy Aussie face, holding up some godawful- deadly poisonous or aspiring to be deadly poisonous creature, while he reverently cooed, 'Isn't she beautiful!'
That always cracked me up. Steve was genuine - he would coo at those scaly critters with a love and genuine devotion in his voice that is normally only extracted from men on the night of their honeymoon.

It is marvellous knowing I was only four degrees of seperation from such a great guy. To Steve Irwin there wasn't a gangly lizard, a tooth crock or poisonous lizard out there that wasn't lovely. And through him millions of people around the world began to see in those same scaly critters for the wonderous marvels Steve saw knew they were. In the past day or so some culmudeons who say the Crock Hunter's penchant for leaping onto the backs of crocks or flinging himself at venemous spiders and such was exploitation of wildlife, plain and simple. What a crock of the non-scaly sort! That man never leapt on a critter unless he was either transporting it to a safer local, taking it into custody for educational purposes or, gods forbid, just enjoying the beauty of it. I believe the bloke hadn't an exploitive bone in his body. To my mind Steve's best skill was not that he wrassling wildlife. His best talent was his skill at urging even the most squeemish, reluctant or hard core people to appreciate wildlife. You would watch him dandling that Gabon Viper by its tail as he told you why the critter, though poisonous, was a marvel to behold and had a important place on our planet - and by God, was beautiful. He could turn people onto the sort of wildlife that are not easy to love. I mean, anyone can convince people to love animals with a fluffy Bambi sort of charm, but Steve could make people love & appreciate creatures the other critters out there; the ones with low profiles, smelly breath, bellies that were dragged over hot desert ground and eyes that stared cold, yellow and without the benefit of eyelids or lashes. Thank the Crock Hunter for millions of people who now know the value of snakes, lizards, crocodile and mammals Tasmanian Devils and the like - critters that are far from cute or cuddly.
Turning people onto the less cuddly wildlife, educating, protecting animals and their habitats - that is how Steve filled the scant 44 years we were allowed to have him with us. He sparked appreciation for all wildlife in the hearts of millions and millions of people. We loved him and he was taken from us by a freak accident by a creature he was probably admiring even as it did him in.
Steve Irwin - Crikey! Wasn't he beautiful?