Rowdy Roddy Piper – ‘alas, poor Yorick!’


One of the great entertainers of my generation has passed.

Wrestler ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper is dead at 61, of “natural causes” (having a history of cancer).

Besides a star in the world of professional wrestling, Rowdy Roddy (Roderick George Toombs) starred in a handful of cult action films, including John Carpenter’s alien invasion film They Live. He was a consummate entertainer, one of the funniest interviewers and performers in what we all acknowledge now as a sham sport, that nonetheless brings smiles to hundreds of fans. He also wrote one of the great autobiographies of a professional wrestler, In the Pit With Piper (w/ Robert Picarello; Penguin, 2002).

I had the great pleasure of seeing Rowdy Roddy in his prime, in Glen Falls New York, in 1990. He knew his audience, he knew how to play to them, he was respectful to them and – be he hero or villain – he was loved by his audience, and he loved them back.

I don’t know why I feel compelled to write this brief elegy for a man I never met. But I guess because, while we are called to question death whenever an admired artist passes, or when an acknowledged leader passes, the loss of a great clown (and Piper was certainly that) raises questions not only about life and death, not only about culture and society, but about the very nature of impermanence in a universe of chance…. Because in the last analysis, clowning is all we really have between us, holding us together through laughter and love….

“Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite
jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath bore me on his back a
thousand times….”

From the Guardian, UK ( ):

‘The Iron Sheik, who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame with Piper in 2005, tweeted: “Roddy Piper. I love you forever. God bless you Bubba.”

‘Kevin Nash also posted: “RIP to Roddy Piper. Prayers to his family and loved ones.”

Academy Award-winning film maker John Carpenter also expressed his heartbreak, tweeting: “I’m devastated by the passing of my friend Roddy Piper. Great wrestler, underrated actor, dear friend. Rest in peace, Rod.”’


2 thoughts on “Rowdy Roddy Piper – ‘alas, poor Yorick!’

  1. Hi. Here’s a comment irrelevant to Roddy Piper, who I have no idea about, but following up on Scientia Salon comments.

    I could relate to your feeling discouraged from soaring (to say the least) as I child; had much the same experience.

    Also, you said something about autodidacticism (<– spell checker doesn't like this). If I could imagine doing one monumental thing (and I can *imagine* doing many), it might be to make the world work for self-teachers, and to make primary school perhaps more than anything about being a self-teacher.

    As someone who's written teaching documents, and thought much about them, it's a very fine art to take a complex subject and linearize it so that one can read and be prepared by previous paragraphs to understand the current one, but the art of the self-learner is to come in at the middle and somehow deal with that. If you find one confusing thing, how do you work your way through the prerequisites for that thing. Look it up in a dictionary? Not when there are many many understandings to be mastered before you can understand the definition, and that, I think is oversimplifying it somewhat.


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