Pirate statues of Hanoi

I picked up David Foster Wallace's collection of essays, Consider the Lobster, again the other day, and re-found his account of John McCain's failed presidential bid in 2000. It was written for Rolling Stone. An excerpt from early in the piece:

Here's what happened. In October of '67 McCain was himself still a Young Voter and was flying his 26th Vietnam combat mission and his A-4 Skyhawk plane got shot down over Hanoi, and he had to eject, which basically means setting off an explosive charge that blows your seat out of the plane, and the ejection broke both McCain's arms and one leg and gave him a concussion and he started falling out of the skies over Hanoi. Try to imagine for a second how much this would hurt and how scared you'd be, three limbs broken and falling toward the enemy capital you just tried to bomb. His chute opened late and he landed hard in a little lake in a park right in the middle of downtown Hanoi. (There is still an NV statue of McCain by this lake today, showing him on his knees with his hands up and eyes scared and on the pediment the inscription "McCan — famous air pirate" [sic].) Imagine treading water with broken arms and trying to pull the life vest's toggle with your teeth as a crowd of North Vietnamese men all swim out toward you (there's film of this, somebody had a home-movie camera and the NV government released it, though it's grainy and McCain's face is hard to see.) The crowd pulled him out and then just about killed him. Bomber pilots were especially hated, for obvious reasons. McCain got bayoneted in the groin; a soldier broke his shoulder apart with a rifle butt. Plus by this time his right knee was bent 90 degrees to the side, with the bone sticking out.

I went looking for a picture of the statue:


Joseph | 29 Jun 2008

Tue 1 Jul 2008, 8:32PM richwell

Fascinating story about the guy that graduated 894 out of 899 at Annapolis. Running against the first black man to edit the Harvard Law Review and graduated first in Law from the same institution. And then turned down many lucrative offers at prestigious law firms to work for the disadvantaged. I found you on RYWHM but I do not remember you commenting there before. Faulty memory? How informal are your comments? Can I post linked pics occasionally?

Thu 3 Jul 2008, 12:02AM Andrew

I picked this up recently as well (for the first time). I think all the hero stuff is counterbalanced by the fabricated "concerned kid" shit, although Foster-Wallace is probably right about the moral fibre of someone who would rather get his legs broken than breach a Code...although maybe McCain's just a psycho.

Wed 10 Sep 2008, 12:19PM Andrew

Check out this quote from McCain's RNC speech--he seems to be directly rebutting Foster-Wallace's "cause" claims:

“On an October morning, in the Gulf of Tonkin, I prepared for my 23rd mission over North Vietnam. I hadn't any worry I wouldn't come back safe and sound. I thought I was tougher than anyone. I was pretty independent then, too. I liked to bend a few rules and pick a few fights for the fun of it. But I did it for my own pleasure, my own pride. I didn't think there was a cause that was more important than me.”


Sun 14 Sep 2008, 3:59PM Andrew

Seems F-W took it hard...geez.

Mon 15 Sep 2008, 8:22AM Joseph

Oh no.

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