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Canadian Jackass: Before Johnny Knoxville, There Was Cap’n Video

You've probably never heard of Ralph Zavadil. And he doesn't care. Or does he?

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

August 13, 2013 - 1:00 pm
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So what’s Beauty Day like?

Because it’s devoted to chronicling one man’s eccentric obsessions, comparisons to the work of Errol Morris and Werner Herzog are inevitable (reinforced by that Philip Glass-like score.)

While Beauty Day isn’t a groundbreaker in terms of form or style or even subject matter, it’s a touching, honest film, full of surprise twists.

Zavadil’s old stunts are weirdly compelling, something to do with his camera’s rigid p.o.v.:

He just stuck it on a tripod, pressed “record” then jumped around in front of it.

And Zavadil himself is candid and charismatic, although, one senses, not as sanguine about his lot in life — he puts together bicycles at Canadian Tire — as his constant shrugs and “whatever”s are meant to indicate.

He could have really made something of himself, I kept thinking.

Thinking of my estranged (now dead) father, too, who spent my child support money at the track or the golf course or Sinatra tickets.

Who was smart as hell but dropped out in Grade 7 because he couldn’t handle the boredom, the routine, the discipline.

Who’d told International Harvester to “take this job and shove it” before that song ever came out, and drove a cab instead.

(The perfect job for a taciturn misanthrope: You aren’t stuck behind a desk. Your boss is a disembodied voice. Your customers are gone before you can start to hate them too much.)

“My Way” was his theme song.

And he died as he’d always wanted to live: alone.

Men have been going “on strike” longer than even Dr. Helen realizes.

What’s weird is that we only seem to be noticing it now.

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(KATHY SHAIDLE is a blogging pioneer who runs FiveFeetOfFury, now in its 14th year. She's been called "one of the great virtuoso polemicists of our time," by MARK STEYN. Her NEW book is Confessions of A Failed Slut (Thought Catalog, 2014).

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