The Chronicling Chronicles of Jumpin’ Jack Juniper Jr.: Best in the Word™: Chapter 1: Alaska Day Festival, Sitka, AK, 1977

Official Transcript of Jumpin’ Jack Juniper Jr.: Best in the World™ before his infamous snow-machine jump for the Alaska Day Festival in Sitka, Alaska, October 18, 1977:

            “Now, I am not one to tell a story lightly.  I like to let it sizzle and linger on my tongue. I like to let it ache in my bones. I like to let it rattle out and forth as though I, in some cluttered backroom séance, can’t hold it in.  So as I tell my story, one of danger and intrigue, please reflect on the choices you may have made in your own life; reflect on how when the going got tough and shit piled high, how you kept on fighting with every tooth and nail and testicle hair, every molecule that made up that beautiful body of each and every one of you.  I know you all came here tonight to see me jump these here buses with my snow-machine, but please polar bear with me for a while as I tell a story that has become quite the inspiration for me in my long, somewhat sordid career.

First off, let me paint a picture for you. Let me take you back to May 1927 and Charles Lindbergh had just stepped off that little Ryan single-seat monoplane in the middle of Le Bourget, or however you pronounce it. He wept a tiny tear of accomplishment and saluted the men around him.  It was a great day for our country and for humankind, for Lindy had successfully connected the two continents in a way that would change our futures forever. Man had just completed the first nonstop Trans-Atlantic flight.  I would say that was a great time for us as cohabitants of this fine floating orb, right? Why, yes, it was.

Or I mean it would have been, had it not been a Godzilla-sized God-damned lie.  Now, I am not going to fault you for not knowing the correct course of history. Tis simple human nature to qualify facts chronologically. We were taught as tots that the sky is blue and Santa is real, and that takes precedent over anything we hear as adults. I won’t fault you. Nah, just as you do not fault me for believing islands to be large masses of sand and dirt floating around the ocean. I have been explained countless times about continental shelves and tectonics. Just can’t wrap my head around it.  Nah, I don’t fault you none.  But I will ask that you be open to these facts I will be putting before you.

Allow me to first tell you something about my father. They say he could drink any man under any table, even those Japanese midget one’s that stand only a foot off the ground.  Next, he could bed any woman with a smile, and was quite frequently known to exercise this ability. Last, he was the best gall-darned pilot this planet’s blue skies had ever laid their bespectacled eyes upon.

It was he, my father, who was initially tapped to pilot across them turbulent droplets.  The men in charge with their monocles and five-dollar cigars got up in the pearly white ivory tower and decided one day that moving mountains and building rail lines to span the American continent wasn’t never enough. We must go farther, they said, but where? Why let’s go bother them fools across the pond.  We’d already bailed em out of a World War, might as well build the capacity to bug the living shit out of them on a daily basis. But who in the red-blooded right mind would fly to Europe?  Doors slammed in their faces from Tucson to the Montpelier, all except one, the humble flap of a Native American wigwam, mostly because it is quite difficult to slam a flap, but partly due to the fact that that wigwam belonged to my father, Jack Juniper Senior. It seems my father, batshitty as a guano burger, had taken up with a dozen of them Ojibwe Injuns in White Earth, Minnesota and due to gambling debts accrued and maintained over the last fifteen months, was being kept hostage, ordered to marry the dark-haired daughter of the chieftain.  Them fancy-pants bajillionaires offered to pay off my father’s debts plus a little extra if he were able to safely land some jigger-rigged dust bucket down in old gay Paris.  As you can imagine, my father quickly accepted this challenge.

Thus, the day came and the whole city of Raleigh gathered round to see my pap take off in his shiny toy jet across the ocean.  He climbed into the cockpit, waved goodbye to them fat cats, the Ojibwe chief, his Ojibwe daughter, and the whole the North American continent, telling them all to suck his balls over the roar of the twin engines.  He took off and flew on into the sunrise on the morning of April 23, 1927 and straight into the record books.

Or so he thought.

The trip was rigorous to say the least. Most notably due to my father’s lack of foresight regarding the necessary rations for the two-day trip.  He figured a bottle of scotch and a baker’s dozen of Haitian cigars would suffice.  However, two hours into the flight, his bottle clunked emptily at his feet and the cigars had all been reduced to ash, a sweet, elegantly-fragranted ash, but ash nonetheless.  He had asked for reading material, but the accommodations committee had found no luck in locating either Boudoir Bunnies nor The Fanny Rompers, both being risqué men’s magazines that were under strict arbitration for the various acts of obscenity captured within their folds.

By the time he had reached the suspected halfway point, he had read through the operator’s pamphlet three times and was hallucinating quite mildly.  He invented a love poem, he once told me that could decode another’s rib cage and leave their heart splayed out for your consumption.  He told be one could still find it etched into blood up there in the clouds above the Atlantic. Sounds crazy, right?  Even to me, a knuckle-headed chuckler of eleven, it sounded like the opening lines of a serial arsonist’s manifesto. Sure, he went a little crazy I suspect.  But I like to think we all go a little crazy sometime.  The key is just to go that perfect amount of crazy, is all.

Well, after a spell, and far past his own ability to foresee himself making it out of this metal trap alive, he sees land. Twasn’t so bad a trip, even in those days, if you had the correct disposition. Just a couple days in the air now, he could rest his eyes on the grandity of Europe before him.  My father had done it and his eyes welled with the same briny sludge that slew below him.  As the blue under his belly was converted to a vibrant green, he flew close to the ground, clipping the tops of evergreens as small children with cigarettes and berets ran down the dirt country roads, following him.  He was the pied piper of Paris, he said, and he felt a great sense of pride to become the national hero of such a lowly people.

Here’s when things turn, you see. It wasn’t until eight miles outside of Paris that it donned on him.  Not a thought, but an odor, and odor so atrocious that in America, it would have been deemed illegal. A smell so catastrophic that it could melt the eyebrows off a muskox, or any ox really. It was a smell he had known before and everything was starting to come together, and eventually coalesced all at once as the clouds parted and the Eiffel Tower stood in front of him, drenched is a green haze. WITH A GODDAMNED FRENCH FLAG FLYING.

It seems there were two truths about my father that he had overlooked and I had failed to mention.  Number one: My father hates the French.  Started in the First World War and continued on until the day he died. And number two: He was notoriously terrible at geography, really had no sense of direction and couldn’t tell Carson City from New York City. Was plain terrible as it were.  So he was quite surprised to see that flag in Paris, with its plush red, white, and blue spangling proudly. A color scheme he claims was stolen directly from us.

Well, pops being a man of pride and not much else, refused to land in France, instead opting to fly back to Minny Soda to marry that chunky squaw, excuse me for using that term but that is how she was termed by my father.  And he had enough fuel left in the tanks to at least make it back to the ocean, but swiftly flew that twin engine into the cold waters below, taking a soft refuge on the bottom of the Atlantic.

But that ain’t the end of his story, but I am afraid it is for today…

I am Jumpin’ Jack Juniper Jr.: Best in the World. Let’s jump some fucking buses!”

Jumpin’ Jack Juniper Jr.: Best in the World™ then went on to break three ribs and his clavicle as he clipped the rear of the track on the final bus, causing him to thrust harshly down upon the handlebars.


The Chronicling Chronicles of Jumpin’ Jack Juniper Jr.: Introduction

What is a word for someone who knows a whole hell of a lot about something absolutely nobody cares about? A connoisseur? or perhaps an esotericist?  That is a word I made up, but feel free to use it at a dinner party. Some people know a lot about Soccer.  They would hold their arms akimbo at pub trivia night and valiantly shout out, “Argentina,” when the moderator asks who won the 1986 World Cup.  There are those who spend their nights working out the actual physics mentioned in the footnotes of a Pynchon novel.

Me, I know a lot about daredevils, or stunt performers, as they are often referred.  Can’t get enough of them.  The type of men who line a leather bodysuit with Roman candles and attempt to jump over or through some major landmark. I am just all about them.  They get my blood a-pumping in a rather strenuous fashion. If you walk into a library and see me sitting at a microfiche projector, chances are I am reading the accounts of Eddie Kidd jumping over the Great Wall of China or Montauk Bill and his World’s Fastest Hereford.

The sad truth of the profession is that for every household name like Evel Knievel and Harry Houdini, there are a thousand journeymen making the county fair and minor league baseball game circuit.  True road warriors who live without the constant hype and perform simply for the roar of an engine set against the setting sun of some forgotten West Texas town.  They jump mini-Hondas with broken mandibles and stand atop galloping appaloosas still half-drunk from the night before.  It is a difficult life, and there is no real overarching philosophy to explain why they do it.  However, in the enthusiast’s humble opinion, these are the true heroes of stunt performance.

My favorite of these madmen is the maddest of men.  Known to the crowds as Jumpin’ Jack Juniper Jr., he was man who exemplified the spirit of these early stuntmen, inventing and perfecting many of the tricks that have since become emblematic of the performers in his industry.  He was a fervent alcoholic and a renowned womanizer, as his four wives will attest, but the things he did hovering over a pile of compact sedans somehow seemed to wipe everything clean.  Unfortunately, well, depending on how you look at it, he became most famous for his pre-stunt speeches, which were sometimes trifling  rants about a government agency that had recently pissed him off, while other times evolving into eloquent tales from his tumultuous upbringing.  His favorite subject was often his father, Jack Juniper Sr. It appeared Jr. quite idolized his namesake.

Well, I have begun acquiring the transcripts of these speeches that would span his entire career and I wish to present them here for you to read, as they are quite interesting, for lack of a better word.  I am hoping to eventually place them in an official collection of some kind, but for now, they will be here for your consumption.