I have been following Hart Hanson on Twitter lately. He’s really good at it. The TV producer and writer (Bones is his current project, but I remember the days of Street Legal and Neon Rider, when I used to tell people “Hey, I know that guy,” and they would say “Ew, you watch Neon Rider?“) uses Twitter like the Neon Rider used his eyebrows: fast and funny, and occasionally confusing, but only if you’re stupid.
Here’s how I know Hart Hanson.
In 1982 or so, the bossman at The Toronto Sun, a friend of our family named Peter Brewster, called my mother at our weekly newspaper in small-town Northern Ontario. “I have this guy,” Peter said, “who wants to ride across the country on a bicycle, and has somehow talked me into paying him to do so. He’s going to write about the towns as he passes through. When he gets to Nipigon, could you put him up for a day and introduce him around?”
And in rides Hart Hanson, this kid with crazy blonde hair, who proves to be one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. Also, he has a last name for a first name, so I could relate. Right off the bat, he told us a story about how he once farted in church; I was 14, and this was comedy gold. He ended up staying for quite a while, and we had some pretty cool adventures.
I asked my mother about this a few days ago.
“Well, he was this hilarious guy riding his bike across the country, and you boys, with no father, just glued yourselves to him,” she said. “He was a major role model. He came along at exactly the right time.”
She’s right. Looking back, I have to acknowledge how much of an influence Hart was on my life. My sense of humour, my need for adventure, my years attached to a bicycle, riding across the country, and my habit of being kind of irreverent … a lot of that comes from Hart Hanson. Let’s not forget the journalism side of things; I grew up newspapering, so it was “the family business,” but meeting a cool guy on a bike who was getting paid to ride around, meet people and get into adventures, made it much more appealing. That’s why I do what I do. Right there.
Hart Hanson went on to a career in TV and he’s kind of super-famous now. I haven’t seen him since those days. But I’ve always wanted to tell him something: Hart, we can never fully understand the mark we leave on this world, and on its people; passing moments can leave permanent legacies. And also, you forgot your green Speedo at my house.