Ronnie Polaneczky: 'Look-at-me!' types: Take a look at yourselves

ASSOCIATED PRESS Apparent narcissist Chris Angulo kayaked to the half-sunk Jet Star coaster in Seaside Heights, N.J., climbed the track and hoisted a flag before calling a local radio station Tuesday.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Apparent narcissist Chris Angulo kayaked to the half-sunk Jet Star coaster in Seaside Heights, N.J., climbed the track and hoisted a flag before calling a local radio station Tuesday.
Posted: January 10, 2013

CHRIS ANGULO, if you're reading this I'm presuming you've been released from police custody. And I really hope you're having second thoughts about the wet stunt you pulled Tuesday.

But I fear that you may be one of those "Look-at-me! Look-at-me!" types who aren't introspective, no matter who you trouble (the cops), scare (the public) or force to defend your dopey actions (your poor mother).

You dropped a kayak into the surf at Lavallette, on the Jersey Shore. You paddled south to Seaside Heights, to the half-sunk wreckage of the Jet Star roller coaster, which sloshed off the pier during Hurricane Sandy in October. Then you climbed the track, planted an American flag on the summit and called a radio station to brag about it.

"I'm on top of the Jet Star, putting up a flag?" you said in up-speak to the morning host on Magic 100.1 "I might stay here a couple days. I'm a local tree climber and I really miss surfing the pier. This is like my back yard."

So you decided to climb the coaster and hoist a flag because "it looks so bare without a flag." You added that you had " no weapons or nothin' like that if the police are gonna get involved."

Please. When you called the radio station, this changed from an "if" situation to a "when" one.

Had you been interested in "if," you'd have scaled the coaster in the dark of night, raised the flag and scampered down, leaving the public to wonder, in the morning, how the hell Old Glory got there.

So cut the coyness. It's not an attractive quality in a 38-year-old man. Even if, as your mother told my colleague Dana DiFilippo, you're a very patriotic 38-year-old.

But there's nothing patriotic about pulling a stunt that prompts the Seaside Heights police to activate their dive team - for all they knew, you were suicidal and about to leap - and then forces them into the surf to coax you down.

Way to honor our first responders.

Perhaps I'm being harsh. Your mom says you've been struggling since Hurricane Sandy, which has left you homeless. So maybe you weren't thinking straight when you thought that the public actually needed you to scale the Jet Star (the Seaside Heights police chief said you told him that you "did it for America").

But Americans don't need to see TV-news footage of a man playing footsies with tragedy. We've seen too many images lately that reflect the aftermath of the real thing.

Like the mass murder last year in a Colorado movie theater - and then another one last week, in the same unlucky town. The massacre in a Wisconsin Sikh temple. The slaughter in a Connecticut elementary school. And in an Arizona shopping center, and a Nevada IHOP, and a California hair salon.

Honestly, the country is in shell-shock, sir. Have some respect for your fellow Americans and quit with the scary grandstanding for attention.

Or, here's a better idea: Why not grandstand in a way that brings joy or comfort to your hoped-for audience and doesn't tax first responders? Especially the ones in Seaside Heights, where emergency personnel did heroic work to saves lives and property during the hurricane.

You seem like a go-get'em guy. I bet you could organize a helluva fundraiser to help restore Seaside Heights, or your town of Lavallette, which was also hard-hit.

I know: The feds need to come through with major funds. But that doesn't mean you can't help restore a corner while you wait. It will help you feel powerful in a way that won't get you arrested for disorderly conduct, the way Tuesday's stunt did.

You could take inspiration from the good people of Seaside, Ore. It's a beach town whose residents know that they're one ferocious storm away from devastation. The leaders of Seaside have just announced that they're going to raise $10,000 to help Seaside Heights restore the town's entrance.

Their campaign's cute slogan is "Seaside Helping Seaside!"

Perhaps you could volunteer to be their group's energetic liaison on the East Coast and generate publicity for the effort.

After all, you got plenty of attention Tuesday, for doing something reckless. I'll bet you'll get even more for doing something redemptive.

For America - for real.


Email: polaner@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-2217

On Twitter: @RonniePhilly

Blog: philly.com/ronnieblog

Columns: philly.com/Ronnie

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