Hair like Erik’s

By Tim Henney
Reader Contributor

The more I came to know the recently departed sage of Sandpoint, Erik Daarstad, the more I thought about moving to Norway. 

My God, if one could live among people like him? Humanists, gentlemen, modest and thoughtful giants among men? Or was Erik an anomaly? Whichever, I have never had a better pal. Even if my 1957 bride did like his hair better than mine. 

In current American culture, with things often seeming to be heading toward hell in a handcart and led by elected, morally bankrupt fiends determined to turn our democracy into a dictatorship (their warped power-hungry minds seemingly ignorant of history), citizens like Erik are invaluable. He knew that unlettered U.S. legislators were using Adolph Hitler’s political playbook from the 1930’s, including Fox News’ mimicry of Nazi propaganda minister Dr. Joseph Goebbels’ techniques. Predator Trump, for instance, like the fuhrer, and like Stalin and Mao, has called the press “the enemy of the people.”    

The author wrote: “The most recent upgrade to my mancave. The sombrero is what Erik wore when he sang in our two annual DiLuna’s parties. It came down over his eyes but most people seemed to know who might be under it. The grey wig is what ‘a friend’ put on at the Tango Round Table from time to time, and at the two DiLuna’s soirees, after his wife bitched about his hair not being as impressive as Erik’s. The photo of Erik and Dan Murphy was taken at the Tango Table by Lee Santa and ran in the Reader with a story about that sorry bunch of misfits. The martini glass speaks for itself.” Photo by Tim Henney.
Publisher’s note: This is what true
friendship really looks like.

The drift of our delicate democracy toward fascist authoritarianism under dictator wannabes spewing hate, division and violence versus the rule of law was a continuing concern of Erik’s. Another was the perplexing gullibility of those bereft, Taliban-like anti-America U.S. extremists who, desperately needing leadership no matter how obscene, unqualified or dangerous the disguise in which it appears, infiltrate today’s library and school boards, state legislatures, county commissions, city councils, media the U.S. Congress. 

The Trump-led attack on the U.S. Capitol made Erik almost sick to his stomach. And he was, like most bonafide patriots, flabbergasted that Trump’s gullible fan base would stick with him after he, touring the American cemetery at Aisne-Marne, France in 2018 a hundred years after 2,289 U.S. soldiers and marines died fighting the Germans there in World War I, objected to his political handlers insistence on a tour of the cemetery. Good politics. Those American heroes buried there, and the 1,060 missing in action, Predator Trump opined, were “suckers and losers.” 

He felt similarly about Arizona Senator John McCain, who spent five-and-a-half years in a North Vietnam prison. The Predator preferred “heroes who didn’t get captured.” So saith he who has cheated and lied and bribed his way through life  — and dodged the draft five times. 

Erik couldn’t understand why American citizens could endorse such immorality. A quiet, attentive and humble man, more 87-year-old hippie than pillaging viking despite his Scandinavian DNA, Erik was, nonetheless, not shy in voicing distress over the present downward drift of his adopted democracy. (Nor should the rest of us be, if we value what we have.) 

If Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa were rolled into one perfect American humanitarian, we’d have Erik. Maybe add a dash of Ben Franklin and a dollop of Marco Polo, who explored much of the world. Erik visited and photographed most of it. 

A sticker on the trunk of Erik’s weary Subaru said “Fighting Hate, Teaching Tolerance, Seeking Justice.” Daarstad in the proverbial nutshell. Speaking of tolerance, my 1957 bride, one of Erik’s good buddies and the same aged vintage, demanded of me about a zillion times when he would  join us downtown for breakfast or lunch, “Why don’t you have hair like Erik’s?”  

A valid question. And so is this: “Why aren’t all of us more like him?” 

Uff Da, Erik!

While we have you ...

... if you appreciate that access to the news, opinion, humor, entertainment and cultural reporting in the Sandpoint Reader is freely available in our print newspaper as well as here on our website, we have a favor to ask. The Reader is locally owned and free of the large corporate, big-money influence that affects so much of the media today. We're supported entirely by our valued advertisers and readers. We're committed to continued free access to our paper and our website here with NO PAYWALL - period. But of course, it does cost money to produce the Reader. If you're a reader who appreciates the value of an independent, local news source, we hope you'll consider a voluntary contribution. You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.

You can contribute at either Paypal or Patreon.

Contribute at Patreon Contribute at Paypal

You may also like...

Close [x]

Want to support independent local journalism?

The Sandpoint Reader is our town's local, independent weekly newspaper. "Independent" means that the Reader is locally owned, in a partnership between Publisher Ben Olson and Keokee Co. Publishing, the media company owned by Chris Bessler that also publishes Sandpoint Magazine and Sandpoint Online. Sandpoint Reader LLC is a completely independent business unit; no big newspaper group or corporate conglomerate or billionaire owner dictates our editorial policy. And we want the news, opinion and lifestyle stories we report to be freely available to all interested readers - so unlike many other newspapers and media websites, we have NO PAYWALL on our website. The Reader relies wholly on the support of our valued advertisers, as well as readers who voluntarily contribute. Want to ensure that local, independent journalism survives in our town? You can help support the Reader for as little as $1.