David McGimpsey is one of the few living poets who can make the same claim as Terence, the comic playwright of the 2nd century BC: “I am a human; no human thing is alien to me.” He is a ravenous and democratic consumer of the things we make; hamburgers, Bud, impractical cars, television series, sports, Miltonic elegies, and yes, overpriced coffee, all find equal footing in his work. Nothing we do is alien to him. His first books made a lot of critics uncomfortable, not because of their style (I don’t think there’s a serious living critic who could characterize McGimpsey as anything but a formal master) but because of the relationship of the poems to their subject matter. What did McGimpsey really think about Alan Hale, the skipper from Gilligan’s Island, about whom he wrote an elegy in the style of Tennyson, in his debut, Lard Cake? Are we in on the joke or the butt of it? A critic as formidable as Carmine Starnino called that book “a collection of slick, self-conscious parodies of TV clichés and pop-culture myths.” Nothing could be further from the truth. (…)
Early on we get this brilliant encounter:
“Who’re you calling a literary hipster?”
he huffed, putting down his pint of Steam Whistle.
I apologized, of course, and promised
to read his second book, Suck It, Dick Cheney.
The one thing McGimpsey can’t abide is the facile Canadianism of the leftist provincial contrarian, defining himself against all things American and hegemonic. Indeed, we realize over the course of Li’l Bastard how misguided and empty the dominant narrative of Canadian nationalism really is.
After high school, in the midst of World War II, Johnson joined the United States Army Air Forces as an aviation cadet; upon commissioning as a Second Lieutenant, Johnson was assigned the service number 0 765 497. He flew 44 combat missions as a bombardier in B-25 Mitchell bombers. His plane was shot down in the Philippines in March 1945, during a bombing run against Japanese targets. The plane had to crash land at the port of Zamboanga. In this mission, he broke both his ankles and earned his Purple Heart.
He was also awarded the Air Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with three service stars, the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one service star, and the World War II Victory Medal. He was honorably discharged with the rank of first Lieutenant on November 22, 1945. He then joined the Army Reserves and used the GI Bill to fund his acting studies.
He became a close friend of Audie Murphy and later appeared with him in three of his films…
Johnson was asked to take off his shirt when auditioning for the Gilligan’s Island role; he refused, but still got the job.
Before accepting the role of Roy Hinkley, he made Gilligan’s Island producer Sherwood Schwartz promise him that when he made scientific statements they would be accurate.