Pole Sitting

… but, first, let’s take a look back at the year 1928, a year when you might have seen Al Capone dancing the Charleston on top of a flagpole. — Kent Brockman, “Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie”

Second only to the exciting world of frame nudging, the pole sitting craze that swept America in the 1920s was perhaps best embodied in the exploits of one Alvin Aloysius “Shipwreck” Kelly, a hearty cherub of a man who had no taste for terra firma.

Kelly was a pioneer and a master pole sitter, hitting a personal best 49 days + 1 hour session in 1930, and logging more than 20,000 elevated hours over the course of his career. Though the pole sitting craze died down shortly thereafter, certain renaissance sitters have since emerged, including one fellow who clocked 439 days back in the ’80s.

Of course, it’s worth noting that pole sitting was also a practice of the Stylites, an ancient ascetic group whose members perched themselves on top of columns in order to get closer to God or somesuch. The champion of this group was Simeon Stylites, who did such a thing for 37 years. Impressive, but sure ’tis no pole, English:

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