Tangent66: My Tribute to James T. Kirk

James T. Kirk.

James! "Motherfucking" T! Kirk!

Take a moment and consider the words I have just written. This man is a goddamn celebration of human potential. Kirk is an all-out menace of excellence. Stop reading this article for a second and open up another tab in your web browser and, no fuck that, I will embed this highlight reel and you can see for yourself the magic, please continue after this break:


OK, that was a lot to handle. If you need a moment to compose yourself/reapply your makeup/clothes, take your time.

So much has been written about Captain Kirk that I don't presume to offer any new insights here. If anything, too much has been written- thousands of pages of Star Trek novels, comics, fan fiction (Bob Orci, your movies fall into that last category) and are we any closer to understanding this character's brilliance? No. He defies our intellect as much as he betrayed his own science officer's beloved and sturdy Logic. Kirk is a corruption, an agent of pervasive chaos, and he is (aside from the aforementioned Spock) the most human soul we have ever encountered in our travels through fiction.

I started writing a very different article than the one you are reading. I meant to give you another heartfelt episode of Flashback66 in which I impart some nuggets of my soul and childhood to a hopefully like-minded audience. I tried to describe how Star Trek became such a huge deal for me, how my mother introduced me to the show and I felt like I was being bar mitzvahed into some larger world of science fiction. Nononono.... turn down the Celine Dion music, folks. Fuck. That. Shit.

I wisely deleted that maudlin draft and started over with this very focused celebration of the character that made Star Trek matter to me- this surrogate father figure and example of machismo (and complex hair devices) who captained a glorious ship from one planet to the next as a de facto god.
Comrade Kirkovich

Obviously, such praise for Jim Kirk (can I call you "Jim?") cannot be given without recognizing his human vessel William Shatner. Canadian, Jewish... most likely a demi-god himself, Shatner's most important contribution to human history is James Tiberius Kirk. TekWar? Fuck no, Bill.  Rescue-911? A show about calling 911? You seriously took money for that shit? Even your crazy Slobodan Milosevic-based character on SeaQuest couldn't come close to the perfect refraction of cosmic energy that played out as the human rainbow of the Starship Enterprise's commander.  I just re-read that last sentence in your singular staccato. Everything is better through your voice, sir.  Shakespeare, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address... marriage vows, you need to exist everywhere.

Captain,  there were times- mostly in middle school- where I mimicked your demeanor in my day-to-day affairs. The clenched neck, the rowing shoulder movements while speaking, and maybe the occasional use of one of your comebacks in an argument ("I'm lauuuughing at the supERIOR intellect!" but of course, not laughing when saying this).  Ironically, my allegiance to your way of existing may have delayed my introduction to the more Kirk-ian things in life (Scotsman pals, booze, pussy), but I wouldn't change a single fucking decision in retrospect.  Like a kid who thought breakdancing was a legitimate way of overcoming complex social problems, I was sorely mistaken about how I could benefit from looking up to my hero in the real world.

With that in mind, I slowly attained the wisdom to find the Jim Kirk that was true to who I am as a person. And that is the rub, my friends- we cannot be Jim Kirk anymore than we could be a bolt of lightning or the glistening reflection on a woman's lips at sunset... (looks around) but if I may borrow a phrase: Kirk is our business. That's what life is all about. That's what it means to be alive--not to be Jim Kirk but to be as Kirk is, a fully living, loving and brave soul.  Kirk sees the things that we share in common, not the superficial differences that divide people like race, gender or cultural origins. Kirk also believes in action, and with that comes accountability for the outcomes of one's actions. And Kirk knows his limits (okay, there are none but he faked it for the benefit of others) and how knowing one's limits means you focus more one what you can do well, and to pursue that path as your first, best destiny.

I don't like to lose >>> Never tell me the odds.
James Kirk, my hero for all-time- thank you.


  1. Damn, man. That was well said. All of it.

    Growing up, Kirk was more a hero to me than Luke Skywalker or Han Solo. And that was before I was even old enough to admire him as an intergalactic pussy magnet. Now, he's still a hero and an icon to me, but for different reasons. As a character, he's become inseparable to me from Wrath of Khan, because that movie is a better character treatment than most pop entertainment characters will ever get. I loved it as a kid for the shooting and disgusting ear creatures, but I love it now because it makes me reflect at how human it made Kirk out to be.

    At 41, I'm starting to grapple with some of the same issues Kirk grappled with in that movie. Old age, past my prime, acknowledging mistakes. Fortunately, my mistakes aren't out there trying to shoot a photon torpedo up my ass.

    I do believe I'm going to pour myself a Jameson and pop in my Bluray. I'm probably going to tear up a couple times too, but that's ok. Real man tear up watching Wrath of Khan. And my cat doesn't judge me for it.

    1. You're so completely correct about KHAN being one of the finest overall treatments of Kirk, particularly in assessing his path from "youngest captain in the fleet" to what was later a man worried that his "prime" came at a greater cost than he could accept. I think Kirk's gentle optimism wins in the end- Spock is dead and his "prime" had truly come to an end yet he feels young- a new world before him inspired his faith in better days ahead. From death comes life. Genesis.