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Editions

The life and death of a naughty boy

03 Jul 2014

The life and death of a naughty boy Image

By Shane Scanlan

Nude train surfer Jordan Porter achieved his goal of notoriety last month although he was probably not expecting to die in the process.

His tragic death on top of a train at Balaclava was widely reported in the media, which was his intended outcome of the exercise.  

A mate was in place to take the photo which was to be sent to the Herald Sun, which had featured a photo of him doing back-flips at the beach in May.  But Jordan was dead by the time the train arrived.

And, as the daily news cycle moves on, only those close to the 25-year-old are likely to remember him – people like my son Ryan who had been Jordan’s best friend since they met in prep at Ripponlea Primary School.

Ryan and my other sons are shattered by their loss, but they also accept that his death by misadventure was inevitable.  It was not a matter of “if”.  It was a matter of “when” and “where” and “how”.

For Jordan, the purpose of life had become making his mark.  Getting noticed was what it was all about.  

In its primary form, this meant spraying his tag “Sinch” all over Melbourne.

This brings us to a Docklands’ connection.  It was earlier this year that I noticed Sinch sprayed over the lower walls of Etihad Stadium by Wurundjeri Way.

I was genuinely surprised when I saw it, perhaps naively assuming that, at 25-years-old and having a young child to support, he would have put aside his spray cans and fire extinguishers.

But apparently, the urge to be noticed was insatiable.  And not content anymore with mere vandalism, he was continually pushing the limits in danger and personal risk.

His manic highs made him a lovable rogue –enigmatic, eccentric, surprising and fun.

Climbing buildings, other structures and moving trains became staple thrill-seeking fare.  The addition of nudity became his trademark as he upped the ante in outrageousness to potential challengers.

To his crew he is now immortal, revered and ever young. This rationalisation process is not unlike how we honour soldiers killed in futile wars  - the glorification helps us overlook the inconvenient truth surrounding the tragedy.  As for Ryan and my other sons, they find themselves in a vacuum of meaning and purpose.

They seek comfort for their loss via an explanation of why this happened.  But they are looking for logic where none exists. There is only madness, tumult and further isolation.

Jordan was burdened by mental illness, a dysfunctional home life and a fundamental lack of respect for the property or feelings of those outside his immediate circle.  He was also a victim of his hormones which were left to run largely unchecked.

The civilizing influences of middle-class life did not tame this man who was destined to remain always a boy in his attitudes and behaviours.

Why does a dog cock his leg and mark his territory? Why does a man risk death in an attempt to get his picture in the paper?

It’s chemistry that controls us.  There’s balance and imbalance.  

Jordan’s death is no one’s fault.  And I don’t think there are any lessons to be learned from it.  He was a naughty boy who couldn’t grow up.

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