O.J. Simpson is living as a dead man walking

Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 7:10 p.m.

These days, what with the recent unfortunate but perhaps not unexpected turn of events plaguing his very existence, if O.J. Simpson doesn’t cut one of the most pathetically enigmatic figures in the history of history, then who does?

Come to think of it, who in recent memory (except for former football star Michael ‘‘My Dogs Can Kill Your Dogs’’ Vick) has been embroiled in such an unbelievably ill-fated series of events as O.J. ... to the point that even his friends and family have to wonder if he is the proud owner of a death wish.

Or, if on the lasting heels of his escaping two murder charges, O.J. really believes he’s unconvictable, invincible and omnipotent. Even Superman stumbles when faced with Kryptonite.

But what can slow down O.J.? Obviously not white women or white prosecutors. Not blacks’ wrath, collective embarrassment and ostracizing attitude. Not even Lady Justice, who apparently peeked from under her blindfold and decided that O.J. deserved another chance to transform himself into a caricature physically reminiscent of Alfred E. Neuman.

No matter what he might believe about himself, the fact is all indications point to O.J. Simpson paradoxically living as a dead man walking. Never mind the belief and popularist/apologist notion that he isn’t a criminal unless he’s convicted. O.J. Simpson already is figuratively dead and literally a menace to society.

His soul is dead. His spirit is lifeless. His personality has departed at worst and morphed into a mass of jangled nerves at best. His circle of friends now is smaller than Congress’ approval rating is low. His social life has been in a coma, save for golf and the one woman who currently is living life on the margins by dating him.

Let’s see ... what’s her name? Can’t think of it now, but I hope to not read it in an obituary any time soon.

Just think about how much of the world is cut off to O.J. Restaurateurs kick him out of their establishments. Motorists cut him off in traffic and flip him the bird. More recently, it appears he might have been set up by the very man who called him in Las Vegas to ‘‘alert’’ O.J. that people in a hotel were selling his stolen goods for profit.

And what does the genius dead man do? Shows up with his boys — armed, apparently — to retrieve items he says belong to him. And now two co-defendants in that armed robbery case have agreed to plead guilty to a reduced charge and testify against O.J. and three others in that alleged hotel room theft of sports collectibles from two memorabilia dealers.

Was O.J. not paying attention when Vick’s dogfighting buddies squealed on him like stuck pigs? Why wouldn’t he know there’s no honor among thieves? You’ re an accused murderer who escaped a lengthy prison sentence and perhaps the death penalty primarily because of the legal acumen of a late, legendary lawyer. You don’t know that when it comes to saving their own tails, people accused of doing really bad things might tell a lie or flip on their fellow defendants? Apparently dead men can walk, but they can’t think.

And now comes word that O.J. is among California’s worst tax debtors. According to the state’s tax collection agency, he owes $1.44 million. Good luck collecting that piece of change.

O.J. Simpson is a dead man walking, not so much as the embodiment of the traditional call from a prison guard as a condemned prisoner is led to Death Row but as a man whose life is vacuous and controversial.

O.J. has to be biding his time, which likely explains his repeated boneheaded

decisions. At this point, I’m more intrigued and confused by him than hating the man. I don’t know him, and hate is such a strong word.

However, as a black man, I have pitied him and been embarrassed by many of his indefensible actions. When you’re such a wretched and tragic public figure, you’re bound to conjure up feelings in people ranging from infatuation and love from equally tormented people on one hand to enmity and death wishes from people on the other.

When outspoken actor Tim Robbins directed the movie ‘‘Dead Man Walking’’ around the time O.J. was in hot murder water, it was a missed opportunity to not cast the Heisman Trophy winner in a prominent role. O.J. wouldn’t have needed any acting lessons for he wouldn’t have been acting. He would’ve been practicing for the rest of his pathetic life.

Derrick K. Baker is a columnist for N’Digo, a Chicago ‘‘magapaper for the urbane’’

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