A Shit Year for Idols

In the microcosm that is my life today was a pretty good one.  My wife and I spent it running around Northwest Arkansas… more specifically the sprawling corridor that connects Fayetteville to Bentonville and all points between.  We have family there and quite honestly… its just a nice place to go visit every now an then.  We always say we should do it more often… but in truth we seem to get there once a year…  almost exclusively over Christmas break.  However while running around and enjoying myself… I was also processing the news that this asshole of a year 2016… took yet another awesome person from us.  So now that I am finally home I thought I would write a thoroughly bummer post and talk about all of the amazing people we lost this year… or at least a small list of them.

The other day I commented about just how many people this year has stolen from us and my friend Squirrel gave some sage advice.  Firstly that we are getting old, and that the people that are dying… are finally folks we looked up to as kids or at least came to know through out our lives.  I remember my parents going through this same phase, and I guess it is my time.  They now joke that they attend more funerals than anything else… and since I have gone through the “everyone is getting married” phase, and the “everyone is having kids” phase…  I guess I am beginning to enter that territory as well.  Since the Idols we grow up with tend to be a generation ahead of us… I guess that it makes sense we are entering that territory with them first.  Tonight I am going to talk a little bit about some names that we lost this year.

David Bowie

This one hit me way harder than I expected it to.  Bowie was one of those presences that always just sort of existed as a beacon that you could literally be anything you wanted to be.  Throughout my life I watched this man re-invent himself every few years and still seem just as genuine in doing so as he did the very first time.  He was a force of constant evolution that made me realize that we never had to stop growing as people.  Tin Machine still will stand out as probably my favorite of his phases… but I can find something from literally every one of his phases that I can relate to.

Alan Rickman

Such an amazing actor that I am still pissed that this shitty year conspired to rob us of.  Sure he was Snape, but before that he was Hans Gruber, the voice of god, a hair stylist, and so many other roles that always played out in unique and interesting ways.  By Grabthar’s hammer, by the Sons of Warvan, you shall be avenged!

Garry Shandling

This is the theme to Garry’s show, the opening theme to Garry’s show… Garry called me up last night and asked if I could write his theme song.  I grew up during that weird time during the early days of the Fox Network…  and one of those early shows was the Garry Shandling show and I loved it so much.  He has a sense of humor that seemed to match mine and he even played a great bad guy…  as evidenced from Winter Soldier.

Prince

Now I am not the biggest Prince fan in the world, but no one can doubt how much of a force he was in music.  So insanely talented, and even though he become the brunt of many punchlines during the era when he shifted to being an unpronounceable symbol, he managed to continue trucking on and making solid music.  I guess the biggest thing about him is that he was an individual much in the same way as Bowie was, and served as this alternate focal point to say you could grow up to be any damned thing you wanted to be.  All of his music holds up today in the same way as the day it was released.

Morley Safer

For me at least this man represented seasoned journalism in a way that probably few could.  I grew up with him as the face and voice of so many stories on 60 minutes.  In many ways it feels like the end of an era…  and in this political cycle where the truth seemed not to matter much… we are far worse off for it.

Kenny Baker

This was the first of the Star Wars cast that we lost during 2016, and for those who might not know who he is…  he was the actor behind R2-D2.  For me he will always be Fidget from Time Bandits, or honestly a long slew of roles he played.

Gene Wilder

I am pretty sure if you did not like Gene Wilder you did not have a soul.  He was the only Willy Wonka as far as I am concerned.  There is an entire chunk of my childhood devoted to laughing at movies like Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein.

Leonard Cohen

So if anyone is going to single out a single song by Leonard Cohen… they are going to bring up Hallelujah.  It has been covered time and time again… because in truth it is just that damned good.  It would be hard to find a more perfect song in composition or lyrics that conveys a certain feeling of lost innocence and longing and still a tinge of hope for better things to come.  I was late to know about him to be honest, because it was not until the Natural Born Killers soundtrack that I even knew he really existed.  There was something about his voice however that was just so damned unique and intoxicating.  I am personally partial to The Stranger Song.

Carrie Fisher

This one is possibly the hardest right now… because it is also the freshest.  It is impossible to put into words or adequately explain how much Star Wars meant to me growing up.  Luke and Leia were almost family members, and as those characters shifted into the very real world Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher they almost felt like the Aunt and Uncle you wish you had.  There has been a certain pride as I followed each of their careers, and it was absolutely glorious and triumphant to see both in Force Awakens this time last year.  Star Wars was the second movie I saw in my life…  and in many ways it was the character of Princess Leia that taught me that Princesses didn’t really need saving in the first place.  While that might sound cheesy it was a powerful lesson that I carried with me from that point on.  The real Carrie Fisher though…  was a freaking badass.  I angrily shook my fist at 2016 when she had her heart attack and told it that the year could not have her.  This year really is horrible, and I am saddened that it won.

There are so many others that I didn’t mention for one reason or another… but earlier I paged through a list of some hundred or so deaths this year…  and so many of them were really important figures that we lost.  With each one I think there was a certain feeling of “it can’t get any worse right?”…  but no it continued to get worse as the year went on.  I am ready to put a close to this chapter and hope the next year will start to get even the slightest bit better.  In the immortal words of Ripley…  take off and nuke the entire year from orbit… it’s the only way to be sure.

 

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