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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Reacting to our celeb death epidemic


I know what you’re thinking, ‘cause I’m thinking it, too.
How can Wayne Rogers, David Bowie, Dan Haggerty, Natalie Cole, Glenn Frey and Alan Rickman all be dead when Zsa Zsa Gabor remains so grimly otherwise?
I’ve had ZZG on my ghoul pool since 2011 when I wrote about how her shady “husband” was asking doctors to lop off huge chunks of her once-gorgeous body to prolong her pitiful life. She’ll be 99 on February 10.
But with the sad and surprising passing of Frey, social media grievers are becoming alarmed over what seems like a celebrity death epidemic.
Who’s next? The captain from “Captain & Tennille?” That’d be Daryl Dragon. He’s 73.
All these celebrity deaths put me in the awkward position of mocking many sincere feelings, which is just wrong.
I must have a sentimentality deficit because I rarely mourn when an established celebrity dies of natural causes.
I guess I’d feel otherwise if everyone of us didn’t have to eventually die anyways. Well, everyone but Zsa Zsa, Betty White and — hallelujah — Keith Richards.
In fact, I often feel kind of uplifted at the recollections of their impact on my life.
Take David Bowie. I was never a huge fan and the only recording of his I own is “Under Pressure,” the euphoric duet he does with Freddie Mercury.
His death was a reminder of a truly vibrant life, so artistically aspirational. But I didn’t feel any sadness that he was gone.
Bowie was 69, Rickman 69, Frey 67, Cole 65. Dying below 75 anymore does seem cruel, so that’s a factor.
Most of the Bowie music that moved so many was often too avant guard for me. In fact, the coverage of his death most striking to me was how it seemed he never once left the house without a really great hair cut.
Didn’t he ever have bed head? Heck, I’ve been known to wear a ball cap to Sunday worship.
I think another reason there’s a bug up my rear — fear not, it isn’t fatal — about celebrity grieving is because it increases the chances my irrepressible snark will offend.
It happened on a friend’s Facebook feed. He’d written how he was never a big Bowie fan and didn’t understand the grief tsunami over his death.
I replied facetiously but not without reason that if this is the reaction we’re getting over David Bowie, what will people say when Alice Cooper kicks? After all, many of the adjectives applied to Bowie — ground-breaking, innovative, tuneful — apply as much to Alice as they do to Bowie.
Well, the reaction was like I’d slammed Santa.
I was denounced as a musically tasteless asshole, a provocateur, a dunce. The onslaught made me relieved Facebook is as yet incapable of informing partisans how I smell.
Never saw the Eagles, but I love much of their music, especially “New Kid in Town” and “The Last Resort” and the sublimely poignant, “Sad Cafe.”
Frey, too, seemed like a great guy. He was a staple on the celebrity golf circuit, was cheerful during his interviews. And I like his obscure solo single, “Part of Me, Part of You.”
Maybe mine is a fatigued reaction to how social media amplifies our every emotion. It seems especially pronounced with celebrity death.
I guess I’m more likely to advise in this often tear-filled world to remember the apt Dr.  Seuss quote: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
The advice seems particularly precious now that the morning news includes the death of Dallas Taylor, drummer for Crosby Stills Nash & Young who was, speaking of young, just 66.
The start of 2016 is proving tough for fans of classic rock.
They’re not dying in 3s.
They’re dying in 33 and 1/3rds.

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2 comments:

Holmesie said...

Good last line, there, Chris.

It strikes me (as things and people may perhaps wish to) that since I am 69, my days may be numbered. Especially now that I'm retired and finally having real fun and saying Who cares? to my former cares.

However, as you point out, all our days are numbered, or something like that. I just can't count that high and will live life (I'm a lifer) as if there's no tomorrow, which makes sense because ha, ha! Tomorrow never comes.

That's a 007 reference. I'm only .0007.

Best regards,

Barb

Chris Rodell said...

Hope you live long and prosper, Barb -- and that's a Star Trek reference.

I love your attitude! It is odd to start the year off with so many pressing reminders of our mortality. But it's also, as you convey, useful. Yours is the best way to proceed.

Keep on truckin', my friend!

Chris