Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Year, Already Too Much Death

David Bowie is dead at 69. He fought an 18 month battle with cancer that apparently no one knew about except his family.

Alan Rickman, a.k.a. Severus Snape (and the bad guy in "Die Hard", and the Sheriff of Nottingham in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" who chewed the scenery while Kevin Costner attempted, badly, to affect a British accent) of the Harry Potter franchise is dead at 69. Apparently he had cancer as well and kept it a secret.

Now, here stateside comes word that Glenn Frey, founding member of the Eagles has died of a variety of illnesses relating to arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia. He was 67. The Eagles had completed a two-year tour called "History of the Eagles" this past July. The tour came with a 3-hour documentary on Showtime that was quite compelling.

We're not even 3 weeks into 2016. What the hell's going on? Well, on one level, there is a very natural passing on of life. People like me grew up listening to the Eagles in the 1970s and were trying to figure out just who or what the hell Ziggy Stardust was. Alan Rickman was already 28 years old when he started his career as an actor. No one had ever even heard of him. Now, Don Henley calls the day he met Glenn Lewis Frey in 1970 a moment that changed his life forever. The proof is in the pudding obviously. But that was 45 years ago.


By the time Alan Rickman cast a contemptuous eye on his unsuspecting students at Hogwarts Academy as Professor Severus Snape, Potions Master,  his career as an actor had spanned 25 years. And David Bowie was long past his Ziggy Stardust, gender bending days by 2001. A mere 15 years ago. In my mind, and in the minds of many others my age, these people, these artists were doing amazing things, and I was still a kid. I hadn't figured out anything. So it's a shock when these people suddenly pass because we're still looking up to them to inspire us, to lead us. Maybe to let us know that there's still time to sort it out. One more spin of "Heartache Tonight" or "New Kid in Town".  Or one more turn of "Let's Dance" or "Fame" by Bowie. One more time watching Rickman as Snape or the Sheriff of Nottingham. One more time around. Where's that VHS?

Oh. It's a DVD now. No. It's BluRay. Or Netflix. Or Hulu. Now you can see it (or hear it) on these little mini-computers that allow you to make phone calls. They're called "smart phones".

Smart phones? It took me hours and a search to figure out how to just answer the goddamned thing when a call comes in. I feel pretty dumb to be honest.

And I feel blindsided.

And I don't really care a damn that these people have had pretty amazing lives, done pretty awesome things and have now moved on. It's too damned soon. I wasn't ready for them to leave. I'm just beginning. How will I know whether I've got it right? When did it happen, when was the moment that I stopped being a kid? I was always in awe of these people. Like so many of us.

Now, we have to take the stage ourselves without them. Swallow the fear as they must have. Lean into that uncertainty and fling ourselves out there. Look to catch the wind and soar as they did. They were here to inspire us, but they couldn't very well fly for us, could they? Nor could we very well expect them to stay and watch. Something has ended. We feel that. But the time for our own uniqueness in this world has only begun. And it can't happen if we wait for the next great thing these people create while our own greatness languishes, while our own music still has yet to play. So maybe the way to remember these and others who've passed and who've left such a mark (like Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, and Mic Gillette who founded Tower Of Power) is by noting that though their time has passed, ours has come. And we're ready.

But first we mourn:

David Bowie (born: David Robert Jones January 8th, 1947; died: January 10th, 2016)
Alan Rickman (born: Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman February 21st, 1946; died January 14th, 2016)
Glenn Frey (born: Glenn Lewis Frey November 6th 1948; died January 18th, 2016)

Working artists all. We were not ready for you to leave us.

Rest In Peace.

"Let's Dance" by David Bowie

"New Kid In Town" by the Eagles with Glenn Frey on guitar and vocals.

The Sheriff of Nottingham in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" played with  relish by Alan Rickman.

More Later