Getting to the age where my contemporaries are beginning to die of just plain old diability, I realized the other day that certain of their deaths hit me very hard–in fact, that sometimes I think I’m really not all that interested in living on a planet where Soandso is gone. (Ask me again when I’m gasping for my final breath–I may change my mind around that point.) I decided to draw up a short list of people whose living presence I have grown to require on any planet on which I choose to live. Put otherwise, when these people are dead, I’m going to wonder if life is all that worth living.
Bill James, baseball writer
Joni Mitchell, musician
Philip Roth, fiction writer
Tom Stoppard, playwright
Loudon Wainwright III, musician
If you want to contribute your version, here are the rules: 1) Person must be famous–no "Grammy Puckerface"s, please. You may be sad when Grammy P. kicks off, but no one here has any idea who Grammy P. or Grammy S. is, so give us only those we have heard of. And 2) Person must older than you, not by much necessarily, but OF COURSE you don’t want some teenybopper pop star dying before you–that would make you feel OLD. I want people older than you whose dying makes you wonder.
Roth is 20 years older than I am, and not in good health. James is fat. Joni was born with a cigarette in her mouth.
I have to say that I honestly can’t conceive of my wanting to die just because some famous person older than me kicked the bucket.
Let’s be brutally honest here - life is a terminal disease. If it lives, it dies. Famous people are no exception. Neither are you. Neither am I. I prefer to live as long as I can (while I’m still healthy), and plan to leave this life kicking and screaming.
I agree. I can’t think of anyone famous who I love THAT much. Family members, yeah, but while some famous people’s deaths are very sad I don’t feel like there is anyone whose loss would ruin my own life.
In fact, in the hypothetical scenario that I was running from a bear and every celebrity on earth was also running with me, well, I would trip any one of them and allow the bear to kill them to save my own life. If I had to, I’d sacrifice them all to save my life. Sorry to everyone who is a fan of anyone.
It’s going to suck to live in a world without Terry Pratchett, but I’ll tough it out. As for the deaths of teeny boppers making me feel old… I would love to live long enough to see, say, Dakota Fanning die of old age. You hang in there, ancient grandma me!
Nope, I can’t think of a single famous person whose death would have any measurable impact on my own quality of life. That kind of heartache is reserved for my real-life connections like parents, siblings, spouse.
I kinda figured the OP was meant to be hyperbolic.
I don’t know pseudotriton ruber ruber personally, but I don’t imagine the suggestion is that the death of Bill James will cause so great a downward spiral into despair.
I remember when Joey Ramone died (which should have been no surprise, he had been fighting cancer for years), that it just felt wrong to me. Joey Ramone wasn’t supposed to die. Joey Ramone was supposed to be a constant, like oxygen. It was like the world was no longer the world I had always known- and that just didn’t seem right.
That said, I didn’t break down crying. This was nothing like experiencing the death of a real life loved one. There was no sense of “I can’t go on living”. There was no despair. There was just a sense of “Waitaminute, Joey Ramone’s not supposed to die! Joey Ramone’s not supposed to be able to die!”
There are other people of whom I am a fan, yet I would not have this same reaction. I wouldn’t even rate it on a scale of how much I enjoy that person’s work. Some people seem like an element of existence, and some people just seem like talented human beings. So, my list would not really be the same as a list of “Who are your 5 favorite famous people?”
With that in mind:
“Weird Al” Yankovic
Three of those five people, if they outlive me it will be because I will die young. I don’t want to die young, so I will have to just get over it like I got over it with Joey Ramone. If The Grim Reaper had come and said, “O.K., bienville, it’s either you or Joey Ramone”, well, Joey Ramone’s fate would have been identical to his actual real life fate. Same goes with the list above. Still, when I do outlive them there will be a sense of “Hey! That person is not supposed to die!”
Oh, yeah, I got that. It surprised me to consider the question in the OP and realize that I wouldn’t feel any particular loss if any famous person ceased to exist. I wasn’t trying to threadshit or poke fun at the idea; I just couldn’t think of anyone I’m not related to whose death would matter to me, and I found that odd.
Drew Barrymore is 25 days older than me. We have walked this earth together.
I saw E.T. in the theater when it first came out- when she and I were both seven years old. Knowing we were the same age meant something more to a seven year old and it instilled a long lasting sense of connection.
The autobiography at age 15 told the story of a kid who should have been dead from an O.D. already. This was as I was watching my friends begin experimenting with drugs. Knowing she had already hit rock bottom and didn’t die put me solidly in the “I’m rooting for Drew” camp. Her successful transition into an adult career while I was in college was very satisfying and life affirming for me (considering how destructive her life had been just a few years earlier, how much damage there was at a young age).
That said, I enjoy some of her work and there’s some of her work I don’t enjoy. She’s not one of my all time favorite artists, but I feel connected with her. Again, we have walked this earth together. Overcoming the damage that was done at so young an age, means Death had his chance and she freed herself. That’s why the thought of her dying now just seems wrong to me.
I was going to mention my wife, stepdaughter, baby sister, little sister, favorite niece, and best friend from college. Then I read the OP and saw they were disqualified for not being famous and all being younger than me. Then I thought, hell, there’s no famous person I give a good goddamn about. I was a little sad when Robert B. Parker died, and if Adele Atkins or Valerie Martin or Mandy Patinkin died suddenly I’d grieve; but in no case would I be sorry to have outlived them.