Entries Tagged as 'requiescat in pace'

Requiescat in Pace Robin Williams

Robin Williams_Courtesy AP

I need to write this now. Right now.

You don’t need to read this but I need to say this, not because it needs to be said but because I need to say it.

I need to get the words out at this moment because the conjecture has already started, speculation is rampant and the truth (which may or may not ever come out and is sincerely none of our business) may uncover things that are too sad, too hurtful or even hideous to conceive.

Suicide is like that. Depression is real and can be all consuming. Answers are rarely complete. And we are each only human.

At the moment, my remaining ignorance (save for the one truth that is still a bit unreal) is bliss.

In this moment – which is very much not about me – will be now arrogantly be made about me by me. You’ve been warned.

It was 1978 and the ridiculously silly TV Show “Mork and Mindy” was a first season hit, a new series that was born of an episode of “Happy Days” featuring a performer no one had heard of before but would never forget.

I was in eighth grade and my hidden, inner performer was intrigued. Hmmmm.

But it was his comedy album that captivated me…”Reality, What a Concept” along with the HBO special of the same time. Just this weekend I watched a clip of it on YouTube. He gave me another moment of joy while in his life at that moment he might have been hurting.

The birth of a comedy legend. What creativity, what energy.

What was this thing called improvisation?

How does one think so quickly with such humor?

Where do those voices come from?

And who else? Jonathan Winters? Red Skelton? Unknowingly, he was their student. I was his.

I memorized the album, I recited it for friends, I created new ideas from it and I let free form ideas flow out of my mouth (sometimes with success and sometimes not so much). But the tightrope walk was exhilarating…people laughed…better yet girls laughed. I was on to something.

As he went on he took chances in his career. He dared. He moved forward. I was not so brave.

I found shelter from such public daring, more often than not, behind a microphone or behind a desk. A toe in the water, maybe a foot, but never full immersion.

Timid, scared, unsure? Probably. Shy and introverted? Without question, yes.

But I watched him, learned and took to the stage when I felt sure enough that I could cause some enjoyment but little damage.

My words and ideas became less like him and more like me. That was good at least. And I couldn’t tell you from where in my brain the ideas came from – then or now. But that well would have remained untapped, I think, without him.

I was not an actor, I was barely a performer but I did my best when my time came. WWRD?

All this while, unto this moment, I laughed, I took mental notes, I listened, I observed his performance. I marveled still at this simple, human performance machine.

Now, he has created a void within me he didn’t know he had been responsible for filling all this time. So empty, yet paling in comparison to the void felt by his true family and friends. And maybe it was an unbearable painful void within himself that brought him down. Conjecture…shame on me.

Why?!!! Still I wonder.

Well, we people of good conscientious know the answer to that really isn’t our business. Can we ever again show some respect in a day when gossip passes for news?

Some matters shouldn’t be a Movie of The Week or some kind of hit film. Probably because we lack his creativity, it will be anyway, because of our society’s over-developed fascination with celebrity. It shouldn’t be that way.

Much in the same way one person shouldn’t make the tragic and unfathomable death of a kind of a long-distance teacher about him.

But he did anyway. And he meant it with all the respect and admiration he had banked in his heart for someone he never met and didn’t know. A poor man’s tribute.

With thanks and many prayers, good-bye and God bless.

requiescat in pace jonathan winters

A friend of mine died Thursday…a friend I never met.

He was someone I watched on TV and whose creativity I wished I had (even a little bit of it).

When I was young, the up and coming comedian was a fellow named Robin Williams who used to do a lot of improvisation in his comedy routine. I thought it was daring, creative and lots of fun.

As his career took off, Williams was interviewed often and when he was asked who were the performers he looked up to…always one name: Jonathan Winters.

Me too. Very much, me too. He was funny, imperfect, he spent time in Dayton, OH. The similarities are there, somewhere.

When asked “what famous person would you like to meet?”, people often say somebody historic – a religious person, maybe a political figure or sports legend.

My choice died today. I think we might have enjoyed each others company.

requiescat in pace neil armstrong

It was a nice break last Saturday to take all the audio’connells to the beach up in Canada for a party. The weather was great and it was a real treat to see everyone.

Around dinner time, I heard my oldest mention that her Aunt had told her that a famous hero had died earlier in the day and that my oldest “should blow a kiss to the moon tonight and say thanks”.

I was startled on many fronts when she said that in response to the news that was later clarified for me: Commander Neil Armstrong had died.

I was five years old on that July night when Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed their lunar module on the surface of the moon. And I vaguely remember being awoken that night and brought downstairs into our living room to watch it on TV. My Dad was pretty excited and I didn’t quite understand why.

This past Saturday, I fully understood what Armstrong’s passing meant and I wondered if others did…especially younger people for whom Shuttle travel had become more or less taken for granted, with some tragic exceptions.

So when I found this blog post about the graphic tributes to Armstrong that had been posted online from various artists, I was just so heartened. I hope you enjoy each of them as much as I did (and still do, looking at them for this post).

These artists understood (maybe some remembered…not all artists are young afterall) who this man and his fellow team members were and what they meant to science, the United States and the world.

Their appreciation may have sparked greater appreciation by those who previously hadn’t been as thoughtful. That’s my hope, anyway.

I know there was a lot of Facebook tribute art when Steve Jobs died but, for all he accomplished, Jobs was not a hero. He was not in my opinion, a true pioneer. Those artists were sincere in their tributes but their subject did not have “the right stuff”.

That hero category is a lean one that people like Michael Collins, Sally Ride, John Glenn and their ilk deserve.

They had everything to lose…and because of how their work could help others, they did it anyway.

requiescat in pace dick beals

His talent and his voice were mighty even though he sounded like a young boy.

He was a pioneer.

He was “Speedy”

He was “Gumby” dammit!

Dick, thanks so much for paving the way for the rest of us.

requiescat in pace donna summer

It must have been the mid-nineties when I was in New York City attending a Sports and Event Sponsorship Sales Conference at the Marriott Marquis. It was a fun NYC day complete with NBC Studio tour, a visit to Late Night with Conan O’Brien and a play – Sunset Boulevard.

Since I was by myself I was able to get a good price on a third row center seat. As I got to my row, who should be sitting next to me…Donna Summer. Very nice lady who I am very sorry to hear has died. This is the way I will remember her:

requiescat in pace dick clark

Make me a promise – when I die don’t let any corporate types write kind words about me – it’ll be a “statement” written either badly (even if its sincere) or by some PR flak. It would be real, it likely won’t have any personality. And that would be sad. This week I’ve seen a bit too much of that upon the death of a broadcasting legend.

Everybody wants their life to mean something – everybody wants to believe that something they did in their life mattered to at least one person, maybe more. For most people, like parents, they want their life to have meant something to their children and, in fact, that their legacy would be the good person their child or children have become.

Most of us don’t believe our lives will impact a generation or even longer than that. Having reflected it a bit now after his death, I don’t think Dick Clark felt that way either.

But his life’s work DID impact millions of people and it affected the culture of America.

I think Dick’s life work was something that he enjoyed and certainly made money on – but the initial intent I do not think was to leave a wonderful legacy. But that is what Dick Clark did. And there is one sure way to tell.

When you first read about his death, did you gasp or say outloud “oh no!” like I did? Were you genuinely saddened, like a well liked neighbor had died. Did his death stick in your mind a bit?

That’s my litmus test for legacy. I think alot of people felt that way about the man who voiced so many radio shows, commercials, TV shows and more. And what a voice.

The United Stations Radio Network (which was around when I was in radio – and I played more than a couple of them when I was in radio) has a great list of quotes and remembrances. I found myself especially touched by, of all people, Snoop Dog’s quote – it just read as so sincere and respectful from a performer who strikes me as neither. Great videos too.

But my memory is this song which summarizes American Bandstand (Dick’s fourth ‘baby’ he said) and always leaves me with a smile – which I think is how Dick Clark would have liked it. Thanks Dick for everything.