Call for Music Writers... Rock, Indie, Urban, Electronic, Americana, Metal, World and More

Rest in Pieces: Eulogies of the Past, Present, and Future

Just visualize yours for a moment. Just listen to the radio that announces their death. Stop for a minute, and image if you can a world without that person, no more interviews, no more books, no more living legend. Perhaps you’ve never met your character in person, and yet you’ve pulled your vehicle over to the shoulder, crippled with existential dread, furious and suffocating, the inevitable suddenly announced to the world as reality. Can you feel that pang of grief for those beloved figures now gone? Can you remember that afternoon drive when the reporter broke the news, breaking your heart in the process?

Edited by Justin Dimos and Produced by Sarah Zupko

Death, the dirt nap, the longest blink, pushing up the daisies, meeting the maker, slowed to a complete and utter stop, the dying of the light, the end, the final curtain call, that’s all folks, formally known as alive. And the great tragedy is that the ones about whom we most care—whether family, friends, or those few popular culture icons that awaken our atrophied spirits—leave us wandering the earth alone, abandoned with our dreadful grief, the world a little less shiny, a little more desolate than before.


Like all humans, however, we learn to adapt; we eventually accept the inevitable demise of every living, breathing thing, ourselves no exception. Still, somehow, perhaps because of the magic celebrities subtly distill through hypnotic albums or stunning silver screen performances, maybe because of the infamous right crosses that change sporting history or monumental footprints left behind in the lunar dust, possibly because of their charismatic, yet genuine character walking through times swamped with the political muck that surrounds them just outside the spotlight—these public figures, these writers, these musicians, these artists, these actors and activists, all of them impact our individual lives and profoundly shape our growing cultural identity.


Hell if I even vaguely know what lay on the other side (if anything), but that’s not really the source of our admiration and love for these characters. No, their inspiring words and their renowned actions have cast the enchantment that reverberates inside each of us eulogizers. And yet ironically, perhaps tragically as well, we somehow delude ourselves into believing that their influence would miraculously last forever, which is the reason why their deaths tear at the fabric of our being. In short, even our idols come to an end.


Just visualize yours for a moment. Just listen to the radio that announces their death. Stop for a minute, and image if you can a world without that person, no more interviews, no more books, no more living legend. Perhaps you’ve never met your character in person, and yet you’ve pulled your vehicle over to the shoulder, crippled with existential dread, furious and suffocating, the inevitable suddenly announced to the world as reality. Can you feel that pang of grief for those beloved figures now gone? Can you remember that afternoon drive when the reporter broke the news, breaking your heart in the process?


Seems that everyone has a public character that covertly inhabits their private life, one who activates our enthusiasm and passion for the future, and on those fateful afternoons, us fans are stricken, paralyzed, weeping, recovering from the news, as if an integral piece of our own personality had been lopped off, without warning. Of course, their message and memory continues to live, alive or departed, and of course, with time, we remember them fondly, the world bright again, the afternoon hopeful once more.


Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and in the words of the late Kurt Vonnegut so it goes, and so life goes, and so our contributors go, confessing their emotions and experiences of the sorrow that wounded them those dreary afternoons, literally paying tribute to those who dared to change the world and those who continue to shape the future, whether offbeat painter, alcoholic writer, suicidal musician, or forgotten wrestler.


—Justin Dimos

Thursday, September 24 2009

Now and Then, Smells Like Teen Spirit: The Death of Kurt Cobain

There was a stretch when Nirvana was the soundtrack for our Friday nights. No, check that. There was a stretch when Nirvana was our Friday nights.


Envisioning a Better Future: Octavia Estelle Butler, 1947–2006

Octavia Butler’s work offers us a future that is different from the other visions we usually see in popular culture. Her future takes into account identity and culture, power and empowerment.


Finding Steve Buscemi: The Perfect Understatement

It’s only when you internalize Steve Buscemi’s movies [they] become a part of your life in an extremely personal, emotional way.


Wednesday, September 23 2009

The Buffalo Lies Bleeding: Some Thoughts in Memory of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Thompson was a writer who I admired, dismissed, combated, and loved, often all at the same time. He was the first writer who made me fall in love with the idea of becoming a writer.


A Gonzo Eulogy for Hunter S. Thompson

Thirty-three years after Hunter S. Thompson took us on a trip to Las Vegas for the macabre funeral of the American Dream, he placed a well-aimed Colt .45 bullet in his brain, saying farewell in a typically loud fashion.


Bob Norman Ross: Teacher, Painter, Optimist (October 29, 1942 – July 4, 1995)

His way of gently exhorting the view at home to “be brave” when they were deciding what to do first, to not be afraid of that terrifying gulf that confronts every artist when you can do anything or nothing was peacefully encouraging.


My Mass Email to Friends upon Hearing of the Death of Stephen King*

*every word is true as of this writing, except, thankfully, Stephen King is not dead.


Tuesday, September 22 2009

Jack on Fire: Jeffrey Lee Pierce, 1958–1996

He was as unlikely a candidate to don the mantle of rock and roll cliché as anyone; he was just a child's drawing of abject gloom, a stocky fireplug frame, dark, insomniac eyes skittering beneath the damp straw tangle of his anime-angular hair, an upside-down sorrow-mouth.


Double Dutch: An Appreciation of David Byrne

His Luaka Bop label was the bridge between Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music and Ry Cooder’s Buena Vista Social Club. His early dance music collections show up on all the cool kids’ iPods. He helped make Alison Krauss and Robert Plant pitchable, let alone profitable.


Michael Jackson: A Thriller in His Own Right

The pulse of the world has skipped a beat. The world is in a state of shock -- you, the indomitable Michael Jackson, is dead.


Luther Is Drag: The Death of Vandross

Luther took full ownership of the music. He loved the music and massaged fans’ eyes, ears, and sentiments with his arrangements, taking the plain, factory-produced, mundane regular pop hit to new, unfounded heights.


Monday, September 21 2009

Foxified Culture: Incurable Optimist Michael J. Fox

How can I start an honest discussion about what Fox has meant to me? How can I pull him apart from my 28 years of experience in this world?


Bea Arthur’s Subversive Sexuality

I would always rank Bea near the top of my desired celebrity conquests, alongside more conventional choices like Natalie Portman and Jenny Lewis.


My Love-Hate Relationship with River Phoenix

From the moment that he appeared on screen in the film -- with a cigarette balanced between his fingers and the close-cropped haircut of a little boy -- media outlets had him pegged as the James Dean of the '80s.


Killing the Pain: Mourning the Death of Andrew “Test” Martin

Did my cheers contribute to his eventual demise? Did my persistent taunting and raging encouragement urge him to push himself too far, breaking his muscle and bones that ached with a pain that would not shrink?


Sunday, September 20 2009

John Lennon, In My Life

I began identifying with the songs John was writing. His wit, his grittiness and his candor were reflections, not just of my own life, but of life in the world.


My Friend, George Harrison: Reflections on the Cool Beatle

The minute I saw George in those blue jeans, work shirt, and those sand-colored boots, I had to have them, and that was exactly what I wore for the months that followed.


A Love Letter from Lisa: To Paul McCartney, My Confession

As I recall historical events, I can’t imagine a timeline existing without your presence, without your warm smile and those careful words that I’ve heard in interviews and television shows and movies.


Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements
PopMatters' LUCY Giveaway! in PopMatters's Hangs on LockerDome

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.