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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

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