Celebrity Deaths Are Like Cheerios

Gray_Queen Anne_2012-08-17
2014-02-25 — They say that celebrities die in threes. I don’t know why they say that. It’s like Cheerios: O-O-O . . . o-o-o-o-o-o- – – –

Or like the polar vortex, which is making its third visit of the winter this week, making the groundhog’s prediction of six more weeks of winter correct and making my morning walk through the park like a replay of the Olympic ice dancing competition, with my dog as my partner and with me . . . Well, with me desperately trying to regain my balance after each spin of the dog. Brrrrr. Grrrrr. . . . rrrrrrrrrrrrr . . .

Or like metaphors about death. You knew they came in threes, didn’t you?

What are you going to do?

If you live past childhood, you experience people dying. And each one is different. Some are close and sudden. Some are close and prolonged. Some are distant–like celebrities. Celebrity deaths are different than deaths of people you know. All that you know about them is still accessible. On Netflix or YouTube or at Amazon.

Not even a month ago, I wrote about Pete Seeger, not because I had anything new to say about him, but because he affected my life. Today, I am writing about Harold Ramis for the same reason. I am writing about a Jewish boy who grew up to be a writer, who haunted places that I know in Chicago, and who made a big impact on the world of comedy.

I never met the guy, but I did once go to hear him speak. It was a panel discussion at Emanuel Congregation on Sheridan road. The panel was him, Rabbi Michael Zedek, and Chicago comedian and black Jew Aaron Freeman (you always have to say this about Aaron Freeman). The topic was something nebulous like “the meaning of life.” And it wasn’t meant to be a comedy show. It was meant to be a serious discussion.

And it was—unfortunately.

But the thing I got from the evening is that Ramis was a mensch. He was a guy I could see as a friend.

So last year I wrote him to try to get to pitch my novel to him as a potential movie project. He probably was already sick. And I think I later found out that I sent it to the wrong address. So I never got a response.

But you know what? I cherished that nonresponse. And I never wrote him again.

And now that he’s gone, not writing him will never be the same again. o-o-o-o-o-o- – – –


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