Photos and autographs courtesy of my obtained in person autograph collection.
I’m very sad to say that two legends from totally different walks of life have passed away. Hall of Fame baseball player Tony Gwynn and announcer Casey Kasem have been very influential in my life. Tony Gwynn was one of the best players around during my baseball fandom and the awesome thing is, for every time I ever saw him – which was a lot, he was ALWAYS a nice guy. He always took the time to sign autographs for fans and as you can see above, he had a really cool signature. I always had a huge respect for someone so popular to remain so nice, year after year, even after his career had skyrocketed.
Radio personality (and the voice of Shaggy on Scooby Doo), Casey Kasem has also died. My brother and I listened to his top 40 countdown all the time and because of it, I discovered a lot of music that has completely and utterly rocked my world. I used to go to a Super Bowl party every year that had a lot of famous people at it and I saw Casey and his wife often at that party. They were always extremely nice. He was as uplifting and inspirational in person as he was on the radio.
Both Casey Kasem and Tony Gwynn had been ill for a long time, so I am glad they are free from suffering and I will always think of you both fondly and I hope your messages of love will be learned and understood by the next generation.
Rest in peace and happy trails, gentlemen! Thanks for always being nice to me!
Photo and autograph courtesy of the G Archives.
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Unless you are one of the fortunate souls on this planet that turns off the news and doesn’t look at the internet, you know by now that actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died on February 2, 2014 of an alleged heroin overdose.
Everybody loves a good tragedy (whether or not they admit it) and the internet has been on fire with remembrances of PSH’s performances and speculations about his drug addiction. People are also taking to the net with self-righteous proclamations and judgments about his choices and decisions. People have turned this unfortunate incident as a public “but enough about you, let’s talk about me” session. At the end of the day, it’s none of our fucking business!
I can tell you this much about my experiences with PSH. He was nice enough to sign an autograph for me “back in the day” before I carried a camera around (see above) and in my more recent encounters with him, the situation was not appropriate to ask for a photo (yes, believe it or not, even I have limits!) so I didn’t push it. The word on the street from a lot of my friends that enjoy collecting autographs and photos with celebrities is that PSH was hit and miss. He could be quite nice or a prick, depending on his mood. Maybe not what the average person wants to hear, but I am speaking without prejudice from my experiences. I will go on record that I was a fan of his movies and I dislike seeing people burn out before they ‘should,’ but I am a realist as well and I realize that we all gotta go sometime and PSH’s time was up on February 2, 2014.
It’s undeniable that he was a tremendous actor and he could likely have sustained an acting career for as long as he was interested in pursing the craft. I think people have lost sight of the fact that he was only an actor. Though great at what he did, he did not cure cancer or rescue people from burning buildings. Apparently the type of heroin he had been taking has made the New York Police Department go on a manhunt for the drug dealers who supplied PSH with the lethal dose that killed him. This is New York. People die from heroin addiction all the time. How come there is such an interested in catching “the bad guys” all of a sudden? Because PSH was a famous junkie instead of that junkie in dark alleys looking for their fix?
I also find it foul and disgusting that once word broke about his death, news crews camped out for hours trying to get a photo of them carting the body out of his apartment. So morbid! If that was someone I knew personally, I would be furious that nobody has done anything to stop the media circus. If only it hadn’t been 30 degrees warmer on his death day, maybe crews would have given up and gone away because it’s been frigid here for weeks on end except that day! Worst of all, the guy had 3 kids and if it’s not enough that they lost their father, do you think they really want the world having footage of what will probably be the most horrific day of their lives? Worse yet, “last photos” are starting to circulate that people have taken on cell phones because thanks to camera phones, everyone thinks they are a member of the paparazzi.
What came next were the inevitable “RIP PSH” tweets and Facebook posts by those who worked with him and by fans who literally have nothing more clever to say than just stating the obvious in search of “likes” or “retweets.” A couple of celebrities told everyone to shut the fuck up with their fake outpouring of love and clarified their version of what a tragedy is (like when masses of people die and not when a drug addicted actor dies) and they got skewered by the media for being insensitive. HA! The pot calling the kettle black. We cannot know what was going through his mind before the fateful moment happened and once again, it’s none of our business. On paper it looked like he had it all, but if you haven’t learned by now, many times, the best things in life are free despite what reality TV shows about rich people with so much plastic surgery that they look like Barbie Dolls will try and tell you.
A day later, the media reported somewhere between 20 and 70 baggies of heroin were found inside PSH’s apartment and back in the “olden days,” when the facts varied that much, people were fired for not doing their jobs properly. Now, you can pretty much report anything you want to without having to fact check or face repercussions. All you have to do now is shout the loudest and your words become fact. We are still days away from the autopsy which will definitely get fingers wagging when the “I told you so” people come out of the woodwork and get up on their soap boxes. And it will happen. It always does.
After that, the funeral will take place and people will get off by seeing photos of his family grieving. More celebrities will come forward with outpourings of love, despite the fact that dying young automatically makes you a saint in the world’s eyes. Also, someone will get famous for making a cutesy PSH T-shirt that is hipster-ironic in some way and Buzzfeed will do a list of 467 things that we learned from this whole episode. One thing they will not report is that drug overdoses WILL kill again, when we are least suspecting it as they have done before and will do so until they cease to exist on this planet (or at this rate, until humans cease to exist on this planet). That is the real tragedy. But that’s also life. So we all need to get over it… or better yet DO SOMETHING about it. Everyone loves to watch a train wreck because “they can’t take their eyes off it,” but I always say “get out and help instead of just looking because one day, it could be you on that train.”
Happy trails PSH. Peace and blessings to your family and friends at this difficult time.
Photo by G.
Lou Reed and Moby on stage in 2007
Horrible news in the music world. Rock god Lou Reed has died at age 71. I’m a huge Velvet Underground fan as well as also having loved Lou’s solo career, so I am not doing so well as I write this. Lou opened the door for all musicians to come after him by being one of the first art rockers. Songs like “Heroin” and “Walk on the Wild Side” took you on the trip without getting your hands dirty and songs like “Perfect Day” and “Sunday Morning” are amongst the prettiest tracks ever recorded. I saw Lou Reed out and about in New York many times and for the two good experiences I had with him, I had probably 5 times as many bad ones. But that was Lou Reed and I will miss seeing him. I wish peace and blessings to his partner Laurie Anderson at this difficult time. Happy trails, Lou. Thanks for a lifetime of amazing music. Rest in peace!
Photo and autograph courtesy of the G Archives.
Gary David Goldberg
If you grew up in the 1980s as I did, you are going to be extra sad when you read on. “Family Ties” series creator Gary David Goldberg has died. He was a few days short of his 69th birthday, succumbing to brain cancer. He also wrote episodes for “The Bob Newhart Show” and also produced “Lou Grant.” He won two Emmys, a Peabody award and two Golden Globes for his work. I had the occasion of meeting Gary David Goldberg several times and he was always super friendly. Of course, I gushed to him my love for “Family Ties,” and he thanked me for my support! What a class act. RIP, Gary David Goldberg! 🙁
Photo of the NYC trash papers by G.
Whenever you need a little reminder that life is very precious and can be taken away at any moment, a shocking sudden death like that of actor James Gandolfini saddens the world and wakes us all up a little. After being saddened by the news of author Vince Flynn, who also died at an extremely young age (49!) earlier in the day, the world learned of Gandolfini’s death from a heart attack at age 51! As of press time, a future project in life is to watch the entire “Sopranos” show, but for not having watched it, it was clear the impact James Gandolfini had on TV and the world was huge. I never had the opportunity to meet James Gandolfini, but from some of my friends that had met him, they said he was pretty nice and that his autograph was quite illegible.
The deaths of Vince Flynn and James Gandolfini should be a nice wake up call to live life to the fullest because it does not last forever!
RIP James Gandolfini and Vince Flynn! 🙁