I was moderately chastized for mentioning this in a writing class, in which the professor had elicted responses to the idea of a trivial thing changing the course of our lives. I honestly knew what she meant, but I couldn’t think of anything good n concrete, so I just said Kurt Cobain’s death. It did change my life, just not in the dramatic, succession-of-events way the teacher was looking for.
But really, since April 8, 1994 I have definitely had a healthy interest in rockstar deaths. I learned the details of Hendrix’s, Morrison’s, and Joplin’s deaths. River Phoenix. The dude from Gin Blossoms. Shannon Hoon. I took note of Superstar DJ Keoki passing out during live sets from K or whatever. I also held the number 27 close, and when I and my friends turned that age, I wished everyone good luck, to make it through to 28. Not that we’re rockstars. We were just “lethal rockstar age.” And anyway, rockstar death is a broader concept to me, open to people besides rockstars.
Coincidentally or not, in 2004, for his 29th birthday, I gave my boyfriend a copy of Bonfire of the Vanities, inside of which I wrote, “Congratulations on making it this far.” Then of course, obvious to those of you who know me, he freaking died at 31. Like a rockstar.
One result of all this has been that when all these celebrities I don’t really care about die, I still care anyway for the simple fact that they have died. Young. And most often due to self-destructive behavior. I definitely got teary when Heath Ledger died, and I haven’t even seen Brokeback Mountain. Or anything else he’s in. I cried when Ian Curtis committed suicide in the movie Control. I was sad when Brittany Murphy died. And now I am sad that Jay Reatard is dead, in his sleep, though the cause of his death is unknown.
It’s like Leopold Bloom always going to the funerals of half-acquaintances’ loved ones. Patty Dignam ‘n’ shit. And, just like Mr Bloom, I really do mean it.