Demises Noble and Ignoble, Cultural Giants Dead or Shrunken by Daniel Gewertz
February 9, 2014 by easearle
Thanks to Daniel for his thoughts on the deaths of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Pete Seeger and more. RIP to two great stars…
After many years writing about music, movies and theater as a top Boston-market freelance journalist, Daniel Gewertz turned his attentions toward more creative writing, namely personal essays, short memoir pieces and story-telling. Recently, he completed his first novel, “Ghost To Genius.” He frequently performs his work on stage. Gewertz has published in The Boston Globe Magazine, The Boston Herald, Harvard Magazine, The New York Times, and many other periodicals, and has taught writing at Cambridge Center for Adult Education, Lesley University and Bay State Community College.
Demises Noble and Ignoble, Cultural Giants Dead or Shrunken
My sorrow over the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman feels as penetrating a grief as any I’ve felt by the demise of a public figure in a long time.
I did think he was the most expressive film actor of his generation, but beyond artistic stature, he was also like a humorous, schleppy, surprising friend.
There have been more heroic actors, but unlike a Daniel Day Lewis, I can say about Philip: his pain was my pain. He, like many of us, was an outsider.
The shock of his death comes the same week as the death of a truly heroic American, Pete Seeger.
Pete was over twice the age of Philip. A life of 94 beautifully-spent years coming to an end is not a stark tragedy, but I have stopped in my tracks a few times this week and thought: for the first time in my life, I am no longer sharing this earth with Pete Seeger. I am no longer blessed by his worldly presence. Yet here’s the good part: when I hear his recorded voice, I am lifted up still, and suspect I always will be.
I am sure seeing Hoffman on film will, for a while at least, only sadden me, much like hearing John Lennon’s voice struck me with pain after his premature death these 33 years ago. Seeger lived his ideals to his last days. The same cannot be said of Bob Dylan, who chose on Sunday to further tarnish, confuse and dirty the legacy of his far-gone, artistically heroic younger years.
His jingoistic Chrysler commercial during the Super Bowl was one more baffling, perverse, purposeful sell-out, a step beyond his Victoria’s Secret ad of a few years back. A lust for the dollar or for the notoriety, who knows? But meaning is sullied: the’60s ideal of merging popular art and poetic wisdom further trampled upon. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I will say I feel my memory has been molested. I feel nearly as empty and confused thinking of Dylan’s game-playing car commercial as I did hearing that my favorite film director of the ’70s and 80s may have been a child molester.
Apples and oranges, I know, but both bitter fruit.
(photos provided by Googleimages & Bing.com)