First, to explain the headline: When I was about 14, I heard Jim Carroll‘s “People Who Died” on the underground college radio station, which I picked up only on clear nights and when I held the antenna just so. I held that bad boy through countless broadcasts, finger at the ready to hit record anytime sometime cool or seemingly relevant came on the radio.
Countless volumes of badly-dubbed tapes were the result. And I still have them, catalogued and filed away in a bag. I still thank RSU radio for making me at least a teensy bit cooler.
Jim Carroll, whose life is chronicled in the book/movie “The Basketball Diaries” wrote that song, and many others (“Catholic Boy” is another gem.) But “People Who Died” is the one always in my head.
It’s good to have a list of “People Who Died.” The most recent big-name addition to the “People Who Died” list of the world is Osama Bin Laden. Hey, if you didn’t know that, you might’ve actually been in a cave, and not hanging out in palatial Abbottabad. So yeah, I’m not breaking any news on that.
I’ve been planning on blogging this since I came to the stark realization last week that — get this — GORDON LIGHTFOOT IS ALIVE. I could’ve sworn that man was dead. I don’t know why — perhaps VH1 didn’t do a “Behind The Music” on Lightfoot. Perhaps I never had reason to look him up. Perhaps I thought he died in the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. (Sorry, too easy, low-hanging fruit and all that.) I tweeted the lyrics to a GL song, jokingly saying he “went too fast.” A friend on Twitter exclaimed, “He’s dead? I hadn’t heard!” He was really upset. I had to retract that statement, or at least tweet something else quickly that I was just full of shit.
But it made me realize: There are a lot of people I thought were dead who just aren’t.
Abe Vigoda. He’s one of those people that you assume already has a memorial scholarship named for him. He was born in 1921. Way to go, Abe! I hope I’m not jinxing you!
Shirley Temple. In my mind, she’s 137 years old (Joe Louis’ age, of course, when Rocky Marciano beat him) and has been dead for quite some time. THAT’S NOT TRUE! She was born in 1928 and is still kickin’.
Dick Van Patten. Oddly enough, he was also born in 1928. Turns out, 80 wasn’t enough. Neither is 83. Still drawing breath.
Mrs. Garrett, AKA Charlotte Rhea. She was born in 1926, and apparently has all the “Facts of Life” necessary to keep herself alive for a long time. She’s even been a reference in “Family Guy” for her voluptuous bosom.
Jerry Lee Lewis. Maybe marrying children keeps you young? I shan’t try. I don’t know if I believe in marriage.
Carol Alt. I know, random, but it seems like she was everywhere, then she disappeared. I’m used to supermodels creeping back into the spotlight every now and again, such as Isabella Rossellini or Lauren Hutton. But what happened to Carol? Come back out, Carol. The world needs more pretty people.
So I’m done obsessing over death, at least people who aren’t really dead. Now to turn my attention back to people who are for real dead: OBL and ODB.