Chadwick Boseman’s Death is a Reminder of All That We Do Not Know

I’ve never seen Black Panther. I think the last MCU movie I saw was the first Avengers. This is due to indifference. I’m not big into Marvel, and only slightly more into DC (the last DC movie I saw was Dark Knight Rises, which doesn’t count). That whole journey went right by me. Don’t take it personally.

So I don’t have anything to say about Chadwick Boseman as an actor. I’m sure he was good, or at least good enough to play the lead in the only comic book movie to get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture (what an antiquated term. No one calls them “moving pictures” anymore. Why don’t they call it Best Film?). I’m not here as a critic.

But that Twist. The fact that he’s been fighting Stage3/4 colon cancer since 2016. That he gave those performances, fought his way through Panther, Infinity War, and Endgame while undergoing chemo, catches the heart somehow. And sure, acting in a film is not storming the beaches of Normandy. But it’s not manning a checkout line at Safeway either. They pay you to do it because it’s work.

Above and beyond Bosments’s suddenly-apparent nigh-superhuman toughness, however, sits the fact that such a secret stayed hidden. Granted, Hollywood is good at hiding things. But health ain’t always exactly a secret. If Betty White had the sniffles, the internet would shut down for a day in pre-emptive mourning. But Black Panther had butt cancer and not even the 4channers knew.

That’s the lesson. Whoever you know, whoever you don’t know, whoever you hate, whoever you love, they’re carrying things that no one but God and their general practictioner know about. Things that are not spoken of outside of the four walls of their homes. What you see of a person – any person – is no more than what they show you.

That’s why The Man said Don’t Judge. Not because we’re incapable of judging, but because the full content of a human soul is hidden from us. We need most desperately to remember that in these supremely judgey times. For we are fragile, and our time is short.

Requiscat in Pace Æternam.

Why Celebrities Kill Themselves

It doesn’t take much to interpret Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely death of what’s looking increasingly like a heroin overdose as an unconscious leap into the void. When I first read the accounts, I was struck by two facts:

  • Hoffman had been clean, or so he said, for 23 years before last year.
  • The brand of heroin police found in his appartment “Ace of Spades” hadn’t been seen on the streets of Brooklyn since 2008.

To which Stacy McCain adds a third:

  • Hoffman had 50 bags of the stuff in his pad.

Which shouldn’t surprise. When the monkey returns to the back, he usually does so with a saddle and a bullwhip. The yearning to throw away all reason follows fast behind the surrender to addiction. So calling this a waste of a fine talent, which it is, is kind of beside the point. Hoffman reached a place where his talent and his career and his children did not sustain him like another hit did. People take drugs to self-medicate, to make some problem go the hell away for a few hours.

And sure, you can say “What problem did he have? The Oscars? The respect of his peers? The $10,000-a-month appartment? I’d like to have those problems!” But again, those are all beside the point. Success is not happiness. It never has been and never will be. Success may be connected to happiness, but they don’t equate. And that goes double for anyone in the entertainment industry. When I heard the news about Hoffman, I wasn’t even a little bit surprised, despite knowing next to nothing about his personal life at that point. I didn’t need to. He was a famous entertainer. Famous entertainers do drugs. These people are not happy.

Celebrities either start believing their own hype, and decide to pester the known universe with their particular moral notions (Sean Penn, the People’s Commissar of Burbank), or they wall themselves off into hermetic seclusion and grow almost alienated from their own life’s work (Harrison Ford approaching every interview with thinly veiled contempt for everyone involved with it). Some even become the masters of their own media empire (Tom Hanks). But a sizable number follow a path of self-indulgence from their new status and self-disgust for their participation in the brutal circus of fame towards inevitable self-annihilation.

Because Pop Culture is so important.

Rest in Peace, Oh Lady of Iron.

One has to admit, Roger Ebert, Margaret Thatcher and Annette Funnicello make rather an odd threesome (but then, so did John Kennedy, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley). I don’t have much to say about any of them. Ebert was the guy who told us whether movies were worth the money and hassle to see in the theater (when he started, that usually meant “see them at all.” Now it’s just a temporal judgement). Funnicello meant nothing at all to anyone born after 1960 or so.

And Thatcher? Thatcher is the Last Lioness, one presumes. I don’t know much about her. I was dimly aware of her existence as a child. I remember her mostly in the absence when “Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher” was replaced by “Prime Minister John Major” on radio and television. It stuck in the ear the first few times, just as when “Reagan administration” became “Bush administration” the previous year; the first “end of an era” I remember.

She was a totem to conservatives and progressives alike, a creature of admiration and of hate for much the same reason: she had no fear. She understood that history favors leaders. The rest is commentary.

Dave Brubeck was Still Alive?

Apparently so. 91 years old. (via Ace)

This is the face of a man entirely happy with his life.

The fact that “Take Five” is the best selling Jazz single of all time is one of those things you would never have guessed, but sound completely apt once you hear it. Of course. What else was it going to be? Something by Louis Armstrong, probably. “What a Wonderful World” did knock the Beatles off the top of the charts in ’64.

RIP.

From the video comments:

“Dave Brubeck never dies, he just moves into a new time signature”

Ray Bradbury is Dead

Which reminds me how much I liked Fahrenheit 451 when I read it in grade school. It was a bit much for me to process, actually. I might have to re-read it.

It was a pleasure to burn.

It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. With the brass nozzle in his fists, with this great python spitting its venomous kerosene upon the world, the blood pounded in his head, and his hands were the hands of some amazing conductor playing all the symphonies of blazing and burning to bring down the tatters and charcoal ruins of history.

Whatever else, that’s a damn fine opening.

Kim Jong Il Will be Ronery in the Afterlife…

Abandon all hope, you fat little piggie. (h/t: Memeorandum)

The leader, reputed to have had a taste for cigars, cognac and gourmet cuisine, was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.

The sin carries its own punishment. May the new King President, Kim Jong Un, excel his father in the indulgence of his pleasures.

THIS MAN IS WITTIER THAN ME: “I’d like to think God let Havel and Hitchens pick the third.”

Hat tip: Ed Driscoll, who has the following consolation to the Norks by Pezman Yousefzadeh: “I feast upon your tears”

Vaclav Havel, RIP

All due respect to Christopher Hitchens, but this man had more skin in the game, and more success.

“When the internal crisis of the totalitarian system grows so deep that it becomes clear to everyone,” he declared, “and when more and more people learn to speak their own language and reject the hollow, mendacious language of the powers that be, it means that freedom is remarkably close, if not directly within reach.”

So to me, the question is not whether Havel is as important as Hitchens, but whether he’s as important as Solzhenitsyn.

RAND SINBERG CHIMES IN

Don’t expect the media to make a big deal of it. He was the wrong kind of dissenter, being too American for Europe. The fact that he never won a Peace Prize, while Yasser Arafat and Barack Obama did, says something very fundamental about the corruption and uselessness of that once-honorable achievement.

Indeed.