Tag Archives: all i can think of is death man

Death Becomes Her

My daughter has become hung up on death, which is a common condition for people raised in Queens. It is not only the home to the Boulevard of Death, but it’s also the borough where you can’t throw a rock without hitting someone’s grave (just one more reason why you shouldn’t throw rocks around like that).

When she was still a tiny thing, I would often take her on strolls through a cemetery a block from our house. It was a quiet, shady, peaceful place in a neighborhood short on all those commodities. I’d push her around in her stroller up a steep hill, passing the graves off Civil War veterans, allegedly loving parents (no empirical evidence provided), and entreaties to the Great Hereafter in several dozen languages. At the cemetery’s highest point, you could see Manhattan flicker in the distance, a testament to all that mankind could accomplish, while we were surrounded by a reminder of where we all end up.

It could be this early exposure to headstones and such made her curious about The Grave. It could be she’s just inclined in a morbid direction; she already enjoys “scary” stuff and has a precociously completist fondness for Harry Potter. Or, perhaps she was marked sent scurrying in this direction by a sad scene we both witnessed nearly two years ago.

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A Slippery Vision of My Own Ridiculous Demise

It was just like a bad comedy. I stepped into the shower without first noting that there were no towels hanging up, or a bath mat laid down, either. It was such a dumb Man thing to do. I should have hung shelves badly and not asked for directions to complete the Idiot Sitcom Dad trifecta.

Instead, I opted for a different brand of idiocy. Rather than call out to my wife to grab me a towel from our linen closet, I chose to try and get it myself. Again, no bath mat, so I am completely soaking wet and trying to ford my way across the bathroom floor without anything between my dripping feet and the tiles.

I make it to the bathroom door, open it, and make a fumbling grab for the linen closet door, which is mere inches away. And then, one foot slips violently, doing a Rockette kick upward. The other one follows a split second later. For a moment I am completely off the ground, in mid-air, and am fully conscious of this. I feel like I’m outside of myself, observing it. Time stands still.

I’ve had an experience like this once before. On a trip to Action Park at age 12 or so, I rode the alpine slide and followed all the directions, and still found myself separated from my sled when I hit a bump just a bit too hard. I remember feeling suspended above the ground, seeing the sled on the grass next to the track, and consciously thinking “Huh, that’s weird,” before I crashed down to the concrete below me, shoulder first.

While I’m mid-air above the tiles, I think, “I’m going to be one of those idiots who kills themselves slipping in the bathroom.” For this nanosecond, I’m 1000 percent sure I will come crashing down and break my neck, leaving a wet, naked, dumb corpse for my family to find later. I’m going to be a Darwin Award winner.

I come crashing down to the floor and somehow I fall side first. It hurts like hell, but is nothing near fatal. I let out a series of loud laugh-cries, these weird stuttering chuckles that draw my wife’s attention. (Well, that and the noise of my fat ass plummeting to the floor.) She yells “What happened?” several times, but my voice is too choked with pain-laughter to respond.

Finally, I spit out “I slipped” between guffaws. Then, a “fuck!” that is chopped up by so many gasps it gives the obscenity 13 syllables. A split second ago, I was convinced I had a date with the Grim Reaper. Now, I only have a sore hip, stinging pain in my knees, and the burn of my own stupidity. I was also given a depressing reminder that you don’t get to choose how and by what manner you will meet your fate. (Unless you go for suicide, which is not really my cup of tea.) My own experiences with death in the last decade taught me that pretty much every death is undignified and unfair, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. This, however, would have been a shade more undignified than most, I think.

Not many people come so close to death and live to tell the tale. I am one of the very few who has been given a vision of my own mortality. And it was fucking ridiculous.

Christmas Carol Commentary Tracks: I’ll Be Home For Christmas

Did you know you know that record labels used to release special commentary tracks to play along with 45s, much like the ones available on your modern DVDs? It’s true! This holiday season, Scratchbomb has transcribed some Yuletide examples of this bygone format and presents them to you now for your reading pleasure. Today, the commentary track for “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

KIM GANNON, LYRICIST: I wrote this song in 1943, from the point of a view of a soldier who is overseas for the holidays and can only be home “in his dreams.” So he imagines snow and mistletoe and other comforting features of a traditional Christmas, while he awaits orders to march straight into the mouth of hell itself. I wrote a lot of songs for our enlisted men back during those years, because I felt trying to cheer them up was the least I could do for them while they were fighting so bravely for all of us. Unfortunately, nobody showed any interest in songs like “The Bullet With Your Name On It,” “Your 4F Best Friend Is Taking Out Your Best Girl,” and “That Next Bomber Mission Will Surely Be Your Last.” That all changed when Bing Crosby took a pass at “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

BING CROSBY: I couldn’t resist. It had such a beautiful melody, and contained a shocking amount of ironic hopelessness. What can I say? It hit me like a belt whip across the heart.

KIM GANNON, LYRICIST: Needless to say, this changed my life. With my foot in the door, I was finally able to get some of my other compositions recorded. Rosemary Clooney did a fantastic version of “Everyone You Know Will Be Dead Some Day,” and Frank Sinatra did a whole album of my songs called Ol’ Blue Eyes Sings Songs for a Swingin’ Party.

My Brief Career as a Professional Ghoul

Elizabeth Taylor has died, which I don’t have any particular comment on. I mean, I’m certainly not glad she’s dead; I just can’t add anything to the discussion of her lengthy career. But when she died, as many people pointed out, her New York Times obituary was written by theater/film critic Mel Gussow–who himself died almost six years ago.

This jarred two memories loose from my head. The first is that I edited a book by Mr. Gussow years ago (this one, if you’re curious) and had no idea he died, let alone died so long ago. The second is that I myself was once tasked with preemptive obituary writing.

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