Saturday, February 8, 2014

"The Only True Currency In This Bankrupt World Is What You Share With Someone Else When You Are Uncool"

Sunday was a weird day - it was at least 15 waking hours full of a bag of mixed emotions.

Being in the Pacific Northwest the only way to open your eyes that day was with a big smile, bursting with excitement. Well, maybe not exactly like that - the whole smile thing sounds a little creepy, but you know what I mean.

Cultural events are a big deal in my mind, so the Seahawks were in the Super Bowl and after a ton of years thinking this would NEVER happen again, I was able to experience it with my family.  I was also making black bottom cupcakes - to be frank, the world was looking pretty dang good.

Any day with a backdrop like this is made even more perfect by kicking it off snuggling into a comfy chair with a mug of joe. Per a somewhat weekly tradition I was amping up for a little State Of The Union with Candy Crowley, while also sipping coffee and scanning my mobile device, feeding my ample curiosity about the happenings in the world.

Breaking news can be discovered in an instant, and that's what happened when I refreshed my Twitter feed to see that one second prior David Muir had sent out 140 characters or less about the demise of a beloved actor.

No one else was reporting it, so I sat there somewhat bewildered, since it's never happy to hear about a death.

Minutes ticked by, and after several quick repetitive refreshes, there it was, cascading down were endless reports from the BBC, The New York Times, and every other news source you could imagine. At that point, it was obvious - Philip Seymour Hoffman had indeed passed away.

I didn't know the guy, it's actually none of my business about what happens to him, and, even though we don't like to think about it, people do die everyday. So, why need I be upset?

Other then me being an empathetic mess on a daily basis, news like this is shocking. An actor we have all loved watching in movies would no longer be there to entertain. There are good memories and cherished admiration. Why I was so taken back by the news though, was that it's always difficult to hear about people losing their fight with addiction, cutting a life short.

Corey Monteith wasn't my favorite actor, nor was Amy Winehouse my favorite singer, and even though I did adore Heath Ledger, in each of these circumstances I was equally devastated to hear about their too early passing. These are people we recognize and they put a face to deaths that are happening all over the world that will never make the news. Known or unknown are equally tragic.

Even though it feels odd to me to talk in this way about people I never knew, it has to be said that Hoffman left movies to this world that people enjoyed and will continue to love. Creating something that makes people happy is a pretty great legacy to leave behind.

He's the male Meryl Streep - you can watch them in anything.  You seek out all of his films, even the one's where he only has a bit part, because you know even if the movie isn't that great, he will be wonderful.

Of course there was his Academy Award winning role in Capote, the suspicious priest in Doubt, and the cult like leader in The Master (remember when he chillingly sings that song to Joaquin Phoenix!) Yes, that's also Hoffman as part of the weather chasing scientist crew in Twister - he had quite the range.

There are too many favorites to count, from The Savages to Magnolia to The Talented Mr. Ripley, but there is always the one that left the first lasting impression; Hoffman as Lester Bangs in Almost Famous is entirely unforgettable.

Anyone who ever cherished the music scene or wanted to be a writer in any capacity has to covet this flick as some sort of treasure trove.

In my early teens I grasped onto it as a window into a world I wanted to know more about and through the years each viewing hits me differently.

Playing legendary rock critic Lester Bangs (who also sadly died too young), Hoffman is the, at first, unwilling mentor to the lead character. Within only a couple scenes, he moves from annoyance to showing genuine care toward this kid.

In the hands of some other actor this could have been a throw-away bit part, but Hoffman truly exudes that compassion we all wish we could find in someone who could guide us and dispel fears with insightful wisdom on the world at large.

The film is full of terrific one liners ("I am a golden god!" anyone?), but Hoffman arguably has the best, as evident from the above clip.

All day on Sunday these lines were running through my head. The crushing Seahawks victory was quite the distraction, but another Hoffman as Lester Bangs moment popped into my brain at some point during me avidly defending the Bruno Mars halftime show:

"Music, you now, true music - not just rock-n-roll - it chooses you. It lives in your car, or alone listening to your headphones, you know, with the cast scenic bridges and angelic choirs in your brain. It's a place apart from the vast, benign lap of America."

Each person's preference will decide what music they like and movies are the same. Every fan of Philip Seymour Hoffman will have their own favorite moment - Almost Famous will always be mine, but what is yours?

Until next time.

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