So I click on the tube after putting the Golden Boy to bed; ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is on, and it’s the scene where George Bailey’s just been rescued from his suicide attempt by Clarence.
It made me think of a friend of mine who’d committed suicide recently. I’ve had ‘friends’ from the party/music/loser world kill themselves, either deliberately or accidentally, and one could say generically that they were all ‘young’ people who both self-medicated and avoided developing coping skills. “I’m not fucking surprised” is all you can say about a lot of that.
But my friend, from my post-music/party/loser life, well, that’s a mystery. He was my mentor, a master from whom I learned my trade, a master who taught some the other masters for whom I’d worked. A lot of guys in my line of work are nothing more than fast talk and bullshit, and it really doesn’t take too long for guys like that to reveal themselves to be over their heads. And then there’s the guys who can’t keep it together long enough to be anything more than a day laborer, guys who can’t think past a hasty meal of greasy, salty nastiness and a main course of booze. But my friend, let’s call him ‘Sherman,’ he was a guy, so far as anyone could tell, had both of his oars in the water and lived in the real world. He was well into middle age, which led me to believe, unlike a lot of ‘young’ people and even the aging schmucks you meet in the music/party/loser world, he wasn’t a guy totally eaten up by his feelings.*
But anyway, the scene I clicked on from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ it’s setting Clarence up to show George what life in Bedford Falls would be like without him. Like in that episode of ‘Married…With Children.’ The one with whatsisface. The screamer. Gallagher? No… Sam Kinison! ANYWAY, George Bailey’s town is an ugly hellhole, a real Eastern Seaboard shitheap without him. The lesson being that even ‘unimportant’ people of unimpressive accomplishment leave a rippling wake of cause and effect; one of the same lessons they try to impress upon guys with drinking problems, to make them realize that there’s more at stake than dry heaves and runny dumps when they bail on shit due to wicked hangovers.
My friend Sherman’s the first guy I’ve known who’s died by ‘misadventure’ that’s actually ceased leaving ripples in ‘above-ground’ society. A lot of the guys who’ve passed from the music/party/loser world were pretty well withdrawn from ‘above ground’ society long before they died.
I’ve little more to say about my friend Sherman’s untimely death. But HOT POT OF COFFEE, the ‘Potterville’ segment of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is DARK. By the time George gets to his brother’s grave in the giant cemetary — it looks like it takes up more real estate than the town itself — you’re surprised that they even bother to inter remains in such a nasty place. Everyone in Potterville’s such a me-first prick, you can’t imagine anyone either a) bequeathing money from an estate to cover funeral expenses or b) offering to spend perfectly good money on the remains of a dead relative when nature herself provides plenty of scavengers and opportunistic feeders.
*JEEBUS, wait ’til you meet guys in the world of peripheral, original music who’ve been ‘on the scene’ since the first Reagan administration and still take their editorial cues from R. Crumb-era ‘Weirdo’ magazines. Will not shut up about their feelings, and they have to keeping reminding you that they’re tough guys, ‘cos, can’t you see how much they can drink, but they’re too tough to talk about what they’ve seen, yet they bend your ears for an hour pouring out their hearts, doing the exact thing they think they’re too tough to do. ‘Tough musicians.’ My ass.