Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Being Uncool with Philip Seymour Hoffman:: What We Share

So, it's New York Fashion Week.
I've been caught up in a current of fashion shows, events, meetings, and the like.
Life becomes incredibly hectic twice a year here for me and my fellow industry comrades. I won't complain, because, it's an honor to witness some of the art that's being created and shown. You 'gotta recognize. If I whine about that, then I've turned into a jaded, self-righteous snot that we all find obnoxious. I'm not that cool, and I'm sure of that fact.

In conjunction, I had planned to post a "What I Wore" post this morning. Planned. We make plans. That's what we do in life. But, life occasionally...well, it has other plans for us.

So, instead, I think I'll wear nothing. I'll stand with my words and my thoughts on display.
Today, it just doesn't ring vital for me to chat with you about my newest "fashion finds" and that totally, like super chic vest I found and how I styled it with these fantastic boots on consignment. That shit, plainly put, can wait.

Eh, I'm going to lay off of that routine and just be real and not who I think, you think, I should be.

"The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we're uncool. "
(Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs)

We're all chatting about, tweeting about, mourning over, and scouring the Internet for opinions and proclamations of support or disapproval in the passing of
Philip Seymour Hoffman. [EDIT: And, as of August 11, 2014, Robin Williams]
Also widely known for his often-emotional roles in Capote, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Doubt, Moneyball...Oh, just some of the most celebrated, popular, and/or respected films of this century. Just to name a few.

Philip Seymour Hoffman,PSH, PHILLIP SEymour, Phil Hoff, Robin Williams death, suicide, celebrity suicide, Robin Williams hanging himself, black and white celeb portrait, tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman, young photo of PSH
I'm still in shock.
While I'm pondering which functional but stylish pair of shoes to brave the snow in to yet another runway show, I'm haunted by this.
It's more than heartbreaking to lose another fellow artist, a creative genius, to a struggle against the darkness that haunted his body, soul, and mind. I understand. I do. And, not in some incredibly elitist, "Ohhhh, we're artists. You'll never understand our torments. We're so deep, and you're all clearly not" kind-of-way. But, somewhere, deep inside of me, in the farthest crevices of my heart chamber and the furthest region of my brain, I relate to this battle between light and dark. I've wrestled with my own thoughts, myself, in the past. Although I have entered a very different phase of my life, It's painful, though, to watch a fellow artist suffer and lose someone who so clearly possesses a light, a creative disco ball in fact, and who still, behind closed doors, can't truly face themselves.

I'll cue some of my favorite lines spoken by one of my favorite actors, the epic PSH in the role of Lester Bangs again, in one of my favorite films, Almost Famous.

 "They make you feel cool. And hey, I met you. You are not cool."
We can all discuss the reasons, the background, the genetics, the lifestyle that, together, snowballed and propelled the past drug use, and unfortunately, the relapse and overdose. We can all profess our public stances on alcohol and drug abuse or mental illness. We can debate Philip Seymour Hoffman's death was "senseless" and "stupid" or "tragic" and "______" until we're all absolutely breathless.
Life doesn't always make sense.
It's fucking life.
We don't have all of the answers. We're typically full of questions.
That, I don't think, ever quite ends.
Logically, we can all see that this brilliant and unusually gifted actor and director of both theater and film, Oscar winner, reached his demise on account of an overdose of heroine. But, HOW did he die? How did this happen, and then, why?

We all, at some point in our lives, take a long gaze into that mirror that reflects our insides. What do we see? Whether you've been victorious in your own battles and now, sit in a lounge chair eating bon bons on the sidelines, or you're currently in the midst of a raging world war internally, we've been there. If you say you haven't, or you won't ever, you're a liar. We will all be there. We will all have a moment...or many moments when we're desperately attempting to achieve balance in life, and some times, it doesn't pan out. Some times, we don't emerge victorious.


"It is difficult to feel sympathy for these people. It is difficult to regard some bawdy drunk and see them as sick and powerless. It is difficult to suffer the selfishness of a drug addict who will lie to you and steal from you and forgive them and offer them help. Can there be any other disease that renders its victims so unappealing? What we want to do with Give It Up is popularize a compassionate perception of drunks and addicts, and provide funding for places at treatment centers where they can get clean using these principles. Without these fellowships I would take drugs. Because, even now, the condition persists. Drugs and alcohol are not my problem, reality is my problem, drugs and alcohol are my solution."
-Russell Brand, promoting acceptance and programs to aid in fighting addiction
(I encourage you to read his full essay HERE. )

But, fellow humans with currently beating hearts, your blood is still flowing throughout your veins. You're lucky. We are.
There is no sense in this, can't you see?
There is no logic in the rotting diseases of depression, despair, and addiction.
It isn't fair. It doesn't discriminate. It watches you close in the night, stalks you like prey, and sinks its teeth into your neck when you're brushing your teeth one day or turning on your blinker.


 "The gutter will not release its prey. The gutter is within. It is frustrating to watch. It is frustrating to love someone with this disease..." (Brand, continued)

Almost Famous, Philip Seymour Hoffman tribute, PSH as Lester Bangs, remembering a great actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, addiction and death

My point is, we can never fully comprehend why some of us face particular issues, and why one outcome in life can vary from another or drastically differ from another individual's. Who are we to judge? Who are we to assume anything?

The only binding thing between every single body that is living and breathing is this humanity: pain, joy, sorrow. And every single animal and person on Earth understands pain in some capacity. 
Pain, real pain, can hardly be measured, tested, put into little lab tubes, slid under a microscope slide and compared. Nor is it something to trump like chess pieces.
 I'm not trying to get all preachy--really, I'm not-- but I think that we should all be pretty grateful, if we're sitting here at this very moment, with our health and some valuable, authentic relationships with others, whether it be family, friends, or a partner. There's a lot to be said for establishing an honest connection with another. That is, most likely, one of the most beautiful aspects of living. Shouldn't we want to choose, then, to remain empathetic and compassionate to those walking beside us on the way to lunch, bumping into us in Trader Joe's, and sitting next to us on the local trains? They may be fighting darker, far more intense demons or perhaps simply dealing with much more trivial matters. We never fully know.

But, whether someone's an Oscar-winning actor, or the barista at your neighborhood coffee shop who generally appears to be in good spirits, I don't think it would be too much to ask of ourselves to look someone else in the eye for an extra three seconds, and give him or her an encouraging grin. One day, you'll need that too. It might not necessarily save a life every day, the way it often occurs in movies, or perform some visible heroic action, but it can't hurt, right?

One day, one moment, you might be desperate for a "human moment" also. I can only pray that you're greeted with compassion and support in your "uncool" time, even if you're unaware that it is.
These are all we have. Let's revel in them--they bind us.

Lester Bangs: Yeah, great art is about conflict and pain and guilt and longing and love disguised as sex, and sex disguised as love... and let's face it, you got a big head start.
William Miller: I'm glad you were home.
Lester Bangs: I'm always home. I'm uncool.
William Miller: Me too!
Lester Bangs: The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we're uncool.

Thank you, Mr. Hoffman (and Mr. Williams).
You've bared your soul and shared your art with us. You handed us some of the most emotionally riveting portrayals of ourselves--the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I appreciate your realness and will mourn the greatness that we will miss.
I just wish it didn't end this way.
Rest now.

As of August 11, 2014, we've lost another gifted actor and comedic genius to his own inner sadness.
Robin Williams will forever remain in our memories as a man full of life who radiated joy outwardly to those who came into contact with him and also to those who felt as though he was a friend, a confidant and mentor through his talent and infectious life-force.
Robin Williams, Robin Williams death, celebrity actor suicide, hanging suicide, Robin Williams Mrs Doubtfire, Dead Poets Society, Hook actor, Genie in Aladdin, Robbie Williams, celebrity depression

Inwardly, the man had stopped laughing. The joke had run its course. Don't we all wish we could scream at the top of our lungs, shake people by the shoulders, and force them to realize how appreciated, how loved, how valued, and how important they are to our existence even when we don't seem to be listening or watching?

Tell those people. Tell everyone and mean it.
Right this second.
We clearly can't afford to keep waiting.
We're losing this battle. 
We're LOSING....losing friends, loved ones, family, mentors, and the lights in our own eyes. This MUST be addressed rather than hidden, as if some dark and repulsive flaw that should be stowed away in a storage unit. We can't pretend that it isn't staring us in the face as we walk down the street, pay the deli guy for our soda, and grab a seat at the bar.

I'm sick and tired of being stolen from. 
You should be too, dammit.

[MORE HERE on this issue]
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