Saturday, May 22, 2010


(I may have posted this before, but if I did, I can't find it.)

There's a reverie/meditation I sometimes do, a mind-stretching exercise to keep me from getting too locked-in to my immediate surroundings. It usually starts off with

Somewhere Bono is eating a sandwich.

...and then goes on to list other celebrities, icons, rich and famous and powerful people from all over the world engaged in mundane tasks. It actually had its start with Douglas Adams, who used to play a big role in the litany: in The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, there is a patient in a hospital who is involuntarily vocalizing the internal narrative of Dustin Hoffmann, with a time delay of about twenty-four hours. What could be a fascinating or reality-shattering phenomenon is written off because this delay introduces the possibility of a clever hoax, and besides, it's not like having Dustin Hoffman read stock prices or sports results from more than a day ago is very useful. (Besides, there was a very large one-eyed old man who had been admitted to the hospital who was occupying everyone's attention.)

For much of the 1990s I wondered what Douglas Adams was up to. I hadn't heard much of him since Last Chance to See except for Mostly Harmless, which felt like a slap in the face to Hitchhiker's Guide fans. ("Oh you like this character? Zap, she's gone forever. In fact, let me see if I can just dispose of all of these damned characters, once and for all.") After I got the Internet in 2000 I was able to pick up bits and pieces of what he was up to. It seemed like he was mostly touring and giving lectures. I wondered if he would ever do a follow-up regarding the endangered animals he had seen in Last Chance to See.

And then he died.

Douglas Adams died nine years and eleven days ago of heart failure after a workout at a gym. He had been stressing himself relentlessly over his frustrations at getting a big-time Hollywood version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy into production. Had he lived, I wonder if he would have been at all pleased with the motion picture that was the result of all this effort.

Bono just had emergency back surgery for injuries sustained in a fall during practice for a show. Ronnie James Dio died of cancer at 67. Michael Jackson died of an inappropriately administered

Somewhere, famous people are eating sandwiches and watching TV and going to the bathroom and driving to the supermarket. Just like you and me.

Somewhere, famous people are getting old and dying, too. Just like you and me.

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