This has been a strange week for me here in Greenwich Village. It began with the untimely death of one of my favorite actors mere hours before the Super Bowl, where my team went down in flames. Then came the nationwide fallout over the Coca-Cola® ad. (When an ad as innocuously benign as that can cause such an outpouring of bile and hatred, maybe we’re doing something wrong, folks.) The cold weather, with streets and sidewalks coated in mounds of snow and sheets of dangerous ice that kept us NYers indoors all week, merely added to the downer.
Then I learned that one of the four people arrested in the Philip Seymour Hoffman case was someone I know–a former colleague at Murder Ink®, the bookstore where I worked for many years. I hadn’t seen him in 10 years, and I didn’t recognize the skeletal wraith in the news photos. Even with his name announced, I didn’t realize it was the same person until I was informed of it by a mutual friend. That really saddened me.
Then, yesterday, the Olympics in Sochi got off to a dubious start. The big explosion of the animated Olympic rings fizzled, prompting a hasty cut to earlier footage of a successful rehearsal for the benefit of TV watchers. With all the (quite understandable) political and social turmoil surrounding this particular installment of the Games, that technological dud seemed somehow prophetic, almost like divine intervention.
Here’s what I’m gonna do: I’m going to forget the Super Bowl. I’m going to recommend the wonderful films of Philip Seymour Hoffman to every young person I know as an illustration of the sheer lunacy of letting drugs into your life. I’m going to buy a Coke®–even though I can’t stand the stuff and its manufacturing process is bad for the environment–just to send a message to the haters who think that the right to sing “America the Beautiful” should be limited to heterosexual, Caucasian “Christians” (note the quotation marks) who only speak English. I’m going to hope that my former colleague straightens out his very messy life. I’m going to hope that someone at the Olympics manages to remind us all why we are watching them–to celebrate the human spirit in all its diverse forms, and to discourage oppressive regimes such as the host country’s.
And I’m going to hope for better weather.