Forty one years, you chumps.
Forty one years, and I just keep on keeping on, outliving creeps and jerks and stupid idiots like an unstoppable juggernaut of continued existence. All these losers just barely entered their fifth decade, looked around and said “Nope, not for me. Forty years is where I stop.” Quitters.
I suppose some might argue it’s better to burn out than fade away. Of course, you might disagree, astronaut Gus Grissom and cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov, what with you both having died screaming while consumed by flames in grisly accidents during the early days of the space race. What a sick burn.
That actually reminds me of the terrible tragedy that took place when future Republican strategist Lee Atwater was five years old: As Lee looked on helplessly, his younger brother Joe was scalded to death when he pulled a deep fryer full of oil onto himself. The terrible tragedy, of course, is that this happened to Joe and not you, Lee, since you lived 35 more years and squandered almost every one of them using racist and homophobic dirty tricks to get Republicans elected to high office. While you may have lacked a heart, Lee, you certainly had a brain, and happily, where you had a brain, you had an incurable brain tumor.
Speaking of weird cranial growths, there’s outsider recording artist Wesley Willis, who developed an enormous forehead callus from his habit of headbutting people by way of greeting. His music, which can be described charitably as music, and which can be slightly more accurately described as a fusion of electronic keyboards and paranoid schizophrenia, included such titles as “I Whipped Spiderman’s Ass,” “I Whipped Batman’s Ass,” and “I Whipped Superman’s Ass.” You know what song is missing from your discography, though, Wesley? “I Whipped Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia’s Ass,” because you didn’t.
And speaking of outsider recording artists, there’s you, Falco. Well, it’s not fair to dismiss you as a one-hit wonder when, in addition to your number one single “Rock Me Amadeus,” you had an even bigger hit: a fatal head-on collision between your Mitsubishi Pajero and a speeding bus in the Dominican Republic. Hey, did you know that pajero is colloquially translated as “wanker” or “tosser” in Latin American Spanish? Well, isn’t that just adding insult to injury, you wanker or tosser.
Everyone focuses on how Paul Walker’s death in a car crash eerily mirrored his role in the Fast and the Furious street-racing franchise, but I think it nicely bookends the very appropriate way he started his career: in a very special two-part episode of Highway to Heaven. For the sake of further symmetry, since Paul Walker died while driving, I hope Minnie Driver dies while walking. I feel like we could all milk some good “why do we drive on parkways but park on driveways?”-type bits out of that.
It’s kind of weird that we don’t really know exactly how author Jack London died or why we shall see Edgar Allan Poe nevermore. It’s kind of ironic that while London was the one who wrote about wolves, it’s Poe, who according to one theory, may have died of rabies. I don’t believe it, if only because the laws of the universe would’ve demanded that London be bricked up in a catacomb, or sliced up by a giant pendulum, or pecked to death by a raven.
How about you, jazz legend John Coltrane? Did you die of embarrassment because you somehow knew you’d end up being name checked by Bono on the critically panned Rattle and Hum? Or was it to avoid having to appear as a long-lost uncle on The Cosby Show? Or was it liver cancer? It was liver cancer.
Jim Reeves, it’s hard to believe you died at 40. Because you looked at least 50, you square. Why, after all the gospel songs you sang praising Him, did God send you—and I’m not making this up—the same flying instructor as the pilot of Patsy Cline’s airplane? I bet it’s because He looked at your 1940s-looking mug, figured you missed going down in the same plane crash as Glenn Miller two decades earlier in some accounting error, and decided, “He’ll have to go.”
Hey, Family Feud host Ray Combs, how’s it hanging? Oh right, sorry. Moving on.
Hey, Chris Benoit, how’s it hanging? Benoit was, in addition to being a champion professional wrestler, also pretty good at family feuding, what with his fatally strangling his wife and seven-year-old son before hanging himself from his home gym. Forty years old is actually a pretty good run for a professional wrestler, Chris, and what’s more impressive was that your brain was 85 years old, thanks to years of self-inflicted brain trauma caused by moronically using a diving headbutt from the top rope as your finishing move. Not that I condone your switch late in life to fatal strangulation as your new finishing move, but whatever.
Let’s move on to someone who was merely gasping for airtime. You were a groundbreaking figure in Saturday Night Live history, Danitra Vance: the first black female regular cast member, the first lesbian, and the first who couldn’t read. But you were on a season Lorne Michaels doesn’t like to talk about so it was basically like you never existed. And now you literally doesn’t exist anymore, which is fine with Lorne. You’re like the Chris Benoit of SNL: almost completely written out of the organization’s official history.
Ray Sharkey—now you were a guy who had “ruthless killer” written all over you. For one thing, your name was “Ray,” as in “death ray,” and “Sharkey,” as in “shark-like.” For another, you were most famous for your portrayal of mob boss Sonny Steelgrave in the television show Wiseguy. And for yet another, you knowingly had sex with one hundred women after contracting HIV from intravenous drug use. Why couldn’t you just kill yourself the quick way with an overdose like Jean Seberg and Lenny Bruce, you piece of human garbage?
That’s great, it starts with an earthquake, birds and snakes, an aeroplane! Lenny Bruce is not afraid! Nope, Lenny Bruce, you were definitely not at all afraid of accidentally overdosing on morphine, because that’s exactly what you did. “There’s nothing sadder than an aging hipster,” as a policeman supposedly quoted you at the scene of your death. But you know what ages even worse than hipsters, Lenny Bruce? Your comedy.
Hey, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, line up next to Chris Penn there. Take off your shirt. You too, Penn. Look at each other. You both died of heart failure. Think about that. Think of all the work you did to look like a chiseled Adonis instead of a fat, out-of-shape Santa Monica sweathog like Chris Penn, Rude. Was it worth it? Of course not. That’s why I don’t do it, and look at that: I’ve outlived you both.
Know who else died of heart failure? “Pistol” Pete Maravich. For such an accurate long-range basketball shooter, you sure were way off in the nickname department, but I guess “Congenital Heart Defect” Pete Maravich doesn’t exactly capture the imagination.
Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us. No John Lennon to eternally fry. Look, I don’t endorse murder, but if you absolutely have to kill a Beatle and hate phonies as every good Catcher in the Rye fan does, “Pistol” John Lennon was the absolute correct choice. The worst thing about your death, John, was that it made you a martyr, when you were a huge phony; after all, you sang about divesting oneself of one’s possessions while living in a palace in the Manhattan sky and sang about giving peace a chance while putting the “beat” in “Beatles” by beating your wives. And because you died young, revisionist history paints a picture of Saint John as being the true creative genius in the Beatles and carrying a dead-weight hack like Paul McCartney, yet it’s a stone cold fact that Paul wrote the very best solo “John Lennon” song, “Let Me Roll It” from Wings’ Band on the Run album.
Wait. That’s not the worst thing about John Lennon’s death. The worst thing is that Yoko Ono was right there. Were you only packing a derringer or something, Mark David Chapman? I could have avoided listening to the Jackie Kennedy of Utter Nonsense for the last 35 years, and now I’m going to have to live well into my eighties to outlive her.
Well, you know what? I’m up for it, and I’m going to do exactly that. I’m already halfway there, and I’m only getting older. Look out, chumps!
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