Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Still dead again today

There is no time in my life when I was ever even close to meeting Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I never even considered going to see him onstage as Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. I've been in Greenwich Village but wouldn't be able to point out his apartment. I saw Doubt and Capote, but I don't remember him in The Big Lebowski. I loved Savages because it also starred Laura Linney and Happiness because it was funny and disturbing, but I didn't see all of his films (didn't see The Master, for example) and I had to look up some of the bio details.

He always looked unkempt and overweight and like he would turn red easily. But I liked him and imagined that in person, he would be mostly like the brother he was in Savages--kind of goofy and self-deprecating and like he knew he would never get the pretty girl. So I can't quite figure out why I keep obsessing over the fact that he died, and the way he died. I think my preoccupation has to do with outside appearances versus what's really going in someone's life. I mean, of the successful Hollywood actors, it's not like he had the most glamorous persona; he always seemed to have his shirt untucked. But I never imagined he was secretly shooting up.

And it also has to do with realizing the sobriety is always only temporary--he claimed he was sober for 23 years--23 years of saying no thanks to cocaine offered to you at an after party, or a martini during a toast after winning an Oscar, or pot when you're vacationing on the beach with other movie stars. Or maybe not--I mean, maybe that's part of the lie too, that he could've been using along the way, or he could've fallen off the wagon 109 times, and we--the public, the masses--just never really knew about it, because it didn't kill him. I didn't remember that he went to rehab last year, because I mean, I wasn't paying attention to his life at all. It's worse though if he was straight for that amount of time and then just fell off hard. That's scarier. What would be the precipitating event? What would make you just say "fuck it" and go out and take money out of the ATM and score 70 bags of street heroin? And then, like, where do you get the fixings? Is it something that you've kept hidden in a shoebox in the back of the hall closet behind the guest towels? Or do you have to buy that too and is there no moment in all that preparation where you might go, Maybe I should call my sponsor...Or maybe he got to that point twenty times before and stopped and then, just this one time, he didn't.

And then, to make myself feel a little less stressed about it, I think about all the famous people I also like who should be dead and aren't like Robert Downey Jr. Actually, I don't like him all that much, but I thought for sure he would die of a drug overdose, though that could be just because of his death in Less Than Zero.

Okay, and then the other thing that I don't like about this at all is that I thought he was smarter than that. Famous people who OD are supposed to be rock stars with two brain cells or twenty-two year old super stars who barely know who they are or people who have been strung out forever, or people who sing songs like, "They tried to make me go to rehab, I said, no, no, no." Not some Broadway method actor who makes indie films and taught at the Actor's Studio and who just got back from a screening of his film at Sundance.

Enough about tracking down his dealer too, I mean, come on. The other other thing that bothers me about this is that lots of regular people are addicts and over-dosing and shooting up right now and nobody but their family really gives a shit. Stan, Dan's brother in law, works as a paramedic and he saves addicts all the time; he told us a story about bringing back a dead girl with a needle in her arm in a cemetery. And when she came to, she was pissed off because they'd ruined her high, and she now had to go out and fix again.

I also wonder if his death is a trigger for other sober people--like if his dying made other former users thing, why not? You miss it, the obliteration of your senses. You miss it and are just waiting for an excuse to be reunited with it again. Or so they say.

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