After learning of Robin Williams' passing on Monday I was shocked and disappointed and curious about what happened, much like I expected most people were. I logged on Facebook and posted something short like, "Jesus, Robin Williams is dead" and left it at that.
I deleted the post later because I saw the tsunami of personal tributes take over the news feed and felt whatever I had to say wasn't adding anything constructive. Then news came out about how Mr. Williams died and the shock went away, but my curiosity and disappointment didn't.
I volunteered as an usher at The Sundance Film Festival the year Robin Williams' film "One Hour Photo" made its world premiere. I was able to watch the film because the volunteers are rotated into different positions so everyone can see some of the films. It was a very different picture than anything I had seem Mr. Williams in before. For those who haven't seen it, it's an edgy film that focuses on obsession and how loneliness can lead to mental malfunction.
After the film was over Robin hopped up on stage for a Q&A and lightened the mood of the heavy-hearted audience who had just sat though something they obviously weren't prepared for. He turned the Eccles Theatre into the best open mic night I have ever been witness to. He joked about Utah culture and his "Mormon Posse." He went on for about 45 minutes. The audience: in stitches. Then he took time to shake hands and say hello to everyone he could before heading backstage to the volunteer area where I had snuck off to since I preparing for the next screening and grabbing a snack.
I clumsily said, "hello." I was a bit surprised. He asked me how I liked the festival and where I was from. When I told him I was a local he asked me about good places to go biking in Utah. I can't remember my response, but we talked a little about snowboarding as it was something I actually knew a bit about. It was a brief chat and odd in how casual it was since I was talking to THE Robin Williams.
I'm not relating this story to name drop, but with Mr. William's death this chance meeting came to mind. I was in the right place at the right time and got to meet a movie star who just seemed really nice and comfortable with people. He didn't have a security detail with him or a crew - not even his Mormon Posse.
I mention this story because when I think about those 45 minutes Robin Williams was performing impromptu and the amount of enjoyment he brought an auditorium of people with his presence and humor, immediately after a dark drama no less, a well of sadness invites itself into the front of my consciousness. Knowing some people pay for highs with extreme and dangerous lows is a heavy and confusing train of thought.
I have seen those lows with people very close to me - very low. I don't want to go into detail, but I have sat in emergency rooms. I've seen havoc and worry wreaked. I have been through it as a witness and it sucks. It's shit. And it's debilitating and can be distancing at time when distance is not what someone really needs.
So I thought I would post a link to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention with the idea that there might be someone around you having a hard time or perhaps they have been for a while, that there may be a discussion to be had there. Maybe you've felt off for a while yourself and think, "That's just how I am." Why bother taking a chance? Maybe ask a few questions. Here is a link. Click if you need it.
Kids can be cruel. The internet can be cruel. Your neighbourhood butcher can be cruel. You brother is cruel. Your dog once bit you. The waiter at ______________ crop-dusted your table when dropping off appetizers and your mom says you should have been married by now.
Hell, a guy even makes it on national television and though he doesn't win he gets the news delivered by Heidi Klum. That kind of winning IS losing.
For Richie T even that kind of lose/winning leaves a guy open for insult to injury by some girl he doesn't even know...on Facebook.
If you want to send Richie words of comfort and encouragement you can stand by Richie's side by emailing him at Richie@X96.com. You can even email him if you have an anniversary coming up and need a singing telegram.
We though about holding a candlelight vigil, but we figured since the FCC makes us do so much PSA broadcasting each year anyway, we made this video instead to kill two (maybe 5) birds with one announcement:
Last night Richie T appeared on the season opener of 'America's Got Talent' where you don't judge - ye be judged! Richie and his 'bandmates' earned four strikes in an act that seemed to personally offend Heidi Klum, which is odd considering her taste in men. Howie Mandell was nicer about the situation, calling the group of shaven-head men "his people." Howie was kind enough to sit in for an encore before giving the contestants the fourth nail in their coffin.
I am going to be homeless on Monday...at least for a little while. The talking heads say the economy is on the upswing while the unemployment rate hovers around 10% so I feel pretty lucky to have a job I love doing but in uncertain times I feel it is a good time to cut back.
I am giving up my apartment. I am not married and don't have pets so I don't have to talk anyone into this little expiriment or put a poor animal through it (not that I would). I eat out nearly every meal and am in no way a homebody. I'm never really at my house - only my stuff is. Also, I am horrible with money. My folks were more "do as we say" rather than "do as we do" parents so I think of lot of what they did rubbed off on me: buying things I don't need as a form of entertainment. I hate the idea of credit cards but I use and abuse them like a lot of us do. So couch surfing, a PO box and showering at the gym will be my new routine.
The plus side is I won't have to pay anyone rent and will just pocket the money and pay off my credit cards (really, who needs 3 bikes and 3 snowboards?). No TV? Good, I can get through the 8 books I've started. Maybe I can use the money I save to go to Germay next year for the real Oktoberfest or save for a down payment on a home of my own (granted I choose to do this for more than a month).
So all my stuff: pots, pans, dishes, the majority of my books, camping stuff, chairs, sofa, TV, a rarely used dinner table, bookshelves, bed, blu-ray player, nightstands and everything else are going into storage. I suspect after about a week I am going to hate myself for attempting such a lame idea. When after work I have no place to rest my feet and watch "Louie" or "Curb Your Enthusaism" or "Apocalpyse Now" I could be scouring the web for a new roof. Stay tuned...
P.S. I did the photoshopping of the dollar bill all by myself.
P.S. pt. 2: Maybe when this is over I can write a book like this: