Scrolling through Feckbook earlier this evening, I saw various people allude obliquely a murder that happened thirty-four years ago tonight. No-one bothered mentioning who’d been killed on the eighth of December in 1980. There was no need.
I wasn’t going to bother writing about it, because what more can be said about the all of it? Plenty of quiet thoughts about a world without him, and here we go through this once more every year.
So I was already off to bed, having already resolved not to say anything, and then I saw my friend Jeff Ely had posted this:
‘Vin Scelsa passed the news to the world on WNEW 34 years ago tonight, and then played “Jungleland”. I was on my houseboat in Cos Cob and immediately got in the car and drove to The Dakota.
“Outside the street’s on fire in a real death waltz
Between what’s flesh and what’s fantasy
And the poets down here don’t write nothing at all
They just stand back and let it all be
And in the quick of a knife, they reach for their moment
And try to make an honest stand
But they wind up wounded, not even dead
Tonight in Jungleland”‘
Well at that point, I had to fire the laptop back up and scrawl out a quick couple of thoughts here. The Bruce Springsteen quote is rather poignant in light of what happened that night, which was the disc jockey’s intention. If you don’t know that tune or haven’t heard it in a while, here’s an above-average performance of Jungleland:
Well, as long as I’m passing on Jeff’s memory of that night, I should interject where I was/what I was doing. Oh, did I mention being green with envy that he was able to hop in his car with the end of a bottle of bourbon and make his way to Central Park West in something like an hour and a half? Well, there’s that.
Although I remember being upset the night that we heard the news, it was the next day in school that it really began to sink in. I was standing in the schoolyard a bit disgruntled that my fellow classmates didn’t seem remotely phased by what had happened the previous evening in Manhattan.
At the risk of sounding like the closing soliloquy of a Wonder Years episode, it really was one of the first times I remember being confronted with mortality. I’d certainly lost at least one grandparent and likely a few family pets had already met their untimely deaths for whatever reason. Yet, here was someone I didn’t personally know who was not only gone, but his absence shook me and alerted me deeply to how precious this whole damned thing truly is.
I know it sounds so cliche, but I’m going to write it anyway:
Hold your people close. Tell them how much they mean to you. Do it.
Be clear about it. It doesn’t hurt you, and it might even make everyone involved strive just a bit harder.