A morbid year

2016. Mentioning it is already a horror story, but the way it is ending for me is truly worth making a film out of.

This year started with Bowie’s death, then Alan Rickman’s, followed by Harper Lee, Umberto Ecco, young Anton Yelchin, Mohammad Ali, Prince, Pete Burns, Paul Kantner, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Gloria de Haven, Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen, George Michael, Carrie Fisher then her talented mother Debbie Reynolds a day later! These deaths and so many more make for the saddest obituary, but hey, 2016 wasn’t satisfied with taking people away, it also added to the madness by making Donald Trump president, and in parallel giving Lebanon its own orange head of state. Wait, we’re not done yet! Exploding phones, Brexit… this year is watching us, amused by the mayhem, eating popcorn while we look right, left, up and within for answers nobody can give.

Well, if only that was it for me. I had one of the most stressful years leading to meds being prescribed so I can digest all the chaos, my father was hit by a water cistern as he was crossing the road, I snapped my back and had to walk like the hunchback of Notre Dame for over a week swallowing pill after pill searching to relieve more than my swollen muscles. However, nothing compares to the joke of an ending this year had in reserve for us. Hearing the news of my mother’s cousin passing a few days ago, then my former school principal’s whom I loved – her being a long time family friend – I verbally challenged this last week to test my nerves and surprise me further, and to be honest I wasn’t disappointed. Yesterday morning, we were informed that my dad’s cousin on his mother’s side had died. Preparing ourselves psychologically for yet another funeral, the phone rings. On the other end is my brother explaining he had just been informed that my father’s cousin from the paternal side has been dead for 4 days in his house, and since he had no immediate family, the authorities were waiting to find relatives to take care of the usual procedures. Naturally, us being the closest in Lebanon, we were asked to go into the house where – insert nervous laugh here – the corpse still lies, sign papers, make an official inventory of his belongings with the probably overpowering stench of our cousin’s decaying body, then arrange for his funeral.

So 2016, for your last day of existence I withdraw my challenge, you’ve won, now will you please go on vacation and never return? I’m no longer a fan of surprises.

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Always is never enough

Alan Rickman has just died. Same week as Bowie, same age, both cancer-stricken, both British. Well the Brits always had a peculiar sense of humor…I bet they had made a pact to meet up on the stage beyond, David performing and Alan narrating his new story; two beautiful charismatic beings captured on film and tape, two souls too free to capture and keep alongside us.

I had been feeling under the weather since last weekend, and these two deaths confirmed my mood: this week is simply better forgotten with its morbidly dark content. These two were true artists, they left us with an undeniable musical and cinematic heritage that we will definitely “always” cherish. However, always just doesn’t seem enough; they can no longer reinvent themselves, stuck in every character they’ve ever incarnated, from Ziggy and Major Tom to Snape and Colonel Brandon, and every one in between, never again to experience those they had no time to become. Always is short, even if we as spectators can still rejoice in their presence as we replay their masterpieces, that’s it, it’s over, their chance is gone. That’s the tricky part of life, the one that says once your eyes close, all your potential closes with them, trapped beyond the realm of the living, kept from us here still panting from the last time we experienced their intrepid energy. However, unlike us mere mortals, they live on in the millions of admiring fans they accumulated with every winning performance. Alan Rickman embodied talent and charisma, a sense of humor that helped him even when playing evil or stern characters, as I loved watching his off-screen bloopers, and he always managed to amaze me with his acting skills, skills not so common in today’s world cinema. He worked with his gut, his wits and his heart; the way I believe we all should.

In the end, celebrities are of no bigger importance than anyone else, but when brilliant people become famous like the aforementioned two, there’s no denying the world knows loss once they’re gone. Farewell Mr.Rickman, and every time I’ll watch one of your movies and weep, and around me they’ll ask “after all this time?” I’ll unfailingly answer “always”.

Bowie to Bowie

I suddenly felt like paying tribute to the great David Bowie by creating a “poem” with only his lyrics, taken here and there. Here’s my adieu, with your own words Mr. Stardust:

I’ve heard a rumour from Ground Control
Oh no, don’t say it’s true
I’m awake in an age of light living it because of you
Don’t let the sun blast your shadow
The moment you know, you know you know
Wonder where you are
Watching all the world and war torn
Said you took a big trip, they said you moved away
Happened oh, so quietly they say

Rebel, rebel, let’s dance
Put on your red shoes and dance
Let’s dance for fear your grace should fall
How many times does an angel fall?
Nobody here can do it for me
I’m in tears again when you rock ‘n’ roll with me
Ground control to Major Tom,
All the stars look very differently today, Is there life on Mars? There’s a starman waiting in the sky.
I’m stuck with a valuable friend
As long as there’s sun, as long as there’s rain
As long as there’s me, as long as there’s you
“I’m happy. Hope you’re happy, too”.

Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo, became the special man, then we were Ziggy’s Band.
Eh, eh, how could they know? That given time, the leaders go
Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Here I stand, foot in hand, talking to my wall, I’m not quite right at all
Keep your electric eye on me babe;
Time may change me, but I can’t trace time
For my love is like the wind, and wild is the wind
And though nothing will keep us together, we could steal time, just for one day, we can be heroes, for ever and ever, what d’you say?
“Oh I’ll be free, just like that bluebird
Oh I’ll be free, ain’t that just like me”

Farewell Ziggy

How to describe the knot in my stomach as the news of a legend’s death sets in? I woke up this morning and my heart sank as I read the most terrible four words the music world apprehended: “David Bowie is dead”.

Just yesterday I was listening to his new album, dreaming of someday meeting him. I don’t usually condone people crying over celebrities fading away, there’s always a bit of hypocrisy in posts such as those social media boasts every once in a while. However, in this case I can’t help but post my own desolation, small words for a man who changed the perception of so many, me included and even at the top of the mourners’ list. This dreamer pushed me to take pride in my eccentricities, see them and display them as treasures in a world constantly denying us individuality. He singlehandedly managed to make millions applaud his madness, brilliant unforgivingly beautiful madness. There is no shame in being different, in seeing the world in a different scope than the rest; on the contrary, there should be pride in being everything but ordinary.  Bowie showed us the potential of the marginals, the power that resides in every single individual deemed too strange; we are what makes us unique, we are our quirks and our dreams, and all we’ve got to do is put on those red shoes and dance the blues.

Where are we now, Ziggy? You have just travelled to the stars you were always so fond of, and if the Earth no longer enjoys the beating of your heart, your art lives on, for as long as there’s sun, as long as there’s rain, as long as there’s fire, as long as there’s me, as long as there’s you.