Death is something I read about every day—given how dark and depressing most news stories are—but in general, I try not to ponder my own inevitable demise. Granted, this is something I was preoccupied with in my youth, but as I grew older, I decided life was too short to worry about dying. Death is inescapable and spending too much time dwelling on it can distract from what little life we all have left. Focusing on the days ahead rather than the end of those days is preferable, after all.
Then I started watching documentaries on Netflix and came across a Dave McRae series entitled Final 24, which chronicles the final day in the lives of famous people, all of whom died under mysterious circumstances. And now, much to my chagrin, I find myself thinking about death yet again.
The first episode focused on Sid Vicious, the bassist for the punk band The Sex Pistols who died of a heroin overdose in 1979. After being arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen—a murder he could not remember perpetrating—Vicious went on a drug-fueled bender, sponsored in large part by his own mother. In fact, some believe his mother gave him a fatal overdose on purpose, to spare him from another traumatizing stint in prison. Whatever the case may be, Vicious’ final 24 hours were dark and depressing—as they likely are for most just before they die.
Episode two turned a lens on one of the greatest comedic performers of all time, the great John Belushi. Like Sid Vicious, Belushi spent his final day of life blitzed out of his mind on drugs, including cocaine, marijuana and—go figure—heroin, a drug he had just begun using during his final trip to New York City. Unfortunately, he didn’t just shoot up heroin; he injected speedballs, deadly combinations of heroin and cocaine. As you might imagine, things didn’t go well for Belushi and he overdosed on the concoction, which ultimately caused his death and put an end to one of the most promising careers in entertainment history.
The remainder of the Final 24 series includes stories about other famous people and their tragic deaths: Marvin Gaye, John F. Kennedy, River Phoenix and Hunter S. Thompson. I plan to watch them all, of course, but I am trying hard not to dwell on my own impending death. I say “impending” because it could be today, next week or even fifty years from now. You just never know.
Of course, I hope that when my number is finally up, death comes in the most peaceful and painless way possible. Isn’t that something we all wish for? I mean, the last thing I want is to die while doing something embarrassing—not to me, necessarily, but to my friends and family members. One such scenario might involve masturbation—having a heart attack while stroking off and being discovered in a compromising position. Nothing would be more embarrassing, especially if rigor mortis set in and my hand had to be pried off my junk with a crowbar or something.
We can’t all die in our sleep, after all!
I just finished watching a very interesting and heartwarming film and could not resist sharing it with you. It’s called People Like Us and despite coming out in 2012 to decent reviews, it is now available almost everywhere. I highly recommend that you check it out.
The film centers on Sam—an estranged son with lots of personal and legal problems—who returns home after his father dies, hoping to claim a financial inheritance large enough to get him out of trouble. His dad was a famous music producer who knew nearly every artist known to man. Unfortunately, Sam’s father leaves all his money to Josh Davis, the son of a reformed alcoholic named Frankie who Sam soon discovers is his sister.
I would describe the film more if I wasn’t afraid it would spoil something—including the “6 rules of life” Sam learned from his father as a child, which are very insightful. This is one you really need to see for yourself. Granted, it is a little slow to get going, but it also feels more like an independent film, so pacing tends to matter a little less. People Like Us also features an outstanding cast, including Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Wilde and Michael Hall D’Addario as the troubled Josh. And believe me when I say they work very well together.
The end of the film is a bit of a tear-jerker, especially for anyone with siblings, daddy issues, family dysfunction… hell, pretty much everyone. If you find yourself sitting around some night with nothing to watch on television, check your cable provider, on-demand service, Netflix, HBO Go or whatever you choose and see if you can find People Like Us. I assure you it is worth your time to watch it.
Happy viewing, people!