February 15, 2012

Roots

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My 13 year old is married to someone I‘ve never met. Yes, on Facebook, where she and her 400+ “friends” create their own families. Friends appear as siblings and parents, identifying their core relationships amidst hundreds, and also just for fun. Small wonder, many of these kids are raised by Boomers who often consider their friends to be their family of choice.

My own friend/sister recently described her relationship to a mentor, identifying the impact of their relationship with “I’m definitely on her tree.” Which got me to thinking about my own tree. Who am I related to not by blood, but influence, thought, passion, and interest? Millions are devoted to identifying their ancestry online and to the new season of NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?. I am not so curious about my bloodline as my spirit line; though sometimes the two are the same. So I had some fun with my genealogy of choice. Here are my results.

The spirit of these imagined ancestors live in me. Who lives in you? Whose tree are you on?

Great Grandparents:
Virginia Woolf
Bertrand Russell
Peggy Guggenheim
Rabindranath Tagore

Grandparents:
Ella Fitzgerald
Marguerite Duras
Katherine Hepburn
George Balanchine
Robertson Davies
Walker Evans

Parents:
Jackie Kennedy Onassis
Sidney Poitier

Uncles:
Bob Fosse
Jean Luc Godard

Aunts:
Mary Tyler Moore
Ali MacGraw

Sisters:
Cindy Sherman
Wendy Wasserstein
Jhumpa Lahiri

Brother:
Sting
Robert Longo

Cousins:
Sam Shephard
Carole King
Fran Liebowitz
Diane Keaton

January 25, 2012

The Last Word

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At a recent dinner party, we briefly discussed Steve Jobs’ last words. As reported by his sister Mona Simpson in the New York Times they were “OH WOW, OH WOW, OH WOW.” My take is that his words reflected a mystical experience. Another dinner guest suggested that Steve Jobs was the ultimate marketer and well aware that his last words would be documented and publicized. My cynical friend suggested that the words were conscious and planned. Others believe that DMT (Dimethyltriptamine) released by the pineal gland, creating hallucinogenic arousal, accounted for Jobs’ words. Whether his words indicate a biological explanation of the afterlife, or were his chosen tagline, they are haunting.

The Internet carries hundreds of last words, some from deathbeds, some spoken days before actual death. Below is a recounting of my favorites. Some seem to reflect the essence of the individual and their work, some seem conscious and even self conscious, and some may have been erroneously reported or edited in order to create a legacy.

… the fog is rising. — Emily Dickinson

Why are you weeping? Did you imagine that I was immortal? — Louis XIV

Does nobody understand? –- James Joyce

Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something… — Pancho Villa

Codeine …bourbon. — Tallulah Bankhead

It is well, I die hard, but I am not afraid to go. — George Washington

Drink to me. — Pablo Picasso

Friends applaud, the comedy is over. — Ludwig van Beethoven

Why, I did not know we had quarreled. — Henry David Thoreau, when asked by his aunt if he had made his peace with God.

God bless… God damn. — James Thurber

This is no time to make new enemies. –- Voltaire, when asked on his deathbed to forswear Satan.

I should never have switched from Scotch to martinis. — Humphrey Bogart

I am not the least afraid to die. — Charles Darwin

I’ll finally get to see Marilyn. — Joe DiMaggio, talking about his former wife, Marilyn Monroe

Surprise me. — Bob Hope, spoken to his wife when asked where he wanted to be buried.

Every damn fool thing you do in this life you pay for.
— Edith Piaf

Utter nonsense. — Eleanor Roosevelt, spoken to the nurse who told her she would die when the reason God put her on earth was fulfilled.

It’s very beautiful over there. — Thomas Edison

I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have. — Leonardo da Vinci

Either that wallpaper goes, or I do. — Oscar Wilde,

We are now able to plan our last words. The website ifidie.net offers a Facebook app which allows you to leave a message that will only be posted after you die. It allows us to shift our consciousness, and to take a conscious action pertaining to our mortality. This is a redefinition of our last words. They are not the last words spoken, but the last word written and posted. What will yours be? And remember it’s not an “if” but a “when.”

November 16, 2011

Omission

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I love the New York Times. Just a few years ago when the paper’s future was seriously in question I said to a friend “I couldn’t live without the NY Times.” She mistook my passion for melodrama. To my sustainably inclined husband’s chagrin I insist that we receive the print version daily. My computer’s opening page is www.nytimes.com. Okay, I’m a junkie.

Regardless if I die of natural causes, or because of grief for the now unlikely passing of the paper, the NY Times wouldn’t cover my death. Well, maybe when my book finds a publisher, and we break new ground in death consciousness. Well, maybe, but only if they review the book or interview me. A retired New York Times obituary writer informed me that there is very little chance of having your obit appear in the publication, if they didn’t cover you in life.

This editorial protocol is felt deeply in the obituary coverage at the paper. Of the 36 New York Times Read the rest of this entry »