All of my parents
and their friends
remember where they were when JFK
got shot, right? That day is one that sticks out in their memories in a way that nothing, not their weddings
, the birth of their children
, graduation from college
or really any other truly momentous
occasion can ever replace
. It is a day that they will truly never forget.
I was not even a glimmer in my parents' eyes when JFK was shot. Hell ... my mom was not even ten years old. But I have my own "The day that _______ died." Will I remember them forever? Some ... maybe not. But some of them, I know I cannot ever forget.
The day that Allen Ginsberg died - as a poet and as a somewhat fanatical fan of the Beat Generation, Allen Ginsberg's death was an enormous blow. The genius of his writing, as well as the freedom of his personality were silenced forever. Even scarier ... Ginsberg's death was one step closer to the death of the Beat Generation. Really, the only significant writers left are Dianne diPrima and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. After they die ... the Beats are gone.
The day River Phoenix died - It seemed like River lived out a life that was harder, scarier, and shorter than our own, but it also seemed that he lived much the same way that we did, but with more pressure and less control ... I think that his death sealed out some of our hopes for our own wild spirits.
The day that Kurt Cobain died - All right, I said it. I realize that it was not really a surprise that Cobain killed himself ... after all, he had tried once before. Nonetheless, it cannot be ignored that Cobain brought a voice to a lot of people who had never had anyone speak to them or for them - he not only conveyed that disillusioned generation's pain, he lived it. Although he may have been many things (including a drug addict and asshole at times), he was also a talented and tortured musician that died before he got to finish what he needed to say.
Strangely, these three were not the most deeply affecting deaths to me at the time or even my favorite people of all time (I didn't even include Mother Theresa, although I very clearly remember her death). Even stranger, I apparently feel that I will most remember and (I conversely assume) am most affected by three artists: a somewhat drug-addled poet, an out of control actor, and a drug-addicted musician.
I guess they had a lot to say, both to and for me ... much like JFK for my parents' generation. So, although I will probably never be asked "Where were you when Allen Ginsberg died?" I know that I will remember.