Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"It's better to burn out than to fade away..."

A fellow named Kurt Cobain killed himself in 1994 at the pinnacle of his fame and artistry. I remember thinking, from the living room of my parents' rented condo in central Florida on the date of my future wife's birthday, "holy shit. Why?"

This was before I had even become a Nirvana fan. But I distinctly remember thinking that if he had only summoned the courage to fight his demons, to persevere despite his disillusionment, maybe we would have been fortunate enough to hear just one more astounding record, one more anthem, one more vicious shot at the status quo.

I'm reminded of Kurt Cobain, James Dean and others when I think of the death of Heath Ledger. He's another talent gone long before his time. For those of us who weren't scared off by homophobic stereotyping and filmmaking that begs consciousness of a higher order, "Brokeback Mountain" was one of the best films of the past decade. Ledger's performance was nothing short of brilliant, and it serves as a cornerstone to his memory. It saddens me to think about how much more Ledger could have achieved in a career that had really only just begun.

While Cobain left us with a rambling, apologetic and ultimately crushing suicide note, we may never know what events led to Ledger's death. All we are left with is an unnerving sense of what could have been.

Another daughter will grow up without a father.

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