Ultimately, Ebert brought the ability to debate and talk about movies into the mainstream; his greatest legacy may in the long run not be the movie reviews themselves. It may simply be opening several generations to an idea that has been there all along: the discussion of art between two people can be a powerful thing, revealing sometimes more about the viewer than the piece itself.
It was less a band playing than a giant multimedia performance. Of course the band was playing perfectly in time. The (probably) rehearsed banter was perfect. You know who else plays impeccably, with rehearsed between song banter? The Rock-a-Fire Explosion.
I’ve never told this story. Well, in much detail. So here goes.
I never really got along well with my grandpa. He wasn’t a very nice guy. A lot of people have rosy stories about their grandpa, you know, giving them Werthers Originals and telling them stories about “The War” (capital T capital W) on their knee. Mine wasn’t really the case.
The most he saw of the war was the inside of a building in England, for all I know. The family joke was that he just took the two pages on “teeth” in the medical journal and ripped them out and never really fought… but he’d talk about it like he was there. He was that kind of person, I guess, if you were to be picky about people’s stories. And to talk about them like this when they aren’t around to defend themselves. Not that he would have.
I don’t really believe in God. Not with a capital “G”, anyway. I don’t believe there’s a personable “thing” at the end of this that will judge you, rather, that you are your own judge, and that your own hell is the one you put yourself through. A lot of people don’t realize their discrepancies and that’s the biscuit you take when you sign up for any sort of reward list RE: religion RE: guilt RE: shame RE: any sort of anything, really. You are – at the end of this – the only thing short of a court of law that can ever really judge you. Now I’ve gotten that out the way.
I plan to one day write about this side of the family, so I’ll keep this short, and paraphrase it, and hopefully the overriding message of “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD THERE IS FUCKING BEAUTY IN THIS WORLD” will overscore the words I type into a bullshit computer on a bullshit running tab that is this “blog.” But hey, why not. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, so fuck it, here’s a story.
Grandpa was not entirely dissimilar to Royal Tenenbaum before he died, in that I think he understood how much of a bastard he’d been to so many people, and that, truthfully, if I may be so bold to say, he had been, to many people in this world.
The guy was a fucking genius, for starters. There’s a family story about how he managed to keep the power on for the village something something “family story that gets passed around” something something “stories that are told when someone dies.” There were a couple of stories that came out after he died that made sense – were the missing puzzle pieces, I suppose. He wasn’t a “great” man. He was a bit of a bastard. He wasn’t a kind man. But towards the end I personally believe he was conscious of this and tried to rectify it.
How he died was pretty interesting.
After spending some 84 years of being a bastard, he developed a brain tumor towards the end. He denied it. He was in and out of hospital for a little while; his brain slowly going; his wit – what there was of it – forgetting who he was talking to mid-sentence. Truth be told it was a strange thing for the family to go through. Here was the source of much misery going forth unto a place where we would not know.
So he’s losing it, little by little, and when something like that happens to someone you know, it’s always difficult. Again – he was a very confusing guy, if you had known him. I wish there was a way for this to translate off of the page. It’s hard to capture the prism of identity in a few short words.
So my Grandma is watching from the window one day, after he gets back from the hospital, and from what I was told he told her that he was going to go for a walk. This wasn’t unusual. He did like to go for walks, often with the dogs, which he didn’t really like, just put up with. So he goes for a walk.
My Grandma is watching from the window as he gets upon the 4ft tall wall by their house at the time. The wall leads onto farmland. The wall had been there forever.
An 84 year old man gets up on a wall at 3 in the afternoon and starts balancing himself as he’s walking along, like a child would. Again. Like a child would. From what I was told he had his arms outstretched and he’s –
– and I guess that’s when it hit him.
Something clicks, and he’s off the wall.
No more. Tumor overrun brain. Something. Chemical.
Off of the wall.
There are members of my family that never quite forgave him for who he was when he was alive. But he went out like a child. He went out in a moment of… honestly… I can’t even give it a name. He went out in a moment of clarity that (in my mind) makes up for (or at least gives somewhat of a poetic end to) the person that he had been for so many years.
He forgot about everything else, and decided to get up on the wall as if he was a child and walk across it with the gaiety and playfulness that some of spend out whole lives trying to forget. And he found it. Right at the very end of his life he found some sort of clarity.
And, no matter who he was in the rest of his days on this earth, to that moment at the very end of his life, I can only applaud.