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Philip Seymour Hoffman, What a Waste

Thadra Sheridan

Thadra Sheridan

You know,  I had my topic all picked out for this week.  It was something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, something that has come up often in my life of late and in my relationships.  I woke up this morning, all ready to dive into it.  Then Philip Seymour Hoffman had to die in a good ole pedestrian celebrity drug overdose, with a needle sticking out of his arm and heroin on the premises.  So here we go.

I know people die.  Everyone does.  I will, maybe soon.  I smoke.  But when it’s a celebrity, it hits a little hard.  They can go like James Dean, who crashed his Porsche into an oncoming Ford, or Elvis, on the toilet, or James Gandolfini, who had a heart attack in a hotel room.  But when they pump themselves full of lethal cocktails, like River Phoenix in front of the Viper Room and Heath Ledger in an apartment in New York and that cute kid from Glee in Vancouver, it really irritates me.

I mean, how hard can it be, your reality?  You’re rich and famous.  You are doing what you love for a living.  The world is watching you in adoration, and you are showered with acclaim and press and money.  So instead of getting high off this unrealistic twist of fate, you decide to dope yourself up to escape.  Maybe people like this should switch with me.  They can shovel my driveway out after the snow plow goes by, and I will live off my art.  I broke my shovel today digging through those snow rocks.  It was miserable.  I came back bathed in sweat with barely enough time to get ready for work, a place that does not pay me to write anything.  You’d think that I’d have more reason to take a bunch of drugs.  If any famous person wants to just make it all go away, I’ll gladly let them wait tables , try to sneak in some creative efforts when they’re not exhausted, and buy all the smack they want with their tips.  And I will PAY someone to shovel out my driveway while I go off to accept my academy award.  Sound good?  Any takers?

So Philip Seymour Hoffman died.  I liked him, you know.   I thought he was a damned good actor.  I didn’t like all of the films that he made, for example Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, a film that annoyed me so much I actually wadded up my napkins at one point in the theater and threw them at the screen.  But he did all sorts of edgy, independent, experimental stuff, which I admired.  And I was elated when he won the oscar for Capote, a film I was absolutely shocked to enjoy, considering my great love of the book.  And Mr. Hoffman, in my opinion, nailed Truman Capote.

He wasn’t an attractive man.  He was a great big unapologetic extremely talented ginger.  And he was an absolute work horse.  Looking back on his film career, he made over 50 films, three or four a year since the early ’90′s.  That is very impressive, and that’s just the movies.  He also did a great deal of theater.  He was unafraid to play characters that I disliked intensely.  I don’t mean he was the bad guy.  He was often the protagonist.  But he huffed gasoline at the pump.  He was a drunk.  He had asperger’s.  He was a lecherous priest, a gambling addict, a phone sex enthusiast.  He played real people heartbreakingly well.  And everyone noticed.  He was sought after.  He was adored by every one of my film loving friends.  he won a freaking oscar.  And now he is dead.  He was 46 years old.  His career had taken off and stretched before him with nothing but promise.  He had children, for chrissakes.

A friend of mine blames the heroin.  He says that it gets everyone in the end.  I’ll have to defer to his judgement here.  He has tried it.  I have not.  Maybe it’s a lot of fun, but people die from it, so I choose to avoid it.  And I suppose I sound terribly callous, here, but the fact is that this is a complete tragic waste of someone I admired very much.  He was young, brilliant, insanely talented and driven.  He had a massive resume, chameleon-like abilities, and limitless opportunities to continue doing gratifying and challenging work for decades to come.  But now he’s gone.  It’s over.  He will offer us nothing else.  We can no longer appreciate him, because his work is done.

It shouldn’t be.  That’s all I’m saying.

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About Thadra Sheridan

Thadra Sheridan is a poet, performer and teacher who has been published in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Skyway News, Moxie Magazine, Rattle and several anthologies. She has won awards for her writing from the Faulkner Society and the National League of American Pen Women. She has been a member of four Poetry Slam Teams, and her work has been featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, Minnesota Public Radio and in venues across the country. She was the recent winner of the Jerome Foundation's Verve grant for spoken word. She tends bar to pay rent and nurses a broken heart. She can be reached at Nym1993@aol.com. Find her at http://thadrasheridan.com and https://www.youtube.com/ThadraSheridan

7 comments on “Philip Seymour Hoffman, What a Waste

  1. ricknelsonmn
    February 5, 2014

    Children of substance abusers have a lot going on. We’ve had a lot to deal with, which becomes a way of thinking, perhaps outside the zealous norm. Being real, or whatever one wishes to label owning my thoughts and feelings becomes a bit zealous. Offending is not often my desire, but sitting on it, stuffing it, letting it lie isn’t usually my or perhaps any co-life experience person’s norm. Therefore, I read this with overwhelming approval!

  2. kykybcraii
    February 3, 2014

    Could I get a follow? Ilove your blog

    • Thadra Sheridan
      February 4, 2014

      Thank you for reading. I publish a new one every Monday.

  3. jackiejackquack
    February 3, 2014

    Have been attempting to respond to this – am on bus to work. I will preface this quickly. I am 60 and have worked with families for 30 years. Your response to Mr. Hoffman’s death is flippant and disregards what addiction is about. “Pedestrian”-there is no more pedestrian an addiction than cigarettes. Think of his family before you write.

    • Thadra Sheridan
      February 3, 2014

      His family is exactly who I am thinking of. He, however, was unfortunately not thinking of them enough. It takes great will and control to live your life, and not much at all to give in to oblivion. I am a child of addiction, and well familiar with the effects on those near to you when you succumb to chemicals. I will not applaud this.

  4. speakeasy25
    February 3, 2014

    Yeah, what a dick he was not to realize how frustrating your life is and how it would affect you not to see anymore of his work. Only some totally selfish prick would have issues and challenges completely unrelated to some gal who never met him but liked some of his movies. What a jerk. And a pedestrian one at that. We’ll put Hollywood on notice–no more weaknesses, ya babies, ’cause some people have to shovel their own driveways. That’ll get through to them.

    • Thadra Sheridan
      February 3, 2014

      He clearly should have been thinking of someone else, because dwelling on himself didn’t do the trick.

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