Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams. My role model. Doesn't that explain things... R.I.P.

Shit. Robin Williams is gone.

Mondays already have a bad name. This isn't helping.

Oh death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Wouldn't it be great if I could make you laugh? You know you're going to sit here with me and read about one of the funniest people ever and his sad ending. But you know, sometimes, even as an adult, I'd think to pull out my hand in that mock Mr. Spock gesture and offer a hand shake with “Na-noo Na-noo”?

You know when I was a kid, I used to sit on my head on the sofa sometimes. If someone was watching. Maybe that explains something.

There's a certain emotional depth in all my favorite comedians. They understand pain and loss and beautiful things passed by better than many people want to admit to themselves.

If I had to tell you whether I was Spider-Man or Mork more when I was a child, it'd be hard to really say. (Fonz, then Bat Man, then Hulk, Iron Man, & Super Man were probably the runners-up. Uhm then maybe Wonder Woman.) I loved their wise cracks. I loved their weird perspectives. I was half in love with Mindy, myself. I offered to drink water with my finger. I called Orson.

When you bond with an actor like I did with Robin Williams, you smile and check out whatever they're doing. The irony today of me remembering him from What Dreams May Come is...I don't know what that is.

I was so glad to see Popeye, and I'm glad I saw it as a boy when I did. I know that was the first thing he did the critics hated, but it was so fun. This from the guy who went on to work with Walter Cronkite. Say what you will about the script, but Robin was the go-to guy to be a cartoon come to life.

My Captain, my captain! I saw Dead Poets Society in probably the most formative summer of my life, when they took the brightest kids they could find and squirreled us away on the hottest college campus in Georgia (666 of us or so I believe) and saved a few of us from a redneck mentality for life. Ah, shit, Neil commits suicide by hanging. C'mon, Robin, give us a break! I loved that movie more than nearly anything I ever saw to that point. It was a testament to different perspectives. It was a loving tribute to the difference a great teacher makes, and the power of literature to make a life thrive with poetry in one's deed and reflections. Mr. Keating rocked. I discovered post-modernist thought and truly angst-ridden poetry and Excalibur all the same summer we shot a video for "Life in the Fast Lane" as an homage to Governor's Honors. Never in my life had I even SEEN a video camera in those days, you lucky little Super 8 middle class brats. I did my first acting as a theater minor. I did this metaphysical improvised argument about "blue light!" versus "darkness!" with my friend Mark. I never had such smart and funny friends, and it was before social networking so I lost them all. I did a lot of comedy that summer. Nobody shaped that impulse more than Robin.

I had not discovered the depths of Arthurian mythos in my life when I did discover "The Fisher King." What a challenging movie! Brilliant questioning of reality and the appearance of things. Compassionate view of the homeless and mentally ill. Haven't seen it almost since it came out, but it's startling to remember his Lear-like performance.

He did many tours with the USO, at least as recently as Iraq and Afghanistan. No one could use a laugh more than those guys and gals. I loved Good Morning, Viet Nam!. I thought it was such a great reprisal of what made his stand up comedy worked. I was in love with '60's culture already, so the movie fascinated me. I've broken out singing “Viva Dnang Me, grab a rope and hang me” so many times when I was alone. Ah, dude, that's not funny anymore! This from the guy who compared functional alcoholics to parapalegic lap dancers..."yeah, you can do it, just not as well as the others!" "I went to rehab in Wine Country, to keep my options open..."

You know, Robin once said: “if you can remember the '60's, you probably weren't there.” Hahahah!

He also said:

Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?
If it's the Psychic Network, why do they need a phone line?
Do you think God gets stoned? I think so. Look at the platypus.
Reality is just a crutch for people who can't cope with drugs.
Reality! What a concept.
We had gay burglars the other night. They broke in and rearranged the furniture.
God gave men a brain and a penis. Unfortunately he only gave them enough blood supply to run one at a time.
You're only given one little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it.

And he said:

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas change the world.

I probably watched Mrs. Doubtfire as many multiple times as I ever watch any movie (about five times is the limit for me, kids; I'm already busy seeing imaginary things). I loved watching his face come off and fall in the street. I loved watching him play with his kids. I loved watching him give poor Pierce Brosnan the business. Who else could make Sally Fields look like a villain?

And I guess Patch Adams is about where he lost the crowd. Too sentimental, I guess. Too silly. Too many voices. Too much of a guy for whom “too much” was a brand! I'm glad he did that. His work was not always for kids.

And there's Hook, and I still need to see that and Bicentennial Man; I just don't watch as many movies as the average American. But I have seen Good Will Hunting, which was a nice surprise: him playing a different kind of genius than a comic. A little more like Robin with the amplitude turned down.

Aladdin! How could I forget that one?!? I never had a friend like him! Talk about a man suited to be a cartoon. Probably my favorite Disney cartoon ever. The only character who truly shared Robin's power to become anything.

I was working from memory. We actually saw and enjoyed "Jack" in the theater; it kinda made you think. It had that heart-tug that comedies always try to do these days and it was a bit creepy but...innocent.

It was a career so varied that I could actually forget "Jumanji" and "Night At the Museum 2" without an imbd listing handy! And those were SOMEbody's favorite movies growing up. I remember Jumanji now...very imaginative. Not unlike "The Cat in The Hat" crossed with a board game mixed up in a movie with that most energetic of stars.

But it was the Mork and Mindy reruns that REALLY did the brain damage for me.

I absolutely loved his stand up comedy shows. He was nuts even when he was older, doing GPS voices like Bob Dylan, Scottish accents, a whole Julliard repertoire of observations. And remember, “texting and driving at the same time is like jerking off and juggling at the same time. Too many balls in the air at one time!” Then he goes into Blue Tooth...oh, God. Then he talks about gymnastics as sideways pole dancing, and taking Michael Phelps off Frosted Flakes because he smoked pot "a failure of marketing"...and you can't help it. This is the saddest day you could think about Robin Williams, but I defy you not to laugh.

When I finally saw his stand-up from the Mork era, I laughed to tears. How cruel is it to ever think, “wow, he's even better on drugs.” How blithely unaware of how much that life sucks you can be when you're not living it.

I was sorry to see him checking into rehab yet again and to know his drinking problem wasn't done for. “How hard does this poor guy have to fight?” I asked. I guess the answer became “too damn hard.”

And today, there's millions of us who wish we could've returned a bit of the cheer. He made the world laugh.
Funeral For A Friend...two absolute contemporary-day titans of my creative world meet.

I've had thoughts of ending it all pop in more often than you'd quickly guess if you know me. In recent weeks, as before, I always had the lucidity to think “you mean, you are just tired as hell and need some kind of stillness. You, you'll never quit! No matter how unfair it seems, how neglected you feel your work is. How stupid you think it is for your work to be ignored. You had a good life! You are loved. You love lots of people (potentially, everyone!). You could never for a second really do that to the people who care about you. Because maybe it's hard to open up about those macabre thoughts without people treating you like a whiny bitch and being like 'suck it up, my life's blah blah blah' ---I don't care, I was just sad a minute, bite me. How dare I tell you I felt crazy.

"But you know it will get better. That's why you're not addicted to anything but lovin'. You know it will feel like Christmas Day with more love and presents than you can ever hope to unwrap, very soon. You will make it that way. You will perceive it as such. And without any action whatsoever, with a bit of mental quietude, you will find profound power from the source of life inside you.”

If you think my facile cheer is cheesy, well, tough cheese! Your cynicism grates me, too. It's an alternative to the spite necessary to hurt myself and in doing so hurt others. I'm practically driven by impulses, but “the ability to foresee consequences is the mark of a profound person..” If you think I'm naive, I assure you, I've seen the darkness, buddy, and I just gave it a seat by the stage.

I can't help but think of the shadow a suicide leaves across a life's works, great or small. We learn more and more how we ARE our brains, and how we have to take care of them. You really do live in the world of your thoughts, the one made by your impressions; what you decide is true defines objective reality for you, but it's subject to what you choose as your focus.

Reality. What a concept.

He's always going to make us laugh, though. I just turned on the stand up mentioned above and started laughing, and here it is the day he died. Maybe even the day he killed himself. Because man...what a maniac. He imitated all the accents of humanity! He pretended to be from another planet and SOLD it. Cerebral, but completely accessible. I'm sorry he's gone. I'm sorry he had to be so sad and angry and disappointed enough to go that way. He was honored and the peer to the greats. He's still the voice of a friend. And he left something a lot bigger than a sad suicide on a Monday.

eel So Alien by Integr8d Soul (for Robin Williams) (Cecil Disharoon/Lyron)

riff based on am/G/F/Amaj7 (3x)
Am/G/F G Em
Nanoo, Nanoo /Mork calling Orson, Mork calling Orson
F G F Em
Sometimes I don't get this planet/ and it's starting to show
F G Am F G Amaj7
The things these creatures do for money when it doesn't even make them happy
F G Am E
no wonder they think it's crappy and it's starting to blow

Bsus 2 G Em
Shazbot, you've got to dream / of an inner peace, of a new release
Bsus2 G Em Amaj7
You've got to meet yourself/ asking “hey what do I do?” Nanoo, Nanoo
Dmaj7 Am7 G Em
I feel so alien / who's the one who's upside down?
C G F Bflat A
Take what's good, pass it around you're all so funny you should hear your voices/ see your choices
E7 little machines of Amin 7 distraction C Where's the G inter- F action?
C Who's G sitting right F there with you? Bflat is it just too hard to say / A Nanoo-nanoo?
Bsus 2 I feel so G ali – Em en... F G Am G Em
strange things you do for fun, strange thing s you do Nanoo, nanoo

2. riff based on am/G/F/Amaj7 (3x) Am/G/F G Em
Nanoo, Nanoo /Mork calling Orson, Come in Orson
consumers trash the oceans it's starting to grow
poison food and the bees are dying Desert sky god told you before /
we don't agree, so it's off to war Differences we could let go
B sus 2 G Em
Shazbot, you've got to dream / of an inner peace, of a new release Amaj7
Why not just meet yourself / saying “hey, what do I do? Nanoo, nanoo”?
D maj7 Am7 G Em C G F Bflat
I feel so alien / who's the one who's upside down? Cruelness, so alien / when we all could live in the beautiful A sun! Bsus2 G Em G Em B flat A
Bsus 2 G Em I feel so alien / I feel so alien / when you end, you've just begun
My egg has taken me / F G Am
G Em to this Earth mystery / all these strange things you do
strange things you do, Nanoo, Nanoo _ Dmaj 7 I'm calling Or- Em -son, F come in, G come in, Am come in Orson, come in come in come in....come in, come in, come in (you've got to dream) come in, come in, come in... FGAmAmaj7come in, come in come in... (x2)
E7 I feel so ali- Amaj7 en.

-Cecil Disharoon (Lue Lyron) August 13 2 to 4 am (with music) So that's how I cope, I guess.

(Song to be performed August 21st at Schroeder's by Integr8d Soul, who you can find on Facebook and as well as

I'm too young and Southern to have a great personal story like this, soooo...I got this from Batton Lash, a terrific cartoon horror comic artist in his own right that you should check out, who posted:

My Robin Williams memory: In April, 1979, I attended “An Evening With Andy Kaufman” at Carnegie Hall. At the beginning of the performance, Andy pointed to a little old lady sitting off to the side on stage. Andy said that she was his grandmother. Andy told us that when he was a little boy he promised her that if he ever played Carnegie Hall, she would have the best seat in the house. Andy beamed that he was able to keep that promise! Everyone went “awwww”, applauded, and settled in for the show, which immediately got underway. And it was some show! But all through Tony Clifton, wrestling, Elvis, manhandling an aged schoolteacher to the point of a heart attack and the cringe-worthy songs and dances of an inappropriate-for-an-Andy Kaufman-audience “up with people” family act, grandma sat quietly with a little smile on her face, watching the spectacle from the side of the stage in the “best seat in the house.”
At the end of the evening, when Andy was calling the cast members to take their bow, he turned to his grandmother, and asked her to do likewise. As grandma stood up, “she” removed a white-haired wig and some facial prosthetics, Andy announced that his grandma was played by Robin Williams! I was impressed that wild, manic, unfettered, scenery-chewing, improv comic Robin Williams could sit still all evening long and not upstage Andy Kaufman’s show. Nevertheless, the audience gasped and roared their approval . . . and in a way, Robin stole the show by really doing nothing. Good night, funny man!

Thanks, Batton.

1 comment:

Janice Cross said...

Love your commentary... But you left out "Awakenings" :)

Maybe he just wanted to go out on a high note. Maybe he didn't want to wait until his own little pouf of dust became nada.
Although his new series was cancelled after one season, i understand there was a Mrs. Doubtfire sequel in the making.

From someone who has suffered from clinical depression all my life, I know it's really difficult--sometimes impossible--to pull yourself back when you reach that point where you have yourself fully convinced you & everyone around you would be better off without you around. Especially after going there time & time again, some of us are unable to rebound, or to keep rebounding, from that <3