Bill Cosby used to do a bit about his father reading the obituaries, announcing loudly, "Ya know who died yesterday?" It very accurately described a time in life when you start to feel your own mortality. Reading names you know in the newspaper is one measuring stick. It's a pretty morbid place to spend a lot of time, but I've been there. Around here in blogtimes, it usually shows up as celebrity deaths. The one that caught me and my son off guard was Paul Walker. If you're not familiar with Paul's body of work, you haven't been attending many movies with your teenage son. The fact that the star of a series of movies called "Fast and Furious" died in a car crash was maybe a little too on the nose, but I found myself conflicted as to the level of tragedy: Paul Walker was forty when he took his last ride. He was a father. He had started his own charitable organization, Reach Out Worldwide, to provide relief to victims of natural disasters across the globe. Forty years is hardly a life, but is it any more or less tragic than James Dean who wrapped a Porsche around a tree when he was twenty-four.
Maybe it's silly to try and rate sadness. How about jealousy? Brad Pitt just turned fifty. The guy my wife fell in love with way back in 1991's "Thelma and Louise." This crush has gone on more or less unabated for more than twenty years, and now I find myself a contemporary of Mister Pitt's. I would like to think that I have aged as gracefully as the star of "Interview With A Vampire," but mine are Oakland miles. His are Hollywood. I'm pleased and happy to be saving my corner of the planet and my wife is every bit as fabulous as Brad's, but my lifestyle does not afford me an estate in New Orleans or the opportunity to show up regularly on film stuffing my face.
The contrast to this experience is the fact that Kieth Richards just turned seventy. Congratulations, Keith. You make me and everyone else feel positively sprightly.