Harold Ramis and Bob Casale climbed up on the roof. This is the tailored version of the punchline from one of my all-time favorite jokes. It has been, for many years now, the way I deal with mortality. When my family gathered to remember my father, the raconteur of so many jokes himself, I chose to remember him that way: Dad climbed up on the roof.
For those of you unfamiliar with the entire joke, I encourage you to take in the version performed by a young Sam Waterston in Capricorn One. That's where I learned it. Spoiler alert: When Sam gets to the top of his climb, the bad guys are waiting for him. The joke ends, and so does he. The good news here is that Sam is still around. It was just his character that climbed up on the roof.
Sadly, this is not the case with Messrs. Ramis and Casale. Bob 1, as he was known in the band, was guitarist and keyboardist for DEVO. He died from heart failure at the age of sixty-one. It came as quite a shock to me, especially since I had only recently learned that their original drummer, Alan Myers, had passed on eight months earlier from brain cancer. The potential for a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame reunion for these guys is now out of the question.
Harold Ramis, writer and director of so much of the late seventies, early eighties comedy that informed a generation of would-be comedians died last Monday from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a disease he contracted four years ago. He was sixty-nine. All those lines I stored from "Caddyshack" and "Stripes" and "Ghostbusters" now rest in a more hallowed place. That collection will not be expanding.
For me, both of these gentlemen were part of my youth. They were part of the building blocks of my cultural DNA. Even though it has been five years since Harold Ramis made a movie, even though it has been even longer since I took my son to see his first rock and roll concert: DEVO. I will miss having these guys around, but from a selfish point of view, it would have been nice for someone to let us know that they weren't feeling well in the first place. That way we wouldn't have that sudden jolt when we open Yahoo News. Somebody really ought to start a page that lets us know that a particular celebrity has crawled up on the roof.
Aloha, Bob and Harold. You stomped on the Terra.