Mondays with Mike: Death and Facebook

April 25, 2016 • Posted in Mike Knezovich, Mondays with Mike, Uncategorized by

So here are my Prince stories.

Purple Rain was the last movie Beth watched while she could still see. It was at the Thunderbird Theater in Urbana in 1984, when it was still a movie house. And I’ve always thought, well, that’s as a good a last film spectacle as I would choose.

Another: Our son Gus loves music, and when he was otherwise inconsolable for reasons that will forever remain mysterious, certain music was magic. Prince was at the top of the list of magic musicians. We will forever be grateful.

And finally, after Gus had moved to Wisconsin and we’d moved to Chicago, we treated him to a Prince concert at Assembly Hall in Champaign. It was quite the road trip, and the concert was the magnificent thing that Prince always did.

I feel good telling you all this but also just a bit ambivalent and maybe guilty. That’s because this year has been fraught with the death of talented people who had enormous and devoted followings, fans who shared whatever they needed to on Facebook. And I’m not certain how I feel about it all.

If this doesn't get you moving, call the doctor.

If this doesn’t get you moving, call the doctor.

People have always died. Famous, talented, wonderful people. But we haven’t always had social media. And we haven’t been compelled (or had the opportunity to) lament, grieve, and share so publicly.

On the one hand, it’s kind of cool to have a place to go in times like these. To see what other folks are thinking. On the other, sometimes it feels a little smarmy—like a competition to identify as the biggest fan most hurt and affected by the loss. Or just an opportunity to talk about one’s own experiences. You know, like I just did.

And that can feel a little smarmy.

On the other hand, this past weekend people found and posted some incredible footage of Prince performances. Things that affirmed how talented he was.

On that note, I still don’t know how I feel about it all, but I am grateful to have seen this on my feed—courtesy of a friend of a friend (BDB, you know who I’m talking about).

When you have a few minutes, watch it. It’s astounding.

Goodnight sweet Prince.

Marian Loomis (Anne Hunt's sister) On April 25, 2016 at 6:36 pm

Wonderful!! I’ve been a Prince fan for years. The loss is barely acceptable. -But for videos and CDs and the huge vault of unpublished work he left for us to look forward to. Thanks for posting this great blast of talent and energy.

Regan Burke On April 26, 2016 at 8:08 am

Oh, Mike. You always seem to be spilling my own beans. My feelings exactly. My favorite this week was the video of While My Guitar Gently Weeps at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That is my all time favorite song and it thrills me that these two dead favorites live together in this one video (George Harrison, Prince). You are a part of my life – I may never be a part of yours, but I’m out here in the wings. Keep writing.

Mike On April 26, 2016 at 2:11 pm

I saw that one, too, Regan. It’s amazing, he struts out and there’s no doubt who the royalty is, even in that crowd. And thanks for the kind words–I feel like I’m in the wings of of your via Beth, too.

Benita Black On April 26, 2016 at 3:54 pm

You don’t have a smarmy bone in your body, boy-o.

Stephanie Swift On April 26, 2016 at 10:03 pm

Mike, you hit the nail on the head with addressing the smarm factor to commiserate about a celebrity death via social media, and to sort of compete with friends on who can share the coolest posts about that celebrity. With Prince’s untimely death I’ve become a defacto know-it-all and junkie. It’s embarrassing. But I have also been quite sad with his passing, and confused as to specifically why I am so sad. The answer that seems to keep resurfacing is that part of my youth was erased from the planet. … I began my undergrad career at U of I in 1984, and that fall I went to see “Purple Rain” at the Thunderbird Theater. Before I moved away for college, my hometown boyfriend had dumped me and I was distraught. In my determination to move on, I accepted a date one evening with a fellow student worker. I can summarize that first date experience by saying I have never been so embarrassed on a first date as I have that night when “Purple Rain” splashed the copious sex scenes all across the big screen. I was a tender kid of 18, and could not look at my date during the entire movie. I laugh at this now, but am also glad I stuck to my initial reaction, which was: Geez! … I did love the music, though, and it came to be the soundtrack of my freshman year in collage. Prince was everywhere and his music uplifted us and helped us define the rage of youthful hearts and desire to dance and sing as fast and as loudly as we could. Wherever we were, Prince was there and he was the party. He was us and we were him. He was warm, funky, embarrassingly kinky, and when I first saw him I thought “why the mustache AND the lipstick?” But that was just Prince, and whatever couldn’t be understood was always washed away by that mysterious and forthright music. … In 1983 as a junior in high school, the 17-year-old me found out what a little red corvette really could mean, and it was embarrassing but exotic. In 1984 the whole floor of 1 South in Lincoln Avenue Residence Hall rocked with Prince at all hours of the day and night. And in 2004, the 38-year-old me missed the Prince concert at Assembly Hall due to travel plans abroad. I’ll always regret it.

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