Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ghostbusters . . . Minus One

When I was living in Los Angeles, I was driving home from work one evening when I saw a man walking alone along the sidewalk toward the Fox lot.  As I drove past, I thought, "Hey, I know that guy."  I did a U-turn when I could, then slowed as I passed him.  I called out my window, "Mister Ramis, do you need a ride somewhere?"  He smiled and said "No thanks, I'm fine."  And I drove on.

That was my one experience with Harold Ramis, besides the ones everybody else shares.  It occurred to me then, and many times afterward, that if he had agreed to my help (I assumed his car was broken down and he was headed to Century City, though he could well have just been taking a walk*), that would have made for a really cool story.  Eventually, I combined it with an experience I had had earlier with a former "Saturday Night Live" cast member, who was either drunk or tripping out, and wrote it into a story I believe I called "Hero Worship," about a kid like me who gives his movie idol a drive home.

Harold Ramis died this week.  He was sixty-nine, and though most people know him from playing Doctor Egon Spengler, he did direct GROUNDHOG DAY and ANALYZE THIS and CADDYSHACK and NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION (which surprised the heck out of me).  Even so, when he died, I couldn't help but think of him saying, "I collect spores, mold, and fungus."  Not much of an obituary, I know.
Still, as I get older, it's gonna be more and more likely that the celebrities who die are going to be the ones who were important to me in my formative years.  When I was a kid, the only people who died were old folks and the occasional rock musician.  Now, though, people are dying that don't seem elderly to me, often not much older than I have become. 

I really ought to say something more about Ramis, but now I'm just generally sad.

Actually, I just got something.  Somebody on Facebook today posted a quote from Ramis (he got it from his rabbi, but he was the one who told it in a speech), and I really dug it.  He said, "You should start each day with a note in each pocket.  One note says, 'The world was created just for me' and the other says, 'I'm a speck of dust in a meaningless universe.'  Keep them both, because neither are true and both are true."  Nice.

Rish Outfield

*This is doubtful, though, because as everyone knows, nobody walks in L.A..

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