Summer of Death 2010 Edition

Stephen Blackwell :: Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 3:00 pm

On the heels of the Gary Coleman and Dennis Hopper deaths last week, The Awl, our greatest culture blog, is contemplating reprising the “Summer of Death” in 2010 lest another media company snatch it up as their, um, IP.

Though the “Summer of Death” became shorthand to describe the throngs of celebrity deaths that occurred last summer, The Awl was the media outlet to “bestow its appellation.”

The Hopper death, as an American, is particularly wrenching, existentially. There’s no new America to be discovered. There are no Easy Riders out there waiting to be made. All we get are documentaries covering the evils wrought by our corporations or our food industry. I get the whole “Americans are citizens of the world” thing, but whenever Vice produce documentaries about bands touring other countries the results are non-magical and boring. Hopper’s death should make us contemplate the people who have had a lasting impact on our culture. And when they might be dying.

Death Candidates (By Category)

The Wait And See: Bret Michaels
We’re taking a wait-and-see approach with Bret Michaels. After all, it’s only diabetes. Yes, he has a whole in his heart, but we’ve known that since he penned “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” And performing against the wishes of your doctors, like he did when when he appeared on American Idol, is a surefire way to catalyze your own demise. But the wait-and-see attitude is rarely the best approach. Look at Jim Henson. He had a wait-and-see attitude, and now we’ve got wrong-sounding muppets.

The “Ohhhhh Really?”: Steve Jobs
Nobody wants to lose Steve Jobs — especially before Walter Isaacson finishes his biography — but we’re all bracing for it. He survived pancreatic cancer through the success of a procedure called a Whipple, which sounds kind of like character in a Disney movie, then survived a liver transplant. He has since gone on to create the most valuable technology maker in the world, by Wall Street’s lights. His may be the most-braced-for death, possibly ever. Maybe even more so than Ghandi’s. Speaking of which, Ben Kingsley would play a fantastic Steve Jobs in a biopic. I feel bad saying it, but it’s the kind of entertainment event I practically can’t wait for.

The I Didn’t Know He Was Still Alive: Gary Busey
If Gary Busey didn’t pop up on Entourage every now and again I would just assume he had died. According to Dr. Drew he had traumatic brain injuries, which is why he seems crazy, but then he plays himself being crazy on television, which has to mean he’s not crazy — right? My experience with Gary Busey is the opposite of when I’m listening to a classic-rock station and they play a bunch of commercial-uninterrupted Led Zeppelin songs in a row. I immediately start googling “Robert Plant + Death,” or “Jimmy Page + Death,” because I figure it’s a tribute. That’s how fucked up Gary Busey seems: I assume he is dead while I assume the members of Led Zeppelin are alive and well.

The Wildcard: Lindsay Lohan
If Lohan is going to die young, this is the summer. It’s either now or at 45 in the Oakwood Apartments. I know what you’re thinking: But she’s only 24 and most artistic geniuses die at 27. Wait, you’re not thinking that? Shocking. Like every other recidivist out there, she’s a pressure cooker. Bulimia, drug busts, car accidents, it’s the trifecta of Hollywood burnouts. And there’s this thing about Red Bull and shopping: When Red Bull and shopping are your anti-drug, Red Bull and shopping lose.

The Shocker: Paul McCartney
He’s not that old, but he is a Beatle. If I were a life-insurance agent, that fact would not weigh in his favor, statistically speaking.