Monday, September 08, 2003


Survival, with honor, that outmoded and all-important word, is as difficult as ever and as all-important to a writer. Those who do not last are always more beloved since no one has to see them in their long, dull, unrelenting, no-quarter-given-and-no-quarter-received, fights that they make to do something as they believe it should be done before they die. Those who die or quit early and easy and with every good reason are preferred because they are understandable and human. Failure and well-disguised cowardice are more human and more beloved.
--Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)

You could talk about how Warren Zevon died too young, or you could talk about how Warren Zevon lived his life as if he were one of Galileo's experiments on the acceleration of gravity, or you could talk about how his work was dark, or quaint, or funny.

But ultimately, you could talk about Warren Zevon forever and ever, because he had the uncanny ability to look deep inside of you and see not only your soul, but your internal organs and the connective tissue, and think how ironic it all is.

I first found Warren Zevon through the song that probably is the one his most casual fans know, "Werewolves of London." I knew he thought the way I did when I heard of how he espied "a werewolf drinking a pi?a colada at Trader Vic's," whose "hair was perfect." Later, much later, my spouse pointed out it was a metaphor, and it is, but it's still a damn funny song.

But the song that made me realize that Warren Zevon understood me was "Excitable Boy," a song both happy and repulsive all at once, just like life, and just like each of us.

Nobody saw life like Warren Zevon. I'm sure nobody will quite see the afterlife like Zevon, either.

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