Monday, June 11, 2012

un-fan devotion

The late Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens' last public appearance was in Houston at the Texas Freethought Convention. I was fortunate enough to see him. Among the brilliant and poignant moments were his comments on how letters from people who had read his books or heard him speak meant so much to him. He encouraged everyone to write letters to those who had made an impression on them. That such an acerbic man was touched by the words of people who liked or respected him surprised me.

The up-very-late Tom Waits
I have thought about this a lot in the past six months since his death. My history of fanatical belief has given me a trigger reaction to fandom. I find most "fan" behavior obnoxious ("too close to 'fanatics,'" she said snootily). I don't worship anyone. I am not in awe of anyone who has not done something...well, awe-inspiring.

Tom Waits is awe-inspiring. Because his lyrics and music are blindingly colorful or painfully desaturated. Because he doesn't get comfortable and predictable. Because he makes me laugh hard. Because he keeps banging shit around and doesn't tour unless he goddamn wants to.

So here is the letter I sent to Tom Waits. One of my all-time favorite famous people.

­­June 2012
Dear Tom Waits,

Your lyrics and music have made me belly-laugh. Have cemented the bond with my children. Have made my happiness and sorrow richer. Your characters have been perfect company when I felt like an outcast. Your love songs have shone a light on the complicated, deep and imperfectly perfect love I have for my partner. I love the graininess of your songs. I love the clarity and cloudiness. I love how the dotted line from crotch to brain, intersecting the heart, is fed by your music.

Thank you, thank you.

No comments: