Another Hit to Art

There are many times when celebrity deaths are lamented in social media. I recognize it happened. Maybe post a tweet on it and call it a day. Like recently when Lemmy passed away. Yes, I was a fan and it was a sad day. I recognized it and moved on. Not today.

When we lost Robin Williams to depression and an incurable disease it hit me hard. Dead Poets Society was a huge influence on me when I needed it. I was extremely good at math and physics, but I loved the written word. The performance as well, provided the writing was good. That movie convinced me along with the words of Polonius from Hamlet. To some, they were his only true words of value… “To thine own self be true.”

Robin Williams (in the form of John Keating) was my Captain. “…if you’re more daring, O Captain, My Captain.” David Bowie was my king. No teen growing up in the 80’s wasn’t aware of the movie Labyrinth. And being a multi-classed geek with specialties in drama, choir, gaming and creative writing, Jareth was both siren and muse.

Also in college I spent time doing side jobs as a DJ as well as having a Sunday night radio show on the college station. This meant I had developed an eclectic taste in music long before we had things like Pandora or Spotify to cultivate it. I had metal and rock because I was a kid of the 70’s and 80’s. I had 80’s pop music because I was working every dance the school put on due to my involvement with Student Council. Reggae and funk was introduced to me at my dojo by my Sensei. Punk and Alternative (which a lot of Bowie fell into) was picked up from older siblings of friends, or at the radio station.

I remember the first time I started digging through the vinyl at the station in college. My roommate Doug and I tag-teamed our show. We had similar tastes in music, and while he loved spinning the records, he wasn’t a fan of taking on air. That meant we had time to dig. We found copies of Queen records (A Night at the Opera was a huge one for me), a CD of the Clash’s Greatest Hits (CDs were brand new back then and we only had like a dozen), and copies of Diamond Dogs as well as Scary Monsters and Super Creeps.

To that point, Glass Spider (from Never Let Me Down – his recent release) was on the top of my Bowie list. I knew he had a long career before that, but didn’t have access to it. Thank you liberal arts colleges of America. You offered me more access to the music of tomorrow than I’d had previously. Well the music of today (for that time) and of tomorrow.

We used to play a game. How fast could we scare the guy doing the Christian music show before us out of the station. You’d be surprised some of the things that got him running. Like the Screaming Blue Messiahs song “I Wanna Be A Flintstone.” I can’t remember which, but I distinctly remember wondering how anyone could be freaked out by the Bowie song we played at the intro one week. It may have been Heroes if memory serves.

But here we are twenty five years later. It’s a Monday. And now, cancer has taken family members, friends, my best friend and four legged brother Aladdin… and now it’s taken my King.

I answer this injustice as I did last time. Fuck Cancer.

But I cannot end on that. It focuses on his death, not his life. Let’s end on the note I kept repeating to myself the weeks before and after losing Aladdin. “We all have jobs to do.” For all of us, our job today is… Let’s Dance.

Why charity? And why cancer?

There was a video call for stories on Stephen Amell’s Facebook page. It was part of the 2nd anniversary of the Fuck Cancer campaign. I apologize in advance if you were looking for the “family friendly” version of the story, but that doesn’t exist. At least not for me.

Cancer has taken a lot from me. Mostly personal, and somewhat sharp in nature. Also, it has been throughout my life. It started just after I was born. It didn’t take my mother from us, but it did take any further siblings from my sister and I. Not that I knew any better, I was a baby when it happened. I can’t imagine what it put my parents through.

In July a few years back it took my father-in-law from us. Indirectly, as he already had a heart condition, but the cancer was getting worse and no doubt weakened him. My wife is the kind of person that remembers those dates. Every July was rough for her.

aladdinAbout a year and a half ago (also in July), cancer hit home again. This time it took our dog Aladdin. I know it seems odd to include him in this list, but he was my companion and our family’s protector and mascot for fifteen years. At sixteen years old, he was older than the twelve years that breed averages. And now I’m the kind of person that remembers those dates. July 17th, 2014. The first time I had to call and ask a doctor to euthanize my dog. I didn’t make the appointment for my childhood dog.

Losing him wasn’t just a direct hit for me, but it also screwed up my writing for at least a year. I felt like I lost something more than just a friend. So I gave to gain something back. I gave food to a dog shelter. We adopted a rescue dog from that same shelter. One that really needed a specific kind of home that we could provide. No young kids, and no other pets. And time. Additionally, we gave to cancer charities. Kids cancer, research, individual families dealing with the trials of cancer. All of it.

Last Christmas, during the first Sinceriously campaign I bought the original fuck cancer shirt for the family. My wife, son and I all have one. When the second one came around I bought in again. As I have for similar charities, such as the Extra Life campaign we just went through.

What does the Fuck Cancer Campaign mean to me? It is me telling cancer I have had enough. I have several friends and yet another family member dealing with cancer. Frankly, you can’t have them. Not if my donations and those of my friends and family have anything to say about it. It may only be a shirt here and a marathon there individually, but if enough of us stand up and say “No More”, it will be a deafening roar.

In which Zombie Joe considers neither food, nor writing…

This past weekend we spent the anniversary of the day our dog died of cancer taking the newest member of our family (a rescue that really needed our home) to visit Aladdin’s favorite park in Door County. We were actually staying at the cabin we rented just north of that park. Cave Point County Park in Jacksonport, Wisconsin. Door County. No better place on Earth.

ginger-beachWell, we tried to take her to that park. If you’ve been following me through social media, you’ve likely heard me lament that she is agoraphobic and not friendly towards small children or other animals. I’m good, but those fears/aggression might be beyond my skills. So we sat in the truck with the AC on while Robin went to visit Aladdin’s beach. We could take Ginger to the beach behind the cabin. That one is private.

I bring this up because I was considering the number of Represent tshirt campaigns that have been going on lately. And there are many. More than I can possibly contribute to. Choices must be made. But at the same time, the Amells (Stephen Amell from Arrow and Robbie Amell from Flash) have been hitting them one after another for me.

Last year, after our latest stint of cursing cancer, Stephen Amell did another run of his Sinceriously “Fuck Cancer” shirt. While I spent July last year stating “Today was a good day” and “we’ve all got jobs to do”… I spent the better part of August saying “fuck cancer” pretty much daily. And this past Friday, I was wearing my Captain Amell Fuck Cancer shirt.

I’m going to skip past Stephen Amell’s second charity shirt (even though it struck solid for me too), and talk about the one going on right now. Robbie Amell posted a link through Twitter to his Camp Hometown Heroes charity shirt. I clicked it simply because, as a fan, I wanted to see what he was supporting. The charity is a free summer camp for the kids and younger siblings of fallen soldiers. As if that wasn’t enough it is in Grafton, Wisconsin. I remember seeing a news report about Aaron Rodgers taking a group of kids from the camp out on a boat a while back.

Children’s charities are my thing. Children’s cancer charities… forget about it. I’m there. Much like how I knew Ginger needed a place like ours to heal from her mistreatment the first year of her life, I could see how these kids of service members could really benefit from this camp. So you know I will be picking up a shirt from the Robbie Amell “Camp Hometown Heroes” page when I get home tonight.

You should too. It’s a sharp shirt. And a really great cause.

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, I hear they are giving away a shirt that is signed by both of the Amells.