Four Lives

I think all of you dear, precious few who read this thing are fellow geezers, so all of you have probably already had the dreaded Procedure I underwent this week. On the whole, well… could have been worse. Everything seems to be hunky-dory down there and I got to see a picture of my colon, which looks not unlike the famous picture of the black hole.

Anyway… one of the reliable pleasures of my geezer life these days is reading the obituaries in the print edition of the Sunday Times. A well-written obit is a thing of beauty, a capsule biography that can be absorbed over coffee… unlike that fking Einstein book that I bought so casually and has been mocking me for the last decade.

This week there were four. The two on the first page were for relatively young people, starting with…

Buddy Duress, a small-time heroin dealer living on the streets of the Upper West Side who became a sensation in the New York film scene as an actor and muse for the movies “Heaven Knows What” and “Good Time,” which helped launch the careers of the filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie, died in November at his home in Astoria, Queens. He was 38. The death, which was disclosed only in late February, was from cardiac arrest caused by a “drug cocktail” including heroin, his brother, Christopher Stathis, said.

Buddy Duress — one hell of a moniker, that — was a stage name, one he adopted while making the first Safdie Brothers movie. His real one was Michael Constantine Stathis, born May 21, 1985. He had a troubled life and he had his reasons. In the article his lawyer is quoted thusly:

I represent so many people with the kinds of problems he had, and they always have excuses. Michael never did. It seems paradoxical to say that an admitted and convicted thief was honest, but he was honest. He was honest about who he was.

Duress/Stathis’s obit takes up about 9/16 of a page. Below the fold is this one:


Reading Report, February 2024

Books Acquired:
Loaded, Dylan Jones

Progress Made:
Great Jones Street, Don DeLillo
With Friends Like These…, Alan Dean Foster
Lou Reed: The King of New York, Will Hermes
Loaded, Dylan Jones
Welcome to the Monkey House, Kurt Vonnegut

Books Finished:
Midworld, Alan Dean Foster

Hello dear readers, I hope you’re all having a Super Tuesday.

I officially had it with the rain today. Now, my publicly stated policy is that I am pro-rain; it is always needed in our drought-bedeviled state, if not so much here in the oft-sodden Northern lands. And philosophically I stand with Lennon on the matter of weather: It is what it is, and you should find a way to enjoy it rather than bitching.

But every year there comes a day, right about this time, when I stand and shake my fist at the sky, shouting “Enough already!” I always feel a little better afterward, however foolish and futile the gesture.

Which is neither here or there, I know. Sometimes you just have to get something off your chest.

Don DeLillo’s 1973 novel Great Jones Street, which I just acquired in January, begins like this:

Fame requires every kind of excess. I mean true fame, a devouring neon, not the somber renown of waning statesmen or chinless kings. I mean long journeys across gray space. I mean danger, the edge of every void, the circumstances of one man imparting an erotic terror to the dreams of the republic. Understand the man who must inhabit these extreme regions, monstrous and vulval, damp with memories of violation. Even if half-mad he is absorbed into the public’s total madness; even if fully rational, a bureaucrat in hell, a secret genius of survival, he is sure to be destroyed by the public’s contempt for survivors. Fame, this special kind, feeds itself on outrage, on what the counselors of lesser men would consider bad publicity — hysteria in limousines, knife fights in the audience, bizarre litigation, treachery, pandemonium and drugs. Perhaps the only natural law attaching to true fame is that the famous man is compelled, eventually, to commit suicide.