Tag Archives: Prince

Deaths of 2016


Glenn Frey was the first, or at least the first I knew about. I heard about his January 18 death while I was at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous. We listened to several songs by The Eagles one night around the campfire, a fitting memorial.

Reading a list of celebrity deaths, I see that before we lost Glenn Frey, we lost David Bowie and Allen Rickman, Pat Harrington, Jr., and a dozen other people I’d never heard of.

February took Vanity and Harper Lee.

In March it was Ken Howard, Gary Shandling, and Patty Duke.

Merle Haggard died on April 6, then on the 21st, we lost Prince. The death of Prince blindsided me. Who saw it coming? Not me. Prince’s death hit me hard.

People–famous and ordinary–kept dying throughout May, but the next famous death to get to me was Muhammad Ali in June. I learned about it late. I’d been on the mountain and missed the media blitz.

Gene Wilder slipped away in August.

Some people had died and I didn’t even know until I started looking at lists on the internet. Lois Duncan, one of my favorite writers when I was in middle school, died in June. The event hadn’t made the headlines. Pete Fountain passed in August. Buckwheat Zydeco died in September, but I didn’t get the news until October.

Early in October, while doing my job as a camp host, I found a dead man in a campground. It’s believed he committed suicide. On October 24, Pete Burns from the band Dead or Alive died from cardiac arrest, and on Halloween, I lost my dad. He was 70 years old.

My dad fell on the job in March. He was making a delivery and slipped on plastic on the floor. The plastic had apparently been there all day, but no one had bothered to sweep it up. My dad hurt his back. He was in so much pain, he took doctor-prescribed pain pills even though he hated the way they made his brain feel. His doctor suggested back surgery, and my dad agreed, but worker’s comp fought them for months. Finally the surgery was approved and scheduled for October 24.

Dad came through the back surgery ok. The doctor was pleased with how well he had done. But my dad was having problems with elimination and ended up back in the hospital.

I got word he had “c diff.” What in the hell is that? I wondered.

According to an article on Web MD,

…when something upsets the balance of [the] organisms in your gut, otherwise harmless bacteria can grow out of control and make you sick. One of the worst offenders is a bacterium called Clostridium difficile(C. difficile, or C. diff). As the bacteria overgrow they release toxins that attack the lining of the intestines, causing a condition called Clostridium difficilecolitis.

…it is most likely to affect patients in hospitals or long-term care facilities. Most have conditions that require long-term treatment with antibiotics, which kill off other intestinal bacteria that keep C. diff in check.

From what I understand, my dad was basically unable to make decisions at that point. His wife gave permission for surgery, and his colon was removed. Would Dad want to live without a colon? I wondered, but I know his wife understood his wishes better than I did.

Even with the removal of his colon, it was too late. His blood pressure kept dropping, and he didn’t make it.

I know we’ve all got to die. My dad knew it too. He was very clear on the concept throughout my life. But I’m infuriated his death was caused by an on-the-job-injury. I’m infuriated he died because no one could be bothered to sweep the floor. I’m infuriated that he spent his last months in the worst pain of his life because the worker’s comp bureaucracy is on the side of businesses and not on the side of workers.

My dad and I had a complicated relationship. Throughout my childhood and young adulthood, my dad was a racist and misogynist. He’d mellowed out some in the last decade, but he knew how to press my buttons and enjoyed doing so. I coped by removing myself from the situation as much as possible. I hadn’t seen him in almost six years, but we did talk on the phone a couple of days before he died. I didn’t know it would be our last conversation.

My dad taught me to ride a bike. He worked a series of jobs he must have hated to provide for his family. We always had food on the table; as a child, I never knew what it was to be hungry. My dad was a self-taught plumber, mechanic, and carpenter. He told me once he’d never been able to hire anyone, so he’d had to learn to build and repair.

Over twenty years ago, my dad became a fundamentalist Christian. My sincere hope is that he’s gone up to Heaven to meet the God he believed in so strongly .


Syracuse.com has a long list of 2016 celebrity deaths. There’s also a list of 2016 celebrity deaths in music.


Good Night, Sweet Prince


I’d just been thinking about Prince, too.

Not two weeks before, a video of Prince singing “Starfish and Coffee” on the Muppet Show popped up on my Facebook feed. I don’t know why. It hadn’t been posted by anyone I know. It was really random, the posting of a friend of a “friend,” I suppose. But I stopped and watched it. It’s kinda magical.

On Facebook, I wrote,’

I’d forgotten how much I love this song. And Prince. And Muppets.

Listening to the song made me think of a friend of mine, so I asked her if she’d turned me on to it way back in the day. She said,

Oh yea! This was one of my faves on that album.

And I said,

It is so good! Gives me goosebumps and tears. Thanks for sharing it with me way back when.

I love how everything is the song’s video is in black and white except for vivid, full-color Cynthia Rose. I love the line If you set your mind free, baby Maybe you’d understand. I love the part where Prince and the Cynthia Rose Muppet are dancing, and I loved how much fun Prince seemed to be having with the whole thing.

And then less than two weeks later, I talked to my Computer Guy on the phone before we went in to do our respective jobs. We were just shooting the shit, because neither of us knew yet.

Two hours later I went out to my van for my break and turned on my phone to check my messages. Nolagirl and I texted our usual good mornings, then she wrote to me,

FYI Prince died. 57 years old.

I wrote back,

WHAT??????? How? Fuck! Fuck! Fuck. That is fucking tragic. Goodbye my youth.

I was just watching the Muppet Show video the other day and remembering how brilliant he was.

Part of me is not sure I should even be mourning. It’s not as if I listened to Prince’s music all the time or bought any of his albums since the last century or even had any idea what the man was up to, musically or otherwise. But honestly, I felt like there was suddenly an emptiness in my heart.

I went to the grand opening of a 10,000 square foot international grocery store with a friend. It was a Sunday afternoon and the place was packed. The soundtrack? A tribute to Prince. On a loop. It kept playing over and over again. We heard it four times before we got out of there.

The shocking part was when “Darling Nikki” was pumped out over the noise of a couple hundred people shopping. I gasped, honestly shocked. You remember “Darling Nikki,” right?

I knew a girl named Nikki
I guess you could say she was a sex fiend
I met her in a hotel lobby
Masturbating with a magazine

Let me tell you, circa 1984 when a girl name Desiree told me about the song while we stood in the junior high lunch line, I NEVER thought I would hear that song in public, much less in a supermarket crowded with Asian people of all ages. I was glad I was not on drugs because then I’d have to spend the rest of my life wondering if it had really happened. But yeah, it really happened. Prince was dead, and I was hearing “Darling Nikki” played in a supermarket.

(Side note: For years, I thought the magazine was the actual instrument of masturbation. Only embarrassingly recently did it occur to me that Nikki was simply looking at the magazine while masturbating, only using it as visual stimulation.)

I just kept getting sadder and sadder.

Of course, as I believe is often (usually) the case with death, it wasn’t Prince I was feeling sorry for as much as I was feeling sorry for myself. I believe wherever Prince is, he’s feeling no pain. I’m not sure if he’s in Heaven, although Prince in Heaven does lead to some delicious scenarios.

Prince in Heaven scenario #1: Prince and Jimi Hendrix and Jerry Garcia are jamming for eternity and they never get tired, and they never get sad, and they never even have to stop the music to do drugs because who needs drugs anymore because they’re in Heaven and Dude, the MUSIC!

Prince in Heaven scenario #2: My grandmother who was a racist on earth is now up in Heaven listening to Prince and Michael Jackson and Ray Charles and Whitney Houston and Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye sing to her, and she is digging it.

But I digress.

I feel like losing Prince is really the loss of my youth.

I didn’t feel that way when Michael Jackson died, although his death was a shock too. I never felt as if Michael Jackson belonged to me. My parents liked Micheal Jackson, for Christ’s sake. They bought the Thriller LP. It sat in the stereo case with the Jan and Dean record given to my mom by an old suitor, the Footloose soundtrack, and my dad’s Cajun music records.

When I was in junior high and on into high school, Prince was dirty and sexual and naughty and exciting and everything my stupid, boring life in a small Southern town was not. And he had great clothes. All that velvet. All that lace.

Prince was hope, to this small town Southern girl who didn’t fit in, who was never going to fit in. Prince was hope that there was a big world out there with parties and fun, a world where it was ok if I was weird, a world where sex wasn’t terrifying, but fun.

And now he’s gone, and so is my hope.

I’m right in the middle of my middle age, fat and unattractive, and it’s all downhill from here.

I should have drunk more beer and taken more drugs and fucked more while I could, because it’s all downhill from here. Prince is gone, and I’m not getting any younger.

Is this how our mothers felt when Elvis died?

I made the tribute to Prince in the photo. I took the photo too. I got the “Prince of Peace” Christmas tree ornament from the free pile at the 2017 RTR. I also found the photo of Prince in a tabloid-style magazine in the free pile. The peace sign is a bead from my hemp jewelry days.