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VIEWPOINT (cont.)

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my demographic in her heyday, but she had millions of fans and was still working up until recently.

Saget was on a popular family-friendly TV show that my kids watched in reruns on Nick at Nite, but I knew him best as a savage foul-mouthed comedian so I guess he had a much wider audience. He, too, was working, doing a stand-up show the night before his death. And at 65, he was in that “old enough to die but it’s still a bit of a shock to hear it” age.

Poitier, I’ll admit, is someone I hadn’t thought of in years. He was 94, and if you had asked me if he was still living prior to hearing about his death, I would have probably had to flip a coin, but hw was definitely a person of great importance in the entertainment indistry and in life.

He is most famous for roles in important films that shine a light on race relations like “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “To Sir, With Love,” and “In the Heat of the Night,” which are all great. He even served as an ambassador to Japan later in life.

And while he was most famous for his dramatic acting roles, his biggest contribution to my life was behind the camera, as the director of “Stir Crazy,” an awesome comedy film starring Gene Wilder (of “Willy Wonka” fame) and Richard Pryor, the funniest man who ever lived (I will fight you on this…).

In our culture, we too often care too much about celebrities and with all the YouTube and Instagram and TikTok, it seems like everyone wants to be famous. This celebrity worship can be a little unsettling and annoying. I have zero interest in keeping up with the Kardashians, but apparently millions of other folks do.

So, yeah, it’s silly perhaps to care what Arianna Grande had for lunch or how Brad Pitt works out, but it is perfectly OK to be sad at these recent deaths because these people did play a role not only on TV but our lives.

Although I did hear Ronnnie Spector died, so keep your eyes out for two more celebrity deaths… ROBERT HALL (cont.)

with them. At first, they seemed full of largess and beneficence, as the beauty of them rolled off his tongue and fell upon us.

But still, as I said, something was wrong,

wrong.

My mind went to analyzing beyond the strength and power of them, and found them wanting. There were generalizations there, unprovable, uncertain, varying, and outright mistruths in disguise as gospel. Then, as he continued his oration unabated, they turned to tinny sounds, coming to my ears as missing the mark, lacking the ring of truth. Indeed, seemed pervaded in a twisting manner that made me come to this conclusion: “This is wrong. He is wrong. And the crowd is being swayed by the power of his speech, the sincerity, as his face masks the intent of his speech.”

I walked away, shaking my head and worrying that the others might be swayed by the untruth of the false gospel he was spreading.

Then, I woke up.

One would think the dream was a singular one. One would be wrong.

The next night, distinctly uncomfortable and squirming in an effort to find Mr.

Sandman, so he could fling some sleepy-dust in my eyes and knock me out, the dream came back soon as I shut my eyes.

Only, this time, the setting changed.

Now, I seemed to have materialized in a beatnik coffee house. You know, like one frequented by the bearded Maynard G. Krebs of The Dobie Gillis Show from the 50's? You know, like: “I'm beat, man. Like

real- l- l- l- l beat. You dig?”

Like that.

In this second dream, it opened with someone on the stage, speaking as the rest of us lounged at our tables in the relative darkness, drinking, chatting, in a thick cloud of cigarette smoke (and possibly another imbibed-in favorite weed from that era) permeating the air.

Then, I raised my hand after the speaker stopped reciting an irrational poem.

I stepped onto the platform, putting my mouth to the microphone.

And I spoke in defined words that I felt, were inspired. They were strong words, sound words, words that held respect and honor and truth, when said separately. (Just like the speaker in the town center the previous night.)

However, taken as a whole and strung together, they were lies. Total, complete and targeted lies forged in my mind with a deliberate intent to deceive.

I loved the words and began to cry at the beauty of them. I raised my voice and said them louder, with urgency unrestrained or diminished.

But they were wrong, for the same reason that they were wrong when the man in town said them.

Because they came from me, and the prompting of my selfish soul. An invention of my own reasoning, my own assumptions, my bias, my opinions. Yet, they were quite beautiful… to me. When I awoke, naturally I began to assess what were the twin visions about, what interpretation? And I came to the conclusion that everyone thinks they hold the truth (or justice) within themselves and see it as beautiful and unassailable.

But, here's the rub, as Shakespeare might say, as he pointed out in his play,

The Merchant of Venice: “ Though justice be thy plea, consider this: That in the course of justice none of us Should see salvation.

We do pray for mercy.”

For, it is mercy alone that supersedes justice.

Robert L. Hall is a resident of Marion and has a Bachelor’s Degree in music from the University of Memphis and a Master’s Degree from Florida State University. He is the pianist for Avondale Baptist Church and a writer of fiction on Amazon eBooks.

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