Sometimes stuff just sucks
September 21, 2003
Being a big fan of Jimmy Ibbotson’s music initially led me to his Times column – and of course it’s consistently a highlight of the paper, especially the August 30-31 column about Warren Zevon. Of course, it proved timely, in that Zevon passed away that very weekend. But then, Ibby has always been blessed with great timing.
However, I must offer an oh-so-respectful correction. When Jimmy notes that “Mr. Zevon is dying sooner because he sacrificed his body to keep his mind supple and creative,” he is wrong.
While you can make a case that Mr. Zevon engaged in some risky physical behavior in favor of mental health, that ain’t why he died sooner rather than later. He died of mesothelioma, a cancer you get from one place: asbestos.
Where did the asbestos come from? Who knows. These days I do a bit of political hell-raising for a “meso” victim’s committee trying to whip Sen. Warren Hatch’s asbestos-company bailout bill, and thus have come to know a bit about the subject (see asbestostruth.com if you really give a shit).
Turns out that, despite the dope and whatever, the most dangerous thing Mr. Zevon may have done is change his own brakes one day way back when, inhaling some asbestos.
I get pissed when the news reports say that “Mr. Zevon, a longtime smoker, died of lung cancer.” Both may be true, but it’s one of those “A” did not necessarily CAUSE “B” situations.
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And then some folks make other judgmental lifestyle references, especially to slander (or libel) the herb – hell, Zevon did it himself. I guess it has to do with this crazy social guilt people put on us, or we put on ourselves.
We guess that, hey, if we get sick we must have done something or pissed off God or something. Nope, sometimes we just inhaled at the wrong moment and a couple decades later, it’s over, no matter if we ran every morning or ate right or left the tavern before nine. Sometimes stuff just sucks.
So, let’s remember what Zevon said about appreciating every sandwich. And what Steve Skinner says on the radio: Drive it like it was stolen. And what Ibbotson said in his very fine Zevon obit-in-advance: Aren’t we all lucky to be here now?