September 15th, 2009

Nobody Puts Swayze in a Coroner

Posted by natdavauer in Uncategorized

Forgive the joke. It was almost a typo but then I couldn’t let it go.

Anyway, I was surprised at the instant feeling of sadness when I heard he died today. More so than Michael Jackson. I had recently watched Point Break so his larger than life personality was fresh in my mind.

The guy had an energy that you don’t see very often. I suppose he was acting to some extent, but you didn’t have to be James Lipton to realize the guy had an intensity and presence on screen that isn’t taught in acting school.

He was one of the “role model” 80’s movie actors that figured into my adolescence. The peak of his career occurred simultaneously with my coming of age. I’m not sure exactly in what way he guided us gawky teens trying to figure ourselves out, but he was what you wanted to be like when you figured it out. You’d spend your days

wondering how to just stand there but still look cool, how to look tough in a “Don’t worry, I can take care of myself” way while not looking tough in a “Hey dork, meet me in the parking lot after school” way and of course, how to have rad hair but act like you don’t really care how rad your hair is.

He was who you wanted to be, and knowing that wasn’t really going to happen, he was who you were in your head. Other people saw a goofy kid with a mono-brow standing there but you knew it was really Jack Dalton standing there and if anyone got out of line, you would take out the trash (in a totally even tempered but unforgiving way). Even if he was a criminal or just a bad-ass tearing out people’s thoraxes, he did it in a way that made you believe that if you ever ended up in either of those situations, you would want to be that kind of criminal or that kind of deadly but focused and respectful bad-ass.

In Road House he was cooler than cool. Most actors given this challenge leave us rolling our eyes and making pfft noises. As outrageous as the character is, Swazye is no less genuine in the role than he would be in any movie. It’s a class in “How to be an action star in an 80’s movie without looking like an idiot 20 years later.”

Although Dirty Dancing and Ghost were not the movies rented from the wire racks at the gas station over and over again by me and my brother, they are a testament to his sexiness. As I said, he was everything you wanted to be and even if it might have been hard to admit to at the age of  15, you desperately wanted to be as sexy as Patrick Swayze.

  • Extra awesome: he is singing the song too.
  • Extra, Extra awesome: he wrote it for his wife!

Speaking of wife. He has been married to the same woman he met when he was 18. Before, during and after he was famous for a total of 35 years. We all know that isn’t the story for most of our Hollywood heroes. Check them out dancing together. They probably can’t wait to show off at wedding receptions. “Honey, want to dance? Oh, sure.. why not.”

His crowning achievement is, of course, Point Break. Many teens unhappy with their guidance counselor’s list of possible careers seriously thought about becoming a bank robber for a while. Not just any old thief though, a cool, friendly bank robber that only used the money to pursue enlightenment by means of surfing the planet. It’s clear in the movie that Patrick is Bodhi. He is there in his mind, body and spirit and that lets you be there too. It’s his charisma in this character that makes you want to drop everything in your life at the moment you’re watching the movie and just Be.  Bodhi: “This was never about the money, this was about us against the system. That system that kills the human spirit. We stand for something. We are here to show those guys that are inching their way on the freeways in their metal coffins that the human spirit is still alive.”

  • Extra awesome: He wanted to do the skydive scene for real but the producers wouldn’t let him. They said that after the movie was a wrap, he could do it although he wouldn’t be covered by the movie’s insurance policy anymore. He did, and you see many scenes of him free falling in the movie. Tell me you don’t see pure exhilaration on his face both while he’s skydiving and while he’s surfing. Bodhi: “If you want the ultimate, you’ve got to be willing to pay the ultimate price. It’s not tragic to die doing what you love.”

Reality check…

I’m not 15 anymore. Patrick Swayze has served a purpose in my life and I am grateful to him for that, but alas, like the fictional worlds his characters lived in and kicked ass in, he was no more the perfect guy than I was. In a way we both may have been pretending to be Patrick Swayze in 1991. Jack Dalton taking out the trash for an hour and a half isn’t enough to inspire me anymore. I need to know the whole picture. Finding a good role model when your thirtysomething isn’t so easy. Turns out Captain Cool almost crashed a plane in a residential area during the time he was an alcoholic. “According to the police report, witnesses said that Swayze appeared to be extremely intoxicated and asked for help to remove evidence (including an open bottle of wine and a 30-pack of beer) from the crash site.” Bodhi: “100% pure adrenaline!” or maybe, “Six seconds. We’re going to be meat waffles.”

  • Not awesome: He dabbled in Scientology.

I mourn his passing and will still enjoy watching his enthusiasm while playing my fictional childhood alter egos on screen whenever I get the chance. But age along with the ability to quickly do research on the internet has clouded my ability to see him only for what he once was. Although this might leave him a little tarnished aren’t we all are by some point in our lives? I wouldn’t say he’s this, but he might be getting a little closer to this.

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