Things that Go Away

  • Posted on: 25 February 2014
  • By: Jay Oyster

Well, in the last couple of days we've seen the departure of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and of the comedian, writer, and director Harold Ramis. As a forty-something man of a certain disposition, I of course often find myself lately ruminating on the way things go away. Loss is part of life. Death and departure is just change and change is the way of the cosmos. But these two doors closing highlight that loss is relative. And when things go away, it isn't always a loss. Not always.

Harold Ramis as Russell in the film "Stripes"Harold Ramis was a wonderful writer and performer, responsible for some of my own moments of purest joy in this life. The laughter I received from him thanks to his writing on Animal House, Groundhog Day, and Caddyshack, and his performances in Stripes and Ghostbusters, is a gift for which I will forever be grateful. I just got his humor. Plus, we basically have the same hair, so I identified with him more than say Bill Murray or Dan Aykroyd. I didn't realize he was in such discomfort during the past couple of years. I'm truly sorry to hear that he suffered so. But I'm still sorry to hear that we've lost him. His loss was a loss for us.

Sochi, and the Olympics in general, is something we are well rid of. The overt commercialization. The local and systemic graft associated. The somehow unhealthy regimented nationalism that is promoted. The modern Olympics have lived way past their healthy usefulness. Originally, they were a tool for building international fellowship and clean, healthy sportsmanship. I remember the idealism of Jim McKay and the olympics of the 60s and 70s. I don't begrudge Russia their time in the spotlight. I just think we need to scale back the whole thing next time. But it is virtually guaranteed that we won't do that. I'm sure the next Olympics will be even bigger, even more obnoxious, even more authoritarian and autocratic than this time, because each time the commercial forces are more in line with the local dictators to do it that way.

So Harold Ramis left us too soon, but at least it was a natural departure, and probably a release. I'm glad he was among us for as long as he could stay and I wish him well in whatever awaits us all in the time after death. The Sochi Olympics, on the other hand, lasted about two weeks longer than they should have, overstaying their welcome from the moment they were born. It's not Sochi so much as the entire Olympic movement I lament. Sochi is gone, and good riddance. Can we now tell the Olympics themselves to go away? We'll honor them for the work they did in the 20th century, but frankly, I don't think we can afford them anymore, either financially or emotionally.

Stripes (1981) --

Recruiter: Now, are either of you homosexuals?
John Winger: [John and Russell look at each other] You mean, like, flaming, or...?
Recruiter: Well, it's a standard question we have to ask. . .
Russell Ziskey: No, we're not homosexual, but we are *willing to learn*.
John Winger: Yeah, would they send us someplace special?