BRONX, NY – Please excuse the “personal” aspect of today’s column. I just thought it was appropriate.
I found out through our own Tall Matt, that Peggy McCarthy, Mom to our own Short Matt and to this site by association, passed away this past Thursday. Though I only met her just a short time ago at her husband’s wake, and then again at her son’s wedding, I found her to be a kind and charming woman. More importantly, she was in no small part responsible for putting our boss, the aforementioned Short Matt, on this planet. Having gone through it myself, I know what it feels like when both of your parents are gone. It’s the end of an era. These particular parents, the McCarthys, must have had some wicked sense of humor to have created someone like Short Matt. He is, in many ways, a comic masterwork. Aging adolescent, overbearing gadfly, athletic antiquity, generous friend… I won’t bore you with all the details. Let’s just say that he’s an original, and his parents had much to do with it. So while we mourn the passing of an era with the passing of Mrs. McCarthy, we rest easy knowing that she and her husband left behind a bag of gags (chattering teeth, whoopee cushion, the works) in the form of their son.
It’s worth noting another big departure recently, in the person of Burt Reynolds. To paraphrase what a friend said on social media, “this officially brings to an end the 1970s.” And that sounds about right. There were a lot of stars from that era—Newman, Eastwood, Hackman—but perhaps none of them better epitomized the Swingin’ 70s better that Burt Reynolds. The mustache, the women and, of course, the movies, were all indicative of that time and place. While Deliverance, The Longest Yard, and Boogie Nights stand out in the Reynolds canon, the former Florida State University halfback also made more than a meal out of films about cut-ups driving sports cars incredibly fast. He was also a pioneer in his use of sports stars who couldn’t act a lick in his flicks (Terry Bradshaw, Joe Klecko) and in employing the end-of-film blooper reels during closing credits, which is now practically a given.
All great eras come to an end, but they leave behind an indelible mark. And, whether we realize it or not, our lives are informed by all of those that came before us. The closer they are, the bigger they are, the more their influence is felt and their legacy carried forward. It’s a pretty cool little insurance policy.
Come back tomorrow for Buddy Diaz, who has been influenced by the Yankees, Eagles and Knicks… poor bastard.