Sunday, June 28, 2009

RIP Billy Mays

They say things tend to happen in clusters, that when one famous person passes on, a number of other famous people will soon follow. And so it has been this week, first with Ed McMahon, then Farrah Fawcett and finally Michael Jackson.

Only it wasn't so final, as infomercial pitchman - and star of the Discovery series "Pitchmen" - Billy Mays passed away suddenly this morning at his Tampa, Florida home. Like the erstwhile Michael Jackson, he was 50.

I'll admit to not liking Mr. Mays's style. His perpetually amped up voice grated on my nerves, and it didn't take me long to resent his near-ubiquitous presence on the air. I don't watch a whole lot of television, but for some reason he kept popping up on the news channels that I often keep on during late night writing sessions. The comforting voices of anchors and reporters have long provided a normalizing backdrop to the emptiness of post-midnight writing jags - a backdrop that seemed to help me write more effectively when I was up all alone.

Until Mr. Mays came on, that is. His voice would instantly invade my brain and prompt a mad scramble for the remote. I understood his need to have a gimmick, a certain degree of shtick that set him apart from other informercial pitchpeople. I get that The Voice was why he was so successful in his chosen career.

Which is why I'm saddened by his all-too-young passing. Like all of us, he was simply doing what he needed to do to provide for his family. As annoying as some found him, he found his niche. And who among us wouldn't have wanted to enjoy similar success?

It's never fair when someone's cut down in the prime of life. It's never fair for a spouse and children to be left behind. Life is at once precious and unfair, and at times like this I find myself wishing it could be a little bit less of the latter.

Somehow, I suspect the much maligned late night infomercial just won't be the same anymore.

Your turn: Appreciating those we may not necessarily appreciate at first blush. Please discuss.


Prego said...

Damn, dude. You have a heart of gold. I always look at the cynical side of things.

Who do I appreciate? There was a guy who used to hug everybody on the way in to a bar here in Buffalo. We used to joke about him. I knew he got sick a while back. I went to that bar twice in the past week and he wasn't there. I don't know if he's passed or not, but I certainly would have taken the hug.

Here's a hug for you, bro.


Anonymous said...

I can't explain it, but i loved Billy Mays. His loud voice for some reason captured my attention. I feel for his family and those who admired him. He was indeed doing what worked for him and I admire that deeply.

Who do I appreciate? The older lady who's a Wal-Mart greeter. I do not know her name, but everytime I enter there she pays me lovely compliments and I her. She's very sweet and kind and I'm grateful for her presence.

Hilary said...

Tis another sad passing - one I think the teens are feeling. My son and Frank's son are both quite upset about his death.

Who do I appreciate but not at first blush? Coincidently, I blogged about just that, this morning.

NJ said...

Wow all these 50 year old's passing away really makes me insecure since I hit that milestone last month.

And as far as missing someone I will have to defer to a group. Wednesday at work I up and moved to the area known as global row. Or death row as another person kindly named it. Now that I suddenly don't work for the plant anymore but for the america's part of the globe. I will miss the folks I worked with. They were such an awesome bunch....most of them. I know I will have contact since we all work at the same place but I won't be part of the group any longer.

David Edward said...

who will take his place, the equally annoying but beardless Sham-Wow kid?
G-d help us!

Anonymous said...

He will be embalmed using the Ronco food dehydrater. His coffin will be polished with a Sham-Wow, he will be wrapped in a Snuggie, and the funerial music will be provided by K-Tel.
If only Ed McMahon were alive to provide the eulogy. it would be the perfect Late-Night send off.

Then again, at least he won't be remembered for beating up a hooker like his counterpart/nemesis Vince Offer of Shamwow fame (you followin' me camera guy?) Probably not the best quote ever from someone consorting with ladies of the evening.

George Foreman
Spokesman/boxer/cool guy.

Carina said...

It's amazing how much compassion you suddenly feel for someone once they have died. Does it all boil down to an innate sense of De Mortuis...? Maybe.

By the by, thank you so much for using the words erstwhile and ubiquitous correctly. It did my heart good, really!

David Edward said...

a tip of the hat to Carina the vocabularian!

David Edward said...

i hear Chef Tony is a jerk ( off camera) i never bought his stuff.
I did want some "mighty Med It" but settled for something from my local hardware store.
I like the funeral plans by anon.

Unknown said...

Well said, Carmi!