Yesterday at work I overheard that Harold Ramis had passed. I was in strategy mode on a new project, intrigued by its odd combination of variables. I was concentrating, but not so intensely as to be unaware of the conversations around me. I took a late, quick lunch and checked the social media sites, scanning post after post.
On the drive home, the news started to sink in. It was one of those.
I have seen multiple definitions of both the Baby Boomers and Generation X, and I'm unconcerned with which is the most precise. I describe myself as Late Boom, Early X, and I feel that's an accurate summary. Earlier this month I read a post by Sharon Greenthal, and something she wrote made me feel vindicated. She said that she was too young to remember JFK being shot, but her and her friends mourned the passing of two cultural icons, John Lennon and John Belushi.
About 20 years ago, I was speaking with my much older siblings, and the discussion was about those pieces of news that had such an impact that you remember exactly where you were, and what you were doing, when you heard them. They laughed when mine were Lennon and Belushi. They weren't trying to put me down; to be fair, their examples were of historic and political import, while mine were much more cultural. Nevertheless, I'll never forget hearing about Lennon while watching Monday Night Football and pretending to do homework. I can remember the exact curve of the road I was driving on when I heard about Belushi via a local rock radio station.
Like others, I find it hard to imagine a life without the Beatles or Saturday Night Live. In 8th grade I listened to "A Day in the Life" every single day before school. The following year, I went to see The Blues Brothers for my friend's birthday. These things made me happy; these people mattered to me.
At home, I reflected on the countless hours of enjoyment I received from the work of Harold Ramis. In high school, I spent a lot of time at Bob and Ricky Zavala's house, either playing video games on ColecoVision or watching movies on a Sony Betamax. There were certain movies we could watch over and over, and they were responsible for 95% of the one-liners that carried us through young adulthood. We continued watching them through the college years and beyond. The movie titles alone bring back so many quotes, so many images and laughs that even attempting to list them seems ludicrous.
Back to School
National Lampoon's Vacation
Harold Ramis had a hand in all of them. He was one of those.