#149: Ebert’s Funeral

April 10th, 2013

The news vans were packing up for the day.

Fox News Chicago slowly retracted the aerial that had been peeking above the trees by Holy Name. WGN, ABC, NBC and CBS would soon follow suit.

A few news crews remained outside the cathedral doing last-minute stand ups as the harsh wind whipped against their perfect hair.

An old man, maybe homeless maybe not, packed up a series of newspapers with Roger Ebert’s face on them.

By now all the mourners, friends and family were inside the tan-bricked church.

A few news types and politicos chattered and tweeted outside. A few grabbed passersby to ask what Ebert meant to their lives, to ask for a thumbs up or a thumbs down on his existence.

When I was a kid Roger Ebert was the fat one of the fat one and skinny one who would trash movies I liked.

As I grew and my tastes matched Siskel and Ebert’s more and more, I developed a fondness for them. I remembering being genuinely sad when Gene Siskel died while I was in college.

I liked what they did. Supported the concept.

It wasn’t until Ebert got sick that he, as I put it at the time, “went off the fucking rails.”

He wrote about movies, yes. But he also started to write about life and beauty, about climate change and religion. He fought against the creep of ignorance and hate, of creationism bubbling out of the ooze to slurp on land into our schools and lives. And he wrote about movies.

He wanted to ensure what got into our lives was worthwhile. He wanted us to take in art.

Is that so hard?

Garbage in, garbage out, as the programmers say. He wanted us to have only good input. He wanted us only to see things that inspired truth and beauty and compassion.

He cared about the world in a way so silly and magnificent as wanting to protect it with words.

How simple. How wonderful.

The news vans started to pull away, moving off for the next production.

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