From the Editor-in-Chief:
Kevin Smith, 1963-2002
From the Graphics Editor:
The Night Of The Lamentable Loss
From the Editor-in-Chief:
KEVIN SMITH, 1963-2002
Kevin Smith died February 15, 2002 in a hospital in Beijing, China from injuries resulting from a fall. He left behind a life full of family, friends, acquaintances, appreciative audiences, and many, many fans. It was difficult to be aware of the television show, Xena: Warrior Princess, without noticing Kevin Smith as Ares. He infused into the character a menace, a humor, an attraction, an intelligence, and a presence that was impossible to deny.
In honor of Kevin Smith and the characters that he brought to life on stage and screen, Whoosh! invites all our readers to join us in our appreciation and celebration of his life and work, and in our sadness over the loss of a man who touched many hearts. In this month's issue, friends and fans of Kevin Smith share with us their experiences and remembrances of a short but full life.
Many of his fans and acquaintances have stories that underscore the type of human being Kevin Smith was. It is almost a running joke how just about everyone who had an interaction with him, no matter how small or incidental, had a happy, humorous, wacky, or meaningful anecdote about their encounter with him. Smith made that type of impression on people. He even made it on me.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Kevin Smith on a handful of occasions. I was greatly affected by his warmth and courtesy. He had a genuine humility about him. His knowledge of the show, Xena, and its fandom culture, impressed the heck out of me. He knew the show and he knew Ares like the back of his hand. He had the most adoring habit, which appeared to be unconscious, of relating a conversation directly to whom he was speaking. It was utterly charming.
At my first opportunity to speak with him informally at a convention, I began my usual patter of "I watch Xena, I enjoy the show, I enjoy your portrayal of [fill in the blank], blah blah blah, and I run a webpage." After which, I usually move on, after a handshake or a nod or whatever. But with Kevin, he perked up and asked what website. I said Whoosh!. The guy brightened up with that Kiwi smile of his. Turned out he knew the site and enjoyed it. That made me feel great. Actually, greater than great, but English fails me in finding a word adequate to truly describing how great I felt then. And that was not all! It got better. He further complimented the site, thanked us for including Ares in the Men of Xena Calendar, and for interviewing him so early in the show. I could have died and gone to heaven at that point. But then, he delivered the defining comment. He mentioned he got an idea for an ad-lib he did in a Hercules: The Legendary Journeys episode from reading an article in Whoosh! and it just turned out to be an article that I had written. That utterly floored me. For all I knew, it could have been total B.S., but it did not matter. The fact that an article in a fanzine could inspire an ad-lib from him (or inspire some B.S'ing), and that he would remember the article (which was necessary to do the B.S.'ing, by the way), is pure Kevin Smith in my experience. This guy had a memory that rarely let his fans down. He respected and enjoyed his fan base. Whether he was telling the truth or merely going out of his way to humor a fan, it had the same effect. He was making someone feel good about themselves and that lowly person was a fan. That was a very considerate act.
Kevin Smith had a charisma about him that was backed up by a genuineness rarely found in the showbiz world. I obviously was not exposed to the entire person, and we all have our low days and off days and moments we are not proud of. However, it was truly a pleasure to have met him and observed many times and to have experienced firsthand his kindness, patience, and appreciation of his fans.
I encourage all the readers of this website to read this month's issue to get a small sense of what type of person Kevin Smith was. There are few people that I have found in my life that are so ripe for modeling behavior from. I know I wish I could be as giving, as respectful, and kind as I have seen Kevin Smith be in somewhat awkward situations. Even though I only had a few contacts with him in my life, and only saw a small part of his professional work, I feel grateful that I have had the opportunity to have met him and know of his existence. If only more of us could figure out how to just be nice and polite to others, like Kevin Smith for the most part was, I do believe we would live in a better place than we do now.
Kym Masera Taborn
March 5, 2002
From the Graphics Editor:
THE NIGHT OF THE LAMENTABLE LOSS
Kevin Smith's untimely and unfair departure from this world has touched the lives of his family (quite naturally), his friends (quite expectedly), and many, many fans all over the globe. This issue is an opportunity for some of those people to express what they feel about the man and his work, what he and it meant to them, and is an opportunity to help all who participate or read it cope with the most difficult assault on the human heart: grief.
The sentiments expressed in these pages can be emotional, humourous, historical, analytical, artistic, but they are all heartfelt.
There is a tremendous amount of comfort here in this issue. We are all drawn together to express feelings inspired by a man we have various degrees of association with; a man who, in all cases, was liked, respected, and indeed, loved.
Having just attended his memorial service in Auckland, I can honestly say I have never felt more love in such a confined space among so many people at the same time.
Loss is something we all deal with in our own way -- it is a very personal thing and most of the time we tend to interalise it. In a group setting, we become aware that others share the same feelings we do, and as a result, we are allowed to help others through their grief as we alleviate our own.
Even as it started, I still could not believe I was sitting through Kevin's memorial service. It just seemed so wrong. It would be so natural, so right for him to just walk out on that stage and say "Sorry for the trouble mates, it was all a horrible mistake!"
But some of Kevin's closest friends spoke or sang, shared memories, encouraged us to do the same and assured us that it was perfectly all right to feel that way. Suddenly, we did not feel alone or isolated. They bore the public burden that all of us were feeling, and they did not have the luxury to "lose it" while doing so.
There were tears, of course, during the service. But there was laughter as well. At some point, we were able to allow our regret at the loss of a friend to yield, if just a little, to fond and pleasant memories of a person who was so easy to like and respect and love. I doubt Kevin would have wanted it any other way.
It's ironic what you find out about someone, after they are gone and you do not have the opportunity to thank or acknowledge them in some way. There was something about Kevin and his relationship with WHOOSH! and, by way of involvement, myself, that I did not hear about until recently. I did know that Kevin read WHOOSH! and enjoyed it, but I did not know until he was gone that he looked forward to reading the "alt" tags on the pictures with the articles ("alt" tags are the text that appears on the page when you roll the cursor over them -- we have used them to insert little joke captions for the last few years but never really announced it and just let people discover them on their own). Since I do 90% of the "alt" captions, it was actually something that I did he enjoyed, but he never knew I did those and I never knew he read them until after he passed away. That made me very, very sad.
As we filed out from the service, still numb and filled with conflicting emotions, I sat on a bench in the Aotea Centre for a long time, trying to find words to express what I was feeling. One of the songs performed at the memorial service was "Don't Dream It, Be It" which comes from the Rocky Horror Show (Kevin was meant to perform that show in Auckland late this year).
Life is a funny thing -- of course, we say that without laughing. Statistically, the lives of most people are unremarkable, a simple, undeniable, and rather dismal fact of numbers.
We are born.
We struggle through childhood, ever eager to leave it behind and become grown up as soon as possible, only to lament the speed at which childhood passed by in later years. We spend time as teens being "bored" a lot because there is "nothing to do", and yet as we are older how much would we give to regain some of that spent time to do the thousand things we would like to do now?
Perhaps we have loved and lost, and we pick up the shards of our broken hearts to piece them together as best we can so that heart can be broken anew in future, or, if we are extremely fortunate, we find a warm, soft, resting place for that heart in the hands of someone we care for very much.
As youth recedes we become productive members of society, chained to our employment for the most part with only a narrow window of a few days a year in which to free ourselves from those fetters, golden though they could be if we are doing something we don't hate.
Some of us will have children of our own and evolve to think of ourselves less in the first person and more in the third as we care for and are supported by an expanding family. Others, who continue in solitude an elusive search for something either specific or nebulous, wake up one day to find we move slower than we used to, need spectacles of various strengths for various purposes which we continually misplace, require medication for various ailments, and perhaps, if we live long enough, we will see everyone we ever knew or loved depart the earth before us until it is our own inevitable turn.
But it does not have to be that way.
We do not have to just dream of what might be or hope for what could be.
We can "be". We can take action, even if it regards a matter as trivial as walking from one place to another instead of choosing to sit. We can decide to tell those we care for how we feel instead of having to wait for them to pass from our lives first. We can pursue that hobby or goal by working at it, small steps first, large steps later. We can experience life instead of merely observing it, or we can observe it "live" instead of viewing it on a screen. We can learn an instrument, read a book, write a book, draw a picture, plant a garden. We can get together with our friends or make new ones.
Before my father passed away after a long and painful fight with a terminal illness he'd sometimes say, when someone asked how he was, "Any day I wake up to is a good one." Waking up is half the battle. Doing what comes after that is the other half.
And so, as the crowd has long since departed from the square I'm sitting on the fringe of, it becomes obvious to me that it's time to leave.
I'm not sure what I'll do for the rest of the evening.
But whatever it is, I won't dream it. I'll be it.
Whoosh! Executive Committee
Aotea Centre, Auckland
28 Feb, 2002