Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

Harvey Pekar defined American life

I didn’t even know who Harvey Pekar was back when the movie “American Splendor” came out in 2003, but I soon found out and I was entranced.

The movie passed by in theaters without any attention from me, but gradually I began to hear of him and I bought it on DVD, then later bought some compilations of his comics. I wish I had gotten into him sooner, for Harvey Pekar was an American original.

I learned of his death on Monday afternoon while scanning the websites of other Florida newspapers. There it was, on the Orlando Sentinel website. Harvey Pekar had died.

Today’s comics about superheroes are reflections of the cultural obsessions: did Wonder Woman get her tits lifted? Is Captain America gay? Pekar, on the other hand, was concerned with the things that concern the rest of us: work, grocery store lines, health care and more. Tomorrow, on my days off, I’ll pull the second disc of season three of “The Wire” to watch the movie “American Splendor” again, and take another look at those comic compilations.

Pekar said he wasn’t a superhero, but like so many others have said, he elevated the ordinary. I loved how the movie ended, with the real Harvey Pekar saying that if you were expecting a happy ending, you were watching the wrong movie. Still, it was a happy ending in that Harvey died with the love of his wife, Joyce Brabner, and their adopted daughter, Danielle, and the legion of well-wishers and fans who found inspiration in the man and his life.

Reading the first obits in the media, and today on his Facebook page, I saw in the comments expressions of love and sadness at Pekar’s passing.

We live in the era of the celebrity meltdown, with Mel Gibson amassing DUIs and rants; Lindsey Lohan behaving like a moron and getting a jail sentence and countless other celebrities showing their lack of culture, couth and education in so many ways. The rest of us, well, we get up in the morning, go to work, come home and try to find some happiness in the ordinariness of our lives.

Rest in peace, Harvey Pekar, and thanks for telling it like it is.


July 13, 2010 - Posted by | Living in the modern age | , , , ,

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