We are presently in the year of the goat or sheep, depending on which Chinese calendar you use (mine is from Spencer’s Gifts – yeah, it’s black light). If you are stubbornly Western and using the Gregorian calendar, however, 2016 has been the Year of Every Artist You Liked As A Kid Dying (the Gregorian calendar really needs animals, by the way). When the universally-liked Alan Thicke was taken from us a week and a half before Christmas, we were all hoping that this most sadistic of years had satisfied its bloodlust and might give everyone a reprieve.
Then it killed George Michael on Christmas Day.
WHO KILLS GEORGE MICHAEL ON CHRISTMAS DAY?
The year that took Abe Vigoda, that’s who.
Perhaps the longest running “joke” on social media involved inquiring as to the health of Abe Vigoda whenever a celebrity died. Abe was eternal. His ability to outlive seemingly every celebrity was starting to give him a superhuman aura. When The first month of 2016 claimed him we all should have known that the celebpocalypse was nigh. David Bowie’s death that month was shocking, but Vigoda’s was the real hint that 2016 was going to be a stone cold bitch.
Since January, there have been so many celebrity deaths that each one couldn’t even get their own memorial cover on “People” magazine.
As saddened, death-weary nation emerges from its Christmas turkey coma and is faced with more mourning, it turns its crying eyes to Keith Richards.
Despite an almost complete absence of telltale signs, Richards is still clinically alive. While we are careening towards the end of 2016, let us all hope that ol’ Keef has enough in him to give it the finger on its way out. Face it, if he goes, the Mayans were right but just off by a few years. One of only two living things capable of surviving a nuclear holocaust, a 2016 Richards’ death would almost certainly mean that the rest of us have about 12 minutes left.
Understandably, there is a lot of concern for the well being of cultural treasures Betty White and Stan Lee in the past few days. One frightened fan went so far as to set up a GoFundMe page to save Betty White, which is patently ridiculous. Everyone knows Indiegogo is better at keeping celebrities alive.
Both White and Lee are 94 also seem to be unstoppable. The difference between them and Richards, of course, is the fact that they try to stay alive. The Rolling Stones guitarist has been telling his body to go eff itself since Lyndon Johnson was president. He may be the biggest beneficiary of the regenerative powers of the human liver in the history of mankind. Several hundred thousand gallons of Jack Daniels haven’t been able to destroy him, why should he let 2016 get away with it?
The Stones in general seem to have some strange life force they tap into. All of them look 85 years older than they actually are but they keep really, really living. Mick’s face is so wrinkled and gaunt that if beef jerky could talk it would look at him and say, “Dude, moisturize already.” He just fathered his eighth child at the age of 73, though. Sure, the Beatles are more beloved, but the Stones can still do a reunion tour.
We definitely can’t rule out the possibility that this insidious year may have some last-minute spree in store and, yes, it’s wrong to offer it a list of suggestions, however tempting that may be. As the hours of 2016 (almost literally) bleed away, we need to concentrate our thoughts, wishes, and prayers on a 73 year-old guitar player who at this very moment may be sharing a needle with a shaved marmoset.
Make sure that needle is clean, Keith.
Humanity is depending on you.
Stephen Kruiser is a professional stand-up comic and writer who has had the honor of entertaining U.S. troops all over the world.