I don’t normally read much normal news beyond the headlines on Yahoo and the Washington Post. I used to read the New York Times quite a lot, before they walled off so much behind Times Select. But today being election day I find myself unable to resist checking CNN.com every other minute, trying to glean anything, any sort of belwether as to election results. And so then I’m also horribly tempted by worse than useless celebrity news. Faith Hill pretending or not pretending to be upset at losing at the CMAs. Kirstie Alley showing off her new sleeker physique. That sort of thing.
And some guy admits to killing some actresss. I hadn’t heard anything about any celebrity being murdered. What’s that all about, I wonder. So I click.
And I’m totally shocked and stunned and saddened. Immediately to the left of the story proper is a picture of Adrienne Shelly, a production still from some movie called Revolution #9, with one Michael Risley. Never heard of him or the movie, but seeing her picture and thinking that maybe she’s the actress in question, it’s a strange sinking sickening feeling. It’s not about her, is it? She’s not the one, is she? Murdered?
And of course it is.
She really was.
Now, I never met the woman. I’m the first to sneer at poor dim fools who think that they somehow know or are close to actors or actresses or pop stars or whomever, based on simply seeing them on TV or hearing them on the radio. So it’s not so much a personal reaction, finding out that she’s been killed. But then it really is a personal reaction, a real tangible visceral thing, although I’ve no fucking clue why.
I call Gordon, to find out if he’s heard this news, to wonder why he didn’t tell me if he did. Turns out he just found out today, and he sent an email to my Yahoo account about an hour ago. And he was similarly stunned. So we talk about it.
Gordon thinks maybe our strong reactions have something to do with discovering independent film as young adults, especially the films of Hal Hartley, where young Adrienne Shelly starred in his two first hits, The Unbelievable Truth and Trust. How maybe Adrienne Shelly forms a part of our youth, or a part of our lives, probably gone now, through age and cynicism. Hell, I don’t even go out to movies anymore, just do the NetFlix, right? And I didn’t even much like the last Hal Hartley that Dawn and I rented, The Girl from Monday. Although of course Adrienne Shelly wasn’t even in that one. And the last thing I saw her in was this movie called Hexed, with Ayre Gross and Michael Knight and R. Lee Ermey. Saw it with Cathy and Dave and my Dad of all people, in the theater in 1993. She was very cute in it, although the movie itself was thoroughly dreadful. But not her fault. But anyway I haven’t seen her in anything in a while. Or not new, I suppose. I’m sure I’ve re-watched Unbelievable Truth and Trust in the years since. I know I owned them on VHS up until just recently.
Maybe also for me this feeling of a cruel blow has to do a lot with Abby, with whom I had a somewhat long and difficult relationship. And one of the first times I ever talked to Abby was to ask her if she knew that she looked a lot like Adrienne Shelly. And Abby had seen something with her in it on like HBO or something that very weekend, so she even knew who she was.
And I suppose our reaction may be a bit intensified by the details, the especially grisly details of the murder itself. So not just that she died, but that she was so cruelly bludgeoned and strangled. And that she leaves behind a husband and a daughter only three years old.