Tuesday, July 13, 2010

R.I.P. American Splendor

While Spain scored a single solitary point to win the biggest sporting event in the history of the world, a file clerk in Cleveland, Ohio passed away. Harvey Pekar would have died unmentioned, unnoticed, unknown to anyone outside his own circle had he not chosen to share his everyday existence in the pages of AMERICAN SPLENDOR, the comic book he wrote "from off the streets of Cleveland".

Harvey was an annoying pain in the ass to everyone including himself, a personification of the word irascible and a cantankerous bastard with an irritating voice beyond belief. Then again, so was Truman Capote. These unlikely artists had something else in common, a talent for making silk purses from the sow ears of life. In AMERICAN SPLENDOR, Harvey championed the ordinary and discovered poetry in the simplicity of small moments like one of those old guys searching for treasures on the beach with a metal detector.

To discover more about Harvey Pekar, definitely seek out AMERICAN SPLENDOR, available in the graphic novel sections of reputable book stores and the film of the same name, one of the best of the last decade. Directed by Shari Springer Bergman and Robert Pulcini, AMERICAN SPLENDOR stars the great Paul Giamatti as Harvey with Pekar making appearances of his own throughout. I also suggest ANTHONY BOURDAIN: NO RESERVATIONS , the Cleveland edition, one of his better episodes also featuring Harv.

Why did Harvey Pekar matter?

After all, he was just a retired file clerk, wasn't he? Yes, he was, but he was so much more and proved it. For those of us that are also file clerks of one sort or another in this world, it meant everything to know that if Harvey could do it, so can we.

So long, Harvey. You'd never believe this in a million years, but the world is worse off without you.
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