Saturday, January 07, 2006

Right; Rite; Write...

by F.T. Rea

Walking home from the bar the air was seasonally crisp. Back inside the place I had found myself explaining to a good friend, who was a little worried about me, just what I’ve been doing for the last five days -- functioning as a self-appointed, round-the-clock editor of what is the most terrifying/compelling story I’ve been close to in my life -- the Harvey murders.

But why? Maybe, my friend suggested, some in their grief could resent what they see as my using or even magnifying the tragedy. OK. My sobering walk’s thoughts on that topic have been gathered, here they are:

What I’ve been doing with my series of posts on SLANTblog is trying to present a restrained version of this story, with background, useful to people I care about. That, while I’ve been trying to keep my wits about me. I've suddenly broken down in tears every day, absorbing the dreadful deatils of the story as they came out. I've tried to avoid the gossip. Work has been my only balm.
In front of World of Mirth on Thursday
It’s this way -- newspapers do their job, their way. Likewise the local broadcasters. They all have their intentions, as do the pushy national media types who've been roaming about the Fan District today. And, I have mine. Every publisher is obliged to define and perform for a specific audience. Each has his agenda.

My aim, however, has been to be useful to a smaller audience -- people who knew and cared about the Harveys. The little Fan District-centered world I know best is changing as I write these words. We won’t be the same again. This bizarre grief spell is unprecedented. Those who understand what I mean with that -- you are my audience, wherever you are as you read this.

We are, for a time, a community. This is our Kennedy assassination. This nightmare is our 9/11. Our Katrina.

The fog of pain in the air I’ve been breathing is the collective pain felt by decades of associations -- many longtime friends, people I’ve worked and partied with, people I’ve insulted, people I’ve schemed with, people I’ve played sports with, people I’ve helped and people who’ve helped me, people who’ve created a generation’s music and danced to it. Then there are our community’s children; my granddaughter, as was little lost Stella, is a nine-year-old at Fox Elementary.

As a pair, Bryan and Kathy Harvey were naturally cool and talented in ways few people are. He was a gifted musician/songwriter. He had a style that was risky, yet easy to like. As an artist, he was respected because he went his own way, rather that try to ride some artificial wave. In her professional realm, she was also an innovator, a trend-setter. She didn’t much need someone else to tell her where the boundaries were to do with style and aesthetics. Within a copycat world of retailing cookie cutters, she fashioned a World of Mirth.

They had two beautiful daughters, whose horrific deaths will haunt us forever as our ultimate standard for evil. No, we weren’t prepared to accept such a level of depravity existed in our midst. We pray our cops can soon deliver genuine relief.

In the morning I’ll go to the Byrd Theatre for the ceremony, hopefully early enough to get inside. And, using my job’s tools as unobtrusively as possible, I’ll make a record of what I think calls for it.Yes, I know some well-meaning people, who see things differently than I, might say I should do no such a thing, that it’s exploiting grief, framing ritual as spectacle. OK. I’ll take my risk with that. I have to trust my instincts not to let my audience down.

After my coverage of the service at the Byrd, I’ll continue to post new information about the Harvey killings and various reactions to them. However, SLANTblog will also begin to have stories about other subjects, along the lines of its usual fare before Jan. 2. A gradual return to normalcy -- we’ll see how it goes.

Soon, it will give me great pleasure to use SLANTblog to spread the word on what gets going to establish fitting remembrances to a family that represented the best in us: Four beings I’ve chosen to believe remained brave and felt the vibe of one anothers' love to the very end.

-- 30 --

1 comment:

Tricia said...

"This bizarre grief spell is unprecedented." that's a very accurate description. I know what you mean. It's an overwhelming, unfathomable loss this city has had. This story would be horrific enough if it was some lesser known family, but The Harveys? Just think about the endless amount of people they touched over the years, how many of us in this community knew them, or at least knew of them. Bryan through his music, over 20 years of music in this city, and Kathy and her shop that so many people frequented. Then there is the children, Stella and Ruby's classmates. Most of Ruby's friends are too young to even comprehend that their friend is gone. I have a friend who's daughter was friends with Ruby, as she was going to preschool the other day she mentioned she couldn't wait to see Ruby, even after being told that Ruby was gone. Then again, maybe it's better that she's too young to understand. Sometimes I wish I was too young to understand, that I could just wake up tomorrow and think they are still with us, that Bryan is still playing music and Kathy is in her shop, and those beautiful children are on their way to school.