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Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: michaelreyes72@hotmail.com

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Remembering 1998

1998 will always be one of those years I can't help but remember. I was 15, in Middle School, and ready to move onto High School. I was between nursing a huge heartbreak from my first girlfriend and I eventually would try to get back together with a friend whom I was on again, off again with. The eighth grade class of Howell Middle School North (known back then as only "Howell Middle School") was in New York to see a production of The Sound of Music, following a lunch at Charlie Brown's Steakhouse. (Though I remember wanting to see the play "Art" instead, because I had a strange draw to the dramatic gravitas that was Alan Alda, Victor Garber, and Alfred Molina all on one stage.) While at the steakhouse, I wandered over into the giftshop adjoining the restaurant. I was looking for some sort of cheap souvenir to bring home, just because I loved (and continue to love to this very day) New York so much. At that phase in my life, I was an Entertainment Weekly reader, and what did I see on the cover that week but Frank Sinatra, my at the time recently deceased idol. I purchased the issue straightaway, and to this day still have it sitting along with my other magazines I've collected over the years.
I was reminded of 1998 last week, by the anniversary of Frank Sinatra's passing. At the age of 83 years old, the Chairman had finally retired from the boardroom. I was also reminded of this particularly tragic year, because we had also lost Phil Hartman. While both passings were somber and equally saddening, the loss of Phil Hartman was one that was all the more devistating. I remember being at my best friend's house, hanging out, and a news bulletin of some sort had come on: Channel 2 news announced that Phil Hartman had died. I didn't hear the cause, I didn't hear who or what did it, I just knew it was sad. I had a vague recollection of his name, but did not remember him at first. I later realized, he was my favorite character on NewsRadio, as well as Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz on the Simpsons. I still remember first seeing the SNL "Best Of" show they put together in his honor, and laughing at all of the bits I'd never seen, but enjoyed nonetheless. At that period in my life, I was also a big pack rat. Newspaper clippings, TV Guides with special covers, stuff that would probably not increase in value anytime soon but that I had an interest in. To this day, I still have all of the articles and tributes to Phil Hartman I had saved from around that time.

Thinking back, on the tenth anniversary of both passings, I realize that the world could have used them now more than ever. Whether a really good laugh from the bottom of your chest, or moment of sheer entertaining prowess, Frank and Phil both pulled through in aces. This must read like a huge rambling, but my intent was to honor two of my boyhood idols. Both are men who's careers I look up to, and would love to in some ways emulate. Both are men who have had hugely successful mass appeal, and both should never be forgotten as the great entertainers they are. May history remember them only in the fondest of manners.

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