On Friday, my dear childhood friend Ana and I met up for the first time in years so we could mourn Prince together in person. Spike Lee held a massive Fort Greene block party in his honor. Questlove took over Brooklyn Bowl in a shower of purple love. Bruce Springsteen sang “Purple Rain” in Brooklyn. And at this morning’s Sunday Fairway ritual, my butcher and produce and cheese and deli pals and I talked only of the Purple One instead of our normal pets and peeves. It’s been nonstop communal grieving with everyone I love publicly and personally.
As I said later to one of the many friends from home with whom I’ve reconnected over this loss, I think the reason Prince is not releasing his hold on us now is because he never did before. Unlike so many of our heroes, he never devolved into a mockery or shadow of himself. We fell in love with him because of how intimate he felt while also profoundly universal, how old-soul transcendent and also newly bawdy, and then he maintained that same mystery right inside our most private places the whole time he was here. He was still an insanely powerful musical and performative and distribution force; he still flashed that third-eye wink via social media and in the most surprising of other places; it still felt like he could ride his bike down your street and say– I read your blog post, mush! Prince never became one of the iPhonies who comprise so much of today’s landscape. He was real; he was funny; he was evolving; he was helping; he was working; and it’s like we lost the one person who showed our generation was more than just a sloppy second culturally and artistically and in terms of beautiful sentient tender-hearted poly-everything originality. This loss is going to loom forever–and that’s a mighty long time.