I have been sitting in front of a blank computer screen off-and-on for almost three days now trying to think of the right words. I have only recently come to the conclusion that there are no right words. I do not think that anything I write about the tragic deaths of Paul Walker and Roger Rodas will influence, impact, affect, or impel anyone. I have a few acquaintances in this small niche of Japanese car enthusiasts who actually knew these men and likely have more profound things to say about them than I ever could. However, I am not going to let that keep me from sharing some of my thoughts... I still cannot believe this happened.
Over the course of the past few days, I have seen a number of articles and news stories on this accident. Given that I follow quite a few JDM-related Facebook pages, my Newsfeed has been inundated with posts and stories about this tragedy. I have seen many heartfelt expressions of condolence, sympathy, and sadness, but I have also seen opportunists. I have seen the creation of tee shirts, decals, and stickers with Paul Walker's likeness or tag lines from the Fast & Furious movies, not collecting profits for funds or charities, but for personal gain. I have seen despicable, disrespectful, and downright hateful posts about the death of Mr. Walker and Mr. Rodas. If you hate the Fast and Furious movies, great. Announcing it on the day the series' star's life is cut short tragically by way of an ill-conceived status update is utterly tasteless. Your public pining for the series to come to an end is a far cry from humorous. Your denouncement of speed is misplaced. As such, your assessment of poor role modeling is awry. Your failed allusion to highlight an irony in the situation is feeble at best. A teenage girl is left without a father, parents without a son, and brothers and sisters left mourning. Shameful... This disgusting behavior aside, you are clearly missing the boat on these movies! If you are spending money on these movies because you want to play witness to Oscar-worthy performances, there is not much to be said. You are lost. If noting casts comprised of Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson (AKA "The Rock"), Ludacris, Bow Wow, and Tyrese Gibson is not enough to lead you to the deduction that you will very likely not be embarking on a journey of cinematic excellence, then that is on you. I do not believe these movies were written with the intent to provoke thought or mirror reality. They were meant to entertain. And they do! On top of that, Paul Walker (and the rest of the F&F crew) sparked an excitement in young car enthusiasts that extended the realm beyond expensive exotics and the muscle cars of your father. I can remember learning that Paul Walker actually had a genuine interest in Japanese tuning. He was not just a blond-haired, blue-eyed heartthrob actor that they plopped down in the "granny-shifting, not double-clutching" role of Brian O'Connor. He was legitimate. He was real. That impressed me. Let's face it, it's just plain cool. Regardless of the criticisms of the acting or the hyperrealistic nature of the drama and plots, this franchise is a success because the movies are entertaining. They are fun. As mentioned, I do not know much about either of these men. I have opinions generated by way of exposure to the Fast and Furious series and, as a result of this dreadful event, I have learned a bit more since Saturday afternoon. I often reference passion in my posts - how it relates to a specific build or to the aftermarket industry as a whole. Some of what I have learned over the past few days is of a man who was passionate. Passionate about life. Passionate about humanity. Passionate about motorsports. Passionate about philanthropy. Passionate about his daughter. Paul Walker seemed to be a down-to-earth guy who used his circumstance to help others. Not only did the tuning world lose a great enthusiast and ambassador on November 30th of 2013, but, I think it is safe to suggest that the world has lost a warm, humble, and compassionate human being. Rest in Peace.
Paul Walker (1973-2013)
And a great video of Mr. Walker's visit to the legendary Mine's tuning shop in Japan...
Today is the one day of the year that we are expected to reflect upon those things in our lives for which we are appreciative. I'm afraid that many take this holiday for granted, so, while watching football, inhaling mashed potatoes by the shovelful, or prepping for an early-morning shopping expedition, I urge you to take a minute or two and acknowledge, if only to yourself, all that you have for which to be thankful.
We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but of recognizing and appreciating what we do.- Frederick Keonig