On Aug. 21, an article appeared in the Post-Gazette announcing the approval of a "tribute" concert for Billy Mays at the Sto-Rox High School stadium ("Sto-Rox Approves Tribute Concert for Billy Mays"). My jaw dropped.
I went to high school with Billy Mays and had classes with him, though he was not a friend of mine. As a football player he was one of the "in" crowd, and I was a "band nerd." It was nice to learn that he had matured beyond a high school stereotype into a man who was loved and respected by family, friends and colleagues. Most people eventually grow up, and I was glad to hear that Billy had done so.
However, we have heard repeatedly since Billy died how he "loved his family." Don't most people love their families? We have also learned that according to the official autopsy report the use of cocaine contributed to Billy's death ("Cocaine Contributed to Billy Mays' Death," Aug. 8). Now Sto-Rox school board has approved the use of the district's stadium for a "tribute" concert for him? Is he supposed to be some kind of role model for the kids in drug-saturated McKees Rocks?
Billy did not cure cancer or travel to the moon. He also did not serve as a schoolteacher, health-care professional, social worker, cop, firefighter or any of the many socially beneficial professions that are practiced by the people with whom he and I attended high school. The guy hawked soap and a variety of household "gizmos."
This hype over Billy Mays is just another indication that we live in a shallow, celebrity-obsessed culture. I offer my condolences to Billy's family and friends on his untimely death. They are right to mourn and remember him with great fondness. As for the rest of us -- let's get a grip, people!