Skip to main content

Remembering Ned Vizzini (1981-2013)

Back in 2007 I had the privilege of meeting Ned Vizzini in an apartment in Hollywood while celebrating a mutual friend's birthday. Coincidentally, I had finished reading his novel, Be More Chill, several months prior and had fallen in love with his writing. The novel, an Entertainment Weekly Top 10 Book of 2004, is about a high school loser who takes a pill to make himself cool and popular. It was one of the best pieces of fiction I had read in a while, and I had been thrilled by the circumstances that allowed us to cross paths. Rarely does one get a chance to meet - and befriend - someone whose work you enjoy and admire.

From then on, Ned became a "writer friend," one of those acquaintances I'd meet up for coffee every once in a while. I was always inspired after our conversations, hearing about his latest projects and sharing what we were enjoying at the time (and sure, I had some writer envy). And then there were birthday and holiday gatherings throughout the years. He treated me to a birthday mojito at last year's festivities and burned me a copy of Alphabeat's new album (my favorite Danish pop group) when I attended a Christmas party he and his wife Sabra had hosted. He even took some time out of his schedule to help me with a little video project I had worked on during the summer of 2010 (he pops up at the 2:11 mark).

When I received a call from our mutual friend last night, telling me about the news of his death being plastered all over Twitter and Facebook (the guy has many dedicated fans and followers), I had to check for myself and hoped that it was some kind of bizarre hoax or publicity prank. Sadly though, after receiving another phone call confirming the news, I was speechless. What was heartbreakingly jarring is the fact that one of my peers had taken his own life. The amount of thoughts and speculation that follow such an act are many, but all that matters is that this talented human being who touched lives is no longer on this earth.

News like this just stuns a person into a state of disbelief, and you can't help but flash back to all the memories you had with him. I had been corresponding with Ned via email shortly before Thanksgiving, asking him if he was interested in being a guest contributor for Bello Mag. Naturally he was busy, but I was proud of him for landing a staff gig on J.J. Abrams's mid-season drama, Believe. I wished him well and hoped "to see you soon!" As for the last time I physically saw him, it was back in April at the L.A. Times Festival of Books at USC. I wanted to show my support, sit in on a panel he was sharing with director Chris Columbus, and hear them excitedly talk about their new project, a young-adult fantasy series called House of Secrets.

The posts inevitably followed across all social media platforms:

Nick Buchanan at recently posted about Ned's passing, quoting from an interview which discussed the writer's past struggles with depression. Ned's soundbite was as follows: "My favorite distraction from suicidal thoughts is riding my bike. Bad thoughts get caught under the front wheel and good ones whiz up the back into brain."

This quote reminds me of one of the last times I had met up with Ned for coffee. It was at L.A. Mill in Silverlake, and after parking my car, I found Ned chaining his bicycle to a fence. He had said that he loved riding in his neighborhood. I simply thought it was because he was being environmentally conscious and saving up on gas money.

Now I know why.

Ned, here's to celebrating nothing but good thoughts.


Christina said…
Hiko, your tribute is very touching. My prayers are with his family, and my thoughts are with you. I remember you as a true optimist, and I hope even news as sad as this doesn't keep you down too long. Sending love across the mikes. Christina
Anonymous said…
I worked at NY Press back in my younger days as an intern and remember Ned and his talent. Thanks for your lovely post, Hiko.

xMarcy (J's wife)

Popular posts from this blog

The Class of '98 Turns 40

We are the Class of '98. We're a little too old to be Millennials, yet too young to be GenXers. As of now, half of our lives has lived in one century while the other half lives and moves forward in another. For us, Cabbage Patch Dolls were the 80s, Tamagotchi was the 90s, and Napster was the dawn of the 00s. We grew up with cassette tapes and Saturday morning cartoons. We came of age with CGI dinosaurs and the rise of the Frappucino. And we approach middle age with memes, reboots, and viral videos all designed to distract us from middle age. We were too young to fully understand the words "Challenger explosion." We were too young to appreciate the fall of the Berlin Wall. But by the time places like Waco, Oklahoma City, and Littleton pinged on everyone's radar, we started to grasp how scary the world could be. Our adolescence was defined by jagged little pills, prescriptions from Dr. Dre, and the fact that some of us were naughty by nature. We learned t

13 Things You Probably Didn't Know About 'The Golden Girls'

When one nostalgically binges on all seven seasons of The Golden Girls like me (I swear I have a life), you pick up on a few things. Certain patterns appear as you continuously witness the consumption of countless cheesecakes inside a fictitious Miami kitchen and hear one St. Olaf story too many. Here's what I noticed after playing my DVDs of this 80s classic over the past several months ( and if you're already familiar with the following factoids, excuse me for underestimating your fanaticism )... 1. Actor Harold Gould, who played Rose's long-term boyfriend Miles Webber from Season 5 to Season 7 (and throughout most of the short-lived spinoff,  The Golden Palace ), also appears in the first season as Arnie Peterson, Rose's first serious beau after her husband's death. 2. The same can be said for Sid Melton, who played Sophia's deceased husband Sal (in flashbacks and dream sequences). He also appears in a Season 6 episode as a jester in a medieval-

Just Because: 9 Music Videos That Take Place in Laundromats

It's one of the biggest music video tropes that's rarely explored in pop culture. The public laundromat has become a go-to location for artists when making a music video for a single they wish to sell to the masses. But WHAT IS IT about a space where ragtag groups of strangers gather to fluff and fold their delicates? Is it the obvious metaphor of dirty versus clean? The scintillating possibility of people stripping off their clothes for a wash? I was feeling a little nostalgic (as usual) and took a look at some of the vids that have fallen under the spell of spin cycles over the past 30 years... "EVERY HEARTBEAT" / AMY GRANT (1991) Back in the early 90s, the Christian pop tart followed up her massively successful "Baby Baby" with "Every Heartbeat," a personal childhood favorite of yours truly  (the Body & Soul Mix, of course). In one of the two vignettes featured in the video, a laundry-toting hottie attempts to flirt with a young