My parents and I moved to St. Petersburg FL in 1972. Back in Pittsburgh we somehow bonded, insofar as we did, so dysfunctionally, around Studio Wrestling, an amazing 1960’s-era pro wrestling show that aired on Sunday nights; hosted by the always-entertaining Bill Cardille (“Chilly Billy,” after his other role as host of Chiller Theater in the ‘Burgh). so when we found Championship Wrestling From Florida hosted by the great Gordon Solie, we also found Eddie and Mike Graham. Eddie would die the way Mike has, by suicide.
Again, my heart breaks.
I don’t think as Robert Lowell did, that suicide is any sort of “inalienable right”; trust me when I say I’ve been haunted by it most of my life, but I think of it more as a tormenting spirit. Apparently, Mike heard the same voice.
He shot some sweet WWE video intros from the back of his place in St. Pete which overlooks a canal leading to the Gulf. Do I ever understand his desire to live by the water. His dying especially hurts, partly because I always imagined Mike would beat what his father finally could not, rooted for him more than in any match at the Armory or at Bayfront Center, rooted for him to keep living.
Life is quite unlike pro wrestling, as we all know. Sometimes, the ones we root for still lose. Fair? What’s fair? Mike had 61 years, which from my perch is still far too few for a guy who entertained me when I was a kid trying to make sense of life in a very strange place.
Much Love, Mike.