All I see is a fine musician, courageous under the circumstances, as dapper and proud as always. It's never been clear to me who exactly is fetishizing illness and death when these pictures come up. Is it the people who post them, or the people who act as though they're almost obscene? Fred had a long history before that, and a little time yet. It's just how he looked on one day of a too short life that was nonetheless lived fully. Lived more fully on that day than many of us would have the guts for with a score of cameras on the hunt. So big deal he doesn't look well. He chose to be at that special event in difficult circumstances and those photographs are not without value as a point of reflection on Fred's dignity and courage and the burden he carried at a time when it was excruciatingly difficult to carry it. If all you can perceive is a bunch of people rubbernecking at an AIDS victim, I'm afraid that's your limitation.
I think there is room for different responses to these photographs and related discussions. I certainly get people who have a personal negative reaction to anything perceived as lingering on this aspect of Fred's history, but I confess I don't get the sweeping reviews of "shameless" etc. presented as the only objective and fitting response. All these pictures evoke in me are feelings of tenderness and admiration and respect. So I don't feel particularly shameless. As much as we might like to, it's difficult to separate Fred's illness from almost a quarter of the band's history together. It changed things. Things from whether they toured, to the way they interacted with each other and the outside world, to some unknown quantity of the material they wrote and recorded. I don't like the sense that comes unwittingly from some of the critics of of these photos that this is somehow a lesser Fred in anything but the most superficial way. It's not.
I think, if he was going to head out that evening, he should have chose a suit of darker color and one that didn't hang off him as much.
I also think he would have looked better with the moustache at that point. I don't think his face looked all that poorly, but the suit (while sharp) instead drew more attention to how sick he was.
Just my $0.02.