A thought about the passing of Icons I Grew Up With …

25 06 2009

Wow – this is kind of a sad day. I was looking forward to pulling out the training journal and catching up on the blog since I’m stuffed back training on a treadmill because of the rain … but one heck of a couple of days especially for someone such as myself who is a bit of a popular culture historian … and watcher of people:

Three icons of my growing up are now gone:

Ed McMahon… The Tonight Show … kind of reminded me of someone who would have been like my parents’ uncle, but really kindly as his voice kept me awake during many babysitting jobs where I truly tried to stay awake, as I believed it was my job. (Ok – The Tonight Show, Friday’s, Saturday Night Live, SC-TV did the trick …) He was not of my generation, nor did he talk to my generation really. He had a great deep laugh and from what I’ve read about him, he was a great humanitarian. I’d like to believe that. He is old school and, in some way, reminded me of my maternal grandfather – very full of life, silver haired, carrying self with composure and class. He’s one of the handful I would have liked to have met and finding out he died of pneumonia complicated by cancer … makes me re-double my efforts finding cures for diseases. He did, fortunately, live a long life and, from the little I know, a private one where he was respected by those whom interacted with him … Rest in Peace, Ed. You deserve a comfy place on the couch. Please note – in the incarnations of The Tonight Show, they’ve replaced the host but nobody has replaced … you.  http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/TV/06/23/obit.mcmahon/

Farrah Fawcett:Ok – I’ve never been able to spell her name properly, but did my level best to take my very straight very short hair and try the Farrah Flip … failed miserably. Always smiling and liked that. She was my generation’s Marilyn Monroe. Farrah – you were the Angel we all tried to hate, but how could we. It’s a story of the 1970’s … the Charlie’s Angel married to The Six Million Dollar Man … and even ended up in the theme song for your x-husband’s next ‘hit’ show! Now, Farrah, it’s time to be honest – you did self destruct, but you also tried to resurrect yourself. Farrah took on some parts in television movies that people thought she’d fail in because she had a fairly limited range as an actress. She did fine and will always be remembered in her red swimsuit … like Ms. Monroe on the red background of the Playboy shot … but that’s not terrible. You were an icon along the lines of the Betty Gable photos and the like. Her cancer was truly horrible and it’s hard enough to talk about breast or cervical cancer, but anal … wow … but she didn’t shirk. Farrah had a strength nobody believed she had with her terrible disease … she was a beautiful and soft-spoken woman … who, apparently, wasn’t a marshmallow or powder puff, but truly made of stronger stuff than most. I would like to believe she died on her terms and the Ryan O’Neil thing … bite me … he was a one trick pony. If she passed w/o marrying him, Good For You – Girlfriend. We all sometimes love the wrong thing for us … and not everyone is all bad or all good. I’ve got a few friends and ex-boyfriends that good friends will never understand why we were together … but got to see things about these guys that most didn’t. O’Neil … well … I’m sure there was a special to her person in there … or just a guy who had been around. I did also comment to a friend that although it was sad, I was really thankful that she shoved Jon & Kate off the front page of things since no-one is talking about the important thing: their kids. You’re free, Farrah, and from the photos published, you still had that beautiful smile and tried to keep the optimism going. http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/TV/06/25/obit.fawcett/

Michael Jackson-The Best Of Michael Jackson CoverMichael Jackson: Ok … this was just plain strange! I popped in to the Safeway near my house (Yes She-Ra being very careful to check the dates of everything I buy) hoping the rain would subside so I could get out for a clear hour of walking outside … didn’t happen. I was very concerned about the roof falling in while I was shopping and maneuvering my cart around the buckets in the aisles. When I was checking out, the clerk was in tears: “First Ed. Then Farrah. Now Michael! It’s too much!” I just figured someone was reading too much National Enquirer. It wasn’t even 4 p.m. Colorado time. CNN didn’t confirm the death until recently, but it was just … uh … strange. In looking for a photo for this post, I wanted to find something that made me think of Michael Jackson, the thoughtful performer … and I think I found a good one … before he went off some very deep edge never to return from. Michael Jackson was an amazing talent, and tortured soul. Not sure why he was bothering to go out on tour again. Unlike “older” acts coming out, he would have an insane image to compete against. Sir Elton John was able to create an Elder Statesman sort of person for tour, but a lot like Elvis, Michael Jackson was known for energetic shows … and I honestly think it would have been sad for him to come out and not be 100% … he’d be a farce. His legacy will forever be a braid of many strings, but there is no mistaking that when he was on stage, he was a showman and very at home … I remember a friend setting me up on a “blind” date with her brother – the date was catching Michael Jackson as he came through San Francisco – not as a general concert goer, but from “the Pit” where photographers were and I got to check out the entire sound system through a friend of his (little did his sister know that his “friend” was his boyfriend … we kept the secret hidden and bounced around going to a lot of music – including being introduced to a little 4 piece at that point called String Cheese Incident until they both died of AIDS). Amazing … simply amazing. I think it is truly fortunate that Michael never did the tour because he’s going out on top at least musically and from a show standpoint. He didn’t cheapen that. Of course, off the stage and out of the arena, he was more flawed than most … it’s going to be very interesting to see where the chips land … as a person who is highly interested in popular culture and how people influence and make their mark … Michael Jackson is a mosaic of many different clay pieces – amazing and horrifying at the same time … whether or not you liked his music … He’s got a lot to atone for at the Pearly Gates … Musically, I’m sure there are places for him to teach angels his signature moves … but I also firmly believe there is a special level in Dante’s Hell for things only Jackson knows the full story of.  http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/06/25/jackson/index.html?eref=rss_topstories 

Michael In My World:

Jackson gets more press from me only because he truly had the most impact …

Ok – When I was a kid, I remembered there were two albums kids had – either those of The Osmond Brothers or The Jackson 5. Me … I had both. I have always loved to dance and both groups did it. The “heart throbs” were squeaky clean Donny Osmond and cute and spunky Michael Jackson. My friends got all the fan magazines: Teen Beat, Tiger Beat, Tiger Beat Star and there they were. I never really thought about the color lines, I just remember liking to dance to the music. When I was at Shirley’s in Vallejo, I heard soul, blues, rock & roll: Lady Day, James Brown, Little Stevie Wonder and The Jackson 5. When I was in Tiburon, it was well … whatever was on KFRC & KSFX – San Francisco. I remember hearing the Jackson 5 on the radio and already knowing all the words. 

Dance Pop went in to Disco then Disco glittered Pop. If that makes no sense, I’m sorry. It kind of does to me.

I remember Thriller mainly because it was a well put together album … ok and because the gal who was responsible for the music at Raydine’s Ice Arena during public sessions was a huge fan! Off The Wall –> Thriller … I skated and did dance routines to many of the cuts on the album. I figured out how to mimic many of the moves without the benefit of dance teachers. One of my favorite competitions happened to be when a handful of friends and I were able to translate the Thriller moves to a group routine … since we were all girls … and I was the tallest, guess who mimed Michael. I don’t think I did it justice, but for those who know my flexibility … I *really* had to stretch out before that event … trust me. We did the Thriller routine not exactly as a “drill team” but we did what we had to in order to be considered one.

Michael Jackson had a niche. He was comical when he tried to be “bad” because it was so completely unbelievable. The reason why the innocent turned bad of Thriller worked was because … it was believable. He did a lot of good work and some not so, but there is no denying that he had talent. I have enough problems with my confidence so I’d never want to have the demons of trying to best stuff done when I was a kid. That amount of talent would be really hard to live with if you’ve got security issues. If you’ve never learned to trust anyone, nor learned how to take care of yourself … well … it’s a well trodden path. Jackson had some pretty big shoes to fill … and they were his own. The thing was, he was held into the niche by not only himself, but his fans. If he was surrounded by truly good people, they would have said “Invest your money wisely and fade gracefully into the woodwork.” Obviously, he wasn’t surrounded by good people.

What I find truly sad is the “flip side” to Jackson — the turning in to a freak. Elvis got slobby fat. Jackson got seriously strange. Elvis, looking old and slobby, died at age 42. Jacko died at 50 looking … uh … like a manikin? I love the really old video … when he came out in Bad, he was too strange for words … the music held together, but … well … maybe it’s because I’ve never understood plastic surgery … and the amount he had done … you know, he was a cute kid. I had a bit of a crush on him when I first saw the Jackson 5 … it was his eyes … yeah, I’ve got a thing for eyes. The disaster he became … I just shook my head … so much talent.

As I wrote above, trying to find a photo for this blog post, I had to wade through freakish photos to try to find the most fun ones … and I ran across this shot. Interestingly, I think it is probably the best to describe Michael Jackson … a very talented man who had some really dark demons brought out by some really messed up people around him.

I promise to get back to writing about walking and exercising, but to know me is to know my love of popular culture … and we lost some icons over the last couple of days … love them or hate them … they made their mark. Good Night and Good Bye – Ed, Farrah and Michael Jackson … I sincerely hope you three find some peace because all three of you are Icons … flawed in your own ways … but Icons never-the-less.

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