I’ll Never Walk Alone…or with Anyone Else

Nostalgia is defined as a sentimental yearning for a return to the happiness of some past period or irrecoverable condition, a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends. The word itself is a merger of the Greek words for homecoming, nostos, and pain, algos. This painful longing was thought to be a medical condition called melancholy in 16th century Europe, a disorder treated with some combination of song & dance and herbs, which reminds me of college. In modern America nostalgia isn’t a disease, it’s a cottage industry. At any rate, I can be a sentimental, wistful, nostalgic sort of guy, the kind that probably remembers my childhood as far more idyllic that it really was and fondly recalls almost everything, from movies, music, and television to political candidates, automobiles, and restaurants as being far superior “back in the day” to their contemporary counterparts. Sometimes that is indeed the case, and sometimes not. Either way it’s a matter of opinion, right??

This train of thought came barreling down the tracks of my mind after the recent announcement that Jerry Lewis is retiring from his MDA Telethon after this year. The telethon has been a Labor Day tradition since 1966…six years before I was born. Not only that, but the show is being shortened from 20+ hours to just six hours. Instead of starting Sunday night immediately following the local news and being on all night and all day on Labor Day it will now be on from 6pm-Midnight Sunday night. Can it even be called The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon if neither Jerry nor Labor Day are involved in the equation?? It is probably a moot point, because without Lewis I assume the whole thing will be scrapped eventually. Maybe the powers-that-be will atleast wait until Jerry is gone from this mortal coil before chloroforming his greatest contribution to the world…or not.

I am not sure why this news has had such an effect on me. I have seen countless television shows that I dearly loved (The Dukes of Hazzard, Cheers, Dallas, Seinfeld, etc.) become just a memory over the course of my lifetime. I am far from a technophobe, so I have happily embraced new technologies while watching old ones (landline phones, cassette tapes, Atari, ginormous floor model tube televisions) be relegated to historical artifacts. Even as a child…a child with a disability…I wondered what was so special about muscular dystrophy that it had its own telethon. It has always seemed odd to me that we didn’t put on such a spectacle to find the cure for cancer or heart disease or diabetes. Jerry Lewis is 85 years old and has been in bad health for about the last dozen years, so on an intellectual level one knows it had to end sometime. And it’s not as if the telethon has been high quality entertainment all these years. Tony Orlando hasn’t been relevant for three decades. Norm Crosby has been insignificant for even longer. I couldn’t possibly care less about Billy Gilman or Jann Carl. Ed McMahon was fun but he’s dead. Casey Kasem was cool but not that cool. But still I watch…and it makes me sad to see it end.

Maybe it’s because it has literally always been a part of my life. As much as I loved my cheesy 80’s TV I remember life before those shows, which realistically have always had a short shelf life…even the very best of them…of 5-10 years. Jerry’s telethon was already an annual ritual by the time I came into existence.

Maybe it’s because, as kitschy as it is, the telethon is a one-of-a-kind event. There is literally nothing else like it on television. So many shows, movies, and music are derivative of something better, and there is some basis for comparison, whether it be positive or negative. The telethon is an entity unto itself, and once it is gone we’ll never capture its singular cachet again. Something things are disposable, whereas some are irreplaceable.

Or maybe…just maybe…I have simply gotten to “that age”. I am not old by most definitions, but I have been around awhile. The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon, as insignificant as it is in the grand scheme of life, is another example of something that is going away, leaving my life…dying. Like the soap operas that are my guilty pleasure but are now steadily disappearing, the various shops & restaurants of my youth that have faded away in favor of something hipper and fresher, the classic performers like Sinatra, Johnny Carson, Dale Earnhardt, John Candy, and The Junkyard Dog that are now six feet under, or erstwhile traditions like It’s A Wonderful Life being shown on TV every 5 minutes during the Christmas season, Saturday morning cartoons, $2/gallon gasoline, glass pop bottles, giving candy to dozens of trick-or-treaters on Halloween night, the U.S. space program, Dairy Queen only being open in the summer, paper bags at the grocery store, styrofoam containers at McDonald’s, and radio stations with legitimately good music, the telethon will soon take its place on the pop culture scrap heap, an embodiment of my own mortality and the steady drumbeat of time slipping into the mist.

Or maybe I dig Jann Carl more than I realized.

Random Thoughts 10

I seriously doubt if I will ever get into Twitter…..but never say never.

 

A study has found that individuals “with unpopular names are more likely to engage in criminal activity”. Oddball names are “connected to factors that increase the tendency to commit crime, such as a disadvantaged home environment, residence in a county with low socioeconomic status, and households run by one parent.” The study goes on to say that “adolescents with unpopular names may be more prone to crime because they are treated differently by their peers, making it more difficult for them to form relationships.” Allow me to translate: if you think you’re being cool by naming your illegitimate baby Loquanda, FayNeNe, Donquavious, Shataniana, or adding Da/De to common names like Shawn, John, etc……well, you’re not. You are starting that child’s life already behind the curve and reinforcing stereotypes rather than proving them wrong. Maybe we should call this The Orenthal Theorem.

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he would jump at the chance to drive in the Indianapolis 500 if there were not a conflicting NASCAR race on the same day. – Atleast he couldn’t finish 38th…..there are only 33 cars in the Indy 500.

 

An update on The Stimulus: it’s still not working.

 

The U.S. Agriculture Department would be given the power to regulate all food sold in schools, including vending machine snacks, when Congress renews child nutrition programs. Agriculture Committee work on child nutrition will begin with a draft that gives the USDA the authority to oversee all food in schools, so nutrition programs are not “undermined” by junk food in vending machines. There has been “pushback” from schools that count on revenue from vending machines to pay for student activities. – I’m a solutions oriented guy..…so I suggest the government just ban vending machines from schools and pay for all student activities by raising taxes. Why waste time when that’s where Hussein Obama is headed anyway.

 

ESPN’s newest on air talent, Michelle Beadle, makes a favorable first impression. She’s reminiscent of a perkier, younger, somewhat less sultry Ellen Barkin.

 

The past several weeks have seen the deaths of actors David Carradine, Karl Malden, and Farrah Fawcett, singer Michael Jackson, Japanese wrestling legend Mitsuharu Misawa, sidekick Ed McMahon, infomercial guru Billy Mays, retired boxer Alexis Arguello, impressionist Fred Travalena, and former NFL QB Steve “Air” McNair. I’m not one to put celebrities up on a pedestal, but what a brutal month. May they all rest in peace.

 

Speaking of McNair…..as much as everyone wants to put him up on a pedestal because he was a star athlete (misguided hero worship that usually begins in junior high), the simple fact seems to be that he was just another guy cheating on his wife with a much younger woman. It’s likely that she had the attitude shared by young women everywhere, an overly romantic and idealized view of love. She probably thought he was going to leave his wife and they’d live happily ever after. She found out she was wrong, flipped out, and now they are both dead. Very sad story, and all too common.

 

An employee at a New Jersey chocolate processing plant died after falling into a vat of hot chocolate. He was dumping raw chocolate into the vat for melting when he fell in from a nine-foot high platform. – Wow…what a tragically awesome way to go.

 

I’m not so sure that Sarah Palin resigning as Governor of Alaska was such a wise move. Time will tell.

 

ESPN’s Mike and Mike were recently contemplating ways to make baseball’s all star game matter, lamenting the fact that it currently doesn’t, and trying to figure out why. It’s quite simple really. Baseball itself has become increasingly irrelevant. The game is populated with cheaters, junkies, and thugs. Babe Ruth was a beer guzzling, woman chasing, hard partying character…..Barry Bonds and his ilk are just a steaming pile of garbage. Clean up the game and it will regain its significance.

 

Michelle Obama showed off her more expensive taste in fashion by carrying a $6k black alligator manila clutch while strolling the wooded landscape outside of Moscow, Russia. – I’m not a woman and admittedly know nothing about purses…but how ostentatious is that??

RIP Michael Jackson??

Michael Jackson

Image via Wikipedia

How about burn in Hell…..cause that’s exactly what he’s probably doing.

I realize the things I am about to say might upset some people. I’m fine with that. If you are offended by my remarks then you are probably just the type of intellectually vacant societal parasite that I have no interest in knowing anyway. I am at a crossroads in my life where I have finally decided to lay it all out there, consequences be damned. What others think is irrelevant. Political correctness just sucks us deeper into the abyss.

It’s been a rough week in the pop culture realm. I’ve always heard death happens in threes, and this week saw the passing of three entertainment icons…..Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson. It is this last death that we will concentrate upon for the moment.

Michael Jackson was only 50 years old and he keeled over, apparently of a heart attack. We’ll get to the “apparently” part a bit later.

I was as surprised as anyone by his sudden death. It made me wistful for my childhood. As a child of the 1980’s Michael Jackson is a fixture burned indelibly into my memory. I can’t honestly say I was a huge fan, but I was somewhat of a fan. I bought Thriller. I liked Billie Jean, Beat It, Man in the Mirror, and some other tunes. I may have even owned one white sequined glove at some point. There is no disputing the fact that the man was a very talented entertainer.

But sometime during my night of slumber immediately following the news of Jackson’s demise, something began to seethe inside my soul. My reaction segued from nostalgia to irritation.

What I am really struggling with is the knee jerk reaction to his death, the one where everyone wants to put him up on some sort of pedestal. The masses are conveniently forgetting that this is the same man who underwent so much plastic surgery that he became unrecognizable in comparison to what he looked like naturally, was accused of child molestation multiple times, and engaged in other bizarre behaviors. Some stories, such as him sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber or buying the bones of The Elephant Man, were urban legends. However, they were rumors fed to the drive-by media by Jackson himself, ultimately making the truth not that much less peculiar. The pedophilia all by itself is enough for me to disregard the man. I am a believer in the old idiom “where there’s smoke there’s fire”, so while it is true that Michael Jackson was never convicted of a crime it seems more than likely that he engaged in atleast some nefarious activities. On top of all that the man was reportedly $400 million dollars in debt at the time of his death. Yes…you read that right…..$400 MILLION. That’s insane. How exactly does one dig a hole that deep?? Also, as alluded to earlier, the cause of death is “allegedly” a heart attack. I quotation-mark that because there are some rumblings that drugs may have been a factor. Michael Jackson had some history with substance abuse, so it is not an outlandish theory. Time will tell of course, after all the autopsy and toxicology reports have been completed. But for now we have a man being put up on a pedestal, being celebrated…..a man who not only likely violated children in some fashion, who apparently died not just broke but ridiculously in debt, but also a man who, despite a life of unimaginable fame and fortune, may have died just like a common ordinary junkie. I am aware of people in my own realm who desperately want to break their drug addiction but cannot afford the relatively small expenses incurred by enrolling in a Christian based treatment program with an enormously successful track record, so excuse me if I can’t seem to find much pity for The King of Pop, someone who could have gotten the best treatment available anywhere in the world but chose not to.

Back in 1997 Princess Diana and Mother Teresa died within days of one another. I don’t have exact statistics, but I clearly recall that the media coverage of Diana’s demise was overwhelming, lasting for several days. In comparison Mother Teresa was barely talked about. That was a watershed moment for the “mainstream” press, one that all involved should forever be ashamed of. Princess Diana, while certainly a charitable and kind humanitarian, was simply a pop culture icon. Mother Teresa was…..well…..Mother Teresa. She was literally a modern day saint. Yet the media and its complicit sheep spent endless hours practically deifying someone whose greatest achievement was marrying well. Something similar seems to be happening now.

As for Michael Jackson…..he’s dead, and I’m truly sorry for that…..sorry for his family, friends, and fans. His music will and should live on. But let’s not lose perspective, something we as a population do all too easily.

Random Thoughts 9

So Chastity…um, I mean Chaz…Bono is getting an addadicktomy. That might be news if she/he were relevant in any way whatsoever.

 

“Two U.S. Democratic lawmakers want Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to relax recently tightened standards for mortgages on new condominiums. In a letter to the CEO’s of both companies, Representatives Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Anthony Weiner warned that a 70 percent sales threshold ‘may be too onerous’ and could lead condo buyers to shun new developments, according to the paper. The legislators asked the companies to “make appropriate adjustments” to their underwriting standards for condos.” –  These two idiots should be removed from office immediately. Barney Frank is an embarrassment who can’t even talk right, let alone lead anything or anyone.

 

I think John Mayer’s music could grow on me if I gave it half a chance.

 

At what point, what hour, is it proper to stop imparting a wish for someone to “have a nice day” because the day is essentially over??

 

I couldn’t possibly care less about these John and Kate people and I’m tired of hearing about them.

 

Why does everyone suddenly want traded away from the Denver Broncos??

 

There is public outrage concerning Republican Governor of South Carolina cheating on his wife. Back in the Clinton years it was “just sex”, no big deal. I’m just sayin’…..

 

RIP Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson. I feel like my childhood is slowly dying, and it makes me sad.

 

The Oscars are doubling the amount of Best Picture nominees to 10. When was the last time Hollywood even produced 10 films worthy of such praise??