Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Litany for Leslie

Hmmm...three days in and I'm at a loss. 'Twas a pretty tame day and I don't really have much to report. But Leslie reads my blog while she drinks her coffee in the morning, so I'll be damned if I'm going to stop writing again and disappoint her!!

Although, I imagine she finds it hard to follow on occasion. She and Gloria got in a discussion today and now Gloria and I think Leslie's pop culture references begin about six years ago!

Gloria was discussing the Jackson 5 and when she got to Randy -- Randy Jackson -- Leslie's ears perked up and she became more enthusiastic about the conversation. As soon as Gloria said that, I knew why: Leslie thought Jackson 5 Randy Jackson was..........American Idol judge, Randy Jackson.

Then they segued to Lou Ferrigno signing on as Jacko's trainer for the "This Is It" tour (foreshadowing?) and Leslie didn't know who that was. When Gloria explained that he was the Incredible Hulk, Leslie went to the first movie.....and then the second. And then imagine her surprise when Gloria told her there was an Incredible Hulk TV show. "There was a TV show??"


Those pop culture references seem to make or break relationships for me. I don't know how people with tremendous age differences do it. Even Voldemort and I were only 4 years apart, but because of her disdain for television {shudder} we were light years apart. I will never ignore this seemingly silly, yet ultimately crucial, trait again! Now I know there are outliers. I myself am an 80-year-old in a 40-year-old body. My musical, theatrical, filmical, and televisionical (ok, those last two might be grammatically incorrect) references begin in the 20s, crap out for a spell in the 90s, and then continue through today. So I know there are other people out there like me who may not have lived through a particular time, but can still discuss, even "reminisce" about such subjects.

I don't know why that's important to me, but it is. It's part of the click. When you bring up a topic and you see that spark of recognition in another person and then you both immediately start gushing or complaining or laughing about it, it's magic. Silly collective consciousness magic. And I adore it.

Leslie's goofy enough that I think we're all willing to cut her some slack. She seems eager to learn -- ok, tolerant of our lectures -- so I guess we'll let her stick around. And honestly, we have gotten some great laughs out of her questions and comments. So keep up the good work!

And here's your coffee blog. Didn't know when I started that it would be about you, but that's how this thing works on occasion. Which reminds me of an old "My Favorite Martian" episode. You know, the show that starred Bill Bixby. He went on to play the doctor version of the Incredible Hulk before someone made him mad -- you don't want to see him when he's mad -- and he turned into a green Lou Ferrigno. But then he went on to direct "Blossom," before he withered away from cancer and ultimately died -- wearing a GIANT pair of glasses because what's the point of buying new frames when you're terminal? "Blossom" starred Mayim Bialik after she played the young Bette Midler in "Beaches" and Joey Lawrence, who at the time had a huge head of hair and air and said "Whoa" a lot. You may know him better as the bald dancer on one of those "Dancing with the Stars" seasons. Of course, most people remember him as a youngster on "Gimme a Break," starring Nell Carter (who started doing TV after a successful run on Broadway in "Ain't Misbehavin'") and that old white guy who also withered away from cancer during the course of the series. Nell's best friend on the show was played by Telma Hopkins who had achieved fame as one of the two ladies of "Dawn," as in "Tony Orlando and Dawn," famous for various songs, including the upbiquitous "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree" which became an anthem for the American hostages held in Iran in 1979.

Now, where was I? ;)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson

Where to start?

I don't know about the rest of you, but never before in my life have I been so conflicted. I'm usually pretty steady when it comes to my moral core. I pride myself on being able to see multiple sides to situations and try to be compassionate and understanding as appropriate. But when all is said and done, I have some basic core beliefs that I hold myself to and -- right or wrong -- hold others to as well...

And now here's Michael.

When this blog started bubbling up in my gray matter, Michael had just died and the pale, delusional man with the melting face is who I associated with his name. But after days of listening to endless loops of his music -- which I am STILL not tired of -- someone else has emerged. My brain has slowly filed away the man who I believe molested one, if not several, children.

And I am having a hell of a time justifying my sadness over his life and death with that fact.

It just begs the question: are we as a society willing to overlook one of the most heinous crimes -- if not THE most heinous -- because he was a brilliant musician and entertainer? If you're talented enough, can you just do whatever the hell you want??

Normally, I would answer with a resounding "Hell no!" but here I am tap, tap, tapping my feet to the 50th playing of "The Love You Save" and feeling a great deal of sadness for him, his family, and for us.

But I think it's more than just his death. I have to say, I'm not terribly sad to see the freak show he became disappear. It reminds me of when my father died to some extent -- wait, bear with me!! lol. During surgery for cancer, my father suffered a moderate stroke in his right brain which altered his personality. Over the next four years that he lived, he wasn't really my father and I wasn't really his daughter -- I was his cheerleader, as he relearned the most basic things... To make a tremendously long story short -- when he died, I was relieved that I could finally talk to my father again. My pre-stroke father. I knew he was with me again and that I didn't have to pretend anymore. And I guess I feel a little of that with Michael. His death has allowed me to look past who he became and return to the boy, teen, young man that I grew up with.

And that's where the other level of sadness comes in. My heart goes out to that boy who was physically and mentally abused. My heart goes out to the teen, who may have suspected he was gay in a family who was so staunchly religious that he would have been unaccepted if it were true. My heart goes out to the young man who so hated himself that he began mutilating his body in an effort to escape. And my heart goes out to the person who was surrounded and isolated by piranhas and leeches who must have assured him over and over and over that his behavior was perfectly normal -- especially if it meant another trip on Michael's gravy train.

So here I am.

I can't forget what I think he did. I wish he had taken responsibility for it and gotten the help that he so desperately needed. But I also can't ignore how much his music was a soundtrack to the first 25 years of my life. I can't not love him. Not the 'old' Michael. And I guess that's why so many people supported him during his trial. No one wants to believe he was guilty. We want to love him and love his music. And so, we will. And I personally hope that wherever he is, he is at peace and he is being loved unconditionally -- for the first time in his short life. I don't know why any of us is surprised that we lost him at 50. I'm surprised he made it that far. After all, Michael Jackson was the boy who would not grow up.