Friday, July 10, 2009

Not quite Jim Morrison, though longer

To start, a happy anniversary wish to SJ and her guy, RZ. You know we're only helping him so he gets out of your way around the house, right? May you both have many more.

A friend had a valid point about yesterday's screed which was, basically, analysis of the orgy of self-flagellation among all our media partners, great and small, on the death of Michael Jackson until the man himself became the excuse for the mummery. A kind of parlor trick, an infinity of mirrors navel-gazing exercise and that's probably closer to the truth than I'd like to think. But then again as he and I both know, I don't like to think.

Important news happened that had nothing to do with the phalanx of TV crews and 'journalists' who deployed to Los Angeles, including: an effort to move the discussion on national health insurance forward by soliciting a pledge from major hospitals; too much/a surprising amount/hardly any progress on global warming as part of the G-8 meetings (depends on who you talk to and to whom you listen for your TV news); the transfer of cities from US to Iraqi forces is a bit bumpy, (so far) and that's just for starters. We more or less missed all of that with a seance that no one could figure out how to say 'enough is enough' so as to allow a family to be alone with their grief. Talk about 'Never Can Say Goodbye.'

I didn't add anything to that conversation. It was, despite protestations to the contrary, the very piling on I insisted it wasn't. I apologize for that but I'm actually sorry because I failed to make my point, in much the same way as I failed to make it when John Lennon was murdered. Lennon was shot shortly before four in the morning, Central European Time. I had hours before my air shift at American Forces Network, AFN, Europe, in Frankfurt am Main, (West) Germany. My sadness at his death was profound. My anger at his accused murderer was/is immeasurable.

As I sat in the studio and started my board shift, I knew I'd play at least one selection from the Double Fantasy album. I offered sadly that it wasn't the record he would, or should, be remembered for and left it at that. What I had no way of knowing was how the station switchboard lit up as listeners reacted. The following morning my boss attempted to explain to me why trying to step back and out of the maelstrom the evening before was in poor form. He conceded nearly everyone calling had agreed with my observations and then added 'but don't let it happen again.' I asked him what he meant by 'it'-Lennon's murder or the casual contempt with which we take one another's lives. Now, twenty-nine years too late, I realize, he meant neither.

Fast forward to the days leading up to the video pyre in LA. Who really believed Larry King gave a fried rat's hindquarters about Michael Jackson? Did you catch any of his incredible interview with Sean Coombs ('How are you handling this?' I think he says in this snippet) whom he called 'P Daddy'? I actually sat and waited for it as Larry used him as his very own 'dig how hip I am' credential. We heard from the rich and famous as if they had clue one as to what had happened or what any of it meant. But it was okay because we were grieving.

TMZ became the most important 'news agency' in the world, and let me be clear, we were NOT okay and will never again be okay. I'm watching Charles Gibson attempt to tell me about his favorite Michael Jackson song. What? But don't worry, folks at home, after the break-and stay tuned-we'll be talking with Elizabeth Taylor who'll share with us that she has nothing to share. You'll want to stick around for that. Please don't touch that dial.....

As excruciatingly garish as this all became-cue the banshees-I guess it could have been worse. I just don't know how. And in the Brave New World we've created, a critical shortage of imagination can, and will, prove fatal. You doubt me? Wait until the next time, and there will be a next time.
"The boys are all ready. They've laid out the plans. They're setting the stage for the man-made man. We've worked out the kinks in your DNA. So sayonara, kid, have a nice day."
-bill kenny

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