It's been a rough week... Iranian protests, train crash, a building collapsed in Clinton...Farrah Fawcett, whose obituaries were waiting in the can... but who could have predicted she'd be upstaged by Michael Jackson? Quite a shock for all of us who grew up with the 40 year soundtrack of clearly the largest popstar in the world. And talent so astonishing most of us choose to ignore his eccentric behaviours and cannot quite fathom the celebrity-cross Michael had to bear. Not to mention the cult of non-personality the toxic 21st century has brought. Bring it on, bring it on.
My Thriller-buying self could never have imagined the quality of entertainment could have been so diminished by astounding progress in technology. Why just this week I was treated to an episode of 'Prep' where the blankest examples of Manhattan elite children use language like 'I shoulda went' and roomfuls of precociously overgroomed brunettes with identical stylists and hairdressers exchange vapid dialogue and cellphone numbers. No wonder my son is promiscuous. You can scarcely tell these people apart. And who in their right mind would parade their kids into the homes of bored viewers...for what? Money? Aren't these people rich? At a certain point I thought it inappropriate for Princeton to let Brooke Shields matriculate... so what's next...the South Park boys as virtual college Freshmen? My brain hurts.
I actually was asked to comment on the New Jersey Housewives show. Now I was not a Sopranos watcher...never had HBO... but these women are so off-the-charts unwatchable...and what's up with the trashy one inserting herself into the neighborhood? Aren't there people from New Jersey who resent this? Housewives of Newark? Why isn't that ex coke-addict thrown out of her home? She admits to massive debt...does she trade sex for Mastercard points? Who shows up at anyone's family dinner and confronts the table with pathetic stories about their past? Mute comics are more entertaining. Get her out. Nice women and good hardworking mothers have children with disabilities... this moron thinks the world wants to listen to her trash? And obviously these other ladies needed a little drama to spice up their over-indulged day? In my day, women like her got the silent treatment at best.
It seems to me, with everything you can possibly imagine on youtube, television would have to be a little competitive, offer a bit more than violation of privacy as a subject. Are we that pathetically voyeuristic that we need to know about the sex life and living room furniture of illiterate housewives?
And then we have Governor Sanford. How many of those wet-behind-the-ear TV bloggers were reading his emails on air like giggling teenage gossip girls with a hard-on? What do they know about love anyway? Let's crucify someone for having an affair. In the days where men were men and talent was talent, Thomas Jefferson and even JFK didn't have to compromise themselves with email and didn't have tattletale staffs who are too self-involved to keep their mouths shut. Privacy is the new American obsession. The invasion of someone else's, that is... guilty underbaked little souls that we have become. If Jesus showed up he wouldn't even get a passport.
Forget MTV, forget VH1, forget the myriad combinations of bands and employed instrument holders who cannot possibly be in the same industry as a Michael Jackson. Ditto the rappers. No wonder poor Michael was in pain.
But tonight... my non-achievement balls-to-the-wall award of the month, goes to either the YES network for broadcasting it, or that ridiculous Bernie Williams who didn't get enough camera-time or obscene bankable cash as an overpaid Yankee, and now has to torment us with his pathetic version of music. As though the world doesn't have enough smooth bad jazz to make Miles Davis spin forever. I actually know the guitarist in his band who is a decent musician and had plenty of ass in his time, and must be putting 17 handicapped kids through college to have lowered himself to this kind of celebrity guitar-neck sucking. Okay, so he looks a litle sheepish, giving Bernie the old-- 'yeah, you go...' face...trying to console himself with the presence of other professionals on the same stage, humiliating themselves forever, for money. As for me, I'll eat stale cake-crumbs. The sight of old Bernie, who looks about as natural with a guitar as Oprah... switch-hitting one expensive axe after the other, spilling out pre-packaged arpeggios and cliches with subtle non-musicality and that Hendrixesque ecstasy-face he must have studied in the mirror forever. Let some dysfunctional musical type who actually has a vision and no fielding ability have just a little corner of the market, okay Bernie? Go back into the cereal box that doesn't even want your face on it anymore because you belong to the has-been. Go to a third-world country and build houses. Play golf. Did Michael Jordan pollute our ears and screens with his saxophone? He got himself a big desk and sits behind it. Get off the screen and off the stage. Or if you really want to play guitar, try auditioning for the Puerto Rican Day parade as Pedro Garcia. See how far you get. Don't usurp the name of a former major-league ball player. Open a restaurant like those other guys. A strip club. Coach the Mets. God knows they could use it. But please, give the people with ears a break. Donate those overpriced instruments to the Music-in Schools program. Let someone with talent have a chance. Or better yet, go home and hit yourself in the head with a bat. It kind of looks like a baseball so maybe someone else will do it for you. In language you can understand, if Michael Jackson is Babe Ruth, you are selling uncooked hotdogs at a rained-out Little League game. And fortunately or unfortunately, neither will be able to give you his professional opinion.
I don't care what they will say about you, Michael. Maybe you are better off out of this toxic world where privacy seems to have gone the way of talent. You are and were and ever will be among the Kings.