Monday, July 06, 2009

Kings, Princes & Gods

When Elvis Presley made his first appearance on The Ed Sulllivan Show I was sitting on the floor in front of my uncle’s console television set riveted by the charisma of the dark, writhing figure on the screen. Although I was only 4 years old I sensed that my dad was displeased with what we were witnessing. His voice was loud and stern and he finally got up and left the room.
Ten years later I was in the back seat of a Pontiac station wagon returning from a short vacation with my mom and dad when the radio blurted a news report that John Lennon had stated, ‘The Beatles were bigger than Jesus.’ This didn’t sit well with my dad; as a matter of fact he lost it. I don’t recall the details of his tirade but suffice to say, Roy Schuyler did not agree with John Lennon’s assessment.
On June 25, 2009 Sarah and I were preparing to take a rest after a long hike through the Rockies when a ‘Breaking News’ bulletin reported the death of Michael Jackson. We received the news with surprise and curiosity. Gifted as he was, he was also weird and troubled – certainly there was something sinister lurking behind this sad event. Since that day this story has trumped all other news coverage including reports that tickets to his memorial service are being sold on eBay for $10,000.
In the years since their demise millions have lined up at Graceland, Abbey Road and The Dakota to pay homage to Elvis and John Lennon. One suspects that Jackson’s Neverland will become a new Mecca. It is most understandable: in my lifetime no other entertainers have come close to the impact of these 3 gentlemen. They have been dubbed ‘Kings’ and ‘Princes;’ in the case of Mr. Jackson it has even been stated that he was ‘The God of Pop.’ They are imitated, emulated, praised and worshipped. The harsh truth about these tragic heroes however, is that they died young in dark circumstances, tortured, it seems, by fame and success; isolated, peculiar and, at times, bizarre. Kings? Princes? Gods? Role models? I don’t think so…
I have wished everyday for 40 years that my dad was still around for all the obvious reasons. I would love to hear what he had to say about all this news coverage of Michael Jackson’s passing. I’m sure it would not sit well with him. Like father, like son…


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