My high school debate coach, who was a rather superstitious person, used to say "They always die in three's." Meaning that whenever a celebrity dies, usually two more quickly follow.
In this case we're talking about Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson. McMahon and Fawcett were somewhat expected. Old age and a rare cancer, respectively, eventually get the best of anyone.
Jackson's death was a shock, of course. He was in fairly good health as far as I know. (Except for an addiction to prescription pain medications.) He was also my age. For me this apparent, sudden rise through the years of individuals dying that are either as old as me or younger is always sobering.
I try to take care of myself but, as in the case of Jackson (and Tim Russert last year) that often doesn't matter. You can improve your odds but it's still a crapshoot.
All three of these people are iconic from my youth. I used to watch Johnny Carson a lot. It was never quite the same when McMahon wasn't there to famously introduce the host with "heeeerrre's Johnny." The line was so famous Kubrick used it with Jack Nicholson in one of my favorite films, The Shining.
Fawcett, of course, was on my dorm room wall in college. There was this great debate back then as to whether or not that photo has the word "sex" written out in her hair. She was hot, even though I was more attracted to Kate Jackson ("the smart one") at the time. I was once lucky enough to have dated someone who looked a lot like Fawcett and who certainly sported her famous hairstyle.
Michael Jackson was someone who just towered over the music industry so much that it was impossible to avoid his music even if I wasn't that into him. I was always dating girls who were into him so that obviously made a difference. Jennifer has a copy of the original Thriller and Bad albums in our modest vinyl collection at home. We even got Thriller our a few years ago a played a bit of it on our turntable (yes, we have one of those), listening to the faint hiss and occasional pops of that come with playing an LP record. The fact that he was 50 makes his death a bit more personal for me.
It is worthy of note that Jackson's death created a major burden on the internet causing all kinds of slowdowns and some web site crashes.
Beyond the passing away of celebrities, life goes on. Politics certainly at center stage much of the time, what with the recent Iranian elections and the doings of North Korea, the sweeping change that Obama brings, and the amazing, moral hypocrisy of the so many Republicans.
Of course, it is not just Republicans, it is everyone. John Edwards. Marion Barry. Eliot Spitzer. Our culture is so ridden with affairs it seems that fidelity is more of a rare distinction than the accepted ethical norm of the day.
Still, Republicans have tended to distinguish themselves from the godless liberal Democrats with claims of moral superiority. This is largely due to their close ties and, indeed, their dependence to some extent with the Christian right wingers that litter our society with their self-righteous bullshit. So many of these Christian Republicans have made it into office. The recent experience of South Carolina Governor Sanford is a case in point.
There is no moral high-ground. The stone throwers are sinners themselves. Attempts by the conservative Christians to infect politics with their personal religious perspectives always blow up when their own ilk prove to be just as morally "liberal" as Ted Kennedy or Bill Clinton.
"So it goes," as Vonnegut used to say.
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