Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Death Turns Off The Television

This past Sunday Billy Mays died. Anyone who has read this blog since the beginning knows I was pretty harsh to that dude, and I needed to acknowledge that and maybe, you know, apologize. All the times that I'd tell the TV to shut up, I didn't actually mean he should die. I feel quite guilty about that now. Seriously.

It could be a sign that I'm getting way too old for my own good when I recognize every celebrity who dies, but last week would've blown the mind of even teeny little ten-year-old me, and that is probably why this post exists.

Last year on my birthday, the first thing I heard was the terrible news that George Carlin had died. That was sad, I likened it to someone jumping out of my cake and socking me in the gut.

So this year when the news came that Ed McMahon had died, I...you know how my Poppy used to get me to watch Star Search, right? He and my mum watched that show all the frikkin' time, and back then I had no idea I'd end up knowing what day it was if dancing was on, so I'd trudge in and watch the girls sing or the kids dance and then I'd store it in the part of my mind that went back and thought about all the times we watched Star Search and how it led to me making 8mm music videos with puppets and how my Poppy used to watch The Tonight Show all the time, and I of course came to the conclusion that anything that made me remember my Poppy was okay. Sad, but okay.

Then Farrah Fawcett died. This was sadder because I don't like to see anyone who totally fought a lousy disease lose, and growing up I don't think I ever missed an episode of Charlie's Angels. In fact...I used to play Charlie's Angels in my head. I can't explain what that entailed, a lot of jumping around, basically. But it's difficult to be an only child and play Charlie's Angels alone. They were a team, you know. I kept up with her movies, too...if you've never seen a movie called Saturn 3, now would be a good time to catch up. It was a space thriller with Farrah Fawcett in the middle of a sort of love triangle between Kirk Douglas, Harvey Keitel, and a super battle droid named Hector that could pluck eyelashes out of eyes and...well, I don't want to spoil the rest. Then watch The Burning Bed because that was awesome.

As my mother was telling me of Farrah Fawcett's passing, I got the weird Irish, "I wonder who'll be next," everyone-goes-in-threes thought. I seriously did not expect who was next. I mean, it wasn't a complete shock...but....

I had The Puppy out for walkies when Mum told me Michael Jackson died.

The sticker pictured somewhere to your right was stuck on my cabinet door in 1984 by my Mum, who I think wanted me to be interested in what all the kids were into. She also talked me into getting a shirt that had the word THRILLER across it with a glittery glove right over the er...chest area. I left that sticker on the cabinet and it's been there for a quarter of a century. Sure, the edges dried out and it got snagged on things, but it's still there.

I love Michael Jackson's music. As soon as I heard he was gone every song piled up and moonwalked my brain into a somewhat surprising blubbering mess. Beat It was the first song I heard on Z-100. Billie Jean was the second video I taped off TV. I watched Thriller a hundred times even though I freaked out over Weird Al's cat eyes at the end of Eat It. Man In The Mirror was playing in a store I desperately wanted to leave but couldn't on account of being 13, so I stood there, listening to the words while my family bought the tiles I would eventually help install and that sappy song about being the change you want to see in the world helped me realize I needed to stop being such a self-centered bitch.

Over the weekend all the radio stations in the area played songs they hadn't played in years. Songs everyone knows. The songs that are now all he'll ever record. Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' was on a few times, and that, of all of them, may be my most favorite. Back when I was teaching myself BASIC on the Atari I listened to Thriller a lot, and so all those songs are pretty much burned into my mind forever, but that one...it has ties to a lot of things, a lot of people, and unlike my weekend series of, "I moped a lot during this song," Jackson's music got me moving. Got me to do something. Got me to give a shit about the world, even. YES, I'm saying I care what's going on in Iran and Honduras because Michael Jackson sang songs about healing the world and everyone having the same blood and that if we want to make the world better, we could. That's what I'll remember, that's what I'll keep with me, that's what I'll hand down. That, the sparkly glove, and the moonwalk.

No comments: