Thursday, June 25, 2009

Back To Back Endings

SEVENTIES ICON FARRAH FAWCETT passed away this morning at age 62 after a long bout with cancer. I was just the right age to be, ahem, aroused by that famous poster of her in a red swimsuit -- her long curly blond tresses falling about her perky breasts while she cracked a dazzling smile exposing perfect white teeth. That pinup shot and the Sly Stallone Rocky poster were damn near ubiquitous in 1976 -- until that shot of John Travolta in a white leisure suit from Saturday Night Fever eclipsed both of them about a year later.

Charlie's Angels was just another cop show with a lame-ass premise except for the eye candy, but I was a mere lad of 15 when the series began and will admit to tuning in semi-regularly. But I was much more of a Kate Jackson fan if you must know. After just a single season, Fawcett would walk away from Charlie's Angels at the height of the show's popularity to pursue a film career, but contract issues forced her to return for a handful of cameo appearances as special agent Jill Munroe.

It's a shame Farrah couldn't even have a whole day to herself, because only minutes ago I heard a report of an even bigger cultural icon's demise: Michael Jackson went into cardiac arrest today and passed away. I was also the right age for the Jackson 5, and bought most of the group's early 45's like The Love You Save, I Want You Back, ABC and Rockin' Robin. To this day I still have those scratchy Jackson 5 singles I grew up with -- bought 'em way back in the day at Bobby's Beat, a record store which used to be on 31st Street off Ditmars Blvd. here in beautiful downtown Astoria; if we paid more than a buck apiece I'll take a bite out of the vinyl. I was never much of a fan of Jackson's later solo career, but it was hard to hate catchy songs like Thriller, Beat It and Billie Jean as they blasted out of radios in the 1980s. Now he's dead at age 50, only a year older than yours truly. Man, how I loved that Jackson 5 cartoon that used to run on Saturday mornings!

The website TMZ is reporting that the R&B legend is survived by three children, which I had forgotten about ... because let's be honest: "Dad" isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you hear Michael Jackson's name.

If celebrities indeed die in waves of three, then there's another big shoe to drop perhaps as soon as tomorrow. Then again maybe Sidekick Par Excellence Ed McMahon kicked off the celeb deathfest earlier this week, bowing out at age 86.

Just checked my official dusty singles bin and sure enough I've got the original blue label Motown 45's of The Love You Save b/w I Found That Girl from 1970; Got To Be There b/w Maria (You Were The Only One) from 1971; and Rockin' Robin b/w Love Is Here and Now You're Gone from '72-- timeless, almost perfect pop tunes. And actually to call these singles dusty and scratchy" doesn't do justice to their sorry condition! But I'm gonna play 'em anyway, hisses and all, after I finish this post, if only for nostalgia's sake.

Just for tonight, I'll remember Jackson as the precocious little teenager with the big voice and the nifty dance moves instead of the freak show pedophile and plastic surgery disaster he would later become. Not to make excuses for Jackson's later behavior in any way, but sometimes it's worth keeping in mind that the seeds for abhorrent adulthood are often sown in childhood.

His overbearing, abusive stage dad Joseph reportedly administered frequent beatings and punishments -- "Jackson recalled that Joseph sat in a chair with a belt in his hand as he and his siblings rehearsed and that if you didn't do it the right way, he would tear you up, really get you." -- and also cruelly nicknamed the young Jackson "Big Nose". Is there any wonder the kid later grew up with massive self-esteem issues? And who knows how much Jackson's tortured upbringing contributed to his literally never-ending search for an identity, and a face, that he could settle on.

The Los Angeles Times website just confirmed that Jackson went into a coma after his heart attack and then passed away shortly thereafter, at around 3:00 Pacific time. If you needed any more confirmation, Wikipedia just put a bow on their Michael Jackson entry with the proviso that "This article is about a person who has recently died. Some information, such as that pertaining to the circumstances of the person's death and surrounding events, may change rapidly as more facts become known."

The Gloved One in 1984 with two of his more famous groupies.


Sherre Hilte Piantanida said...

I saw the Jackson 5 when they came to Madison Square Garden (I must have been about 10 or 11 I think - my dad had to take us). I had all of their singles and was also a fan of MJ when he broke the MTV barrier. I saw the Jackson's in Denver during their 84 Victory Tour. I hadn't thought about him in a long time and was really surprised by my ... Read Morereaction, particularly when I saw the old video footage of them auditioning for Barry Gordy. My son downloaded a bevy of old Jackson 5 and MJ songs to CDs for me so I could reminisce......So much for my techno knowledge. Farah's story is tragic as well. She was an icon in her own right and was amazing as an actress in the brutal movie "The Burning Bed." Once again, Barry, you've written a thoughtful, intelligent blog!!

Nazz Nomad said...

Technically Farrah was sorta my first girlfriend. I had the poster on my wall. Probably had "sex" with her more times than anyone else in my life!

The Warden said...

Nazz, that's funny. You and about 12 million others of our age group! At least posters don't talk back, and you don't have to take them out to dinner!