Two of a kind

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The Thriller is gone

Well, two icons from my youth are gone. Poof!

One we expected: Farrah. Her well-documented illness made us squirm as much from the uncomfortable nature of contemplating colon cancer as how she unblinkingly confronted her sickness, allowing the camera to roll while we watched her life slip away and longtime lover Ryan O’Neal looked on helplessly.

The other we probably could have seen coming: Michael. The boy in the bubble who created a fabulous body of work and then retreated into a fantasy world, a modern day Peter Pan whose quirks proved to be his undoing. With an autopsy pending and (no doubt) the tabloid machine launching into a frenzy, the weirdness (again, no doubt) has just begun.

Farrah launched a thousand snips and made hair stylists rich and famous with her famous blond flip (certain girls in high school during a certain era were referred to as “Farrah” – half compliment, half disparagement). She was the fave Angel for many a teenage boy, though I must admit I kind of favored Jaclyn Smith (You’re welcome, dear).

And there was that poster.

farrahposterThere are posters. And then there are Posters. Farrah’s was the latter. You know the one. Oh, all right, here it is! THAT poster.

I doubt I’ll get sued for reproducing it here because 1) Its original owner is reportedly bankrupt and long gone and 2) My source for this image has much deeper pockets and is a much more viable source for damages money. Me? I’m broke. For the record, your honor, I am broke. Busted. Zilch. Moths in my pockets.

Michael. Well, what can you say about the guy who elevated music video from cheesy promotion on iffy videotape to an Event, and not just an Event but one that looked and sounded great?

Michael Jackson was already a major star when Thriller came out. That blew everything else away. I wonder if my old roommate has his (still?) unopened vinyl copy of Thriller on eBay yet. Hey Brian Carpenter, you out there??

Things got a little weird from there. Speaking of Weird, Al Yankovich did a pretty tasty parody of the King of Pop, particularly with his video “Fat.”

The bizarre behavior got tiresome, even if the tabloids couldn’t get enough of it. Somebody read that crap, I suppose. But the pet chimpanzee, the Elephant Man bones, the reckless spending that Elton John could only dream of, the accusations of molestation, the marriage to Lisa Marie … I just lost interest after a while, as did most of the Pop Eating World.

The King of Pop had a big comeback tour set in Europe, and there was plenty of buzz about it. Oh, well. As my former “co-colleague” at the Akron Beacon Journal put it, those fans now hold (probably) highly valuable souvenirs. Coming to soon to eBay. Oh, heh-heh. It’s already there.

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Fare thee well, Ed

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Heeeeeere's ED!

Ed McMahon, perhaps television history’s greatest second fiddle, has shuffled off to the great soundstage in the sky. All those dead TV guys could put on a heckuva shoe up thar. McMahon last made the news by nearly losing his home to foreclosure last year as the real estate/mortgage/credit crisis went ballistic. (If all this is news to you, you might want to reconsider your news consumption habits.)

This is no longer breaking news, but I think he rates a mention. I’m gonna miss the big guy. We’ll still have commemorative DVDs of the old Tonight Show with Johnny Carson (the first fiddle) and fond memories of him schlepping the ol’ Publishers Sweepstakes thing.

“Look! It’s Ed McMahon! Quick! Hide before they try to sell us magazine subscriptions!”

He had plenty of other gigs along the way. For proof, hit the link above to the Washington Post. No doubt there are plenty of other credible and worthy news sources such as CNN, Associated Press, etc. You won’t get it from Knight Ridder anymore, but you could from its successor, McClatchy.

Twitter: the 800-pound canary

iran.protest.woman.getty.galIran continues to teeter on the brink of, well, something, as the world Tweets away. Tehran is trying to go all Tiananmen Square on the anti-Ahmadinejad protesters but Twitter is making it hard to keep a lid on what’s going on.  CNN, hoping to stay relevant with the hipster TweetyBook crowd, is all agog over the events and how Twitter is at the center of it all.

So even as we mock some of Twitter’s more inane aspects (“Dave is pondering navel lint at the moment”), when the state departments asks Twitter to postpone routine maintenance to keep the events unfolding in Iran before the public eye, you know they are onto SOMETHING. Wish I’d thought of it first!

Have passport, will travel

My brand-spanking new passport arrived today. I am somebody!

Yes, this is very exciting. I can now be reasonably assured that I’ll not be stranded next month when I visit the exotic Pelee Island in what my smart-alecky son calls “Canadia.”

Hey, play the NPR correspondent game: Add a vowel to the front of your first name, then adopt the smallest foreign city you’ve been to as your last name. Behold, I am Adave Pelee.  I think I’ll plant that name in some marketing datebase  and see where this “name” washes up. “Congratulations, Adave Pelee, you’ve just won a million dollars!”

This passport of course also clears the way for yours truly to become a bona fide globetrotter (as opposed to a Harlem Globetrotter – anybody who came to see me play basketball would demand a refund, and they’d deserve it!). I won’t need this to visit my old haunts in South Carolina, although at times it can seem like a foreign land.

Tehran boiling over

There is some serious s#!$ going down in Iran right now. Twitter, the much-mocked social network, is right at the center of it all. Daily Dish blogger Andrew Sullivan declares, “Mock not.”  As the Iranian government tried to squelch information and the resulting outrage, it forgot about those pesky little Tweets – and now pro-government militias are shooting protesters in Tehran.

Check out this video:

I do believe we are witnessing a revolution, one that is in all likelihood happening in spite of clumsy U.S. attempts in the past to foment a regime change in Iran. Instead, this is a home-grown insurrection. We do indeed live in interesting times.

The new old media

The Associated Press just announced that it is distributing investigative reports by four nonprofit journalism operations including ProPublica and the Center for Investigative Reporting. AP, itself a not-for-profit organization, will begin making the investigative reports available to members of the news cooperative next month.

BNet blogger (and CIR co-founder) David Weir sees this as a huge opportunity to leverage AP’s vast distribution system to get those stories out. It could fill a huge gap in newspaper investigative coverage, which used to be the hallmark of great American newspapers.

As news media struggle to survive in what used to be a lucrative business, the nonprofit or not-for-profit model is becoming ever more attractive as a viable business model – as opposed to the cash-bleeding model currently in use throughout much of the traditional media (See Times, New York, or Globe, Boston).

One of the great worries as newsrooms have cut back on staffing and coverage over the last decade is that nobody will carry on with the tradition of public journalism; nobody’s keeping an eye on the hen house. You may recall that “fake news” guy Jon Stewart skewered CNBC for its cheerleading of the go-go business world even as the insurance-banking-real-estate complex was imploding. And I wonder if some watchdogs in the press (or even, God forbid, the guvmint!) had sniffed something suspicious and made some noise in a timely manner, maybe, just maybe, we might not have experienced this financial meltdown – or at least it might be less severe.

Does it seem a little odd that a late-night comedian has more credibility than a supposedly “mainstream” media outlet?