We have at last left the oughts and entered the decade of the what, not teens yet. Let’s just call it pre-teens for now. So, we get not only year-end reviews, but end of decade reviews. Some actually have been rather good. I enjoyed Sports Illustrated’s issue of the decade and montage that ESPN did this am. How quickly we forget things that make the news. Some of the all decade stuff seemed eons ago.Right now, Tiger Woods still makes headlines for sports and gossip mags.What will his wife do, when will he play golf, what sponsor will drop him, next(AT&T being the latest) and with whom will they replace him?
What strikes me most is two things. One I have alluded to about the transitory or near disposable nature of an event. Tiger will like that. Example,Charlie Sheen is arrested for alleged domestic abuse. another in a checkered career. Who cares, not his tv audience or his fans. The second and more compelling is how unpredictable the ” news” really is.
Look back at the decade at images that drew us. Of course, the 9/11 attacks come to the fore. What about the death of Michael Jackson, or the election of an unknown , minority senator as President. Global warming now dominates the news in many ways. Alas, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have come and stayed.
What about the rise of Google, You Tube, Twitter and Facebook and the fall of General Motors and the worst recession in many a day. No longer can one live without a cell phone and what you have no Ipod? What a heathen you must be, me too.But what about those things that began the decade with us and are still here. The intractable Middle East with its Arab-Israeli issue, how we relate to Russia and China and vice-versa. Those are still around but whatever happened to the doomsday of y2k?
So, another decade launches and those who purport to tell us with any certainty what will happen should revisit a quote from a former head of the U S Patent Office who offered to resign since everything that could be invented had already been invented. His name was Charles Duell and the quote dates to 1899.
There has been an enormous outpouring of media coverage since Michael Jackson died . Magazines from People to Us and more have had covers and lengthy articles. Some of their coverage has been appropriate, some not so appropriate. I think of one cover in particular that showed Jackson on a stretcher being taken to the hospital. It made me wonder, how did they get the picture and why would they chose to publish such an invasive photo on their cover, no less? Oh yeah, money. Predictably, there has been a big surge in record sales since his death and that will likely continue. I was talking with someone about this the other day and he mentioned the list of highest grossing dead celebrities, a list which is typically topped by Elvis Presley. It is somewhat amazing to me to realize that many years after their death that entertainers still make large sums of money.
Forbes has been publishing such a list of the top 13 since 2001. The most recent list showed Elvis at #1 with $50 Marvin Gaye #13 with $3.5 million.There is alas, already speculation about how much money Michael Jackson will make relative to the above referenced list. Dr Kate Woodthorpe was quoted thusly, “We could see some kind of continuing bond with a dead pop star on a scale that has never been seen before. The question that remains at this point is whether the momentum of nostalgia can, and will, continue, or whether people’s disposable cash will quickly move on to the next big thing.” (Woodthorpe is on the faculty of The Open University, a distance learning university founded in 1969 by the government of the United Kingdom.)
Over the past several days, there have been some very high profile deaths with which we are all somewhat familiar. The most prominent and the most puzzling is probably that of Michael Jackson. To me, it has been eerily similar to that of Elvis Presley in a number of ways. Of course, there has the less unexpected but very public passing of Farah Fawcett due to cancer. Another quite unexpected death was that of television pitchman Billy Mays whose death was tragic but due to an all too common cause.
The vast majority of us have never met these people. We have seen them on television on the movies or in concert, but there remains a disconnect for most of us, although their deaths were all regrettable. In fact, both Jackson and Mays were younger than I am. Deaths in that particularly age group seem to impact me more.
But there was yet another tragic death of late. This one, except in Iowa, has been somewhat under reported due in large part to its more regional impact. I am speaking of high school coach Ed Thomas who was shot to death at age 58. Thomas was killed on June 24 by a former football player in the school’s weight room.
There have been some amazing stories about Thomas, NFL national coach of the year 1n 2005, winner of 2 state titles and owner of a coaching record of 292-84. He even had several former players who played in the NFL to serve as pallbearers. Somehow, I don’t think that is why his funeral drew a crowd larger than the 1,800 population of Parkersburg, Ia. He was doubtless a n excellent coach but had to be much more than that. For one, when an F5 tornado struck the town last year , he was in the forefront of the rescue and rebuilding.
Perhaps 2 people said it best. Pastor Brad Zinnecker of First Congregational Church said of the mourners, ” They recognized a man after God’s own heart. His personal life and public life were one and the same.” And, one of his sons, Aaron, said that his dad would have wanted the community to “get going” and do something to improve the town.
He left behind his wife as well as two sons, a brother and his mom. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Thomas family. But they go as well to those family members of Billy Mays, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.
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