Rembering Farrah Fawcett (1947-2009) and Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

June 25, 2009
Farrah Fawcett (1947-2009)

Farrah Fawcett (1947-2009)

Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

Michael Jackson (1958-2009)

I’m truly at a loss for words today. With the news breaking early this morning that Farrah Fawcett passed away at the age of 62, reports of Michael Jackson’s passing at the age of 50 broke this afternoon as well.

Both contributed greatly to each of their respective industries, and to have lost them both on the same day is particularly painful. Firstly, Farrah was most famous for her role as Jill Munroe on “Charlie’s Angels (1976-1981).” During its five years on the air, the show straddled between two dichotomies: critically bashed for its portrayal of the three female leads as simply sex objects, and nothing more; and, on the other side, the show was praised for pushing three females as private investigators as no other television show had ever done before.

When the show debuted on September 22, 1976, it was an immediate sensation. People automatically clicked with the idiosyncracies of the characters and the adventures that they had week in and week out. Ms. Fawcett herself grew to be one of the most popular cast members, winning a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Performer in a New TV Program in 1977.

With the success of the show firmly entrenched, Ms. Fawcett announced that she would leave the show only after one season. However, finding more success after “Charlie’s Angels” was difficult at first. Eventually, Ms. Fawcett scored a few critical successes, staring in a couple of dramatic productions: Extremities and The Burning Bed. The latter led to Ms. Fawcett’s first of three Emmy nominations.

As the years went on, Ms. Fawcett appeared in many more television programs and films, keeping her in the public eye long after “Charlie’s Angels” had left the airwaves. In more recent years, Ms. Fawcett had been battling anal cancer, which she had seemingly beat in 2006. Sadly, however, the cancer returned, metastasizing into a far more virulent form of cancer which attacked other organs in her body. Unfortunately, this resurgence of cancer proved to be her undoing, with Ms. Fawcett finally succumbing to the disease today at 9:28 a.m.

I think we should remember Ms. Fawcett as leaving an indelible impression on many as a sex symbol. As shallow as that may sound at the outset, that is certainly true. In addition, Ms. Fawcett should be remembered as a vivacious woman who grabbed onto acting roles in manner unlike any other. Most importantly, though, I think we should remember Ms. Fawcett for the brave and valiant fight she had against anal cancer. Unfortunately, because of the moniker of her disease, individuals have been quick to rise with sophomoric jokes and immature humor. It cannot be emphasized enough that her battle is something that many across the globe struggle with everyday. I hope, with her passing, more attention will be given to the insidious nature of her condition.

By no means trying to be callous about Ms. Fawcett at all, we all heard the shocking news that pop icon that Michael Jackson passed away earlier this afternoon at the age of 50. Personally, I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Mr. Jackson is gone. I cannot really remember when I was first exposed to Mr. Jackson’s music, but, I knew when I first heard many of his hit songs, I was hooked.

His short 50 years on this planet showed us the ups and downs of stardom. Of course, Mr. Jackson hit incredible highs, as well as unbelievable lows. Today, however, I think we should remember Mr. Jackson for simply being an incredible entertainer. Simply put, he is arguably this generation’s Elvis Presley.

Of course, Mr. Jackson was a pop star from a very young age, starting out in The Jackson 5. There was a certain electricity with many of the songs the group did, including, but not limited to: ABC,” “I Want You Back” and “I’ll Be There.” Soon after finding success with The Jackson 5, Mr. Jackson moved on to put it mildly, an extremely successful solo career, beginning in the early 1970s.

The 1970s saw the release of a few solo albums by Mr. Jackson, including 1979’s “Off the Wall.” There are numerous great songs on this album: “Rock with You,”  and a cover of Paul McCartney’s “Girlfriend.”

As the 1970s turned to the 1980s, Mr. Jackson skyrockted to unparalled success with the release of “Thriller” in 1982. It is the world’s best selling album, and contains some of the biggest hits of career. Here is the famous video from the title track of the album, displaying not only Mr. Jackson’s profound singing ability, but, his incredible talent for choreography as well:

As the 1980s continued, 1988 saw the release of “Bad,” the only album that saw five Billboard Hot 100 #1 singles, including, the title track itself. Here are a couple of videos highlighting only a sampling from this album:

As the 1980s faded away, the 1990s came, seeing somewhat of an ebb in Mr. Jackson’s career. However, Mr. Jackson still showed had prodigious talent with the release of 1991’s “Dangerous.” This album too contained a few hit songs, such as “Black or White” and “Will You Be There?

I think we are all aware of the child abuse trials that he was involved during the 1990s and, more recently in 2005, but I am choosing not to delve into that painful chapter of his life. As humans, none of us are perfect, so we should not make that the defining hallmark of Mr. Jackson’s life.

By no means is this post a comprehensive one about Mr. Jackson’s career. In fact, I have only scratched the surface in terms of what contributions he gave to the world.

As I said at the beginning of this post, take the time to remember these amazing people and how they may have contributed in some manner to your lives. Rest in peace to you both, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.


Happy birthday, Paul!

June 18, 2009

Today, June 18, 2009 marks the 67th birthday of Sir James Paul McCartney, one of the most successful artists in musical history. I cannot write enough how much Paul’s music has played a large role in my life, both good times and bad times. I thank my dad for introducing me to the music Paul made along with the rest of the Beatles, and I don’t regret a single day for him doing that.

I think that introduction to Paul’s music via my dad adds an interesting dynamic to our relationship in a number of ways.  Firstly, my dad plays the bass and I play the drums, and on a fairly consistent basis, we play along to the songs of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and many other artists. It’s not too often that a father and son get to do something like that. Secondly, I think that it is awesome that the two of us enjoy the same music, and that we get to share that mutual love between one another.

Back to Paul for a moment, I, along with my dad have been lucky enough to see Paul live in May 2002 at the Staples Center in L.A. It was an absolutely incredible experience, and one that I will not forget.

At any rate, even though I have never met Paul, in a way, I kind of have. Through his music, I have gotten a chance to catch a glimpse into Paul’s psyche, in terms of writing style.

To close out the post, here are few of my favorite songs by Paul, which is in no way comprehensive:

The Coliseum (no, not the one in Rome)

June 17, 2009

As you have probably heard today, the celebratory parade for the Lakers 15th championship occurred today in my hometown. Even though I am a huge fan of the Lakers (for as long as I can remember), my dad tolld me that I could not attend the parade. Undeterred, I decided (ultimately in vain) to try and go to the Coliseum anyway.

I left at around 7:30 in the morning (mistake #1), after my dad had left for work. Since I live quite a ways from Downtown L.A., I had to make a beeline to the freeway to make my way down there. Of course, traffic was heavy because  I surmised that not only people were trying to make their way not only towards the parade happenings, but to their jobs as well.

Of course, since it was 7:30 in the morning, getting on the freeway was almost next to impossible. Even though the odds were against me, I trudged onwards on my journey to the Coliseum. Surprisingly, the traffic wasn’t too bad, all things considered, and I got down to the area near the Coliseum in about 45 minutes.

But, the relative ease getting down there would not continue. I reached Exposition Blvd., one of several exits that can be used to get to the Coliseum. Obviously, a long line of cars greeted me, unmoving and inching out of the freeway slower than molasses. I sat in my car in this line for several minutes (mistake #2), hoping that I would be able to advance to the Coliseum.

Realizing I was going nowhere fast, I quickly changed lanes and tried exiting MLK Blvd. Again, another long line of cars was there, too. My car and the dozens of others slowly moved out of the freeway onto the city streets. I sat there for what seemed like an eternity (mistake #3) until I realized that I should move away from the traffic heading towards the Coliseum, and instead head in the opposite direction.

With that in mind, I did just that, with the hope that I would find a parking space. After driving around for 15-20 minutes (mistake #4), I heard on the radio that the Coliseum was being closed off, meaning it was filled to capacity, and no one else would be let in. Crestfallen, I made my way back on the freeway, towards home to watch the parade on T.V.

As evidenced by the title, the overall focus of this post is the L.A. Coliseum, and not about the Laker parade earlier this afternoon. But, I figured this story serves as a perfect segue to a brief explanation about the siginificance of this stadium, which was built decades before myself (any my parents) were born.

Firstly, the arena is the only structure in the world that hosted two separate Olympic games, one in 1932, and the other in 1984. Also, it is the only Olympic stadium to have had the opportunity to host both Super Bowls, as well as World Series games. Lastly, with all of this history clearly evident, the structure was declared a national landmark on July 27, 1984.

Even though this historic stadium is in my hometown, I have never had the distinct pleasure of being inside this arena. Sure, I’ve seen it on T.V. (including today), in photos and I have gotten a chance to walk by it a few times as well. Hopefully, someday, I can actually attend a event inside of it. Here’s hoping.

Power to the People, right on!

June 16, 2009

In stark contrast to yesterday’s post, today’s is a bit more serious, and slightly political, but, you’ll see the pop culture connection.

At first glance, this post is not about something in popular culture. Yes, the title is taken from a line of a song by John Lennon, “Power to the People.”

The reason why I chose that rather apt title is because of what is occurring in Iran at the moment . As many people are hopefully aware of, he results of the Iranian presidential election have been put into question, causing untold turmoil in many regions across the country. Sadly, American media hasn’t been too on top of reporting on the problems evident in the nation, but the BBC (one of my my preferred news sources), is doing an excellent job.

But, I don’t want to make this post a critique or a rebuke of American news, but, I do want to highlight the power of a often lambasted Web 2.o phenomenon, Twitter. Let me make something abundantly clear: I don’t like Twitter. More often than not, it somehow emboldens people to think that their lives are somehow the most important thing on the face of the earth. Do I care if Joe Smith ate a turkey sandwich at Subway on Tuesday? No, of course not.

However, I have reevaluated Twitter’s usefulness during the Iranian crisis. It seems as if the service has been used in order to effectively coordinate protest and gatherings in order to make their voices heard. Not only are young people using Twitter, but Facebook and YouTube have also been utilized in order to make sure that the injustices in Iran do not go unnoticed by the world community.

In closing, make sure to follow what’s happening in Iran. Arguably, what is going on is the most firery protests since the revolution in 1979. What will be the outcome of these protests is anyone’s guess, but, stay tuned, not only T.V., but the Internet, too.

A 100+ year institution

June 15, 2009

As I said in an earlier post, one of my goals this summer is to explore some of the many historic locations in and around Los Angeles. Another one of those landmarks is Philippe’s, a business that has been (as this post’s title indicates) for more than100 years, from 1908 to the present.

Philippe’s is a place that I have been to since I was a  child, and my love for it has not diminished for it in the slightest. For my money, they have the best french dipped sandwiches I have ever had the pleasure of eating. The great thing about this restaurant is that people of every social class and from all over California eat there.

Most of the time, this place is packed during the lunchtime period. Fortunately, the line moves pretty quick, and it is well worth the wait in order to eat a delcious french dipped sandwich from Philippe’s. I myself (including today), usually order a turkey sandwich (sometimes with either swiss or jack cheese), some chips (Ruffles or Lay’s), a pickle and a cool glass of lemonade for all under $10. Oh, and make sure to try the bottles of hot mustard they have on the tables. You’d think that when you taste it that it has horseradish in it, but it doesn’t, incredibly.

It still amazes me that I have been going to this place for something like 20 years. The food is excellent, and the atmosphere is amazing too. It’s no wonder that I keep on coming back.

The Master of Disaster

June 12, 2009

Today, June 12, would have been producer Irwin Allen’s 93rd birthday. Who is Irwin Allen you might ask? Well, Allen is simply one of the most prolific producers of both television programs as well as movies. Among his T.V. credits, “Lost in Space,” “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” and “The Time Tunnel,” just to name a few.

But, Allen is probably most famous for producing some of the most popular disaster movies of the 1970s, as this post’s title hints at. A couple of my favorite movies were produced by Allen: “The Poseidon Adventure” and “The Towering Inferno.”

These two films are emblematic of the star studded disaster film that was so prevalent during the 1970s. These films were usually very well made, with high budgets and they also made tons of money. Unfortunately, Allen did not always make the best choices in terms of which one of these films he would produce, but, I would argue that he made an indelible impression on many with these movies.

For me, “The Poseidon Adventure” and “The Towering Inferno,” capture a cultural phenomenon; lightning in a bottle, for a lack of better term. These two particular films have always kept me entertained no matter how many times I have seen them. Hopefully, with these posts, you can seek them out and enjoy them too.

The Lake Show

June 11, 2009

This will be one of those rare times that I will delve into the wide world sports. The reason why I say that is because I don’t really follow sports, and, I never really latched onto sports in high school.

However, one sport I follow fairly faithfully is the NBA and the Los Angeles Lakers. Since I was born in L.A., I guess I should consider myself a fan by default, but, the truth is, I love this team with all of my heart for reasons much deeper than that. And let me tell you, it was heady times when the Lakers won the championship in 2000, 2001 and 2002.  Furthermore, with tonight’s thrilling win, I can say with all honesty, I am eagerly anticipating a win in Game 5, which will bring us another championship, our fourth this decade.

With 7 years since out last win, it has a been tough time. I won’t really go into those problems, but, it has been hard being a Laker fan during those times.

However, despite those difficulties, I have maintained by like for the Lakers regardless. And as I said yesterday, “I Love L.A.”