Friday, June 26, 2009

Death and one-upsmanship

It's been an eventful week in the celebrity death market. First Ed McMahon (major factor, age) whose departure was trumped by that of Farrah Fawcett (cancer) and then both were blown out of the roiled media waters by Michael Jackson (excess, it seems likely).

I noticed a headline, "Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon will always be remembered." Always is an awfully long time and I have my doubts.

All had redeeming virtues --- McMahon, a decent guy whose heyday came when it still was possible to be funny without being even slightly obscene; Fawcett, whose stunning beauty was enough; and Jackson, a pop music revolutionary who shattered entertainment color barriers.

But I wasn't that taken by any of them, so won't adjust my rabbit ears to watch their funerals. Nothing personal.

Ed Thomas, the Aplington-Parkersburg football coach shot dead Wednesday by an apparently dereanged former student and player, is another matter. If the reports are accurate he was an outstanding role model as both football coach and human being. In the grand scheme of things that may be of more consequence, although on a smaller scale (but who knows?), than memories carried forward of McMahon, Fawcett and Jackson combined.

Watching all the Hollywood hoopla during early-morning doses of television, I got to feeling downright smug about my ability to rise above the masses and not get tangled up in the circus of celebrity death.

Oops. Thinking back a little, I have this vague memory of arising as some silly hour so I could watch Princess Diana's funeral live from London (as I'd done for her wedding). Then there was Heath Ledger (the "Brokeback Mountain" factor). And Lady Bird Johnson --- I loved Lady Bird and of the three, my devotion to her last rites is the only only instance of death obsession I'm not feeling a little sheepish about right now.

I liked Lady Bird so much, I even saved her picture --- taken in a field filled with Texas wildflowers. That's it on top here.

But so far as televised farewells are concerned, Ed Thomas's is the only one I'll make an effort to locate out there in the world of digital television this time around.

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