Friday, July 29, 2011

Leaving Legacies

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Okay… I need to get something off my chest real quick. Amy Winehouse died last week at the age of 27. It’s absolutely tragic. However, if you’re surprised about this… you are a f**king moron. Oh… and if you don’t know, Amy is a singer who shot to popularity a few years ago with a few hits… that basically said that she was never going to quit doing drugs… but in a passionate soulful voice… and yeah, I like some of her music… but was it really something out of the ordinary? Adele sounds almost identical… and about a dozen others out there without even looking too hard. However, she was famous for her enormous drug addiction & stint in rehab, rocker lifestyle, you know the drill. The autopsy being inconclusive… I’m pretty sure that the government wasn’t out to kill Amy Winehouse for any reason other than they were tired of hearing about her (Now Biggie & 2Pac, I’m not going to even get into again). So what killed her? I’m not much of a betting man… but I’d bet just about everything I own & whatever I can get on loan on drug overdose leading to cardiac arrest. Like I said, it’s a truly tragic story as she had a lot of talent… but when I hear her mentioned in the same breath as other artists who died at 27 like Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, and the list goes on… and talking about what the world would be like if they were still around… I just have to stop you right there. Allow me to explain.

Amy & Janis probably wouldn’t have gotten along if they weren’t separated by two generations. Why? Because they were so much alike. A few hit records, gritty soulful voices, mythical amounts of drugs, bad relationships, personal issues, both dead at 27 when their careers were taking off. What did they die of? You guessed it – drugs. Jimi Hendrix? He revolutionized rock & roll by playing the guitar like it was a percussion instrument & had a sound that has yet to be duplicated. Technically, he only had one Top 20 hit (google it) but he’s a rock GOD!!! Beyond Amy & Janis of course. What did he die of? Probably a drug overdose while he was balls deep in your grandma & your mother. Jim Morrison? The Doors were another major player in rock & roll with a combination of their unique sound & Jim’s lyrics… and of course his pretty boy image basically creating a perfect storm in the rock scene. What did he die of? Life finally caught up with him… and there’s still some mystery… but again, I’m guessing drugs… possibly balls deep in a French woman. Kurt Cobain? The man who is credited as king of the Seattle Sound / Grunge, again great new sound & lyrics that were both deep & ridiculous at the same time. What did he die of? He punched his own ticket out with a shotgun to the dome. Why? To be the next Van Gogh? Hemingway? Of course not… he was married to Courtney Love. I would’ve punched my own ticket too. Oh & I’m sure drugs were involved too. Do you sense a bit of a theme? Drugs are bad. Unless you want to have you midlife crisis before your 14th birthday, just don’t do them… especially in epic quantities while on tour. Okay… so just now that I differentiated the class of 27 year old dead rockers… allow me to further elaborate on another point.

What would the world be like if they didn’t die at 27? Well… I’m going to probably burst your bubble a bit. The world would probably be EXACTLY the same… except for a few things. Did rock & roll bring down the Berlin Wall? Regardless of what the Hoff might think, not really. It certainly wasn’t the work of the Rolling Stones or anything. So what would be different? Well, Jimi, Jim, & Janis would be approaching their 70’s… and my guess is that they wouldn’t be doing it gracefully (think Keith Richards & Ozzy). Would they still be dropping albums? They might still be touring. Hell, the Stones, the Beach Boys, Smokey Robinson, Eric Clapton, they’re all still going. I’m checking out Steve Miller Band this weekend (though they were over a decade later than these guys). Kurt would be in his 40’s… I mean… I’ve mentioned before thinking about Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Elvis & all of these iconic figures and what they would be if they were still alive. Obviously the reality probably wouldn’t live up to the lasting image. However, don’t you think that Priscilla & Lisa Marie might have preferred having their now morbidly obese Elvis in their life to play with the grandkids than you keeping your image of the hip swinger at the Heartbreak Hotel? I don’t know… maybe it’s just me. We’ve all got our roles in this crazy game called Life… but like I said, there are lessons to be learned.

We all want to be remembered... for whatever reasons, preferably good ones. We all want to have a Legacy, our own little fingerprint on the world of the future... or at least for a few generations. Art, sculpture, the written word, these things are probably the most timeless that will be remembered long after your body rots away. Then again, in any given moment, none of that could influence you like a gentle touch, a kind word, perhaps a recollection of something you said years earlier, even random happenstance. The teaching of the Bible saying though shalt not steal may be forgotten if your family is starving. So what do we do? How are we remembered? My advice... don't worry about it. Live a good life, help others when they need it, teach through example, make smart decisions for the right reasons, make people happy, find what makes you happy, don't waste your time but take time to relax, and if along the way you find something your passionate about... then f**king go for it. Go for your dreams. Go all in if you must. Balls deep. You know... it's your Life, do what you want... but just remember that others care about you. These are just my suggestions. Legacy? Recognition? Glory? Jedi craves not these things. Besides, I already missed my window to go out in a blaze when I'm 27... but be damn sure that I'm keeping a close eye on Bubbles' crazy ass this next year.

Again, I have to emphasize that I’m not dissing on Amy or anybody else mentioned above (except maybe Courtney Love) because they all had talent & their deaths are tragic… but romanticizing their lives isn’t going to bring them back or save future generations of “too much too fast” rockers from repeating their actions. Just keep it real. There are lessons to be learned from these events. RIP Miss Winehouse!!!

Speaking of dreams, I saw a few movies the past few days that are kind of related. Have you ever seen the 1980's movie "Dreamscape" starring Dennis Quaid, Max Van Sydow & Christopher Plummer? No? Have you seen "Inception"? Cuz they're kinda similar. Basically, a psychic (Quaid) is recruited by an agency working with the government that has developed technology that can insert people into other people's dreams. However, the technology may be being utilized for evil purposes... and the President of the United States' life may be in jeopardy because of it. (Dun dun duuuh) Can the psychic save the day? All in all, the movie was pretty good... except the special effects were... pretty ridiculous... but you can blame it on the 80's. If you liked "Inception" then I'd say check it out.

Next up was "Sucker Punch" starring Emily Browning, Scott Glenn, Carla Gugino, Vanessa Hudgens and from director Zach Snyder ("300" & "Watchmen"). This is an adaptation of a graphic novel so it's going to seem cartoony... but that's kind of the point, right? A young woman named Baby Doll (Browning) is thrown into an asylum after a violent dispute with her stepfather left her little sister dead (his word vs. hers). There she meets up with four other girls... and then the lines of reality get REALLY fuzzy. While seated for a frontal lobotomy, she kind of goes into a daydream... where now she's apparently in a depression era speakeasy burlesque show kind of thing... and a prisoner there to some ruthless gangster types. However, she's on an epic journey within her mind to find a way out of the life & get free... with the help of her friends. It's kind of hard to explain... but yeah, there's a lot of dreaming & teleporting between realities in this one... but I actually kind of liked it. Nobody's going to win any awards really... but it's visually striking, great soundtrack (typical new artists doing covers of classics that you expect from Snyder movies), and it's really just for show. Besides... the lasting image from this movie isn't really the brilliant images... but the idea that we make our own reality. We choose how to perceive the outside world. If we think the world is beautiful and just, then it is. If we think it's a horrible sess pool, then it is. We control how we react to everything about this world and within our minds. It's actually a pretty amazing power. I don't want to get off on a Tony Robbins rant or anything... but it's absolutely true. You can basically make anything real if you just think of hard enough & put forth the effort. Anyway, enough about Baby Doll...

Baby Name Update - Jacob, Ethan and Michael were the top boy names in 2010, while Isabella, Sophia and Emma were favorites for girls but celebrities are exerting a big influence of what parents chose to name their newborns… and that scares the hell out of me. An analysis of 23 million page views of individual baby name pages on a baby names website shows that celebrities have a big impact on name selections. "Five years ago, I might have said that the biggest overarching factor was personal meaning, now the biggest factor is celebrities," said Pam Satran, the developer of the website. She added that the number of searches for a particular baby name is a good indicator of how people will behave when the time comes to actually name their child, as opposed to data from the U.S. Social Security Administration, which tracks the numbers of babies with a particular name (which would be a REAL number you could base something like this on). The name Pippa, she explained, came to sudden prominence after Pippa Middleton caught the world's attention when she was the maid of honor at the wedding of her sister Kate to Prince William in April. Little know fact: Her fully name is Pippa Potamus Longstocking-Middleton. Okay, that’s a lie… I think. "She seems to have the power of celebrity propelling her name and style," Satran added. Other unusual names also seem to have a celebrity link. Elula, the name of the daughter of actress Isla Fisher and actor-comedian Sasha Baron Cohen (REALLY? They’re a couple?), was not in the database in 2010 but is the 38th most searched for name in 2011 so far, largely because the celebrity couple chose to not publicize the name until well after the child's birth, according to Satran (suddenly my idea of Lelu isn’t so crazy). "There is a culture of the celebrity baby. The whole world goes on name watch. By not telling the name, it becomes a big news event." Other celebrity-inspired names this year include Hadley, from the bestselling book "The Paris Wife", and Mila, which Satran attributes to the success of actress Mila Kunis over the last year (but I attribute to Milla Jovovich). Another popular baby name is Flynn, which was chosen by actor Orlando Bloom and his Australian model wife Miranda Kerr for their son (oh, it’s a boy, I was way off). So yeah, just thought that I’d let you all know what… some website person thinks about trends in baby names… because everybody’s not naming their kids Elula… but they’re looking it up online. I’ll bet if you looked up the name "Porn" you’d find that it’s among the top three baby names searched… in a constant struggle with "Google" and "The". Anyway, into the world of real news…

Where the Streets are Paved with… Gold? - A city in northern Taiwan is trying the Midas touch to persuade reluctant residents to clean up after their canines: offering a chance to win gold bars to anyone handing in bags of doggy deposits. Starting from August 1st, dog owners and other residents of New Taipei City, bordering the capital Taipei, can hand in waste to government cleaning teams in exchange for tickets to a lucky draw. The prizes: three gold ingots worth T$60,000 ($2,100), T$18,000 and T$12,000. The number of draw tickets is unlimited, and the winners will be named in October, the city government said in a statement. "We are hoping the draw will attract a wide participation, especially as the gold price is rising," said New Taipei City Environmental Protection Department official Chen Chao-ming. The city will give free garbage bags to would-be collectors. It is also beefing up more conventional measures, including rewarding people for photographing dog owners leaving mess uncleaned, and stepping up its own poo patrols in dog haunts. That’s right… poo patrols. But it will be hoping for better results than the central city of Taichung saw in 2009, when its offer of T$100 shopping vouchers for each kg of excrement collected yielded little more than criticism and ridicule. Yes, there’s far less chance of that happening this time. The one question that I have is… how can you really tell if it’s man poo or Scooby doo? Some dogs are pretty large… and Asian people can be pretty small. What’s to stop them from just collecting massive quantities of human feces and turning it in? Just my thought… and there’s plenty more of jokes in this news reel… but yeah, can’t wait for this to happen in the states. I can see neighbors narcing on neighbors about their dogs leaving nuggets (yes, it’s a gold poo joke) on lawns… and a special unit within the police force lovingly referred to as “Doody Duty” for all the rookie officers, making their rounds and collecting freshly squeezed coils. Oh yes… that’s my idea of comedy gold right there. Good luck Taiwan!!!

Anyway, that'll do it for today. I've got to get packed for my Tahoe trip in the morning... of which I've already mentioned that I'm super excited for. I'll be sure to have plenty of pictures when I get back. Have a great weekend everybody!!!

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