Showing posts with label childhood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label childhood. Show all posts

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mixed Feelings and the King of Pop

On the phone:

Jamie: ..hello!
Me: The King is Dead!
Jamie: What?
Me: The King of Pop is dead. Long live The King!
Jamie: ...what?
Me: Michael Jackson is dead. Nathan sent me an article. I'm late coming home because I had to verify before going to print.
Jamie: He's dead? (long pause as Jamie is clearly opening laptop and going to CNN) Oh. Oh my god.
Me: Yeah.
Jamie: That's so... weird.
(long pause)
Me: Some mixed feelings, huh?
Jamie: Yeah.

I was 7 or so when Thriller hit the radio. Its got to be hard for anyone born after 1978 or so how absolutely important Michael Jackson was to the pop culture scene between 1982 and 1985. Jackson then disappeared briefly to re-emerge with "Bad",. Soon after, things would turn poorly for the entertainer.

Look, I actually really, really like Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and big parts of "Bad". And "Smooth Criminal". And so while we started to hear weird stories almost immediately (trying to buy "The Elephant Man's" bones, the zoo at Neverland Ranch), it wasn't until I was in high school that the first accusations about impropriety with a kid began to creep out. This was all pre-Internet, so the stories came from supermarket tabloid covers and shows like "A Current Affair". But during one lazy summer, MTV showed the video for "Bad" over and over. And I sorta learned the whole thing. I mean, yeah, I needed the video for reference. I'm not exactly Usher. And, yeah, it's been many a year, but there was a time when I was flopping around my living room imitating The Gloved One. Poorly.

I'm not really sure I need to fill anyone in on the details of the scandals. Either of them (younger readers may not remember the first batch, but they were there).

The truth is that I'm not really sure what the hell happened during those cases. Jackson's, frankly, bizarre and secretive lifestyle made it easy to believe just about anything.

So what do you do? Shrug at the death of a guy who somehow escaped justice time and time again? Or mourn/ pity a guy hounded by the media and possibly falsely accused of one of the most grave crimes an individual can perform?

I have no idea.

About two weeks ago I was going to do a post about latter-era Michael Jackson, but got lazy. I was going to talk about videos from "Dangerous" and the video for "Scream" and "Black & White". But... I sorta thought nobody would be interested.

Here's some other stuff.


Smooth Criminal

The one that's my first memory of Jackson: Billie Jean. Dude seemed so cool.

Latter era Michael Jackson: Scream

Early era (totally rad) Jackson: Don't Stop Til You Get Enough

The Jackson 5 rocks the frikkin' house:

And, man, it wouldn't be complete without Thriller.

. This video, btw, got MTV banned in my house for a year when The Admiral spied the zombie make-up, decided it was too scary (ignoring that we'd seen the video 100 times before that), and locked it out on the Scientific Atlanta box.

We almost lost cable again, circa 1987, thanks to George Michael's "Father Figure" video, which The Admiral would mistake for soft-core pornography, until I pointed out that they don't show softcore during the 6:00 hour on basic cable.

Here's more Thriller.

Thrill the World Austin 2008

Phillipines prison

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Few Points on the Previous Post

So, this whole "getting blasted by the past" bit is turning into something of a Rorschach test.

I do feel the need to go on the record about a few items.

Most importantly: I think Lesley has a much better sense of humor about this whole ordeal than I really gave her credit for in the post. I didn't want to dwell too much on our actual conversation in the post, and I confess to being thrown into a bit of a tizzy, so I may have highlighted some of the wrong points. So credit where credit is due.


1) I did send "Lesley" a written apology. Give me some credit, people.
2) I do not expect a response. Nor would I. Expecting a response assumes she would give a rip about me after all these years, which I would think she would not. I don't usually expect any response when I send off a Facebook request to begin with.
3) I did not intend the post as a "woe is me, someone does not like me" thing.
4) I am just (a) surprised at the turn of events, and (b) a little embarrassed about the whole thing. And I usually feel like the best way to deal with embarrassment is to share.
5) I should mention that the entire conversation described with Jason and Jamie was part of a much larger conversation in which I was bemoaning the fact that I'd "lost my edge". The snippet you read was intended to impart a moment when a recent life lesson was learned which was then applied, whether I liked it or not. Jason was not just sitting around thinking of ways to shatter memories of a happy childhood.
6) I certainly did not mean the post as a way to extend an olive branch in some faint hope that Lesley would discover it. That's giving me a lot of credit for a fairly complicated plan that I don't really have the capacity to plot out.
Also, that's sort of weird, so... no.
7) Sadly, I am not Lesley's "friend" as of this writing. The dream of reconciliation is gone.
8) Before we go off the rails imagining The League pantsing people, rat-tailing skinny kids in the showers, and lurking about taking people's lunch money, I do not believe that was the case. I think I was just really, really annoying. Like being stuck in elevator with Rip Taylor for eight hours. It's amusing for the first two minutes, and then...

Anyway, it's been an interesting exercise. I appreciate the feedback.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The League realizes maybe he's not such a great guy

So today I stumbled across a familiar face from grade school on Facebook.

I hadn't spoken to this person, whom I shall call "Lesley", since 9th grade, as best I can recollect. We'd lived about three streets apart while I was growing up in Austin, had been in classes together in Elementary School, attended Middle School together, and had art together in 9th grade (possibly more classes, but I recall Lesley in the art class).

With such camraderie during our tender, formative years, and with the lunch hour of 5th grade to wax rhapsodic about, I sent Lesley a friend request.

It seems that while I have fond memories of Lesley, the feeling is not mutual. In fact, it seems Lesley's memories are of a person who was a bit of a thug to her for several years of her adolesence and for whom she feels a bit bitter.

I know. You're thinking, "League, you're totally an awesome guy. How can this be?"

Oddly, just a few weeks ago I was complaining to Jason and Jamie that I used to find more things funny, that I'd lost my edge and sense of humor.
"If you mean being a jack-ass," Jason nodded, "Then okay."
I was horrified. "Sir," I said. "Clearly you have your facts wrong, and I demand satisfaction."
"You, my friend, were a rotten little punk growing up."
"You've clearly mistaken me with someone else," I insisted.
And then he unspooled a whole reel of outtakes from my teenage years which, while interesting stuff for the DVD extras, don't really fit in too well with the narrative I'm working with here at The League.
"You and your little crew were a bunch of snot-nosed punks," he concluded. Which was not the same conclusion I'd come to regarding my youth, but few would not find his evidence compelling.
"People knew we were kidding," I dismissed the accusations with a wave of the hand.
"Did they?"
My brow furrowed. Upon reflection, it did seem possible that making someone cry wasn't particularly funny to everyone involved.

And so it came that, while I do not believe I ever made Lesley cry, I did not make the relatively awful experience of middle and high school any better. In fact, it seems, your faithful League is in no way remembered fondly by his former busmate. And yet, somehow, Steanso IS remembered fondly, which I think is a scam.

I put it to you, Leaguers... Is it possible that I am not the absolutely gallant person, friend to the children, and kind hearted servant of the people that I think I am?

Could this be?

Well, apparently, yes. Some evidence suggests, I'm a big old jerk when given the chance.

So now I feel terrible. Growing up in suburbia has its pitfalls to begin with. I'd walked around thinking nothing but good things about Lesley for two decades, while, it seems, not so much love was coming back The League's way.

Tragically, as I remember it, part of what Lesley felt to be harassment, I recall as good natured heckling, feeling she was in on the whole gag, playing the straightman to my wise-cracking self. Not so.

How The League saw things

How "Lesley" saw things...

I want to be clear. I didn't break Lesley's glasses or anything.* I did once blackmail her into making me and Peabo lemonade. And, I know I'd picked a not-so-great nickname for her which I will not relate (but it was always meant with love). And, I am sure, as we shared a bus stop, I came up with all sorts of awful ways to make the fifteen - thirty minutes per day waiting for the cheese to sweep us away something that was not to be looked forward to. You can't expect everyone to love spending time with me.

But, honestly, I'm horrified at this turn of events and am a bit ashamed.

So, now I tiptoe a delicate line.

Does The League put forth an effort to make amends and set right 20 years of bad feeling, or do we merely leave Lesley to her peaceful life, free of The League and his nagging insistence that we can all be pals? Can The League set things right?

And who else is walking around with a less than loving memory of The League? And how can I make amends to those folk? HOW?

Only time, and Facebook, will tell.

*That was some other kid whose glasses I broke.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Problems with Flashbacks

Mike Sterling at Progressive Ruin posted this clip, which triggered a memory left untapped since... God, I have no idea.

This fits somewhere in the swirl of memory from my formative years of:

The Letter Men
Sigmund the Sea Monster (recently optioned for a feature film, btw)
Banana Splits
Gigglesnort Hotel
The Great Space Coaster
The New Zoo Revue (which they were still airing in Houston on Sunday mornings as recently as last year)

and all the other forgotten children's programming of the 1970's that was being generated by counter-culture deadbeats with a budget.

Seeing this clip, which I had completely forgotten about, caused such a rush of memory that I got a bit nauseous, and not just because of the liberal use of color and frames rate in the video.

It's all still trapped up there. Sometimes something jars it free when you least expect it.