Thursday, February 13, 2014


This past week, there was much ado about the 50th anniversary of the Beatles appearing on the Ed Sullivan show.  I must confess, I was never a huge fan of the Fab Four.  I guess part of the reason is my age; I was just six years old when the Beatles visited America in 1964.  I also had a sheltered exposure to music until high school, at which time the Beatles were long past their heyday as a group.  I do remember exactly where I was when John Lennon was murdered, and I remember thinking that it was a great loss to the world, so I had established a respect for Lennon.  But I always thought Paul's solo music was a bit too pop so when I was seeing a rock concert twice a month in the late 70's and early 80's, the Beatles were not represented in any form.

During my newspaper delivery days, I did feel a modicum of admiration for the Beatles via a few particular disc jockeys who played Beatles music for hours at a time in the early weekend mornings, and I have also gained a much bigger respect for George Harrison in the past few years.  He was clearly a unique man in terms of his life perspective. 

Still, I am far from understanding Beatlemania.  But, all that being said, I was glad to see the 50th anniversary celebrated as it has been.  These kinds of events, sometimes understood at their occurrence as historic, sometimes only perceived as important after the fact, mark societal changes that effect everyone, those involved in the details, those who feel the significance of the event, and even (perhaps especially) those who were unaware of the event.  Whether we attach the popularity of long hair on men, the influence of Beatles music on all music which followed, the continuing revolution that allowed women to express their sexuality more openly, or any of the subtle and myriad ways that America changed in the 60's, the Beatles phenomenon was a factor in how America, and all Americans, live their lives today.

Speaking of icons, Shirley Temple (Black) died this past week.  Again, before my time, much before, I was never a Shirley Temple movie watcher.  I may have never watched one of her movies all the way through in my life.  But, her influence on American culture is undeniable.  At a time when America was suffering through the worst financial crisis in its history, the Shirley Temple characters gave us hope for the future.  She allowed us to look at the world through eyes less cynical, with a perspective that saw the goodness in others and in life's experiences.  Perhaps it was a bit too sugary sweet, but it was a sweetness in demand at a time when real life was not full of lollipops and sunshine.

Finally, another Olympics is ongoing this week, this one from Sochi, Russia.  From what I have read, these Olympics represent some of the worst that man has permitted and actively committed against his fellow man.  The history of the native folk who live in the Sochi and surrounding areas is rife with cruelty and killing.  And, Putin's efforts to dress up his country despite its horribly low life expectancy, horribly high alcoholism rates, poor economy and severe income inequality, are as politically motivated as any Olympic games have been.

(Quick note here, perhaps those who still cling to the belief that income inequality is OK should take a look at countries where the top earners control a large percentage of the money, and how devastated is the middle class of those countries, and how limited upward mobility is for its citizens.  Also, perhaps the Republican party and its far right conservative "Christians" should reexamine their affiliation with Russia in terms of their treatment, legal and social, of those with a different sexual orientation.)

Still, I enjoy the Olympics.  Perhaps I am biased as I attended two Olympics as a young adult, the 1976 event in Montreal and the 1984 extravaganza in Los Angeles.  (No, I was not an athlete, just one of the thousands in the stands.)  Yes, sports stars today are overpaid, and the Olympics has long shed its requirement that participants be amateur, yet sports, and the Olympics in particular can still act as a bridge between people from different backgrounds, cultures, races, religion, enabling them to build upon their commonalities rather than focusing on the differences.  Perhaps not as much today, but I recollect many a love story between two completely different people, emanating from past Olympics.  And, in addition to the obvious interplay between people of different perspectives, there are the wonderful stories of everyday Americans, Swiss, Norwegians, Canadians who have dreamed of someday performing on the world stage, and, through perseverance, and family (sometimes even community assistance), have achieved their dream.  Even more inspiring, (when we can put aside our obsession with winning) are the stories in which competing is the reward in itself because in the competition, individual bests are posted and medals are insignificant.



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