Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Brown, Ford Pass

Two icons from different spheres passed over the holidays.

James Brown died early Christmas morning and President Gerald Ford passed away this morning.

Brown -- "The Hardest-Working Man in Show Business," "The Godfather of Soul" -- electrified R&B and was widely imitated by soul singers and rockers alike. Tussles with the law over guns and drugs led to time in the jail, but couldn't diminish his legacy.

Ford was a disintinguished statesman known for his integrity who had the dubious distinction of being the first Amerian politician victimized by late-night-comedian character assassination -- notably impressions of him as a bumbling stiff by Chevy Chase on Saturday Night Live. Chase later admitted that he portrayed Ford as a dull-witted fumbler to sway the '75 presidential election.

Frightening to realize that many people still get their information from the likes of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, David Letterman and the other late-night chuckleheads.

Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau once observed that anyone who gets his political information from the comics deserves he gets at the polls. He was talking about the funny papers, but the principle applies to the midnight yucksters and those who listen to them as well.


Nate said...

Yep, a lot of mixed feelings related to both of these departed notables. JB was just a hair's breadth from bigtime criminal for most of the last 20 yrs, it seems, and GF's kindness and affable decency seems to have been his biggest flaw, if you read the papers...

But hey, JB gave us Bootsy Collins, right?

JBlog said...

The greats are often conflicted, complex, and flawed individuals.

Nate said...

Re: flaws/complexity, no question there.

It's the "teflon" nature of some public figures that is really remarkable. JB stands out as one of the more bullet-proof celebrities of the modern age. Not to say he didn't take his lumps, but to stay in a favorable light after, say, a series of high-profile alleged-wife-beating-comma-police-chase cases, is amazing. His [tax-evasion and otherwise mostly misdemeanor] compatriot Willie Nelson may be his only close rival for "most loved despite stuff any normal citizen would go to prison for"...

And I'm saying this as a musician and honest fan of both JB and WN!