Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stories of Friendship and Betrayal: Part 1

We were in our middle to late twenties. I was the office manager, she was the receptionist. We formed an unlikely friendship. She was a shopaholic and just about every day, at noon, there was a delivery of items of clothing to her reception desk from a local store. Her blonde hair was maintained weekly - roots touched up, manicures and pedicures were de rigeur. I marvelled at the high level of her self-maintenance. She was most appealing in a roundish kind of way, hard to explain. She had a lot of dimples, in her cheeks, on her elbows, in her knees. These were the days of micro-mini skirts. Her face had an attractive smattering of golden freckles. I’ll call her Frieda.

We both had toddler daughters. She had a convertible. We would cruise Bloor Street, a high end shopper’s paradise in Toronto. The radio would be blaring, the girls would be in the back, pre-carseat days. The children would wave like royalty to the passing parade. We would have songs like “Brandy” and “Down on the Corner” blaring for the whole street to enjoy. The four of us would giggle uncontrollably. The world was ours. Husbands? They dwelled somewhere on the back burners of our lives. Truth.

Her husband, Len, was Italian. He was her brother’s best friend. He played hockey on Friday nights even though he was extremely heavy and completely out of shape for such a strenuous sport. He paid the price and had a severe heart attack on the ice at the age of 28 and was hospitalized and in therapy for 6 weeks.

I took pity on Frieda. At this stage she was a grass widow and she confessed she had never really loved Len. He had been kind enough to take her on as a ‘favour’ to her brother. You see Frieda had a child at sixteen, given up for adoption. She was considered ‘damaged’ goods and the family were grateful to Len for marrying her.

My husband played a lot of rugby and there was an active and fun social life associated with this. I invited Frieda to one of the Saturday night dances to cheer her up as she was so melancholy and had told me the weekends, after visiting Len, were very lonely and boring. The dances were a hoot - they always had a live rock band and manly chug-a-lug competitions. What can I tell you. We were young.

Halfway through the night, I noticed my husband was missing. I asked around. Someone mentioned he was on the long balcony off the second floor dance hall. I went out. And there he was. With Frieda. In an unmistakeable and passionate clinch.

I was sickened. I had to go to the washroom and throw up, literally. Afterwards, when I came out of the washroom and spotted him I tackled him on what had happened. He denied it. Said I had to be imagining things. It was someone else.

I had to see Frieda every workday, of course. Walk right by the reception desk. She reported to me. The relationship got very chilly and strictly business. Someone said she was having an affair with a guy in the office downstairs. He was married. I would see them together having lunch in the restaurant downstairs. Holding hands across the table.

Len came home from rehabilitation. He phoned me to tell me Frieda had left him. He was distraught. He really loved her. She had left him for this Adam guy who was married and thinking about leaving his wife. It was a total soap opera.

Adam was wealthy and rented a deluxe apartment around the corner from the offices. Here Frieda was installed. She had left the children with Len and her mother.

I was getting caught up with paperwork on a Friday night in September of 1971 when Len called. He was very depressed. He asked me could I meet him on the Roof Garden of the Park Plaza around the corner. Just for one quick drink and then we would both head home to our children. I agreed. In the way that we do when we are heart sick, he let it all hang out. He was going to live in the hope that Frieda would get over her Adam madness and come back to him, no questions asked. Way down below were the sounds of the busy city, the traffic and then sirens, so close by we remarked on them. Some trouble in the block we were in, obviously.

Later that night, Len called us. Sobbing. It seems that Frieda had gone to the apartment that Adam had rented and confronted Adam about leaving his wife. He said he had changed his mind. She straddled the twelfth floor balcony railing and either fell, threw, or was thrown to her death below. Those were the sirens Len and I had heard as we talked in the Park Plaza roof garden.

A couple of years later, we were at Len’s wedding to a nurse he had casually met on public transit. The wedding was held in Frieda’s brother’s garden. Frieda's parents didn’t attend. They were in the process of suing Len for custody of his children. They lost.

I'm curious as to feedback on this type of post. I have more stories of the truth stranger than fiction genre. All of which happened to me. Should I continue? Please be honest!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We interrupt this blog again

Just in case there was any doubt as to the intelligence of yer average American newscaster, I bring you this nugget:

Bill O'Reilly: Here are the letters. Peter Gillies, Victoria, Canada: "Has anyone noticed that life expectancy in Canada under our health system is higher than the USA?" Well, that's to be expected, Peter, because we have ten times as many people as you do. That translates to ten times as many accidents, crimes, down the line.

{Emphasis mine}

Is there any hope for our neighbour down south?

Shakespeare's Sister

We interrupt this blog...

To celebrate my 4 years of blogging with 393 posts, and to totally sympathize with millions of Americans over this poll:

Yeah, that's right folks, Jon Stewart - he's a comedian. And he's the most trusted newscaster in the U.S..

And I bring you a cartoon that just about says it all about the rest of the newscasters who didn't make the cut:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

More on friendship.

And speaking of friendship - here's a lovely award from my blog-friend Irene, now displayed on the long hall of my sidebar (the award, silly, not Irene!).

I was inspired by my last post to mull over my friendships both past and present and possibly future.

What constitutes a friendship?

Here’s my list:

It is often the gut instinct (intuition) of just plain liking a person.

It is sometimes pursuit of the one by the other.

It is common interests.

It is shared values.

It is often unexpected.

It is being open to the new.

It is not expecting the status quo to remain as such.

It sometimes calls for far more selfless effort from one of the friends.

It is often disappointing.

It is cemented over trials and tribulations rather than joy.

It is trust.

It is a mirror.

It is non-judgemental.

At times, it feels the pain of the other.

It shares the joy.

It can hurt, seriously and painfully.

It's laughter.

Sometimes it’s loans: of stuff, of money, of a shoulder.
It is food, cooked, hot and ready.
It is a cuppa.
It is full of surprises.
It is intense longing.
It is hurt.
It is standing back.
It is coming forward.
It is raw emotion.
It is bride.
It is bridesmaid.
It is godparent.
It is godchild.
It is “I’m here.”
It is “I’m outta here.”

More, on the next post, about friendships. Specifically, my friendships.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Well, duh, we could have told them that. Free of charge.

UCLA Study On Friendship Among Women

An alternative to fight or flight.

A landmark UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are. By the way, they may do even more. Scientists now suspect that hanging out with our friends can actually counteract the kind of stomach-quivering stress most of us experience on a daily basis. A landmark UCLA study suggests that women respond to stress with a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women.

It's a stunning find that has turned five decades of stress research---most of it on men---upside down. Until this study was published, scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible, explains Laura Cousin Klein, Ph.D., now an Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State University and one of the study's authors. It's an ancient survival mechanism left over from the time we were chased across the planet by saber-toothed tigers.

Now the researchers suspect that women have a larger behavioral repertoire than just fight or flight; In fact, says Dr. Klein, it seems that when the hormone oxytocin is release as part of the stress responses in a woman, it buffers the fight or flight response and encourages her to tend children and gather with other women instead. When she actually engages in this tending or befriending, studies suggest that more oxytocin is released, which further counters stress and produces a calming effect.

This calming response does not occur in men, says Dr. Klein, because testosterone---which men produce in high levels when they're under stress---seems to reduce the effects of oxytocin. Estrogen, she adds, seems to enhance it.

The discovery that women respond to stress differently than men was made in a classic "aha" moment shared by two women scientists who were talking one day in a lab at UCLA. There was this joke that when the women who worked in the lab were stressed, they came in, cleaned the lab, had coffee, and bonded, says Dr. Klein. When the men were stressed, they holed up somewhere on their own. I commented one day to fellow researcher Shelley Taylor that nearly 90% of the stress research is on males. I showed her the data from my lab, and the two of us knew instantly that we were onto something.

The women cleared their schedules and started meeting with one scientist after another from various research specialties. Very quickly, Drs. Klein and Taylor discovered that by not including women in stress research, scientists had made a huge mistake: The fact that women respond to stress differently than men has significant implications for our health.

It may take some time for new studies to reveal all the ways that oxytocin encourages us to care for children and hang out with other women, but the "tend and befriend" notion developed by Drs. Klein and Taylor may explain why women consistently outlive men. Study after study has found that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. There's no doubt, says Dr. Klein, that friends are helping us live longer.

In one study, for example, researchers found that people who had no friends increased their risk of death over a 6-month period. In another study, those who had the most friends over a 9-year period cut their risk of death by more than 60%.

Friends are also helping us live better. The famed Nurses' Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading a joyful life. In fact, the results were so significant, the researchers concluded, that not having close friends or confidants was as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight.

And that's not all. When the researchers looked at how well the women functioned after the death of their spouse, they found that even in the face of this biggest stressor of all, those women who had a close friend and confidante were more likely to survive the experience without any new physical impairments or permanent loss of vitality. Those without friends were not always so fortunate. Yet if friends counter the stress that seems to swallow up so much of our life these days, if they keep us healthy and even add years to our life, why is it so hard to find time to be with them? That's a question that also troubles researcher Ruthellen Josselson, Ph.D., co-author of Best Friends: The Pleasures and Perils of Girls' and Women's Friendships (Three Rivers Press, 1998). The following paragraph is, in my opinion, very, very true and something all women should be aware of and NOT put our female friends on the back burners.

Every time we get overly busy with work and family, the first thing we do is let go of friendships with other women, explains Dr. Josselson. We push them right to the back burner. That's really a mistake because women are such a source of strength to each other. We nurture one another. And we need to have unpressured space in which we can do the special kind of talk that women do when they're with other women. It's a very healing experience.

Taylor, S. E., Klein, L.C., Lewis, B. P., Gruenewald, T. L., Gurung, R. A. R., & Updegraff, J. A. Behaviorial Responses to Stress: Tend and Befriend, Not Fight or Flight"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sissi and Gigi and Roy and Me.

When I was 12, amongst many cinemas in Cork, Ireland, where I grew up, there was the small Lee Cinema. The Lee showed mainly foreign films. With subtitles. But often there were peculiar little festivals like the Roy Rogers Festival where for a whole week they showed Roger and Dale beaming from atop their horses, all large cowboy smiles with gorgeous American orthodontistry on display, said smiles sporadically removed by the wicked Indians attacking them. But always victoriously restored when Indians were quickly dispatched. I loved Roy. Resented Dale. Why wasn’t I born over there and maybe I could capture Roy’s heart? And then maybe he’d let me borrow Trigger occasionally?

But above all, I loved the foreign films. I loved the sound of Italian, French, German and Spanish that poured from the screen (so much so that I took 5 languages in high school). The sheer exotica of the films themselves were much sliced and diced by the censors if not outright banned from our pristine emerald shores. Every film shown was suitable for all ages - a 12 year old could watch alongside a 95 year old as no minds, no matter what the age, could be polluted with sex. Violence -yes, of course - but never the naughty bits and their nefarious displays and placements. Sex hurts more than guns was the message.

I never knew what Gigi was all about until I saw it uncensored over here in Canada. Many movie plots made no sense whatsover, being heavily scissored and chopped to maintain the remarkable purity and childlike innocence of the natives.

What remained was the angst, the locations, the costumes, the drama, the music, the foreign languages tripping so unerringly off the pouty lips of alluring, exotic actresses. Pouty lips were banned in Ireland in those days.

The very best of foreign films, in my child-view, were the “Sissi” series, made in Austria in German.

I just couldn’t get enough of them. They introduced the exquisite Romy Schneider to the world and the story of the real Sissi was heavily romanticized. But there could not be enough of that for a 12 year old! I lapped them up, time and again.

And I also read the many biographies written about her, an independent woman, born long before her time and brutally and randomly assassinated at the age of 60 in 1894.

Over the years I’ve tried to get copies of these films in the original format and thought I had succeeded a few times, only to return them. One series was dubbed into awful English. Another was dubbed into French with English subtitles. I returned that. I wanted the original German with the English subtitles. I never gave up. My tenacity has finally paid off. On its way to me now, as I write, is the original series, in German, with English subtitles.

I can hardly wait. But part of me knows I can never go home again, I can never recapture the feelings of a 12 year old watching those films. So maybe I should just leave these past experiences alone?

Do you have any tales about attempting to recapture a memory from childhood?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thank you, thank you, thank you, President Carter!!

I've always admired the man. Sure, he had his faults. But his work for Habitat for Humanity, his humility and his downright civility have endeared him to many.

And today, in his 85th year, he completely blows me over with this:

"This view that women are somehow inferior to men ... has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries. The male interpretations of religious texts and the way they interact with, and reinforce, traditional practices justify some of the most pervasive, persistent, flagrant and damaging examples of human rights abuses. ... It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. ... The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."

—Former President Jimmy Carter, who has, after six decades, severed his ties with the Southern Baptist Convention because of their institutional gender inequality

H/T Shakesville

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I’m not Scared of Dyin’……

I'm not scared of dying and I don't really care
If it's peace you find in dying, well then, let the time be near
If it's peace you find in dying, well then dying time is near
Just bundle up my coffin, 'cause it's cold way down there
I hear that it's cold way down there, yeah crazy cold, way down there
And when I die, and when I'm gone
There'll be, one child born
In this world to carry on, to carry on

My troubles are many there as deep as a well
I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell
Swear there ain't no heaven and I'll pray there ain't no hell
But I'll never know by livin' only my dyin' will tell
Yes only my dyin' will tell, oh yeah, only my dyin' will tell

And when I die, and when I'm gone
There'll be, one child born
In this world to carry on, to carry on…. (Song by Laura Nyro (thanks Rhea!) Performed by Blood Sweat & Tears)

I was riveted on this NYT article. These nuns have surely found a way to die in peace, at home, without the intervention of extraordinary measures to keep them alive while amongst life long friends.

The severe ravages and mental deterioration due to Alzheimers and other elder-type diseases have not affected these nuns and priests. Many are engaged with creative and intellectual pursuits. Most have been well-educated with a rich inner life and have friendships in community going back seventy years in some cases.

I was reminded of the Time article of many years ago – 2001 – (I just found it, thank you Google! )

The nuns volunteered to take part in what has now become known as the ‘Nun Study’ where tests are regularly conducted and assessments of mental agility and ability are tracked.

Take this:
One is Sister Esther Boor, who at 106 speeds through the labyrinth of halls with a royal blue walker, glazes ceramic nativity scenes for the gift shop and pedals an exercise bike every day, her black veil flapping, an orange towel draped over her legs for modesty.
"Sometimes I feel like I'm 150, but I just made up my mind I'm not going to give up," said Sister Esther, who gives her exercise therapists yellow notes with phrases from books she reads. "Think no evil, do no evil, hear no evil," she wrote recently, "and you will never write a best-selling novel."

The bottom line, I believe, is living with passion and curiosity. Daily reading, writing, knitting, walking, etc., seem to be the common element in a positive quality of life extension as we age. And community.

And: oh yes, compassion, kindness and patience with others. I really need to work on those.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Great Distractions

I was talking to my daughter the other day. We were both in one of those downturns in life, not exactly depressed but oh-so-blah and flat. Teetering on the edge so to speak. But books were saving us both. Reading books to be precise. She had just had a great haul from Goodwill, 25 books for a few dollars and she was knee deep in them. I had browsed the shelves at Sally Anne and bought 7 for a few pennies. Marvellous finds. We gloat over such bargains. Trade them off to each other when we get together. Rate them. We know what each other likes, and often like the same. As my granddaughter does.

Our family members are voracious readers. Mainly novels but not adverse to biographies or explorations into pysche or history. A huge escape into another world. I don't understand people who don't read. I honestly think they don't know what they're missing.

Currently I'm reading a Minette Walters, "The Chameleon's Shadow". She explores the dark side of the human spirit and some of her books have been made into films or television series. This novel explores the return of a severely injured and damaged UK Iraq vet.

The other book I'm reading is "Fruit" by Brian Francis, (review here) an account of a young gay boy's growing up in small town Ontario. Beautifully written and funny. A counter balance to the darkness of the Walters'. I try to balance my reading as I always have at least two books on the go.

I plunged into Blockbuster the other day and hauled out 8 movies from the bargain bin. They just about paid me to take them away. I've watched 2 during the pre-dawn small hours the last couple of nights:


Both brilliant films and with enough extras on both DVDs to satisfy the hungriest of trivia appetites.

Yes. All Distractions. From Thinking: of Death, of Sleeplessness, of Work, of Aging, of Loss, of Falling into the Abyss.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Beethoven Connection

(Ironically I can't enjoy the above YouTube due to Dialup Dementia but I have in the past and also have the CD which I am playing right now).

I met him first about 20 odd years ago. In a recovery group. He took an enormous shine to me but he was far too needy and vulnerable. Every time he asked me out I asked my friend Judy to come along too. I just couldn’t hurt the man, he was a walking wounded.

Friends referred to him as my puppy. But in a kind way. He no sooner saw me anywhere but he would came lolloping over, smiling beatifically, cling to whatever spare part of me that was available, my arm, my hand, my shoulder, often he would touch a hand to my cheek and just stand there and beam. Even when there were others around.

I never knew what he saw in me that made him light up like this. I couldn’t ask even though I wanted to. It would have implied a desire for further intimacy on my part that just wasn’t there. Physically he did nothing for me, or emotionally. Intellectually and culturally, yes. We shared a passion for Beethoven, particularly a passion for the Choral Fantasia. Neither of us had ever met anyone in our lives before who shared the same sublime desire for that wondrous piece of music and never, ever tire of it. A piece that is rarely performed live as it is so incredibly expensive to mount.

About three years after I met him, a high school friend of his (I’ll call her Nina) was divorced from her husband and she and my friend Paul (pseudonym) were married. It was an odd kind of marriage. Impossible to say whether it was happy or not. Paul and Nina sniped at each other incessantly. About everything and nothing. It was a constant background counterpoint to their lives. Paul became a workaholic. Nina quit work soon after they married, diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.

I was a welcome guest to their home to hear the latest of Paul’s audio equipment. His main hobby was constantly upgrading it. He was a total aficionado of the best in sound systems. I’ve never gone this crazy over the best of equipment though do admire it in the homes of those that do care about such things. And to be honest, I do have difficulty with the five times as much money being spent on state of the art speakers than on a brand new car. Almost an obscenity in my book.

I stopped going to their home though. They would get into a battle about which one of them had my attention at any moment in time. I felt like I was a prize in some bizarre fairground game. Paul would sit me down in his audiophile leather chair and play Beethoven for me. She would vie for my attention with her art and photos of her grandsons. He would tell her stop it. She would tell him f*** off and round and round we’d go. Enough, I said to myself about 4 years ago. I get very agitated when surrounded with such antagonism. I have to leave. So I do, not caring about the flimsy excuse offered. And in spite of many invitations I just could not go back there.

Paul hadn’t been well, he didn’t take care of himself. He carried a lot of weight, had bowel blockages which involved several surgeries and terrible pain, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart trouble. He was on a lot of medication. And then he developed pulmonary fibrosis.

The last time we were together was in the spring. Though off work on indefinite sick leave, he had treated himself to a new BMW with everything on board, I couldn’t count the luxurious add-ons. But I remember his moon roof and the talking GPS and the surround sound. The lack of oxygen in his body meant that he had driven it only a few times. Nina had taken over the driving of the dream car. We went off down the country and the sniping from breathless Paul and a controlling and almost gloating Nina was very unpleasant but he was very courtly at dinner in an out of the way restaurant, he reminded me of the old pre-marriage Paul, pulling my chair out, touching my shoulder and cheek.

I said to Nina how gentlemanly his behaviour was. I hadn’t seen that side of him in a while.

She responded without a trace of jealousy or resentment: Oh, but he adores you!

Less than two weeks ago, his breathing had gotten worse so he was hospitalized. He was finally eating again but the oxygen mask was a permanent fixture now. On July 1st, after his breakfast, he slipped back on his pillow and his breathing stilled. Forever. He was just 62 years old.

I play my beloved Choral Fantasia in his honour. And reflect on the compromises we (all of us) make in life and how elusive happiness is.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Je Regrette Paris.

Picture is of an early morning street around the corner from the small hotel on the Left Bank in Paris.
I’m finally writing about Paris. I wanted to be sure, you see. Sure of my feelings around this trip of 8 days to Paris which was an addendum to the 9 days in Dublin. A dream, right? Well, not for me. I was ready to leave her after 3 days. Really. So lock me up. I may need my head read.

The picture above shows exactly how I felt there. Empty. Wanting to be back here. Or in Ireland. Anywhere but Paris. But I pretended to my friend. Who doesn’t read this blog and has no interest in my writing. I said to her it was wonderful. How great to be back there. But I should have left my Paris memories of 40 years ago alone. Not open up that lovely Gauloise and Chanel scented box and toss all the mementoes on to the rubbish heap.

I was bored. There I said it. Bored. Me. Yes, the Musee D’Orsay was beautiful, I dutifully snapped photos, visited all the paintings and sculptures. The weather was gorgeous. The food, h’m..alright. I ho-hummed cruising the Seine, walking the Champs. All the while mouthing, well, white lies. Thing is I’m never bored. Ever. But when with someone else and I feel obliged to pretend, the sound of my own voice ringing falsely in my ears gets boring. How could I tell her? It’s her favourite city in the whole wide world. She could stay there forever. She likes to pretend she’s a real Parisienne. I’m a tourist there and anxious to get home whether to Ireland or to Newfoundland. I live in beauty all the time. I do not have to seek it elsewhere. Would that be the reason?

And everything was so, so expensive and I was just beginning to resent that by the time I left. Why spend huge money on something you’re not enjoying? Several thousand dollars all told. That I would have loved to have spent in Ireland.

Paris, Schmaris.

There. I’ve said it. Out loud.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A whiter shade of pale: or Jackson, Fawcett and McMahon.

OK, we’re all sick to death of the cult of celebrity death, am I right?
The Great Distractions, keeping the real news of our sad and sorry world at bay. American Idols in American Death.

Our heads turn to peer closely at glass coffins, white horses, a grieving drug addled young son (in the case of FF), a drug-addled dead one and an old man who made an art out of shilling anything for a buck including several million dollars as a paid side kick, paid to laugh, paid for just the right amount of obsequiousness.

Call me an old cynic: But are we all barking mad? Are we all so desperately in need of heroes and heroines that we would all bow so needily at the altar of these three lives?

As to Jackson: where to begin?

A troubled child star, abused mightily by his father as some have it, who in turn carried on the abuse to the degree of catastrophic self-mutilation, multiple surgeries, skin bleaching and anorexia, and that’s all we know of, until more will be revealed, I have no doubt. He made music, he sang, he danced and well, he made heaps and heaps of money. He spent it all. On himself. Foolishly.

Philanthropy, unlike some others in his profession who share their wealth and engage in charitable efforts, did not enter his lexicon. He exited this world leaving more debts than assets. Much like America herself. Of course there is still the dancing on his corpse to be performed in the way of ‘memorial concerts’, new records, DVDs, until every last penny is bled from his cadaver, such being the way of the Jackson family.

I’m not touching on his alleged paedophilia. Though I do note that millions and millions were paid out to the families of child-complainants. I wonder at the powerful lure of carousels and fairgrounds and miniature train journeys for these little boys, and they were all boys. He did not have sleepovers with little girls, much as he professed his love for ‘children’.

And speaking of: I wonder about his children, bought and paid for, no doubt. I wonder at the narcissism of a man who endows all three of his children with his name. I wonder at the cruelty of a father who bleaches the hair of one of his children white. I wonder at the effects of veiling on those children (against their wills) while in public. I wonder at the sanity of a man who dangles a helpless baby over a balcony.

I ask myself how can a man possibly be a good father who wasn’t fathered himself but exploited, abused and deprived of an education. I am appalled at his obvious misogyny in deliberately excluding a mother from these children’s lives.

I wonder at a man who hates himself and his race and his gender so much that he spends decades of his life and earnings on transforming himself from a black man to a white woman. A man who spent nearly a billion dollars in his life time, and all on himself in outlandish shopping trips, thoughtlessly, without a care to the needs of others less fortunate.

And his drug habits only come to life (like his one time father-in-law, Elvis) on his death bed. Another ignonimous death, another hidden drug-addled life, lived selfishly and narcissistically.

As to Fawcett – she too shared the self-mutilation of Jackson, her face and body were a death mask of cosmetic interventiona long before she died, terrified, like Jackson, of aging. Only remembered for her jiggles on Charlie’s angels and that multi-million seller poster of huge hair, visible nipples and perfect teeth.

As to poor Ed, was there a personality? Did he bring smarm into a brand new definition of a well paid profession? And last I heard he had spent his way into bankruptcy begging with friends for loans in the last year before his death. Much like America too.

Are we all complicit in this adulation of failures? For failures they truly are. Yes, they danced and sang and acted, and actors they all were. Perhaps Ed the best of all of them. Are there lessons? Are these three just facets in a mirror of ourselves? Of our profiligate selfish ways, bending before the altar of avaricious greed, terrified of aging, afraid of living and selfish to the point of extinction?

Are we all now grieving our lost, higher selves?