Tag Archives: modern gods

Modern Bands and Zombies

A new phenomenon has cropped up in the last five years that I hadn’t seen before. Maybe it was slowly oozing up through the groundwater of culture before this but I never noticed it. True I don’t see a lot of live bands…well okay that’s not true. I go to one place that often has a live band that plays while people drink and socialize. They often talk through the music. There are no vocals (usually) because the band is meant to give background atmosphere.

Now bands that play in pubs, cabarets and other music venues might have vocals and the people most assuredly are drinking but the crowd could be mixed as to being there more to socialize with others or more to listen to the band. But even if the band is one for dancing to, I’ve noticed this new trend.

Zombies. Yes, zombies watch bands. It doesn’t matter if you’re at a venue with tables and/or with a dance floor, the zombies move to the front of the stage, effectively blocking the view for anyone who is sitting at a table. The zombies, in their mindless absorption and idolization, stare at the band, unmoving, often lacking any facial expression or  emotion, a drink forgotten in their hand. That’s all they do. Stare. You might see a foot tapping like some latent nerve twitch that can animate a body after death, but that’s it.Their slowly rotting brains must think they’re at an outdoor concert or perhaps they’re all on zombie drugs. It doesn’t matter if the band just crawled out of the garage or is a big name. The zombies don’t move.

Where did the zombies come from? Obviously they were animated out of music culture, some assortment of eldritch notes coming together in a way to draw the bodies close, like a Pied Piper’s enchanted flute. But there the animation stops. It’s not enough to spur these bodies (usually young and in their 20s) into actually dancing. Perhaps there was a shyness or ineptitude in movement during the zombie’s half-life that translates into the barely animate.

Perhaps there is some perceived notion still firing sporadically in the zombie brains that says it’s not cool to dance. Perhaps the band emulates some aspect of zombie worship and the sounds that emit and marry in the air are like honey to zombie bees. I really dont’ know and can only speculate. Once in a while, later in the evening, when alcohol seems to have worked some reanimation charm, some of the zombies will start to emulate human beings, leaving only the most inanimate standing vacantly in front of the band.

It used to be that it wasn’t cool to show such mindless adoration but in the absence of modern gods, this is where the zombies go. But don’t worry, they won’t clutch at your head trying to gnaw your brains and they won’t drop gory body parts all over. They lack the life to do that, even in front of a hugely noisy, raucous punk rock band. Yes, I saw zombies in front of the Little Guitar Band, which really only hurt my ears and left me guessing at lyrics that could not be heard by anyone. At one point I think they sang, “I have a hernia and lost my shoe,” which oddly might be appealing to zombies. But the zombies never moved.

The most these zombies will do is annoy you. After all, zombies aren’t really alive and no longer have the common courtesy that might have been exhibited in live humans. They’ll stand in front of you, disregarding that perhaps you arrived early enough to get a seat and a view. They’ll take over the dance floor, not understanding that perhaps you want to dance. Zombies after all, aren’t exactly models of society and they sure don’t exhibit culture.

Will they go away? I doubt it, until the next wave of animated humans realizes zombies aren’t dangerous and sweeps them off the dance floor with…well, dancing. I do wish, however, that zombies would go back to the graveyards and gnaw brains like they’re supposed to. There, the rudeness of zombies doesn’t matter.

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Michael Jackson: Shooting Star

I grew up with Michael Jackson, or his music anyways. But that’s not hard to say for most of us. After all, when a career spans forty-five years, many people can say the same thing.

As the news rolled in, people and media have expressed their shock, that they were stunned. Sadly, I can say I was not. I have said that I expected that Michael would die an early death, like Elvis, than live to a ripe old age. I have called him a shooting star for years, for he is and was exactly that. A shooting star ascends high into the heavens, or so high up that everyone can see that light. But such a bright light eventually comes to an end. As opposed to a star that shines constantly and brightly for eons and then fades out at the end of a long lifetime, a shooting star seems all the brighter for its briefer lifespan, and that it will descend much quicker. The candle burned out long ago, to paraphrase Elton John.

That Michael Jackson was a brilliant musician and stage presence, the greatest pop icon of his time, is obvious by the number of albums he sold and the money he made. It’s irrefutable. That he lived a happy and normal life is arguable. The signs are not so hidden at all that Jackson was a troubled and unhappy individual. Like many of us, I’m sure he had his moments of happiness, but like many of us he was also unhappy with who he was. And he had the money to do something about it.

He was a good looking, handsome black child who grew to adulthood and was still attractive. Looking at those early pictures of Michael, you can see he is still black, his hair curly yet fashionable. Slowly his wide, broad nose, narrowed and narrowed again to the skeletal aberration that it became. I certainly hope that the plastic surgeon who mangled Jackson’s face doesn’t advertise that he did the great Michael Jackson. Of course, Jackson also had surgeries to change the shape of his jaw, his lips, his cheekbones, his eyes until the face does not resemble the earlier Michael Jackson at all. How much plastic surgery is needed for a burn of long ago? Not that much, I would think.

He took to straightening his hair, getting rid of any semblance to the negroid curl. And his skin turned white. It’s said that he suffered from a skin pigmentation problem, vitiligo. On white people this sometimes shows as a darker patch, or a pinker patch of skin. On black people, it shows as white or pinkish skin. This could possibly be true but any person I ever saw who had this condition, where the melanin starts to leave the skin, had it in patches, not an overall and even discoloration. Though it’s possible that he started with this and had a chemical depigmentation performed using monobenzone, to even out the skin tone. He also did not exhibit conditions of albinism, evident by the darkness of his hair and eyes. (The Philipines, as one example, sells many skin lightening soaps.) There are numerous ways listed on the internet on how to lighten your skin tone. Michael Jackson had the money, which gives you the means, to do this to the extreme. Perhaps it started as a pigmentation problem but I believe he went in search of being a white man.

These extreme examples of changing his body indicate how unhappy he was with who he had been born. And proves that money can’t buy you happiness. He was too famous to walk anywhere without being recognized, therefore negating his chances of having normal life experiences. As Michael grew farther away from a normal life (even as a child in a performing family he was more used to spotlight than to family life) it became more unattainable.

Where were the family and friends that could bring him back to center? His family wasn’t a good example as they all lived in the limelight to one degree or another as well. If Michael’s only friends were other stars (as often is the case) then they may have been his yes men, only telling him how wonderful he was, never saying, Michael you’ve gone too far. Or Michael, you’ve got to eat or you’re going to die. But if there were those who tried to balance Michael’s extremes, maybe he just didn’t listen. After all, he was rich and powerful in the music world.

Michael lived in fantasy palaces, with private zoos and was probably happiest when he took his creative genius into the realm of  music where he was an innovator and a leader. I was never that in to pop music but I would argue that there is no better music for teenagers, because pop music is catchy, upbeat and fast enough to engage a young mind. Yet Michael was seen as a god, not as a man. I’m sure he was a romantic icon for enough teens as well.

We have a tendency in our world today to put rock/music stars and movie stars upon pedestals. They are our modern gods. But we (people, the masses) are a fickle lot, that get bored too quickly and demand too much. If our gods slip up, we will pull them down, we ridicule them and we hate them for the fame and money and beauty that we cannot hang onto ourselves. We will pick at their every flaw and as their pedestal crumbles we will hack it to pieces.

And then Michael, the unfathomable recluse who invited children into his palace, was charged with child molestation. Whether true or not, such an accusation is devastating and scarring to the core. It could not do other to a man estranged from a normal life who could only live on the idolization of his fans. Even the supposed three children he had with the rather plain woman (who disappeared from the scene shortly after) were suspect. No matter how a man bleaches himself, or suffers pigmentation problems, they won’t transfer to his children. And black being more dominant than white would show in the features, yet these kids (the few pictures that exist) are more white than anything else, one especially being extremely white.

Michael Jackson’s life had become a circus, the star on its descent. The millionaire who owed millions. When I recently looked at a progression of pictures of Jackson through his life and I saw how thin he was (not just slim, but very thin) I knew he suffered an eating disorder as well. This fits in with someone so desperate to change into someone else. Anorexia starves the body on all sorts of levels. Not enough nutrients to feed the muscles or the organs and then those organs must work harder. Anorexics, unless they try to seek help and recover, often die of heart attacks when the strain on their hearts become too much. It really was inevitable.

Michael Jackson may have had other conditions too; it’s not clear. But one thing that is, is that he was fighting his body his whole life. To be so gifted and die so conflicted. Could most of us ever hope to shine so brightly? Could any of us fear to burn so painfully? I feel sad for his life, that he couldn’t have loved himself more. Michael Jackson joins the other shooting stars, the famous who died suddenly before their flame burned out naturally: Jimmy Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, River Phoenix, Princess Diana, John Lennon and many others.

Reports are saying that he died of a drug overdose or a cocktail of deadly proportions. Not really a surprise. Jackson was reportedly addicted to painkillers (Vicodin, Demerol, etc.)  since the face burning episode. Put on top of that, the numerous surgeries and his anorexia and you have a collapse just waiting to happen. A bit of a star’s standard way out, whether planned or accidental. This shopping list of pharmaceuticals does support my theory of a man disenfranchised and unhappy with the way his life continued to unfold. So he closed the book.

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