Archive for culture
Traditions are terrific things. Whether they run in families, bring together communities or even entire nations, there is no mistaking the notion that honoring tradition is a noble and cozy thing to do, when not misguided.
But let’s do away with the funeral procession, shall we?
In simpler, less crowded, less rude times, the funeral procession, particularly when done using the horse and carriage, was a fine way of respecting the newly-deceased.
Today, it’s more along the lines of a nuisance and, frankly, it can be dangerous.
The journey from church (or other nonsecular place) to the cemetery or mausoleum can certainly be a somber one. There isn’t a limousine leading the way with cans and string attached, with a hand-painted sign that says “Just Died.”
So I get it that commuting during an occasion of burial isn’t the most pleasant thing in the world. And I have nothing against respecting and honoring the dead.
But the funeral procession has worn out its welcome.
Today, with roads packed more than ever with vehicles, the idea of stringing together dozens of motorists and allowing them to pass through intersections and running red lights with impunity, simply isn’t very bright.
It’s nothing against the processioners, per se, although there does always seem to be one car that lags behind the rest, creating a potentially dangerous gap. It’s more about the rude, disrespectful motorists who aren’t part of the procession.
I just don’t think we need to drive en masse to a burial.
I think you can give folks the target address and driving instructions and say “We’ll see you there.”
An exception would be for something more stately, such as the funeral of a police officer or political figure.
If one of the purposes of a funeral procession is to show, in a very visual way, how beloved someone was, I am reminded of some sage words uttered by a wise person.
“The only thing that is going to determine how many people show up to your funeral is the weather.”
My inspiration here isn’t because I was recently inconvenienced by a funeral procession, though Lord knows that I have been. Nor is it because I have encountered strange and exasperating moments whilst driving in a funeral procession, though I once drove the entire way behind a car with no functioning brake lights (that was fun).
In fact, this really has nothing to do with inconvenience. It has everything to do with practicality and safety.
I don’t have the numbers, and maybe they don’t bear me out anyway, but I still think that you increase the chances of an accident anytime a funeral procession rolls on by.
Besides, they’re depressing.
What’s a more in-your-face reminder of mortality than watching 30 cars drive slowly by, following a hearse?
I see enough images of death and destruction on TV and the Internet to last me a lifetime, thank you very much.
Would death be any less significant and the occasion of a funeral be any less morose or somber if we stopped traveling to burials in herds?
I recall a stand-up comedian once remarking that as a show of life’s cruel irony, the only time you get to drive through red lights and stop signs is when you’re dead and can’t enjoy the gratification.
Besides, in my non-funeral procession fantasy world, if I really want to drive miles and miles in a tight-knit pack while pumping my brakes, I have that opportunity, twice a day: my commute to and from work.
The corner video store has turned into the city video store.
Time was that you couldn’t walk much more than 500 feet in any direction without running smack into a joint that rented VHS tapes. Then, you couldn’t walk much more than 2,000 feet without running into a place that rented DVDs.
Now, you can drive for most of a Sunday afternoon without seeing more than a couple video stores.
They close all the time these days, but locally there is a closing that might tug on some heart strings.
I used to go out of my way to venture into Thomas Video. So did everyone else, because there was only one Thomas Video—literally and figuratively.
Thomas Video, the favorite of the intense B-movie fan, is closing up shop. To many, this is like the news of a loved one with a terminal disease passing away. You knew it was coming.
Thomas Video has been located in Royal Oak since 2009, but I remember visiting when it was on Main Street, south of 14 Mile Road, in Clawson.
Like I said, I went out of my way, even when I lived in Warren from 1995-2007.
I went out of my way because there was no place like Thomas Video (TV).
It wasn’t so much about renting movies (maybe that was part of why they went out of business) as it was just taking it all in.
The lighting was drab, the place was littered with old, museum-like television sets and the videos were stuffed onto shelves in a sort of haphazard way. But the appeal was great.
Thomas Video was a destination spot because they carried movies and shlock that no other so-called “big box” store would dare touch.
I’m not talking about Godzilla movies from the 1960s. That was child’s play for TV.
You had to be a hard-core movie historian or dweeb to have heard of half the titles that TV stocked.
There were also shelves upon shelves of hard-to-find industry magazines and books. There was also an impressive selection of comic books, almost as a complement to the movies—or maybe to keep with the nerdy theme.
Personally, I only rented a few titles. I mainly went there to browse. Maybe in a way I am partly responsible for the store’s closing.
Even TV’s owners saw the writing on the wall.
“We probably should have done this a long time ago,” co-owner Jim Olenski told the Detroit Free Press. “Business has been really bad over the last few years.”
TV started in 1977, right about when home video started to take off. But Olenski blames video-on-demand, NetFlix and other movie-viewing platforms for chomping into TV’s customer base.
Thomas Video co-owner Jim Olenski in the late-1990s
The sad irony is that while those methods of watching movies have indeed taken down a bunch of video stores, TV prided itself on notbeing one of the bunch.
The appeal of Thomas Video was that you could find titles there that literally no one else offered. Yet that novelty wasn’t enough to keep TV going, apparently.
TV wasn’t just a store for hard-to-find titles. It also functioned as an intimate location for cult celebrities like The Ghoul and actor Bruce Campbell (“Evil Dead”) to hang out and sign autographs.
Olenski put it best, in a self-tribute to him and partner Gary Reichel.
“We wanted to be the last video store standing, and we almost were.”
Olenski and Reichel did better than many others who didn’t have the guts or the vision to stock the titles that Thomas Video offered.
In fact, maybe that’s why they survived for as long as they did.
Our daughter just turned 21. And, parked in front of our house as I write this, is the car in which we drove her home.
I remember strapping her tiny, 4-lb. body into her car seat and securing her in the Mustang’s back seat that day in June, 1993 in front of Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. She was born two months premature, and thus weighed just 2-lb, 14-oz. when she was born via emergency C-section.
The Mustang was purchased in September, 1992, just before my bride and I were betrothed. Little did we know that some 21-plus years and 115,000 miles later, we’d still own the car.
But that’s OK. It’s been a good car. How could it not be, if it’s old enough to legally drink alcohol?
It’s starting to come apart at the seams now, which is to be expected. Rust is spreading like cancer.
But the Mustang still runs and it gets me front Point A to Point B. We just make sure that the distance between those two points isn’t too far. We have a 2003 Mercury Sable for that.
The Mustang almost bit the dust some two years ago. It’s a two-door, which means the doors are very heavy and put great strain on the hinging mechanism. It got to a point where you would have to do a lift-and-yank maneuver and then slam in order to properly close the driver’s side door.
One day in 2012, I slammed the door shut after getting gas and the driver’s side window shattered from the impact. It scared the bejeebers out of me.
So I took it to the collision shop and the proprietor delivered bad news. He could fix the door but it would be a job of monumental labor, because of where things were located and the work it would take to get to said things.
He suggested that I put the Mustang to sleep, due to inordinate repair cost.
Well, this was the Mustang. You don’t just put a Mustang to sleep without getting a second opinion.
Collision shop #2 had a brighter outlook. Second opinions are good because you can always play the doom and gloom of the first opinion against the second. Often, the second opinion person likes to play the hero. And, stealing business away from a competitor is never a bad thing.
So second opinion guy said he would give it a whirl, and for a reasonable price.
Over two years later, the repaired door is still working. The Mustang was saved from euthanasia.
I still get compliments and inquiries about the Mustang. Usually it’s at a gas station. Another customer will ask me if I am interested in selling.
Mustangs have a mystique.
Some seven or eight years ago, on a Saturday night, I drove the family to Royal Oak, ostensibly to get some food at our favorite Thai restaurant, Siam Spicy. We took the Mustang.
It was evident as we got closer to the city that something was going on. Traffic was very heavy. By the time we got to Woodward Avenue, it was all too apparent what I had done.
I had driven us right into the Woodward Dream Cruise!
I had no choice but to turn north onto Woodward. The bystanders and lookers-on assumed we were part of the Cruise, tooling around as we were in a Mustang.
They urged us to beep the horn and shouted words of encouragement from their lawn chairs, tipping their beer cans in honor of the great American Mustang.
I tried to tell them that I was just trying to grab some dinner with the family. Nobody heard me.
And, Siam Spicy was closed that night. So the trip was all for naught.
But the Mustang got one of its last moments of glory.
It’s seen its days in various mechanic shops over the years. It has had brake jobs, new starters installed, new exhaust systems and sundry other work. It’s been the Joan Rivers of cars.
But it still turns on when I stick the key in the ignition. And it still is the car we drove our daughter home in, and you can’t put a price on that.
You probably couldn’t sell it now, but it never was for sale anyway.
Long live our ‘Stang!
Sometimes the 24-hour news cycle gets extended.
Sometimes it’s a 48-hour or 72-hour news cycle. And, on occasion, a story manages to stay in the public’s consciousness for a week or more.
News stories anymore are like pieces of pasta thrown against the wall. Only some stick.
The Stephen Utash beating has beat the 24-hour news cycle, by far. Now the question is, Will it matter?
The Utash story is right out of a novel or a made-for-TV movie.
White suburbanite hits a young black boy with his pickup truck, in the city. The suburbanite stops to check on the condition of the boy and is then beaten senseless, perhaps to death (that’s a part of the story that has yet to be resolved), by a mob of black men.
It’s a story that almost had to happen, to provide the most recent litmus test of where we are as a society, particularly when it comes to violence and race relations.
The elements are all there, and if they weren’t, the story wouldn’t work as well. It would be a flawed test.
The driver was white, the hit boy was black. That’s the only way this can work. Any other combo would either not tell us anything we don’t already suspect, or it would be less newsworthy.
The white man is beaten by a mob of black men. Again, reverse it, and it’s just another example of what so many people already suspect, and what so many other people vigorously try to defend.
The person who intervened and got the mob to stop beating the white man was a black female nurse. Author, author!
The white man lies in a medically-induced coma as the suspects are rounded up. Score another for the fiction writer.
Oh, and whites and blacks come together in churches around town and try to pray the violence away. Money is being raised for the white man’s medical bills. Not bad, not bad at all.
And Detroiters did it all by themselves. They didn’t need anyone to zoom into town to rally the troops.
The author did a bang up job on this one.
Ah, but it’s all true.
The Utash beating has a shot—an actual, legitimate shot—at bringing white and black folks together in an effort to take a collective look in the proverbial mirror.
Thankfully, the words “vigilante justice” have been rinsed off this story, revealing it to be what it really is—senseless, animal-like violence that wasn’t advocating for anyone or anything, other than an opportunity to take something out on a poor man. A chance to get your licks in, for whatever reason.
Unlike others, though, I’m not convinced that the mob saw a white man and decided to go to town. Maybe we will never know for sure. Maybe the five (so far) suspects that have been arrested—four have been arraigned—will start chirping, even against each other. Maybe a motive will trickle out.
Maybe had the driver been black, he would have been beaten, too—once identified as the man who hit the boy. Again, we may never know. But we may, eventually.
The fact that no one in the beating mob—according to witnesses’ recounting of the incident—appeared to show any concern for the boy’s physical condition before they started whaling on Utash, is the most damning piece of this horrible crime.
And that’s why the vigilante label doesn’t fit and has been ripped off, rightly so.
You can’t have vigilante justice if you don’t know what the heck you’re justifying.
The facts, of course, weren’t all in when the mob sprang into action. They didn’t know—or didn’t care—that the child stepped off the curb into oncoming traffic. The boy was 10 years old—certainly old enough to know not to step into the street without looking both ways.
But that’s another discussion entirely.
It’s terrible, but often it takes something terrible to finally drum something into people’s heads.
We can only hope that Steve Utash—and let’s hope he survives and regains his wits—evolves into a turning point of sorts. He will not only be a man but a landmark.
Then again, the beating of Vincent Chin didn’t necessarily change anything.
But that’s the thing about hope. You’re willing to throw the history books out the window and say, “Maybe THIS time.”
Maybe this time.
Happy New Year. Or happy new year, however you choose to look at it.
As I watched the big ball drop on Tuesday night in Times Square, I jokingly asked my daughter what life would be like if we did that for the change of every month instead of year.
Seems silly, of course.
But so does, when you think about it, going through all the expense and effort to mark the start of a new year. Or New Year.
It’s perhaps too cynical—even for me—to say that January 1 is “just another day,” but it truly is. It is different, however, in one respect: It’s the one day when no one has ditched their new year’s (or New Year’s) resolutions—yet.
Ahh, about those resolutions.
There’s a funny commercial playing on TV right now where a small boy calls it the New Year’s “revolutions.”
I kind of like that.
You do have to revolt, in a way, if you’re going to commit to doing something different from how you’ve been doing it, which is essentially what a resolution is.
The revolt is internal. A civil war going on inside your body and brain.
The little dudes inside your head have to declare that there is a revolution, and then they have to start symbolically dumping tea into the harbor, i.e. those bad ways you are trying to get rid of.
A new year’s revolution.
I don’t do resolutions—or revolutions—per se. I make mental notes to change and then hope for the best.
Not working out too good for me, but there you go.
I don’t do anything involving weight. I’d like to drop a few pounds, like anyone else. But I don’t do any numbers crunching or obsess with the scale in the basement. Notice I said basement.
I don’t resolve to change my eating habits, which goes along with the above. My wife is Italian and Polish. I get what I get, and I scarf it down happily. If I lose weight because of diet, it’s akin to finding a dollar bill in the laundry.
I don’t make any commitments professionally. I don’t set out to write X-number of blog posts or set any goals at work. That may sound lazy and uninspired and displays a shocking lack of motivation, but I figure, why set myself up for failure?
In short, my revolutions internally are weak and quickly squashed. I’m the Bay of Pigs of self-improvement.
Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be a success and that I don’t care about my body or that I have indifferent feelings toward my fellow man.
It just means that when all is said and done, the status quo is OK. I’ll continue to help out my wife around the house, put in my 40 hours at work and be as good of a dad as I can be. I’ll say my prayers at night and make it a point to perform a random act of kindness now and again.
Wherever that leads me, so be it.
Happy N(n)ew Y(y)ear!
Well, that didn’t take long.
The year 2013, the year of the next Detroit mayoral election, was hours old when the first salvo was fired by a candidate at another, and—surprise—it had the tinges of race baiting to it.
Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, by all indications a pretty smart guy, said something un-smart that was clearly aimed at presumed candidate Mike Duggan.
Napoleon told a reporter that Palmer Woods, one of the city’s jewels when it comes to neighborhoods, wasn’t really a part of Detroit.
Palmer Woods is where Duggan has recently taken up residence as he presumably prepares for a run at Dave Bing’s job—whether Bing runs for re-election or not. Duggan, as we all know, is white.
The day after saying flat out that Palmer Woods is not Detroit, Napoleon backpedaled.
“Palmer Woods is not Detroit? Nothing is further from the truth,” Napoleon wrote on Facebook. “It is one of our prized neighborhoods. However, the Palmer Woods experience is far different from that of the average Detroiter’s neighborhood experience. Most Detroiters, including those in Palmer Woods, understand that without clarification. But to set the record straight, I believe Palmer Woods is not only Detroit, it is what we want Detroit neighborhoods to aspire to be. And our city won’t be transformed until the Palmer Woods experience is one that is shared by all Detroiters.”
Nicely played. For now.
It didn’t figure to take long before Duggan, aiming to become Detroit’s first white mayor since Roman Gribbs left office on December 31, 1973, was taken a shot at by the (so far) rather small field of fellow candidates. And it wasn’t surprising that the shot taken focused on Duggan’s choice of residence.
Duggan lived for years in Livonia, which is as white as salt, for the most part. He moved to Palmer Woods last year.
Wayne County Sheriff and Detroit mayoral candidate Benny Napoleon
Napoleon recovered nicely, for the most part, from his gaffe. But it still displayed, within him, the old refrain.
You’re not a Detroiter unless your trash doesn’t get picked up. You’re not a Detroiter unless your street lights are out for months. You’re not a Detroiter unless you live among abandoned homes and crack houses. You’re not a Detroiter unless you are out of work and are bereft of hope.
Is that how we want the next mayor to look at things?
We’d rather have him (or her) look at the city the way Napoleon did in his backpedaling statement on Facebook.
To wit: “But to set the record straight, I believe Palmer Woods is not only Detroit, it is what we want Detroit neighborhoods to aspire to be. And our city won’t be transformed until the Palmer Woods experience is one that is shared by all Detroiters.”
Too bad that’s not what Benny Napoleon said the first time around. Then again, political candidates often need two tries to get it right. At least.
It was one of the coolest things I ever saw on television, and I was just a wee lad of four years old.
Oh, how I loved to watch the Batmobile in the Adam West-ravaged, 1960s TV series, “Batman,” leave the Bat Cave.
First, there was the firing of the ignition, which always included the stock shot of flames shooting from the Batmobile’s exhaust. That was cool, too.
But there was something about the black, souped-up 1955 Lincoln Futura zooming from the cave that captivated me.
That’s because there was this small guard rail that would flip down, enabling the Batmobile to pass through. THAT was the coolest thing.
Some things just grab us and don’t let go, particularly from our youth.
There was something about that guard rail flipping down that I thought was just so awesome in its simple auspiciousness.
That image comes to mind as I read that the Batmobile is going up for auction. It’ll happen on January 19, 2013, at the Barrett-Jackson auction house in Scottsdale, AZ.
The Batmobile is a 19-foot long, black work of art—maybe the coolest vehicle ever, something that Henry Ford could never have conceived in his wildest imagination.
So how much will it fetch in auction?
No one is saying, which is appropriate, because mystery has always been such a large part of the Batman character, from the comic books to the “Dark Knight” movies.
George Barris and his original Batmobile creation
The original Batmobile (there have been some replicas) was created by George Barris, a Los Angeles-based car customizer. I don’t know if Barris was given a blueprint, a clay model, or was just left to his own devices, but regardless, he created a masterpiece. The machine (it seems too small to call it a car) has been kept in marvelous condition over the years.
There was so much for a small boy to love about the Batmobile. The flaming exhaust, the bubble top, the siren, the wings, etc., all captivated. And, come on—it was 19 feet long!
Thanks to YouTube, here’s a 29-second clip of the boys racing to the Batmobile and leaving the cave. Watch for the guard rail flipping down just before the machine hits the highway!
I was never a Halloween guy, as a kid. I could take it or leave it as a youngster. Too much effort, I suppose.
I never knew what I was going to dress up like, or even if I was going to go door-to-door at all, until sometimes hours before sundown on October 31.
One year, I recall, I was particularly tardy with my decision. I was planning on staying in, passing out candy, when I got a phone call from a friend. It was dusk, at the very least, when the phone rang in our Livonia home.
“You going baggin’?” was the question. It was my friend, Bob Bernard, who lived a couple blocks away and who I never had gone Trick or Treating with prior to that year. I still don’t know what prompted the call. It wasn’t that Bob and I weren’t friends; we just weren’t very close. Certainly not “baggin’” close. Or so I thought.
I initially rebuffed his request, but he pressed me.
“I don’t have a costume,” I pleaded. It fell on deaf ears.
I hung up, scrambling. What to be? WHO to be?
I don’t where it came from, but I asked my mom if she had a nylon stocking that she didn’t care much for.
Voila! I went as a bank robber, the stocking pulled over my face. I think I had a toy gun. Not sure. Regardless, I had a “costume.” I was ready to go baggin’. Bob’s term.
A pillow case served as my “bag.” Out we went into the Halloween night, soliciting for candy door-to-door.
Halloween—the only holiday based on extortion.
Trick or treat!
Give us candy, or something bad will happen to you or your home. Or maybe even your loved ones. Who knows.
It’s a holiday built around candy used as protection money. Just cough up the goodies and we’ll make sure nothing untoward occurs.
But as an adult—more specifically, as a father—I came to enjoy Halloween more. The decorations got more sophisticated and fun to look at, number one. One of our family traditions has been to drive around neighborhoods, admiring Christmas displays. Now, you can pretty much do the same with Halloween.
Then there are the cute little kids, made even cuter when stuffed into bumble bee or pumpkin outfits. I can’t wait to see who comes to our door next.
Our daughter has always been a big Halloween person, starting from when she was two years old and won a costume contest at a campground in Canada. She was dressed as a pumpkin, of course. Every year she has dressed in something different and never without creativity. In recent years she’s been Captain Jack Sparrow, The Joker, and Harley Quinn.
As usual, even at age 19, she plans on dressing up. She doesn’t go “baggin’” anymore, but she’s taken over the candy passing out duties at home. Tonight it will be friends coming over for pizza and to watch scary movies.
My wife and I will be safely ensconced in our bedroom, dressed as ourselves and eating pizza while the kids take over the front room, passing out the candy.
Yes sir, I’m liking this Halloween thing more, the older I get.
There’s an episode in one of my favorite TV comedy series of all time, Everybody Loves Raymond, where Ray Barone’s dad, Frank, chastises his son for ruining (accidentally) dad’s jazz album collection when Raymond was a youngster. Seems Ray moved the albums to make room for his new Hot Wheels car track, received for Christmas. Unfortunately, Raymond moved the albums next to the furnace. You can imagine what happened to them.
So Ray tries to make up for the lost music by replacing as many of the albums as he can, with CD versions. He professes to have visited a bunch of independent music stores in his effort to replace the albums.
Frank is skeptical of the discs and won’t even listen to them, which frustrates Raymond. Finally, Raymond basically forces his dad to listen to the discs by having them in a portable CD player, ready to go, when his parents return from a shopping trip. They enter the home, Raymond hits the remote button, and the jazz fills the house, loudly.
But still Frank isn’t happy. Raymond tries to convince his father of the discs’ grandeur by declaring that it’s like the band was right there, in the living room, thanks to the crystal clarity of the sound.
Still no sale. Frank gets belligerent (nothing out of character for him) and orders the music turned off. Raymond is incredulous; how can his dad NOT enjoy these discs?
The answer arrives a few minutes later, when Raymond’s brother Robert and his fiancee Amy arrive with some of the actual albums, purchased at a used music store. They are not CDs but vinyl, 33-1/3 RPM platters of jazz.
The album is played on the phonograph, with all of its crackling and hissing, and Frank is in heaven.
“Now THAT’S music!” he declares as the songs pop.
I know where he’s coming from.
CD technology is wonderful; digital is always best, in terms of cleanliness in sound. But I get what Frank Barone is enjoying—the music in its original form; static and crackle and hiss and all.
I started to collect 45s when I was as young as a pre-schooler. Actually, my mom would buy me the records, based on my likes. The Monkees were high on my list back then. The 45 collection grew as I became old enough to pick them out on my own at K-Mart, which sold them for 96 cents, in their plain white sleeves on hooks behind the cashier in the music department.
My first record player was plastic and the “stylus” was a clunky needle that was bigger than a pencil lead.
This record player is very similar to my first one, circa the late-1960s
In 1977 my parents bought me a brand new stereo system, and the phonograph was much more sophisticated and the stylus was diamond. Plus, you could stack the records/albums, and play hours of uninterrupted music.
The cracking and hissing was part of the deal. So was the occasional skip or crack that would cause the same four notes to play over and over until you moved the stylus.
I don’t know; there was something magical about turning on the record player and lowering the needle/stylus onto the vinyl platter and hearing that first crackle and hiss, moments before the song began.
You don’t get that with CDs. I’m not so sure that’s progress.
I know Frank Barone would agree with me.
Clara Peller was a retired manicurist who found fame after the age of 80, in early 1984, when she barked out three words that became a national catch phrase. Then the phenomenon dovetailed into the 1984 presidential campaign, and Clara enjoyed a new wave of popularity.
You never know who will be plucked from obscurity or the recesses of our consciousness when it’s an election year.
In 1984 it was Peller, who famously and angrily asked, “Where’s the beef?’ in a Wendy’s commercial mocking competitors who rely on big buns and not-so-big hamburger patties.
It didn’t take long before we were all saying, “Where’s the beef?” in a variety of situations. It started on TV, of course, and then filtered its way to the water coolers and barber shops.
The commercial hit the airwaves in January, 1984 and a few months later it got a second jolt of awareness when, in the Democratic presidential primaries, Walter Mondale used the catch phrase as a way of attacking rival Gary Hart’s economic plan. Mondale didn’t feel that Hart was offering much in the way of details.
Wendy’s campaign with Peller didn’t just create a catch phrase; sales jumped 31% in the year after “Where’s the Beef?” first aired.
According to Wikipedia, Wendy’s senior vice president for communications, Denny Lynch, stated at the time that “with Clara we accomplished as much in five weeks as we did in 14½ years.”
Lyndon Johnson had his scare tactic ad against Barry Goldwater in 1964, juxtaposing a little girl pulling petals off a flower with the images of a countdown to a nuclear attack. Ronald Reagan had his “It’s Morning in America” campaign. Michael Dukakis battled the spectre of furloughed felon Willie Horton, who committed rape while on release in Massachusetts.
All those, plus Clara Peller and more, became iconic in their respective presidential campaigns.
Clara Peller, wondering where the beef is (1984)
Add Big Bird to the list.
It’s becoming apparent that the tall, gangly character from Sesame Street is going to be 2012′s pop culture icon thrust into presidential politics.
It’s been just one week since Mitt Romney brought Big Bird into the discussion, when he targeted in his debate with President Obama, PBS as a potential victim of a President Romney administration’s efforts to pay for his tax plan.
In this day and age, a week may as well be six months. For it only took a few days for Big Bird to enjoy a spate of popularity he hasn’t experienced in maybe decades, if at all.
Heck, it hasn’t been since 1976, when Mark “The Bird” Fidrych enthralled America pitching for the Tigers, that Big Bird has been mentioned this much in mainstream media.
Big Bird is doing the circuit now. “Saturday Night Live” came calling, and the Bird is making appearances here and there.
The president these days is quick to mention Big Bird in mocking Romney’s tax plan and how it is to be paid for.
Clara Peller died in August 1987, aged 85 and her 15 minutes of fame drained from the clock. She did make some other commercials for products like Prego spaghetti sauce, but nothing close in popularity to the “Where’s the Beef?” campaign.
Fortunately, Big Bird is immortal. Although after a few more weeks of the tall, yellow, feathered creature being shoved in our face, maybe that won’t seem like such a good thing.