Friday, July 10, 2009

A Roller Coaster Ride of a Week

Welcome to this week's TGIF edition of Views From the 14th Floor. Honestly, the view has been pretty dreary for most of the day. It has been stuck on gray, and the temperature has been stuck on 70 as it rained lightly off and on. As the day has stretched on, however, the sun has been attempting a comeback, even as the Cubs have made their own little comeback against the Cardinals, tying the game at 3 apiece. Of course the Cardinals came back and added another run in the 5th to stop that little charade. The rain may yet return as well. It's 72 degrees under partly sunny/mostly cloudy skies in Streeterville.

This week has been one of mixed results as well. The stock market was up. The stock market was down, and then down some more. The U.S. continues withdrawing troops from Iraq. The Iraqis take advantage of this event to explode more car bombs. The U.S. made some gains in Afghanistan, but Al Qaeda is expanding operations in North Africa. A majority of Congress is Democratic and they have begun working on a universal healthcare plan, but as it turns out, some of the more conservative Democrats are siding with the Republicans and gumming up the works.

In international sports news, an American, Andy Roddick, made it all the way to the finals and played the best tennis of his life, only to lose a 5 set marathon to Swiss tennis ace, Roger Federer (You know, that guy who has won more major tennis tournaments than anybody else ever.). American cyclist, Lance Armstrong, returned to the Tour de France after being retired for 3 1/2 years and surged into 2nd place mere 100ths of a second behind the leader, Fabian Cancellara. In the first mountain stage of this year's Tour, Armstrong fell into 3rd place, 8 seconds behind the leader, Renaldo Nocentini, and 2 seconds behind teammate, Alberto Contador.

I suppose one should get used to the roller coaster ride of life after 50 + years on the face of this planet, but somehow taking the yin with the yang, the up with the down, the in with the out, and any other mixed metaphors you can think of gets old sometimes. Sometimes you'd just like to sustain some of the good, without having to expect the bad close on its tail. The up and down is enough to give a guy motion sickness. (Bring on the Dramamine.)

Just when you thought the news, from a Democratic liberal perspective, was really good what with Sarah Palin resigning and the South Carolina Governor embarassing himself right and left in the media, and Al Franken finally being sworn in as Senator from Minnesota, all of this takes a back seat to Michael Jackson's death. Can we all just get over it?

I have scrupulously avoided remarking about Michael Jackson, so as not to join the cacophany. Was he a genius? Was he a pedophile? Was he eccentric, or was he just plain nuts? Having polled the residents of the 14th floor views office, I have this to say, and then I will say no more. Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 were part of a bubble gum pop movement of the early 1970's. Michael was a cute and talented little black kid. Then the Jackson 5 disappeared from most of the nation's consciousness. In the early 1980's Michael Jackson hit the jackpot again as he scored hits with his Thriller album and hits like Billy Jean. Then he faded from the musical consciousness of the nation once again. Unfortunately, he did not disappear from the media entirely. He just got weirder and weirder. His nose went from being a perfectly ordinary African-American nose to a little sliver of a nose, barely wide enough to breathe through at all. His skin color went from ordinary African-American brown to whiter than white. He bought the Neverland Ranch and began consorting with chimpanzees, and sleeping with little boys. He was not convicted, because he made a large cash settlement with the family of the kid who charged him with molestation.

I do not know if Michael Jackson was guilty of pedophilia. I was not there, but think about it. A 40 year old man in bed with little boys. Deep in your heart of hearts, what do you think? We routinely prosecute priests for such actions, but we give Michael Jackson a pass? Now we learn that the body was reportedly riddled with needle marks. People close to him report that he had a problem with abuse of prescription drugs. And this is a guy who has captured the news cycle for the last week. Even if he was not guilty of pedophilia, he was an exceptionally odd duck. He was an aging pop star, destined for the recycle bin of Las Vegas, where old pop stars go to recreate their glory night after night until the endless plastic surgeries cannot hide their age anymore. I've had enough of hearing about him, and I hope you have too.

What with the ups and downs of the week, I really would like to take an opportunity to end it on an upbeat. I'm going to an early movie to see Johnny Depp recreate another American icon who was irreparably broken, John Dillinger. People obsessed about him too. Think I'll go to see an early movie and then have a burger at a good pub. TGIF ladies and gentlemen.

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