Sunday, April 24, 2016

Good night sweet prince



     When David Bowie died in January, I thought of all Bowie meant to me, since I was a 16-year-old at Camp Wise, and batted out something reflecting that connection. The paper ran it the next day, on the front page.
     When Prince died Thursday... well, not my table, so I said nothing.
     Wasn't missed. The Internet was an explosion of Prince—remembrances, celebrations, praise, reflection, grief.  Surely nobody wanted to read more.
     So Saturday, nothing. The entire Internet had reverted to Prince anyway.
    To be honest, rather than adding something, I would have subtracted. It was too much—in my opinion, as someone who didn't care for him, one way or the other. I missed the other news that Prince was crowding out. Yes, he was dead. Yes, "Purple Rain." The New Yorker tweeted their purple, raining cover minutes after his death was announced. Everyone wanted in on the action. 
    I wasn't interested in him when he was alive. Kinda late to start now...
    But it felt like sour grapes to say that. The songs, well, people do like that sort of thing, obviously. To me, appreciation of Prince hinged on finding him, or his music, sexy, and, without going into details, not my cup of tea, no. 
     I did think of saying that—offer up something for the Prince indifferent, who might be feeling left out and bewildered. There's comfort in knowing you're not alone. God knows the Prince fans are being catered to. Why not whisper, there is no accounting for taste?
     Yet...why pooh-pooh something people genuinely valued in their moment of (apparently) genuine grief? Bulletin: it's not all about me. 
     Better to wait a few days.
     Maybe on a warm Sunday. Who the heck's reading this anyway? Go outside, get moving. Walk in the 80 degree weather in the Chicago Botanic Garden. That's where I am.
    If Prince wasn't your guy, well, I'm with you. A shame he's gone—57, too young—but I would have settled for the news told once, and that's it. Why does every celebrity death have to be given the Full Diana Treatment? Am I the only one getting tired of the media, hungry for hits, keening over every lost celebrity? It's exploitative.
     With the exception of this post, of course.
  

23 comments:

  1. Agree 100%! Suddenly all these celebs or entertainers are elevated to sainthood.

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  2. Always good to know someone else feels exactly the way I do about something.

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  3. One positive aspect of the deluge of publicity is that you discover without paying the least amount of attention that most of what you thought you knew about a celebrity isn't true. That Prince had many lady loves came as quite a surprise to me at least. That Waylon Jennings was actually respected as a musician was a shocker as well.

    john

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  4. Prince would've loved the magnitude of response. It matched his ego.

    I think Prince and Bowie were quite alike. They both liked to change character and style with their music and presentations. They both pushed the envelope over what was acceptable. I prefer Bowie by far, but can appreciate Prince's unique talent.

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  5. "Light griefs speak easily. The great ones are struck dumb." Seneca

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  6. Grinchy, Neil. Music annexes to our emotional connection with the world. In being affected by the death of a person who created a memory for us, we confront our timeline, recall our youth and appreciate art. It's not gawking. It's not abstract. It's a moment of review and sentiment. Music might not be your particular heartbeat. But for much of the world, his joy in performing and his early modeling of the "take me as I am" persona was developmentally significant. Like Ulysses is for you. No need to use this as an excuse to reduce anyone's sense of sadness.

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    1. I'm not sure where the "reducing" comes from. If I say "exuberant throngs of Muslim faithful flock to Mecca to celebrate the Haj but I, being a complete non-believer, don't," am I minimizing their belief? Why the need for uniformity?

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  7. No accounting for taste? Harsh. Prince was a musical genius and a master on over 20 instruments. Even if you weren't into his style, his musicality has to be greatly admired.
    When Purple Rain first came out, I got the album. I only listened to it twice when my mom overheard the song Darling Nikki. That got the album taken away, I was 12. She stuck it away and forgot about it until coming across it again in 2001. It was given back, I'm old enough now I guess. Now I have an original mint Prince album. That's the song that started the PMRC, obviously my mom didn't need them. She was the PMRC before it was a thing. Anyway, chalk me up as a stunned fan that's saddened by a loss of immense talent way too soon.

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    1. Nikki-now we get your nickname meaning.

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    2. That's pretty funny, but no, my name has always been spelled like that. Perhaps that's part of what put my mom over the top because it really wasn't a common spelling then. Coincidence that my married initial is D.

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  8. Nailed it! I thought he was a terrific talent....bye Felicia! Everyone dies.

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  9. Hmm, FWIW, here is my two cents on the matter: I appreciate this particular blog post for what it is: NS's personal feelings and opinion about Prince and the publicity his death is receiving. Nothing else to critique about it, is there? If I said I hated Prince, it wouldn't be an incorrect comment, just as if I said I adored him. The same for opining that Prince (or anyone else) is getting too much (or too little) hype about something.
    The expression "no accounting for taste" is not a negative comment; I always thought it was another way of saying "no-one should be judged for their opinion of what/who they like".

    SandyK


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    1. We effete folks like to say, "De gustibus non disputandum est."

      john

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    2. tate -- Some folks do seem to be a little bothered by other folks' tastes.

      SandyK

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    3. I'm persuaded by the passionate dissents from Neil's grinchy assesment that many were deeply,and legitimately, saddened,but also,like Neil,think some of the public weeping and wailing was overdone. A lot of people jumping on the 'griefwagon,' to coin a cliche.

      Tom Evans

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    4. I don't think it was as much "weeping and wailing". More like everyone gathered together on social media and the streets to celebrate his life and music. If it's not a big deal to some, so what? Why should it annoy you?

      I was not a big fan of Elvis Presley and thought the hoopla surrounding his death was way over done and that was long before social media. But, live and let live. It didn't interfere with my life.

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  10. I like some of Princes song and think Nothing Compares 2 U is a stunner. But I don't really understand grieving celebrities all that much. The ones who I have grieved are because I know I will miss their future lost work. There are many times I wonder what Ebert would have thought of a movie and I would love Tim Russetts take on the current election. But those sorts of situations are few and far between.

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  11. Enough dead and dying people in my real life. I save my grief for them.

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  12. Somewhat of a derail, but Kumamon was at the Botanic Gardens yesterday too. Curious coincidence? Will I have to read Sneed's column to learn more?

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  13. Maybe better to say nothing than to say you're saying nothing. Your piece has certainly brought out those with nothing good to say.

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  15. Whoa! Just saw this.

    And I demand a retraction.

    Take it back. Right now.

    You acknowledge that the significance of the passing of an icon of your youth merited front-page treatment, then decide that a bigger reaction for somebody else's icon was "too much"?

    The bigger reaction for this other icon was "crowding out" news that you missed? Crowding it out from where? The home screen news feed that's a mere cover page for the nearly infinite amount of Everything Else that was and is still out there to be found on the Internet if only you felt like doing a little extra clicking?

    All of the other people who didn't like or get Prince needed something to soothe their left-out feelings in all this tide of Prince tribute and mourning?

    Neil Steinberg is supposed to be telling us about why he likes something that most of the rest of the world doesn't seem to get. Like opera. Or explaining the outsider's take on not being in on stuff that everybody else seems to love. Like football. There was a whole lot of story to be told about the surprise of the volume of the Prince absorption and the reasons for it.

    But this? "I'm not a fan, I'm annoyed by the extent of the displays of other peoples' fandom, and I need to say so for the benefit of my own left-outness and that of those like me?"

    That's the kind of old-man-it's-all-about-me-ness for which Ed Gold would have skewered Bob Greene. It's bad enough that the entertainment figures of my age group are dying off. I don't need to see the insightful commentators of my generation sliding in to late-stage-Andy-Rooney-ism.

    Okay, I'll grant that the pressure of the every day construct will produce some less-than-great efforts.

    But this is too much.

    Disavow this, and don't let it happen again.

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