Posts Tagged ‘Whitney Houston’

Republican NJ governor Chris Christie is starting to lose some of the shine the GOP has heaped upon him over the last few months.  The voice of reason in the GOP over the last year or so and the one person they were actually interested in running against President Obama, has somehow managed to step on his crank by ordering the flags across the state lowered in honor of the death of Whitney Houston.  This particular order has given rise to a multitude of criticism from citizens of NJ and across the country in general.  Christie has defended his order as a sign of respect for “a daughter of New Jersey”.  In my not so humble opinion there are numerous points of contention with bestowing an honor such as this upon Ms. Houston as tragic as her death may be for her family and fans.  Let me start with the Governor and work my way out because in all honesty, this ended more about him than it actually did Whitney Houston.

Like members of both parties and the Repubilibercrat Ron Paul, Christie is so convinced that HE IS AMERICA, that no matter how the people speak out, he obviously knows better and is not afraid to use his authority to do so.  Christie is the Governor of a state, which has a flag.  He could very well have chosen to lower the flag of the Garden State in memoriam to the entertainer, but no he had to elevate his power to the point of allowing his office and his state represent the collective sense of loss for the entire American Republic when he ordered the American flag be lowered as well.  Like many, I will be so bold as to say MOST, politicians these days, Christie took the authority of his office and despite the criticism, decided to do what he wanted simply because he could and he was arrogant enough to do so.  Admittedly he does exude quite the air of confidence and calm despite his rotund and portly figure, but considering America has turned in to one of the fattest nations on earth, I guess he is just representing us in a physical sense as well.

Politically speaking NJ has always been a bit schizophrenic.  Traditionally it is labeled as Democrat and a liberal state, yet the ideals when you speak across the people are more conservative in nature.  One of the many reasons for this is NJ is a heavy union state and they traditionally vote more towards Democrat than Republican.  I remember working construction back in 90 and talking to a union man who had just come back from voting for Clinton because that is what his delegate told everyone to do since that is who they were backing.  This despite the fact he was a Republican.  Since just about every career field in the NJ area is represented by a fairly robust and strong union, the state tends to run blue.  Considering the liberal bent of NJ from a political standpoint it was also not a surprise to see Christie exercise his capacity to be the Master Calibrator of the collective moral compass and veto the legalization of same-sex marriage.  He claims he wants it to be based upon the voice of the people and a public vote held.  We should all be aware that this generally means a politicians does not have the balls to say or do what he needs to do, they are trying to appease their party by not going against it’s core beliefs and give themselves the appearance of a person of the people.  Too bad he blew that appearance when he did not listen to the people and NOT lower the flags to half-mast.

Ok, to get back on track to the original topic.  Lets address Whitney Houston and her role in this whole mess; she died.  Period.  Honestly, was anyone really surprised when they heard about it?  I am not trying to be callous about it, I am sure to her close friends and family it was a tragedy, any death of a family member should be a tragedy for the family.  That is one of those things that goes undefined when you try to explain family.  But members of the general public, were we really surprised. really?  Maybe by the timing or of the circumstances, but this was not exactly a Black Swan event in the history of the world.  Like many entertainers that came before her, it was the circumstances of her chosen career which in some way led to her death.  Just in the last 40 years or so alone, how many musicians have succumbed to not only the immediate ravages of addiction and abuse, but the continuing effects that happened as a result of that abuse, despite no longer using mind altering chemicals.

In some way Whitney Houston died as a symptom of her inability to deal with her fame.  For longer than she was famous and viable as an entertainer, she was just as famous as a sideshow.  Her battles with drugs and alcohol were not hidden from the public.  Bobby Brown and she had a regular television show that showcased the issues weekly.  She was known to be a moody and contentious personality to work with.  Ego grown of her success did not diminish at the same rate as her gifts did.  In other words despite her ability to sing, she was, human.  As a human, like the rest of us, we are born to die.  you cannot beat it no matter your talent.

Here is a link to the United States Code which covers Old Glory and who/when it is proper do display under circumstances other than normal. US Code Title 4 .

The particular paragraph below should draw your attention, but please read the entire chapter.  I hate it when people take a line and twist the context to suit their needs without supplying the supporting phrases that surround it.

(m) The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff. By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law. In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States or the death of a member of the Armed Forces from any State, territory, or possession who dies while serving on active duty, the Governor of that State, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff, and the same authority is provided to the Mayor of the District of Columbia with respect to present or former officials of the District of Columbia and members of the Armed Forces from the District of Columbia. When the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, or the Mayor of the District of Columbia, issues a proclamation under the preceding sentence that the National flag be flown at half-staff in that State, territory, or possession or in the District of Columbia because of the death of a member of the Armed Forces, the National flag flown at any Federal installation or facility in the area covered by that proclamation shall be flown at half-staff consistent with that proclamation. The flag shall be flown at half-staff 30 days from the death of the President or a former President; 10 days from the day of death of the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives; from the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a Secretary of an executive or military department, a former Vice President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or possession; and on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress. The flag shall be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day, unless that day is also Armed Forces Day. As used in this subsection—

(1) the term “half-staff” means the position of the flag when it is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff;
(2) the term “executive or military department” means any agency listed under sections 101 and 102 of title 5, United States Code; and
(3) the term “Member of Congress” means a Senator, a Representative, a Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico.
Here is just one of many requests to a local official to not recognize Governor Christie’s proclamation.  I think this is probably the best written one I saw over the last few days.
What do you guys think?

Something I have never been able to wrap my mind around is the public swell of emotion when a famous person dies.  I particularly am unable to grasp the public empathy when they live a lifestyle of various personal abuses and act in a manner that if it were anyone we knew personally would not surprise us at all if we had found out they suddenly died as a result of said behavior.  I do not mean to diminish the sense of loss experienced by their family and close friends, it is expected and completely understandable they would go through that.  When you live a life in the public eye and allow you demons to be on display, why is it then the public in general is shocked and draw together in memorium when just a few days before they were so critical of the most recent display of dysfunction splashed across the tabloids?

There have been numerous musicians in my lifetime that have met a bitter end due to their inability to control their demons.  While still in diapers in a very short span the world lost Jimmy Hendrix, Janice Joplin, and Jim Morrison to some side effect of their drug and alcohol abuse.  Flash forward to the 1980’s and there were numerous musicians, actors and models who fell prey to the early days of the A.I.D.S epidemic.  In the 1990’s we saw Curt Cobain eat a shotgun as his final display of his inability to reconcile his fame, fortune, family and addictions.  In the last year alone there was the death of Amy Winehouse and just this weekend the death of Whitney Houston.  It is too early to tell what caused the death of Whitney Houston, but how much would you like to bet that in some way, shape, or form it will be attributed to the very demons she shared with her ex-husband Bobby Brown and put on public display both in the tabloids and their television show.

Americans both worship and vilify the cultural icons we put up on a pedestal.  They are fodder for the tabloids with their exploits no matter how personal they may be.  Somehow, we also manage to be surprised and saddened when those same actions lead to their death.  Michael Jackson is probably the most famous case of this.  All the debts he racked up while he was alive to help foster his eccentricities is now being paid off as he continues to make as much money in death as he did during life.  Somehow his true and deadly addictions managed to be kept out of public eye until after his death, we just got to witness the great talent he had alongside his completely eccentric and often disturbing life.

We witness famous people enter our popular culture and the vast tabloid battlefield each and every day.  Many are mourned and we speak of the loss for the world with their passing, yet each and everyday a child or children are killed in senseless acts of violence that could have been prevented.  They die through no fault of their own, victims of their genealogy or placement in an unforgiving system.  Their losses may make national headlines due to the heinousness of the crime which killed them, yet we as a country pay more attention to the trial of a doctor who in a display of unethical practice allowed someone who knew to be an addict self-medicate with a powerful anesthetic he prescribed him.  I wonder if the judge on that particular case would show the same level of loss and acrimony to the killers of Zahra Baker or Shaniya Davis.

The system each and every day fails children and more continue to die because among the first programs to get cut on state and federal budgets is social services.  Famous people undress to show their love of animals and protest cruelty towards them.  How about they keep their clothes on and dedicate some time and money towards protecting our youth or helping provide much needed services that would prevent them from becoming just another statistic.

Whitney Houston delivered one of the most memorable performances of our national anthem ever back in 1991.  The thing about that is, it was recorded and now will long outlast her.  There is a whole community out in Washington state that wonders how the system could have failed two little boys, burned to death along with their father, who allegedly could not live without them.  As they were snatched away from the social worker who was supposed to take them to a SUPERVISED visit with their father, a person of interest in the disappearance of their mother, the smell of fuel was evident from the front door as it was slammed in the social workers face.  This social worker called 911 and waited as the police responded to something else and the house became immolated by fire. Despite the pleas of the social worker to 911, her suspicions were not enough to raise the priority as there was a known emergency elsewhere at the time.

“I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”

These words were sung by a woman with an amazing voice and a haunted personal life.  Many people watched her dysfunctional life play out on a weekly tv show and read with shock, awe, and morbid fascination her every foible in the weekly tabloids.  Even someone with a life such as hers can bring words to life with their voice, that is their gift.  I would like to think that in their passing they would rather see the world focus on the words they have sung and find the meaning in them rather than be placed upon a pedestal strictly for the gifts they were given.  Magic is all about illusion, in this case as in most, the magician is the public as we willingly fool ourselves into seeing only the bright spots and not recognizing the picture for what it is.  We pull the wool over our own eyes and draw our focus to our icons rather than aligning our empathy to those who truly need it.