Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A View of Heartthrobs and Heartbreakers

I'm aware of three famous men who made my mom squeal.

The first was Prince.

She was cuckoo for that little man. When I see Prince, I think of pancakes and late nights with camels. Not Mom. She just swooned. To this day, my sister and I joke about how, back in the late 80's, she spent the night in a line for tickets (something she'd never done before) outside the Fisher Building - sending for us in the middle of the night because of rumors of ticket purchase limits. "Go get the girls," she ordered my stepdad, "NOW." He got us alright. Out we went to wait in line sporting pajamas, fuzzy house shoes and rollers in our hair - joining him in worn out sweats and sleep in his eye. At the concert, she stood up on her seat, dancing and swaying and damn near fainting when he took off his suit jacket. "OH MY LORD, HE'S TAKING HIS CLOTHES OFF!!!!" she screamed, giggling like a schoolgirl swooning over her first crush. She now says the thrill is gone, but I bet if he were to launch into a quick split and gyration in front of her, she'd swoon again.

The second was Chuck Jackson.

Click on the picture to see a clip of him performing.

He's a wonderful R&B singer from the '60s who didn't get as much noteriety as his talent deserved. He's best known for his cover of the Bachrach & Hilliard classic, "Any Day Now." She told me once about how my grandfather introduced her to him at the old 20 Grand Theatre. She was so excited to meet him, she fell off her barstool (without the benefit of liquid courage because she was underage) when he extended his hand to shake hers. She still blushes and smiles when you say his name or play one of his songs. Looking at his picture and hearing his voice, I can't help but blush myself.

The third was Dave Bing.

I don't remember if it was the young Dave or the older Dave who made her heart skip a beat, but skip it did. I'm thinking it was the older Dave because she talked about how distinguished he looked. Distinguished was a good word. He had a sterling reputation, both on the basketball court in college with Syracuse and as a Hall of Fame stand out with the Detroit Pistons, and in the local business community as founder and head of The Bing Group.

As a matter of fact, his reputation was so outstanding that many felt he would be the perfect choice to clean up the mess that is Detroit city government. Well spoken, charming, successful businessman (how many politicians can truly say they created jobs after all), smart, above the buffoonish nonsense that defines the actions of so many of the area's leaders - he seemed to have it all. After a long deliberation, he decided to run for mayor and Detroit swooned.

Then came the morning after. Reports about safety violations at his plants and fines of up to $200 grand surfaced. Then Bing, who'd been critical of the divisive atmosphere that permeates Detroit politics, began a negative campaign against current mayor Ken Cockrel, Jr., escalating the attack when the deal to regionalize Cobo Hall fell through. Then criticism about his residency came to the forefront. Mr. Bing maintains a residence in a gated community in Franklin, a Detroit suburb. His wife still lives there - some whisper that she refuses to move to Detroit. He bought a condo in downtown Detroit shortly before filing campaign papers and announcing his run for office. Prior to that purchase, he hadn't lived in Detroit for over 30 years, prompting critics to call him a "carpetbagger" who "doesn't love the city."

His behavior and the reports disappointed my mom. She expected him to not fall into negative campaigning and remain above reproach as he ran for mayor, but wasn't surprised because campaigning is never pretty. Still, she held out hope that the Dave Bing she admired would come to the surface.

Well, this morning reports surfaced that not only did Mr. Bing lie about when he earned his bachelor's degree - which in and of itself would've been disappointing but not too surprising - he lied about earning a master's degree. "I felt I had an MBA for the work I had done in the industry I was in," Bing is quoted as saying.

Fair enough. He's worked hard and long in the automotive supply business for years. That sort of hands on experience is the equivalent of any college study. But for a man campaigning on a pledge to bring integrity back to Detroit's city government, lying about any portion of his background is not the way to establish a base of trust and honesty with the voting public. The news broke my mom's heart. Broke mine too, along with a lot of his supporters.

He was a heartthrob, and now he's breaking hearts. This morning's news was pretty depressing, and that's a heartbreaker too. Literally. A recent report in USA Today discussed a study by Washington University and the VA Medical Center in St. Louis. Researchers followed 1,200 middle aged men to see whether or not there was a genetic link between depression and heart disease. They found that depression almost doubles the risk of heart disease. More follow up study is needed, especially to see if the link is the same in women.

Until that follow up study is done, I'm keeping my mom away from any news about Dave Bing. I'll fill that time with a steady dose of "Purple Rain" and Chuck Jackson records.

More later. In the meantime, maybe I should see a wizard or something. Then again, they aren't all they're cracked up to be either.

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