Kings of the Wild Frontier

I was 7 years old when Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, died. I still remember hearing it on the news. Elvis’ music hadn’t had much of a direct impact on me, but I knew who he was. Everyone knew who Elvis was. And his death was an utter shock, a moment of frozen time and disbelief. As time has gone by, I haven’t really ever been an Elvis fan, but I still have to acknowledge the cultural impact of his life and death.

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, died yesterday. He was older than Elvis when Elvis died, but not by much. I was never a huge Michael Jackson fan. I never owned Thriller or any of his other albums. Like most people, I made jokes about Jackson’s strange life and behavior. But as someone who grew up in the ’80s, I’d be lying if I said Michael Jackson had no impact on me, and I really did like a number of his songs. Like Elvis, Michael Jackson impacted everyone. And his death is an utter shock. I can barely believe he’s gone.

These two kings, Elvis and Michael, lived strange lives that just got stranger. They were twisted, tortured, abused and abusive, living in baroque bubbles of unreality. Is this what it takes to be a king in pop culture? Maybe. Despite the accusations of terrible, abusive, possibly criminal behavior, I feel sorry for these two men. They led sad, carnival-mirror lives that took them from this world at an early age. At the same time, they touched–and continue to touch–millions of people all over the world in brilliant ways.

Pop culture is a funny thing.

“It could work!”

You all know that I’m colossal geek, right?

Young Frankenstein is one of my all-time favorite movies. On Saturday night, we decided it was time for Morgan to see it. (She’s already seen Blazing Saddles and loved it, even if she didn’t get all of the jokes.) So, we got some tasty burgers from Five Guys and settled in to watch Young Frankenstein.

Morgan liked it, of course. But while we watched the movie, thoughts started drifting through my head…Dr. Frederick Frankenstein, the brilliant, eccentric scientist…Inga, his young, pretty, blonde assistant and lover…Igor, the sarcastic trickster…the Creature, big, strong and impulsive…

And because I’m a colossal geek, I spent about an hour putting this picture together (using Heromachine and The Gimp):

It kind of makes sense, don’t you think? Or is that just geeky ol’ me?

Circles

As I said in my previous post, I went to a school in Kansas City called Loretto for 5th-8th grades. Loretto was a private school that promoted self-paced education, cooperative learning, broad educational study and free thinking. It wasn’t quite “anything goes,” but it was much looser and more open than almost any other school I’ve gone to, not too dissimilar from the Montessori method. I really enjoyed my time at Loretto, and I was very upset when it closed during the summer of 1984, but it didn’t really hit me until this past weekend, reuniting with old friends and teachers from the school, just how much Loretto helped shape who I am and what I do today.

The Library Society of the World, begun on a whim and a dare, is completely a Loretto thing. It’s nonhierarchical, loosely-structured, open, free, collaborative, sarcastic and often lazy about getting things done…just like my classmates and I were at Loretto. Library Camp Kansas and my fondness for unconferences in general, that’s also Loretto-inspired. My dislike of formal presentations, standing at a podium and lecturing to an audience, and my preference for free-flowing conversations and the equal exhange of ideas also comes from my time at Loretto.

If I can continue to bring the Loretto philosophy and style into my professional and personal life, I’ll consider myself very successful indeed. The world needs fewer squares and more circles.

Renewals

Happy 35th Birthday, Sonya Walger and Danny Strong! Oh, and my beautiful wife, Julie. Happy Birthday, sweetheart!

We’ve been celebrating Julie’s birthday off and on this past week, because tonight she’s accompanying me to the Loretto reunion. Loretto was a private school here in Kansas City with a very liberal, openminded, flexible K-12 school that I went to for 5th-8th grades. While I had as much pre-teen/teen angst as anyone, going to Loretto was overall a fantastic experience. It closed in the summer of 1984, while I was off on summer vacation. I never got to really say good bye to the school or my friends. Reuniting with them recently and renewing our friendships has made me positively giddy.

Julie’s birthday + Loretto reunion = SUPER MEGA AWESOME WEEKEND!