Thursday, August 13, 2009

cultural icons

While in California recently my son and I stopped by Neverland Ranch and took photos standing by the gate. I was going to include one of those but for now the computer is not cooperating. The untimely death of Michael Jackson, a giant cultural icon, reminds me of the death of both John Lennon and Elvis. Both were bigger icons for me than Michael Jackson because they were personal musical influences. Even though I respected Michael Jackson's talent and accomplishments, he was never a musical influence.

I learned of Elvis' death when Rick Markberry showed up one summer evening in August to pick me up to go see a local band play at Bogarts and the first thing he told me after I opened the door was, "Elvis died." During our evening, we discussed Elvis, his music and the various ways he was a musical influence on us. I allow myself to eat a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich only in August and January.

A few years later, I returned home late on a Monday night in December from working at Bick's Driving School, turned on Monday Night Football just before Howard Cosell announced that John Lennon had been shot and was presumed dead. Rick Mapes, Hodgie and I sat up all night listening to Peter Leighton on Q-102 as he interviewed people and reported on Lennon's death. The season leading into Christmas, 1980 was very sad. That had been a very sad year for me anyway and his death was a continuation of grief.

It's amazing to think that the death of a cultural icon would have such a personal impact but as I observed the displays left at the Neverland gate, I understood how some of the fans were feeling. I have never visited either Graceland or the Dakota but I would like to.

Cultural icons impact us, influence us, and cause reactions in us.

For some people, the Jesus House probably fits the category of a cultural icon. It was something that impacted people in spiritual and cultural ways. I was always amazed when a new person to the Jesus House would respond with a comment like, "I never knew it was possible to have Christian music in a style that I like." We became so accustomed to the weekly concerts it was easy to forget that thousands of others never had the same advantage. We because accustomed to the different ways we did Bible study or small groups or experienced worship and fellowship together but many others only knew traditional church styles.

Besides the music, the Jesus House also impacted the way people dressed. It was always fun to see someone start wearing a certain style of clothing then over a couple of months see others adopt the style. (Remember leg warmers or Earth Shoes? Yes, both invaded the Jesus House although ten years apart) This also happened with things like Rubic cubes (summer of 1981 everyone had one!), tea drinking (winter, 1974 everyone drank Constant Comment!) and running (in 1979 everyone was running!). Yes, the Jesus House had a huge spiritual impact on people, but it was also a gathering place for shared culture.

This Week in History: Artists Who Performed the Third and Fourth Weeks of August

The Third Week of August

1972 - Doug Yost, Kevin & Doug, Mike & Blain
1973 - Vickie Eaton, Mike Wilshire
1974 - Conglomerate #2!
1975 - Mark O'Hara
1976 - Conglomerate #4!
1977 - Conglomerate #5!
1978 - Conglomerate #6!
1979 - Conglomerate #7!
1980 - Conglomerate #8!
1981 - Conglomerate #9, #9, #9, #9, #9 ...
1982 - Share-it
1983 - Conglomerate #11

The Fourth Week of August

1972 - Mark O'Hara, Vickie Eaton
1973 - Conglomerate #1! Camp Evergreen, not far from where I currently abode!
1974 - Wings of Deliverance singers, musicians, etc. A wild bunch! Also, Sherry Fayard & Sharon Wilson
1975 - Conglomerate #3!
1976 - Tony Ross
1977 - Jerry Gelesppi
1978 - ? It's blank.
1979 - Hymn
1980 - Share-it
1981 - Rob Rodebush
1982 - Share-it
1983 - Terry Fisher

August Occasionally had a Fifth Saturday. Here are the artists who helped us out on those Fifth Saturdays:

1974 - Rising Hope, Cliff & Dave
1975 - Sela
1980 - Prodigal
1981 - End O Summer Bash, Family Nite

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