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In a town like Los Angeles, it’s hard not to run into celebrity…the thought of it, the image of it, the very smell of it…or sometimes that actual thing itself sitting at a sushi bar in a “named” restaurant or even on the street after a quick Monday morning coffee pick-up.

Celebrity. The famous face. The beautiful body. The amazing talent or voice. In sports, the unimaginable physicality.

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When I was a kid, we too had movie stars and pop stars, like Elvis Presley and Little Richard. And then mega-stars came along like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

We had movie stars, too, Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, and a dozen others. Then the Superstars appeared…Jesus Christ comes to mind, the musical I mean. But there were many more superstars in our heavens with less credentials than being the Son of God, Tiny Tim for instance and his ukulele.

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These stars at least did do something. No matter how trivial the tiptoeing through the tulips was or however you may rate rock ‘n roll in comparison to Bach, or how silly Marlon Brando’s tee-shirt pose was compared to Sir Lawrence Olivier’s Hamlet, at least they were acting or singing or playing some kick-ass uke licks.

Today, we have Celebrity simply for the sake of it. The surface with nothing behind the mirror. The image without even an attempt at substance.r

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The poster child for the kind of effete notoriety I’m talking about is Kim Kardashian. What does she do? Nothing. What did she do to become a “star”? Leak a sex tape of her and her boyfriend Ray J in 2007. Then she sleazed around in a reality show with her makeshift family.

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Now she’s married to Kanye West…he’s a rap star, by the way, for those of you may still be listening to the Beatles…as I am.

Together they had sex and she became pregnant, which apparently was the first time a woman ever became pregnant after having sex with a man and was therefore worthy of international headlines for nearly nine months. I say nearly nine months because the baby was “delivered” five weeks early.

There have been rumors to the effect that the pregnancy was terminated early to preserve Kim’s figure and delicate skin. I mean, who wants stretch marks or a big tukhus?

Well, at least she could attempt to avoid the stretch marks. But a big tukhus? Forget about it. Kim’s is legendary. Besides, big tuckhuses are in these days. Take a look at Jennifer Lopez’s brand new music video Booty. Or even the ancient hit song, Baby Got Back. Let me tell you, those efforts are certainly worthy of celebrity.

Dear Kim now has a video game out that gives the celebrity impoverished among us a chance to become a “video” celebrity simply by following Kim’s secrets. What her secrets? Buy stuff that other celebrities have…clothes, jewelery, make-up, tummy tucks, exotic trips, jets…all that “cool” stuff. Buy it and you’ll become it. Or at least you’ll make Kimmie richer and more famous and she’ll continue to be it. And after all, isn’t that what a good fan should do?

Yes, things have gotten downright silly, or disgusting…depending on your frame of mind on any given day.

Of course, the concept of Celebrity is certainly not new. I suspect even the first monkey wanted the second monkey’s banana-appeal. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself).

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And to be fair, I admit that I have lusted after one type of success or another in my own way over the years. That’s why when the notorious poet, Charles Bukowski, died in 1994 and the LA Times published his poem, The Secret, as a kind of homage to him, the words of the poem rang true for me. So much so that I framed the newsprint poem and hung it on my wall to dose myself when celebrity loomed too large in my primate brain.

His words ring even louder and clearer today…

 

The Secret

don’t worry, nobody has the
beautiful lady, not really, and

nobody has the strange and
hidden power, nobody is
exceptional or wonderful or
magic, they only seem to be
it’s all a trick, an in, a con,
don’t buy it, don’t believe it.
the world is packed with
billions of people whose lives
and deaths are useless and
when one of these jumps up
and the light of history shines
upon them, forget it, it’s not
what it seems, it’s just
another act to fool the fools
again.

there are no strong men, there
are no beautiful women.
at least, you can die knowing
this
and you will have
the only possible
victory

Charles Bukowski 1920-1994

 

 

 

 

 

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