Greg Lake’s musical career began at the age of twelve when his mother bought him a guitar. The first song he wrote, “Lucky Man”, would turn out to be the most memorable track recorded by the progressive rock supergroup Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The momentum of the progressive rock scene was cut short in the mid-seventies by the emergence of a musical reformation lead by stripped down groups like The Ramones, The Clash, and The Sex Pistols. The latter’s frontman, Johnny Rotten, labeled the decadence of ELP, and other similar bands like Pink Floyd, as “dinosaur” rock. To punks on both sides of the Atlantic, Lake’s indulgent style was a tedious, slow moving beast that had outlived its usefulness. Greg Lake died earlier this week, but rather than having gone extinct decades ago from the meteor that was British 70s punk, he left behind a legacy of musical innovation and lyrical insight that spans half a century.
John Glenn, the first man to orbit the earth, paragon of virtue, and lifelong servant of our great country also passed away this week. It may be due to the popularity of the Right Stuff and the drama of his first spaceflight that Glenn is most remembered for his heroics with NASA; it’s the stuff of pure American legend. Often overlooked is his twenty-five year career in the United States Senate during which time he was a leading champion for the passage of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act of 1978. His vigorous commitment to slowing the spread of nuclear weapons showcased his intense awareness of the fragility and pricelessness of our planet, an awareness that perhaps can be best grasped by someone with the unique perspective of a veteran astronaut. In retrospect, John Glenn was not only an American hero, he was a hero for all mankind. When he died we lost more than one man, we lost an exemplar of the human spirit.
They don’t make ‘em like that anymore, but they should.
In other news, our soon to be former Vice President, Joe Biden, has indicated he’s open to running for President in 2020. A race between he and Donald Trump promises to be a gaffe-heavy circus, great television, and would add another ignoble feather to the cap of our increasingly ludicrous political atmosphere. As much fun as it would be for political junkies to witness this
abomination contest, it’s far too early for anyone to be making such announcements. The Donald hasn’t been inaugurated yet, none of his cabinet picks have been appointed, and things need to simmer down for awhile before we go racing headlong into our next national nightmare/embarrassment.
Or perhaps it would behoove the Democrats to begin rallying behind a standard bearer sooner rather than later. The pugilistic primary season left the Democratic Party fractured and their already flawed candidate bloodied. Maybe they can’t afford to take a day off, maybe now is the time to get their act together. Whether or not Joe Biden is their best bet is up in the air. A Joe Biden candidacy would demonstrate his unending dedication to service as much as it would display the enormous leadership vacuum in the Democratic Party. If Trump is only half successful as POTUS, any candidate fielded against him in 2020 would more than likely be a sacrificial lamb. The last thing they want to do is throw their best stud into a losing fight, but then again, they may not have any other choice. If the lovable gaffe-machine, Uncle Geriatric Joe, is the best they’ve got then they’re in deeper trouble than most people realize.
Back from the brink of extinction after two failed Senate bids is another dinosaur, Linda McMahon, wife of pro-wrestling mogul Vince McMahon. A sports-entertainment magnate in her own right, Mrs. McMahon has been tapped by President-elect Trump to head the Small Business Administration. This selection proves that if you stick around long enough, and rub elbows with the right people, one day your ship may come in. It also proves the line between entertainment and politics has become ever more blurry. And maybe there never was that distinct of a line between politics and pro-wrestling in the first place. Our political system is one rife with kayfabe rivalries, tawdry accusations, and histrionic grandstanding. All that’s missing are steel chairs and turnbuckles.
What goes up must come down, although in Mrs. McMahon’s case the opposite is true. She spent a fortune on her two failed attempts to join the world’s most exclusive 100 Club. Now she’s on track to a cushy top spot in an executive branch agency. When John Glenn came down from his famous first flight into space, it was to thunderous applause and fanfare – once the dust had settled, that is. Joe Biden must come down, the man will be seventy-seven in 2020 and I can’t imagine him surviving a general election campaign.
I suppose the moral of this week’s stories could be: some dinosaurs shouldn’t go extinct, some should and do (think Harry Reid), others should but don’t (Mick Jagger just had his eighth child), others try to (unwittingly) and fail (upward).