Forty years ago at the beginning of the leisure suit nineteen seventies on or around the time of the inception of Disco music their was another transition in popular entertainment occurring. One that I was unusually well-placed to observed as my father in particular was very much invested in watching. His heroes had been members of the advance guard of the cocktail circuit. Tuxedo dressed east coast comedians and crooners who like himself had fought their way into prosperity and recognition from very humble beginnings at street level. Their era had been under constant assault of a younger form of entertainment for almost a decade since the beachhead of the Beatles in the sixties. Names like Sinatra, Martin and Davis rang throughout his adult existence as well as throughout our house in my childhood spent there. There were many frequent pilgrimages made by him to that fabled entertainment Mecca of Las Vegas where he would occasionally gain an audience with one of these kings of entertainment at one of the casinos along with a couple of hundred of the the other faithful.
But by this time, unfortunately, the curse of the quest that every younger generation must endure for their own Rock based gods and demigods had taken hold of me. And a Berlin wall style perimeter formed between my father and I that made his enjoyment of his show business heroes seem like GDR propaganda for ears that yearned for the freedom of the Western democracies. He was completely unable to fathom why ‘his music’ turned me off and his kind of ‘humor’ left me flatly unappreciative. I admit like all young zealots that my level of tolerance for prime time TV roasts and sunset Hollywood entertainers performing in the afterglow of their careers had no resonance with my tastes. So in the true totalitarianism of a youthful connoisseur I avoided these programs like the plague. The decades past as I kept my distance searching within my own self-constructed sphere for a sense of popular definition that I might feel comfortable allying myself within. But, like the 33 RPM’s records turned to CD’s and eventually MP3’s, I like a Parsifal, I stumbled through the aisles of retail America looking for a golden temple with some heartfelt undying truth to call my own.
Now that my father’s memory has faded to a ever present but unexpectedly hard to define shadow I visit the stamping grounds of his elusive phantom in dreams and occasionally upon late night YouTube rambling journeys through random snippets of the old television shows from his heyday. There I here the one liners that he faithfully learned and ultimately recited for the bulk of his existence. There also the lingering spirit of men and women who learned the unthinkable horrors that humankind can do to each other at an early age in senseless world wars and retorted with an ability to freely laugh and sing as their own overwhelming form of final revenge upon this all too prevalent form of evil. It is s sort of homecoming in many ways similar to the last sense of James Cameron’s “Titanic” where once a stranger, I now am welcomed back to come in and enjoy a world that paralleled so much of my own beginnings. Maybe also a way of having my long dead father once again at my side?