In 2023, the Bond franchise celebrates its 70th anniversary. Very few franchises, with the exception of the Universal Classic Monsters and Godzilla series, have enjoyed such a long life in the popular media of film. Like them, the Bond franchise has seen many new beginnings that continually restart the property, perpetually reset it, and are bound to do so again.
Duke Fakir’s life determination radiates throughout I’ll Be There: My Life With The Four Tops. From arriving early in high school, hustling up the group’s first uniforms, managing the group’s funds, and now preserving the group’s legacy.
Notes on the skies of America
When we kiss, the world drops away. We are warm lips and darting tongues, soft cheeks or stubble, arched necks, wrapped arms, tingling pressure, tenderness and hunger. We drown in a good kiss, suffocate and come up gasping for air and do not care, because such a kiss insists that we are loved and wanted. Our breath intermingles. For the time it takes a cloud to pass the sun, our souls join.
In the hogan I was miserable, not enlightened, felt funky and slimed. All the individual animal and species sins poured out of me, not as catharsis or healing, but as reminder and irritant, and I did not believe in sin. This was not my culture, my ceremony, my victory, my tribe. It was like being put to death slowly and humiliatingly for my presumption.
A “Year of Vonnegut” was declared in Indy in 2007, but that was deflated by his death that year. Given the centenary, it seemed as if there should be more going on, and that got me thinking about legacy from the start.
Organized religions, at least the traditional monotheistic ones, are stingy in assigning a soul (only to humans) and defining its fate (blackened by sin). They bottle up the holy water, decree which acts are sins and which are virtues, box up God in a package of their own design. Why not let divinity spread out and envelop us, until we can see some faint glow of energy even in the inanimate?
The first woman to paint the official portrait of a U.S. president, Greta Kempton also painted Cabinet officials, governors, senators, the head of the Atomic Energy Commission, two Postmasters General, a Supreme Court justice, several university presidents, and a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. But what would have happened if she had painted a self-portrait?
Dying is something we all do. Saints, film stars, Olympic athletes, con artists. I feel calmer every time another cool friend pulls it off; if all these smart, funny people have managed to die, could it be so awful to share their fate? Yet much of what we call culture is created to deny death, or at least distract us from it.
The real Elvis is American, remember, and America is a consumer society. The desires we project, the stuff we buy—that is what feels real to us. It lets us have any Elvis we want. He left plenty of kitsch in his wake, plenty of pseudo-religion, plenty of Elvis jokes—but he was not, is not, a joke. He lived our contradictions, released our inhibitions, and lost himself in the process.