Saturday, February 18, 2012


When Whitney Houston passed away on February 11 at the age of 48, the world lost an undeniably- talented vocalist. As is the custom with American celebrities, she was found in a rented room surrounded by large amounts of prescription medication. The scene has become so commonplace I am beginning to suspect it is a package offered by the hotel itself. I can just imagine Keith Richards checking into an Embassy Suites and the concierge asking whether he preferred to have the maid surround his corpse with Xanax or Lortab before alerting TMZ.
While the circumstances of Whitney’s death might have been unremarkable, the media coverage was anything but. For three solid days, there was nothing else on television and they were scrounging up every warm body that could conceivable called an acquaintance of the fallen starlet. I believe that at one point I ran across Dr. Drew interviewing a lady who once participated in a church bake sale with Whitney’s dental hygienist. These insights were punctuated by footage of ex-husband Bobby Brown performing impromptu tributes during several stops of his “Have I Managed to Play Ever Native-American Gaming Facility Yet?” tour.

The public’s sudden fascination with Mrs. Houston has even impacted my personal finances. A few days ago, I was standing in line at the bank waiting for my turn to make a deposit. The woman in front of me had requested cash from her account and presented her driver’s license as proof of identity. When the teller glanced down at the woman’s ID, she gasped sharply and exclaimed “You look just like Whitney!”  

The woman, obviously flattered, coyly deflected the observation and revealed that she was “emotionally unable” to continue watching the news coverage because of its profound effect on her psyche. At this point, the teller abandoned any semblance of productivity and proceeded to reminisce about catching The Bodyguard on Lifetime a few weeks ago and how it had given her a renewed sense of Whitney’s prodigious talent. Bobby Brown was not mentioned.

Later that same week, New Jersey Governor Chris Chrisite ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff to mourn Mrs. Houston and recognize that she was “a great source of pride for the people of the state.” Her memorial service will be for close friends and family, but they have chosen to broadcast it online so that the masses can enjoy.

I will admit a certain ignorance when it comes to the rules of half-masting the stars and stripes, but I was always under the impression this ceremony was performed when presidents were assassinated or a space shuttle exploded, I did not realize that state governors could order it done at will. Are there no parameters? If Jersey natives Ice-T or Meryl Streep kick the bucket is he going to drop the flag again? If something happens to Kevin Spacey they might declare martial law and ration seedless-fruit.

If I was to become governor, discretionary flag-dropping is definitely one power that I would abuse. The building managers would have rope-burn every time The McRib goes into hiding or my DVR cuts off the two minutes of my show. On some occasions, I may even authorize three-quarter mast flag height if I am still unsure how I feel about an event (like the most recent Van Halen album or retro soda cans).

I am also unsure how I feel about webcasting a funeral. I suppose such things are inevitable in the modern era, and perhaps there is a business opportunity in such things. Just imagine, a site where you could pay your respects without having to engage in the awkward small-talk that usually accompanies a memorial service. Your virtual grieving would be interrupted by a few banner ads and a Tide commercial or two, but it still beats flying to Denver in order to hear things like, “She looks so peaceful.”

1 comment:

  1. I will be angry if this same level of tribute in not accorded Hank Williams Jr when his "time comes" ?


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