Random thought I had today: With the King of Pop’s death in June, the price of superstar conceptual artist Jeff Koons‘ famed 1988 sculpture, Michael Jackson and Bubbles, above, must be rocketing in value. (Made in an edition of three, plus an artist’s proof, one of the life-sized, 42 in. x 70 1/2 in. x 32 1/2 in. porcelain tchotchkes sold at auction for $5.6 million in 2001.)
Indeed, legendary art dealer Larry Gagosian, who reps Koons, right, told The New York Times back in July that if one of the creations
was to come up for sale now, it could make more than $20 million. “And that’s conservative,” he added.
In the case of Lit drummer Allen Shellenberger, right, who died last Thursday in his mother’s home of brain cancer, a month before his 40th birthday, I’m familiar with, literally, three minutes and forty-eight seconds of his output. But even though I couldn’t have named the drummer or his band from memory this morning, what I knew of him affected me enough to, a decade later, instantly recall that I could dig up more about him by Googling “Lit, Pamela Anderson.”
While we’re waiting for Eddie Murphy’s insights on Michael Jackson’s passing, this will have to do: The comedian riffing on the King, from 1983′s Delirious. High point: His spot-on impersonation of Jackson singing “She’s Out of My Life,” added calls for sympathy from the vocalist’s brothers. A quarter-century later…still amazing.
Today, on NONFICTION, I’ll be talking about the life and music of the late, great Michael Jackson, who died yesterday, with ethnomusicologist Dr. Kyra Gaunt and music writer Michael Gonzales, author of “Remembering The Times: Memories of Mike.”
You can hear their ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.
Does everyone have a favorite Eartha Kitt moment or performance? One’s probably bound to, given that, when she died of colon cancer yesterday, in Connecticut, at the age of 81, she’d spent over 60 years in show business, making indelible, absolutely unique and unforgettable impressions.
Mine was a four-scene turn as cosmetics legend Lady Eloise, in director Reginald Hudlin’s 1992 movie, Boomerang, right, but especially the dinner sequence with advertising executive Marcus Graham, played by Eddie Murphy.
You’d be forgiven for thinking, before yesterday, that Bettie Page, the black-haired, 1950s pinup girl with an unflappable commitment to the camera, above, wasn’t even a real person, but, like Uncle Sam, merely a symbol.
Indeed, her face and figure are so much a part of the last century’s random visual database—like images of the moon landing, the Spirit of St. Louis, or Elvis—you might even conclude that, if she was real, then she had to have been many different women—a composite like that other Betty, Crocker—all playing to a simple fantasy of middle American sexual vitality that has long disappeared under dust, but that got “our boys” through the Second World War, Korea, and the suffocating stuffiness of whitebread life in the mid-20th century.
By creating the Sydney Opera House, above, Danish architect Jørn Utzon, right, who died in his sleep of a heart attack over the weekend, at age 90, did more than make a great and transcendent building. He accomplished that rarest of architectural feats: He created a symbol that, as the U.S. Capitol does for this country, or the Eiffel Tower does for France, became part of a nation’s identity.
Or, as I like to put it, he made a building that, were you to wake up out of a long sleep and see it, would tell you exactly where in the world you were. Trust me: It’s harder than you might think.
When only the shell of the opera house was complete, the architect found himself at odds with Davis Hughes, the New South Wales minister for public works, over cost overruns and delays. When Mr. Hughes stopped payments to Mr. Utzon in 1966, the architect packed up his family and left the country.