Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ten Years On

Sitting at the news room, I wrote some stories for the day’s events… a reader, a few VOs, a couple of VO-SOTs (if I was lucky). Whatever else happened one announcement overshadowed the rest. American legend Frank Sinatra died following a heart attack at age 82. I’m certain the announcement didn’t come on May 14th. For big public figures it seems the news comes out from a press agent or a publicist after the family gets their time alone.

At the time I was as much a Sinatra fan as anyone else my age. You tend to hear a few tunes from the man in an Italian family, as a DJ, and during the crooner/big band/swing/classic revival. It was just like when we lost Ray and Johnny Cash… you knew these guys were legends with no equal. Growing up it was simply taken for granted that we had Frank. We lost Heston last month, but ten years ago we lost Sinatra.

Since that time I’ve read a couple of books on Frank and his guys, seen some of his films, and listened to a number of recordings. Hell, this guy wasn’t simply a singer with a long career. He had stories, failures, comebacks, friends, blow-ups, films, charities, scandals, tirades, plenty of personality, and lot of hubris. Frank could act, sing, do a little dancing, charm the ladies, make men envious, throw a fit, hold a grudge, fund a hospital or church, pay off your bills… and make it all look like it was all part of his plan.

Frank was the pop star before the Beatles, Elvis, and Madonna… before there were pop stars. He was Hollywood’s bad boy before Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke, and Russell Crowe. He was pals with some of the biggest names be they from politics, sports, singers, writers, comedians, or actors… he had Sammy, Dean, Basie, Jones, Riddle, Jobim, Bogart, Monroe, Gardner, Gleason, Kennedy, Reagan, Rickles, Carson, and of course Sam and Lucky. The world really was Frank’s playground… Dean even half-joked on stage, “It’s your world, I’m just livin’ in it.”

The world’s a little less cool without Frank. He had the American spirit… probably by the tail. He was one of those Americans who embodied the American Dream. Scrawny little Dago from Jersey grows up and gets the world on a string (sittin’ on a rainbow). During his life he learned the meaning of the word success from learning the word failure… and he didn’t let failure get in the way. He represents all kinds of folks… down on your luck and top of the world, young and old, struggling and carefree, back against the wall and everyone watching your back.

If you can’t learn about America from school, history books, and documentaries… you can learn a lot about it from Frank Sinatra.

Some more nice pictures of Frank.

For Christ's sake, the man's got his own stamp!


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