Friday, April 27, 2012

Memories of Times Squared: Dick Clark and Levon Helms

So, we lost two giants of the worlds of music.  One was the eternal teenager who made it acceptable for the music of youth to be heard and danced to in the late fifties and early sixties and beyond.  Unlike Alan Freed, who was more of a pioneer of rock, Dick Clark was a moderator of rock who stood behind the bandstand and took the music and culture to the next level and made adults feel safe and easy with the rock of their otherwise rebellious sons and daughters.  He was the trusted adult for the kids who he looked like and showcased in clean but not pulsating fun. He gave them a sense of power as they rated the records on their beat and whether they could dance to them. 

He made a fortune from the rock of others and rode the purified Billies and Lillies, and Rydells, Avalons and Fabians as the next cleaned up versions of Elvis to the top of a Pat Boonized world.  He skated through the allegations of payola while Freed got tripped and trapped and died from its clutches.  The Times did a piece on this at

Dick Clark rode the wave of eternal youth into the celebration of time passages and new beginnings, hosting the eternal New Year Eves in Times Square.  He did make Times Stand Still and Square, and acceptable.

Levon Helm also battled time as he led the Weight and the Band through time as a throwback to an earlier era of a more innocent, earthy rock than backed Dylan the trusted troubador as he shed his folk-skinned roots to become a folk rocker who was booed at first as a traitor, and then became a rocker who was cheered on his endless tour.  Levon's pure voice seemed eternally young until he was ravaged by cancer, but he fought back and survived and came back to lead celebrations of song at Woodstock, and then on the road, and even to Wolf Trap.  His comeback and curtain calls were a celebration of life and a simpler rock music that was timeless and comfortable and attractive to all ages, until he could run against and throwback time no longer.  

Time comes in all shapes and sizes, and Jennifer Egan examined time in front of a packed auditorium at the Arlington Library, as she talked about and read from her prize-winning Goon Squad episodes.  She went off in each chapter not bound by time to celebrate a new character and a different time.  Her Sasha's stealing epidemic shone a light on the givers and the takers of this life, as she borrowed objects from others' lives and times, and then tabled them in her apartment bathed in a kitchen of borrowed time and possessions that she took and possessed, but did not own except for a time. 

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