Am I the only one with mixed emotions?
I guess what I hate most is those copycat awards shows, you know, the AMAs and the ACMs. They watered down the essence. They confused the populace.
They were all about the money.
Maybe I was too young for "American Bandstand". Or maybe I was the beneficiary of New York television, with a cornucopia of choices. Dick Clark was not my only way to gain access to youthful entertainment, and from the moment I tuned into his show, it always seemed ersatz.
Yes, I know he broke a few barriers. But if you’re speaking influence, don’t we give more credit to Don Cornelius? With "Soul Train"? A man who truly broke barriers, was true to the music and delivered something that the white mainstream media men shrugged their shoulders at.
Then again, Dick Clark was never about the music. Otherwise, why would he have hosted game shows?
Dick Clark was addicted to fame. And money.
His is a very American story.
The fact that I’m reviewing his life with bittersweet tones proves the point. He made it. We always try to drag down those who rise to the top.
But those at the bottom have no idea how difficult it is to make it. How one-minded you’ve got to be. How you’ve got to sacrifice.
And you’re faced with choices every day. People keep e-mailing me that "Rolling Stone" piece wherein he refers to himself as a "whore". You’ve got a choice, you can do what’s expedient or do what’s right, and they’re not always the same thing. More specifically, you can make the artistic choice or the monetary choice. One leaves your credibility intact, but may cause the spotlight to shine elsewhere.
Then again, Neil Young maintains.
But so does Ryan Seacrest.
I have a dream. One day America will get off its high horse and deem Ryan Seacrest an ass-kissing phony. Something the public knows but the media refuses to acknowledge. He’s smart, but white bread and empty. And his great contribution to the American landscape is the Kardashian TV show. Then again, he’s perfect for the time, where it’s all about money.
But those days are fading. Because most people don’t only have no money, they’ve got no chance of getting any significant sum. Entertainers’ income pales in comparison to that of the corporate titans. So, do you chase the truly rich or try to trump them by playing your own game. In the real world of rock/paper/scissors, art beats money every day of the week.
Even though those playing at the arts will pay penance to money.
Now, more than ever, you don’t need money, but you must be truly great, your art must speak for itself.
Now I don’t want to dismiss everything Mr. Clark was involved in. I was addicted to "Where The Action Is", at least during its inaugural summer season. I’d run home from the baseball field to see my favorite acts.
Then again, once Casey Kasem gained traction, Mr. Clark went into competition with him.
And Dick was vain, and refused to relinquish the spotlight.
That’s when you know someone’s truly narcissistic, empty inside. When they hang on to fame for dear life, as if without the attention, they’re nothing.
But Sean Connery has relinquished the spotlight. Others have aged out and passed the torch. But to do this you have to be well-adjusted, you must be able to laugh at life, you must possess something beyond your notoriety.
Dick Clark wouldn’t let our memories be. He had to go on "New Year’s Rockin’ Eve" with his compromised speech not to illustrate that stroke victims can function, but because he needed the attention.
Some are addicted to fame. It fills up the empty hole inside.
But if you’re not true to one thing, if you dabble in everything, you die and fade away quickly.
Ask someone under twenty who Walter Cronkite was. Even Johnny Carson. Icons once, they’ve been forgotten.
If you want to be remembered, write a great song, make a great movie, the best are evergreens.
But few can accomplish this. For the rest of us, it’s about the ride.
And Dick Clark had one hell of an excursion. He had stories galore. And money to boot. He pursued the American Dream and won.
But what is winning?
And does that dream still hold?
We’ll see what the future brings.
As for Dick himself…
He was a force of nature. Smooth and sunny on the outside, you don’t get that far being nice.
But it was a different era. One of post-war recovery. When everybody was middle class and everybody wanted more, and this could still be accomplished.
And then the sixties happened and everything went topsy-turvy.
They say Dick Clark was part of this tumult.
But it can be easily argued he was on the wrong side.
Limit-testers don’t tend to last long, but their impact is great.
After all these years, with his fame and his money…
Dick Clark’s social impact was not commensurate.
In "Rolling Stone":
"The problem," says Clark, "is that you’re a f___ing idealist, and I’m a whore."