Monday, May 30, 2011
Vessels of Optimism
Everything about our lives is now changing so fast, many people wake up only to find that the world they went to sleep in the night before is significantly different the next day. It happened in Japan after the earthquake/tsunami and it happened again last week in Joplin, Missouri when the 200-mph tornado struck. You go to bed with your life seemingly normal and intact, and minutes later, you find yourself homeless, stripped of everything you once owned.
But this kind of extreme change can also happen in reverse. Last week, a 17-year-old high school student--who was only recently bagging groceries in Garner, N.C.--woke up on May 25th, just four days after Pastor Harold Walker had declared that the world was going to end, to find his fortunes, too, were radically changed; and that, after that night, his world would never be the same again either.
Scotty McCreery was voted (by 120 million viewers) the up-front, winner on American Idol, and so for him, life couldn't be better. See how radiant he looks, together with his equally lustrous runner-up, Lauren Alaina, age 16. They both appeared on stage at the beginning of the two-hour grand finale dressed in white, appearing for all the world like two angels writing in a book of gold. Vessels of optimism so pure as to liberate anyone's embittered self. Just the mere sight of them makes you glad to be alive, and that's before they even sing. At this point, no one knew yet who the winner was, and if, like me, you have no penchant for country music, listen to these kids perform on You-tube and become an instant convert.
The extravaganza on Fox that night, live from the Nokia Theater in L.A., was so unbelievably exhilarating, it made all the global crimes against humanity scrambling for our attention and the collective catastrophes of environmental destruction everywhere disappear, at least briefly, the way the moon will disappear for a while on a cloudy night. For a couple of hours, the world seemed whole again, and millions of viewers were lost in intense jubilation, saturated in so much talent and sweetness. It was human creativity at its zenith, enough to last for a lifetime, enclosing everyone in its wild power.
They took it all in stride, these kids, whirling happily on the globe of life without being hamstrung by their own success or ruined by self-conscious posturings. There were notable high points in the evening, such as when Lauren sang a duet with her idol, Carrie Underwood, and Jacob Lusk, a lumbering black crooner with rhythm that leaked from his very DNA, sang gospel with his idol, Gladys Knight. Most beguiling of all, however, was the 19-year-old runner-up, Haley Reinhart, paired with 84-year-old Tony Bennett, the two of them singing "Steppin' Out with My Baby" from the 1948 musical "Easter Parade" like there was no tomorrow. Check it out on Google if you want to give yourself a special treat.
The other stunner was my new passion, Jennifer Lopez, who was one of the judges, performing "Aquanile" with her sexy musician husband, Mark Anthony. The sizzle between the two of them was enough to take out the most hardened criminal on Death Row. Lopez's smoldering sexuality just knocks Lady Gaga's contrived seductions right off the board. it's no wonder she has become America's sweetheart. Lopez is heart-stopping beautiful and drop-dead talented. You might just think it is hopelessly tacky, even shameful, of me to be so in thrall to a popular reality-TV show. If you do happen to think that, it is only because you are asleep in the waves.