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Will, Carole, Rush & (name): It's what we leave behind

My mind has been cluttered recently ...


... That’s enough from the peanut gallery. As I was saying, my mind has been cluttered recently with swirling notions of leaving a cultural legacy.

(You have nothing to worry about.)

If I may continue ...

This all began with an email from a former colleague — a newspaper editor who I hadn’t seen, spoken to, exchanged emails with or (to be quite honest) thought about in more than 30 years except to describe him to others as an editor who would “fix the grammar in your libel.”

For reasons that I was about to discover, he had Googled me, saying in his first sentence that he had come across a column of mine from a few years back ... before turning his attention (and by this point, mine) to his actual topic.


“My autobiography (title redacted, to save you the pain) is coming out soon,” he wrote, “and it addresses (many) aspects of my crazy, wonderful life.”

After reading that, I paused for a moment and said to myself: “Ooooooooookay?”

(That’s not what you said, but this is a family publication.)

I briefly wondered whether his recollections would include the reader who, upon meeting the crazy and wonderfully coiffed editor, asked if he’d gotten his finger stuck in a light socket; or the time he wanted to fire a reporter who later joined the staff of The Washington Post; or his man v. driver confrontation over crosswalk courtesy concluded with him sporting a black eye while reporting the incident to the police in the company of two witnesses, who testified that the only words spoken by the driver before the punch were “You ...”

Well, this is a family publication.

I decided, however, that these — and more colorful anecdotes — would be missing from the pages of (title redacted, to save you the pain), and that his lone impetus for reaching out to me after 30-plus years was to announce he was planning to leave a testimony to his having done something.

Or, worse, get me to read the book.

Actually cultural legacies last. Their influence or relevance might grow or weaken as time goes on, but they are thing to be considered, weighed, mulled and interpreted in the context of both past and present.

Consider The Bard ... and, frankly, isn’t the hope of even a unique season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival something worth weighing and mulling?

When OSF announced its lineup for on stage and digital season, the two Shakespeare offerings in the initial lineup were presented as reflective of the times.

On its website, OSF introduces the streaming new work “The Cymbeline Project” by saying that its performer, Scarlett Kim, “mines Shakespeare’s text to explore the deceit and the violence of the play within today’s aesthetic and political realities.”

It was always thus with stage works that can be mined for relevancy and influence no matter the setting or the current political and/or social landscape.

The storyline of the other work — a streaming presentation of the 2017 production of “Julius Caesar”— is presented as “Shakespeare’s political thriller that shows what happens to power brokers — honorable and not — when their motives and means lead to unexpected consequences they cannot control.”

Six weeks or so after agitated and incited rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, it’s hard not to see the parallels to those whose motives lead to uncontrollable consequences.

A swirling notion that momentarily landed upon Wednesday’s announcement of the death of Rush Limbaugh.

The legacy of the controversial conservative pot-stirrer can be seen or heard through any form of mass communication you care to choose. It would be impossible to detail the history of the tribalism into which our indivisible nation has descended without making note of Limbaugh’s impact.

“Rush Limbaugh, the monumentally influential media icon who transformed talk radio and politics in his decades behind the microphone, helping shape the modern-day Republican Party, died Wednesday morning at the age of 70,” was the lead of the Fox News obituary.

“Rush Limbaugh, a talk radio pioneer who saturated America’s airwaves with cruel bigotries, lies and conspiracy theories for over three decades, amassing a loyal audience of millions and transforming the Republican Party in the process, has died,” wrote The Huffington Post.

Back in 1999, the satirical “news” organization known as The Onion published “Our Dumb Century” — a collection of fake front pages depicting major events of the 1900s.

On one such page, dated 1993, there was Limbaugh ... alongside stories on such cultural timestamps as Beavis and Butt-head, grunge rock and Lorena Bobbitt.

“Uneducated Forklift Driver To Address Nation On Rush Limbaugh Radio Show” read the The Onion’s headline.

How, the editors of The Onion seemed to suggest, could Limbaugh’s brand of communication become so entrenched? How, history might suggest 20-plus years after “Our Dumb Century” was published, could it not?

As much as I would relish the sight of my former colleague fixing the grammar in a Limbaugh show transcript, my swirling thought process was clearly in need of a palate cleanser — which gratefully I found in the news that Carole King had been nominated for induction into the Rock Hall of Fame as a solo performer.

How could this be, I wondered? Surely, I reasoned, she was already enshrined.

(Only as a songwriter, in tandem with Gerry Goffin. ... And don’t call me Shirley.)

This news led me to weigh, mull and consider “Tapestry” — King’s touchstone album (released in February of 1971) that in turn spawned legions of singer-songwriters.

Fifty years? My gawd, how time flies while you being bombarded with media influences.

As is the case with many of those my age, I know every word to every song on “Tapestry,” know when King’s tone and inflection changes, know when Joni Mitchell and James Taylor arrive in the background, know every pause and every stretched out word.

It was then I went straight to the vinyl, said hello to Telemachus, and laid the needle on my favorite track:

“Trouble’s gonna lose me

Worry leave me behind

And I’ll stand up proudly

In true peace of mind”

And that took care of the clutter.

Mail Tribune (title redacted) Robert Galvin can be reached at rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com

Robert Galvin