The way we were, and the way we hope to be
By ROBERT N. JENKINS
Published May 30, 2006
Two significant events occurred this month, one of them quite predictable, the other far less so.
The predictable occasion was the cause for much self-congratulation by those involved, and surely it brought nostalgic reflection for observers, including plenty of you readers. The unpredictable incident brought out what I'd guess is a variety of reactions.
The events were the ballyhooed 1,000th edition of that cultural journal, Rolling Stone, and the split between Paul McCartney and his second wife, Heather Mills.
Unless you've been a member of a restrictive church order for the past 39 years, you probably read, maybe even subscribed to, Rolling Stone. I did, when I was a lot younger.
It was one of the few publications aimed at the young audience that was more than just a counterculture rant, and much more than just a hip version of the old Billboard magazine.
The announcement of issue 1,000 probably turned many of us retrospective - what happened to us over all those years, to our musical tastes, to our cultural and political views? Who are we now?
Maybe we have become the noncelebrity version of magazine founder Jann Wenner. Once the shaggy-haired San Francisco guy a Berkeley grad, after all who was often photographed in turtlenecks looking earnest, Wenner was the guy Geraldo wanted to be.
But now, Mr. Rolling Stone is 60 years old and the essence of mainstream Eastern money, heading a media company he named for himself. In the publicity photo heralding the 3-D cover of the anniversary issue, Wenner wears a pale blue shirt, maroon tie and is one handsome boomer. Has Jann helped keep his face so youthful by, to quote the lyric from A Chorus Line, going to see "the wizard at Park and 73rd"?
No 30-something look for McCartney. And isn't it perfect that "the cute Beatle'' has allowed nature to further distinguish his face with a crease here, a sag there?
A grin plays across Paul's lips in the cover photo announcing the candid - and in ways, moving - interview in the current issue of AARP The Magazine.
A confession here: I have never been a Beatles fan. I bought a few of their albums but was never smitten. When they broke up, I felt no loss.
But I appreciate the staying power of the greats, which surely includes McCartney.
Still, if you had asked me how long he was married to Linda (about 29 years) and how long ago she died of breast cancer (1998), I couldn't have said. Nor did I know anything about his second wife, Heather Mills, including when they met and when they got married (about 1999 and 2002).
What I learned from news reports about their separation this month is that Mills is not quite 381/2, whereas Paul will be 64 next month.
That remarkable difference did not doom their marriage. After all, they do have a 21/2-year-old daughter.
Instead, the most reliable reports are that Mills was too controlling for a man who is a superstar and that his and Linda's children didn't care for her.
The timing of their separation is relevant for readers of this issue of Seniority: Its theme is finding meaningful companionship later in life, when divorce or death can force such an unexpected change on us.
In the AARP article, McCartney tells the interviewer of his consuming sorrow over the death of Linda:
"I thought, 'How the hell do I deal with this? For about a year, I found myself crying - in all situations, anyone I met. Anyone who came over, the minute we talked about Linda, I'd say, 'I'm sorry about this, I've got to cry.' ''
Ultimately he returned to his music and also met Mills. Still, he could not accept another love in his life, he recalled. He termed his feelings toward anyone else "the married guilt . . . I beat myself up about'' feeling romantic toward Mills.
McCartney said he was finally able to turn loose of his sorrow by coming to believe that his late wife would have wanted him to be happy.
Perhaps for a few years, he was. Now, like many others who have lost the one they loved, he must wonder about again finding companionship.
Elsewhere in this magazine, you'll find a new feature, "As I Was Saying." It will be excerpts of an interview with a noted person who has crested life's hill and reflects on what he or she has done - so far. We inaugurate the feature with two interviews, one from an 82-year-old billionaire entrepreneur and the other from a man half his age whose career, as a pro football player, is over.
Also new in this issue: the first of our regular book reviews and, to help you find these and other articles and columns, an index.
Now, we need your help. A future issue of Seniority will take a fun look at the folks who might have been Rolling Stone's early and staunch readers, hippies. Where are you now, brother?
If you consider yourself, a relative or a friend a former hippie, let us know. Write to me at:
Robert N. Jenkins
St. Petersburg Times
P.O. Box 1121
St. Petersburg, FL 33731
Or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Meanwhile keep on truckin'.
Robert N. Jenkins can be reached at (727) 893-8496 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Last modified May 30, 2006, 07:50:19]
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