I have been asked to discuss, post haste, my selection of the three august figures in my immigrant retrospective in the previous post.
Isn't it obvious? Why NOT Jamie Summers, the Bionic Woman, Neil Armstrong, he of the "small step for man" on the moon, and Baz Manilow, The Showman of His Generation? Don't each of these three figures represent what is wonderful about the good old US of A?!
The Bionic Woman. My childhood heroine, not the least of which because I wanted to be her especially if she and that hottie Lee Majors were going to start kissing. Yeah baby. And who didn't love Oscar Goldman!? Come ON people! He was the original TV bureaucrat; everyone on TV since has been doing a poor Oscar Goldman impersonation. They represented American ingenuity, technology, military power. You just can't argue with a woman who can jump 100 feet in the air, land and break something, and then have Oscar fix her with spare bionic parts out of his briefcase just in the nick of time. We have the technology! We can rebuild her!! USA Number One!!
Neil Armstrong. Cute man in uniform. Who cares if he's 80-something. He'll always be a cute man in uniform to me. As well as the man who represented something my own country had never done: walked on the moon. Again, American possibility, belief in the unbelievable, a commitment to sending a human being into space just because we said we would and we could. Neil Armstrong in my childhood mind just represented all of the wonderful things that I could do once I was in America. He wasn't rich, he wasn't famous before his big lunar moment, he wasn't related to anybody landed or rich or royalty. He was just a man who worked hard and ended up on the moon.
Barry Manilow. Do I even need to elucidate my reasons for this?! Come on! Who among you dares to challenge the recording and performing sales juggernaut that is Barry Manilow? The career longevity of a large-nosed, fluffy-haired, not-entirely-heterosexual, much-maligned but prodigiously-talented man is testament to why I loved him at the age of 9. He is all of the things that technically should preclude him from being a critical or commercial success. He's easy to make fun of. He's bizarre as people go. But damn if the man can't write a song that stays with you. To my 9 year-old self, he was so awesome: flamboyant, talented, positive, happy, and possessing amazing Farrah-like hair. Now, what could be more American than that?!