On behalf of the board of directors and fundraising committee for Upham’s Corner Main Street, we would like to thank everyone who helped make our recent second annual Urban Safari a success. To the volunteers who planned it, to the community members who attended, to the businesses who sponsored, to the Franklin Park Zoo, which hosted the event, and to Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who spoke at it, we owe gratitude for yet another successful event. It is only through our community’s generosity and commitment that Upham’s Corner Main Street is able to do the valuable work that it does. Thank you.
Zachary Cohen, Executive Director
Ragan Willis, Co-Chair, 2009 Urban Safari
Liam Day, Co-Chair, 2009 Urban Safari
On the heels of Michael Jackson’s passing, I pause to reflect on the notion of heroes, those larger-than-life figures that loom larger and shine brighter than those around them.
Michael Jackson, to many, was a godlike figure touched at birth by the muses to inspire generations with his charm, boyish good looks, vocal acumen and dance moves. But he fell hard from grace following a spate of accusations that led us to wonder about him in a dark way. Add to that his idiosyncratic ways, private life and odd, shifting appearance, and we were left with more questions than answers. We filled in the blanks and many thought the worst about him. He responded by disappearing from the limelight. Now we mourn for this fallen hero, but did we have a hand in his undoing?
He is but one in the pantheon of fallen heroes. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were not only Hollywood royalty, but world-traveling humanitarians who rescued less fortunate children. Now, though, there are stories of trouble in paradise, and we start to wonder if they’re worthy of admiration. And let’s not forget Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton — each talented in her own way, fed into our collective consciousness on a daily basis, and soon pushed out by our incessant and insatiable need to idolize, reify and then invariably deconstruct, brick by flawed brick.
The list of toppled heroes transcends the world of entertainment and extends into all realms of popular culture. The world of sports has given us Mike Tyson, Dennis Rodman and Barry Bonds. Politics has offered up Eliot Spitzer and John F. Kennedy — perhaps someday, even Barack Obama will land in our sights. Religion has had its share of doomed demigods, such Tammy Faye Bakker and Miami’s fallen father, Alberto Cutie. Corporate America has also donated numerous heads to the chopping block.
It’s easy to blame these people and institutions for betraying us, for leading us to believe they were bigger and better than the rest of us. Perhaps, however, as Walt Kelly’s comic strip icon Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and it is us.”
Perhaps our own need to feel bigger, better and brighter than we actually are leads us to create these gods and heroes in the first place — and then, our envy and inadequacies lead us to bring them down again. Perhaps we should start looking within ourselves for heroism, and let people live their own lives.
Dr. Lawrence Rubin