Some of us seem stunned at the circus-like atmosphere in Los Angeles today as Michael Jackson's memorial service is being held. Thousands of mourners have shown up, crowding the streets and the arena where the services are being held. All in all, the entire affair looks like something Fellini might have dreamed up.
Of course, public mourning, and over-the-top funeral services are nothing new, in fact it's not even an exclusively American phenomena.
Consider the passing of Eva Peron. The wife of the President of Argentina had died at the age of 33, and a one month period of mourning occurred. Her actual funeral was a three day affair and pretty much shut down the city of Buenos Aires. It is said that some three million people waited 15 hours on line to view her body as it lay in state.When Judy Garland bought the farm in June of 1969, her funeral and viewing at Campbell's funeral home in New York City brought out over 20,000 who wanted to pay their respects.
Elvis Presley's death, for those of you to young to recall, pretty much stunned the nation. Like Jackson, he was well past his prime when he died, and yet the public out pouring of grief was legendary. Then President Jimmy Carter ordered all flags at half mast on the day of his funeral , and it was reported that 75,000 crowded the streets of Memphis that hot August afternoon in 1977.
So, hold your tongue today, and refrain from the smug feeling of superiority as you watch the goings on in the City of Angels. It might look tasteless and ridiculous to you, but people need to mourn their gods and goddesses when they fall, it's just human nature.