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Jewish World Review
May 8, 2007
/ 20 Iyar, 5767
As a journalist, I'm frequently surprised at how misinformed most members of
the general public are about what it takes to be a media commentator. True,
a great deal of our work involves hard-nosed news-gathering, by which I mean
attending exclusive cocktail parties to discuss with other highly paid media
commentators how misinformed most members of the general public are.
But beyond this sort of journalistic legwork (so called because standing
around chatting for hours is brutal on the calves), success in the news
business today often depends on developing an eye for emerging trends. Not
to toot my own horn, but I did get in "on the ground floor" by purchasing
Google stock when it was trading at just $450 (I bought 1/8 of a share)
while I also recall watching Emmitt Smith during his record-setting football
days and thinking to myself, "Sure, but what people really want to see is
how he dances the Flamenco."
So you can probably imagine how my trend-attuned ears pricked up when I
heard about plans to exhume the corpse of legendary escape artist Harry
Houdini. If these plans go through, Houdini will join such other notables as
Jesse James, President Zachary Taylor and the Big Bopper in the ranks of
famous people whose bodies have been dug up in the past few years so that
forensic science can answer unfounded questions about their deaths that
almost no one was really asking.
This trend is driven mainly by the descendents of celebrities looking to
bask in what's left of a long-dead forebear's reflected glory. First they
find some oddball who's dreamed up a conspiracy theory about how their
famous ancestor was murdered, faked his own death, had a vestigial tail,
died while carrying Elvis' love child, etc. Next they send out a press
release and bam! the following morning Matt Lauer is at the
door with a camera crew and a set of shovels.
This was what happened to 1950s rocker The Big Bopper, who was dug up at his
son's request in January. The ostensible reason for the exhuming was to
settle rumors that the Bopper had suffered a gunshot wound aboard the plane
prior to the crash that famously also took the lives of fellow music stars
Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.
Predictably enough, the resulting autopsy revealed nothing unexpected except
that the Big Bopper was, in his son's words, "in remarkable shape" for a 48
year-old corpse (The article where I got this information didn't mention how
many other 48-year-old corpses the "Little Bopper" had dug up as a basis for
But my question is, what if they had found a bullet hole in the Big Bopper?
Then what? Would they have dug up Buddy Holly to test his fingers for
gunshot residue? And then, of course, to determine exactly what happened on
the plane that fateful night, they'd have to unearth Ritchie Valens to see
whether the "La Bamba" singer had died with his hand outstretched and his
mouth shouting the word, "Nooooooo!"
So now, unless the old master can pull one last miraculous escape, Houdini
will be the latest famous corpse unearthed, this time to prove whether he
died, as long believed, of appendicitis, or was poisoned by his enemies in
the phony psychic community. And, just to avoid having to do it all over
again later, they also may be checking his tissue for signs of the newly
discovered "gay" gene.
Well, since there seems to be no stopping this trend, I figure I'll just try
to capitalize on it instead. That's why I'm reinvesting all my Google
profits in a startup company that publishes maps to celebrity graves. But
now they give you a free home DNA kit with every purchase!
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Malcolm Fleschner is a humor columnist for The DC Examiner. Let him know what you think by clicking here.
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03/08/07: More gifts? You shouldn't have
02/22/07: Relationships can be such a chore
12/05/06: Who's calling the shots?
11/09/06: I'm taking selling to a whole new level
10/27/06: Some skills are beyond repair
10/18/06: You can't tech it with you
10/04/06: Award to the wise
08/24/06: Phrased and Confused
08/09/06: We're Gonna Party Like it's $19.99
07/19/06: Just Singing in the Brain
05/24/06: Who says you can't go home again?
05/11/06: When nightly news stories go off script
04/26/06: Cents and sensibility: A thought for your pennies
03/16/06: The day the Muzak died
02/23/06: Checkbook diplomacy begins at home
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© 2006, Malcolm Fleschner