Simpsons in Mourning: Perry, Flint, Tork

It’s been a while since we donned our dark clothes and gathered with our Springfield brethren to recite the kaddish prayer. But now it is early in 2019, and grief has visited members of our community thrice . . .

luke perry RIP

RIP Luke Perry
1966-2019

Luke Perry embodied the spirit of the 1990s. He was hunky, heartfelt, perfectly quaffed with bespoke sideburns and the starchiest flannel shirts you ever saw. After a bit role in the original “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” movie he took a job with the upstart FOX TV network. Staring on the series “Beverly Hills 90210” didn’t do much to impress his half-brother, Herschel Shmoikel Krustofsky, but Dylan McKay’s angsty lustfulness made him  “The Cory” of his era for girls from coast to coast. Despite leaving the show after only four years, and taking a wide variety of acting roles after–from clown sidekick to father of horny teenager Archie Andrews–Perry was always shadowed by the character. He’d made peace with that, and seemed to enjoy his status as elder statesman of weekly television. Luke Perry was just 52 when he died from a stroke today.

To cope with the loss of his brother Herschel visited his mother. Together they remembered Luke, and cried. It was an act of naked emotion that shocked even Kristy himself. If there’s any silver lining in the death of a family member, it’s that it can sometimes open hearts and deepen reconciliation.

Keith Flint, lead vocalist of Prodigy, died of an apparent suicide at just 49 years old. Flint was an extroverted child who suffered from dyslexia. Frustrated with school he was kicked out, and left home soon afterward. He formed Prodigy with friends in 1989. The band’s breakout single, “Firestarter” came the us U.S in 1996 and ignited a brief moment of dominance for electronica and dance music in popular culture. The genre needed an media-savvy face, without Flint’s iconic look and incendiary performances it’s likely electronic music and rave culture would never have exploded like it did–even “Beverly Hills 90210” did a “rave episode”.

RIP Keith Flint

Marge and Ruth Powers experience the power of The Prodigy

Raves became such a big deal, that Flint had to become an activist, fighting U.K law that made raves illegal,

“…The Prodigy was known as much for its overt anti-establishment stance as for its music. The band members were vocal critics of the U.K.’s Criminal Justice And Public Order Act 1994, which banned the raves popularized in the late-1980s during the so-called Second Summer of Love.” (Time magazine)

Although the prominence of the electronica didn’t last in the states, Flint and his band continued to tour and perform to huge crowds in England and across Europe.

the prodigy, keith flint, rip

Springfield’s infamous underground dance club

To honor Keith Flint and the community of fans who discovered raves thanks to Prodigy’s anthemic music,  The Hate Box will be holding an oldies dance night from 11pm to 7am the next morning. Otto, Mayor Quimby, the clerk from the record shop formerly known as Good Vibrations, and even Marge and Ruth Powers will all be there.

If you or someone you know are thinking about suicide, or feeling depression, please talk to someone. Help in the U.S. can be found here:
https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
and in the UK at:
https://www.supportline.org.uk/problems/suicide.php

Marge Simpson is doubly troubled by recent losses. Peter Tork–ne Thorkelson–the affable bassist for The Monkees died in late February. Tork was immersed in music his entire life. He taught himself several instruments at a young age, and cut his teeth playing folk music in the coffee shop scene of New York’s bohemian Greenwich Village. Tork was referred to music producer and promoter Don Kirshner by Stephen Stills (Of Crosby Stills Nash and Young). Kirshner assembled The Monkees as a TV ready version of The Beatles, and they’re considered to be the first “boy band”. Youngsters loved The Monkees, and the groups appeal was nearly universal and inexhaustible.

Tork was among the more musically talented members of the group, and was given permission to participate in recording sessions for first two Monkees’ albums (which the other members were not). After two years working on the sitcom Tork quit the group, and had to buy out the five years left on his contract to the tune of $1500,00 dollars!

After leaving the band, Tork bummed around, playing music with friends such as George Harrison, and trying to get his own band going. Despite being a talented and serious minded performer, he just couldn’t get his own act a recording contract. While still gigging around California with various bands for fun, Tork settled into a teaching career.

His orbit never fully left The Monkees though, after MTV started rerunning the show in the mid-80s, the Monkees were once again in demand. Not only that, but their sound and talent were embraced by their contemporary peers. Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie, and Andy Partridge of XTC all count themselves as fans and have contributed to recent Monkees albums. Tork rejoined his colleagues for occasional reunion shows through the 2010s, and also record well received new albums.

not even his real hat

REVOLUTION!

Marge will likely turn to her record collection to comfort her, allowing the popping wax tracks worn grooves to comfort her, just as they protected her from the cruelty of childhood bullies. She may also call her therapist, Dr. Lowenstein Zweig for a mental health check up.

The Thorkelson family has suggested that fans of Peter please donate to The Institute for The Musical Arts in Massachusetts, a nonprofit that provides young women with music education, music recording, and music community (information at this link).

We’re barely three months into 2019, and things are rough, please check in on your loved ones.

Sincerely, your friends at Flim Springfield

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About OneWordLong

I'm a storytelling artist and writer. I make collage, transmedia art projects, write essays and cultural analysis. In addition to onewordlong.com I also co-curate FLIMSpringfield.net
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