Friday, April 20, 2012

Goodbye Norma Jeane

In 1987 I became fascinated with the life and tragic death of Norma Jeane Baker (better known as actress and iconic sex symbol Marilyn Monroe). I'm not sure what triggered it. Perhaps it was because of the recent wonderful live recording of Elton John's Candle in the Wind playing incessantly on college radio. 

But I devoured several library books about her. I still remember how affected I was, upon seeing her post-mortem photos for the first time in one of those books. She always looked so "put together" and then seeing her like that... *sigh*. It was a strange feeling.

Anyway at the time, as a hobbie I would make "mix tapes". Probably most people who grew up in the eighties remember mix tapes. I would record my favorite tracks (off of vinyl records usually) and mix in little bits of dialogue from movies. So that each song and sample worked together to create a theme, or even told a story, for 90 minutes. Then I created my own tape covers from imaginary music groups to go with it. 

And, I guess because she was of interest to me, I did a series of tapes featuring Marilyn on the cover. I came across them the other day... and thought I'd explore them again. These were all created before computers, when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth. Utilizing copy machines (a nickel a copy), magic markers, colored pencil, x-acto knives and rubber cement. The rubber cement has now bled through staining the paper, giving Marilyn a somewhat tarnished look. Perhaps appropriate, given how I felt after seeing those photos. I still prefer to remember her as she lived, not as she died.  

To quote the song:
And I would have liked to have known you, 
but I was just a kid. 
Your candle burned out long before 
your legend ever did.

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