"Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey starts a run at Staples Center on Wednesday, a booking long planned in advance. In the pre-dawn hours before Jackson's memorial, the elephants walked from the train station to the arena, arriving some five hours before the memorial." This statement appeared on the website of our local CBS affiliate. I can think of no more fitting image for today's events.
In order to accommodate the motorcade of Michael Jackson's family on its way to Forest Lawn, the freeway had to be shut down at rush hour. Streets are blockaded around the cemetery, and also in a huge perimeter around the Staples Center downtown. In order to cover the memorial services, the LAPD has assigned every available officer and detective and is paying huge amounts of overtime. Our police chief has stated that the cost of all this is coming out of city money. He hopes that some of the donors who covered the cost of the Lakers' victory parade will also help with this. Good luck.
Television crews that started the day parked outside the Jacksons' Encino home are now parked outside the cemetery. Others are parked around the Staples Center. Local stations are giving these events wall-to-wall coverage, and national outlets are devoting a great deal of time to them as well.
I know there are plenty of other things happening in the world. But I'm having trouble finding out what they are. In the meantime, it seems fitting to remember just a few of the prominent people who also died during the past two weeks.
Robert S. McNamara (1916-2009), "architect of the Vietnam War", former president of Ford Motor Co., former head of the World Bank, defense secretary under presidents Kennedy and Johnson, a man whose decisions affected countless lives and deaths and whose influence still has an impact on our lives.
Jean Dausset (1916-2009), a French doctor and Nobel Prize winner whose discovery made tissue typing for transplants possible. He established the Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain, for the study of the human genome. He also founded France Transplants and France Bone Marrow Grafts, organizations dedicated to delivering donor organs and bone marrow to needy recipients quickly and efficiently.
Bela Kiraly (1912-2009), one of the military leaders of Hungary's ill-fated 1956 revolution against the Soviet Union, later a member of the Hungarian parliament and government advisor.
Togo W. Tanaka (1916-2009), a journalist who documented life at the Manzanar internment camp.
Allan Klein (1931-2009), former manager of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, businessman who worked with many big names in the music industry.
Shi Pei Pu (1938-2009), opera singer and spy, whose life inspired the play and movie "M. Butterfly".
Kenneth Reusser (1920-2009), retired marine colonel who flew 253 combat missions in three wars, survived being shot down five times, and received 53 medals.
O. Carl Simonton (1942-2009), an oncologist who pioneered the use of guided imagery as a treatment for cancer patients.
Karl Malden (1912-2009), Oscar- and Emmy-winning actor whose career spanned six decades in film and television.
Alec Gallup (1929-2009), former chairman of the Gallup Poll, a company started by his father, one of the best-known and respected polling organizations in the world. In some countries the world "gallup" appears in the dictionary as the word for "survey".
Robert Young (1919-2009), Sonoma County grape farmer whose innovative methods helped produce some of the first vineyard-designated wines in California.
Farrah Fawcett (1947-2009), popular poster model and actress who made a documentary about her long, final illness.
Sylvia Levin (1917-2009), Santa Monica resident who registered over 47,000 voters in California.
Billy Mays (1958-2009), popular television pitchman.
Jerri Nielsen FitzGerald (1952-2009), a doctor who became famous when she treated her own breast cancer while working at the U.S. reasearch station at the South Pole in 1999.
Frank J. Low (1933-2009), an astronomer considered an "experimental genius". He developed and distributed sensors for infrared astronomy, performed the first successful observations above the Earth's atmosphere, and built high-quality, innovative equipment used in many significant observations and discoveries.
Ed McMahon (1923-2009), television host best known for his role as Johnny Carson's sidekick on "The Tonight Show".
Alexis Argüello (1952-2009), a boxer who won titles in three weight classes and was later elected mayor of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua.