I felt the same way last evening watching Clint Eastwood at the Republican National Convention as I did the last time I saw Frank Sinatra in concert. Old Blue Eyes was forgetting the order of the show, he was forgetting his words… it was a mess. There were moments of grace, greatness and brilliance, but what stood out overall were the gaffs, the lapses in memory and the inability to really deliver the promise.
What should we have expected? He was well past his prime and in retrospect would rather not have seen that concert. All in all it was very embarrassing, but I was less embarrassed for Frank than I was angry with the folks who let him keep going out there. Somehow, someone should have said, you have done this enough. You are the one, the only the original. You have no more to prove and then that would have been that.
No matter how you may feel about Clint Eastwood political leanings, this man is an immortal. He has been in my world since I was in this world. The soundtrack of my childhood was that of all those awful, wonderful spaghetti westerns he gave us. Who out there didn’t once go through the motions of a classic gunfight with the sound of an Ennio Morricone score blaring in the background of your mind?
To this day, one of my fondest memories was when my father asked me to go to the movies with him, which was entirely out of character… I didn’t even care what was playing. I, and I alone; twelfth child and eleventh son of fourteen in my family, was going to the movies with my dad. Just us. The movie was “Kelly’s Heroes;” a real classic of our time. It had everyone in it and was, is one of the best father/son movies of all time.
My father is long gone now, but I consider “Kelly’s Heroes” a great gift that Clint Eastwood gave me. I don’t know how much of that memory was the movie, or perhaps Clint, or maybe mostly being there with my dad, but it is a big and important piece of my childhood. You see, that and a couple dozen other movies of his are integral parts of who I am… and I will always cherish the memories, like colorful threads in the fabric of my life.
More recently, I took my son to see “Grand Torino” and we had an excellent time. After we watched the movie, we went out for a pizza. On the way home, we stopped by the Target and bought “Kelly’s Heroes” and we watched it together that night; just my son and me. I can’t say for sure, but I believe my dad, Ben’s grandpa was there watching with us. All I know is that it is now one my son’s favorite flicks too… and that night is another of my fondest memories.
But last night at the RNC, like back when I last saw Sinatra, someone decided to risk something very precious; something really not theirs to risk, but it was available, so why not. And in doing so, they damaged both their own effort and the memory of an icon. I may not agree with Clint Eastwood’s politics, but I did not want to see him embarrassed.
Shame on them!