0

Deep impact - Joel Hall

June has been a horrible month for important people this year.

In the past 30 days, some of the world's most recognizable and talented people have been silenced, the majority of them before their time.

David Carradine, 72, died on June 3 in what may be a tragic accident, suicide, or a twisted murder. Ed McMahon, 82, died on June 23 after a neck injury caused his health to decline.

Farrah Fawcett, 62 and Michael Jackson, 50, both died on June 25, one from a long battle with cancer and the other of cardiac arrest. Finally, Billy Mays, at the height of his success, died this Sunday at the age of 50.

It's all very unsettling. Although I never had a chance to meet any of these people in person, I found myself mourning them as if I had this weekend.

At first, I felt strange about the way I felt. I'm not famous and I'm not part of anybody's entourage, so I thought, who am I to get emotional? After a while, however, I embraced my feelings, because while I may have not been a part of their lives, they were a part of mine.

I became aquatinted with Carradine's work through the "Kung Fu" television series. As a kid, I was obsessed with it, and as a teenager, I would watch "Kung Fu: The Legend Continues" right along with "Walker, Texas Ranger."

I started to like Carradine even more when he began making groundbreaking movies with Quentin Tarantino.

I admired Carradine because, even though he was old, he never let it stop him from physically and philosophically thwarting the bad guys (at least in the television show). While I never became a martial artist, my interest in the show, and others like it, led me to explore Asia for myself as an adult.

McMahon introduced me to tap dancing. As a child, I used to watch "Star Search" every time I had an opportunity. I liked that show much more than most of the talent shows I see on television now, because of the wide range of talent displayed.

In kindergarten, I put pennies on the soles of my dress shoes and entertained my classmates with what I had learned from watching the show.

I probably shouldn't have been watching "Charlie's Angels" reruns, when I was a kid, but I did. The show was very entertaining and, in some ways, Fawcett helped me get over the idea that girls were "yucky."

Out of all the people who were lost this month, Michael Jackson had probably brought me and my family the most joy.

The first birthday I can remember accurately was my fourth birthday. As a present, my parents got me a record player, which my little sister, my older brothers, and I, spent countless hours listening to.

The first albums I remembering listening to were Lionel Richie's "Dancing on the Ceiling," the soundtrack to Disney's "The Jungle Book," and Jackson's "Off the Wall."

Playing these records over and over again, I developed a deep love for music, which eventually blossomed into a college career as a music major. Somehow, I ended up becoming a journalist, but the experiences I gained through music give me something to write about.

Even Mays had a bit of an influence on me. Before I could find a job as a journalist, I sold suits. I've watched a lot of "pitchmen," who range from creepy to annoying, but Mays was none of those things. Watching him sell the pants off of people made it easier for me to sell pants to people.

The month of June has made me appreciate life a lot more, but it has also made me appreciate the deep impact people can have on people they don't even know.

If anything, this month has taught me how far-reaching human impact can be.

Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at jhall@news-daily.com.