SPidge Tales

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What Happened To Britney Spears?

The Fall of 2003 brought a lot of changes in my life. The previous four years had been amazing. I had attended St. Michael’s College, in beautiful Vermont, surrounded by the Green Mountains, with a rotation of colorful fall foliage, white covered winters, and breezy springs. I had made amazing friends and began to form my own worldview on life. Now, I was in Washington, DC, at Catholic University, in the beginning stages of grad school. It was a culture change, being in an urban setting where I had to lock my doors and regularly heard police sirens outside my window and the occasional gunshot. I missed college and my friends. I made some really good new friends, but was still very lonely. Because of this, I made many excursions into the heart of the city, exploring and learning my way around. My favorite part of DC was probably the National Mall, which is not a shopping mall, but the giant strip of grass that goes between the Capitol building and the Washington Monument, surrounded on both sides by the Smithsonian Museums, and often populated by a collection of tourists looking around and residents getting a break from work.

The beginning of the school year also coincides with the beginning of football season. Each year for the last several, the NFL has opened the season by having one game on the Thursday night preceding opening Sunday. That year, the opening game was the New York Jets vs. the Washington Redskins, at the Redskins home stadium. Since DC was the site of the first game, the NFL put on a big, commercialized, extravaganza on the National Mall. Up by the Capitol was set up a huge stage, and each giant patch of grass stretching back to the Washington Monument was roped off. There were giant projector screens set up stretching all the way back for the people way back near the Washington Monument who could not see the stage. This event was called “Operation: Tribute to Freedom”, with a collection of singers coming on stage including Good Charlotte, Aretha Franklin, and Aerosmith. Soldiers got to be up front, with a soldier getting to announce Joe Theismann and Joe Namath coming on stage, and a soldier getting to announce each band or singer to perform. Of course, we saw an African American, a Latino, and a woman, so they could fill every token. Out of all the performers in this Vanilla Pepsi sponsored commercial patriotism, the biggest star of the night was Britney Spears.

One may wonder now how Britney could be a bigger star than Aretha or Aerosmith, but this was the heyday of Britney’s fame. She was an absolute star then. Also, an absolute knockout. I was lucky enough to be one of the few out of the 70,000 or so on the National Mall to get up within 50 feet of the stage. In person, Britney was stunning. She is the best looking woman I have ever seen in my life. Now, 2 ½ years later, she is washed up, tabloid fodder. She went from big time star to washed up seemingly overnight.

Reading Bill Simmons’ mailbag on ESPN.com (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/060714 ), I was alerted to some corollaries. One of his readers made the comparison to Doc Gooden, the Mets phenom who at 19 years of age struck out 276 batters and won the rookie of the year award, following that up the next season by winning the Cy Young award. He never returned to his early greatness, within a few years receding into an average pitcher before hanging on to mete out a pretty good career, far short of the greatness that was expected. Another reader made the comparison to Counting Crows, who started out with a couple hit albums, before fading into oblivion, popping up occasionally, like with their song that was in Shrek 2, but otherwise being irrelevant.

As a Mets fan, I am too young to remember Doc Gooden’s unhittable heater and curve, and as a Counting Crows fan, it is sad to see them never blossom into what they could have been, but at least I can say I saw fleeting greatness one muddy night in DC.


Anonymous bernie said...

right on about counting crows! The first two albums, and the songs on their live album from 97 are amazing. it's very moving at the end when adam says "this is the last show of our american tour...we're gonna go to europe and then take some time off and write some more songs". because that was pretty much the end for them.

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

on the other hand, they didn't do much worse than most bands, i mean phish broke up eventually, not sure about rusted root, i guess dave's still around...counting crows came out in 93, mr jones was real big for a few years, their live album was 97, and then i think they finally came out with another studio album in 2001 which was pretty lame. anywho

9:26 PM  

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