This morning, as part of my project of duping all my old cassettes and vinyl LPs over to electronic format, I am working my way through John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together. It’s one of only a small handful of Christmas albums that I can actually tolerate. But time has been awfully hard on it, and it’s tough to listen to the thing now without tears.
John Denver and Jim Henson have both been dead for a long time, and they both died stupid, stupid preventable deaths. When Henson went, for all practical purposes he took The Muppets with him. Oh, yes, I know that there are still “Muppets” working out there… but for me they are all inferior, offensive Disney-fied impostors, corporate-animated zombies, “Pod Muppets” as it were, Stepford Muppets — just pale copies of the great originals.
I could be wrong, but of the original muppeteers, I don’t believe any of them are still working with the characters they created. Some, like Jerry “The Count” Nelson, have also died. Carol Spinney is so old that he can’t possibly operate the physically strenuous Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch anymore, although I believe he would if he could; Frank Oz hung in there like a good loyal soldier longer than a lot of them, but now even Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy are being performed by others. He put up with some awful crap material: when Henson died, so did his creative sensibility, and I’m sorry, but his son Brian (although he is responsible for some wonderful things on his own, including Farscape), just didn’t have the soul to capably shepherd The Muppets. He must have known this when he sold them down the river to the Evil Bastards that now control the all-devouring, all-crushing machine that bears the name of the Disney Corporation.
That’s another thing: after Walt died, the suited corporate bastards carrying on in his name have done nothing but turn Walt’s Company into something that Walt would have hated.
So now when I look at and listen to this album, I see only Dead People. People who were young and vital and active when I was growing up, who influenced me in many ways, and who went before their time, before the world was ready to let go.
The older you get, the harder Christmas becomes. I had some wonderful family Christmases as a child, but at some point, with fewer and fewer loved ones around the table, Christmas started to become a horrible parody of itself, an undead zombified thing that signified the exact opposite of joy. Still, Christmas was a favorite thing of my mother’s right up to the end, to the point where she kept some Christmasy artifacts out on display in the house all year round. The last Christmases at our house, with her fading out and me trying to drown it all in booze, were desperate affairs.
Now that she’s gone, y’know what? I can hardly bear to think about Christmas. Scrooge was right, and came by his feelings honestly. For him as for me, Christmas is just another day that comes around faster every year to remind you of what you have lost.