Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy birthday, unknown celebrities...and many happy returns

By Jim Heffernan

Happy birthday Breckin Meyer. You’re already 36, you dog you. Also Traci Lords, who’s a little ahead of Breckin at 42. Oh, and can’t forget the birthdays of Amy Heckerling and Bill Kreutzmann. Amy and Bill are getting on. She’s 56 and he’s 64. All celebrated on May 7.

Excuse me, but has anybody heard of these people? I haven’t. Not one.

Every day the Duluth daily newspaper’s astrology column lists at the top, before telling us how to operate our lives based on our astrological sign, “Celebrities Born On This Day.”

That’s what threw Breckin and Traci and Amy and Bill together.

I read the celebrity birthdays each day, hoping to find someone still going strong at my age. Doesn’t happen very often.

But I notice that many of the celebrities are celebrities I have never heard of. On May 7 they hit a home run – didn’t recognize a single name. I feel like Rip Van Winkle – asleep for 20 years. How could these people be considered celebrities if I haven’t heard of them?

I mean, I might not be that into pop culture (I admit I don’t know any rap artists), but, hey, I read the New York Times every day. I keep up. Traci Lords sounds like Tracy Lord, the character played by Katharine Hepburn in “The Philadelphia Story.”

Could be generational. Maybe some reader of this doesn’t know Rip Van Winkle and Katharine Hepburn. There are some generational gaps too wide to bridge, I admit, but these birthday boys and girls aren’t exactly Hannah Montana’s age.

So as a public service, right now (really, I didn’t look them up before I started writing this) I’m going to go to Google and check these people out. Here goes:

Breckin Meyer–pictured above–is an American actor, comedian, writer, producer and drummer (what, no taxidermist?) who was born in Minneapolis. He went to elementary school in California with Drew Barrymore (I know her) and was discovered by her agent. He’s been an a whole bunch of movies I haven’t heard of. Happy birthday, Breckin.

Traci Lords (not her real name) is an American film actress, producer, director, writer and singer who first achieved notoriety for her underage appearances in pornographic films. Hmmm. Brings to mind the late Linda Lovelace, not to mention Helen Twelvetrees (so I won’t).

Amy Heckerling is a successful American film director who has directed such notable films as “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Clueless.”

Bill Kreutzmann is an American drummer who played with the Grateful Dead for the band’s entire 30-year career. Recently he has been drumming with his own band, pa-rum-pum-pum-pum.

Well, there it is. I suppose these people are celebrities to everyone who has heard of them. Kreutzmann is almost my age, but I have never been a Grateful Dead fan. Years ago, when the band’s most famous member, Jerry Garcia, died, he was referred to as an “icon.” At the time I wrote a column in the daily newspaper questioning Garcia’s icon status, since I had never heard of him until he died. I received several angry letters.

I can’t help it if I’m not a “Deadhead.” I’m just grateful to be alive.

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