Tuesday, February 18, 2014


... and yet.  And yet.

One of the great poisons of fandom is the tendency to learn about those whose entertainments or other work engages us for whatever reason.  Having grown up in a town where Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, and Led Zeppelin dominated the radio (and radio dominated our music; in the seventies and eighties, even our own mix tapes or collections weren’t always available and/or all that comprehensive), I went through a long period of avoiding much of what even then we called “classic rock”.  It’s only been during the past ten years that I and many of the people my age I know, both from my town and well beyond it, have been rediscovering just how good some of that music was.  Springsteen I’m never going to love, but at least I can hear his voice now without fighting off screaming rants.

But it’s Zeppelin I’ve had the most conversations about, with people who say, in sum, “Turns out, if you go a decade or two without hearing them constantly, and can actually HEAR them again, they’re amazingly good.”

I’m not what you’d call a frothing fan (it’s been over thirty years now since I tried to ZoSo up my jeans), but with age comes a tendency to attach something of your own youth to something you always did like, or have rediscovered, and so seeing Jimmy Page at the British Olympics a few years back was a serious kick.  White hair and all, nobody can tell me he sucks.

So it DID suck – and profoundly – when I learned recently that, along with all the rock-star trappings it’s rather easier to dismiss, Page appears to have been an open pedophile.

Buried in just a sentence or maybe two, in a long Wikipedia article noting how many Greatest-lists he’s been on, detailing his entire career back to age fifteen, and outlining the guitars he prefers to play, was an undetailed notation about how he once had a lackey kidnap a fourteen-year-old girl, whom he then kept locked up and had sex with for what appears to have been an extended period of time.

Her name was Lori Maddox, and she seems not to have looked back on the incident(s) with victimhood – the article linked in Wikipedia’s references notes that she was “in love” with him the moment she saw him – but her perspective, important as it may be, cannot (from the vantage point of her early teen years) refute the perverse criminality which appears to have been perfectly true, but also unprosecuted.

That she was “only” locked up in order that she and Page could enjoy each other’s company without his being brought up on charges, nor caught at all, does nothing to mitigate just how appalling this is.

It’s difficult not to look at this case and be reminded of Woody Allen or Roman Polanski – and I once read an extended investigative piece, including the output of in-depth interviews with Polanski’s victim, her family, and his friends, which *emotionally* softened the horror of what he also clearly seems to have been guilty of doing – but, again, doesn’t lighten the cultural taboo nor lessen the repulsion (yes, I chose THAT word).

These are all men of the greatest power in our society:  wealthy, successful, providing prosperity for those around them as well, and far, far older than the girls who have been – or, to put the finest legalistic point on it, may have been – their victims.  To bring them down would not cause only their own losses, but in each case would have caused economic pile-up collisions for hugely successful enterprises in the music or filmmking industries.  Take a look at the furor which arose just in the past month, when Dylan Farrow wrote an open letter to Hollywood and the world, detailing with candor and harrowing emotion what she says she experienced at Woody Allen’s hands.  And take a look at the professional summation of a Twitter friend of mine, a professional investigator of child abuse and molestation.

Lori Maddox seems not to have made any public statement of suffering, and even the quotes about her being “in love” with Page seem to come secondhand.  I would have said I was in love with George Harrison, at that age.  Would that have made it okay for him to imprison and have sex with me?  Would the imprisonment become forgiveable if it was ‘only’ done for the purposes of making sure they didn’t get caught, and I personally thought it was okay – with the great maturity, discernment, and autonomy of my fourteen-year-old intellect and heart?

Is a girl less raped if she has a crush on the man doing it?  Is the age of consent actually irrelevant, as long as everyone thinks they are consenting, and capable of it?

Mr. X and I have talked, over the years, about what we were like when we were fourteen or so.  Each of us has said we had an innate sense of “that’s not for me” about sex and all sorts of other human involvements and debaucheries.  We were both well served by lacking the desire to get into what our parents would have forbidden anyway … and, the fact is, there was nothing innate about our sense of “nope” then.  I was taught fear of consequences all my life, and still AM, even at forty-six.  Mr. X no doubt was too – but we both internalized what we had shown and told to us, and we both accepted unquestioningly that there was behavior inappropriate to us (this holds true still, in fact – even geriatric as we have become).  It’s not always a matter of what you like or what you want, or what fascinates, even.  We were given the gift of protection – not only by our parents, but a society which even in the seventies and eighties, did tell tales of awful lurking things that can happen to the innocent.  We weren’t stupid.  We were privileged, and accepted the sanctuary that can provide for children.

Faced with any kind of reality approximating The Baby Beatle (still twenty-five years MY senior) actually seducing me, I would have known it was wrong, no matter how much I liked his pictures.  It would have been a job to make a Lisa Maddox of me.

But Lisa was fourteen years old.  Just because she wasn’t as fortunate as I – just because that unthinkable fantasy actually came true for her – doesn’t mean she was a legal participant in her own abduction and molestation.

Just because Page can do blues, hard riffs, and exquisite acoustic doesn’t exempt him from guilt, either.

Makes me want to go listen to the Who.  Maybe … not Teenage Wasteland, though …

Maybe Bach.  Yeah.  Switched-On Bach.

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