Lena Horne And Frank Frazetta; Cultural Milestones
What to make of yesterday’s passing of songstress temptress Lena Horne and today’s death of Frank Frazetta? Culturally, they have not one thing to do with one another except that each carved a unique niche in our popular psyche.
They lived in the same eras – he white, she black – read mostly the same headlines, drove mostly similar cars, could easily recall a time without air conditioning, cheap long distance calling or air travel on a whim. Long distance. Does anyone even use the term anymore?
Lena’s smokey “Stormy Weather” always makes me glance upward, just to check. Stormy weather. Birds. Sky. Why?
Frazetta’s iconic “Death Dealer”, by the same token – wait a minute, that’s not right. But it is part of the overall lifetime of influences that define me, just like Lena, about how I feel and how I think and how I wonder about just what that is, that Stormy Weather.
Fantasy illustration, the Times calls it. Goth, legend, murderous mystic raiders astride heavily hooved war horses against a flame lit sky at twilight. It was Frazetta, and his peer Boris Vallejo, whose fantastic works were instantly adapted to chopper tank art as the perfect exclamation mark for the biker lifestyle. Then, anyway, before Conan became governor and Molly Hatchet’s lyrics sort of made sense.
There it is then, a circle formed climbing up through the mountains out of Chattanooga, heading for Knoxville one way or Nashville the other. Alone, fading daylight, blackness behind, straight pipes pounding off the pass, “Stormy Weather” plays in my mind as a summer thunderstorm builds in the distance, massive clouds turned impossible shades of pink by an already set sun, while the single warrior on the tank guides the way.