I don’t remember there being much fanfare about my 50th birthday . . . just the youngest child saying, “Man, you’re getting old, Pops!” You would have thought I had one foot in the grave by the look on his face . . . but, I am still here . . . even after nearly 56 years! For the wear and tear of growing old, I still think of myself as alive and kicking . . . though I do not sound as good as the Beatles, nor do I look as good as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue . . . both of which are celebrating 50 years of being around. In a “fair” world, they would have aged with the rest of us . . .
The Beatles amazed me the first time I ever heard them . . . though at the age of six beetles amazed me more than a bunch of British rockers with shaggy hair. It was only later, when I discovered music and its ability to touch the soul, that I began to fall in love with the music that was the Beatles. Growing with the evolution of their music through the years was to stand in awe of great artists and musical geniuses . . . though there would be some who would argue that Ringo dropped their musical IQs . . . who definitely helped to define and shape the world of music. They pushed the limits. It is amazing to still see their impact of their music on the world today. I would bet that there is not a day that goes by that all of us hear at least one of their songs in some shape or form . . . even after 50 years!
Now, at the nearly ancient age (according to my children) of 56, I prefer Beatles over beetles. Their music is timeless and I think that is what makes it classical . . . how many generations profess being touched by the music and lyrics of the Beatles? I know that I have corrupted my children and have begun the process of doing so with my granddaughter. Though two of the original Beatles have died, the Beatles legacy will never die . . . 50 years from now, my youngest son’s children will be saying the same thing to him when people celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Beatles and their music . . . “Gee, Pops, you’re getting old!”
Being a sports fan, I have been a subscriber of the Sports Illustrated magazine for close to 25 years now. I tried ESPN the Magazine, but it was not quite the writing I enjoyed when it came to sports writing . . . but, I never left the magazine in those 25 years. I enjoy the articles . . . I love the great photography . . . and, that is why I get the magazine. At least that is what I keep telling the wife each year when the annual swim suit edition arrives in the mailbox . . . I like the articles! She smirks, winks, and says, “Yeah, right!” But, it is the truth . . . the swim suit edition only comes once a year . . . there are 51 other issues that also come. But, oh, what an issue that one issue is in stirring up opinions and controversy.
For years my actual favorite issue of Sports Illustrated was the one that came the week after the swim suit edition. That issue always had the “letters to the editor” in criticism and praise of the swim suit edition . . . there is always some great reading in that issue. I always scan to see if there is a letter from the wife, but even after 25 years she has yet to write a letter. Because of the strong opinions on both sides of the issue concerning the swim suit edition being everything from soft porn to art, Sports Illustrated decided years ago to allow subscribers to skip the swim suit issue and add a week to their subscriptions if they did not want to receive it in the mail. Of course, there were very few takers on the offer . . . the argument was that no one wanted to break up the annual set of issues . . . to be a set one must have all the issues including the (gasp) swim suit issue. At least that was the argument I used with the wife.
This year is the 50th anniversary of Sports Illustrated publishing its annual swim suit edition . . . the biggest selling issue of their magazine . . . year in and year out. Thankfully they have not used the same swim suit models from the very beginning to celebrate their 50th anniversary . . . though I am sure that there are quite a few over 50 ladies who could easily grace the cover of their magazine. I hear AARP pays them better. I am sure that this year’s special 50th anniversary issue will break all sorts of records . . . shoot, if I can keep my copy in pristine condition and live another 50 years, I could make a million dollars . . . sports and flesh always sell!
The evolution of the swim suit edition of Sports Illustrated, like the Beatles, evolved over the years. As the years went on, the models wore less and less swim suit and more skin. Unfortunately the reality that Sports Illustrated has created with this annual issue is far from what real life and women look like . . . and, despite the criticism from all walks of life, they have not toned down the magazine as they continue to push the limits of what is acceptable. Thank goodness it is the only issue of the magazine that comes in a brown paper wrapper. But, at 50 . . . well, it has kept its looks unlike the rest of us.
To reach 50 years of anything is quite an accomplishment . . . the Beatles proved themselves as more than one-hit wonders . . . they and their music is classic. Their sound and lyrics are as relative today as they were 50 years ago . . . they continue to speak to us and touch our hearts. Sports Illustrated’s 50th anniversary of the swim suit issue . . . well, it is what it is . . . something that will argumentally always be a hot topic for its irrelevance towards women and for its elevation of the female body as art. It is probably no wonder that that iconic symbol of what real women are not—Barbie—graced the dust cover of the swim suit issue this year. It really does not matter whether I read the issue or not . . . it usually disappears before I ever get to open the cover. The wife tells me that it is our sons who take off with it . . . I guess they like the articles. Chips off the block just like their old man!
Happy 50th anniversary to the Beatles . . . to Sports Illustrated Swim Suit edition . . . thanks for the memories!