From The Beatles To Justin Bieber

in Justin-bieber
In the dream, I'm in the front row at a Justin Bieber concert. He's the teenage singer who has every pubescent girl going "gaga." Think Andrea Bocelli with bubblegum and sneakers.

"I'd like to dedicate this next song to a special friend," says Bieber, pointing to me. "OMG!" I shout, clutching my pacemaker. "And I'm dedicating my next column to you!"

It took a long time to warm up to Justin Bieber. I still haven't. But my 12-year-old granddaughter thinks he is the greatest, so great that she would pay $400 for a ticket to sit close to him. "Ridiculous," I thought, forgetting the $500 I dropped to see the All-Star game in '07.

How easily I had forgotten the heartthrobs of my era, the Beatles. Every young girl in the world sang "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in her dreams. I bought every Beatles album -- bought them again when they came out in stereo -- and again when you could get them directly from Britain with extra songs.

Pop disdained the whole phenomenon. To me, that was a knife in the heart. But turnabout is fair play. On family trips, he would play classical music on the car radio. In the back seat I would get carsick, so I naturally connected the two. "Beethoven makes me wanna puke," I told him one day. Let's say he didn't take it well.

Justin Bieber came into our lives last summer. Our granddaughter Alyssa, 12, lives with us and her bedroom is a hallowed Bieber bastion.
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His posters cover her ceiling, she wears a Bieber T-shirt and sings all his songs. I am closely guarding the secret that they now have Justin Bieber bedsheets so kids can fall asleep next to him. Sorry, that's just wrong.

At first, I loved making fun of him. I said that he needed a haircut and hair on his chest. I delighted in telling Alyssa that Bieber preferred older women. He'd been spotted holding hands with Kim Kardashian. "I know," said Alyssa. "It's just a fantasy."

That told me a lot about Alyssa. She knows exactly what she is doing, playing in the make-believe world of worship, much the same place in which I once lived.

When the Beatles were my prophets, a popular British duo came to our town. They were Peter and Gordon, one of them (Peter Asher) had a sister who was married to Paul McCartney. Wow, what a lineage. I was 18.

I dressed in my best gold blazer and took a small, cheap tape recorder into their dressing-room for a post-concert interview. I had typed and carefully rehearsed my questions. In my quavering teenage voice, I blurted them out. "What do you think of Bob Dylan? What do you think the current trends of music are towards?"

When I got home, I found that there was nothing on the tape. I had forgotten to turn up the recording volume. My first big scoop had just died at zero decibels.

I still have those typed questions along with a blurry photo of me with the singers. It was for me a magical night in a fantasy world. Looking back on it, my whole life as a journalist has been the same way -- magic moments, fantasy worlds, creative work that is now only in my memory. But, then the memories always loom larger than the pictures themselves.

So, I understand the world in which Alyssa now lives -- the dream of Justin Bieber. He will fade, just as my love for girls I couldn't live without, including Sandra Dee, Annette Funicello and Debbie Reynolds.

So Alyssa, enjoy Justin Bieber with my blessing. That's life and the sweet adventure of growing up. I'm still working on it.

Dave Silverbrand is the general manager of CBS 17 and is a journalism instructor at College of the Redwoods.
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From The Beatles To Justin Bieber

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This article was published on 2010/11/28