The Water Cooler
  • The Unsound of Music Part 1

    Two years after Michael Jackson's death, there are still no answers - no concrete ones, anyway. There's endless speculation, skeletons continue to tumble out of the closet and in the most ironic of twists, the estate of MJ is raking in posthumous profits - lack of money was something that plagued him in his final years, with Neverland foreclosed, debts that kept on mounting and the out-of-court settlements on pedophilia lawsuits that left him almost bankrupt.  He wasn't the only troubled entertainer in the world of music, though - the history of music is laden with many troubled souls who made beautiful music but turned to drugs or suicide to end what seemed to be lives not worth living. Here are some whose legacies live on in their music.

    Elvis PresleyElvis Presley: Jan 8, 1935 - Aug 16, 1977

    The man who gave leather pants and sideburns 'sexy' status, this original 'rebel' died at the age of 42 owing to prescription drug abuse. For someone who'd tasted wild success in his career, could hold the

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  • AR Rahman had good reason to thank the rain gods after his concert in Bangalore on Sunday (May 29, 2011) . The last time he was in this city, a downpour had ruined his show. That was 2005. Six years on, as he performed at Palace Grounds again, he was able to pull off a show that was spectacular in a Bollywood-awards-nite sort of way. It rained heavily a day after his show; the rain gods had indeed been kind to him and his fans.

    The show, organised by the UF Group, was scheduled at 7 pm, but got off to a start half an hour late. Rahman made a grand entry as an instrumental medley of some of his older themes was played (Roja, Duet, Bombay). He then launched into Tere bina from the film Guru, following it up with Dil se re from Dil se, saying a customary local-flavour greeting ('Chennagiddeera?' in Kannada, in this case) to acknowledge the 10,000-strong crowd.

    The cheering came from the packed and overflowing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 sections, where fans had to stand. The Rs 2,000 section

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  • In the Land of Power and Money

    Today morning, Dominique Strauss-Khan, currently embroiled in a sex attack case, resigned from his role as the IMF head honcho, following unrelenting global pressure to quit. Touted to be France's presidential candidate during next year's elections and as some say, chief opponent to Nicolas Sarkozy, whose star seems to be on the wane, this imposing man was nicknamed 'The Great Seducer' for his ability to see any kind of 'deal' to its very end.

    Post the sexual assault allegations, two women from his past have come up with their own stories of abuse and involvement - one woman, then a 21-year-old, and the godchild of his second wife, claims she was invited to his house on some flimsy pretext and was subjected to sexual abuse. Another, a subordinate who had an affair with him, claims he's incapable of discharging duties as the chief of an organisation as big as the IMF.

    Though these can be seen as two women cashing in on the furore, no one can argue that they can well be supplementary

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  • If it was choice that made Saudi Arabian billionaire Osama Bin Laden a terrorist, his ascension to the status of most wanted fugitive was a result of America's vacillating policies. The US, like a self-proclaimed Messiah, has long been perpetuating the values of democracy propagating its ideals beyond their boundaries. In theory, this way-too generous attitude of Uncle Sam sounded perfect. But in an attempt to create the so-called free societies, many of their missions did derail, failing their calculations, often ending up in catastrophes.

    Insurgencies and revolts against the ruling power had been there since centuries. But in the past couple of decades, it has spread across the globe at an alarming rate like cancer. The catalytic evolution of Mujahideens - which started as an upheaval against the communist regime of Afghanistan and the occupant Soviet forces to what we see as today's al-Qaeda has surpassed imagination. It has a new face and new mission now. Today it's not something

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  • The President of Catchphrases

    There was a point in time not too long ago when there seemed to be no alternative to "Yes, we can".

    It took the current President of the United States a good two and a half years to come up with a catchphrase that might resonate even more strongly than his "Yes, we can" with Americans, but he's done it again - in style, with his trademark elan, shoulders straight, head held up high, eyes front and center, and with quiet conviction: "Justice has been done."

    The US government's historic achievement of nailing and executing the world's most wanted extremist bin Laden just under a decade of the most frightful terror attack on US soil is cause celebre enough for one of the most articulate leaders of the world to proudly proclaim to the world - "Yes, I did."

    After a promising contest at the 2008 elections, whipping up a frenzy of support from influential bigwigs of corporate and celebrity America and a rousing speech before assuming office post a thumping win at the

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  • Cutting Corners With Chai

    Greg Mortenson, mountaineer, founder of a charitable organisation that builds schools for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and co-author of a successful memoir, 'Three Cups of Tea' based on actual life involving mountaineering and his tryst with charity, might well be this year's James Frey.

    Remember Frey? His autobiographical 'A Million Little Pieces', based on his time in prison and subsequent life lessons, was found to contain 'facts' and 'incidents' that were a figment of his very active imagination and not really, well, life experiences. He was invited on Oprah Winfrey's show to present his defense, (where Oprah tore up his defense into pieces, more because his book was featured on Oprah's Book Club than anything else), but nothing could stop the chaos that followed - his book was pulled off bookshelves around the world, he was subjected to scathing criticism for having the gall to embellish his memoir with wild imaginations and his thereunto bestseller quickly

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