About this Blog

"In the future everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes." So said the bleached-out, late lamented artist Andy Warhol. Having lived and worked in New York City, Warhol came to fully grasp the hold celebrity has on us. In this very famous sentence, he meant to point out that in a culture fixated on fame, many people will suddenly flash brightly onto the public screen, then--poof--will just as quickly disappear from public view--like shooting stars. Other individuals derive their celebrity from one stellar accomplishment (one hit song, one iconic role, etc.) that they never again match.

This blog is devoted to the one part of our celebrity culture that no one has written much about: temporary/one-shot celebrities.

The pace of modern life has quickened, and now we hear people speaking of someone's 15 seconds of fame. These "celebrities with a lower-case c" who will appear in this blog sometimes come to us from the world of entertainment, sometimes from the world of news. All are fascinating.

The need of our communications media for a continual stream of new material assures that we will have no end of colorful people who go quickly, where celebrity is concerned, from zero to hero (or villain) and back to zero. Now you see 'em, now you don't. What a crazy world, eh?

Temporary celebrities coming from the world of entertainment include one-hit recording artists; TV and movie icons who, although they might have had a great many accomplishments in their career, are remembered for one big role; standouts of reality TV; sports figures remembered for one remarkable accomplishment; and people whose celebrity came from one big role in a commercial or print ad.

News-based temporary celebrities come in many forms: mass/serial killers, other murderers of special note, sex-crime offenders, disgraced figures of government/military/business/media/religion, spies/traitors, hoaxers, femmes/hommes fatale, heroes, whistle blowers, inventors/innovators, and victims.

Celebrity Blogsburg will consider each category in turn.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mass/serial killers: John Allen Muhammad

John Allen Muhammad (born John Allen Williams) was executed in 2009 by lethal injection for his part in the 2002 Beltway shootings in the Washington, D.C., area.

A native of New Orleans, he served in the National Guard and later in the Army, reaching the rank of sergeant before leaving the service in 1994.

Twice divorced, he was visiting his children in 1999 in Antigua, where he met teenager Lee Boyd Malvo, who became his partner in the fatal shootings of at least 10 people--7 in Maryland, 5 in Virginia and one in the District of Columbia. Three more people were wounded by the Beltway shooters.

It is thought that the two men might have killed as many as 11 more people.

The two were captured in Maryland after Malvo's fingerprints were found on a magazine he dropped during the robbery of a Montgomery, Ala., liquor store.

Muhammad had converted to the Nation of Islam in 2001, and at that time dropped the family name Williams.

Muhammad's role model was Osama bin Laden, and testimony in Malvo's trial indicated that the two had an elaborate scheme to kill more Americans and to extort millions of dollars from the federal government.

Muhammad was tried or murder in Virginia in 2003 and was found guilty. In 2005, he was tried and convicted in Maryland of six more murders. He received the death penalty.

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