It's Thursday, my Puddlers, and I'm back to provide you with Part 2 of the Top Twenty Friendships of All-Time. You can look at Part 1 of the list by clicking here.
Before we begin there are a few honorable mentions that did not make it on this list: Artie and Larry Sanders, Bart Simpson and Millhouse, Laverne and Shirley, Rory Gilmore and Paris Gellar (for the evolution), Bruce Springsteen and his guitar, Michael Jordan and Charles Oakley, Zach Morris and Jesse Spano, Zach Morris and Skreech. Those are only a few of the honorable mentions and you can feel free to contact me with some of the friendships that you think are tragically missing from this list. I'd be glad to hear and entertain your arguments.
One more note before we begin: Dirk Nowitzki is playing out of his mind right now. If you are a marginal fan of basketball, you need to watch what Dirk is doing on a nightly basis. He is making impossible shots seem easy. His fadeaway is unguardable and his one-legged jumper has become the only other trademark move of this current era besides the Rondo fake/scoop layup. It has been absolute treat to watch Dirk play over the past month and I can only hope he continues to play at this level in the Finals, because it will only make it that much better and competitive.
Now, we continue with the Top 20 Friendships of All-Time:
10. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - This may have been the first “buddy” movie of all-time. I say that unofficially, but I am fairly confident in my assessment. Some may say that the relationship between Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was more a “here and sidekick” relationship, but I see it as more of an evolutionary Don Quixote and Sancho Panza dynamic. Cassidy’s time in the world is up, but he refuses to believe it. The Kid is more of an equal to Cassidy than Sancho Panza was to Quixote, but he doesn’t know any better about the world changing so they continue on in their outlaw adventures in the face of their unknown pursuers—continuing a delusion about their own existences. So there’s that and also the fact that they both like the same woman but manage to not fight over her. And something has to be said about dying side by side with your friend in Bolivia in a gunfight when you are completely outnumbered by Bolivian soldiers. Finally, they are both so handsome and cool. I definitely think that I have more of a Cassidy (read Newman) vibe—impossibly good looking and distinguished.
9. Aaliyah and Missy Elliott – Their friendship was perhaps the most prominent female friendship in modern R&B, although it only lasted a short time. They were both cutting edge artists who worked together as well as with Timbaland at the turn of the millennium. There’s actually not much more I can say about this friendship other than the fact that they both made some revolutionary music about ten years ago and that Missy paid tribute to Aaliyah after she died like any true friend would. What? What else do you want from me? I’ve expounded about plenty of fictional and real friendships so far and there was bound to be one that was a little shorter than the rest, right?
8. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel – Their friendship is like a fine wine: aged, stored in a musty cellar over time, has a slightly bitter taste at the back of the tongue but with a slightly sweet, full-bodied finish. Simon and Garfunkel first met each other in elementary school in Forest Hills, Queens and started singing together at a very young age. They split up after high school, but reconnected a few years later and created some of the most memorable music and harmonies of all-time. Can you imagine creating an enduring and complex work of art like Bookends or Bridge Over Troubled Water with your childhood friend? Imagine you are Paul Simon and you have just written “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and you know your friend and singing partner so well that you understand he will master the song more than you ever could. Sure they fought and broke up, but it gave us “The Only Living Boy in New York.” And they had perhaps the most famous friend reunion ever at their 1981 Central Park concert, which was complete with rain and a record audience. Sounds like a Top 10 friendship to me.
7. Martina Navratilova and Chrissy Evert – This was a classic sports friendship. By that I mean that the excellence of these two women at tennis and their exhaustive competition completely overshadowed the fact that they were actually great friends. Also, their respective images caused people to confuse their personalities. Chrissy Evert with her blonde hair and turn of the 1980’s good looks was seen as the delicate and graceful champion. Meanwhile, Navratilova, with her gawky, slightly masculine appearance and eastern European bark, was seen as the hyper competitive aggressor. Well, that and she started to dominate Evert and every other women’s tennis player in the era. In reality, Evert was far more competitive and outspoken while Navratilova was humble and mild mannered. The public’s misconception and focus on their rivalry only brought these two women closer together as friends.
6. Thelma and Louise – No friendship list would be complete without Louise Elizabeth Sawyer and Thelma Yvonne Dickinson. First of all, these two just get credit in general for basically setting the tone for early 90’s women’s looks and fashion—Geena Davis especially since she was one of the archetypal babes of the 1988-1993 era. In the more specific, you have to like this friendship because of the way that these two women bonded over their trapped lives and were able to take a stab at some kind of freedom or liberation even if it got away from them. Their relationship is the go-to relationship for female outlaws and perhaps female buddy movies in general. There is nothing that says friendship or loyalty more than killing a guy who is trying to rape your friend and then going on a road trip to stay on the lamb and avoid the feds. Plus they have the iconic image of driving the 1966 Thunderbird Convertible off the cliff as they hold hands. All women should be so lucky to be friends like Thelma and Louise were.
5. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson – This is perhaps the greatest sports friendship of all time and one of the best overall sports stories, as I have previously written about. There were countless themes and factors that tried to stand in the way of the friendship between Magic and Bird: race, natural rivalry, NBA lineage rivalry, and personality. However, these two not only channeled all of those things into some of the most compelling athletics ever, but also into a lasting friendship. Larry and Magic were not friends for much of their NBA careers. It wasn’t until the late 80’s that they began to actually speak to each other. However, it was the usually reserved Bird that publicly showed his love if Magic when he expressed such great concern and sorrow over Magic’s contraction of HIV in 1991. These two friends not only had a legendary impact on the game of basketball, they also had an impact on each other’s lives. Two polar opposites who combined to drive and inspire the other.
4. Doc Brown and Marty McFly – No one in Hill Valley ever questioned the friendship between a 17 year old 80’s rocker and an eccentric old man scientist. The reason was because the friendship between Marty McFly and Doc Brown was so great. These two not only set the bar for time travel, but they also made the Delorean one of the most iconic cars of all time. Their sense of adventure and scientific curiosity often put the balance of the universe and our very existence in jeopardy, but everything seemed to work out. Sure Marty caused Doc to let a “Great Scott!” from time to time or Doc’s scientific jargon left Marty baffled—overall these two understood each other. How else do you explain the intuition of Doc flying the Delorean up the side of Biff Towers in the alternate 1985 to allow Marty to jump off the roof onto the hood of the Delorean so he could smack middle-aged alternate Biff in the face with the Delorean door in order to escape from being shot and go back to 1955 to correct the space-time continuum? All of us can only wish that we had the ability to read our friends’ minds that well. I’d argue that the adventures of Doc Brown and Marty McFly have not been surpassed in the past 25 years. Were this old man and this young 1980’s teen great friends? You’re damn right they were.
3. Neal Cassidy and Jack Kerouac – With all due respect to Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway, the friendship between Jack and Neal has been the most influential friendship on my life, which is something that thousands of men can say. Kerouac and Cassidy set the blueprint for the modern male friendship. They were young, good-looking, all-American, adventurous, maintained a prolonged friendship, shared the other’s wife/girl at the time, and devoted an intense attention to each other that people often mistook for homosexuality. The friendship between Neal and Jack represented what all guys want, a buddy to take road trips with; to smoke cigarettes and drink bad coffee with; to drive maniacally across the country and pick up women, but to also marvel at the natural beauty of the world as well as the simple holiness of a stretch of road or the seats in a diner or vanilla ice cream on apple pie. You have the trope of the book smart introvert who longs to be a freewheeling, street-smart, naturally masculine con artist in play. The writer who loved women but is awkward and clumsy around them confessing his soul, while the other is an expert driver who seems to fall into a girl in every town and makes them all fall in love with him. In a moment of fervor (I won’t say what substance was fueling me) I once turned to my friend Chris Redder on the way to a keg party in out senior year of high school and said, “You’re the Neal to my Jack.” And we ambled along in his white Jeep in the fading twilight of one of those high school springs that you can never get back. The keg party was good that night—we owned it. Any guy lives to be able to say that phrase about a friend. You may not be able to get those twilights back, but you can cherish the enduring friendship and mythology.
2. Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King – This is a timely friendship due to the fact that Oprah’s show just went off the air after 25 years and there is not much I can really add to what this friendship symbolizes. Oprah is the most powerful woman in the world and one of the most, if not the most powerful media presence in the world. Gayle King is her best friend as well as an intelligent editor, radio show host and general advice giver. The two have been friends for over 30 years and have a close bond and attention to each other that people often mistake for homosexuality, which, as we covered in the previous entry, is the sign of an iconic friendship. In the modern era, when people refer to being good friends, they use Oprah and Gayle as the example. And that’s not just between my friends and I, women usually do it as well. Basically, when you say Oprah and Gayle, everyone—even a majority of men—knows you are talking about two great friends. To me, that factor alone has to put them in the Top 3.
1. John Lennon and Paul McCartney – Some people may scoff at this one since John and Paul were collaborators and band mates more than they were actually friends. However, they started off as teenage boys in Liverpool and they started off as friends. As I’ve covered before, the Beatles are such a unique phenomenon that it’s hard to delve into their mythology time and time again. However, I love the Beatles and I love both Paul McCartney and John Lennon in such great amounts that we have to dive in. Paul and John were close friends just as the Beatles were as a band. However, through their friendship and partnership some of the most enduring tropes were developed for collaboration, the most notable of course being that John was the smart one who wrote more complex, confessional lyrics and harder edged songs, while Paul was more whimsical and tended to write songs about funny characters and could toss off a simple melody with ease. Anyone who has had a creative friend or a friend in general tends to think of where they fit in the John and Paul dynamic, whether you are working on a musical project or any other artistic endeavor or if you are just reacting some event in your life. You take a minute to wonder, “Am I John or Paul in this scenario?” Their partnership driving the Beatles for most of their time as band almost singlehandedly changed the pop-culture of the entire world. Their partnership has left an indelible mark not only on music in general, but also humanity. We all know that they had a falling out that lasted pretty much until John was assassinated, but the true grief and devastation that Paul felt after John died was the emotion born out of being friends with, knowing and loving someone for a long, long time. That was at the heart of the Lennon/McCartney partnership and for that reason they get the number one ranking on yet another perfect list that you can’t really argue with.