Important Notice

Special captions are available for the humor-impaired.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson (1958-2009)*

I have to admit that my first reaction upon learning of Jackson’s death simply begged the question, “Does his early demise surprise anyone?” What a cold and cynical response on my part, but bad behavior by our most successful citizens seems to be almost the rule in our society. After the child molestation accusations (and please don’t tell me he was innocent—there’s a court of law and then there is the truth which often don’t jibe), the plastic surgery, and all of the other just plain weirdness, it is difficult to harbor any feelings for the man than other than pity…at best. I say this with total respect for the man and his great musical legacy that we should all bow our heads, grab our groins, and let out an ear-splitting, "Eee Yeee Heeew" (sp?).

It truly is sad to think that this artist, instead of exploring the limits of his immense talent well into his 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s allowed himself to wallow in his grotesque excesses. Imagine a Michael Jackson maturing like a fine wine, which is a terrible analogy because he started out fairly perfect and then got better and better. One of my favorite writers, the Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, just wrote one of his most brilliant novels at the age of 72. How many more times could Michael Jackson have reinvented himself and cranked out another brilliant album? I know that it is a stupid question but it’s one I will ask over and over as I continue to hear his music being played and enjoyed all over the world.

I can’t say that I was ever a huge fan of Michael Jackson, at least not when I was an adult because I loved The Jackson Five as a kid. With that said it is impossible to deny that a lot of his music was just so damn good no matter what your own personal music tastes may be. I was in a dance club not too long ago when right in the middle of dancing with my date and another couple I stopped and remarked that the song we were dancing to at the moment, Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, was absolutely brilliant and probably MJ’s best. We all stopped dancing and just listened to the song. Everyone agreed with me. How could anyone disagree?

I have probably listened to more of his music in the last couple of days than I ever have before. I don’t ever remember actually listening to his music at home or even buying any of his records. I didn’t need to because he provided the sound track for huge swaths of my life. It’s impossible to spend a night in a dance club without hearing at least one of his songs. After hearing Billy Jean a few hundred times I still have to admit that it kicks ass as a dance beat.

*Never have a pair of parentheses seemed more like bookend tombstones to me, as if your whole life will somehow be relegated to two dates and everything in between is somehow forgotten, as if a hyphen is all that represents a person’s life. If history is written by the victors it is remembered only by the survivors. I think the sobering thing for me when I typed in those barest essentials of Michael Jackson’s vital statistics is that one of those dates will be the same when the time comes for my life to be reduced to two numbers separated by a hyphen. I am still working furiously on everything that comes in between. I freely apologize for never having recorded a song like Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough but I suppose that the world really does need ditch diggers like me.