Today the King of Pop died. To me… this was a big deal. It really made me stop and remember. Being a kid. Dancing. Singing. Crushing. I still love watching the sidewalk light up in that Billie Jean video and the falsetto screams. And you know, Michael shut down Twitter and YouTube. Amazing. Sad. At the same time Farrah Fawcett lost her battle with cancer. And in reflection, all I could think about was my old light blue, metal Charlie’s Angels lunchbox. It was the shit. Pure and simple.
Michael Jackson was an icon. Far beyond that, really. There was nothing he did that did not garner the highest order of attention. And for better or worse, I figure if people have such vehement emotions about you either way, you must have done something meaningful. Everyone in my age group will remember the hype as we waited for the release of the ‘feature length’ music video for Thriller. And then we also got to learn who the hell Vincent Price was. Material for comics and pundits and zealots and anyone else who wanted to get in on it… whatever. At the end of the day, no one ever danced like Michael. His showmanship is indisputable. Off the Wall was one of my first LP’s and I still love that record. Every song. And I still wish I could move like MJ.
In her way Farrah was an icon too. Everyone remembers this poster, seriously who didn’t consider it’s sexiness? It holds up today… nipples and all, she looks fucking great. Her life got a little soapy down the stretch, but she always kept it interesting. Her hair-do still rocks and where do you think Roller Girl and Drew got their ideas anyhow?
I suppose it is a sign of my age but when I think of these two, I will always think of that brick wall and my light blue lunchbox. Their contributions to my cultural composition is firmly rooted back there in the 1970s. I see no point in extolling the negatives that inevitably crop up when we go through the media version of Kubler-Ross’ model of the five stages of grief. In the public eye these stages seem to translate roughly as follows:
- Denial —> Sensationalism/Shock value (first one to press wins the big $$$)
- Anger —> God, that person was so fucked up – they deserved it. [Think Jimi, Janis, Jim, Jerry, Kurt, Anna Nicole(?), Heath]
- Bargaining —> Well, we won’t print the death photos if we can get the tell all from the maid.
- Depression —> Dammit, we are no longer selling magazines, let’s dig up some more shit…
- Acceptance —> Okay, the scandal doesn’t sell anymore, let’s commodify and franchise – I see potential branding here!
After the predictable bandwagon of shock drove by, I noticed a huge wave of, “Michael Jackson? He was a pedophile! Let’s not forget about that! Just ’cause he could dance? Please! He was a sick pervert!” People mostly left Farrah alone because it is in incredibly poor taste to dole out shit to someone who has died of cancer… but do you remember when she went nuts? Because she did. But I don’t care – she will always, always be Jill Munroe to me. And if you don’t remember bargaining with your girlfriends about who got to be Jill or Kelly or Sabrina, you did not come of age in the 1970s [I will not go into the arguments over which Hardy Boy you got, because I believe some of those arguments are still going on – though Parker Stevenson seems to have won out in the age game, sorry Shaun.]
If you remember MJ for being a pervert you sure missed a lot over the span of some 30 years. And frankly, it’s your loss.
I used to worry that my grandma thought I was going to hell because I was not baptized. My mom assured me that this was not the case, but I wasn’t sure. And I thought a lot about what hell would be like. Now I think I know. Hell is where you are faced with every indiscretion and fuck-up of your entire life, indefinitely. Forever. You look at any mistake you ever made straight in the face without respite. And if you feel pretty good about that right now because you’re thinking you would never ever be so messed up as Michael… I would point to Mark Sanford, the current poster child of the “Glass Houses” phenomenon and tell you to be fucking careful.
Two of my favorite things from childhood. Gone. In a day. And, yeah, both of them had gone a bit wonky in the past decade or two. But I cannot work out how that might matter, even a little bit. Here is to kicking ass in heels and [high-waisted] bell-bottom jeans and living life off the wall.
Don’t stop till you get enough…