I don’t have much to say about the passing of Michael Jackson, other than if you ever put one of his songs on a mix tape, sang one of his songs at a Korean karaoke bar in Manhattan or a VFW in Minneapolis, made-out to the sound of his plush voice, danced at a club to one of his thrusters, or supply your own intimate detail here, then a little-big something died with you Thursday, when Michael Jackson, 50, went to the great Neverland in the sky.
The King of Pop is dead, and I am sad.
Not because I loved his music, which I did, especially the Jackson Five, whom I always think of whenever I drive 90 East over Gary, Ind. It’s a good stretch, and I try to take it slowly so as to take in the sight of the factory smokestacks on the horizon. Sometimes I wonder how many others do the same as they blow their way past to Chicago or Minneapolis or Indianapolis; point and say:
That’s the place where, once upon a time, a kid named Michael Jackson and his brothers set the world on its ear. They were poor, their father drove them like a team of Iditarod dogs, and they became America’s Black Beatles. See, kid? This is America. Anything’s possible.
But more than anything, I’m sad because it was nice living in a world that had a King of Pop. This can be a dry, black-and-white planet, but with the King Of Pop around, we had someone representing freaks of all stripes and pop music/art/life of all strains. I’m sad because somewhere deep down, I think everyone was rooting for him, even if they wouldn’t admit it. And in the back of our minds, we hoped that one day Michael Jackson would get up off the mat, and headlines across the world would bleat, “King of Pop Reclaims Crown.”
Instead, he was a naïve, loving, benevolent, eaten-from-inside dark king who looked like an alien by the end.
Once when we were talking about fame, a famous friend of mine said, “I know it sounds like cliché bull—-, but it’s like Michael Jackson or something. You don’t know why people like you.” And so like so many kings, you retreat and get lonely and desperate and the world closes in on you. But let’s not go there, not tonight, especially since Mark Eitzel is singing in my headphones about the importance of proclaiming my joy.
The King of Pop is dead. Long live that shiny little kid from Gary, Ind., who sang his heart out for us.