A MinD in MoTown

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.
June 26, 2009, 3:01 pm
Filed under: News Girl, RIP

I was at work yesterday when the news came through. “No way,” was my first reaction, refusing to believe that it was possible, assuming it was nothing more than another ridiculous tale from the ever-churning rumor mill.

But it was true: Michael Jackson, at only 50 years old, was dead. The self-proclaimed King of Pop was gone, and I was in utter disbelief and shock.

To be honest, I’m not entirely sure why that was my gut reaction, and why part of me still can’t wrap my mind around this sad notion. I’ve never been a huge MJ fan, although I can easily sing along with every No. 1 hit he attained. And despite my brief attempts at the moonwalk in my youth, I have no memories hinged to the star. Yet something inside kept me glued to my television last night, rapidly flipping between CNN, MSNBC and MTV as this story unfolded. I simply could not walk away from the remote, nervous I’d miss something important or interesting. And it was on my couch that I fell asleep, MJ news still streaming from the set when I finally woke up around 4 a.m.

June 25 became a day when history happened. You hear people today talk about the day Elvis Presley died, or John Lennon, or Jim Morrison, or Kurt Cobain. Our parents or grandparents mention these musical figures and how the news of their deaths affected fans around the world. And as conflicting reports came in from CNN versus the Los Angeles Times yesterday, I was watching the same kind of moment in history; the day a bright star in the sky finally burned out.

Naturally it was sad when Ed McMahon passed away earlier this week, and Farrah Fawcett took her last breath yesterday morning. But – as horrible as this may sound – their deaths weren’t surprising. As an older man with a variety of health issues, McMahon’s death was sad, of course, but nothing shock-worthy. And articles were written nearly daily about Fawcett’s consistently declining health as she battled anal cancer for the last three years. For many, Fawcett’s death was merely a question of “when.”

But Jackson … very few individuals can truly say they saw this coming. Like the others, there were noted health concerns, and maybe a few mental health inquiries as well. But he was 50 years old and slated to embark upon a 50-concert tour in London within the next month – a tour that was said to mark yet another comeback for the star whose peak likely came in 1980s. I can’t imagine anyone seriously believed with more than a grain of salt that his death would be imminent.

So when it unexpectedly occurred, it was nothing short of a monumental moment in history. This phenomenal pop star, the man who paved the way for so many others, was dead and my eyes were transfixed to this news. Maybe it was the journalist in me, or maybe the girl who, one day, would like to tell her kids where she was when MJ died, but I couldn’t pull myself away and I’m glad I didn’t.

Listening to what this man meant to so many, ranging from the everyday person on the street to some of today’s best performers in the entertainment industry, clearly Michael Jackson touched their lives in some way. And to hear that, to see the musical legacy he will leave behind, was quite significant.

Yeah, sure, he also unfortunately departs this world as “Wacko Jacko,” a man who was accused of child molestation, who had a pet chimpanzee, who dangled his child over a balcony ledge, and whose appearance was regularly tabloid fodder. However, his talents could never be denied and his popularity still remained strong despite the crazy tales coming out of Neverland Ranch and beyond. And though some may want to focus on his weaknesses, the iconic symbol MJ has become will never tarnish for the majority of fans mourning his death today.

As corny as it is to say, Michael Jackson was more than a man – he transcended to both myth and legend. He may be gone, but his reputation – both the good and the bad – will live on, and I can nearly guarantee his death with hold the same semblance as that of Elvis. People will talk of this moment, of this single fatality, for years and decades to come, and I can say, with detail, where I was and what I watched unfold. And even though this particular entertainer held little astonishment for me, his death will remain more than historic. It’s pretty damn epic in my lifetime.

15 Comments so far
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Sad times. Sad times. I got the news from a friend of mine as I was headed to ATL. I didn’t want to believe him b/c it just so unexpected. It’s a shame that one of the greatest performers ever is gone. Even moreso if the details being reported about how he died are true.

RIP Mike. Thanks for “Dirty Diana” & “Smooth Criminal.”

I can’t help but wonder if and how his cause of death might tarnish his reputation. It’ll be an interesting couple of weeks when the news finally breaks.

Comment by TOPolk

I got the news myself as I was waiting for our train to pull out and was pretty much glued to my computer the entire ride.

Rest easy, Michael.

I was at work, so the second I heard about it, I was pulling up every imaginable reputable news site for confirmation. Then I was literally stuck to the couch all night. I haven’t watched anything since, and I’ve read very little, but that particular day, it was a NEED to know that overwhelmed me.

Comment by Kendall

Never a big fan but I grew up listening to his songs, totally unpredictable indeed. I can’t handle the shock when I heard it.

I wasn’t much of a fan either, but the news was too huge to ignore.

Comment by Andhari

It’s so crazy because I had went to yoga with a couple of my co-workers and I had checked Twitter before we went in (me=TWITTER JUNKIE) and someone had tweeted that MJ had been rushed to the hospital for cardiac arrest but I didn’t really think any thing of it.

So after yoga, I checked Twitter again and there was at least two pages where it went from pure speculation and confusion to the nytimes finally reporting his death.

Complete and utter shock from me and my co-workers. His music has been a part of the soundtrack to practically EVERYONE’s life.

I did watch a lot of the news coverage but I had to cut it off after a certain point. Just too much and they aren’t reporting anything substantial at this point.

I hope he truly he is at peace now.

I love that you just said “his music has been a part of the soundtrack to practically everyone’s life.” That’s so spot on! Even if we haven’t been huge fans in the past, his music was there in the background anyway.

Comment by thatShortChick

I understand your feelings. Last night I couldn’t quite put it into words, almost like a very effective part of my childhood had been taken away…

After waking up today, I started flipping through my MJ playlist on iTunes and the memories just started rolling in. Then, I figured, I could write. My blog series is dedicated to my favorite songs of his today.

I hope he is, as one of my blog buddies says, teaching the angels to moonwalk now. 🙂

I have had a strange yearning the past several days to list to MJ. However, I realized I don’t have any of his music on my IPod. I was amazed at my own oversight all these years.

Comment by Beez

You hit the nail on the head here. I watched the coverage in the newsroom, as well, and was in total shock for the rest of the day. I was never a big MJ fan, but I believe his musical influence will be missed. And June 25 will be compared to the day Elvis, Jim Morrison, John Lennon, etc. died.

Such a sad, crazy news week.

Knowing it was “a day in history” unlike every other day made me want to watch that much more. I couldn’t relate to those individuals who idolized him, but from a news standpoint, the coverage was remarkable.

Comment by E.P.

I will always be a fan of Thriller because that was huge when I was a kid. It’s sad to see how he turned into more of a recluse or “freak” as time went on. That was the saddest thing to see progress.

You are so right. It’s unfortunate that his musical talents will always be a bit hampered by the crazy things he did. =/ And the reason for his death just might tarnish it that much more.

Comment by Jessica

100 million people saw Thriller. That’s practically unfathomable! He was a true pioneer and I’ve no doubt it was a sad day in Hollywood. Nice tribute.

100 million? Damn. I never would’ve thought that number so high, but it does speak volumes about his career and legacy.

Comment by hautepocket

I wonder if there are going to be conspiracy theories about Michael still being alive.

you know, like how they all think elvis and tupac are both alive?

I was totally wondering this the other day. I bet someone out there will truly believe he’s still alive, even though he’s clearly not.

Comment by Matt

I was getting my hair cut by a large black woman. When she heard the news, she was halfway through buzzing my hair. She stopped, turned and said “WHAT?” The whole shop turned quiet and started to find out what happened.

He was a legend

I half-expected you to say she jacked up your hair because she was so distracted by the news. I’m glad that was not the case!

Comment by phampants

Lovely tribute, my dear. I agree that it was the surprise factor that made it the most hard-hitting… Ed and Farrah, we knew we may lose. But MJ passing had never really occurred to me before.

I feel almost bad saying Ed and Farrah weren’t unexpected, at least to an extent. But it’s true. The MJ thing was so completely sudden that nobody had time to prepare, and I think that’s why the shock levels were so damn high.

Comment by LiLu

i’ve been hearing the bad child molesting jokes lately about him. it is sad to me 😦

I’ve heard quite a few myself, and when I said last night that I don’t truly think he ever molested a child, the entire room fell silent. Nobody could believe that I seriously thought he was guilt-free. So sad.

Comment by floreta

I agree with what you said, even though I was never a huge fan, his death was totally unexpected. Although he was so talented, and so well known, he was never truly happy inside and I wish he could have died under better circumstances. And I feel so sorry for his kids, they must be going through a lot.

They truly must be, and they won’t have an easy road ahead of them, living as Jackson’s children either. I half anticipate seeing them on some reality show a decade from now, discussing their lives as MJ’s offspring.

Comment by Tellie

Great post. You are so right, it is pretty damn epic. I really wish I was great with words like you are. My trubute would sound just like this. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

That was so sweet of you to say. Thanks hun!!

Comment by Melissa

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-eyebrow-threading.htm – eyebrow threading…

Thank you!

Comment by dalipstickbandit

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