Saturday, June 27, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson

It's all over the news, it's in the streets, its online, there's no escaping it. Walking home from the gym, on Atlantic, almost every car stereo was blasting a song from the King of Pop. During his infamous child abuse trial, I thought, uncharitably perhaps, he should just kill himself. In my view, he was guilty. And now perhaps he has--- killed himself.

Yet, I loved his music. The Jackson Five was the sound track of my youth on the banks of Lake Michigan; Rocking Robin, Never Can Say Good Bye, I'll Be There, Ben. And then later, Thriller, Billy Jean--- and its hard for me to ignore his claims of a violent childhood, his real fear of his father. The mother who apparently did nothing. He was the goose who laid the golden egg. The little boy ticket out of the south side of Chicago--- Gary, Indiana. A real cesspool of a city.

How do you reconcile these things, the brilliant music, the shattered childhood, his own pedophilia? Do we stop reading Anne Sexton's poetry because she allegedly abused her own child? Do we stop reading Ezra Pound because he was virulently anti-Semitic? Do we stop listening to R. Kelly? Chris Brown? For the longest time, after he married his step-daughter, I boycotted Woody Allen's films. But recently I watched Annie Hall and wept.

There seems to be no easy reconciliation, and maybe there doesn't have to be--- in the words of Walt Whitman:

Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.

Michael Jackson contained multitudes. For me, my love for his music, remains fixed in the late 1960's and early 1970's. The little boy, with the perfect Afro, and the voice of an angel.


  1. Tough subject. I totally get your point about Woody Allen - I used to watch all of his movies until ....
    Some things that troubled me about the whole MJ thing: The same media folk who turned his name into a synonym for "creepy perv" are the same media folk who are now lauding him as a musical messiah.

    Caught Rev Sharpton trading opinions with Bill O'Reilly last night (my wife is a news junkie who switches between O'Reilly and Keith Oberman - while we eat, no less). Anyway, Sharpton was all kinds of pissed because O'Reilly asked, "If MJ is such an icon for african americans, then why did he have children via a white woman?" Sharpton said that was not germaine (Jermaine??) to the issue. WTF? We have heard a ton about the looooong dead Thomas Jefferson fathering kids with a black woman (a slave to boot) and that is relevant, but no one can touch St Michael on the very same subject? Tit for tat, Rev.
    Anyway, sorry to ramble on YOUR blog.
    Gotta admit I danced my butt off to Billie Jean (and still do from time to time) but when he started altering his face, touching kids and hanging his own off the balcony, he lost me.
    Personally, I do not think many people can handle that kind of adoration/fame/hype. It is unreal - very few humans can deal with it.

  2. It might be somewhat heretical to say this--- but a part of me wonders why the Black community embrace him so much. He wasn't Black when he died, he was white, and his children were white. In addition to probably being a card carrying pedophile. You're right that level of fame is surreal, can't imagine, and maybe you start to believe that the rules are different.

  3. I think it is unfortunate when people ignore the truth of a matter to stay with their group. Black Americans have to support MJ because he is (was??) black?
    Any time someone is so locked into an identity (Donkey, Elephant Baptist, BMW rider,pick your group and drink the kool aid) that they ignore the facts in front of them it is too bad and is ignorant.
    Donkeys who defended Bill and his oval office blow jobs jumped on the Elephant senator and his playing footsie in the john. Conversely Elephants who wanted to Kill Bill, will defend Craig and his wide stance on the crapper.
    Hello - both of them are fucked up. Put aside your party loyalty and smack them upside the head.
    Put aside your blackness or extreme worship of celebrity and realize MJ was a talented performer with a whole mess of personal problems. Buys his CDs, but lets not make some kind of a national hero out of the guy.