27.6.09

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind"

Yes, we’re talking about Michael Jackson. The world is talking about Michael Jackson.

I want to know how you and those around you have paid homage to this man’s death. If you didn’t, that’s okay, you might think about it and try. I will start off by telling you two drastically different tribute experiences of my own. One was good and the other was not so good.

Tribute #1: After dinner a few friends and I went to what is called “Last-Thursday” on Alberta street. It’s a tradition where they block off about 10 blocks on the last-Thursday of every month (read more about it here). I’ll sum it up by saying that it is a grand convergence of the most bastion of hipsters. I don’t know how I got there but I was welcome nonetheless. All hipster crowds are, if nothing else, friendly. But I’m certain that it’s considered a foreign country to most. I think Sodom and Gomorrah would shake it’s indulgent little finger at most of what I saw last night. So I’m exaggerating a bit but you get the picture.

I was walking around when I saw a large group of all shapes, sizes and hair-colors smiling and bouncing to an old and familiar beat. I gravitated over and when I did I saw a speaker in the middle blaring out a Jackson favorite, “Thriller!” I crossed myself and shamelessly joined in the ritual. And I loved every minute of it. Whispering sentiments like, "We love you Michael" and "You're the best!"

Tribute #2: Well, tribute #2 is not really a tribute at all, it is more of an experience with a crumudgeonous soul's take on the untimely death of Michael Jackson.

I was working at my lousy job just north of town. I work at a little market called J’s, it is basically a gas station without the gas. I was reading a book when a rougher looking gentleman approached the counter carrying two cheap 24oz beers in hand and asked me for some Pall Mall full flavored cigarettes. Now this guy's a keeper. He looked over his shoulder at the news-stand headline and said, “At least we got one!”

I’m innocent and curious so I asked, “One of what?”

A lewd reply followed, “One less child-molester in the world.” I scoffed, shook my head and bagged his beer. I saw that he needed a drink more than he needed a response. I whispered, under my breath, "go smoke a cigarrette you old bastard."

I apologize for his crassness and mine.

You’ve heard my two Michael Jackson stories . . . What are yours? In the mean time I'll be listening to "Billie Jean" on repeat.

11 comments:

  1. Thursday night, while a friend played a really great cover of Thriller on stage at the Marquis Theater in Denver, a group of us, on bended knee, took a shot for MJ. Before downing them, we all yelled out our favorite song at the same time. Billy Jean won across the board.

    Friday, went to a hipster club called Lipgloss. They played MJ all night, but the last song was I'll Be There by the Jackson 5. So we all (and I mean the majority of the club) put arms around each other shoulders and swayed and sang along.

    He will certainly be missed.

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  2. i was wondering when something about mj would pop up here. i got mad at people who insisted on the child molestation charges when he was alive, and even more so now. i've heard a couple people make reference to it in the last few days, and it's just sad. my favorite comment so far was from ?uestlove of the roots (on his twitter) "elvis got revisionist media treatment. i expect the friggin same for my hero. lemme find out yall gonna paint this mofo as a freak cnn." and "aint never heard a peep about elvis as a 24 yr old dating a 14 yr old priscilla, or his drug problems or anything but him being a treasure."
    i saw mewithoutyou live on thursday night, and half hoped they might play a cover or something in his honor, but they didn't mention it at all. the only mention was the singer of the opening band making some pretty bad jokes.

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  3. I am certainly a mixed bag of emotions.
    If anything, I've thought about how MJ is equal to all humanity before God. Seriously. How he was just a person like the rest of us.

    And I think it's a little sad how easily the world falls for someone just because of their art. It looks selfish sometimes. Or at least, sad the way we will blow our noses as someone who sang about strippers and werewolves, and this might be a "monumental loss" to the world.
    And I'm not downing MJ at all! I just mean, what do we value really? The person who sang the songs? The heart and soul of the guy? The feelings we get from his performance? The danceability of a beat?

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  4. We listened to the essential Michael Jackson songs, starting with Billie Jean, and danced around the house...well, at least I danced around the house with my 20 month old daughter, husband and sister as my audience. There was laughter and smiles. Those are the best kind of Michael Jackson memories.

    The rest of the story is just sad. In the words of my friend Mark: "Sad. The entire thing is sad. Hell, I got sad every time I heard one of Michael Jackson’s songs and thought about how talented he was and how far he had fallen. Sad." (thedaysoflore.com/rip-mj/)

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  5. Thanks for the stories everyone. I love stories!

    Betsy, I understand your hesitancy and I even agree with you. You got me, I picked two careless songs (Thriller and Billie Jean) to base a moral opinion upon . . . I mean come on right warewolves, zombies and strippers? You’re right. Our values are out of whack and we are shallow. I’m admitting that. And I side with you in suggesting that their is way to much hype right now.

    But for the sake of fun. I will try and recast MJ’s morality by picking two of his other songs...”Black or White” and “Beat It.”

    I dare say that “Black or White” and Michael Jackson did more for promoting racial reconciliation in the early nineties than anyone else or anything at the time. The song topped the charts globally in like 18 countries…maybe the only thing some warring countries had in common at the time was their liking to Michael Jackson’s “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white… yay, yay yay.” All I’m saying is a man promoting peace and unity and judging hate is okay in my book.

    The second song I’ll use is “Beat it.” It basically, sums up a pacifistic approach to gang violence. “It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or who’s right…just beat it.” Michael is upholding the sanctity of life and is demanding that ego’s be lost.

    I know that no person can be boxed in and defined by four songs.

    So to add to our fun, Michael gave to a litany of charities. This is from an article I read in the Oregonian writen by John Nichols from D.C. it read, “Jackson's charities were many: programs for refugees and the victims of violence such as Warchild, the "We Are the World" project and his own Heal the World Foundation, as well as the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, the Red Cross, UNESCO and for many years the United Negro College Fund . . . It also said that he was a public advocate and support-raiser for AIDS and HIV research and care.” All I'm saying is that any man who helps that man sufferers is friend of mine.

    The man himself was faulty . . . sure . . .but who is not? And I don’t know anyone who can dance that well.

    And I hope Michael doesn't raise from the grave like he did in Thriller...cause that would scare me.

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  6. Eric,

    Thanks for this. I, too, wondered when something about Michael would show up here; probably oughta be something about Farah as well...they were both beautiful people who embodied pieces of our dreams and hopes and fears and lusts and pain.

    When John Donne wrote the words that title your post, the tolling funeral bells were ringing in his ears, all day long (think plague and death on everyone's doorstep). As much as the media hype is, yes, too much, it is also sorta tolling-bell-like, reminding us, one and all, that one of these days the river will call our name as well.

    I read a blog post yesterday by some baptist pastor who gave a nod to MJ for three paragraphs (talented, creative, one of God's children, etc.) and then, in the fourth paragraph, pulled the rug out by essentially saying, "But it's sad. Now it's too late. Michael's lost." He, in my mind, is a kissing cousin to the old guy who bought beer and cigarettes from you...some of us dance when the bells toll, some of us just act like ding-dongs.

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  7. John, are you sure that that last paragraph is pulling out the rug from under MJ? Since when is it not OK for a Christian who believes that salvation is only through Jesus, to lament a death of someone who apparently was lost, and now has no chance of ever knowning what it's like to walk with Jesus? By your description of the writing, it seems that the man was not judging him, but saddened.

    As far as I can tell, MJ had a miserable life, and as one who has benefited from the healing (not just physical) that Jesus offers, I too find it sad that this man never got to experience what Jesus offers.

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  8. John, Michael always dances! And yes, John Donne is a pimp.

    James, read Susan's post "Remember Mercy" just above mine.

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  9. I did read Susan's post. I still don't think it answers my question about what John meant.

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  10. I have video footage of my "roller skating" at my 8th birthday party to "Black or White." I thought I was the cat's pajamas with that hip beat backing me up.

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  11. You were Betsy...you were!

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