But I’m afraid this time, you’ll have to, Mikey.
I thought I’d go ahead and share my feelings on a very mournful day for Hollywood and former pre-pubescents from the early 80’s. Let me say this first: I am sorry that news of Farrah Fawcett’s death some five hours earlier has been overshadowed by the media overkill that is being given and will continue to be given to MJ’s death. Farrah spent the last five years of her life living it in pain. Cancer isn’t always a death sentence, but in reality, it often is.
I’m sorry Farrah died. I was by no means an ardent fan, despite her being a fellow Texan and I was way too heterosexual to find her anything other than a pretty young woman. Even so, I think when she got sick, she was strong as long as she could be and put up a worthy fight against this malignant nemesis. True, having fame and money helps; it supplies the troops and ammo needed to fight the battle, but all the money in the world can’t reanimate a body horribly, viciously ravaged by cancer. Death is often the only reprieve when that’s the case and today, Farrah Fawcett finally found hers.
But Michael? His death is preliminarily being blamed on massive heart attack and rumors are circulatin that hard core prescription drugs may have played a role. But there’s something about the oddness in his life that kind of makes you think dying in the way he did could be the ONLY way to add final punctuation to his life sentence. I first became aware of this small, talented nubian male child in the late 60’s. The Jackson Five’s first chart topper, “A-B-C”, served as my first introduction to their music. A few years later, in the fall of 1971 when I was 12-years old, I had matured enough to associate some emotion with his songs, namely “Got To Be There” and “Ben”. Then, by the spring of 1973, as I was finishing up my eighth grade year and preparing for my Freshman year in High School, I forgot all about Michael Jackson.
That is, until early 1980 when I was finishing up college in Austin, Texas. I remember eating eggrolls on the floor of the apartment of a gay couple with whom I’d been friends. The radio was on and as as the Top 5 Countdown started counting down, the number 5 song that night was MJ’s newest single, “Rock With You”. That song started his meteoric second career rise and he was untouchable…until he started allegedly touching a lot of young boys in inappropriate ways in the early 90’s. His fate was sealed then. His career took a slam and really, would never recover. He started hemorraging money and when that happens, “friends” can rarely be found. He fought off criminal charges, lawsuit after lawsuit and reacted accordingly by getting new noses, new cheeks, lips, dangling his oddly named baby off the railing of a balcony in Germany, speaking with such a soft, high lilting voice that sounded like he’d been a lifelong member of Castrotti and of course, blaming vitiligo for his ever increasing mellanin decreasing.
That, my friends, is called a ‘deep end” and Michael Jackson went off of it with a two mile running start. It was said he had kept the Elephant Man’s bones in his home; he had a chimp/love interest named Bubbles. He slept in a hyperbaric chamber, married Lisa Marie Presley in one of the oddest pairings since vodka and iced tea and he had an unusal penchant for children. Where did this odd behavior come from? I’m thinking Papa Joe Jackson. I met a friend for cocktails earlier today. We’d just heard the news that Michael (who by the way, at 50 was just a few months older than me) had just died of an apparent heart attack. My friend insisted that Michael’s slick and hip dance moves were actually learned much earlier in life, when Michael was a child. Those slides and whirls and twirls and moonwalking were actually things he learned to dodge Joe Jackson’s belt in one of the crazed bastard’s ritual “ass whoopins”.
I think Pater and Mater Jackson knew their talented kids could get them out and keep them out of all those “hard times” in Gary, Indiana. It’s been said that Joe was exacting and a task master and probably secretly (and maybe not so secretly) resented his sons – Michael in particular, for achieving more in his young life than Joe had in all his years on Earth. What you’re about to read is no great globe shattering treatise on Michael’s life or psychopathy and what I’m about to impart has probably been said before, but personally, I don’t think Michael was a pedophile. At least, I doubt that was his initial intention. Now, wait a minute—before you order the tar and feathers, permit me to explain.
I think Michael was robbed of his childhood. He was just eight when he started fronting the band with his four other brothers. How many eight-year-olds do you know who have full time jobs, travel all over the world, apepar on Sullivan, Carson, are interviewed by Mike Douglas AND have a huge fan base of pudgy, acne faced pre-teens screeching their names? As a child, Michael was forced into having a particular priority that he didn’t want and perhaps, never understood: to help make the Family Jackson more financially solvent. Think about it: that’s a hell of a lot of responsibility for a child and a young Black child in particular, who was entering the Anglo dominated world of entertainment just as the water from the high pressure fire hoses in Selma and Birmingham were just starting to dry out.
Michael was surrounded by adults on an almost continuous basis. Record mogels, sound engineers, agents. He probably got to play some with his brothers while on tour but keep in mind, they were several years older. The truth is, Michael wasn’t allowed to be a kid. He grew up physically, but not emotionally and when he had so much discretionary income, he made every attempt to experience a childhood he never got to have. I submit for your perusal: Neverland Ranch with it’s llamas and Ferris Wheels, carousels, roller coasters and whatever else Disney was no longer using in California or Florida. I think he looked in the mirror and was confused by what he saw versus how he felt. I have no idea what really happened inside Mike’s Neverland manse. I’ve heard all about the “Jesus Juice” and other things he’s accused of using to ply these young boys into submission. And if anything ever happened, I’ll be the first to publicly admit these actions are completely despicable, not to mention, illegal and unforgivable. I’m not excusing his actions, I’m merely examining possible explanations as to what might have prompted all of his odd behavior.
In closing, Michael Jackson lived as he died – in the spotlight. But it’s more of a spotlight still burning from the past. In the early 80’s, he was a god. Worshipped by throngs were mere days away from seeing his image on a flour tortilla. He had money beyond the dreams of Avarice, but as with Farrah Fawcett, inall the moneyall There were triumphs and disappointments, gossip and innuendo, facts and fiction, drugs and sobriety, happiness and sorrow. He was a lonely man in a sea of humanity. He wanted love and never really found it. It’s ironic that he literally died from a broken heart.
But irony knows celebrity, though. It knows it well. In fact, it was there when a fast living James Dean died in an even faster car.
It was there when comedian Sam Kinison, having just achieved three months of sobriety, was driving his Trans-Am on a Nevada highway in 1992. An extremely drunk teenager hit Kinison’s car with his truck and killed the funny man. Just as Sam was getting a grip on the demons of addiction that plagued him, he was killed at the hands of someone who was carelessly indulging in his own.
RIP…across the board.