Michael Jackson is Dead: Report from Los Angeles
Goodbye to the King of Pop
The king of pop is now the king of angels.
Michael Jackson died Thursday afternoon at age 50, after suffering full cardiac arrest in his Bel-Air home and being rushed to UCLA Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
The circumstances of his death remain a mystery, although Jackson family friend and attorney Brian Oxman made a statement on CNN, suggesting Michael’s death was not unexpected. He hinted that Michael had been abusing prescription drugs on a level comparable to Anna Nicole Smith, and had been enabled by his inner circle.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” Oxman said.
The death is doubly tragic as Michael was said to be in fit physical condition just a few weeks ago. He had been examined by an independent physician in preparation for his world tour, which was to kick off in London on July 13.
Despite previous health problems, Michael had been practicing with “boundless energy,” for the tour, according to Johnny Caswell, a principal at the Burbank soundstage where tour rehearsals took place.
“He was working hard. Putting four days a week in here. Six hours a day. Working hard. Dancing,” Caswell told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re in shock over here.”
It seems the entire City of Angels is in a state of shock, quickly devolving into a media circus worthy of earlier “Wacko-Jacko” trials. A friend of mine is a UCLA employee and witnessed the gathering of scores of media outlets and thousands of onlookers near the campus hospital.
“Everything’s completely blocked. There are thousands of people, helicopters and news vans everywhere, and even a few people dressed as Michael Jackson, wearing his gloves,” my friend reported. “It is freaking crazy around here.”
I heard the news while driving through Beverly Hills and quickly flipped on my car radio. The first three stations I clicked through were all playing Michael Jackson songs – even the “golden oldies” station.
It’s fittingly odd the way this city – and the world – mourns a man so beloved for his meteoric talent and so ridiculed for his increasingly freakish manner.
Michael seems to have left the world the same way he lived his life – filled with awe, spectacle and shock. Our reaction is one of equal parts grief and curiosity for the man-child who spent so many years thrilling us with his boundary-shattering talent. And just as many years moonwalking in disbelief over his bizarre visage, his reclusiveness and his alleged obsession with small children.
Whatever the allegations against Michael and his curious nasal sculpting, there has always been a young girl inside of me who worshiped the king of pop. He was my first crush. Honest.
For reasons beyond me now, when I was eight years old, I caught glimpse of Michael on the cover of his Thriller album. (More than 25 years later, it’s still the best-selling album in history – an immensely impressive feat. I discovered the album a few years after its release, when it finally found its way to a garage sale in Nebraska.)
In case you need a refresher on the allure of that particular album cover, Michael lounges on his side in a Miami Vice-worthy white suit. His black shirt is unbuttoned just enough to render the young Jack-o utterly irresistible. Even at eight years old, I recognized that Michael was an icon and I NEEDED TO OWN A PIECE OF HIM. Some shred of modesty left me too embarrassed to ask my parents for a t-shirt with his image silk-screened on the front. So I asked my Godmother instead.
I wore that t-shirt all summer long. Oh, to have it back now.
Undoubtedly, Michael had many problems. He was tried but acquitted for child molestation. He was said to suffer from a condition that caused his skin to lose pigment. He seemed entranced by all things childlike. In his later life he shunned the world, only shuffling out on occasion in pajamas and military jackets. He had a proclivity for naming his (bizarrely acquired) children things like Prince and Paris and Prince II.
But despite all of this, Michael Jackson had music in his soul and a talent that could not be denied. That part of him will remain with us always. Our hearts go out to his children and all of the Jackson family.