I realize I’m about a month late on this one, but I wanted to take some time to pay my respects to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. When I first heard the reports that MJ had passed away, my first thought was that it had to be a hoax. Even if we were being led to believe that he had died, he might have just faked it. If that sounds cold, do consider the scrutiny the guy had been under since the 1990s. I honestly thought that – given his money, his bad publicity, and his recent desire to keep a low profile – it really made sense.
But what did get me was how I found out. I was on the F train in Brooklyn, and a loud 11 year old boy, jockeying for his parents attention, belted out “MICHAEL JACKSON DIED! WHO CARES?!?!?”
It was one of those moments when you realize you have been around on this planet long enough to tell that kid, “You say that, because you’re too young to get it.” Granted, to this child, MJ was already a joke – he couldn’t have been born before 1997. But it still doesn’t change the fact that he was being obnoxious and disrespectful.
Of course, for the next two weeks, the media onslaught killed everybody’s buzz. At least, it did for me. I didn’t know how I felt. I didn’t want to have an opinion. But, that changed when I remembered that Dangerous was the first c.d. I ever owned, bought right here in New York, and taken back home to Philadelphia. I remember not knowing how a c.d. player worked (it was 1991, folks), so I listened to the whole album; waiting patiently for “Black Or White”, which was the song that ruled my world at nine years old, to finally play. That same year, my mom would give me Thriller and Bad as Christmas presents. In 1995, I bought HIStory in its first week of release. Very soon, I remembered: as a kid, I loved Michael Jackson. And, because of when I was born and which album was my first ever, I can argue that his music forever defined my preferences. So honestly, that is how I want to remember him. Plain and simple.
Rest in peace, Michael.