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Published: Tuesday, 7/7/2009

Michael Jackson: RIP

Greetings, Hack:

I am some three years older than the late, great Michael Jackson. This is not much of a gap, unless you re in your teens, and so it is that I remember watching The Jackson Five on TV and thinking, Aw, how cute that little kid is! even though he wasn t much younger than me.

Today is the King of Pop s memorial service although, judging by the descriptions, I don t know why we re not calling it his final stadium show. Did you know that almost 20,000 can squeeze into L.A. s Staples Center, Hack? (Wait. You re a sports columnist. So yeah, you probably do know that )

Anyway, the New York Times said memorial organizers will let 11,000 fans into the arena, with the rest of the seats going to Mr. Jackson s family and friends, etc. although, at the adjacent Nokia Theater, 6,500 fans will be allowed to enter.

Oh, and I trust you already know that something like a minimum of five broadcast outlets will cover today s service live, right, Hack?

Reported the Times:

Organizers and city officials have urged residents to watch the memorial from home but many fans have signaled that they intend to show up anyway.

Los Angeles police officials, bracing for tens if not hundreds of thousands of people, have not given an estimate of what it may cost to control the event, whose lineup and other details have not been announced. The city is struggling to close a recession-fueled $530 million deficit in its operating budget.

Agreed: The guy was enormously talented. (Fred Astaire once called to compliment his dancing, which was without a doubt phenomenal.) And yes, I have a whole bunch of old Jackson Five tunes on my iPod, even while it s true that I never had any of that fan-forming visceral response to the Quincy Jones-produced stuff and beyond.

But that s not my reason for wishing there wasn t such commotion over all this.

Hack, the media have totally over-saturated the death of Michael Jackson (and, by virtue of this blog post, which was my idea, I guess we can count ourselves, too so much for that )

But I ask you: Did Richard Nixon get this much press when he died ?

Granted, I m not parroting that New York congressman who accused us all of glorifying a low-life while underplaying the more worthy pursuits of cops, firefighters, teachers, etc. (Rep. Peter King also said media coverage of MJ s death is too politically correct. )

But if you agree with me, Hack, that we have been All Michael All the Time since he went to the Great Moonwalk in The Sky, then you and I are not alone.

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press scrambled to survey the public mindset after MJ s death and found that almost two out of three Americans think coverage was overdone. However, Pew researchers added:

At the same time, half say the media struck the right balance between reporting on Jackson s musical legacy and the problems in his personal life.

Michael Jackson was a performing genius and also, yes, a freak. His life was at least as fascinating as his art. If just half of what s been written about his father is true, virtually his entire life stands as testimony to the sad results of psychological child abuse.

Normally, most folks would cheer on anyone who wants to escape Gary, Indiana. But in MJ s case, it s hard not to wonder if he might have had something approaching a normal existence, had he gotten out from under his family s thumb and lived uneventfully in one of the sorriest cities in America.

The whole thing makes me sad. And no, I m not watching any of the TV coverage today. Are you?

Hugs n kisses,

Bert

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Dave Hackenberg Dave Hackenberg
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G day Roberta:

That Great Moonwalk in The Sky?

Goodness, you re a wordsmith.

You re also much older than I thought. Michael was 50, which means you re 53. I just thought I d do the math in case our reader I mean readers missed that.

Let s answer your question first. No, I won t be watching. I have never watched. I m not going to start now.

Oh, I suppose I should never say never. I used to look up at the screen now and then to see if Michael s face had gotten around to falling off or if the census bureau should be notified that we finally had one more white guy.

Granted, Bert, he was a great talent. But it wasn t my kind of music. As for his footwork, I m sort of a Gene Kelly between-the-raindrops type of guy. It s nothing personal. I don t watch Dancing With The Stars either.

You see, you might be 53, but I am older. Much older. Michael was all about being a Thriller; I m far closer to knockin on heaven s door.

I won t tell you what s on my iPod because you would make fun of me. But it s mostly a bunch of old guys singing about lost hound dogs, rusty old pick-ups and love-gone-bad ballads with titles like, If I d Killed Ya The Day I Met Ya I d Be Out Of Jail By Now.

But take my word for it. There s no Jackson Five. There s no Michael. There s no Janet. Not even any Tito.

While I m doing math, let s tackle this one. The Staples Center seats about 20,000 since I am a sports columnist, which you ALWAYS point out as if you re apologizing for my career choice, I can tell you Staples seats 19,079 for basketball and 18,118 for hockey but has never hosted a memorial service before, so who knows how many they ll pack in there. But if 11,000 seats are going to fans and the rest go to family and friends then, wow, there are gonna be a lot of little boys in the joint. That s a lot of friends.

(By the way, Bert, you scared the hell out of me with several references to MJ in your portion of this blog. As any sports columnist will tell you, that s Michael Jordan. I m not sure even Michael Jackson can steal those initials. Rest easy, sports fans, the real MJ is alive and well.)

Anyway, wherever my memorial service is held and the counter at Steak n Shake should be just about the right size you won t need 9,000 seats for friends and family. Maybe a couple booths in the corner.

Of course, Bert, this all doesn t end with today s service. We re going to be reading about his will, and his children, and his debt, and his ex-wife, and his pharmaceuticals, and his fetishes, and his mother and father, and Tinkerbell-Land, or whatever his estate is called, for weeks and months and even years. Michael may be gone, but he ain t long gone by any stretch of the imagination and won t be for some time.

By the way, Michael wasn t the only dearly departed on June 25. We lost Farrah Fawcett, too, and THAT, Bert, was a loss. Thank goodness, like every other red-blooded American male, I still have that poster these many years later.

Your buddy,

Hack

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Readers: Have something to say?

E-mail:

dhack@theblade.com

roberta@theblade.com



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