REST IN PEACE MICHAEL JACKSON
(This was written on July 11th 2009)
A little over a week ago one of the greatest that ever did it died. That’s it, over. Twitter told me Micheal Jackson had died. Post after post, I thought it was some sick joke or rumor being spread by someone irresponsible fishing for retweets… but no, it was real.
My circle of sarcastic and jaded friends one by one posting the rawest and purest of emotions. I’m talking about that ‘back when I was in kindergarten’ or ‘my auntie put me on to this’… Things that you would reserve for the eulogy of a family member. As I sat in the kitchen of this beach house I couldn’t help but feel it. I cried. I sobbed like a tween when she sees her idol and they are thisclose and the bodyguard mushes you in the face. Nah, it was more than that. It was just like, “REALLY?!?” God came down and snatched MJ from us, like a father does to a child’s toy when he doesn’t really appreciate what he has.
But what did God take from me personally? I can’t say I’ve been playing MJ all these years like it didn’t go out of style. It sure wasn’t on my recently played playlist crafted by my itunes. I didn’t even listen to History. I mean you grow. MJ hadn’t had a hit in over 20 years. There are kids right now getting their first 21 year old legal beer and they where only 1 when Jackson was at his peak. Not me, I was about 12 years old. The tenement where I lived at in Harlem had roaches and not much glamour. Our dreams were grey, not much color.
In true ghetto fashion we had the TV, illegal cable, the “I can’t hear you, lemme turn this down” sound system. It also had my mother, struggling to figure this America thing out. She held her own with 3 kids while in community college with about as much english as a mexican maid. Yeah, we were fresh off “the boat” as we heard over and over peppered in jokes meant to crab us back into the same disparaging barrel.
Everything in this city was fresh to us with the exception of the music and overcrowding. We know beats, we know rhythm, we know how to dance. Sing, and drink, fight and make up, cook. We know what it is to be around a lot of people. Micheal was there with us, along with the Africa Bambatta’s and the Donna Summers. These where our looking glasses to this amazing and complicated country. Bambatta had my sister perfecting the worm. Micheal had my 4 yr old brother doing the dances in front of our small family get togethers, ripping his shirt like he was Hulk Hogan. You’d think for a family that didn’t have much we’d be against the shirt ripping, but we wasn’t. As always in life its the memories that count. Looking at MJ’s fold out thriller album while eating sliced bread with just a thin layer of mayo on it. Seeing him all over TV, t shirts, and posters, wasn’t that inspiring. I mean no one could have ever imagined being that big.
But we all wanted to be as big as Micheal. Living in poverty, you really don’t have much but music, and these musicians were our companions. They where there at our bbq’s when the family would get into the station wagon to go to Jones Beach, on our headphones when we went to the corner store and needed to block out the drug dealers, on our television when our parents where going at it in the bedroom. Heaven or Hell the music was there. The melodies remained the same but emotions each of us got was as unique as the time or the events in that moment we heard those first bars. When MJ died, it was like losing our theme music or personal band, our best friend.
You have no idea how tight I was that I was in Oceanside California for this. I kept reading updates on the web from friends about all the pop up MJ sign alongs and parties. Cars blasting MJ all over the streets of NYC. Every media outlet descending on LA like it was ground zero part 2. I just had this Strand, on this beach, in Cali. It did make me smile every once in a while when a low rider would go by and Billy Jean came on. Yeah it was cool but I wished I would have been with my mother when I heard the news. In the streets that raised me with my friends, celebrating MJ and our lives.
Shit man it’s like my childhood died and I was far from home.
Whatever RIP to the greatest to ever do it.