Friday, June 26, 2009
Michael Jackson 1958-2009
Jacko. He was already gone and now he’s long gone. Gone, gone, gone. Real gone. Infinitely talented, extraordinarily strange, America’s biggest sustained individual pop cult phenomena since Elvis. King of Pop, Little Michael Jackson, Wacko Jacko---which pic gets posted alongside the obit? A true, far-beyond-the-norm childhood prodigy he morphed into an adult whose back-story eventually outweighed his pop cult accomplishments. Springing forth from a more fully formed, highly manufactured star making machinery music biz than the dank carny environs from which his inverted doppelganger The Big E hatched himself, he became the next logical step in the pop biz’s evolutionary chain—-thoroughly understanding the Elvis-Beatles transition—-and singlehandedly wrote the blueprint for unlikely big top pop stardom for peeps like Madonna, Justin Timberlake, or Eminem.
Michael transfused elements of Frankie Lyman, James Brown and (yup) Little Richard and became (a) a soul child lead singer crooning and prancing way out in front of his band mate brothers, (b) then emerging as a ever maturing take-me-serious artist who co-wrote material and helped shape production, (c) transitioning to the progenitor of Thriller (arguably as iconic a recording as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Blond on Blonde, Pet Sounds, or Dark Side of the Moon) and all that became associated with it---moon walking, a single glove, music vid as mini-movie, Elvis-like capital E Entertainer and searing object of obsession, affection, and unfettered emotional connection, (d) and finally a major attraction in The American Wierdo Hall of Fame and all that became associated with that---hair-on-fire, bankruptcy, out-slicking Paul McCartney in order to posses the Beatles songbook, fake marriages, a wholly manufactured 50’s Hollywood styled cover-it-up marital hook up with goddamned Elvis’ daughter (no one, not even Hunter Thompson, Philip K. Dick or Charles Bukowski could have braincrunched that), the butt (get it) of a million radio jocks jokes, the Elephant Man, the chimp, the amusement park fantasy land home, the ultimate living, breathing exemplar of the Peter Pan Syndrome, the melted face, the unsavory whispers and actual courtroom charges, the kiddies in masks, the perpetual comeback that was also lurking around the corner.
Michael and Elvis. One, a redneck who carved out a career by approximating blackness, the other a black manchild who seemed dedicated to erasing all traces of his very own blackness, both waving the hiddy-hiddy-ho, holy, magic , ju-ju stick and transfixing hicks, rubes, churchgoers, sophisticates, rebels, outcasts, boy scouts, gym teachers, and yer mama, with their own VASTNESS, their inner shaman, replete with sparkling baubles, majestic hair styles, hypnotic hip-shaking and otherworldly movements, neither with an iota of self-doubt, inner shame, or actual self-reflection. Both of them perfect fodder for our ever-ever pop-culture starved nation, the American Entertainer as Stageshow Jesus, their respective races and their inherent perspective on race defiantly flowing together, grinding, and somehow mashing, prematurely dead and all laid out in a country forever divided and often defined by race, intermingled forever as fellow race vampires, blazing talents, freaks, and little boys lost.