Michael Jackson was one of a kind

Where were you when you heard the news, when you realized that the world had lost its greatest Michaeljacksonthrilleralbum Humor Column entertainer? I was in my living room, watching TV, shaking my head and wondering what life would be like without George Carlin.

That was a year ago. I just couldn’t believe the brilliant comedian was gone.

I had the same feeling when I heard that Michael Jackson had died, a feeling that the world had lost a talent it would never see again, at least not for another millennium, when someone develops a time machine.

Jackson was to my generation what Neil Armstrong was to the previous one. Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon, but until Jackson came along, many of us had never seen the moonwalk.

He was no astronaut, of course, but nobody could rocket up the music charts like him. During his peak, he had more No. 1 singles than anyone else, more hits than the entire lineup of the Chicago Cubs.

He became known as the “King of Pop,” easily outshining all contenders for the title, even that Indian man who had set a world record for bursting balloons.

He gave us an album called “Thriller” –- and what a thrill it was, the best investment a music fan could make, aside from taking Madonna on a date.

His mega-hit “Beat it” soared to No. 1 on several charts around the world, so popular that Ayatollah Khomeini, concerned about the influence of American popular culture, instructed the youths of Iran to stop “beating it.”

He had seven hits on the Billboard Top Ten in one week, a truly astonishing feat, as amazing as when Kanye West managed to read seven pages of a book in one week.

His unrivaled dancing and stellar singing combined to give concert-goers a super-charged performance like no other. Even the Amish people were impressed. They had never seen anything so electric.

That he was a brilliant performer, a true musical genius, no one can deny. He set the bar so high, it’s far beyond the reach of today’s generation of bar-hoppers.

But Jackson also had “issues,” lots of them. The tabloids dubbed him “Wacko Jacko” and wrote headlines about anything strange he did, whether he lay in an oxygen chamber, dangled his baby over a balcony, or spread mustard over his hot dogs.

Plastic surgery turned him into a caricature of the handsome man on the cover of “Thriller.” It was a crime that unfolded before our eyes, but the police never filed charges against his plastic surgeon. No one else in American history has gotten away so easily with defacing a national treasure.

Jackson loved to play with children, entertaining them on Neverland Ranch. On two occasions, he was accused of sexual abuse, charges that didn’t land him in prison, but tainted his legacy and caused parents to warn their children that Jackson’s home was most definitely “never land.”

After an acquittal on the second charge, he took refuge in Bahrain, but was planning to return to the limelight with a concert series in London. The concerts sold out within a few hours, a testament to his enduring popularity. Despite all his problems, it was hard not to love him, like that tattered doll my daughter just won’t throw out.

So how should we remember him? As the greatest performer of our era, a man whose musical career approached perfection, whose life never quite did.

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If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

Comments

  1. Bob Baumann says:

    Melvin, usually we let the dead have a grace period and allow them to be buried before the jokes start rolling in.
    I doubt you’d have done a 9-11 column on 9-12.
    For better or worse, let’s let the fellow be given a moment for a decent burial. He’s beyond being hurt now or beyond his own human weaknesses whatever they might have been.
    His life certainly is a gold mine of humor if only it had not been so tragic and such a waste of talent.
    Why don’t you find a nice mullah to beat up on?

  2. A well written post – paying a hearty homage to the king of pop ..by means of subtle humor.
    That’s exactly why I cannot agree with Bob’s comment above.
    Thanks for the smiles..and that last line which summed up all of it beautifully.

  3. Couldn’t agree more…with AlwaysHappyKya. Whether your post was today or two weeks from now…it doesn’t matter.

  4. Lovely post. 🙂

  5. Robert C. Bohannon says:

    It’s amazing how people with plenty of money get a free pass no matter how despicable their behavior is or was. Pedophilia is a detestable offense and international popularity of the offender does not diminish its severity. Not guilty? He didn’t pay out those millions in settlements because he didn’t do anything wrong. Any ordinary citizen would have been jailed. He should have been too.

  6. Where’s the proof? no proof, then shut up. i wish you got famous and someone threw charges againt you. we will see what you do, robert.

  7. A well written homage. Wish I could enjoy the humor.

  8. MJ,a hero to all generations!!!!!!!. May you rest in peace. The good Lord forgives and hope all the fans have pleaded for your mercy and this is has been declared by millions of mourners world wide, their undying love. Surely i believe God will receive you in eternity to enjoy the everlasting life.
    Good Bye MJ…Fallen but will never be forgotten!!!!

  9. Truly befitting homage there..you tried. As for the Pedo commenter ‘Rein in your horses’ and always get your facts and proof straight before opening your mouth. Whatever you say can’t reach the dead man, so why bother? Why the hate?
    Thanks for the write up again, Mel….love to the girls

  10. I like MJ’s music. I’ve used his “moonwalk” to win in a cakewalk in junior high. I was hoping to see his comeback. Now he’s gone. And whether we hate or love MJ, there’s never a performer like him.
    Keep writing Melvin. Someone’s got to.

  11. Kindest Regards says:

    MICHAEL JACKSON WILL BE GREATLY MISSED!
    JACKSON’S MUSIC IS SPECTACULAR!

  12. Fathimah says:

    Well I must say I will miss Wacko Jacko, his music spoke a thousand emotions and to our generation he will be an immortal hero, through his music. The generation today cannot truly conceive what he was to our generation. May his soul that was never at
    ease,now rest in peace. Long live MICHAEL JACKSONS LEGACY – yes he was one of a kind!
    (via email)

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