How I will remember the King of Pop.

There are two things that happen the moment you discover someone of enormous stature has died. First, we all immediately mentally record the date, time, and place when we heard about it. Second, we instantly begin replaying in our heads the greatest hits of that icon’s life.

So where were you when JFK died? What about Elvis? What were you doing when John Lennon was killed? For those too young to remember any of those people then how about Tupac?

If you happen to be old enough to remember any of these icons then the image is as clear as a summer day in your mind(yet try recalling what you had for breakfast this morning). My mom still can see herself in Chemistry class sophomore year when she heard the president had been shot.
Tonight, I was standing in my kitchen with Alicia, posting something about the passing of Farah Fawcett on Facebook when I caught a post of one of my friends about Michael Jackson being dead.

Like Elvis or Lennon or whoever your generation’s icon was, time stood still. My eyes widened and my mouth dropped. As time flooded back and I shook the disbelief from my head I immediately consulted the television for answers. Sure enough, the King of Pop, as was being reported, was dead.

How do you remember your icon? Fat, bloated, drug soaked Vegas Elvis or Blue Suede shoes Elvis? Beatles John Lennon or naked sit in with Yoko Ono Lennon?

Before bleached skin. Before all the plastic surgeries(he only had one surgery on his chin like Barry Bonds unknowingly took steroids). Before he was in courtroom trials for child molestation charges dressed in his silk jammies he was the Jerry Curl, glitter gloved, initial nosejob and only slightly lighter skinned Michael Jackson. The guy who could light up a sidewalk with his dance moves. The guy who carried Emmanuel Lewis around like Paris Hilton carries her dogs around in a Dolce purse.

I instantly started singing ‘Thriller'(I even danced a little). I tried to creep my kids out with the Vincent Price monologue too(They gave me the ‘Dad you’re insane get away from us now’ look. Unfortunately I get that look a lot). I thought of Billie Jean. The Grammy’s. We are the World. I even thought about Bad(laugh if you want but Smooth Criminal and Man in the Mirror are good songs). I remembered being a kid and hoping MTV would show the ‘Thriller’ video before I had to go to school(and not the short version either, I wanted the 15 minute long mini-movie version).

So black or white, wrong or right, that is how I will choose to remember my icon.

Sure the last half of his life made Lindsay Lohan, Brittney Spears, Gary Busey and Tom Sizemore’s lives seem normal but the guy was the biggest celebrity in the world at one point in his life. So big, even now, people my age still living at home with their parents(and with the same posters from Teen Beat hanging on their walls), are standing on the lawn of the UCLA hospital where he was pronounced dead crying and asking aloud, “Why?” clad in red leather jackets with three dozen randomly placed zippers. He should be allowed to be a little weird. And by a little weird I mean taking naps in a hyperbolic chamber with a monkey and hanging your newborn baby named Blanket off of a balcony weird. The man made some of the greatest music any of us have ever heard I think he earned the right to be a bit eccentric(Could you imagine the cache for weird behavior Brittney would have if she were of Michael’s stature? A shaved head would be the most normal thing she could do. Harvey Levin would have a grand mal siezue just thinking about it).
And yet I don’t care about the weird. When I remember Michael, I’ll remember the music(minus the album with Malculy Culkin and George Wendt). I’ll remember Moonwalking(which you know you’ll be doing across your kitchen floor tonight). I’ll remember sitting in front of the television watching MTV watching Michael knife fight a guy one second and the then break out into a full choreographed number the next second. I’ll remember all the things that made him the King of Pop(even his hair going up in flames during that Pepsi commercial).

And like Elvis and JFK for generations before me, I’ll never forget where I was when I heard my generation’s icon had died. I’ll never forget why he was an icon.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to Moonwalk.
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