Friday, June 26, 2009

The day the music (pop) died.

Reporters have the tendency to joke - either when they don't believe something is true, or when it just too momentous to grasp. I was walking to the kitchen when the editor called out,

"Michael Jackson's been arrested again."

I rolled my eyes.

"Cardiac," he said.

It took me awhile to get it, and then I chuckled a tiny bit, and walked away. I was sure it was some sort of fluke or sick joke, that my coworkers were just messing with me. The King of Pop was allright, and was pulling a stunt, if anything. He's done weirder things before. And who can trust TMZ?
Suddenly it was all over major websites - LA Times, ABC, CNN - Michael Jackson has been rushed to the hospital in cardiac arrest.
TMZ was first to report his death. I sat at my desk, shellshocked, unbelieving. The other news organizations didn't catch up for a good 20 minutes, and I could picture journalists all rushing the phones, frantic, not wanting to print something they'd later have to retract. Newsrooms all over the country were buzzing in synchrinocity. Times like these are when I relish being a reporter, even through a sad event.
I was amazed at how Twitter exploded. I felt part of a grieving community as people from across the country mirrored my emotions, and posted links to their favorite Michael songs. The sadness I felt surprised me - I've felt for a long time that MJ is just a wack job, a strange man who had too many plastic surgeries. But I couldn't deny what his music did for our country, for our world. He was a musical genius, a stunning performer and dancer. Chidlren all over will be imitating "Thriller" and "Bad" for years and decades to come.
I don't think I've ever lived through such a momentous loss. I got chills when I read that the Associated Press sent out a Flash Bulletin, the highest possible, used for incidents like the John F. Kennedy death. This was one of those incidents that will change the identity of who we are as country. The King of Pop is gone, but his music will live on forever. I can't get "Rock with You" out of my head. RIP, MJ.


McRiguez said...

*sigh* I watched his brother give the press conference and that's when I lost it. I felt the grief his brother demonstrated on his face, having to utter those words "dead" about his baby brother, no matter how weird he was, "wacko" or otherwise. Its just heartbreaking. Not only was he a legend (the first to be mobbed before the word paparazzi was used as a verb) he was a son, a little brother, an older brother and a father.
I have been a Michael Jackson fan ever since Thriller came out. Dancing around the living room at 3 years old, to Beat It is one of my earliest memories. I remember I even wrote him a letter when I was around 13, asking him something silly like "save the whales." He just had this quality to him . . . and no matter how hard it got to proclaim your admiration for Michael, especially amidst the ugly allegations . . . I was still a loyal fan. Life will go on . . . but the music world will never be the same. Our legends are leaving us, and some are just "gone too soon."

Paula said...

Certainly, he was an icon and musical giant who will always be remembered and who left an indelible imprint on pop - and I most remember "Thriller" and his unmatchable style of dance. Unfortnately, I was not so surprised to hear of his death. Like Elvis, people in the entertainment industry so often go down strange roads - maybe the company they're with, the pressures of being a superstar, one's own personal demons, sycophants around them (personal doctors giving lots of personal prescriptions). I think life catches up with them - like the Bad Company song, "Shooting Star" - fast, bright trajectory, then gone. It is very sad, but not uncommon. Some go SO soon, like Jimi Hendrix.