Thursday, June 25, 2009
It didn’t take long, did it?
Michael Jackson was just dead for a few hours this evening when I witnessed a scramble for post-mortem memorabilia.
I stopped by a used book stand on W. 73rd Street and Broadway to see if I could add even more paperbacks to my already mountainous collection.
As I approached the stand, the proprietor—I guess that’s what you call him—a large African-American man, was arguing with a skinny middle-aged fellow with glasses who was clutching a copy of Jackson’s Thriller LP.
“I don’t want your money,” the bookseller declared forcefully.
“How much do--?” the other man tried to say.
“—I don’t want your money.”
I’ve bought so many books here, but I’ve never learned this man’s name. He is a local legend, though, and very protective of his patch of ground.
The guy with the glasses finally got the message, put down the record—which looked like a manhole cover next to a CD—and walked away.
“You have a blessed day,” the bookseller said in a way that made me doubt his sincerity and sat down in his folding chair.
I wanted to ask him what the dispute was about, but as I mentioned, he was rather large and rather upset. Most likely this incident was part of the first wave of Jackson-related bone-picking.
I bought the Spiritual Diary, a small paperback with a yoga philosophy lesson for every day of the year. The book guy wanted three bucks and I didn’t argue.
So now with the deaths of Jackson, Farrah Fawcett—in the same day, no less--and Ed McMahon a few days earlier, my mother’s theory about celebrities dying in threes seems to be accurate.
I really wasn’t a fan of any of these people, but I do regret their passing. It’s a shame that the death of a degenerate like Michael Jackson will overshadow the brave struggle that Farrah Fawcett put up before finally succumbing to cancer.
I didn't think much of McMahon, but I came to respect him more when I read his obituary. It turns out, among other things, that he was a veteran who served in both World War II and the Korean War.
Jackson and Farrah Fawcett were two iconic figures from my younger days and I still remember the pop culture hysteria that surrounded both of them. That famous Farrah poster was so prevalent at one time that there was probably one hanging in the Vatican.
And Thriller, God, that was all you heard on the radio. I actually started to like Michael Jackson’s music after studiously detesting the Jackson Five’s body of work for years.
I enjoyed the "Beat It" video and I even got a kick out of "Thriller" with the Vincent Price rap. It was entertaining as hell.
And then for Jackson it all fell apart in a way that no one could ever have predicted.
The plastic surgery, Bubbles the Chimp, the child molestation accusations, the Elephant Man’s bones—could this possibly have been the same person who enthralled the world when he moonwalked on TV?
The passing of time and the fragility of life are frightening concepts, but the moral corruption that seemed to ooze out of Michael Jackson brought creepy to a whole new level.
I started reading the Spiritual Diary as I the rode the subway home tonight and I thought today's entry was quite appropriate.
“Mind is the chief factor for governing the body,” it said. “One should always avoid suggesting to the mind thoughts of human limitations such as sickness, old age and death.”
It sounds like those yogis knew what they were talking about.
Have a blessed day.