I usually have Turner Classic Movies playing, and no matter what’s going on in the world, they don’t interrupt the program or run crawls over the movies.  My sister usually calls me if something important happens.  On Sept 11th, I got the call from her to turn on the news.

Yesterday, she called to say, put on the news and I saw that Michael Jackson was dead.  I watched the news for a while.  I was never a fan, so it didn’t have much effect on me, but I’m always curious to see how cable stations can stretch this stuff out when they know next to nothing other than that he had died of a heart attack, and how old he was, and that he was the self-proclaimed king of pop.

But I did pick up a few other facts while watching MSNBC.  One correspondent compared him to Mozart, because both had achieved fame at such a young age.  I found this comparison wacky because Mozart wasn’t much of a dancer.   I don’t think he can be compared with MJ in terms of the numbers of people who bought his sheet music.  Nevertheless, they both had troubled lives.

I also learned that MJ was as great or greater than Jackie Robinson, in terms of crossing the color line with his music.  I didn’t know that either. I always thought he had crossed the color line by getting whiter and whiter.  But obviously, I’m no expert on that aspect of his life.

And I also found out that he had sold more product than Elvis ever did – and that he – not Elvis was the real king.

What else did I hear.  Oh, although he had his issues with children and later with parenting (hanging one kid out the window), that would all be forgotten in the coming years, and his legacy of great hits would remain.

I learned was that Michael was  a better dancer than Fred Astaire.  Or at least his equal.  I can’t comment on that, since they had very different styles.  I did read somewhere on the web that Fred had a routine where he grabbed his crotch with a white glove.  Unfortunately, the studio system wouldn’t allow that.  So we may never know how great Fred could have been.

I quickly turned back to TCM which was playing La Strada (also about an entertainer), and although Fellini didn’t begin making films until he was in his forties, I’d still have to give him the nod in terms of genius.  Of course my taste is mired in the past, and I guess I’ll have to keep the movie channel going for a few days, until they finish chewing this cud.

The other thing they kept harping on, was that Jackson was taken away in a “plain white coroners van.”

I’m not sure what they expected – but they Oberman was disappointed that Michael wasn’t transported for his final journey in  some Egyptian set piece from a Cecille B. Demille picture.  Oberman repeated that it was ironic that Jackson was carted away like anyone else in this plain white van.  Finally, one correspondent, struggling to get out a memorable Edward Murrow type line said: well, at last he’s found peace.  That is a comforting thought that can be applied to all of us when we travel to the distant land from which no entertainer returns.

Personally, I was more shocked by the hanging death of David (Kung Fu) Carradine which I didn’t hear about until two weeks later.  Well, now they’re all Bound for Glory.


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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

3 thoughts on “MJ”

  1. Dave, I much appreciate your producing this Viewer’s Digest version. Makes it easier on the rest of us.

    Fellini? Yes!

  2. The newly elected president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has declared a national day of mourning for Michael Jackson, the Allah of Pop. The president has also decided to allow public demonstrations of grief on street corners of Tehran in which moonwalking will be permitted. Crotch-grabbing, however, will not be tolerated, and the Revolutionary Guard will be standing by to ensure that spontaneous public tributes do not become decadent. Video has already surface on YouTube showing sympathetic clerics wearing a single white glove during Friday mosque services and muezzins singing “Billie Jean” and “We Are the World” from the minarets in place of the traditional call to prayer.

  3. Snce you’re watching TCM, I hope you caught the bio on Stanley Kubrick a couple of days ago. I didn’t realize that he was a staff (still) photographer for Look when he was a kid, before he hit the Big Bucks in Hollywood.
    May you get to be as R&F (rich and famous), but he had a leg up on you, being from Brooklyn.

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