Someday I’ll tell my grand kids “Once upon a time, there was a King Of Pop…”
Seems surreal he won’t be here anymore.
As I sit here watching the mass coverage on Jackson’s memorial service, I am overwhelmed that we are all witnessing a sad moment in entertainment history. This is so huge in scope. Bigger than Elvis, bigger than Sinatra, bigger than Diana, bigger than JFK.
I didn’t even apply for tickets to the Staples Center. I didn’t want to be there during this three ring circus (there are literally Ringling Bros. Elephants waiting in a parking garage nearby.) I did drive by the tents at Forest Lawn yesterday. And I did make the pilgrimage up to Neverland Ranch this weekend.
Surprisingly we were able to drive right up to the gates of the ranch. The day before, fans were allowed on the grounds, but today the gates remained shut, a blanket of flowers left before the entrance.
What my editor and I thought would be a perfect opportunity to interview impersonators and freaks of all kinds was actually a heart wrenching and sad occasion. I found myself unable to film people and ask questions, instead silently snapping pictures and observing.
People from all over the world milled around in front, signing a makeshift wall partition, snapping pictures and sharing stories. One man draped in an Irish flag, said he flew in from Dublin just for the weekend because he had to pay his respects. Others from Florida, Chicago, Atlanta and even as far as Quebec, cried outside. The Quebequoise woman had flown to the LAX airport and taken a taxi cab to the Ranch outside of Santa Barbara – a two hour drive.
There were reunions too. Overheard were super fans who hadn’t seen each other since they stood vigil outside the courthouse during Michael’s trial. They hugged and wept. Children too young to remember the Jackson Five left their dance and ballet toe shoes in tribute and their parents left Buddha statues, posters and roses.
Of course, a circus of MJ’s proportions wouldn’t be complete without capitalists making money off his name. People set up card tables and sold t shirts and buttons.
One ten year old boy dragged a cooler behind him selling water and gatorade. When I asked what his favorite MJ song was, he shrugged indifferently, like a man on the job.
C’mon, dude. Even Fifi (pictured below) wiggled when she heard Bille Jean come on the radio.
But the scavengers were outnumbered by the mourning fans. One group pulled a professional sound system out of their car, hooked it up and started blaring PYT. A dance party ensued and people began to smile.
That’s how Michael would have wanted it.