Thursday, June 25, 2009

The last moonwalk

Somewhere behind Whitehall High School, not far from the Norsemen football field, a time capsule is buried. Nobody seems to remember exactly where. It will probably remain undisturbed until a bulldozer one day unearths it and the contents come spilling out.

And out of the capsule will tumble my niece's contribution to a science project some 10 years ago: her Michael Jackson doll.

I'm young enough to remember The Jackson Five as a cute, precocious and immensely gifted family of boys who set Motown -- and American music -- on its collective ear. And I'm old enough to shake my head at the bizarre person Michael Jackson had seemed to become by the time he died unexpectedly Thursday at age 50. But how do you calculate Jackson's age in tabloid years? It's difficult to believe he was born in the same decade as me. It's difficult to believe a lot of things.

While my niece reminisced about the doll and glove she also once wore, my 13-year-old nephew sang along to "Thriller'', no doubt the influence of my little sister. They were neither sad nor making fun. They were simply reacting to the shocking news by sharing what they remember about him. "Thriller'' and another of Jackson's biggest hits, "Beat It'', blared over the P.A. system last night at Melby Park, where the Norse baseball team was vanquishing Eleva-Strum (really) 11-1.

Michael Jackson touched a lot of people. And -- proven or not -- that was the biggest problem we had with him. But it's not my place, or my space, to go there today.

Even as a college student discovering much louder and crazier music, I thought "I'll Be There'' -- The Jackson Five's fourth No. 1 song -- was a great tune. It gave them the distinction of being the only group to have its first four charted songs reach No. 1. And it was accomplished in less than ninth months.

They were something. And Michael Jackson -- do you think anybody could dance like that? -- was something to behold.

I'm just not altogether sure right now what that something was.

1 comment:

  1. hey, we're missing you out here...