The Real Loss of Michael Jackson's Death

This may not do me a bit of good. Gather 'round, children, while Mr. Degan commits journalistic suicide. Please forgive me for not participating in the canonization of Michael Jackson.

This is not meant as a condemnation of the man's private life, his eccentricities or the accusations hurled against him in the last decade and a half of his all-too-short life. A jury found him innocent of the worse charge (other than murder) that can possibly be made against a human being. We can speculate forever but in the final analysis, we have no other choice but to respect their verdict. My problem with Michael Jackson is a bit more complicated.

One day in the Spring of 1971 I heard a song on the radio by a group called the Jackson Five that was called Never Can Say Goodbye. It was (and is to this very day) one of the most beautiful pop songs I have ever heard. A couple of months later I read in the paper that he would be celebrating his thirteenth birthday the following day on August 29. This news piqued my curiosity; I had just turned thirteen less that two weeks before on August 16. Because the two of us were born on the same month in 1958, I would find myself over the years following his triumphs with the pride of a schoolboy watching a favored classmate win the World Series one year after another. Over a span of time, however, that pride would devolve into bewilderment and then later on, disgust.

Although I was never a huge fan of his music (my Jackson collection comprises a mere handful of 45 RPMs and one long-playing album) there was never any denying that the man was possessed of immense talent. It was my belief that, like Sinatra, he'd still be packing them in at eighty years of age. How ironic is that?


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