The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Michael Jackson Dead at 50


Hard to believe, but there was a point in time when his life wasn't one big, unending freak show. This photo hails from that time.

Michael Jackson passed away this afternoon at the age of 50.

15 comments :

F.G. Marshall-Stacks said...

only days ago I watched DVD of his appearance on Sonny&Cher Comedy Hour, and it was clear he was frightened - only brief, forced smile, despite great performance.

Todays sad new was inevitable, but the CoD is a surprise.
Hopefully media overdrive will rescreen the GREAT 80's tracks that proved his immense talent.
Blame it on the boogie, I want you back. What a dancer.
Those poor little kids. all 4 of em.

Mr DeBakey said...

Farrah too

A busy day in the Celebrity-obit Department

Never was a fan of the Jacksons.

Just not my Cuppa tea, doncha know

Vanwall said...

It was always one big, unending freak show.

rookgaroo said...

I mourned for him in the late 80's. Michael Jackson left two legacies. I prefer to remember the supremely talented and innovative master entertainer. The person who died yesterday was a shell, a ghost, a twisted perversion of what he once was. On the one hand I miss one of the greatest showmen who ever lived. on the other hand, I hate him for destroying what he was, what most people would have given anything to be.

At any rate, I'm glad he's at peace.

Tom Sutpen said...

Rob:

I think I know what you mean, but the freak show he lived within as a child performer (the soul grinding, personality disorienting machinery of Berry Gordy's Motown) was essentially thrust upon him; his hideous, unrelievedly garish and benighted existence the last 25 years was, from first to last, a freak show of his own creation.

MichaelRyerson said...

Somewhere in an attic, there is a portrait of a handsome, middle-aged black man.

Fred said...

Great talent, great music, huge influence, but still a child molester. Sorry, but all this media attention without mentioning that would be like focusing on OJ the great running back and humorous actor while ignoring what he did to his wife and Ron Goldman. And whatever demons were left over from his childhood torments don't excuse what he did to those little boys.

Tom Sutpen said...

Fred:

It's a good point . . . some may think it isn't, but I think it is . . . but anything said or written in the news media immediately following the passing of any public figure is, by default, an Obituary; and it's axiomatic that (to echo a line from Jose Ferrer's film The Great Man) nobody says anything bad about anybody in an Obit.

Other words, O.J. Simpson will be cut a similar break when he rides on ahead.

But it's not a permanent condition. Once the Obit psychology has run its course (and it always does), Jackson's incredibly gamy personal life will once again rise to the surface; particularly when media entities open their checkbooks and people around him start talking.

swac said...

Give how most people have mixed feelings (at best) about Michael Jackson, I'd say those checkbooks will be opening sooner than later.

huskermould said...

i always draw a parallel between Michael and Elvis. So young, so talented and then turning into a freak show.

goomba said...

He stopped 'cause he got enough.

R.I.P.

toothbrushpaste.com said...

i was stunned to find out about MJ... he was still relatively young

idodialog said...

Jackson had huge talent and a short period of greatness. His catchy pop music was wonderful.
The madness that is supported and encouraged by obscene wealth, the cult of celebrity, the escape from reality that personifies so much in American Culture should be exposed and decried.

rookgaroo said...

I agree 100%, Tom. Dealing with a tyrannical father, Berry Gordy, and massive fame had to take its toll on a child. But when that was behind him and he conquered the entertainment world as a solo act, it seemed nothing could stop him.
Except for for some God-awful bad decisions...
A truly tragic story.

Campaspe said...

Wow, this is by far the most rational, cool-headed and intelligent thread I have read on this talented but deeply disturbed man. I'm impressed, and grateful -- I had spent all day yesterday hearing him eulogized as some sort of singing saint crucified by the Big Bad Media. All I could think that was he died at just the right time. No one made excuses for Phil Spector (nor should they), but Spector also endured a horrific childhood and I'd argue his influence on music was more profound--indeed, without Spector, no Jackson. But Spector's fame is well in the past, and Jackson is still a splendidly vivid memory for a large chunk of the population, esp. my own Gen X. It is also possible that Jackson still had some good recordings in him; certainly he could still perform. Spector has been a ghost on the radio for lo these many years.