The Week in Review
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17
Today brought the start of a week that would prove to be a veritable sleet-storm of newsworthy activity, from the crisis summit held by the U.S. bread industry to discuss strategies for surviving Atkins-induced sales slumps to the landmark decision of Massachusetts' Supreme Judicial Court, which ruled that "barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution," and ordered the state legislature to correct the discrepancy within 180 days. In Fort Worth, Texas, a man changing his tire by the side of the road choked to death on a baggie of pot he attempted to swallow after police approached to help. In Orlando, Florida, a young mother was charged with semi-major cocaine and pot possession after her baby accidentally called 911. And in Sarasota, Florida, a woman had a stroke and got a British accent, with a Florida speech expert diagnosing the lady (who'd considered moving to England to avoid looking like an asshole) with the extremely rare "foreign accent syndrome." But all these events were demoted to mere background noise by the clamor that erupted on...
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18
Today nearly 70 law-enforcement officers descended on Michael Jackson's 2,600-acre, $12.3 million Neverland Ranch, executing an extensive 12-hour search of the premises. Simultaneous with the Neverland raid, police searched a pair of homes in Los Angeles, one of them reportedly the residence of Marc Schaffel, the gay-porn producer who filmed Jackson's rebuttal tape following the broadcast of Martin Bashir's documentary Living with Michael Jackson. Initially attributed to a vague "ongoing investigation," today's search was eventually clarified as a response to several new allegations of child molestation against the 45-year-old Jackson, who escaped similar charges 10 years ago by giving his alleged victim an undisclosed amount of money. This time, the police were alerted not by an alleged victim but by a third party--the alleged victim's psychologist, required by California law to report all suspected cases of abuse. (Another legal twist since Jackson's last stand with molestation allegations: California now allows authorities to force alleged abuse victims to testify.) Once the kiddie shrink's concerns were recorded, the investigation commenced, eventually culminating in today's search warrant, an inherently tremendous event requiring the issuing judge to foresee the probable guilt of the accused--in this case, a 45-year-old single father of three who's sold gazillions of records, raised countless millions for charity, and made no bones about his enjoyment of sharing his bed with young boys. All this was made doubly creepy by the raid's synchronicity with the release of Jackson's new album, Number Ones, which is not a concept album about going pee, but a collection of Jackson songs that have reached number one around the globe. Adding further creepiness: Number One's lead single, "One More Chance," was cowritten by Jackson and fellow alleged kiddie-lover R. Kelly, a fact that forces the mind to conjure an array of hideous, possibly soggy criminal scenarios, and, if the song's a hit, suggests a veritable chicken-hawk Renaissance.
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19
Today brought the issuing of Michael Jackson's arrest warrant, which charged the star with violating the California Penal Code's Section 288(a), which prohibits lewd or lascivious acts with a child under age 14, and punishes those convicted with three to eight years in prison for each violation.
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20
Today Michael Jackson boarded a private Gulfstream G-4 jet to fly from Las Vegas--where he'd been filming a music video for his new single--to Santa Barbara, where he surrendered himself to local authorities on multiple charges of child molestation. Upon being met by police at the Santa Barbara airport, a handcuffed Jackson was escorted to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, where he surrendered his passport, paid his $3 million bail, and flew back to Vegas, instructing lawyer Mark Geragos to tell reporters that the charges are "a big lie." Meanwhile, the Jackson saga claimed its first fatality, as a 43-year-old cameraman for Santa Barbara's KEYT-TV collapsed while racing down the steps of the Santa Barbara jail, dying a short while later of apparent heart failure.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 21
One unique quirk of the Michael Jackson saga is the nominal "privacy" of the alleged victim. While initial reports carefully refrained from publishing a name, subsequent specifics about the young accuser--described as a 12-year-old cancer patient whose "last wish" was to meet Jackson, after which the boy's condition improved and he began spending a bunch of time with Jackson at Neverland-- describe precisely that doe-eyed youngster seen snuggling with Jackson before Martin Bashir's camera, while Jacko spoke lovingly of their frequent sleepovers. Which brings up a question at the core of the new Jackson scandal: What kind of parents allow their young sons to be anywhere near Michael Jackson without supervision? According to Fox News, the answer is indigent, emotionally vulnerable parents with (sexy) children in mortal danger, for whom Jackson provides care and friendship and money; "inside sources" told Fox's Roger Friedman Jackson paid the family's medical bills, bought them a car, and eventually moved the family (a single mom and three kids) to Neverland. When her 12-year-old son mentioned the alleged molestations (including charges that Jackson plied the boy with wine and sleeping pills), the boy's mother "fled with her family in the dead of night." After her son's schoolmates began taunting him about his "friendship" with Jackson, she sought legal advice, with the lawyer advising sending the besieged boy to a psychologist. A psychologist heard what the boy had to say, informed the police, and here we are.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 22
As Jackson fans around the globe held vigils in honor of their beleaguered idol, today Last Days waded through the wealth of celebrity responses to the allegations. Best in show: Rick James, who told CNN's Kyra Phillips, "[Michael Jackson] has given children a better day.... He's given children smiles on their faces.... Do you think God would bless a pedophile with something like that?"
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 23
The week closes with a stunning accumulation of trouble for the aforementioned Michael Jackson, with London's Daily Telegraph reporting a slew of dramatic new tidbits about the investigation. Most impressive: the likelihood of forthcoming aiding-and-abetting charges against members of Jackson's entourage. Most upsetting: this quote, attributed to a "source close to the investigation," recounting the young accuser's interviews with police: "He said Jackson called him Rubba because one of the games they used to play was called rubba rubba. The boy said, 'Michael told me he was my rubba rubba friend.'" Which brings us to the other key question of the new scandal: What the hell is wrong with Michael "I would never hurt a child" Jackson? Our opinion: As a victim of violent physical abuse at the hands of his father, Jackson learned firsthand about what it means to "hurt" a child. Sleepovers, hand-holding, "rubba rubba"--none of this comes close to registering as "hurt." But these alleged "nonhurtful" activities might very well land the deposed King of Pop behind bars for a long time.
-- Meanwhile in the real world: A mob of bloodthirsty Iraqi teenagers dragged the bodies of two American soldiers from a wrecked military vehicle and pummeled them with concrete blocks while onlookers cheered.
Next week: All real news. And maybe you can meet Cienna. Send Hot Tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.