Michael Jackson: A Remembrance
I’m glad Michael Jackson is dead. Fuck yes, I am absolutely thrilled. Knowing that Michael Jackson was alive—in a desert somewhere (California? Dubai?), wallowing, pickling, corroding in his own suffering—was, oh, infinity times more depressing than knowing he is now deceased. This was a mercy killing.
I used to have a teeny filament of hope for Michael: not that he’d ever have a human face again, or that he’d be completely absolved of alleged man-on-boy ickiness, or that there’d be any coming back of any kind, but that he might—at the very least—retire to a castle somewhere, lie down, take a nap, abolish mirrors, and live out his old age in some semblance of wealth-padded contentment. He deserved that, at least. But that was before I saw THE STUFF.
The stuff. Ohhhhhh, the stuff. Back in April, I found myself in Los Angeles at a most fortuitous time. Facing financial ruin (apparently he died with negative $400 million—WTF!?), MJ had decided to auction off his belongings in a giant hurricane of crazy, and the crauction’s (that’s a combination of “crazy” and “auction”) contents were on display at the Beverly Hilton for any and all comers. This was officially the best $20 I ever borrowed from my friend’s boyfriend and then forgot to pay back. Ever.
The crauction display went on seemingly forever. Rooms and rooms and rooms. It started out predictable: outfits, sequined socks, Jackson 5 gold records (truly sad), a bust of Elvis, a Rolls-Royce limousine. BUT VERY SOON THE FUN AND GAMES OFFICIALLY STOPPED. I was surrounded by child-sized furniture, arcade games, California Raisins, and soda fountains. Michael’s face was everywhere: Over and over again, he was depicted as the literal pied piper, leading armies of children with a glazed smile through ruthlessly Technicolor landscapes. I saw lots of what I hoped was fan art (for instance, a Day-Glo tapestry in which MJ, Peter Pan, and the Tiny Toons have a slumber party) and too many works obviously commissioned by the King himself (a painted triptych in which Michael, crowning and knighting himself with a magic sword, declares, “I am the Primeval Self in you and I”).
There was a finger painting by Macaulay Culkin. There was a golf cart with an airbrushed painting of Michael as Peter Pan on its hood. There was an animatronic baby, wiggling and waggling. How much time do you have? Because this list could go on forever.
Maybe the most striking things were the life-size wax Michaels—EVERYWHERE—in varying stages of skin tone and wig and facial deconstruction. One wondered what he did with them. Did he talk to himself? Did he hug himself? Did he put himself in the microwave for 30 seconds or so to warm himself up so that he could fall asleep in the comforting embrace of a pretend-alive almost-human who did not judge him? There were other figures as well: an army of elderly white servants, all with zany countenances, standing at attention or lounging on gold-plated porch swings.
By the end of my tour through Jackson’s baroque, gold-plated crazybrain, it was clear that I was dealing with a madman. This was not irony or kitsch, this was a broken person—wrecked by abuse, fame, wealth, craziness, crazy-in-the-headedness, and CRAZYBRAINZ. There would be no redemption for him.
In closing, here is a poem that Michael wrote and then had carved into stone as the world’s creepiest yard art:
Kingdoms topple, lose their glass.
Civilizations crumble, ages pass.
Turbulent tempests ravage the seas.
Violent killings, despite our pleas.
But dew drops sparkle when children play.
Tyrants cry, there is nothing to slay.
Fairies dance and goblins sing.
In the garden we frolic a while.
Those are the moments when babies
You’re dancing with the fairies now, Michael. It’s where you should be. And I’m glad.