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....was also the first time I saw Michael Jackson. It was four years ago, outside the Santa Maria courthouse, where Jackson was on trial for child molestation, and I was an undercover reporter hanging out with die-hard Michael Jackson fans who'd travelled from all over the world to be near their beloved angel during his darkest hour.

I spent a week there and wrote about it: "Among the Faithful."

The four of us take seats around the conference room table, and June turns immediately serious, "The first thing you need to know is that when you talk about Michael Jackson, you should assume that you are under surveillance, because you are." The Dutch couple nods gravely. "I've been speaking the truth about Michael for five years," June continues. "I've been videotaped in my bedroom, in the shower…" At this point, June jerks her head toward the ceiling: "We know you're there!" she bellows at the hidden camera she imagines in the corner. Wow, I thought, she's crazier than I ever dreamed! Then I realized she was telling the truth, even if she didn't know it: She was under surveillance. But it was the man in the Michael Jackson T-shirt sitting across the table from her, and not some hidden camera, that was doing the surveying.

Some friends have said, "Well, he's kinda been dead for years..." and yes, but NOW HE'S DEAD, and any latent dreams of Michael Jackson executing some miraculous third-act comeback (in my dreams, this always involved Rick Rubin, ala Johnny Cash) die with him.

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The period has been placed at the end of the sentence. His art will not redeem him. He's a one-of-a-kind musical genius who went crazy, played with morphing his race and gender, slept with children, was repeatedly acquitted of child-molestation charges, and then died, alone and broke.

It's enough to make you cry.

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