Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Remember the Time

Some of us are members of the working world and thus can't enjoy the simple things, such as properly mourning a legend. Take note, because I'll only write this once: Thank God for BET. I'm about to watch the four-hour memorial and live blog. You'll cry, you might laugh, hopefully we'll give Michael Jackson a proper Arts staff send-off. Join me...

7:02 p.m. I know if I critique BET for everything, it'll feel like an even LONGER night, but must the on-air personalities use phrases such as "holdin' it down" during news coverage? Really, BET? Come on now...

7:07 p.m. Awkward. Note to BET: Try not to mention the finances when trying to point out Michael Jackson's skills. Sure, buying the Beatles catalogue was smart, and yes, Jackson marketed himself well and was obviously a wise businessman. But regardless of his worth, he died a few hundred million dollars in debt. Let's just not mention it, eh? Not today.

7:23 p.m. Michael Jackson's death was a lot of things: Upsetting, unsettling, tragic, sad. But the timing was shocking. The exit was not. Unfortunately, geniuses have a habit of not getting too comfortable on this mortal coil. And we all go, at one time or another...

7:25 p.m. Let's also not compare President Obama to Michael Jackson, or draw parallels. It does major disservices to both men.

7:27 p.m. "Michael Jackson was the first star of post-integration America." -- Kevin Powell
An excellent point, one that hasn't been made enough.

7:29 p.m. And then you ruined it, by attributing Obama's electoral success to Jackson's popularity. Tsk, tsk.

7:30 p.m. While I never get tired of watching the footage from Jackson's last rehearsal, it never loses its potency, its ability to break my heart.

7:38 p.m. That aerial shot over the 405 reminds me of O.J. Always, even when it's a hearse, unfortunately.

7:40 p.m. The Jackson 5 were unofficial civil rights leaders. They led on the cultural front. I'm with that, in a Diahann Carroll kind of way.

7:41 p.m. Because we're sharing, here's my favorite young Michael Jackson moment.

7:43 p.m. Can we stop referring to the Jackson 5 as "black boys?" Uncomfties...

7:46 p.m. "Prodigy." Another word not being used enough to memorialize Michael Jackson.

7:54 p.m. I once went to a training session for hospice volunteers, and learned this bit: "You are in death who you are in life." You die as you live, essentially. The point is, in death we have to address the controversies of Michael Jackson's life, because that's who he was. That's what we're remembering.

7:55 p.m. A) Don't give Rep. Peter King anymore play. He doesn't deserve it, especially at Michael Jackson's memorial. As MJ would say, "That's just ignorance."
B) I give Peter King approximately 6 weeks before he's caught Sanford-style with some Peruvian mistress, or something. And the sequined glove will be on the other hand, so to speak.

7:58 p.m. Let's not compare Michael Jackson and Jerry Falwell. As Aaron Sorkin once wrote, "I think Jerry Falwell's a fat ass." Point made.

7:59 p.m. I agree with Danyel Smith, someone I really respect, in saying that we shouldn't address Jackson's criminal charges and strange peccadilloes at his memorial. And I hate feelings.

8 p.m. Can we not make it about race? I know it's BET, but really. People are reticent to lionize Jackson, more because of his character flaws and poor judgment -- and alleged lascivious behavior with minors -- than because of his race. I promise. Race factors into it, I'm sure, but not nearly as much as BET's pundits would have us believe.

8:08 p.m. During commercials, I flip to Fuse's Michael Jackson video tribute. I encourage you all to do the same, or just watch some classics on YouTube. Maybe go in chronological order, perhaps.

8:11 p.m. Yes, we're all Michael Jackson disciples. Just with varying degrees of talent.

8:12 p.m. Don't steal my idea: But I want my groom and I to do a choreographed dance to this song at my wedding. They won't let me embed it :(

8:16 p.m. Sick pleasure/vengeance moment #1: I love that the same police officers/department who investigated Michael Jackson's child molestation cases now have to provide security at his public memorial. God bless L.A.

8:17 p.m. If you want to know how to Moonwalk, and don't act like you don't, click here.

8:18 p.m. Yes, Chris Brown emulates Michael Jackson. No, we didn't need that reminder. At least Michael Jackson wasn't violent. And I don't care if that makes me a hypocrite.

8:19 p.m. Say what you want, but it takes a truly unique talent to get notes from Diana Ross and Nelson Mandela.

8:22 p.m. Fuse is playing the long version of "Remember the Time." Not only is that one of my favorite all-time, let alone, Michael Jackson videos, it is also one of those touchstone pop culture relics from my childhood. And I really hope that's what ancient Africa was like. Complete with Iman. Plus, this song is a jam. Don't believe me? Throw it on at a party and try not to grind.

8:26 p.m. Now we're getting to the festivities. And the church set-up is already breaking my heart. And now they're bringing out the golden, rose-covered coffin. Flamboyant in life, flamboyant in death. AMEN.

8:31 p.m. It is a really stinging thought to know that just 12 days ago, in the place where they are now memorializing him, Michael Jackson rehearsed and thrilled spectators.

8:34 p.m. Say what you want about Mimi, she looks classy and homegirl got pipes. This is perfect, just as it should be. And all the Mariah die-hards are glad Trey Lorenz is up there too. Just like it was on "Unplugged."

8:36 p.m. Tailing "I'll be There" with "Never Can Say Goodbye?" I'm already starting to feel feelings. Good move.

8:38 p.m. (BEWARE OF CHEESY COMMENT AHEAD) It really does take a Queen to eulogize the King (of Pop). Latifah scores again.

8:40 p.m. And then she started reading Maya Angelou. How am I going to last another two and a half hours? Point, Angelou.

8:46 p.m. The transitions between performers/speakers/what-have-you are like mini-moments of silence. Only Michael could cause a capacity Staples Center crowd to be that silent, that often, that effortlessly.

8:49 p.m. I'm glad to only hear from Berry Gordy now. He's showed great restraint, and his eloquence shows the wait was worth it. And yes, I agree, Michael took "Who's Lovin' You" from Smokey. Michael made it his own.

8:51 p.m. So many of the comments on TV have been about how WE remember Michael, what he meant to US...It's really nice to hear Berry Gordy, someone who knew Michael best as a child, remember those times and talk about Michael as Michael.

8:56 p.m. I never said it, and Berry Gordy brilliantly reminded me, reminded us all. "Thank you, Michael."

9 p.m. I always thought, I knew, I'd live to see Michael Jackson's death. I didn't think about it a lot, but it isn't a shock that I saw it happen. But for his Motown colleagues, many of his fans, and so many of his family and friends, as Stevie Wonder said, they never thought this day would come. How hard it must be to outlive a child, a cohort, a protege...

9:03 p.m. Stevie never lost it; we just forgot about it. "Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer." GOD...Most poignant moment of the night, thus far, and tough to top for sure.

9:08 p.m. Is anyone else confused as to why Kobe's here? I don't mind, but huh? Better question: Where's the other legendary MJ? "Jam" was not that long ago. His Royal Airness, where are you?

9:10 p.m. Magic Johnson just said Michael made him a better point guard. Let's not forget Michael Jackson's extraodinary work ethic. Genius ain't easy, folks, and it don't mean lazy either.

9:12 p.m. Part of me knew this night couldn't go by without a KFC reference. I'm glad it was at least done tactfully.

9:14 p.m. Seven words into "Will You Be There," another one of my Jackson favorites, and I already feel chills. J-Hud, you're my heart's American Idol...And she made "Will You Be There" into a gospel song, from a pop ballad. Damn, girl...

9:16 p.m. I have a soft spot for Free Willy anyway, but my heart skipped, I gasped when I heard Michael's voice do the spoken outro...Check out the original.

9:18 Sorry, I know I'm supposed to be grieving, and I am. But note to the media: If you stop following Al Sharpton and his cause o' the week, people will stop calling him. He will go away! I know he's a friend to the Jackson family, and I'm not saying he shouldn't be on stage, but his acting as Jackson family spokesman the past 12 days makes me want to vomit. Besides, everyone knows that's Jermaine's job.

9:21 p.m. How did I know Al Sharpton would make it about President Obama?

9:23 p.m. OK, Rev. Al. Nobody hit your buzzer. I'm all about being tasteful and respecting the kids and their father's memory, but don't lie. Why can't both be true? Why can't he have been a weird guy who was forced to live under weird circumstances? Or I'll even cut him slack: He was forced to be a weird guy by the weirdness of his circumstances. I'm just saying, all night we've been celebrating his exaltedness, Jackson was weird. Genius is rare. That's why it's genius. So don't go telling Prince, Paris, and Prince II that their dad wasn't weird.

9:27 p.m. I'll say it: One of these things is not like the other. But go ahead, John Mayer. Plus, he's got the talent, and he definitely has lots of cred. He doesn't look out of place at all, and he's playing really well. "Human Nature" is one of Michael Jackson's best songs, and a great fit for Mayer. I wish he was singing though, not that the nameless background singers aren't doing a great job.

9:33 p.m. I never though Brooke Shields would be the most emotional person at the memorial. And she's breathtaking.

9:34 p.m. Great visual #1: Brooke Shields learning to Moonwalk from Michael Jackson.

9:36 p.m. Brooke Shields extracted laughs from the most somber of crowds. She's a highlight, and she wins the award for bringing me closest to tears.

9:39 p.m. Sick pleasure/vengeance moment #1: Brooke's moving words got me thinking about how Tatum O'Neal's handlers made her break up with Michael Jackson because he was bad for her image, because he was black. And now she's a crack addict. And Brooke Shields is a happily married mother of two and in the midst of a career resurgence. Hmmmm...

9:41 p.m. Michael Jackson's version of "Smile" was the first version I ever heard. As a child, I thought he wrote it. The song appears on Disc 2 of HIStory: Past, Present, and Future Book I. Listen to it here, though I take no credit for the fanvid.

9:43 p.m. I give Jermaine a lot of shit, he named his fucking kid Jermajesty (though I'm sure he or she is very nice), but he can sing and that was touching. (And were the sparkly gloves really necessary? It seems a leeeeetle bit tacky. But however he chooses to grieve and demonstrate his grief. No judgment (beyond thinking it's tacky).

9:53 p.m. Can we just not talk about the child molestation thing? Is a fucking memorandum necessary? Yes you, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. And I like you, but for real...

9:56 p.m. Rep. Lee understood enough to gloss over the years of emotional and physical abuse and power struggles in the Jackson family, to praise their natural talent and hard work. So, I know she can, she just isn't glossing over enough.

9:57 p.m. Why did we have to drag the Congressional Black Caucus into it?

9:58 p.m. I'm fine with Congress recognizing Jackson as a great humanitarian. Guinness says it. But do we have to propose that now? What with health care disintegrating, people stuck in Guantanamo Bay, and Sarah Palin on the loose? TIMING, Sheila, TIMING.

10:01 p.m. Usher is the perfect person to sing "Gone Too Soon." Without Michael Jackson's trailblazing or influence, Usher would be just another B-boy.

10:02 p.m. (CHEESY MOMENT #2) "Gone Too Soon" makes me hope Michael Jackson and Ryan White are together in Heaven, hanging out like old times. No?

10:11 p.m. I still love Smokey Robinson. And "Tracks of My Tears." But that's another post.
10:12 p.m. I was just thinking this show needed someone from "Britain's Got Talent," and then Shaheen Jafargholi appeared. I know it's unfair, and little 12-year-old Shaheen is talented, but that's always going to be Michael's song. And he was 10. I just can't bear to hear anyone but Michael sing it.
10:16 p.m. I do not think I can handle Michael Jackson's living legacy, Kenny Ortega. And bring out Zefron, porfa?
10:18 p.m. Allow me to say what no one else will: "I hate 'We are the World.'" It's cool for what it was, and it was big at the time, but I can't take it. And this presentation is really tugging on me, but not in the good way.
10:20 p.m. Don't worry, the second I caught Prince Michael swaying with Smokey Robinson on stage, my conscience returned.
10:21 p.m. "HEAL THE WORLD." OMFG. Complete with little kids yearning.
10:22 p.m. I'm crying. But it's because Jermaine is ruining this poignant moment. He's making me laugh, with his sunglasses, mouthing the lyrics, and Just For Men-inspired coif. COME THE FUCK ON Jermaine.
10:27 p.m. You lost me at "I was his voice." Jermaine, I feel for you. I do. You're grieving. I can't imagine. Do you HAVE to sound like such a D as you do?
10:30 p.m. Marlon said what a lot of the MJ fanatics feel: Hopefully he can truly rest in peace. Marlon is articulate and his words are touching.
10:33 p.m. Paris put it all in perspective. My heart aches for her, and her siblings. Even Janice Dickinson probably teared up at that.

BET is going to end the night with a post-memorial wrap-up, and then its Jackson video tribute block, "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." I spent the entire weekend immediately after Jackson passed watching the marathon, and I recommend it. Let the music speak, because he no longer can. And this memorial was perfect. It was the best, the only way, to properly commemorate a legend's life, this legend's life. But tonight, the active mourning ends. We must officially move on, as the news cycle does, and as programming rebounds, but never forget the King of Pop.

-- Meryn, who just laid her first hero to rest.

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