Monday, June 29, 2009

...you're always running here and there ... you feel you're not wanted anywhere...



So ...


I was going to attempt to avoid this whole topic ... who wants to read another post about Michael Jackson? But then I remembered, nobody reads this blog anyway, so ...


I've been asking myself how one ought to grieve for someone he never really even knew. A better question is why ought one grieve. But the thing is, if you are an african-american of my generation then you grew up with Michael Jackson. I have known him {okay, known of him} since I was old enough to know anything. Over the years he became sort of like a crazy cousin ... one you never understand and often disagree with but whom you were always glad to see. His passing has made me inescapably sad, y'all. And in spite of my attempts to remain above it all, to adopt a more sagacious perspective on the spectacle that is still playing itself out, I am still just very very sad.


In the title I quoted the song "Ben," MJ's first solo #1 hit. It is about, of all things, a rat ... the vicious ringleader of a pack of man-eating rats at that. You can listen to it here . The tender song didn't really go with a horror movie ... wasn't even a very good horror movie either. In the it, Ben-the-Rat's friend was a lonely, misunderstood, abused-by-society, misfit named Willard. And at the end of the movie Ben and his rodent cohorts killed poor Willard who did kinda bring it on himself having trained the rat's to do murder at his bidding.


I suspect that, in Michael's case, a tender soul did not really go with the horror movie his life became. I think Jackson's "Ben" was his celebrity. It gave him astronomical sums of money, colossal fame and, I think, an unprecedented amount of sadness. Now, I'm not saying that some of his misery ... maybe even a lot of it was not self-wrought. But a soul is such a delicate thing, and more so the soul of an artist ... what is it about the American style of celebrity that tends to devour some of our brightest (and therefore some of our most fragile) souls? I don't know ... you'll have to ask Billie Holiday, Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain, Karen Carpenter Michael Jackson and all the other's whose fame seemed to shorten their trajectory and turn it prematurely downward. Here's to the hope that Rock and Roll Heaven is real and that over yonder backstage passes are plentiful and readily available.


So now, I say about Mike what I say about other departed friends and family members --"those I loved and did not understand" as Norman Mclean put it at the end of his beautiful story A River Runs Through It ...


Damn, bruh ... wish I coulda -- I don't know -- been there for ya ... Or something.

5 comments:

VallyP said...

I read your blog Van.....

And yes,I agree with you about MJ. He was a very very sad person, but that often happens to people who have genius that is celebrated in that way. I'm older than you but I also grew up with Michael Jackson. He was already performing in the Jackson Five when I was about 10 or 12 and he's was never out of the limelight - ever. Just imagine what a strange perspective on life that must have given him - that along with the unatural pressure put on him and the whole family by his father. It's no wonder he couldn't really get a grip on reality. I mourn him too. He was so incredibly talented, but was so confused, and he never had the chance to grow old with dignity. Very sad.

VanO said...

I know YOU read it, Val ... you are half of my entire fanbase :)

And I agree about his not having had the opportunity to grow old ... we complain about it but there is some pleasure in aging ... it's certainly better than the alternative.

Extraho said...

Well, you've got another follower Van. Not even because it was about Jackson, because truthfully I can't grieve over someone I never knew; but your very good at what you write. The world, will still have MJ's music, and in my opinion that will be enough to keep us going. Why is it always the talented ones who end up dying such young deaths? I hate to give a comparison like this but... Van Gogh.37. Mercury. 45. Jackson. 50. I'm of the new generation, one who have never really became part of Jacksons fans. However its indisputable that someone special left the world. For all his flaws (which purely made him human) he was a gifted musician. Even by my ignorant generation... he shall be missed.

VanO said...

Well ... welcome Extraho (what shall I call you?)

Thanks for reading me :)

Extraho said...

Oh of course.
Should have introduced myself proper-like.
=D David.

Pleasure to read you, Van!