about 6:30 pm thursday evening i received a text from my youngest sistah, tracey, in chicago, asking me if i heard about michael jackson having suffered a heart attack. b4 i was able to rsvp, less than 60 seconds lata, a friend in nyc texted me stating michael jackson was dead. how did i feel? shocked, stunned, in disbelief. immediately i called my friend, nate, to see if he was aware & to confirm what was, in my mind, a possible rumor bcuz with michael you just neva know. to my chagrin, it was true.
despite the efforts of his personal physician in his california home michael jackson's heart stopped beating around 2:30 pm. as i sit here listening to his media-maligned, yet melodic invincible cd, i'm thinking about my own mortality. born in the same (august) month, the king of pop was two years older than me. he also shares the same birthdate (8/29) as my aunt dianne in gary, indiana. for someone whose life was clouded in complexity, genius, isolation, mystery & woundedness, the brilliant legacy of michael joe jackson will continue long after my heart stops beating.
harlem's apollo theater has been swarmed by local/national media outlets since thursday. there was a multi-cultural mix of folks buying michael buttons, caps, posters & t-shirts, chatting, dancing, singing & trying to somehow make sense of his premature death. the commercialization of michael engulfed several blocks on 125th street. amazing how we profit from one's pain & rationalize it bcuz everyone else seems to do it! nothing is sacred anymore. the coroner had yet to release a report & black folks were selling shit with a quickness - just like when obama became prez.
did i buy something? damn skippy...
i feel for his kids. children who grow up without a father's direction, guidance & love experience an emptiness you cannot underestimate. his three kids' privacy was heavily guarded & they are, no doubt, cared for, yet their sudden loss makes my heart ache. much will be written about michael's transition in the weeks to come, but i affirm he was a compassionate humanitarian. his unconditional & universal love for children is well-known, despite the long held allegations of his sexual abuse of children, none of which i eva believed for one moment.
jackson's larger than life persona has fueled intense media scrutiny, internet chat room gossip & international tabloid rumors. whether the subject was his neverland ranch, peter pan muse, relationships with mccauley caulkin, gary coleman & ryan white, everyday folks (this writer included) always seemed to have a strong (!) opinion about his various idiosyncracies. what part did michael play in all this drama? he claimed innocence from the onset, asserting kids would neva hurt him as adults do, but, still, he was a grown ass man.
we adored him as a child. his infectious smile warmed the hearts of millions. he danced liked james brown, sang like frankie lymon & talked like, well, a happy little colored boy. omg. did i say colored? anyhoo, how many of us were glued to the idiot box when the j5 saturday morning cartoons came on? his solo work with legendary producer quincy jones changed the cultural landscape of music videos as we know it today - billie jean was the first video by an african-american artist to appear on mtv. but don't sleep, ralph mcdaniel's (hip hop infused, nyc based) video music box had mad love for mike b4 mtv, vh1 or bet.
michael's bright red leather jacket (from the beat it video), jheri curled hair, neon socks, penny loafer shoes, sequined glove & tuxedo pants shortened at the legs were unique fashion trademarks copied across the globe regardless of age, culture, gender, religion or sexual orientation. b4 his short-lived marriages to lisa marie presley & debbie rowe, he dated teen stars tatum o'neal & brooke shields. when did we last see him hooked up with a sistah? he wrote the song 'muscles,' for diana ross, giving rise to our morbid fascination with them as a potential (?) couple, but, at that point, his manhood was being questioned, too. did his androgynous look, introverted personality & squeaky voice confuse us?
no doubt, some folks have held michael was asexual, gay or phucked up...
author/meta-physician/professor deepak chopra was recently interviewed by cnn's anderson cooper about his 21 year friendship with michael. he characterized the gloved one as a caring, devoted & loving father who did not exhibit any type of inappropriate behavior in his presence. in fact, michael's kids spent considerable time playing with chopra's kids. chopra confirmed jackson's addiction to prescription drugs & admitted michael suffered from lupus, as well as a rare skin disease which some have long touted as anti-black bleaching cream. chopra vilified the plethora of celebrity hollywood doctors who feed the addiction of their patients, vowing to come forth with names at a lata date.
most media reports jackson's doctor gave him demerol. chopra said he also was given oxycontin & other narcotics to deal with his physical pain induced by lupus & the skin disease. toxicologists will offer their medical perspectives at some point. an autopsy can provide further insight into the exact nature of his untimely demise. of course, we may neva know the truth about how and/or why michael left the universe after half a century. his music can be heard in the streets, on the radio/tv & via the internet. he is, alas, gone too soon.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.