Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Michael Jackson Memorial Watched at Pigeon Park

I walked by Pigeon Park this morning and there was a cluster of people sitting on park benches in the drizzle watching Michael Jackson's memorial. They were watching it on a television parked on the sidewalk in front of the second hand store.

I stopped and the words, "I Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer" appeared on a red strip across the bottom of the screen. A native guy standing up close to the tv set turned to me and said, "That's Stevie Wonder singing."

A woman stopped and stood watching. Tears streamed down her face.

As I walked up Hastings St afterwards, I was thinking of Michael Jackson and the presumption of innocence. The enormous resources of the state of California were used in an attempt to convict him of child sexual abuse and he was found not guilty. I don't know what the evidence against him was. When I watched more of the Memorial later on the internet, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was on stage saying that she was following the American way, which is to consider somebody "innocent until proven otherwise".

I didn't like the way Jackson got mixed up with the Nation of Islam though. They're anti-semitic. The bio-mom of Jackson's two oldest children reportedly disapproved of their influence; she's Jewish. Stuart Backerman in Vancouver, who moved to Neverland for three years to be Jackson's publicist, said in a local interview that he left when the Nation of Islam started taking over Jackson's affairs as he didn't agree with their views. In another interview, he said he got "pushed out" by them. But he still "loves" Jackson and prizes the black signature hat Jackson gave him as a gift.

Overall, I find the media hype around Jackson's death and the endless parade of sordid details less captivating than his dancing. (Although I was momentarily captivated by the sight of his two older children with hair obviously died darker for his Memorial, making them match up better with the Jackson family.) I've been largely ignoring the television coverage but I still watch the video of his Bad Tour Live in Japan.

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