The Signposts of Our Lives...

The passing of Michael Jackson hit me pretty hard. I remember listening to his music when we were painting the living room walls in our new house at 23 Scotland Road in Pueblo, Colorado. I remember how monotonous that task seemed back then. The walls stretched from the 9"-by-9"-inch square I was lackadaisically swishing my brush around in to Narnia.

But then Dad put the needle to the vinyl and Mike's infectious gift pulsed through those speakers. I wasn't sold on painting (show me a kid who is), but I felt the groove and the strokes were suddenly broad and high. I was painting that wall with flair, sucker, and you couldn't keep me from doing it.

Then the record was over and it was time for Mister Mister and I went back to my little square.

Mike stuck by me all through my life, and I stuck by him. I'd watched enough footage of his videos to get a feel for his style of dance, and I could do a few things. Heck, I got up in front of over a thousand people in a skit once and did "Man In the Mirror." It wasn't spot on, but it wasn't terrible either.

When our wedding DJ spun "Billy Jean," there was a panic amongst my friends and I. We hit the floor and sweated it up, pointing, gesturing, styling and generally doing it...until we couldn't...do it...any longer.

Mike had that kind of effect on most of us born before 1982. He was our legend--our warrior of cool.

Many of my younger students don't know much about him. They wonder what the hype's all about, and whether he was ever as fresh as L'il Wayne or Kanye West.

I favor them with a smile and tell them they missed what it was like to have a living, breathing spectacle in your home ten times each day (bless you, MTv).

Jackson was a humanitarian, for all of his reclusive eccentricity. He was accused of some sick stuff, but was also completely exonerated of any wrong-doing (though not without controversy and a discussion of pay-offs).

Here's where I stand on his passing: he's gone and I'm already missing him. I saw a clip tonight of footage taken forty-eight hours prior to his heart attack. Watch that and tell me, muscle memory or not, whether the man was ready to turn us all on our ear once again.

My heroes are passing, and it's hard to reconcile. I never thought we'd see Michael Jackson's artistic legacy tamped out so soon. It's hard for me to believe that now, his catalogue is finite. We'll see the late work, of course. It'll be a monster hit--maybe the biggest in the history of humanity. But there won't be anything new done next year.

That's hard.

I love Elmore Leonard. He writes like a dream and has always been consistent, even into his golden years. The same holds true for Mickey Spillane, who passed a few years back. The same holds true for the venerable Ray Bradbury, who at 89 years of age has always contributed to his chest of unforgettable art.

And I can't imagine a world in which I can't look forward to a pair of Stephen King books each year. I just can't. In nine minutes I'll retire to bed to read "Morality," and I can only say that I'm looking forward to the next third of King's prolific and creative career.

Mike, you were the best. The absolute best. May you rest in peace.


Karen from Mentor said...

Oh Daniel,
I'm so sorry for your loss...email me we'll talk...

this was a beautiful post.

darn you you made me cry

Daniel W. Powell said...

Evening, Karen,

I'm no sadder than most MJ fans. It's a loss for anyone who liked his music, of course, but he changed popular music and is out there forever.

Hope things are well, and that the writing is progressing!

Karen from Mentor said...

well you SOUNDED sadder than most of his fans...lol....you must just be a very good writer...

(grades paper...excellent use of emotional tone to lure the reader into experiencing the depth of the sorrow of the main character...)

Jennie said...

My brother and I were having a very intense conversation when we heard the news announcing his death. We stopped and stared, open mouth, at the TV. Tears started trickling down my face. I couldn't believe it. I suddenly remembered my Michael Jackson doll, more like action figure, I had when I was six. The first scary thing I ever saw was Thriller. It's the reason I'm afraid of Zombies today. Every time I would hear the music I would get so scared. I still get freaked out when I hear that beat. I had the glove and my older cousins had the red leather jacket. I was only a child when Thriller was released about four or five. I'm not fanatical like some of his fans but I felt like a piece of my childhood died with him. Your right, younger people can’t quite understand how awesome and amazing he was. They just think of him as the weirdo. They don’t really understand how he changed music and dance forever. How he inspired some of their favorite artist. When I saw that clip of his tour coming up and that new song about Martin Luther King I was so sad that I would never be able to hear it. At least now he's in a place where they can't reach him, maybe now he'll have peace

You Know When It's Good

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