June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson? Nothing to See Here


The Howard Hughes of pop. But without the dreadful manicure. The reaction to his death? Yet another milestone on the Road of Our Decline.

Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

-- Hart Crane

One day at my job for Cosmodemonic Monthly in a midtown Manhattan skyscraper in the early 1990s, I walked into one of the art directors' offices to discuss a minor matter of pix&fonts versus "readability" (A concept art directors of magazines find quaint.) His office on the 10th floor of the skyscraper was on a level with a hotel just across the street. Because hotel visitors are unclear on the concept of "If you're doing anything private in a hotel room close the drapes first," all of the art directors had their desks arranged in such a way that they could see directly into the windows of the rooms across the way on the 10th floor.

As I walked into his office, I placed my papers on his desk prepared to battle with him for the umpteenth time for the prize of "readability" when he said, "Check out that guy over there."

I looked across the street in time to see a man in a hotel room (slacks, suspenders, clean white shirt) open his window wide, place his foot over the sill, and without any hesitation at all throw himself out of the window and into the air. And then he fell, going down faster than I would have imagined possible, out of sight to the street below.

Ten floors up and behind the sealed glass you could not hear the sound his body made when it hit just as you could not see all of the fall. But within ten seconds you could hear the tires screech and the storm of horns begin.

Stunned, both the art director and myself stepped up on his desk and onto the waist high panel next to the window to look down. Ten floors below the man's body had landed not on the sidewalk but between two parked cars at the curb. His head had struck the curb itself and the result looked like someone had detonated a blood grenade on the sidewalk. The body's limbs were splayed at impossible angles.

The sidewalk had been stopped in both directions and doormen and bellboys were running out of the hotel. Within a minute someone had brought out a sheet to cover the body. Traffic had stopped in one lane but continued to squeeze by in the other. After about five minutes sirens started to converge from uptown and downtown and crosstown.

Everyone in the office it seemed had heard within a couple of minutes and dozens lined the windows looking down at the covered corpse below. Not a lot was being said. Just some sort of low hum of murmurs remarking on how the "jest falls from the speechless caravan."

Then, with the sirens still on the way, the Executive Art Director -- a short man with the Little Hitler complex some short men always carry in their vest pocket -- came out of his office, glanced out of the window and down at the sidewalk, and commanded, "Okay. So what? Nothing more to see. Everybody back to work."

And to a man and a woman we all went.

Posted by Vanderleun at June 26, 2009 8:46 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Why pay the carnival hawker to see the Freak Show when there are those that will show it for free?

Posted by: David McKinnis at June 26, 2009 10:25 AM

Please, could we take a moment to think of his children? At least now they have a shot at normality.

Posted by: Gagdad Bob at June 26, 2009 1:16 PM

There was nothing more to see, but I doubt anyone really got back to work.

Sort of like when the lunatic put a shotgun slug through my Escort when he passed me on his way to the freeway. After dealing with the police, and then getting a six pack, and then finally sleeping; getting to work was...okay, I was there, but only until I completed a hearing and few other things; and then I got my car back from the police, and called insurance, and took it to the dealership, and went home.

And had a few more beers before going to sleep. I mostly don't think about it, until someone talks about 'heads split open' and I recall the slug passed about a foot behind my head. Then I think about it.

I don't hate the shooter because he IS a lunatic, so loony they called in the state police and university psych docs, and many opinions agreed - completely loony, and now in one of the few state mental hospital/prisons left here.

It was nothing about me - I was just there, and almost not there.

But it was nothing about me.

Posted by: Mikey NTH at June 26, 2009 5:01 PM

A few years ago I was at the gym working out with my then trainer, a middle aged black man. Michael Jackson was on the television when the trainer came over to check out my readiness. It was a news channel and they were reporting on some one of Jackson's shenanigans, maybe it was the dangling the baby out the window incident.

My trainer put it all in perspective. He looked up at a picture of Jackson, shook his head, and said: "That dude has issues."

Posted by: Fat Man at June 26, 2009 7:17 PM

Sorry Bob, his kids will never be "normal". Not now, not ever.

The fight over the estate will be going on years from now.

The tabloids will be milking this for years.

Posted by: Eric Blair at June 26, 2009 7:24 PM

I haven't watched one second of it or read anything other than the headlines I can't avoid.

I'm glad he's dead. He was a raper of children, what's to grieve?

Posted by: Daphne at June 26, 2009 7:28 PM

As I just commented at Rachel Lucas' site, I mourn Neda Soltan much, much more. And I never even heard of her before she died.

Posted by: rickl at June 26, 2009 8:23 PM

I'll miss you. I grew up listening to his songs, watching his dance. I hope, your songs will live in our generation.. You will be remembered through your music forever. Everybody loves him from all over the world! Rest in peace...

Posted by: Erkin YILDIRIM at June 27, 2009 1:19 AM

Bob. Wow. That's positive thinking! The children will be raised by the same people who raised their father. You decide how good a job they did.

Posted by: Lucy at June 27, 2009 4:08 PM