25 June 2009
Wow. The Greatest Entertainer of the 20th Century is dead.
I don't think I can accurately describe my passion regarding the gloved one. But here's how Michael Jackson changed lives in Utica, Mississippi, a town of well under 500 households. I work at a summer camp there every summer, and have for six years; I've been going there as a camper and a staff member for fifteen years, and I absolutely love it. I remember being seven years old and seeing the 17-year-old staff members dancing on the stage blocks in the dining hall to "Blame It on the Boogie," a song by the Jackson 5, which they have done every year since. Many lunch-time skits have referenced MJ, including one which attempted, to the best of its ability, to re-create "Thriller". Just last year, my sister and I taught the group of 7- and 8-year olds the dance to "Beat It," which they performed at every single song for the rest of the summer, regardless of whether it was an MJ song or not. This year, Sally and a group of her friends did an entire performance to "Beat It". Also this summer, I created a silly character called Michael Jackson Superfan, who gets ridiculously defensive when anything critical is said of the greatest entertainer of the 20th century. Once, I was so convincing in my role that one of the staff members was genuinely frightened of me. It turns out that he had heard that I had almost punched my best friend, Danny, in the face, when previously performing as Michael Jackson Superfan. I had even played the character at the lunch meeting today.
That's why I thought Kendall Krupkin was joking when she said to me in the breezeway that Michael Jackson had died.
I got paged on the walkie talkie, informing me that he had died; calls; people coming up to me to hug me, etc. I was glued to the television with around ten other people, waiting to hear that what we heard was untrue, and that, at the very least, he was only in a coma. We even watched CNN after Wolf Blitzer announced that The LA Times had officially reported him to be dead, on the slight chance that the LA Times' sources were wrong.
At supper Michael Jackson was playing over the speakers, and "Thriller" came on. Most of the campers in the dining hall stood up and started dancing, some on the stage blocks, some on the floor, some at their tables. "Beat It" came on, and synchronized dance moves were all over. We recited the Mourner's Kaddish at services, and several of the campers named Michael Jackson as someone they were praying for. I did, too.
He is officially the greatest entertainer of the 20th century, and my own pick for it, too. I hope the best for his three children and all of my fellow superfans out there. He will be sorely, sorely missed.
EDIT: A camper named Sarah told a staff member that she was sadder when she found out than when she heard that her grandmother died.