Upsetting
Friday, January 16, 2004
 
Sweet cousin cocaine, lay your cool, cool hand on me.

You were too young – or not born – to see the Stones in 1971, but that’s about the time you would’ve liked them the best, you think. The inflatable penises and the end-of-the-world guitar riffs bloodletting the world. The workers on the side of the treacherous I-5 still listen to the radio station that plays “Brown Sugar” nearly every hour.

Down in the boutique gym in the city, the men stand around and watch Michael Jackson on television. This is one of those gyms where, let’s face it, there is more deal-making and conferring done than fitness work. But that’s how it goes for those with the power. They get things done, come hell or high water.

One of the guys says Michael Jackson has had a tough life, and you let that hang in the air. You can hear everything because you forgot your Walkman, and the kid at the desk was nice enough to put on some music on the digital cable radio system. It dawns on you that your children and grandchildren will probably not know what a Walkman is.

A tough life, they say Michael Jackson had. The penalty paid by a black man who wanted to be white. It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white, my ass. You see the hate in the stories that always mention that he is the “self-proclaimed” King of Pop.

The Stones were the self-proclaimed Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band in the World.

They co-opted the black man’s music, turned into their own. They tried to cross races. They played fast and loose with racial politics, “ten little niggers.” They screwed underage kids, just like Michael Jackson.

They continued to make good songs, too.

It’s not true that the same can be said for Michael Jackson.

He is mad past recovery, yet he has lucid intervals, Cervantes wrote.

He is man, you think, and we are all past recovery.
 
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