Thursday, June 25, 2009

Peter's death

Peter Pan isn't the best role model for any man. You make questionable fashion choices. You hang out with a notorious fairy. You have a fondness for young boys and the only female who gets your attention is no older than twelve. Death might be an awfully big adventure but really, without clear indicators of conditions on the other side it might be a lateral move at best.

Michael Jackson is dead and nobody is surprised. Michael Jackson's death caused me to call a friend who I thought would be closer to MSNBC than I was just to find out whether it was suicide or some drug-related incident along the lines of too many poppers. As of this writing they're saying cardiac arrest and that's that. I have no affection or memories of Jackson short of a few chortles at Michael Jackson jokes when they were either still relevant or I was young enough to chortle at them. But Thriller was regularly on the radio when I started high school and that can't be that long ago, not long enough for Jackson's death to be Elvis' death to some of a certain age.

That some won't include me, babe, but I've got to discuss the fear. Elvis died in '77 when I was nine years old and the resulting hysteria sounded to me like he had been around forever, which apparently began in 1955. If Elvis hit his peak then and died 22 years later he had less time to go downhill since Jackson ruling the world in '83 and keeling over 26 years after that. Something's odd about time not seeming so long now, impossibly long then.

I had a friend in the early 80's who unwisely wore a cheap right-handed glove in an attempt to impress girls. He was 14 at the time and the accoutrements did not increase his abilities as a stud-to-be. He'd bought it from a record rack filled with t-shirts at the Sam's The Record Man at Yonge and Dundas. It's gone and nine out of ten of the accompanying t-shirts featured bands who have disappeared and U2 is the exception. Maybe they need a break to focus on fundraising or being U2 less of the time.

I bought a black silk-screened Thriller-album-cover flag from a headshop on Yonge St. on a cold afternoon in December of 1984. It was supposed to curry favour with a cute and slightly pudgy music major in one of my classes who coveted her walkman and Thriller tape. She hugged me when I handed it over but nothing else happened between us, which was actually all right with me at the time. Her smile was enough and I'd been at Flashjacks fairly often those days to buy Jim Morrison t-shirts (the black ones with the longish white sleeves) and knew that to purchase such a flag was horribly uncool for a Doors fan but perhaps a labour of love for a cute and slightly pudgy music major.

Jackson's dead, not unlike Morrison in that regard at least. You could drag Thackeray into it and mutter Good or bad, handsome or ugly, rich or poor, they are all equal now but this is pop and the gesture dignifies nobody. The idea of Jackson in 2009 selling-out shows in advance in London dignified even fewer. How many 1983 sycophants walk the earth and look past 26 years of fetishism? (Jackson's in particular and I'm not even touching upon theirs) Judge not and all that, but freaks beget freaks.

The freak-maestro in this case was the kind of freak who warps further to the precepts of a potent formula of money + those who will appease with anything to stay close to money, creating a freak-further extrapolated from the original freak. A freak with bad friends and worse instincts. That's sad. No argument from me. The death of somebody who would have been delighted to have their face on a black silk flag for teenage girls turns into something that earns its position as half a step past maudlin as well.

Update: To quote Jack Burton's email over lunch, "What was the quote from 'Manhunter'? 'My heart bleeds for the child he was. But the adult he's become is something else'? I think that's it, anyway ..."


Anonymous said...

who was the _girl_??

Mike D. said...

Her name was Kristin. Do I know you?

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