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Michael Jackson 1958-2009

Submitted by on June 25, 2009 – 9:30 pm 4 Comments

What is going on this week?! This is crazy. I’m on vacation, hanging out with the family when my sister turned on the news and said, “Michael Jackson died!” It was a “Huh?” moment that still feels unreal.

This is so shocking and sad. I need more time to write a proper tribute but wanted to post the following questions so we can reminisce together here and remember the impact MJ had on pop culture.

  1. Where were you when Jackson busted out that moonwalk on Motown’s 25th anniversay special? (To refresh your memory, watch the video below.)
  2. How long did it take you to learn the “Thriller” dance and how many times have you performed it at parties?
  3. Favorite Jackson song?

UPDATE: I have a source who will be inside the Staples Center for Jackson’s memorial July 7. Check back here later that day for a report.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15SxqqwF63U]

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4 Comments »

  • ARB says:

    I can’t believe I haven’t seen that video more recently.

    I feel really old. I was in my dorm at college and actually studying when I heard screams coming from down the hallway. I jumped up, thinking someone had hurt themselves, and ran out the door to see what was going on. There were a bunch of my buddies gathered around a TV yelling. “Do it again! Do it again!”

    All I saw was Michael Jackson dancing and singing Billie Jean. I smiled and turned to go. They turned to me and said, “Ya gotta see this!!!”

    I waited minute or so and….he did it again! The Moonwalk was the coolest thing I had ever seen. It defied physics, gravity and the natural order of thing in general!

    We took turns the rest of the night trying to show each other how it was done. Never did master it. Came close (in my mind), but not reality.

    My girlfriend at the time could do it barefoot. And she did it so often, she began to get blisters.

    I was able to see the whole broadcast during the holidays that year and got to yell at the TV myself a few times.

    The one thing that stayed with me was a moment just before he sang Billie Jean. He and the rest of the Jacksons had just finished a song from their past glory. His brothers trotted off the stage and Michael stepped forward alone to the microphone, said something along the lines of “Those songs were a lotta fun, but I like the new stuff” and then the opening notes of Billie Jean began. The crowd went nuts.

    Now I feel like “old stuff”.

    Never since then has a dance move made me want to yell at the TV. When he tilted during the dance number in Smooth Criminal, I was impressed, but it was no Moonwalk.

    I am really hating all the talking head news coverage right now. They all seem to be focusing on Michael being accused of molesting children and how broke he was in the end, but none seem to really want to speak about the magic in those shoes of his. And, let’s face it, the guy could sing a song.

  • Poncho says:

    I was shocked too when I heard the news. I was actually at work and then somewhere I read it: MJ no more… Yet, I was actually still mourning for Farrah Fawcett (you gotta give it to me: my mom’s a Charlie’s Angels fan and I grew up watching them, so FF was one of my childhood crushes, ‘though I know she was way ahead of me in the age department).

    I didn’t actually watch the moonwalk during Motown aniversary, but I do remember that about the next day -or week- everybody at school was doing it, and I was like “WTF?”. It became like a cool-badge if you could do it well (my elementary classmates were such snobs!). I could never do it, and I’m tired of trying.

    The “Thriller” dance is another story! The first time I watched MTV (I was about 12 or so) “Thriller” was one of the videos I saw and I loved it! I learned like two steps then, and then I hoped I could watch it again to learn more… when I finally got Internet I was about 15 (my dad, ‘though he’s an engineer, was quite paranoid with technology) and then looked like crazy ’til I found a video and a set of instructions. I still want to dance the whole song, like they do on “13 going on 30” but they don’t play that song in parties that much, haha.

    I wasn’t quite a MJ fan my whole life, ‘though I’ve always recognized his great contribution to music. He was the King of Pop, after all. I think one of my favorite MJ songs is “Heal the World”, just because it was the first I learned by heart – we learned it in English class for Earth Day or something.

    I’m wearing two black ribbons right now. FF’s is bigger, but one’s for MJ nonetheless.

    • popculturenerd says:

      Thanks for these stories, Poncho. I’m older than you but have similar memories so it goes to show how these stars managed to impact people’s lives across generations.

      When I was a kid and saw Charlie’s Angels for the first time, it expanded my world. I had no idea little girls could go to the police academy. Where I came from (Viet Nam), I never saw any female policewomen. It was thrilling to see those three kick butt, shoot guns and look gorgeous with perfect hair while doing it. After Farrah left, the show wasn’t the same because none of the actresses who replaced her had the same appeal.

      As for Michael Jackson, his “Beat It” video helped me be cool for one day when I recreated the entire video, down to every last dance move, for the senior talent show in high school. I recruited a bunch of my friends, taught them the dance moves in my basement, and played the MJ role, complete with red, multi-zippered jacket. It was a huge hit and all of a sudden, the nerdy kid (me) got to be just a little hip walking down the hall.

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