UPDATES are included in this post.

One would think “fade to black” would be the epithet for the last 6 days of coverage of Michael Jackson’s life and death (1958 – 2009). I haven’t seen so many pictures of Michael’s early career on display complete with Afro and brown skin since…he looked like that. Maybe it’s a need to recapture the innocence lost in the crazy hazy world of show business and the trials and traumas of superstardom. Maybe it means not having to say “grow up” anymore. Maybe it’s a reminder he was someone’s son, brother, neighbor, and friend.

To be honest, I can’t recall a bad day, a bad mood or moment listening to Michael’s music. Now, every song is a constant reminder that he’s gone.

No doubt Michael Jackson’s death marks the end of something for American pop culture. CNN reports Michael will lie in state for a public viewing at his former Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County later this week.
Update: “Contrary to previous news reports, the Jackson family is officially stating that there will be no public or private viewing at Neverland,” the statement said. “Plans are underway regarding a public memorial for Michael Jackson, and we will announce those plans shortly.” Source: New York Times

In the tsunami of information (true and otherwise) there comes a time to go to higher ground. Here are a couple of notable news items from the past 6 days.


I got an email from Image Nation in New York announcing the first public viewing of an unfinished documentary about the Jackson 5’s trip to Senegal in 1974. The film was made by a group of African investors who ran out of money to complete it. The owner of the film wants to remain anonymous.
The screening is Tuesday, July 14 at 7 PM
The National Black Theatre
located at 2031-33 National Black Theatre Way
Fifth Avenue (Btwn 125th & 126th Streets) in Harlem
Tickets are $15 in advance, and they’re going, going…fast. Visit www.imagenation.us. If you’d like to volunteer for the event, email volunteers@imagenation.us The owner is also looking for buyers. Email gregory@imagenation.us.

The New Orleans Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force hosted a second-line in memory of Michael Jackson on Sunday. The line-up was at the 1200 block of Bernard Street, in New Orleans.

VIDEO: Huge second-line honors Pop King Michael Jackson

Bootsy Collins was not part of Michael’s inner circle or should I say orbit. Nevertheless, this is one of the best and most insightful interviews I’ve heard to date. Bootsy got his start as a bass player with Soul Brother #1, James Brown, then joined George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic before launching a solo career. Parliament and the Jackson 5 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 1997. I got this one from Undercover Blackman who’s back on-line after a hiatus. And just in time. Check out UBM’s Vox blog for the interview. [Bill Cunningham is a conservative talk show host in Cincinnatti, OH. UBM has a slant on him.]

Update: DETAILS magazine Interview with Quincy Jones [part of Michael Jackson’s inner circle] who says he is not attending the funeral.
…being there with 10 million people is not my idea of a tribute to somebody you were so close to—who’s got a part of your soul. Our souls were joined, you know. And a piece of it goes with him.

When in doubt, go back to James Baldwin. This morning on “Democracy Now” (hosted by Amy Goodman), Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Margo Jefferson and Duke University professor Mark Anthony Neal talked about the life and legacy of Michael Jackson. Neal quoted from James Baldwin’s 1985 essay “Here Be Dragons”
The Michael Jackson cacophony is fascinating in that it is not about Jackson at all. I hope he has the good sense to know it and the good fortune to snatch his life out of the jaws of a carnivorous success.

Margo Jefferson, author of On Michael Jackson, wrote this for Salon.com
Suddenly, death has restored Michael Jackson to cultural respectability. Death gives us an easy way out of the unanswered questions and uneasy feelings. But (and this is the good thing), death also restores our total pleasure in his artistry. It makes me happy to see masses of people revel in the ache and charge of the music again, in the brilliant dancing, in the reckless splendor of his showmanship.

The Wall Street Journal (including the WSJ blog) and business and trade sections of newspapers or websites will be the go-tos for the next act of the Michael Jackson story. This story will evolve into how his debts and assets will be consolidated, sorted out, and distributed. At the end of the day it’s going to be about business, the lawyers, and the accountants. Vultures beware. My gut feeling is in the final analysis the estate will come out in the black. Arts management and entertainment law students and professionals will be taking notes.

Update: In Today’s NY Times:
The three best-selling albums in the United States last week were all by Mr. Jackson: “Number Ones” sold 108,000 copies; “The Essential Michael Jackson” sold 102,000; and “Thriller” sold 101,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan. In total, 422,000 copies of Mr. Jackson’s albums were sold in the week that ended on Sunday —more than 40 times the previous week’s figure — as fans snapped up everything in sight.

Sales of Michael Jackson’s album’s topped the Black Eyed Peas’ recent realease “The E.N.D.” which sold 88,000 and is #1 on the Billboard 200. Jackson’s music cannot occupy Billboard’s 200 (new releases), but he takes the top 9 spots on the catalog chart.