Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson - My Memories

We are reminded daily of how vulnerable our kids are, but sometimes we forget that we are ALL vulnerable. We are equal as humans, in our strengths and our weaknesses, including those who seem bigger than life.

Nicky feel asleep in his therapist's arms (he has pneumonia) as I listened to the news and took a few calls from friends asking if I knew. I imagine most people from my generation were getting that same call or "tweet".

I interacted with Michael several times during my career. The first time was when Michael still lived at the family home in Encino. A friend who owned Jovan, a cologne company, asked me to set up a meeting so he could discuss sponsoring a Jackson Family tour. We all sat in the Jackson family room in simple, wood folding chairs, arranged in a circle so everyone could see each other. The entire family was there. A very quiet Michael sat and said nothing. Suddenly, he looked up and timidly asked the Chairman of Jovan, "What's toilet water?" Everyone paused. Richard answered the question. Satisfied with the short history lesson on the French and hygiene, Michael returned to his quiet pose and never spoke again for the duration of the meeting.

Soon after, Michael exploded as a solo artist with Thriller. I was one of the lucky folks who attended the Motown 25 celebration. I remember how weird it felt for me to associate the quiet young man I had met with this bigger than life performer. I knew it was an incredible night; Michael, the Moon Walk, the reunion with his brothers - but it took years for me to realize just how special the night was. I can still remember the excitement of the crowd the moment Michael struck the pose, put his glitter glove-adorned hand to his hat, pointed his shoe with those famous short pants and bright socks, and broke into dance. It was frenzy.

In the years to follow, I interacted with Michael occasionally on various music projects. When my daughter was born, he thoughtfully sent her a beautiful basket with ceramic room decorations and wonderful dolls of all kinds. To this day, they sit on her shelves. She never met Michael, and she was too young to experience the phenomenon, but she knew he was a superstar of the greatest magnitude.

It is my hope that he will be remembered not for his controversies but for his talent; and that one day we better understand how our social obsession with "famous" people exacerbates their weaknesses - which we mock - and contributes to their exile and in the end takes them from us all.



  1. Without being privy to or influenced by the internet community chatter that Michael Jackson could have been autistic, I arrived at that conclusion on my own. I have two autistic boys, one moderate functioning and one higher functioning. Some pictures of Michael during his youth seem to have that blank stare so common in autism. The fact that in some situations he reportedly was socially awkward also seem to lend the idea to me that he existed within the pdd spectrum. He was a genius and changed the whole pop culture. Even if he never had those accolades and accomplishments however, I could only wish that he had a life of relative peace and normative self esteem while looking at his own man in the mirror.

  2. My son is very mild Aspergers. There is no doubt in my mind that Michael Jackson was an Aspie. I have always been a fan, but lately (my children LOVE Michael) I would watch YouTube videos and feel so bad. It is now that I see that he is so much like my child...I just want to hug him when he was little and looked so alone. God Bless him...I hope he is now at peace!