One thing you have to admit about the American pop-culture barrel: It really has no bottom. You think the Jackass/Bruno/Borat oeuvre was the last word in vulgarity? You have yet to meet Tucker Max. You think the long, sordid story of Michael Jackson’s corpse ended when his moldering bones were finally planted in Forest Lawn? You would be wrong.
I watched the trailer for “This Is It,” which is apparently a Michael Jackson concert movie, only there was no concert, so it’s been repackaged as a “rare, behind-the-scenes look” at the rehearsals, at least whatever sort of rehearsals could be held while Jackson was medicated into temporary uprightness. (I just Googled the phrase “rare, behind-the-scenes look.” Results: 133,000. Not so rare, I guess.) You have to marvel, really, at the unmitigated gall of the Jackson family and the cast of human cattle egrets who follow their herd, eating the blood-engorged ticks on LaToya’s back. The film will be in theaters for two weeks only; tickets will go on sale a month in advance. I suppose this will build buzz among the people included in the opening phrases that appear onscreen — the “billions reached” by his music (an uncomfortable echo of McDonald’s there, eh?), the “world inspired” by his “dreams,” etc.
Let me just pause for a moment and consider the brief flash shots of people driven to near-hysteria by the presence of their idol. A few years back, one of my colleagues won one of those Rotary Club scholarships to spend a few months overseas, being a Rotary ambassador. He went to Chile, where he distinguished himself as an ambassador of pop music; his first duty upon returning was to make mix tapes from his vast record collection and send them to South America, where his new friends were absolutely starved to hear anything other than whatever crap was carried on local radio. ABBA had played a series of shows in Santiago while he was there, and it was an event that nearly brought the city to a standstill. When I hear people talk about Michael Jackson and what his music meant to them, all I can figure is, they must have recently moved here from Chile.
As a cynic, I’ve been cheered to see the reaction to the mountain of evidence in the case, which is pretty much exactly as I predicted when the corpse was still warm: Jackson died of a drug overdose, and was an abuser at a level you could only call baroque; the most ossified Detroit junkie must stand mute in the shade of a man who had a private physician turn his bedroom into an operating theater every night, literally anesthetizing him into unconsciousness. And was I right about the other thing I predicted? Ahem:
“He was just careful about what he ate; he just tried to be healthy,” said Kevin McLin, a friend of the family and Jackson’s former publicist. “He ate turkey burgers, Chinese food, a lot of vegetables. He always tried to eat healthy stuff. … He tried to stay away from red meat.”
So what is the official reaction to this news? Charging Jackson’s doctor with homicide. He killed our hero, that bad man! All the patient wanted was a good night’s sleep, even if it had to be aided by the drug they use to keep you quiet while a surgeon is sawing your sternum in two, and what did the quack doctor do? Gave him too much, depriving the world of his music and inspiring dreams! And we know he was a wonderful, wonderful person, on the brink of a comeback, because his daughter said so at the funeral, right after Auntie Janet made sure she was speaking directly into the microphone.
During the crack wars, when the homicide rate in places like Fort Wayne was climbing through the roof, the editors at my newspaper would send a reporter to chat with the family of the murder victim, even when it was clear the victim was a sleazebag banger with a target on his back. The grieving mother always provided the same narrative: Sure, her boy had been bad, but he was turning his life around. The recent birth of his latest child had changed his heart, and he was planning to get his G.E.D., enroll in college and perhaps found a software empire, or maybe enter the ministry and help others. How tragic he was taken from us when his potential was so, so great.
It’s good to see the narrative hasn’t changed. It’s also good to see there were enough fragments of rehearsal footage, and millions of suckers, for the Jackson family. They have a lot of egrets to feed.
OK, then. I’m working extra hours this week, extra late hours, which have left me sleep-deprived and even crankier than normal. Not so much bloggage, but what I have is pretty good:
The Detroit City Council is rattling its saber about a strip-club crackdown. In a normal city, this would bring out the church people to say, hear hear. In Detroit, it brings out the strippers to say back the fuck off of my livelihood. (And, to be sure, a few church people.) Click through to note the fine booty on the woman speaking at the podium, and for this quote:
“I take care of my family,” said Omni Jenkins, 21, a dancer at a local club. “By cutting us off and making up all these rules, it’s going to cause crime rates to go up. It affects not only the entertainment community, but Detroit as a whole.”
Even lame-duck Martha Reeves gets off a good one. You can find it on your own. I gotta hit the shower. And the coffee pot.
Lynn said on September 23, 2009 at 10:39 am
About the energy boost at 10pm I suggest B12. Or the amino acid phenylanineDL which clears the mind without any buzz. If you can handle the caffine that late – maybe green tea is easier on your stomach?
moe99 said on September 23, 2009 at 10:57 am
This is a rather amazing piece from “Ukraine’s got Talent” on You Tube. Since you are our resident Russian expert, Nance, perhaps you could translate the words for us at the end:
LAMary said on September 23, 2009 at 11:07 am
Everything I’ve seen that has anything to do with Michael Jackson’s demise has been about money grubbing unless it’s about pretending that Michael Jackson was somehow not responsible for being a hard core drug addict. The doctor surely has a lot to account for, but he didn’t put himself on the payroll.
del said on September 23, 2009 at 11:09 am
That youtube clip was incredible Moe.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 23, 2009 at 11:19 am
Porche? Isn’t that a foreign import? In Detroit?
Gadhafi is weirdly compelling right now, in a train wreck/snake & rabbit sort of way. This isn’t going to help Obama get his message out on non-proliferation, unless people put the 2 and 2 together and realize “this guy is nuts.”
Actually, why do they let ANY heads of state address the UN? Can’t wait to hear Ahmadinny take the podium and tell us who else they have none of in Iran.
brian stouder said on September 23, 2009 at 11:20 am
The doctor surely has a lot to account for, but he didn’t put himself on the payroll.
Mary – I agree that MJ doesn’t get to be the martyr.
But the doctor is (presumeably) highly educated, and (not incidently) duty-bound to not harm a patient. If MJ bought the same drugs from a guy who wasn’t a doctor, then that seller would go to prison. A medical doctor should be held even MORE responsible than some chucklehead working the corner, I think.
coozledad said on September 23, 2009 at 11:38 am
Sounds like Michael was a surgery addict in more ways than one. I like to think if I had his money I could at least work in some travel with the drugs. Maybe read a couple of books.
mark said on September 23, 2009 at 11:45 am
Really well done post, Nancy. A pleasure to read.
Sue said on September 23, 2009 at 11:59 am
Since I only read snarky sarcastic political blogs and watch Keith Olbermann and the Daily Show for my news, can anyone give me a clear explanation on how it came to be that (apparently) the anti-Acorn bill that just passed is about to bring about the fall of our entire military-industrial complex?
And speaking of the Daily Show, did anyone watch last night as Jon & Co., fresh off their Emmy win, managed to link the Values Voters Summit with Tom Delay and a hilariously disrespectful visual that would have crossed the line if there were any lines left to cross?
coozledad said on September 23, 2009 at 12:08 pm
Sue: It’s because you can’t target a single organization that is a recipient of federal funds for improper behavior without employing the same standard for them all. So all those pet Republican cash cows are about to watch their intestines spilling on the floor, especially Xe and Halliburton.
This is going to be the best thing that ever happened for campaign finance reform.
beb said on September 23, 2009 at 12:11 pm
Sue, this is a beauty. The Anti ACORN bill simply and broadly banned further contracts to any company convicted of fraud. It turns out that pretty much every company in the military-Industrial complex has been caught cheating the government at one time or another. Therefore none of them will be permitted any further contracts.
I like bills will clear, simple language. Makes it easy to see what’s going on.
beb said on September 23, 2009 at 12:14 pm
Actully Coolz, the bill may be unconstitutional because by targeting one company – ACORN – it becomes a Bill of Attainer, which is specifically banned. Will be interesting to see how this plays out. Personally, I would love a bill that bans companies caught breaking the law from further business with the government.
Jeff Borden said on September 23, 2009 at 12:21 pm
And I would add that I would like the companies doing business with our government to actually have HQ’s in the U.S. This would prevent Halliburton, for example, from establishing a tax dodge office in Dubai.
Why Halliburton gets to pocket billions and billions –often by supplying shoddy goods and services– and still gets to slough off the taxes on all that federal booty is beyond me. Closing a loophole like this would make me very, very happy.
coozledad said on September 23, 2009 at 12:21 pm
You’re right, Beb. it was just some more of that shiny object stagecraft, which is all the boobs have in their arsenal anymore. Probably time for a new flag burning amendment, or to name something else after Rongo.
brian stouder said on September 23, 2009 at 12:22 pm
What Jeff tmmo said about Khaddafi’s rambling UN screed! My goodness – the news coverage looks exactly like a Saturday Night Live skit, complete with an intrpretor who is less-than-superb at his job!
The Libyan leader looks a lot like Burt Convy, if you ask me.
PS – nitpick: bill of attainder
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 23, 2009 at 12:28 pm
Dang. Beb beat me to it. I haven’t gotten to pull out the phrase “bills of attainder” for years. (See Tom Jefferson’s declaration for how the Framers felt about ’em.)
When i first heard about the “Acorn Bill” i couldn’t figure out how it worked, especially because i’d been reading a bit in the last few weeks about how it isn’t constitutionally possible for the federal government to require something and fine/tax/charge you for *not* doing something. So it doesn’t make sense you could enjoin ACORN specifically.
Anyhow, trust me on this — just wait ’til they go through their next HUD program audit. They’ve got a whole lot of ‘splainin to do, Lucy. That will punish them more than adequately. But if the Congress has thumb-fingered their way into mashing up more corporate overreach, then hoot mon, bash away.
update – Brian, i cannot believe i’m still watching this. But what a thought — the UN for three years in Yemen, three years in East Timor, then three years back in New York. They’ll beg to pay their parking tickets after six years in the other two (?) hemispheres.
So, did interpreter union rules require a break, or did they just realize this guy was a disaster? That was weird, either way . . . and i’m still watching. The assembly crowd reaction shots make it worth it, even the Libyan delegation is dumbstruck, visibly.
Cathy D. said on September 23, 2009 at 12:42 pm
After reading your first graph I thought you were going to tell us about Mackenzie Phillips
Sue said on September 23, 2009 at 12:43 pm
So, how long before someone uses this debacle to make the point that we must take lots and lots of time on health care reform legislation?
Jeff Borden said on September 23, 2009 at 12:53 pm
I see our Lady of Wasilla made her big speech in Hong Kong. Wonkette has a few excerpts from the WSJ, but says at the end of the post the newspaper has since taken them down. There are reports of a few people leaving a half-hour early and Tweets that suggest her speech was just about as vapid as most everything else she has said since John McCain foisted her on an innocent and unprepared nation.
This, of course, after the press was barred from covering her speech to make her “more comfortable.”
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 23, 2009 at 1:11 pm
coozledad said on September 23, 2009 at 1:14 pm
Damn. I’ll never be able to listen to the Mamas and the Papas again without visualizing that old bastard humping his kid. I’ll bet he was wearing that stupid fur hat, too.
ROgirl said on September 23, 2009 at 1:29 pm
The Moammar Qaddafi/Gahdafi/Khadafi Story, starring…
LAMary said on September 23, 2009 at 1:34 pm
Is the stuff at the end of the youtube in Russian or Ukrainian?
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 23, 2009 at 1:37 pm
Yeah, Smits could play him . . . if you hit Jimmy in the face with a shovel a few times, and used Grecian Formula on his facial hair. Or shoepolish.
Wonder what time Ahmadinejad speaks?
It’s Ukrainian; i can make out “Mir” but not the rest of it. They lost 1 in 4 citizens during WWII, and you can tell from the audience reaction that between the Nazis and Stalin, they’re still feeling it (and yes, i know they were pretty eager to jump on the Shoah bandwagon on their own, but losses are losses, however they got to that cliff).
LAMary said on September 23, 2009 at 1:42 pm
Khadafi looks like the aging dope dealer who used to visit his ex wife up the street from my home. She had to call the cops on him all the time.
Julie Robinson said on September 23, 2009 at 1:48 pm
Loved the sand artist, it reminded me of a concert we attended where an artist created a huge portrait while the music was being played. It sounded schlocky ahead of time but it’s a magical experience.
Re Mackenzie Phillips: ick, ick, ick. But consensual? Not possible. He’s her Dad and she wanted to please him.
Dorothy said on September 23, 2009 at 1:48 pm
One of the students I am hosting at Kenyon is from the Ukraine. I’ll try to remember to ask her when I take her shopping this weekend. Mike and I are referring to the girls as our Kenyon daughters. Darya, Palista and I have a day trip to Polaris planned. Wheeeee!!!! Decadent American shopping – can’t get much better than that!
Danny said on September 23, 2009 at 1:50 pm
Crap, I’ll never be able to watch American Graffiti again without thinking about that…
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 23, 2009 at 2:04 pm
What Julie said. It’s like sexuality between a pastor and a congregant — it really isn’t ethical, no matter how you poetically describe how you “met.” With a child . . . this is why people believe in Hell, i guess. It has its uses.
Peter said on September 23, 2009 at 3:42 pm
Thanks coozledad, it’s going to take a lot of liquor to get that image out of my head
nancy said on September 23, 2009 at 4:14 pm
As usual, this conversation has gone in a thousand wonderful directions, but it seems a while back I was asked a question about Russian, and here’s the answer: They’re very similar, but still different languages, and I’m barely able to find the bathroom in Moscow, so please don’t throw me into Kiev just yet. That said, I know the first and last words in that video’s title are “Ukraine” and “talent.” The verb in the middle is terra incognita.
There are tensions between speakers of both tongues that obviously date from the Evil Empire era. From offhand references in my reading, I gather Russians consider Ukrainian a tongue nigh onto Ebonics, and Ukes see classical, correct Russian the way an American teenager would see British English. At the end of the bus tour, they still understand one another.
LAMary said on September 23, 2009 at 4:15 pm
Babi Yar was in Ukraine.
Dexter said on September 23, 2009 at 4:56 pm
Was it Ms. Phillips’s 18th birthday or was she still underage when Mick Jagger had sex with her and told her “I’ve been waiting for this since you were ten.”?
I heard a long discussion ,pro and con for incest, on satellite radio today.
All I can say is it sure as hell seems twisted and wrong to me. It is out of my ability range to even grasp the logic or rationalizing.
LAMary said on September 23, 2009 at 5:02 pm
I used to work in the imported food business. While I dealt with snazzy jams and chocolates, we also sold ethnic stuff to Polish, Russian, Hungarian, Austrian, German, Czech and Ukrainian stores. We had a kid working in the warehouse who spoke Ukrainian, and he used to translate Polish and Russian for us.
Dexter said on September 23, 2009 at 5:15 pm
Again the witty Hudsonette at Twitter posts:
” In the spirit of Sarah Palin’s Hong Kong speech about economics, I will be giving a lecture discussing neurosurgery.”
Deborah said on September 23, 2009 at 7:10 pm
That MacKenzie Phillips news is the creepiest thing I’ve heard in awhile. I’m throwing out any Mamas and Papas CDs I might still have. What is wrong with these people? Have they no scruples?
Nancy, I don’t want to make this sound like a wowser, but your writing just keeps getting better and better, and it was mighty good to begin with. On top of that you’re dashing these posts off before breakfast every morning. You should be getting paid for this talent. The cattle egret metaphor is a stunner.
moe99 said on September 23, 2009 at 8:27 pm
I think we can thank Michelle Bachman and Glenn Beck for their indirect help in this:
ps. Deborah, your praise of Nancy’s cattle egret metaphor is spot on. I have a friend from college who used to write for Rolling Stone, who in a cover story on the band Kiss, compared their fans to a species of African dung beetle, who would come running when they heard the cows farting. Vivid, vivid.
Dexter said on September 23, 2009 at 9:32 pm
Oh joy!! My day was made even brighter just now. Pee Wee Herman is Tweeting @peeweeherman. He just informed us he’ll be on Leno tonight. I seriously am a big fan…never missed his old Saturday morning shows.
I have been blasting Bruce Springsteen tunes on his sat-radio channel all day…Bruce is about the best in-shape sexagenarian ever, eh? Today Bruce turns 60.
beb said on September 23, 2009 at 10:06 pm
Let’s not forget the strippers Nancy mentioned in today’s post….
Every decade or so there’s a big push to clean-up 8 Mile
Rd. The road divides Detroit to the south from its whiter suburbs to the north. One part of these programs is always trying to eliminate the strip clubs that run along the south side of the road. (By ‘line’ I mean 8-12 clubs along a 20 mile stretch.) If anyone were to drive along 8 Mile what they’ll realize is that strip clubs are the only solid businesses on there. Like the protesters said at yesterday’s City Council meeting, why eliminate one of the few profitable businesses in the city.
Dexter said on September 23, 2009 at 10:08 pm
alex said on September 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure was on WGN tonight. Missed the Large Marge segment, dammit. Was outside having a smoke. Large Marge is my nickname for a repressed lesbian neighbor and I was so looking forward to the day I’d see her special-effects spittin’ image again.
joodyb said on September 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm
in re: The Boss, here’s a more uplifting link (unless reminder’s of bruce’s landmark birthday bring you down):
Dexter said on September 23, 2009 at 11:18 pm
Whoa! My computer was attacked and Norton shut me down..this damn thing presented itself as NortonSecurity and wanted me to turn control of my computer over to it via a remote control link! I see my post of 10:08, so it took just an hour for the real Norton to take over and fix this mess…had to totally disable and uninstall Norton and install a new version of the product.
Well…Norton takes a beating from a lot of geeks, I know, but they keep me up and running and they are good. My brother relies on IP McAffee only, and my friends use free AVG and love it, and I use Norton and pay for it, and we are all happy as clams…to each his own!
Pee Wee was not on Leno ( I had the sound on as I was being serviced by Norton). I read that wrong , it appears.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 23, 2009 at 11:24 pm
Dexter, you now owe me for the spatter on the keyboard from my trying to claw out my eyeballs to erase having seen that. Good thing i can touch type.
Dexter said on September 23, 2009 at 11:29 pm
Yes, I made it a big deal at my house today, celebrating my all-time fave rock and rollin’ man, Bruce Springsteen.
Now I must give birthday props to another, born on the same date,
23-Sep-1926 17-Jul-1967 Jazz soprano saxophonist
“My Favorite Things”
Dexter said on September 23, 2009 at 11:32 pm
Jeff…didn’t you realize I used to be a “reporter and photographer” for The Globe? (yuk yuk !)
Hey…now you’re like another superstar who was also born on this date…yessir…RAY CHARLES was born on a September 23.
MarkH said on September 24, 2009 at 1:40 am
Dexter, you got everybody wondering what the complete list of 09/23 birthdays is (ok, maybe just me), so here you go:
Including everybody’s favorite farmhand:
Check the CV and the website link. BS in chemistry!
alex said on September 24, 2009 at 6:44 am
Received an e-mail with the salutation “salope,” so went to the Urban Dictionary web site. None too flattering, that salope. But then I came across this:
ROgirl said on September 24, 2009 at 6:57 am
Brian Williams did a segment on the NBC news about Springsteen’s birthday and reminded viewers that he’s the leader of “The heart-stopping, pants-dropping, house-rocking, earth-shaking, booty-quaking, Viagra-taking, love-making – Le-gen-dary E – Street – Band!”
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 24, 2009 at 8:10 am
Wow. Richard Stengel on MorningJoe is explaining how Time magazine is going to save journalism and Detroit, both at the same time. How he’s going to preserve readership and ad revenue he does not talk about. All because “we’re stakeholders now, we bought a house there.”
Newsflash, big guy; you can own a house and not be a stakeholder. We have lots of ’em in the Midwest. They’re called absentee owners on a good day, slumlords more often. And we’re not convinced you won’t be as damaging an indirect, glancing blow to community as those Florida dwelling rent suckers are.
LAMary said on September 24, 2009 at 11:02 am
Brian Williams and Bruce Springsteen are both Jersey guys. As are Jon Stewart and Bill Maher. And myself if I consider myself a guy.