Friday, June 26, 2009


As career arcs go, Michael Jackson's was pretty amazing, and never uninteresting. He appears five times in A Book of Ages. I was just talking about him on the radio in Aspen.

At age 10 he has his first gold record, and also gold records two three and four. In fact the first four singles The Jackson Five record with Motown Records–– “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There”––all make it to #1.

At age 24 he performs the moonwalk in concert for the first time, 1983. (The move was actually devised by mime Marcel Marceau.)

At age 27 he has plastic surgery, 1985. (At the same age Salvador Dali paints a painting of melted watches hung from trees, and Johnny Depp plays a strangely attired adolescent who has scissors instead of hands.)

At age 35 Michael marries Lisa Marie Presley, 1994. The King of Pop marries the daughter of the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

At age 38 Michael Jackson is a father, 1997. (This is still a bit hard to visualize.) Also, his plastic surgeon advises against any more work on his nose.

And now dead at age 50. Which Michael Jackson will people remember? The strange man in the page-boy and the epaulets or the 20 year-old who was the coolest person on the planet? I liked the kid fronting the Jackson Five best. Every famous life has a different arc. After the bizarre turns of the past decade, it appeared Michael Jackson's was set for an upswing. Then, suddenly, he's gone. I wonder what his estate sale will turn up.

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