It's probably more testament to the eccentricities of his lifestyle than it is to mourning the loss of his artistry, but my inner skeptic lingers: I still kinda expect this whole death thing to be Michael Jackson's latest antic. As I hopped from network to network this weekend, seeing "friends" like Deepak Chopra opine at length on 24 hour newschannels about MJ's alleged drug abuse, and some seemingly actual friends like Liza Minnelli (who, as a result of having 'had some work done' quite well and/or lost a lot of weight, looks good-- markedly younger and healthier than before) and Brando's son, Nico, lament his passing, I realized I was surfing for the 'GOTCHA!'.
Occasionally I'd land on a channel airing a documentary or biopic, and learn some things I didn't know, like MJ converted to Islam in the 90s and his publicist planted the picture of him in the hyperbaric chamber, on the condition that the National Enquirer use the term 'bizarre' to describe it. Learning that he sought to emulate famous elusive eccentrics like Howard Hughes and P. T. Barnum offered a sense of surprise and relief. Who knew? He wasn't a nutcase after all, he was a marketer!
(Well, let's just say he was a marketer. Dangling a baby over a balcony and lacking the judgment to know that it's not okay to have children sleeping in beds with adults that are not their parents or guardians is nutty, at the least, drug-induced at the most. Not knowing NOT to admit to sleeping with children on national tv after you've already settled a sexual abuse claim for millions? Well...must've been some preeetty powerful drugs.)
Learning that some of the things he did (Bubbles, Elephant Man bones, etc.), he did for effect, to keep his name in the news, only served to heighten my skepticism, though. Any minute now, he's gonna turn up Asian-looking with an Afro on some talk show in Sao Paulo.
What I also learned while channel hopping the coverage is that Deepak Chopra lives up to his assertion to Bill Maher: "I am a prophet, that's P R O F I T." His persistence on the tv maligning his "friend" even before the autopsy was completed, was not exactly spiritually motivated, imho. I also learned that 24 hour newschannels are motivated more by the time to fill, than it is by actual news. (Duh!) CNN flies those Breaking News and Developing Story banners on rotation. The stories are seldom news; hardly breaking if so, and never developed. Any aggrieved former employee who saw Michael Jackson pop so much as an aspirin seemed to get airtime to fuel the allegations of drug abuse-- which, remember, whether true or not, has yet to be implicated in his death. Some people just die.
All, in fact.