Tuesday, July 7

Yes, a Michael Jackson Post. Beat It if You Don't Want to Read It.

Dear Alexis,

I tend to not mention current events around here, but sometimes something happens that is so big that I feel like it deserves a few paragraphs. If you had asked me ten days ago if that sort of something had happened, I would have said, "No." Since then, I've since changed my mind, and it's all because of you.

I missed the whole Michael Jackson phenomenon when it first happened. The Jackson 5 was before my time (hard to imagine, I know, but there was a short span of time between the Big Bang and my birth). When Jackson hit his solo career, I was firmly planted in rural North Dakota. We didn't have cable, and so I really never watched TV. The very first time I actually watched MTV was in college, and by then they were already mostly done playing videos (if that doesn't make sense to you, ask me about it--it's a really strange thing to have a channel dedicated to music television seemingly forget their purpose). Radio was a whole other level of isolation, as the only stations in town played country or oldies. My music choices were based on random luck when it came to buying CDs, and I just never landed on Michael Jackson.

Somewhere in there, things with Jackson turned . . . uh . . . weird. There's just no other word for it. Jackson and everything around him was always eccentric, but at some point the weird began to hold more weight than the *not* weird. There were allegations, rumors, stories, and even trials. Alexis, there is a reason your father calls me Public Defender. I always choose to believe the best in people. Some may consider it a character flaw, but those who know me best know that it's good to have a person in your corner who will believe in you. So, whether or not some of the allegations were true, I don't know.

Here's what I do know, though. When news of Jackson's death first broke, I became transfixed by MTV. Suddenly, they returned to their roots and showed hour after hour of Michael Jackson videos. As I sat on the couch watching Beat It for the first time (seriously, I had never seen the entire video before then), I was starstruck. There is no denying that the choreography and showmanship is something never seen with any other recording artist. Period. I sat thinking back to the bands that I have listened to over the years, fully realizing the influence Michael Jackson obviously had over them. Then, I turned to glance at you.

You were transfixed. Mesmerized. Amazed.

"What's he doing?" you asked.

"Dancing," I said.

"He's a really good dancer," you replied.

With that we hopped off the couch and danced our little hearts out, trying our best to imitate the King of Pop. We definitely dance like two klutzy white girls, but we fell into a pile of giggles enjoying the music, music that in your eyes was completely stripped of controversy and drama.

So, yes Alexis, he was a really good dancer. When you read this someday, let's pull out some of his music and dance like klutzy white girls all over again. Just don't forget to remind me to thank you for making me realize that Jackson's music transcends generations. I almost missed that.

Love ya', you crazy Kinnley,


P.S. That whole country music and no cable thing? I expect pity for that, Alexis. You can never say you have it worse than I did. Period. If you try to convince me otherwise, I'm shipping your butt to North Dakota for a summer.


  1. tehamy10:40 PM

    Is it wrong that my first thought was "Are you sure you bought CDs? Not tapes?"

  2. Not at all. I *do* have some tapes, but mostly CDs. Somehow, I ended up on the bandwagon from the start.

    If I were to search real hard, I could probably find exactly two records. George Michael and Rod Stewart. Those would be the first albums I ever bought.

  3. Michael Jackson's Thriller record was the first record I ever owned. That, and Mini Pops.

  4. I gotta' buy that album. I still don't have it, so I'm going to try to fix that soon.

  5. Excellent post title. And post. Nicely done. All of it.

  6. Funny channel, MTV. We got cable in the boonies of Westmoreland County somewhere in the late 80s. I remember watching Aerosmith videos with my cousin. Until then, my dad would ask his friend to tape videos for him. There are piles of Beta tapes somewhere with nothing but MTV. I remember watching the video for Fleetwood Mac's Little Lies so many times I knew the video by heart. And then there was Michael Jackson. When our Golden Retriever had puppies, my sister and I named 2 of them Dirty Diana and Billy Jean. We were too naive to have any idea what those names really meant. We just liked to dance to them. Not long after that, his video releases became primetime events, simulcast on all major networks. We sat stunned when Black or White, Leave Me Alone, Remember the Time, etc. came out, one by one, with half hour specials sponsored by Pepsi. Funny the things that stick in your head and the things that don't. Where did I put my keys?

  7. North Dakota or bust!

  8. @PSU Mom--I've heard tales of the glory days of MTV. It's almost enough to make me wish I had witnessed some of it, and it's definitely enough to make me wish they would find their way back there.

  9. I am not a fan BUT I think he defined what an "entertainer" was and now what it HAS to be. And Alexis is right...he's a really good dancer.

  10. Alexis is brilliant. He was a great dancer.

    I think I'm too young to remember when MTV played videos on a regular basis. Oh, who am I kidding, my earliest memory of MTV is Singled Out [pity me, please], but I vaguely remember what PSUMom talks about with half hour sponsorship deals. I was never allowed to watch them because my dad was not an MJ fan. Sad.

    Think Alexis will enjoy North Dakota?

  11. I had Beat It for the title of my post today. Weird. Glad to see I'm not the only one who decided to post about Michael Jackson after most of the news subsided.

  12. Neat post. I purposely left the TV off all day yesterday in protest over the media's ignoring the other 5 celebrity deaths of the past two or three weeks.

    That being said, MJ was definitely a performer and, musically, a genius. I loved him back in the day...Off the Wall was one of my favorite albums (YES, ALBUM...I'm old! LOL!) and then Thriller...wow.

    Funny thing, though, is that my kids have obviously heard a lot of MJ these past weeks and they both love his music too!

    ps - I remember when MTV first came on air. We were glued to the TV!

  13. I love this, even though I am sick of hearing about Michael at the moment.
    My godmother's grandson used to do a Michael Jackson impression, complete with the glove and dance moves that was the most adorable thing ever!
    Also, I really miss the days when they actually played videos on MTV. My mom used to sit next to me, going "Tsk, tsk" the whole time. I don't miss that.

  14. Anonymous11:11 AM

    Until he died, to me, Michael Jackson was just a has-been-weirdo. And while I have tried hard to avoid most of the media coverage, I have caught bits and pieces, and I have been reminded that he was the start of an amazing musical legacy and that he was beyond talented. It is too bad he didn't get to perform his comeback tour - I think there would have been a lot of surprises and that he would have been able to shed some of the stigma attached by the 'weird' years.

  15. That's the best part about having kids, isn't it? They make you see the beauty and wonder in the world all over again.

  16. ChickLitLisa12:39 PM

    I completely sympathize with you on the whole ND thing! I spent time in 8th grade in a state close to there...where everything on the rock station was delayed a year or so...I was soooo out of sync! madonna was all the rage here, with MJ so yesterday....to go there and find out MJ was ALL the rage...and girls asking "Who's Madonna?" just killed me....I lasted 3 months and moved back here to live with my Dad.

    BTW...I was in a house today that seemed similar to the McMansion...no loft, but a wide corner in a hallway...but I could imagine your house...my point is THEY had a playroom in the living room spot you are contemplating....now that I see it...Loved the idea. they put french doors (which were open, but with windows in the door I could see potential for an older child who wanted privacy...but kept an eye on) painted it for a princess....PERFECT place for a playroom...absolutely perfect..

  17. Beautiful story...you just created a priceless memory with your daughter and for yourself. Just love it!

  18. Seeing as I am "fortylicious" now, Michael Jackson was from my generation. I was as crazy over him growing up as you probably were over "The band that shall remain nameless". I played his music over and over again. Watched all of his videos, over and over again. Had friends over to watch the premiere of "Thriller" on MTV, back when they played music videos and had premieres. Tried to learn all of the choreography over and over again. I also wanted to dance because of him, so I took jazz dance and even a, *gasp* breakdancing class. I started playing his music for my girls about 6 months ago because they love to dance and I thought they'd enjoy it. They performed "Beat It" with their cousins for my dad's 70th birthday. It amazes me how the music I grew up with suddenly became so popular with my kids. We were in a restaurant when they announced he died on MSNBC. The girls were shocked. My oldest said "but I will never see his concert now" and cried. And they've been wanting me to play his music and every video for them. Bringing me right back to my childhood.

    I've been wanting to blog about this very topic, but just haven't been able to bring myself around to it. Controversy and eccentricies (sp) and all, I am sad that he is gone.

  19. I was in junior high during his "Beat It" era. I loved it and had a poster of him up on my wall. I mostly feel bad for him - he was such a huge child star he never had a chance at "normal".

  20. LOL, my boys were dancing to his music this weekend too... he had amazing talent

  21. I wasn't into Michael Jackson because I was like 7-years old when he was really big (I think, if I have the dates right). I'm with you that I've never watched "Beat It" all the way through or "Thriller" It's kind of sad on my part. I lived in rural PA with a black and white TV with three channels, four if we tilted the antenna just right.

    With all this coverage, though, I have come to realize how amazing of a dancer he was. Singer? Um...not as much for me, but he was good back in the day. And I've been reminded of songs I enjoyed and that I'd forgotten were his.

    I'm glad you were able to have this great moment with Alexis....forget the rest of all that "drama!" :-)

  22. Declan is making me listen to MJ nonstop. Frakkin summer camp.

    Sidenote: And I am positive this is how he is top of iTunes for a week. All these kids discovering his music and making his parents re-buy stuff they had on vinyl or cassette. Totally positive.

  23. I grew up w/ MJ solely b/c my cousin was in love with him. It was my first album, first poster and first concert. I was an MTV junkie and even had the MJ action figure! (I think I was 6.)

    I don't think I've listened to him since.

  24. I loved the Jackson 5.Still have some of their 45's. MTV was just a hair after my time. I watched a little, but mostly in middle of the night while feeding infants.

    My whole perception of MJ changed after hearing Brooke Shields and his daughter. Sort of put a human face on him, now I feel bad i made fun of him!

  25. I'm truly sorry you missed the MJ crazy back in the day but so glad you were able to see his talent again now and share it with Alexis.

    Yep, he was a weirdo but a pretty talented one.

  26. Was led here via your comment luv link via Shamelessy Sassy Amanada...

    I kind of forced my 3 year olds to watch the memorial...they asked, "Who's that, mommy?"

    I said, "Michael Jackson, baby".

    They asked, "Uncle Jackson?"

    I replied, "Sure. Yes...Uncle Jackson". And they watched the entire 4 hours (with CNN coverage, of course) with me.

    It was an absolutely amazing moment followed by mommy forcing them to listen and dance to the greats.

    Glad to see read this post... I haven't come across too many of them, so thank you! It was beautiful that you and your girl shared those moments together.

  27. i am decidedly NOT an MJ fan, although i acknowledge he was exceedingly talented.

    but what i love is how you created a special moment with your baby. for THAT, i would say thank you.

    even to a weirdo.

  28. Thank you for letting me know I wasn't the only one that missed what the world was going on about. I grew up in a sheltered, no tv, country living religion gone wrong family.

    Amazing we both came out the better for it. I love hearing about the two of you dancing. Thanks for the smile today. (Hugs)Indigo