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Thoughts about Michael Jackson

Published October 10. 2009 09:00AM

I never understood Michael Jackson.

But neither did anybody else.

It's just one reason why we're seeing endless stories about him. It's not that we knew so much; it's that we understood little.

I enjoyed his music when he was young, especially in 1972 when he recorded 'Ben.' I liked the song and it didn't matter to me that Jackson was singing about a rat.

Today, everyone is at odds about Jackson and his life from the typical man on the street to our lawmakers.

In Congress, they don't know whether to honor him or to banish his name. They don't know if they should memorialize Jacko or pretend he never existed.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) stormed off the House floor during a moment of silence for Jackson. He later revealed in a radio talk show that the idea of a moment of silence "almost nauseated" him.

I haven't been keen on Jackson for years but I was a fan at one time. I think his 'Thriller' video is unmatched and rightfully regarded as the all-time music video classic.

I also give him credit for perfecting the moonwalk. He didn't invent it. It actually was called the backward slide and it dates back to the 1930s. But nobody did it better than Michael Jackson. He made the dance move his own.

In my opinion, he was an excellent singer, too. But he wasn't the greatest entertainer of all time as somebody called him. He was a good performer. When I think of great entertainers, I think of those who engineered great entertainment, including the promoters. Phineas T. Barnum, Cecil B. DeMille and Florenz Ziegfeld. Those are some of the greatest entertainers in the greatest age of entertainment.

One of the more puzzling aspects about Jackson is that he lived his life in reverse. He acted like a grown-up when he was 12, then progressed into childhood as he aged.

He was enormously disciplined with his talent but recklessly extravagant with money. And just like all other areas of his life, his finances were a world of contradiction.

He purchased everything that tickled his fancy, yet was notorious for breaking contracts and failing to pay people he owed.

He built Neverland to create the ultimate playground, not as a place to play but a place to live. Then he abandoned it.

He altered his face so many times that plastic surgeons had destroyed the bridge of his nose.

As he grew older, his talent grew but some of his behavior became unacceptable.

His dance moves declined and, in my opinion, he lowered his standards. His signature dance move was no longer the moonwalk, but the crotch grab. Much of his dancing had become lewd and basic. Was this off-color performer the same gifted Jehovah's Witness who once sang 'Ben?' In my opinion, he had turned into a different kind of person. He didn't seem to be a good role model for children and I no longer was a fan.

He eventually became a druggie. Maybe it was the result of pain from scalp burns he suffered while filming a Pepsi commercial. Of course, Jackson didn't buy drugs. He bought doctors. The doctors apparently supplied the drugs. He was given whatever he wanted. Jackson's extreme wealth enabled his decline. He made poor choices and, in the end, probably purchased his own death.

We're not supposed to judge. To judge would suggest we understand. And I believe that nobody understood Michael Jackson, not even the man himself. But then, does anybody really understand anybody?

Now that he's been laid to rest, I hope Michael Jackson has found the peace that eluded him in life.

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