I almost can’t believe it is over. The memorial and funeral of Michael Jackson. The story itself is, of course, still far from being done. I’ve been working in two time zones so I am feeling the effects of it all now and am pretty exhausted. There is still so much to reflect on, but that will come. I fear the Starbucks has stopped working and I must get a bit of shut eye.
Being at the Staples Centre I truly felt a part of History (yes, I’ve been told to pardon the pun already). Because of the time difference I was there on Monday evening LA time, so I could report live for Tuesday morning SA time. The people who were there yesterday were mostly those who didn’t get tickets for the memorial. A few of them told me they came to pay their respects anyway, and sign a giant condolence card in honour of MJ.
Returning, after three hours of sleep, the next day, on Tuesday morning LA time, Tuesday afternoon SA time, I found more fans paying tribute to MJ the way they knew best. Some dressed up, some carried paintings, others wore t-shirts with his face on them or a single silver glove.
More to come, but for now a few hours of shut eye.
I finally got to LA and once I’d hired a car and got a crash course in driving on the “wrong” side of the road, I went out in search of the Jackson family home in Encino.
It wasn’t that hard to find but the street was blocked off to cars other than ones being driven by people living there. There were a few policemen standing in front of the house and they had put up railings on both sides to keep the tributes contained and to prevent the people from standing in the driveway of the Jackson house and other houses.
I couldn’t believe how passionate the people gathering there were – some of them in still in awe and shock. I met a couple of people who were visiting the site for the second or third site…it was incredible to see the emotion in their faces. When you’re in South Africa it can seem a little far removed but being here, seeing the things people are feeling, it seems as if it truly is bigger than I thought. People were singing his songs and dancing and sharing their memories.
And quite a few of them stayed until past midnight. The policemen standing guard said this is how it’s been for the whole week.
I am waiting at Washington Dulles International Airport for the next flight out to Los Angeles. A storm delayed my flight from SA, so I missed my connecting one out of here. I had planned out what I would do when I got to LA pretty well, I thought. I’d arrive, take a shuttle to the car hire, get the car I’d pre-booked and head out for the almost 3 hour drive to Santa Barbara where Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch is. That was where a public viewing of his body was set to take place on Friday morning local time (SA time Friday afternoon). It had the makings of a great morning drive live crossing for the stations.
But the Jackson family had other ideas. It backtracked on that one and the fans that had already started making their way to Neverland had to make another plan. And now, I too have to make another plan…
There are a few other places people have been gathering. One is the Encino home of Michael’s parents – that’s where Kay Burley and the rest of the world’s media have been camping outside of – and then there’s the Hollywood Walk of Fame where Michael Jackson’s star is, and also the Beverly Hills rented home where he collapsed.
I’ve just heard that that the latest news on the funeral is that it will be held on Tuesday at the Staples Centre. Apparently AEG – the guys behind the comeback concerts Michael was meant to do – own this huge venue in downtown LA which is home to the LA Lakers basketball team. It’s also been said that they will help foot the bill – which is expected to be costly. There’s also talk of an entry fee, which makes me wonder how much someone would charge to go to someone’s funeral. Even if that someone is Michael Jackson…
It’s the Fourth of July weekend here in the States so the airport is a buzz with people going on holiday. The bookstores are full of magazines and newspapers with MJ’s face on them. Time, Newsweek, People – all have commemorative editions of his life. The tabloid OK! has a headline screaming, last pics of Michael. Great – just the kind of tact we’ve come to know these kinds of publications for.
Last night I just came back from my first ever sporting match here in South Africa: Brazil versus Bafana Bafana. What a great night, incredible atmosphere and such pride for our boys who did us proud even though they lost 1-0. But then the Tweets and Facebook status updates started coming through…Michael Jackson was taken to hospital after suffering a cardiac arrest.
As soon as I got home, I switched onto CNN. They were going with him being taken to hospital. But Sky and BBC were saying reports from celeb news site, TMZ, said he was dead.
Could it be true?
Then CNN said he was in a coma – for a brief moment, I thought there might still be hope…
Thriller was released in 1982 – the year I was born. My mother gave me the song as part of a CD compilation for my 21st birthday. He was a part of my music DNA. A younger colleague of mine updated her status saying, “So Michael Jackson died, what’s the big hoo-haa?” Despite all the controversy we’ll never know what truly went on in that child-adult mind of his. Perhaps she doesn’t get it, but I hope many others do.
RIP Michael Jackson: 1958-2009