6:31 PM, Friday, June 26th, 2009:
This is just spooky. I've avoided writing about all the deaths this month because I didn't want to bring down the trip - but after this news, I can't avoid it. If I were in LA, I'd be at what I'm sure are several gatherings and I would have a huge entry/video. Unfortunately all I can do is write while sitting in the woods in a campground in Italy.
It doesn't matter what a circus he became, how much of his star was lost in the last 15 years, if you're my age he was the biggest thing in the world - and my heart is incredibly shocked. My head has long since known this was coming and even this month talking with Alom in London - we both knew he was never doing those London shows he booked. He was getting weaker by the month and I honestly thought he'd commit suicide with all of his financial troubles. But news of someone's death isn't felt with your head, it's felt with your heart. And he just meant everything to me growing up.
Ask my mother. Ask my mother, who had to listen to Side A: Thriller; Side B: Billy Joel... ad nauseum for 2 straight years. I loved him. I did the dance moves, I sang his songs constantly - fuck is he actually dead? I'm so goddamned isolated I haven't seen one news story. Oh, I guess I should get to how I found out. It actually starts earlier than I knew...
Last night at around 9:30 I went back to the airport just to upload 2 entries from Greece (yes, I love you Journey followers). I saw the news online about Farah Faucett and looked up at the TV (I was at an angle) and I saw some clips of Michael Jackson and my first thought was "Did he die too?"... but I looked at everyone's reactions and everyone seemed normal. From what I can gather - this was probably just the news that he had been rushed to the hospital.
Then while walking around Venice today I was in a store and I heard someone say his name, but could understand nothing else. Then I passed a store where his song was playing. Then finally, when I got on the bus to get back to the campsite "Bad" was on the radio. I turned to the girl sitting next to me and said "What happened with Michael Jackson?" "He died, of a heart attack..." "Are you joking?" <why the human brain says this every, single, time, we hear bad news is beyond me> "No, heard it last night at the pub." I was just floored. I joked to her and said:  "Do you realize that every single time I think of where I was when I heard the news it's gonna be YOU?" So I figured if that's my memory, might as well pull out my camera:
Far more jovial than I really felt. I was completely in shock. I guess this is my "It's a drag" moment. When the reporters asked Paul about John's death, he was clearly shaken and also just a bit pissed at them and said "Yeah, it's a drag isn't it?" to which so many people gave him shit. Though I'm laughing in the video, this sucks for me.
It is my generation's Elvis for sure. And in that same way 30 years ago when Elvis died, people looked past his later years and the drugs and the weight... I will most certainly do the same. Artists are flawed at their cores - and if they get really famous, really early? Whew. That combination will fuck you up. It's why even though I joked about Michael Jackson constantly on my radio show... I still loved him. Do I think he's a pedophile? Undeniably yes. It has no bearing on what he meant to me however. I have no problem compartmentalizing. It also helps that the people that accused him really were greedy people that in my opinion used their children to extort money. You don't let your kids stay with Michael Jackson. Ever. But after that 20/20 interview, there was no doubt. His mind was warped, and he had no grasp on reality. And he had to end tragically. I really am surprised it wasn't suicide.
I guess it's fitting that it happens when I'm in Europe. They loved him far past his prime in the US. And that prime honestly has not been seen since. However... and you're all gonna laugh when I say this, Obama may be as widely beloved as Jackson was in the mid-80s. Seriously, this man is everywhere. The store I was in today when I heard them say Michael Jackson? They were selling these:
He's freaking everywhere. I had no idea how big he was overseas. He's honestly the only personality that approaches Elvis/Beatles/Michael Jackson. Ironically, this was in a Beatles store.
Anyway - I started this by talking about all the sudden death that has surrounded me on this trip, look at all this:
-In Africa, Linda's old boss at the Tavis Smiley show died after a fight with cancer. She was devastated when she got the email in Malindi. You never feel further away than when someone you love dies.
-In Paris, I found out that an old friend of mine, Kathryn Piermont, also died of cancer. I mention her all the time (KP) in the WTVN entries. She was one of the funnier people I knew, adored Moonlighting just like I did, and we shared quite the bond with our love for making fun of Cannon. She also took me out on my 22nd birthday after my split with Burgundie and I had, to date, one of the best steak dinners ever, and she introduced me to Veuve Cliquot for the first time. (There's no more to that story, although re-reading this it certainly seems to be set-up like there is. Ha. KP would find that funny).
-When Ann got back from Paris, she found out an incredibly close friend of hers died of a heart attack the night she left! Thankfully no one told her until she got back. He was so excited for her to go on the trip and couldn't wait to hear all the details. Talk about a SMACK back into reality.
-The only reason I was able to spend time with Anna on Wednesday was that her boss's mother died and they closed the store. She knew her as well and was kind of in a daze about it when she told me.
-And of course David Carradine and Farah Faucett. Forever linking David, Farah and Michael together in the "Celebrity Deaths in 3s" category. Which is about the only way those 3 would ever be linked.


Anyway - I just needed to type. I'm just in shock. It doesn't matter that he was a shadow of what he was before - he was a huge part of my life, and a bigger influence on my music than many can imagine. Believe me, if I had access to a studio I'd sound far more like Justin Timberlake than Billy Joel. It's simply a product of the environment. But if you listen to songs like "Float Downstream" you can hear it. He was just the coolest thing on the planet. Still can't believe it's true.
Alright, after my day in Venice I've decided to book an impromptu 2-day trip to Rome. I'll work on the Venice entry on the train.
PS - Kinda creepy in Paradise Randoms 2, I alluded to Thriller with the "Foulest stench is in the air" Random. :-(