Sunday, June 28, 2009

Open Letter To The Gloved One


Dear Michael,
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I don't like writing letters of this nature to people who share my same name...especially you, especially under these circumstances. After all, it was because of you that I was teased in Middle School. It is hard to get caught up in the fashion movements of the time (fashions that you started might I add) when your body frame is nothing more than a coat hanger adorned with braces. I was awkward enough to begin with, and because I was "not like other boys" at the time, the parallels between us were obvious. Sure, everyone on the school yard would give the moonwalk a try, but when it came my turn, all the kids would start singing the lyrics to Timex Social Club's Rumors...you know, the one about "Michael" that insinuated that you might be gay? Since I too wasn't the jockiest of kids and more than a little strange, I too was subject to the aforementioned rumor. At least they tried to argue, but I swear I couldn't move that way.
!
Still, to a boy in the 1980's, you were on the Mount Rushmore of pop culture. I remember how crisp and clear the sound came out of my Sony headphones as I listened to Thriller in my darkened bedroom. My parents never let me watch the video to
Thriller back then, mainly due to the fact that my parents were school teachers and had screened it at the High School Prom, but with your lyrics and the visuals that my mind created, it was nothing short of horrific. Actually, watching Thriller back then was a difficult task as we didn't have MTV, and VHS was a sluggish monolith. I finally got to see what caused my mom to run circles around the High School gymnasium when I was in the 6th grade. By this time I had already developed an unnatural fear of zombies which, as you can imagine, was only compounded by the slick choreography of your video. Slow, lumbering zombies are one terrible thing...breakdancing, shoulder-shrugging zombies are quite another level of torture.
!

By the time the rest of the country was donning multi-layered polos and collecting Swatch watches, I had just purchased my knock-off red zipper jacket with the angular sleeves. To this I added a very cheap pair of parachute pants that were most likely bought at JcPenney, who I have discovered know nothing about "trends." I was all set to go forth on my quest to get my ass kicked. This was all still during your Thriller and Victory Tour phase. I am inclined to point out that your life is relegated to "phases" in my psyche. There was your canary yellow polo phase in which you wore white slacks and held a kitten, then came your Thriller phase (mesh shirt, zipper jacket, penny loafers and glove), and then your Bad phase in which much of the same was true from your previous phases but....well, I just couldn't get past the hair.
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This brings me to chapter two of our relationship: Ignoring the white elephant in the room. Undeniably you ruled the radio and MTV well beyond what most people called your glory days. Before I became what my friends call a "music snob," I would still get crazy over your next release whether it was the mind-bending Black and White or Smooth Criminal. This was an amazing feat without the advantage of the internet. How was I supposed to peep your newest album without listening to it all the way through first? What was your next single going to be? For all of these things, I had to rely on my trustworthy local radio station. I think it was because of this that we didn't have as close of a relationship as might have been warrented. I certainly know that you wanted to be as good of friends with me as I was willing to allow you to be with me. Unfortunately, this was not to be as I discovered college, free-thinking, and grunge.
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One could question the many idiosyncrasies that you developed seemingly overnight as a reason that we parted ways. Honestly though, you have always been and will continue to be our American Royalty. As such, you are required by etherial law to bay at the moon and have at least one skeleton in the closet. To the latter, I am so sorry the Elephant Man thing didn't work out. I will say that watching someone gradually transition to a transluscent version of your very own sister LaToya was something that defied logic, even for you. I was well out of college when I stumbled on a tabloid rag (rememeber those?) that depicted a photo of you with a dirth of facial hair that looked like someone had been playing with a Play-Doh Fuzzy Pumper Barber Shop. If there was one thing I learned from you back on that playground, it was that the clothes don't necessarily make the man, and that facial hair doesn't nescessarily do so either.
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I think the saddest thing though is that despite the changing trends in music or the waning adoration you may have felt from your public, that the music itself stopped. Watching someone that was once great become just another Howard Hughes is more tragic than the many allegations lodged against you over the years. I mean, it took something so malicious as a court case to bring you into the spotlight again. There are starving children in the Sudan but right here in America, there are children who don't know Billie Jean or Dirty Diana.

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Finally, I want to write and say that the news of your passing was more shocking than anything I could have anticipated. I don't know why though. This day would eventually have to come sometime and I suppose it is better that you left this world well before you were relegated to playing a stage in Branson, Missouri. Even those that had swiftly cleared you off of their iTunes library over the past decade (well, aside from P.Y.T. anyway) were abuzz with shock and awe. Was it painkillers? A bad heart? Cruel attempt to cash in on your insurance policy and pay off your mounting debt? Is this all a slick trick, better than the one you attempted to pull over on us at Super Bowl XXVII? I would love to think that something mortal did not befall you here on Earth, but that something poetic...like a broken heart was your undoing. Whatever the reason, whatever the cause, I just hope you are well. I hope that there are lighted sidewalks in Heaven. I pray that your wings fit well, your skin matches your robe and that you are finally at peace with yourself.
!

7 comments:

gwyncoseph said...

cool blog,期待更新..................................................

方便 said...

Necessity is the mother of invention...................................................

頑皮豹 said...

人必須心懷希望,才會活的快樂,日子才過得充實,有意義,有朝氣,有信心。........................................

傷心 said...

Everyone fastens where there is gain.........................................

miss said...

每一粒厄運的種子,卻包孕著未來豐盛的果實 ..................................................

Darrin.. said...

Mike!! I've gotta admit.. I read this post a couple of days ago (8-20-2011). While I didn't comment at the time, your words and memories haunted me over the course of the past few days.

Your description of the era we grew up in sucked me right back into 1983. My parents (a minister and ministers wife) wouldn't allow me to watch Thriller either, and I bought the old parachute pants with my hard earned pay as a 14 year old.

All I can say, is that you seem like a man with a heck of a lot to say.. I enjoy your writing.. and would love to see more. You're a good egg Mike, and writing is a good way to "Get it all out". I was an incredibly shy son of a preacher man, who went out of his way to be seen and not heard until the last couple of years. NOW.. I have plenty to say.

Thanks for resurrecting memories that I haven't thought of for decades. It wasn't until I read your post that I realized just how prolific Mike was to pop culture amongst my peers during my formative years.

I never owned the zipper jacket like the cool kids, but could fake cool if I tried hard enough. It didn't do me much good however, because I was a boxed in.. son of a preacher man.. who wasn't allowed to date or go to school dances.

Sorry.. I don't mean to get deep, but your writing had a prolific effect on me, and just thought I'd let you know.

Cheers Beta Mike!

Beta Mike said...

Thank you Darrin, I haven't touched the blog in a long time and I'm afraid that I've lost a bit of my sparkle. I love to write and I'm not afraid to put my feelings out there, but FaceBook has stolen a lot of the creativity from me.

I'm glad to know that you had a similar childhood and appreciation for the Gloved One and I really appreciate your open and honest story about your struggles with relating to it all.

I am most appreciative that you like the post and appreciate your feedback buddy.