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Michael Jackson Day

July 7, 2009

Jackson Poster

Unless you’ve had your eyes and ears gouged out, you’ve probably been keeping up with the events following the death of Michael Jackson – and even then, you’ve probably still been reading the news in braille. The Loyalist is not given to adulation, something which Michael Jackson followers have in spades. But I’ll be the first to admit that the guy lent his falsetto and fast feet to a formidable pop culture repertory, and as I had the day off, I decided to make the trip downtown to see what all the fuss was about.

I rode in on the Blue Line (it was great not to have to park on a day like this) and was met at Pico Station by a cute police dog accompanied by some not so cute officers. The area around the station was crawling with cops, so I moved north.

DSCF6662 small - dog cop

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Oddly enough, even the cool kids who inhabit downtown in increasing numbers took to eulogizing MJ, what with their fixed gear bikes and oversized white shades and all.

DSCF6667 small - shade girls train

DSCF6680 small - bike

Vendors had the place locked up. Any item that could display an image of Mikey was up for sale -for the record, I didn’t see any Michael Jackson toilet paper, but I suspect it was there somewhere. Also up for sale were ornately sliced fruits and bottles of water, despite the DWP’s placement of extra drinking fountains. And of course, there were Mikey accouterments for sale as well: roses, gloves, and hats.

DSCF6733 small - shirt

DSCF6695 small - fruit slice

DSCF6690 small - fruit, mj coat

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Others took the opportunity to spread their message. There were plenty of concert promotions, but one young woman took it upon herself to put on a green bikini and promote vegetarianism on behalf of PETA.

DSCF6722 small - peta

There were also plenty of impersonators. One woman wore a studded bikini top (her fingers are crossed in hope that she can get into the Neverland Ranch sometime soon). Even one of the parking enforcement officers looked like Mike – the mandatory white gloves helped. One enterprising individual donned the full attire, and even brought along his manager and, perhaps a bit tactlessly, a young boy. Disturbing.

DSCF6698 small - imitator girl

DSCF6708 - mj parking

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Nevertheless, the guy could dance. There were others who didn’t wear the full garb but took to moonwalking anyway, people of all appearances, heights, genders, and races. I guess if you’re going to impersonate Michael Jackson, it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white.

DSCF6741 small - impersonator dance

DSCF6736 small - karaoke

One irate young man smashed his guitar; I wasn’t around to see why, but I presume it involved some kind of run-in with the law. He screamed at the cops, “In America you used to be free!” Well, at least he still has the freedom to destroy his own musical instruments in a dramatic fashion.

DSCF6726 small - guitar smash

There were plenty of foreigners, I heard several conversations in French, and I actually stopped to talk with some Brazilians. They were happy, because they had escaped the Brazilian winter in the northern hemisphere, and because Brazil had just beat the US in Soccer.

DSCF6747 small - brazil

The crowds began to leave from the Staples Center, and I decided it was time to head for the train station. On the way, a saxophonist played “You Are Not Alone”, a song which ironically foretold the extremely crowded conditions at the train platform. The crowds were a bit of a nuisance, but it is nice to see people making use of our plucky metro system, and as the ticket machines had been closed, I didn’t have to pay my return fare. Before boarding, I looked up to notice a battalion of news helicopters and “MJ” written in the sky.

DSCF6783 small - sax

DSCF6791 small - train crowd

So basically, Mikey’s ceremony meant that all the antics and tourist traps of Hollywood Boulevard moved south for a day. All in all it was a fun experience, at times it easy to forget it was a memorial service. Even though the mood could have been more reverent, people were enjoying themselves and, at times, even working for noble causes. I was never a big Mike follower, but I get the feeling he would have wanted it that way.

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