Genius, Freak, Human

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Genius, Freak, Human

It's unbelievable he's dead. Like, Huh? I read the news on my laptop in my favorite patisserie after apartment scouting in San Francisco, and it just seemed unreal. There I was, eating the house quiche, a sublime concoction with cardboard thin slices of "featured vegetable" yellow squash, in the words of the statuesque, almond-eyed cashier, whose flashing eyes are with me still.

First of all, it doesn't seem right he's dead and I'm alive to write about it. He's younger than me, greater than I.

Blurry, supercharged video of ecstatic 21-year-old performer, 1980.

But mostly, Michael Jackson needed a break before the big sleep. He needed to pull out of that tailspin, accept himself, redeem himself... and then, okay, whatever, go ahead and die. After death, of course, he's thoroughly redeemed by his young work, but it would've been nice for the human behind the work to find some peace while still breathing on this planet.

His death seems unreal because as an artist he lives so vibrantly in images and sound, in the memories of fans and people who actually knew him. How many people learned to dance with his music, his moves? How can anybody that kinetic be stopped in his tracks?

His death feels unreal because he himself was unreal. Both as an artistic creation, a self-made spectacle, a 24/7 performance artiste and as the grotesque clown he'd reduced to in the rare, dreadful glimpses blazoned by a media beyond his control. Final photos make him look like bad Joan Crawford and nobody wants to look like that and nobody else wants to look at anyone looking that way.

But mostly, how can a zombie die?

Bizarre heterosex promotional video starring MJ and Naomi Campbell.

Michael Jackson was a zombie because he lived in some half-light, twilit, ambivalent intersection between genius and outcast, idol and pervert. He couldn't be one without the other. Balancing between opposites, not self-limiting to any pre-existing category most mortals cling to, he was an old prodigy, a butched-up black-yet-white girl, the love child of Diana Ross and Fred Astaire, Jerome Robbins and break dance, a fusional confusion of delusions we all wanted a piece of, even if it was just the white socks or the glove or the glitter or the glasses or the freaky-ass military regalia. He even made his arrested-adolescent, narcissistic isolation seem enviable. Moon walk.

But nobody wanted the pedophile. No one wanted the twisted child left behind in the mad rush to global megabuck megastardom.

Synchronicity: we're gearing up for Pride in San Francisco, the event launched by the Stonewall Riots in NYC, a visceral reaction by drag queens to the lying-in-state of Miss Judy Garland, aged 47, drug-addled child star exploited by a studio system that squeezed every lucrative drop from a sensitive instrument second to none in the songs-to-make-your-heart-break arena, who also had world-class charm and makes-it-look-so-easy comic timing. An entertainer, an embarrassment, an emotional genius.

Sixteen-year-old Judy Garland sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," 1938.

Pride is about reclaiming the undesirable. Assimilationists, stand back. Freaks, get ready to march.

Was Michael Jackson proud to be the person he was? Are we proud of him, I mean all the way down the line, not just the Disney version? Do we recognize in ourselves the terrifying conundrum he faced and could not reconcile, of being neither clearly man nor woman, child nor adult, black nor white, natural nor artificial, feel free to add your own set of contradictions as they occur to you...

Michael Jackson was a freak. Who's willing to claim that piece of the puzzle along with the music? Until we do, he will not rest in peace and neither will anybody else. I don't expect pedophiles to start a riot when some cop tries to interrupt their mourning. But maybe his death-in-life, his isolation, his inability to accept himself while simultaneously inspiring millions of imitators, will move us that much closer to respecting who we are, each one of us, deep down in our eeriest depths.

Comments [47]

mysticsmb's picture

So there are photos now of

So there are photos now of recent rehearsals that completely refute the rumors that Jackson was emaciated and on death's door:

Once again, most of the stories out there about Jackson appear to be total BS.

camomileroses's picture

michael jackson: artist,

michael jackson: artist, flawed, compassionate, coeur:

btw: we are all freaks to one another.

Erin Blackwell's picture

some of us are freakier than

some of us are freakier than others.

here's the original "earth song"

Steph's picture

Thank you for this Erin - it

Thank you for this Erin - it is nice to read something other than the vomit inducing reverence that has been spewed out over the airwaves the past few days.

Slightly crabby today - had to get up at 4.30am to catch a flight to Glasgow and then my luggage didn't arrive with me. They just delivered it to me so I am de-crabbing slowly but surely, especially now I am reading all you lovely ladies xx

peacekitty's picture

Hi Steph! Sending some

Hi Steph! Sending some positive vibes your way. Smile

I agree about the "vomit inducing reverence" on the airwaves lately. I've made a pact with myself not to watch CNN or any news shows (except Rachel Maddow) for the next two months. It was making me crazy.

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

Steph's picture

Hey PK :-) Thanks for the

Hey PK Smile
Thanks for the postitive vibes!!
Steph xoxox

Patrice Kamins's picture

Erin, I'm deeply moved by


I'm deeply moved by your post and agree with your observations 100 percent.
I am kind of freaked out by his loss and by my surprising response to his death which belies my dismissal of him these last few years. No one wants to look at Frankenstein.

He was working out shadow material all along the way and we have a hard time reconciling the brilliant talent with the damaged human being. But those contradictions exist in many of us, even if not as markedly so. There's a lesson here in accepting the fragmented disowned parts of ourselves. . . .and this is a current universal reality whether we like it or not.

Let him who cast the first stone . . .

He will rest in peace when we reside in our wholeness.

Erin Blackwell's picture

patrice thank you for your


thank you for your view from the planetary side. feel free to add any planet-based observations, or expound on that "shadow material".
it amazes me we think we can *have* the brilliant talent withOUT the damaged human being, that artists are somehow not psychically all bound-up in what they express.

Patrice Kamins's picture

True dat. I often think if

True dat. I often think if we really saw people in their energetic forms, we would be horrified by the discrepancy between the outer visual and the inner picture i.e.
the beautiful heiress whose extreme selfishness is hideous to behold. Or the slick buff corporate raider who (barely) hides the ugly carcass of cruelty and hatred of humanity.

In Michael's case, we saw the extent of his wounds in full view, probably masking a
tender, albeit misguided, soul underneath. With his Pisces Moon, he would be prone to extreme idealization and deep disillusionment (as well as dancing feet!).

From an astrological point of view, a few things stand out. Michael's personal profile
shows a powerful martyr complex and perfectionist streak (Sun/Pluto in Virgo in the 11th House). It also speaks to his agility and technical skills. Yet as the Sun relates to the father figure, this man would have been physically or verbally abusive. Libra rising would generally suggest an attractive physical appearance, which was true for him when he was young. Where things went awry is the conjunction of Venus, chart ruler, conjoining Uranus which would amplify the obsession with appearance, but of a bizarre, out of the ordinary nature (Uranus).
Chiron in Aquarius in the 4th house of home and family shows him feeling like the outcast and with Capricorn on the 4th house cusp, his homelife was disciplined and lacking in warmth as, has been well documented.
Saturn in Sagittarius in the 3rd house reveals a strict religious foundation in childhood, and also points to lifelong bouts with depression around moral certitude. Venus Uranus ruling the 8th house of sex could suggest to a tendency for "deviant' sexual behavior. Also, Saturn Venus might coincide with a propensity toward difficult or unrequited love affairs.

The New Moon on June 22nd brought up issues around father/mother, nurturing/deprivation. On the World Axis, it would have played out with loss of a public figure possibly struggling with this theme. (Pluto in the mix kills off the old form).

While he is in orb of the 7/7/09 eclipse, which would have affected his identity and partnership house, it seems a bit early, and therefore nefarious. This is also corroborated by a midpoint picture of Mars/Vertex slightly more than two months before his birthday (fated violence) and a Sun/Jupiter experience (long-distance journey, death being the most distant journey of all). Likewise, the upcoming eclipse would contact his solar arc Venus, ruler of the Ascendent and body. Eclipses will bring in inevitable changes, sometimes of a shocking, finalizing nature.

And in terms of his alleged perversions, they could be explained by his Moon in Pisces in the 5th House of children/love affairs--an idealization, connection with, possible lack of boundaries around the experience. But this can also suggest confusion or subterfuge and we will probably never know the truth because here much does reside in NEVER NEVER LAND.

And to that point, if I REALLY want to go there, evolutionary astrology postulates that we have karma to fulfill with individuals throughout our lifetime. If we have a continuum of experiences, we are going to encounter some of the more unsavory aspects of life at some point in time, I.e. we have not been pristine in many of our incarnations. If we are dealing with abuse now, it is probable that we were an abuser in other lifetimes. No, it's not tit for tat, but the issue of the inequity of power is one that has been faced before.
While I do not condone "criminal" behavior on any count especially in regards to children (and, here I would ask, who has NOT been abused in childhood) we cannot know what brings two people together in the dance of victim/victimizer. Unless one has a crystal ball, I'd leave out the judgement and get to work on clearing one's own issues before pointing a finger elsewhere . . .

Thank you Erin, you always get my mind and conscience percolating!

Erin Blackwell's picture

wow patrice you sure can spin

wow patrice you sure can spin some planets, thank you!

just tell me, am i going to find a place to live by july 1st? and how do i de-cling to my old possessions?

Patrice Kamins's picture

HI Erin, Well, I remember

HI Erin,

Well, I remember you had a strong Cancer signature right?

If so, there's an eclipse on July 22nd at 29 Cancer that is a new beginning around home and nurturing. Could this be you in your newly decluttered apartment?

But I don't have your actual birth info. You can email me at and I'll take a look if you like . .

Rusty's picture

I hesitated to post on this

I hesitated to post on this thread, but for a very different reason than Taem?. I know I’m going to get trashed for saying this but I’ll do it anyway — Michael Jackson was never convicted in any court except The Court of Public Opinion.

Was he beyond bizarre? No doubt. Was he a pedophile? I have no idea and neither does anyone else except Michael Jackson and the boys who made the charges. It’s easy to make claims about payoffs and conspiracies and failed systems, but the fact is that the prosecution went after him with a vengeance, twice and failed to get a conviction.

I stopped watching the news about his death the first day of coverage because I was sick of the armchair shrinks and legal “experts”. Unfortunately, LA is overrun with rats and “insiders” who will say anything to get their 15 minutes.

I’ve also had it with news anchors that don’t know the difference between “accused,” “convicted,” and “acquitted.” (Don't get me started about Nancy Grace.)

Instead of the nonstop vulture frenzy, I'm watching the MTV marathon of his videos; I'm awed again by his talent. I hadn’t seen the Ryan White or “We Are the World” videos in years and watching them reminded me of the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars he’s spent donating to and supporting various worthy causes.

After decades of serving as an easy punch line, the venom directed at him now is not surprising but I am disappointed in the National Enquirer mentality that our public discussion too often assumes.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Amy Nicole Miller's picture

I agree. I was disgusted when

I agree. I was disgusted when MSNBC began talking about all of the scandals just minutes after he was pronounced dead! I switched over to BET and watching a very moving tribute of videos and commentary from other artists.

Rusty's picture

Amy, I had the same reaction

Amy, I had the same reaction to Keith O. As soon as he admitted that he couldn't remember if Jackson had been found guilty or was acquitted I knew it was time to bail on MSNBC. (Even worse, I channel surfed to Nancy Grace by mistake. YIKES! I wanted to rinse my brain with bleach after 2 minutes of her.)

I'm not going to re-argue the case, but my most clear memory from that time is being stunned by the testimony of the prosecution's witnesses. And then being doubly stunned by the ease with which the defense lawyers tore their testimony apart. I guess it wasn't too hard for the jury to find reasonable doubt if the prosecution's case was buttressed by liars, reprobates, and disgruntled former employees of Jackson. The defense lawyer said he couldn't wait for each new prosecution witness because their case weakened with every one.

Unfortunately, the media covered the initial testimony with screaming headlines. The rebuttals - not so much.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Tiff's picture

I'm with you on this one,

I'm with you on this one, too, Rusty.

Julia Watson's picture

Me too.

Me too.

mysticsmb's picture

Rusty, I was writing as you

Rusty, I was writing as you were apparently posting this, so I'm only reading it now. Read my comments below, we appear to be on the same wavelength today!

Rusty's picture

Ha, we're even agreeing with

Ha, we're even agreeing with each other in sync.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

mysticsmb's picture



Not2Taem's picture

Are we proud of him, I mean

Are we proud of him, I mean all the way down the line, not just the Disney version?

I have been watching this thread develop and hesitated to respond to it, my first impulse being a vitriolic spew. But this has to be said.

I am not proud of this person. I recognize that he had personal issues, but that does not dismiss the fact that he had sexual relationships with children and then bought his way out of taking responsibility for it. I am not proud of him, and I am not proud of the system that let him get away with it.

Gender issues are not the question here. To dismiss such abhorrent behavior because a person may or may not have had difficulty with his sexual identity ti to feed into society's notions of the queer community as dangerous sexual predators.

I don't deny his musical ability, let's not confuse that with his ability to respond the world in the manner of a responsible human.

mysticsmb's picture

Taem, I don't think we

Taem, I don't think we actually know what happened between Jackson and those boys, so to categorically state that he was a pedophile is simply not accurate. Remember, he was acquitted in a court of law, and though he did settle out of court in a couple of instances the willingness of the alleged victims to take money rather than bring him to justice suggests to me a basic lack of credibility. Also, there were many children who came forward to say he was never inappropriate with them.

In the spirit of Erin's thought-provoking blog, I would suggest that his relations with children were most likely in a grey area--there was no sexual contact or desire but there was clearly an obsessive emotional attachment. I say this not because I need to believe he wasn't a pedophile--I can handle the moral ambiguity that a great artist could also be a sexual predator--but because the facts do not lead to a definitive conclusion and people seem incredibly uncomfortable with that murkiness. We would rather brand him a pedophile than discuss what exactly that does and doesn't mean.

This is not to say I condone Jackson's behavior with children, or think that it's ok as long as he did not cross that sexual boundary. He clearly had an obsession that cannot have ultimately been healthy for him nor the children involved, But I'd rather we frame the discussion in those terms rather than overly simplistic 'black-and-white' ones.

p.s. thanks, Erin, for probing...

Not2Taem's picture

the willingness of the

the willingness of the alleged victims to take money rather than bring him to justice suggests

I believe you'll find that this was generally a willingness on the part of the parents, not necessarily the children. Also, the fact that someone settles when up against enormous assets with few of their own does not mean that no culpable behavior occurred.

Label it however you are comfortable. If you've read me you know I'm not big on labels. The fact is, his behavior had a negative impact on children. Were their parents also culpable for allowing it to happen? Certainly. Does that mean that we should honor the being who did it? Certainly not.

mysticsmb's picture

Ok, but what exactly was the

Ok, but what exactly was the negative impact? Without knowing what actually happened, any speculation about harm to children is just that--speculation.

Not2Taem's picture

He clearly had an obsession

He clearly had an obsession that cannot have ultimately been healthy for him nor the children involved

Your words, Mystic. If it wasn't healthy, it was unhealthy. That would be negative. I'm not going to argue this. I don't have the energy and non of us have any control over anything here.

LongBeachDogLover's picture

Well, one of the boy's who

Well, one of the boy's who MJ 'allegedly' sexually abused knows what happened. He was able to describe every inch of MJ's body, including some very specific 'marks' on his penis. But, I suppose the young boy could have seen MJ's penis, in all it's glory, during their "cocoa drinking" sessions that MJ said he liked to share with his 'little friends' at bedtime. Yeah, that was bedtime in the 3 ring circus he called...... Neverland.

I won't allow myself to be so naive...

I suppose we'll know in the future. One of his victims will find the strength to come forward and tell his story. Unfortunately, like most victims of one will believe him.

mysticsmb's picture

That's a pretty one-sided

That's a pretty one-sided accounting of that particular bit of evidence, and clearly ignores the fact that those IN THE ROOM who actually heard said evidence didn't find it compelling enough to convict.

LongBeachDogLover's picture

In the civil case, the boy

In the civil case, the boy who described MJ's penis, settled out of court for $20,000,000.00. That's twenty million dollars..... in this case, the pictures told a...... twenty million dollar story.

Oh yeah, as a general rule.... their are no witnesses to child rape.

I'm through with this.

LongBeachDogLover's picture

**edit** there, not their

**edit** there, not their

Rusty's picture

Right there with ya, 100%

Right there with ya, 100% Mystics.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

peacekitty's picture

Oh come on guys. I'm all for

Oh come on guys. I'm all for reserving judgment without knowing all of the facts...but GROWN MEN DO NOT SLEEP WITH YOUNG BOYS!

Whether he had sexual encounters with them or not, that in itself is unbelievably innapropriate, crazy and utterly inexcusable.

Do you honestly think that anyone else who did that would be exonerated? Would you want them to be?

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

mysticsmb's picture

Exonerated of what?? Be

Exonerated of what?? Be specific. Of being a man who clearly suffered from arrested development and preferred the company of children, or of being a pedophile?

And wasn't the deal that he did NOT actually share the bed, but gave it to the child?

peacekitty's picture

I'm going to give you this

I'm going to give you this one because I wasn't there and don't know if there was abuse or inappropriate behavior or not.

My thoughts are with his family and friends. I know how hard it is to lose a loved one.

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

mysticsmb's picture

PK, you don't have to give me

PK, you don't have to give me this one--I'm really just asking questions, of myself as well, in hopes of getting beyond knee-jerk responses. The primary reason we're so disturbed by a grown man in such close proximity to children is that we fear his impulses are sexual, or will become so. But what if they aren't/don't? Then what do we make of the interaction on its own terms?

Also, even if we believe such liaisons are potentially damaging to children, how does that compare to all the damaging things adults visit on children? For instance, by all accounts, including her own, Farrah Fawcett's drug use and tumultuous relationship with Ryan O'Neal wreaked havoc on her children and step-children, yet I didn't see anyone here on VP, or elsewhere, vilifying her.

p.s. what's the significance of your new red white and blue gravatar?

Robin Rigby's picture

I'm with you too, Tae. I'm

I'm with you too, Tae. I'm just ignoring all of the people who are going on about how devastating his loss is. Really? Devastating to who? Certainly not me. And not any of the children he may have scarred with his behavior in the future.

LongBeachDogLover's picture

I am with you on this Tae,

I am with you on this Tae, 100% .....
Thank you for caring enough to express yourself.

LongBeachDogLover's picture

"But nobody wanted the

"But nobody wanted the pedophile." Exactly.
But, how quickly people forget when it's a celebrity, a priest, or someone with power.

Who's the real freak? Him, or those worshiping him even in death....
Nothing good could come of his proclivity for young boys.

Freak is a very kind word to describe a man like him.

* I adored his his early music, but certainly not the quiet monster he had become.

Xanadu's picture

What's bugged me in the past

What's bugged me in the past few days, are the statements from celebrities gushing about their "dear friend".

Brooke Sheilds, Lisa Marie Presley and countless others, who for the past decade they have almost been too embarrassed to discuss their past with Michael ... and when they did it was sheepishly or in a mocking tone.

Who can forget Lisa Marie saying "Oh Holy Jesus" on Oprah ... and admitting they barely spent any time together during the 'marriage'.

Now suddenly Lisa Marie is the grieving ex wife talking about their "love" for one another. PLEASE :roll:

Last nights Larry King was a spectacle Smile ... Usher (suspected closeted singer) and Liza Minnelli were on and so was Deepak Chopra (who had the audacity to speak the truth) about celebs and their pill pimping 'doctors'.

Larry, Liza and Usher did their darndest to shut Deepak Chopra up about THAT topic ... they appeared to openly diss him. It made me question if Liza and Michael shared the same 'doctor'?

When a famous person dies, it's never the 'right time' to talk about the REAL cause of their death ... and i bet Michael's blatently obvious gender and sexuality issues, won't be acknowleged either Sad *sigh*

mysticsmb's picture

Xanadu, I think Lisa Marie's

Xanadu, I think Lisa Marie's concern is genuine and has been ongoing, though her appearance on Oprah belied that. She seems to have struggled with trying to save Michael over a period of years, a struggle that took a great toll on her as well. She consequently adopted a coping strategy of detachment and indifference--not surprising especially given her father's drug abuse. You can read her own words, if you haven't already, here:

The person I'm really angry with is Jackson's father, who wants to know what killed his son. How about countless years of verbal and physical abuse at the hands of the one person who should have loved and protected him? Addictions to painkillers are seldom about only physical pain. And Deepak Chopra revealed today that Michael suffered from lupus, and recent studies have shown a connection between several physical and sexual abuse and the autoimmune disease.

yonks's picture

Yea, some peoples seems to

Yea, some peoples seems to take the opportunity to redirect the spotlight of the event on themselves.

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

Xanadu's picture

*Can't wait for that Edit

*Can't wait for that Edit function :grin:

Gabrielle.C's picture

"But maybe his death-in-life,

"But maybe his death-in-life, his isolation, his inability to accept himself while simultaneously inspiring millions of imitators, will move us that much closer to respecting who we are, each one of us, deep down in our eeriest depths."

- love this line, we need to reconcile with ourselves, and others nonetheless.

peacekitty's picture

Wow Erin. This is brilliant,

Wow Erin. This is brilliant, thank you.

The only thing I can disagree with is you saying he was better than you. He wasn't better than you. He was better than all of us in song and dance....but he wasn't a better person than you or anyone else.

That's where Hollywood (and all of us) gets it wrong.

He was human with special gifts, but also with weaknesses, problems and faults.

Your article is beautifully written and very insightful.

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

Erin Blackwell's picture

not better, but greater. but

not better, but greater. but you're right about hollywood, the celebrity machine.

Fastgurrrl's picture

Wow x 2. Seriously.

Wow x 2. Seriously.

Kent's picture

Wow. Erin...this is

Wow. Erin...this is brilliant. Thank you for this piece. Best article I've read on the Jackson death.

conlite's picture

For sure.

For sure.

yonks's picture

I second that.

I second that.

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-