Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson: Nothing Lasts, Everything Dies

I was eating at Taco Casa, about 5 pm Texas time, waiting for my wife to get off work. I saw the newsflash at FoxNews1, playing on one of the TVs in the lobby, "Michael Jackson Rushed to UCLA Medical Center."

This sort of thing I would normally look at and brush-off, but for some reason, I was compelled to check this out. While I waited, I loaded up a website (not sure which one) on my Blackberry 8310/Curve, and kept updating/refreshing the website periodically while seeing what FoxNews was saying on the TV.

Then I saw it before my eyes, on my Blackberry Curve, "Michael Jackson Pronounced Dead" (approximate quote). Seconds later, the FoxNews broadcast updated with the same thing. (Eventually, so did Wikipedia News2.)

There I stood, in the lobby of Taco Casa, standing in the booth above the TV, my ear pressed to the TV speaker so I could hear the sound, and employees behind the counter looking at the television with absolute shock plastered all over their faces.

I will never forget it, if I live to be 100.

To be sure, I've encountered the death of important people, and--in the case of my grandfather in 1997--people close to me. Between John Lennon, Len Bias, Redd Foxx (of Sanford and Son), Lucille Ball, Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Landon, Kurt Cobain (I wasn't a fan of his, but I knew he was a big name), James Brown, Johnny Carson, (recently) Ed McMahon, the lead singer of INXS, Don Knotts, actors in "The Jeffersons", I have seen greats pass-on. All of these have saddened me and spooked me as they reminded me of the temporary nature that is life. Also, Elvis Presley died in 1977 when I was about age 8, although I was too young to really understand it.

This one may well outrank all of them.

What has been said about John F Kennedy, John Lennon, and others--that is, "I will never forget where I was when I heard the news," applies here as well.

Only 2 other such events in my life can claim to have effected me enough so as that I have never forgotten where I was when I learned the news. I remember where I was when I learned John Lennon had died; I was a young 11 year old carpooling with our preacher on the way to school, just by Bob Aiken's house when I heard it on his radio. I remember where I was when I learned Dean Smith retired as the Tar Heels coach; I was in Phoenix AZ staying in the Clarion hotel for work-related reasons when I saw it at the Tar Heel website on my computer, then subsequently on the hotel television on ESPN.

This one has easily taken the lead as most-shocking thus far and most unlikely to ever be forgotten by me.

Most of all, it as really has shaken me to the very core. It has reminded me of one hard, cold, blunt and unavoidable truth.

Life is temporary. Nothing we do here is going to last.

Michael Jordan has aged, and no longer can play in the NBA. The Three Stooges are dead and will never perform again. There will never be a "The Jeffersons" or "The Andy Griffeth Show" reunion. We never got to see Len Bias dunk in the NBA, and never will.

All those attractive women in bathing suits at the lake and pool, even super-attractive ones like Farrah Fawcett (who also died today, lest we forget) are going to age and look totally unappealing to the eye eventually. This has happened even to all-time greats like Lena Horne, Elizabeth Taylor, and Bridgette Bardot. The same thing will even happen to current sex symbols like Jennifer Lopez, Paris Hiton, Beyonce, Salma Hayek and Britney Spears--if they even live that long. Laura Ingalls isn't a little child anymore. Neither is Opie. And eventually, they'll all be dead.

Wilt Chamberlain, one of the best basketball players ever, now doesn't even exist. Neither does Len Bias (already mentioned). One day, Michael Jordan will not even exist anymore. Bath Ruth doesn't exist anymore. Ronald Reagan doesn't exist anymore.

Everything here that humans do, however great or not-so-great, it all fades away.

Sure, I can go to YouTube and look at clips of Michael Jordan's outstanding play of the 80s and 90s, but it will never be that way again in the present-time or future-time. I can still listen to Michael Jackson on my MP3 player anytime I please, and the music will be just as clear, vibrant and alive as it ever was. But people eventually forget, tastes change, especially in pop music that is so short-term to begin with. What's more, I am harshly reminded that I will never had any opportunity, even if I win a million dollars tomorrow, to ever witness such a performance in person.

Besides all of that, how can I ever listen to his music again without thoughts of how he passed away polluting my attempts to just enjoy the music?

The innocence is over, the jig is up. The King (of Pop) is dead, and will never moonwalk again.

Like other persons, I remember owning Michael Jackson music way long ago. The first recording of his I owned was "Rock With You" as a 45-rpm record. "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough" followed. Like most 80s-era teenagers, "Thriller" was so good it blew your mind. The music was simply incredible, his dancing--better than you could even imagine a human-being dancing. Surely, you said to yourself, even in heaven no one dances that good.

Unlike the case with other persons, though, the music of his that really moved me to the very core of my musical soul was "Dangerous" from 1991-2. I was well known in my circle of friends as a really hard-core Phil Collins/Genesis fan, and Genesis had a new album "We Can't Dance" that had appeared that year which I was thoroughly enjoying. Yet, amazingly enough, Michael Jackson's "Dangerous" surpassed it, and has lived on--even in recent years--as one of my favorite albums ever. The music was so outstanding, so ground-breaking, it blew your mind that music such as that could even be imagined, much less actually exist in reality.

But, like all other things, it faded into history, even as I continued to enjoy it on my SanDisk 8G MP3 player.

And now, the man has faded into history.

We will never see him dance again. Those comeback concerts he planned--they're never going to happen. There is absolutely no chance whatsoever, in this life anyway, we will ever see him perform again, ever, never even hear him share his thoughts and his experiences with us in interviews in his older days.

And so it is with everything.

Enjoy LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, or whoever your favorite athlete is. One day, they'll grow too old to do it anymore, and they'll pass on. That girl you knew in high school that was cute? She may still look good now, heck she might even look better, but in time, she'll be as wrinkled and unappealing to the eye as Janet Reno. It happens to everyone, it will happen to me, and it will happen to you.

I love to bike-ride and play basketball, although I'm not spectacular at either. I take pride in the fact that I'm 40 and can still do those things. But if I live long enough, the day will come when I will never be able to do those things again, at least without considerable pain. The day may come in just a few years in which, like what occurred with Michael Jackson, I'll suffer a sudden cardiac arrest and it'll be over, just like that.

Anyone remember Pistol Pete Maravich? He was one of the greatest basketball players of the 1970s, but he died in 1988 at age 40--of a heart attack. Age 40. For Pete's sake, that's how old I am. And here was a man who had the financial ability to have any sort of medical checkups he wanted so as to screen for these things. Yet, even he was felled by surprise, out of left-field--at age 40.

Age 40, the age I am.

If it could happen to him, it could happen to me. It could happen to my best friend KSG. It could happen to my wife, that guy at the local store who's friendly with me when I ask for more ice with my soda, it could happen to my mother tomorrow (she's 68), it could happen to my father (he's 70)--heck, it could happen to my 2-year old daughter.

Nothing lasts. Not even the King of Pop is immume, and certainly the same goes for us.

Don McLean needs to update his "American Pie" song--today is the day the music died.

Enjoy what you have, what's around you, and enjoy it with all the passion you can muster. But never forget what the death of Michael Jackson has reminded me, and should remind all of us.

Everything dies. Nothing lasts. Nothing.

1CBS Clip
2 FoxNews Video Clip of MJ's Death, #1
3 Wikipedia News Article about MJ's death
4 FoxNews Video Clip of MJ's Death, #2
5 FoxNews Video Clip of MJ's Death, #3
6 MSNBC Video about his death
7 CNN Clip #1, Best One of All Clips I'd Say
8 CNN Clip #2
9 NBC Clip #1
10 NBC Clip #2
11 FoxNewsClip

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