I didn’t expect this blog’s “Month of Rock” to include the death of the King of Pop — and let me hasten to add that easy as it is to make fun, I liked several of his songs and was quick to point out that Thriller had the most top ten hits of any album when that question was raised among some of my friends.
I know exactly where I was when I heard Michael Jackson was dead: getting a drink at swanky little Quantino Bottega Organica, where bartender Lareesa (sp?) said that her childhood was dying along with Jackson. Of course, I’d had my suspicions earlier, a few blocks away, when I saw a punkish guy in a mortician-like black tophat blasting Jackson hits on his boombox around 7pm. An hour later, at a Bowery Poetry Club event hosted by Opium magazine, not only did Lisa Carver dare criticize her fellow bohemians for knuckling under when faced with threats such as the Secret Service’s apparent interrogation of her boyfriend (Carver can pick ’em, as noted yesterday), but the evening’s co-hostess dared say of Jackson that “Somewhere tonight, a little Guatemalan boy is safe because that man is dead.”
I’ve long said that if Jackson were a movie character, he’d have long since reached the point where death was the cleanest next move, like a mad scientist so transformed that the explosion of his lab seems like a mercy-killing. So long ago, it seemed like time for the amusement park full of molested children to burn down, possibly after the mad leader’s chimpanzee sidekick accidentally started a fire or tore his master’s artificial face off.
Let us not forget, though, that one of the things that kept Jackson rich and able to afford things like moving to a mansion in Brunei toward the end was his ownership, for a time, of the music of the Beatles — and we might do well to think of John Lennon (subject of next year’s Nowhere Boy biopic), revered by so many leftists and neo-hippies, as an even greater monster than Jackson. Jackson may have had some uncontrollable attraction to little boys (and perhaps would have been flummoxed by this week’s congressional push and Supreme Court ruling suggesting, respectively, that you should give junior high girls breast exams for highly-unlikely breast cancer but should not examine their underwear for over the counter painkillers), but John Lennon was an outright sadist, as historian Christine Caldwell Ames has explained to me, doing things like mocking the mentally retarded during his concerts and relishing telling his first wife about every single time he cheated on her, while he was dumping her on a long plane flight.
The man was a monster but was beloved by peaceniks and enlightened capitalism-bashers everywhere — much like his contemporary Mao Tse-Tung (which reminds me: don’t forget our debate on economic doom, July 1). Perhaps, like so many politicians (see: Mark Sanford), he felt the need to preach in favor of the things that he lacked in his own private life (sexual self-discipline in Sanford’s case, kindness and love in Lennon’s — we’ve seen these sorts of public/private compensatory patterns too many times now to consider them mere ironic aberrations).
There is simply nothing lower than a sadist, almost by definition — a deliberate source of suffering in a world that already has too much of it. But I’ll say more about that in a week, since I’ve promised economist John Bellettiere I’ll explain and defend utilitarianism a bit more. Before that, though, lest I sound too kindhearted and soft, let’s finish up the week of rock over the next few days with entries about the rough-sounding Pixies, the hard-living members of Guns N’ Roses, and the tomboys of the 80s, though we’ll finish up with a gentle Ferry on Tuesday.
P.S. Speaking of Brunei, it’s always worth reminding people that the name of their head of state is His Majesty Paduka Seri Baginda Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah.
P.P.S. Speaking of heads of state, you’ve gotta imagine there’s someone in the Obama administration, desperate for press coverage, wondering right now, “Can we argue Jackson would have lived if we had socialized medicine?”
Lennon was also a prominent supporter of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s why the Nixon administration attempted to deport him in the 1970s.
Speaking of the Provos, I got a chance to see what I consider to be the best concert band on the planet this past Friday night, notwithstanding their decidedly unpalatable political views and fondness for the drink.
On The One Road
Oddly enough, I was there with a Puerto Rican and a Spaniard.
On a similar note, Scott Nybakken and I were in the audience for at least one performance by talented NYC-based Irish expats Black 47, named after the darkest year of the potato famine, and though I don’t know their precise political views, they would periodically shout their own band’s name, occasionally with a fist in the air: “Black 47!!” We found ourselves doing so for no particular reason on occasion thereafter.
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