Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Moonwalking with the Man in the Mirror

OK, I'm coming out of the closet. I actually have seen Michael Jackson in concert.

I'm not kidding.

It was 1984 or 85-ish, and he and his brothers were doing the Victory Tour. It was a really big deal. My first time for getting "frisked" and checked with a metal detector wand as I entered the venue - Michael at that time was very concerned about his image and didn't want it snapped into anyone's camera. (Funny, I don't think I ever entertained the thought that someone might bring in a weapon...they were making a really big deal about cameras for this tour, as though they posed some sort of risk to society). I also remember that button-fly jeans were a big hit back then, and the girl that went to the concert with me set off the metal detector!

Anyway, we drove to Knoxville, TN, where UT plays football. The aforementioned girl I was with liked Michael Jackson's music. Pepsi Cola was a big sponsor of this tour, and since I had some family in the Pepsi business, I got tickets. Really GOOD tickets - we were on row 14 in a stadium that probably had 70,000 people in attendance. The biggest tower of speakers I'll probably every witness - 14 rows from my seat, right in front of me. Up to that time, I didn't know that sound could make you physically shake like that. (Now, I have flashbacks every time I pull up to my local convenience station and some dude who has spent every dime of his last 5 paychecks on his sound system decides to leave it on 11 while he goes in to get a Slurpie. I guess he wants to hear his profanity-laced rantings over the hum of the cappuccino machine...in most cases, the sound system is the only thing holding his car together anyway...)

Two observations that I made that night at Neland Stadim remember to this day...
  1. Though I'm not a fan, it was an unbelievable show. Lots of pyrotechnics and illusions and "wow factor" stuff. Probably happens in lots of shows (I'm sure Sting, Jagger and Bono have tigers and giant puppet-like figures that hover around the stage mimicing the actions of a frog drowning in a torrential rain, all the while sitting on the edge of the stage wiping tears with their hankies while singing "She's Out Of My Life..."). Up to that point, I hadn't been out of the house much, and I didn't hang with anyone like Michael in the foothills of Appalachia where I was raised. In fact, no one existed in Appalachia like Michael. So it was all new to me. I was impressed with the "show" part of the evening. And hey, Tito, Jermaine and the lesser-known Jackson boys were there too. Bonus.
  2. As peculiar (believe me, there are lots of words I would like to use here, but I'm committed to being nice) as MJ is, nothing scares me more than his legion of followers. I witnessed that night (remember, row 14) young girls crying, screaming, knees buckling (and not just at the concession prices!), the likes of which I had only seen before on old clips of Elvis concerts. As a side note, the girl I took to the concert wasn't buying all that either - we both just sort of looked at each other with that "what's wrong with these people" look.

That brings me to today. Couple of random thoughts as I was somewhat forced to see and hear everything there was to see and hear about the Gloved One - only becuase it was everywhere. First, what's wrong with people? I'm not talking about MJ or the jury. But people out in the streets crying, fainting in jubilation, spending 4 weeks away from families (not to mention THEIR JOBS!) to camp out at the courthouse. I've racked my brain and honestly don't know for whom or what I would behave in similar fashion, outside of blood relatives. Second, I'm a big fan of our country and our justice system though sometimes, granted, it puzzles me. What struck me this morning is the obligatory jury interviews. I'm not saying anything here about whether I think MJ is guilty, innocent, or odd. OK, I take that back - he's odd. I know he was found "not guilty" by our system. But did you hear the jurors? I know, there are lots of angles to this, but its almost as though they decided that the accuser's mom was "guilty" of being a money-hungry opportunist - not to mention a little weird herself - and once they wrote her off, MJ was free. Couldn't she still be all of the aforementioned things and he still be guilty? Just a thought...

A couple of things to wrap up...

  1. I can't believe I'm writing about this....
  2. If you have high speed access, watch Letterman's Top 10 list about the Jackson verdict
  3. As a Christian, I know we shouldn't judge. That doesn't mean we won't struggle with the temptation to do so. So I struggle, as do many. So if I have sounded judgmental at all, I'm sorry (was calling MJ "odd" judgmental? isn't that sort of like calling Shaq "tall?")
  4. I'm sure the "average" MJ disciple/follower who cries and faints and knees buckle in his presence could follow me for a day and find things/people that I worship, adore, praise. My hope/prayer/goal is that they might see that for me, God gets most, if not all, of my energy. I want to be after His fame, not my own or anyone else's.

"Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; YOUR NAME and RENOWN are the desire of our hearts." - Isaiah 26:8

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