Michael Jackson

I can’t speak for how the rest of the country reacted to Michael Jackson’s death, but I can speak for New York City. Of course, you probably already know about the many gatherings in Times Square and outside the Apollo Theater. These fan gatherings have been broadcast on national television since Jackson’s death. It’s odd to be watching the coverage and to realize that I’m only a subway ride away from Times Square or Harlem. I could have easily made my way to these gatherings, but I was most likely content with just watching it on CNN.

What has fascinated me most is that the city has been running on a constant Michael Jackson soundtrack for the last two weeks. The bars and clubs have been playing MJ music more than usual, especially that first weekend. Even Blockbuster is playing all MJ all the time. Both times I waited in line for Shakespeare in the Park tickets (and failed), the same flautist went up and down the line of people and played “Billy Jean.” Subway musicians especially have pulled from MJ’s songbook. Just today at the 86th Street stop on the 6, I saw and heard a man playing “I’ll Be There” on the clarinet.

Then there are those who are just trying to make a little money. Vendors who once only sold pictures of Times Square and the Empire State Building have added framed photos of the King of Pop to their stands. T-shirt vendors have popped up everywhere. My favorite was the vendor at Coney Island who will hand-paint an MJ T-shirt for only $20, even creepy ones like these:


T-shirt at Coney Island

T-shirt at Coney Island


I was at the office when I actually heard the news. I think it was rather fitting that I was at an entertainment magazine when I heard that one of the greatest entertainers ever had died. Thanks to Twitter, I was the first intern to hear about the cardiac arrest. I went numb when I saw that TMZ reported Jackson was dead. We waited and waited to hear word from someone besides TMZ, but when I heard the owner of the company declare that “TMZ is the best,” that pretty much gave me my answer. I decided to go home, and as I waited at the elevator banks, the receptionist’s radio announced that the LA Times had confirmed Jackson’s death. Just then the elevator doors opened, and I exited the building not knowing if the people swarming around me in Midtown knew what I knew.

I know a lot of you are tired of the media coverage, but prepare yourself because it won’t end anytime soon. Do you know why the story continues? Because Michael Jackson was the biggest and strangest figure in pop culture in at least the last 30 years. His death has an enormous cultural impact, and the world needs to come to terms with his absence. Maybe it’s just because I like seeing entertainment journalism in the spotlight or maybe it’s because I really like hearing MJ music in the subway, but I don’t think I’m going to get tired of the story for a while.


1 Response to “Michael Jackson”

  1. 1 katedarnell
    July 22, 2009 at 6:52 AM

    Hey, Cassie. It’s Kate — enjoyed this (there’ve been some interesting reactions here, but overall the French seem more fascinated by our reactions than honestly interested that MJ died.

    I’d love to know how things are going in NYC! Send me an email sometime or you can do things à la me and comment on my blog sometime: http://parispost.wordpress.com/

    See you later!

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A blog about my summer as an unpaid intern in New York City.

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