Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mike and the microphone

Michael Jackson's Memorial service was an emotionally-charged event that attracted millions of fans and billions of viewers. Thousands were given the chance to pay their respects to the greatest entertainer the world has even known. Listening to Michael Jackson stories brought back good memories.

On June 25, 2009, it was hard to believe that Michael Jackson passed away. The night before, Michael Jackson was dancing and singing up a storm. When his death was confirmed, you didn't want to believe it. It was surreal. You hoped you were dreaming. The sad truth: Michael had left the world well before his time.

After the extensive news coverage, I started to think about what Michael Jackson really meant to my family, to me, and to the world. The memorial service helped everyone remember the good times. A classy group of entertainers, Lionel Richie, Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Brooke Shields, and Usher, honored a legend. I immediately remembered about a Michael Jackson microphone I got for Christmas during the early 80's.

When I was a child, I wanted a Michael Jackson microphone, one you could use to sing many of his hit songs. As with millions of people, Michael's music and dancing inspired me. I was able to watch his mind-boggling performances as they played live on television and in many venues. It was common to see Michael perform. You expected him to be around.

During every Christmas in the early 80's, I usually camped out in the living room - near the site of the Christmas tree. I would try to guess what was inside each and every wrapped package.

There was one time when I couldn't resist the temptation to open a present. On Christmas Eve, I tore a small piece away from the wrapping paper covering my gift, which revealed a Michael Jackson microphone. I didn't care about any of the other presents. I was so excited about the gift.

Michael Jackson entered our household and influenced the lives of many people across the globe. You always thought he would be around forever. Michael Jackson wasn't supposed to die now.

My dad had a wide collection of Michael Jackson's most popular albums. This was well before CD players entered into our lives and made music more accessible. I used to listen to Michael Jackson on one of my dad's old record players.

My little brothers were big Michael Jackson fans too. Their favorite MJ songs were Beat It and Thriller. My mother's favorite song was Billie Jean. Michael Jackson was like family. He wasn't considered a stranger. It felt as if you knew him personally.

In the 80's, some fun centers were converted into discos. One popular place, Scandia Fun Center, attracted huge crowds, especially on weekend nights. As I passed by, I remembered seeing excited people dancing to Michael Jackson's music. I was too young to enter the disco, otherwise I would have been doing the moonwalk and popping.

The main reason I knew about the discos was because my dad worked part time as a security guard. In addition to his military job, he took on this security position to keep busy and to earn extra money.

Many times, my dad used to give me tokens to play the arcades. I would enjoy snacks: nachos, coke, hamburgers, and pretzels. My father's co-workers would escort me. I used to ride the train around the fun center.

Between the outside speakers, the disco, and inside the fun center, listening to Michael Jackson's music and how it made people happy was powerful.

Many fun and youth centers held break dancing competitions. Michael Jackson's songs were in many of the performances. The top performers received prizes for their efforts. While I wanted to enter the contests, I never took part in any of these competitions because I thought that others were better than me.

Michael Jackson was always there, entertaining people and making them happy. When Michael Jackson passed, he took an entire generation with him.

At the end of Michael Jackson's Memorial, there was a static shot of a microphone. The space was empty. Only a light flashed down from above, filling the space with a bright, invisible presence. You could imagine Michael singing, dancing, and smiling. Indeed, Michael was there, resting below. He was finally in peace, ready to perform in the hearts of millions. Michael symbolized the microphone; the light, the magic, and the hope that filled the space with harmony.

Looking back, I noticed how Michael Jackson was always there to help people make it through the tough times. He entertained teenagers during high school proms. He made dreams possible. He lived for others.

Michael's passing made me realize that life is a gift that we should enjoy. Too many people judge, criticize, and hate others. They never forgive and persecute those that make mistakes. The world needs more people like Michael Jackson. Some people will disagree, mentioning the allegations, drug abuse, and the strangeness.

Michael never intentionally harmed a soul. He loved the world with his immense heart. His heart was as big as the entire universe. Anyone can be accused of any crime. Michael never gave up hope and continued to invest his energy into raising three fascinating children and bringing happiness to millions of people. His life changed the world.

Michael Jackson performed for millions of people. While it appeared that dancing and singing were his first love, he enjoyed the real and simple experiences the most. He rarely had the chance to live life as it should be lived. We take our simple lives for granted. We need to treat each day as if it were our last. Respect life for what it is - a gift.

I remembered staring and thinking about the gift, knowing that on Christmas I would be able to use the microphone to sing Beat It and to perform Michael Jackson's awesome moves. Every Michael Jackson song sparked a memory.

Though I could never master Michael Jackson's talents, the microphone gave me chance to escape reality; to enter a surreal world to imitate the "The King of Pop." Michael Jackson will always be the best. His memory will be in every microphone of every singer and in every person that listens to music and wants to help the world to become a better place.

Michael Jackson was more than just a talented entertainer, he was a rare, kind person that opened his arms to the world. He made this world a better place to live. Michael Jackson brought back many good memories. These memories can never be taken away; they will live on forever. Michael Jackson's memory will warm the hearts and inspire the minds of millions of thankful fans.

RIP Michael Jackson

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