Thursday, June 25, 2009


Michael Jackson's death has the cable pundits speculating on parallels between the King of Pop and the Queen of Pulp, Anna Nicole Smith. Both so sad, the talking heads say. Both so alike.

Gah. Let the heads blather with their short-term memory. Jackson's death is simply Elvis Presley, Part Two. We have a Memphis newspaper from Aug. 17, 1977, the morning after Presley literally left the building. The early word then was that Presley died of a heart attack. Heart just stopped. Nothing to see here, so take care of your own business and move along.

Hindsight gives us the real story -- Presley keeling off the toilet, colon clogged from too many years relying on a bad diet of fatty foods and tasty prescription pills. "Cardiac arrest" was only the technical cause of death, and there was nothing natural about why Presley's heart stopped after a brief 42 years.

Michael Jackson died Thursday of cardiac arrest at 50. Another ticker technicality. In recent years, Jackson admitted under oath that he'd replaced Bubbles the Chimp with a new monkey, this one biting into the back of his neck thanks to doctors willing to write 'scripts to a musical genius. No useless filler, like those pesky street bags of smack. Only the best legal high for pop-culture royalty.

Friends say Jackson was clean and working hard, preparing for his ironically named "This Is It" concert tour. The tox reports may show nothing acute. The damage was chronic.

The thirty and fortysomethings are freaked out tonight, just like our older siblings and parents were when Elvis died. And like Godfather II, EP2 is better than the original. Elvis could sing and swivel, but he couldn't write a decent song. MJ walked around with "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" percolating in his head. He was the most magnificent entertainer in the last half of the last century, and maybe that's why he was such a freak. Great genius, great madness. A thinner line than the one separating love and hate.

Elvis Part II is a story so massive, MTV broke format on Thursday and started playing Michael Jackson videos. Imagine -- videos on MTV. If that's what it takes, get Madonna on an experimental plane, stat.