"Wasn't nothing strange about your daddy," said Al Sharpton to Michael Jackson's children. "It was strange what your daddy had to deal with." It's an interesting statement, and sure to be one of the most talked-about moments in the star-studded series finale that was the Jackson memorial. It was a substantial departure from even the reverent line of MJ discourse that dominated the event. To omit his oddity from the discussion, sure. To accept his eccentricities as part of his mystique, fair enough.
But to take the explicit position, in front of God and everybody, not only that the man wasn't strange but there was nothing strange about him? Gimme a break, Al Sharpton. I mean, dude, you know I agree with like 99.9 percent of what comes out of your mouth, but this is really crossing the line. Call Michael a hero, call him a saint, credit him with getting Obama elected, but don't try to take "strange" away from us.
I certainly acknowledge that now isn't the appropriate time to sling mud at Michael Jackson. That was last month. (Related: did you guys notice Q magazine's sheepish apology for the unflattering Jacko cover story that just happened to hit stands the day he died? Whoopsie-doodle!) Now's the time to remember his many joyful songs and funny dances, to sweep all the unpleasant stuff under the rug — and when confronted with it, to remind people that he never actually got convicted of anything, and that that little cancer boy's mom was a dingbat anyway. Now's the time to remember him not for what he was rumored to be but for what he was. A great singer. A fantastic entertainer. A really fucking strange person.
He was strange. Indisputably, empirically, certifiably strange. Delightfully strange in some cases, disturbingly strange in others. Either he was strange or every single other person who ever lived was strange, and most of us never punctuated our actions by grabbing our crotches and hooting mirthfully (at least in public). Even if he hadn't been famous, if nothing whatsoever had been alleged regarding his personal predilections, you could peg the dude as strange from three city blocks away on a foggy night.
I would even go so far as to posit that Michael Jackson fits every conceivable definition of the word "strange." Let's put it to a little test, shall we? Now, I gotta say, I hate it just as much as you do when someone resorts to the "Webster's Dictionary defines 'strange' as . . . " bit, but rest assured, I use only Random House.
1unusual, extraordinary or curious; odd; queer | There's certainly nothing controversial about any of these characterizations in regard to Michael Jackson. Well, you might get in some hot water if you bandied the last one about too loosely, but as long as you mean it in the classical sense . . .
2estranged, alienated, etc., as a result of being out of one's natural environment | A tragic element of his story, but an undeniable one. He was always alienated, persecuted, out of place even in his own skin. Neverland, the bizarre habitat he built in his own image, is a concrete symptom of this strangeness.
3situated, belonging or coming from outside of one's own locality; foreign "Stranger in Moscow," anybody? C'mon, he even wrote a song about this one.
4outside of one's previous experience; hitherto unknown; unfamiliar Michael Jackson, and I'm sure Sharpton would agree, was the very definition of "hitherto unknown."
5unaccustomed to or inexperienced in; unacquainted. (usually fol. by to): "I'm strange to this part of the job." Certainly Michael's strangeness also made him strange to many things: he was strange to the notion of privacy, strange to the vagaries of adult love, strange to a normal life. I'll admit that this one is a little flimsy, but c'mon — this is just the shittiest way to use the word.
6distant or reserved; shy. | Well, yeah. He's dead.
DAVID THORPE |firstname.lastname@example.org