Michael Jackson

It took me a while to read the New York Times magazine profile of Chris Christie, but this anecdote struck me: Last April, for instance, Christie claimed to be infuriated by a joke memo circulated by the president of the Bergen County chapter of the union. “Dear Lord,” it read in part, “this year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman, Billy Mays.

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I have an odd affinity for pop music that came out from 1982 through 1984. I'm not completely sure why that is. Those were the only years I listened to a lot of top 40 radio. I'm not sure if I like the music from that period better because I was an impressionable kid with immature tastes, or if I'd still like that music if I heard it for the first time today. Moreover, do I like the music from those years because I just happened to be listening to pop music on the radio then, or did I stop listening starting around 1985 because the music got worse?

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Having survived the past 25 years without ever having written the words "we," "are," "the," and "world" in that sequence in a sentence, I am bringing up the oppressively overhyped Haiti-earthquake version of that anthem of superstar piety only because it connects to some of the issues I've started to discuss here over the past few weeks. There is not much to say that's worth saying about the recent video, which brings Quincy Jones together with a digitally generated avatar of Michael Jackson and a surgically generated facsimile of Lionel Richie.

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Pretending

The Beatles: Rock Band Guitar Hero When smug old children of the 1970s such as my friends and I get together, we play a game. We talk about the bands we loved when we were kids; we trade grumbles about the fact that music no longer seems to dominate youth culture, as we nostalgically recall the role that rock had in our past; and we try to guess what happened. I call this a game and not a discussion, because really it is diverting silliness that boils down to a competition to reach an agreed-upon goal--that is, to prove our generation’s superiority to our successors.

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Happy is the eye that saw all this, but our souls were anguished by what our ear heard." This is the refrain of an ancient poem in the liturgy of Yom Kippur, a lament for its author's belatedness.

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In the last month, Michael Jackson departed us for the great Neverland in the sky, and Jon dumped Kate for a younger woman. And yet, with perhaps the grim exception of Larry King, health care reform is now dominating the media. These days, you can't turn on the news, flip through a newspaper, or open a Web browser without hearing about it. And the material is hardly frothy. Should insurance exchanges include firewalls? Should we change the Sustainable Growth Rate? Is it time to create an Independent Medicare Advisory Council?

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Bread And Circuses

Obama, after being asked about Michael Jackson during an interview in Moscow with ABC's Jake Tapper: “You know, this is part of American culture,” the president said. “Michael Jackson, like Elvis, like Sinatra, when somebody who’s captivated the imagination of the country for that long passes away, people pay attention and I assume at some point people will start focusing again on things like nuclear weapons.” Update: Michael Calderone says Fox's Major Garrett was the only network correspondent not to ask Obama about Jackson. Good for him to stick to the substantive stuff.

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I have been telling friends for fifteen years that Michael Jackson would not live past fifty, although I didn't expect to be so precisely on the mark. An overdose, a botched medical procedure, or maybe just something as fortuitous as a car accident. That is, I sensed nothing as mundane as a death wish or as common as self-destructive tendencies. It just always seemed to me that there was something unreachably and definitively absent about the man.

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Tnr On Michael Jackson

Child wonder turned pop superstar Michael Jackson died today at the age of 50. TNR has written much about the singer over the years. Here is a sampling: "Over the (Bigger) Rainbow" by Stanley Kauffmann, November 11, 1978. "Migraine Heaven" by Jim Miller, June 19, 1980. "The Prisoner Of Commerce" by Michael Kinsley, April 16, 1984.   "Beat It TRB", letters to the editor, May 14, 1984. "Thriller: Me And Michael Jackson" by Peter Sagal, March 30, 1992 Kinsley's piece drew the most attention.

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Reagan On Jacko

An entry from Ronald Reagan's diary, excerpted this month in Vanity Fair: Mon. May 14--A Ceremony on the S. Lawn to honor young Michael Jackson who is the sensation of the pop music world--believed to have earned $120 mil. last year. He is giving proceeds from one of his biggest selling records to the campaign against drunk driving. He is totally opposed to Drugs and Alcohol and is using his popularity to influence young people against them.

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