Music + Movies + Books

One year.

It has been one year since Michael Jackson died.

Looking back at the post I wrote 365 days ago, it’s clear to me that I really did not fully understand on that day just how much of an impact he had on my life, or how greatly his death would affect me.

I remember much of that afternoon quite clearly. The panic as I was leaving work, the text messages and phone calls from my friend Pam. The confusion and the confirmation. The feeling of the ground dropping out from under me as I walked to Grand Central to take a train home. Evan was working late, and my mother drove me home from the ferry. I sat in her car and forced myself to not cry because I knew that kind of reaction would be irrational. But why?

The death of a celebrity is a strange thing. Everything about celebrity is strange, actually. We know them but we don’t know them, and they don’t know us at all—or at least not as individuals. It’s nearly as one-sided a relationship as possible, but the extent and depth of emotion we’re capable of feeling for these strangers should not be underestimated.

There are a hundred reasons why Michael Jackson’s death has affected me so deeply, and none of them are unimportant. I feel what I feel, and I stopped apologizing for it a long time ago. (Though I suppose the need to even say that is, in itself, a kind of apology. Oh well.)

It’s been a strange year. On one hand, it’s a relief to see documentation of certain things (yes, even the autopsy confirms vitiligo; no, the extensive FBI files weren’t hiding any sordid tales; yes, he really was extorted, multiple times; yes, the media did completely mislead the public for 16 years; no, there isn’t anyone who knew him with anything bad to say; yes, his three children are beautiful and amazing and they love him very much; yes, that fire on the Pepsi set was way more horrible than any of us realized; yes, he really did give away that much money; yes, a lot of people took horrible advantage of this man with a big, big heart; …and yes, he just might have been the nicest person ever), it’s very frustrating and sad for a lifetime fan who has spent many hours over many years reading a great number of legal documents and court transcripts to not be able to say, “I told you so”.

I just wish all of the voices speaking out on Michael’s behalf now would have done so years ago.

But enough about that.

The word “icon” gets tossed around an awful lot, but it’s impossible to overuse when talking about Michael Jackson. Everything the man wore became instantly identifiable as an extension of who he was an artist. Of course the first thing most people think of is the single, glittering glove, but that’s just the tip of the MJ fashion iceberg. Beyond the glove, we have the cropped pants, the white socks, the loafers, the fedora, the zippered red jacket, the red jeans, the military-style jacket, the white-taped fingers, the sequined cardigan, the Mickey Mouse shirt, the aviator-style Ray Bans, the armband, the surgical mask, the red button-down, the umbrella, the arm brace, the shinguards, the bow tie, the gold pants…and so on. From just a few photos and some film shot last spring, it’s now impossible to see a peaked-shoulder Balmain jacket or a pair of bright orange Dior Homme jeans without thinking of Michael. Anything he chose to wear became his. How amazing is that? And I’m just talking about fashion here—I haven’t even touched on the music and the dance!

The fact is that Michael Jackson had something that no one else has ever had or ever will have. He was and continues to be utterly compelling to watch and listen to because every aspect of his being as an entertainer was in perfect harmony. Nothing was done by mistake or without reason, but the overall effect is one of total effortlessness. His movements, his voice, his appearance: Like breathing.

It’s hard for me to write this. I could keep going and going and never finish, becoming more and more disjointed with my thoughts and failing miserably at paying any kind of real tribute. Ultimately, the best way to honor Michael is by listening to his music. I learned that last August 29th, when I stood in Prospect Park with 20,000 other Michael Jackson fans, singing and dancing and weeping and remembering how much joy this man has brought us over the years. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an outpouring of love for strangers in one place before in my life. But as always, Michael loved us more.

Photographs from Arno Bani, MJJ Pictures, Todd Gray, and Jeffrey Scales. Video for “This Is It” directed by Spike Lee.

Please, just this once, skip this post and don’t comment if you aren’t interested or don’t understand why I feel the way that I do. I don’t need to convince anyone of anything. This is for me and for others who are commemorating the anniversary of a loss that did matter to a lot of people. Thank you.

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  • Reply Katherine June 25, 2010 at 2:44 am

    He was a weirdo, but I loved him anyway. I can’t believe it’s been a year – in so many ways, it still doesn’t seem real. I think I finally realized it when I was rewatching ‘This Is It” and I knew that we’d never have seen him practicing unless he was gone, his perfectionism wouldn’t have allowed it, but I’m so glad to have seen him rehearsing and learned a little bit about his process.

    I love that first photograph, btw, thanks for sharing. I never would have seen it otherwise.

  • Reply Becka June 25, 2010 at 2:55 am

    I completely identify with your feelings of an overly emotional response to his death being irrational, I mean like you say we didn’t actually know the man. And when I found out that he died I was jarred by how intensely I felt it, but like you say celebrity is strange pretty much by definition so if you take away that aspect of it what you have left is the loss of someone you liked, loved, were inspired by, had filled your life in one way or another and are at the same time watching others who did know that person personally grieve their loss. That is heart wrenching and it should be perfectly ok to say and feel that.

    All this to say, thank you for this post! I agree that the best tribute is his music, so I’m going to an indulge in some before bed.

  • Reply tamstyles June 25, 2010 at 3:10 am

    Hmmm. Sorry I dont think he was a Weirdo. I loved him. I recall the day as well. I was at work and could not believe what I was hearing. It was confirmed on the radio as I drove home, and I cried…cried like a baby. I was hurt. Hurt now as I even type this with tears foaming in my eyes. He was my first love. He made me dance, made me cry…made me watch his every move. I went to his concert at the age of 9 and was in awww. I can still see myself staring at the stage because I could not understand how great he was. I hate that the media and the world took the goodness of his heart and tried to transform it into something strange, weird, and ugly. He was who is was with a GIANT heart. They tore into him like he was worthless. But his real fans knew his heart, and who he was. There will never be another entertainer that can do what he has done. EVER! Race was never an issue with him. He was loved by all. I know he will live forever because of his music. My son who is 10 loves him. He has his posters all over his room, the doll, glove…yea we went MJ crazy. But the generations wont let him die. Thanks Anna for keeping it real, and posting these posts. You are the only blogger that I can relate to when it comes to the extent of love for this man that I have never met, but feel like I have known my whole life. Thanks for not apologizing for your love for him, and letting the world know what he meant to you!


  • Reply chrispito June 25, 2010 at 3:18 am

    Music is magic, and soul-affirming.

  • Reply Lydia June 25, 2010 at 3:19 am

    I don’t think he was a weirdo either. Since when is doing what you enjoy, not following the masses in a stupendous / wasteful life (e.g. excessive drinking / partying etc), working hard to achieve your goals, pushing the limits of creativity etc. make you a weird person?! Not everyone can just sit at home and whine about how their life is so terrible and become a drone without lifting one pinkie to change it.

    I remember finding out he died, I was on a trip in Greece. I had bought 4 tickets to go see him at the O2 arena on two different dates and for some reason I just knew it would never happen. It sucks.

    Glad to see him finally proved innocent but sad how it had to happen. How pathetic to bring down a genius just because you can’t do what they do and have to fabricate and perpetuate lies just to sell magazines / get money. Then when they die it’s all like – we all knew he was innocent and look here. I mean f*cking assholes look at yourself.

  • Reply godo June 25, 2010 at 3:33 am

    i totally understand. like you, i am a child of the 80s and felt the impact he had on the world. he influenced everything, transcending any barrier of race, sex, religion, generation. his talent is unmatched. his genuine, compassionate spirit is unmatched. i will always love him, sincerely.

  • Reply Amanda June 25, 2010 at 3:52 am

    Love love love love love this post. I have goose bumps.

    Michael forever.

  • Reply Ludmila June 25, 2010 at 4:38 am

    I loved this post, Anna! I could feel all the admiration and love you have for MJ. Very touching and I can only try to understand how you feel now when he’s gone. Be strong! xo

  • Reply Fiona June 25, 2010 at 5:19 am

    We were driving through France on a family camping holiday and I remember my brothers and I putting our francs together to buy Thriller on cassette. We didn’t think we’d be allowed play it because my dad was a music teacher and choirmaster with very conservative tastes. But he heard the tape and insisted on playing it all the way from Cherbourg to Bordeaux, going on and on about how perfect it was. He kept stopping and replaying bits to expound on rhythm shifts and composition till the cassette got chewed and we had to get another one. Happy days.

  • Reply Frank June 25, 2010 at 5:25 am

    Thank you for this piece and all the other pieces you wrote about Michael over the past year. I went through a lot of the same emotions you described, particularly in the days after his death. I remember watching his memorial service and feeling utter, utter grief. I couldn’t understand it at first but I realised that he wasn’t just a celebrity but a significant, integral part to my life and I was losing him. He got me through so many tough moment growing up and provided great pleasure at other times and now he was gone. He was once the epitome of health and vitality and he died in a such sad, cruel circumstances. He was this great intelligence, genius at his many crafts but no more. The grief isn’t intense like it was but it’s still there. I feel very sad today.

  • Reply Vanessa June 25, 2010 at 5:43 am

    I still can’t believe it’s been a year. Of course he was different than most of us, but people were cruel beyond words to him for his entire life. With nothing to back it up other than rumors. People could honor him in death, but not in life, and it makes me so angry every time I think about how awful people can be. But he brought a lot of joy to the world, and I try to remember those moments.

  • Reply Viv June 25, 2010 at 5:46 am

    I can’t believe it has been a year. Surely it hasn’t been that long already? I think it is almost impossible to not have been affected by his death in some way. He helped shape music as we know it. I remember as a child trying to moonwalk. How many other people in the world would have tried it too? I also remember watching Thriller for the first time. I was transfixed to the tv screen. It was amazing. Amazing!

    His songs remind me of my childhood and teenage years. When a song of his comes on the radio it takes me back to a time that I would ordinarily forget in my day to day life. For that I thank him.

    Thank you for this post Anna.

  • Reply lola June 25, 2010 at 6:07 am

    Wow, I was just talking to a coworker about his death and how I couldn’t understand why people got so upset. I don’t have any bad feelings about it. I remember the day Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston split and I felt like I got punched in the stomach and I’m not even really a fan of either of them.

    I understand now and I’m really glad you wrote this especially the part where you are done apologizing because you feel what you feel. I get it now and I’m sorry for your loss.

  • Reply laura June 25, 2010 at 6:07 am

    Lovely heartfelt post Anna, I felt the same way when Luther Vandross died, I couldn’t quite explain why I was so, so upset, and felt strange trying to explain it to close relatives, but he bought/brings me joy every time I hear him sing.

  • Reply DawnMarie June 25, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Thank you for this post. I have always been a fan of his. Even when it was not cool to do so because the media was attacking him. I always felt he was a kind person with a heart larger thank anyone else. His death saddened me beyond words. Some people understand, some do not. It is nice to be in the company of others who understand the void I feel from someone I have never met.

  • Reply Viv June 25, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Oh I forgot to add. His was the first concert I ever attended. No other concert I have been to has come close to being as exciting and as amazing as his. I remember he stood still on the stage at the opening of the concert for what felt like an eternity. I remember the thrill and the anticipation of waiting for him to move. I remember my heart beating fast and without realising it I was also holding my breath.. waiting. And then when he moved slightly the audience erupted. What an amazing entertainer. He didn’t have to do anything and he had everyone transfixed and when he did move it was magical.

  • Reply Nancy June 25, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Wow… it’s hard.
    I don’t know how I found this website, but it was propably Michael that took me here.
    Let me explain, I am from France and I’ve been a huge -huge- Michael Jackson fan for many years, and the 25th of June 2009 has been one of the hardest day of my life. When I learned the sad new it was alreday the 26th in France, it was early in the morning and I was getting prepared to get operated… It was a total NIGHTMARE! I was in a complete state of shock. When they took me in the operating room, the radio was on, and guess what we could hear… Even under anesthetic I could hear “Blame it on the boogie”. I remember I was feeling very bad, not knowing where I was and what was happening. When the operation was over, all the nurses went around me and asked what was going on with me. Apparently I cried during all the operation and I could not stop shaking, so much that they had to hold me tight. the biggest problem was that it was an operation situated on the eye and everytime I cried, the stitches broke and I started to bleed. It felt like I was an extension of MJ and I was (re)living his death. It was surreal.
    Anyway, I was completely mentally destroyed and I found your website. I read all the things you wrote, and I recognized myself everytime in what you described. I have the same feelings and I passed through the same emotions. I’ve always felt completely alone in my passion for MJ, as nobody understands me, but when I come here, I feel like I am not the only one to feel like that, I am not crazy and I know other people are in the same exact situation. So then I started to visit your site every 25th, and I discovered photos I had never seen, and words that touched me. God, it feels good!
    I knew I would discover something new today, the first anniversary, and I felt like I wanting to go further and write a message to express my feelings too. I don’t know what to think in this day. I’m feeling alone, like every 25th and I wish I had people to share my sorrow with.
    Anyway, thank you very much for your words, and I encourage everybody in this sad day. Anniversaries are worth celebrating only if they represent bridges threw toward the future. We shall celebrate this day by listening to MJ’s music and why not by taking action and donate to associations that help children or any great causes that aim to make the world a better place. Michael spent his life trying to accomplish this goal, we must do it now that he’s gone. By the way, the website “ElusiveShadow” set up a new website called “Sentiersdelune” ( in association with a french charity called “Sos Enfants” (Sos Children). You can make a donation and post a message for Michael that will be sent to Forest Lawn. I thought it was a great initiative and I wanted to share it with you.
    Anyway, good luck everybody in this harsh day, we are all in the same situation..!
    And like Michael once said: Keep the Faith!
    L.O.V.E. Nancy.

  • Reply Danielle June 25, 2010 at 7:29 am

    This spring, Detroit lost an icon, Erine Harwell. I teared up at the news. The city cried for days. It was like we all came together because of this one man. Your post reminded me of those feelings.

    It may not make much sense that someone we only know from the TV or radio has passed, but we grew up with them! They were our childhood and still impacted us in our adulthood. I may not have been a huge Michael Jackson fan, but after hearing the news a year ago, I did feel like part of my childhood died.

  • Reply Nina June 25, 2010 at 7:54 am

    I know exactly what you mean about being a lifelong fan and how frustrating it is to sit through all of the reports and not be able to say, “I told you so.”

    This is just a portion of my LiveJournal post that took eight days to actually finish, but it best describes the confusion and pain I still feel:

    The past year has probably been one of the hardest ones I’ve had so far, for many reasons, but mostly b/c of Michael. It’s hard for me to fathom that an entire year has gone by without Michael Jackson on this planet; in some ways, it feels like he’s just in seclusion, raising Prince, Paris, and Blanket and I tend to honestly forget in that split-second of wishful thinking, but it never escapes me that he is no longer here. Accepting the fact that Michael is really gone is something that I still struggle with every day. Some people will never understand how or why the loss of someone you’ve never met has such an impact on you, but when you’ve grown up with that person in your life every day, when you’ve listened to them sing to you since before you were born, when you consciously try to live your life by the principles that they themselves espouse and in a way that you think would make them proud, you’re no longer losing just a stranger whom you’ve admired and idolized from afar, you’re losing a family member. On the other hand, it’s something that I just can’t understand; how can it still hurt this much? How can there still be tears when I’ve cried almost every day for a year? When will it start to get better? Will it ever? I think about how much pain and heartache I feel every day, and I feel guilty b/c I’m just a fan. I can’t imagine what Prince, Paris, Blanket, Katherine, and the rest of the family go through; I feel as if I don’t have any right to mourn him. There are so many things that I still don’t understand.

    I don’t understand how he can be gone.
    I don’t understand how people can be okay with that.
    I don’t understand how people don’t realize what we have lost.
    I don’t understand how anyone would ever want to hurt someone who just wanted to share his music and spread love.
    I don’t understand how people can just act like everything is the same.
    I don’t understand how people can’t see what an utterly beautiful and divine creature he is.
    I don’t understand why he’s not here.

    You and I have talked a lot about how much Michael means to us, and how difficult this past year has been. The sadness, the anger, the heartache…

    Thank you for writing this beautiful post and thank you for loving Michael as unconditionally as so many of us have. Love lives forever, and Michael will live on forever, through his children, through his music, through his love, and through us.

  • Reply kellee June 25, 2010 at 8:07 am

    ‘Bad’ was the first album on cassette that I ever owned. I was 9 years old and my eldest brother’s girlfriend, the supercool art school student, who I totally adored, gave it to me for my birthday. Until that point, my experience of Michael Jackson had all come from my elder sisters – watching them get ready to go out whilst listening to old recordings of ‘Farewell My Summer Love’ and ‘Blame It On The Boogie’ and just feeling connected to that sound, somehow, even at a such a young age.

    So to own my very own copy of a Michael Jackson album – the original, shop-bought version, not something taped from someone’s cousin’s brother, was magical. I remember the first time I listened to it. I didn’t really understand the lyrics or the structure of the songs, but I can remember distinctly physically moving to it, not being able to help myself. I played that album over and over, for years and years to come – all through my New Kids On The Block phase, all through my Bros phase, all through my James and Charlatans and Inspiral Carpets phase. As the many months and years went by, the lyrics meant more and more to me, I started to understand the sentiment, if not the experience, of Liberian Girl and I Just Can’t Stop Loving You, I started to understand the joy of The Way You Make Me Feel. I grew up – literally and emotionally – listening to that album and it’s still, at 32, one of my favourites.

    I could never believe the bad things written and said about Michael throughout his life. I was never one of the ones laughing at the jokes about Bubbles, or all the terrible trials and slander he suffered throughout his life. In my own quiet way, I always believed in him. I felt like my connection to him was personal – I never wore MJ t-shirts (though I did once wear black jeans and a white t-shirt to a dance that all my friends were dressing themselves up to the hilt for – I was in love with ‘Leave Me Alone’ at the time and it was a protest, of sorts) but my connection with him was so intimate and thankful.

    I’m glad it hasn’t left me. He died in the most awful, lonely circumstances, but I can’t help thinking that he would have been positive about life at all times, despite the horror created by some of those around him. I believe that’s just who he was and why his love for people in general was so real and genuine – that’s the only way he knew how to be.

  • Reply Kerri June 25, 2010 at 8:25 am

    Gosh, I feel so very much the way you do, Anna. I can’t believe it’s been a year either. Holy cow. I completely remember the day, too. I first heard that he was in a coma and had been taken to the hospital on the tv at the gym. By the end of my workout, the station was tentatively reporting that he was dead. I couldn’t believe it. It all seemed so unreal and it still does today.

    I never believed a word of the crap the media said about him. I truly feel he was an innocent soul that was completely and totally taken advantage of. Was he an oddball? Sure, but aren’t we all in some way? Long live MJ.

  • Reply Krystle June 25, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Absolutely a beautiful post. Thank you Anna.

  • Reply megan June 25, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I was one of those people who bought the line the media was selling for all those years. For some reason I actually feel guilty for believing that Michael Jackson was some sort of monster. If one good thing came from his death is that people like me learned the truth in a way that we would not have if he had died at 80 from natural causes. I have to believe that someone like his who cared about his fans and was so devistated by the lies would be happy the truth is out and that his music is the overwhelming legacy and the public has all but forgotten all the crap.

    Sorry for your loss and the loss of all the real fans out there. I was not the fan you all were. I liked his music but never really got involved with man behind it. I enjoyed singing along on the radio and watching the videos and maybe if there were more people like that he would have had more peace in life that hopefuly he is having in death.

  • Reply kat June 25, 2010 at 9:10 am

    “It takes guts to be gentle and kind,” as Morrissey eloquently put it. I can’t think of a more appropriate way of summing up what you’ve written here. Though I don’t know enough about MJ to speak as you have, I do know that you’d have to have been living under a rock for the past few decades not to have been positively influenced by him in some small way!

    I understand the admiration you have and the frustrations you feel. As much as I don’t want to believe it, I think kind and selfless people are a rarity. And I think people don’t know what to do with kindness when they encounter it, particularly in the world of fame/celebrity, where it’s, for the most part, incongruous. (People don’t tend to rise to the top by being “nice”.) This may explain why Michael Jackson was so vilified over the course of his life. What a profoundly sad thing.

  • Reply Cheryl June 25, 2010 at 9:35 am

    I honestly don’t believe there will ever be another performer as great as he was. It’s heartbreaking that so many people did not see him for who he really was.

  • Reply Farah June 25, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Have you seen this video?

    I don’t know if it was intended as such, but I think it’s a sweet tribute to Michael’s talent regardless.

  • Reply Adam June 25, 2010 at 9:47 am

    Very well said Anna. What a loss for the world of such a talented and loving person.

  • Reply Kiley Cogis June 25, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Thank you for this post. I have been listening to MJ all week, including a long road trip this past weekend, and in my living room one night for my own private dance party. I loved Michael. There is no one else like him and probably never will be.

    When I was six, I had a Michael Jackson cake. Here’s the post on my blog with the picture:
    I treasure this picture and MJ.

  • Reply Phoebe June 25, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Its hard not to feel as though we knew him. Those of us in our late 20s/early 30s grew up with this man. Our parents listened to him, and our children, as well. His music crossed generation gaps. Its rare that great entertainers are also great men. Seeing that in him, how could we not love him?

    Thanks for that first pic. I’ve never seen it before, either. Please update and let us know where you got it.

  • Reply Jenna @ sweetfineday June 25, 2010 at 10:03 am

    you know how I feel, Anna, so I won’t say anything more except thank you.

  • Reply Alicia June 25, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Hi Anna,

    I just wanted to write that I admire and respect your sense of loss.

    I am 45 and African American, so Michael Jackson was a huge presence in my life from the time I was a small child.

    He was amazing.

  • Reply suzanne June 25, 2010 at 10:25 am

    “…and yes, he just might have been the nicest person ever”
    i couldn’t agree with you more. thank you so much for being able to articulate all of this so well. today is my birthday and what i want more than anything is to be able to go home and have a good cry.

  • Reply Cheryll June 25, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Thank you very much for this post. You are right, our greatest tribute to him would be by listening to his music, and by continuing to do so, for our children and future generation to know how great Michael is!

  • Reply Debra June 25, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Your post brought tears to my eyes. I am 60 and have loved Michael Jackson’s music from the beginning. He would be so happy I’m sure to hear how articulately you spoke of him. Thanks.

  • Reply Liz June 25, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Standing in Prospect Park with you, Devin, and 20,000 other people celebrating Michael’s life with music and laughter and tears and smiles was the highlight of my summer. This man was the glue that bonded my sisters I and I together as kids–he was the only musician the three of us liked and would listen to without complaint–and he brought me some of the finest friends in the world in the last year. I broke my nose because of this man (don’t try to do the Smooth Criminal lean with jump ropes and your sister as your spotter, guys). I learned to be generous because of him. I learned how to keep my head high and not allow others to shame me for what I loved because of Michael. I learned how to seek out the truth because of Michael. I learned that tabloids are a disease because of Michael. I learned that even now, he can inspire me every day. And now I watch my nieces sing and dance to his songs and wonder if he wasn’t just a little bit magical when he moonwalks across the stage on their dvds.

  • Reply anonymous June 25, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    I am a classical musician and teacher. I spent hours last summer watching and listening to MJ’s work from childhood on. The spark inside is a gift, the ability to be luminous on stage comes from endless hours of work driven by an inner integrity and respect for the performance.

  • Reply melissa June 25, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    he was the first person that the media truly and completely destroyed without any just cause. the media killed him, well before his time. 🙁

  • Reply Dusa June 25, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Thank you!

  • Reply CC June 25, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Still sad, hard to believe he’s gone – the music & the artistry there will never be anyone else like him! Thanks for posting – appreciate the thoughtful reflection.

  • Reply Yolanda June 25, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I still cannot believe it. Anna, thank you for this. Your love is true.

  • Reply MIMI June 25, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    I couldn’t have said it better myself, if you don’t get it I don’t care and I am tired of defending my feelings, justifying my feelings and/or quantifying his greatness. He was just a man, not a god, but yet he was so much more than just a man…again, if you don’t get it I’m okay with that but be okay with me because I do get it.

  • Reply MIMI June 25, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Oh a year ago my son and I went into a chinese restaurant that we frequent the waitress there whose English isn’t that good said that Michael Jackson was dead and I looked at my son kinda like she doesn’t know what she is talking about or we miss understood, so went online on my iphone and was stunned! Miss you M>J>

  • Reply kc June 25, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    I’m a long, long time lurker but I had to comment on this one. Beautifully written. I think you did an amazing job capturing the relationship one can have with an artist. It’s not necessary to explain why art moves us, it just does.

    Oh, and those boyhood pictures of MJ? Tears in my coffee.

  • Reply kristen June 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    MJ was and is an integral part of our lives in the same way our national parks, monuments, and great pieces of art are woven into our collective and individual identities. So, I feel like our relationship to someone like MJ isn’t as one-sided a relationship as possible. We brought him to life in the same way he brought us to life. This kind of thing is extremely mutual.

    The things that people say made MJ a “weirdo” are some of the very things that continue to make him so compelling. Michael Jackson was EXTRAORDINARY. He’s one of the best examples ever of someone who didn’t question why he was put on this earth. What an amazing lesson for all of us, right? How much of our lives do we spend talking ourselves out of living our truth? He struggled with this in a big way, too, but not in terms of his gifts. In that way, he completely knew who he was. We should all be so lucky.

    I live in LA, I was home that day, and news of something going very wrong with MJ starting leaking early, partly thanks to the fact that a tourist bus was at his house when the paramedics were there. It was obvious that MJ had died and had been dead for quite some time before the paramedics got him to UCLA. There was just a very particular vibe about how the news was breaking. Nobody was outright reporting that he was dead, and word of trouble didn’t make it to CNN for about a half-hour, but Harvey Levin almost immediately posted on TMZ that MJ was dead and, rag though TMZ is, Harvey’s network of informants is vast and truly incredible, and his intel is usually right on.

    Someone I know lives a few houses up from the house MJ was renting, and the neighborhood exploded almost instantly — helicopters, etc.

    I totally freaked out. When, like two hours later, news came out that MJ was, indeed, dead, I sobbed like I’d just lost a family member. In a way, I had — we all had. He was a part of our lives and we were a part of his life. That’s just the truth.

    A looooong time ago, my friends and I used to drive by the house on Hayvenhurst hoping to catch a glimpse of MJ. One day, one of my friends drove by and saw a tall, lanky, very young MJ with a bunch of other kids buying ice cream from an ice cream truck. She got to see him! I was soooo jealous.

    MJ and I went to the same elementary school, though not at the same time and MJ didn’t go there very long. They named the school auditorium after him, then took his name off after he was accused. A-holes.

    Show business is brutal. All these people who abandoned MJ but have been singing his praises since his death distanced themselves from him because they were afraid of damaging their careers. That said, I hold MJ responsible for putting himself in the position of being nailed by the parents of those kids. In my opinion, he didn’t molest any kid, but he was totally guilty of putting himself in a position to be accused of it. He didn’t learn after the first kid, which is a shame because it’s one of the major reasons he’s no longer alive. The Pepsi commercial and the second kid were the fatal combo, I think. It sucks for him and it sucks for us to be deprived of one of the most compelling human beings on earth.

  • Reply kristen June 25, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    check this little MJ impersonator out!

  • Reply Muoi June 25, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    I watched the Oprah show last as night and it was a great show. I was a fan of his music and thought he was strange but also terribly lonely and misunderstood. I had my doubts of him but since his death, it seems like he’s been vindicated. I’m so sorry it took his death to do this. It’s truly tragic.

  • Reply Maria June 25, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Thanks for the great post.
    I was 16 when Off the Wall came out and I remember playing that album over and over. Tho, he was already very famous, that was the first time I really heard him and have been a fan ever since.
    Hard to believe it’s been a year. I”m sad, but I’m grateful for the gifts he left.

  • Reply Hana June 25, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Amazing. I grew up in a non-English speaking family but we all listened to his music. When he came for a concert, we brought our mum along and she still talks about it today. Thank you sharing.

  • Reply Katie June 25, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Thanks Anna. This is so well said.

  • Reply Melanie June 25, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    I never really /got/ the MJ thing, but thank you for sharing your thoughts so beautifully.

  • Reply Nicolette June 25, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Beautiful words written about a beautiful soul with unbelievable talent.

    He lives on in our hearts (sounds so cliche but it’s completely true). His legacy continues through his music, his moves, his fashion… his incredible passion and commitment to perfection… and that undeniable star quality and magnetism that one else has ever managed to convey in such a beautifully startling way.

    Thank you for your words Anna.

  • Reply peggy June 25, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    amen sister

    i had always known that mj was innocent. people would ask why i thought this and i was always incredulous to think that they couldn’t see what i plainly saw in this great, generous, loving, uber, uber talented human being. i’m glad the facts came out. clarification needs to be splashed across the headlines to the world. shame on his slanderers.

  • Reply Mandeep June 25, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Anna, you have captured completely and eloquently what I feel! Despite never meeting him there is such a strong feeling of familiarity and comfort when I hear his music and watch his videos. The world is a colder, meaner, lonelier place without him here. It is a comfort to know that others; strangers like him; feel as strongly as I do. A true icon , whose memory should be kept alive for all time.

  • Reply redlux June 25, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Thank you a million times! This was just what I needed to read! <3

  • Reply Raspberry Swirly June 25, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    I don’t think anymore needs to be said, really. So I’ll just say I really like that first picture. 🙂

  • Reply Patrice June 25, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Great post. Great man. Great pic (1st one).

  • Reply Agnieszka June 25, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    Anna, thank you for this well crafted tribute to Michael.
    I know I wasn’t a fan of his or his music, and I was quite skeptical in fact about the behind the scenes life of his whether true or not. But a year later, my feelings changed. I think he was a great man and a great artist and this is how he will be remembered.

  • Reply Lori June 25, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    I was never a Michael fan, never “got it”. But I still found this post and your thoughts to be very moving. You described your feelings very well and it is a shame he wasn’t surrounded by more people like you…

  • Reply Elena June 26, 2010 at 12:55 am

    I tried out for my college basketball cheerleading squad to Smooth Criminal. I forgot my moves halfway through the try out and literally let Michael’s music lead me through the rest of it. At the end, the judges asked me, “Where do you get all of that energy?” and I said simply, “It’s Michael!”

    Anna, to say I “feel you” on this post would be an understatement. Yes, he was only a man, but boy oh boy, what a man he was. Watching him perform is like magic. That’s not just a statement. Think about what magic truly is. What it means. That’s what it’s like watching Michael perform. The live Billie Jean performances are magic. The Thriller video was magic. To be able to unite people all over the world with a single dance is what the Thriller video did. To watch him in the Smooth Criminal video, and I mean to truly watch him, O.M.G. And not the fuzzy, moves to fast version, the clear dancing one (true MJ fans know exactly what I’m talking about). To me, that is one of his best video’s ever. He brings the magic. He always did.

    So I’ll say a prayer for him, like I did a year ago today, and not shed any more tears but be thankful that I lived in a time where he existed. Thank you for your post. I feel you.

  • Reply sweetfineday » Blog Archive » brooklyn summer nights + one year June 26, 2010 at 2:39 am

    […] last year and for a long time afterward, so I won’t go into it much more except to say that Anna does a superb job of putting into words what I can’t right now. I will say that listening to […]

  • Reply All About Designer » A Few Things June 26, 2010 at 3:42 am

    […] – It’s been a year given Michael died. […]

  • Reply Karen June 26, 2010 at 10:17 am

    An incredible post, I simply had to comment (being a long time lurker)…Every time I read about him, the whole story is tragic. Whenever a “celebrity” complains about the pressures of celebrity and compares it to how MJ must have felt…NO ONE in the world can ever understand.

    This man has been in a fishbowl since he was 5 years old, he has never been able to live a normal life. And yet out of all the mire that has been his life, he has managed to create beautiful, incredible works of art.

    I recently read an article in Vanity Fair about the Making of Thriller, and even then he was a tragic soul. I think as much as the critics will criticize, it is evident by the love his children had for him, that it he was not only a great artist but a wonderful father. I hope they will be able to live a somewhat normal life after all this and not be taken advantaged of.

    As Dame Elizabeth said “We have seen true genius in this lifetime…” I am glad that I managed to experience his genius in my lifetime.

  • Reply Fee-AMore June 26, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Anna, this post speaks exactly how i felt. Michael always loved us more. Every other day, i have his music playing. His music moved mountains, inspired millions. I watched his History World tour, and caught many of his videos on MTV again these 2 days. I can’t deny, my heart ached and i even teared a bit when some of his slow numbers were played. Michael was always phenomenal. He always gave his best. He owned every stage he stepped on.

    Music apart, i think he was a sweet, wonderful, selfless man, with the biggest heart i ever knew of. He inspired me a lot in the aspect.

    For those who hated, misjudged him or whatever, i hope you realized what the World has lost. A true talent, a year ago.

    Thank you for this tribute Anna. I am glad i am not alone missing this wonderful, inspirational being. No one will ever fills his shoes. I celebrate his achievements and love the person he was. And he will live on in my heart.


  • Reply Madie June 26, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Anna, reading your post gave me goosebumps and brought tears to my eyes.

  • Reply Stacey June 26, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Thanks for posting this. As a girl growing up in Jamaica, Michael Jackson was huge. He was almost surreal. I could sing his songs word for word and if you had cable, then you could view his music videos as soon as they debuted(that was huge!). I don’t know him personally, but i know the effect his music has on me and how it speaks to my soul, how it makes me want to dance until the morn, or how it makes me want to become a better person. It takes someone special(not a weirdo) to have the ability to transcend time, and appeal to all cultures and people. The day he died, I cried hysterically(i was 32 years old-grown a#s adult). This is just my two cents on how much Michael meant to me.

  • Reply Dawn June 26, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Hi Anna,

    Like many of the other readers wrote, I don’t know what more can be said that you haven’t already said on behalf of all his fans. Throughout my life there have been songs that I’ve loved, but have had to let go of because I associated them with specific times or memories; memories often too painful to recall, but through it all, the one constant that has remained has been Michael’s music which has never failed to elevate my spirits and take me to a place where all my troubles seem to disappear, if only for the span of a single song or album.

    To quote one fan whom I heard make the following statement this time last year “Thank you for sacrificing your childhood, Michael, so that the rest of us could have one.” And for those of us who had the privilege of growing up with his music as our soundtrack, that is exactly what he did.

  • Reply Simone June 26, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    I don’t have much to add to the discussion, just wanted to say that top image of Michael, is simple stunning!

    I really liked Michael and it’s a shame how his life ended.

  • Reply Lexi June 27, 2010 at 9:31 am

    I am just one of your many readers and on Friday night I watched the ABC show about his life and I couldnt help but think of you. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Nat June 27, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Anna, though MJ did not affect my life in the same way, I too always felt that he was being exploited by the media, and his “handlers” (what an awful word!). As always I admire your passion and honesty. Thank you for a beautiful post. Please never feel like you should apologize for how you feel, our feelings are what makes us all special, individual, and human.

  • Reply bronwyn June 27, 2010 at 10:30 am

    This is such a wonderful post. I loved him too. Thriller was the first album I ever owned. My mother and my grandmother loved it too. The thing that struck me about him was how innocent and child like he was. He was truly like an eight year old in a grown man’s body which is incredible considering the amount of cruelty he experienced from very early on. It would have been so easy to become jaded, selfish and cruel. It was that child like quality that people either completely identified with or completely misunderstood. It takes an extremely special soul to live his life and remain so kind and gentle. He is the personification of “above all, be kind”. I am so glad that the truth is finally coming out. I don’t understand why it took so long. I think one would just have to look at him to see the love pouring out from him. As several people have said, people just don’t recognize true kindness when they see it. How very sad.

  • Reply jessica June 28, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    all i can say to this post is wow. i too, am very sad by his passing and i think you did a great job at making this tribute.

  • Reply Karina June 28, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    I am at work right now and much like last year I had to hold back the tears. You have managed to put into words what many of us are not able to. He is gone but the legacy that he left will stay with us forever and it is up to us to carry it on. I have a beautiful example at home, my 7 year old and my 18 month old love him just as much as my brother and I did when we were little too. We have fedoras, videos, cds and it is fantastic to have a conversation with my 7 year old and hear him talk about how MJ was a great person and he loved everyone and wanted to make the world a better place.
    Thank you very much!

  • Reply CER June 29, 2010 at 1:00 am

    so well written, anna. bravo, bravo. & absolutely gorgeous photo. ah, michael. missed/missing.

  • Reply Tiffany June 29, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    love that blue eye photo!


  • Reply simone June 30, 2010 at 9:32 am

    I have a great MJ story. Friends of my parents lived in Maine when “On Golden Pond” was filmed there. Katherine Hepburn lived in one of their houses during filming. My mothers friend befriended Jane Fonda. Her daughter (of the friend) who was about 15 at the time was a great MJ fan and wrote him a letter and asked Jane Fonda to give it to him. A few weeks later he visited Jane and stayed for a whole weekend and spent time with the daughter of our friends.

  • Reply megan June 30, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    gone too soon.

    (thank you for this.)

  • Reply » Blog Archive » Link Love: 7.1.10 July 1, 2010 at 10:32 am

    […] heartfelt tribute to Michael […]

  • Reply Bryn July 2, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    I just saw this post and had to comment. I am currently 26 and remember Michael Jackson very well from my childhood. Not Michael of the 80’s, but Michael of the 90’s. I remember being in Middle School and seeing a magazine with him on the cover at my friends house. I said “ewww he’s so weird!” And my friend’s mom said. “No, no he’s not. He’s the most talented man in the world.” I was taken aback by how offended she got. Looking back, the only reason I said “ew he’s weird!” is because of how the media portrayed him. I didn’t know anything about him! And the music I did know, I loved even as a child.

  • Reply bridget July 4, 2010 at 10:54 am

    such an icon. such great music. can’t believe he died.

  • Reply Mia July 6, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    I am so glad to see there are others who feel as unsettled as I was that day and even after. I so appreciate the tenderness in the words, the level of detail of what created him. I LOVE the photo.

  • Reply iamronel July 7, 2010 at 4:14 am

    definitely we still missed mj ..:) thanks for your post

  • Reply July 7, 2010 at 4:16 am

    great post about mj..and i know though its been one year a lot of his fans are still mourning

  • Reply Hanna July 10, 2010 at 2:46 am

    Thank you for writing this. I feel so much the same, my love and respect for Michael just seems to grow deeper over time. I miss him everyday. I feel a bit scared ´cause of the lost of such a good person, the world really needs people like him. He was one of a kind, in many ways.

  • Reply Layers&Swathes July 11, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    I have never measured my love for a blog based on how many ‘chills’ it gives me but after reading this post you have shot straight in to ‘daily reading priority’ folder on my blogroll. It didn’t take long… between the bunny rabbit post and this beyond poignantly written Michael post, I was sold pretty quickly… AMAZING AMAZING.

    The man in the mirror is gone too soon….

  • Reply Grumble Girl July 22, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    I love this post. I wrote one about him a year ago, and I didn’t write another on the anniversary because I’m still… thinking about him. I watched “This Is It” the other day for the first time, and I don’t think I blinked through the whole thing. It’s a weird kinda love I have for him… definitely gone too soon. It’s the strangest feeling, knowing he isn’t here anymore. I can’t explain it really. It’s nice to see that someone else feels remarkably similar.

  • Reply Béa July 29, 2010 at 11:19 am

    beautiful choice of pictures. first one is stunning. am still aching obviously.

  • Reply e.i.f. August 11, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Thank you. I’m so totally late here but regardless I have to say your words truly touched me. Some don’t understand a man I grew up watching, a young child then he had that “special” something. Ben, I remember watching the movie to hear him sing the song. Michael had that one thing – that’s never before been done – will never be done again…
    Truly his music lives on. Love him hate him he was known. Even those who have nothing nice to say… He touched you as well.
    In this big bright wonderful world of ours We can make or BREAK a person. No matter what – hate/jealousy exists and can knock even the hardest/most talented/intelligent person. Michael spoke of Love and Giving. HIs message w/forever live on.

  • Reply melinda November 24, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I was so surprised at how Michael Jackson’s death affected me. It just resonates such unfairness. I took my girls 7 and 5 to see This is It and they have been dancing to his songs ever since. I hope he can see how much joy his music brings even to little girls who were never part of the hype. He and his music stand alone. RIP

  • Reply knoxx January 5, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    wonderful post and who’s the idiot at the top who called him a weirdo :/ have some respect. love you michael! hope to see you soon

  • Reply Jane February 24, 2011 at 1:47 pm


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