The Mission today was Michael Jackson’s. Minutes after the Associated Press announced Jackson’s death at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, cars driving by and local businesses blared music from one of the world’s greatest pop artists of all time. Many were in shock. Though some remembered Michael Jackson’s later years–the dark period in terms of his public image–they also reminisced on his contributions to music, dance, and individuality.
“Just think–what’s Pride going to be like this weekend,” one patron at The Corner (18th and Mission) said as strangers in the restaurant spontaneously turned to one another to talk about Jackson and his huge gay following.
Mission Loc@l reporters Shalwah Evans and Stefania Rousselle talked to residents and shop owners about their favorite Jackson moments, videos and songs. As usual, most people would not commit to one song as their favorite, but Thriller was often mentioned in the top five and remembered as a childhood inspiration.
Jackson’s death from a heart attack was the main topic of conversation even here at the Mission Loc@l office, as Evans and Rousselle chatted about when they learned the dance moves to all his videos, classic MJ karaoke hits, and owning Thriller on vinyl (the cover has a pullout with Jackson posed in that famous white suit with a tiger cub). Evans talked about how her mom bought her “The Making of Thriller” (on VHS of course), and how it prevented her from being afraid of the video, “He was scary!” she said. Rousselle said that whenever she hears Michael Jackson it reminds her of being in Washington, D.C., hanging out with her brother and her friend Pete, who was fatally stabbed years ago.
Nothing like Michael Jackson to bring back memories, or get strangers completely engrossed in a conversation together. Sammy in The Corner said that the public will be talking about Jackson’s death five months from now. And patrons expressed concern for his children–and also wondered who’s scrambling to make a pretty penny off the funeral arrangements. Really, where do you have a funeral for someone that well known and well loved? Usher will probably want to be there. Britney Spears did a remake with the King of Pop for “The Way You Make Me Feel,” surely she’ll be there right. And let’s not even get started on Marques Houston, B2K, Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown (pending legal woes and all) and all the other young artists who have been inspired by his music and the way he changed the pop game by breaking down racial barriers (remember the end of the “Black or White” video with the changing heads?)
There’s no doubt that Michael Jackson was loved, and there’s no doubt that he will be greatly missed, in the Mission District and in the world. But it’s nice to remember him for all the wonderful muscial gifts he gave us. And tomorrow, if you’re walking past the Mission Loc@l office and happen to hear Pretty Young Thing (P.Y.T) playing, dance a little and smile. We sure will.