One year ago today, I was in the most American of all cities, when America’s biggest and brightest star was pronounced dead. It was such an absolute shock to me and I remember exactly where I was and what was going on when it happened.
I was in New York City, visiting Johnny, Courtney, Phillip and the crew. I think Johnny had to work, and I had been begging Courtney to come to the USTA National Tennis Center in Queens because I had never been there. We had the day to do whatever we wanted so she went with it. We had toured the grounds, and I got really excited about tennis and just being there in general. After spending a few hours there, Courtney got a phone call from her Mom as we were walking back to my car to leave. Courtney says, “Nuh uh!” I look over at her and she mouths, “Michael Jackson died.” The one time I’m not checking Twitter and the news, and the biggest story of 2009 breaks.
It was one of those moments that I know I’ll never forget.
Later that day, as the sun was setting and sky was orange and humid, we drove from Brooklyn in to Phillip’s place on 41st and 10. Coming off the Williamsburg bridge we heard every bar in the lower east side playing Michael Jackson as we walked by. There was a buzz. But, it wasn’t mourning. It was celebration. A celebration for the King of Pop, and the legacy, catalogue, and messages that he left behind in what is easily the most successful career in music history.
That night at Phillip’s we hung out, talked about Michael, listened to Michael, and speculated that his albums were going to dethrone the Black Eyed Peas, and who better to do that than Michael.
There was something special about being in the city where Michael was discovered, when he died. New Yorkers lifted him up, celebrated his life, and refused to let his history fade.
In the world today, people look to find the differences in everyone. People look for labels, and the reasons others aren’t just like them. However, Michael Jackson’s music was the one piece of thread that was woven through nearly every person in some capacity or another.