If you were a child growing up in the '80s, there was no question that you liked Michael Jackson. It was a given, a constant, something that was assumed. His hits — and that included nearly everything on Thriller, his duets with Paul McCartney and a slew of songs from Bad — were a part of your world. Jackson himself was likable, what with his unthreatening, too-short pants, white socks, red jacket and silver glove. And to a kid, palling around with E.T. and having a movie at Epcot Center was the epitome of cool.
That's what comes to mind when I think of Michael Jackson. It wasn't until later that I learned that the airing of his videos on MTV paved the way for other funk, soul, R&B and hip-hop artists to appear on the channel.
I didn't really even consider his race then, I don't think. And his music was just music, free of genres and classifications and pigeonholing. He was just Michael Jackson, the guy my best friend and I lip-synched to in front of my bedroom mirror, blasting a dubbed tape of Bad. Thriller was this blockbuster album that saturated radio and the charts. He was ingrained in music, ingrained in pop culture.
I remember the Jackson family's 1984 tour — probably because some cereal or fast-food chain gave away stickers that I stuck all over a toy box — but didn't realize then that the Jackson 5 made little Michael a star and invented bubblegum R&B. I didn't know about the scandals or the squabbling or the accusations — just the music. (The scandals I remember came later: the controversy over Jackson destroying cars in Black or White, a video aired on FOX after the Simpsons, for instance.) Videos featuring scads of movie stars and rock stars were totally normal in Jackson's sphere.
Amazingly enough, all of the controversy that found him didn't discourage his fan base — 1 million people planned to see Jackson do a staggering 50 concerts in England later this year.
Although health problems and bizarre behavior overshadowed his musical career in recent years, he still reaped the goodwill he earned as an '80s pop icon. He was forever frozen in time as a lithe young dancer — the one seen on TV gracefully moving across the stage, spinning like a top and moving his body in effortless ways, the ways most of us only move in our imaginations.
Debauched rock stars who damage their bodies with smoking, drinking and drugs — well, their early demise makes sense. We expect it. But pop stars, the larger-than-life purveyors of glossy radio music, are immortal totems. Perhaps that's why we're so shocked and saddened by Jackson's death.
As one of the biggest pop stars ever, he never seemed real or human.
His celebrity, money, prestige and fame were on some entirely different planet that was so preposterous, it boomeranged back to plausible. So his absence seems impossible, something impossible to reconcile with what we know. He's forever the King of Pop, whether he's shadowy, fragile fodder for gossip sites or the man zombie-walking through Thriller.
St Louis' Most Unsafe Neighborhood
In a survey of the nation's most crime-ridden neighborhoods by Dr. Andrew Schiller of the website NeighborhoodScout.com, St. Louis' very own downtown, specifically the intersection of 14th Street and Martin Luther King Drive, ranked No. 14.
How nice that this statistic appears just in time for the All-Star Game!
But take heart, St. Louisans: Downtown is not the most dangerous neighborhood in the state of Missouri, or even within a 100-mile radius. Kansas City cracked the list twice, at Nos. 6 and 8, while the Pioneer Park neighborhood of Springfield, Illinois, just edged us out for the No. 13 spot.Schiller based his rankings on data collected between 2005 and 2007 from the FBI and 17,000 local law-enforcement agencies. A neighborhood's "danger" ranking is how likely a person is to be a victim of a violent crime (i.e., murder, rape, robbery or assault). Someone at 14th and MLK has a one in eight chance of becoming a crime victim within a year.
Schiller predicts that there will be 292 crimes in the neighborhood this year, with a rate of 129.29 crimes per 1,000 people. The most dangerous neighborhood in America is Over the Rhine in Cincinnati.
Here's the list of rankings:
1) Cincinnati, Central Parkway/Liberty Street
2) Chicago, State Street/Garfield Boulevard
3) Miami, Seventh Avenue/North River Drive
4) Jacksonville, Beaver Street/Broad Street
5) Baltimore, North Avenue/Belair Road
6) Kansas City, Bales Avenue/30th Street
7) Memphis, Warford Street/Mt. Olive Road
8) Kansas City, Forest Avenue/41st Street
9) Dallas, Route 352/Scyene Road
10) Richmond, Virginia, Church Hill
11) Memphis, Bellevue Boulevard/Lamar Avenue
12) Dallas, Second Avenue/Hatcher Street
13) Springfield, Illinois, Cook Street/11th Street
14) St. Louis, 14th Street/Dr. Martin Luther King Drive
15) Little Rock, Arkansas, Roosevelt Road/Bond Street
16) Philadelphia, Broad Street/Dauphin Street
17) Tampa, Amelia Avenue/Tampa Street
18) New York, St. Nicholas Avenue/125th Street
19) Chicago, 66th Street/Yale Avenue
20) Baltimore, Orleans Street/Front Street
21) Cleveland, Cedar Avenue/55th Street
22) Orlando, East-West Expressway/Orange Blossom Trail
23) Detroit, Mt. Elliott Street/Palmer Avenue
24) Chicago, Wallace Street/58th Street
25) Chicago, Winchester Avenue/60th Street
St. Louis Gadfly to Launch Snitching Campaign
Bill Monroe has a message for the murderers of Michael Goulbourne, the fourteen-year-old St. Louisan killed in May at the Mi Hungry barbecue stand: "We'll find you."
And Monroe plans to start spreading the message via billboards.
The founder of the now-defunct Thurgood Marshall Academy charter school and an erstwhile city police officer, Monroe says he is gearing up to launch a pro-snitching campaign via billboards. The billboards will read: "Shining a spotlight on thieves, robbers, child abusers, predators, carjackers, burglars and killers of our people IS NOT SNITCHING. It's community preservation."Monroe tells Riverfront Times he's partnered with a national billboard company that plans to donate city billboards in exchange for some overhead expenses. Monroe says he can put up the first billboard as soon as he collects $250.
"I'm well known in my community, and I'm not afraid to do this," he adds, noting the goal is to encourage African Americans to come forward with information about numerous crimes — not just the Mi Hungry murder.
"Once we get going, I plan to offer rewards. You put out $500, $600, and their mothers and daddies and uncles and aunties will be going after the money — believe me."