In all the months since Michael Jackson's death, it was only on Friday night that I felt the least bit sad or wistful about it.
It was kind of an odd, bittersweet experience.
Card number one on a standard tarot deck is called the Magician. Some decks have the figure playing a trick. Some have it typed simply as a young man. In some decks, he looks peaceful and almost holy, with an infinity sign over his head.
But the Magician is a paltry step above the Fool, really: the card most likely represents a small-time con artist, pulling a fast one on an invisible audience.
And yet, he is the Magician: making something appear out of not much. Even the pettiest con artist knows that a little imagination and a little trust go a long way. And as these two increase exponentially, so does the reach of your show. It is an infinite slope of possibilities, and it can be something majestic, or it can be a game of shells and $20 in your pocket.
The day before Halloween, at the edge of our neighborhood, a local dance studio organized a Thriller dance at an empty parking lot close by. Hundreds of costumed people danced, in varying degrees of skill, the dance made famous by Michael Jackson back in '83.
It was a great event– everyone looked happy and like they were having fun. (Wanna see a few pix I took?) But as they did the steps, attempting to recreate the choreography of Michael Peters and enjoying the pulsating music with its distant discoey echoes, I was surprised at how sad I became for a moment.
These people were dancing for the entertainment of hundreds of strangers because Michael Jackson was able to make this devilishly hard choreography look easy. They wanted to do what he did– to be him and his army of graceful zombies, if only for the four-plus minutes of the song.
But no one can do that dance justice: only Michael Jackson ever really could. There was no syncopation that could trip him up. He could add an extra three moves into a beat and make it look like it was a simple walk.
And that magician of dance is gone, simply and stupidly, at the age of 50. He wasted his potential and his brilliance with legal battles and drugs, and his last years were a pathetic imitation of a life.
But when he shone with the power of his magic (yes, I wrote that sentence: read or cringe), he gave us Thriller.