June 29, 2009

Jacko time

Three Jackson memories:

When Michael Jackson came to Bombay in 1996, he stayed at the Oberoi Hotel. Sometime in between sleeping and heading out to Andheri to wow his fans in concert, he grabbed a felt pen and scrawled this across the face of a full-length mirror in his room: "Idia, I love you!"

Yes, that's "Idia", not "India". The scrawl went on: "In your children I have seen the face of God. You are my special love. I truly admire you with all my heart."

Now if it had been some lesser mortal -- you or I, for example -- who had done this to an Oberoi mirror, the hotel would have come after us, and not for misspelling "India". But Michael Jackson was no lesser mortal. Because he wrote this, the hotel removed the mirror and spirited it away into some secret vault. In all the news about his recent death, I thought I saw a mention of someone who had bought this mirror, though I can't find that mention any more. If true, I have to wonder what he paid. And why.

Mirrors are one thing. In an "exclusive" front page story then, we learned about Jacko's real "message to India", and how it took intercontinental phone calls and two days of frantic searching to unearth it. This one was several whole sentences longer than the mirrored one. This one even spelled "India" right. Best of all, this one was inscribed on ... his pillow.

The King of Pop seems to have had no use for more ordinary writing surfaces, like paper.

Nevertheless, many hearts skipped beats at what nearly happened to that pillow: it was about to be sent to the laundry! Horrors! What a tragedy it would have been to lose what the story called "Michael's heartfelt outpourings to his pillow". (Really). Luckily, it was saved from that sudsy fate and photographed for the front page of the Bombay Times: "One more gift of love from Michael", it was called. One sentence in it: "Continue to love, heal and educate the children, the future shines on them."

Apart from all that, Jackson graced Bal Thackeray's home with two visits. Apparently, the two men agreed that they were both crowd pullers. Jackson expressed admiration for the the Shiv Sena's "welfare activities". He crowned the visit by presenting Thackeray his hat.

No, I nearly forgot: Thackeray also told us that Michael both used and autographed his toilet.

A pathbreaking trip, all round.


Let me say it here: I never liked Jackson's music. In 1984, at the peak of Jackson-mania in the wake of "Thriller", I lived in Dallas. Jacko was on a concert tour, and was coming to Dallas. $75 a ticket, if I remember right, though of course I wasn't planning to go anywhere near it.

Then I got a call from a woman I knew slightly. Her two college-age daughters, big-time Jackson fans, wanted to go to the concert. She was worried about them going alone. Would I go with the girls? She would even buy my ticket.

I mean, if I said yes, I would be at this concert with not one, but two attractive young ladies on my arms -- and with the full approval of their ma. I'm listening to her talk, thinking, have I died and gone to heaven?

But I said no. Which is a pretty good measure of what I feel about Jacko's music.


Another measure: Even though I've seen it plenty of times, I didn't know till recently that this is a take off on "Thriller".

Whatever it is, it is hilarious. (Gosh my old calculator ain't got no bow).


Please read: My apologies to all who feel this post was in bad taste -- as two commenters whom I count as friends have indicated. It was a mistake on my part to treat this as lightly as I have.


Rahul Siddharthan said...

By your standards, it seems a rather mean-spirited post about a dead man. To me, it seems his wackoness came partly from his abusive childhood. As for his music: I don't like it but I don't like Mozart much, either so what do I know. I find I dislike it less than I used to: I can hear the motown influences. And it's way better than today's stuff...

Dilip D'Souza said...

Rahul, I'm sorry it came across as mean-spirited. These were just the memories I had after he died.

The account of his trip to India in '96, I didn't think his writings on pillows and mirrors were particularly wacky -- in fact I thought his focus on kids was a lesson to think about. What struck me was the way so many people here reacted to the mirror and pillow, and that's what I tried to capture. (That mirror message was also plastered across front pages).

Folks are welcome to like his music, it's just that I don't.

Anonymous said...

Jacko died long ago..the moment he started to sign big deals with music labels when Wacko took over.

As they say, vinaasa kaale vipareetha buddhi

km said...

Dilip: Actually, of all his albums, "Thriller" is the one album blues and rock fans can most easily relate to (and I know you love the blues).

Dilip D'Souza said...

km, thanks for that. Actually I have been thinking that perhaps I should give "Thriller" another listen now. And with your recommendation, I will.

Pareshaan said...

You know I never liked Michael Jackson either, but I was very saddened by his death. And no it wasn't the constant media coverage that did me in and induced a feeling of sorrow. I think it was the fact that when we were children Michael Jackson meant everything foreign and good for us. His demise felt like the lid finally shut on that period of naivete. I think his death makes my mortality seem all the more real. Whatever it is the fact remains that I feel quite Bad about this.

Azous D'Pilid said...

D'Souza, you really are a little bitch. You will now 'consider' listening to Thriller. Gee thanks for donating your extremely precious time to that. You're only 20 years too late. Eventually, you'll catch up with the rest of us and realise that Marxism has failed.

zap said...

I've enjoyed MJs music from time to time and his fantastic dancing. And that isn't why I think this comes across in bad taste.

Azous D'Pilid said...

D'Souza, most of your site is in Bad Taste. The only thing worse than your taste has to be my bad taste. Why am I such a masochist?

Azous D'Pilid said...

If you really thought this post was in bad taste, you would have removed it. The fact that you haven't just goes to show what you really think of this post. Even the trolls on your site never speak ill of the dead.

Dilip D'Souza said...

If you really thought this post was in bad taste, you would have removed it.

No. Removing what you've already put up for public consumption is cowardice.

Even the trolls on your site never speak ill of the dead.

Can't speak for trolls. Maybe you can.

Personally, I see nothing particularly wrong in speaking ill of the dead, if I believe they deserve it. An example.

km said...

Monty Python made fun of the Crucifixion. Was that mean-spirited? Or simply a matter of life being "comedy in long shot, tragedy in a close shot"?

Nothing mean-spirited about this post, if you ask me.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

I think it's ok to make fun of Jesus: he's been dead long enough. (Though Life of Brian emphatically did not do that. It only made fun of his followers.)

I'm trying to figure out why I disliked this post. It had a sort of flippant tone, it seemed to paint MJ guilty by association with Bal Thackeray, and -- I guess -- it made it abundantly clear that you didn't like the guy's music. Now, to me, MJ was not John Lennon, but nor was he HKL Bhagat. He was a victim of greed: his own, and those who exploited him since he was a child. At this point, I thought, he deserved some sympathy. I saw none in your post.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Rahul, it's true, I don't like his music. (Just wrote that privately to someone on this page, and as I hit "Send", his comment comes in). Actually, it's his voice that I've never cared for.

I think the whole '96 visit said things not about MJ, but about BT -- and yes, I tried to remind people of that in this post.

MJ has had a strange, sad life. That is in some ways sadder than his death.

What struck me after the comments on this post and a couple phone conversations in the last two days is this: many more people than I had realized were profoundly saddened by his death. To them, he wasn't just another singer. (Which, to me, he was).

I think therefore that my flippant tone in this post was uncalled for. That's what I meant when I said I took this lightly.

Rahul Siddharthan said...

To me he was just another singer. I hadn't heard his stuff since the 1980s (and was not a fan even then, it is just that he was unavoidable). And for a long time I thought of him as a joke, a parody of pop/rock excesses. But now it seems clear that not only was he a very troubled person, but he was being exploited even now. Signing him up for 50 concerts in London, in his physical condition, was absurd: if he hadn't died now, he would have died on stage. Certainly, he put himself in an exploitable position by incurring ruinous amounts of debt despite his continuing (and enormous) royalty income. Still, I hope a whole lot of people pay for this. I have no sympathy for the concert promoters who now stand to lose a lot of money: I hope they go out of business.

Phoenix said...

I rise again, to confess that the "Azous D'Pilid" is me.

AmOK said...

Perhaps you can attend/host one of these to renew your musicality.


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