Sometimes I forget Michael Jackson is dead

There was a Michael Jackson song on the radio this morning, an early morning, a foggy morning, a morning in which four people would be stabbed with a knife while praying Shacharit in a synagogue in Jerusalem, but I wouldn’t know that til later. The song wasn’t a favorite, wasn’t Billie Jean, wasn’t Gotta Be Starting Something, wasn’t Man in the Mirror, but one of his songs I knew only because it was scribbled in scratch on one of his album covers.

For six seconds I believed Michael Jackson was alive, was still hanging out in Neverland not molesting children, not living ambiguously, not drinking Pepsi with llamas, but alive on the radio singing about living. Then I remembered the day my 6 year old came home from school saying “Michael Jackson is dead.” For six seconds I believed my son was just repeating another age inappropriate tabloid headline like he often did then because his classmates were not the kind of kids who would have received in 1984 a red studded faux Michael Jackson jacket for Chanukah, but the kind of kids whose older brothers packed guns or who had to leave in the middle of second grade to move to their aunt’s house in Florida because their mom was deported. All of this is true including the fog.

It’s strange that my morning began with the King of Pop alive and ended with the TV repeating cell phone footage of snipers surrounding the outer walls of a synagogue because two men decided to interrupt Shacharit with knives and axes, because no buses are running now on a street in Jerusalem, because it was a foggy morning, because you gotta be starting something, because there’s a man in the mirror, because life ain’t so bad at all if you live it off the wall.

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