Death By Mixtape

Jacko and me: a look back.

Most indulgences toe a precarious line between "eccentric but kinda charming" and "absolutely fucking pathetic." As a Grown-Ass Man Who Should Know Better who has listened to Linkin Park's Meteora at least 100 times in its entirety100 more than, for example, Kid Amine generally break new ground on the wrong side of that line, which not only irreparably retards my already dubious taste in music, but makes me overly sympathetic to enabling weak-willed friends' baffling cravings for rock and roll ass clowns.

So when I accompanied Mixtape hot track Jolene, a Grown-Ass Woman Who Should Know Better, to see her beloved Punk "R" Us quintet Good Charlotte at KeyArena last Monday, I did so cheerfully and without judgment. Surprisingly, the boys were not the sneering gangsta-emo wolf pack depicted in their videos, but pleasant, competent, and modestly deferential to the squealing preteen masses, if a tad megalomaniacal; "There are a lot of haters out there," vocalist Joel Madden shrewdly assessed, "but we're building an army." Um, I normally don't publicize my communiqu├ęs with this man, but in the interest of national security, I must ask: any vacancies at Camp X-Ray, Mr. Ashcroft?

Anyway, as is customary when attending a concert at which you're a decade older than the median patron, Jolene and I spent half of GC's set playfully imagining lewd double-date scenarios with the cream of the pogoing junior-high crop. Now, I didn't italicize, bold, and/or underline "playfully" in that last sentence because it should be somewhat crystal fucking clear that said indulgence was facetious, ironic, invented, and bogusnot punitive. Can you see where this is going? Oh my god, I'm gonna burst. . . .


OK, all better. Wow. Last week was only the preamble to a media circus that could very well make O.J. look like Punxsutawney Phil, but any random 15 minutes browsing Fox News or CNN has made it painfully obvious thatuntil the trial, at leastAmerica at large hasn't a single goddamn new take on the King of Unprecedented Career Suicide.

Then again, we all share a terrible, unspoken obsession with the last word of the preceding sentence, don't we? Do you see MJ actually going to the slammer for a minute, much less three, six, or eight years? I could start an office pool; maybe some ghoul already has. The earthly demise of Michael Jackson is increasingly becoming a question of not if, but when.

We can hope and pray the worst isn't true on all fronts, but I don't envision many of us hoping or praying for this man. But in the anything-goes context of Jacko journalism, well, anything goes. The only thing I'm 100 percent certain of is that he hasn't masturbated me to orgasm in a bathtub. So here's a quickie mixtape of our greatest man-boy duets:

1. Dancing to the "Smooth Criminal" video in the kitchen at age 11, tripping, and cracking my skull open on an end table. As my parents reassembled my forehead, I was treated to the ensuing exchange:

DAD: The guy's a freak.

MOM: You wish you had his money.

2. Earning second place at my fifth-grade talent show lip-synching to "Man in the Mirror." Girlfriend Jenny walked out to recess afterward to congratulate me, trembling, shrink-wrapped in a loopy smile, as visibly smitten as any girl has ever been for . . . um, this could get yucky in the context we've established. Moving on. . . .

3. Watching the world premiere of the "Black or White" video (who was the last artist that commanded fucking multiple prime-time network video premieres, by the way?) and not detecting anything remotely sexual or unpleasant in the infamous kick-ass "car smashing" coda.

4. Those five beautiful minutes when MJ (and Axl Rose) somehow made catcher's shin guards and chest protector haute couture.

5. Gradually embracing Junior Senior and Justin Timberlake in 2003, two artists who proudly carry the flame of the man's undeniable staggering influence.

Michael Jackson colored a sizable portion of our childhoodsremember the time when that sentence wasn't ripe with double entendre? Today we're torn between lionizing him and feeding him to the lions, and we are about to drive each other batty repeating our misgivings and theories as this awful trial and his awful life slithers along to an awful end.

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