Posted by: Mark Nielsen | January 11, 2009

Michael Jackson’s Winter Gloves

Chicago got about a foot of snow dumped on it Saturday. The kind of storm they cancel school over. Except this one happened on the weekend, so kids and teachers all over the upper Midwest will now feel sort of gypped out of a snow day. I know my wife does.

( BTW, the movie “Snow Day”  from a few years back wasn’t half bad, for a lightweight kids’ comedy. The “camp” value is very high. Chris Elliott plays a demented snowplow driver and completely makes the movie as the bad guy, while singer Iggy Pop totally steals his two or three scenes as the outdoor ice rink manager with a penchant for playing Mantovani or similar cheesy, un-Stoogey skating music.)

However, I’ve never been one to hunker down in a snowstorm, nor to let any other kind of severe weather change my plans much. Also, I’m seldom inclined to talk about the weather, to check the weather before selecting clothes for the day, nor to look at advance forecasts when I’m traveling. (That’s my wife’s job…) 

Instead I went on about my life in this world of white,  and it was a fine day. Very pretty, if you just looked at the trees. Just took longer to get where I was going.

It was even sort of amusing to deal with my car’s slightly balding tires –like being on a rollercoaster ride, especially when trying to get up hills. But tonight, since I had my son Graham with me, I took our heavier car, with the safer tires.

We saw a friend’s high school dance show tonight, and as I expected, Graham liked it (though since he’s six, his attention started waning after about the tenth number, so we left early). In one of the numbers, the girls (yes, only girls, like almost all Orchesis everywhere, unfortunately) danced to a medley of songs by Michael and/or Janet Jackson. The dancers were all wearing one white glove.

Except it was a long white glove, the kind that go almost up to the elbow. It was probably a conscious choice — some girl’s idea of art, or “making the moves our own, more feminine”. But I just found it silly. When I pointed out the one glove, Graham asked me why they were wearing it. I said “I’ll show ya later.”  Thank God for YouTube and broadband.

The Jacksons number was a bit too cutesy overall, which is perhaps to be expected from high school girls. Cutesy=accessible, in the era of Hello Kitty. (Not that their more modern or interpretive numbers were cutesy… they had legitimate talent and decent choreography.) 

Nevertheless, seeing them mimic moves stolen from the old “Thriller” videos made me nostalgic for Michael’s innocent younger days, and for my own. So many of the stage moves still being ripped by the backup dancers for the Britneys, Justins and Mileys of the world started out in Michael’s Eighties stage shows and videos. I have my doubts whether anyone will ever top those heady days and one-of-a-kind performances.

Think about it, though. Michael turned 50!!! this year. Yow! And he’s been out in the public eye since he was what… eight? (Okay, eleven. But still.)

That’s gotta be rough, right? The pressure had to mess with his head somewhat, and I’m sure the family and  religious baggage didn’t help matters. Would you put your family’s fortunes on the shoulders of your eleven-year-old? Now add in the race piece — in the late-1960s, of all times. Lotta fun, but also plenty of pressure… pressure to “represent”, as they say in black culture (I think… though I’m really just some out-of-touch old honky).

I don’t know what’s in the man’s heart, or what he actually did. He just seems sort of broken, in my opinion. Melancholy. Misunderstood. Think Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Sometimes great talents just turn out weird, a bit otherworldly.

So I’ve always been more inclined to ignore the gossip, just like I do with the snow, even in the years when you couldn’t turn on CNN without seeing the next wacky Jacko moment. (Though I will admit the South Park season eight portrayal of Michael and his son is a guilty pleasure… so mean, but that’s usually the heart of good satire.)

I certainly don’t blame him for moving to Dubai or wherever he’s landed now, effectively becoming an expatriate and checking out of public life. How do you go on trying to explain or defend yourself, when smug sniggering about your personality has become a minor industry in itself?

The latest flurry of rumors, of course, had him stricken with some fatal lung disease, rumors that Jackson denied. He’s even cooking up a tv special or something, according what his peeps told BET. Not… dead… yet… as they say.

Hey, whatever. Like the kids used to say on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand (yes, I am that old), “If it’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it, then I like it!”

I can’t dance worth s%#t, but you get the point.



  1. […] my own attitude about Michael’s influence, and his immense psycho/spiritual baggage, see my entry from this past winter in which I explored some of his historical and creative importance on the worldwide scene. [If you […]

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