[Image via THE SMOKING GUN]
NEW YORK TIMES: So that’s how Michael Jackson’s family wants him to be remembered: as a healer, a good Samaritan, a breaker of racial and cultural barriers, a hard-working entertainer, a childlike spirit, a product of Motown and a sensitive, beleaguered soul. “Being judged, being ridiculed–how much pain can you take?” said a tearful Marlon Jackson. Mr. Jackson’s uptempo, adult side (the dance steps, the rhythms, the self-defining images, the megahits about paternity suits, monsters and gang wars) was only glimpsed on video. For this moment, he was portrayed as saint, showman and near-martyr, and perhaps an object of eternal worship. A final image projected over the stage showed Mr. Jackson alongside the words, “I’m alive and I’m here forever.” MORE
ASSOCIATED PRESS: The public mourning of Michael Jackson may be done, but the saga that was his personal life is far from over. Nothing made that more clear than the one surprise of Tuesday’s memorial service, watched by millions around the world: the emotional speech by Jackson’s 11-year-old daughter, Paris-Michael. “Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father I could imagine,” she said, dissolving into tears and turning into the arms of her aunt Janet. “I just want to say I love him so much.” Custody of Jackson’s three children is one of the biggest legal issues still unresolved. In his 2002 will, Jackson made his wishes clear — his three children should remain under the care of his mother, Katherine. Debbie Rowe, the biological mother of Paris and her 12-year-old brother, Prince Michael, has indicated she may seek custody. The surrogate mother of Jackson’s youngest child, 7-year-old Prince Michael II, is unknown. A custody hearing was scheduled for Monday. MORE
PREVIOUSLY: Arguably it was Michael Jackson’s Peter Pan Syndrome, writ large, twisted and toxic, that sank his Titanic talent and ultimately killed him in the end. Peter Pan Syndrome is the disease of arrested development, often suffered by those robbed of a childhood by the pre-pubescent pursuit, willing or otherwise, of tender-aged stardom. It is not recognized as a form of mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association, but I think it’s safe to say that Michael Jackson — having burned through $500 million he didn’t have along with the hundreds of millions he did, having been brought up on charges of child molestation, having disfigured his legacy in much the same way he disfigured his face — has proven them wrong.
Presumably, his long-rumored and ultimately fatal self-medication — daily doses of Demerol and Oxycontin, it has been reported — was his way of coping with the pain of his alienation from the human race and the shame of the glaring disconnect between who he was and who the world demanded that he be: A grown-up. He was eight years old when the Jackson 5 started, and though his body aged, he never really got any older. Small wonder that he preferred the company of children. The last 20 years of is adult life was one long Disney dark ride — a twilight zone of megalomaniacal man-childhood trapped in the decaying Neverland ruins of his own making — the kind of warped through-the-looking-glass existence you get when a certain madness is given an unlimited line of credit. MORE
SMOKING GUN: In a full-bodied blend of blasphemy and ingenuity, a Los Angeles couple is seeking to market a wine called “Jesus Juice” that bears a label showing a Michael Jackson-like figure appearing to be crucified. “Jesus Juice” merlot, the label for which you’ll find below, is the brainchild of actress Dawn Westlake and Bruce Rheins, a veteran CBS Evening News producer who headed the network’s coverage of the Jackson child molestation case. Westlake and Rheins filed to trademark the “Jesus Juice” name in January 2004, two months after the entertainer was arrested and days after news outlets first reported that Jackson used the term “Jesus Juice” when referring to wine he allegedly gave minors. MORE