Thriller: The Musical Life of Michael Jackson - Nelson George (2010)


IT IS THE NIGHT AFTER MICHAEL JACKSON’S DEATH, and I am in a Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, nightspot named Spudnik, with sweat dripping down my face as DJ Spinna rocks a creative remix of “ABC.” A beautiful, bootylicious young woman named Maya, with her belly ring showing and a determined scowl on her face, dances close enough to kiss me. The look on her face isn’t one of anger, but of joyous intensity. She is riding the beat hard—just like the five hundred or so people jam-packed on this basement dance floor.

I have come to Spudnik with a group of friends, all of us united in the desire to celebrate Michael Jackson’s life by hearing his voice and music bang through large, well-modulated speakers. All day long has felt like 1984, withThriller on the way to becoming the biggest album of all time. From the booming systems of passing cars, from the iPods of people on the subway, and from the outdoor speakers of a DJ at a basketball tournament, Michael’s voice fills the air in Brooklyn like streaks of sunshine on this cloudy Saturday. Out in Los Angeles, Michael’s body is undergoing an autopsy to determine why this fifty-year-old man went into cardiac arrest. Here in Brooklyn, and all over the world, people are buying and listening to the mountain of recordings he left behind.

I am drenched in sweat. So is everyone around me. Drops of condensation begin to drip from the ceiling. I turn my head toward the sky as the heroic intro to “Can You Feel It” fills the room. And I can. RIP Michael Jackson.