Friday, June 26, 2009

Miguel Jackson

Hard to decide which is tackier: our old hometown Boston Herald making the Worst Pun Ever, or Ultimas Noticias (Santiago, Chile) flipping the very much alive Michael Jackson on his side to look dead (an illusion somewhat undercut by the upright figures reflected in his glasses).

As often happens to middle-aged gringos, things started to unravel for Jackson in Mexico, where he wrapped up the 1993 Dangerous Tour and amid accusations of, well, you know. A contemporaneous account of MJ's Mex City sojourn from People:

What is known of Michael Jackson's final days on tour in Mexico City does not support the view that he was incapacitated by drugs, though as usual the star was moody and unpredictable. From Oct. 24 to Nov. 11, he and his 170-person entourage stayed at the Hotel President México, where Jackson occupied the palatial eight-room presidential suite on the 42nd floor. "He wasn't very animated," says a hotel employee. "He was sad—always wearing sunglasses." Though he had scheduled an appearance on Oct. 28 at El Nuevo Reino Aventura amusement park—home to Keiko, the Free Willy whale—he never showed. Instead, he bought tickets for 5,000 underprivileged children to visit the park.

One evening, Jackson, clad in black pants and jacket and a black fedora, arrived unannounced, with three young boys who looked to be between 8 and 13 years old, at the Mixup record store in the upscale Pabellón Polanco shopping mall. During the hour-long visit, Jackson signed autographs and bought about S4,000 worth of laser discs and CDs (Jackson's own Thriller and Bad CDs were in a bin of marked-down goods) and danced and moonwalked in the back of the store with his young companions, two of whom wore outfits nearly identical to his own. "They behaved real well," says store clerk Jose Angel Hernandez. "There was a lot of communication between them and Michael."

Jackson did reschedule three of his five concerts because of dental problems. A source in the Jackson camp confirms that the star had an abscessed molar pulled—under general anesthesia—at the ABC Hospital in Mexico City. This source says he saw no signs that the star was suffering from drug addiction. "He's a nice, mellow guy," said the source. "He was calm and relaxed." A local observer, however, thought it odd that Jackson did not fly home for the surgery, especially in light of the fact that many wealthy Mexicans themselves go to Houston or Miami for medical treatment.

Most significant, perhaps, is that by the end of his stay, Jackson's mechanical shows and general eccentricity had made him something of a laughingstock. Local newspapers ran cartoons mocking him (one showing his face melting under the spotlights, another picturing him purchasing 45 bottles of Clearasil), and reviewers called his concerts monotonous and complained about the long wait between songs. Madonna's concerts on Nov. 10, 11 and 13 generated more excitement, and radio ads urged fans to "Come see Madonna. Her teeth don't hurt." Michael was treated as a has-been. ...

Jackson himself has provided few clear answers. Instead, he simply disappeared, making an escape as smoothly choreographed as one of his shows. Liz Taylor and her husband joined the singer in Mexico City on Nov. 9, and after his Nov. 11 concert, the three never returned to the El Presidente hotel. Late that night, they boarded an MGM Grand 727, which touched down to refuel near Toronto, stopped briefly in Iceland, then landed on Saturday morning at London's Luton Airport, where a figure thought to be Jackson was seen emerging wrapped in a blanket.

You can watch what was salvaged of the 1993 Mexico City tour here.

Our own personal recollection of Jackson would be the time we visited with him in Paris back in 2002, to discuss combining the Beatles and Burro Hall back catalogs under a single offshore holding company. He ignored us most of the afternoon, instead spent the day down on all fours playing with le chien. Things started to get out of hand, and when he playfully dangled the little dumpling over the edge of the balcony, we decided to take our leave.


chip said...

Did you see that lean forward move at 3:43? That was pretty cool. How did they do that?

Burro Hall said...

The air in Mexico City contains a lot of heavy metals. It's like leaning into Jello.