MICHAEL JACKSON'S 50th BIRTHDAY PARTY
Jackson was very rich and very peculiar, and had been the wonder of the world for more than 40 years, ever since his media adolescence. He had churned out hits on a fairly regular basis since then, each album a bigger spectacular than the last. And if that was not enough for fame, there was also his prolonged vigour to marvel at. Time wore on, but it seemed to have little effect on Mr Jackson. At 40 he looked much the same as at 25. At 45 they began to call him well-preserved; but finely-sculpted would have been nearer the mark. There were some who shook their heads and thought this was too much of a good thing; it seemed unfair that anyone should possess (apparently) perpetual youth as well as (reputedly) inexhaustible wealth. >>It will have to be paid for<< they said. >>It isn't natural, and trouble will come of it.<<
But so far trouble had not come of it, not unless you counted the resurgent allegations of child abuse, the business with his collapsing face and the bounty on his head by the Reformed Black Panthers. Jackson released a new album every three years, promoted them with ever-more outrageous global concert tours, got married about twice as often. Apart from that, he kept to himself.
THAT SUMMER in California everyone was talking about the theft of Zha Zha and Gabor, the two biggest attractions at San Diego Zoo. It was the robbery of the year: one night the brigands landed a helicopter in the pandas' enclosure, disabled security with a rocket launcher and flew off towards the Mexican frontier. When Mexican forces intercepted the chopper near Tijuana there were neither pandas nor crew on board. The authorites later realised they had probably parachuted out over American territory but by that time, the trail was cold.
The popular feeling in California was that it was a Russian mafia job, and that Zha Zha and Gabor had been consigned to some blackmarket collector... maybe Rupert Murdoch. A theory was floated that the pandas were stolen so their genes could be cloned by radical environmentalists, but nobody paid much attention to that one. As far as Cassius Croon was concerned, they were probably already skinned.
>>Oh, my god<< he was saying one day. He was with his girlfriend Magda Maria in a San Diego park, and they were just lazing under the polymer clouds. >>My God, you're an inie!<<
>>A what?<< Magda asked, somewhat bemused.
>>An inie. Your bellybutton goes in. Some people are inies and some people are outies... it's the duality of bellybutton expression.<<
>>You're a duality of expression<< Magda said, draping a milky thigh over his chest. She leant over to study his own bellybutton (it was an outie), then like a snail trailed her tongue around his ribcage. >>Hmmmm, I just bet you're a two.<<
>>Que?<< he said, this being San Diego and all.
She kissed his fingers, purred: >>I just bet you were born on a two-day. You know, like the second of the month, or the 11th, or the 20th. You're so two-sided.<<
>>My birthday's January 13<< Croon said. >>So that means I'm a four, right, meaning you were wrong, right?<<
She raised her head, her eyes wicked and insatiable. >>Four is two times two<< she said, smirking.
>>It all just sounds like bullshit to me<< Croon said.
She jabbed him right in the stomach, and climbed on to his chest. >>You're right, it's all bullshit. Let's go grab something to eat.<<
>>Sir, could I take your order?<< the blue-haired girl behind the counter said (she couldn't have been more than 12).
>>Yes, could I have the McPaella please, and a glass of a suitable wine<< Croon said.
>>Is that McPaella with fresh ingredients or synthetic?<< she said.
>>Ultra fresh<< Croon replied, as if there couldn't be any alternative.
>>Farmed shellfish, or wild?<<
>>Whatever you like. But make sure they're Atlantic.<<
>>What: grown in the Atlantic, or an Atlantic species?<< she continued.
>>Grown in the Atlantic. And no bio-engineered products, thanks, I'm cutting down.<<
She passed Croon the appropriate dish, said >>That'll be $29.99 thanks.<<
>>A little something for the effort<< he said, and flipped her a $5 tip.
Croon was on a date, and what greater place to date than over a steaming ultra fresh McDonald's plate? (that was him reciting the jingles again!) He sat down with Magda in a booth near a large sign which McDonald’s used to flash promotional messages. This one said: McDonald’s has a 30 year, $30 billion commitment to the Total Amazon Reafforestation Project.
>>Hmmmph, what propaganda!<< Magda said, tucking into a retro Big Mac beefed with cloned best cuts from the 1970s.
>>Oh, I don't know<< Croon said. >>$30 billion is a lot of money; they have a right to boast about spending it.<<
>>I'm sure they could recoup it in sympathy sales<< she said.
Hmmm Croon thought we've got a live one here! So he said, with just enough malice: <<That's not contamination, that's emancipation.>>
fan club. She looked up, and he noticed her eyes were the palest shade of blue, like ice-bergs. <<It's not emancipation, it's humiliation. Baby, you're embarrassing yourself. Concede defeat.>>
Puffing up with mock umbrage, Croon leapt across the partition, made himself comfortable in the seat next to her. He even took a sip from her coffee. <<Baby, let me tell you about emancipation. Saudi hostage crisis, 2006. 122 people rescued. The context: I was there. I infiltrated the prison, disabled the security from within, and then led the rescue operation.>>
She felt like spitting a chunk of her burger into his face, what with all this talk about emancipation. But she had to conceal her outrage, this guy was a pro. <<You, a secret agent? That's the most laughable pick-up line I ever heard.>>
<<I don't care if you don't believe me. But if you play your cards right, you could see the relevant scars.>>
<<Oooh, I can hardly wait!>> Her sarcasm was genuine, but she couldn't help feel flirtatious around his maverick charm. And she thought: I suppose they don't call him Cassius Croon for nothing. No wonder Babel fell for him!
<<Speaking of cards>> he said <<Rupert Murdoch's opened a new casino in town. I know a few moves which could net us some cash.>>
<<Us?>> she said. <<That sounds like a date.>>
<<Bass to the chest>> he said, thumping his breast-bone in the streetwise style.
To celebrate Michael Jackson's 50th birthday, sony BMG released a series of compilation albums called King of Pop.