Before my last post descended into what I laughingly call hyperbole, I had made it to Hollywood Boulevard! Yes, Reader Gentle, I found and rectified my error and was soon back on the road to memorialising.
Though Koreatown and South Central had seen no small complement of commemorative t-shirts, the amount of New Jackson Swag on show on Hollywood took things to exactly the right level of crassly sincere ridiculousness. T-shirt stalls were three to the block, either side of the street.
A line outside the Chinese Theatre was headed off by a barking traffic guard, valiantly trying to enforce a strict policy of Eastward-walking foot traffic only outside Grauman's.
The Chinese Theatre always has performers walking the street in the guise of various movie characters: Superman, The Joker, apparently every Johnny Depp character ever except for The Libertine. The characters alternate seemingly at random. This evening, stalking the line by the Jackson Memorial, was Chucky from Child's Play. I hope that the decision to mark the memorial for Michael Jackson by paying a person to dress up as a gnarled mess of plastic, the twisted corruption of a beloved childhood icon into an object of primal terror, at least occurred to someone at the planning stage.
While the pile of memorial detritus wasn't unimpressive or lacking in heartfelt schmaltz, the vast majority of people in the line were there to photograph, take pictures of each other in front of the Jackson Heap. News crews, documentarians and looky-loos alike, everyone was on camera and everyone had a camera; declarations of grief were measured not in their depth of feeling but in the reach of their communication.
On the most culturally-overanalysed day in 2009, lulled by the staccato rhythm of flashbulbs, there grew outside Grauman's a sense of unstressed, shared experience: that here we are at the singularity of fame, the white noise at the high end of the sine wave that flows from performer to audience. In the dying light on Hollywood Boulevard, we are all subject and object, seer and seen. We all blaze in the spotlight and we all sit silent in the darkened crowd; we are all the singer and the listener, the beaten child and the child-bedding superstar, black and white, ape and man. We are good because we call ourselves bad. We are made all of skin and all of plastic: beyond life, undying, Creatures of the Night, Lost Boys and Girls, statues floating into History. We are sunshine and moonlight and good times. We are man, and man-in-mirror, and mirror itself.
Michael Jackson, look what you've done.