It's hard to know how to feel about Michael Jackson's death--as a person, musician, and celebrity he meant a lot of things, a lot of them irreconcilable. I was never his biggest fan, but like most people my age, I heard a lot of his music and learned quite a bit about his personal troubles. This experience is hardly geographically specific: I spent fall 2007 in Guanajuato, Mexico, and I remember being shocked how often, during my lengthy walk to school, I heard Thriller blasting from shops and cafes. In Michael's time, he really was the biggest pop star on the planet, perhaps the last of his kind. No doubt his music will endure--let's face it, it's already had to endure a lot.
A devastating LA Times article by Robert Hilburn demonstrates what an impossible life Jackson lead. That a handful of brilliant, beloved songs and albums remain from his tenure on earth is probably the best thing I can think to say right now, one of few redeeming features in an very tragic life.