Today’s news:

A Britisher’s View

The following is an excerpt from a story by Shavana Abruzzo, which appeared in the December 11, 1989 issue of this newspaper:

“Staring at the daring acrobats dancing overhead, four−year−old Darian Pagan from Bay Ridge sat in the glittering Santa Monica circus tent and stole surreptitious looks at the young man in a black fedora next to him.

“Curly−haired Darian knew it was his ‘superstar hero’ Michael Jackson sitting beside him, but the little boy’s battle with leukemia had left him wary that any stranger could be a needle−toting doctor.

“Finally, Darian broke into a big smile and let Michael hold him,’ said the boy’s mother, Migdalia who, with her older son David, 15, accompanied Darian on a special trip sponsored by the Wish Is Granted organization, a Long Island−based group which grants the wishes of children who are suffering from life−threatening diseases. It was the wish of the youngster to meet the reclusive singer, and the pair met at a performance of a Canadian acrobatic troupe, where Jackson told the Pagans, ‘It makes me proud that this is Darian’s dream. I’m happy to fulfill it.’”

Today, the angels in the heavens above are doing the moonwalk with Michael Jackson.

Even in death, the King of Pop remains a spellbinding entertainer, capable of eclipsing more important news and re−igniting the legend and mystique which should have died long ago in a poof of ridicule and parody were it not for his unique musical brilliance, his undying devotion to his fans, his unparalleled notoriety and his big−hearted humanitarian work on behalf of the underprivileged masses.

Despite his common name, which he shared with half the men in the western hemisphere, there was – and will be – only one Michael Jackson.

Electrifying performances on vinyl and video endeared him to new generations and transcended genres because no one could sing like a human firework and dance like a waterfall as well as Michael Jackson. A humble Goliath in an industry bloated with inflated egos, he displayed the deliberate traits of a diva without actually being one, and managed to maintain his trademark humility and wholesome charm throughout a 40−year career, marked by dazzling highs and pitiless lows, and underscored by more than five dozen Top 40 hits, the best selling album of all time in “Thriller,” 13 Grammy wins and 13 solo number one hits.

His intelligence and intuition served him well during his excruciating public travails, which included an acquittal on child molestation charges, and a life−long battle with a vulnerable self−image, which exposed his inner demons but bred empathy for the tormented artist who, it seemed, had everything but peace of mind. That deficiency, however, did not stop him from delivering joy to others, nor substituting his trademark politeness with rancor, nor from being a Good Samaritan. According to JacksonAction.com, the Millennium−Issue of the “Guinness Book Of Records” names the entertainer as the “pop star who supports the most charity organizations.”

A victim of his own celebrity, Jackson’s descending kookiness was plausible, even expected. Always a class act, he gave fans and voyeurs their money’s worth by enhancing the moments of our lives with his sweet voice, fancy feet and unmatched ability to shake up the world without even trying – and without being a boor.

Most of all, Michael Jackson will be remembered for being a consummate performer so extravagant to the senses that man, woman, child and beast are uniting to grieve his death, and thank him for the memories.

Sabruzzo@cnglocal.com.

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