I personally know what it was like to receive the email that opened with "Congratulations" and invited me to retrieve a voucher good for two tickets to the Michael Jackson Memorial at the Staples Center.
Sunday was a busy day, and I did not check my email until midnight. The instructions on how to navigate the system were a trifle complicated for me, especially at that hour. When I copied and pasted the pass code, the next page told me that the system could not locate the code. So close and yet so far. I tried several times and was almost ready to give up. Then I tried entering the code myself--and it worked! Like the properly worded incantation I was transported to a magic place--the voucher page.
We drove to Dodger Stadium this afternoon to trade the voucher for silver wristbands and two red tickets. I expected mayhem, but the experience was very pleasant. Police checkpoints were set up along Elysian, as we turned to enter the Dodger Stadium parking lot. Every single person, uniformed or not, was friendly. Lines formed, and the magic voucher displayed on the windshield of our car earned us wide smiles and open arms.
Next to us in line, Thriller blasted from a black Lexus. Two lanes over a blue airport shuttle waited in line. The doors opened and hands appeared to allow the silver wristbands to be attached. Two enthusiastic Italians congratulated each other loudly in their native tongue.
The whole process took only a few minutes. We did not have to leave our cars. It was the most orderly experience I have ever had at an event in L.A.
I had promised my sons that they could have the tickets if I won. When I read in the media about people arriving from all over the world, and heard on the radio that flights into both LA and San Francisco were completely booked, I could feel the connection. And I contemplated, for just a few seconds, playing hooky, grabbing my husband, and heading to Staples Center myself.
I was living on the west side of New York, just a couple of blocks from the Dakota Building, when John Lennon was shot. There was a memorial service in Central Park on the Sunday morning following his death. What I remember most was that a couple of thousand New Yorkers were absolutely silent for two minutes in tribute to a man who was not only a great artist, but a leader and visionary in a troubled time.
And once again, a truly stellar talent has passed.
Has there ever been a performing artist who engendered as much excitement as Michael Jackson? If we had forgotten the sheer joy and audacity of his singing and dancing because of his personal struggles, we have been reminded recently by revisiting his music videos. Passion, intensity, grace, beauty, motion, poetry, rhythm. Perhaps more than any other performer, Michael had it all.
My sons will remember that they honored the passing of a man who transcended race and country, with the language to which all humans respond -- music. Go thee well, Michael.