Queen Latifah speaking at Michael Jackson memorial
All Photos by Los Angeles Times

On June 25 when we heard the news that one of our favorite 80’s icons Farrah Fawcett had passed away, it seemed as though an important part of pop culture history had been taken with her. We were sad enough to hear the news, but then in came more: Michael Jackson was dead. Our office just stopped. Many of us grew up with Michael Jackson and could recite most words from various favorite videos. Those who were younger, still knew he was a cultural icon and that the impact was going to be huge. At 50, Michael Jackson still seemed like a kid, and danced like he was in his 20’s. We knew he was rehearsing over at Staple’s Center, not far from our office for his 50-show gig signed on by AEG, the second largest concert promoter. We couldn’t believe he’d never be on stage again. No one could.

When it was announced that there would be a public memorial service here in downtown LA, our city became overrun with fans descending starting on Sunday, July 6, even though the memorial was scheduled for Tuesday, July 7th. Suddenly, every car that passed by was playing an MJ tune, and street fashion included a heavy dose of white sequined gloves, aviator sunglasses, and fedoras. I couldn’t believe how many “moon walkers” came out of the closet to demonstrate that they had learned the moves back in the day and could still do it. Impromtu “Thriller” teams would break out into dance in the streets here in LA. Maybe this was happening around the world. And I think even more bands now will cover his songs. In fashion styles, especially accessories, people are picking up a bit of Michael Jackson classics. Be prepared.

Photo by Jake Stephens–Elephants walking downtown LA on their way to Staples–part of the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus that opens July 8.

While it was already a circus by July 7th with MJ fans in our neighborhood, it turned into a real one very quickly. In the pre-dawn light, some 14 elephants came walking down the street on their way from the train station to the Staples Center. Walking with their trunks holding the tails of the elephants in front of them, and their trainers by their sides, they made a quiet precession. Come to find out, Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus was to open Wednesday, July 8, at Staples Center and here were the elephants.

By the time the limos for Michael’s serviced arrive, there was absolutely no traffic moving downtown. For a major metropolis the size of Los Angeles, this had to be a first. Instead, there seemed like there were more heli’s overhead than cars moving below. One skywriter airplane circled above Staples and drew a massive smokey heart. 50,000 people waited outside just to catch a glimpse of Michael’s hearse and casket, adorned in a bed of red roses. They danced and sang Jackson hits and wore commemorative T-shirts, pins, ties, fedoras, and of course, white gloves.

Well-wishers outside of the Staples Center sporting fedoras in honor of the King of Pop

The ceremony, if you were one of the few people who didn’t see it, was a tear-jerker. Highlights included Queen Latifah reading a poem by Maya Angelou called “We Had Him;” Brooke Shields reflecting on her friendship with Michael; and Jermaine Jackson singing in an eerily similar voice as his brother’s, Michael’s favorite song called “Smile” written by Charlie Chaplin. Rev. Al Sharpton gave a riveting sermon thanking Michael that got everyone to their feet. Other performers and speakers included Martin Luther King II, Jesse Jackson, Smokey Robinson, and singers Mariah Carey, Lionel Ritchie, and an amazing performance by Stevie Wonder.

In the final moments of the ceremony, Michael’s brothers, dressed in corresponding outfits with yellow ties and one sequined white glove, along with Janet Jackson, LaToya, and Michael’s 3 children were on stage thanking the audience. Paris Jackson, Michael’s 11-year-old daughter, came forward to tell the world that her Dad was a good father, and that she “Loves him so much.”

That pretty much said it for everyone who attended or watched yesterday’s memorial for Michael Jackson. We’re going to miss him.

LAPD with Jackson fan

Michael Jackson merch including buttons are going to popular for awhile.