Knobhill Drive in Sherman Oaks Summer of 1970. I was 12, going to be 13 in November, and was between 7th and 8th grade. The home belonged to my Uncle, my dad’s older brother, who had never married and made a home for their mother,my grandmother, my Bahquine.
Sanctuary. My Bahquine and Uncle Kent were for me those two adults who cared and who cultivated my resilience. My sisters and I grew up spending occasional weekends during the school year and a couple weeks every summer at Bahquine and Uncle Kent’s. The connection I felt with them and that home have stayed with me until this day.
They always put a card table up in the living room during our visits and we would spend hours playing card games and board games, something my parents never did with us. My Bahquine saved old dish soap bottles, pin tins, and cookie cutters and when we were younger we would play in the rose garden making and decorating mud pies. After they dried in the sun, we would take them over to where Bahquine was sitting in the shade, mending or knitting, and she would pretend to nibble our concoctions and tell us how delicious they were.
I was never anxious my world might explode when I stayed on Knobhill.
In the Summer of 1970, I had discovered music and pop radio. My parents were not big music people (or picture taking camera people) and they did not own many record albums. A radio was never on in our house, I’m not sure if we even owned one. But in my Uncle Kent’s bedroom, he had a big leather chair next to a table with an antique radio on it. I had crush on a boy, and probably boys in general that summer, and my favorite song was Michel Jackson’s I’ll Be There.
On weekdays, while my uncle was off working as a special effects cameraman at Universal Studios, I would lounge around in his leather chair by the hours, fidgeting with the radio dial, until I found my favorite song. Then I’d sing along. At the top of my lungs, no holding back. It was such a popular song that summer I could find it no problem at least three or four times an hour.
Those lazy summer days where I morphed from childhood and embraced adolescence are symbolized for me by that song in that house.
Billy Bean, Beat It, and so many of Michael’s songs are more than a stitch in the fabric of my youth. His music is woven through my early years and is connected to some of my best memories.
My husband called me from his work yesterday to tell me about Michael Jackson’s sudden death. He asked me to turn on the news and find out what happened. I watched CNN for an hour and then MSNBC. Neither of these cable news networks spent much time on his early life, on his music successes. It was all about his trials, his financial problems, and his addiction to plastic surgery. Don’t ask me why I did not try watching FOX, if you’ve read me for any amount of time you would know I don’t support the bullhorn for Rupert Murdoch.
I don’t think focusing millions of people on the negative aspects of Michael Jackson’s life is the right way to go, and so I turned off my TV. Michael’s demons were his demons and not mine to judge. I will, however, judge the fuckers who air such crap, and yes, I also judge those who support it.
Michael Jackson Rest in Peace. Thank-you for the joy and memories your music and your talent added to my own life.
Flurrious has the video of The Jackson Five on the Ed Sullivan Show. I might have used it had I not read her post before I wrote my own.