Don’t think Michael Jackson’s death was a tragedy. He was 50, old enough to have outlived many of my friends and relatives. His best work was in the 1980s, so he’s not leaving behind unfinished business, either. Anyone’s death is sad, but the alleged drug overdose of an alleged pedophile doesn’t get me worked up in the same way as, say, the murder of a sorority sister a decade ago, a pediatrician who worked at a mobile health clinic serving children of migrant farm workers in the Salinas Valley, stabbed by someone she hired to clean her carpets, a murderer so stupid he was caught because he kept using her credit cards.

That death was a fucking tragedy, and it still breaks my heart to think of it. I cannot imagine the pain that her husband and parents and siblings suffer every single day.

I own Thriller and Off the Wall — both on vinyl, both amazing albums — and an MP3 of Rhymefest’s “Man in the Mirror.” Jackson was a freakazoid, but he was an outstanding musician, just as Bill Clinton was a philandering scumbag and an excellent president. Most of us at Popdose are middle-class, and most of us were raised with the middle-class, Boy Scout ethos that hard work and upright behavior are the keys to success. I believe in it too, but I also recognize that there’s an enormous difference between middle-class accomplishment and what it takes to be a great president or the King of Pop (self-anointed or otherwise).

Michael Jackson had greater flaws than most of us, but he also produced greater art that most of us ever will. Death didn’t make him a better person, just as his life didn’t make him a lesser artist.