trading my friend Rich a Romantics tape for Thriller my freshman year of high school, and a cab ride at the Las Vegas bike show a couple years ago with a driver named Detroit Blue.
Matt, Yuri, Big Dave, and I got in at the Double down and before we left the parking lot the cabbie was blasting Michael Jackson on a portable boom box sitting on the front seat. Being completely bombed, it took me a while to notice that Yuri and our host, Detroit Blue, were deep in conversation about the King Of Pop. "A lot of people don't know about MJ", Blue kept saying. "Man's a god damned genius!" All Yuri would come back with was, "That's what I'm sayin'!", as he did a sort of honkified pop-and-lock in the passenger's seat. After some technical difficulties with his seat mounted Sanyo unit, Blue proceeded to pull out a little photo book. I thought for sure he was going to show us pictures of him and Michael, but no. Him and Bill Gates' brother. Him and Al Gore, except his picture was cut and pasted in next to Al's. And when I say cut and pasted, I mean that literally. All the photos were of him and some not quite, or formerly, famous person. As Matt and I leaned forward to get closer looks of the photos, I began to wonder where this was leading. Why do I care if you know a chubby guy with beard who was too much of a pussy to claim his rightful place at our country's helm? It all became clear when, right after a picture of Blue with Jan Michael Vincent, up popped a portrait of a woman. Naked. In a motel room. Blue flipped past like it was nothing. "Whoaaaaaa", we all yelled. "What the hell was that?" "Oh that's ass," he said rather calmly.
Apparently we showed enough interest to warrant showing us the remainder of his album, or should I say "stable", as it all came together rather quickly. Maybe it was his name, or maybe the fact that he carried a photo album of naked women, but were were fairly certain he was what is commonly known as a "pimp". I'm sure Mr. Blue was let down after our initial enthusiasm for his offerings did not lead to a sale. He dropped us off at our hotel, yelled at the bellman to have him confirm for us that Detroit was indeed a man of importance (which he did), and we parted ways.
Maybe Detroit Blue thought we were younger than we were, and didn't know about the "real" Michael. I'll give him credit for first trying to convince us of that fact, then trying to convince us to commit sins of the flesh. But we didn't need convincing about Michael. We all tried to do the Moonwalk, and failed. We all thought it was cool when Eddie Van Halen played guitar on his album. While MJ's more recent years became a rather bizarre spectacle, they can't, and shouldn't, take away from his legacy. I would bet that most people, if driving by themselves across a lonely stretch of road, would not turn the station if "Wanna be Startin' Somethin'" or "Don't Stop 'Till You Get Enough" were to come on the radio. I know there's a cab somewhere that will be pumping all the hits tonight.