Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson and Track Spikes


Jeff Richardson could moonwalk in his track spikes. That did it...Jeff was officially the coolest guy in Jr. High! When he wasn't beating everyone on the track, he was midfield, dancing to Thriller on somebody's boom-box. The students' interest drifted from their teammates' events and crowded around the main event: Jeff Richardson popping and breaking and doing the moonwalk in his track spikes.


Then there were the garage parties. We would get together after school on Friday and decorate someone's garage with posters and tattered old rugs and christmas lights. A garage or shed became our own little dance club, away from parents and teachers and the disconnectedness of small-town life. What was happening in a garage in Memphis, TX, population 3417, was also happening in LA or Manhattan or Paris or Berlin: people dancing to Michael Jackson.


I couldn't do the moonwalk in track spikes, but I could do it in my sock feet on my grandmother's kitchen floor...and occasionally in those garages. And I could pop. The best song was "Wanna Be Startin' Something." The beat would just get into you, the strings lulling you into a trance. And there we'd be, carried away into our own little universe. Jeff Richardson wasn't around for these dances. Even in 1983, our black friends lived literally across the tracks and we didn't see them again until school. "Mama say mama sa ma ma coo sa..."


In the end, we don't remember our icons as they were at their time of death or even as they were in their heyday. We remember them as they were in our cars and our bedrooms, in theaters and our living rooms, in small-town garages and at track meets.

6 comments:

Chris said...

Great post, man. Great post. I've been sitting in a house full of MJ-haters all weekend, and while I was never much of a fan, there was absolutely no doubt that he was the KING of POP. Period.

RIP.

robert c. pelfrey said...

Hatin' on MJ? Come on! Sounds like they "wanna be startin' something"! That's just "bad." Tell 'em to "beat it." (Sorry.) No, I know his stuff isn't for everybody...just almost everybody!

David Hyman said...

Word, Robert. Good post.

I've been sucked into the VH-1 tribute and listening to the Greatest Hits CD you burned for us back in Van City.

robert c. pelfrey said...

David, I've been listening to that same CD--best of J5 and MJ's solo stuff. Glad you still have it...for such a time as this :^)

Jovi said...

I agree, one day I will remember John Bon Jovi in my backseat and not the records he sold!

Anonymous said...

MJ is the king of not only pop, he's the KING OF ALL MUSIC PERIOD

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