We all huddled around around a small black-and-white TV perched on a folding chair and watched "Motown 25."
In terms of mania, there were perhaps only a few only times in modern history where the country -- as a whole -- was in sheer awe of the same pop culture figure. Rudolph Valentino was the first followed by Sinatra, that hillbilly from Memphis (who happened to marry me) and those moptops from across the pond that changed music forever.
But there I was. It was March 25, 1983. He snapped his fedora on his head and struck that famous stance — his right hand on his hat and his left leg bent. The crowd went nuts and a few moments later, he threw the hat aside.
It was the first time we saw him moonwalk and I got chills. The screams from the audience only solidified my awe. There I was, staring at the 14-inch screen huddled with the others. We never saw anything like it and, while I've seen it since hundreds of times, it never never fails to get me. He was the man.
When the telecast reran a few months later, I videotaped it and studied every move he made. Every twitch. Every step. The pause button was my best friend and. I mastered it. While kids in the neighborhood were busy popping and break dancing, I was the little white kid who danced like MJ at the roller rink every Friday night.
And it made me popular.
For one of my performances, I remember paying a kid at the local high school 10 beans to let me wear his band jacket because it looked like the militray jacket MJ wore. On Monday morning, I heard he got into trouble for loaning it out but I didn't care.
Last year on June 25, I was knee-deep in putting our weekend section to bed at the newspaper when one of the managing editors strolled over to us.
"Uh, we just heard that Michael Jackson was rushed to the hospital," he said matter of factly with a mouth full of potato chips.
At this point, we were well aware of Jackson's ongoing health problems and we pretty much chalked it up to exhuastion. After all, he was embarking on the comeback tour of his life. This was the calm before the storm.
A few minutes passed. A colleague sent me an e-mail that gave me chills. It read:
"TMZ is reporting that Michael Jackson" is unresponsive at the ER.
Holy shit, I thought. I stopped what I was doing and prepped an entry to go online.
No sooner did I post something quick when TMZ reported that Jackson was dead. Fuck... My childhood idol had just died. No time to think about this now, Ant... I kept saying to myself. You have work to do.
I had to prep a new post to go up ASAP. My problem was that every time I tried to get information, I got an error message from Google that I never saw before. It was kind of as if the nation's cyber infrastructure was under attack. Then it hit me.
As the hour progressed more reports started to flood in and when the Los Angeles Times confirmed his death, I knew it was no longer a rumor. It was true. My head hung low.
Our front page was ripped to shreds and like every paper in the waking world, it was an all-Michael Jackson cover. Poor Farrah Fawcett, who succumbed to cancer that day, was taken off of page 1. Red swimsuit nipple pic and all. Like she never existed.
The text messages and e-mails from friends long ago, started to blast my inbox. They all wanted to know how I was... The little guy who danced like MJ...
So on this