Last week a friend, the poet Joshua Clover, asked me to be a call in guest on his radio program at UC Davis and read Frank O’Hara’s poem “The Day Lady Died,” as it was exactly 50 years ago that Billie Holiday died and O’Hara wrote his famous surprise elegy for her. In his poem O’Hara links fandom to, well, death in a luminous and memorable way. When you listened to Billie Holiday “live” (a telling term), he recalls, “Everyone and I stopped breathing.” Naturally this made me think of how we all heard about Michael Jackson’s death, and I offered that somebody somewhere is writing “The Day Michael Jackson Died,” and Clover asked why didn’t I write such a poem. Maybe this is it.
I flew out of SFO on the day Michael died (and Farrah Fawcett). I loved both of them probably for the same reason, they were both striking and glamorous stars who came to us cursed as though by jealous gods. At the Virgin America terminal, Virgin had transformed Gate 12 into a dis... More