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Really Really Good: Our Trip to Neverland Ranch

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It's been such a long time! I mean, it has been ages since I swung by and dropped a line or two here at the mighty BC. Since my last visit, the site has been redesigned, new writers have risen to power, the news wires have been working overtime with celebrity deaths, political meltdowns, revolutions and uprisings, summer music releases and tours have kicked off, and The Really Really Good series has become So-So.

My time has been consumed with the daily life, and I have been blessed with too much work, in this time of recession and tightening wallets. While my take-home pay stabilized, my writing dwindled to non-existence. Thank God for summer vacations! That's right, party people, I have a few weeks off and plan on catching up on all my blogging, email, and RSS feeds. After taking a much needed vacation and unwinding while winding up Highway 1, I am energized and rejuvenated, ready to type up the latest hype! So welcome back to the show, feel free to leave a comment or two, and tell your friends I'm back again!

The Death of Michael Jackson

The news of Michael Jackson's death hit the world like a bomb! The international star and music icon was possibly the most famous, enigmatic, and controversial man of our time. His death came as a surprise, but it was also foreseen and warned of by many people, including Jackson himself. Jackson was pronounced dead at UCLA Medical Center after being rushed from his home mid-day on June 25. The 50-year-old singer went into cardiac arrest in his home, but the details surrounding his death are in question. While the aftermath of Jackson's death will build for weeks to come, reactions to his passing range from grief and deep sadness to indifference.

News of his death was so massive that it was too much for some computer servers. Google, AOL, Twitter, the LA Times, and other major websites crashed under the onslaught of users who were searching for info on MJ. AOL consumer adviser Regina Lewis said the event could possibly be "the biggest mobile event in history." Tributes started popping up on websites and profile pages across the net, and radio station formats have been following suit, with some stations choosing to play his entire musical catalog. iTunes recorded record-breaking sales of his music as did Amazon.

It's hard to look at Michael Jackson as one person. Looking back on his life, with its bizarre twists and turns, leaves you with multiple viewpoints on his persona. There's his musical genius, megastar, and giving philanthropist side. There's the wildly eccentric and otherworldly antics, which give him yet another strange face. His legal issues and persistent cosmetic changes give him literal and figurative masks, making it even harder to recognize him. Yet with all his various sides and lives, his legacy is possibly one of the biggest our generation will ever see.

I was driving up Highway 1 to San Francisco on July 1 on a family trip, when we decided to take a detour and stop at Neverland Ranch. I was surprised by how many news vans were lined along the small dirt road leading to the main gate of the ranch. The news of MJ's death was still somewhat fresh — they were talking about possible locations of memorial services, both public and private, on the radio as we drove that day. When we heard that Neverland Ranch was on the list of potential sites, we quickly turned off Highway 1 and headed to Los Olivos (view map).

The gates were swamped with cameramen, news reporters, and media types, buzzing all over the main driveway. The gates remained closed to the public, only to be opened when a utility vehicle or police car came to the entrance. A dusty pickup truck passed us by and was quickly ushered into the estate. In the back of the truck were two dogs, who looked back at the crowd in silence. Actually, other than the loud reporters, it was very quiet and somber. Fans had already begun camping out at the site. Teens in red jackets and MJ t-shirts, black hats, and white gloves, wept softly and hugged each other. A family of three huddled around flowers that were left at the side of the gate. I saw another young girl being interviewed by some news network, and watched her start crying as she told the reporter and the world what Michael Jackson meant to her.

Then it was my turn, as a crew from ABC asked me some questions and I fumbled a few meager answers out. Yes, I think the world should respect the family's wishes at this time. Yes, I think the media is going to be very cruel to his memory in the upcoming weeks. When asked if I had any words to say to the Jackson family, I could think of only one thing to say. We love you.

After taking a few pictures, we left Neverland a bit heavy-hearted. No matter what happened in MJ's life, good and bad, it was a spectacular one, the likes of which may never be seen again. His passing so soon was tragic. You couldn't help but feel loss as you walked down that gravel road, between an endless row of satellite dishes. The King had passed and his kingdom was quiet as could be. We left the ranch and continued on our trip, singing songs and enjoying life.

Below are a few pics that I took at Neverland Ranch.

Neverland Ranch Main Gate, July 1, 2009

neverland ranch

neverland ranch

neverland ranch

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