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MACHO MADNESS Michael Jackson Is Still Dead
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We're doomed.

I often share this prediction with my colleagues, usually in response to whatever nonsense of the day has caught the national media's attention.

I repeated my mantra more than a couple times during all the recent media coverage about the death of the singer/dancer Michael Jackson.

Congress and The Obama are discussing major changes in our economy that will affect us for years to come, a dubious energy policy will probably cause our taxes and energy costs to skyrocket, and unemployment is reaching levels we haven't seen for decades.

All of this took a back seat, however, so the media could tell us the latest on Jackson's death.

Yes, Michael Jackson is still dead.

I have to say, I don't get this celebrity thing.

To say our society today is obsessed with celebrities is like saying a politician is interested in money; both are obvious to even the most disinterested of observers.

I have always tried my best to refuse to be star struck. I scowl when I see a celebrity professing an interest in politics or other weighty matters of the day that have little to do with movies, fashion, music, or whatever other frivolous profession the celebrity has been spawned from.

Even athletes are being paid homage these days, as if their opinions are more important than the mechanic working at the local car dealership or some other mere mortal.

Even when I try my best to avoid such tripe, it seems like I can't avoid it. Either through commercial endorsements or hyperactive agents anxious to get their clients face time in the press, it seems we are bombarded with 'important messages' from celebrities on a daily basis.

I found myself taking a stand against this many years ago, when a news commentator paid a visit to the city where I used to work.

A friend and coworker was meeting with me one day in my office on the third floor of the city hall complex that housed the detective division. My friend, Pete, mentioned he had heard that Ted Koppel, who was the host of the ABC news show 'Nightline' at the time, was apparently flying into a nearby park next to city hall for some charity function.

First off, Pete, who has been a friend for years, detests celebrities as much as I do. And even back then, we recognized a certain bias in the media.

As we sat there, bad mouthing Ted Koppel for his perfect hair and smarmy delivery, his helicopter landed, and people began rushing to the nearby stairwells and elevator to meet him.

We began to get up, but then our eyes met, and we sat down.

Really, who cared what some overpaid celebrity who reads from a teleprompter has to say?

We then spent a productive 15 minutes or so ripping Koppel and newscasters in general.

This led to a discussion between us about who we would actually be willing to walk downstairs to see.

After much debate, we came up with The List.

It was a short list, that's for sure, but that's a topic for a different column.

Have you ever noticed that for those celebrities who want to revive a flagging career, death is a great strategy? I've also pointed this out to my colleagues - as these deaths have mounted in recent years - how with all the great singers and actors who are considered gifted, death came just in time.

Could you imagine Jimi Hendrix or Kurt Cobain playing Las Vegas as fat 60-year-old washed up has-beens?

The Beatles? I can see them playing county fairs, a la Journey, as they push 70.

The band Lynyrd Skynyrd was amazing, mostly because we don't have to suffer through a bunch of old men trying to relive their youth, like the Rolling Stones.

They certainly wouldn't be as fondly remembered as they are if we had to endure a comeback tour.

Heath Ledger? It got him an Academy Award.

Back to Michael Jackson. His CDs are bestsellers now on Amazon, and ITunes, and people are rediscovering his music.

He's never been so huge ...

Craig Macho is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.