As I sat in Bobby Van's Grill at JFK airport on the late afternoon of Thursday, June 25th and witnessed the television report the "BREAKING NEWS" of the hospitalization of The King Of Pop, I thought, Mike is a survivor, he'll pull out of this one. The transition from hospitalized to his passing was a matter of minutes...the amount it took for me to be told that I would not be placed on the next upcoming flight I was waiting on standby for. Although I missed my original 440p flight to Los Angeles, I didn't make the 745p flight or subsequently the 920p fight either. I spent the entire day in the airport glued to CNN as I moved from gate to gate and people watched inside of the terminal. Let's call it divine intervention.
Twitter and Facebook are my only social networking outlets and both were flooded with MJ commentary - shock and disbelief. I felt tragic. I had been here before, I identified what I witnessed was people were connecting again in tragedy. The last time I witnessed this was during 9/11. To see folk of all races, faiths and nationalities united to grieve about the King of Pop was quite - well, let's just say it put me in a space. An accepting shock was really what it was. You don't want to believe it, but as the body was being transported from the helicopter to the coroner's van...seeing my man wrapped in an all white sheet was so final.
By the time I finally made my way to the City of Angels for BET Awards 09 it was full steam ahead work wise, but Michael's passing was on every one's minds and hearts. Particularly the ultra exclusive Debra Lee PRE Dinner. If you are in Los Angeles and you are in the mix, then being on the VIP list is a must. Everyone was a VIP on this evening.
Cocktail hour featuring Grey Goose Rising Icons cocktails and tunes by DJ D-Nice set the tone. Once everyone took their seat and introductions were announced via the "script," it was time for Driis (a la Idris Elba as the evening's DJ) to settle in for an impromptu set. "Rock With You" came on and everyone from Jamie Foxx to Teena Marie, Trey Songz to Day 26 took turns on the microphone paying tribute to Michael in song and dance. The energy was infectious and it ignited an electricity in the room that connected everyone with the power of this legend - gone too soon.
Fast forward to and through the BET Awards, the surprise finale with Janet Jackson brought the packed crowd to a halt as the youngest Jackson was ushered on stage by Jamie Foxx to represent her family. "To the world he was an icon...To us, he was family." Sitting center stage was powerful enough to have the magnitude of his spirit eclipse the reality of his loss a mere 3 days prior.