Monday, August 3, 2009


Author's Note: My daughter, Marchesa Cinzia Rodino di Miglione, witnessed this magical and triumphant Jacksonian night in Rome. She has graciously accepted to write about her bewitching experience on my ANIMUS MUNDI blog.

My first puppy love, a muscular and gorgeous hunk, was a basketball star in High School. Lovely Yes? His papa (accent on the last syllable) was one of the honchos of the Olympic Stadium. That's even lovelier Yes? Because Lorenzo, my FC (first crush) was designated by Papa as one of Michael Jackson's Security detail in the Olympic Stadium itself. One of the perks of having chosen Lorenzo as my first crush was that as a consequence I had a ringside seat. Mum was in Shanghai on business naturally and she was thrilled to hear that I would be watching beautiful and Arielesque Michael way up front.

"You see? Even your passing fancies have to be in a position to further your musical, sporting and cultural adventures," said she before saying "Ciao" and "I love you" and closing the conversation.
There was so much humanity. All lovers of Pop but especially of Michael. My ringside seat went for a $1,000 U. S. Lorenzo's father had gifted this to me as a way of pleasing his son. The least expensive tickets sold for $300. The Stadium was wall to wall people to use Mum's expression. Not even a flea could have squeezed by.

It was a typical Roman spring in 1988 - just this side of comfortably warm and blissfully sexy.
And then the drums rolled, trumpets blared, graceful dancers flew and leapt through the air. A series of thunderous rolls swept us all. There He was - doing his Sorcery - dancing, singing, leaping, gyrating and drawing us all into his vortex.

As a performer and as an entertainer THEN, no one came even close to Michael Jackson. For that matter no one ever would.

The exception was/is Frank Sinatra. No one mesmerized an audience for nearly 60 years as Sinatra did. Four generations of Americans adored him. The phrasing, breath control, voice, passion and charisma never left the Boss Man.

I was so close to Michael I could almost reach out and caress him. He was tall, dark, lithe and incredibly handsome. He had a remarkable range of voice. He hit the high notes with ease and descended to the low notes with the same ease. I am sure systemic Lupus had not afflicted him yet. I doubt he had done the Pepsi commercial where his hair and parts of his scalp burned and never quite healed. All the 70,000 fans present knew and felt they were watching Perfection, or a very good facsimile of it.

THRILLER lasted a good 20 minutes. I saw girls and boys my age being carried out by Police and Security. Michael's theater had overcome them for a variety of reasons. I wouldn't put the blame on drugs. Emotions are powerful forces. That's what it was basically. Sheer passion for the music. Most of the audience, including me, mouthed all the lyrics of his songs.

Diego Maradona, one of the greatest football players in the world, sat on my same row, a few heads down. Tears welled up in his eyes. Luciano Pavarotti was a few rows behind us with his young children yelling" Michael, Michael, Michael."

We all lived in Neverland for those 100 minutes of Entertainment. It wasn't only Michael who loved Peter Pan and never wanted to grow up. We were just like him. No thoughts of the Berlin Wall, Cold War, Somalia, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia. Princess Diana was still alive, gracing the glossies with her glamorous and fabulous looks. Italy was prosperous. No Mani Pulite scandals yet. And yes, Italian children were/are spoiled. Imagine parents spending that kind of money to see and hear a great performer/singer/dancer?

I couldn't help feeling it was all too beautiful and too perfect for things to last.


After the performance and 40 minute curtain calls,Lorenzo took me through the
labyrinths of the stadium to meet Michael Jackson.I would define Michael a timid personality rather than shy. The wispy, soft little boy voice the media wrote about endlessly was absent.

Perhaps Michael is putting them on? I wondered. If so, they deserve it.
Instead I heard a well modulated contralto voice. There was nothing effeminate or freakish about him. I'm 5 foot 8 inches tall in my bare feet. I wore low-heeled shoes in case I might have had to walk miles to get to Lorenzo's Ducati. Michael wore soft leather shoes with about an inch in height. Lorenzo was nearly 6 feet tall. When they stood close together they were on an even keel. Michael was small boned which gave him a perception of fragility but he was exceptionally well-proportioned.

He told us he was going to Modena the next night for the performance of Luciano Pavarotti, who would be singing Arias from Operas as well as famous Italian folk songs.

"Do you have a favorite opera?" I asked.

Without hesitating he said. "Actually I am fond of Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute (Mozart) and the Ring cycle." ( Wagner)

No wonder Miles (Davis) digs him. He is not a lightweight musician, I thought.

Indeed, Miles had paid homage to Michael at the Montreaux Jazz Festival by playing his jazz arrangement of Human Nature.

I don't believe he was ever a child molestor. I believe he had a harsh childhood. Let's face it. Many fathers just disappear without even a Bye-Bye. Joe Jackson was severe but he was there. He worked "like a negro" as we say in Florentine Italian, to put food on the table and clothes on his 9 children's backs. It is rough to be black in America today. Imagine how it must have been in the 50's and in the 60's. That does not excuse his abuse, but I feel that his hard work and sacrifice for his family's survival must be pointed out.

I had a kinswoman of my mother's who suffered from Lupus and vitiligo. She was on steroids and pain killers. She died before she turned forty. I admire Michael's courage and fortitude to forge ahead, dance and sing and perform despite excruciating pain.

I love you Michael. Thank you for the years of Magic. You were never a passing fancy. Your talent and your Music will continue to vibrate and resonate.

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