Commonwealth Journal

Editorials

July 2, 2009

‘Human Training Wheels’

Editorial

By PETER FERRARA

CJ Columnist



“The end hangs on the beginning” is the motto of the school I went to as a child. For whatever reason, mottoes are often written in Latin and Andover’s was “Finis origine pendet.” Maybe Samuel Phillips, who founded Phillips Academy outside Boston in 1778, thought it looked classier that way, but it simply means “the end hangs on the beginning.”

I thought about this when music superstar Michael Jackson died at the age of 50. Suddenly, television news was “all-Michael all the time.”

Looking at the pictures and video footage of this iconic figure as a little boy singing with his brothers in what would become “The Jackson 5,” I was struck by the twisted path life had set before him.

Michael Jackson began his career as an exceptionally gifted young boy with a great singing voice and the grace of a child who was born to dance. What happened to him as he grew older is a warning sign to us all about what can sometimes be the hidden price of success. At the start of his career, he looked like a million other small black kids. Only his immense talent made him stand apart from the crowd.

But as time and stardom unfolded, Michael became stranger and stranger both physically and mentally. His singing voice never dropped much from the high-pitched level he had as a kid. His dancing, however, became more and more advanced, until it was as much or more of the “package” he represented as his music. Michael was an electrifying performer you simply could not take your eyes off of when he was on stage.

While I found his grabbing at his private parts area a disturbing piece of choreography—I guess the shock value was why he did it--I still admired the grace and agility and sheer athleticism he packed into his dancing. Michael Jackson was one of the best dancers we will ever see. Combining amazing gymnastics with jazzy balletic moves was his specialty.

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