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I hope Michael Jackson doesn't end up working at the Burger King in Kalamazoo.

I'm only half kidding about that. I started my freshman year at Kalamazoo College in 1988, just a couple of months after the Weekly World News broke the story that Elvis Presley, whom we all thought had died on the shitter in 1977, had in fact faked his own death and was now living the simple life making onion rings in the Kalamazoo Burger King. When people found out I was going to K, I got a lot of "Say hi to Elvis for me!" And we would laugh, because it was silly and absurd and maybe just slightly possible that The King was flipping burgers in blissful anonymity. Elvis was sort of like our class mascot that year.

And Michael Jackson certainly shares a lot with Elvis (not even counting Lisa Marie): prodigious talent and unprecedented fame, retreat to a self-built world of isolation and fantasy as the real world passed them by, surrounded by "loved ones" who would rather indulge and exploit them than get them the help they so obviously needed. And sequins.

But I hope Michael Jackson's death doesn't become fodder for lunacy and rumors that he's working at Burger King, or writing poetry in a Spanish monastery, or that Courtney Love shot him, or any of the other conspiracy theories that people believe when they're not ready to let go of their idols. I hope people can let go of him. I hope he can rest in peace.

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