Thursday, June 25, 2009

Little Boy Lost

With the passing of Michael Jackson, America's beloved pop star, I felt compelled to reprint an article I worked on with one of his former neighbors, George Putnam - radio legend - who passed not long ago himself. Blessings to the family and R.I.P., MJ!

One Reporter's Opinion: Little Boy Lost
By George Putnam

Friday, Nov. 21, 2003

It is this reporter's opinion that the latest charges, the latest allegations, involving pop star Michael Jackson give scandal-hungry America and the world something over which to salivate. I remind you, these are allegations – multiple charges of child molestation. Nowhere do I see in these charges mention of intercourse or rape. But again, let us recall that in America one is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

I'll never forget the day that the Jackson 5 moved into our neighborhood in the mountains above Beverly Hills. It was the Jacksons' first home of any consequence. It was formerly the home of Paul Ziffren, the Democratic Party bigwig. Our cluster included Ernie and Edie Kovacs, Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Benny Carter, Jimmy Darren, Rona Barrett and a host of others.

It was my privilege to welcome the Jackson 5 to our community above Cold Water Canyon on Cherokee Lane, Bowmont Drive and Kimridge Road.

When they arrived, they clustered around my convertible and we became instant friends. They were so young and so small and so outgoing, but out of this humble beginning came fame and fortune ... and in the case of the young star, Michael Jackson, a little kid – arrested development and brilliant talent.

Within a few years came agents, sycophants, flesh peddlers and all of those who attempt to further themselves with the fame and fortune of the Jacksons. And let's not forget the star-crazed fans, among them parents eager for their children's association with young Michael.

Then came the charges and the rumors: Why wasn't Michael married? Why were so many youngsters accompanying his every move? Who fathered his children? In interviews Michael foolishly but innocently spoke of kids sleeping in his bedroom, being welcomed with parental approval, and the visits to Neverland.

Michael became freakish in his behavior. The bleached skin, facial surgery, his attempt to look first like Diana Ross and then like Elizabeth Taylor. And with it all, the baby voice, the Peter Pan approach to never growing up.

Michael spoke of his associations with kids quite openly, saying he shared a bedroom but always denying any sexual involvement. He stated that he slept on the floor of his bedroom while youngsters slept in his bed. But, you ask, what about the 1993 payoff and the hushed charges?

And here we go again with the same allegations – multiple charges of child molestation. And now he's 45 years old.

With eager law enforcement individuals openly stating, "We didn't get Jackson in 1993, we'll get him this time," one can only recall that early meeting with the Jackson 5 at their first home in Hollywood in the hills above Beverly Hills and the arrested development of Peter Pan.

Where are the sycophants? The moneygrubbers? Those who should be protecting him? Where are those who should be protecting Michael Jackson against himself and his own pitiful way of life?

Never in all these charges do we hear the word cruelty – not to humans, not to his enclave of animals, not to anyone. Never do we hear anything but love and worshipful adoration and devotion to children. After all, he is one of them.

One can only conclude by his behavior that Michael is, in his own mind, living in Never Never Land – while the world beyond the gates of his ranch looks on in disgust, imagining all manner of sexual scenarios.

As for myself, I can only recall what I saw, what I witnessed, in those bright and shining stars of yesteryear and wonder, sadly, where has Michael gone?

We have a frailty in dealing with the famous in America. We build them up beyond their own talents or human capabilities and then seek the chinks in their armor and set about to destroy them and watch them get up off the canvas to fight again.

The story is made to order for our crazed media, and law enforcement is already talking about three to eight years in jail when what Michael really needs is extended psychoanalysis.

This helpless waif, this lost soul, warrants our pity, not our judgment. What happened to our little tap-dancing kid? Where did he go? It's a sad, sad American tragedy, the story of Michael Jackson.

* * * * * *

The legendary George Putnam was 89 years young and a veteran of 69 years as a reporter, broadcaster and commentator ... and still going strong. George was part of the all-star line-up of Southern California's KPLS Radio – Hot Talk AM 830.
Click here for George's complete bio