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Thursday, May 31, 2007

They divided his garments among them

The ritual abasement of Michael Jackson continues with today's Biblical division of his garments. We can all join in via eBay's live auction, apparently.
Nearly twenty years ago I was doing a special magazine with Paul McCartney and innocently enquired if he had any memorabilia we could shoot. He arranged for me to go and look at his "stuff".
This was kept at the time in an art warehouse in London's East End, which was the first surprise. What was I expecting? A damp attic somewhere or a cupboard under the stairs at MPL in Soho Square?
There were entire floors of things that he had put into storage, each item carefully catalogued. What kind of things? Well, his old Sgt Pepper jacket for a start as well as lots of stage clothes. Hundreds of gold, silver and platinum discs. The keys to every city in the United States of America. Old correspondence. Snide notes from John Lennon. Bits of artwork, exercise books full of lyrics. A hand signed letter from his local bank manager back in Liverpool pointing out that the first cheque from EMI had cleared but he'd better not spend it all at once.
At the time it seemed strange that he should have bothered to have squirreled all this away. But over the years his policy of buying up items from his own past such as the original Quarrymen acetate began to make more sense. It fitted into a plan. Whether it was a desire to claim his own past before it all disappeared into some glass case in a Hard Rock cafe or a far-sighted investment in some future Beatles museum we don't know. But I wouldn't mind betting he'll be watching Jackson's past go under the hammer today with more interest than the rest of us and thinking of his own collection, now presumably much expanded.