Last Thursday evening, I hit Prospect Park with friends for the Femi Kuti concert. The rain held off, we packed a huge picnic and danced for hours to contagious, Nigerian Afrobeat. Looking around at one point, I stopped to appreciate the best part of any Brooklyn event – the people. Brooklyn’s characters are eclectic to be sure – a grab bag of characters young and old, white and black, fat and thin, stoned, drunk and sober – all routinely united by what all of NY does best – music, food, art, festivals, etc.
Being a Brooklyn local for years (and a huge fan of Celebrate Brooklyn), this was not the first time I’d appreciated the local cast – and the fact that their strength as a group may be a direct result of their eclecticism. That night, however, the same day that Michael Jackson‘s death was announced, the cast created a particularly memorable moment.
After the show, just as we were packing up to leave, I recognized The Jackson 5‘s “I’ll Be There” on the loudspeaker. So did the rest of the crowd. I looked around, and the whole ragtag group of remaining concert-goers was dancing and singing along to the one of Jackson’s most famous tunes. It was FANTASTIC.
And I thought, the reason people have been so moved by Jackson’s death is that, despite the drama and, let’s face it, bizarreness of the last decade or two, the music was unmatched. Everyone I spoke to had a Jackson story – be it a concert memory, or what a song meant to them at a certain point, etc. So I’m hopeful that as time goes by, he’ll be remembered not for the gossip, but for the gifts he gave us…the same ones that can bring a random crowd of strangers together, even if just for a few moments.