Jackson memorial a somber, spiritual celebration
(AP) - It was not spectacular, extravagant orbizarre. There were songs and tears but little dancing. Instead,Michael Jackson's memorial was a somber, spiritual ceremony thatreached back for the essence of the man.
Singer, dancer, superstar, humanitarian: That was how the some20,000 people gathered inside the Staples Center arena on Tuesday,and untold millions watching around the world, remembered Jackson,whose immense talents almost drowned beneath the spectacle of hislife and fame.
Outside the arena, the celebrity-industrial complex that Jacksonhelped create ground on. More than 3,000 police officers masseddowntown to keep the ticketless at bay. Helicopters followed thegolden casket as it was driven over blocked-off freeways fromForest Lawn cemetery to Staples Center. A bazaar of T-shirts,buttons, photos and other memorabilia sprouted in the blocks aroundthe memorial. Movie theaters played the service live and peoplepaused around the world to watch.
Inside, however, the atmosphere was churchlike, assisted by theenormous video image of a stained glass window, with red-goldclouds blowing past, that was projected behind the stage.
The fans, clutching tickets that 1.6 million people had sought,were a visual representation of Jackson's life: white, black andeverything in between; from Mexico, Japan, Italy or America;wearing fedoras, African headdresses, sequins or surgical masks.Actor Corey Feldman showed up fully costumed as Michael Jackson.
Emotions peaked when the Rev. Al Sharpton delivered a fieryeulogy highlighting all the barriers Jackson broke and the troubleshe faced. "Every time he got knocked down, he got back up,"Sharpton said, and the applauding crowd again jumped to its feet.
The parade of famous names continued: Jennifer Hudson, StevieWonder, Usher, Martin Luther King III and his sister Bernice, U.S.Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Kobe Bryant.
It was not clear what will happen to Jackson's body. The ForestLawn Memorial Park Hollywood Hills cemetery, where a privateservice was held, is the final resting place for such stars asBette Davis, Andy Gibb, Freddie Prinze, Liberace and recentlydeceased David Carradine and Ed McMahon.
But Jackson's brother Jermaine has expressed a desire to havehim buried someday at Neverland, his estate in Southern California.