Monday, August 31, 2009
Michael Jackson's Birthday Party in Brooklyn: A Spike Lee Joint
On-and-off-again rain showers be damned, thousands turned out today in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park to celebrate what would have been Michael Jackson’s 51st birthday. For what was essentially a joyous block party — but held in a giant meadow, and helmed by Spike Lee — some said they almost didn’t make it for reasons other than the weather.
"I was kind of emotional this morning, but I pulled myself together,” said a Michael Jackson impersonator who goes by Gritty, channeling “Bad”-era MJ (with extra sequins).What about the dance-offs between the other fans dressed in tribute?“There’s always somewhat of a rivalry,” Gritty adnitted, in between having his photo taken with fans. “But I just represent a piece of him. We can never be the best.”
DJ Spinna played a roughly five-hour set, with Lee and other famous Brooklynites and Jackson fans cutting in — including Ed Lover (of 105.1FM, “Yo! MTV Raps” and — everyone’s favorite — the “Ed Lover Dance” fame) and Tracy Morgan introducing crowd karaoke to “Black or White,” “The Way You Make You Feel,” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin.’ ”
For “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin,’ a song whose lyrics have famously confused listeners — at least until this summer, when it seemed to be blasting out of everyone’s car or cafe in homage — party organizers handed out “Yeah, yeah!!!” and “Mama se, mama sa, ma ma coo sa!!!” placards. People got the lyrics, but just waved the cards in excitement at the wrong time, despite Lee’s attempts to dissuade them: “You gotta wait till your part comes up! Put it down!”
Rev. Al Sharpton gave a blessing that somehow included a nod to Ted Kennedy and the fourth anniversary of Katrina. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz popped in to proclaim the occasion “Michael Jackson Memorial Day.” “Whatever Spike Lee wants in Brooklyn, Spike Lee gets,” Markowitz said, not ruling out future Michael Jackson memorial events. Would Markowitz call this a Spike Lee joint, then? “It is a Spike Lee joint. It is a Spike Lee joint!”