I was in the fourth grade and I was militantly anti-rock. Along with some other nerds, we were more into war games and geopolitics. We pretended that we had countries and vied for control of a wooded creek watershed that ran through North Arlington. We brought our diplomacy or lack thereof to school. I remember for a time we would refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance -- after all, we represented the "Democratic United Provinces", or D.U.P., didn't we? Today, in the post-Oklahoma City, post-Columbine, post-9/11 age, we would have got in a world of trouble for this, as I was also making drawings of rockets that would defend the Gulf Branch territory against what we expected would, any day, be a US crackdown against our breakaway provinces.
Luckily this was before adolescence, so we were not yet considered complete outcasts. The doors of opportunity had not yet closed. I think some of our classmates got weary of our cant but since they couldn't beat us they "joined" us, establishing their own countries -- with names like Duran Duran, the Union of Hall & Oates, and Michael Jacksonia, which I assume was a kingdom. Thriller had come out by then. People were moonwalking at school variety shows, and soon after, breakdancing, despite warnings from more conservative quarters (one claim I remember was "twisted testicles"). The one or two black kids who were bussed in from south Arlington (in the world's most pathetic attempt at integration) had risen in social stature. We resisted the beats, but by the end of the year, it was clear that even the Hall and Oates unionists were no pushover. It was a rock revolution. The Democratic United Provinces faded into memory, and I produced my own debut single copy cassette tape LP, "Shakedancin'", the melodies of which I copied from top 40 radio. I wouldn't say that I turned into a hip, urban kid but considering my budding potential as a Nazi geek in a trench coat, Michael Jackson might have saved my soul with his pioneering inspiration -- it was safe, fun, pop, perfect for a ten-year-old. I thought, and still do, that his gulps and squeals were a little too much -- but that was just Michael.
If he was an angel, he deserved a better fate. Even spared the indignity of the Pepsi commercial incident, which started the decline. Perhaps he could have been devoured by his pet tiger under mysterious circumstances in 1984 or something.