How Michael Jackson changed my career and my life

Tired of inane, exaggerated Michael Jackson remembrances? Here’s mine. MICHAEL JACKSON CHANGED MY LIFE.

Yes, Michael Jackson made me realize being a columnist was far preferable to being a reporter. I wasn’t absolutely sure, until he came to town on Nov. 20, 2003.

Jackson had been released on bail (booking mug at right) after he was charged with child molestation. He flew to Las Vegas and was driven all around Las Vegas for three hours, in the style of O.J. Simpson in his white Bronco, except it was a Lincoln Navigator.

As he and his children slowly meandered around town, apparently trying to find the Ritz Las Vegas at Lake Las Vegas, hundreds of cars started following. His driver got lost and Jackson finally found himself at the Green Valley Station in Henderson and decided to stay there. (Surely after three hours, someone had to use the bathroom.)

But before he finally stopped, the news media, television and newspapers, went gaga trying to stake out sites where he might stop.

If I’d been a reporter, I would have been assigned to go somewhere to stalk Jackson. Instead, as a columnist for not quite two months, I had the luxury of ignoring him.

That’s when I realized being a columnist was the best job at the newspaper and the thrilling revelation is courtesy of Michael Jackson, dead yesterday at age 50.

Michael Jackson fans reach for the superstar’s gloved hand Thursday as his sport utility vehicle drives on Swenson Street near Tropicana Avenue.
(Photo by
K.M. Cannon)

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