Here's the cover of The Post New York Post, a 1984 parody about how the tabloid would cover a nuclear holocaust. It was edited by, I believe, Tony Hendra and Kurt Andersen. I remembered it today for obvious reasons.
And not finding an image online I dug it out of my closet and took a few pictures with my iPhone. And not the new iPhone with the decent camera, sorry.
The article, purportedly by Steve Dunleavy, begins, "Everyone on earth remained in deep seclusion today as the tragic news of Michael Jackson's bizarre death sent shock waves through an unconsolable and devastated world," and reports that Jackson had just gone into "his world-famous spin move" on stage when a nuclear blast hit, accelerating "the already dangerously high velocity of Michael's spin, increasing the twirl ratio beyond acceptable industry standards," propelling him into the earth's core. It announces a worldwide funeral tour as "weeping mourners from New York to Nepal donned solitary black gloves in witness to their grief." Remember when the glove was the strangest thing about him?
OK, so the joke doesn't sustain very well past the cover, which is funny largely because it's a joke about the Post, not Jacko. Who, note, was not yet called Jacko. The best bits in the article involve Jackson's brother: "'Jermaine just keeps reliving the entire horrible nightmare,' said someone. 'He sits in Michael's media room and screens the video tapes over and over.'" And later: "Witnesses to the tragedy report that Jermaine grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed the head of his rapidly disappearing brother. The action, while courageous and quick thinking, failed to help Michael in his greatest moment of need."
And there's a coda that will seem awfully familiar to anyone who's read today's newspapers.
For Michael, death was the worst blow to date in a life marred by tragedies ranging from blazing hair to fierce family squabbles over how best to extract every dime from his fabulous talent — all of which had caused him to retreat ever further into a childlike world filled with toys, games and persistent denials of homosexuality.
Ironically, Michael... may have realized he was living on borrowed time. 'He was walking around knowing that at any moment a nuclear blast could take him out, yet he kept up a brave front for his fans,' said Michael's closest friend, the Post Post's Lisa Robinson.
Now those fans, conservatively estimated to include everyone in the world still alive, struggled to cope with a lost of staggering proportions. In every country of the globe, rich and poor, celebrities and the insignificant alike joined together as one in an unprecedented orgy of weeping, so intense that in many areas flash floods resulted, killing thousands.
Daniel Radosh is the author of Rapture Ready! Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture. This article first appeared on his personal blog.