Project “Beat It” (June 26, 2009)

Since 1983, I have been on a quest to learn the infamous gang dance at the end of the “Beat It” video. I have had several stops and starts. In fact, there is a painting of me hanging in my bedroom, done by my tremendously talented friend Brandon. A photo was taken of me way back in 2002, performing some of the moves in the parking lot of the Kum N’ Go (seriously, that was the name of the mini-mart) in Omaha, Nebraska. Brandon cropped my head out of the shot (wished he could have cropped the extra 25 pounds of fat I had on me too) and captured the simple glee of my drunken display for all immortality. I love this painting.

After a mostly sleepless night last night (for some reason I can’t separate Mike and Jesika right now), I decided I needed to channel my brokenhearted energies into something positive. This morning, inspiration struck! Yes, I am almost 31 years old. Yes, there are any number of productive ways I could spend my time. But I am finally, once and for all, going to learn each and every step of the “Beat It” dance.

As kids, Jen and I were particularly fond of acting out the part where the two gangsters tie their hands together, pull knives and dance around in a threatening circle. Now, I must tell you folks: Jen is at least twice the dancer I am. She is naturally gifted. Just ask the menfolk of Boys’ Town who lauded her with catcalls and free drinks after a spot-on replication of Madonna’s Cowboy dance in the “Don’t Tell Me” video. Jen, I welcome your expertise and assistance in helping me get “Beat It” down. Let me know.

I will not rest until I have accomplished this. I may be clumsy and slow, but I will prevail. Eddie just bought us a new 24″ inch monitor for our office. I will find the video on YouTube in HD and get to work. Once I am satisfied I am not a total disaster, I will have Eddie film me, and I’ll post the final result on this blog.

I don’t think there’s anyone, no matter how cynical, who didn’t wish for a moment as a child, that they could be the Gloved One. I think Jen got it exactly right yesterday when she said Michael’s death is like a real loss of our own youth. I want to hold onto that and be able to pay tribute to MJ well into my 80s by nailing this iconic routine. I can never duplicate his mad skills, but I’d like to think Mike would enjoy the sight of this old dog inspired by him to learn a new trick.


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