One-degree of separation: Iran, Jackson, Brown, the Red Line

Six degrees of separation to recent news events seems closer to 1 for me.

Riding on the Metro Red Line in D.C. just a couple of weeks ago.

Living in Tehran 30 years ago, walking and driving on some of the streets filled with post June 2009-election demonstrators.

Working for Los Angeles Court on celebrity-domestic violence case a la Chris Brown. Only the most explosive domestic-violence-related case was Simpson 15 years ago.

And Michael Jackson. I consulted on his child-molestation trial in Santa Barbara and was media liaison for L.A. Superior Court during the 1993 child-molestation lawsuit filed against him that ended in a settlement for the plaintiff.

The 1993 lawsuit filed against him on behalf of a young teen who claimed Jackson had molested him was settled after a hearing in Santa Monica for a reported $20 million.  The crowd that gathered at the Santa Monica courthouse for the 1993 proceeding dwarfed those that swarmed the Simi Valley courthouse for the Rodney King-beating trial little over a year earlier and presaged those that descended on the northern Santa Barbara County courthouse in Santa Maria 12 years later.

 A year or so after Simpson’s ’95 trial, a Santa Barbara County judge asked me to help him prepare for a civil trial he was presiding over in which Jackson had been sued. Little to no public interest in that case, primarily because Jackson wasn’t required to be present like he was his 2005 criminal trial.

By the time the criminal charges were filed, I had left the Los Angeles court and was living here in South Milwaukee. My consulting on that trial involved a couple of trips to the Santa Maria courthouse. I discussed the pros and cons of courtroom camera coverage and other media-related issues with the judge, was in the courthouse entrance as Jackson arrived for a pretrial hearing, sat in the courtroom a few feet away from him during that and other proceedings, watched the estimated 2,000 fans scream in adulation at him and press against a chainlink fence security had put up to hold them back as Jackson entered and left. I watched him walk out to the street in front of the courthouse, jump up on top of his SUV parked out there where he waved to and danced for his fans.

An Associated Press-reporter friend who covered the Jackson, Simpson and countless other celebrity and high-profile trials emailed me about being in shock over Jackson’s death. I think she was one of the few reporters, if not the only one to be invited into Jackson’s Neverland ranch in northern Santa Barbara County while Jackson still lived there.  I heard her interviewed Saturday on NPR about Jackson. She included information about his three children I’d never heard before.

His fame is certainly transcends generations. Seven- and 8-year-old boys at a parks-and-recreaction department track and field day near my house on Friday excitedly related the news about Michael Jackson’s death as if they had just heard it. Then they got into a debate about the exact time he died. Then it was time for their next event — the soccer-ball kick.

Sometimes I think I should write a book.

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