admittedly a bit late.. this thread is simply my experience at MJ's memorial. not an argument over who is at fault of his death, wether he should be praised or not, or the politics regarding his life. i'll try my best to keep all controversy out.
simply regard this thread like you would, say, a disneyland trip report.. except this is my trip report to the staples center which happened to host a huge and epic event.
i was one of the 8,750 chosen out of 1.6 million (that's less than 0.54%) through the online lottery to attend the memorial. the day before the actual event, all lottery winners had to go to the dodgers stadium to redeem their tickets and bracelets. it was a very easy and organized process and no one even had to get out of their cars. it was like a drive-thru for tickets.
i decided to take my mom with me and left *early* in the morning to beat the crowd that would be attending. the traffic actually wasn't too bad, and the roads around the Staples Center were closed to the general public except for those with wristbands, making it really easy for us to maneuver to the venue. got to the front of the Staples Center and there was just a huge mass of people, police, and news reporters.
the crowd was formally welcomed to the Staples Center with a riveting speech by one of the head employees as they opened the doors to the venue. lines formed, and after about a 20 minute wait, we were all scanned in, secured, and given a complimentary Michael Jackson Memorial Book. my mom and i were taken to our seats. which i thought were pretty good. as the rest of the mass crowd was being scanned into the venue, we just sat in our seats while they played MJ's classics, newer songs, and even some unreleased songs. celebrities were making their way to their seats as well. notable ones that i remember seeing are Kobe Bryant, Larry King, Wesley Snipes, etc. we all paid our respects as the Jackson family entered the venue. at about 10:30am, the memorial service was finally started with Smokey Robinson's welcoming speech.
smokey's welcoming address
after Smokey's welcoming address, there was a good 15-20 gap in the program. the audience was pretty confused, but was still very classy and respectful as the Staples Center was dead quiet for the entire duration of the gap (can you imagine 11,000 people almost dead silent for that long??), with some scattered people yelling out "i love you michael!" and other words of appreciation of the like. i got updates via AIM and text messages from friends watching the ceremony on TV that during that confusing gap, they were bringing Michael Jackson's casket into the Staples Center -- the audience had no idea. a choir was gathering on stage and started singing, in the middle of their song, the casket is carried in. the crowd goes crazy. it was a very surreal feeling knowing Michael Jackson's body was amongst us.
i wont go into too much detail about the events that went on during the memorial since it was aired on tv. but i will highlight that Stevie Wonder's performance was my favorite of the night. hearing him say "this is a moment.. that i wished i didn't live to see come" was completely heartbreaking. then in his performance, you can literally hear the pain in his voice. i thought Mariah Carey didn't sound her greatest.. but after watching the televised version of the memorial, i noticed she was pretty much crying during her performance so i'll give her that, haha. My favorite eulogies of the night came from Berry Gordy, Al Sharpton, Brooke Shields, and his daughter Paris. They were timeless, powerful, touching, and heartbreaking, respectively. also, Magic Johnson's anecdote regarding MJ and his KFC bucket was priceless.
the jackson family on stage
after the ceremony ended, we took a few pictures outside with all the commotion, and finally head back to the car to head home and beat all the rush hour traffic.
a fraction of the crowd in front of the signing wall
all-in-all, the memorial was a wonderful experience. there was a certain spirit that we all felt in the Staples Center. everyone was on the same page, and there was just a sense of person that we all respected, rather than a personality.
it was the perfect balance of mourning a loss, celebrating a life, and paying our respects.