1. Of course, homage must be paid to the King of Pop. But we will try to spare you from the overkill. Check out some really good write-ups here, here, here, here, here and here in particular. From Kiese: “The greatest American worker of our time, a curious little black boy from Gary who felt compelled to work in white face while changing the way music and masculinity sound and look, died today. Michael Jackson will never work for us again.”
2. A former member of Jackson’s entourage says MJ predicted his death six months ago. He also claims that Jackson was suicidal, possibly anorexic and secretly gay. Take from this piece what you will.
3. The U.S. Supreme Court earlier today overturned one of Sonia Sotomayor’s most controversial rulings, siding with a group of white firefighters in a 5-4 decision on Ricci v. DeStefano. The Ricci case has provided plenty of fodder for conservative opponents of Sotomayor’s nomination to the High Court. That opposition figures to gain more steam in the coming days. Here’s some instant analysis from Adam Serwer and the crew at Slate.
4. With the slow death of the U.S. auto industry and the steady – but sure – decline of Detroit, Jonathan Mahler of the New York Times considers what will become of the black middle-class. “We’ve been hearing this phrase — “the death of Detroit” — for years now, but this is what it’s going to look like, how it’s going to play out. There’s a perverse paradox here, one that I was reminded of every time I met a black autoworker in an Obama T-shirt or with an Obama bumper sticker adorning his or her car. We have just elected our first African-American president, and yet, at the same moment, a city and industry that together played a central role in the rise of the black middle class … is being destroyed.”
5. Potraits of instability: Foreign Policy offers some grim images from some of the world’s most fragile countries.
6. The mystery of who revealed those steamy yet strangely un-erotic e-mail messages between embattled South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and his Argentine mistress has been solved: it was one of the woman’s former lovers.
7. On the same topic, Amanda Marcotte has an interesting theory about why Sanford would be willing to take such a tremendous personal and professional gamble: “But the whole right wing Christian culture discourages those things that might inflame passion … If you never feel that sort of passion and suddenly it enters your life in middle age, what would you do? You’d probably freak the fuck out, I’d guess. Your entire worldview would change. You’d babble about how much in love you are during a press conference.”
8. In case you missed it Friday, the five remaining defendants in the Jena 6 case all pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of simple battery. They also settled a civil suit with the family of the schoolmate they were accused of attacking in a school fight in December 2006. So, for all intents and purposes, the case is finally over and move along and there’s nothing to see here. For a little more background, check out this story from 2007.
9. Hoping to bypass Congress, The White House is drafting an executive order that would allow for indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without charges. Sigh. The more things change … yada yada yada. Glenn Greenwald does the business here.
10. The Stimulist’s argument for lowering the drinking age.
13. Steamy vamps, murder, passion and sex. If you were a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan and True Blood makes you a slave to the idiot box on Sunday nights, you’ll appreciate this piece by Laura Miller on the genre known as Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance. It’s a cultural study of the some of the popular heroines pre- and post-Buffy. Here’s a taste: “In your 20s (the age of most urban fantasy heroines), love and sex can seem like a powerful magnetic field, distorting your perceptions of yourself and other people. If you succumb, will you be surrendering control over your own destiny, which is still coming into focus? It’s a question with particular relevance to young women, and the mesmeric power of vampires and other supernatural lovers in urban fantasies speaks to the fear of losing your bearings should you fall under the spell of an especially irresistible suitor.”
14. The NYT provides an interactive map of all NYC’s homicides from 2003 to 2006, which you can view by race, age, sex and time of day.
15. Is there really a John Edwards sex tape? Jeebus.
16. In Vibe‘s voter-fueled “The Best Rapper Ever” contest, it’s defending champ Eminem against 2Pac. They’re both wrong.
17. On a somewhat related note, GOP National Committee Chairman and noted hip-hop fan Michael Steele tells a crowd in Detroit to “don’t write the Republican Party off.” Reaction was, uh, mixed. One panelist: “Michael Jackson is dead. God rest his soul. I am not going to be the Michael Jackson of the Republican Party. You will not use me until I am dead.”
18. The one industry lobbying to pay more taxes: licensed brothels in Nevada.
20. Speaking of the NBA and the draft, Milwaukee Bucks draftee Brandon Jennings is off to a rocky start. And Joe Budden is involved. Bethlehem Shoals, as always, makes a spirited – and thoughtful – defense.
21. Meesh does the hula.
Sorry for the delay. Blame it on the boogie. Or Joe Jackson:
But really: what the hell was wrong with BET last night?