The XX Factor

Last Moments of Michael

Tracking celebrities’ final moments has become a kind of collective, Internet parlor game. The e-mails start flying: Who’s getting the best scoop? Who can spot the first credible death announcement? I’m currently standing vigil over Michael Jackson’s Wikipedia page , wondering if I can catch the moment when someone adds in a date of death and all the verbs fall, like dominoes, into the past tense. ( Edit - it just happened, at exactly 6:30 p.m . Watching the text ripple when I hit “refresh” felt oddly final. )

I’ve often wondered: Is this ghoulish? Perverse? Or is the intense way we’ve all spent the last hour focused on Los Angeles a fitting homage to this strange, super-famous man, who lived his entire life dancing in and out of our view? One thing I can’t get over: I simultaneously can’t believe Jacko is dead, and can’t believe he lived this long.

Photograph of Michael Jackson by Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images.