Friends like this are priceless because they make me look good, ie: occasionally witty and erudite on the rare occasions where I haven't overimbibed. I definitely benefit from their wisdom and worldliness.
One such friend, Q, lives in Germany. After the news of Michael Jackson's death, I sent Q a brief email along the lines of 'isn't this sad?'
Jackson was around our age and we grew up with his music. I know it's selfish, but when he died I helpessly watched yet another fragment of my youth spin off into the vortex. (Goodness, there goes Farrah Fawcett, too! So long chicky babe.)
But let me quote my Aussie-expat mate now based in Mannheim, Germany.
"I've been watching TV for the last hour, catching multiple reports about Michael Jackson's life and death. He was certainly odd, but a great talent and musically amazingly influential.
"For our generation, his death is comparable to Elvis Presley's all those years ago. We've focussed so much on MJ's eccentricities over the last decade, that we forgot what a wonderful entertainer he was. Some of the '80s and '90s clips of him dancing I saw this afternoon still give me goosebumps.
"A great loss and - cynically - a smart career move. No doubt his album sales will hit a new peak.
"Can't wait for the tribute concert with (guessing here) Elton John, Madonna, Diana Ross, Lionel Ritchie, Janet & Jermaine, Justin Timberlake (duh), etc."
Already eBay has gone berserk with MJ memorabilia and his CDs have sold out on Amazon.
Let's just wait for the tribute gig. It's only a matter of time.
The two-pronged moral of this story is - 1. surround yourself with clever people and you'll always look smarter than you really are 2. don't inject prescription drugs.
PS: If MJ had friends like mine he'd still be alive today and probably doing the occasional ocean swim.