Monday, June 29, 2009

Neverland - as you've never seen it before [Smaltz free]

Neverland Valley revolved slowly beneath us, the shadows lengthening from the pinky-gold glow slipping from the sky.

Even though no rain had fallen for months, the acres of lawns watered by underground sprinklers were deep green. Here and there, like toy soldiers, uniformed security people patrolled on foot, or on golf carts; some stood sentry duty – for Neverland was also a fortress.

The house at Neverland was filled with images, many of them depicting Michael life-sized, elaborately costumed, in heroic poses with cape, sword, ruffed collar, crown. The rest were an example of a sort of obsessive iconography: images of Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Ross, Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin – and for that matter of Mickey Mouse and Peter Pan, all of whom, over the years, in what is less a life than a metamorphosis, he had come physically to resemble.

"So you're Wendy and Michael is Peter?" I had asked Elizabeth Taylor afterwards.

"Yeah. Yeah. There's a kind of magic between us."

SHOOT: Fascinating insights from Theroux here.
clipped from
My Trip to Neverland

I heard the news today, oh boy, that Michael
had a heart attack – and died of cardiac arrest, at the age
of 50, in Los Angeles. I am reminded of a long conversation I had with him
at four o'clock one morning, and of my visit to Neverland. The visit came
first, the conversation a few weeks later, on the phone.

Neverland, a toytown wilderness of carnival rides and doll houses and zoo
animals and pleasure gardens, lay inside a magnificent gateway on a side
road in a rural area beyond Santa Barbara. Nosing around, I saw pinned to
the wall of the sentry post an array of strange faces, some of them
mugshots, all of them undesirables, with names and captions such as "Believes
she is married to Mr Jackson" and "Might be armed" and "Has
been loitering near gate".

A road lined with life-sized bronzed statuary – skipping boys, gamboling
animals – led past an artificial lake and a narrow-gauge railway to
Michael's house
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