Thursday, July 9, 2009

Michael Jackson's Funeral Bill: $1.4 Million

According to the Los Angeles Mayor's office, the Michael Jackson memorial has cost the city $1.4 million. Expenses for the event include police presence, sanitation and traffic control. One of the more outrageous expenditures includes $50,000 to provide meals for overtime workers. The meals were provided by a catering operation located several miles from the city. I don't think anybody would argue that the workers deserve to be fed, but couldn't the city have just given the workers a $10 per-diem allowance and send everyone off to the nearest McDonald's or something?

I don't begrudge the desire to memorialize Michael Jackson. His music holds some special memories for me. "Human Nature" was playing in the background when I first kissed a girl. That same year, at summer camp, my cabin performed a truly pathetic dance routine to the tune of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" for the camp talent show. And, for some strange reason, I often sang "Rock With You" while trying to rock my infant daughter to sleep. Certainly, I have not contributed nearly as much to the world culture as Jackson has, but when my time comes, at least I've provided a means for my family to give me a proper send off without having to stick my home town with the bill.

The city of Los Angeles was in financial dire straights before the memorial, and, now, is so desperate to recoup the funds that they've put up a website begging for donations. First off, why isn't Jackson's family kicking in for this? Okay, Michael's finances were pretty messed up, so they may not have funds immediately available. What about all of those celebrities who took the stage at the memorial? Couldn't there be some sort of celebrity hat-passing to help pay the bills?

Make no mistake, money was made off of this thing. AEG, the owner/operater of Staples Center, where the memorial was held, made some major bank at every opportunity off of of it, to be sure. They even made money by charging media outlets $50,000 to use risers outside the venue. Surely, they can fork over a bit to help cover the cost to the city.

Whatever the outcome of this financial debacle, we can be assured of one thing: Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and even Billy Mays are all rolling over in their freshly dug graves because of all the attention given to Jackson's memorial.

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