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Michael Jackson? Never heard of him

Yeah right, you totally have

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Superstar Michael Jackson, on trial for child molestation, went to the emergency room of Marian Medical Center Tuesday with the flu, which he said was caused by stress. Jury selection will continue Feb. 22.

When jury selection was getting underway in late January, L.A. Times reporter Martin Miller — certainly a very serious, sophisticated, and urbane individual from a city far more serious, sophisticated, and, say, urbane than Santa Maria — wrote a story about his fruitless quest to find a single Santa Marian who had never heard of Michael Jackson.

“If any place has a shot at producing the über-Michael Jackson juror, capable of ignoring what the Japanese, Germans and English can’t seem to get enough of, it’s this quiet Central Coast town,� began Miller’s piece.

Miller continued to describe his quixotic quest, a journey that led him from Mussell Senior Center to The Boy’s Restaurant to “a local college,� with stops presumably everywhere in between. And dadgummit, wouldn’t you just know — after wading through all that hillbilly, he never did find anyone who had yet to hear about the King of Pop. Not only that, no one seemed to care about the trial.

Shocking, I know. Such a surprise that little Santa Maria, long known for its demographics and magical somebodies, failed to present this mythical being to Miller, at least over the day or two it probably took him to write the story. Never mind that by limiting his search to Santa Maria and ignoring the actual span of the jury pool — the whole of North County — Miller was shooting himself in the foot. Statistically, he would have been better off mucking about Los Angeles County, which I understand to be much larger and also a place where Michael Jackson has not owned a well-publicized ranch named Neverland for the past several years.

But this is journalism — not science — so let’s give Miller the benefit of the doubt, even if he credited one of his sources as hailing from “nearby Oceania.� Ultimately, his piece was good-natured, just slanted from the get-go. The sophisticated, urbane ones will do that to you.

Miller won’t have to create stories if the reports about celebrity appearances called up by Jackson’s defense are true. Diana Ross, Liz Taylor, Kobe Bryant, Larry King, Deepak Chopra, and Stevie Wonder are just a few of the stars slated to make statements in Michael’s behalf. The All America city, if it hasn’t already, is about to become all world.

This article is an excerpt from a longer piece that ran in the Feb. 10-17 issue of the Santa Maria Sun.

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