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Ave Atque Vale to the Gloved One

From the setting for the Loved One [Evelyn Waugh's novel inspired by Forest Lawn], the Gloved One took his leave.

Following a private family service at Forest Lawn, the public sendoff for Michael Jackson at Staples Center possessed every last drop of Hollywood drama and then some: big talents eulogizing an even bigger one, red roses on a gold-plated coffin, and a little girl at the microphone telling the world how much she loves her father.

I took over after Larry Mantle anchored the memorial/funeral service, and heard from reporters Frank Stoltze and Brian Watt, and from people who’d been inside Staples and who had simply stood outside in homage to their musical hero. Russell and Daniella, two English friends of mine, got tickets for the event. Russell said his brother in London had told him that in pubs and shops and even on car sound systems on London’s crowded streets, all you heard was Michael Jackson music.

Until today, there’d been a sometimes festive atmosphere to the crowds accumulating to remember Jackson. That puzzled me, because when I covered the death and funeral of the Princess of Wales in 1997, hundreds of thousands of people were utterly grief-stricken for days. As her coffin and its accompanying cortege moved down the streets toward Westminster Abbey, Central London was absolutely silent, except for the ringing of bells, the soft burst of the wings of startled birds, and occasionally the sound of sobbing, and someone here and there wailing, ‘’Diana!’’ Today, the crowds for Michael Jackson were sober indeed today. The sight of his coffin reminded them, as some of the speakers said, that a man – not just an entertainment star – was dead.

A lot of you may have watched the Jackson memorial on brand-spanking-new big-screen television sets. As the price drops, the sales are going sky-high. Is it A) because the economy's improving, or B) because people can't afford to go on vacation this summer and are creating their own home theatres? The answer most callers voted for? B!

What I found more interesting, and disturbing, was our Greenwire guest figuring that a hundred million old cathode ray tube TV sets are still parked in closets and basements and attics. Each has about five pounds of lead, and measures of cadmium and unpleasant chemicals. Some people are saving the sets for the kids' old room, and some are thinking of throwing them away. All this toxic junk may go into landfills -- so if you're about to get rid of that old set, check whether your city has a techno-recycling program, or maybe donate it to a charity that can rehab it.

Because it's summer and you've gotta have a bit of fun, we invited LA Times columnist Dan Neil on to talk about his analysis of champion Olympian Michael Phelps' ad campaign for Subway sandwiches. This is in spite of him being photographed smoking dope earlier in the year. So Neil's argument was whether the country is starting to chill a little when it comes to toking, especially by public figures. future president Bill Clinton tried to hedge and dodge by saying he didn't inhale; 16 years later, confronted with the Big M question, future president Barack Obama said he thought that inhaling was the whole point.

Just after we wrapped up this topic, a fax landed in the newsroom from the Marijuana Policy Project, about a TV spot [rejected by some California TV stations] saying that the state is ''ignoring millions of Californians who want to pay taxes. We're marijuana consumers ... we want to pay our fair share.''

Helloooooo, Sacramento!