Trial throws spotlight on 'lost boy' Jackson

LOS ANGELES, Michael Thurston- In life, he was infamous for his bizarre quirks -- the pet chimp, the oxygen tent, the nose.
In death, the portrait of Michael Jackson emerging from his doctor's manslaughter trial is one of a "lost boy," deeply content with his children but dogged by health woes and desperate to reclaim his earlier career success.
The details of his everyday life, recounted in a Los Angeles courtroom, paint a picture of happiness surrounded by Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket in their luxury home in LA's plush Holmby Hills district.

Trial throws spotlight on 'lost boy' Jackson
"It was a happy home," said his personal chef, Hollywood celebrity cook Kai Chase, describing her daily routine of making meals and organic juices for the Jackson family in the sunny kitchen of their two-storey mansion.
They had reason to be satisfied -- Jackson had in March 2009 announced a series of comeback concerts in London, four years after he was acquitted on all charges over accusations of child molestation.
The child abuse scandal had torpedoed the career of the King of Pop, the youngest of the former Jackson Five who had grown up to become one of the biggest-selling artists of all time.
Now, with the "This is It" concerts at London's O2 Arena, Jackson was on the verge of resurrection -- both in terms of his reputation and financially, hoping to pay off huge debts racked up during years of lavish living.
And rehearsals were going well -- the star had reunited with his veteran show producer and choreographer Kenny Ortega, who directed his 1992 Dangerous world tour and the HIStory tour in 1996.
"I asked him if he was happy, and he said he was very happy ... he felt like we were accomplishing the dream. He saw it before him in those rehearsals," Ortega told the trial, recounting the last time he saw Jackson alive.
The trouble was, his health -- both physically and mentally -- was far from stable, and had been for some time.
Reports of his erratic behavior were nothing new -- his 2002 baby-dangling episode was an example, as was his companion Bubbles the chimp -- but the LA trial has thrown a spotlight on the grim reality of his final months and weeks.
For example, the fact that he was going to a top Beverly Hills dermatologist on an almost daily basis, accompanied by his personal assistant, and emerging afterwards mysteriously speaking slowly.
And that the home where he died was equipped with clinic-style medical facilities including intravenous (IV) drips and oxygen tanks, stored in the bodyguards' trailer outside and regularly replaced by his personal doctor.
Conrad Murray, who was employed for $150,000 a month to look after Jackson while he was preparing for the London shows, was known to stay overnight at the mansion, according to testimony by security staff.
But Jackson's health woes took a dramatic turn for the worse a week or two before his death, according to Ortega, who recounted how the superstar was clearly unable to rehearse on June 19, six days before he died.
"My friend wasn't well, with something going on deeply troubling me. He was chilled and appeared lost and a little incoherent," he said, adding: "Michael didn't appear physically or emotionally stable."
"He was like a lost boy," he said.
One of the most chilling pieces of evidence was an audio recording played at the start of Murray's trial last Tuesday.
In it, an apparently heavily-drugged Jackson, slurring his words and barely intelligible, tells Murray in a phone call about his hopes for his comeback shows in London.
"We have to be phenomenal. When people leave my show, I want them to say: 'I’ve never seen anything like this in my life... It's amazing. He's the greatest entertainer in the world'," he says.
But for all that, in his final few days at least, Jackson appeared in good form, and his family was happy. His last rehearsal at LA's Staples Center, the night before he died, was a great success.
He returned home shortly after midnight on June 25, 2009, and rolled down the window of his car to talk to fans who, as usual, gathered outside the gates of his mansion to see their hero and offer him gifts.
The next day opened to a typically sunny Los Angeles morning.
"The children were playing, music was playing and everyone was enjoying themselves" said his chef, recounting how she was preparing a lunch of spinach cobb salad with organic turkey breasts for the Jackson family.
That all changed shortly after midday, when Chase saw Murray "come down the stairs into the kitchen in a panic, frantic," demanding that she get help, security and his daughter Paris.
She fetched Paris, and returned to the kitchen. A short time later she realized the housekeeping staff were crying, as Jackson's security was alerted and paramedics eventually called.
"The children were crying and screaming, and the next thing we did we started hugging and we came together and we held hands and we started praying," she said.
"The energy in the house did not feel good. It (was) not the energy that I have always felt in this home."

Sunday, October 2nd 2011
Michael Thurston

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