When I arrived in Berlin in June 1988
for the start of what turned into the Particularly Bad Shoes and Brown
Gravy Tour (more on the name later), I knew Michael Jackson also was
making a tour stop there.
Jackson, at the height of his fame, was in the middle of his 16-month "Bad" world tour, which at the time became the largest grossing and most attended tour in history.
I was embarking on a dog-and-pony show tour staged for the benefit of Western media by sports authorities in East Germany, which then was at the height of its athletic fame (or infamy).
Our tour got its (unofficial) name after we were served brown gravy on everything -- including sliced pineapple in Leipzig -- and my colleague, Jere Longman of the New York Times, accurately observed there were two kinds of shoes in East Germany: bad shoes, and particularly bad shoes.
Anyway, no sooner had I checked into my hotel in what then was West Berlin than I realized Jackson also was a guest in the hotel, because there were hundreds of fans on the street chanting his name.
But I didn't think anything more of my relative proximity to the pop superstar until I was walking from my room to the elevators so I could join some friends for dinner.