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'I still can't believe I'm going to the Michael Jackson memorial'

July 6, 2009 |  4:27 pm

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I'm wearing the golden wristband and feeling a bit like Charlie on the way to the chocolate factory.

I found out last night around 10 p.m. via e-mail that I'd gotten tickets to Michael Jackson's public memorial at the Staples Center on Tuesday. Shocked barely begins to describe how I felt. Stunned and dumbfounded would be a better description.

I immediately told my friends on Facebook and contemplated the odds of being chosen from the 1.6 million fans who registered online.

Picking up the tickets this morning at Dodgers Stadium was a model of Southern California drive-through efficiency. I never left my car and barely slowed down as I navigated a ticket distribution queue that reminded me of a supermarket checkout.

The stadium ticket distribution scene also foreshadowed the police state that will almost certainly surround the memorial tomorrow. Threading through the concentric rings of security felt like entering the Green Zone in Baghdad. I saw only one "need tickets" sign and no scalpers or souvenir hawkers during my 3-minute journey from entrance to exit.

My wife and I will be sitting in the upper concourse of Staples Center. I never gave any thought to selling the tickets, although I did check the going rates on eBay. Holding the tickets, which some were trying to sell for upwards of $100,000 online, made me feel nervous and lucky -- two emotions I've never felt about a funeral.

I'm not a huge Michael Jackson fan, which I know will drive the faithful crazy. I grew up with his music in the '80s, marveled in later years at his eccentric personality and downloaded his greatest hits to my iPod when he died. But mostly I feel a mix of excitement and sadness about attending the celebrity wake of the most famous person in the world.

-- Brady MacDonald

Photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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