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Before we get going, first and last word* on the Michael Jackson verdict. It's incredibly disappointing for one reason, and one reason only - it means that every last one of those insane fuckers who hung out outside the courtroom, with their signs and their t-shirts and their flowers and their cheering all in support of Jackson - every single one of thos edelusional, obsessive idiots who thought that their purchase of albums for two decades, plus the occasional DVD, concert ticket, and red leather jacket, gave them some kind of fucking INSIGHT into the mind of someone who is, verdict or no verdict, a pretty disturbed dude...

They were right. Coincidentally, in the manner of a stopped clock whose time has come, but they were right. And even though a guilty verdict wouldn't have changed their minds, even though they'd have denied and railed against the system and bought "Free Michael" T-Shirts and held vigils outside the jail for a few weeks at least... there's always a chance that a guilty verdict would have spiritually crushed some of them, and oh, how I wanted those spirits to be crushed. Yes, let's hope justice was served. Yes, let's hope everyone stops making "Michael fucks children" jokes and returns to the more factually accurate "Catholic Church fucks children" jokes. But the hardcore, die-hard Jackson fans earned themselves some pain and suffering since this trial began, and as they broke into flag-waving, cheering, and confetti-throwing, I cried a little, inside, at the injustice of it all.

Oh, and by the way, your "Beat It" joke was sad and old before the neurochemical soup in your brain had even begun its stretching exercises in preparation for making the connections that would cause you to open your gob, so give it up.


And speaking of the complex and tenuous relationship between pop music, art, and human suffering, guess what you can do today for the first time in five years? You can pirate the new Backstreet Boys album! Sure, you'll have to track down a torrent instead of loading up Napster, but otherwise, not much has changed.

The album's title is "Never Gone", which is both factually incorrect and a vivid image of a horrifying future in which immortal Backstreet Boys rule over a ruined, shattered Earth, and our only hope is if N'Sync can reunite, cut off their heads, and claim the Prize. Of course, that would mean N'Synic is immortal too, and that's usually when I wake up screaming with blood pouring out of my ears.

Since it's been five years, and the Boys have been in and out of rehab, marriages, ahd parenting in the intervening time, you may wonder if perhaps they have gained even the slightest modicum of wisdom. Rest assured, they haven't. I mean, they can't even hold their own against softball questions from MTV. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"It shows growth, it shows maturity. It's still us. It's not too over the top. It's not over your head. It's not too complex. It's just us growing up. We can go onstage and not worry about all the added BS that comes with all this stuff." - AJ, who will now be known as "AA". So it's the cute one, the sensitive one, the tough one, the quiet one, and the one who makes a searching and fearless moral inventory of himself. Thank fuck the drunk pothead reassured me that the new Backstreet Boys album wasn't over my head, by the way. That was my main objection to them getting back together, that somehow I wouldn't be able to grasp their newfound complexity. The Backstreet Boys couldn't go over Herve Villechaise's head. Not even now that it's been buried.

"I used to be so wrapped up in relationships and girls and didn't really give 100 percent to music. Don't get me wrong, I still like women very much." - Nick Carter, who would like to remind you he's not gay, and that any crotch-grabbing he may do during interviews is due to the fact that he stuck his penis in Paris Hilton, and thus, very correctly fears that at any given moment, it could burst into flames, fall off, or at the very least file for emancipation from his groin.

"The word "boy band" used to offend me. Now I don't care, I'm over it. Call us a boy band. Call us ... just call us!" - Kevin Richardson, proving why they have other people come up with lyrics for them. Richardson's solo album, "Late For Dinner", is due early next year.

"We had wanted to get back with Max Martin, but there was a backlash of that Swedish, synth Euro sound, that came from us, 'NSYNC, Britney, so we felt we had to get away from that." - Howie Dorough. I know, you're all thinking the exact same thing I'm thinking. One of the Backstreet Boys was named "HOWIE"?! And he thinks they had a Swedish, synth Euro sound? Sucking harder than ABBA does not actually grant you Swedish citizenship, Howie.

Oh, and for the record, I remain absolutely convinced that whichever of their managers arranged for them to record a song called "Backstreet's Back" in the 90's did so entirely to ensure that headline would get used all this week. Clever little bastard.

*I reserve the right to comment on any future stupidity that results from the verdict, but that's all I've got on the actual trial and verdict. If Michael does a special for PBS entitled "Naptime With Michael", all bets are off.

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