The Michael Jackson Saga has now reigned o'er the land for precisely 40 days and 40 nights. But it's already pretty clear that its freshness date has, alas, just about expired (according to my unofficial Tabloidy Overkill Buzz-O-Meter). And nothing can take its place.
We now are left to wonder: what will become of TMZ? Of Perez? Of Hollywood Slime All the Time and Oh Michael We Love You Forever and Ever?
Perhaps most pressing of all, what will become of us?
C'mon, admit it. You know you're feeling it. Even the Globe is running the stories on Page 5. The blog headline type has shrunk to 12-point. The Jackson death ordeal has ceased to be top of mind or top of page. It's all over but the threats from lawyers, and we already get our fill of legalese every hour from one of the 17,847 daily permutations of "Law & Order" (including the fledgling "Special Celebrities Unit").
The warning seems clear: Ready or not, we had best brace ourselves for the Jackson tale's eventual -- perhaps imminent -- disappearance altogether.
Yes, it's true there was big news again Monday in Jacksonville. Katherine got custody! But its shelf life may not survive the hour. This is, after all, not to be confused with "Katherine Wants Custody," "Katherine Soon to Get Custody," "Katherine Has Custody Already" and "Debbie Rowe Doesn't Want Custody."
In the world of stop-the-presses news, this one ranks right up there with "Obama Still Born in U.S."
As the Jacko rug is prepped to be pulled out from under us, how are we to waste all of our newfound free time? Just when we had grown so accustomed to substituting the Jackson players' Shakespearean lives for our own, we're callously, jarringly made to return to a collective mundane existence.
We can anticipate days soon bereft of Marlon and Tito, of Jackie and Jermaine, of Janet and LaToya, of "That's My Dough" Joe and Katherine, of Debbie "Skid" Rowe, Dr. Arnold Klein, the three little Mikes and of course America's favorite new whipping post, "Dr." Conrad "Raid Man" Murray.
That's not to mention Larry King, the honorary "Sixth Jackson."
I can't be alone in feeling that a Michaelholics Anonymous organization need be established pronto to help deal with the coming Jackson withdrawal in 12 simple steps, something that's appropriately flail-safe and naturally headquartered in Encino. (Step 3: "We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of someone besides Michael." Step 4: "Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our record and CD collections.")
The thing to keep in mind, however, during our time of recreational bewilderment and anguish is that the deep feelings of emptiness will subside with time. We will come to be stunningly preoccupied by other celebrity stories with little or no direct impact on our daily lives. There will be sweeping new trails of unsubstantiated rumors to grow appalled by at TMZ, even as it mourns the decline of the traffic surge from its having morphed into the Michael Zone through midsummer.
But until the Jackson story has been picked clean of every remnant of dubious connectivity and knee-jerk grandiosity, I think we owe it to ourselves as members of the blogosphere -- indeed, as Americans -- to keep the MJ fire burning pending all semblance of kindling drying up.
I'm not talking about investigation and reporting so much as encouraging the spread of unverified whispers and working behind the scenes to shape events.
Journalism? Oh puh-leeze. So Eighties. Jacksonism is where it's at, baby.
To that end, I'd like to boldly proclaim here that I think we're overdue for another raid on Dr. Murray. I believe there have been three or four of 'em so far, and may I just say it feels entirely, woefully inadequate. It's already been half a week since the last one, and God only knows what the man is doing at this very hour to abscond with, shred, transfer or otherwise dispose of evidence pointing to abuse of some heretofore unknown toxic sleep aid.
Even if there are no more of Dr. Murray's offices left to raid, I'm begging authorities to raid something. Perhaps his menagerie of exotic South American frogs. His autographed picture of Hitler. His collection of first-issue stamps. His vegetable garden. We can scarcely imagine the stockpile of WMD (Weapons of Murray's Drugging) that are surely rolling around out there.
Anyway, that's my two-cents. If it isn't likely to land me any mentions in the archives of the sure-to-be-forthcoming Jacksonian Institution (hey, the Presidents get libraries), at least it leaves me content in the knowledge that while others were off snoozing, I was still doing my part to fill the emerging void and keep the Jackson phenomenon coursing through the national consciousness.
It's not just a job. It's a calling.