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"We're asking Michael Jackson fans to help be a part of this event—to contribute online and literally support this great memorial."

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That's Matt Szabo, senior press secretary to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigos, explaining to CNN that the city is asking folks attending Michael Jackson's funeral to kick a little extra cash the city's way. So, is this a nod towards some kind of voluntary tax regime, whereby city services are directly supported by those that actually use them? Or is it just another government shakedown, with LA looking to cash in on Jackson's grieving/partying fans?

More from the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes:

Journalists wondering all morning how the cash-strapped city of Los Angeles was going to pay for all those cops outside the Staples Center and other city services surrounding today's memorial got their answer when Matt Szabo, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's senior press secretary, began panhandling at the site.

"Los Angeles is a world-class city that's used to putting on world class events" but is "not immune to the recession" Szabo told CNN's Heidi Collins. "We're asking Michael Jackson fans to help be a part of this event—to contribute online and literally support this great memorial."

"Is that the first place you went—to fans?" Collins asked, sounding, understandably, confounded. "Have you spoken with the Jackson family or [concert promoter and memorial producer] AEG?"

Szabo began to dance: "It is our understanding AEG is putting on this entire event. What we're concerned about is paying for all of the other services," he said. "We're asking all those people who want to do something, to contribute in some way…to help provide for the safety of this event." He seemed to be suggesting that if something goes wrong today, safety-wise, it could "tarnish" Jackson's memory. Yikes.

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  1. Who will pay for Charles Manson’s funeral when he goes?

  2. Who’s Bad?!

  3. “Szabo began to dance: ”

    the taxes two-step, no doubt.

  4. > “literally support this great memorial”

    I’d like to see some people *literally support* the Jefferson Memorial. But I’m just too cranky now.

  5. Szabo began to dance

    Let’s see, arms flailing about, feet shuffling in a backpedaling motion…yep, that’s a moonwalk.

  6. Mmm… Heidi Collins… mmmm…

  7. I think they should literally support Michael Jackson, Khomeini-style. (anyone remember that?)

  8. Didn’t Michael Jackson do enough to tarnish his legacy all by himself? What could the City of LA possibly do to top the parade of weirdness that was the last 15 years of his life? Have the Mayor shit on his corpse onstage at the Staples center?

  9. it could “tarnish” Jackson’s memory

    That ship has sailed and sunk.

  10. Have the Mayor shit on his corpse onstage at the Staples center?

    T
    Now that’s a mental picture that makes me LMAO.
    Oh the humanity…

  11. I think they should literally support Michael Jackson, Khomeini-style. (anyone remember that?)

    Yes, and I remember Letterman later that night showing a little “get the ayatollah back in his coffin” game.

  12. Farrah Fawcett dies and goes to heaven, and St Peter asks her what her dying wish is.

    “I’d like all the children of the world to be safe.”

    POOF – Michael Jackson died.

    What, too soon?

  13. I think they should literally support Michael Jackson, Khomeini-style. (anyone remember that?)

    Yes, and I remember Letterman later that night showing a little “get the ayatollah back in his coffin” game.

    I was musing on that memory this morning while watching the news (ALL MICHAEL, ALL THE TIME!). I mocked the Iranians and felt so smug about the superiority of American culture when I saw that.

    Now? Not so much. As a westerner, this spectacle embarrasses the hell out of me.

  14. “I think they should literally support Michael Jackson, Khomeini-style. (anyone remember that?)”

    I do. And as I saw it happening, I smiled and began singing this Wayne Newton classic:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk11FVq1wC4

  15. I asked my wife this morning if the Jackson estate would be billed for the extra security etc that his memorial will require. She said “of course!”. How wrong both of us were. I had assumed the same thing. I expect the donations should reach 4 figures.

  16. @T:

    my nannyware informed me that your link is “tasteless”. is it wise to trust its judgment?

  17. Please please please let there be an asteroid strike on the Staples Center.

    Second choice: earthquake of at least 7.2 magnitude.

  18. my nannyware informed me that your link is “tasteless”. is it wise to trust its judgment?

    Yes, I think “tasteless” is an appropriate description, although “hilariously tasteless” might be more accurate.

  19. …dysfunctional, orthographer.

  20. but LIONEL!?!!?!?

  21. my nannyware informed me that your link is “tasteless”. is it wise to trust its judgment?

    That’s how you know it’s good.

  22. I think that the family should have invited the thousands of marines in Afganastan to be a part of this circus. they seem to have evaded the tunnel vision of our media.

  23. “Journalists wondering … how the cash-strapped … was going to pay for all … city services surrounding today’s memorial got their answer when … senior press secretary, began panhandling at the site.”

    Please, please, Mr. President, isn’t there *something* you can do?!

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