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2002-12-19 | 1:14 p.m.

While many people were disturbed by newsreel images of Michael Jackson dangling a squirming child over a hotel balcony, I can think of another famous person who might have been especially displeased: Prince. You know, Prince, the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince.

Why? Because Prince, who is also exaggeratedly eccentric and zealous about his privacy (also more musically talented and more convincingly heterosexual than Jackson, though these things are not strictly germane to the telling), lost his own son to a rare bone disorder only days after his birth. Then his marriage broke up. Now the fastidiously Edwardian musician must endure the knowledge that his ex-wife is living with the hepatitis-ridden domestic dispute king of heavy metal, Tommy Lee.

But thatís not strictly germane, either.

My point is that from his Minneapolis aerie Prince is undoubtedly aware that Michael Jackson now has--after the fashion of countertop-grill huckster George Foreman--not one but TWO children named Prince Michael Jackson. I and II. An heir and a spare. How it must grate. Especially when Jackson makes a very public, sort of understandable but still puzzlingly dangerous parenting mistake.

However, if Internet tabloids can be believed, Prince has recently remarried. Meanwhile, Lisa-Marie Presleyís marriage to Nicholas Cage broke up after just three and a half months, which means she was married five times longer to Michael Jackson. Apparently, Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne are friends with Cage and had unkind things to say about Lisa-Marie: "I think she's fucking nuts. She's fucking psychotic. I think she must be on heroin or something," said Ozzy.

Sharon said, "You'd think that after making such a huge, ugly mistake as marrying Michael Jackson, she'd look before she rushed into anything again."

Iíll tell you what. I love this stuff. I could eat it with a spoon. Gossip is story, and story is my life.

Meanwhile, back at the Spanish Mediterranean split-level, it is Christmas, and we are in the thick of it. The stockings are hung by the chimney with flair, but mostly everything is undone. The house is very cold, the weather outside is frightful and very, very wet, the drains are all stopped up, and this morning I smashed my all-time favorite Corelle bowl (not yours, darling) and a four-cup Pyrex measuring cup full of stale chicken broth on my new kitchen rug. Bah, humbug indeed! Time to call a plumber and finish up my cards. I'm so late. Always behind.

P.S.: If you would like a holiday card from me, too, send me your address by e-mail. Be sure to mention how I know you if I'm not likely to guess after reading the address (either your URL or "I'm the one who...").

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