Mar 26 2012

1000 days, 33 months. They still don’t care about us.

Category: Books,Humanitarian,Justice,Photos,VideosSeven @ 6:57 pm

On March 21st, it had been 1000 days since Michael Jackson died. Fans from 42 countries contributed to send 1000 roses to his resting place at Forest Lawn and those roses were taken inside to where his body lay. On March 25th, it had been 33 months since Michael died, that grim reminder that comes around the 25th of every month now, a date many would rather forget or better yet, turn back time to before it happened.

Below is a photo of the roses Michael’s fans sent to his resting place in remembrance of him on that 1000-day anniversary:

1000 roses from 42 countries for Michael

But amidst all his fans remembering Michael on these key dates, the national attention surrounding the murder of young Trayvon Martin was increasing, the chorus of demands for justice growing ever-louder by the day. I could not ignore this. I know what Michael would feel about this: heartbroken, and sad that some of the same hatred and stereotyping he endured during his own life is still par for the course in our society, and that a young innocent boy needlessly died because of it. Nothing’s changed in that regard. This latest blatant injustice serves to remind us just how much and for how long things have not changed. I wonder if Michael would have gone to the family, asking if he could help; if he would speak out and if so, what he would say. Michael can’t speak about this now but I can, and so I am.

Michael Jackson fought against just these types of injustices all his life. He fought against them on his own behalf and he fought against them just as much on behalf of all humanity, through passionate philanthropy, music, film, speeches. But nothing’s changed.

They still don’t care about us

After Trayvon Martin was shot, police didn’t even bother to identify him. For three days he lay in a morgue tagged as “John Doe“, even though police had his cell phone and could easily have identified him. They just didn’t care. They could have also spoken with Trayvon’s girlfriend, the last person he spoke to before being accosted and shot by Zimmerman, but they didn’t bother. They just didn’t care. They tested Trayvon Martin’s corpse for drugs and alcohol but oddly, they did not test his murderer for the same. They just didn’t care. A friend of George Zimmerman made the comment that George thought all this would “all just blow over.  In other words, Zimmerman thought that murdering a young black boy was no big deal. He just didn’t care.

Michael’s fans are demanding justice for Trayvon Martin:

The video above did not include the Change.org petition that has over 2 million signatures now demanding justice for this boy’s murder. You can sign that petition here if you haven’t already:

https://www.change.org/petitions/prosecute-the-killer-of-our-son-17-year-old-trayvon-martin

George Zimmerman wanted to be a cop. But he wasn’t. So he decided to just act like one, taking the law into his own hands in a deadly act of vigilantism. There are other groups that are inciting further acts of vigilantism in response to this one. That will not help. It will not turn out well and will only feed Zimmerman’s false story of himself as “victim” in this incident. The victim, as we know, is dead. Some people say Zimmerman can’t be a racist because he is partially Hispanic. But here’s the truth: Anyone can be a racist.

Zimmerman is on record as having pestered the 911 operators and the cops 47 times. Every “suspicious person” he called about was black. Zimmerman even called them about potholes in the road. One might think it would be illegal to waste 911 emergency workers’ time with calling about potholes, or at least unacceptable enough that they would ask him to stop calling them unless it was an emergency. Apparently they did not do so and thus I can only assume police and local 911 operators knew what he was doing and that they approved of his harrassing black people in his neighborhood.

Here is the 47 page history of Zimmerman’s 911 calls:

http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/327330-george-zimmerrman-911-call-history.html

No, it’s not about the damn hoodie

Geraldo Rivera insists that Treyvon got shot because he was wearing a hoodie. I don’t think so. Geraldo (or anyone else) citing the fact that Treyvon Martin was wearing a hoodie as the (or a) reason he was murdered is a weak and pretentious excuse that only serves to protect the behavior of the perpetrator (Zimmerman) from complete accountability. Whether Geraldo meant his statement that way, I do not know but I do know that is the end result of it. It serves to protect the shooter from his actions by blaming the victim.

This is just like saying a woman was raped because she wore a short skirt. Or, because she was walking on a certain street or walking at a certain time of day.

It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. What all this is – is a way to blame the victim for the violent behavior of a criminal. And the victims who so typically get blamed for unprovoked violent criminal behavior against them are most often minorities: blacks, women, homosexuals, etc. This has been a shameful pattern for many decades in U.S. society.

I doesn’t matter what Treyvon was wearing or where he was walking. It doesn’t matter what a rape victim was wearing or where she was walking. It doesn’t matter if someone “looks gay” or not.  None deserve to be the target of a violent crime. Period. It’s called ‘human rights‘. If a non-white, or non-heterosexual, or non-male person were considered to have a full set of human rights, they would not be blamed for unprovoked violent crime against them. It is only when these people are deemed to possess an incomplete or non-existent set of human rights that such excuses are used against them while they are victims of unprovoked violence. And unfortunately that is most, if not all of the time in the United States.

What matters is that these crimes go unpunished while those responsible for enforcing the law flatly refuse to hold the criminals accountable for their behavior, often blaming the victim, then society joins them in that blame response – like Geraldo did with his comment about the hoodie.

George Zimmerman is still walking free. Treyvon Martin is dead and Geraldo Rivera is making excuses for the man who killed him. And this type of thing happens all over the U.S. every day. This particular case just happened to get on the national radar. There are many more that do not.

While the high and mighty and frankly rather pervertedly obsessed American Taliban in the U.S. attempt to completely control what women do with their uteruses beneath the guise of calling themselves “pro-life” — and beneath some twisted version of “religious freedom” (which in practice amounts to same religious oppression that they claim themselves the victim of), actual lives are prematurely ended or ruined every single day with a whole lot of impunity – completely unabated and most often, unnoticed.

I’m talking about rampant hate crime and epidemic human rights abuses. You’re black? You’re a target. You’re a woman? You’re a target. You’re gay? You’re a target. How many school kids have killed or died due to bullying because they’re gay or because they’re different in some other way? Why do so many rapes go unreported and/or unprosecuted? How many of our women in the U.S. Armed Services are sexually assaulted and raped by their own comrades, yet our military does nothing to punish the violent offenders instead threatening and coercing the victims to remain silent on the issue. This particular issue is an epidemic of human rights abuses right in our own military. And yet we somehow against all odds expect these violent offenders not to behave similarly against other innocents on foreign soil. And when they do, we act surprised!

Some current media efforts to smear Trayvon Martin greatly resemble tactics used against rape victims in how they attempt to show past associations, clothing the victim wore, etc. in a damaging light.

When is somebody going to worry about all this? The current pretenses are transparent and not salable. The truth is, they just don’t care.

Society and the justice system in the United States can only start truly saving lives and showing care when they stop blaming innocent victims for the criminals’ unprovoked violent behavior. I have yet to see that begin to happen in this country.

Remembering Kennedy’s words on the death of MLK

King and Kennedy

After Martin Luther-King was shot, Robert F. Kennedy gave an off-the-cuff speech April 4, 1968 in Indianapolis. Many people think this was one of the best speeches Kennedy ever made. Here is what Kennedy said:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some – some very sad news for all of you – Could you lower those signs, please? – I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black – considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible – you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization – black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom
through the awful grace of God.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King, but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love – a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past, but we – and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

And let’s dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.

History: The Warmth of Other Suns and The Mind of the South

The past is never dead. It's not even past.

The murder of Trayvon Martin is part of a deeply entrenched and as yet unchanged (other than in the forms it takes) history of racism in the U.S. To explain, I’ll share with you the following article and quotes.

The past is never dead. It’s not even past. — William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun

In The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson describes the world of Jim Crow and the Great Migration of black Americans to escape it in the still-bigoted North. One of the central characters of the book is George Swanson Starling, a citrus-picker living in Eustis, Florida.

And Eustis is only about 30 miles from Sanford, where Trayvon Martin was killed.

… breaking from protocol could get people like George killed. Under Jim Crow, only white people could sit in judgment of a colored person on trial. White hearsay had more weight than a colored eyewitness. Colored people had to put on a show of cheerful subservience and unquestioning obedience in the presence of white people or face the consequences of being out of line. If children didn’t learn their place, they could get on the wrong side of a white person, and the parents could do nothing to save them.

George was seeing the world in a new light after being in Detroit. The three of them had gotten used to fair wages for their hard work up north and walked with their backs straight now. George, in particular, never had the constitution to act subservient, and his time up north, where colored people didn’t have to step off the sidewalk, only made him more impatient with the role the southern caste system assigned him.

He had gotten used to carrying himself in a different way, talking to white people as equals in Detroit. Now that he was back in Eustis, he made a point to do whatever he could to keep from addressing white people as “sir” or “ma’am”. “They’d say, ‘So and so and so, boy'” he said. I would never say ‘Yes, sir’ or ‘No, sir.’ I’d say, ‘That’s right.’ ‘Sure.’ ‘Certainly.'”

“What do you mean by *certainly*?” would come the indignant reply. “You don’t know how to say, ‘Yes, sir’?”

George and two friends tried to organize their fellow workers in the orange groves for better and more honest wages. One day a man who worked for one of the white grove owners came to him.

The yard man said he heard mention of a cypress swamp eighteen miles out from town.

“They talking ’bout taking y’all out to Blackwater Creek”, he said. “They talking ’bout giving y’all a necktie party. They gon’ take y’all out there and hang y’all in one of them cypress trees.”

Men had been hanged for far less than what George was orchestrating. And there would be no protecting him if he stayed. In Florida and in the rest of the Deep South, “the killing of a Negro by a white man ceased in practice even to call for legal inquiry,” a white southerner observed in the early 1940s.

That quote is from The Mind of the South by W.J. Cash, who then writes:

But wherever and whenever the forms were still observed, the coroner or jury was all but sure to call it “self-defense” or “justifiable homicide“, and to free the slayer with celerity.

That is part of the history of “self-defense” killings in Florida, and part of the history behind the “Stand Your Ground” law.

SOURCE: http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2012/03/faulkners-past-and-trayvon-martin.html

And so it goes. And goes. And goes. During the next 1000 days and the next 33 months since Michael Jackson’s death, I implore you to DO something. In the name of Michael Jackson for God’s sake DO something to help stop the abuse and the killing. He might have wanted that. Dont you think?

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Feb 20 2012

“They Covered Up a Lot”

Category: Books,Family,Humanitarian,Justice,VideosSeven @ 11:53 pm

Michael and Jermaine Jackson

No, it wasn’t OK. I’m not going to pretend that it was. I never have and I never will.

People just weren’t allowed to say anything. They had them on ‘lockdown‘, including Michael. We’ve heard about that from multiple quarters. The film (This Is It), created by camera people hired and using equipment purchased by AEG, was not Michael’s and not Michael’s idea. Yes he would typically film rehearsals and performances so he could watch them later and improve his work. But this time it wasn’t his people or his cameras. What we heard from Kenny Ortega and Randy Phillips during rehearsals compared with what we heard later, particularly from Kenny Ortega in the courtroom during the Murray trial, should have told anyone listening that no, it wasn’t OK and no, they didn’t “have it under control“. Nowhere near it.

Who hired Conrad Murray? It really doesn’t matter who hired Murray. What matters is that Michael needed to sleep and no one around him cared if or how he did it. Including Conrad Murray, obviously. And that was the problem. It doesn’t matter because between Tohme Tohme and AEG, there was no way Michael’s family or anyone else who would listen to him or could help would be allowed near him, no matter what was going on. And Michael himself certainly didn’t want anyone else to know he was using propofol to sleep, either.

I constantly hear: “Well why didn’t so-and-so “do anything” when they were there in rehearsals and saw what was going on?”  But in my own opinion, dancers, make-up artists and the like had neither the responsibility or the authority to “do anything” other than alert those in charge. And they did. And they were told it was “under control“. The next thing we all knew Michael was gone.

I don’t blame Michael’s family. I don’t blame the dancers, his make-up artists, his security detail, or his costumers. I put the blame squarely on the shoulders of those who negotiated that contract with AEG and those were in charge of that production. They know who they are. Anyone who gave a damn about anything besides themselves, the show and profits; anyone who could help Michael was flatly denied access. That’s the way they wanted it. It was as if he was some stolen crown jewel being guarded by hungry lions belonging to the thieves. No one could get near him to return him to anyone who cared for him.

If you haven’t read Jermaine Jackson’s book, I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend LaToya’s book. I recommend these because they are written by his own brother and sister and whether you like it or not, no one knew Michael better than his own family. They know his childhood and the history of his adolescence and young adulthood better than anyone else. They were there most of this time, unlike the media and various unscrupulous authors. These are authentic keys to who Michael was as a person. Jermaine’s book in particular lovingly puts truth to much if not all of the media lies about Michael. It is truly a treasure. Even knowing that the media’s claims were not true  (I didn’t need proof of that myself), I still felt that I knew Michael much better after reading Jermaine’s book.

I know Jermaine, Michael and LaToya have had issues in the past. However, it is my own belief that these issues were put behind them long before Michael died. It is my belief that Michael forgave them and that all was settled. And if that was good enough for Michael, it’s good enough for me. I won’t discount some of these books based on grudges against this family when they are valuable snapshots of who Michael was — snapshots that no one other than his own family can provide. They’re important books if you want to know Michael.

I bring up Jermaine because if you haven’t read and listened to the following interview yet, you must. It was inexplicably dropped by the Huffington Post back in September 2011. They simply never published it and apparently gave no reason whatsoever. This was during the controversy that the media created surrounding Jermaine’s book wherein they typically misquoted what he had written  about the 2005 trial. The planned tribute concert in Cardiff had caused a rift in the Jackson family at that time, and the Conrad Murray trial was about to start in mere days. Charles Thomson’s interview with Jermaine provides a glimpse into his state of mind at the time. Now, five months later, we can finally read and hear it.  I think this interview and Jermaine’s book are very important for anyone seeking the truth about Michael, the media, and how Michael was treated during his life and particularly just before his death by the media and others around him.  Some excerpts and audio from the interview follow:

The assumption by many that they know more about Michael than his own family is a bug-bear of Jermaine’s. This attitude, he says, is the result of a decades-long battle against inaccurate media coverage. “This would become a recurring theme for the family,” he writes in the book, “a showdown of fact versus perception – and fact would always be the underdog.”

. . .

The book has been mired in controversy. As Jermaine flew to London, a storm was brewing over a portion of his prologue. Writing about his brother’s 2005 child molestation trial, Jermaine wrote that he was paranoid Michael would fall victim to a terrible injustice, so he hatched a secret escape plan. He arranged for a private jet to be on standby at the nearest airport, ready to whisk his brother to Bahrain if things looked bleak.

But many journalists, apparently too lazy even to read Jermaine’s nine-page prologue before writing about it, got it monumentally wrong. It all started when one story misquoted the prologue and said the Jackson family had planned to spirit Michael away to the Middle East after he was convicted. Copy-and-paste journalism took hold and the story was replicated hundreds of times by newspapers and websites including the New York Post, NY Daily News, Denver Post and Washington Times. Even the Press Association got it wrong.

The nonsensical story made Jermaine’s book look like a work of fiction, a situation worsened when Michael’s 2005 defense attorney Thomas Mesereau publicly blasted the claim.

“One of the reasons I wrote the book was so that my words would stand for themselves, in context,” says Jermaine. “But even in the newspapers’ coverage of my book my words were misreported. There was never a plan to get Michael out of the country ‘if convicted’. Thomas Mesereau had to issue a denial based on something that wasn’t true in the first place. That one change of context showed how one inaccuracy can snowball and how myths are made. I sat back and thought ‘This is what Michael faced all the time’.”

Read more here: http://www.orchardtimes.com/exclusive-jermaine-jackson-interview, and listen to the audio below and more on Charles Thomson’s YouTube Channel.

There are others who are to blame for making Michael Jackson’s life a living Hell before he died. And much of what they did and the reasons they did it are rooted in the same ages-old greed, lust for power and racism that drove Hitler and his Ministry of Propaganda against the Jews – and against black people. This brand of putrid racism still exists today. Far from being anti-semitic, Michael understood all too well the persecution of the Jewish people because he felt so much of it himself during his own lifetime.

Besides being a musical genius, Michael was a revolutionary. He was also one of the biggest forgotten humanitarians of all time. But both his creative and humanitarian work has been successfully buried beneath negative propaganda and innuendo that would astonish Hitler and Goebbels, the forefathers of these tactics. There are various reasons for this. He bucked the system from the get-go. His artistic brilliance enabled him to succeed in spite of an aborted childhood, an abusive father and physical and emotional neglect. As an adult he asserted his freedom, both legal and creative. He was wildly successful, making himself a millionaire before the age of 30. He broke the white establishment’s rules and their records left and right, and then he broke his own records. And yet he was black. Even after he ‘turned white‘ from vitiligo, he was still black. And while that confused and confounded others about who Michael Jackson was and they subsequently projected that confusion onto him — Michael himself was never confused about his own identity.

He fought back against the persecution brought against him for not forcing himself into society’s box – the one pre-made for him when he was born poor and black. See, he was supposed to stay that way. But he didn’t.

He didn’t fight back with guns, violence, crime, or political movements but rather with his music, film, dance, and countless humanitarian efforts. He knew these had more power and were much more inclusive. He rebelled and while the propaganda machine used every weapon in its arsenal to distract everyone from his messages and they were mostly successful — some of us still heard it. Some of us understood it. And we understood the reasons behind it. Many of us experienced the same kinds of persecution in our own lives albiet on a smaller scale. We could relate!

If the rest of the world had any clue, it should be ashamed. Michael’s premature death from the human rights abuses he incessantly suffered right up to his very last breath are an indelible bloodstain humanity will bear on its face forever. Anyone who has any interest whatsoever in changing humanity can start by learning what this man’s music was really all about, particularly the most discounted, despised and criticized of it – that he created after he became hugely famous with ‘Thriller‘.

There’s a lot that too many people don’t know about Michael Jackson. And they need to know. Humanity will not change until and unless it can first face its mistakes,its ignorance, its gullible penchant for unquestioningly swallowing propaganda wholesale – and the shame that should rightly come along with all of that. And until it can finally see beyond this to the strength and beauty it daily disses in this world – not just in Michael Jackson but in itself – in all of humanity. The first step is to take the blinders off and start looking beyond the lies we’re being fed every day.

Michael saw it, that strength and beauty. He believed in it. He believed in himself and he believed in the rest of us. Even after he was so badly betrayed by so many people. As jacked as it sounds, the whole system sucks. But it doesn’t have to. Don’t keep these things in an echo chamber. Share them with everyone. There are many eyes to open, much shame to be reconciled, and much beauty to see – everywhere. But we have to expose the ugliness first in order to clear the view.

The videos below were created by the Michael Jackson Academia Project. Their channel on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheMJAcademiaProject

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Jan 02 2012

Remember Me

Category: Angels,Humanitarian,VideosSeven @ 11:50 pm

The second hint...

The second hint...

I was seemingly led to create this video on New Year’s Day 2012.

I’ve had a couple of Loreena McKennitt’s CDs for years and was curiously led to revisit a song of hers called ‘Dante’s Prayer‘. I was reminded of her music because someone posted a song of hers on Facebook. So I began to listen to different song on YouTube while I was there. This other song oddly reminded me of Michael. It was a haunting remembrance. It spoke to me of Redemption. While listening, I could see images of Michael going through my mind, as I have many photos of him. I couldn’t discern or remember the title of the song. The video was part of a live performance so the title of this one wasn’t listed or I didn’t hear it. But I could hear the lyrics. Especially the phrase ‘Please remember me‘.

Thus, I went searching. Since the words ‘Please remember me‘ were haunting me in combination with the images of Michael flowing though the music, I figured that could be the title – I just couldn’t remember. I ended up on one of those lyric sites which listed all of her albums and songs. From the list, I chose one, hoping it might be the one and saving me from a trip to my rather disorganized and dusty CD stack in the other room (yes I’m that lazy and was at the computer so decided to just search online). Oddly, the first song I chose was the one: ‘Dante’s Prayer’ from her CD ‘The Book of Secrets. There it was – with those haunting lyrics. Well, that was easy! And really odd, as if I were meant to find this song – on this day.

Relenting, I went and dug out my CD of her music and listened to the song again. I was quite distracted by it.

Then, later that day, an image appeared on my computer screen – a pillow with a rose on it and a note that says ‘Please Remember Me‘. There it was. That same phrase – again. Now, I knew this was no coincidence. I don’t believe in coincidences. So I decided to try to actually create that video which was swirling around in my head.

I felt was led to this and that perhaps the entire idea for me to create this video might be from God, maybe from Michael, the Universe, or who or whatever one might want to believe. It was given to me complete in my head. It haunted me. All I had to do was bring it to life, to give it birth. I had trouble initially with my video creation software. I became very upset. I said: “well if you want me to create this thing, you need to give me tools I can do it with!“. The next day, I fumbled around online but then found right there on my system some video creation software that had been there all along. It came with the system. I had just never used it. Viola! It was much better and I was able to create the video.

There are no coincidences. Particularly when someone is led to something like this on a day like New Year’s Day. I hope the video isn’t taken down. It’s beautiful, meaningful, and certainly seems to be somehow divinely inspired. I do not profit from it – except spiritually. I hope you do too.

The message seems to be ‘Please remember me‘, of course. And, to remember all Michael Jackson taught those who knew him – through his own actions, through his own life and his ways of living and loving. While there is Redemption, we cannot live mindlessly, counting on that alone to save us. It will not, and such reliance is spiritually and ethically lazy. We must be careful what we bring to and what we leave in this world. If what we are doing doesn’t help anyone besides ourselves; if it is hurting others or our planet and the other inhabitants and living things here, then we are doing some things very wrong. We know what they are. The question is, what are we going to do about it?

About Dante Alighieri:

He created a work called ‘Divine Comedy‘. It was a poem about the Redemption of Man. There are three parts: Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise.

Dante called the poem a “Comedy” (the adjective “Divine” was added later in the 14th century) because poems in the ancient world were classified as High (“Tragedy”) or Low (“Comedy”). Low poems had happy endings and were written in everyday language, whereas High poems treated more serious matters and were written in an elevated style. Dante was one of the first in the Middle Ages to write of a serious subject, the Redemption of Man, in the low and “vulgar” Italian language and not the Latin one might expect for such a serious topic.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divine_Comedy

Dante’s Prayer

When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone

I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and fire

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me

Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars

Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We’ll rise above these earthly cares

Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
Please remember me

©Loreena McKennitt

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Dec 31 2011

Happy New Year – “there will never be a time when we will cease to be”

"The birds, the bees, the infinite galaxies, rivers, mountains, clouds and valleys are all a pulsating pattern, living, breathing, alive with cosmic energy...There never was a time when I was not, or you were not, there never will be a time when we will cease to be."   Michael Jackson

"The birds, the bees, the infinite galaxies, rivers, mountains, clouds and valleys are all a pulsating pattern, living, breathing, alive with cosmic energy...There never was a time when I was not, or you were not, there never will be a time when we will cease to be." -Michael Jackson

In view of the new year, I’d like to share with you some end-of-year highlights:

You may have heard that half of the two-man team who designed Michael’s performance wardrobe for well over two decades passed away December 2nd. Dennis Tompkins wished for his passing to remain private and so it was. We were all shocked to learn almost two weeks later that he had passed. Our sympathies and compassion go out to his family and friends, not least of all his partner in business Michael Lee Bush. In memory of Dennis, MLB had some exciting news to share and left this message recently on his facebook page:

thank you all for the kind words with the passing of Dennis Tompkins I’m pround to announce “POP REGALIA-The Style of Michael Jackson” an art book dedicated to the memory of Dennis….. it will be a behind the scenes look at the art form of designing and tailoring of Michael’s costumes from our time working with The King of Pop. It will be kinda like your personal museum of his clothing. A visual feast for the eyes!!!! Fasten your seatbelts!!!!!!!! look for the upcoming page here on facebook…..

If you haven’t seen Eliza Lo’s MJ artwork you’re in for a treat. This amazing artist is a regular contributor to the Sunflowers for Michael group, donating her drawings each week to the week’s flower deliveries. Eliza also has an art book for sale containing many of her articulately detailed drawings of Michael. You can find details about “A Loving Tribute to the King of Pophere:

One of Eliza Lo's drawings of Michael

One of Eliza Lo's drawings of Michael

This hard cover book contains 137 drawings Eliza has done to honor Michael Jackson. In keeping with Michael’s legacy, all proceeds from this book will go to help underprivileged children. For information on ordering, please email: [email protected]. You can also email Marie Lim: [email protected] and Pat Peterson: [email protected]

A while back, Seth Riggs shared a bit about Michael the humanitarian – a subject oft-ignored by the establishment media, but often mentioned by those who knew him:

At one of many hospitals Michael visited.

At one of many hospitals Michael visited.

Every night the kids would come in on stretchers, so sick they could hardly hold their little heads up. Michael would kneel down at the stretchers and put his face right down beside theirs so that he could have his picture taken with them, and then give them a copy to remember the moment.

I’m a sixty-year-old man, and I couldn’t take it. I’d be in the bathroom crying. But Michael could take it, right before going on stage no less. The kids would perk right up in his presence. If it gave them a couple days’ more energy, to Michael that was worth it. As far as I’m concerned he’s a prince of the world.

He’s the most natural, loving person I’ve ever known, a very good person, as corny as that sounds,” continued Riggs, “He’ll see a picture of a baby, and if it’s a cute kid, he will go absolutely gaga over the picture.

During the tour, on his nights off, he would go into a toy store and buy ten of this and ten of that and then stay up all night long putting batteries into toys, making certain each and every one worked so that he could have them ready to give to kids backstage the next day. As if he didn’t have enough to worry about.

-Seth Riggs, Michael’s vocal coach for over 30 years

Speaking of Seth Riggs, Riggs plans to open a school in Russia. Says Riggs: “I will find a new Michael Jackson in Moscow”. I don’t believe there will ever be another Michael Jackson, but I’m sure he will find some very good talent in Russia to keep him busy and to add to the constellation of stars currently in vogue in the entertainment world.

Seth Riggs had worked with Michael Jackson for 30 years. Among those who attended his vocal studio in Hollywood were Steve Wonder, Madonna, Jenifer Lopez, Julio Iglesias, Christina Aguilera. Many Hollywood actors were also among his students. In total his students account for 135 Grammy awards and, according to Seth Riggs, “eight or nine Oscars”. Now the legendary vocal coach plans to open his school in Moscow.

Seth Riggs is very enthusiastic about Russia. It is not only some Russian songs but first of all great number of talented people he admires here. That is why I want to open my school in Moscow, he says.

Seth Riggs began to work as a vocal coach simply because he was to keep his family. When coaching many actors and pop-singers he developed his own unique technique known as Speech Level singing.

By the way when Seth was young and performed as a singer he was accompanies by a young pianist who later became known as Van Cliburn, the winner do the first Tchaikovsky piano contest in Moscow and one of the favorites of the Russian music lovers.

Seth Riggs’s school in Moscow will be headed by Victoria Belova, an actress and a vocal coach of the Gnessin State Musical academy, who undertook internship in Seth Riggs’ studio in LA. Seth also plans to come to Moscow as often as possible and besides that it is possible to give lessons via Skype. Seth recalls that he trained Michael Jackson 2 hours a day 6 days a week and on tour 3 times a day. This is the training I want for those talented people who come to our school, he says.

By the way Seth Riggs has a chance to find not only a new Michael Jackson in Russia but future Madonnas too. In particular during his visit in Moscow Riggs was impressed by a unique talent of singer Angelica Agurbash.

SOURCE: http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/12/26/62927367.html

Michael looking a bit perturbed about being asked to sign a stack of napkins.

Michael looking a bit perturbed about being asked to sign a stack of napkins.

Who knew that Michael didn’t like signing his autograph on disposable napkins? I guess it makes sense that he’d rather sign something that will last such as a pillowcase or cloth napkin, all of which he used to sign and write sweet notes to fans on.

Here’s the story told by Rusty Lee Golden (William Lee Golden’s son) of the Oak Ridge Boys:

When Michael and his brothers came out of their dressing room and saw Dad, they all broke into the chorus of “ELVIRA” as it was the #1 song in the nation at that time (pop and country). BUT…after the singing was over, Michael turned to me and said “I remember when the Oak Ridge Boys were the #1 Gospel Group. Do they still sing Gospel??” I told him that yes they did and then he went onto tell me that he LOVED Gospel music…mentioning Andrae Crouch, Rev. James Cleveland and a few others. Yes, I know that those were NOT SG artists, but remember, MJ was after all black and that’ s the type gospel music they knew. He mentioned how much his mother Katherine was also a huge fan of “Gospel Music”.

Seconds before the camera flash went off, a Jackson’s aide rushed up to MJ and handed him a Sharpie pen and about 25 or so cocktail sized napkins into his “GLOVE” and then said “Hey Mikey….the promoter wants you to sign these”. I well remember the aide getting out of the way of the shot but MJ is looking straight at him and no….not too happy. More mad than sad. After the flashes of about 10 cameras went off, Michael just sorta’ said to anyone who could hear…”Don’t we have any regular pictures to sign? I mean c’mon man…NAPKINS????”

This picture was taken on 7/31/81.

SOURCE: http://averyfineline.com/2009/07/07/rip-mj/ (see Rusty’s remarks in the comments below the photo)

Drawing by Christine Wallden, another very talented Sunflowers for Michael contributor.

Drawing by Christine Wallden, another very talented Sunflowers for Michael contributor.

If you have a few bucks that you want to donate to a wonderful project in Michael’s name, Gardner St. Elementary is collecting funds to build a Michael Jackson Music Room. Sandy Lee Scott of the very successful Sunflowers for Michael project has agreed to help raise funds for the school and has set up a facebook page to help with the effort. It’s important to note that any money donated goes straight to the school – no “middlemen”.

Sandy said:

The main item that they need is a projector which costs $3000.00. We met with Principal Kenneth Urbina at the School last week and promised him that the NYC fans will do the best we can to get this projector for the school. Once they have all the items they need, they will also have a small area in the back of the classroom set up as a Museum to honor Michael. We would appreciate any amount that you can donate to this project.

Please send your check or money order to (NO PAYPAL):

MICHAEL JACKSON MUSIC ROOM AT GARDNER STREET ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PROJECT
Gardner St. Elementary School
7450 Hawthorn Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90046

Attention: Marielena Armaginal

Phone: (323) 876-4710

PLEASE MAKE YOUR CHECKS or MONEY ORDERS OUT TO THE GARDNER SCHOOL MUSIC PROGRAM

THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!

If you have any questions, you may call Marielena at the above number or email Sandy at [email protected].

If you remember the incredible video called “Man Behind the Mythcreated by Walking Moon Studios, you might be interested to know that WMS is working on another incredible video project aiming to highlight Michael’s genius and creativity. A new video is being produced for Joe Vogel’s book “Man in the Music-The Creative Life and Work of Michel Jackson”. The producers of the video are asking for participation from the MJ community. For more information about the project and how to participate, please go to http://walkingmoonstudios.blogspot.com/ for information. Also, please pass on this information to anyone else who you think would be interested.

Heal the World for Children is an amazing charity quietly doing the work of carrying on Michael’s legacy.  They recently shared some highlights of their work in 2011:

HTWFCEarthDay2011

For Earth Day, our teams all over the world cleaned up parks, planted trees with the kids and held educational sessions.

To mark Universal Children's Day or the December holiday season, our teams went to hospitals to visit the sick children with smiles and toys.

To mark Universal Children's Day or the December holiday season, our teams went to hospitals to visit the sick children with smiles and toys.

On Michael's birthday, all the cities joined in bringing joy to the children during our biggest event of the year, Children's Festival.

On Michael's birthday, all the cities joined in bringing joy to the children during our biggest event of the year, Children's Festival.

You can find Heal the World for Children on Facebook, twitter, and at their website.

Happy New Year Everyone.

For all of you, I wish you a safe, happy, healthy, prosperous New Year.

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Dec 25 2011

“We can’t leave when there are still people in line. It’s Christmas, dude.”

Category: Children,Humanitarian,MJ Quotes,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 12:16 am

Some of you have seen this story before. Some of you haven’t. Either way, it’s a heartwarming read.  In December, 1996, Gwen Carino was a PR officer at Manila Hotel, and was assigned to head the annual Orphan’s Christmas Party where 300 children from different orphanages around Metro Manila were treated to a day of fun and surprises.  It was a big project, to be sure, and the fact that Michael Jackson found out about the event and asked to help added to the pressure (and joy!) of Gwen’s job that day!

Below, Gwen tells the story about Michael’s love and graciousness during this event (emphasis mine):

SOURCE:  http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=483815&publicationSubCategoryId=70

by By Gwen J. Cariño

MJChristmasManila1996

Handing out a loot bag to a boy during the Orphan‘s Christmas Party held at Manila Hotel on December 1996

MANILA, Philippines – When I was a PR officer at Manila Hotel, I was assigned to head the annual Orphan’s Christmas Party where 300 children from different orphanages around Metro Manila were treated to a day of fun and surprises. It was one of the biggest projects on my plate and it was such a challenge to focus on work the day before the big event, knowing Michael Jackson was billeted in the hotel.

Two nights before, I had been fortunate to be part of his welcome line at the hotel lobby together with the rest of the PR and sales staff but was content enough to see him walk by.

The day before, a guy claiming to be Michael Jackson’s aide from Mamarao Productions came to the office. I couldn’t recall his name but he looked for the “person in charge” and said his boss had read the announcement about the event in the Dear Guest flyers we had circulated to all the rooms a week before. Michael wanted to know how he could help. His aide went up to the Penthouse and down to the PR office several times after we gave our suggestions.

Michael offered to fill up the 300 loot bags with goodies and toys, candies and chocolates. But after getting close to 50 sponsors, it was actually a problem for us to dispose of everything.

So I thought hard…how can the King of Pop meaningfully join the affair? I couldn’t possibly have him be with the kids in the palayok game or the pabitin as he might end up being mobbed! And since the annual event was really all about giving, I mustered all my courage and told the Mamarao guy that the best thing I could think of was for Michael to literally be present to help distribute the loot bags, sign autographs and pose with the children for photos. “Wow, that may not be easy. You’re talking about handing goodie bags to 300 children and I can just imagine the chaos. We’ll see, Ms. Jacinto. I’ll get back to you,” he said.

Lunch break came and it was the most hurried one I ever took in my entire life. It wasn’t until after 5 p.m. that Michael‘s aide came back and said, “Michael is more than happy to do whatever you suggest. How do we go about it tomorrow?

•

I wanted to scream. I had to calm myself and regain composure as the Lizzie Maguire in me said, “Get real, get back into focus.

We agreed that Michael would join after the games, musical program and snacks, and at the last part to give out the loot bags. My colleague Annette Africano and boss Dulce Agnir requested for additional security around the garden and the stage area as this was where we decided to distribute the gifts. We made sure the children would form an orderly line.

Then the moment arrived. It was at the Champagne Gardens on Dec. 7, 1996. I was surprised to see him walking towards us, guided by his aide. Michael came up to me as I had to brief him.

Hi, how are you? Thanks so much for letting me in, I know I’m early ’coz I didn’t want to miss the program.

I said, “Are you kidding? Thanks so much for volunteering! Here’s what Michael, why don’t you just sit here and watch the musical numbers before we get into the gift giving. I will have to tweak the program a bit.”

He replied, “Sure, anything you say… (pausing to look at my name tag) Gwen!

I was stunned at how incredibly sweet and modest he was. And in my mind it was, “Oh my God, this is really happening!

Amazing how he patiently sat through the whole program. Carol Banawa, then an Ang TV mainstay couldn’t believe MJ was watching her perform. She had her red blouse signed by him right after her number. Then followed Stefano Mori’s dance number. Later, his back up singers and dancers came up on stage followed by select kids from different orphanages who danced to the beat of Billie Jean. Oh, the smile on Michael’s face was just amazing.

Then we announced that Michael will be distributing gifts onstage. I explained to him that there’s a loot bag for the younger kids and another for the older ones and he nodded. The thrill and excitement he gave those children was incredibly touching. It was in between the gift bag distribution that I caught a glimpse of MJ, not as a performer but as a person.

It was one in the afternoon. Santa Claus (David Endriga, a friend of fellow PR officer Francis Capistrano) was with us. The heat was scourging and I was worried that Michael felt so hot with his black long-sleeved signature attire and hat.

Are you alright Michael? We can let you take a break,” I asked.

He said,I’m cool Gwen. Just imagine how Santa feels inside his velvet suit and beard. We’ll be fine.

I never heard him complain or say a word about how hot it was or how long the line was. He had the most beautiful manners. He didn’t even ask for a drink or a towel to wipe his sweat but one of our banquet staff made sure he got a glass of fresh orange juice.

An hour passed and we were halfway through gift-giving when we noticed that the garden was getting filled up. Suddenly, there were people from media, politicians, officials and hotel guests including those in a wedding reception at the nearby Champagne Room who deserted the newly-weds just to get a glimpse of the King of Pop.

Oh oh, this isn’t supposed to be, I’m so sorry,” I said.It’s all right, we’ll get through it,” Michael said smiling.

As we finished giving out the last loot bag to an 11-year-old orphan, a new line of more kids and adults formed. Michael’s bodyguard, Wayne, said. “We can leave now.

Michael replied calmly,We can’t leave when there are still people in line. It’s Christmas, dude.

I felt my heart beat faster and the hair on my arms and the back of my neck stood up. He wasn’t just the most electrifying performer, but the most generous person.

One of the most memorable moments was when a lady came up to him for an autograph. Laughing and holding his tummy, he said “Hey Gwen, you’ve gotta check this out.” He whispered, “It’s a blank check. The lady is making me sign on a blank check.

We laughed hard and little did we know that it wasn’t even half of the comedy. He later showed me and Wayne other stuff people would use or pick up on the ground when they couldn’t find paper for him to sign on. One lady made him sign at the back of her elegant, designer Filipiniana gown. One teenager came up to him holding a dead leaf and another one, a popped balloon. Imagine how our laughter ballooned as well.

It was an amazing, genuine experience. At one point he asked if I was going to catch his History concert and I said “tomorrow night.

Oh, you’ll have a blast!” Michael told me.

At this point he became concerned about the stage as adults outnumbered the kids. His face had nervousness written all over it but he still didn’t complain. He tapped the wooden floor with his foot several times making sure it was sturdy enough not to fall apart. “I’ve experienced the stage collapse and I just want to make sure we’re all safe here,” he explained.

Half of me wanted the line to finish because we were literally melting and worried about our safety, but half of me didn’t, knowing that once the line ended, Michael will leave.

At some point it did end. I managed to get an autograph for my sisters and me before our general manager, Clem Pablo, requested him to sing Give Love on Christmas Day.

Cesar Sarino, one of the hotel’s officials, addressed his thank you note to the King of Pop. Then I saw his guards and aides whisking Michael off stage.

I said in my mind, “Oh man, I didn’t even have the chance to say goodbye.”

Suddenly, I saw Michael return on stage and say, “Thanks so much to you and your team, Gwen. This really means a lot.

Then he held me beside him and said, “I’ll see you at the concert.

As Michael Jackson is laid to rest and returned to pristine condition in the afterlife, these two incredible acts of the King of Pop — volunteering for charity and unselfishly spending time with the less fortunate, will forever be the way I will remember this man.

A short video of the event:

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