Jun 25 2012

Love Lives Forever

Category: Children,Justice,Prose/Essays,Quotes About MJSeven @ 6:09 pm

I want the same for Michael that he wanted for Ryan White: “I want the world to know who you are” . . . only then can the world understand why Michael Jackson is so missed 3, 5, 10 or more years later.

It’s why I have this website where I write about him. I’m a writer. Michael was a singer. When you want to give voice to someone’s memory, you use whatever talents or tools you have at your disposal to do it, if it’s important enough to you. And he was important.

He was as important to those who want the world to know who he was as the world was to him, especially the children. There lies the unbroken circle that even his death cannot sever.

Love Lives Forever.


You can read about the story behind Michael’s recording of the song that actually woke me this morning – “Gone Too Soon” – in Joe Vogel’s new piece he wrote for today in The Atlantic – it’s not to be missed!


©2012 Seven Bowie

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Jun 04 2012

Seen, Read, Heard . . .

Category: Art,Family,Friends,Interviews,Justice,Quotes About MJ,VideosSeven @ 2:06 am

I’ve got a slew of things to share today. You may have heard, read or seen some or all of them already, but I’ll put them here anyway. First, I want to share a touching interview that Piers Morgan (who is typically not one of my favorite people) did with Katherine Jackson a few weeks ago. Click here to see the entire interview (embedding is disabled). You can just see the emotional pain on her face during some parts of the interview. One of the most heartbreaking and touching things Mrs. Jackson said during the interview was the following – and during parts of this she appeared to break into tears:

Every morning, all through the day-I think about Michael. If  I wake up through the night, my mind is there. I just miss him, but being a Christian and believing in the Resurrection, I feel that I’ll see him again.  I’m sorry I just … When they told me that he had 50 shows going on, I was concerned about those shows, I thought it was a little bit too much, because Michael hadn’t been on stage for about 10 years. And I called him and I told him, ’cause the way they had it structured, they said every other night that he’d be working … I just kept calling him telling him they had to change that schedule … They didn’t care about him, all they cared about was money.

-Katherine Jackson

Though I generally dislike Mr. Morgan, this was a very good interview, although difficult to watch at times because the deep grief Mrs. Jackson still feels is very evident.

This next item has to do with a rather personal letter that Michael wrote to Lisa Marie Presley during their relationship. The letter suddenly surfaced at Juliens for auction. Someone tweeted a very surprised Lisa Marie Presley about the letter and she asked them where they had found it. When she found out it was at Juliens, she immediately acted to have it removed from auction. I witnessed myself the twitter exchange between her and the person who had asked her about the letter. I will not post the letter itself here but I will post a letter/message from Juliens to someone who inquired about the letter’s source ie: who gave it to them. They clearly state that, contrary to wild accusations against Lisa Marie Presley, they did not obtain the letter from her. Judging by her reaction to the person who presented it to her, and by the letter/message from Juliens, I personally find it more than a laboriously contorted fantasy to believe that LMP somehow gave the letter to Juliens herself for sale. Such an accusation doesn’t even make any sense, as there is no logical reason she would do such a thing.

I am aware of some incredibly narcissistic jealousy and anger directed at Ms. Presley because she was Michael’s wife, and because in the heat of hurt and anger after their breakup she publicly said terrible things about him. I am aware that some people will latch onto any further excuse they can find or manufacture to justify that continued jealousy and anger towards her. However, it is both unfair and juvenile to demonize someone for something they did not do, no matter how you may dislike them, how jealous you may be of them, or how angry you may be at them for something else completely different that they did years ago.

All of Michael’s life, people demonized him for things he didn’t do. It ought to be obvious why this is not fair, ethical, or moral – no matter who the target of it is. Here is the message from Juliens stating that the letter did not come to them from LMP:

Message from Juliens regarding MJ to LMP personal letter

…you can tell them that it did not come from her and I can guarantee it.

-Darren Julien

That ought to be enough said about this issue. Those who wish to continue manufacturing speculation about this or continue to go on angry tirades against LMP may do so on their own websites, blogs, facebook pages or twitter accounts, but I won’t approve such comments here.

Moving on to the next debacle, Michael Jackson’s estate released a letter to fans regarding concerns about the quality of the upcoming ‘BAD25’ DVD of Michael’s 1988 Wembly Stadium performance. Though the concert was filmed using proper equipment and that high-quality footage is out there somewhere, the estate has not been able to locate it. Thus, the DVD will be sourced from a VHS tape that belonged to Michael, instead. The estate’s statement read as follows:

It is great to see the overwhelming support and excitement in the fan community for the upcoming BAD 25 release. A few questions have arisen regarding the Wembley concert DVD. Although the press release wasn’t the place for background details, here is more information:

• We know that Nocturne captured on Umatic tapes the footage projected onto the JumboTrons at the various concerts including Wembley. These tapes were turned over to Michael’s crew and we have confirmed with Patrick Kelly (who headed Michael’s film crew for the European tour) that everything from Europe was sent to LA to be put in Michael’s storage facilities. The same procedures were followed for the US shows.

• Unfortunately, record-keeping in the storage facilities was sporadic, at best, so we do not know what happened to a tape once it was sent for storage. In most cases, once a tape was pulled from the box it arrived in, it was not put back in the original box and where it wound up doesn’t always make sense. As a result, 25 years later not all of the Umatic tapes from the various shows can be located, notwithstanding that we have conducted an extensive survey of all of the storage facilities. So while we believe that the Umatic tape for Wembley was initially sent for storage, we have not been able to locate it. And with regard to the Umatic footage of other concerts, the audio is extremely problematic and therefore these concerts are unusable.

• We know that VHS copies of the Umatics were made when Michael wanted to view a particular concert, but because of the lack of record-keeping, we also didn’t know which concerts existed on VHS. We ultimately did find Michael’s personal VHS viewing copy of the Wembley show attended by Princess Diana and Prince Charles, but not the Umatic. Even finding this VHS felt like a miracle to us!

• So while we continued the search for the Wembley Umatic master, we also researched the audio recordings that existed from all of the concerts including Wembley. Fortunately, the Wembley audio recordings were made using a sound truck, and appear to be the only multi-track recordings from the tour. The other audio/visual recordings that exist, whether Umatic or VHS, are “front of house” mixes, and therefore there are no separate audio recordings that can be used to create a high quality listening experience. It is for this reason that the Wembley audio is the only one suitable to create a live album.

• If we were going to include a live concert DVD in the BAD 25 release package, we had only one choice, Wembley. And there were only two options for visual – the Umatics for a different show or the VHS for Wembley. It would certainly be less expensive for the Estate to be able to create a DVD from a Umatic tape than to spend the time and money to painstakingly restore/enhance the VHS footage, but then we would not be delivering a truly authentic experience and we truly believe that watching this concert with the high quality audio will create a magical experience for all the fans as it has for us. We ultimately chose a lab that has developed its own proprietary technology for doing this kind of work (including restoration for NASA of VHS footage) in order to make the visual experience the best it can be under the circumstances.

We also could have chosen to release the Japanese concert from the first leg of the tour as there is a master of that show; but that concert was essentially a reincarnation of the Victory Tour with only two songs – “Bad” and “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” – added at the end. It isn’t what we believe the fans would want.

We could have elected not to release a DVD as part of the BAD 25 celebration (and hold out hope that someday we might find the Umatic of the Wembley concert) or we could share with the fans the chance to relive that magical night with pristine audio. We made the decision to go with the latter and provide the fans with the most authentic viewing experience. We believe that the fans will agree it was the right choice when the package is released in September.

John Branca/The Estate of Michael Jackson

It turns out that, contrary to what many of us had believed, ‘Dirty Diana‘ was performed at this concert. If you remember, Michael had initially considered omitting the song out of respect for Lady Diana who attended the concert, but it appears that he did in fact perform the song.

A previously unreleased song, ‘Don’t Be Messin’ ‘Round‘, will be accompanied by a June 5th CD release of ‘I Just Can’t Stop Loving You‘. This CD will be sold via Wal-Mart in the U.S. and will not be available digitally. More details about ‘BAD25‘ can be found here.

Speaking of ‘Don’t Be Messin’ ‘Round‘, Joe Vogel tweeted tonight that he will “have an article out on “Don’t Be Messin'” in the next day or so with fresh insights from those involved.” That is bound to be a treat, so if you haven’t yet, follow Joe on Twitter so you’ll know as soon as he publishes! If you haven’t heard it yet, here’s the demo, just as Michael left it:

If you haven’t read the interview MJJC did with DDA David Walgren yet, you might find it interesting. In case you didn’t know, DDA Walgren has now become a Superior Court Judge, so he’s moving up in the world. This man is extremely articulate and didn’t miss a beat during the Murray trial, so I’d not want to be a criminal in his courtroom! Here are a few quotes from that interview:

Before the trial, I had great respect for Michael Jackson as an artist and enjoyed his music. However, as I learned more about him and his life, I came to really enjoy two songs in particular: Human Nature and Earth Song.

• • • 

Prior to the trial, my perception of Michael Jackson was simply that he was a very gifted artist and, although I was aware of various media accounts regarding his personal life, I do not typically follow that type of reporting. Now that I have learned so much more about him as a person, I have come away with great admiration for him as a loving and dedicated father to his children.

• • • 

I have not been able to come up with any reason why Conrad Murray would have made and saved that voice recording other than, as Judge Pastor stated, it was to serve as an insurance policy that Conrad Murray could one day use against Michael Jackson.

Mark Ryden is an American painter born January 20, 1963. He was dubbed “the god-father of pop surrealism” by Interview Magazine.

There has been much speculation and suspicion about the meaning and symbolism of the Mark Ryden artwork on the cover of the ‘Dangerous’ album. Theories include messages about the occult to ‘Illuminati‘ and Freemasonry. I don’t personally subscribe to or pay much attention to all that, but the cover is certainly fascinating and it does, as Michael and Ryden evidently intended, leave people to wonder and interpret as they wish and they’ve certainly done that! This interview with Ryden is all over the internet, though I have been unable to find an original source for it.

Our friends at UK Loves MJ on Facebook has located one of the initial sketches considered for the cover. I’d never seen it before so thought I’d share it here:

One of the original 'Dangerous' cover sketches by Mark Ryden

I suppose the thing most people don’t know, and what surprised me, was how “normal” Michael Jackson was in person. His public image is so strange I did not know what to expect but when I met with him we had a very typical and relaxed conversation. We had many common interests we talked about. Maybe I am just a freak also.

-Mark Ryden, artist/creator of the Dangerous album cover

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May 23 2012

‘You can’t go to a premiere with a n**ger.’

Category: Friends,JusticeSeven @ 10:22 am

Michael with Tatum O'neal

Unfortunately, my friendship with Michael came to an abrupt ending. He’d played the Scarecrow in The Wiz, the urban remake of the Wizard of Oz, which starred Diana Ross as Dorothy. For the film’s premiere, Michael invited me to be his date. I asked my dad, who didn’t care one way or another if I went, but my talent agency was dead set against it. I was told, in exactly these words: ‘You can’t go to a premiere with a n**ger.’

-Tatum O’neal, “A Paper Life

“Boy, is that girl with you?”, “Yes, we’re one and the same!”  -from ‘Black or White’

Just to be perfectly clear, I publish such a tasteless comment only to illustrate what Michael had to deal with during his life, and to illustrate how little has changed, at least in the United States. The advent of having the first black President here has not budged the issue one iota, except to further incense those who are revolted by a black man in the Oval Office, causing them to continually demand his “papers“, even after three years and on the eve of the next election. And, even after they have been produced time and time again, they are still not accepted by certain factions. It’s sheer lunacy and a shameful history topped off by a shameful present-day, where these attitudes remain but only the methods change. The remark made to Ms. O’neal was over 3 decades ago.

_ _ _

{ Thanks to my friends at The Michael Jackson Academia Project, who tweeted this quote and photo this morning.  -Seven }

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May 20 2012

“To Lie And Shame The Race” | Jack. Michael. Muhammad.

Category: Books,Justice,VideosSeven @ 1:46 am

In their fourth series of educational short films, The Michael Jackson Academia Project finds some interesting correlations in regards to the deliberate and systemic destruction of Michael Jackson’s public image. These latest MJAP videos suggest that the methods of personal and professional destruction used against Michael Jackson were the same as those used against Muhammad Ali, Jack Johnson, and others.

Michael himself mentioned Jack Johnson in an interview with Jesse Jackson (from 4:47-5:27), when Jesse asked Michael how he dealt with the pain of the allegations flung at him. Michael was very aware of this pattern of systemic destruction of successful black men in America. He had mentioned it in various interviews such as the aforementioned, and expressed his awareness of it and his frustration with it in many of his songs.

“To Lie And Shame The Race” | Jack. Michael. Muhammad. Chapter One:

“To Lie And Shame The Race” | Jack. Michael. Muhammad. Chapter Two:

Recommended reading:

Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson by Geoffrey C. Ward (2004). Unforgivable Blackness, a film directed by Ken Burns, is also available on DVD from PBS, along with a study guide for teachers.

Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times by Thomas Hauser (1992).

Huey P. Newton: The Radical Theorist By Judson L. Jeffries (2002).

I also encourage you to read Dr. Sylvia Martin’s ‘The Roots and Routes of Michael Jackson’s Global Identity‘, just published in March of 2012.

All of these resources will provide an important learning and teaching perspective in regards to the pattern of destruction brought upon these men once they became successful in a world whose ruling powers were determined to keep them “in their place” and if it could not do that, to destroy their professional and personal reputations in any way possible.

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Apr 23 2012

The media’s deadly, criminal tactics in pursuing and creating a “story”

Category: JusticeSeven @ 1:29 am

Late Michael with his security detail, pushing through a crowd of media

Tom Doyle, who at 21 worked for Smash Hits Magazine in 1988, recalls the time he spent following Michael around London for a week with a group of reporters:

After waiting and watching Michael arrive at Heathrow Airport Tom goes to the Mayfair Intercontinental in London where Michael was staying. He then teamed up with a Sun reporter whose plan was simple, they would keep a black cab running on the meter on the corner of the street and as soon as Michael emerged they would leap in the taxi and would follow his car.

….Then, at the onset of one particular car chase with our taxi directly behind [Michael’s] limo, we misjudged the ‘Will he turn left or right game at the junction‘ and suddenly found ourselves nose to nose facing his car in the wrong lane, blocking its path as we stared straight through the windscreen at the incredulous star and manager Frank Dileo. I recall feeling distinctly intrusive and shameful as the reality of what I was doing hit me i.e. quickly morphing into the type of hack I had come here to gently mock.

Our cab driver for the week was a game sort. He’s miss no opportunity to mount pavements or jump red lights. Still after one bump too many the acute danger of the situation dawned on me. I remember thinking:”Someone could die in this kind of caper.” Nine years later in similar circumstances the Princess of Wales did just that. Hearing the post-Diana, white Fiat theory, my mind snapped back to the rumour I’d heard during my week following [Michael] that one of tabloids was planning to crash a motorbike into the front of his limo to fabricate a newsworthy incident.

Standing amid the tabloid scrum on the pavement outside Hamleys as [Michael] indulged in a spot of after hours shopping I was gobsmacked to hear the assembled hack cooking up an agreed list of his purchases [Big Teddy..Peter Pan Videos] only to see it appear in every national the next day. Naturally, I’ve scarcely believed a newspaper ‘fact‘ since then.

At the close of the week I was asked to haul a lifesize cardboard cutout of [Michael] to shoot ‘Mike‘ at various London tourist spots.

Ultimately though, for me this was the week when the scales fell from my eyes as far as the behaviour of our national press was concerned. For Michael Jackson meanwhile it was the first real sighting of the media hellhounds who would remain on his trail to his dying days.

Edited from Smash Hits Magazine 2009 one-off return for a tribute to Michael Jackson (the magazine closed down in 2006)
Tom Doyle worked for Smash Hits from 1988-1992. He now writes for Q Magazine.


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