May 20 2012

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?

Category: Friends,VideosSeven @ 10:36 pm

It’s heartbreaking today that another musical icon surrounding Michael, and another icon from many of his fan’s teen and young adult years has left us. In fact many of Michael’s friends have left us:  Elizabeth Taylor, Dennis Tomkins, Don Cornelius, Dick Clark, Whitney Houston, Donna Summer (Queen of Disco) just a few days ago and now, Robin Gibb of the BeeGees. It could almost cause one to become suspicious that wherever he is, Michael is gathering many of his friends around him with so many of them leaving us in such a short time.

Michael was fairly close to the Gibb Brothers, with Barry having named his own son Michael. And Michael Jackson was Michael Gibb’s godfather. Michael loved the BeeGees and their music. They understood each other, musically. His favorite song from the BeeGees (or one of his favorite songs) was ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart‘.  In memory of both Robin Gibb, who lost his battle with cancer today, and Michael, here’s that song:

And of course Barry, sadly the only Gibb brother left now, just a bit over a year ago released a very sweet song with video footage that he’d worked on with Michael, called ‘All In Your Name‘.

For those of us who grew up in the Disco era and with Michael Jackson, this is a particularly tough time. I know that Michael will welcome both Donna Summer and Robin Gibb home with open arms. My sincerest condolences go out to their families at this most difficult time. Little did we know that this was our Last Dance with these memory-makers. In Robin’s case, we had hoped that he would somehow pull through but this was not to be. Rest in Peace, dear Robin and Donna and thank you both immensely for the memories and the music.

Robin Gibb’s tribute to Michael in 2009:

We’ve not only lost a great friend in Michael but also lost a wonderful sensitive human being. The Bee Gees heard music with the same ears. Michael had a great voice and millions of people yet to be born will sing his songs.

This tragedy should teach us a lesson to value and praise those gifts while we still have them in the world. If even a small portion of the praise that is bestowed on Michael Jackson now in death was given to him last year in life, he might well still be with us. That is the sad truth. One consolation is that he will triumph by his legacy.

-Robin Gibb

Donna Summer sweetly sang ‘Smile‘ in memory of Michael after his death:

I hope that wherever all of these friends of Michael are, that they are together with him. As for the rest of us, all we have left are memories and — Words.

~~~UPDATE~~~

Monday afternoon (5/21/2012), Barry Gibb tweeted the link to this very touching video in memory of his brother Robin. “Bodding” was an affectionate childhood nickname for Robin:

Tags: ,


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.

Tags: , ,


May 01 2012

Impression from Michael’s single visit to India: “I don’t have any more words to explain his impact.”

Category: Interviews,MJ Quotes,Photos,Quotes About MJ,VideosSeven @ 1:52 am

Michael's arrival in Mumbai, 1996

Michael only visited India once and performed there on November 1st 1996 at the Andheri Sports Complex as part of his HIStory World Tour. While in India, Michael stayed at the Oberoi Hotel.

The King of Pop arrived in Mumbai on October 30th, 1996 at Mumbai’s Sahar airport in his private jet. People had thronged the airport to catch a glimpse of him. Jackson was greeted by Sonali Bendre clad in a nine-yard sari and a Maharashtrian nathni (nose ring), standing with an aarti thali to welcome MJ, along with Raj Thackeray, Sharmila Thackeray and innumerable politicians who were there to receive Jackson. The actress welcomed Jackson by performing ‘aarti’ and applying ’tilak’ on his forehead, at the Mumbai airport. Outside, Raj had organised a performance by a troupe of lezhim dancers with dholaks, and they wore traditional Maharashtrian clothes.

The popstar, when being driven in a 20-car motorcade from the air port, stopped his Toyota to meet the urchins lined up along the highway to catch a glimpse of him. He picked up several children and hugged and kissed them. He then spent a few minutes with them before he proceeded to the Shiv Sena chief, Bal Thackeray’s residence, Matushree, in Bandra East. Here he was presented with a silver tabla and tanpura, which are musical instruments from India.

During his stay at The Oberoi Hotel, Jackson surprised the entire staff by mingling freely among his fans, who thronged at the hotel to catch a glimpse of the ‘King of Pop’.”He greeted his fans with smiles and by blowing kisses and shook hands with as many of them as possible,” hotel sources recount.

According to Butler Manager, Sandeep Walia, who was attending to him with a team of three butlers, Michael loves sweet white wine. That is probably the only kind of alcohol that he consumed during his stay at the Oberoi. Apart from that, he loves orange drinks, Fanta being his favorite and a special German orange drink, Gatorade, which he carries with him. Michael drinks a lot of Diet Coke as well, prefers his drinks at room temperature. Jackson has a penchant for chocolates too, so The Oberoi made sure there were chocolates, of all shapes, sizes and flavours kept in every reachable corner of his room.

Michael Jackson likes a lot of festivity around him. The Kohinoor Suite at the Oberoi was decorated with flowers, balloons, confetti and bowls of sweets and chocolates to give it a spirit of celebration. While in his room, Jackson does not like to use the air-conditioner. He also likes his space. His body-guards have been instructed not to come close to him to give him enough space to move around. During his stay in Mumbai, Jackson relished several Indian cuisine, including South Indian and Mughlai.

SOURCE: http://www.fulldhamaal.com/image-gallery/rare-pictures-of-michael-jackson-india-tour1996-18-pics-and-video-its-all-about-michael-part-7-8463.htm

The following is from various sources:

Michael asked The Oberoi Hotel for an LLD player and a television, as well as a CD player for his personal use. He travels with his own library of CDs and LDs and spends most of the time indoors, watching films.

At Michael’s request, a high tea was organized at the pool side of the Oberoi where kids from orphanages were invited to meet and play with him. He gave them gifts and chocolates that he had brought with him. There was a party for kids organized in his room as well, on the day of the show itself. About 50 children were invited and he ordered cakes and burgers for them. He had the kids sit on his lap and played with them. He had asked the hotel to provide him with a few saris which he wanted draped around the sofas during the photo session with the kids, to give his pictures the ethnic effect.

Michael definitely had a predilection for Indian food. On his first morning at the Oberoi, he ate masala dosa and the day after that, he had spicy alu paranthas with butter. His other meals mainly comprised of butter naans, butter chicken, tandoori chicken and spicy vegetable curries. His personal chef was of Indian origin and she coordinated his meals with the other chefs at the hotel. According to the hotel staff, he got naans (enough for an army!), tandoori chicken, dishes cooked in butter gravy and lots of paranthas packed on the morning he was flying out of India.

Michael surprised the staff at the Oberoi hotel as he spent a lot of his time greeting and shaking hands with his fans who were swarming the lobby.

~ ~ ~

Below is video of Michael in India from the time he arrived at the airport. He is seen with the street children at 2.55 and receiving gifts at 5.32 along with footage of the concert. Michael is also seen at an evening event to meet dignitaries but only stayed a few minutes as he was saving his energy for the show later that evening. At the end of the video (7.15) is the pillow that Michael wrote on in the hotel room along with a message that he also wrote on a mirror in the hotel room that said “God Bless India My Special Love Michael Jackson“.

When Michael left the Oberoi Hotel while the hotel was preparing his suite for the next VIP guest, they found Michael’s gift to them: rather mischievously Michael had scribbled on the pillow he had slept on.

India, all my life I have longed to see your face. I met you and your people and fell in love with you. Now my heart is filled with sorrow and despair for I have to leave, but I promise I shall return to love you and caress you again. Your kindness has overwhelmed me, your spiritual awareness has moved me, and your children have truly touched my heart. They are the face of God. I truly love and adore you India. Forever, continue to love, heal and educate the children, the future shines on them. You are my special love, India. Forever, may God always bless you.  -Michael Jackson

Bharat Shah, jeweller and film-financier, bought the pillow for a unstated amount of money in an auction held for charity.

Michael's love note to India, left on his pillow at the Oberoi Hotel

Below, photojournalist Mahesh Bhat recalls Michael Jackson’s 1996 tour of India:

Upcoming concert of Michael Jackson in Mumbai was the big news. I had no plans of going for it. Few days before the concert, I got a call from my friend Shantanu Sheoreyi. He was involved in the event on an advisory capacity. “Mahesh, we need someone to document MJ’s visit and the concert, will you do it?” he asked me. “Will I do it? Whoa….I was on the next plane to Mumbai.”

Well, I reached a day before MJ’s scheduled arrival. I had discussions with people concerend which was followed by a visit to the stadium in Andheri where the performance was to be held. A large wooden platform was built. The entire stage would be transported in 2 Antonovs. I was told that his crew would put it up in 24 hours.

On the day of his arrival, we reached the airport ahead of time. I was to document his visit from his first step out of the plane. Few of us were escorted to the door of the skybridge. Actor Sonali Bendre had the honour of welcoming MJ. One page 3 type business tycoon wanted to be there too but he was unceremoniouly shoved away by the cops. The plane carrying MJ landed. Immigration officials went into the aircraft to complete the formalities. People started coming out. Suddenly I see a familiar face…my friend photographer John Isaac! – Hugs and “hey what are you doing here” exchanged. I learnt that John had accepted the assignment of documenting the life and work of MJ and was travelling with him!

Then MJ himself comes out. Wow the legend right in front of me, few feet away. He rushes out and I shoot pictures. Cars are waiting to whisk him away. A luxury van was waiting for him. I got into a SUV with a skyroof, so that I could stand up and shoot the motorcade. Yes, I rode in the motorcade with MJ. As we left the airport, MJ saw a whole lot of kids from the slums and asked the car to be stopped. We all jumped out. He wanted to get some video footage with them. There were three videographers shooting every move he made. Kids rushed and picked whatever they could find on the road – soiled cigarette packets, pieces of paper…and all for autographs. MJ was merrily signing on them, he didn’t forget to tell his video crew not to miss recording any of it ‘Make sure you are getting everything…..‘ he kept saying.

All roads cordoned off and we zipped to Bal Thackrey’s residence, that was MJ’s first port of call. There chaos reigned. Machine gun toting cops with walkie-talkies that had meter long antennae were not able to stop the horde of waiting press photographres from breaking the cordon and going inside. John and I were left out. Later, they took us inside. MJ got some gifts and nothing much was said. He sat with a distant expression on his face.

That evening, a dinner was organised at the Oberoi Towers where he was staying. Who’s who of Mumbai and entire Bollywood was invited. Menu was totally vegetarian. MJ was there on time, most of the who’s who weren’t. There was a small fucntion. MJ received a diamond-studded miniature Taj Mahal. Someone made a speech. A well-known character actor jumped to the dias, shook MJ’s hand and jumped like a monkey!! And MJ went back to his room. Neither did he talk to anyone nor did he touch the laid out food. Then the who’s who started landing up and they had to eat that vegetarian food! People hung around and ate muttering under their breath. The next day I read in newspapers how one of the music directors of Bollywood (The man who has a penchant for gold…no prizes for guessing who!!) was going to collaborate with MJ to produce an album and that MJ showed keen interest in his gold necklace. The fact was that he arrived fashionably late for the dinner and didn’t even get to glimpse MJ.

On his way out, MJ shook hands with one of the waiters. That chap fainted!

Next day – it was the day before the concert, MJ didn’t come out of his suite. I hung out with John Isaac in his room. The floor of the Oberoi Towers was occupied by MJ entourage and no one was else was allowed. John Isaac was born in Chennai. He worked briefly for Air India and went to NYC to become a guitar player. Instead he became a photographer and rose to be the chief photographer of the United Nations and a celebrated photojournalist. John was doing a lot of work for UNICEF. Audrey Hepburn, the then goodwill ambassador of UNICEF and a friend of John introduced him to MJ. John told me about MJ’s love for poetry and that they were planning on a book of MJ’s poems and John’s pictures. It didn’t materialise finally.

All day long the glitterati of Bollywood was descending to the hotel to ‘meet’ MJ. But no one was allowed to get into the lift even. Heartbreaks all over. Suddenly there was commotion. In the midst of tight security, a chap from Bihar managed to get into the hotel with a nicely packed muzzle loader on his shoulder! Don’t ask me how. So cops took him away and found out that he had come to Mumbai in search of a job. And he landed up in the hotel because some one told him he might find a job here.

MJ’s security detail comprising of several ex-marines was always very tough. After this incident they became paranoid. There was a lot of friction and temperature was always on the boil. Later we asked them why were they so worried. ‘Well, he is our bread and butter..we can’t let anything happen to him’, said the security in-charge. They were protecting him to safeguard themselves.

There was a plan of taking MJ to Madh Island. He wanted to visit the Mumbai centre of Nirmal Hriday. But some joker faxed a death threat. Security clamped down and vetoed any visit. MJ was inconsolable. He began to cry uncontrollably in his suite. It took some of his friends almost an hour to console him. That’s when I thought that he was trapped in a diamond studded platinum cage. However the death threat did not deter some of his crew from hitting the town. I think even some of his bodyguards took an evening off. The boss couldn’t step out of his room!

That evening there was photo shoot with a whole lot of kids. It was on the terrace of the hotel and then later we moved into his suite. I did a lot of portraits of his there. He didn’t interact with any adult. But did talk to many kids. Some of them didn’t talk to him. ‘Dadu he looks like ghost’, said a kid and refused to sit on his lap. That kid must be about 18-20 now! MJ had this massive 3D collage made from B&W pictures of his family. I heard him tell someone that he carried it with him everywhere.

MJ didn’t want to be disturbed. He meditated and just before the concert, met with the key people from the Indian side and took pictures. I had reached the venue well in advance. Had a choice of two places to shoot from – the ‘pit’ at the bottom of the stage or in front of the sound console. It had a direct view and I didn’t have to jostle for space. I chose the latter. VIP box too was there. Asha Bhosle, Sunil Gavaskar, Prabhu Deva.. and the thousands of fans were waiting for the performance to begin.

MJ’s stage was air conditioned and maintained at 16 degree centigrade. There were two massive AC plants pumping cool air. Massive air curtains in the front were keeping warm air out. There was a meditation room, if he chose to meditate during the break. It didn’t matter where he performed; the stage was exactly the same.

The performance was amazing. He was truly a great entertainer. Ashaji was on her feet, dancing! She asked all the younger women in the VIP box to dance along. I turned around to see Sunny Gavaskar grooving! Prabhu Deva told his fans that it was like watching his god!

I don’t have any more words to explain his impact.

SOURCE: http://entertainment.in.msn.com/hollywood/article.aspx?cp-documentid=3069357#page=1

One of Mahesh Bhat's photos of Michael in 1996

Really nice profile shot of Michael by Mahesh Bhat in 1996

In the story and video below, a Mumbai girl talks about her dance with Michael. “I just wish he’d died with all the legacy he deserved“, she laments.

Thirteen-years ago (now 16 years), when Piya Thakkar stood in line to watch the historic Michael Jackson concert in Mumbai, little did she know that she’d come out a mini-celebrity herself.

It was an act Michael Jackson performed in every city during his History tour – dancing with a girl to his hit song ‘You Are Not Alone‘ and in Mumbai Piya was the lucky girl.

Suddenly I was known as the girl who danced with Michael Jackson and I lost all other identity. I hugged him and he was trying to slow dance with me and then he just went down on his knees and I was so shocked,” says Piya Thakkar.

Some fans had to be pulled away by security, others cried, and still more sat down on the stage in disbelief. Piya showed her loyalty by refusing to bathe or change clothes she’d worn at the concert for days.

I didn’t bathe for just about one-and-a-half days, but the number of days was exaggerated a little in reports, but then I realised I couldn’t go on like this so I got over it after two days,” says she.

It’s no wonder then that when the news of Jackson’s death flashed on TV screens across the world, Piya felt an almost personal loss.

I’m not that much of a cry baby but for the past two-three days it’s been consuming me. I just wish he’d died with all the legacy he deserved,” she said.

And in making that wish for the late King of Pop, Piya is certainly not alone in the world.

Choreographer Ganesh Hegde, who did the opening act at Michael’s concert in 1996, recalls his meeting with Jackson “as the best one minute of his life”. “I met Mr Jackson in his green room which was pitch-dark, with a light flickering in one corner. He shook my hand and told me that he liked my performance very much. It was my biggest moment.” “Pop culture began with Michael Jackson and ends with him.”

Shobhaa De wrote later: “Those of us who were lucky enough to catch his concert will never ever forget the magic of those golden hours when Jackson enthralled a crowd with a performance that was staggering in its impact. It still makes my hair stand on end. I have never seen such energy, such commitment and such excellence. He was stupendously brilliant and I watched his final encore with tears steaming down my face.

When he repeatedly whispered, ‘I love you’ to the mesmerised crowd, you believed him of course, he loved us all. Individually, at that. It was one glorious evening. And I went away with the feeling, I had been privileged enough to witness a historic performance by one of the world’s greatest entertainers.

I remember him alighting from his private jet and his entourage came in four other planes. The airport came to a standstill for an hour with officers, aircraft crew and passengers coming to greet him,” says Sabbas Joseph, director, Wizcraft, which organised the concert. Even Anil Ambani lent his open roof car to the star.

Jackson’s entry into the hotel here was a grand affair with people from nearby offices coming to get a glimpse of him. “He asked for a free-standing, full-length mirror in the room and he signed it at the time of his departure. He also signed a pillow slip from his room.

Jackson mesmerised the crowd and this is what made him so popular says Duane Woodman, a commercial pilot who attended his concert in Mumbai. “My most vivid memory of the concert is Jackson circling the stadium in a helicopter and then making an entry from a rocket capsule,” he says.

His moonwalk, in a gold and black suit, had girls gasping, says actor Prashant Raj. “But it was his Thriller, a youth anthem then, that got everyone going.

Rony D’Costa, creative supervisor, Zee Motion Pictures, grew up listening to Jackson. “I knew I couldn’t miss it, but then I couldn’t afford the ticket. So a friend and I gate-crashed and stood near the barricade close to the stage. Michael was just five feet away from us. It was magical,” he says, recalling more funny instances from the concert. “There was an ambulance kept for emergency but it was at work throughout. Every time Michael screamed ‘I love you very much’ there were girls fainting,” he smiles.

As Raj Thackeray’s guest, MJ also visited Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s residence, Matoshree, in Bandra. The Thackerays presented him with a silver tabla and tanpura. There’s a lovely story connected with the visit. MJ had to go to the loo (bathroom) and was zapped when he stepped into the Tiger’s Indian-style toilet. No knowing how to use it, he had to seek Raj’s help to relieve himself!

To this day, choreographer Ganesh Hegde still remembers and honors Michael. In June 2011 with a new album coming out, he said:

Michael Jackson has been my biggest inspiration for music as well as choreography. He gave me the reason to believe that even people like myself, who come from a very humble background can make it big with talent and hardwork.” Ganesh remembers: “In 1996, MJ had come to Mumbai for a concert and I was performing as the opening act. When he came backstage, there was a sudden commotion and all my dancers on stage turned their backs towards the audience to look at him! Later, he called for us in his room, where I told him that I was the choreographer for the act and he shook hands with me. I also told him ‘I love you’ to which he replied ‘I love you too’. He was really a great personality.”

India, like many other cities and countries around the world, has dedicated a statue of Michael, which they want to donate to Neverland. RC Golden Granites in Chennai, India has created a full size Michael Jackson Statue. The demise of Michael upset owner Mr.R. Chandrasekaran and so he decided to pay tribute to Michael by doing something different and made a statue.

We want to do something different in that, so we built a Michael Jackson statue in single black granite which weighs about 3.5 tonnes and we want to send the statue to Michael Jackson’s foundation at Neverland. The statue was sculpted out of a single block of granite rock – 12ft height and weighs 3.5 tons. It took 45 days to sculpt the legend’s statue with six highly experienced chennai craftsmen in granite working round the clock.

The Chennai-based granite firm spent $25,000 sculpting the statue out of a single block of huge rock that was quarried from a mine near Kanakapura, about 50 km from Bangalore. “We employed six artisans to chisel the granite into Jackson’s shape in 45 days at our factory in Kancheepuram. As black granite is brittle, the aesthetic art work was a test of patience, diligence and skill. His face and eyes were the most challenging as we wanted the statue to be expressive and poignant,” Chandrasekaran said.

It’s a personal tribute to the greatest pop singer of our times! He lives in our hearts as he was on stage for years.

You can see the statue briefly in this video:

Granite statue of Michael from RC Granite in Chennai, India

Finally, I’ll leave you with a Dubai Fountain presentation of ‘Thriller‘, courtesy of reader Nino Fincher:

_ _ _

{ Many thanks to UK Loves MJ on Facebook for compiling this fantastic information about Michael’s only visit to India! -Seven }

Tags: , , , ,


Apr 18 2012

A sad goodbye to the world’s oldest teenager

Category: Friends,Quotes About MJ,VideosSeven @ 11:35 pm

Michael and Dick Clark, both gone now.

What a sad day this is. Some people you somehow expect to live forever, even though logistically you know that’s impossible. Dick Clark was one of those people. He seemed ageless. Who would have ever thought he’d leave us? But alas, mortality has stricken another of this generation’s unforgettable icons.

When Michael died in June 2009, Dick Clark remarked: “Of all the thousands of entertainers I have worked with, Michael was the most outstanding. Many have tried and will try to copy him, but his talent will never be matched.

And Clark, whose own contributions to the music and television broadcasting world are also unmatched, would know. He was a key figure in helping to provide many black artists and black musical groups priceless exposure on American television. Exposure and airplay that most mainstream DJs and music programs would not give them due to racism. Here is a video of the Jackson 5 playing on American Bandstand for the first time, in 1970:

Below, Jack Cafferty on CNN talks more about how Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, Little Richard, The Jacksons, The Supremes – so many black artists would not have been heard at all or have been as widely heard, had it not been for the exposure they received on American Bandstand. Had it not been for Dick Clark exposing these artists to white audiences, we all may have missed their incredible music – and they would have missed out on the level of professional success that could only be had by exposure to white audiences at the time. Who can imagine life without the music of these artists? Who can imagine life without Dick Clark – a man with whom Americans have welcomed the New Year for three decades (New Years Rockin’ Eve)?

Cafferty also talks about how white artists then in turn modeled some of their music after the music of the black artists. Their influence was remarkable and their exposure by Dick Clark certainly changed the musical landscape in America. I feel blessed to have been alive to witness all this and to be a part of it.

Jermaine and Janet Jackson shared their sadness today about Dick Clark’s passing:

Dick Clark always came to our dressing pre-show to make sure we were okay and catered for. Big hearted. One-of-a-kind. Will be missed… #DickClark played a very special role in our lives, involved in our first concerts as J5. He was like family. What a man. RIP my friend. Another sad day. This world is losing too many fine people. Live for the moment. Treasure your memories. Blessings to you all” -Jermaine Jackson

Dick Clark changed the face of musical television. He was wonderful to many artists including our family. We will miss him. God bless.” -Janet Jackson

Below you can enjoy an early American Bandstand interview with young Michael in 1972. This is one of more than a few interviews Dick Clark did with Michael and the Jacksons. You can find more on YouTube.

Here is the Jackson’s 1979 American Bandstand appearance:

And below, Michael performs on American Bandstand’s 50th Anniversary show in 2002:

He wasn’t only known for American Bandstand. In the 1980s Dick Clark Productions had shows on 3 networks. Among them were $25,000 Pyramid, TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes and the American Music Awards. His remarkable career spanned several decades. He was a savvy host, producer, and curator of music and television broadcasting who leaves an incredible history-changing legacy behind, along with the equally accomplished Don Cornelius of Soul Train, whom we also just lost a short while ago on February 1 of this year.

Music is the soundtrack of your life.” -Dick Clark

And Dick Clark brought us a whole lot of great music to live and remember the times of our lives by. It’s so sad to lose him now too. I hope he and Michael, Don, Elizabeth, Whitney, and Frank are all having a huge party up there. And I hope that Robin Gibb who has fallen very ill and is in a coma, doesn’t join them now. We’ve lost too many great people in the past 3 years.

Dick Clark and Michael Jackson, 2002

Tags: , ,


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?

Tags: , , , ,


« Previous PageNext Page »