Jan 29 2011

The Box

Category: Humanitarian,Justice,MJ Quotes,Prose/Essays,VideosSeven @ 4:17 pm

There are a couple of stories within a story here, so please bear with me as I explain “The Box

Elvis Serval

On Sunday, April 26, 2009, Carolina Tiger Rescue received a call from a woman stating that her friend had a pet serval she could no longer care for, and that the animal needed to be placed quickly. Staff informed her that she would need to contact the Curator of Animals, Kathryn Bertok, to make rescue arrangements.

The following morning, Kathryn discovered a full grown serval in an animal crate that someone had left at the entrance to the staff parking lot. A typed note attached to the crate gave the serval’s name, Elvis, and a few details about his history, but no contact information.

A local veterinarian examined Elvis the morning he arrived. She determined that Elvis is about two years old and undernourished. He showed evidence of a collar having grown in to his skin. He has permanent scarring, likely from continuous rubbing on a cage or crate, and his hind legs were atrophied. Taken together, these findings suggest that Elvis was kept in confined quarters.

However, when Elvis was released into a larger enclosure, he continued to walk in small circles, even though he didn’t have to anymore and was no longer confined to such a small space.

Elvis in his new enclosure but afraid to leave his crate.

Elvis in his new enclosure but afraid to leave his crate.

Elvis peers out of his crate the morning after his arrival

Elvis peers out of his crate the morning after his arrival

Press Release about Elvis Serval: http://www.cptigers.org/news/pressreleases/2009/2009-04-27Elvis.pdf

Elvis had been cleared of common infectious viruses, and now inhabits his own large enclosure on the tour route at Carolina Tiger Rescue.

Elvis eventually reached healthy weight and regained good hind leg strength in the following months. CTR will care for Elvis for the rest of his life and you can donate to his care or to the care of the other animals at Carolina Tiger Rescue at their site: http://www.carolinatigerrescue.org/help/donate.asp

The road-rager in the white SUV

On Thursday this past week, I was driving in rush-hour traffic to get to a class at 5:30. Traffic on one of the main roads was of course bumper-to-bumper with a lot of stop and go and the usual idiots swerving last-minute in front of others and short, hot tempers. At a stoplight, entering the left turn lane and having been unable to move quickly at all prior to that due to the line of cars ahead of me, I was honked at and flipped ‘the bird‘ by some chubby redneck in a big white SUV. I had no idea what I’d done wrong or what he was so angry about. I guess he somehow expected me to just drive my little foreign car over top of all those cars in front of us so as not to cause him any inconvenience in that heavy traffic. He apparently considered it all my fault that the traffic existed at all and that I could do nothing about it to help him and helping himself feel better was of course all there was in his world at that moment.

When I got to my class, I was told by another person that she had possibly been ‘raged‘ at by this same guy herself at that intersection. He seems to have an M.O. in this area.

Kelly Williams-Bolar

You’ve probably heard about Kelly Williams-Bolar: the poor black woman in Ohio who fudged the address of her two daughters in order to send them to a better (white) school district 1-2 miles down the road. She used their grandfather’s address instead of their own to enroll the kids in school. She was inexplicably charged with a felony and also told that since she had been convicted of a felony, that she would be unable to get her teaching degree. Pretty harsh punishment considering the crime.

She stepped outside the box – outside the class and social strata she’s been born into. And frankly, I think that is more of a problem for the ‘powers that be‘ than any law she broke. I understand people pay taxes for schools in their districts and people from other districts sending their children to a school where the parent didn’t pay taxes is unfair. However, when should a parent ever be punished for wanting their children to have a decent education – even and especially a poor parent who cannot afford to live in a better school district and who wants her kids to have a better life than she did?

The way I see it, this problem really isn’t with her – a poor black parent wanting her child to have a better education. The problem is with the system. All these disparate school districts everywhere instead of one unified and excellent educational system that is available to everyone no matter where they live or pay taxes. That is the problem.

Instead of fixing the system though, we punish those refuse to or cannot live within it, or who try to show us a better way. These are the ‘Rosa Parks‘ of our society. And our society doesn’t take too well to them and never did. However, human progress has only ever been made by people like them. They are the rule breakers. Not the law breakers necessarily, but the rule breakers. Often when they break these rules, they are criminalized or made an example of, defined as an aberration, an atrocity, a criminal, and they are either severely punished for what is only a minor crime or they are punished severely for no crime at all!

But the truth is they’ve usually broken some unspoken and unwritten societal rule, more than any law. They’ve dared to step outside ‘The Box‘. The box of societal definitions and expectations, or outside their own class or social strata. Or, they’ve simply defied someone else’s definition of what they should or should not do, or where they should or should not go. They are the canaries in the coal mine. They are the harbingers that tell us: “Hey ya’ll, the system is broken“. Rather than crucifying them, we should appreciate them and learn from them. But we never do.

And it’s easier and more convenient to just kill or cage the canary than to fix the system, so that’s what our society often does instead. It does what Elvis’s previous owners did to him.  They shoved him into an unsuitable box for their own convenience because it was the easier solution than dealing early on with the situation they had themselves created – which was not a wise one to begin with – owning an exotic pet like that which they could not properly care for. Unfortunately, the animal suffered for their bad human decision-making. And Ms. Williams-Bolar is suffering the same way for the same reason. She has been told that – whether she likes it or not – she and her children will stay in their place in society (poor) and will not be allowed to make their lives better, or to go further or outside the social class they were born into.

Michael

I don’t read all the things written about me, I wasn’t aware that the world thought I was so weird and bizarre. But when you grow up as I did, in front of one hundred million people since the age of five, you’re automatically different.

– Michael Jackson

Michael grew up outside any societal boxes. He simply wasn’t raised that way. From the age of around six, his life was different than any other “normal” kid’s life. But that didn’t matter, people still expected him to be and act “like everyone else“. Because in society we are ‘expected‘ to be a certain way, dress a certain way, act a certain way, stay within certain limits of behavior, and take more than we give. We are expected to be all about ourselves and not others. We are expected to be narcissistic and sociopathic and to only care for ourselves and our own, ignoring everyone else. Those ‘rules‘ aren’t written anywhere, but they exist nonetheless. You bet they do.

Michael didn’t follow those rules. He couldn’t. That’s simply not who he was. He was himself, but he was not about himself. He was unique, and different and loved a world that he could never fit or be allowed into. If he had been raised in that box and stayed in it, would he have been such an entertainment genius? Would he have been able to give the world all he had given it, dazzling our eyes and hearts with unprecedented performances and stunningly beautiful and meaningful music and films? Would he have been able to try to teach us what we still refuse to learn? Of course not.

And he dressed differently. He did things no one else would or could do. He came from a very poor family in Steel town Gary Indiana, from a small house with two bedrooms shared by two parents and nine kids, where his only other future could have been drugs and gangs or becoming a steel mill worker. But the steel mills have all but closed down now and either of these outcomes were exactly the future his parents did not want for their kids. Had Michael joined a gang and gotten into drugs or become a steel mill worker, our society would have been much nicer to him because you know that was pretty much to be expected. And as long as he only did what others expected him to do; as long as he stayed within the class and social strata he was born into; as long as he stayed within that box of definitions and expectations our society built for him – that was fine.

But Michael didn’t do that. Instead he did the same thing that Kelly Williams-Bolar in Ohio did. He stepped outside the box. He stepped so far out of that class and that social strata of society he was born into, that he went all the way to the stars. He was a star that burst out of Gary Indiana to join the rest of them in our galaxy. And he was severely punished for it.

The Michael Jackson cacophony is fascinating in that it is not about Jackson at all. I hope he has the good sense to know it and the good fortune to snatch his life out of the jaws of a carnivorous success. He will not swiftly be forgiven for having turned so many tables, for he damn sure grabbed the brass ring, and the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo has nothing on Michael.

-James Baldwin, ‘The Price of the Ticket

Michael Jackson gave more than he took. He gave to people he didn’t even know. He paid for funerals of children he didn’t even know. He paid for life-saving treatments and surgeries for children he didn’t even know. Who else does that? He felt the pain of all children (not just his own, all of them) and worked for peace and worked to reduce or eliminate the pain of children all over the world. Most “other people” don’t do that. Because of this inability or refusal to live inside some box of rules and arbitrary expectations our society has for all of us, because of his innocence, sweetness and Guinness Book Record generosity, because he cared ‘too much‘ about the world and everybody in it, he was looked upon with suspicion by society, the legal system, the political system.

Yes, Michael cared ‘too much‘, and instead of the rest of the world taking a lesson from that and caring a bit more about one another using the example he set, Michael was instead defined as weird and vilified. He was demonized, criminalized, lynched, called a ‘freak‘, a ‘weirdo‘, and worst of all, a ‘pedophile‘.

Because when you want to destroy someone for stepping outside the box which has been defined for them, or for not behaving in a way someone else expects, or for being a threat to the status quo in society, the easiest way to do it is to attack them about something they love most. For Michael, that was children. This is very controlling behavior on the part of our society. I have experienced such controlling behavior in personal relationships so I recognize it when it is done on a larger scale. It is the worst form of bullying.

I want to heal the world, save our children, & they hate me for it. They want to destroy anyone righteous. . . . I’m not trying to be philosophical, but I really think it’s my job to help [children] & don’t care if people laugh.

-Michael Jackson

The world didn’t understand Michael because he wasn’t ‘like‘ them. The profitable propaganda and devious misinformation fed that misunderstanding. When health problems ensued which he had no control over, he was demonized and ridiculed for that, too. He was bullied on a scale with which we’ve seen no one else bullied in our lifetimes. He was subjected to pain piled on top of pain as a decades-long full-on assault was launched against him from inside that God-forsaken box the rest of us are rammed into and which we are forced to live within like Elvis the serval. And like that poor cat, we end up not knowing how to walk outside a space bigger than 3 feet by 3 feet – even when there is nothing stopping us and even when we had someone like Michael to show us how.

Instead we learn – lest we be punished the same way Ms. Williams-Bolar was, or the way Michael was by the likes of that road-rager in the white SUV – that we had better conform and be like everyone else or we will be made to suffer dearly. We learn to stay in our place and never think of wanting to do more, or wanting to be more, or go further or be something different than what we’re “expected” to be. Not something illegal, just something different or further or better. We’re simply taught not to want that and not to go there. Then as adults, even if we can, we still don’t do it.

Society didn’t doesn’t mind taking Michael’s creative gifts, profiting from them, enjoying them – but they collectively threw Michael Jackson the human being away like a piece of trash. If you ask, many people will tell you that’s what he was – that he we some evil abomination that needed to be destroyed. Many people spent their lives and built their careers on that destruction effort, and they’re still at it. This is a certain blindness, caused by the walls of the box. It’s also a profitable blindness that is perpetuated by the media. And a lazy and ignorant blindness consumed by the rest, unquestioningly. The crucifixion and lynching of a man who simply didn’t live inside the box in which rest of us are trapped is testimony to this blindness. Some of us can see through to the outside, and we see Michael for who he truly was. Millions of others cannot see outside though, either because they are truly blinded — or because they make too much money to even look — and their lies and lynchings are profitable business. An entire industry has been made of it.

But what about that creativity that blessed us with so many dazzling gifts from Michael? Oh we love that, of course. Nevermind it came from such a ‘weirdo‘. How many times have you heard someone say: “Oh yea Michael Jackson was a great entertainer, dancer and singer but he was really strange and I just can’t get past all that weird behavior of his.

But it doesn’t ever occur to these box-blinded people that his creativity, genius and brilliance existed because he was different, not in spite of it?

Michael respected the wisdom of young children because their minds are yet unspoiled by such prejudice – or by greed, revenge, religious or political objectives, or by outsized egos. That kind of unassuming innocence is what drives creativity. Creativity itself is a child! Michael seemed to know instinctively what the rest of us need to (re)learn. He said:

That’s the problem with adults: they lose that child-like quality. And that’s the level of inspiration that’s so needed and is so important for creating and writing songs and for a sculptor, a poet or a novelist. It’s that same kind of innocence, that same level of consciousness, that you create from. And kids have it.

-Michael Jackson

This is why he liked being around kids. Not because he was a pedophile but because he was a kid himself – and they inspired him more than anything else. The song ‘Speechless‘ was written after a water balloon fight! That’s where he lived and created from – pure, simple, childlike fun. That creative place cannot exist within any box. The child known as Creativity cannot survive crammed inside some box of prejudice, definitions, expectations, religious, political, social or class strata. Michael knew that. Children know that. Instinctively. They may not be able to say it but they know it. Until some adult teaches them otherwise.

…And my best moments of creativity have often been spent with children. When I am around them, music comes to me as easily as breathing…

-Michael Jackson

The only people who don’t want anything from [MJ] are children. Everyone else wants something. They want to flirt with glory.

-Phil Collins

Blindness, ignorance, laziness, selfishness, egotism, and greed: all those things are what Michael Jackson was not – but because he was not – he was destroyed. We gladly accepted and kept those marvelous gifts that his being ‘different‘ enabled him to give us. But we as a society we never accepted him as a human being, and we collectively destroyed him for it and then left him to die.

What does that make us? It is said that humans are the most intelligent species. I don’t believe that. Because humans have the ability to think and reason – yet they do not. They don’t seem to possess as much empathy as animals yet humans would claim animals don’t feel empathy. But humans are wrong. Animals do feel empathy. We’ve heard the story of a dog rescuing another dog from the highway after he’d been hit by a car. We’ve heard of elephants gathering in a circle around one of their dead kin to mourn, for days.

Unlike humans, animals only kill to survive, their instincts all come from nature, and their fears are based on real threats. They are not driven by prejudice, ignorance, malice, revenge, hunger for power over each other or false fears and threats that don’t exist whipped up by some money-driven propaganda machine created by other groups of animals. Only humans do that.

It is astounding that even as far back as 1985, what was going to happen to Michael Jackson due to his enormous success was evident to many people like James Baldwin, Howard Bloom and others – even before it actually transpired.

They had to know that the lords of the status quo weren’t going to sit idly by and allow this innocent talent – this magical child – his celestial success without making him pay and pay dearly for it. Call it an act of revenge, greed, jealousy, a hate crime, ignorance, narcissism, prejudice or all of the a above and more. Like Michael himself said: “the bigger the star, the bigger the target“.

But it wasn’t only that. It was that Michael became a huge star from nothing – from dirt in a poor steel town in the midwest to a billionaire in just a few years – all well before the age of 40. And he was black to boot. And – very different than the rest of us in so many ways: artistically, emotionally, spiritually, physically (with constant changes due to health issues), and intellectually. His childhood and his entire life was such that the rest of us could only imagine what it was like for him.

He could not be put neatly into a box or category – he defied most of them, not deliberately as much as by his nature. And because of that too, he was considered an aberration to be ‘dealt with‘ and he was, in the harshest of terms – just like Howard and James knew he would be.

That we destroyed him because he was different instead of learning from him says more about what’s wrong with us than it does about what was wrong with Michael Jackson. This is a big mirror, and most people don’t want to look into it. Because what it reflects back to us about ourselves isn’t pretty and even worse, it hasn’t changed much over his lifetime or ours.

The problem isn’t with Elvis the serval. The problem isn’t with Ms. Williams-Bolar wanting her kids to have a decent education. The problem isn’t with me being unable to drive my dinky foreign car over top of all those cars ahead of me in rush hour traffic so as not to annoy some hotheaded jerk who evidently expected that of me. The problem is not and never was with Michael Jackson.

The problem is with The Box. The problem is with us. The problem is with the ‘system‘ and our own limited expectations and beliefs. It’s broken. We’re broken.

Some of the most wonderful people are the ones who don’t fit into boxes.

-Tori Amos

_ _ _

Essay © Seven Bowie, 2011
Photos and videos © their respective owners/creators

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Jan 11 2011

Life Was No Song for These Composers (including Michael)

Category: Justice,MJ Quotes,Photos,Prose/Essays,QuotesSeven @ 7:32 pm

Written by ‘Justice4MJJ
Edited by Seven

Michael at his 'Thriller Killer' party

Michael at his 'Thriller Killer' party

In Michael Jackson’s 2002 Thriller Killer Party plea to his fans & other members of the public that might be listening–he extolled to us how many extremely talented persons, end up destitute, dying in a miserable situation:

I really don’t like to talk that much, I really don’t. I prefer to perform than talk but.. You know, um, let me just say this, the tradition of great performers, from–and I really want you to hear what I have to say– from Sammy Davis Jr., to James Brown, to Jackie Wilson, to Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly–the story is usually the same though–these guys work really hard at their craft–but the story ends the same. They end up broken, torn, it’s really sad, because the companies take advantage of them, they really do.

–Michael Jackson

Of course we know of the incredibly hard and unfair James Brown’s career and life was—many of us only learning about it in detail after his death. The poor man was forced to continue working up until he died—never getting to rest or enjoy the benefits of his extensive career and talents.

And Jackie Wilson, whose style of singing and dancing was “influencing” (more like being copied) by many white singers—most notably Elvis Presley. Jackie died (in January 1984) unacknowledged for his great talents, forgotten by the public very quickly, after having been in a coma (in 1975 during a benefit concert) for nearly a decade. He only regained popularity and worldwide sentiment, after Michael Jackson dedicated his Thriller album to him & acknowledged him at the 1984 AMAs.

Yet another genius who was underrated, underappreciated and faced enormous adversity unjustly—Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Now most of you no doubt know of the jealousy and deviousness which he faced—mostly by a character Antonio Salieri—we’ve seen the movie too.

However, I feel in Michael Jackson’s trying time during 2001-2002, he neglected to mention many other geniuses who suffered through life wrongly and died penniless. After coming across a newspaper article from January 1941, by Louis Sobal of the New York Journal American, I could not let Mr. Sobal’s words go by me without dispersion everywhere. I have transcribed the part of his article which deals specifically with unreasonably destroyed composers:

Life Was No Song For These Composers

A composer’s life was never too happy a one in other years. When Claude Debussy died on March 25th, 1918, for instance, he left no estate except his author’s rights, his manuscripts and his fame. To supplement his income, he had edited Chopin’s works, revised Bach’s violin sonatas and offered to write a method for teaching piano.

Claude Debussy

Claude Debussy

Then take Robert Schumann, a gay, light-hearted fellow as ever you’d want to meet, but after he married Clara Weick & they had several children, he discovered he couldn’t support his family on the musical pieces he was turning out. So he went insane.

Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann

Franz Shubert died at the age of 31, leaving a few articles of clothing, a mattress, bed coverings and some old music. During his lifetime, he had received approximately $6.00 in payment for his Trout—quintet, $4.40 for the beautiful Trio in E flat and about 20 cents apiece for the Winterriese cycle of songs.

Franz Schubert

Franz Schubert

Mozart died at 36 and was buried in a pauper’s grave. His friends would not even defray the expenses of his funeral and when his wife appealed to them frantically, she received advice as to the cheapest way to bury him! At one time, Hector Berlioz, famous French composer of The Damnation of Faust, lived on raisins, bread and salt, in order to meet the debts incurred when he paid to have one of his own Masses performed. Bocherini (1743-1805), composer of the famous Minuets, was constantly in want and was reduced to making guitar arrangements for wealthy dilettantes.

Mozart

Mozart

Ludwig van Beethoven lived on handouts most of his life. From 1800 on, Prince Lichnowsky contributed to his support and in 1808 three Viennese noblemen guaranteed him 4,000 florins a year if he would stay in Vienna instead of going to Cassel. But sooner or later they dropped the payments and Beethoven was faced to sue them all in order to collect a small part of what he had been promised.

Beethoven

Beethoven

Frederic Chopin, ill and poverty stricken, made his last public appearance at a ball in the London Guildhall (which was destroyed by bombs last week) for the benefit of Polish refugees. No one listened to him—no one seemed to care even that he was there, although some mourned when a few weeks later he was dead—of tuberculosis, aggravated by undernourishment.

Frederic Chopin

Frederic Chopin

Johannes Brahms was never very affluent but in later years when he earned some money, he still lived alone in a furnished room and got up every morning at 5 o’clock to make his own coffee, so uncertain was he that this ‘affluence’ would last.

Johannes Brahms

Johannes Brahms

George Friedrich Handel died in London on April 14th, 1759. According to Samuel Butler in his notebooks: people say the generous British public supported Handel. It did nothing of the kind. On the contrary for some 30 years it did its best to ruin him, twice drove him to bankruptcy, badgered him till in 1737 he had a paralytic seizure, which was near as might be the death of him and if he died then we should have had of him his greatest oratorios. What kept Handel was not the public, but the court. It was the pension given him by George the First and George the Second that enabled him to carry on at all.’ In this battle between radio and ASCAP, the air people are crowding the waves with Stephen Foster masterpieces because they are in the public domain. Foster, unfortunately, was not a member of ASCAP and so today his song is a no. 1 melody. But the announcers forget to introduce the song by revealing that Stephen Foster was forced to sell most of his beautiful tunes for petty cash—and that he died penniless.

George Friedric Handel

George Friedric Handel

Now Mr. Sobal wrote this astounding article for the purpose of influencing the radio to change its stance regarding ASCAP; an important issue facing America in 1941. Nevertheless, its significance regarding the abandoned pauper geniuses of the world, will be forever present. Maybe like me, when reading that article, you felt the un-silencing urge to shout to the world, “Michael Jackson was abused, used & died in financial bondage, with no control or help from others too!” After his death, nearly everyone who could speak, placed the blame of Michael’s death, squarely on his own shoulders. Many claimed to have been trying to save him and have foreseen his untimely death. The praises of his genius came tumbling forth as well—when only the days preceding his death—he was reduced to a commonly repeated set of cheap jokes, dog food by the media, and largely forgotten and uncared for by the public.

Michael Joseph Jackson

Michael Joseph Jackson

To come to my point, the description of Michael Jackson’s life, as well as these other great geniuses, should never neglect to tell how they’re lives were destroyed by greed, selfishness, hate, jealousy, carelessness & deviousness by others. We tend to forget when listening to our “classic” composers, that these men’s lives were so full of tragedy and hurt—that even their burials were not fit for the work they did. An exception is Michael Jackson—who’s burial was turned into a parade—yet it was far too soon in occurring for one so young & hounded. Michael was being plotted against at least since 1991, moreso as soon as he took possession of the ATV catalog. He bought it “fair and square” in 1985, but that did not deter any of his (unknown to MJ) enemies. They tried to force MJ to sell all the momentously profitable things he had—when he never backed down to sell—they resorted to crimes and deviousness to get what they wanted.

Criminal & devious plans were used on those geniuses of past years too—recall Stephen Foster selling most of his works for paltry amounts. Michael was killed instead of selling—but after his death—he couldn’t stop the theft of his work and legacy! I have no doubt that Michael was well aware of these facts in those great composers’ lives. He was a voracious reader all his life as you know—and a great lover of quality music from all ages. Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” being one of his favorites. Besides the Bible verses that were invaluable to him during those gutting months, he looked to the people before him who suffered unjustly many times—no doubt during his 2005 set up trial—when he needed to calm himself by recalling their unfair abuse, and how they kept on fighting.

Michael never stole the money or rights of any hard working musician like himself. He gave Little Richard his catalog back, after legally buying it himself. He understood what artists, specifically composers, go through because he was close friends with many of them. Don’t forget how he was sued, non-stop through his entire career—even up till his death! As his bodyguards told us—he always settled after 2005—just to have a life & keep more of his hard-earned revenue from going down the drain. Michael has been murdered, and all those great geniuses before him died from injustice as well. Very much helped into the grave by evil and selfish individuals’ actions—but the difference with their cases and Michael Jackson’s—is that his murder occurred more recently and we are here to pick up the fight for him (where he left off).

We can’t let them get away with what they’re trying to do. I’m a free agent now.—Michael Jackson (2001)

I end this with some discerning words from W.C. Handy, a prolific American composer, musician, & major supporter of ASCAP:

Why should such talent die in want? Simply because a great artist will pour out his heart and hard-hearted people will take it, unless that artist is protected…..[] But in America, it was inconceivable that a composer who wrote a song to gladden the hearts of millions, who inspired men to march to the defense of their country, who supplied the words with which a mother croons her baby to sleep, was destined to fill other than a pauper’s grave….[] Even justice seems to adjust the balances in favor of the man with the most money.

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Dec 04 2010

“Mr. Jackson would love to see more art”

Category: Art,Friends,MJ Quotes,Photos,Prose/Essays,Quotes About MJSeven @ 12:54 am

This is yet another heartwarming story about Michael mentoring a young artist. In this case, it was a young sketch artist named Celine Lavail. It seems Michael influenced and even personally befriended and mentored so many artists in his life. Not just musicians and songwriters, but also dancers, painters, sketch artists, writers, any artists and most any kind of art. I’ll let Celine tell her story:

Celene Lavail and Michael

SOURCE: http://www.celine-lavail.com/en/michael-jackson.php

I was only 17 years old when I first met Michael Jackson. It was 1996 and he was staying in Monte Carlo for a few days. I’d always been a fan of his music and I’d heard he was also a massive art lover. At that time I used to draw and sketch a lot as a hobby. My plan was to go to his hotel and give some of my pictures to his security staff in the hope that they would reach him in some way. When I got there with the pictures, the security guards handed them to a member of his staff.

Amazingly, I was told that Michael wanted to see me. I couldn’t believe it. I was shaking. Thank god I had the drawings — if the worst came to the worst, I could always hide behind them. Suddenly I was being ushered up to his suite, by now terrified. As I entered the room — surrounded by his aides, people in suits — Michael was just standing there, welcoming me with a big smile. That relaxed me a little, but I knew things would be difficult because my English was not so good. I lived in Perpignan in France at the time, a town near the Spanish border, but I had only learned some of the language at school. “I’ve done something for you,” I said. He stared at my pictures. I’d brought five or six sketches, they were rough but I was pleased with them. “You study art?” he said. I told him that I didn’t and this caused the most unusual reaction: he started clapping. “You’ve got a gift,” he said. “It comes from God, you have to cherish this gift and feed it. Please keep on creating, I want to see more.” I felt proud and embarrassed at the same time. It was such a surreal experience. As I walked out of the suite, one member of his staff handed me a piece of paper. On it was the name of Michael’s assistant with a telephone number. I was told that “Mr Jackson would love to see more art,” and I walked away from the hotel, my head spinning, lost for words.

Almost immediately, I started sending sketches to Los Angeles without knowing exactly if they would eventually end up in Michael’s hands. I soon found out that they were getting through: I would sometimes get feedback from him or suggestions. I would ask Michael for hints. I wanted to know what I should work on and his answers varied from a single word like “royalty”, or a very precise scene he wanted to see. Most of all, he said, he wanted me to pull from my guts and be creative. He even called one day. The phone rang and a voice enquired, “Celine?” I recognised him straightaway, but I couldn’t believe it. Michael Jackson, the man who made Thriller, the dancer who moonwalked at the Motown 25 show, had called me. Still it was hard to match that person to the voice because he was so humble and normal. I had sent him some sketches of Peter Pan and he told me he loved them. I’d been drawing other Disney characters for him, but he told me to be “more creative.”

“You’ve got imagination, I know it,” he said. “Do something that has never been done before.”

He told me several times to study and to be inspired by the great artists. I was astonished when I realised how knowledgeable he was when it came to classic art. He told me about Michelangelo, Delacroix, Leonardo Da Vinci and Nicolas Poussin. We talked about modern popular illustrators such as Norman Rockwell or Scott Gustafson. In his hotel room there were often piles of art books. He was very fond of the figurative style and enjoyed everything related to fantasy. Following his advice I paced up and down most of Paris’ museums, staring at the work of all the greatest masters and worked hard to improve my craft.

By 1999, I decided it was time to show Michael the new piece I’d been working on: a portrait of him as Peter Pan. I knew he would love it, he was so fond of the Disney character. He was staying at the Ritz in Paris so I arranged a visit. When he saw the picture, he opened his eyes wide and hugged me really hard. “I love Peter Pan,” he laughed. “I am Peter Pan!”. That wasn’t all. Michael was about to commission an artwork from me. He pointed to the delicate mouldings on the walls that represented cherubs and softly explained the exact scene he had in mind: “Babies are adoring me with love and affection, which represent peace, love and harmony of all races,” he said. This artwork would later be named Inspiration.

During the creative process of this piece I occasionally received instructions from Michael’s part, asking me to add or remove details in the composition. In the picture, Michael is pictured reaching for the finger of a cherub who is Prince, his first son. When he finally found out about this “detail” he seemed happy. He believed I’d been inspired by Michelangelo’s Creation Of Adam. At first, this painting was hung in Neverland. Later it would be reproduced on the carts that were used to drive around the ranch, though I don’t know where they are now. Overall, I think he had five paintings of mine, plus a jacket I made for him and a book.

Looking back, one moment summed up our collaboration. I remember that Michael loved the fact that Michelangelo — one of his favourite artists — had inspired generations of others. His great achievements were still widely acknowledged centuries after his death. One day, I had a very interesting discussion with him about the power of art and the way it can transcend life, space and races. At the end of our meeting, Michael handed me a piece of paper. On it was written, “I know the creator will go, but his work survives, that is why to escape death I attempt to bind my soul to my work.” He looked at me. “Michelangelo said this,” he explained, though in hindsight, it’s probably a perfect way with which to describe Michael Jackson’s life.

Michael's note to Celine

Michael’s note to Celine

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InspirationLevail

‘Inspiration’ by Celine Lavail

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Dec 01 2010

Media~ The Mediocracy, The Lies, and The Maniacal Minds Behind it

Category: Justice,Photos,Prose/Essays,Quotes About MJSeven @ 11:55 pm

Charles Thomson

Charles Thomson

Journalist Charles Thomson will be on Blog Talk Radio on Friday, December 3rd, at 3:00 p.m. Central Time (US) to discuss the issues with our maniacal media. To determine what time this is in your part of the world, see the World Fixed Time Clock.

As most know, the mainstream media has been none too kind to Michael Jackson, having persecuted him all his life and continuing to do so even in his death with lies, sensationalism, and half-truths.

In a fair and honest world, this is how things should be done. 1.) Journalists should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information. 2.) Deliberate distortion is never permissible. 3.) Avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance or social status. – (From the article “Truth vs. Sensationalism” by Valmai Owens)

Sadly, we are bombarded daily by deception from the media. Untruths that destroy lives. They are invented horror stories that can kill a persons life work….simply to sell a cheap newspaper. Our speaker, Charles Thomsom will discuss the matter of media lies.

Charles Thomson is an Essex based freelance writer. A specialist in African American music, Charles has contributed to magazines including MOJO and Wax Poetics, as well as editing his own magazine, JIVE. An authority on soul and funk music, Charles appeared on the BBC’s ‘Electric Proms Round-Up’ in 2006, where he was seen speaking to James Brown. Charles has since worked for The Sun as a Michael Jackson expert and was interviewed by Sky News, BBC News 24 and BBC World Service on the night of the star’s death. Charles can be contacted via his website, www.charles-thomson.net

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Speaking of Charles Thomson, he recently penned an amazing four-part article at Sawfnews.com called Michael Jackson’s ‘One More Chance‘ – A Dream that Turned into a Nightmare.  Here are just a few excerpts from his heart-rending, informative, and well-researched article:

“He knew he had to do something for the fans but it was very clear that he couldn’t go back on tour because he was mentally not into it anymore. He wanted to do big concerts, say, at the pyramids in Egypt – big places – over two or three years. He agreed to do something like that because the fans really wanted to see him, but he felt his real future should be in the film business.”

After months of negotiations, Jackson’s camp had managed to secure financing so the star could purchase Cinegroupe, a Canadian animated features company, which Stuart Backerman says Jackson wanted to turn into ‘a whole Pixar type thing’. In anticipation of the takeover, the company had invited Jackson to begin contributing ideas to an upcoming picture, Pinocchio 3000. A decade after his film-making dreams had been squashed, Jackson was finally about to begin making the transition from music to movies. But before that he had one burning priority, and that was to release himself from his Sony contract.

“He wasn’t ever really right back on good terms with Sony,” says Stuart Backerman. “The Beatles Catalogue is one thing but after the whole Tommy Mottola business, it was over. It was not gonna really be happening with Sony again.”

According to Dieter Wiesner, Jackson had no plans to move to another label after he fulfilled his contract with Sony. The focus was squarely on movie-making and all signs pointed to the fact that Jackson was serious about achieving his goal.

. . .

Michael Jackson dreamt of a triumphant return to showbiz after years of seclusion with the music video of One More Chance in 2003, only to have the dream turn into his worst nightmare.

. . .

“I think they told us he wasn’t going to be there because they wanted to see our responses on film when he started dancing,” says Ken Yesh, “because when he first came in, it wasn’t five minutes and he jumped right into it. He started going into the sequences, walking through the tables at the nightclub, going up to the stage, singing, jumping onto the tables and onto the chairs – and I was looking at everyone else and their faces were like mine. It was just disbelief.”

It was amazing,” recalls Juliette Myers. “Part of our reaction was supposed to be shock and awe, but it was real. We were just like ‘Oh my gosh, he’s here. This is him in real life. He’s right in front of us’. It was so easy to be happy and to have the wondrous looks in our eyes. He did a move standing on a table right in front of us and it was like, ‘Wow. There it is. This is what we grew up with’. It made that reaction and that moment real.”

. . .

“Michael was soft spoken and kept to himself,” confirms a crew member. “But when the cameras started rolling he just became Michael Jackson instantaneously. The moves and the walking and everything, it was just Michael Jackson through and through. It was amazing. I remember him jumping up on a table and doing a spin at one point and his hands went up in the air and it was just 100% pure Michael Jackson. I’ll never forget that memory.”

After performing the routine five or six times across roughly three hours, Michael Jackson made his exit. “He was really sweet with all the extras,” says a crew member. “When he was leaving he said a great big goodbye to them and thanked them for all their hard work. He was such a gentleman.”

“He didn’t just scurry out,” says Juliette Myers. “He respectfully said thank you. I don’t even know what he was thanking us for, though.” She laughs. “He was the star. We were just backdrop.”

. . .

Filming of One More Chance video

Filming of 'One More Chance' video

Dream Turns into a Nightmare

At roughly 8.30 next morning Stuart Backerman and Jackson cohort Marc Schaffel spoke on the telephone to discuss their departure for Europe the following day. Their conversation was interrupted by an incoming telephone call for Schaffel from Joe Marcus, a security coordinator at Neverland. “It was a weird hour for Joe to be calling,” says Backerman, “so Schaffel said he would call me back.”

A short while later Backerman’s telephone rang. “You gotta turn on the television,” said Schaffel. Backerman switched on his TV and saw the now famous helicopter images of police swarming Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. Led by District Attorney Tom Sneddon, 70 sheriffs from the Santa Barbara Police Department had been dispatched to raid Michael Jackson’s home. “Honestly,” Backerman recalls, “You would have thought it was an army battalion going into an Iraqi village. There were so many of them.”

His heart sank. “At that moment I realized that the European trip and the whole MJ Universe project was finished because by that point Diane Dimond was on, revealing that it was all over a second charge of child molestation.

“Michael was just getting ready to leave the 1993 allegations behind and rebrand himself. We’d just finished dealing with the Martin Bashir scandal and here it was again.” He sighs. “Here it was again.”

. . .

Jackson spent much of those two days crying, says Dieter Wiesner. “I was sitting with him day and night. He was shocked; he was crying… he didn’t know what to do. It was such a bad situation. We were supposed to go to Europe. He was ready to move on in his life and everything was prepared. It was just a beautiful situation and this news shocked him deeply. Really, it killed him.”

Two days after the Neverland raid Jackson’s depression turned to anger. When it emerged that the boy behind the accusation was none other than Gavin Arvizo, the boy whose hand Jackson had held in the Martin Bashir documentary, Jackson decided to fight.

“You know, when it was clear that this allegation was because of the Arvizos, then he started to really fight the situation,” says Wiesner. “Michael told me, ‘Dieter, you know what, they should bring this young boy into a big place, invite all the press and he should look me in the eyes and tell me that I did this.’ So he was ready to fight.”

That the allegation had come from the Arvizos made the ruination of the MJ Universe project even more galling for Stuart Backerman. “Sneddon didn’t have anything except the word of Janet Arvizo, and she was totally crazy,” says Backerman. “And I know that because I was there and I saw her. She had a track record as long as my right arm. Sneddon just wanted to get Jackson.

“It’s very frustrating to this day. We had the world’s greatest celebrity and he was more focused than he had been for a long time. But the whole thing got cut off by Sneddon.”

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You absolutely must read the entire 4-part article. The remaining parts (2 – 4) can be found here:

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

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Nov 30 2010

“The old me is behind. I will march ahead anew.”

Category: Art,MJ Quotes,Prose/EssaysSeven @ 2:38 am

So wrote Michael when he stayed at The Lodge in Pebble Beach, California sometime in the late 80s or early 90s.

Also, remember David Nordahl mentioning in both AllForLoveBlog’s interview with him as well as his interview with Deborah of Reflections on the Dance, that Michael thought himself ugly and did not consider himself handsome. This seems significant because in the note he wrote to himself below, Michael seems to be repeating an affirmation to himself ie: “I’m Beautiful“. Here are one of the quotes from Nordahl about what Michael thought of his appearance:

We had many talks about that (his looks). He had that inner light and he always considered himself to be extremely ugly. He said he’s not a handsome man. ‘That’s why I don’t do interviews and I don’t go on talk shows.’ He said ‘First of all, I don’t lead an interesting life, I work all of the time’ (and that’s what he did, he worked all of the time).

He never did really understand that he had that inner light.

Sitting and talking to Michael I would look into his eyes and I could see for 1,000 miles. He had these most incredible eyes. They come off good on film, but nothing like in person. When you’re actually sitting across there looking at him. Those eyes were unbelievable.

The following are items that were up for auction at Juliens and have been sold to some private collectors. It’s sad to me because I personally feel these items ought to be in a Michael Jackson museum, along with the Neverland household items. Part of admission proceeds could go to a charity Michael supported. This endeavor might be as good or better one for Michael’s legacy than some others the estate is involving itself in, though maybe not as profitable. It’s a shame to have such treasure scattered hither and yon never to be seen again. But, that’s just my own personal opinion and I digress.

Here are the notes Michael wrote to himself on the back of laundry service sheets at The Lodge.

I'm Beautiful

I'm Beautiful

I’m beautiful. I’m beautiful. I’m beautiful. I’m beautiful. I’m gorgeous. God is for me, who can be against me? I’m beautiful. I’m a new person now. Beautiful. Knowing the secrets and determined with fire to move mountains in all I do. Moulding my own world. I’m beautiful. The old me is behind and I will march ahead now.

Then, Michael writes about programming the mind to achieve your goals and to become what you want to be. Probably great advice coming from the greatest entertainer of all time. Michael writes:

'We can program ourselves'...

'We can program ourselves'...

I have learned that it is what you put in your mind mentally what you think and do, that makes your person. And you can put any mental object in this mind and it will bring it to reality. So this means we can program ourselves to be the people we want to be, Whatever the subject matter is, live in it By a mental physical program or system of learning and doing. Studying all the greats in that field and becoming greater. My program will consist of, =

And in the same Julien’s auction was the treasure below. If it were me, I’d be unable to part with such a piece, unless I was life-threateningly desperate. Description of the item below:

Crayon medium on paper, hand drawn and signed by Michael Jackson. The image is of Michael Jackson’s lower legs and feet in the position of one of Jackson’s famous dance moves. Blue hues with orange-red accents, a feeling of movement is present throughout the piece created by Jackson’s handling of line. The drawing is on the verso side of a sepia tone print of “The Book” by artist Brett-Livingstone Strong, signed in pencil by Jackson and Strong. The print is inversed on the page. 40 by 26 1/4 inches.

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And that print of ‘The Book‘ is also sold by Juliens. Description: “An artist proof of a 1990 edition of the Michael Jackson portrait “The Book” signed by both Michael Jackson and the artist, Brett-Livingstone Strong. 43 1/4 by 33 1/2 inches”

'The Book', signed by MJ and Brett Livingstone-Strong

'The Book', signed by MJ and Brett Livingstone-Strong

Below are a couple of photos of the place where Michael penned these notes, The Lodge in Pebble Beach:

MJ on the balcony of The Lodge where he wrote these notes

MJ on the balcony of The Lodge where he wrote these notes

Promotional photo of The Lodge in Pebble Beach

Promotional photo of The Lodge in Pebble Beach

I’ll have more about artist Brett Livingstone-Strong in another entry very soon. Stay tuned.
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{ Thanks to Johanna for identifying the photo at The Lodge where Michael wrote these notes! -Seven }

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