Mar 30 2012

Michael’s Dish

Category: Family,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 10:35 pm

The people at Pepsi might not have liked this. When Michael was asked to do Pepsi commercials, there was a problem: Michael didn’t drink Pepsi because he didn’t like it. When Pepsi execs explained that he didn’t actually have to drink it or be filmed drinking it, Michael compromised.

The story that goes with the above photo comes from Jermaine Jackson:

During the tour there was a funny moment which would have given the Pepsi executives a heart attack had they witnessed it. Michael was in his dressing room one day when he decided to grind a can into a plate of food, poured Pepsi all over it like gravy, and then posed for a photo: a close up of his sequined glove presenting his ‘dish’. If ever there was an image that summed up both his devilish humour and the difference between Brand Michael and the real Michael, that might have been it.

Speaking of Pepsi, we learned today that Pepsi are working with Michael’s estate to create a limited-edition package featuring the Michael. The package coincides with the 25th Anniversary of the “Bad” album, which was released on Aug. 31, 1987.

The package will be a 16 oz. can available in convenience stores and grocery stores around Memorial Day, according to Beverage Digest. The can, said to have a blue background with an image of Michael dancing, is expected to cost 99 cents.

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{ Thanks to UK Loves MJ for the Pepsi photo and the funny story! -Seven }

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Feb 20 2012

“They Covered Up a Lot”

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

Michael and Jermaine Jackson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nov 17 2011

There was ‘no room at the Inn’, so Michael stayed with the Walters Family

Category: Family,Friends,PhotosSeven @ 12:27 am

NOTE: This article first appeared in the August 2009 issue of The Washingtonian

With the Del Walters Family

On his final night in Loudoun County, Jackson hosted a gathering at the house, where he introduced his three children to the Walters family and posed with Taylor, 15, McClaine, 13, and their mother, Robin. All photographs courtesy of Del Walters

by Del Walters

This is the story of how Michael Jackson—the King of Pop and at the time one of the world’s most wanted men—hid out at my family’s house.

Among his staff, Jackson was referred to as the Principal. In our family, he was known as the Secret—one we kept for nine days five years ago. We believed then, and do now, that not revealing Jackson’s whereabouts was the right thing to do. Now that he’s gone, I can tell why and how we did it.

It was March 2004. The previous year, Jackson had appeared on TV explaining why he believed it to be normal for adults to share their beds with children, that it was the most loving thing you could do. What he saw as innocent a Los Angeles district attorney saw as criminal. Rumors were swirling that Jackson would be indicted on charges of child molestation by an LA grand jury. The King of Pop became a subject of ridicule. Gone was the cute boy who had swooned his way into the hearts of generations. He was replaced by a man-child, a suspected pedophile.

In April 2004, Jackson was to receive an award from the African Ambassadors’ Spouses Association for his humanitarian work. But few of the journalists seeking credentials for the event cared about his work in Africa—they wanted to ask him about what had happened at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. So a routine trip to Washington became anything but routine. Jackson needed a place to stay, and those closest to him were finding that there was no acceptable room in a Washington hotel.

The real-estate agent assigned to locate lodgings for him was running out of options. Stopping for a bite to eat, she saw the April 2004 Washingtonian. It featured a “Great Places to Live” article with me, my wife, and our two children on the cover. The story talked about how we had designed a house near Leesburg with no walls and plenty of open space. The agent knew us well enough to pick up the phone and ask whether we’d consider allowing Michael Jackson and his children to stay in our home.

What would you have done if a friend had called out of the blue and suggested that Michael Jackson might be interested in staying at your home? We first assumed she was joking. But she was serious.

On the previous Sunday, the sermon delivered by our minister, Reverend Dr. Norman A. Tate, had been about the Good Samaritan. Reverend Tate was the first person we consulted. Should we offer Michael Jackson safe haven? That night, following a lengthy family discussion and vote, we ironed out the details and began preparing for the Jackson family’s arrival.

Michael Jackson traveled with an entourage of 14. There were two cooks, three nannies, three children, personal assistants, tutors, security men, and Jackson himself. He moves in, you move out. (We stayed at a hotel.) Those who surrounded him called him the Client or the Principal. Rarely was he referred to by name. There were stretch Hummers and Suburbans that suggested a visit by a head of state—which is what our neighbors suspected.

Before he moved in, the house had to be prepared. His entourage covered all glass windows and doors. He was to have white bed linens and towels only. His favorite scent, a mountain fragrance, was sprayed everywhere and lingered for weeks after his departure.

Then, under the cover of darkness, he arrived. His private jet flew in and out of the Leesburg airport.

That evening as he moved in, we dined at a local restaurant, courtesy of the entertainer, and wondered whether he was enjoying our house as much as we did. We wondered whether he admired the views of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the deck and whether he took a stroll and noted the seven species of birds that call our acres home. Did he play the baby grand piano? Did his children frolic in the small dance studio? Would he enjoy the pool and hot tub and five acres, or would he just hole up and hide?

The next morning brought invitations for us to attend several events, including a BET reception and the African ambassadors’ reception.

Before Jackson’s arrival at the BET affair, a who’s who of Washington’s African-Amercan elite waited patiently. There were plenty of nasty remarks; some couples talked about how they wouldn’t let their children anywhere near Jackson. Then he arrived and the stampede began. Those who had ridiculed him the most were first in line.

His assistant ushered us to the front of the receiving line. We were told Jackson wanted to meet us first to thank us for allowing him and his children to use our home. He talked about the family pictures on the walls and how comfortable the place felt.

It was all very pleasant, but you could tell there was something unsettled about him. You could tell what he coveted most: He’d grown up without a childhood, and our house is filled with the kind of childhood memories money can’t buy—baptisms, first-birthday parties, family adventures.

To keep his stay at our house secret, we arrived there in the morning in time for the school bus to pick up one of our two daughters. We were always met by one of Jackson’s bodyguards dressed in all black. I finally told him that if he wanted Jackson’s presence to remain secret, he shouldn’t meet us every morning looking like Mr. T.

Reporters were in high gear searching for Jackson. We feared a media circus in our neighborhood. Our daughters, then 13 and 15, went to school each day wondering if their world would unravel.

On day eight, we were surprised Jackson wasn’t ready to leave, as the agreement had called for. That night, he arranged for a private wine-and-cheese reception at our own house so our children could meet his. He was more than gracious. While I worked, my wife and daughters were greeted by Jackson and his three kids. They spoke of childhood and normality. His children were very talkative; he was soft-spoken but playful. My wife described him as a gentle soul who obviously loved his children and they him. He also was willing to discipline his kids. He posed for pictures and agreed to autograph many things, including CDs.

CD autographed by Michael for the Walters family

CD autographed by Michael for the Walters family

By day nine, Jackson and his children were gone.

The empty wine bottles hidden around the house hinted at a man we now know was deeply tormented. There were other signs, but my wife and I have agreed they will remain secret. We knew from his representatives that Jackson tended to live nocturnally, sleeping during the day and roaming the house at night.

A visit by guests to our house now always leads to a conversation about Jackson’s visit. His picture, taken when he was standing by our baby grand piano, sits atop a table in the living room. Almost everyone sees it and wonders what it was like to talk to him and have him live in our home.

I’m always asked why I’ve never talked about Michael Jackson’s stay at our house. I say I met Jackson three times in my life—twice face to face.

Most African-Americans of my generation were introduced to a young Michael Jackson through the radio or by a friend who had one of his records. For me it was a 45-RPM played at Sonny Mason’s barbershop in my hometown of Wheeling, West Virginia.

The second encounter was in 1984 when Jackson and his brothers kicked off their Victory Tour in Kansas City. I stood out among the other reporters covering it because I didn’t appear to care about Michael Jackson the celebrity as much as I did the revenue the tour represented in the cities it visited. That night, I received two tickets to attend the concert and a private reception at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium. In a receiving line for the Jacksons following the concert, I met Michael in person for the first time.

The third time was the Washington visit.

I, too, wonder why I’ve never talked before about his stay in our home. Was it because Jackson and I were the same age or the fact that, like so many African-Americans, I liked to remember the little kid from Gary, Indiana, more than I did the man with another reputation?

Perhaps, as Reverend Tate suggested, it was just the right thing to do.

As word of Michael Jackson’s death on June 25 spread, my family mourned the man we’d met not as the King of Pop but as a person trapped inside a world that was and was not of his own creation, a man who came to us through his representatives in need of a place to stay. As I sat on our deck and looked west toward the Blue Ridge Mountains, I hoped he now was seeing what I see each and every night—a perfect sunset.
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{ I’d lost reference for this story a while back. Thanks to ‘UK Loves MJ‘ on Facebook for finding it again! -Seven }

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Nov 04 2011

A Sweet Note from Michael to his mother

Category: Family,Justice,PhotosSeven @ 8:06 pm

As you’ve no doubt already heard, the jury has the case against Conrad Murray now and today was their first day of deliberations. They have adjourned for the weekend with no verdict.

We’re all sitting on pins and needles waiting and wondering. Meanwhile, I’d like to share with you this piece of sweetness from Michael to his Mom, Katherine Jackson. This card was sent to Katherine from Michael and was part of the collection belonging to Howard Mann. I hope he’s had the decency to return this to her. At this time, I am wishing the Jacksons and especially Mrs. Jackson a lot of strength as they await a verdict after these two long years of waiting for some small crumb of justice. I understand Katherine and Joseph are in a hotel near the courthouse so that they can get there quickly once a verdict is reached.

"Dear Mother, I love you. Your son, Michael"

"Dear Mother! I love you. Your son Michael"

"My mother's wonderful. To me she's perfection."

"My mother's wonderful. To me she's perfection."

{ Thanks to UKLovesMJ for this touching discovery. -Seven }

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Jul 30 2011

Michael and LaToya: Partners in Prank

Category: Family,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 11:32 pm

Michael and LaToya: The Prank Partners

Michael and LaToya: The Prank Partners

Back on July 20th, I shared with you a story about LaToya playing a prank on Michael that really creeped him out.

This was a common occurrence between them when they were kids by all accounts, including Mrs. Jackson’s. Below is another story about the incessant pranks they played on each other, this one from Katherine Jackson’s book: ‘My Family, The Jacksons‘:

Because they still lived at home, Michael, Janet, and LaToya were especially close. Somehow, Janet and LaToya had the ability to turn my increasingly private, driven son into the lighthearted Michael of old — if only for a little while.

They loved to play practical jokes on one another. Michael especially enjoyed tormenting LaToya with fake spiders and tarantulas. He’d place one of his plastic reatures atop the phone in her room, call her, and listen for her shrieks. Knowing how particular she was about her room, he’d also delight in charging through the door and bouncing off her bed, with its white-satin sheets.

“I’ll teach you to be so picky!” he’d exclaim amid her furious screams.

Having been informed by Michael that he was so proud to be working with Sidney Lumet, LaToya conceived the revenge prank of all time.

One day shortly before Michael left for New York to begin filming, he received a call on his private line from “Mr. Lumet’s secretary.” Mr. Lumet was in the neighborhood, the voice announced, and would be stopping by in five minutes to take him out to dinner.

Michael didn’t know what to do first; he wasn’t dressed, and his room was a mess. Somehow in five minutes he made himself presentable, tidied up, and ran from door to door informing everyone excitedly, “Sidney Lumet is coming to take me to dinner!” He then sat down and waited for our security to inform him that Mr. Lumet had arrived. And Waited. I sat with him; I, too, believed that the director was coming.

Finally, LaToya confessed, “Michael, Sidney Lumet isn’t taking you to dinner. That was me on the phone!”

I’ve never seen Michael so angry. He dragged LaToya outside and wet her from head to toe with the hose.

In the late 1970's, MJ drew this picture of his sister La Toya as a prank

In the late 1970's, Michael drew this picture of his sister La Toya

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