Tag Archives: Michael Jackson

The Weekend I Wept

29 Aug

As I sit here and think about this weekend’s happening, I cannot help but to feel a little sad.  These past few days have marked some pretty pivotal events in American History; some astounding, others unsettling but all, significant occurrences that we will never be able to forget:

  • I Have a Dream…of Restoring Honor

 On the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech, arguably one of the most divisive right wing talk show hosts Glenn Beck organized what could only be described as a highly controversial assembly known as the “Restoring Honor” rally.  Ironically enough, the gathering was arranged on The Mall in Washington, D.C. and centered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Beck and Tea Party tart Sarah Palin gave impassioned speeches to the thousands of conservatives in attendance.  Of course, Beck claimed that his plans to host the rally on the same date that millions would be honoring and reflecting upon the words of Dr. King was purely coincidental, even though Civil Rights Leaders have openly criticized Beck’s efforts as a blatantly obvious attempt to “hijack The Dream.”

  • Hurricane Katrina Revisited

Five Years after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc in The Gulf and the levees broke in New Orleans, President Obama paid a visit to The Crescent City to “celebrate the resilience of the people of the Gulf and the progress that has been made to rebuild it stronger than before.”  Though accused of a slow and apathetic response to the millions of displaced residence in the region, to date the U.S. government has committed close to $114 billion in relief and recovery efforts for the damage caused by Katrina in 2005.  Unfortunately, when documentaries like “If God is Willing and Da Creek Don’t Rise” expose some of the successes and many of the failures in restoring housing, healthcare, education, the economy and basic law and order to The Big Easy and its surrounding areas,  it is very difficult to applaud the government’s efforts.

  • Michael Jackson

A little more than a year after the world lost pop superstar and quintessential humanitarian Michael Jackson, we mourn even more today on what would have been his 52nd birthday.  Having suffered a heart attack thought to have been brought on by a Demerol overdose, many people have since speculated that the same drive for perfection that brought the world Jackson’s renowned sound could have possibly been the same determination that ultimately lead to his death.   But no matter how people felt about Michael Jackson as a person, no one could deny his influence on music.  And though he is no longer with us, Jackson’s poignant and thought provoking legacy in the world of music will always live on.

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My Tribute to MJ: The Way You Make Me Feel

25 Jun

My world didn’t stop on June 25, 2009.  It did however shift on its axis a year ago today. 

When I first heard that Michael Jackson had been rushed to a hospital, my initial assumption was that he’d succumbed to exhaustion while preparing for his highly regarded “This Is It” Concert and Tour.  I was at work at the time trying to juggle balance sheets and any breaking news I could find on the internet that would reveal MJ’s condition, but was sure that by the time I got home, I’d be able to tune-in to any of the many news networks to not only learn of the details leading up to the moments before the paramedics arrived at Michael’s home, but to also discover that he would be fine and was likely resting comfortably in an insanely expensive hospital suite.

Never in my wildest dreams nightmares did I imagine that while updates began surfacing all over the internet, network television and basic cable that MJ had actually fallen into a coma, the reality was that The King of Pop had already bid this world adieu…a world that, depending upon the day and which way the wind blew, loved or loathed him, seemingly in equal measure at times.

Before sundown on Thursday June 25, 2009, as I prepared to leave my office for the day, a hauntingly large banner on cnn.com alerted me to the fact that Michael Joseph Jackson had in fact died.  I don’t recall crying.  I don’t recall who I phoned to see if they’d heard the news.  I don’t even recall if I uttered a single sound.  All I can remember is how I felt.  It was a cross between an immediate and intense sense of grief and feeling as though someone had reached into my chest and literally squeezed the air out of my lungs. 

I collapsed into my swiveled desk chair, realizing that my legs were too wobbly for me to remain standing. Slumping against my desk, I tried to apply logic not only to the shocking news I had just learned, but to my wayward emotions as well.  I didn’t understand how I could have such a raw response to the death of a man that I had never known personally and who only impacted my life indirectly at best.  It took a LONG few moments, but when I felt “present” enough, I collected myself and my belongings and headed home.  Turning on the radio, my entire gridlocked ride  consisted of uninterrupted tributes, remixed medleys and a variety of distraught listeners who called into the station to reveal their fondest memories of the King of Pop.  While I’d love to tell you what all they shared, I was on auto-pilot that day and much of that evening has become a blur.

It wasn’t until many days later that I was actually able to accept the fact that Michael Jackson was dead and not simply disguising himself as a skinny, fair-skinned Tahitian in the Polynesian Islands in an attempt to evade his debt collectors.  It was also during this time that I discovered I was able to answer the question of why MJ’s death had impacted me so.  Michael Jackson was my first dance teacher and the first man (barring Prince) that as a child, I thought was “pretty.”  The Jackson 5 introduced me to black cartoon characters and the fabulousness of a perfectly symmetrical afro.  While to many, Michael was contentedly loony, he was also innovation in motion, a consummate professional and a selfless humanitarian.  He was iconic, and I came to the realization that for all the people who mocked, mimicked or imitated him over the span of his career, there would never be another Michael Jackson.  I wasn’t simply responding to the loss of the King of Pop. I was responding to the loss of the man.

Even now, it is surreal to think that there will be no more new albums from him, no collaboration with him and Lady Gaga for an eccentric remake of “Dirty Diana,” or no Jackson 5 Reunion Grammy Performance.  But for all the pain that his family and the millions of his fans are feeling today, it is important to remember that Michael Jackson left behind an abundant legacy.  While I will always feel sadness in knowing that MJ’s time on earth was far too brief, I will continue to celebrate the man and the legend for the amazing way he made me feel.

 Below are a few of my all-time favorite Michael Jackson songs and MJ-influenced creations.  Long Live The King.

Of all The Songs in my Comprehensive Michael Jackson Collection, the baby-girl plays “Rockin’ Robin” on repeat on the iPod.

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“Dancing Machine” is where we witness the Immaculate Conception and birth of The Robot.

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“Blame It On The Vertigo Inducing Special Effects Boogie”

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I could have done without the borderline heretical “Can You Feel It” video, but the song is pretty awesome.

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While our peers were still trying to master “Thriller”, my sister and I had moved on and were borrowing fedoras and suspenders from our dad’s closet in an effort to twerk-out the “Smooth Criminal” choreography…she had a chipped front tooth from “leaning” to prove it!

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The best Cover this side of the Mason-Dixon!  Thanks to Alien Ant Farm, I was finally able to learn all the words to “Smooth Criminal” (Note too, how the vid has hints of “Thriller”, “Billy Jean” andThe Way You Make Me Feel”.  Classic!).

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 “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough”…if only more musicians would dance and sing in a tuxedo and the Biggest. Bowtie. EVER.

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Mary’s “Just Fine” borrows MJ’s introductory “Woooh!” and pays homage to him with a tuxedoed, bowtie’d freestyle of her own!

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Ultimate Throw Back: MJ’s “MJs”

20 May

Here’s a blast from the past kiddies…

 When my cyber friend and fellow mommy-in-crime Portia posted this picture, I think that I actually pulled a Lazarus (died and came back to life; for the biblically challenged)!  Seriously, who not only remembers the L.A. Gear “MJs” (heck, who remembers L.A. Gear) but goes a step farther and finds evidence of their existence on the internet after more than 20 years?  Yet, there they are…in all their studded, leathery, buckled glory.

 Now as much as I hate to admit this, not only do I remember these shoes, but I wanted a pair in the WORST way when they came out in the late 80’s (the pink ones of course); which is funny because aside from a few commercials here and there, I honestly cannot recall seeing much advertising for them.  I guess that’s why ultimately the shoe line flopped and L.A. Gear tried to give Michael Jackson “the business” by way of a $10 million lawsuit for breach of contract, alleging that the King of Pop did not provide any viable videos to the company for use in its commercials.

 If I’m being honest though, that sounds like a lazy (read: incompetent) advertising department to me. Realistically, how could L.A. Gear justify laying all the blame for the failed line at Mike’s feet?  Let’s be real, shall we: the darn shoe was named after the biggest pop star on the planet!  Though sometimes unsure of his age or ethnicity, people all over the world have generally always been able to recognized Michael Jackson.  His name alone explains how the “MJs” ended up on the feet of the aboriginal people of Cape York (I kid, but you get my point).  And besides, there were a few print ads and commercials out there which showed MJ peddling endorsing the “MJ”, so it’s not like there was no name association with the product.  I mean really, short of lacing up the sneaker with strands of his Wave Nouveau, what more did the execs at L.A. Gear want Jackson to do?

 *Ends 20-years-too-late Rant*

 What’s amazing now is that in much the same way that clothing and other items repeat themselves over the years and become fashionable again, the “MJs” totally look like something that these trendy-fitted-cap-skinny-jeans-wearing kids would don today.  What’s even more amazing is the fact that in the last few years, people have actually started a petition to get L.A. Gear to revive the “MJ” shoe line.  Clearly, a part of the interest in the shoe revolves around paying tribute to the singers after his untimely death, but if L.A. Gear was smart, the company could certainly capitalize on folk’s interest while also providing a piece of pop culture history to the masses.

 What do you think?  Would it make sense for L.A. Gear to bring the “MJ” shoe line back, even if only for a limited time?  What about the collectors who bought the shoe back in the day and now have it sitting somewhere in their attic; how valuable do you think a pair of vintage “MJs” would be?  Would a portion of the “MJ” sales go toward Joe Jackson’s disputed monthly allowance (sorry, I couldn’t help it)?

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