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Archive for May, 2012

May 13 through May 25, 2012

Beloved, a new book has been released in recent months by Dr. Karen Moriarty entitled, Defending a King, His Life and Legacywhich is taking the fan community by storm. The book examines your life in the years since the end of the trial and after your return from abroad. The years 2007 through 2009 are analyzed in fairly exacting detail. It is a very telling expose` of what it was like to be Michael Jackson during those years in Las Vegas … of your isolation from customary human contact … of your relationships with your security guards during those years … with your beautiful children and your total devotion to their welfare … and of the manipulation you suffered at the hands of the people you had hired to manage your vast financial empire. It is obvious that you touched Dr. Moriarty very strongly and deeply; her thesis is very sympathetic to the unique circumstances faced by the ‘most famous man on Planet Earth’ on a daily basis while trying to live a quiet life with your children away from the public eye and sequestered from most of the entertainment industry.

One of the points that Dr. Moriarty makes in her book is that your wealth, fame and name were regularly exploited by the lawyers and business and press agents who ran your affairs. She states that you often didn’t know about the deals that were being made on your behalf by your representatives, that you had no way of keeping track of where your money was going or who was lining their own pockets at your expense and that your security personnel went unpaid for months until you, finally, made a phone call to your financial advisers to make sure they were appropriately compensated.

Others, including both of your ex-wives, your mother and your siblings, have also spoken about their distrust of the people around you. They often felt that you were being manipulated by the very people you trusted and gave powerful positions in your organizations. Of course, as a result, the on-air punditry has had a field day with words like ‘naïve’ and ‘eccentric.’

Your children wonder how a man of your obvious intelligence, vast experience, artistic genius and acute powers of observation (which have all been remarked upon by many of your colleagues) could have been so horribly deceived by sycophantic journalists and greedy associates.

This is a complicated issue with tentacles that extend into many different facets of my life. Several factors contributed to what some people call my naivety. Let me see if I can explain them all clearly.

First of all, there’s an old saying that ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’ and, I think the truth of that adage was demonstrated over and over in the events of my life.

No matter how honest, loyal and ‘up front’ a person is when hired, handling that much power and wealth eventually gets to him. After a while, he starts to believe that he deserves to be paid by the people who wanted my endorsement or by the media who wanted to invade my privacy or whoever is holding out the bribe.He begins to feel entitled … that it’s right for him to accept money or other incentives from all the people who just want him to give me a tape or a demo, a manuscript or a screenplay … or an introduction. I mean, it’s just business. There’s nothing dishonest or disloyal in that, right? That’s the way it’s done in the entertainment industry. These side deals are the grease that lubricate the wheels of commerce in the unseen underbelly of Hollywood.

The problem is when you pocket that money, where do your loyalties really lie?  Can you remain committed to your employer’s best interests with single-minded purpose when someone else is supplementing your paycheck to go against them? Are you loyal to the person or organizations paying those six-digit bribes? Or is your loyalty really to yourself and your own enrichment? The question becomes who controls the controller of the gravy train?

In addition, he begins to think that he can dictate to me ….make me do what he wants me to do or appear where he wants me to appear or dance when he wants me to dance … regardless of whether I want to do it or not. This was a common problem for me … not only with the people who were running my affairs … but also with friends who eventually began to think they had a right to convert me to their way of thinking or make demands of me based on our close friendship.

For example, Bob Jones was the most loyal friend to me for many, many years, and as Vice President of Media and Communications at MJJ Productions, represented me with the utmost integrity for most of that time. Someone told me about a couple of deals he was trying to score on the side and I had to let him go, and he ended up writing a terrible tabloid ‘tell-all’ about me and testifying for the prosecution at my trial.

Yes, Michael, I remember reading about Mr. Jones’s defection in Aphrodite Jones’s book, Michael Jackson Conspiracy. I was shocked that he had turned traitor after so many years of faithful service and wondered what had prompted it.

No one is immune to the temptation of that much money and power unless his loyalty is based in love.

And, even then, the seduction to the dark side is hard to resist. When someone tells you, “All you have to do is get him to show up and we’ll give you a hundred and fifty thousand dollars” or “just tell us where he’s going to be at a specific time and we’ll give you a Rolls Royce.”

Even my own family was not immune to these kinds of bribes and enticements and I know they love me. My brothers and sisters and my father and mother were always being approached to make sure that I would attend an event or perform at a concert or make an appearance or phone call … and they were offered huge bribes for their participation.

That was one of the reasons that I began to distance myself from them during the Victory Tour. I didn’t want to do the tour to begin with but the promoter offered my father and brothers very large perks and I let my mother talk me into the tour ‘for the sake the family.’  Then the promoter came up with this absolutely terrible, hare-brained scheme to distribute the tickets in blocks of four which required a huge investment for a young person to afford. I knew I didn’t want to be involved in his plan as soon as he approached me with it and I let him and everyone else know that I wanted no part of his scheme … or him … that I wanted the promoter replaced and that I didn’t want him speaking on my behalf. I fought them and asked them to distribute the tickets more fairly, but, as was so often the case, my vote was only one of six votes and I was outvoted. My brothers were like, “We gotta get everything we can. The sky’s the limit.”

I knew they were wrong. I knew there was going to be a backlash … and there was … and the promoter had to go back to the drawing board and come up with a fairer way to distribute the tickets that didn’t require a young person to invest over $100 to see the show, but this incident was just one of many that prove my point. At the time, I told Frank that the tour would be the last joint venture of The Jacksons. When my brothers heard that, they were like, “What?!? You can’t do that!”

Another example is that first Pepsi commercial. I didn’t want to do it, but Pepsi was offering my father and brothers HUGE incentives … seven figures and six of them were zeros … for them to get me involved. It was never about the money for me; it was always about my vision of uniting the world in the joy of the music and magic. All I wanted to do was work on my music. I had a bad feeling about it from the outset … and later events proved that I should have listened to my gut. When I, finally, agreed to do it for the family, look what happened.

They were always trying to get me involved in things that I didn’t want to do … concerts or appearances or Vegas shows … and pocketing the incentives. And they were always going to my mother to get her to needle me into doing things because they knew she was the only one who could get around me.

Yes, Michael, I remember reading about the ticket fiasco and wondering how that one got past you.

Well, that’s how it got past me. Please don’t get me wrong. I love my family, but they can be exasperating. [Michael sighs.] Eventually, I had to decide that if my vision of unparalleled excellence in music and performance and film media was going to happen, I was going to have to do it alone and not be one vote out of six because “what’s in it for me” and “what can I get out of it” doesn’t mix well with “what can I give of myself to make this happen” and “what will it take in effort and practice and devotion to make this work.” Although we shared “the sky’s the limit” destination, we came at it from entirely different perspectives. They didn’t share my vision … or my mission.

Through the years, I kept hearing Jermaine talking about how the brothers were going to re-unite and he was always very specific that “yes, that included Michael” to do a series of concerts or perform somewhere. I would always laugh a little and think, “I wonder if Michael knows about this?”

No, most of the time, I would hear the reports the same way you did and wonder the same thing [Michael laughs.] Infrequently, he had approached me and I had refused to be involved in whatever it was he was pitching … and he made the public announcement anyway. He thought he could force me to ‘pitch in’ for the family by making a public announcement about it. It never worked. See what I mean by exasperating?

Yes, I see. But most families can be exasperating.

Yes, that’s true, but they were always trying to make my family the ‘most dysfunctional’ family in America. We were just a normal, typical family with all the same petty annoyances and grievances that most families share.

Secondly, you would have to have lived my life to understand fully, but you mentioned something in passing in an earlier discussion.It had a lot to do with the ‘growing up’ process that I always wanted to avoid. You mentioned that you had learned to hide the sensitive side of yourself beneath layers of hardness, to protect that fragile part of you from even those closest to you. Would you mind putting that part of our earlier discussion here?

Sure, Michael. I think we were talking about how beautiful and rare this love that I have found in you is and my gratitude for it. Is this it? [Reference Installment #54 – March 17 through March 25, 2012]

Yes, I think much of the world has done the same thing. And I can totally understand that need to protect. I think it’s something that most children learn as they grow into adulthood. Attending Junior High School and High School, I believe, can be a traumatic experience for very sensitive young souls. It’s where we learn that we are not the center of everyone’s universe, if we even get that far thinking that we are, at least, the center of our parent’s universe. We erect these walls as a coping mechanism.

I never attended Junior High or High School on a regular basis because I was always jetting off to some part of the world to perform concerts or to tour, so I never learned those coping mechanisms. I never learned to mask my tears with anger or defiance. And I’m very glad I didn’t! I never learned how to shut out the pain of the starving children in Africa … or young burn victims. I never became sensitized to the tragedy of war or the horror of genocide or the emptiness of a mother’s arms because her son has gone off to fight in some faraway country and will, undoubtedly, come back changed … if at all.

Yeah, that’s it. My life was unique in many ways and one of those ways is that I never had those experiences that all young teenagers have in achieving adulthood. I never ‘toughened up’ as my father would say; he thought I was too ‘soft’ … like my mother.

That ‘toughening up’ process is the loss of innocence we’ve described before and I never wanted to lose the innocence that was so valuable to me. It’s acquiring the layers of hardness and learning to hide pain beneath anger and defiance. It’s hiding who you are behind masks and learning how to play the games people play with each other. It’s learning how to lie so that those tender parts of you are not exposed, manipulated or injured. I wanted to remain untouched by all that so that I could continue to have that special relationship I had with Music which we’ve talked about earlier.

We’ve been together

For such a long time

Now, music … and me

There have been others

But never two lovers like music

Music … and me

Most kids learn this stuff by the time they are in high school, but I didn’t attend high school on a regular basis.

When I did attend school, I was surrounded by bodyguards … driven to school in limousines … whisked into and out of classrooms. And even that limited exposure ended when the school my brother and I were attending received death threats against us. Do you know what it’s like to be an eleven-year-old child and realize that someone out there holds such jealousy and hatred against you that they would call the school and threaten to kill you? Those bodyguards were there for a reason; death threats became a fairly common occurrence in my life.

Yes, Michael … that’s one of the points Dr. Moriarty makes in her book. She describes the ‘arsenal’ vehicle which was driven by one of your security people as being filled with weapons and hazmat suits, in case someone tried to take your children hostage or took a pot-shot at you to achieve his or her fifteen minutes of fame and notoriety. I cannot imagine having to live like that.

Most people can’t, but for me that was ‘normal.’ It was all I had ever known. And it made it difficult to live any kind of ordinary life.

I didn’t have the freedom to socialize with the other kids … no extra-curricular activities … no standing by the lockers and talking about last night’s TV shows (shoot – half the time I was on them performing) … no science clubs or sports … because I could have hurt myself and any accident or injury would have affected my ability to perform and cost everyone around me a lot of money.

Being the front man for the Jackson 5, if I was injured and couldn’t perform the show stopped. It was a lot of responsibility for a kid. And my father made sure that I realized that my carelessness or lack of responsibility impacted the whole family. My brothers could get hurt and the show would go on … and that actually happened during the Victory Tour. Jackie was injured and couldn’t perform and we did many shows without him. But the show didn’t stop. If I got hurt and couldn’t perform, that was IT for the show.

I was always shielded and protected by the people around me … first my father when I was very young … then my father and the Motown machine when the Jackson 5 became a hit … then, as my father became less and less active, his role was taken over by Berry Gordy and Bill Bray and bodyguards and lawyers and talent agents and press agents. There were always several layers of protection that kept me isolated from the normal, everyday things that all kids face during their formative years.

Don’t get me wrong …  I needed those people in order to commit myself body and soul to Music … to remain open to the melodies and harmonies which were always playing in my heart and mind. I had had people around me all my life who had exploited my name and my wealth … for my own benefit as well as for theirs. I needed them … and I needed to be able to trust them … tough people who could conduct my business affairs, leaving me free to concentrate all my energy on the sensitive, innocent parts of me that responded to music and the pain of others with purpose and resolve. No one can be everywhere at once and as my brand grew it became more and more impossible for me to oversee everything. By the time it hit the Thriller stage, it became difficult to follow all the tentacles reaching out into all my business affairs.

Much of the world doesn’t see that the entertainment industry is a cut-throat juggernaut that will quickly chew up those who allow it to run over them and spit them out. All most people see is the glamour … and it is glamorous … but it has a tough, shadowy, hardened underbelly hidden beneath all the glamour. Toughness is required to navigate the ins and outs of the business. But that was not who I wanted to be, so I needed people I could trust around me to be that for me while I devoted myself to the sensitive, artistic side of me.

And we’re back to the first point in this discussion. Even the most trusted of my representatives could be seduced easily.

When you grow up isolated from customary human contact, shielded and protected from the world around you, devoted to remaining innocent and childlike so that the music would continue to flow through you and out into the world, committed to remaining empathic  and feeling the pain of the children who were sick or dying and wanting to do something about it, you don’t see the greed and dishonesty in people. You see their vulnerability … because you share it. You see the qualities that make them more like you. In some cases, you see something in their eyes that makes you uncomfortable, but being who you are, you can’t identify it. You just know there’s something wrong and can’t explain your discomfort.

I think I said something similar before when we were talking about Gavin. Would you mind putting that here?

Yes, Dear One, I remember. Let me see if I can find the relevant reference. Here it is. In Installment #16 (February 19 through February 26, 2011), you said:

When I met Gavin, he was a boy who only had a few weeks to live. His parents had been told to begin making arrangements for his funeral! I met him on the phone, really and we would talk for hours. I would call him from wherever I was and encourage him to keep fighting his cancer and taught him how to visualize the cancer cells being gobbled up by the PacMan cells. When we met face-to-face, he was a very sick child in a wheelchair … bald … weak … undersized … and the effects of his chemo made him very ill. He was a sweet, open, caring, loving boy with a terminal illness. After he had visited Neverland a couple of times, he began to get better and I was so grateful.

By the time of the Bashir interview, almost two years later (which is when your friend probably saw him on television), the child had changed dramatically. For one thing, he was two years older when he had been told that he would be dead within a few weeks. He was very much more under the influence of his mother … and his mother always made me uncomfortable. There was something in her eyes that I couldn’t identify.

Is that the one?

Yeah, that’s it. As we’ve talked about before, when two people meet there is an exchange of energy between them. The energy that is you and the energy that is me either recognize or do not recognize each other as One. In other words, they identify qualities in each other that they either share or do not share … kinda like a mirror reflecting them back to themselves. If there are a lot of shared traits, they experience an attraction or an affinity to each other. It doesn’t matter if the meeting is face-to-face or through technology like a television broadcast or the internet; the same attraction will occur although dimmed a bit. This is what happened when that train hit you in 1992. If there are very few or no shared traits, they repel each other. They make each other uncomfortable. Are you with me?

Absolutely, Beloved … always.

Good. So you see, when I first met Gavin, I identified very strongly with his vulnerability. I saw lots of common traits that we both shared, saw myself in him very clearly and my heart responded to his innocence and his bruised and wounded soul. My empathy couldn’t help but reach out to him and try to heal him. But later, as he grew older and more under the influence of his mother, I saw less and less of those traits we had shared … and more and more of the qualities that made me uncomfortable in his mother. He was going through those growing pains that most adolescents experience and acquiring some of the layers of hardness and loss of innocence that separated me from him more and more.

In that passage, I mention that there was something in Janet’s eyes that I couldn’t identify. And that is true.

Okay, so … here’s the thing. How does honesty recognize and identify dishonesty? How does love and generosity and a genuine desire to heal identify possessiveness, greed and manipulation? How does ‘what-can-I-give-to-heal-this-person’ recognize ‘how-can-I-profit-from-this-situation?’ The two viewpoints are so diametrically opposite that they may cause a repulsion, discomfort or disconnect … but the discomfort can’t really be identified, can it? That’s what I meant in the earlier dialog. Although I felt a discomfort around Janet, I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was that made me uncomfortable.

Because of my isolation and inability to ‘toughen up’ like most kids do in their adolescent years, I didn’t grow those layers of hardness around my heart … the ones that could relate to and identify the traits in others that were not reflected in me. And I am very glad I didn’t. It was those layers of hardness and coldness and dishonesty that would have shut me off … made me less open … to the music (which was as necessary to me as breathing) as well as to the pain of others. It would have made me stop and consider myself and what it would cost me try to heal that pain in whatever way I could.My life would have looked very different if I had.

In other words, my spirit didn’t callous like you referred to earlier; it just bled and bled and bled. Greed and dishonesty, coldness and hardness of heart were not part of my emotional make up. I couldn’t relate to them. So, identifying them in someone else was impossible.

Do you see what I mean?

Yes, Dear One, I do see what you mean. But, I have to ask you this. Please forgive me. I don’t mean to offend you in any way, but when I read Michael Jackson Conspiracy,one of the points that really caught my attention was that you had signed over your Power of Attorney to your representatives at the time that the Arvizo’s were staying at Neverland. I read that you had done the same with someone called Dr. Thome Thome when you were involved in rehearsals for the O2 shows.  I wondered why you would be so incautious.

See? You have fallen victim to a judgment of ‘incautious’ based on your very limited knowledge of how things are done in big business and in the entertainment industry.

I’m sorry, baby. I don’t mean to be judgmental.

Don’t apologize. I am not offended. I can understand how you have reached this conclusion.You are accustomed to hearing of this power being assigned only as a last resort when a person is on his death bed or is incapacitated past the point of conducting her own affairs.

This is one of the points that the media has blown way out of proportion in my case … like plastic surgery. I didn’t invent this method of doing business … just as I didn’t invent plastic surgery … but I did use it to my advantage.

The reports always made a big deal out of anything that would make me look strange.  I couldn’t just get my nose done and a cleft added; because it was me, I was addicted to plastic surgery. Everyone else in Hollywood can get breast augmentation, tummy tucks, serial Botox injections or major hard road re-construction. But Michael Jackson gets his nose done and it’s suddenly front page news. Have you ever looked at Joan Rivers’ face? This is another example of the same kind of thing.

Assigning Power of Attorney is a common practice in the entertainment industry and in the corporate world. Busy Fortune 500 executives, actors, entertainers and celebrities often sign over their power of attorney to their lawyers or representatives so that they can close deals or sign contracts or make purchases on their behalf in their absence. For example, Branca needed my Power of Attorney to accomplish my purchase of the ATV Music Publishing catalog while I was touring on the Victory Tour. He needed it again to clinch the purchase of Sycamore Valley Ranch which became Neverland Valley Ranch while I was touring on the BAD Tour.

In most cases, the Power of Attorney is used to close the transaction and, then, it is rescinded or nullified when the purchase or contract is in force. Branca was always upfront about the Power of Attorney being rescinded. Others later in my life were not, but because it was such a common practice in my field and I had done it so many times over the years, I never questioned or checked that the Power of Attorney was nullified. And we are back to the first point we discussed in this Conversation, again, aren’t we? Do you see how the tentacles branch out into almost every area of my life?

Thirdly, I never wanted to see those traits because I believe very strongly that we have to bring salvation back.

You and I must make a pact

We must bring salvation back

Where there is love

I’ll Be There

Part of bringing salvation back is remembering how to trust. As we’ve talked about before in these discussions … we don’t trust ourselves, we don’t trust our parents, we don’t trust our neighbors, our national leaders, our corporations, our governments, our clergy and religious leaders and we don’t trust our God.

I wanted to demonstrate trust because how can you preach a concept unless you practice it? I wanted to trust that the people around me were good and honest. I wanted to trust that they would be truthful and faithful and loyal. And I never wanted to judge anyone unfairly. I knew what that felt like and I never wanted to cause anyone such pain. I would rather err on the side of trust than to judge someone as unfairly as I was judged by the world for half my life.

I mentioned before that trust will be a tough lesson for all of us to re-learn because we have become so used to not trusting. And it will not be without its rather spectacular failures, but it will be worth the pain of those failures to return to trusting our God, first and foremost. All the others will follow like night follows day from that.

Jan – May 25, 2012

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May 10 through May 13, 2012

Michael, my Beloved Angel, our book is out.  And it is amazing.

I don’t know how to thank you for continuing to push me toward realizing my dream.  It took almost twenty years, but we finally got there.

And I don’t know how to thank you for making that dream a reality … for giving that gift to the world … for allowing my messages and my words to be heard in yours in the physical realm, even after my physical experiment has ended. God bless you! 

You see? In God’s Perfect Plan, everyone’s highest and greatest good is taken into account. When we express the gifts she has given us, the entire world benefits. No one is left out. That’s what makes the Plan so doggone perfect. On Earth as it is in heaven. As above, so below. I am so proud of you for making this happen for both of us, even though you were so afraid of it for so very long. For all that time, you allowed your doubts and fears to define you and deprived yourself of owning your own untapped potential!

You spent so long telling yourself why it couldn’t be done and completely overlooked finding out how to make it happen and committing yourself to overcoming the obstacles standing in your way.

In my physical life, I never wanted to hear why it couldn’t be done. All I wanted to do was learn what I needed to know to overcome the obstacles and put in the time and effort and love to make it a reality.

Yes, Michael, I agree. You are such a beautiful and perfect example of that principle. In your music, in the example you left us of a life so beautifully-lived, in your speeches which always encouraged us to ‘go for our dreams,’ and in these conversations, you always showed us the way to go and moved us toward a more expansive view of ourselves and what our lives could mean than we ever imagined was possible … a more all-inclusive definition of who we are and what we were meant to be. In defining yourself as beyond limitation and in your unquenchable determination to be the best you could possibly be, you help us see that, we too, are capable of much more than our limiting, contracting, critical self-talk gives us credit for.

God bless you! And thank you for having enough faith in me still … after all the garbage you’ve heard and read … to permit me to be your teacher, allowing me the privilege of showing you … all of you … what can be accomplished. Most of all … thank you for continuing to value my touch upon your lives and hearts and souls. Yes, we limit ourselves … or allow others to limit us … so much with our judgments and lack of patience. With a little perseverance, a lot of hard work, determination, no star is beyond your grasp.

Cuz you can climb the highest mountain

Swim the deepest sea

All you need is the will to want it and a little self-esteem

So keep the faith because it’s just a matter of time

Before your confidence will win out

But you gotta keep the faith 

It’s like we’ve spoken about before when talking about the game that is supposed to be teaching you how to dance <ahem> [Michael clears his throat and then giggles.]

I know, Baby … I know … maybe I’ll be able to devote a little more time to that idea after July 1. I need 60-hour days!

You wouldn’t live through 60-hour days.

I feel like I’m barely living through 24-hour days!

We’ve talked about that before, too. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Relax. But we’re getting way off track here.

What we believe, we become. In a previous conversation, I asked you to yell those words. Would you please do that again here?

Okay!

WHAT WE BELIEVE, WE BECOME!!!!

Thank you. If we believe we are incapable of any kind of achievement, whatever it may be, we will be incapable of any kind of achievement. We create our own inability with our belief in it. We make that our reality by giving our attention to it … by focusing on it!

But, if we believe that with a reasonable amount of effort and time we can achieve what we desire, we will create that achievement and we will find that we can do anything. Just change your belief and your whole world changes. Don’t listen to those voices that tell you ‘it can’t be done’ and ‘that’s impossible.’ Just DO it! Stop sabotaging your dreams!

Stop this agony of wishing

Play it out

Don’t think, don’t hesitate

Curving back within yourself

Just create … just create

We are all capable of so much more than we allow ourselves to imagine. We all have so much latent potential just waiting to be tapped and recognized, longing to be freed from the jail cells we have imprisoned it in with our lack of faith.

There is so much more to being human than our striving for more … more money, more power or more ‘things’ … allow us to contemplate as possible. With a little focus and some devotion and some hard work, we are all stars in God’s canopy. And we can do anything.

Believe in yourself no matter what it’s gonna take

You can make it happen but you gotta keep the faith!

Beloved, ever since my copy of Conversations: The Book arrived and I held it in my hands for the first time, I have been totally wrapped up in trying to grasp the concept of ‘expansion.’ The word expansion is defined as ‘the act of expanding’ which doesn’t help a whole lot in understanding the term. So, we have to go back to the word expand to find the meaning. The American Heritage College Dictionary defines expand as: ‘to increase in size, volume, quantity, or scope,’ or ‘to open something up or out.’ And Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary adds the following definition to the former two: ‘to express fully or in detail.’

Michael, I’ve been fascinated with this concept in the past couple of weeks.

That’s interesting. Can you tell me why?

Well, Beloved Angel, my mind has been turning this concept over and over in several different contexts. I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around it, and it hasn’t really crystallized with any degree of clarity, yet. I think it’s kinda like your explanation of the term “vast” from our earlier discussion in … what was it? … Installment #40 (August 28 through September 3, 2011). I think it’s one of those terms that we don’t really understand the definition of very well. Or, would it be more appropriate to say that we haven’t begun to delve into it with any degree of depth? Like the term “vast” … its meaning is more inclusive … and elusive … than we think.

My thanks to Isabelle for the beautiful background image.

Let me see if I can explain how this concept is shaping in my mind. At least, it is running through the gears when I am not so totally in love with our book that I am sitting in my recliner and reading it AGAIN! (I mean, it’s not like I haven’t read it through for errors like four times already! But it’s a different experience when you take that ‘focus’ on looking for problems away and you just read it like a book. LOL! I should know this thing by heart, by now.)

[Michael laughs.] Do you see how things change when you shift your focus … change your perspective? That statement just proves my point.

Yes, it does, doesn’t it? I read a quote somewhere that a music critic had written about you. I wish I could find it again. I thought it was in Joe Vogel’s book Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson, but I skimmed quickly through the book and can’t find the exact quote at the moment so I will have to paraphrase. It was something like: the music industry had to expand to accommodate Michael Jackson and it shrank back down again when he stopped making great music. [Afterward … Yay … I found it! It is in the Introduction of Joe Vogel’s book and the quote is attributed to Hampton Stevens, a cultural critic: “The oft-repeated conventional wisdom – that Jackson’s videos made MTV and so ‘changed the music industry’ is only half-true. It’s more like the music industry ballooned to encompass Jackson’s talent and shrunk down again without him. Videos didn’t matter before Michael, and they ceased to matter at almost the precise cultural moment he stopped producing great work.”]

Well, you never stopped producing great work, but, aside from that obvious fallacy, when I first read the quote, it impressed me with how true a statement that really is. I mean, in retrospect, it seemed like that’s exactly what happened.

No one had ever experienced anything like Michael Jackson before. Your creativity, devotion to innovation and perfect execution, and your vision for your projects were totally unprecedented, so we all kinda had to expand our definition of the term ‘entertainer.’ Your ability to see past the limitations in the human condition … and achieve the impossible, as a result … as expressed in your short films and in your recordings didn’t really fit the modus operandi of any other artist that was in regular rotation on MTV or VH1, so music television had to stretch to accommodate your presence. Your commitment and over-the-top methods in recording and pushing the technology to conform more closely to your dreams had never been seen in a film or recording studio, so those technologies had to broaden and new technologies had to be developed to do things the way you wanted them done.  All of these areas in the field of entertainment had to expand or explode outward while you were on the scene. We’ve talked about it before as ‘pushing the envelope upward and to all sides.’

It was like you were an explosion of never-before- seen talent and ambition, creativity and imagination. Explosion is defined by The American College Dictionary as follows: ‘a release of mechanical, chemical, or nuclear energy in a sudden and usually violent manner’ (well, I think they should add kinetic energy to that listing, but that’s just my opinion) … or a ‘violent bursting as a result of internal pressure.’

However, I don’t think the critic went far enough. It wasn’t just the music industry that had to expand. It was the entire field of entertainment. It was film production and performance art, as Stan Winston commented during the behind-the-scenes footage of Ghosts. Many of the technologies that were developed for your use in Ghosts have been used in recent films like the new release of Dark Shadows.

It was dance and physical expression, as Chris Judd, Brett Barnes, Wade Robson, all your backup dancers for the O2 concerts and Travis Payne have commented. It was the recording industry and its techniques and technology, as Bruce Swieden and Teddy Riley and Akon and Lenny Kravitz have stated.  It was fashion, as Zaldy and Michael Bush and Dennis Tompkins said in the Special Features of This Is It.  Everything and everyone around you had to stretch … expand … to make room for you … in the field of entertainment.

Gee, I didn’t think I was that big. You are making me sound like some kind of cartoon character who puts a hose in his mouth and blows up like a balloon or like Harry Potter’s aunt who swells, popping buttons and beads all over the place before she floats away into the night sky. [Michael giggles.]

That’s exactly the visualization that comes to mind when I’m talking about the term ‘expansion.’ The field of entertainment had to become elastic … like a balloon … to stretch outward and upward and to all sides … so that you would fit.

In size you are small (especially when you started out); in stature you are Paul Bunyan on steroids; in strength and resolve you are Samson from the Bible; in impact you are the Big Bang, Beloved!! And the echoes of your presence will be felt on this planet forever.

Paul Bunyan on steroids. [Snickers.]That’s funny!

Which brings me to the point of this Conversation. [Took us long enough to get here, didn’t it?] It wasn’t just the field of entertainment that had to become bigger to accommodate you. The entire planet and the whole definition of being ‘human’ had to take a deep inhalation and expand its lungs while you were physically present on this Earth. The term generosity had to be redefined. The definition of the term humanitarian had to expand.  The word forgiveness had to achieve new clarity. The term artist had to take on whole new meanings that are still being explored by all of your children.

Music television retracted when it adopted the reality show format. The field of performance has contracted because no one else on the planet can do what you did to … and with … an audience. The recording industry shrank when you left the studio because no one shared your vision or invested as much in the recording process, so no one is pushing it forward by leaps and bounds, as you did on so many occasions. As a result of that contraction, Sony has experienced its eighth year of billion dollar losses and red ink. And Michael Jackson, who single-handedly bailed the recording industry out on more than one occasion, isn’t around to pull it out of its downward slide.

In contrast to the field of entertainment, however, instead of ‘shrinking back down’ when you moved on to new adventures as the quote earlier so falsely claimed, that ‘expansion’ that was so much a part of your life with us has continued and escalated in all of your children.

We are experiencing an ‘explosion’ of imagination and talent … a second Renaissance, if you will … of unprecedented magnitude. One manifestation of that Renaissance is our book, but there are many, many others.

Many of my friends who have never drawn anything in their lives are being moved to draw you … or paint you … to express their love visually … and I have included several of their sketches and paintings in our book.  Others who have never written poems before are putting their love for you into beautiful poetic expressions.  There are people reproducing your likeness in gumballs and soda cans and beading and chicken wire … on building facades and 3D sidewalk art all over the world. Statues are blooming like flowers in far flung corners of the world. New videos are created on a daily, almost hourly, basis. Tribute songs are being written; tribute shows are being performed and are touring the country.

You have crawled inside each one of us who have allowed you the smallest sliver of space, taken a deep, deep breath and stretched our definitions of ourselves to include creativity of which we never imagined we were capable. It’s amazing and I am so blessed to be a small, insignificant part of it all.

As the tidal wave of ripples radiate outward from your physical life, those threads of light expand outwards, engulfing and exploding out of each one of us in ways that we never dreamed were possible. You have, with your example, given us permission to explore the grandest vision of ourselves we have ever entertained and encouraged us to step into that vision in new and unprecedented ways. And we are so very grateful.

Yes, it’s your time to shine. I’ll be right there with you.

Jan – May 13, 2012

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