Wednesday, July 7, 2010
michael, may you now be at peace: a reflection (no. 62)
i've been having quick bursts of both energy and tiredness... i expect that's from not getting much sleep before i had to go to work- i should be resting now, but my brain has been working overtime. my internal clock is having difficulty figuring out itself, as i run on a less consistent schedule these days... so used to beginning to rest at an hour where many are just waking up; i now have to be up at those hours as well, and because of this i have difficulty getting my body to calm itself.
all throughout this experience is the growing need to hold on to something, to someone... someone to share thoughts with. but everyone has gone to bed. and so i have an anxious mind. certainly i can talk to you in this way, but alas... there is the realization that you are not going to respond in kind, whether or not you are listening. it does make me feel uneasy talking to you in this way sometimes, because you are not able (or won't) respond in kind. my mind rushes with all of these thoughts- "OH! i have something to tell michael today... will it be information he didn't know? will it be something he's known the whole time and was TRYING to tell people, but they didn't listen?" i don't know, because we can't communicate in the same way.
so one of the things i KNOW i can do, is share your teachings with others... the teachings you presented to us whilst you were here on this plane.
as i was taking a little bicycle trip around the way (as it was a lovely night to do so) my mind was still racing, about communication and how we do it... how information is disseminated. i wondered if all the gnats that flew around each other actually KNEW each other; were they all family, or were they just becoming acquainted, by way of survival? the people who were sitting outside of their houses, do they talk to their neighbors?
and of course i thought about how information is disseminated by media. not just mainstream media, but independent as well... whether or not i or anyone else concurs, much of, if not all media is subjective. if a publication or news organization speaks of your 'genius' and all these great things you did with no semblance of critique; that organization is just as biased as any which speak of your oddities. in either case it's a limited range to where journalism can go. at the same time it's easy to resort to these limited capacities because it's compelling to do so. and just because it's compelling does not mean it's good.
always. question. your. teacher. i will repeat this as many times as i have to. this is one of the greatest lessons we can learn, if we are going to grow as students. we must always reserve criticism for those we agree with, and room to see the good points in those we don't.
and so of course i study vigorously. not because there's any groundbreaking news about you; but because as a student i must be knowledgeable about how information is disseminated.
in fact, there's no 'new' news about you at all right now... something you may be happy about, since there's a possibility you may now be at some sort of peace. but wait- the news in RELATION to you that is constantly being posted repeatedly (from many news sources) is that you have more facebook 'friends' than lady gaga. but she's getting up there.
on the surface this looks trivial. and it IS. however, the fact that this 'news factoid' has been appearing for what seems to be a week is intriguing. as lady gaga makes me physically ill i was actually not compelled to read anything about this 'news'. it took a number of days to look at this, because i really wanted to see how the narrative of 'michael jackson' (TM) fits into all of this.
celebrities are created, it's been said... they do not make themselves. i'd say that there was a given aspect of time where you portrayed the role of a 'celebrity'... granted, you had a determination to be where you eventually ended up, and you were a bird no one could cage. comparatively speaking, despite your marketing brilliance (as well as your ability to manipulate certain situations); there were forces at work which manipulated you equally, if not more. your struggles were pretty transparent, in particular, your relationship with the press.
in your adult life, media initially, essentially gave you a side eye at what they felt was your 'odd behavior'- carrying snakes with you, bringing your sisters along so you would not have to talk to journalists- but you were a 'MAJOR STAAAAAAAHHHR, DAHLING!' so they let it go. it sold lots of magazines.
when the struggle manifested itself in ways which could be characterized as depression, you no longer had 'quirks'. you were now 'wacko'. in this manifestation the facade of 'celebritydom' chipped away, and for an industry which thrives off of gratuitous distress there's no discussion of the dynamics which contribute to the letter you wrote in 1987 in japan; there's no room for context. it consistently perpetuates itself because when we see these public figures breaking down it makes US feel better. and someone makes money.
so you were just crazy. and of course, you were better when you were just singing 'billie jean' and doing the backslide.
we don't make our popular culture heroes. they are made for us. when you eventually were open with your intent to break free of the cage of a formation of 'blackness' regulated by an industry formulated overall by eurocentric standards, you were shut down. again, they let you slide for a while because you made them money. but when you decided to break free of social limitations in ways people did not expect, that was the point this country made the decision to ignore you. it made absolute sense that you stopped touring in this country.
our range of the 'black experience' is so limiting in this country. rather, it's difficult for us to grasp, due to our conditioning, that your experience (post- 'off the wall') is no less black than paul robeson's experiences. or la vern baker. or betty davis. or kwame ture.
or jack johnson. yes, another man who defied expectations of what 'blackness' represented. the major factor in his experiences though, was that when he fought, he WAS representing black america for many. 'pugilism' in many circles was banned, because white america could not see a black man winning. we travel to a more present day, and 'black america' has now 'dis-owned' you for the same thing jack johnson did: defy a narrow construction of 'blackness'.
we don't make our popular culture heroes. they are made for us.
as black people we either do not realize or acknowledge these constructions. nor do we acknowledge or realize how this range of experiences (on your part anyway) contributes to a connection with the ancestors. or it just simply shows how we are not a monolithic people. from the manu dibango-inspired chant within 'wanna be startin' somethin''; to the persistence in presenting egypt through an afrikan in america's eyes; to the re-interpretation of the edmund perry story- perry was a black youth who attended the phillips exeter academy and accepted into stanford university; he was shot by a plainclothes police officer. it was claimed that edmund and his brother tried to rob him.
...to the outright anger towards a government which "promised... free liberty". and of course... the event which to me, was the impetus for a lot of the censorship- you smashing up things. to some, it was seen as unbridled black anger (or, a possible response to the all-too recent beating of rodney king by the LAPD, and the subsequent 'riots'). but to others, you done lost your mind.
and oh, let's not forget the time you had the GALL to call out the industry for its racist actions. that was just called opportunistic; you were obviously kickin' up a diva-like ruckus because you weren't selling as many records as you wanted to. as i said before, even if that WERE the case, you could have cried about anything. but you brought up the racist music industry. for this, yet again, you were deemed racist. for bringing up something your inevitable contemporary- prince- has brought up. perhaps i haven't searched deep enough but i have not seen a racist label attached to him due to his comments.
i attribute this to the fact that, coming from the industry's perspective: they created you, and you were not supposed to deviate from their plan.
you were no longer a constructed hero.
don't think i forgot about the original point of this portion of the conversation... as i said i have so many thoughts whirling through my mind. there is so much i want to say to you, it just comes gushing out.
one of the theories is that the industry killed you (because you were no longer useful to them) so they created/indoctrinated the persona of 'lady gaga'. interestingly enough, there is footage of her performing, just as plain as can be. singing and playing the keys. somewhere along the line there was a deal made with the devil. i am not speaking of the mythical, robert johnson kind... there is some very evil energy running through this woman.
she does get comparisons to madonna. this may be the case; however, i don't think madonna was swayed as far, because like you, she was very determined. also like you, she was interested in marketing. both of you existed at a time where the artist did have some say in how their images were presented.
i suppose one could say the same thing about gaga... but there is something else i cannot put my finger on. the imagery she associates herself with is not only nihilistic; it's satanic.
these days, determination is so different due to our instantaneous society. the fact that gaga being seen as competition with you in terms of 'friends' on facebook is very telling. first, it shows just how much we value relationships by even using the word 'friend' in these circumstances. secondly, it shows how pervasive these images are. i mean, these images weren't exactly covert, but now, the same imagery many of us turned our noses up at when someone like anton la vey or death metal bands did this, are being propped up by gaga (and to a smaller extent, people like beyonce).
there are so many attempts to evict us because they say we are not paying THEIR utility. the thing is, it's pretty easy to see that the light is actually free.
i recognize the theory about the industry killing you (and i think it's a valid point, in relation to gaga) but as we can see, even when you're not physically here they make a lot of money off of you. it's fairly obvious that they recognize your teachings, but they bottle it up and call it 'pop music'. they create a template in which the consumer follows.
so they will reissue your teachings and release 'never before heard' (to them) tracks, and people will posthumously marvel at your 'talent' but may still never grasp the teachings. "there must be more to life than this", indeed.
of COURSE there is. but one must seek it out. one must never assume the information is out there, just waiting... one must never assume ANY sort of media has the seed to the tree of knowledge. it is through our search for truth where WE grow.
there will only be news about you when they decide to present it... as many issues that are going on with your so-called 'estate', the contractual deals with various media outlets, the court cases, the family drama... lady gaga is a distraction from larger issues at play. it's imperative to examine artist rights' issues; fiscal responsibility (and how 'black wealth' is perceived), the long-standing issue of how black artists' legacies are maintained... and the variances in an ideal of a family structure. what exactly does a 'family' entail? and because we are 'born' into one, does that guarantee that we must remain loyal, even if our experiences are traumatic?
and who runs this empire in the information being disseminated about you?
TMZ, of course. very time i turn around some so-called 'reputable' news source sites TMZ for 'breaking news'. and who runs TMZ? warner bros.
there is a bit of a connection, as AEG live has merged with themeSTAR, a producer of large-scale shows, which "will build upon both companies' established business networks to become the preeminent global entertainment presenter in its genre, developing and securing intellectual property rights to produce and present arena spectacles and family entertainment worldwide."
also on their website: "The AEG ThemeSTAR team is recognized for its entrepreneurial innovation and its operational effectiveness working with major brands including Warner Bros., Nickelodeon, HIT Entertainment, Mattel, Universal Studios, Disney, Viacom, Cirque Du Soleil, Sesame Street, Ringling Bros.,FIFA, Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the NFL and more."
is there a connection? i'd be surprised if there were not.
is any significant information about michael 'secured' so that a 'spectacle' is bound to occur at the correct hour? thus, more money is transacted. i certainly don't know, but so much of it makes sense to me.
it's curious to see that, the one thing your father may be on to- that AEG is the key to this whole conrad murray issue- he was on AEG's payroll- he does not appear to be respectable because he's always after money. thus, he is framed as looking 'crazy'. other members of the family say 'murray didn't work alone', but joe has been very specific in who he thinks is responsible. just like i said for you; it may be attention-grabbing but to say something that specific, i think his suspicions are worth listening to here.
it's been said that in a potion of the contract you signed to do the series of shows at the O2, a stipulation was that your catalog would be up for grabs if you did not commit to the shows. i read the contract, and huge chunks of it were blocked out. reading the portions i did, it certainly appeared as if you signed your life away. on a contract which appeared far less binding on AEG's part, because it was so self-regulating. it was an AEG contract, dealing with AEG people. so it's pretty easy to sign off and say you had an extensive exam and passed, if the 'doctors' were on the payroll. the word which kept coming up with AEG employees during interviews around the time of promotion for 'this is it' was 'insurance'.
i do not know in what context you signed the contract... were you forced? was there a price on your head- AEG's involvement in preventing neverland from going on the market? the stake you own in ATV? were you heavy on painkillers? all i know is that i read it, and something did not sit right with me. especially the self-contained nature of it.
and when i saw the speech you did- "these are my final show... performances..." again, i was very upset with you. 'WHAT ARE YOU DOING??!!' i exclaimed. i saw echoes of dodger stadium in '84, where you caught everyone off guard and mentioned that you were not touring with your brothers anymore, as if it were an extension of yourself... looking back, what i saw was simultaneous fear and relief. i believe i mentioned that to you as well. for someone to openly profess hating touring over the years, something (namely fear) had to be driving the idea to agree to doingh a series of concerts.
i won't repeat all this again right now (i'm pretty tired as it is). there's so much i want to say to you, and also so much i want to sift through, in terms of information. there's so much of it, i want to make sure things are misleading as little as possible. to not at all. i'm still learning about the whole process.
well, i am about to drift off (and i must be up in a few hours again). i shall have to continue tomorrow, this conversation with you about this gift of information we have so much access to, and yet we take advantage of it.
we take advantage of our teachers.
before i leave for now, i want to share this with you. it may have even been the catalyst for one of your many creative endeavors... sometimes you may not have gone to places you wanted to be, but this was the path you chose to accept: "remember man, to get ahead in this world you must control your own destiny. so don't allow someone to trick you into going against your will. your feelings will guide you right, and even though you may not be able to explain your feelings to another person, you always understand after a little thinking to yourself. always know what you feel and who you are..."
edmund perry said that.