A man’s management of his own purse speaks volumes of his character.”
EVIL TRIUMPHS WHEN GOOD MEN DO NOTHING
Michael Jackson’s Neverland was free to all children around the world. When asked by an interviewer, “You know you have to pay for all of this, right?” Michael Jackson answered, “Yes, but I get it all back by the children’s smiles.”
Martin Luther King
We have arrived at June, 2014…a June both eagerly planned for and desperately dreaded.. the fifth anniversary of Michael Jackson’s passing. One thing this remarkable journey has taught me is that pure intent and honesty have yet to find a home in either media or extortionist’ plans…neither able to climb out of their gutter attacks. Rather than be dragged down in despair, with a feeling of hopelessness, I decided to come to the page, here at the beginning of the month, taking inspiration from Brad Sundberg’s “The Homecoming” seminars.
“For most of 1991, we were working on the Dangerous Album at Record One in Sherman Oaks, California, among a few other studios in town. I go into great detail about my time and three production teams involved in Dangerous in my seminars, as you may already know. It remains one of my favorite projects, and it is so much fun to look back and see how Michael was ‘growing up’ and trying new things on this record. We had amazing production teams, top shelf musicians, great food, killer songs, even the special guest list was jaw-dropping (Nancy Reagan, Princess Stephanie, my daughter, Amanda, and so on.) The music had also moved into a new Era for Michael, but, I’ll save those stories for next month, so for now, let’s talk about the studio ‘Black-out’. It was not uncommon for L.A. residents to have something we would refer to as ‘brown-outs’ meaning the power might dip for a little while, or sometimes shut of completely. I don’t pretend to know why this would happen, but it had something to do with too many air conditioners, blow dryers, Marshall amplifiers, deep fryers, car washes, etc…all being used at once across the city. The city officials would plead with people to ease back on their electricity usage, but, this was L.A…you had to look good and feel comfortable at all times. So…the power would sometimes just shut off. On this particular day, we were cranking away on songs like ‘Keep The Faith’ and ‘For All Time’ when the lights start to flicker and dim. Brown-out time. Now, let me explain something. The thing with many recording studios is they don’t have windows. Windows let sound from the street disrupt recordings and they encourage Fans to cup their hands around their heads and try to peer in at what we are doing. So…no windows. This means that when the power goes off…it is pitch black inside. So the power goes off and we fumble around for flashlights. There is a bit of yelling and laughter, but everyone is calm. We always had flashlights handy because studios are notoriously dark to begin with, so we doled out flashlights to Michael and his security team. Michael took a spot against one of the living room walls and found the whole thing amusing…I seem to remember him laughing pretty hard about it at first, then we just settled in and enjoyed each other’s company and had blinding flashlight wars in the dark. It was a nice, unexpected break. I happened to bring my camera that day and grabbed a few shots (with flash which is why the black-out isn’t obvious.) It is said that a picture can tell a thousand words, but for me they capture a moment in time-and they do tell a few stories. Check out the giant coat on Michael. He was always cold. Always. I clearly remember that when the power went out the studio very quickly got stuffy and warm, but, I’m sure that was a treat for him, as he was able to thaw out. There are maybe zero days a year when you need a coat like that in L.A., but Michael was always bundled up. Then, there’s the book. You have heard before that he loved books about art, history, nature, etc. Yup! All true! He would always have stacks of books in his lounge…he was always watching, asking, learning. What is harder to see is something that is harder to explain. I have worked with artists who can be…difficult. I have seen fistfights in the studio, watched producers storm out, and temper tantrums that would make a grown man cringe. But, never with Michael. He was a pro’s pro…and, a class act. Does reading a book with a flashlight mean anything in itself? Of course not, but it represents how he handled the unexpected. He didn’t panic or make impossible demands…he laughed and made himself (and us) comfortable. In just three weeks, I want to introduce you to someone who made a lasting impact on me through his talent, his dedication, his trust, his friendship: Michael Jackson. I’m going to be bringing some of my friends, including his personal chefs, the Slam Dunk Sisters, to cook for you, and, I have booked the world famous Westlake Studios to host “THE HOMECOMING”. I have very special guests lined up to join us for all four days…June 23-26. On June 27, I have arranged to have the one and only Brad Buxer join me for a very rare evening of music, laughter and stories of CELEBRATION OF MICHAEL’S MUSIC. Brad Buxer has spent countless hours with Michael in the studio, on tour and at Neverland, working with him on songwriting, arranging, and producing. He truly is one of the kindest and most creative men I have had the privilege to call a friend. JUNE CAN BE A BITTERSWEET TIME FOR A LOT OF MICHAEL JACKSON FANS, BUT I CHOOSE TO CELEBRATE HIS MUSIC, HIS HUMOR, HIS UN-MATCHED TALENT AND HIS FRIENDSHIP by hanging out with his friends, swapping stories and mixes, and, meeting and getting to know his Fans. From stage to studio to ranch to black-outs, there is no one like Michael and I would love to introduce him to you. I hope you can join us next month. THE SEMINAR BRAD SUNDBERG In the Studio with Michael Jackson
When I read that quote from Brad Sundberg, I decided to share it with you, bringing light and life to the first day of June. Added to it, I share other enlightenments worthy of example, impressive in the telling…stories that celebrate a good man who knew not the concepts of apathy, dishonesty or greed.
“On June 25th, 2009, the world lost the Greatest Humanitarian ever to grace us with his presence. Michael Jackson was a gift from God. I have not seen, in my 42 years of life, another human being, musical artist or theatrical artist that has worked as tirelessly as Michael to make change in our world. Whether it be through feeding the poor, donating his entire proceeds of a concert tour to a third world-country, visiting cancer stricken children and bringing them gifts, or creating a fantasy land for underprivileged, sick and dying children, so they might have a haven of refuge for just a moment in their precious, but tumultuous lives, Michael made it happen. He created the Magic, not only for children, but for us all. He asked that we BELIEVE, and we did. He asked that we LOVE, and we do. He asked for PEACE, and we did not listen.” pammjschaar.hubpagesMichaelJackson
“I said, ‘Michael, I don’t have the same imagination you have. I would have to sit down and draw something and try to figure it out like a crossword puzzle. I’m not as agile as you. I’m concerned about the financial challenges that loom ahead. I’m thinking about the practicality of your owning such a large place by yourself with all of the expenses involved, every cage and everything you do costs tons of money.’ Michael answered, ‘Gloria, please don’t think about money. The Lord will provide. I know the Lord will provide. You have to believe that the Lord will bring us everything that we need. And it’s not so wild to think about having animals for healing, and it’s not so wild about creating a sanctuary for the animals, and a beautiful paradise for children who are healthy and children who are unhealthy and otherwise might never have the privilege of being on this ranch. I really want to do this, Gloria.”
IN SEARCH OF NEVERLAND
Gloria Rhoads Berlin
“So it boils down to the same thing – Jesus dealt with-believers and nonbelievers–and faith…The problem here is that believers were happy just believing in, and loving our Michael in peace. Whereas nonbelievers are never happy until they have torn down and destroyed that which they do not believe in. They don’t know how to live and let live”
AN ANGEL AMONG US
We called him Michael Jackson…a spiritual journey
Ms. Elizabeth Michelle Billeaudeaux
“Suddenly we had become contemporary witnesses of one of the most talented artists and of, no doubt, the greatest entertainer that ever lived. But, maybe much more importantly, of one of the sincerest human beings we have met and a true example in sharing his values.”
IT’S ALL FOR LOVE
I have chosen these beautiful people and their words to draw attention to A CELEBRATION…a celebration of character, a celebration in the joy of living, a celebration of work, a celebration of generosity, a celebration of commitment and involvement in the human journey, a celebration of goodness doing good work, a celebration of the love of God and of people. I needed to feel a security in our love and strength, singing out as one voice. I needed to feel the Neverland Michael described when he said, “It is just a serene and tranquil place to relax and enjoy yourself and leave your troubled mind, and things that irritate you in your heart and in your soul, behind.”
June, 2014 offers both the wonders of Forest Lawn and Neverland…Fans from all over the globe connecting with pure love…beautiful flowers and banners…donations to charities… cards and messages…Fans reaching out to one another both physically and emotionally. It is a time of healing and strengthening through oneness of spirit and voice. And, although there are those who seek to “destroy what they do not believe in,” the celebration will not be stopped. IT IS THE FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF MICHAEL JACKSON’S PASSING. WE PAY TRIBUTE TO THE MAN AND HIS LIFE…OUR UNCONDITIONAL LOVE CRIES OUT IN ONE VOICE.