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How Many Times Can You Kill Michael Jackson?

August 29, 2019

They killed him when he was alive. They killed him again when he died. They kill him one more time every year on his birthday. Now they’re killing him again by trying to kill his legacy.

They dig him up every year and kill him again. This year, on the 10th anniversary of his passing, they dug him up once again and lynched him.

It’s racist, you know.

Implicit or explicit, the prejudice is that black men with strength cannot be allowed to be.

They can’t be allowed to peddle cigarettes on the street (Eric Garner); they can’t be allowed to play in a park (Tamir Rice); they can’t be allowed to declare or explain their right to carry a firearm or reach for their wallet when asked to produce their license and registration (Philando Castile); they can’t be allowed to run or put their hands up during a confrontation with an officer (Michael Brown); they can’t be allowed to run away from a police officer who is being aggressive with them (Walter Scott); they can’t be allowed to be safely transported in the back of a police van (Freddie Gray)…

It’s dangerous– being while Black.

The mythology of the dangerous Black man brute or beast continues. White privilege persists.

And whatever you do, don’t be talented, a musical genius, attractive to women (especially white women,) or accumulate fame or wealth when you’re Black. It indicates you don’t know your place in society and you don’t honor or accept your deliberate exclusion from all industries except sports. Ad to that fame and wealth and you’re asking for a takedown.

The legacy of daring to be male and Black traces back through the DNA of a country’s enslavement of another race simply because of skin color. When Lincoln emancipated the American slaves in 1863, southern landowners lost their ticket to wealth and when the North won the Civil War, they lost their pride. The seething subterranean anger boiled under the surface for years until in 1915 when David Griffith released the film “Birth of a Nation.”

“Birth of a Nation” resurrected Southern pride, the antebellum South, White Supremacy and the Klu Klux Klan while depicting them as valiant savors of a South ravaged by Northern carpetbaggers and freed Blacks. Jim Crow and Black Codes kept segregation in place and were intended to vilify and marginalize Black citizens long after Lincoln freed them and beyond the 13th amendment.

No longer laws or legal, Black Codes exist still today. They just aren’t written. James Baldwin in his essay of 1985 “Here Be Dragons” wrote of Michael Jackson:

“The Michael Jackson cacophony is fascinating in that it is not about Jackson at all. I hope he has the good sense to know it and the good fortune to snatch his life out of the jaws of a carnivorous success. He will not swiftly be forgiven for having turned so many tables, for he damn sure grabbed the brass ring, and the man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo has nothing on Michael.

All that noise is about America, as the dishonest custodian of black life and wealth; the blacks, especially males, in America; and the burning, buried American guilt; and sex and sexual roles and sexual panic; money, success and despair–to all of which may now be added the bitter need to find a head on which to place the crown of Miss America.

Freaks are called freaks and are treated as they are treated–in the main, abominably–because they are human beings who cause to echo, deep within us, our most profound terrors and desires.”

On the tenth anniversary of Jackson’s passing, we see the most heinous attempt yet to decontextualize, deconstruct and dismember a life and legacy. A couple of hangers-on from Michael’s life whom he befriended as boys have capitalized on the child molester claims from which he was exonerated in a court trial and have told their story to a witless filmmaker who gave them a  platform and believed every word of their accusations. That filmmaker is now forced to defend his film which has been thoroughly discredited by astute Jackson fans and supporters beginning with an account of one of the protagonists that he was molested in a room in a train station at Neverland Ranch which wasn’t built until years after the claim. The filmmaker claimed that not the account, but the dates of the molestation were wrong– making the claimant too old to fit the profile of child sexual deviant they’ve attributed to Jackson. Conveniently, the other protagonist who claims that Jackson spoiled him for relationships with women with homosexual behavior failed to mention that he dated Jackson’s niece for years and during the time he was supposedly groomed and accosted by Jackson. Neither of the men claiming that Jackson abused them revealed publicly that they are suing the Jackson Estate for billions of dollars. That was conveniently left out of the film while the filmmaker cynically declares that the subjects will not profit from the film. One of the men, a choreographer, proposed to the Estate that he produce a posthumous tribute to Michael Jackson for Cirque du Soleil, but they chose someone else because they found him untrustworthy. He also pitched a tribute to the television program “So You Think You Can Dance” the day after Jackson died.

Michael Jackson was a freedom-fighter. A great deal of his work features themes, including prolific pastiche, that takes on racism and prejudice in covert forms. Fans who have defended Jackson over the years have had to endure not just heartbreak from the loss of Jackson himself, but insult after insult hurled at them accompanied by name calling and threats for protecting a pedophile. Jackson was acquitted of all charges. There was no credible evidence found even after being stalked by a racist district attorney in an affluent white city for 10 years. Jim Crow was enforced in Santa Barbara, California; a cursory look at the surnames of most arrest records will convince anyone of racial and ethnic bias.

Lynching remains a tradition as well for Oprah Winfrey, pal of Harvey Weinstein, aired a program after the film “Leaving Neverland,” interviewing the protagonists for an audience of people with histories of sexual abuse. Oprah’s career skyrocketed after she landed the first major interview with Jackson for her new TV show and she interviewed his grieving family at their home after he passed. Oprah, a successful Black woman betraying the legacy of a kindred Black celebrity, is particularly egregious because it is based on personal psychological wounding and a vendetta. Winfrey has since become silent about her part in supporting a seriously questionable documentary. It’s been widely suggested that Oprah’s pal Harvey Weinstein is responsible for more than a few of the salacious tabloid stories about Jackson because he pitched them to his tabloid press buddies in order to divert the focus off himself and the allegations of his own sexual misconduct. There are emails in evidence that outline his use of Jackson as a decoy whenever he needed cover.

What is most unfortunate in this mess is that the #MeToo Movement is being hijacked by the unconscionable antics of proven liars and opportunists. Nobody wants to see women and children made victims of someone’s uncontrolled deviant sexual appetites and the movement is long overdue. But convicting someone in the court of public opinion without due process will eventually weaken the position of people trying to find healing from a traumatic wound inflicted by another. The movement needs to be taken seriously and if it is misused or abused it will loose its impact and more suffering is all that will result from that adulterating of its power.

Someday the Hollywood swamp will be revealed and the creatures will surface. The specter of bullying of Jackson (and others) for fun and profit will be nauseating. But the question then becomes will society have evolved enough to clearly see, acknowledge and enact some kind of reparations for real human beings who have been hurt by the runaway collective psyche seeking to marginalize and make “other” unsuspecting humans just trying to live their lives while avoiding harm and suffering. That is the day we will finally become responsible grownups with the ability to exercise inclusion and compassion.

Until then Black men will continue to lose their lives and the harassment of minorities will persist. And, just as James Baldwin predicted, Michael Jackson will always be guilty of being while Black.

 

 

It’s Been a Long Decade June 25, 2019 Tribute

As you read this essay, you will notice that I did not name names, refer to circumstances or explain in detail– for my readers are capable of doing that for themselves.  As you read, names will come to mind, people will pop into your head, stirrings may arise in your consciousness, events may be remembered. and partial-conclusions formed.  Before you begin, ask your higher self (enlightened consciousness) to engage with you here. When names, people, circumstances, mental pictures arise, they will be correct.

We’ve discussed, here at Inner Michael, how there is always a prevailing atmosphere– a vibe– an underlying tone– that accompanies not just where, but when we are in the world. It is this very moment that we are all arriving at– a journey through the past that brought us to this unique moment never to exist again and to this very destination– this juncture in space/time. The past led us here and what is the past but a collective sum of choices we have made along the way? There is a pulse that indicates the health of the collective world, her body, our bodies, the atmosphere we breathe in and live from.

I’ve often referred to this prevailing tone of the world or perhaps tonal is a better word– it is the collective chord struck in the vibration of being. Everything oscillates. Everything flows. Everything sings. It is this song of the world that we are feeling, that we are living in. It’s the hum. Hear it? Feel it? Is it harmonious? Discordant? It’s the vectoring of all the consciousness of all the souls alive on this planet in this moment. It is those collectively that make up the cloud of consciousness we live in, breathe in and have our being. It’s the sum of human consciousness formed of the parts– all of us. It’s the soup we live in– the blended ingredients or sum of human consciousness. We are an interdependent web and who shakes the web here creates a shiver in the web there. It permeates and and determines the collective mind, the collective body, the collective pulse.

Let’s take the pulse and see if we can determine the state of the body that is us– the state of humanity. It’s hard to love right now. It’s hard just to keep one’s equilibrium. But if soldiers of love, this army unified by the truth and the Grand Love demonstrated by the special human beings who once walked here, are to conquer and prevail we must stand tall, stand up and be the love. Who are you waiting for?

That was not rhetorical. Who are you waiting for? What are you waiting for? Whose permission do you need? Are you still waiting for the ones who would save us? That is us.  We are the ones we have been waiting for. Now, act!

Every once an era or so, a human arrives on this planet who interacts with the world in a way that leaves a huge indelible mark. Some have that extraordinary wisdom or charisma or magnetism and power that they wield that impacts the world in a profound way. They make an impression, leave their mark, and thereafter things are never the same.

We humans have arrived where we are by  selection through choice, by the choices we make and through what we choose to serve. That last part is important– about what we choose to serve. Power is either wrested or bestowed. Wrested power is taken by force, by manipulation, by strategy and once tasted, craves  an accumulation of more. It is the food of the ego that seeks to be important, noticed, have impact which gives meaning to a life. Bestowed power is given freely, earned, warranted, and is a gift. Which kind of power would you rather have? Like to cultivate? Who has demonstrated that for you? Who has not?

When fame accompanies power, a platform is created where the impact is greater than an individual without fame might ever have. The power of an individual is amplified by fame. When fame comes, the individual with power now has a grander audience and his or her influence is proportionate to the attention that individual can garner and in some cases, that audience may be the whole world. With extraordinary fame and power, the world can be changed significantly. In that place where power is amplified by fame, a choice must be made about one’s place in the world and about one’s life mission. Part of the life mission of the human is service. So the $million dollar question becomes: Will you use your fame amplified power to serve the world or to serve yourself?

Everyone has a life mission. Some people know theirs, some people don’t. Life mission is the reason you came, the reason you incarnated in a body, the reason for your being. Those who accumulate power and fame often have a life mission related to teaching or demonstrating something to the world. The question this kind of person must ask himself or herself is this: “Will I (or have I) live out my life mission in the world in service to others or in service to myself? Will I teach or demonstrate something that will heal or harm the world? Will I share myself and my platform for the betterment of the world or to serve myself and my own needs?

There are those who come and who, because of the audience they command, and the attention their mission demands, that become a mirror of the collective consciousness. They do not contain the collective consciousness nor are they are attached to it. Shamans might call this the hollow bone– a being capable of holding an emptiness that reflects back to those observing the reflection of their own consciousness. When this happens collectively, the vector of the entirety of the consciousness is reflected back. We have seen that phenomenon at work. Where? Who? For what?

In the current state of evolution , human consciousness is not yet evolved to a state of enlightenment. We must oscillate at a high spiritual frequency to reflect back the pure, unadulterated love that is enlightened consciousness. We’re not there yet. But the collective purpose of life is to get there. Some individuals glimpse this world mission– Anima Mundi– and once glimpsed, they are compelled to serve it. When everybody finally “gets it,” the world will be filled with light and darkness will find no home in anyone or anywhere.

Meanwhile– the dark side of human nature is the shadow side of the ego. The ego struggles to be relevant, to be appreciated, to be recognized and to feel worthy. Falling short, which is painful to recognize, the frustrated ego may take to expressing its shadow side– envy, jealousy, sabotage, shaming, bullying, corruption… The pastime of a wounded ego engaging the shadow is to project it onto other people because to look at one’s own ugly side is to enter despair and self loathing, a condition anathema to the ultimate desire– to be loved.

When a figure with fame and power becomes beloved, those whose ego is suffering the agony of worthlessness, meaninglessness, and not loving or being loved, will resent that person’s something that they will never have– to be embraced as worthy of admiration and love collectively. The mere presence of such a person is a constant reminder of the shortcomings of self. Each reminder a prick of pain within that dark state of suffering and agony.

When the collective consciousness needs a target for its shadow side, it will project that shadow onto someone who will represent it (and mirror it back) for those dispossessed of love. It cannot reflect off of darkness, it must reflect off of light as a mirror. So it finds a bright soul to project onto the collective shadow of humanity. It happens when humanity is desperately in need of a shadow figure to represent “out there” what they can’t bear to acknowledge in here.”

There have been a few of these in history.

There are also those who carry the shadow and represent the shadow side of humanity. These also are dispossessed of love and they can’t bear to be meaningless or worthless and so engage their shadow in acquisition mistakenly believing acquiring things will end their struggle with their need to matter. They think “things” will fill up the emptiness inside. They can envy others “wealth” and will jealously try to destroy those whose light is too bright. They disrupt, bring chaos, feed shadow, make war.

We are living in an interesting time. A challenging time.

Look around you. Notice the struggle between embracing the light or wrestling the darkness. Notice the choices being made by people– is their life mission aligned with the good of the world? With its betterment? Does it serve humanity? Is it serving the commission of love in the world or the omission of it? Is it serving the darkness, the bitterness? Or the light and love? Is the work being done in service to the world and its enlightenment, or is it in service to the self and its selfish interests? What about you?

Are you aware enough of your own shadow to see it? To recognize when you’ve allowed it off leash? To see when you have projected it on to some unsuspecting character whom you’ve implicitly, silently or unknowingly asked to wear it for you? (What annoys you about another is a quality of potential you refuse to recognize in yourself.) Has someone in the collective been singled out to wear our shadow so that it never has to be acknowledged or faced? Is there someone incessantly ridiculed because his goodness shines too brightly? Because her benevolence shames those who will never share treasure?

Worth is not related to money, fame or power. It is proportionate to the dividends of service. What do you serve? Who are you serving? Why? Are you worth enough? Are you enough?

There is someone on this planet who learned how to amass wealth by peddling shadow, by creating a famous and powerful mirror for collective shadow and then selling the stuff of that shadow back to those who gratefully bought it in order to distract from and avoid their own. This person caught on to how creating a target to project collective shadow onto was appreciated and brought relief from ever having to face your own unbearable shortcomings. There is someone too, who does not serve the world but serves only self and who employs shadow in all endeavors. That selfishness is being demonstrated to the world very effectively. What do you suppose is the purpose of those demonstrators and their demonstrations? Imagine what the world might have been like had they chosen to feature human brilliance instead of shadow.

What is all this in service to, you may ask? It is in service to awakening, to seeing without clouded eyes, the reality of our condition. It is to identify once and for all what the ugliness of shadow run amok actually looks like. It is to become sick-to-death of the wounding that shadow inflicts on individuals, cultures and the world.

And it is to become so sick of the ugliness that one commits to working toward turning things around. In what one does individually, what one does in cooperation with others and the collective that is humanity because if forms humanity. It is to become so saturated with the shadow as to long with every ounce of one’s being for the brilliance, the bright shadow of humanity to come out of hiding and express itself on this planet.

Then this way of treating self, others and the planet with this kind of indifference, disdain or evil will be over.

I deliberately did not include any names in this essay. They will occur to you as you read. And you will be correct. I deliberately did not give direction or urge you to do anything; you must discern that for yourself.

What I have done here on the tenth anniversary of Michael Jackson’s passing, is create the greatest tribute to him (not about him) I could think of that he might be inclined to love and bless himself.

 

 

 

 

Birthday 60 August 29, 2018

It’s hard to wrap your head around the idea that Michael Jackson would have been 60 years old today. What would he have looked like? Would the comeback have relieved him of some worry and stress? Would finding out how faithful the fans were and still are, have warmed his heart? Made him feel welcome in the world again? “This Is It” seemed destined for greatness. Would that have made a difference in his life? Would he have cheered up and come out of his protective shell?

  • Would his health have improved? Would he have gained some weight instead of being dangerously thin? Would he have become the filmmaker and movie director and producer he dreamed of being? Would a Blockbuster film now be part of the legacy? Would more acting? Speaking of the legacy, there were celebrations today to mark the icon’s would-be 60th year:
  • The estate held a Diamond Anniversary Party at the Daylight Beach Club
    at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas
  • The Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame hosted a party on its plaza
  • A mural in Hamburg, Germany was dedicated to Michael.
  • Jackson-inspired jeweled crown sculpture appeared in London’s Southbank.
  • Jackson’s children and brothers made appearances today in Las Vegas.
  • Michael received the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation Legacy Award and was accepted by his children on behalf of their father.
  • Janet Jackson did her own tribute to her late brother.
  • And there’s this…

Listening to your music
Crying
Missing you
Can’t believe we’re not on the same planet any more as we always have been since I was a little girl
Heart ache
Longing
Angry at what they did to you
Fighting for justice
A heavy heart
Your music takes me back and lands me right where I am at the same time
Magic
Talent
Soul
There will never be anyone like you
It will never come back
It will never be the same
From now on always missing you
Crying
Listening to your music….
Happy birthday, Michael ❤

(c) 2018 Jolanda Van Der Grift

A Word about Fans and Entitlement:

Someone sent Prince Jackson this message:

“It’s your dad’s birth day. Expecting a post from you for him.”

This was Prince’s response:

“If you expect anything from me you will get nothing. I see a plethora of ignorant messages like this on a daily basis. This is my account that is public to everyone and I will use it as I see fit. If you’d like to see birthdays posts for my dad, look at what I’m tagged in. I chose to honor him in a different, intimate, and personal way. Also future ignorance like this will be posted and blocked. So think before you speak.” Many comments in support of Prince followed his message.

Let’s stop and think for a moment:

Imagine: you’re the kid of a giant mega-star who was the world’s most polarizing figure– beloved by millions and vilified by a similar faction. You know your father’s heart because you grew up with him and absorbed his teachings of compassion and care. You still sting with the loss of your closest human companion who was father, mother, teacher, friend, life navigation guide…

You learn of his monumental achievements and how well known he was around the world. You marvel at how this could have happened to someone who was your parent. You’ve also heard or read the stories about what some people accused him of and thought of him. You know that some of those people formed those opinions a decade or more ago and they still cling to their convictions. You know that if they could know the truth of who your father was, their convictions would be overturned. But you can’t reach those people; they will always be sour and toxic to your father’s memory. Some couldn’t bear to know that were wrong and they bullied an innocent man. There are other people out there who believe the stories simply because of their prominence and repetition in the media or because their personality gravitates toward the shadow side of human nature. You feel sorry for them because they have been swayed by someone else’s opinion and obviously don’t or can’t think for themselves. They deserve your pity but they will never deserve your time or attention.

You understand the power of media, photography, film, words… and you know that unscrupulous people only out to make a fortune off the backs of others– conscripting famous people and cultivating salacious and sensational stories– because they learned long ago that people have a bright side and a shadow side and the shadow, when driven by envy, loves to watch the rich and privileged topple from their lofty places. You know that this practice became an industry making billions off human misery. And you know your father was a target of the tabloid industry only to use him for money to fill the coffers and pockets of the unscrupulous. And you know that it almost killed your father, that it did kill him emotionally at times and that it was a factor in his early and premature death.

And you completely understand what others’ demands– for good or evil can do to a sensitive soul. You watched your father maybe unaware of what is was, but you knew deep down that something was terrible wrong and was causing him pain.

And then there are the fans. You are grateful that your father had so many fans because the fans made him a star and were always there for him in the depths of the despair and darkness that visited his life. But  you also know that unthinking fans who couldn’t contain their emotions or their excitement and who lost their common sense or restraint– you know they hunted, haunted, crowded, and attempted to consume him in some selfish way. (Yes, consume~ author’s note.)

You understand by now or will come to understand that when you are in the public eye, you are interesting to people whose lives appear dull by comparison. When you are a public figure, you are automatically subject to the opinions of other people, some of which are informed by jealousy or envy. They may feel inadequate by comparison so they may disrespect you to make themselves feel better. They don’t know that’s their own shadow or that projecting it onto others creates the illusion that they are absolved of their own shadow characteristics. They are delusional. It’s a desperate delusion designed to save them from their own fear. You can pity them but you can’t save them. Don’t try. Fame creates the illusion of familiarity. People think they are familiar, they are friends or even family when your image appears in their living rooms or in their magazines or computers. They hold the illusion that they somehow know you personally. They will act and speak out of ignorance because they don’t know what they don’t know– and that’s the definition of ignorance.  Although they may think they knew/know your father, they will never know him the way you did. It’s delusional to think so. You’re not their friend and allowing the delusion or ignorance to continue is not an act of kindness; it keeps people ignorant and it keeps them projecting onto other people instead of self-reflecting, growing and thoughtfully engineering their own lives. Forgive them privately but publicly hold up a mirror.

Those are the same people who acted immaturely or impulsively with your father– instead of politely waiting to be invited into his life, by going to concerts and being respectful in his presence, some of them pushed their way in uninvited (in large crowds, dangerous) while demanding to be acknowledged.

And there are the sycophants– people admittedly one time fans of Michael Jackson who actually were invited into his life and who, at some point or in some way, overstepped his boundaries– financially, emotionally, creatively– as a friend, employee, acquaintance, lover, collaborator… and it ended badly and those who once loved your father turned on him out of spite, envy, greed or revenge. And it continues yet today…

As his child, you have made note of all this. As a child you were helpless to change any of it and as an adult all you can do now is process, grieve and resolve for yourself all the feelings you have about how your father had to compartmentalize his life, how he lived his whole life in a fishbowl with the whole world watching and having an opinion- he’s right, he’s wrong, he’s spoiled, he’a hero, he’s a criminal, he’s an angel, he’s evil, he’s a genius, and the most toxic of all “he belongs to me” and therefore “he owes me.”

By now, having grown up in a famous family, you know the advantages and the dangers of your “audience” whoever that may be. You understand that because your face is known and your family is considered American Music Royalty, you will forever be in the spotlight yourself. You know now that your father hid your face, when you were little, for good reason.

You know the pitfalls of fame and fortune for you’ve been forced by your life’s circumstances to study it. While you likely wouldn’t change it, you understand well, that you did not choose it. Your father knew mostly how to navigate such a life but sometimes lacked the energy, savvy or political prowess to counter all the negativity. He was a sensitive soul whose sensibilities were easily shaken You are his DNA; you are his heart forever walking around outside his body.

Upon reflecting on all of this… in addition to the worldwide acclaim which makes you proud with admiration and love for the human he was, for his god-given talent (and yours) and how he used it, you know you can never duplicate and can only hope to live up to– who your father was in his life in addition to who he was to you. And accompanying all that, there is also a startling, sad conclusion: your father’s life was never his own.

Your father’s life was never his own.

As Michael Jackson’s child, all of this informs your life. You have to live it your way. You don’t have to live it for the tabloids, although they are likely to exploit you too. You don’t have to live it for your father’s fans, although they may want you to.

Like it or not, your father called upon his fans to be his legacy. He also held up a mirror to the world. Some of them see that; some don’t. No, it isn’t your job to remind them but it may be your fate.

Ignorance can be overcome. It is overcome by empathy, compassion and by seeking information and knowledge.  Are MJ Fans Being The Legacy

Yoda once said “Do, or do not. There is no ‘try.'” He might have said “Do it your way, or do not. There is no lie.

https://vimeo.com/48407859

Update: Joe Jackson has passed

The patriarch of the Jackson family has passed on at the age of 89 with Katherine and family at his side. Certainly a controversial figure, he leaves behind as his primary legacy, the Jackson 5, whose music punctuated a lot of our lives. He was their father, their manager, the “bad cop” head of the family  to Katherine Jackson’s good cop. He shaped their lives and their music and made them into stars, something he aimed for himself. The early reports are that he died of Pancreatic Cancer. Pancreatic Cancer is an extremely painful way to go. It could not have been an easy path to the Promised Land.

If you’ve ever been to Gary, Indiana, you’ll understand the blue collar heartland that Michael and his brothers grew up in. Joe worked in the local foundry– a demanding, hard, hot and sweaty job with no path to the top and no opportunities for advancement– not for a Black man. Black brothers were the first to get laid off and the last to be picked for promotions. The crumbling housing and infrastructure of parts of Gary make clear where the  priorities for prosperity lay for the city. The Jackson’ home is still there, now fenced in with a monument in the front but behind it is a wood frame house no bigger than a 2 car garage, where 9 people crowded into 2 bedrooms with only one bathroom– a  total space  of  about 600 square feet.

Joe Jackson shouldered that responsibility of providing a home for 9 people and during his time off from work, he shouldered the responsibility of 7 children and took it seriously. Gary isn’t pretty now, and life is still rough in that neighborhood. But back then there was way too much temptation for boys growing up in the hood. A strict disciplinarian, Joe kept them in line by putting music (not gangs, not drugs, not crime) in the center of their world. There are plenty of stories told about the way Joe Jackson raised his sons– some of those stories from Michael himself. He was a harsh taskmaster by all accounts and he demanded complete allegiance to developing the Jackson 5 while there were plenty of distractions.  Katherine tempered his iron hand somewhat but in those days discipline was corporeal and severe. That is how many fathers kept their children, particularly Black teens, in line. Nihilism ruled in the poor Black neighborhoods and when nothing matters including life itself, anarchy can arise. Joe Jackson kept his boys out of the school to prison pipeline.  He also can claim that all of his children and even his grandchildren  are talented and have been successful in their own right– Janet Jackson, Rebee, LaToya, and  Michael’s brothers Tito, Jackie, Jermain, Marlon and Randy, Tito’s sons who performed as  T3 and Michael’s 3 kids– Prince, Paris and Bigi. The name “Jackson” is synonymous with success and with music. Joe’s legacy will be long and colorful.

If you want to know Joe’s values, take a listen and look at the early work of the Jackson 5. And take a closer look at Michael’s “Beat It” for those reflect the values he was brought up with.  Joe Jackson was a flawed human being with character shortcomings but he was a father who saved 7 children from lives of despair or worse. No matter what you may think of his methods, the outcome for his family could not have been predicted by the look of that tiny house  at 2300 Jackson Street in Gary, Indiana. It’s a cautionary tale yes, but a fairy tale as well. Every one of his children carry his DNA. They can’t be beloved figures without remembering where and who they came from.

Some will find it easy to love the legacy but not the man. If his Maker can cut Joe some slack and love his humanity despite the human, those who admired his sons can be as generous.  I hope the fans and readers will keep this in mind when Joe Jackson comes up in conversation or is the subject of a memorial. May his soul rest in peace.

 

 

 

Michael Jackson: It’s Time to Explore the Tide of Truth

Time is elastic. It sometimes acts like binoculars trained on reality while looking through the lenses from the wrong end. We know nine years have passed since Michael Jackson left this world; we’re amazed it’s been that long. For some, it seems like forever. In another reality, it feels like yesterday. Time is fluid… like water.

There are children walking around this world who don’t know who Michael Jackson is and who may have never heard of him. There are other children who upon first encountering his work, are magnetically drawn to the Jackson magic. One child was really upset with parents who never told him about Michael Jackson and he angrily demanded an explanation.

I searched all day today for an unbiased article to post about MJ but couldn’t find a comprehensive one without some kind of editorial slur or put down. It’s hard to find one without editorials. Even the positive ones make reference to his “bizarre” life or lifestyle, and there’s very little written about his music and its timelessness. It’s everywhere. Every grocery store I frequent has Jackson on its playlist.

Why is it so hard to cut him some slack even when a lot of material about his philanthropy and generosity is available to the public? How is it that nobody has made an accurate biopic of this man? It seems the estate is planning to do just that. We’ll see if it gains the success of “This Is It” the film, or his posthumous albums and even the hologram—all of which many fans find offensive. The Circque du Soliel show, however, was brilliant.

But it seems the Jackson family just can’t catch a break—even now. The rivalry between Michael and Jermaine is judiciously resurrected with every milestone in Jermaine’s life. Jermaine grieved his brother’s passing as did all the brothers; many did long and guilt-ridden soul searching after his death. Families are complex structures with lots of tentacles. Dysfunction is part of every clan. But it’s as if the rules are different for the Jacksons than for anyone else. Randy and Jermaine are vilified, the brother’s tour is slammed by purist fans who don’t like the Jacksons using Michael’s music even in tribute to their brother. Artists who begin in groups can sometimes come to a place where they have enough recognition and talent to branch out and go solo, but they wouldn’t have that recognition without the original group. We tend to forget that our music icons weren’t always single artists: Diana Ross was first a Supreme; MJ was first a Jackson 5, Lionel Richie was first a Commodore, Beyonce was a Destiny’s Child…

Janet Jackson was vilified for the Super Bowl in 2004 and for a racy moment brought to you by Justin Timberlake who never suffered any consequences and actually became well known after his part in it. Time to show Janet some respect– how about next year’s Superbowl instead of the tabloid criticism of her weight (post pregnancy) and her very public divorce? Now people are reporting that La Toya is a virgin. And Joe Jackson is supposedly on his deathbed.*Jermaine has refuted that claim and tried to right the record but the Jackson family is rarely taken seriously or taken at their word.

And Paris, Michael’s daughter has become fair game for the tabloids who even used the term “wacko” in connection with her. People talk about Jackson’s children as being White (because they are the “wrong” color—still a reference to race and racism) when they clearly have stated their ethnic origins and have traits like their father. And now that his children are of a certain age, it seems they too, will be considered fair game for yellow journalism. The tabloids, and even some mainstream media, still refer to the crime for which Jackson was indicted on 14 counts and then acquitted on every count, citing his “criminal” background in biographical materials. And the meme is mindlessly repeated as fact although it’s historically incorrect and has been archived in the public domain for decades. One is innocent until proven guilty; Jackson’s innocence was proven beyond a reasonable doubt in court and through a jury trial. The 2 families that accused him were serial extortionists, having attempted to make or having made money from other deep pockets. But the press doesn’t print that truth.

Shameful Journalism

The Jackson family can’t catch a break… ever. Is it because the Jacksons are African American? Yes. That’s the simple, truthful answer. Racism is rampant today; think back to the seventies, eighties and nineties—when it festered underground without Trump to foment and push its rise to the surface. Music moguls and record companies were thieves, stealing Black Music from those who sweated and bled it through the musical lexicon. Black artists rarely owned their own music or were paid fairly even when they sold millions of copies. When Michael Jackson’s trajectory toward superstardom was obvious, MTV refused to feature his music or videos because of his race. Make no mistake—racism is alive and well almost a decade after his passing. How can we even begin to think it didn’t exist then, when Michael was serenading the world and healing people in the meantime. If men are guilty for “driving while Black” think of the penalties for singing while Black or being wealthy while Black or having power while Black—monetary power, editorial power, public power, platform power, the power of fame and fortune. How dare an uppity black man, who didn’t know his place, become so rich, so powerful, so beloved.

They used to lynch people for that kind of audacity. It was, in many ways– kinder. Now they aim guns and shoot with a kill shot, lock them up for non-violent crimes or three strikes, or hang them out to dry in a public forum and dismember them with tabloid words like “bizarre,” “unhinged,” “wacko,” “a peter pan,” (as if that’s a bad thing.) Words like “thug” or “gangsta” or the n-word still single mean people of color. They just don’t bother with a rope anymore.

Mr. Rogers and Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood is revered and Barack Obama can have children following and clinging to him like the pied piper, but neither of them are vilified in the media for their “unusual relationships with children.” Children loved Michael. Even now they are unable to hold their bodies still when his music begins to play. Even babies smile at the vibe in his iconic music and voice. And many adults credit Michael Jackson with saving their lives because life at home or school was so painful, they contemplated suicide. His lyrics told them he believed. So they believed. And he was the symbolic icon for that belief. A believed, beloved icon.

While many of us have written biographic material about him based on industrious and meticulous research, there is  yet to be a best-selling author who takes on his story. Certainly it’s not Ta-Nehisi Coates because his recent article: I’m Not Black, I’m Kanye included false Jackson biographic material and was as poorly researched as I’ve ever seen—making reference to his “wanting to be White” while even his autopsy—available to anyone online who cares to simply google it—confirmed his Vitiligo, a disease where the skin pigment is destroyed by an autoimmune process, and his Lupus that attacks cartilage and joints. (Yes, including nasal cartilage.) A best-selling author should know better.

I remember writing a letter to Mark Fuhrman asking him to, as a detective,  investigate the most interesting and compelling criminal story of the 21st century. Fuhrman has a track record and the literary pedigree to pull it off. I never heard back.

Let’s see what the Estate comes up with. What they should do is include a Jackson biographer in the plans– someone old enough, seasoned enough and savvy enough to guide the screen play through the dark waters of innuendo and slander to the clear waters of truth.

Yes time, like water, flows, bends and stretches. But time doesn’t dissolve truth. When the high tide of fiction retreats, the real artifacts that point to truth can be seen clearly scattered around the exposed landscape. For Michael Jackson and his family, it’s been high tide for too long. Truth is there for the finding. It’s time to tell it.

** Joe Jackson passed away two days after this entry was written. He died in hospice of Pancreatic Cancer with his family there.
I suspect that Jermaine announced that the report of his father’s impending death was exaggerated in order to spare his family from paparazzi and to keep their grief private.
Fans have expressed divergent feelings about his passing, but the loyal fans understand families are complex and imperfect structures; they wish the Jacksons peace and healing in their father’s passing. May Joe Jackson rest in peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 29 marks a birthday- 2017

A Life Celebrated, A King Remembered from Walking Moon Studios on Vimeo.

Some souls come to this planet to change the world. Or maybe they are sent. Michael Jackson was one of those souls. Some people are destined for greatness and in the case of Michael Jackson, that was evident very early on.

I truly believe that his life didn’t belong to him; maybe it wasn’t supposed to. He’s likely one of the rare people destined to experience a life that is not his own. I don’t think he could ever claim a singular life that belonged to him or allowed him to choose anything over most things being chosen for him. In so many ways, the man’s life belonged to everyone but him. He truly belonged to the world.

Imagine having no time that belonged to you, no childhood of your own, no privacy, no complete trust in anyone, no love that didn’t ask the question “what for?”—do you love me for me or the reflected light of privilege, stardom and wealth? And especially—a life that found no respite, no rest.

Michael Jackson was driven which raises the question: “what drove him?” There are many answers to that question. There is a quality that visits all true artists—the impulse and compulsiveness to create. Art that wants to come through you and express itself in the world while coming through your life, never lets you rest. An artist is literally a slave to the art itself. There is no way to stem the tide or—god  forbid—try to reverse it. A driven artist trying to ease up or slow down or even take a break will find it as impossible as trying to reverse the flow of a river or in some cases, dam up a fire hose.

The art, almost as if possessing a life of its own, expresses and the artist is dragged along by it. It is a form of possession. The art, in Michael’s case was a spigot that was always open. David Nordahl once told me: “You have to remember that Michael heard and saw all of his work in his mind before it was created. He only tried to duplicate in reality what he saw or heard in his own imagination. He would try to come as close as he could to the real creation that was coming through him. It always came up short of his ideal of perfection.” That kind of music cannot be duplicated exactly in this realm; it’s otherworldly. Mozart too, heard the “music of the spheres” which is what Michael was referring to when he said that his music lived in another realm and he just plucked it from where it was “created in space.” He identified the origin many times citing God as the First Creator.

I would argue that high art does originate in other realms and that art has influenced the world more than any other enterprise of human endeavor. Science is not far behind but it’s hard to love science or have it inspire great change in the world through passion. Unless you’re a scientist, that is.  Art though, by its very nature, is passionate.

Art has the capability of haunting an artist until it finds expression. The painter must paint; the musician must birth music into the world through instrument or voice; the poet or lyricist must find the concise and precise words that can tell a lifetime in a stanza; the writer must spill the essay onto paper; the actor must embody and breathe the character to life.

There is that something that lies behind the creative impulse that is hard to describe. Whatever it is, it insists on birthing an idea into reality that may have originated a moment ago as a fleeting thought. It circles back round to haunt until it has flesh on the bones and comes alive. It will not be denied. Similar to the onset of labor pains, there is no turning back—high art demands a birth.

For some, the compulsion is a “calling.” A calling is something that grabs hold, insists, intensifies, creates tension and results in a spiritual path or quest that mimics magnetism and pulls one into its orbit. It involves being “in service” to something greater than the self. Once in the grip of a spiritual magnet, there is no way but forward. A spiritual quest compels. It is accompanied by coincidences that propel one along a path, at times almost causing whiplash. It’s a place where you “know” and you know that you know. The spirituality of Michael’s work is easy to find if you know how to look beyond the secular. His book “Dancing the Dream” is full of spiritual references and to those trained or knowledgeable enough to recognize its subtlties, it’s replete with the musings of a spiritual seeker on the path to becoming an adept. Once on that path, nothing else will quench or satisfy.

It’s far beyond the little ego and the machinations and acquisitions of the ego for the sake of itself that most humans experience. It is the ego sublimated by the quest itself and the knowing of something far beyond the skin-encapsulated finite and small self”s ego. It is a touching of the Self (capital S) and once touched, sets off a longing for integrating the Self which eclipses the little human ego. Nothing less will do. It becomes its own haunting. It is sometimes characterized as “The Hound of Heaven” or the inner voice that will not be silenced or the soul’s longing for union with the Creator. The mystics, gurus and adepts have spoken of it often.

When an artist meets this aspect of himself or herself, little else has any meaning or attraction. And Providence begins to move and take over. Coincidences happen. The perfect book falls from the shelf, a gift appears in the form of an instrument that informs the journey. Spirit makes itself known and nothing short of that will give rest.  It will never be ignored again. Some literature calls that condition the “soul infused personality.” Rather than your brain, thinking, or deductive reasoning, the soul is in charge and is driving the human vehicle.

In Michael Jackson’s case, Spirit came in the form of music and demanded to be recognized and even obeyed. He was a student of sound and rhythm. In fact, as an artist, one could call him a slave to it. Sounds delighted him—all sounds.

And we, the audience watched the birthing process. We watched as soaring music and song was created, as new images and forms and concepts made their way onto a screen. We, the students watched the master in action—teaching, compelling, demanding our waking, coding our own spiritual journey—with a universal language called music that reached around the world and touched every continent, every heart that not just heard, but felt it and knew with another knowing that it was not usual or ego-based pop, rock or funk. It was something more.

Yes, some come to this world with a grand mission written on their souls. Too many times we mock, or scoff or illegitimize them in some spectacular ways. We test or demand they be tested. We can be jealous of their light. It’s unfortunate because when we are preoccupied with the container for whatever reason, we can mistake the contents and miss the master. And a master lays down his life in great sacrifice.

Michael and Enlightenment

June 25 comes round again, making it 8 years now since Michael Jackson died. A lot has happened since that fateful day Michael Jackson took his last breath on this planet. Some feel like it’s eons ago and some still mourn like it was yesterday. Some old fans have relegated him to memory and have moved on in and with their lives, new fans have come on board, countless old fans have given up on trying to teach new fans what Michael Jackson stood for, some new fans haven’t looked into the history of his becoming and ending or are ignorant of African American history, some fans have fallen out of favor with others and some still hold grudges against others for what they believe and whom they support or feel loyal too. A great deal of this is conduct unbecoming. Unbecoming of someone who claims to be a Jackson fan or supporter.

This space, Inner Michael, was born to comfort those deeply grieving the loss of, not just an icon, but someone who stood for the world vision they were born with. It was also designed as a meeting-up place for those who understood the real Michael Jackson and what he stood for and what he asked of his fans. Michael Jackson was the one person on this planet who held that vision and reminded us all that we were part of the Original Vision and we were the army of love that could, through our actions, bring that vision into reality.

Michael referenced that Grand Vision countless times and in everything he did. It was what he stood for. It was the hope that he held for the world and for us, as humanity. He said it over and over in all of his work, in all of his interviews, in all of his actions. In fact, from the time of he was a toddler, his mother tells stories of his incredible empathy and compassion. “Someday I will help them,” he said as he watched public service announcements of children starving in Africa whose sweaty faces and mouths attracted swarms of flies. And “someday” he did just that—he was involved in “Hands Across America” and in U.S.A. for Africa and countless other charitable works that he organized, led and performed in.

Did he know he was special? Well, some of us know our life missions and some are still searching for it and others have yet to discover they have one. Michael thought everybody was special and had the ability and power to change the world. He preached it often enough. Was his dream any different from ours? No. And here’s why…

Each of us is born into this world with that same Original Vision. It is the imagery of perfection, of brotherhood, of peace, of Heaven on Earth. Everyone is born with it but many forget it or don’t remember, or fail to re-remember, the “picture” they were born with. Everyone comes in with potential and from my wide reacing and esoteric religious studies, I understand that our souls are imprinted with a mission—the task we came here to do. It’s the thing that our souls long for, the impulse to make the world a better place by contributing to its advancement, and humanity’s advancement inbred in us. There is a unique contribution that we, alone, came to make. Yes, we come into this world with a mission melded into the architecture of our soul and it is our job to find out what that mission is and to accomplish it in this lifetime. This mission, once grasped and acted upon, expands the soul and the knowledge and in an instant, glimpses the greater plan for humanity. Once glimpsed, this plan can never be ignored. It haunts similar to a near-death experience. When one knows, one can never “unknow.” The understanding comes of what it means to accrue good karma, and to advance the enlightenment of ourselves and humanity. “Enlightenment” once glimpsed is never forgotten nor abandoned.

It is said that even the thought of “enlightenment,” should you stumble upon it in this lifetime, is a blessing that is rare and elusive to most humans. The idea of enlightenment, while it is the goal of every soul incarnated, is known to few and it can take many lifetimes to achieve even the knowledge of such a concept (Many religions include reincarnation in their teachings. Some will balk at the statement for they do not believe that humans live more than one life. Actually, reincarnation was once part of the Christian Doctrines but was taken out by the Emperor Justinian in 553 A.D.) It’s an ancient concept.

Enlightenment is one of those things, like the shard of the soul that holds the key to life mission, to Self,  and “God’s work” here (by whatever name you call that god or whatever way you worship.) There is a way to establish a communication portal to that internal knowledge. For example, mediation is one way; Shamanism is another.)

So what holds us (you!) back from discovering our (your) inner Divinity, our (your) purpose? The human ego. The ego is the false pride, the false identity, the false Self that resides within the human psyche and is formed, and becomes cumulative from the moment of birth.  We “unlearn” what we know at Birth. Birth, it is taught, is a forgetting process; your soul knows what you came for, the “mind” forgets. The personality believes itself to be “all there is” to human existence, and the identity considered the “self,” is but a sliver of the true Self.

Freud and others identified the Id, the Ego and the Superego and it serves adequately here and for this purpose, to describe the processes if the human mind and its functioning. We have all have these three components. Simplified, the Id is our infant self—the young, naive, immature and self-centered part of us that says: “me,me,me!” has tantrums and is selfish, demands, is insolent and jealous of others who get more attention than self. The Ego is the part of self that is identified as the self—it is the “me” that thinks, reacts, negotiates, manipulates, navigates, and believes itself to be all that exists of “me” and becomes the very definition of “me.” It is the “I” that lives and moves and has being.

The ego also has a dark side—the “shadow,” as it’s called. It is the part of self that forgets others in favor of self and gaining for self, and uses less-than-ethical means to get its needs met.

It’s the part of us that judges, shames others, excludes those who are “different,” banishes “them” from our tribe, hates, assumes ownership of something that is not ours or of another human being, demonstrates envy and jealousy, disrespects another, doesn’t respect sovereignty of other people and their decisions for themselves and their own lives, remains rigid in ones values, is unkind, forgets compassion and forgiveness, disdains someone else’s religion, abuses, bullies, gossips, throws shade… you get the picture. And then we’re likely to project our own shadow characteristics onto others because we can’t bear to acknowledge them in ourselves. “I hate her voice” may really mean “I wish I could sing that well.” We can’t find a negative trait in someone else unless we carry it within. If we don’t have it, we don’t recognize it in others.

Everybody has shadow in their Ego. When we resist our selfish desires because they may cause harm to self and others, we are said to “sublimate” (make sublime) the ego or in other more simplistic words, “keep it on a leash.”

The “Superego” is the self that is formed when the Id and the shadow side of the Ego is kept in check, is disciplined and is made to consider consequences for self and others from its affects. (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”) It is the mature self that emerges when impulses of the id and shadow are kept in check through practice and repetition. The Superego can be said to thoughtfully act instead of impulsively react. All this is greatly simplified for our purposes of discussion here.

Did Michael Jackson have this knowledge? Signs point to the fact that yes, indeed he did. His dialogue, his practice of gratitude and his faith, his work in music, lyrics and videos and especially his books indicate that he was indeed, very well aware of the components of self and that he was infinitely aware of the concept of enlightenment and the knowledge surrounding it. His work with Spiritual Adepts and Gurus punctuates it. He also knew how elusive this information was; he knew how rare it is in culture; he knew that some people would be turned off to it if he “preached” in the normal or religious sense of the term.  So he “preached” through his work as an artist.

How do we know he knew all this? The evidence is clear in all his work and words. One particularly clear time, he spoke of it being “out there” in the ethers and referred to himself as plucking it from where it already existed; in another clear moment, he referenced it with Kenny Ortega who asked him if he could rest a bit while working so hard in the studio to capture the music and lyrics for his work. “No, he answered, “God will give it to Prince!” It was clear that Michael believed that his work didn’t come from him but came thorough him. David Nordahl confirmed this to me in a conversation saying “You have to understand his music came from some other realm; he only took a kind of ‘dictation’ and he worked hard to approximate it as closely as he could to what he heard in his mind.” All of Michael’s music came from that same place. All of it came in a “download” to him from somewhere he recognized as a soul space or soul source. He acted quickly as he could so as to not to let the download slip away or so as not to “contaminate” it or confuse it with stuff in this realm.

Many great composers have said that same thing. And Thoreau once said “there was music in all sound;” whom does that sound like? Michael Jackson liked to wear corduroy because of the sound it made. He incorporated all sorts of sounds in his compositions.

The song “Can you feel it?” is the first evidence in Michael’s work that he was in touch with… let’s call it “the force” because that is a reference most all of us can identify with. The question then is… “Can you feel the force?” Jackson felt it his whole life. And he tried to convey the feel, the sound, the knowing, the existence, of the force to all of us. “May the force be with you” is not an idle or frivolous blessing or conveyance of Divinity. It is a real force of Force.

So why do I bring this all up on the eighth anniversary of his passing? Because, number one, it bears repeating and number two—something is coming. There are plans forming in the mysts of Avalon (check the reference) that will become clear as the path is discerned while it unveils itself. Something haunts and demands to be born that those in the know of this prompting by Spirit will recognize and understand.

To prepare for this new unveiling, we must necessarily examine Self for the characteristics of soul that a portal and emergence in to a new space or new work demands from a spiritual warrior—integrity, honesty, compassion, forgiveness, loyalty, steadfast humanity, maturity, generosity, magnanimity (not withholding from others or claiming territory—unearned or unentitled to you,) reverence, endurance, and Esprit de Corps. This state of mind and being must tolerate differences, eschew any kind of violence or bullying, and embrace diversity.

May I suggest that if you want to be part of this new birthing that is not a worshiping, but a paying homage to Michael Jackson, a recognition of what he taught and what we are—and know ourselves to be—including Michael Jackson, that you begin the work of self-reflection that it requires of you. May I also suggest that “may the force be with you” and that you watch this space for further instructions.

Remembering Cat: Rev. Dr. Catherine Gross

This is how I grieve– I spill the grief out with my fingers, onto paper or into key strokes. After I wrote this piece, I realized it’s not finished. Memories of things we spoke about and happenings we pondered are triggered by speaking to friends and acquaintances about this sudden loss of a friend. I will add things as they occur to me. You are invited to share your memories of Catherine in the comment section. I’ll save them for us. You’ll also find a link to a magazine by MJ Brookins dedicated to the memory of Catherine Gross here: Remembering Catherine

 


Remembering Cat

 

“Don’t you make me come down there!”

Catherine Gross and I exchanged that admonishment once in awhile. The phrase came up in conversation when one of us was caught being naughty– naughty in the sense that we weren’t taking good care of ourselves.

I met Catherine Gross in a virtual conversation about Michael Jackson when I held open forum conference calls for fans and advocates of Jackson who were grieving the loss of their favorite muse- Michael Joseph Jackson. I was putting together a program on bullying dedicated to him and to Lady Diana– the two most visible champions of humanity on our planet in the 20th century and its turn to the 21st. You see, many of us hung on to Michael’s every word in lyrics because he was the most visible champion of humanity in our world…

Some of us grew up poor, some abused or abandoned, some misunderstood, some sensitive to the world, some in unforgivable circumstances, some trapped in situations they couldn’t escape. For us, for them, Michael Jackson was the only steadfast anchor in a stormy life. We grew up not understanding the world and the nature of people that was so counter to what we were born with– a vision of a better world, a better humanity. Michael Jackson put it into words for us.

Catherine Gross grew up with Michael too. Catherine knew children. Catherine knew hardship. Catherine knew grieving. And Catherine knew God. Catherine was someone people also turned to when they were hurting inside. Michael Jackson’s death made people hurt inside. In the blink of an eye Michael was gone and people were left reeling.

I remember my daughter texting me and as I read the words “Michael Jackson died” I remember going numb. The sadness included a feeling of the ending of an era. We never believe icons can die until they do. Catherine had her own unique reaction when she heard the news. She told me almost as a confession, she had railed and screamed at God. She was so angry! She lambasted the heavens wailing and shaking her fists and demanding– “No. Noooo. NO! You can’t have him, GIVE HIM BACK!” The anger died down after a time but that feeling never left her.

Catherine Gross called me one day and asked if we might chat. She told me that Liz Taylor had sent her to me. What? Liz Taylor knew of my work? That Liz Taylor? Catherine assured me she did and Liz had pointed her in my direction because Catherine was grieving so deeply and Liz found my work and my words about Michael consoling. Liz send Catherine to my website. They had become friends when Cat wrote to her about Michael and talked about how devastated she was and they commiserated and bonded over their loss. I found out Catherine was planning a radio show for Michael Jackson and his fans to help them cope with his loss and wanted to know if I would consider being a guest.

 

So began our work together and our long conversations. As Theologians we didn’t always agree because I came at it from Cosmology and Catherine arrived to her faith tradition as a fundamentalist. “Wait awhile,” I told her. I shared with her that I’ve had many gurus and teachers over the years and that Michael Jackson was the latest teacher to show up in my life. She had been a fan since the beginning. I consoled her in her grief and she consoled me in my anger. His loss cut her painfully as if she had lost a personal friend. I explained that everyone who contacted me, and there were thousands, felt that same personal pain. It was as if he was family. Even a nun said that to me. So I assured Catherine she was not crazy but in the company of others who identified with Michael’s archetype and his message. For many, he had been the sane one in their world. Ironic that the world saw him exactly the opposite. That too, is archetypal, I told Catherine.

She consoled me in my anger. I didn’t have enough heartache in my life, now the Universe sent me the most controversial figure in recent history! Now at this stage of my life when I should be writing books of fancy and sipping a cocktail with an umbrella on a beach under an umbrella– but no, God had to send me the Fool/Savior Archetype to play with. The Fool appears as the Joker archetype yet is a wise, wise and deep soul. It was the parallel archetype of Coyote from the Native American tradition– the Trickster. I had people coming to me asking for answers about the most famous and most controversial figure in the world! Oh great. I knew Michael and “We are the World” played over and over in our home when I tried to teach my children about oneness and the brotherhood of man. They continued the MJ tradition in their teens.

Catherine saw Michael circling back into my life as a writer and viewed it as my calling as well as her own. She established “A Place in Your Heart” radio and off she went to use her gift of gab to bring healing to Michael’s minions while I used my gift of words with the Inner Michael website. I learned so much! Michael is ever the trickster! Hiding spiritual epiphanies in plain sight! Add Magician to the archetype list.

As fate would have it, I met Catherine in person in Los Angeles near Hollywood at Gardner Elementary School in the Michael Jackson auditorium. I began talking to Thomas Mesereau, Jackson’s defense attorney, whom I met while there and he indicated an open chair at his table and invited me to join. I had written to him about the “Words and Violence” program I had founded that examined bullying in all its incarnations and was dedicated to Michael and Lady Diana Spencer. I handed him some cards I had made about the program and we were discussing how “Words and Violence” was hosted by Voices Education Project and was the first educational program posthumously featuring Michael and suddenly I heard a familiar voice across the table asking if she might have one too. I knew that voice! It was Catherine Gross! We hugged and laughed and explained to Tom that we knew each other from our work and from radio but we had to go all the way across the country to L.A. to meet in person! We all chucked at that.

There have been two women in my life with such a presence that nobody ever said no to them. One was Sr. Virginia who founded a retreat center where I have a  piece of adjoining property– and the other was Catherine Gross. I suspect Catherine used that formidable nature to get what she wanted for her students. I watched her employ that in action with Tom Mesereau and others at Gardner School. She helped with a group getting Michael Jackson Auditorium reinstated to its original glory. Catherine was in her element in a school. With a Masters and her Doctorate in Education, Catherine was CEO of a Christian Girls School, a school principal and the perpetual educator. We shared an interest in propaganda and yellow journalism and she was a supporter and proprietor of “Words and Violence” and its articles about tabloid journalism and how words influence minds.

We talked hours about Black Music and civil rights and how African American musicians were treated so badly by record companies. She taught me about tap dance and the history of African experience in America. She became my muse and go-to editor about racial justice and racism in “Words and Violence.” I leaned on her to tell me when my White Privilege was getting in the way. We collaborated on projects where as the White girl I could say things she wouldn’t dare and she took me places I’ve never been with her stories about growing up Black and as a highly educated Black woman. She made me walk in her shoes and for that I will be forever grateful.

She told one story of driving her high end new car in the latest model, worthy of the her station in life, when it ran out of gas in an all White suburb. Of course the police thought it was stolen– she was after all, a Black woman with a shiny new expensive car. She told of how she had to strike just the right pose, keep her eyes cast downward and be solicitous of the residents in order to get her needs met. I was angry FOR her! How dare people treat a highly educated respectable woman in such a way! That was just the tip of the iceberg of what she experienced which is why, I think, she so identified with Michael.

I remember too, Cat telling me also about sitting in a room after she had finished an interview for a job and hearing the very White man casually talk about her to another White man in the next room while standing over her and beside her– already a very awkward, patriarchal and condescending act. But it was what he said that was unforgivable but (in those days) a common tactless vulgarity. He commented to his colleague that she was a “yellow gal” meaning that she was a light skinned African American. The closest I’ve ever come to that kind of insult is being subjected to comments about my body while I was definitely in the room, as if my anatomy was on display solely to invite commentary. All women have been disrespected in that way at one time or another. But when you’re White they certainly don’t comment on your shade of Whiteness as if pallor were a badge of honor.

We talked about how, as women acculturated to value beauty and to emphasize our “looks” to be considered beautiful for the male species of course, we understood our looks however, were a badge of honor. We’d both used it effectively as younger women. Apparently Catherine was quite the femme fatale in her day. While I can’t tell you the secrets shared between two women who used their femininity to their advantage, I can tell you that Cat was apparently quite the prize in her stilettos. While I was accustomed to turning heads and I knew it, Catherine snapped them around. Taraji P. Henson as “Cookie Lyon” of the TV show “Empire” comes to mind.

Cat told me stories about 47th street in Chicago, a kind of line of demarcation or demilitarized zone where the White and Black population bumped up against each other in the Windy City. If you were Black you stayed south of that artificial Mason-Dixon line and if you were White you never crossed its northern border.

Chicago’s 47th street was home to clubs where real Black Music could be heard long into the night by masters like

[caption id="attachment_2896" align="alignright" width="300"] http://www.innermichael.com/2015/05/19/black-music-royalty-matters/[/caption]

Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horn, Louis Armstrong and others. The Regal and Savoy Theaters saw their heyday as 47th Street began to grow and become home to upscale shops and elite businesses catering to Black culture and the African American vibe. The Cotton Club on Michigan Street was as lively as its namesake in Harlem and hosted the likes of Cab Calloway, R. Kelly and Bernie Mac and other R & B and jazz greats. Cosette Nazon Yisrael was the owner’s daughter serving drinks before she was old enough to drink them herself. Since the Cotton Club closed, Cosette has become a lifeline and mentor to girls in the same hood.

Cat told me stories of 47th Street and I told her about the North Side of Milwaukee where I often was the only White girl in the place. I went where the music called me and where people knew how to dance. I had no fear in those days while Catherine carried enough for both of us. Most of the residents on the south side of Chicago had migrated from the South to escape the lynchings and plantation slavery mentality of the South clinging long after the Civil War.

I encouraged her to write about 47th street and asked her numerous times to submit something for “Words and Violence.” She never got around to writing about 47th Street but she did begin to write for the Examiner and I was glad to see she was taking on subjects considered taboo by some. But 47th Street memoirs never saw print; I leaned later from Catherine that it was just too painful to write about. I’d written about Black Music at Inner Michael but my experience was nothing compared to Catherine’s.

Catherine was devoted to Michael Jackson and her “lovlies,” the devotees and fans who followed her. “I love you and there is nothing you can do about it,” she used to say. And at her “A Place in Your Heart Radio,” she loved all the people who loved Michael. Her guests were often Michael’s acquaintances and collaborators– people who actually knew him, not the tabloid hacks who disemboweled him with fake stories and innuendo. They told the truth of who he was and Cat gave them the forum.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/a-place-in-your-heart

Catherine championed a girl’s academy school in Gary Indiana near Michael Jackson’s childhood home with Cadeflaw and M.J Brookins, advocates for truth and law in legacies and she solicited donations for her “girls.” Catherine loved the arts and she especially loved Michael Jackson fan art. Her most recent project in Gary was to set up an art exhibition of Michael Jackson art by fans. Again, she was in her element– education and the arts.

Catherine kept up her ministry until the last with a Facebook Page as well as her other Facebook identities.

A few years ago Catherine went “off the grid” and I hunted her down through her daughters. She was in the hospital. She had an accident in her home and they didn’t find her immediately. I told her to never do that again and that’s where the ‘Don’t make me come down there!’ came from. Just lately I noticed she was posting on line lots of religious texts and late into the night. I was worried about her. I made a mental note to reach out to her.

I was too late.

She was an unforgettable character and Reverend Doctor Catherine Gross will be remembered by many who crossed paths with her as a school principal, minister, evangelist, writer, talk show host, and champion of art and the poor.

The world is a little dimmer today without her. I will miss her. What I will cherish, remember and take with me is that in her last years, Catherine began wearing a blonde wig. I loved it! Being blonde– well, it just suited her.

(c) B. Kaufmann 2017

 

 

 

Comments: Inner Michael Surveys & a Thought to Leave You With by Gerri Stone

Here are some more comments from the survey with my answers:

Comment:
“Rev.B has a way with words that makes it easy for anyone to understand her posts (English isn’t my first language). I was (still am) able to reference her work from time to time when I needed to explain or clarify a point to someone or to read on Michael’s greatness. Her posts are very insightful, informative & give you a broader perspective on Michael Jackson and life in general. I’m so grateful for them & her.”

My Answer:
Thank you for saying those kind words. As a minister, one wishes to ease suffering in times of grief and Spiritual Emergency but as a writer, one works hard to hone the gift to a skill that will impact readers. This comment means so much to me. Heartfelt ‘Thank You.”

Comment:
“I will never know what I would have done without you. You answered my emails straight away and gave me so much insight. I will always be eternally grateful.For you to tell me that MJ touched the hearts of people who would carry his message on as he left was something I’ll never forget and how a heart has to break to let the seed of love in, I’ll also never forget.”

My Answer:
Mystics like Rumi and Hafiz said it better than I ever could that sometimes heartbreak is a necessary thing. Gerri Stone said it in her lovely poem too. So yes, your heart has been tempered (like the steel sword tempered by fire) and pierced by sorrow so as to contain and amend with compassion. For self, for others and for the planet. So now carry on luv. http://innermichaelguest.blogspot.com/2010/06/poet-gerri.html

Comment:
“Kept me sane when everything around me seemed to be falling apart.”

My Answer:
Me too.

Comment:
“participation to: everyone on the globe,to send a picture, near a geographic recognizable point in my own country with the book Man in The Music; Joe VOGEL: Brussels near the Atomium.”

My Answer:
Hi again kiddo. What better place for a supernova superstar? It was our pleasure.  ~WMS

Comment:
“For me the was(s)are still is(s). I’m still struggling with MJ’s death & I find comfort in the messages.”

My Answer:
I understand. Inner Michael is not going anywhere. Take a bit of joy in knowing MJ arrived here in your lifetime. He understood and embraced his life mission while here and hereafter. He wishes you no less than that as well. Ask in dreams to know as it will lift the melancholy a bit for a deeper breath and inching forward. See Gerri’s poem.

 

https://youtu.be/uyzj25lJ_QE

 

Gerri is responsible for the video tribute at Voices Education Project:
Take a look:
http://www.voiceseducation.org/content/michael-jackson-spiritual-messenger-hiding-plain-sightFREEING THE
HEART  Part II
~by Gerri StoneEvery minute of every day somewhere
in this world someone is
watching a Michael Jackson video,
listening to one of his songs
on an I-pod, blasting it in a car.And whenever his music plays a grief
arises.Free floating grief searching for
a heart to nest in. Pain trapped in the
stomach, eyes, throat.

And we in our ignorance think this pain is
surely here to destroy us.

But it is not.

It is Michael at work, removing the
raggedy burned-out thing
we’ve been carrying around in our chest
all these years,
leaving in its place our real hearts.
Awakening us from our heartless trance.

(c) 2010 Gerri Stone

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You

How do I say thank you to companions in my global family? There is no way to properly do it for there really are no words. Come back anytime as I will periodically have messages for you. Please leave messages for me too or send an email at the address I sent you. We have a bond that will never be broken. May you be blessed.

This will never convey it but words are all we have….

English– Thank you

Spanish– Gracias

French– Merci  Beaucoup

Italian– Grazie

Japanese–  Arigato  ありがとう

Chinese– do jeh, daw-dyeh

German– Danke sehr

Thai– Khop Khun Mak Kha

Russian– Spasiba

Korean–  감사합니다 gamsahabnida

Icelandic– Takk

Hawaiian– Mahalo

Hebrew– Toda

Greek– Efharisto

 

~Rev. B. Kaufmann