Inner Michael » A strange Breed

A strange Breed

Tonight I will beat the drum. Hard. No, furiously. There are days I thank God I am a percussionist. Today is one of those days. My Indian friend will host drum circle and I will take my Djembe and a huge suitcase full of percussion instruments- cymbals, bells, gongs, tingshas, eggs, rain sticks, triangles, maracas, bongos, sticks, shakers, a washboard, and even a beer bottle with steel rod.

Thank goodness for a rhythm, for the natural order of things, for the human heartbeat, for the beat that underlies all living things, for the silent beat that underlies everything, for sound and vibrations and hearing– for percussion.

Tonight I meet one of the Cajons a woodworking father and son made from my old dresser whose previous incarnations include being both blonde and black lacquer with its latest emergence– painted funk. It has now entered its last incarnation as Cajons– 5 of them, I believe. They don’t make dressers like that now, a tongue in groove sturdy design, the wood strong and beautiful with an inherent lyrical thunk when it is tapped with the open hand. I am excited to meet the new kind of funk– in sound and beauty.


(A demonstration, not an endorsement of this Cajon or its maker) I would love to call this drum a “cage-on” because it reminds me of the spice from New Orleans but it is pronounced “Ka-hone.” It’s a thing of beauty.

I will use the drum to take out my frustrations, to release pent up energy and feelings about the recent trial of Conrad Murray and the media frenzy that again put Jackson, not his killer, on trial. I will drum in celebration for the judge whose statement was eloquent and startling. And I will pound out my feeling of injustice in the actual time served likelihood not just of the now guilty offender, but the offenders who will never go to trial.

Speaking of incarnations and perhaps re-incarnations, and hopefully percussive and reverberating reinventions, I share what I received from dozens sending me this piece of amazing literature. I wish I could credit the author but he or she remains unknown.


“Michael Jackson fans are a strange breed. One would be hard pressed to find another fan community whose object of admiration is the subject of so much unnecessary condemnation.

Over time, Michael Jackson enthusiasts have watched their beloved’s seemingly global idolization transform into apparent worldwide mischaracterization and mistreatment by the press and public alike.

Yet, through it all, true Michael Jackson fans have abandoned him not. If anything, the harder Michael’s opponents try to shove him to the depths of despair, the harder his devotees love him, if only for summoning the courage to persist in the midst of it all.

Michael’s continued endurance is an exercise in strength and resilience in the face of adversity and uncertainty. Michael’s fans have learned well the lesson, as they steadfastly brave the almost daily emotional roller coaster ride that is a requisite experience of every Jackson supporter. They marvel at his seemingly inexhaustible talents and applaud his victories. They laugh with him in his happiness; weep with him in his sorrow and pray for him in troubled times. Their hearts are warmed when he is embraced, and bleed when he is ill-treated. Despite the stratospheric highs and seemingly cavernous lows that come with being a Michael Jackson fan, they remain loyal.

They, like Michael, refuse to allow naysayers to steal their joy, obstruct their way or shape their opinions. They, like Michael, refuse to have their destiny defined or dictated by another. They also refuse to stand idly by as others attempt to deny Michael his rightfully earned legacy. Simply, Michael Jackson’s fans are just like Mike in that they will not be deterred. By nature of their calling, Michael’s fans are constantly summoned to put on the full armor, stand on the front lines and fight.

OFTEN, WITH THEIR PEN AS THEIR SWORD, THEY FIGHT ALONGSIDE AND FOR MICHAEL’s right of humanity. By so doing, they fight for tolerance over prejudice, unconditional love over criticism; wisdom over ignorance and justice over inequality – not only for Michael, but for themselves as well. The battles are never-ending, hard-fought and often mentally and physically exhausting. Still, rather than surrender or reconcile, Michael’s fans resist.

They refuse to throw in the towel and resign themselves to the path of least resistance, which so often involves renouncing their fan support of Michael. When the going gets tough, they press on. They press on through Michael’s tribulations and the attacks to which he is subjected. They press on in spite of satire. They press on despite mockery as to why they fight for Michael Jackson, a man some deem undeserving of their steadfast loyalty.

Hazrat Inayat Khan once said, “God breaks the heart again and again until it stays opened”. Michael’s devotees can see him as living proof of this idea, as he seems to be the embodiment of the notion. His own heart has been broken much and his fans personally feel the sting of each break. By the grace of God, Michael’s heart does not become hardened as a result of its frequent fractures.

To the contrary, his shattered heart allows for its tenderness and openness. Since out of the heart, the mouth speaks, Michael’s fans are able to truly see the fullness of his heart when they listen to him articulate his desire for acceptance, understanding, positivity, love and peace through song and speech. As efforts to break Jackson himself have continually proven unsuccessful, some opponents have turned their focus to attempting to disband the fan community by attacking his defenders. Time after time, the press uses condescending, defamatory terms to describe Michael’s fans.

Being referred to as ” delusional” and “wacko” is not foreign to Jackson’s supporters. However, they choose to ignore the juvenile name-calling and taglines by the media and by haters. The fans refuse to allow the press to project negative, inaccurate perception onto them.

This is because Michael Jackson fans realize that such inflammatory terms do not depict their true nature as intelligent, grounded individuals with a healthy admiration for Michael’s music, vision and humanitarianism among other things. Interestingly, Michael Jackson’s influence is global and thus, so is his fan base.

Some of his detractors are under the false impression that his fan base is minuscule as well as one-dimensional. To the contrary, Michael Jackson enthusiasts are nothing if not vast and multi-dimensional. They can be found on every continent, in every country worldwide. Michael’s fans transcend racial, age and socioeconomic boundaries. The fact that Michael’s fans are so diverse adds to their beauty.

Few entertainers, if any, can lay claim to having the type of dynamic and varied fan base of which Michael Jackson can boast.

If it is true our lives are open books for others to read, then the fans’ study of Michael Jackson has taught them more than they ever could have imagined they would learn about life, love and survival.

Michael Jackson is a living testament of the notion that whatever one dreams and desires for his or her life can be achieved with truth and honesty. Michael lives by the mantra that love should have no limitations, no conditions. Michael has shown all who dare take notice that it is possible to not only stay alive, but to thrive, with grace and fortitude despite adversity.

By merely existing, Michael Jackson has taught his fans what it is to dream without fear, to create without boundaries, to listen without prejudice and to love without judgment. Simply, Michael Jackson’s fans are a hard act to outshine. Their loyalty, enthusiasm, intelligence and genuine love of Michael is unparalleled by other artists’ fan communities.

However, for all their love and devotion, Michael Jackson’s admiring fans will always be bested in one area; for try as they might, no matter to what infinite degree they say and believe they love Michael Jackson, he will always say and prove he loves them more …

-Fantam circa 2000

As I have said many times before, Michael Jackson fans have much to teach the world:

(You can read part I and III by clicking on the links at Huffington Post.)

I stubbornly believe that claim; that’s why I took a year of my life to guide and edit the incarnation of Voices Education Project: Words and Violence curriculum- the case studies written by Jackson fans and its latest feature by Joe Vogel “Am I the Beast You Visualized,” who wrote Man in the Music that is still featured front page.

The latest addition to the curriculum that spans more than 300 pages now and is in its second edition is Joe Vogel’s feature, “Am I the Beast you Visualized: The Cultural Abuse of Michael Jackson” written for Words and Violence with its accompanying discussion questions are inquiries everyone should be asking. The exercises are practice positions every student should experientially occupy. It should be recommended and adopted by every school in the country for youth is enamored by celebrity. Some advocates of Words and Violence curriculum are going to their local schools and personally introducing principals and teachers to the curriculum. That’s how important they think this project is. Some Inner Michael readers have sent the curriculum to journalism schools. Whatever you can do is helpful. Youth, and adults for that matter, need to know what happened to Michael Jackson at the hands of the media, what resulted and what that feels like to celebrities. When youth buy tabloid magazines, they support a culture that terrorizes real people.

A recent article in the Independent highlights what can happen to celebrities like Lindsay Lohan and Brittney Spears and that did happen to Elizabeth Taylor, Madonna and Michael Jackson in their heyday– they were fodder for the tabloids that are unfortunately believed by the population. Say something long enough, have pundits speculate about it long enough and it becomes cultural “truth.”

When the celebrity doesn’t “play ball” with paparazzi and the media, they are deliberately targeted by tabloids. And even if they do genuflect to the media, there is no assurance that anyone is immune from attack. Lady Diana tried to appease the tabloid appetite and still was vilified and hounded to her eventual death. Charlotte Church reveals the dark side’s empire in the Murdoch investigation of phone hacking and celebrity bullying.

Fans have asked “What happens next?” The answer is, I think, to become activists for a more humane narrative on this planet or to ramp it up if one already is, that likely begins with the media but can include advocating for positive Michael Jackson materials and coverage, doing vindication work as is being done par excellence in many places, writing letters to bullying media, taking to the streets in the Occupy movement that demands change and continues to morph, becoming a media change advocate, speaking out publicly, going to the schools and speaking with administration and faculty. It may be simply going to your local book stores and libraries to learn where the new books about Michael Jackson– Joe’s book, Jermaine’s book and the Cascio book is being housed. Do you find them in the “new releases” section? If not, ask the bookstore or library ‘why not?’ and ask that they be moved to a more appropriate location. Demand change in whatever way suits you or you are called to do– unless it is violent. Or Michael would not approve– and you know what that means; it does not require an explanation.

I recently made a general statement that “ego, personal stuff and fan issues,” prevents people of stature working with fans. It wasn’t meant to be arrogant, personal or an accusation but a cautionary and factual observation that when fans behave badly, engage in infighting, have word battles on Twitter, call each other names, become territorial or latch on to celebrity for reflected glory, it gives all fans and advocates a black eye. It gives media a reason to continue calling fans “crazy,” “delusional,” and “worshipping their idol.” It gives those in Michael Jackson’s orbit pause and reasons to avoid fans and advocates. David Nordahl cited examples of fans and admirers involuntarily gripped by a phenomena that caused them to abandon rationality and had Michael practicing the escape of his own clothing to save his life should it become necessary. Michael himself complained about that very thing in his lyrics citing jealousy, vicariously sought celebrity, ego vs. humility and forgetting oneself and the origins of one’s gifts as problems that plague humanity.

The Jackson family is often targeted with commentary that amounts to bullying because fans claim some kind of imaginary propriety over their lives. The entire clan of Jackson brothers and sisters were stars on their television show “The Jacksons.” They are all performers. They all claim the Jackson name. They are the first family of Black music and television. They all contributed to the civil rights movement and the elevation of black music and culture. They are all engineers on the Soul Train to civil rights and integration. And as all families do, they have their differences and dysfunction and dramas. The difference is that they have always done it all in a fishbowl.

Joe Vogel has been attacked, other advocates have been attacked and I learned that I too, am not immune to it. It initiates a “staggering in disbelief” prior to the grief that accompanies disillusionment followed by realization of loss– a personal, death-dealing loss. Choices fall into two categories– those that are “life affirming” and those that are in some way “death dealing.” I’m an idealist. An empath tuned to a global frequency. I hurt when that happens. And when that happens, I understand Michael Jackson the man. My trust is deeply shaken in those moments and I am not as good at forgiveness as I wish I was. Life experiences have taught me that it only takes once to condition a human. I look for what it is teaching me– perhaps it is designed to create empathy? It is empathy that will allow us to save us, after all.

Contrasting that position are fans and advocates who are reasonable, work professionally toward vindication, maintain a professional presence on social media, refuse to engage in dramas and conduct unbecoming to those who would claim to represent Michael and his true legacy. I have received and answered hundreds of letters from them– the ones who have had an inexplicable awakening of some kind courtesy of Michael Jackson (spiritual, cultural, social, emerging awareness or spiritual emergency that catapulted them into a vision quest) are steadfastly working toward cultural change. They are the ones who change hearts and change the world. They are the ones in touch with their inner-bright shadow just as Michael Jackson was in touch with his “inner Michael” brilliance when he saw himself as sharing with the world a gift that was god-given. Each day there is a choice to be made: engage shadow in the ego and obscure the “Inner One” or engage bright shadow and shine. To be soulful or not soulful.

It is the geniuses and visionaries of this world that see the world as it could be, not as it is. The visionary mindset is a painful place to occupy. A perpetual sadness accompanies change agents as they clearly see another choice that could have been made but was not. And those tuned in to engergies feel the impact of those alternative decisions and how the effect ripples through the entire world and its people. It is not easy to live there. Fans and advocates have tasted now, and lived, a little of this visionary place– the change agent position that witnessed up close and yes, they took it personally– the rampant cultural and social dysfunction of the last two years and some long term fans for much, much longer. They have been drafted into occupying the reconnaissance position in a wave of change now sweeping the planet. Many have told me their fatigue is overwhelming but they will “live to ride again” as surfers on the first wave of change. It is about Michael, but it is about far more than Michael– it is much bigger than that. Michael knew and he left clues. The real gift is yet to come.

I promise you that exploration and dialogue is taking place behind the scenes with experts and artists about what comes next. With a little rest, some deep breaths and self nurturing comfort measures, the energy will return and the passion can be used to “make a difference.” If you have stories about how this all has affected you, I welcome them.

If you have photos of reading Joe Vogel’s book around the world, I will collect them and see that Joe, his publicist and PMF (Pay MIchael Forward) gets them. You deserve to have some fun now. So grab your camera and Joe’s book and go out and pose in front of a local landmark. Send me your handiwork- don’t worry if they are not perfect, I am an artist with photography education so I will be your editor before the photo ever sees the light of day. Go celebrate and laugh and smile about finally– the real story being told and the best justice one could hope for– the exposure of words intended for violence. Judge Pastor saw it. He said it– Michael Jackson’s words recorded for violent and selfish purposes. Where have you seen this before? Celebrate the light leaking into areas dark for far too long!

So breathe, rest, celebrate and rejuvenate. The beat goes on for truth. This is NOT it.

I offer a little bit of hope to rejuvenate and re-energize. This is Jeremy Rifkin, visionary and the Empathic Civilization from our Voices Education Project “Words and Violence” Curriculum.


  1. Kim said . . .

    Thank you so much for your compassionate, truthful and heart-opening words. As I was reading them, I couldn’t help but visualize examples of some choices that were made, which left the world a little less empathetic or desensitized. With that said, as you mentioned during the last 2 plus years I have been observing where people are choosing the path of compassion, truth and wanting to make a change. Seeing how people are making different choices that have a positive impact on humanity provides such hope and inspiration. I have met so many wonderfully passionate people across the globe as a result of Michael and it is true what you say. They are a representation of what is needed to make the change that Michael and others just like him were striving for. Of course, there are many people who have been making the change all along, but there are many who have just awakened and now are searching for their life’s purpose in this world. I feel like I am one of those people. I thought my heart was opened before 6/25/09; however, I found that I was under the wrong perception. My heart has been cracked wide open and the crack keeps getting wider it seems. I have connected with so many people on my path and for that I am truly grateful. I am thankful with gratitude every day; every minute of the day.

    Yes there are those fans that are very passionate and sometimes get caught up in their mission to protect and preserve Michael’s legacy. Yes there are those who become very territorial as I have seen it myself; however, I no longer judge them or at least I try not to. I don’t because I understand that they don’t realize that their love and passion is perhaps making them do things they normally wouldn’t do. Something about stepping in the deep emotion of conviction that blinds us at times. Then there are those non-fans who simply do not get it. They can’t see beyond the caricature that the media so intentionally and methodically built of Michael throughout the years. I have seen it in my own family on Thanksgiving. So while two of my family members have been drafted by Michael (LOL); another family member went so far as to call Michael that “p” word and the way that it was said; it was very vindictive. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Right then and there is when I said to myself that I will speak to her the next time this is brought up; This is the perfect example of why I am an advocate for Michael and why I am passionate about changing the meme set forth about Michael and changing the narrative on the planet. It all started when I explained why I refused a job offer. She didn’t understand my reasons and didn’t even respect that I needed to stand by my values of integrity and respect. So while I won’t go into all the details, I just wanted to share that sometimes we see a need for change so close to home. When I think about that, it is very painful, but seeing this also gives me more strength and courage to stand with people who continue the work of making a change. So your words speak the truth from what I have seen. Thank you for your compassion and your work on behalf of Michael and humanity. I’m serious when I say this because your words are very thought provoking and challenge us to think critically and honestly about what has happened and what is happening in the world today. So please continue your work and it is sincerely needed to help make the change needed. Thank you and my sincerest gratitude to you. Namaste Rev. Barbara.

    Posted December 1, 2011 at 6:30 pm | Permalink
  2. Suvie said . . .

    Thank u again! 🙂
    You know I felt as I listened and saw Judge Pastor announcing the sentence… that he seemed to be possessed by something… he seemed to be disgusted… as you once said… it seemed to come through him and not from him. What did his body language seem to tell you Barbara? And of course, this is not the end but the beginning. The wood are dark, lovely and deep and miles to go before I sleep….

    Posted December 1, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Permalink
  3. Kim said . . .

    One more thing, I just watched the video on Empathic Civilization by Jeremy Rifkin again and I have to say that it resonated with me deeper this time around. What a wonderful explanation of where we need to be. Thank you.

    Posted December 1, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Permalink
  4. Ankita said . . .

    Dear Rev B.,
    Greetings to you! I have been circulating that fan letter( Michael Jackson fans-an expose) around the world since 2001. I have been sending it to the international media, posting it on fan sites and Discussion boards, sharing it with friends, family, aquaintances for the past ten years. I recently put it on the internet again and deliberately put ‘circa 2000’ since I wanted to let the world know that Michael and his Army of Love have been fighting a battle for a long, long time; that we have been bleeding for decades and that the quest for justice for Michael did not just begin after June 25, 2009. I have been sending this letter, as well as a mammoth list of Michael’s amazing humanitarian work, Michael’s own words-his inspiring quotations, beautiful poems from Dancing The Dream and truthful articles like Mr. Matt Semino’s “The Wounded Messenger.” I written hundreds of letters over the past 20 years, hoping that someday ‘every one’ in this world, especially the unconscionable media will realize the blessing Michael was and continues to be to the world and that he deserves nothing but absolute love, respect and appreciation. It’s time the world realized that it has blood on its hands. I shall continue. Thank you. Ankita, India

    Posted December 1, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Permalink
  5. vero said . . .

    Thanks for posting that anonymous discussion of Michael’s fans (hopefully the author will be revealed one day). It is so true that Michael’s fans have to have endurance and courage, and that they have experienced pain at Michael’s cruel treatment by the media and others (and their own pain at how they have been treated too). One day this will change–it is already changing, but it is work, no doubt about that! Thanks to all who are engaged in this effort to see that Michael and his fans finally get the respect and recognition they deserve, including you, Barbara!

    Posted December 2, 2011 at 12:39 am | Permalink
  6. vero said . . .

    P.S. Thank God for Judge Pastor and his eloquent words and righteous anger.

    Posted December 2, 2011 at 12:40 am | Permalink
  7. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    I believe Judge Pastor is a no-nonsense magistrate who stands for the law because he believes in it. I couldn’t believe my ears and I did ‘lean in’ to every word. ‘What an amazing man,” I thought, someone who has heard it all, seen it all, and not necessarily the highest inspirations of the human spirit and yet he did not speak with the voice of a cynic. It appeared his reasoned decision was a weathered one, not made in haste and without long and deep reflection. His need to do the absolute right thing guided him and he actually embraced his bully pulpit. I was surprised by the length of his statement. Great teachers take the opportunity to teach when it is presented and they don’t shrink from it. I believe he saw an opportunity to teach and he summoned something from deep within that allows the human spirit to shine in dark moments.

    His career has placed him in the position to observe human nature and not at its best and he therefore was not fooled by the facade or smoke and mirrors nor shell game of spin. He was eloquent and measured and took his responsibility very seriously. I sensed a genuineness, an authenticity that is so rare in our time. He kept an impeccable courtroom and did not allow the trial to erupt into a circus. I think he is someone to be admired because he is a principled man not seduced by politics or glamor or spin. And he is a consummate ‘teacher of men.’ To watch such a soul seize that moment took the breath.

    It is interesting how he focused on and interpreted the recording of Michael at his most vulnerable, that vulnerability induced by Murray himself. He is worldly enough to know that people could be seduced into acting unscrupulously for money which is Michael’s life story. For me, the esoteric reason and the whole purpose of this trial was to reveal that private, raw conversation that revealed Michael’s heart more than anything did when he was alive or since his death. It characterized Michael in a way that nothing else could have and it cannot be denied. I do not believe it was a mistake or an accident. It was riveting evidence that spoke simply but loudly about celebrity wealth and those who would sell their soul to sup from that well. Pastor saw it and he named it. Eloquently.

    Posted December 2, 2011 at 4:59 am | Permalink
  8. Souldreamer7 said . . .

    The first paragraph – Are you reading my mind or am I reading yours..? No kidding. I thought that paragrapgh today (Dec. 1st 2011) Dancing the dance waves of rhythm .. vibrations… Light & Love

    Posted December 2, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink
  9. Souldreamer7 said . . .

    This “Thank goodness for a rhythm, for the natural order of things, for the human heartbeat, for the beat that underlies all living things, for the silent beat that underlies everything, for sound and vibrations and hearing– for percussion.” Down to a T or perhaps an o

    Posted December 2, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink
  10. Kim said . . .

    I agree 100% about Judge Pastor. I won’t need to add anything as you stated it so eloquently. His actions give me hope. Even if Conrad Murray doesn’t serve the entire 4 years, his actions were observed for what they were regardless of his attorneys’ spin. Yes it appeared that his words were well thought out and came from a deep place.

    About the rhythm and drumming: I read two of Michael’s essay’s/poems from Dancing the Dream last night , “Are You Listening” and “Ecstasy” and both spoke to me very clearly of the rhythm and dance of life so eloquently. The beat of the drum reminds me to view the universe as rhythmic and beautifully orchestrated. My understanding of this is deepening every moment of each and every day. It feels good to get out of the left brain zone and just let be.

    Posted December 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink
  11. Sue Springer said . . .

    Thank you, Rev. B., for loving us and guiding us. We have work to do, and I am grateful that you are one of the guides. Love and peace.

    Posted December 3, 2011 at 8:29 pm | Permalink
  12. Suvie said . . .

    Thank you for you elaborate response on Judge Pastors sentence. this is not related to your post per se.

    What I am going to talk about now is not related to the post but I was reading “Be Here Now” again today and read about the place in the heart from where springs what Ram Dass calls UNBEARABLE COMPASSION. And Michael’s recording came to my my mind…he said…”I hurt…you know…I hurt”.

    Does empathy at some point become so intense that it becomes PAIN? Is UNBEARABLE COMPASSION the same? Is it painful…

    Posted December 3, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Permalink
  13. B. Kaufmann said . . .

    Yes. An empath in the grip of that kindred-agape-place of empathy is in excruciating pain. It includes a kind of horror. One begs from the depths of the soul for action, for someone to do something. One saw it with Diana, with Mother Theresa, with MLK occasionally. Take another look at the 1996 World Music Awards. ~B

    Posted December 4, 2011 at 12:41 am | Permalink
  14. Joslyn said . . .

    I came to Inner Michael for some empowering words and as always found what I was looking for – an affirmation. Seeing the world as it should be is a very hard place to be, especially when we are up against those who are satisfied with things being the way that they are. I honestly believe that people who oppose change are feeding on the inadequacies so they create adversity. And it is very tiresome to the soul – constant battle of the wills.

    I have also grown within the past 2 years in how I deal with adversity. Our attackers should not be able to own us with their bullying and how they misrepresent individuals who are out to make a positive and powerful difference. I hope we are able to keep up the momentum. 🙂

    Posted December 5, 2011 at 12:27 am | Permalink
  15. Souldreamer7 said . . .

    I just wanted to add that I echo what Kim said in her first post. Especially the part about some fans becoming ‘very territorial’ and competitive with one and another – and certain fan forums sometimes the members don’t ‘pratice what they preach’ I find it sad. I have felt this way for a long time.. it just seems to get worse even when you’re nor looking for for it or taking part in a thread or Twitter etc. it seems to find you.. I wish.. I pray we can all become one. Realize we all are the same at the core.. I truely believe that.. and that there’s no need to compete.. I pray for the day we all can come together for the common goal. Love & Light

    Posted December 8, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *