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#FlashbackFriday This Is It – Really?! The Mythology and Genius of Michael Jackson

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I’ve always wanted to be able to tell stories, you know, stories that came from my soul.  I’d like to sit by a fire and tell people stories—make them see pictures, make them cry and laugh,take them anywhere emotionally with something as deceptively simple as words.

- Michael J. Jackson from his autobiography Moonwalk

As I was organizing my albums (you remember those, right?) and DVDs (which are becoming more of entertainment for travel on my laptop than for routine use at home and office) this weekend, I began to go through my collection of music and music videos of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. This made me reflect on my musical education I had received from these Gary, Indiana natives that revolutionized the landscape of popular music forever.

While I was not present on Earth to have seen the Jackson 5 in their heyday in the 70s, my parents did in their youth and made it a practice to play the group’s music at home for my brother and me in heavy rotation when we were little. Listening to such trademark classics as “Rockin’ Robin, ” “The Love You Save,” “I’ll Be There,” “Sugar Daddy,” “Ben,” “ABC,” and “Dancing Machine” showcased catchy pop hooks, insightful lyrics, colorful harmonies and of course, the vocal delivery of the youngest Jackson who would grow up to be the King of Pop.

Even as a kid, Michael Jackson carried this kind of knowledge of storytelling in the songs that he sang with the Jackson 5. What did a 12-year-old know about heart-breaking regret in losing the woman he loved, wondering “Who’s Loving You” now? What did a child know about being conflicted in ending a relationship in “Never Can Say Goodbye”? What did a preteen know about being a “Sugar Daddy”? He was wise beyond his years, a quality I can definitely identify with.

This knowledge made the music come alive with feeling and authentic emotion, making the listener feel like little Michael was singing right to him/her. No wonder the female fans went crazy at the concerts, chasing the guys everywhere they went!

It’s important for artists always to maintain control of their lives and work. There’s been a big problem in the past with artists being taken advantage of. I’ve learned that a person can prevent that from happening by standing up for what he or she believes is right, without concern for the consequences.

- Michael J. Jackson in Moonwalk

But just as Diana Ross and Lionel Richie could not have become the meteoric superstars that they are without The Supremes and The Commodores, Michael Jackson was groomed to be a star through Motown’s Jackson 5.

As I listen to the later music of the Jackson 5 who was transitioning to being the Jacksons on Epic Records where the brothers had more creative control over their music, Michael’s vocal arrangement became more advanced in songs like “Can You Feel It” “Get It Together,” “Blame It On The Boogie,” “Enjoy Yourself” “Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)” and “Dancing Machine.”

There you can begin to hear the signature ad-libs and vocal styling that made Michael famous on the albums Off The Wall, Thriller, Bad and beyond.

In his solo albums, you can hear his determined individuality in the arrangements he created, the producing mentorship from the SELFLESS musical genius Quincy Jones, the instrumentals he demanded, and the self-created vocal percussion he added to the tracks. He wasn’t the little kid being told what to do and sing; he was the polished and professional man who made his own decisions on the music he made. You have to admire that internal fortitude!

Michael Jackson set the bar in music, musical entertainment, choreography, musical film, the power of God, love, and true philanthropy for every musical artist and human being for generations to come.

I know that I have to carry the banners of God’s love and philanthropy that Mr. Jackson so eloquently addressed in songs like “Heal The World,” “On The Line,” “One More Chance,” “Another Part of Me,” “This Is It,” “We Are Here To Change The World,” “Fall Again,” “Man In The Mirror,” “We Are The World,” and “Earth Song.” I have been truly blessed to have my life enriched by his works and influence.

To me, every time I hear one of his songs, I am reminded that his spirit is resides there and in the world I live. I also remember having the blessed opportunities to see him perform that magic live on the Victory Tour (I was three so I watch the show for archives on YouTube) and Bad Tour a few years ago.

Love lasts forever.

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#FlashbackFriday FOUR YEARS AGO, President Obama’s “Hope” for America: The Promise of a New Beginning

Prof. L. D. Robinson

So one year after the most historic Presidential Inauguration of any American generation, critics and cynics question whether President Obama still has his political message of “Hope” even as a new Republican takes over the late Ted Kennedy’s senate seat in Washington D.C.

In the current climate of high American unemployment, traumatic coverage of Haiti’s latest developments, the journey of a controversial health care bill and stimulus money being sent to elitist and greedy financial institutions, people wonder what has happened to the sweeping excitement and enthusiasm that was exhibited during Obama’s campaign of 2008 and last year’s Inauguration.

I can tell you what happened.  The honeymoon ended.  After the euphoria of Inauguration 2009 wore off and the nation’s problems mounted, President Obama’s “To Do List” Agenda got thirty pages longer, at least. 

The Recession of 2009 hit the United States cruelly and millions of Americans lost their jobs.  As a result, Americans fell deeply behind in their mortgage payments and their homes were foreclosed upon.  Millions of Americans emerged in 2009 without health insurance, unable to pay for basic services because of those lost jobs and limited income. As a result of Americans’ being unable to use credit, financial institutions shut down in the worse “traffic jam” of the century.  What would you do? Crawl under a rock and wait until it all disappeared? You wish!

Against your own primal instincts of flight (running away from its problems), President Obama and his administration plunged headlong into the problems last year.  Stimulus money was dispersed for more unemployment coverage for a longer period of time.   The President initiated a new Health Care Bill to insure that every American that needed insurance would have the same access as any congressperson, senator or elected official in the country. Also, more stimulus money was given out to jumpstart the stagnant financial institutions to reset the economy. Is there anything really wrong with that?

In retrospect (which notoriously has 20/20 vision), the President now admits that he could have focused more attention to creating jobs but wasn’t he, in some way, addressing that issue already?  I’m not saying that he did everything humanly possible for it but I am just asking didn’t he make an attempt at helping unemployed Americans in their hour of need at the beginning of the recession when he took office?

If you ask the critics (or American Idol’s “Simon Cowells” of Washington D.C.  and beyond as so artfully described by the President on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last year), they may reply that the Obama administration has thrown millions upon millions of American taxpayers’ dollars at the current problems instead of solving them.  They would claim that the new Health Care Bill is the administration’s attempt at controlling Americans, citing “big government” as the root of all evil in the lives of “true”, red-blooded Americans.

But what these “true” Americans seem to forget is how the nation got into the problems that it is in now.  Whose administration let financial institutions run wild with little to no regulation on its practices, giving themselves excessive bonuses and participating risky investments at the cost of Americans’ retirement and financial portfolios for eight years?! Whose administration ignored Americans’ need for equal access to quality health care as an American right of the many, not a privilege for the elite few?  Who was the Commander-in-Chief who started a war in the wrong country after September 11, 2001 that is costly millions of dollars to fund every year while putting our military in harm’s way for almost a decade?

Now, the answers may be hard to swallow but they are the truth. BUSH ADMINISTRATION! BUSH ADMINISTRATION! BUSH ADMINISTRATION! PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH!

If you are a logical (and truthful) person, you can see that the blame resides with the former president and his administration.  So what does that mean to the current president?

That means that President Obama is making the best out of a bad situation.  It may not have been the perfect implementation of solving the country’s problems (and who is REALLY perfect anyway?) but you have to give the President credit for having the courage and the internal fortitude to at least take them on in his first year of office.

It’s like living with an irresponsible roommate who loves throwing loud and crazy house-parties every night at your apartment for eight years.  The apartment furniture begins to reek of stale beer and cigarettes. The carpet is stained with red wine, tomato sauce, dirt, and vomit.  There are empty pizza boxes littered all over the kitchen and living room.  The top of the pantry in the kitchen is “decorated” with hundreds of bottles of empty liquor. The sink and dishwasher are full of dirty dishes, drinking glasses, and silverware. The television needs to be replaced.  You had to buy your own refrigerator and a small cupboard to put it in your room and lock up your food because your “roomie” has played host with it too many times.  Thank God you have your own bathroom!

At the end of the eight years, she gets kicked out of the apartment but your name is still on the lease, so you are responsible for the apartment.  While it may have been easier to move out too, you feel like the apartment is still salvageable; it is just going to take a lot of work.  So you make your “To Do List” Agenda: you throw out the old furniture and buy new ones (on sale, of course), hire a carpet cleaning company to steam-clean the carpet, recruit your “entourage” to help throw out those pizza boxes, “souvenir” liquor bottles, and dirty dishes (do you really want any semblance of your former roommate in your apartment?) and buy an affordable flat screen television with a new DVR system.  

Now while the “To Do List” is long, you take each project on step-by-step.  Eventually, over the course of six months to a year, a brand new apartment emerges that is clean, welcoming, and becomes home.

Developments in Haiti

So as yesterday, the latest developments of Haiti (according to CNN and The Nightly News with Diane Sawyer)has been a mixture of profound despair, small victory of rescue, and continued faith.

1.6 million Haitians are homeless, living on the streets in makeshift tents (but they are really blankets) without food, water, or proper medical supplies. The smallest of the living are the children who are the most vulnerable as the days wear on. The longer they go without these basic needs, the more of them that will be plagued by disease and even death.

Despite the international response for relief advertised on television, there seems to be limited help actually getting to the people who need it. While former President Clinton brings medical supplies to the largest hospital in Haiti’s capital, people on the ground like Wyclef Jean are digging up children’s corpses from broken buildings to give them a Christian burial.

Now the smell of death has settled in the air in Haiti. The stench is so strong that the living use toothpaste under their noses to lessen the smell. Family members create simple graves all over the region to bury their loved ones. But there are thousands upon thousands of bodies littered on the side of the road in hopes that a garbage truck will dispose of them.

And sadly, because the region is so vast, the number of fatalities cannot be accurately determined.

Yet there are spots of triumph in this sea of despair. Young people and adults are being rescued alive from leveled buildings after five to six days without food, water, or medical care.

And I question, just as many reporters have been asking continuously, how can the reporters who are covering the news get to the people in need more easily than the relief organizations and international supplies?

The question is never answered completely. Some authorities claim that there is too much red tape in the Haitian government because the infrastructure was destroyed literally and figuratively by the earthquake.

Others claim that help has been coming but not as quickly as it should throughout the entire region (not just the country’s capital city).

Whatever the case may be, there is a general breakdown of organization by Haitian authorities to distribute aide in a timely manner and the Haitian people end up being the victims of this problem.

So the world watches the television and reads the newspaper every day hoping for a change. What can we do REALLY?!

Aside from using our texting prowess by texting “haiti” to 90999 to donate $10 a text to The Red Cross and donating goods to reputable organizations, what can we REALLY do?!

As for me, every chance I get, I pray for the Haitian people. And from what I have been seeing on television, they have been doing the same, trying to stay encouraged in the face of disaster.

I believe that God has a plan for all of us and it is so large and intricate that we as mere mortals cannot grasp its blueprint. But I do believe that we all are threads in this tapestry, connected and serving His purpose on the ground.

Knowing this, we need to be open and receptive to what God calls us to do for His sake and ACT!

Golden Globes – Celebration of Film, TV Jewels

In the New Year, football enthusiasts look forward to the divisional games of their favorite NFL teams that leads to the all-important Super Bowl game that determines which NFL team is the best in the country.

But for me, my Super Bowl (or at least the playoffs) is the Golden Globes.  In this awards ceremony, the best of film and television are honored by critics (and its winners later usually win the Academy Awards, another coveted achievement for Film)/

Last night was a wonderful display of fashionable beatuty, philanthropic concern for Haiti, and presentation pf the most humble acceptance speeches by worthy winners.

For instance, the first award of the night belonged (and was won by) Mo’Nique for her strikingly powerful portrayal; of an abusive mother in the movie Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.

Check out this video below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yam2BFC0rrA

That set the stage for the entire award ceremony in that all the winners of the night truly deserved the award for “intellectually challenging” and brave portrayals of characters in film and television.

In film in drama, the film Avatar won the top honor.

Check out the film’s trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeh2KILn7O4

Sandra Bullock won an award for her portrayal of a Texas woman who took in a homeless African-American teenager who later comes a NFL Draft Pick.

Check out the movie’s trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu8zYsz04oE

Robert Downey, Jr. won for Best Actor in Film Comedy for his brilliant portrayal of one of my favorite fictional characters of all time, Sherlock Holmes in the recent Guy Ritchie film.

Enjoy the film’s trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITU27Sxzi9w

For film comedies/musicals, the film The Hangover won the award.

Check out the funniest parts from the film:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9MjlgZX29c

Meryl Strep won an award for Best Actress because of her uncanny portrayal of the late Julia Childs in the movie Julie & Julisa.In

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wt2znsOygJY

Check out her acceptance speech.  It is very moving!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jn5lWz4TKWsIn television,

The Best Performance by an Actor In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture was won by Christoph Waltz for his amazing portrayal of a devious Nazi commander in the movie Inglorious Basterds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Af0-9HBn5xM&feature=related

On television, there were a lot of worthy winners too!

For Best Television Series as a Comedy or Musical, the show Glee won.

Check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcZQLnfZ7Ok

Toni Collette won an award for her portrayal of a wife and mother who suffered from multiple personality disorder.

Check out a promo for Season #2:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltD3-S3D9xA

Alec Baldwin won for Best Performance by an Actor  in a Television Series.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTj47rcuM-4

For Best Mini-Series Or Motion Picture Made for Television , the movie Grey Gardens won which is one of my fave TV morive of the past year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtAKbotLMAc

Drew Barrymore also won an award for Best Actor in the same category.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast at Florida Memorial University

So for the sleepy-heads who would rather sleep on a day-off than do something productive, you missed out on a major event on Florida Memorial University campus.  The Vice President of the United States Joe Biden spoke at today’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast this morning.

And that wasn’t even the Keynote Speaker!!

The Keynote Speaker was equally as exciting.  His name is Rev. Harry S. Wright, a close friend of Dr. King. 

Rev. Wright talked about the origins of Dr. King.  How did he grow up?  Who taught him the ways of the world?

“Martin King” learned the strength of love from his mother and the urgent sense of now and “moral imagination”from “Daddy King” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Sr.)

“Martin King” also learned manners, common sense, civility, how to be a Southern gentleman.

Rev. Wright gave the audience an assignment. 

  1. Strengthen the bond of the black family
  2. Do all you can do to be the “wind beneath the wings” of black youth
  3. Stay with the Church; do not outgrow it

I will definitely complete that assignment (even though I think I kind of am already with my job and the use of this blog). 

What do you think? How are you building on the dream right now?

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