Embracing the world with positive creativity since Sept 2007.
Image of Michael Jackson originally created for annual "Brooklyn Loves MJ" event, which was cancelled for 2012. (courtesy of Spike Lee)
Assistant program director “Lady Grace at Savannah State University’s WHCJ radio station (90.3 FM) pointed out during one of her shows at the beginning of June that June and August represented the station’s “Michael Jackson time.” By that, she meant listeners could expect to hear during these months an occasional extended broadcast of music by the late enduringly great Mr. Jackson.
She then launched into an uninterrupted set that lasted for longer than I could stay tuned in to listen. The music spanned every period of the creative genius’s exceptionally prolific career and included a variety of samplers from innovative mixes by diverse musicians and producers.
In contrast: I recalled a fellow author informing me that she was “burned out” on Michael Jackson and didn’t see the point of different people’s continued expressed devotion to him or his work. I understood and respected what she said. Yet at the same time it seemed clear enough there was––and is––something more than blind fanaticism that drives individuals to continuously visit websites like Seven’s MJJ-777, devour books such as the Official Michael Jackson Opus, look forward to annual celebrations of his birthday in Brooklyn (and elsewhere), and feverishly anticipate the release of both the 25th Anniversary Edition of Bad and director Spike Lee’s documentary on the making of the album.
It did not take long to figure out what my esteemed friend was overlooking.
A Part of the Antidote
The recent massacre in Aurora, Colorado, at the Dark Knight Rises screening, the nonstop bloodbath in Syria, the killings at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and starvation in Ethiopia as well as here in the United States are among the kind of phantasmagoric atrocities that have made human existence in 2012 a very unsettling venture. In one sense, such things have always been a part of life. In another, our experience of them is more intense than ever before because of the constant bombardment of information about such events. Although himself frequently a target of guerrilla decontextualization, a major part of the meaning of Michael Jackson’s life was to help balance the accumulation of horrors with something closer to love in its most empowering and healing sense.
His presence in the world was a powerful ingredient within the overall antidote to the mega-tons of despair that can weigh human souls so far down that for millions (if not billions) life on earth feels more and more like death in hell. His voice remains part of the antidote. That’s antidote as in: anti-hatred, anti-war, anti-ignorance, anti-abuse, anti-oppression, anti-prejudice, anti-bigotry, anti-fear.
And just to be clear, to speak of Jackson’s voice is to speak of more than the acoustic timbre that radiated like vibrating sunlight from his lungs and heart and throat. It is to acknowledge that quality of genius for giving, living, serving, teaching, loving, exemplifying simplicity, and creating–– that comprised the essence of everything he strived to become.
For millions, the devotion to MJ is less about dedication to the singer per se than it is to the principles which he battled so admirably to embody: generosity of spirit, perseverance, aesthetic beauty, and artistic excellence. If musical entertainment philanthropy were sports, Jackson would have been an Olympian decorated many times over.
Summer-Song Rhapsody for Michael Jackson
(Aug 29, 1958-June 25, 2009)
Summertime opened like a myth spun from gold,
delivering your talent through ages of classic genius
to plant the seeds and nourish the beauty
of all the bright wonders that would color your dance.
Is any path so demanding as that of living a miracle?
Like a cosmic gymnast on a beam of uncommon grace,
or a swimmer slicing through waves of childhood tears--
you transformed fortitude into Olympian triumph.
Hid your hard-won treasures inside the hearts of all who loved you.
The more sincere the soul, the heavier the cross endured.
Your voice strung notes like pearls of sky-blue hope
around the trembling throat of humanity’s crimson agony.
Upon the heads of those abused and disinherited
your song placed crowns of inspired revelation.
There is no faith so perilous as faith in love.
Summertime blossomed fields of rose-scented dreams––
and death amplified your sudden absence with new life…
to plant the seeds and nourish the beauty
of all the bright wonders that colored your dance.
MJ Birthday 2012
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