Friday, October 19, 2012

    Walked into a movie theater tonight expecting to see a run of the mill behind the scenes music documentary. Instead I happened into on the most brilliant pieces of film ever put together that took the viewer not only inside one of the greatest albums of the 1980s, but gave a fly on the wall perspective of every moments of its production. From conception, to hotel room rehearsals, and overnight studio session BAD 25 gave its viewer a glimpse into the disciplined perfectionist madness of Michael Jackson. Director Spike Lee not only conducting the interviews himself, but splicing together never before see footage from Michael's own home movies. Starting with the video itself of BAD, Martin Scorcese and others take to that Hoyt-Schmemerhorn subway station in Brooklyn where the msuic industry's first ever short film was created.Taking his cues from street choreographers and classical dancers like Fred Astaire, Michael mixed the bad boys of the street with the beauty of ballet.You start to see the video unravel piece piece and it was as if you've never seen the video before. Making the audience laugh when you learn & laugh that Michael was fascinated by the subway and the "real pee stains" everywhere.

    Then Brooklyn-born Spike Lee takes you track by track thru the album. With the sensational singers like the iconic Siedah Garrett, you see not only she sang the sensual song "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" but you see her integral role in the writing of "Man in the Mirror". Masterful musicians from throughout Michael's career take you back into the 3am recording sessions at his parents Hayvenhurst home and studio backlots. Even incorporating today's hit makers & power shakers like Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey, LA Reid, Stevie Wonder, and more you see the everlasting influence a little kid from Gary, Indiana had not only on music, but on the entire world. You see film noir influence on epic videos like Smooth Criminal, the desire to rerecord his hits himself in foreign languages, how two child prodigies likw Stevie Wonder & MJ can create the album's least popular song "Just Good Friends", and how he took a seldom-dicussed place like Liberia and brought African music to the forefront in the 1980s when no one else was. The film shows you how a man who few knew was persecuted by millions, but still had the desire to create music and change the world one song at a time.

    Sitting in the theater with just about 100 people, I knew I was in the company of die hard Michael fans. The people that supported him thru his numerous career scandals: Pepsi commercial fires, doomed business deals, short-lived marriages, and worst and proably most harmful ot this man's beautiful soul - the two FALSE child molestation accusations. Which I'll speak to quickly. They're not even referenced in BAD:25, nor should they be. Another recent documentary produced by his family and friend David Gest, MJ: The Life of An Icon, describe the trial, the 93 accusations and how they destroyed his spirit. Two morally and maritally broken families managed to bring Michael shame in two different decades. One the Chandlers who if the charges were true, pimped out their only son to Michael for just under $20 million. I've never met a parent who would allow their child to be sexually molested and then allow the authorities to NOT prosecute the offender. And the Arvizos, who so famously were featured in the Martin Bashir documentary Living With Michael Jackson. The Arvizos, who successfully sued JCPenny for alleged sexual harrassment of the mother Janet, by a security guard, after her son stole a pair of shoes. And then was later convicted of welfare fraud by the state of California. Now that sounds like a trust worthy set of people. Why both of these families have stayed out of the spotlight, book deals, tv appearances for the last 20 years, and decade for the Arvizos, is beyond me.But let me close this chapter of his life with one thought. Here is a man who wanted to entertain millions, to help change the world, to save the planet we're destroying both physically and morally. While Michael lived his last 20 years under the shame of false allegation and an entire trial thanks to some horribly money hungry hispanics, who couldnt keep their family together so they decided to destroy another in the process. We live in a society where sexualy molesting children has become less of a crime and more of a pasttime for pedophile priests, kooky college football coaches, and most recently boy-loving Boy Scout leaders. We look the other way as city after city Boston, Los Angles, and Philadelphia erupted into case after case of clergy abuse. We see thousands and thousands & thousands clamor for a spot annually in St. Peter's Basilica to see a Nazi Pope who himself signed off time after time on relocating priest from one town to another and evade legal prosecution. A society where the Boy Scouts can legally prohibit gay kids from joining with their peers but allows its child cock-sucking leaders to have outdoor overnight campovers alone with no questions asked. And a society where hundreds of hometown heterosexuals rant & rave for the an elderly coach who knew about multiple child victims being molested by his fellow coach but stood by and did nothing. A sign that winning football games is more important to this country than putting a man in jail who repeatedly felt, fondled, and fucked little boys. Perhaps its better Michael passed at an early age so as not to see what this country is and has become.

    But back to the film, his death is so hard hitting on the subjects in this film, the people who knew him most intimately in the studio, on tour, and elsewhere. Spike Lee has managed to take them all back in time to June 25, 2009 - what i call the 9/11 of the music industry. Lee as director and interviewer gets each person to recount where they were when they heard the horrible news that the world's greatest entertainer had passed. A moment so raw & real that interview after interview you see grown men balling their eyes out, from macho musicians, to daring directors, and family friends, they all tap into that raw emotion that hit them three years ealier. Its a quiet scene and as a reuslt you hear the hundreds of people behind you in the theater simultaneously sulking and whimpering for air as they let it all out. Spike has managed to show celebrities, musicians, and more at their weakest point one after another after another, so many that it start to become uncomfortable, but managed to show them with ego-less emotion. I'd compare the moment to some of the most tough cinematic moments to sit thru in Schindler's List or Hotel Rwanda. And its fitting because those are moment Michael himself wished he could eradicate from our global history. Instead of 'Never Again" we live the life of "Not in My Backyard." If its not happening on our soil, then we as a country don't care. It's not until 19 men fly planes into two symbols of financial freedom that our world collective sits up & pays attention. Michael was about saving the world before we destroy it, as evidenced in "Earth Song". If not for him & his memory and everlasting effect musically on the world - then find one person you love and do it for them.

MM
10/19/12

Sunday, March 20, 2011

JANET JACKSON @ Radio City (my dream come true night)

Still don't know how it happened, but sat in my seat at 9:10, a few minutes b4 the start of the show. Crowd goes wild as Janet takes to the stage. Not even two songs in, the obsessed fan in me takes out my iPhone, my blackberry, and my digital camera - juggling the three like a clown at a circus. Trying to capture every moment, every dance move, every song. About two songs in an usher approaches me (im in an aisle seat)... and simply says "come with me.... grab your stuff." Im thinking oh shit. maybe they don't allow photography or somehow I broke a rule. For about 20 seconds as we walked up the aisle and out to the lobby I thought to myself "WTF? Why am I getting kicked out?" We get to the lobby and theres about 4-5 more ushers waiting for me. One of them says "hand me your ticket". I asked "what's going on?" fearing for some unknown reason I don't get to see the rest of the show.... To the contrary. I get to see it real, real close...

The female usher says "we're upgrading your seat." Elated, I say ok, thinking they've move me down to the 2nd or 1st balcony - perhaps they didn't sell out since those tickets as they're more expensive. The female usher tells the male usher that initially approached me "take him to Orchestra Row CC" and handed him the new ticket. For the minute or two walk downstairs I was not believing this was happening. We passed the 2nd, balcony, and then the 1st. Down on the main floor we pass the first usher, then the next. Halfway down, there's 2 or 3 more ushers each at a different checkpoint. And we keep passing them,  until we get to the 6th row, where my new seat is. I squeeze in the row and start screaming hysterically. Singing along to every song, all 35 of the #1 hits Janet performs. So close I see the sweat dripping off Janet just a few songs into the show. From the early stuff like "Nasty" & "Control", to the the slow stuff like "Again" and "Nothing", and the heavy dance hits like "If" and "Rhythm Nation." If there was ever a time to wear a diaper to a concert like Richard Christy does - it's here. It's one thing to have a few hits songs - mosts artists do... but everyone of these have reached #1. 35 of them. back to back to back...

Not wanting to miss a second of Janet on stage I sprint to the bathroom running as fast as my legs will take me - completely out of breath by the time I return to my seat. But timed so perfectly that Janet's costume change and my bathroom break are identical in length. Having gone to alot of concerts before, I usually wait for the worst songs in an artist's catalogue to sacrifice and guy to buy food or what not. but here there were no worst songs. They were all great - all from a different era in her life and a different stage in mine.

The 2 hour show flew by. Not having a chance to look at time I replicated the juggling act from upstairs, trying to capture every moment I could on film. Not wanting to lose a second. Except the few minutes I was frozen and in tears as she sang "Together Again" in the encore - and pictures of her and Michael as kids and as adults flashed by. I was close enough to read her lips as she whispered. "I love you Michael" and then looked up to the heavens. Never forgetting for a second that she is the only Jackson we have left - it felt like Michael was back if only for a minute... Two lessons I learn from all this. Do good to others and you'l have good done to you... And cherish the people you have in your lives. because you'll never know when they may disappear.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

AI #8, Hollywood Week Episode 1

The drama is just beginning. Group drama sure to follow but not much meat in this episode. Hoping to see more people begging like Nick Fink begging the judges to let him finish his song. Hell he can always do porn with those looks. Forget singing Nick. Follow in Ron Jeremy's footsteps.

The other annoying part of Hollywood week, seeing glimpses of the people they've never even profiled. Cut the backstories on every damn person with cancer or an accident or a fire or an adoption so we can see the good SINGERS!!! Hate seeing people go on or get cut while there's a ton of others we don't even know how they sang or didn't sing. As Idol continues to evolve they should show EVERY contestant.

AI # 7, SAN FRAN, Final Audition Show

Two words! Stefano Langone... J Lo was right about this guy. Movie star looks plus great voice. He's destined to be in the Top 12. (if IDOL producers know what they're doing.) Sure he will sell alot of tickets on the IDOL national tour...And the car accident sob story plus the scars to prove it. He will have to go far...

Didn't care much for the other sob story of the night, James Durbin. Seemed like a Adam Lambert wanna be plus his sob story was they had a kid early and he can't get a job... GET A JOB FOOL!!!! And as a high pitch, I could care less about that sqeauky gutiar gal at the end. Who will sit thru that voice week after week. Even as a high pitch myself I can't listen to her.. Good luck getting votes.

Monday, February 7, 2011

AI #6, Los Angeles

The first very disappointing episode of Idol this season. Maybe just ready 4 the Hollywood rounds to begin. Love the drama, group fights, tears, and nerves that arise on the tension-filled Kodak Theater stage. Ok, I guess I can wait a week for all that. But the LA audition had nothing to write home (or here) about.  Very lackluster. So much so I didn't bother to write down a single contestants name. Let's hope this was just a pothole in the road ahead. Im sure next week in Hollywood things will pick up again.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Idol #5, AUSTIN, TX

Some decent talent tonight, nothing that jumped out from my great home state of Texas - but I certainly hope we see more of the baby-faced Corey Levoy, the first contestant up with the self-described "J Lo booty." His singing was fairly good and he had me when he said something to the effect of "wait till they make fun of you all your life for having a high voice".... to which I reply... "WAIT TILL THEY NAME YOU HIGH PITCH  _____!  (Insert your name)... All in all, he had a good voice when he sang "I Can't You Make You Love Me" and for American Idol the formula is there: good voice + good look= chance @ success!

And I bet we will see a lot more of Nick Fink, the cuter male half of the AI "power couple." His voice was average but the look was definitely what those IDOL producers hope for when sifting thru tens of thousands of semi-talented songstresses. Nick Fink, and Corey Levoy, I doubt will just stop in Hollywood, Im betting they go thru to the Top 20 at least.

Monday, January 31, 2011

AI #4, Nashville Auditions

Ok, its a given Nashville is the country capital, but does every song tonight have to sound like it should be accompanied by a banjo. TOO many unrecognizable songs by country artists in a pop music competition. The one standout everyone will agree was the blond at the end. The judges made it obvious and the girl had talent, not enough for me to remember her name, but no doubt we'll see her again and most likely all the way through to the Final 12 females.

Adrienne Beasley was fun to watch too, the young African-American girl who had the white farmer parents. They were her parents right? I mean when she announced she was going to Hollywood, the old fart of a father said "who's gonna pay for it." Are we sure he didn't "adopt" her just for some extra help around the farm? Hopefully not. But it's the South. Who knows? Lets hope she escapes the plantation and makes her way all the way to top top of the finals of Season 10 of American Idol.