Wade Robson: What the Heck Is Really Going On?-Pt 5

Were Michael's Relationships With Children Misunderstood...or Misinterpreted By Dirty Minds?
Were Michael’s Relationships With Children Misunderstood…or Misinterpreted By Dirty Minds?

In Part 4. I had established that the effort to somehow pin the pedophile label on Michael-and to perhaps incite some sort of criminal/extortion charge against him as a result- actually had its roots much earlier than the Chandler case. It’s important to understand that what happened in the Chandler case was actually an effect of this effort, not a cause.

The star players in this early effort were names that have all recently come to light again, conveniently just as Wade Robson’s allegations were making their splash. In addition to Victor Gutierrez, a NAMBLA associate who was conducting his own obsessed campaign during this time to “prove” Michael as “one of us” there was also a set of disgruntled ex-employees-the LeMarques, the Quindoys, and a bit later, Blanca Francia and those who comprised The Neverland 5, a group of employees who claimed they were wrongfully terminated because of what they knew-Ralph Chacon,  Kassim Abdool, Melanie Bagnall, Sandy Domz, and Adrian MacManus. All of these employees had serious credibility issues, and reasons for their termination that were much more logical (and damning) than what they claimed to know. Now, throw into that mix an ambitious tabloid reporter and an ex-porn star turned PI, and you have the perfect recipe. Whatever suspicions you may think you have regarding Michael Jackson’s “conduct” with children, almost all of them can be traced in some form or another to these individuals (with later players like the Chandlers, Arvizos, Tom Sneddon, and now Wade Robson being mere offshoots). And their seeds were being planted as early as 1989, when Phillip and Stella Lemarque went to work at Neverland.

This raises an interesting question, especially since it was about this time that Victor Gutierrez had really begun in earnest to pursue his own “investigation.” Throughout the years, Michael’s Neverland Ranch had a revolving door of employees, totaling, no doubt, in the hundreds. It took many hands, after all, to keep such a place running efficiently. Of those hundreds, only a small handful of highly questionable individuals have ever come forward to smear their boss’s name, and they are the same ones whose names appear over and over in any scandalous or dirty story about the “secrets of Neverland” or whatever salacious headline is being used. Many of these have also conveniently found themselves a new shot at fame-and infamy-since Wade Robson’s allegations broke. Already many of these same ex-employees have gotten a second wind at fame, and a new chance at recycling their same old lies to the media.

Adrian MacManus, enjoying her second shot at fame, and selling her BS story to a gullible public
Adrian MacManus, enjoying her second shot at fame, and selling her BS story to a gullible public

Adrian MacManus, in particular, seems to be gloating over her second shot in the limelight.

https://twitter.com/ADRIANMCMANUS2

Were these people genuine employees, or hired plants? Before you are quick to dismiss this idea as fan paranoia, consider that tabloids like The National Enquirer have made it an open secret for years that they are willing to pay top dollar to employees who will rat out their celebrity bosses.

enquiring minds

This practice, in turn, has led to an entire business of “posers” who go to work for celebrities with no intentions other than to sell them out for a price. And, no doubt, these stories can be exaggerated or even downright fabricated in some instances. It’s not as if the tabloids are going to invest too much effort into fact checking a story. As long as they can cloak a story with the ever-convenient tag of, “An inside source claims” they are pretty much covered.

As to whether people like the LeMarqueses and the Quindoys were real employees who simply turned coat after the fact, or were plants from the beginning, I can’t say. But for sure, it’s a possibility worth keeping in mind. Even if they were plants, it would be hard to say if they were merely grifters looking for a tabloid payout down the road, or a part of something far more sinister-a concentrated and organized plan to frame Michael Jackson as a pedophile and sex offender.

The causal chain of how all of these events and names came together, as well as the cast of players, is indeed fascinating stuff, and was explained in explicit detail in this Frontline documentary from Richard Ben Cramer. I cannot embed the video here, but if you have never seen it, it is worth clicking this link and watching it in its entirety:

http://mjtruthnow.com/2010/01/frontline-report-exposes-media-scandal/

Whether you are resuming reading this post after clicking on this video, or saving it for later, I want you to note what Gary Morgan and Kevin Smith of “Splash News” have to say beginning at around 24:28.

“After the frenzy at the beginning the police and Jackson’s people successfully plugged all leaks – there was nothing more coming out.  Jackson’s people were starting to win in a propaganda war, holding conferences, coming out with the tapes. But the public was still curious – What was going on? So what we were looking for was a buy-up. That’s what you want. You want graphic inside details what it was like at the ranch, how he behaves with children..”

The Quidoys on Geraldo
The Quindoys on Geraldo

Something interesting emerges here about the Quindoys, the Manilia couple who demanded as much as $900,000 to spill their “secrets” about Michael’s relationships with children at Neverland Ranch. It turns out, they had a previous “tell all” contract with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, for the sum of $25,000. But this contract pre-dated the Chandler scandal. At that time, the most “shocking” or scandalous thing the Quidoys had to say about Michael Jackson was that he had “speakers in his hibiscus plants that played Beethoven’s Fifth” and didn’t get up before midday. In other words, it was, as stated here, little more than an upbeat expose on “the inside, wacky world of Michael Jackson.” There was no mention whatsoever of any of the supposed criminal acts that they later were all too willing to admit only after the Chandler allegations, and only after they thought their story would generate much more than a mere quarter of a million. It was only then that the Quindoys came forth, holding a press conference featuring a diary which they claimed to have kept during their employment. In the diary, they claimed to have witnessed such offenses as Michael kissing boys while lewdly rubbing their bodies. But even if we presume any grain of truth to their accusations, it would mean that they sat on this information for years, refusing to come forth to authorities, and only talking when the price was right. And this is a pattern that we see repeated, over and over.

“A lot of people who claimed to have witnessed Jackson doing this, they were not going to the police first. Their main interest was money. They’d come to journalists who could give them money. So in that circumstance journalists know more about what happened than the police do”.-Kevin Smith, Splash News

While it doesn’t exactly exonerate Michael when we question why employees who claimed to witness such acts turned a blind eye and went to tabloids rather than the police, it sure as heck doesn’t do anything for the credibility of their alleged stories. I have heard all of the excuses that his detractors like to give. They pretend to buy into these employees’ excuses that they were threatened and scared for their lives (but let’s stress again, they were never too afraid to go to the tabloids. Well, I suppose it is true that figures upward of half a million dollars should be able to buy a lot of security!).

Michael’s Opulent Lifestyle Also Meant Being Dependent On Many Employees…Not All Of Whom Had His Best Interests At Herat

It could also be plausible that an unethical employee, concerned for their own job security, might turn a blind eye to a good many things in order to keep their paycheck coming. I could buy this before I would buy that these people were really scared for their safety. But honestly, if such acts were really going on right under employees’ noses, it would stand to figure that many more would have come forth through the years. It’s also plausible that at least one or two would have been ethical enough to go to the police first, rather than straight to the tabloids.

There had been other efforts, prior to the Chandler allegations, of employees attempting to get a windfall at Michael’s expense. But these had all been for far more innocuous incidents-relatively speaking, that is, as far as celebrity lifestyles go. Perhaps the most notorious had been the alleged jacuzzi photos, when Neverland employees had attempted to sell photos purporting to be of Michael and two naked girls romping in a jacuzzi (it was claimed that one of the photos showed him touching one of the women’s breasts).  Those employees had asked for 60,000 pounds, but News of the World never published the photos because Michael threatened to sue. (It’s interesting that Michael never denied that the incident took place, however; only that he didn’t want those photos published!).

http://rhythmofthetide.com/michael-jackson-neverland-jacuzzi-photos/

One Of Michael's Neverland Jacuzzis.
One Of Michael’s Neverland Jacuzzis.

Perhaps if Michael had only known what was to come, he wouldn’t have been so quick to squelch such evidence. The damage to his “squeaky, clean image” might have been a small price to pay for stemming the tide of what was to come later. Michael didn’t want the image of being just another pop star horn dog. However, it was partly this exact sort of recalcitrant attitude towards what most considered “normal” pop star behavior that led to his problems. As I have established in previous posts, it was largely the public perception of Michael Jackson’s sexuality-fueled in no small part by his own image making machine-that led so many to automatically assume his guilt. It wasn’t fair, perhaps, and still isn’t. But it’s human nature at work. “I’m not like other guys”-the line that had been so cute when he delivered it in Thriller-had taken on a somewhat more sinister connotation by 1993.

But to get back to the topic at hand, the point is that by the early 1990’s, “selling out” Michael Jackson for a price was already big business. The question is: How did it go from tales of naked girls in jacuzzis, to hands down a little boy’s {ahem- Macauley Culkin’s)-pants? And what was the motivation for this suddenly perverse twist of stories?

Well, one thing we do know from court testimony-as well as the book “Michael Jackson Was My Lover”, is that there was a connection between these employees and Victor Gutierrez. The Vindicating Michael site did a very detailed post on that very topic in June of 2011:

http://vindicatemj.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/the-neverland-five-and-their-victor-gutierrez-inspiration/

From there, I will reprint this brief court testimony transcript from 2005 between Tom Mesereau and Ralph Chacon. At the time, Chacon was being cross-examined regarding the judgement made against him for having stolen $25,000 worth of property from Michael Jackson:

Q. Who was Sandy Domz?

A. She was one of the secretaries at Neverland

Ranch.

Q. Okay. Do you recall Sandy Domz ever 5229

approaching a tabloid?

A. No, sir.

Q. Don’t know anything about it?

A. No, sir.

Q. All right. Do you recall speaking to a book

author named Gutierrez?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And approximately when did you speak to a

book author named Gutierrez?

A. I believe that was before we went to Star,

and — but I don’t remember the — I don’t remember

the date or the time.

The fact that there is an established connection between Gutierrez and these employees is at least enough to raise a lot of suspicion. We know that, as early as 1991 (around the same time as Bill Wyman’s infamous observation in his hit piece “I Want Me Back: The Education of Michael Jackson” that Michael had “intense” relationships with “nine-year-old boys”) Phillip and Stella LeMarque had first attempted to sell their story to the tabloids. At the time, they had just been fired by Michael’s aide Norma Staikos. Shortly thereafter, Phillip LeMarque had attempted to go into business, opening an Encino restaurant he called Bourbon Street, but was soon bankrupt to the tune of almost $500,000. Not coincidentally, it was during this time that he began trying to peddle his story of witnessing Michael molesting Macauley Culkin. As has been famously reported, their story went from allegedly seeing Michael’s hands outside of the boy’s pants to inside the pants as the amount of money offered for their story increased from $100,000 to $500,000.

In a well known Smoking Gun piece from 2005, much of Phillip LeMarques’s past-as well as many questionable stains upon his own character-were revealed.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/jackson-case-das-sleazy-witness

Phillip LeMarque
Phillip LeMarque

It was a rare turn for the media at the time to take such a pot shot at a DA witness, which perhaps says all that needs to be said about just how sleazy LeMarque was, and just how much credibility he lacked as a witness. (It also shows just how desperate the DA was for credible witnesses).

Of course, Michael Jackson detractors will say that this is the worst kind of ad hominem attack, and in a way, they are right. Phillip LeMarques’s own character, and his own background as a porn entrepreneur, should have no bearing on what he claimed he and his wife saw-if, in fact, they saw anything at all. But that is the real question, and in a case where we only have one person’s word against another, we do have to at least consider the credibility of the witness making the claim.

As has been stated often enough, the fact that none of these so-called witnesses went to the authorities, and instead brandied and bargained these stories about to the tabloids for over two years, in the end did irreparable damage to any credibility their stories might have had.

What was really happening? Were these employees really witnessing lewd acts, or totally fabricating them? I actually have a theory that what at least some of them were witnessing-or claiming to witness-was a truth somewhere in the middle, which could have possibly laid the groundwork for a suspicious (and greedy) mind to construe more than met the eye. I will try to explain in a way that makes sense.

We all know that Michael was a very affectionate person by nature, someone who loved to give hugs and was never shy about displays of affection. He especially felt this was important with children, and stated so many times, due to the lack of affection he had felt so keenly in his own childhood. Michael was a firm believer that children have to be shown that they are loved. We can often see in his videos and interactions with children (those that were recorded) that he can often be seen hugging and kissing children of both sexes, tousling their hair, teasing them affectionately, and other such gestures.

But Michael, I believe firmly, was also a bit OCD. And I say this with the utmost realization that I am always one of those who cautions against the tendency to psychoanalyze or “diagnose” Michael. However, having observed as much footage of him as I have, I have gotten a pretty good feel for his body language, his baseline mannerisms (as well as how they changed over time) and patterns of behavior. To me, Michael displayed more than a few OCD patterns that I am very familiar with, and one is a tendency toward certain repetitive behaviors. For example, a lot of people might kiss a child on the cheek once. But Michael, when in the company of a child he felt very affectionate towards, might be inclined to repeat the gesture numerous times (whether from compulsion, or a sense of insecurity, or just wanting to ensure that the message got across). A good example of what I’m talking about can be seen in this video from the Black or White set, where Michael is posing and cutting up informally with Sage, the little Native American girl in the video.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9U44IBo7Z4[/tube]

We can see that Michael kisses her several times. Part of this, of course, is because they were shooting publicity stills. Michael, ever the image conscious showman, is aware they are being filmed, and wants to make sure the camera captures “just the right moment.” In a way, it’s a kind of rehearsal. But also, some have noted, it is a bit excessive, and Sage at one point appears clearly either uncomfortable, or is perhaps just a bit shy about all of the attention. (For the record, Sage has never had anything but wonderful things to say about her experience of working with Michael Jackson on this video). It is also very clear from the video that, even though she might have been a little shy about all of the hugs and kisses, she is nevertheless very comfortable in his presence, as they converse and talk. I, myself, can remember being very shy around grown-ups at that age, and I never especially liked “kissy” types like my paternal grandmother (bless her soul). I would be one of those kids who would go “ick” and immediatly try to wash my face!

Point being, some kids are really comfortable and okay with displays of affection from adults, and some are not. For Michael, such displays were a natural part of his being-they came from a genuinely loving spirit-but I think he may have possibly had some OCD tendencies that made his gestures seem excessive to some. For example, even some of the comments I have seen regarding this clip with Sage are perfect examples of people misinterpreting Michael’s actions.

From something like this, it becomes easier to see how some of those exaggerated tales of “head licking” and such (courtesy of Bob Jones) may have emerged. As simple a gesture as a kiss to the top of a child’s head could easily be misconstrued by a dirty and suspicious mind into something more (and especially if such gesture is repeated many times in quick succession, as Michael was prone to do-honestly, I don’t think he was even always conscious of these repetitive actions!).

That is just a theory I have, of course, and I have no concrete evidence or proof that Michael was OCD. But having observed tons of footage of him, I believe there is at least some merit to the theory. And that this could, in fact, go far in explaining how some of these outrageous witness claims came to be.

I had said before that some of my views may be controversial, and I know not everyone will agree with me. But rather than simply calling everyone around Michael an outright greedy liar (even though many were just that!) it is also imperative that we look at some of Michael’s own behaviors-even if they were innocent behaviors!-that may have helped perpetuate some of these beliefs. I believe that Michael was misjudged a lot by the people around him; his intentions were misjudged a lot, and as early as 1991, there was already a dark and rising tide against him that he was somewhat helpless to stem. It would soon become a case of “damned if he does; damned if he doesn’t.”

 

More to come…

Verdict Watch

slapped-screamedIt’s down to the wire now. Once again, a Michael Jackson trial has gone to the hands of a jury to deliberate. And once again, fans and those who care will sit on pins and needles, waiting for yet another outcome that in some way, whatever the results, will become a part of the Michael Jackson legacy.

scared-to-death

In the past, the American justice system has always been in Michael’s corner. And that is exactly why the public at large is usually more than a little surprised when these verdicts come back. Because a jury’s concern is not the slanted, skewered version of events that is reported in the media, but rather, the actual evidence that is weighed in a trial. Michael was put on trial when he lived. In death, he has been put on trial, not once, but twice in relation to his own death. This is unprecedented. But it has been necessary in getting to the truth. That’s a position I will continue to stand by, regardless of those who would like to have seen all of this simply swept under the rug in the name of keeping some superficial peace.

However, there has been a marked difference in the attitudes toward this trial, as opposed to, say, Michael’s molestation trial or the Conrad Murray trial in 2011. Both of those were criminal trials, with the dramatic possibility of a prison/jail sentence for the guilty party. In 2005, the possibility of a superstar going to prison kept the world riveted (regardless of whether we were fascinated for the right or wrong reasons). In 2011, the man directly responsible for his death was found guilty and sentenced. Those who loved Michael cheered; those who hated him could only feel the chagrin of defeat and take to social media to vent about “self responsibility” and all that other nonsense.

The AEG trial has dragged on for five months. That’s about two months longer than Michael’s criminal trial, and about two months longer than Conrad Murray’s manslaughter trial. And yet, outside of the fan community, interest in this trial has been rather tepid. Most people are not aware it is happening (at least no one that I talk to). The media has, as always, conveniently ignored the most revealing aspects of this trial, and when they have mentioned it at all, have only played up the usual aspects of it-Michael the Drug Addict; Michael the Doctor Shopper, etc. I was reading one such article just yesterday, which purported to highlight the “5 Key Moments From The Michael Jackson/AEG trial.” They mentioned the billion dollars at stake; they mentioned Prince and Debbie Rowe taking the stand; they mentioned propofol (as if we didn’t already know all about that!) and the tales of Michael’s declining health in his last weeks (but slanted as such to make it appear that this was all his own doing). Not surprisingly, there was no mention of Michael being slapped by Randy Phillips; no mention of the emails that called him a “freak,” no mention of a contract that locked him into 50 shows without his consent; no mention of Dr. Cziesler’s expert testimony on how Michael Jackson just may have been the first human being in history to be subjected to 60 days of REM-less sleep, among many other revelations that were ALL more earth shattering than any of those highlighted. Granted, there have been a few ripples here and there, and for awhile back during the spring, the prosecution was swinging heavily-conveniently, right about the time that the Wade Robson story suddenly broke. But overall, when I look at the coverage as a whole and the way the majority of the public have reacted to it, one consistent pattern emerges-the picture of a concert promoter just trying to get a show on, and being pitted against a difficult and troubled,drug addicted star already on a downward spiral-one whose “greedy” family is now looking for a windfall.

Sadly, no matter how we slice it, that is the paradigm that has been sold to a gullible public, and the public has bought it. If the jury comes back with the decision that AEG has lost, that, unfortunately, will not shift the paradigm. As always, we will have the vocal opponents and the know-it-all analysts simply shrugging their shoulders and saying the jury got it wrong. AEG, a multi-billion dollar corporation, will be portrayed as the victims. I know, because that bit of history has already been written, and the jury’s verdict will not change that.

But getting back to what is riding on this trial’s outcome, I think there is another reason why the response beyond the fan community has been as tepid as it has. This has been a civil trial, not a criminal one, and despite the billion dollar figure allegedly at stake, there simply isn’t as much invested in this trial’s outcome for those not directly involved. To be honest, most people outside the fan community-and Michael’s own circle of family and friends- are wearied with the subject of Michael Jackson’s death-what caused it, who is responsible, etc. It is a question that has dragged on, endlessly, for four years, and it is very likely we may never have all of those answers, no matter how many trials are held and how many lawsuits come to pass.  Obviously, his fans and family want those answers. But for most of the rest of the world, the subject of Michael Jackson’s death and who is responsible has become a wearisome subject.

And unlike the other trials, there is no clearcut  victim or “bad guy” in this case, at least none so far as what the public sees. Most could at least say, “I hope they throw the book at that there Dr. Murray cause he deserves it” and even longtime Jackson bashers such as Nancy Grace were jumping on that train. But when it comes to Michael Jackson vs. A Faceless Corporate Entity, the picture becomes (conveniently, I would say) a whole lot fuzzier. Outside of the fan community-those of us who have rigorously kept up with, and followed every detail of this case-it just seems like a case of a family unwilling to accept that their son/brother/father had “issues,” and unfairly looking for a third party-a rich one, at that-to make into a scapegoat.

I know that is not true, but then, when it comes to trying to explain the whole truth of this case to those who do not know anything about it, it is enough to give me a pounding migraine. Where to even begin? Unless someone is willing to take the time to read through dozens of blogs, to go through hours’ worth of court transcripts, to spend hours’ worth of scanning contracts  etc-or-as some fans have done, to even sit through these proceedings for months on end-all one can really say is, “I’m sorry if that’s the way you feel,” and move on.

But the truth is that this is a case with the potential to have far reaching repercussions in the entertainment industry. That is one reason why I think entertainers everywhere should be shuddering in their shoes at the prospect of this verdict. If AEG emerges from this case victorious, it means in effect that a concert promoter can agree to own you, body and soul, and can drive you to your death with no repercussions. But if they lose this case, there is also going to be a major ripple effect in the way future business dealings between artists and promoters will be handled. Could AEG, the second largest concert promoter in the business, go bankrupt as a result of this case? I don’t know. But it’s a lot of money at stake, and no doubt, these are people with a lot of power in the industry. I think it is very likely that if they lose this case, there may be some attempt to blackball the Michael Jackson brand. Maybe; maybe not. But I don’t put much past these people, and I certainly don’t trust them.

It would be a nice pipe dream to think that artists everywhere would stand together and band against greedy corporations who would take advantage of them. But the reality is that artists have to eat, too. And if AEG is paying their bills, I doubt they will be willing to rock that boat. When it comes down to choosing whose back to have and whose corner to be in, they will side where their bread is buttered.

In an ideal world, the good are vindicated, and the evil punished. But that ideal world doesn’t exist except in the realm of  wishful thinking.

How do I personally feel the verdict will go? Well, I may have to eat crow in a few days, when it comes down. But I believe AEG will be held liable. To what extent, that remains to be seen. I think there will be concessions made in the amount of money they are forced to pay Katherine Jackson and the kids, but in the end, that just comes down to a matter of breaking down the dollars and cents.

Which, sadly, is what Michael’s life has come down to, regardless of what the jury decides. We know this when we have both parties pointing the finger and calling the “greed” card. The Jacksons will point at AEG and say, “They killed him for money” and AEG will point at the Jacksons and say, “And all they want now, to compensate for his loss, is money.”

Michael got it right when he sang that it’s all bout the money.

Even if there is some justice for the family and a sense of closure (and that’s if the jury decides in their favor) that is not how it will be played out in the media.

But perhaps that doesn’t matter, and it shouldn’t. I sincerely believe, just as before, that truth and justice will prevail. I pray I will not be wrong in that belief.

So what are my own feelings now that it is all winding down? I have not followed the events of this trial in as much detail as some bloggers, but I said in the beginning that would be the case. I simply do not have the time to post those kinds of continuous updates, even though I admire and am greatly indebted to those who have. But I have tried to keep up with all of the major stories to come from it, and to reflect on those testimonies that have had the most impact. As a blogger whose stats rely on just how relevant Michael Jackson is in the news, there is a part of me that, inevitably, will miss that kind of day to day excitement. That is the journalist in me, and I hope it doesn’t offend too many if I am honest in that assessment. The traffic here is always highest when the public is discussing Michael Jackson, and that’s just the way it is.

But now the dust is going to settle, and perhaps that’s not a bad thing. It will mean getting back to the basics of what truly matters-Michael’s art. And, of course, all of those topics that we will continue to debate indefinitely in search of the truth, or something approximating it.

I will just say this much in regard to the verdict watch, and what it means:

IF the jury comes back with the decision that AEG is not liable (effectively meaning that KJ has lost the case) I know I am going to feel a sense of anger that justice has not been served, and that AEG got away with what they did to Michael. I won’t be happy with that decision, but I will live with it if that’s what it comes down to.

However, I also do not believe I will be feeling especially celebratory even if the verdict comes back as the equivalent of “Guilty.” Yes, it will bring some sense of closure to what has been a very long, bitter, and drawn out chapter, going all the way back to when the coroner first officially ruled Michael Jackson’s death as a “homicide.” But the verdict will still leave just as many questions unanswered, and in the end, as I have discovered long ago, people are still going to believe what they want to believe about Michael Jackson, how he died, and why he died. Meanwhile, too many with blood on their hands will still walk scot free. Murray is due to be released on October 28th, after serving less than two years. Tohme Tohme, the man directly and illegally responsible for locking Michael into that contract from hell, once again slips through the cracks.

I wish that I could say, after enduring five long months of this trial, that all of this will be erased if/when the jury comes back with the right verdict. But I know it won’t.

V-Day will be a day of anticipation, and no doubt, some reflection, whatever the jury decides. I can’t say I won’t feel a ping of deep satisfaction if AEG loses. But I don’t suspect any of those feelings will be especially long lasting, because the cynic in me knows just how much impact this verdict is going to have, either way. In the long run, not much.

You may see above that I posted images of the emails sent by Randy Phillips to Tim Leiweke, which were included as part of Panish’s closing arguments. I am sure most of you probably know that when you right click an image to save it, that image is usually identified by a file name. It just so happened that when I saved this image, the file name that came up was this: “Scared To Death.”

And the file names that accompanied the other images were just as telling: “Slapped. Screamed. Scared.”

And that, in essence, sums up the gist of this trial and everything that Michael endured in his last weeks.

I can only keep faith that the “real” judge, who sees all and knows all without the need for attorneys, witnesses or juries, will be the one who has the final say. Until then, none of the rest of it matters.

Teammichael has posted the closing arguments on Youtube. As far as I can tell, this is the correct order. I am, of course, grateful to the members of Teammichael for all of their hard work and coverage during this trial. 

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hks6cBh93HE[/tube]

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UhA8SRtyNA[/tube]

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGFY1AQZu4Q[/tube]

 UPDATE 10/05/2013: VERDICT IN! AEG NOT LIABLE (Well, not legally, anyway!):

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mO_d6j8OE_4[/tube]

I’m still having a bit of trouble getting my hands around this. Did I miss something, or wasn’t the whole crux of this trial supposed to hinge on the question of who hired Murray? The jury unanimously declared that AEG had hired Murray. Yet AEG is off the hook scot-free. The jury is now claiming a convenient legal loophole: That it was not a question of whether Murray was unethical, but a question of whether he was competent to perform the job he was hired to do. WT…?

Okay, I’m done. At least, until I can digest all of this a little more.

I know I said I would live with this decision, however it came down, but I’m left with a very bitter aftertaste. This verdict now means that the idea of Michael Jackson as being responsible for his own death is now cemented for many. Much of the crucial evidence that came to light regarding AEG’s treatment of Michael will be suppressed, while instead, all we will hear about is that Katherine didn’t get her expected windfall. That, to me, is tragic. I’ve never believed this case was solely about the money. However, it did bring to light a lot of ugly truths that, nevertheless, needed to be known. For that, I am at least grateful.

But the difference is that, had the jury ruled to hold AEG liable (even if only in part) I would have felt some sense of justice and closure. As it stands now, I cannot.

Michael’s untimely death remains what it has been from the start-a tragedy involving many culpable hands, who unfortunately will never have justice served upon them. At least, not in this life.

 

 

 

"The Last Photo Shoots"-Hallelujah For Something Long Overdue!

the last photo shoots

I’ve been pumped ever since the news broke about this new documentary feature. Michael: The Last Photo Shoots, a project directed by Craig Williams, promises to be a fascinating glimpse into Michael’s 2007 photo shoots for Vogue and Ebony-not to mention a feast for the eyes.

Read more about the project here:

http://www.michaelthelastphotoshoots.com/home.html

And judging by the adorable, rare behind the scenes clips that have already been made available, fans will soon have yet one more gem to add alongside This Is It and Spike Lee’s Bad 25.  And, more importantly, documentaries like this are adding, piece by piece, to the reconstruction and rediscovery of Michael Jackson’s image and artistry  that has been ongoing since 2009.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCQkNSpRka4[/tube]

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCDC2EVrgiQ[/tube]

Judging by the title and content, there may not be much to learn that is new about Michael Jackson the musical artist here. But this documentary may well serve another purpose that is just as important, and just as crucial to the rehabilitation of Michael’s image. This documentary marks an important milestone as a celebration of Michael’s mature beauty, model looks, and sexuality-yes, a celebration of Michael’s beauty, post-surgery, post-vitiligo, and post the trauma of 2005. It was 2007, the height of the “Wacko Jacko” era, when the tabloid caricature that had been created of Michael Jackson-the “freak with the mutilated face and no nose”-was the only image most were familiar with. To be sure, I think that the idea of Michael Jackson having participated in a series of high profile modeling shoots as recently as 2007 might seem hard to believe to a generation raised on the notion that this was a man who had supposedly spent his last decade as a “self-mutilated freak.” I know those photos were a revelation to me when I first discovered them, and served as an important milestone in introducing me to the beauty of mature Michael. It was also the beginning of my education into the media conspiracy that had determined to sell us on a lie.

Fans, of course, know all about these photos. But the reason why this documentary just may be of vital importance is that it finally allows the public at large, for perhaps the first time, a chance to see Michael’s mature looks and appearance cast in a new mold. Judging by what I have seen from these clips, this is certainly not Michael Jackson The Caricature. The clips utilized, as well as the photos, celebrate Michael as a photogenic artist and as a sensual man who is very confident in his own skin. To see Michael in his maturity being celebrated as a photo subject worthy of serious study and appreciation is, for sure, going to be an eye opening revelation for many. In my estimation, it’s something long overdue.

I half suspect, of course, that we’ll still see our share of snarky reviews. The media is a tough and bullheaded lot. After having invested years into convincing the public that Michael Jackson in any era post Thriller was a freak, they aren’t going to give up the ghost so easily.

But the clips speak for themselves, loud and clear.

Contrary to popular myth, Michael Jackson was not a cute youth who grew into a wreck of a human being. He was a cute but somewhat shy and akward youth who blossomed into a ripe, confident man full of swag. And, as true in 2007 as it had been in 1982, he was still an artist in complete control of what he wanted-and how he wanted to look.

I have only seen the clips, but it’s enough to convince me that Michael: The Last Photo Shoots is going to be a treasure.

And, just maybe, the start of a long overdue reassessment of Michael Jackson as a man who never ceased to be beautiful, but instead, became even moreso in his final years.

For those who would like to read more on the topic of Michael’s mature beauty, check out my article from February 2012, Why I Love The Mature Face of Michael, which continues to be one of the most popular articles I have ever done for this website (apparently, I am not alone in my assessment!):

http://www.allforloveblog.com/?p=5924

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