Extreme Michael Jackson

Order in the Court

Michael Jackson sure knows how to rock a suit. Wow. Most of his suits were flamboyant, but he toned it down with understated couture for the courtroom melodrama. Well, toned down for Michael Jackson, that is. When I heard that Jackson never wore the same suit twice, I had to take a peek- weren’t there hundreds of days in court? Didn’t that mean hundreds of suits?

Yes, indeedy. Turns out that L.A. designers Michael Bush and Dennis Tompkins, who designed most of the suits, worked around the clock, waking at three a.m. to take the superstar his suit of the day. They say he would always express his gratitude with a hug. They worked on a mannequin shaped like Jackson, and stayed focused on structured dancer fits with dazzling embellishments inspired by the military, jewel tones, and silky exotic fabrics. This way, Jackson streamlined his love for gaudy accessories and glorious ostentatiousness into unique, spare details.

Looking up his court suit photos led me to an absolute goldmine: www.gallery.steady-laughing.com. Purportedly the largest Jackson photo gallery online, this supersite boasts some SIX THOUSAND Michael Jackson photographs from all eras.

Guess I won’t be going out this weekend.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | michael jackson, Michael Jackson sexy, Michael Jackson style, Michael Jackson trial, MJ sexy, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Talking with Charles Thomson on the Molestation Charges

Lorette C. Luzajic interviews Charles Thomson, part two

The Molestation Charges

Charles Thomson is an authority on soul and funk music. He as written for The Sun, The Guardian, MOJO, Wax Poetics and the Huffington Post. In November 2009 he won a Guardian Award for his article ‘James Brown: The Lost Album’.

In 2008 Charles interviewed Aphrodite Jones about her book Michael Jackson Conspiracy, in which she claimed that the media had intentionally skewed its reporting on the Michael Jackson trial. Jones praised Charles for what she considered the best article ever written about  her.

Charles is also used as a Michael Jackson expert by Britain’s biggest newspaper, The Sun. More, he is one of the journalists who requested that Michael Jackson’s FBI files be made public, under the Freedom of Information Act.

I wanted to know more about the facts surrounding Jackson’s innocence. Charles generously took the time to share some with me.

Please visit him at www.charles-thomson.net.

When you are reporting about documents and letters and so on in regards to the ugly molestation investigations and trials, how do you know you’re getting accurate information in the vast sea of media? Can we be as certain as you are that Jackson is innocent?

Nobody can ever state with absolute certainty what happened behind closed doors between Michael Jackson and Jordan Chandler or Gavin Arvizo. Only the people who were in the room will ever know that for sure. On the whole, my articles are more about the media than Michael Jackson.

My point is, and has always been, that we live in a society which supposedly values the principle that a man is considered innocent until he is proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The doubt in the Michael Jackson cases was beyond reasonable. It was astronomical.

Michael Jackson was targeted by the SBPD and the FBI in investigations which spanned more than a decade. During that time neither organization was ever able to produce a single piece of evidence connecting Jackson to any of the allegations made against him. Not only was there no evidence, but the witnesses were completely unreliable; they frequently contradicted their own and each other’s stories and were often caught out in lies. Both sets of accusers enquired about suing Jackson before they ever considered going to the police. One family chose money over justice and the other approached a lawyer about suing Jackson before they’d even met him.

Michael Jackson was unanimously found not guilty on every single charge in his 2005 trial. Critics say that ‘not guilty isn’t the same as innocent’. Total poppycock. Our society deems that a man is innocent until he is proven guilty. Jackson was not proven guilty, ergo he is innocent.

But the overriding theme of my work on Michael Jackson is less about his innocence and more about the media’s guilt. The point I am constantly driving home is that it is not the media’s place to decide whether or not a man is guilty of a crime.

The judicial system deemed that Michael Jackson was an innocent man and that finding was supported by a whole stack of evidence – something that can’t be said for the prosecution’s case. So what right has the media to continue insinuating that Jackson was a child molester? It is irresponsible and unethical, and it is so widespread that it has become the norm. Journalists who actually report ethically on Michael Jackson are seen as traitors or morons simply for doing their jobs properly.

I’ve seen various people on the web describe me as a ‘floon’ for writing the stories that I do about Michael Jackson – palming me off as an obsessive fan. I don’t even like all of his albums or tours! They try to debunk my research as biased, even though much of it is sourced directly from legal documents and audio-visual evidence. Then they use unsupported testimony from Evan Chandler as their ‘proof’ that I am incorrect. It’s laughable.

What’s truly hilarious about those people, though, is their hypocrisy. On the one hand they try to discredit me by claiming my research is poor. Meanwhile, they are pedaling all sorts of lies about me. Some of them claim that I don’t actually exist, branding me a ‘fake writer’. Others claim that I am actually a woman called Deborah French, which is a total fabrication.

So you have this hilarious paradox whereby these people are on the one hand calling me a liar and on the other hand actively concocting their own lies about me.

Regarding the issue of Jackson’s innocence or guilt, I simply go by the evidence at hand. The available evidence strongly suggests that Jackson was innocent in 1993 and 2005.

Why Michael Jackson, and why molestation? Thousands of cases go unacknowledged, tossed aside, never touched. Then there are the other “child molesters.” Jerry Lee Lewis, Roman Polanski, Elvis, Woody Allen, R. Kelly, etc. Even when Roman recently made news again, it was brief and disinterested. Woody Allen is an unlikely sex symbol and artistic hero. I’ve never heard the press or anyone refer to this set in a negative light, even if their proclivities were mentioned. It was, instead, kind of heroic, or a ‘tick’ of some kind.

You make an extremely valid point. Other celebrities have been accused of behaving inappropriately with children and, unlike Jackson, some have been found guilty. But they aren’t subjected to anything like the bile reserved for Jackson.

Part of it, of course, is down to the fact that Jackson was such an enormous star. Roman Polanski and Jerry Lee Lewis don’t come anywhere close to Jackson’s level of fame. But what about Elvis? He is constantly touted by the media as Jackson’s only opponent in the global fame stakes.

Putting R Kelly to one side because he was acquitted, what do you notice about everybody else on the above list?

They’re all white. There is a clear racial double standard on this issue and it has always existed.

Back in 1959 Elvis Presley was overtly dating Priscilla Beaulieu (who later became Priscilla Presley). Priscilla was 14 years old. Furthermore, Presley’s musician Scotty Moore says in his autobiography that before Elvis began dating Priscilla, he was dating an even younger girl (making her a maximum of 13 years old). Not only did the media apparently not see anything wrong with this at the time – but they still don’t mention it even today. Priscilla openly admits that she and Elvis were sexually involved with one another while she was underage, but documentaries and articles relay this information casually and collectedly. There is no hysteria or condemnation for Elvis Presley.

So Elvis is known to have dated and been sexually involved with minors, but the media couldn’t be less interested. Meanwhile, Jackson was merely accused and subsequently acquitted, but the media delights in telling us as often as possible that he was a pedophile.

In the same year that Elvis Presley began overtly dating a 14 year old girl, Chuck Berry gave a 14 year old girl a lift across the state line and hired her to work as a hat check girl in his nightclub. He was arrested under the Mann Act for ‘transporting a minor across the state line for immoral purposes’ and given three years in jail.

As recently as 2008, Chuck Berry came to the UK – aged 83 – to play a handful of gigs. The regional media kicked up a stink about one his shows and it ended up cancelled. There’s that racial double standard again. Elvis routinely dated underage girls – nobody cares. Chuck Berry gave somebody a job and ended up tarred as a sexual deviant for the rest of his life.

Chuck Berry was seen as a threat to the status quo in 1950s America. His music was seen as immoral. Rock & Roll was exciting to teenage girls and the establishment didn’t approve of them going gooey-eyed over a negro singer. He was slung in jail on a ludicrous charge and by the time he got out, America had crowned Elvis as its ‘King’.

Michael Jackson was, like Berry, a threat to the status quo. Jackson was an Afro-American who outsold Elvis and owned the Beatles. When Paul McCartney wanted to play his own song, he had to pay Michael Jackson royalties. There had never been a situation like that before.

In 2004 Eminem trashed Jackson in a music video. In 2007, Jackson bought Eminem’s catalogue. How’s that for black power?

Jackson refused to accept limitations and, like Jack Johnson before him, it’s arguable that it made him a target.

You’ll notice that the other common strand among those listed above is that they were all involved with girls rather than boys. The media’s reaction to the allegations against Jackson was not only perhaps fuelled by racism but also laced with homophobia. It’s OK for Elvis to openly date 13 year old girls, but it’s not OK for Michael Jackson to merely hang out with 13 year old boys.

What if we’re wrong? If tomorrow, a video shows Jackson as a guilty man, how should Team Innocent react? What will happen to all the “I love you, Michael!” and to the vast outpouring of loyalty and affection the world over?

I think logic dictates that no such evidence exists. The FBI and the SBPD both investigated Jackson for prolonged periods and neither organization was ever able to produce any evidence connecting Jackson to any crime. Meanwhile, other boys came forward and said they’d slept in Jackson’s room and he’d never touched them. The accusers themselves couldn’t get their stories straight. Jordy botched the description of Jackson’s genitals. Witnesses came forward to disprove the accusers’ stories in both cases.

In brief, if Jackson is guilty, how can there be so much evidence to suggest his innocence?

And given that there is so much information discrediting the 1993 allegations, what are the chances that the subsequent allegations are genuine? It would be a bit of a coincidence if the first allegations were bogus but the subsequent ones were true.

If ever evidence does come to light that shows Jackson was guilty, then I will accept that evidence. As I said earlier, my focus is more on the media than it is on Jackson. I’m not necessarily working to vindicate Michael Jackson. I’m working to challenge media outlets which skew evidence and print blatant fabrications.

If evidence comes to light in future which proves Jackson is guilty, it won’t excuse the fact that the media has spent almost two decades actively skewing the evidence which is currently available.

Whether it is Michael Jackson or an anonymous street cleaner from Wisconsin – it is simply unacceptable for the media to fabricate evidence and misrepresent testimony, or to call somebody a child molester when they have not been convicted of any crime. It is unethical and unprofessional for any media outlet to intentionally misrepresent any information, no matter what subject they’re writing about.

For instance, the media constantly misstates key information pertaining to the 1994 settlement. Whether Jackson is innocent or guilty is entirely irrelevant to the fact that it is unacceptable for any news outlet to consistently lie to the public.

The sum of the settlement is constantly exaggerated. The media frequently alludes to a $20million settlement, sometimes even a $30million settlement, whereas the documents clearly show that it was $15million. Furthermore, the media always claims that Michael Jackson paid the settlement, whereas documents show that it was actually an insurance carrier.

The media constantly makes statements like, ‘Jackson was investigated in 1993 over alleged child molestation but he settled out of court’, which is extremely misleading. The settlement dealt only with the impending civil suit and had nothing to do with the official police investigation. The settlement documents include a specific clause which makes it clear that settling the civil suit did not affect the family’s right to testify in a criminal trial. But the media has spent the best part of two decades heavily implying – if not overtly stating – that Jackson bought his way out of a criminal trial.

As I said above, all of this information is relevant and applicable regardless of innocence or guilt. It is the media’s job to report facts but these facts have been ignored or misstated by almost every single large-scale news outlet in the world – on purpose – since 1994.

It is this bias that I target in my work.

Visit Charles at http://charles-thomson.net.

NB from Lorette:

I’m sure the people at Hee Hee Shamone are very nice, but I don’t know them so I remain neutral in regards to their site content. However, the page below contains a download PDF of a 13 page court document attesting to the fact that Jackson neither agreed to the “payoff” nor paid it.


May 16, 2010 Posted by | michael jackson, Michael Jackson media, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Who is this mysterious Luxirare?

Once in awhile, you stumble upon pure genius. In my journeys for unusual or strange or beautiful or rare tributes to my main squeeze, Michael Jackson, I discovered Luxirare.

If Luxirare does not become the most sought after fashion designer of the new millennium, I will become extremely irritable. I want to see her creating custom costumes for Madonna, Yoko Ono, and Kurt Hummel.

Seldom, seldom, seldom can you find such an original thinker as Luxirare. And that’s okay, because “there is nothing new under the sun” as the good book said. And great art comes from other great art. We inspire each other; we discover new challenges and methods from one another; we pay homage to others- intentionally, or unconsciously. So new art is born.

But some are above and beyond all of that. They become inimitable, wholly unique. Luxirare is destined for greatness. She is already great and inimitable. Whether or not the world follows is really only a statement about the world and not about her. But fame and fortune, or at least success and influence, shouldn’t be far off for Luxi. She is truly original, with exquisite attention to detail. Luxirare is all about the lux and rare details. The quality of craftsmanship combined with the imaginative prowess makes her a tour de force. Look at this stellar touch- stamping into the leather the names of her favourite Michael Jackson songs.

Luxirare, for all the impeccable attention to the finer things in life, has a refreshingly down to earth philosophy. I paraphrase here, but it’s something like this: Vintage is worth investing in: and no amount of fashion or designer labels will hide or fix someone who’s not comfortable with him or herself.

After finding these painstakingly tailored Michael Jackson tribute pieces, I fell in love with Luxi’s addictive blog. Her enigmatic personality draws you right in and you’ll meander through her blog writings and the intriguing photographs of her handiwork. She is a serious foodie and takes stunning photographs of her culinary creations. She also photographs and blogs about her vintage shopping habit, her dog (and her dog’s clothing!), and her favourite designers. She models smashing outfits of haute couture, vintage, and her personal work.

She is enigmatic and mysterious. No one really knows who Ji Kim is. She tells little about herself. Her photographs always hide her face by pixelating or rubbing out the features, or being turned away from the camera. ALL OF HER WORDS ARE WRITTEN IN UPPER CASE, which you think might get annoying, but actually makes for sleek, easy reading because her blog is very minimalist. It also makes her quickly distinguishable, even without a name or face. Her style manages to be over the top yet minimalist, too.

About the appeal of Michael Jackson’s music, she writes, “The power, the beauty of MJ’s music was that it didn’t matter if you were a hustler on Wall Street, a nun in rural China, a gutter punk, a socialite, or a person who hates pop music. Chances are, you liked hearing Pretty Young Thing, and you probably still do.”

“Here is my memorabilia of MJ. Since Michael Jackson was the most meticulous performer I have ever seen, I tried to apply that same meticulousness with this personal memorabilia. I doubt I came close, or ever will come close…”

There’s no humility necessary. If timing of the universe were different, Luxi might have been designing FOR her meticulous master. Michael Jackson would consider this among the finest of many, many fine tributes or homages he has seen. Am I gushing?

I’m in buckle bliss with these, because Mikey’s buckle era was one of my favourite fashion eras ever, ever, ever. Loved the buckles. The high camp of them, their clattering muchness, their silhouetted texture imprinting my mind with Michael Jackson. Yet these are so distinct from the look they tribute, because Luxi has brilliantly toned down the busy jumble of Michael’s gaudiness. The white minimalism means an achingly beautiful simplicity and a silence, almost, a moment of silence, absolute reverence, in the solemn aftermath of his passing.

I also like that she says frankly that no one in their “right mind” would wear the whole ensemble at once. Runway isn’t realway. She gives some assembly ideas on pairing the pieces with what works in your wardrobe.
I’m not the only one gushing about Luxirare. She gets hundreds of comments on her blogs, and she’s really blowing a lot of people away. She’s setting up an online shop at shopluxirare.com. Her blog is luxirare.com.

In her manifesto, she talks about what luxury and rarity mean to her. “There is no false creation of the “it” item and its corresponding “scarcity” that this item will “sell out”. The new definition of Luxury will not only depend on the expensive materials used, but the time and amount of thinking it takes to create it. The new definition of Luxury will depend on how Rare an item is. The new realization of luxury will depend on something more personal; luxury will not only be unique and rare, but a highly intimate experience. Luxury at the moment is defined by the logo and the “lifestyle” that logo is supposed to represent. We are all aware at this point that the logo does not define the lifestyle. Anybody can fake the lifestyle with the fake logo or skip credit card payments for a “logo” they simply cannot afford. The acquisition of the logo is no longer an accurate portrayal of the “lifestyle” that person is living. The new form of luxury will not be dependent on the “lifestyle” but on the “personal experience” the individual has with the product.”

My loved ones know I’m not exactly a label queen, having been the gaudy but hopefully sweet and quirky second hand rose that I am. Sometimes I get lucky at Value Village and find a real piece. But I decided that the first designer I invest in when I have a bestseller and a few bucks to spare will be Luxirare. This is the real deal. I want her to make me something I can wear with Zara, the white fox stole I rescued from a thrift store, something I can work at a reception of some sort. Maybe my next book launch or an awards ceremony. I can’t wait to have a Luxirare in my wardrobe.

Other Luxirare designs (her clothes aren’t based on MJ- that was a memorial tribute outfit, but she designs a variety of clothes. Oh, and food, too.)

Okay, I want this one for after those backyard hottub lantern lit martini bubble baths I'm always having with the much younger gardener....

This beautifully constructed piece manages to be boxy and angular yet flitty and feminine at the same time. I'm not sure it would flatter my girth, but I could put a pretty young thing in it and look at it, right?

How sweet is this? These handmade luxury Luxirare crayons are DESSERT. Made with nuts and seeds and sweet stuff.

Even her photographs are stunning, always in the understated, detail-centered style that defines her brand.

These gold-leafed eggs contain raspberry egg nog.

These Luxirare shoes are insane.

I can’t just put up all of her pictures, but hope she didn’t mind me using her art to rave about how awesome she is. I mean, that pearl-skull-cage ring is wicked. Those boots are impossible. Her desserts are crazy. I’ll be looking for her stuff in Vogue and Bazaar shortly.

May 15, 2010 Posted by | Michael Jackson art, michael jackson belt buckles, Michael Jackson style, Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Remember the Time: Talking with Reuben Jackson about Michael Jackson

Remember the Time: Talking with Reuben Jackson about Michael Jackson
by Lorette C. Luzajic

Reuben Jackson knows a thing or two about music. He’s a jazz archivist at the Smithsonian Institution’s Duke Ellington Collection, and his music writing has appeared everywhere from The Washington Post to National Public Radio. His poems have been a part of more than twenty anthologies.

Reuben Jackson’s poem in Goodbye, Billie Jean: the Meaning of Michael Jackson, is “Remember the Time.” It’s a series of nine haikus.

I was delighted to receive an email one evening from Reuben proclaiming, about the book,

“I would stand on freeway exits/like the brown men who sell oranges/
in Los Angeles)/and sell this book…You should be proud… Really!  I’m really proud to be a part of it!”

It was an honour to talk to Reuben about his work.

Lorette: Marlon, Reuben, Tito…it totally fits. Did you ever pretend Reuben Jackson was one of the Jackson Five?

Reuben: Michael was one of the “brilliant brown voices” of my youth (this is from a poem I wrote about Sinatra). I know I was and am not alone in this assessment.
Like Miles, or Sinatra (among others)-I saw (and heard) him as the voice of longing, of deep artistic conviction-the wounded, ultra-gifted artist. People don’t always get it  when black people say “he was ours”-or “they were ours,” in the case of the J5. But I also think lots of folks don’t understand what it meant to have someone who looked like “you” out there.

Lorette: What did you feel when you heard that Michael had died? What did Michael mean to you personally?

Reuben: When Michael died, I cried like nobody’s business. And I was so, so, angry when the media didn’t call him what he was-a major artist. Period. That inspired the poems I sent you as much as anything else I felt at that time.

Lorette: Is it easier to write verse in haiku’s elegant restraint than not to? Why did you choose this form of art?

Reuben: Well, it just kind of happened. I like the meditative feel (or the possibility of same, anyway) of the form, and the terseness it requires. Like a 3 minute single!  I just kind of rolled with what I was feeling, then went back and revised what was in front of me.

Read Reuben’s poem and fifty other writers on Michael Jackson in Goodbye, Billie Jean: the Meaning of Michael Jackson- fifty-one writers, curated by Lorette C. Luzajic.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | michael jackson poetry, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Just Bag It

Michael Jackson fans and manufacturers alike have shown tremendous creativity coming up with various Michael Jackson memorabilia products. This blog has taken great delight in both the woefully tacky and the heartfelt, brilliantly artistic merchandise tributes out there. The plastic  Michael mills  and factories showcase the excess and extreme of our mass culture, revealing the tacky and crass commercialism that is simply a fact of life in many of the dominant world cultures. However, the vast variety of products bearing this singular icon’s name is a testament to the inspiration he was to all facets of society. He inspired creativity and commerce, in big and small ways, from every corner of human capability.

Because I happened to need a new purse, I decided to check what kind of delightful “Michael Jackson purses” were available. WOW!!! The selection is incredible! From backpacks to chic handbags, from the heinous to the sublime, there is a Michael Jackson bag out there to suit every whim and every outfit. Take a look.

Standout style in bold red and black. Love the tag detail with dancing feet.

The Bag is Mine, mine, mine. Who wouldn't want an afro-themed bowling bag? This one's my fave.

Very stylish hobo design. Loving the red and black, the signature, the fact that this Michael Jackson purse can go anywhere.

Heartfelt quilted handmade bag at etsy.com by "snapshotbags."

Classic silhouette in classic neutrals.

This beautiful beaded cigar box purse is from lisachicboutique.com.

From covertocoverpurses.com, this bag is made out of vinyl records!

Bold, gold and glamourous.

Very elegant with classic motif. Can't find designer anywhere but photo has "crkarlacourtney" on it, so perhaps that's a clue.

It doesn't matter if your outfit is black or white.

another cigar box beauty by Ornelas Tabacco.

That contagious smile is sure to spread the l-o-v-e all day long.

A one of a kind handbag for the artist alone: she's listed at deviantart.com as "xpinkcocainex." A stunning piece.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | michael jackson, Michael Jackson art, Michael Jackson crafts, Michael Jackson fans, Michael Jackson style, MJ collectibles, MJ memorabilia, MJ souvenirs, Uncategorized, weird MJ stuff | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Paranoia of Michael Jackson

The Paranoia of Michael Jackson

Unfortunately, I know more about paranoia than most people. I watched helplessly as two men I loved very closely lost their mind to the shadowy trails of the CIA; as they taped over the keyholes of our home so no one could peer inside; as one dug holes in the walls, certain there were cameras embedded in the plaster. Indeed, even the beloved pet cat was guilty- had he had cameras planted in his eyes?

It is no joke when someone loses their mind to methamphetamine, thinks his nearest and dearest are part of the plot to capture him and saw off his arms and legs, and sees laboratories in the attic and spies in the backyard.

There is little in this world as nightmarish as paranoia. People with paranoid schizophrenia experience varying levels of it, from a kind of nattering unsettled feeling they are being watched to the full-blown delusion of hell that surrounded my friend. Speed damages parts of the brain that regulate fear and related emotions, and can induce full-blown paranoia in sane men. It seems ridiculous to those of us who equate “paranoid” with a few too many grass hits from the bong, but that kind of prickling anxiety is just a small window into a world so horrific that you can’t tell if your loved ones are your real family, or robotic plants from the FBI who are playing with your mind.  Just as speed freaks feel their skin is covered with spiders, so they hear termites in the walls where there are none, and bloodthirsty dogs barking. There are demons lurking around every corner. And then they die, often by suicide, or by a “calming drug” to help escape the agitation. And so the death is listed as suicide or heroin overdose, when the real cause is speed.

Your skin is probably crawling right now if you have lost someone to methamphetamine. Watching the garish, swift deterioration of a perfectly sane mind, trying to reason with your husband or child that you are not a mad surgeon hiding a chain saw, or security for the KGB, is enough to make you start listening yourself for sounds in the attic and clues on the news.

Where things get murky, however, is when someone’s paranoia is rooted in possibility. As the old saying goes, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there’s nobody following you.

To make things more complicated, if you happened to want to drive someone insane so you could get away with murder, using drugs to keep them where you want them is an easy trick. It works best, obviously, if they are already vulnerable, disturbed, or addicted. You can add drugs to an equation and mould someone to your will. Recreational users will decry this statement as infringing on their freedom and pleasure, but the facts remain that most people can’t understand addiction, even if they are playing with substances that may become addictive. Those who do understand it have an unfair advantage. They usually want money- as in dealers or blackmailers. But mafia, gaslighters, cult leaders, war criminals, and psychopaths have used addiction to make a plaything out of the person they are trying to control. Child soldiers are deliberately hooked on cocaine and speed, fed the stuff around the clock while trained to hate and kill. They cannot leave or change their mind when given the chance to because their mindset has been created and they are addicted to the substances. This technique is nothing new in warfare. Kamikaze pilots were given meth, so that they would not fear death. Adolph Hitler was addicted to the stuff, which surely contributed to his grandiosity and persecution complex.

Michael Jackson’s paranoid terror is now making the Internet rounds, a testament to his emotionally unstable mindset. Some tapes from answering machines feature the troubled icon leaving terrified messages that he wanted to go into hiding. Celebrity addiction writer Daphne Barak received these unsettling messages from a source not yet named.

almost forty years ago. tragic.

There are a lot of things I’ll make fun of in this world, including things about Michael Jackson, whose prankster identity and sense of humour is constantly overshadowed by overzealous, protective fans who don’t know what comic relief means. Michael Jackson had a serious side, but much of what he did was theatrical, zany, campy, and funny. Little boys love to joke and jest, and all those giant statues and robots and shiny gold pants were all about entertainment, not about somber artistry alone.

But I won’t make fun of a man’s terror that he is being stalked and tormented. These messages have become fodder for the worst of the net. I do support free speech at all times, even when I don’t like what someone is saying. But for all that, wouldn’t these tapes be of interest to the Los Angeles Police Department? SHOULDN’T these tapes be of interest? There was, after all, a murder investigation, and a doctor was charged with homicide. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that there are a million reasons why someone might want Jackson killed, and ask his doctor to facilitate it? Wouldn’t it stand to reason that tapes featuring Jackson talking about people wanting to kill him might be relevant to the homicide investigation? There is no way that the doctor, if guilty, is the only one involved.

Dr. Conrad Murray may very well be totally traumatized that his patient died under his care. He may be very honest that Jackson was out of control or suicidal. He may have been an unwitting pawn in the murder, for being a pushover to Jackson’s addiction- rather than foolishly allowing lots of drugs, it could be that his judgement was eroded by Jackson’s begging desire or unruly behaviour. No doctor should allow so many dangerous drugs, but an addict is persuasive- Jackson may simply have hired another doctor. All of this may be true. Dr. Murray may be devastated that Jackson died, as evidenced in his loyalty when he went back to hide the “skin bleaching” cream that Jackson used to even out his now-a-fact vitiligo.

Or he may have been paid to let Jackson’s terrible addiction kill him. To let Jackson kill himself without intervening in time, when the time came. Or paid outright to give him an overdose. He may have not been paid- maybe his own life was threatened. Who knows?

In any event, it is very unlikely that Dr. Conrad Murray simply let Jackson die because he was a lazy, crazy doctor with an axe to grind against the pop star. If it was murder, someone other than Murray was involved.

If someone wanted to kill Jackson, whatever for? Well, for starters: for fun, for fame, for sinister notoriety, to punish a “child molester,” vindication of any of the thousands of court cases over employment or libel or privacy or whatnot, for blackmail, for money, because he owed money, because he’s black, because he’s white, because he wore makeup, because of strange alliances or arguments he may have had while over in the middle east, because he’s more famous than anyone else, because some people hate drug addicts, because they thought he was gay, because the music industry could use a commercial boost, because he refused to share certain music libraries, because some of his own music would never see the light of day and there were dollar signs all over it, because a lover felt jilted, because someone was a lunatic, because because because because.

One thing is certain: this is a man whom, more than the average person, people could have reasons to want to kill.

I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again: if you’re going to kill someone, it’s easier to kill a drug addict, or a mentally unstable person. After all, everything can be blamed on the drugs or the target can be dismissed as crazy. Jackson was vulnerable and exhausted after fifteen years of defending himself from child abuse allegations, for which there was never a single shred of evidence. Many, many innocent men accused of child abuse have committed suicide because of the humiliation. Yet these men weren’t known the world over, in every nook and cranny. I doubt anyone could sleep, or abstain from painkiller or alcohol addiction in these circumstances. The absolute exhaustion and pain from this degrading experience would be unrelenting.

Michael Jackson was vulnerable and dependent for decades. He was an easy target. He was worth more dead than alive. Was it money, fame, or retribution that someone wanted? Or is there no specific murderer, except for all of us, who hounded him until he slipped away?

It’s hard to say when there’s so much conjecture and little real evidence presented to us. However, if a man of Michael Jackson’s notoriety was afraid someone was trying to kill him, it would have been prudent to listen. He told his family he was afraid. Why would anyone dismiss these ramblings, however incoherent, as anything but the potential truth from a terrified victim? Any millionaire could be a target for murder. Any accused child molester, too. Anyone who owns that much intellectual property. Anyone who may appear gay, feminine, confused, or eccentric. And anyone who owes that much money.

“I am hearing a lot of stories that [name withheld] is still trying to sabotage me, and I want to be in a different environment and, um, I’ve found a place that I like and now I want to be away for a while where they can’t find me. So please help me, help, help me…” Jackson said desperately.

He also spoke of mafia following him, of people he didn’t trust, of his fear that someone was trying to kill him.

“I am very concerned. I don’t trust that man. We think he’s bad, we think he is Italian mafia. Please… we must be smarter than him. So please, help me with this. I need to get that, those funds so I can do that, I wanna be away… I don’t want to be in Neverland right now.”

Jackson made these recordings in 2003, the year Martin  “Judas” Bashir made his “documentary.”

This means the fears were real BEFORE the second set of allegations came along. Would this point to Tom Sneddon, who had a vendetta with Michael, since he was unable to bring prior charges against him? After all, the Arvizo family originally took aim at Bashir for not having their permission to be featured in the film, not at Jackson for child molesting. Of Jackson, they said, a thousand times over on camera, that he was a loving, perfect, father figure of untold kindness and generosity. Suddenly, they turned up with Sneddon, accusing Jackson of various fumblings and parachute kidnappings that read like science fiction instead of a serious court case. They couldn’t even keep their story straight.

Why are we laughing now when we didn’t listen then? It’s likely someone did, after all, kill him. That much has been established. There would have been murder investigation if there were no real possibility that he was murdered.

If he killed himself, it’s rather likely he was driven to it. That may be by the general public and situation, or it may be someone or a group of people in particular who kept at it until he crossed that threshold. It’s easy to get away with murder if you simply drive someone to do it for them self, for you.

Michael Jackson sang about the KGB following him and talked about being stalked by the FBI. Guess what? The FBI WAS following him. For fifteen years, they followed him, investigating secretly beyond the court accusations, looking for child abuse. The reports completely exonerate him, with stamps of “nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing” appearing on document after document. Even these haven’t freed his name, but to those who care about the truth, they prove two things: one, his innocence, and two, that the FBI was indeed following him and had been for years.

Could it be that the mafia was following him, too? Entanglement with Hollywood lawyers and doctors and drugs and women spell drama and danger even for those who aren’t particularly rich and famous.

Why is it considered paranoid if someone is worried about the mob? The last time I checked, the mafia is far more likely to pull off despicable crimes than the average citizen. Last time I checked, the mob was in the business of knocking off people they didn’t like, or people who owe them money.

And if Jackson’s fears were simply drug-addled paranoia with no basis in possibility, why did no one get help for it? Paranoia is one of the most torturous conditions a person can have. It is much, much worse than the most terrifying horror flick. Surely someone cared enough to steer him toward mental health resources. He could have gone for treatment anywhere in the world, from the most advanced doctors and scientists. A celebrity has access, after all, to care that commoners like my poor loved ones do not.

There is no reason to dismiss Jackson’s desperate phone calls over the years as the ramblings of a madman. They may be- he was after all, desperate, in pain, drug dependent, and unable to sleep. But more likely, his words are a window into a fuller picture of what happened. If we dismiss everything the man ever said just because he had more than his fair share of problems, we will never know what happened. His strange story will never end with justice.  Sometimes the dead speak. If we want to know their story, it might be prudent to listen.

Lorette C. Luzajic

May 13, 2010 Posted by | michael jackson, Michael Jackson death, Michael Jackson murder, Michael Jackson music industry, Uncategorized | , , | 6 Comments

He’s Fresh

Who WOULDN’T want to rock out with MJ while cruising down the highway? He’ll always keep you company if you’re driving alone. This Michael Jackson Air Freshener says beat it Who WOULDN’T want to rock out with MJ while cruising down the highway? He’ll always keep you company if you’re driving alone. This Michael Jackson Air Freshener says beat it to stale auto odors. He’ll be the man on the rearview mirror.  Leave it to Japan to get fresh with these groovy inventions- some things are so silly, they simply make you smile.

What to blast while your cool factor is this high? Why, Speed Demon, of course-  hope you didn’t forget that one. It was inexplicably contagious, and his falsetto was flawless.


May 11, 2010 Posted by | michael jackson, MJ collectibles, MJ memorabilia, MJ souvenirs, Uncategorized, weird MJ stuff | | Leave a comment

Lorette C. Luzajic talks with Michael Jackson Expert Charles Thomson

Thanks so much to Charles Thomson for taking the time to talk with me. Charles  is an award winningwriter best known for his work on James Brown and other soul musicians. He writes for The Guardian, The Sun, Huffington Post, MOJO, Wax Poetics, and more. Please visit him at http://www.charles-thomson.net.

Why are you considered a “Michael Jackson expert?”

I’m a fan of black music generally and discovered Michael Jackson at a young age. Over the years I’ve amassed a vast collection of black music books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, videotapes and more. There are a few artists who I’ve always found particularly interesting – people like James Brown, Chuck Berry, Prince – and Michael Jackson is one of them. As such, I’ve have had nearly 15 years of ‘study time’ – reading stacks of books, watching documentaries and so on.

I only began working as a Michael Jackson ‘expert’ last year. In March 2009 I received a tip-off from somebody in Michael’s camp, who gave me specific details about his arrival in London to announce the This Is It shows. They told me which airstrip he was flying into, what time he was landing and where he would be staying. My source asked me to leak the information.

I worked on that tip-off with the Sun, which is Britain’s biggest newspaper. They used the info to snap exclusive pictures of Jackson disembarking his private jet. Once I had delivered an exclusive of that magnitude, the Sun decided to keep using me and I’ve worked with them frequently since then.

My most recent Michael Jackson contribution was the Sun’s exclusive revelation that filmmakers had dubbed old vocals into ‘This Is It’. That story really illustrates my role perfectly. When I saw the film I noticed immediately that the vocals during the latter half of Earth Song were dubbed in from Michael’s 1991 demo. Only a fan or an expert would notice that. Similarly, I noticed the lyric change in Billie Jean and realized that the vocals on that track were also dubbed in from a demo.

I passed my notes to the Sun, who hired audio experts to confirm that the vocals were old and eventually got a Sony rep to admit it.

That might sound like a negative story but I didn’t like the deceit involved – selling tickets to a ‘documentary’ but not really delivering one. A documentary should be truthful and honest. It shouldn’t be dubbed to paint an inaccurate picture. I also felt that the dubbed vocals could be there to disguise something – something that might blow apart the filmmakers’ claims that they had no idea Michael Jackson was experiencing ill-health or using drugs. I didn’t think I should let it go unreported.

You stood within metres of Michael Jackson. Did you feel it? What is it exactly that is emanating off of him to cause mass faintings, millions of  tattoos, crazy love, wild and absurd sexual desire, sobbing, loyalty, hysteria, even madness?

The first time I saw him up close, at the World Music Awards in 2006, was quite exciting because there seemed to be a mass hysteria around his appearance. It felt like an event. The place blew up when he finally appeared onstage. He certainly looked striking – different to his photographs. He was incredibly slender, particularly given that he was approaching fifty. He walked very majestically, almost like he was floating. He was impeccably dressed and his face looked, dare I say it, quite normal – certainly a lot better than it looked in most photos. But for all the hysteria, after he’d left the stage I felt a little empty. To be honest, I think that 1993 drained a lot of the joy out of him and the trial killed most of what was left. He seemed to just be going through the motions.

At the announcement in March 2009 something just didn’t feel right. I’d heard that Jackson was supposed to fly over a week previously to announce the gigs but had pulled out (you’ll read more about that in Randy Taraborrelli’s updated biog, due out in Summer). Also, he was very late on the day of the announcement (more on that in Taraborrelli’s book, too) and the PR people seemed to be slightly on edge in the press room.

I had dinner with a group of friends right afterwards inside the O2 complex and we all agreed that something had seemed wrong. He had sounded like he didn’t want to be there – ‘This is the final curtain call, OK?’ – and rather than feeling excited I just felt like the whole thing was doomed from the beginning. Although I bought tickets and hoped the shows would go ahead, deep down I expected the concerts to be cancelled for one reason or another.

I don’t really think I can comment on what it was about Michael Jackson which elicited the hysteria often exhibited by his fans, because I think that whatever it was, after 1993 it wasn’t really there anymore. It was as though all the soul had been stamped out of him; like you were watching the shell of Michael Jackson but his essence had long since dissipated.

Although I’ve loved Michael for nearly a quarter century, I never actually contemplated how I would feel when he died. I’ve felt desperate, devastating grief with the loss of a man I never actually met. Do you think the kind of energy of love that Michael put out there, the feeling that he personally loves each and every one of us, is real? Can art make that real, or is his love- and ours- an illusion?

Michael’s concern for people certainly seemed genuine – you don’t give away millions of dollars unless you really believe in the cause. Nor do you open your home to strangers unless you really want to.

However, after 1993 he never seemed quite the same. As I said earlier, it was like all of the joy had been stamped out of him. He reiterated the same sentiments as before but now they felt more like catchphrases than heartfelt messages. He seemed to speak almost entirely in repetitive soundbites: ‘I love you more’. ‘The best is yet to come’. ‘Burn the tabloids’. It was like he was on autopilot.

In truth, I think he was bored and fed up with being Michael Jackson. I think he just wanted a quiet life but felt under pressure to be Michael Jackson all the time.

What makes Michael different?

As an artist, Michael Jackson had the complete package. He could sing, dance, write and compose. Little Richard once called Michael Jackson the ‘most complete artist’ he ever knew. Michael Jackson, at his peak, raised the bar for quality as both a recording artist and a live performer.

But there have other artists who could sing, dance, write and compose. James Brown and Prince both spring to mind but there are plenty more. However, none of them inspired the same hysteria and adulation as Michael Jackson. I think it was his personality that his fans really bought into. Michael Jackson’s relationship with his fans went beyond posing for the occasional picture or signing the odd autograph.

For instance, in 2001 he played two concerts in New York – one on September 7th and one on September 10th. The terrorist attacks happened on the 11th and many fans who had flown to New York to see Michael Jackson were left stranded with little or no money. Jackson tracked down some of those fans and covered them financially, paying for their hotels while they were stuck in NY and then funding their trips home. There aren’t many other artists who would do that.

You mentioned how hard your own grief was. In light of the many interesting the world mourned Michael, what course did your experience take?

Grief is a strong word – I don’t think I’ve ever said I experienced grief after Michael Jackson’s death. Shock, certainly. Sadness too. But I have always taken a very rational approach to Michael Jackson – I never felt personally connected to him in any way. I appreciated him as an artist but I wasn’t afraid to address his shortcomings. I’ve never defended his prolific miming or his decision to let kids into his bedroom or the baby-dangling incident.

A lot of people saw Michael Jackson as an intricate part of their lives – like a friend or a family member – but I always saw him as an entertainer whose work I admired. I was saddened by the loss and I think his story is as tragic as it is triumphant. I feel sorry that he will miss watching his children grow up and it’s a shame that he fought tooth and nail to survive his trial only to die four years later having not done a whole lot in the interim. But I didn’t get dressed up in mourning gear or make any plans to travel to LA. Did I shed a few tears during the televised memorial? Of course I did. But so did an estimated billion other people.

I believe the witch-hunt and eventual lynching of Michael Jackson speaks volumes about our gladiatorial darkness, the spectre of the Inquisition and the Burning Times, the joy we used to take in public hangings and stonings.  So why Michael Jackson, the one we loved most?

I interviewed Aphrodite Jones in 2008 for a now defunct magazine called Deadline. The article is on my website. She made a comment during the interview about the public’s enjoyment of the ‘lynching’ of celebrities: “There’s this ghoulish sense of everyday people taking pleasure in witnessing the downfall of celebrities; this morbid sense of glee at watching those better off than ourselves being punished for their success.”

I think Jackson was targeted by the media primarily because he was the most famous man on the planet. Big name + big story = big revenue. I think it also irritated the media – understandably – that Jackson kept stitching them up. At his peak Jackson was forever planting stories about himself, then publicly whinging about them and urging his fans to boycott newspapers! You can see why that would have got up their noses.

Many think he may have been targeted on account of his race and I think it would be shortsighted to rule that out entirely. I often compare Jackson to Jack Johnson, the world’s first black Heavyweight Boxing Champion. Johnson’s media treatment was unarguably racist, and Jackson’s media treatment has been unarguably similar; name-calling, rampant misquoting, bogus stories, derogatory cartoons, biased coverage of criminal allegations – so on and so forth.

Just as Johnson was a black world champion more than fifty years before segregation was lifted, Jackson was a black man who outsold Elvis and owned the Beatles in an era when MTV still didn’t like putting African Americans on its TV channels.

You can trace it on a timeline; Before Thriller hit, Jackson was already getting surgery. His make-up was already lightening and his voice was already high. His friends were already young. As long as Jackson was only successful within his own racial parameters, the media didn’t care. But the moment Thriller broke white records – the moment he outsold Elvis and started buying white musicians’ publishing – the media was suddenly interested in his surgery, his light skin, his high voice and his young friends. The moment Jackson threatened the status quo, he became a target.

Arguably, like Johnson, he was seen as a black man who didn’t know his place.

What is undeniable is that in certain areas of the media there is a blatant and concerted attempt to slander Michael Jackson as frequently as possible. Facts are intentionally misstated and false information is intentionally represented as truth. That much is unarguable.

My knee-jerk response to Evan Chandler’s suicide was hardly charitable, though if I judged everyone for the mess they made out of their own lives, I’d have to judge myself most harshly. But I can’t deny that my immediate response was, “What, couldn’t live with the guilt?” Of course, Chandler’s health and fractured family were no doubt contributing factors. The question here is why no one knows this story. Surely, it should be slathered over every paper, not meted out in a page 17 dribble, given its sensationalism. You talk about media bias. Why has no one heard about Evan Chandler trying to kill Jordan, a few years back, with a gym barbell and some mace? Wouldn’t both of these stories pay big time, too?

I think the primary reason Evan Chandler’s death wasn’t widely reported is because nobody knew anything about him. Most major outlets covered the story but all of their articles contained exactly the same information because so little was known.

The only in-depth report I saw was a totally factually inaccurate feature in the Daily Mail, which I reported to the Press Complaints Commission for breaching about seven sections of the Code of Practice, including an overt reference to Jackson as ‘a common paedophile’. Unsurprisingly, they found no merit to my complaint. They don’t seem to be interested when newspapers baselessly accuse an innocent black man of paedophilia.

And yet, if the Daily Mail referred to Paul McCartney as a ‘common paedophile’, I think the PCC would probably have something to say about it.

That story about Evan trying to kill his son didn’t suit the media’s agenda. It portrayed Evan as a violent and shady character and suggested that the pair’s relationship was far from tight-knit or functional, lending credibility to claims that Jordy despised his father for apparently forcing him to lie in 1993. That story about Evan trying to kill Jordy with a barbell – it shattered the myth of Evan as the doting father who just wanted justice for his son.

The timing was particularly bad for the media as the incident happened shortly after Jackson’s 2005 trial, during which most outlets had routinely skewed evidence and testimony in order to portray Jackson as guilty. Their first accuser discrediting himself [again] didn’t quite tally with the picture they’d been trying to paint.

Ending on a lighter note, what are your personal Michael Jackson faves (songs, videos, moments, etc.)

My favourite solo albums are Off The Wall and Thriller but I also rank the Jacksons albums Destiny and Triumph alongside them. Michael actually had more creative input on Destiny and Triumph than he did on Off The Wall and Thriller and I think the albums are just as good – those albums are where Jackson really flourished as a lyricist and a composer. His later work becomes patchy for me – too processed.

In terms of live performance, I like everything from the Destiny Tour up to the Bad Tour.

Bad Tour is easily the pinnacle of Jackson’s career as a solo performer. What he did with that tour was to successfully merge the spectacle you expected from a pop concert with the musical legitimacy you expected from a James Brown concert. So you got all live music and vocals, but you also got great costumes, great dancing and so on. On subsequent tours the focus seemed to shift away from the music and towards the spectacle, so you had tanks driving onstage or angels floating out of the rafters – but you forfeited the live vocals. I would rather have the live experience than the tank. I’d never even consider buying a ticket to a concert if I knew it was going to be mimed.

My three favourite videos are Thriller, Smooth Criminal and Remember The Time.

May 11, 2010 Posted by | michael jackson, michael jackson literature, Uncategorized | | 17 Comments

Poet Andreas Gripp on Michael Jackson

Poet Andreas Gripp on Michael Jackson
by Lorette C. Luzajic

Canadian poet Andreas Gripp has been called “the greatest poet of this century.” With nineteen collections of poetry, he keeps busy reading his work and making appearances in anthologies. His

poet andreas gripp

poem, Michael Jackson Isn’t Dead, magnified some details of a full but tragic life. Listen: “a kerchief cleverly/covering/the caved-in/face/(from all those clumsy/plastic surgeons-/half-blind,/a bungling baker’s dozen).”

I interviewed the poet about his own work and about MJ. (Please visit Andreas at www.andreasgripp.com to sample his amazing talent.)

Lorette: Your poem, “Michael Jackson Isn’t Dead,” really captures some of the sadder oddities of Michael Jackson, suggesting that the poet is sympathetic. Were you a fan or not?

Andreas: Definitely a fan of his J-5 years and the Thriller/Bad era, though he had some great tracks in the 90s as well, particularly “Earth Song.” I’m definitely sympathetic to the persecution he experienced, though a good deal of it, unfortunately, was self-induced.

Lorette: There was a lot of commerce in Jackson’s life, but nonetheless, there were aspects that were extraordinarily poetic. To what do you attribute the public’s relentless fascination and genuine love?

Andreas: I think the public in general become fascinated with “fallen” celebrities…MJ’s changing face and continued outrageous behaviour and beliefs meant there was never a dull moment with him. People feel better about themselves when an icon stumbles – the tearing down is as exciting, perhaps more so, than the initial building up.

And of course, Michael Jackson was extremely talented – great singer, songwriter and dancer. He crossed lines of genre and race and was innovative at a time when media needed it.

Lorette: What were your thoughts when you heard the news of his death?

Andreas: Well, at first I thought it could be a bogus stunt for him to “disappear” in peace (referenced in my poem), but in truth I wasn’t the least bit surprised. He’d looked so gaunt in his recent public appearances and it was obvious that the years and years of public and media scrutiny and the never-ending ridicule heaped upon him were taking their toll on him in terms of stress. I had actually thought, much earlier, he’d wind up committing suicide, but he was a fighter for sure and didn’t give up.

Lorette: What do you think of the anthology, Goodbye, Billie Jean?

Andreas: I think it’s a mature collection of writings that help us make sense of our society’s obsession with Michael Jackson. The mix of essays and poetry offer both an informative and an artistic tribute to the man. It could have, however, benefited from some photos – a bit of a break for the eyes considering the almost 300 pages of consecutive text, perhaps covering the periods spoken of in each article.

Lorette: What are your favourite pieces?

Andreas: In terms of the articles, Coline Covington’s piece on narcissism, Russell Bower’s defense of MJ, Timothy Gabriele’s insightful essay, and your own perspectives offered in “Easy Target,” among others. I also thought the poems of Reuben Jackson and John B. Lee stood out, but overall, there’s much to like in this collection beyond what I’ve touched upon.

Lorette: Your poem is a special one about Jackson for Goodbye, Billie Jean. But what kind of characters and themes populate your nineteen books of poetry?

Andreas: Well, the characters who inhabit my books tend to be reclusive outcasts from society or people who’ve lost a beloved and are disconnected to a world that cannot relate to them. The themes tend to gravitate towards loneliness and loss, that which never measures up to a greater ideal, and finding the poetry in the everyday. Though I’m perhaps more of an agnostic at times, there’s an underlying theme of deity found in nature and how we communicate with our environment.

Lorette: Besides poetry, what are you all about? Tell me about Andreas Gripp.

My twitter account says I’m “mired in the mundane.” Kind of sums it up. Aside from that, I’m always searching for beauty and when I find it, I like to share it. In order to remain enigmatic, that might have to suffice for now.

Read Andreas Gripp’s poem in Goodbye, Billie Jean: the Meaning of Michael Jackson-fifty-one writers, curated by Lorette C. Luzajic

May 9, 2010 Posted by | michael jackson, Michael Jackson art, michael jackson literature, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Michael Jackson with Justin Faunce

What is the artist trying to say?

The brilliant Justin Faunce uses the empire of illusion as his palette, culling his symbolisms and points of reference from the excess of North Americana. These explosive mandalas both mock and embrace what we have become.

Art critic Jerry Saltz writes for the Village Voice:

“Faunce’s large-scale kaleidoscopic canvases of thousands of finely rendered, subtly altered, symmetrically arranged corporate logos, trademarks, pictures of the dead and famous, and a plethora of appropriated images look like psychedelic sea anemones, circus posters, or explosions in the image bank of post-war culture. In Thanks for All the Memories we see a naked J.Lo coming out of a wedding cake surrounded by twin Jessica Simpsons, fighter jets, allegorical figures of Liberty and Justice, oil rigs, surveillance satellites, and a mushroom cloud. It’s Dali meets Rosenquist on ornamental amphetamines. Emperor Tomato Ketchup features a cartoon ketchup bottle sitting on a throne in front of the New York Stock Exchange with twin NASDAQ JumboTrons on either side, a Bernini in the background with various Vegas casino billboards, and two Michael Jacksons in Che Guevara berets.”

He continues, “He’s attempting to transform the junk pile of culture into something simultaneously ominous, investigative, revelatory, and visionary.”

Emperor Tomato Ketchup by Justin Faunce

Not everyone felt Faunce was a genius.

“I saw Justin’s painting too… and my considered opinion as a brilliantly talented painter is that the work is vile. It is chaotic, overstuffed, relentlessly negative, egoistically aggrandizing and soulless,” said prettylady in an online discussion.

“Making large paintings from stencils or photoshop collage printouts is not my idea of good painting.Is Justin a great painter? Not to me. Ingres is a great painter. Turner is a great painter, Justin is not in my opinion doing anything on this level. At least I can paint that’s more than I can say for most art critics…The bright garish color, the vialed (sic) references to Koons and Michael Jackson, a palette based on last years designer colors. There are a lot of comic book artist who make better work than this such as Kim Deitch.Swoon is much better and she can draw.”

Anonymous defends him. “I think it’s interesting that you guys are looking at Justin Faunce’s painting and even contrasting it to Ingres and others. It speaks volumes about how you are comparing him. … He has an interesting and neurotic, obsessive technique that only furthurs the criticism of the media and mediated images that he explores. If you want soul, go listen to a Luther Vandross cd. In my opinion, he does an amazing job at showing us how soulless and assaulting media and our societie’s relationship to image really is.”

Then “artist” Chris Rywalt gives his two cents.

“That’s the trouble with “topical” Pop Art, isn’t it? It ages so quickly. And it’s obvious and redundant. The only way to avoid this is to create something worthwhile in some other way — something simply visually good apart from its content. And Justin Faunce has failed miserably at this. His color sense is abysmal. The Michael Jackson/Che Guevara pastiche is largely in two colors (primary red and a light blue) that clash so horrifically I’d guess Faunce is colorblind; and the larger piece contains just about every color reproducible in pigment. His sense of composition is equally incompetent: Michael Guevara works because it’s someone else’s composition (whoever designed that first Che t-shirt) and the larger thing is just a complete nightmare. About the only compositional structure it has is that it’s roughly mirrored, which has got to be the least interesting composition known to man anyway. Faunce really has nothing going for him except pigheadedness. He’s got his technique — such as it is — and he plows on through with it. I don’t dislike him personally — I don’t know the guy — as much as I want to sit him down and tell him he needs to chill out. Justin doesn’t need a bad review and he doesn’t need art collectors enabling him — he needs professional psychiatric help.”

Finally, Mark clarifies things for these jokers.

“I have known justin for a few years ever since the museum school. He hand cuts his stencils with standard yellow masking tape and x-acto blades. There is no screenprinting involved. It is all by hand. If you get the chance you all should actually talk to him, whether or not you like the work. He is a really funny guy and has a lot of interesting things to say.”

As for myself, I love it. I enjoy the kind of thinking that sees both redemption and apocalyptic endings in the message from Hollywood. I believe our stars and celebrities have become the pantheon of mythological gods, as in classical Greek mythology. Their scandal and sorrow and success are larger than life so that we can see our own reflections. Some aspects of Hollywood are vapid, empty, and insipid, yes- but this is actually just ourselves, looking back at us. Superstardom at its most deep and spiritually elevating shows our other aspects, our joy and wonder of dance and marriage and delight, our hopes to reach higher in ways of art and theatre.

I love Faunce’s mishmash work, an assemblage that reveals the not so subtle subtleties of culture, including the clods above talking about him as if they know anything about art. Since when was art stuck in paint alone? We live in a world with new materials and technologies, and some artists have the balls to explore with it. Let’s not stick to sunsets and nudes and nothing else, not when there are new things to explore with, and new themes to explore.

May 8, 2010 Posted by | Michael Jackson art, Uncategorized | , | 3 Comments


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