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Friday, June 26, 2009

Tribute To The Man Who Walked The Moon Through Music

First of all, I'm writing this Blog solely on my memories of Michael Jackson so I ask you to forgive me if I jump back and forth in my recollection of events. I wanted this to be from the heart so I chose not to consult a Wikipedia or other source of chronological information in order to put my "Point of View" in print. As always, I'm reminding the Reader that this is just my Outlook and me Blogging how I feel about various topics.
Seems like all my life Michael Jackson has been a Household Word. I remember the 70's when "Rock With You" was at the top of the Billboard Charts...I was in Elementary School and my classmates were sneaking the "Off The Wall" album cover to class.
I can remember like it was Mom teaching me how to do "The Rock", a dance that was created to accompany the song. That was my first real memory of Michael Jackson.
Seems like that "Off the Wall" album (and the singles that were released from it) were etching themselves into the very fiber of who I was and would grow up to be although I didn't know it at the time.
I remember when "Thriller" was released. I was a little older (not much) and was able to figure out the hottest King of Pop dance steps myself. The entire world watched when the "Thriller" video was released as a mini-movie-esque Prime time record breaker. People my age (some much older) memorized the dance steps that are still classic choreography in some party circles today. Once again....the singles off the Album rocked the airwaves for what seemed like years.
Eventually, as the years went by...more Classics like "Bad" "Man in The Mirror" (Even his little part in "We are The World" before the recently mentioned hits..helped to form the very foundation on which I perceive music!!! Michael was Bad!!!
Millions of people gathered in front of their Television sets in order to view "Motown 25" and what Michael did that night....that futuristic, groundbreaking "Moonwalk" donning the "Glitter Glove" that became synonymous with the "King of Pop"...set tongues wagging for years to come!!!
For an era, sold out concerts around the World, Magazine Covers, Cutting edge, long awaited (much appreciated) Music Videos became commonplace for the man whom the media dubbed as "Jacko". America gasped at Pepsi Commercial fiasco that threatened to put the most revered performer in the World out of commission..only to be relieved that it was only a momentary setback and Michael went back to doing what he did best....delivering song and dance to the Globe that would break and set trends like no other artist ever has!!!
Consistently entertaining America..better yet...the World, Michael Jackson kept reaching higher plateaus than most of us imagined possible for years to come...Until his name became cloaked with scandal.
There was speculation and allegations in the early 90's that Michael was involved in sexually inappropriate acts with minors...namely, little boys. The Media Blitz and charges he was facing caused a dark cloud to form over the otherwise Pristine, child like Superstar that in some ways (even though charges were never proven) remained over his head for the rest of his life. Even his marriage to Priscilla Presley years earlier was rumored to be a sham, however, the sexual criminal allegations were far worse. Michael went into what seemed like exile after releasing very few hits but the Worldwide acknowledgement of his music and all his songs that could be heard on Radio Stations everywhere...even in Movie Soundtracks made sure Billions of his fans held steadfast in their adoration of the Superstar.
In recent news it seemed that a "comeback" for Michael Jackson was imminent. We were waiting for him to do what he always does...make beautiful music for generations to remember always. Regardless of what "might" have happened...We were ready to hear what "Jacko" was gonna do next.
On Thursday, June 25Th, Like a shot heard round the World..It was announced that Michael Jackson had died at age 50. The World is in mourning. I spoke to a friend in London as well as a friend in the Netherlands via "Skype" and they informed me that their countries were in a state of shock and grief that the "King of Pop" had his last breath earlier in the day.
Even as I write this...I still find it hard to believe that such a Super Talent (Who seemed like he would live forever) gone.
Even if you only look at the Music and not the Man, Michael Jackson was and will always be a Legend. He brought Decades of Music that filled our Hearts, Homes, Backyards, Walkmans and iTunes/iPods. Regardless of Scandal...The Man was Loved by so many. Speaking for myself, I will always love his music..there was so much. I will always remember his soft, quiet demeanor when he wasn't performing and the fact that he helped to shape my musical ear and assisted me in my transition from the clumsy kid who was taught "The Rock" by his Mother..into a true aficionado of Pop Culture. For that alone....I will always be grateful to Michael Jackson... The "King of Pop", "Moonwalker" "Jacko" or whatever you choose to call him. He'll always be Music to Me and the World will miss him but never stop playing his Music. Rest in Heavenly Peace Michael!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Embracing Our Diversity

The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect.
It means understanding that each individual is unique,
and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along
the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs,
political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration
of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment.
It is about understanding each other and moving beyond
simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the
rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

It appears that in America, we are finally gravitating towards a "cohabitation" of sorts that I'm finally beginning to feel comfortable with. I really hope we continue this progress until we reach a point where we ALL feel free to be ourselves. I hope and pray we really do become a "Free Zone". Some may find this to be a "Pollyanna" outlook but when you look at how far we've's not so far fetched. We once lived in an era where Women and Blacks were not allowed to vote. Slavery and the cruelty that went with it was not only condoned but encouraged. Millions of Jews were murdered simply for their race and/or beliefs. Gays were forced to hide in obscure, dark places in order to be together. There was no such thing as Higher Education for the Poor. People with mental illnesses were put away and forced to live in inhumane conditions for the remainder of their lives. The list of crimes against humanity went on and on.

Today, we all have certain inalienable rights that protect us from such unfairness and cruelty. I don't know about you...but it looks like we've come a long way, I call that Progress.

We should give credit where it is due. Take a look at who's in the White House...that says alot.

I pray that we continue to speak out against injustice, racism and discrimination and embrace not only what makes us different but what makes us the same........Humanity!!!

An Ode To The Upper East Side

I had just gotten in from a Day's work last week when my phone rang and it was a good friend of mine calling to invite me out to Dinner. I had already gotten undressed and was in my Boxers and a T-Shirt but the idea of meeting her in the City for Dinner was really appealing. We hadn't seen each other in a very long time, although we talk on the phone almost daily. It was still relatively early so without hesitation..I gladly accepted the invitation.
I freshened up, threw on some Blue Jeans and a pair of Nike's and was on my way into Manhattan (from Staten Island) within the hour. The plan was to meet her at her Job, she was scheduled to punch out at 6:30p.m. I had gotten there just in time and was pleased to be in Manhattan's Upper East Side (East 80's at @ 2ND Avenue). The warm Spring air, the busy streets, a plethora of different aromas emanating from all the different Restaurants was so intoxicating to me. At first we were going to eat at "Trata's" but then decided we would just play it by ear.
We walked a few blocks then we approached a "Big Daddy's Burger". I was instantly drawn to it's casual. colorful all American atmosphere. They also offered outdoor dining which is what my friend and I were really in the mood for..this way we could enjoy the Spring air and take in the eclectic New York scenery. All kinds of people from all different walks of life, people walking their exotic dogs or very unique and interesting mixed breeds with lots of personality.
The Yellow Taxi cabs picking up and dropping off everyone from the young urban hipster to chic, swanky, sophisticated artsy types and even the local construction workers seemed to be silently, inwardly humming the tune of the East 80's that we all seemed to hear. We took a table for two out on the sidewalk and were greeted by Suzy, a wonderful young waitress with a style all her own.She was petite with blue eyes, blond hair, twisted dreadlocks and a look authenticated in the "Big Apple".
After looking at the colorful menu, Toeny (my friend) and I both decided on a Cheddar Cheeseburger that was stacked with avocado, bacon, romaine lettuce, ripe tomato with a side of Tater Tots and coleslaw. She ordered medium well and I of course..medium rare.
We ordered drinks and as we waited for our food I was pleased with the way people seated near us as well as the pedestrians walking by would smile and nod hello...some even spoke and greeted us warmly. I was amazed at all this because I was born and raised in New York. This is a Borough known for the surliness and constant "I'm in a hurry" attitude of it's inhabitants.
I've spent lots of time in Harlem, Times Square, Greenwich Village, Brooklyn and The Bronx.
However, this area seemed like it had been hidden from me all my New York life and I couldn't help but be amazed at the almost musical under current that permeated the air here. When our food had arrived after our pleasant exchanges with the diners surrounding us as well as the warm and friendly waitress , Suzy...I proceeded to enjoy the best Burger I had eaten in years (not to mention the biggest).
After an enjoyable meal, allot of laughs between Toeny and myself and taking in all that the area had to offer, we decided to take a leisurely walk to the Subway instead of taking a Taxi. I noticed so many things in this amazing Metropolis, A huge selection of all kinds of fine dining, Movie theaters, Gyms, Retail clothing and shoe stores (Victoria's Secret, Aldo and much, much more). The beautiful Men and Women of all races, sizes, backgrounds and various "Modes De Vie".
I was almost sad to be leaving not only the great company of my friend, Toeny... but the warm, inviting embrace of my newly found friend.....Manhattan's Upper East Side.
The whole thing was a beautiful experience that was an unexpected surprise to me. I made a mental note and promise to myself that I would make it to this part of town as often as i can this Summer. To pursue a love affair with my latest satisfy the curiosity and re-visit this place where everybody may not know your name..but you feel as though they do. I want to walk by "Jack Russell's" Pub ...where right across the street some one's walking their pampered Jack Russell Terrier. The smell of Souvlaki intermingled with Curry from the Indian Restaurant right up the Block. The long line of friends and lovers waiting to see "The Hangover" outside a local Movie Theater. This is my New York...this is my "Upper East Side". I must admit...I think I'm in Love. Cheers!!!