Sunday, January 21, 2018

REVIEW: Earth Song: Michael Jackson and the Art of Compassion by Joseph Vogel

My rating: 5/5
I respect the secrets and magic of nature. That's why it makes me so angry when I see these things that are happening–I really, truly worry. Every second, I hear, the size of a football field is torn down in the Amazon. I mean, that kind of stuff really bothers me. That's why I write these kinds of songs, you know, to give some sense of awareness and awakening and hope to people. I love the Planet. I love the trees. I have this thing for trees–and the colors and the changing of leaves. I love it! And I respect those kinds of things. I really feel that nature is trying so hard to compensate for man's mismanagement of the planet. The planet is sick, like a fever. If we don't fix it now, it's at the point of no return. This is our last chance to fix this problem that we have. It's like a runway train. And the time has come. This Is It. People are always saying, ‘Oh, they'll take care of it, the government will do it.’ ‘They?’ They who? It starts with us. It's us. Or else it'll never be done... We have four years to get it right. After that it would be irreversible. Let's take care of the planet. -Michael Jackson, This Is It rehearsals, 2009.
Michael Jackson is a connector. He did not sell us feel-good music when presenting an issue nor was he looking to get rich off any that he was relentlessly creating. He sought to bring unity among people that were (purposely) divided by those who are in power–our separation keeps them in command. Politics cannot save the world, so the music people should at least try, he stated in 1979. To study Michael Jackson life, artistry, and the legacy lead us to an understanding of the power that made him loved by all yet hated by the media and its group of trolls. He was threatening to establishment because he pushed us towards awareness, and encouraged awakening. Michael spoke directly to our consciousnesses. His philosophies were dangerous. He didn't tell us to give out a simple prayer then go back to a slumber or that the world would get better on its own offering us some utopian version of the events... not at all; he highlighted with boldness the truth–and sometimes, the truth is a bitter-pill to swallow. He gave us hope that if we put aside our artificial differences and opened our minds....our hearts, we'd be able to start our journey towards a collective healing in which we'd create a better world for us and our children. We don't have to wait for a miracle, he showed us that it starts with us, he inspired us to act because our collective efforts is the start. This was his standing message throughout his life and career starting from We Are the World, Man in the Mirror to “Heal the World,” Earth Song and Cry to name just a few.

In a world filled with lies, he was all about the truth–in spite of all the attacking that came at him because of that mission. His message lives on through each one of us.
“Michael was the lifeline of many. He was the one voice of sanity in a world gripped by so much insanity. For many, he was their hope, their confidante, their role model, their leader or guru.” -Reverend Barbara Kaufmann
Joseph Vogel presents an introduction to this marvelous aspect of Michael Jackson; environmentalist, activist, and humanitarian by scrutinizing Jackson's magnum opus, Earth Song.

Monday, November 20, 2017

REVIEW: King in the Mirror: The Reflection of Michael Jackson (Volume 1 & 2) by Ryusui Seiryoin

My rating for the first volume: 2.5/5
My rating for the second volume: 1.5/5

Vol.1 serves as a good introductory into Michael Jackson's life and career suitable for young readers who are interested to be semi-introduced to this extraordinary genius, and splendid human being. However, the downside (especially in Vol.2) is that it romanticize Michael's agony and the troubles he endured, even his death was written as a fairy-tale-like ending with no mention of how his death was ruled as a homicide at the hand of Conrad Murray who got a conviction..... which presents the nagging question: are we going to airbrush his murder now?

I demand that writers stop writing about Michael Jackson as if he were a fictional character ignoring important facts, rewriting his history/legacy in hopes to create their own story like he was some kind of a Greek myth/legend!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

REVIEW: The Jacksons: Legacy by The Jackson Family

My rating: 5/5
It was so intense this fan worship. You have to understand, that all the kids who were responding to the Jackson 5 hadn't had a Mickey Mouse Club with kids like them on camera. They represented the first youth group of our contemporary times for all these kids to identify with. And initially, they were all the black kids. -Suzanne de Passe (Executive in Charge of The Jackson 5)

Monday, November 13, 2017

REVIEW: Michael Jackson: The Making of Thriller: 4 Days/1983 by Douglas Kirkland

My rating: 4/5
‘‘There's no child singer that you can point to besides Michael Jackson that went from being really big to the biggest pop star ever.’’ -Dream Hampton
Michael Jackson faced what every child prodigy faces when they reach a certain time of their lives; disdain. He believed in himself when others thought his success would live short, he took pride in his abilities and did not stop at nothing. He felt hurt when his Off the Wall album was ignored by the media and his peers in the music industry-despite the huge success and the massive public's recognition. The rejection he felt when Off the Wall was snubbed at the 22nd annual Grammy Awards with only one nomination only ignited his soul to make another album that they wouldn't be able to ignore.

His next album, Thriller, changed the game forever. Michael Jackson single-handedly saved the music business from its slump, broke the racial barrier, made MTV, and revolutionized music videos.
‘‘I wanted to be a pioneer in this relatively new medium and make the best short music movies we could make. I don't even like to call them videos. On the set I explained that we were doing a film, and that was how we approached it. I wanted the most talented people in the business–the best cinematographer, the best director, the best lighting people we could get. We weren't shooting on videotape; it was 35-mm film. We were serious.’’ -Michael Jackson (Moonwalk)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

REVIEW: Undisputed Truth: My Autobiography by Mike Tyson

My rating: 5/5

Never in a million year would I have thought that Undisputed Truth would be this sobering. It's a brutal read. It provoked me in the best sense of the word. Mike Tyson holds nothing back in this explosive autobiography. He simply tells it all. He went through so, so much that I began to think he's 100-something years old!

It's informative in many aspects: dysfunctional family, bullying, ego, boxing, blackmail, the dark side of fame, money, and addictions of all sorts. Tyson is one heck of a story-teller, the narrative reads like it was written by two different personalities, Michael Tyson the human being and his alter ego, Iron Mike. His life & career are spell-bounding.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

REVIEW: Defending a King: His Life & Legacy by Karen Moriarty

My rating: 4/5

Defending a King ~ His Life & Legacy is an intimate kind of biography. It is quite different than most of the books that were written on Michael Jackson; Dr. Moriarty presents her keen portrayal of Michael Jackson in a personal style of biographical writing. Her smooth and rich language makes the content pleasurable to comprehend. She strives to unravel aspects of Michael's life that weren't scrutinized enough (e.g. fatherhood and post-vindication years) with contributions from Michael Jackson's legal attorney, Thomas Mesereau, Michael's full-time personal artist, David Nordahl, and his security team: Boyd Williams, Baron James, and Michael Garcia (neither Bill Whitfield or Javon Beard are mentioned throughout the book).

In fact, Dr. Moriarty's project started out as a memoir by Michael Jackson's personal security team in which they talk about the time they spent with their boss, Michael. However, the initial project fell apart due to some different opinions between Moriarty and Michael's security team members. That what led her to write independently about Michael Jackson. Her project turned from a memoir (as a ghost writer) into a biography. She aimed to focus on the man, to celebrate his life and his inspiring bravery in facing all the strenuous challenges, “I hoped to propose probable explanation for his decisions and behavior and to to shed light upon those characteristics of the man that reveal both his humanity and nobility of spirit,” writes Moriarty.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

REVIEW: Michael Jackson Diamond Edition: Thrilling Moments by Janis Dasilva

My rating: 3/5
Michael’s words were few, but as he spoke I heard harps playing, as his voice was so comforting, soothing, gentle to the soul. Each word was carefully selected you could see the process of his thoughtfulness. His friendship was like owning a rare diamond, it brightens your life always, even though he is gone his sparkle is left on everyone that truly knew and loved him.
-Janis B. Da Silva
 8.5 x 0.2 x 11 inches
(my copy)
Michael Jackson Diamond Edition is the updated edition of the 1987 Thrilling Moments, which Michael authorized and sold at his Michael Jackson International Fan Club for seven years per his request. He granted her an opportunity to travel as a VIP on his tour to promote her book and was invited to Neverland on many occasions. Her friendship with him (and the Jackson family) lasted for over 25 years. In 2008-2009, Janis envisioned to re-release Thrilling Moments and to update it with new materials like her visit(s) to Neverland. She told Michael who was working at the time on This Is It concert series, and he met with her to take a look on her updated edition.
He later expressed his opinion about her work, "I love the way you captured me. You are amazing, Janis, and I can feel it in every page. What a wonderful book!"

Sunday, July 16, 2017

REVIEW: Michael Jackson: The Complete Story of the King of Pop by Lisa D. Campbell

My rating: 4/5
I felt like I had lost a close friend. Michael Jackson's life and career have played a major role in my life since 1979 and especially since 1983. After years of following his career and researching his life, building an extensive personal Jackson library in the process, my first book was published in 1993. It's follow up was published the following year. Both volumes were met with an overwhelming response from Michael Jackson himself and his office, MJJ Productions. He arranged for his publicist to aide in the promotion of the books, signed a copy for me and even sent me three dozen red roses on my birthday. -Lisa D. Campbell
I'm going to begin my review by quoting what author and academic Elizabeth Amisu wrote in one of her reviews, There seems to be three types of biography when it comes to Michael Jackson: the good, bad, and the ugly. I couldn't have said it better. I've read countless books on Michael Jackson and I know the pain many of his fans go through while looking for a proper book to read fearing to purchase a book that is filled with tabloid fabrications or a book that is purposely hateful towards the man's life and legacy. Thankfully over the years –with the increasing number of decent books about Michael–I've gained the experience to know what MJ books to buy and what not. Campbell's book is among the good biographies on Michael Jackson.

Friday, June 9, 2017

REVIEW: Michael Jackson: Style by Stacey Appel

My rating: 4.5/5
When ‘Got to be There’ became a hit in 1972, Michael wanted to perform the song while wearing the applejack hat pictured on the cover of the album. He knew the audience would go bananas seeing him in that familiar cap, but his idea was rejected. When Donny Osmond imitated the style and started sporting a similar chapeau, the concert crowds went predictably crazy, Michael knew to always trust his instincts and it was a lesson he never forgot. Later in his career, he almost always wore variations of the white pinstripes suit when performing ‘Smooth Criminal’ and was never without a red zipper jacket if he was singing ‘Beat It’. Even years after these songs disappeared from the charts. The clothes remain inextricably linked to the lyrics and Michael made sure no one forgot them (as if we ever could). He loved his fans like few artists do and pleasing us was of utmost importance. And if sweating beneath a wolf mask during ‘Thriller’ was going to be met with jubilant enthusiasm, then he was all for it. Screams from the audience were like currency to him and in that respect, he was the wealthiest man who ever lived. -Stacey Appel
Michael Jackson: Style by Stacey Appel is glamorous. I'm impressed by how light Appel's writing is, and her reliability with information. Also, the fact that this volume is innocuous to Michael's legacy is a huge bonus for us MJ fans. However, the most dazzling feature of this book is the splendid (colored) photographic fiesta that covers his style (and his major achievements) starting from his early career to This Is It.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

REVIEW: The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona, and His Artistic Afterlife by Elizabeth Amisu

My rating: 4.5/5
The unjustified ideas that Michael Jackson did not like being black, did not affirm his blackness, or did not feel pride in being a black man were unequivocally rebuffed throughout his life. He disproved those ideas not only in his short films and in his music, but also in his interviews (which were often given intentionally to black interviewers like Jesse Jackson and Oprah Winfrey), showing how much Jackson felt comfortable among people of his own ethnicity, who he clearly felt would be more sympathetic to him. The claim that Jackson purposely changed his skin was a complete fabrication that served to justify a racist assertion that any black man would desire to become white in the first place. The claim that Jackson's music style shifted from being inherently “black” to being more “mainstream” was also a fabrication. Jackson offered a less mainstream and more rhythmic sound in his later career. In addition, Jackson's so-called racial confusion was a third and final fallacy. What Jackson's work did, which was perhaps more controversial in America, was to show black people as a whole, and himself in particular, in positions of high status, which jarred greatly with the American culture of blacks as subjugated and segregated second-class citizens. However, what was spectacular about Jackson's Afrocentrism was how well articulated and consistent it was, and how little it rose up against the claims of his critics. He chose instead to remain synonymous with a message of peace and harmony. Jackson never showed a hierarchy of racial representation, and he opted instead for a message of egalitarianism for all ethnicities. -Elizabeth Amisu