Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Food For Thought: I went to Michael Jackson's Memorial, thank you Sharette for inspiring me to write about this

Decided to add another topic to the blog, "Food For Thought"... TOTALLY inspired from Michael's Memorial I attended yesterday. I was at a Chinese Restaurant with my best friend Kenny when the news broke. I remember sitting there & running the gamut of emotions in a matter of a few minutes not giving each a proper amount of time to feel any of them for too long because I was wrestling with EVERYTHING at the same time! Does that make sense? Anywho...

To me... there are four sides to the Icon. The music, the message the memories & the Man. I mourned the loss of the Man in '93 when the first accusations came out I judged him by what my eyes saw, the stories I have heard & this anger I held in my heart. I myself was molested by a trusted family member that I admired so much, so I have a hard time believing a grown man could share a bed with a child & avoid touching them or exposing themselves to a child in an inappropriate manner. This fueled my rage & my distrust in Men grew, but the music & memories lived on for me.

To hear a MJ song at a club with your friends & you're all having a blast you instinctively remember the exact moment you heard it the first time, where you were, what you wore & who you were with... that is an incredible feat for a human being to accomplish to have such an effect on so many people that they are literally the soundtrack of that person's life & NOT just mine... my Grandmother, my parents, my brother, all of my friends & everyone spanning three generations were a fan. That too is no easy task.

I was invited to the Memorial, literally the day after he died. I resisted... I was angry at how everyone, especially my friends with children were so broken up about his loss. I was angry how the day before he died he was "Whacko Jacko" & the day of he was once again The King of Pop. I was angry that I was duped to believe he was this great Man when I was a child with his charitable dispositon & music that wanted to share the notion of peace, love, acceptance & strength through adversity yet his face was changing constantly in what seemingly became, in my eyes, a person who literally could no longer live in his own skin! I was angry that he could betray a person's trust... I was ANGRY that my trust was betrayed, I was angry that someone took away my childhood & I was ANGRY that all these years later that fact still cripples me. I'm ANGRY that I'm angry... huh "I'm angry?" Wait I'M "angry"...

I didn't realize I was angry until I went to the Memorial. Like I said I wasn't going to go I argued with everyone & even got into some pretty heated debates about the matter, some in public, but at the very last minute I decided to go. My mentor, Simone, used to work at Motown. This is the strongest & most powerful Woman I have ever known & by the grace of God she has taken a liking to me & has put me under her wing. She has been like a Mother to me, I'm not saying that just to say it because it's the nice thing to say & so damn cliche, but she truly has been like a Mother to me. ♥♥♥♥

When my Mother lost her power when my parents divorced I would watch Oprah & imagine my Mother had that strength, but that was imaginary I had to imagine that & pretend my Mother had it. Simone is REAL & the BOMB & loves me & always comes in clutch when I feel at my lowest. Whether it is with the tiniest or the grandest of gestures, a letter, a good talking to, an ear, a ticket to catch a Matinee at a theatre or reading me the riot act when all is said & done & I contemplate on all that has transpired after a Super Simone Session, she gives me my power back!!! I decided to go.

TJ & I on our way to the Staples Center in Brian's car
Honestly I was just going to sit in the nose bleed seats with my friend Chris I had also got a ticket for, who also I have been dying to repay my gratitude for getting me a gig on a Cruise to Mexico at the end of the month. Then I bumped into a very distressed friend of mine at the SLS Hotel where we are all meeting there to get our tickets. His extra ticket was STOLEN & it was for a FAB friend of mine that is a BRILLIANT Artist & so generous by nature, Brian Friedman from X-Factor & So You Think You Can Dance fame. Actually the very first Pilot Episode of Single Serving was shot in his kitchen & I had been DYING to show him my gratitude for a year. His ticket was stolen by none other than the very vile opportunist Omarosa Manigault & he flew in from London for this service.

There was NO way I would have him sit in the nose bleeds! I asked Simone if I could get a ticket for him. After 3 hours waiting to figure out what to do with one single extra ticket she gave it to me. Here I had both the nose bleed & the floor & opted to give Brian the floor seat feeling so happy that he gets to enjoy this the way he deserves to. As we were driving into the lot... Super Simone texted & said she had an extra ticket, come meet her. She took his ticket & gave us 2 tickets & said "now you two can sit together".... HAVE YOU EVER?!?!? We walked the black carpet, took pics & Chris Brown walked right past us. I gave my extra ticket to TJ & he called a friend over to pick them up within minutes, how the hell did I end up with 4 tickets last minute like that for the greatest Memorial service to a musical legend?

Brian & I on the "Black carpet"

I sat 6 rows behind the family. I could see EVERYTHING! At first before... Michael was brought in it was all about the cool factor. The row before me was John Mayer & Reverend Al Sharpton sitting together the row before that was Tyler Perry & he walked over to greet John & Al, I was surprised how respectful they were all with one another. Usher, Gladys Knight, Telma Hopkins, John Salley, the ENTIRE Motown family all around me. Behind me was Kobe Bryant... HELLO, he OWNS the Staples Center... how in the hell is he sitting BEHIND me?!?!? Then it was like celebrity whiplash... "Well hello Barbara Walters, I don't feel so bad about missing The View today since you are too... Corey Feldman... why are you dressed like Michael TODAY, what's wrong with you?!?!? OMG is that Willis & Stoney Jackson?!?!? Wait... why in the hell do I remember Stoney Jackson's name?" I have the memory of a damn elephant!

The amount of stars & pseudo-stars sitting behind us was staggering. I sat next to James Ingram & told him how "I don't have the Heart" got me through the 9th grade because I was in love with my best friend who loved me, but not the way I wanted him to... he burst out & sang it in my ear... my eyes welled up. Then Patti Austin sat 2 rows behind me & they busted out an impromptu rendition of "Baby Come To Me", I guess that's how they greet each other & he turns to me & says "that's my musical wife".. Brian & I look at each other "what in the hell are we doing here, how did this happen?"

James Ingram
Dionne Warrick walks by making the rounds to greet old friends & says hello to James turns to Brian & I & introduces herself to us... Oh man I could go on & on with the coolness factor stories but this blog could go on FOREVER if I did. Time to move on to the Service. The brothers wearing one sequined glove bring in the gold casket. The performances start & it wasn't until my musical idol Stevie Wonder sang "They Won't Go When I Go" a song I always imagined playing at my funeral the reality of sadness hit, I shed a tear for the first time for Michael.

Berry Gordy got up & said a beautiful eulogy & images of Michael & his music flashed, once again it was about the "music" & the "memories". He chronicled the milestones & I knew everything he was going to say as he said it because those were my milestones also. Rev. Al Sharpton whom I've always been eh about, his controversial stances on several issues rub me the wrong way he got up & spoke about the "Man". I found it fitting one controversial icon spoke so fervently & earnestly about another... he KILLED IT when he said this:

My memories turned into realizations of how angry, judgmental, removed from family & unforgiving I am this is where I had that "I'm ANGRY?" epiphany I spoke of earlier, it hit me right then & there. I was mortified because hiding in all that anger & negativity was the 4th aspect of this icon... his message. I forgot how charitable he was. I forgot how loving he was. I forgot how the message in his music would propel the masses to reach for a better life. I FORGOT THE MESSAGE!!!! Then the children got on stage & I watched Paris console & hold her little brother like a little mother. I kept turning to Brian, she's SO strong she's SO STRONG! Then... she spoke.

The Family
It felt like I got kicked in both my face & my gut repeatedly. How did I become so hardened? He was also someone's father, the father of 3 beautiful young people. NO WORDS!!!! Even in death his message, the message about his life no matter how great or how tragic it was affected me... *chills* I don't know, I guess I'm rambling, I'm hoping this all makes sense to you as you're reading this but I have to apologize because it's all starting to develop to make sense to me, but I felt compelled to say something today. Thank you Miss Sharette Driver for challenging me & the position I held 48 hours ago. I still believe that something wasn't "kosher" about his relationship with children, but I am NOT a Judge that is between him & God & I am ok with that. I no longer need to be angry about it.

There's ALWAYS a method to one's greatness & madness & I am NO exception... this was an incredible lesson for me about humanity.

I am forever changed.

Jermaine's stirring rendition of Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" MJ's favorite song.

The family hugging Usher after his performance


  1. Al Shartons speech was chilling. He made me cry, smile, and gasp in such pride just listening to him. I enjoyed your photos.

    "Theres nothing that cant be done if we raise our voices as one"