ReMake Estate is a really cool project going on in Gary (Indiana) in which an abandoned house on 24th and Massachutsetts will be reborn as a meeting space and a community garden. The project is being organized in conjunction with interested local community groups and Australian-based artists Keg de Souza and Zanny Begg. The artists (from an Australian Collective called You Are Here) are heavily influenced by the aesthetics of The Wiz (yessssss!), in honor of Gary’s most famous son, Michael Jackson.
In other MJ related news, according to the Gary Post-Tribune, the City of Gary is moving forward with plans to build a Memorial/Museum dedicated to Michael Jackson. Rudy Clay, the Mayor of Gary, was quoted at saying the only thing that could come between the City and the Memorial is “it’s people”.
images from the project….
Hot off the presses.. Captain EO will be reopen at the Epcot Center (at Walt Disney World) this July. The ride/film short directed by Francis Ford Coppola and featuring Michael Jackson was originally opened in 1986 and closed in 1994 amidst allegations of abuse. The film was definitely a highlight of my family’s trip to Orlando back in the day. I am sad that Michael had to leave us for this gem of 80s cinematic opulence to return to the world! Jive on.
Recorded at the House of Blues here in Chicago a few days back. It’s Mos Def, and his homage to the gloved one: a fresh interpretation of “Billie Jean”. Somehow, it works. Invention isn’t dead, after all. Jive on!
My Congolese friend, Kabuika Kamunga, slipped a story my way about how Michael Jackson saved her life. The story is testament to just how universal his music was (and is). An excerpt:
“Papier!” The soldiers shouted at us in French, demanding to see our ID. The threatening look on their faces did not leave any room for negotiation. Jail was where they intended to send us. That’s the place where people disappeared and women got raped. We had to avoid going there at all cost.
Me: “No one wants to be defeated”
Her: “Yes, yes, yes, just beat it.”
Me: “Show me how strong is your fight.”
Her: “Yes, yes, yes, just beat it.”
Me: “It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right…”
for her full story, click here
What bothers me are bandwagon tributes. An Icon, they say. A Genius. The same cackling media outlets that refused to play Michael Jackson’s music for years, and affixed an implicit punchline to his name. Whatever. Artists are not perfect people. We can choose to accept the art without embracing the artist. In the case of Michael Jackson, I embraced both[.
Born in Gary, Indiana (a fairy tale story in and of itself) the whole family accomplished amazing things. At one point, the Jackson 5 had the nickname of “Black Beatles” because of the Hysteria that ensued when they arrived on the scene. But Michael, dear Michael. He shook hands with the Queen. He changed pop culture forever. His music will live on forever. And there’s a generation of us that will idolize him as long as we breathe as untouchably “bad”. He gave us infinitely more than we ever gave him.
So here come the tributes, the tears. Celebrate genius in life. Not as it’s ripped away. Flowers for the dead pale in the glow of flowers for the living.
Steve Walsh and I interviewed his Brother, Tito, about the family’s story (including Michael’s) and about their Gary Roots. Listen here:
And, from the FIRST Michael Jackson album, I bring you my joint, “I Wanna Be Where You Are”….
Yeah, I said it. Angela Bassett, Terence Howard, dude from Welcome Back, Kotter Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, etc., in the story of Gary, Indiana’s most famous sons (and daughters). I recently pulled out my (second) dub of this. It’s a textbook cult classic: lines you can’t forget, larger than life characters… and untouchably-dope music. Since I couldn’t make it to London to snag tickets to the gloved one’s “final” tour, this will have to suffice. Below is that scene when Katherine finds Joseph’s been cheating. You know what’s next. She don’t wont him, she don’t wont him, she don’t wont him no mo’…..