Tag Archive: Michael Jackson


Obama opens this doc by saying ‘Some people are attracted to the power that is part of being in the spotlight, others work best behind the scenes. Clarence Avant is the latter.’ Truer words never spoken, cause 99% of the audience of this Netflix doc will surely have never heard of this man…

Like a shadow version of Quincy Jones, Clarence Avant has been in every part of entertainment (and politics) for decades (and of course him and Q seem to be best friends.) Unlike Quincy, there is no sense of flash about the subject of this doc (which has the perfect title). Can’t possibly go through every story mentioned in the two hours but a few of my favorites…

In the early 70s, Clarence got the heavy hitters of the time together for a benefit concert. That meant Sammy Davis Jr. got the call. The black crowd boo’d the hell out of him (this was shortly after he hugged Nixon). Sammy said his piece, performed ‘I Gotta Be Me’, and at the end the crowd was cheering again. Sammy is clearly touched. It’s a moment.

I’m old enough to remember the E.T. storybook narrated by Michael Jackson. Apparently that was done without getting clearance from all the parties, legally. But the guy everyone got along with was Clarence, he stepped in and got everyone on the same page. And Michael was so impressed, he asked Clarence to help him put together his first solo tour. Yes, the ‘Bad’ tour. I mean, come on…

Clarence was on board super early when a young man based in Chicago was rising in the Democratic Party. He was asked to speak at the convention, but not in prime time. Clarence fixed that. The rest is history. Even though Clarence really didn’t think that guy would really run the Presidency in a few years. But no one saw that coming. Even though Obama still teases him about it apparently…

Super educational, super informative journey through pop culture. Worth streaming.

It’s not an exaggeration to say I idolized Michael Jackson as kids. There’s no movie star, athlete or musician even close to his level now. So I’ll start there and add, my head hurt watching this, and I’ve seen/heard enough of the stories calling the centerpiece of this documentary an opportunist and a liar. I can’t prove anymore than you what did or didn’t happen so I’ll take the Oprah route and try to talk about this ‘one step removed’…

The artistry is one thing obviously, but for us reclusive, creative types, the way Michael carried himself was in some ways equally as appealing (for a while). Depending on where your biases lie, you have fun with some of the rumors you hear about yourself. Is he gay? No? Well, is he interested in black women? (I’ve had my own dances with these ‘false but no harm really done’ misdirections.)

But if you have people asking ‘Is he a pedophile?’ See… that’s WAY too far over the rumor line. That should never be something the people who like you/love you/want to believe you should have to wrestle with.

Next…

I’ve had over the course of my life, more than a handful of women confide in me their own stories of sexual assault.

(Taking a moment to let that number and that statement sink in.)

Every story is unique but there are some definite patterns. The power play taking complete precedence over the actual need for pleasure. Someone very familiar as the perpetrator (although the ‘complete stranger in a dark alley’ scenario does happen, but by percentage maybe not nearly as much as we (men) think). And because the perpetrator is familiar and more powerful, the no win situation: people don’t believe you and your self-value is crushed, or people believe you and multiple relationships are permanently altered in a negative way (and the guilt that comes with that.)

Washington and Me Too and Corporate America. I think most of us who are self aware have a better vocabulary for this now. Again, I don’t know what happened either way, just speaking to patterns I recognize.

Now the music. We’re talking the Jackson 5, the Jacksons, all of the solo stuff. I think Michael is just way too big and too iconic to ‘cancel’. If I had to make an educated guess, I’d say we’re looking at a Roman Polanski/Woody Allen situation: this is some of the best art of a generation but now there’s a moment where we wince or at least have to think about things we didn’t want to think about it before when we experience it.

So no one wins.

‘Finding Neverland’ is hard to watch but worth the conversation we’re having…

 

SWV-90

Hard to mess up my favorite song ever.

But honestly, this remix works, because it works.  On its own.

Enjoy!

 

 

QUINCY-1998-FNL-copy

Quincy Jones has had a career and a life that just won’t me duplicated.

EGOT.  He opened the door for Oprah to go to the next level.  He opened the door for Will Smith to go to the next level.  Nearly any creative I know would feel like his 90th biggest accomplishment would easily be their 1st.

So it’s impressive that ‘Quincy’ does such a good job of giving an overview for how much he’s done over the years while blending in enough of a personal element to balance the story out.

I could be hear all day talking about Q’s accomplishments, so I’ll just pick a few highlights:

  • Sinatra is one of my guys, so the chapter detailing their relationship was riveting for me.  How much respect Frank had for him, how Q was right there with Sammy when Sinatra spoke up about really integrating Vegas, the album ‘Sinatra at the Sands’ (a personal favorite).  All gems.
  • Like Kendrick said, my generation was introduced to Q through MJ.  The music nerd in me was equally happy to hear him credit Rod Temperton as one of the great songwriters, but getting behind the scenes footage of their professional bonding over ‘Off the Wall’ and ‘Thriller’ was cool.
  • I should have figured as much, but Q produced the concert that opened the Smithsonian African-American Museum.  Just seeing him walk through the pop culture exhibit and realize he produced or worked with damn near every person in the music section is another shake your head ridiculous moment; but seeing this man still producing massive events in his 80s is…humbling.

The film is co-directed by his daughter Rashida (side note: I’m far too young to know of a young Peggy Lipton, but seeing her with no context, my first reaction was still, ‘Oh, that’s Rashida Jones’ mom), and it’s well worth the two hour watch if you’re any kind of pop culture nerd.

High recommend.

 

 

ne-yo-2017

Tis the weekend!

Back on my grind, so I pulled from my favorites.

I was never the biggest Ne Yo fan, but have to give credit where it’s due.  This is one of the better covers of one of my favorite MJ songs.

Have a good one folks.

 

 

stanley

Humpday for most of you, the end of the work week for me.

Heading to a homie’s wedding, so this feels like a perfect song to go out on.

Have a good one folks.  See you Sunday.

 

 

MJ-TEAM

Happy MLK weekend everyone!

Some of the Black Panther conversations I’ve had this week turned into ‘What other pop culture things felt like everyone had to see it right away (before we had social media)?’

Michael Jackson video premieres definitely were on the list, thus today’s choice (particularly with the cast, setting and director of this one).

Next movie review Monday night.  If you’re not working the next few days, enjoy yourself!

 

 

rockwell

The Halloween/creep factor of today’s video is a happy coincidence.  Got hit with an 80s playlist today and this gem popped up.

Have to chuckle because, in my entire life, I’m pretty sure this still holds the title for ‘We all know why this became a hit record, right?’

Enjoy!

 

 

mike

If you know me personally, you know my personality, you know the city I’ve called home in my adult life, you know the shorts I’ve written and directed…then you know this man’s influence.

Happy Birthday Mike.

 

 

bruno-mars

Michael Jackson is still not a genre of music, but now that Justin Timberlake is a middle aged man (yeah I said it), this kid can definitely own the corner.

Bonus points for putting little MJ in his video.

Enjoy!