Watching the generally quite entertaining and sometimes even moving (Melissa, Kanye, Alicia, Southern rock) Grammy show last night, my wife and I had remarkably similar thoughts when Usher came on and busted out the flowing, acrobatic dance moves that at times left me questioning the presence of bones inside his skin.
She said, “That’s what Michael Jackson could be doing today if he hadn’t wandered off down Freak Street.” The thought made us both very sad – in his time MJ put it all together: musically, socio-culturally, and as a consummate entertainer. For a moment I tried to picture Jackson there — a 13-time Grammy winner — last night, but even in a cheerfully “alternative lifestyle” crowd, his appearance would have drawn gasps, not the least for his ever more unnatural appearance — in today’s pics from the trial he looks even more like a Batman nemesis — but also in recognition of how far the mighty can fall – talk about a buzzkill.
AP must have had similar thoughts, asking members of the Grammy crowd, “Where does Jackson’s career go from here?
- “L.A. County Jail, maybe? It’s pretty sad. It’s sad that he doesn’t see things clearly enough to protect the legacy that he built since 8 years old.” — Rob Thomas, lead singer of matchbox twenty.
“I think the court of public opinion has already weighed in pretty heavily on him. It’s kind of an interesting thing because it’s guilt before actually proven guilty. Nothing would make the music community more happy than to see him become a musician, an artist, again.” — jazz saxophonist Dave Koz.
“The fans really make your career. They buy all your albums, they support you, they show you love, so once you get on the fans’ bad side, it’s really hard to come back from that. A person like Mike, he’s a humongous artist, so I don’t know if it would be as hard for him as somebody else. But I definitely think he’s in the doghouse with his fans.” — rapper Jadakiss.
“There’s no doubt the guy is a musical genius and he’s brilliant. Whether we’d all want to admit it or not, he’s shaped the music of a lot of us. We may never hear the rest of the art that’s in him because of all that’s going on, and that’s a sad thing.” — Steven Curtis Chapman, Grammy winner for pop-contemporary gospel album.
“I’m more concerned about his life, his freedom. The gift of music is in him, it comes from his inner soul, so he’ll do fine with music. But right now the concern is about the man.” — former Grammy winner M.C. Hammer.
“I don’t see anywhere for him to go. That’s a real tragic American story. I hope he saved up some money and buys an island and goes and gets his soul right, whatever is eating him.” — producer T Bone Burnett.
“Michael is a genius and he’s brilliant. It’s hard to predict where he would go, what’s in his heart, what inspiration comes to him as a creative individual, but I’ll certainly look forward to it.” — Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy.
Portnow – what a pud. What if “what’s in his heart” is an all-singing, all-dancing tribute to pederasty, Neil? Will you be digging that?
Regarding the trial, it appears a number of celebrities will be involved. Jackson’s attorney, Thomas J. Mesereau Jr., told prospective jury members that the defense witness list includes Kobe Bryant (no comment), Elizabeth Taylor, David Blaine, Ed Bradley, Nick Carter and relatives of Marlon Brando.
Prosecution plans include former child stars and Jackson cronies Macaulay Culkin, Emmanuel Lewis, and Corey Feldman, who spoke about his relationship with Jackson on last Friday’s 20/20:
- Feldman said speaking out has finally become a responsibility and a duty. “This child — if he’s telling the truth — and the other children like him — if they’re telling the truth — they’re small voices, they’re weak voices,” he said.
Feldman said he hopes the allegations against Jackson are proved false, but said he feels compelled to speak out. “So I’m here to say I hope and I pray that these things never happened, and if they never happened, then there’s some real sickness with a lot of people. But if they did happen, then there’s a lot of sickness with one person. And that person needs to be punished.”
Feldman stressed in his interview with Bashir that Jackson never molested him or touched him improperly and that there was no sexual contact between them. But he said he has re-evaluated his friendship with Jackson and has concluded that there were things that happened in their relationship that were inappropriate and wrong.
“If you consider it inappropriate for a man to look at a book of naked pictures with a child that’s 13 or 14 years old — then your answer would be yes.”
Feldman says he had such an encounter at Jackson’s home when he says they stopped there on the way to Disneyland. “We went to his apartment, and I noticed a book that he had out on his coffee table. The book contained pictures of grown men and women naked. And the book was focused on venereal diseases and the genitalia.” Feldman said the singer sat down with him and explained the photos to him.
Feldman said, “I was kind of grossed out by it. I didn’t think of it as a big deal. And for all these years, I probably never thought twice about it … But in light of recent evidence … I have to say that if my son was 14 years old — 13 years old, and went to a man’s apartment that was 35, and I knew that they were sitting down together talking about this, I would probably beat his ass.”
In fairness it should be noted that the former teen actor known for roles in Gremlins, The Goonies, Stand by Me, The Lost Boys, and The ‘Burbs is not without an ax to grind. Feldman, who supported Jackson against the 1993 molestation claims, became bitter when Jackson, who was in NYC on 9/11/01, helped Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor and Liza Minnelli get out of town, but not him.
Feldman expressed himself with the song, “Megalo Man,” on his 2002 album Former Child Actor: “I believed in your words/I believed in your lies/But in September in New York/You left me to die/I love you, Megalo Man.”