Someone In The Dark

Source: In The Studio With Michael Jackson

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For most of 1991 we were working on the Dangerous album at Record One in Sherman Oaks, CA., among a few other studios in town. I go into great detail about my time and three production teams involved in Dangerous in my seminars, as you may already know. It remains one of my favorite projects, and it is so much fun to look back and see how Michael was “growing up” and trying new things on this record.

We had amazing production teams, top-shelf musicians, great food, killer songs; even the special guest list was jaw-dropping (Nancy Reagan, Princess Stephanie, my daughter Amanda, and so on). The music had also moved into a new era for Michael, but I’ll save those stories for next month, so for now let’s talk about the studio “Black-out.”

It was not uncommon for LA residents to have something we would refer to as “brown-outs”, meaning the power might dip for a little while, or sometimes shut off completely. I don’t pretend to know why this would happen, but it had something to do with too many air conditioners, blow dryers, Marshall amplifiers, deep fryers, car washes, etc., all being used at once across the city. The city officials would plead with people to ease back on the their electricity usage, but this was LA – you HAD to look good and feel comfortable at all times. So… the power would sometimes just shut off.

On this particular day we were cranking away on songs like “Keep The Faith” and “For All Time” when the lights start to flicker and dim. Brown out time.

Now let me explain something: The thing with many recording studios is they don’t have windows. Windows let sound from the street disrupt recordings, and they encourage fans to cup their hands around their heads and try to peer in at what we are doing. So… no windows. This means when the power goes off, it is pitch black inside.

So, the power goes out, and we all fumble around for flashlights. There is a bit of yelling and laughter, but everyone is calm. We always had flashlights handy, because studios are notoriously dark to begin with, so we doled out flashlights to Michael and his security team. (That’s Marcus and one of Michael’s drivers checking out the fridge, in case you don’t know). 

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Michael took a spot against one of the living room walls and found the whole thing amusing. I seem to remember him laughing pretty hard about it at first, then we just settled in and enjoyed each other’s company and had blinding flashlight wars in the dark. It was a nice, unexpected break. I happen to bring my camera that day and grabbed a few shots (with flash, which is why the “black out” isn’t so obvious).

it is said that a picture can tell a thousand words, but for me they capture a moment in time… and they do tell a few stories. Check out the giant coat on Michael. He was always cold. Always. I clearly remember that when the power went out the studio very quickly got stuffy and warm, but I’m sure that was a treat for him, as he was able to thaw out. There are maybe zero days a year when you need a coat like that in LA, but Michael was always bundled up.

Then there’s the book. You have heard before that he loved books about art, history, nature, etc. Yep, all true. He would always have stacks of books in his lounge… he was always watching, asking and learning.

What is harder to see is something that is harder to explain. I have worked with artists who can be… difficult. I have seen fistfights in the studio, watched producers storm out, and temper tantrums that would make a grown man cringe. But never with Michael. He was a pro’s pro, and a class act. Does reading a book with a flashlight mean anything in itself? Of course not, but it represents how he could handle the unexpected. He didn’t panic or make impossible demands… he laughed and made himself (and us) comfortable.

In just over three weeks I want to introduce you to someone who made a lasting impact on me through his talent, his dedication, his trust and his friendship: Michael Jackson. I’m going to be bringing some of my friends including his personal chefs the Slam Dunk Sisters to cook for you, and I have booked the world famous Westlake Studios to host “The Homecoming.” I have a very special guest (trust me, this person has some stories for you!) lined up to join us all four days (June 23 – June 26). There are still a few tickets available so please don’t wait until the last minute – you will want to be there for this one-of-a-kind event.

On June 27 I have arranged to have the one and only Brad Buxer join me for a very rare evening of music, laughter, stories and a celebration of Michael’s music. Brad Buxer has spent countless hours with Michael in the studio, on tour and at Neverland working with him on songwriting, arranging and producing. He truly is one of the kindest and most creative men I have ever had the privilege to call a friend. Bradx2 will be an evening you will not want to miss.

June can be a bittersweet time for a lot of MJ fans, but I choose to celebrate his music, his humor, his un-matched talent and his friendship by hanging out with his friends, swapping stories and mixes, and meeting and getting to know his fans. From stage to studio to ranch to black-outs, there was no one like Michael, and I would love to introduce him to you. I hope you can join us next month.

Note: Guys, we just had five seats open up for June 23rd at Westlake. This has been sold out for weeks, and I have had many requests. If you are interested, please don’t delay – I think they will move fast. Plenty of seats still available for June 26th. I will have an announcement early next week (trust me, it is exciting news!) about all four seminars. Also, don’t forget Bradx2 on June 27th with my good friend Mr. Brad Buxer!

http://inthestudiowithmj.com/events/

Read more: https://www.facebook.com/inthestudiowithmj

When Michael Jackson Loved Matzo Ball Soup

Source: The Jewish Daily -  By Devra Ferst

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Musicians’s food cravings are legendary. Elvis famously flew from Graceland to Denver for his favorite sandwich: An entire loaf of bread stuffed with a jar of peanut butter, another of jelly and a pound of bacon.

Michael Jackson never hopped on a plane for his cravings. He had his personal chef Akasha Richmond to whip up his favorites: Spicy enchiladas, fresh tortillas and matzo ball soup.

In the mid-90’s MJ was living in the penthouse of the Manhattan Trump tower, sharing a floor with Donald Trump. He was in town finishing up his epic HIStory album.

Richmond was living a few blocks south at what was then the glamorous Helmsley Palace (now the New York Palace), often picking up bagels on her short walk up to Jackson’s apartment.

“One day Michael asked for lox and bagel for breakfast,” Richmond told me. She was a bit surprised by the request but went with it. A few days later, he asked her to make matzo ball soup.

“What do you know from matzo ball soup?” Richmond recalls retorting.

“I grew up with a Jewish nanny. I love matzo ball soup,” Jackson replied.

Richmond met Jackson back in the 1980’s when she was cooking at The Golden Temple, one of L.A.’s first vegetarian spots known for playing host to celebrities like Bob Dylan and Demi Moore. “He used to come there everyday. He was really sweet and I used to take care of him,” Richmond recalls.

Courtesy of Akasha Richmond   MJ with Akasha Richmond and her daughter

Courtesy of Akasha Richmond
MJ with Akasha Richmond and her daughter.

Soon she and another chef from The Golden Temple started cooking at Jackson’s house. “He would have these epic dinner parties. He loved old Hollywood so Elizabeth Taylor, Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren might be there. You never knew who would come over,” she says.

Over the next 14 years Richmond traveled with Jackson on his private plane to 30 countries, cooking for him on his HIStory and Bad tours. The crew built her a six foot portable pantry stocked with his favorites — ingredients for Mexican food and matzo meal. “I think for him [matzo ball soup] was comfort food,” she explained.

Richmond never had a family matzo ball recipe so “I would make chicken stock and then follow the recipe on the package…and add a good pinch of cayenne pepper or minced jalapeño — he loved spicy food,” she said.

“I used to joke that I was Michael’s Jewish mother. I was supposed to keep him healthy. When your on those tours it’s really grueling. I did whatever it took: matzo ball soup, green juice, chai tea.”

A decade or so later, Richmond left the tour life to spend more time with her daughter, but on the weekends she would trek out to Neverland Ranch to cook for Jackson. “My daughter had her bat mitzvah party on the ranch…It was about the best bat mitzvah you could have.”

Richmond went on to work as a personal chef for Barbra Streisand — cooking meals from the vegetables grown in the Funny Girl’s backyard. And she continued to experiment with Jewish food.

In 2008 Richmond opened Akasha, a new American restaurant in the Culver City neighborhood of Los Angeles shortly before Passover. She closed the restaurant for the night of Seder and invited friends, family and investors for dinner, serving the same matzo ball soup — replacing the cayenne for a dash of nutmeg. In September, she tried out the idea of hosting a Rosh Hashanah dinner for her customers. It was a hit. “We had 200 covers ever night. We were slammed,” she says. Jewish holidays at Akasha have become a tradition. “There are so many levels of being Jewish. For a lot of people it comes down to the food — that’s what they remember,” says Richmond.

Most of Richmond’s kitchen staff isn’t Jewish, so when she makes matzo ball soup “I tell my chefs — this is the food of my grandmother. Don’t f*** with it.”

Personally, she prefers hers matzo ball soup flavored with Thai ingredients like lemongrass, turmeric and ginger. But for her restaurant’s annual Seders she sticks with tradition — and prays. “I say a prayer over the matzo balls. I…ask the god of matzo balls to make them light and fluffy. They make me so nervous.”

Michael Jackson’s Favorite Matzo Ball Soup Recipe

2½ quarts homemade chicken stock
1 leek, white part only, cleaned, and cut into thin matchsticks
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup matzo meal
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons seltzer water
2 tablespoons olive oil or chicken fat
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Fresh chopped parsley and dill
Optional: A dash of cayenne pepper or minced jalepeno pepper

1) Add leeks and carrots to broth and simmer for 10 minutes (or until tender) and turn off heat.

2) Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, olive oil, nutmeg, salt and black pepper (and spice, if adding). Fold in the matzo meal and seltzer water. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3) Bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil. Wet your hands with cold water and form the matzo mixture into 12 balls. Drop the matzo balls into boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover tightly, and cook for 30 minutes – don’t open the lid. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve with the hot chicken stock and vegetables. Garnish with lots of chopped parsley and dill. Makes 6-8 servings.

 
Read more: http://blogs.forward.com/the-jew-and-the-carrot/196495/when-michael-jackson-loved-matzo-ball-soup/#ixzz2yrhuaRG7

Dr. Patrick Treacy, Michael Jackson And Nelson Mandela

Source: New 24.com – By Patrick Treacy

That’s Mandiba – Grandfather

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I was with Michael Jackson one day in my clinic in Dublin discussing a future concert we were arranging in Africa when Nelson came talking on the cell phone.

At first I thought it was a South African concert promoter and blandly spoke to him about how life was in the Cape for about five to ten minutes minutes before idly giving the phone back.

Michael then just laughed and said, “Hey, Patrick I’m really surprised you had so little to say to my grandfather ‘Mandiba’ when you had the chance to talk to him. You talk about him enough!”

http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/Thats-Mandiba-grandfather-20131206

The Time David Blaine And Michael Jackson Snuck Into Parliament (VIDEO)

Source: Huffington Post Live

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Known for mystifying all with his signature brand of street magic, David Blaine is wowing celebrities from Katy Perry to Will Smith. He joined HuffPost Live to discuss his return to primetime TV with his ABC special, “David Blaine: Real or Magic,” his relationship with Michael Jackson, and some of his craziest experiences.

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Hear the whole story at HuffPost Live

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/18/david-blaine-michael-jackson_n_4297783.html

The Day I Met Michael Jackson

Source: Brian Seltzer – Published (July 8, 2009/ Updated September 1, 2011)

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I just finished watching the Michael Jackson memorial on television, and I decided as soon as it was over that I wanted to write about the day I met Michael Jackson.

I have told this story to many friends and family members, but I never actually wrote it down. I might as well do it right here, right now, as Michael is on my mind, and the memory of my encounter with him will only fade over time.

It was in 1983 when I met Michael Jackson. He was on top of the world as “The King of Pop.” His album “Thriller” was tearing up the charts. I think he was on his third or fourth #1 song from that album, and everybody in the world seemed to own it. I experienced this frenzy of album sales first hand, as I was working at a record store at the time. It was there, at the record store that Michael Jackson came strolling into my world.

Licorice Pizza was in the Sherman Oaks Galleria, located in the San Fernando Valley. This is the same record store that was used as a location in the movie “Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” The name of the store referred to the vinyl records we sold in those days. We also sold a lot of cassette tapes.

The day Michael walked into my store was a very slow day. It was as if he knew when the mall would have the least amount of people, and decided that was the best day to do a bit of music shopping. I could not tell you what day or time it was exactly, but it was likely mid-week, while most people are at work.

I was managing the store and working the cash register, which was near the front entrance of the store and looked out into the mall. There was nobody in the store other than myself and a co-worker, who was in the backroom. When I first spotted Michael I did not recognize him. And this is why…

I saw a man approaching the store in a Halloween mask. The mask was semi-translucent. I could almost see his face behind the mask, but not quite. The mask had sort of a white colored tint to it, but was mostly clear. The mask was shaped like a human face, as if its purpose was to simply distort the face of the wearer. The only marking on the mask was a black painted mustache. It was very odd to say the least… mainly, because it was nowhere near Halloween time.

I could tell the man behind the mask was African American. He was dressed extremely casual, and even his clothing was sort of a non-costume costume. He was wearing jeans and tennis shoes, and a red plaid button up shirt, with a t-shirt under that. He almost looked like a farmer. It was not a style that would have been considered fashionable at the time. It just seemed strange.

Today, if a man walked into a retail shop in July wearing a Halloween mask, most people would think they were about to be robbed. This thought did not occur to me though. One reason was that a young boy accompanied the masked man. Michael’s companion was a young boy, who looking back had an appearance similar to Macaulay Culkin. The boy was blonde, with pale skin, and he was dressed like Michaels twin (only instead of a red plaid shirt, he was wearing green plaid). This boy was not Macaulay though, as I think this was even earlier than their friendship.

So, there I see an African American man wearing a Halloween mask, dressed like a farmer, with his young blonde haired friend who was dressed the same (but with no mask). They walked right up to me when the man behind the mask spoke — “Hello, can you help me to find some Stevie Wonder tapes?”

As soon as I heard the voice, I knew it was Michael. It was high-pitched, rather quiet and gentle. The face behind the mask came into focus more. The hair. The mannerisms. It was him. Talk about a Thriller! Michael Jackson was standing right in front of me. I could not help but try to make out his features more from behind the translucent mask. I was stunned to say the least.

Over the years, we had lots of musicians come through that Licorice Pizza. I remember meeting members of REO Speedwagon, ABC, Bananarama, Spandau Ballet, Mr. Mister, and even Billy Idol.. but nobody comes close to Michael Jackson.

I could tell by the mask he wore and his body language that he really did not want people to know it was him (Duh!). He was trying not to attract attention. Yes, he was wearing a Halloween mask in July! Hello?! Still, his strategy was working. He and his pal came in alone, and nobody else was in the store with us. I felt it was my duty not to freak out, but to simply help him find the music he was looking for.

So I took Michael over to the Stevie Wonder tapes against the wall, and left him to browse with his friend. Micheal and his friend were squated down going through the tapes together, and I can only imagine Michael was giving the boy a bit of a musical education on Stevie Wonder. Two minutes later they were back at the register with me placing every single Stevie Wonder cassette we had in stock on the counter to be purchased. Obviously he was a fan.

I rang up the purchase, and Michael took out a credit card to pay. Sure enough, right there printed on the Master Card it said “Michael J. Jackson.” I knew it! The King of Pop was in my store. So what do you think I said next to Michael? I said, “Mr. Jackson, may I see your drivers license or a picture ID?” Checking ID was standard credit card protocol, and the man was wearing a mask after all.

He took out his driver’s license and handed it over. Yep, it was Michael alright. There, the Michael Jackson we all know and love (the face on his Thriller album) was smiling back at me. When I gave the ID back to him, I looked up and the real Michael Jackson was smiling too. In that moment, we both knew I was just doing my job by asking for his ID, and his smile was sort of saying “we are cool, right?”

As I finished the transaction, I then felt comfortable enough, or compelled perhaps to murmur “Huge fan, Michael.” Short, and to the point. He said “Thank you!” That was our conversation. Lame, but remarkable.

Now, I wish I could say that I had kept the conversation going, and that I had asked him to autograph an album, but that’s not how it played out. As he was signing his credit card receipt, my co-worker came out from the back room. Having another person walking towards us changed the dynamic right away. I was almost fearful for Michael that his secret would be discovered, and then all hell would break loose. There were a few random people walking past the front entrance of the store, and I felt the right thing to do was let the man go in peace.

Michael left the store with his bag of Stevie Wonder tapes, and I watched him as he continued through the mall and out of sight. He passed by some people who turned their heads, but not because it was Michael, because it was some man wearing a Halloween mask. Michael’s secret was safe.

I remember saying rather casually to my co-worker, “You just missed Michael Jackson. Yeah, he just bought up all our Stevie Wonder tapes. We better order more. Yeah, he was wearing a mask. Yeah, I’m certain it was him.”

Sure, it would be nice to have an autographed “Thriller” album made out to Michael’s pal Brian. I’m sure he would have signed one for me had I asked. There was something so odd about the whole experience though. At the time, I felt that the best way to show him I was a fan was to just play it cool, and treat him like any other customer. In my mind the fact that he knew I knew, and I calmly and quietly told him I was a fan, but did not make a fuss or draw attention to him was the right way to go.

For all his strangeness, I can only say that his kind spirit shined through from behind that mask. When he spoke, the tone of his voice was rather shy and like a child.

It was bizarre. It was a thrill. It was a day I will never forget.

RIP Michael.

http://brianselzer.com/2009/07/08/the-day-i-met-michael-jackson/

 

Dotun Adebayo Talks About When He Tried To Snag An Interview With The King of Pop (Excerpt)

Source: The Voice / Michael Jackson World Network

Michael Jackson-Will

Long before Tom Cruise reprised the role of agent Ethan Hunt for the big screen, I was sent on an equally unfeasible assignment to point a microphone towards the most famous star on the planet – EVER – and press something called a cassette recorder (whatever that is) and get him to talk.

I jumped into the old jalopy with Voice photographer Colin Patterson and we drove overnight to the French capital. This was in the days before the Channel Tunnel was built. So it was by land and ferry and took about eight hours.

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When we got to Paris it was morning. We went straight to the Epic/CBS office where I met for the first time the legendary music press guru Michael Mitchell. He hooked me and Colin up with everything we needed – tickets, press passes, access all areas passes.

But the one thing even he couldn’t hook us up with was an exclusive interview with Michael Jackson. I couldn’t return to London without having spoken to Michael Jackson, so the only thing for it was to resort to the old style of journalism that we call door-stopping. We drove to the hotel Michael was staying at over by the Place de la Concorde.

When we got there it was about midday. There were a couple of hundred Michael fans hanging around outside. We couldn’t get in the hotel without a guest key because of the ring of police steel in the form of the para-military style CRS cops. To me it seemed excessive. But more of that later.

The fans also told me that two or three times a day Michael would dash out of the hotel through a side entrance and jump into a waiting bus which would speed him off to rehearsals at the stadium or shopping trips or business deals or whatever else he was up to in the French capital.

True to their prediction, there was suddenly a roar of screams and Michael popped his head out of his fourth floor balcony door and waved, only too briefly, to his adoring fans. It was magic. It was my first glimpse, in the flesh, of the greatest star the world had ever known. What killed me, though, was that Colin hadn’t even got his camera out.

“Colin, this dude ain’t Michael Jackson for nothing, you know. He’s the flippin’ King of Pop. He ain’t gonna hang around for you to snap him.”

Before I could cuss him some more there was another roar and a general rush towards the hotel’s side entrance as two mini buses zoomed out. I grabbed Colin and we jumped back into our car and chased the buses through the streets of Paris all the way to the Parc de Prince stadium where the gig was going to be held that night, at which point the buses disappeared behind a barrier that wouldn’t let us through.

We hung around outside. It was still several hours before the gig that night. The sound of rehearsal floated out to the thousands of fans who were gathering in ever increasing numbers to join the carnival.

Michael was only there for half an hour. Colin and I jumped back in the jalopy to chase him through the streets again. Nobody in Paris seemed to be that concerned that I was driving the wrong way down a one-way street or the wrong way around a roundabout in hot pursuit. Don’t you just love the French.

That afternoon we chased Michael and his entourage from hotel to department store to ministerial meetings and sight seeing. Talk about a whirlwind. Everybody wanted a piece of this guy. Colin still hadn’t managed to snap him for our exclusive. He kept telling me not to interfere with the work of an artist.

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Just when I feared that we would never get a candid photo of Michael, I bumped into a guy who worked in the hotel. He agreed to take us through the police cordon with his pass.

We entered through the side entrance. As we were going through the kitchens there was suddenly a commotion and (would you believe it) Michael and his entourage were coming towards us. This time Colin grabbed a great shot of Michael surrounded by his entourage.

Later I would get a story to go with it all about the level of security around Michael. A guy from the French Ministry gave me the quote, “Of course we cannot rule out a terrorist threat against Michael Jackson.”

Job done.

http://www.voice-online.co.uk/article/michael-jackson-more-unloved-statue

60 Minutes Will Show Repeat Of “A Look In Michael Jackson Closet” Sunday, September 8, 2013 7 PM (Eastern)

Source: 60 Minutes

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“60 Minutes” cameras were given access to Michael Jackson’s personal possessions for a story about the king of pop’s lucrative legacy. Watch Lara Logan’s report on Sunday, September 8 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

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Karen Langford, a friend of Jackson’s who worked with him since 1981, is the archivist for the Jackson estate. She takes Logan for a tour of a warehouse full of Jackson’s memorabilia.

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http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50147044n

The Bethelites Who Almost Went Out With Michael Jackson In Field Service

Source: Freeminds.org  - Contributed by Barbara Anderson/ Jehovah Witness.net (2005)

Michael, Bill Bray at the Kingdom Hall

Michael and Bill Bray at the Kingdom Hall

The following is a true story. I’m sharing it without commentary. It was part of many adventures I had while living and working at Brooklyn Bethel where I made my home from 1982 until 1993.

In the mid 1980s, Michael Jackson was touring the United States doing “Thriller” concerts in major cities in conjunction with the release of his “Thriller” album. I found out about Michael’s visit to the metropolitan New York City area from Tim, who also was a Bethel staff member, when he called me at work to ask if my husband, Joe, and I would like to accompany Michael Jackson in field service on Saturday.

Tim’s uncles-his dad’s two brothers-were prominent Burbank, California elders, and he also knew many Witnesses in the area, including other elders and their families. Consequently, Tim heard firsthand what an impact Michael made on any of the congregations he attended in the late 70s and early 80s. All the elders were diligently trying to keep the congregations balanced because of having such a famous and controversial Jehovah’s Witness in their midst. And it can only be imagined how difficult it was for Michael to participate in Witness activities because of reporters shadowing him constantly.

It was never a dull moment when Michael came to the Kingdom Hall, and we heard about some of the comical events that occurred. Michael usually came in after the meetings started and sat in the back row so as to avoid stares and whispering.

One time the young son of a newly interested woman was in the men’s room when Michael came in there. The boy was surprised to see someone who looked so much like Michael Jackson. Finally, he asked, “Are you Michael Jackson?” Michael said yes, but the boy wasn’t convinced so he asked Michael to do the “moon walk.” Michael obliged. Can you imagine the excitement of the little fellow seeing his idol doing the moon walk in a Kingdom Hall bathroom. When he came back to his seat his mother asked him why he was gone so long. He excitedly told her what had happened, but she didn’t believe him and promised him a spanking later at home

Along with the cute things that occurred, we heard the negatives-about how many of the Witnesses hounded Michael for money, or asked for his help to get them into show business, and then there were the Witness women who wanted to date him. Of course, the elders counseled these people. Moreover, they counseled Michael because of the large number of complaints from Witnesses across the country who were unhappy about the bad example Michael was setting by his lewd behavior on stage and in his shocking “worldly” videos.

However, many young Witnesses weren’t complaining, but instead they emulated and worshiped the ground Michael walked on. This was the situation in the Flatbush area of Brooklyn where we attended meetings during our Bethel years and where there were 20 congregations in 2.2 square miles. Almost all of those who attended meetings there were black, most from the West Indies, some from Africa, or were African Americans, and too many of their children were fascinated with Michael Jackson. They had posters of him hanging in their rooms; they walked like him and sang his songs

Incidentally, it was the norm for these kids to discontinue their association with the religion as soon as they could, and it was thought that the actions of Michael Jackson were contributing to this exodus. To “mature” Witnesses he was a very bad example for the children in the organization. And this is the frame of mind that both my husband and I were in when Tim called to ask if we would like to go out in field service in Brooklyn with Michael Jackson.

I learned from Tim that Michael went in the field ministry wherever he had a concert, accompanied by two body guards who sat in the van while he called at homes. Tim knew the woman, a Witness, who made all the field service arrangements, and it was she who asked him to go out in service with the singer, plus, requested that a mature married couple also join them.

Of course, I was very excited about the prospect. I knew just what I wanted to talk to Michael about while we were walking door-to-door. First on the agenda was about his white gloved hand grabbing his crotch while performing on stage. I wanted to know why a man serious enough about his religion to do door-to-door evangelizing would do such a thing; or to lie on the floor wriggling sensuously; or to engage in such sexually provocative dancing; or to sing songs such as those on the “Thriller” album, which were so contrary to our belief system (to put it mildly). As a mother, my desire was to kindly share with him the anxiety parents were going through because their children were idolizing his “worldly” behavior.

That evening I told Joe about the invitation. To my surprise, he didn’t show the slightest interest. I remember his words just like it was yesterday: “If I’m going out in service, I’ll go to our congregation where I’m assigned. I don’t go to other people’s congregations just to work with a celebrity, no matter what the reason. You go if you want to, but I’m not! There are many couples who might want to do this. What about some of the elders and their wives in Tim’s congregation? We had lunch with Brother and Sister So & So when I gave a talk there. They have children whose conduct they are concerned about. And since Tim is taking Michael in field service in his congregation’s territory, it’s more appropriate to ask them.”

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No amount of cajoling could change his mind. Again Joe told me to go if I wanted to, that he didn’t mind. However, I decided against it because Tim wanted a married couple. I just didn’t feel that it was proper to go without my husband, although when I told Tim about Joe’s reaction, he still asked me to come, but I said no, that I thought Joe’s idea was good-Tim should ask some Witnesses in his congregation.

A few days after Tim took Michael out in service, he told me what happened. And, yes, he did follow Joe’s recommendation and the couple Joe had suggested went out with them. They all went in a large van, which no one could see into, and Michael had on a hat with a large brim that he pulled down over his face. At the first door Michael did the talking, and a young lady accepted the book. When she came back with some money she asked Michael if he had ever been told that he sure looked like Michael Jackson. He nodded and said that it happens all the time and they left.

Another cute experience happened when they were walking on the sidewalk outside of the apartments. A little fellow about six passed by them and when he looked at Michael he took a double take, kept walking and then backed up and looked again. Then he walked on shaking his head and muttering, “No, it can’t be him.”

One day, a few weeks later, I was walking to work with Leon Weaver, who is an African American. Leon worked in the Service Department and was part of the Service Committee. Before he came to Bethel many years before, I was told that Leon was in the circuit work.

Inasmuch as Leon was pleasant to talk to, I thought he might enjoy my tale of how I almost worked in service with Michael Jackson, and about the cute little experiences Michael had had in service. So I told Leon how Joe refused to go even though I thought we might be in a good position, Joe being a Bethel elder, to discuss with Michael how his actions on stage had such negative ramifications in the congregations. However, Leon told me that he was very surprised about Joe’s attitude. He said he and Ruby would have liked to have spent time with Michael Jackson and would have certainly done so if Tim had asked him.

I took it for granted that Leon was interested in the opportunity to talk with Michael about the same troublesome things that I wanted to discuss-especially because he worked in the Service Department where it’s part of his job to see to it that the elders enforce organizational rules for so-called Christian behavior. I mentioned to Leon that famous “white glove” of Michael’s. Wow, was I ever thunderstruck when Leon pointedly told me that he would have liked to shake the hand that wore the white glove if he had had the opportunity. Further, he said something to the effect that he wouldn’t have counseled the young man, but would have enjoyed being in the company of such a celebrity. I was surprised, to put it mildly, and said nothing more even though I felt as if I was being counseled for my nit-picking attitude.

That evening, I told Joe about the conversation I had with Leon. He was not in harmony with Leon’s viewpoint, but we kept that to ourselves. It was at times like this that it would sometimes cross our minds that maybe we, along with many other JW families, took the organizational instructions too seriously. However, despite Leon’s different perspective from ours concerning Michael Jackson, one which we then disagreed with, we continued to try to do what we thought God would expect of faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses and advance what we thought was “pure worship without defilement of any kind.”

http://www.freeminds.org/women/servicewithMJ.htm

Barbara’s page in Freeminds.org

TV Guide Interview

JWitness

Watchtower Letter About Michael Disassociation From The Organization

michael-jackson-letter-to-elders-1987