Transcript of Artist Amalia Amaki Explores the Life of Michael jackson
Interview with Rev Dr Catherine M Gross on A Place In Your Heart Blog Talk Radio
Rev Gross: We have something very special for you today, I have Amalia Amaki, and am so thrilled, you have no idea, I am so thrilled that she is going to be speaking with us and I know you are to. I am thrilled because she is right here with me. Amalia say “hi”
Amalia Amaki: Hi
CMG: Amalia will be talking to us about the visual artist, the writer, the critic, the consumer, she has so much to say to us that I don’t think that I will ever be able to express it. We are talking about Michael being multitalented, a creative genius and she has the insight into that. Amalia just talk to us, tell us about it? Tell us about what you you have been doing, the exhibit, the things you have discovered, we are anxious to know?
AAi: Okay, first let me say it is a pleasure to share this time with everyone and it is always a pleasure to explore Michael. What I’m doing presently is working on an adventure. I’m looking at Michael, the masking idea is just perfect because, in my opinion, that’s one of the techniques he had mastered was “masking” and he was smart enough to know that by masking you could put everything on the table, everything is in plain view but only those things are seen that you, in a particular moment or time, guided people to. It’s a kingdom and a kingly kind of thing that he very much masters. I’m working at looking behind that mask, I should say those masks because there were layers of masks, there was not a mask, there were layers of masks and I am intrigued by that because I was curious about him as someone who knew how to love without really having a human model to the extent that he would sort of embody what that meant. We have spiritual ideas and we have other consciouses but we are talking about someone who had appeared to make that decision as a boy and it is fascinating to me that it’s out of all of that, that his gift, his talent, his foresight, his giving and all of that is sort of rooted in an understanding of what real love is and to bring that to people I wanted or try to at least, through images and words. I’m sort of like Michael: words, images, sounds, movements, they weren’t separate, they were all sort of different but the same, or at least they can be, I was curious on how to do that and how someone who was that complex and who understood intricate cultural things on one level but who know how to put those things out and who touched people all over the world.
You know how can you be your own model. He was his own model. The only person that Michael competed with was his own history. He broke his own records so it’s a very distinct kind of being so I was fascinated with just how, not only the creative processes but just how the living process was for someone like that and they are just people, a small number of people in my opinion, who move among us that enjoy such phenomenal successes who achievements are counterbalanced by their endurance of mammoth degrees of suffering. For someone like him and we all get the weeps but we all need to wail, it’s part of the healing process but when you’re constantly under the eye of a camera, how do you wail? How do you vent? How do you heal? Privacy to the degree that we enjoy, that is something he had to create for himself and he did it. He understood I think that people had a right to see him because he was a public figure, but at the same time he understood that he had a right to deny that access in those moments when he needed privacy, to heal and just remind himself that he was a human being.
The work is very much looking at those concepts and asking those questions. When you see Michael and when you think of Michael, what do you see, who do you see? Do you see someone you’re told you see? Do you see what you’re told? Do you see what you expect to see? Do you see what you desire? Do you see a reflection of your own humanity? Just what do you see when you see him? Those are the kinds of questions I used to get the work going. This whole myriad of jealousy and just ill feelings that became so much a part of his life and you could really categorize it as propaganda, as labeling, as creating this kind of unfair mythology about him but also I saw when I really dissected those things how in so many cases, he took those negatives and converted them into something useful, sometimes in his stage, sometimes in what I call his offstage existence and I was always amazed. So I am beginning a journey of investigating what I see personally when I look at Mike, what I see and I allow myself to be honest that sometimes I see the opposite, sometimes I see someone who is very introverted and meticulous but at the same time I see someone who is an adventurer, who will take risks, who challenges his own limitations, what appear to be limitations. What happens if I push just a little bit more beyond that, well you know what happens? Once that’s done and if successful, he pushes again. You do see this kind of, I won’t call it a yin and yang, I just call it a holistic kind of understanding.
I’m very curious about not just the fact that I see those things but how do I say it, how do I put it in the word so that it’s understood for what it is from my perspective and hopefully out of that will come a different dialogue around him because as an academic, as someone who is academically trained, I tell myself and I do this with my colleagues all the time, Michael Jackson is the smartest person I know. He’s culturally intelligent, he’s a fighter, he understands that war does not have to be violence and he understands at the end of the day that LOVE ALWAYS WINS. I just adore exploring the man and looking at how the masking is sometime protection but other times it’s like a lure, it’s like a trick. We all get excited at Halloween as children when we can become another character and the whole kind of sake of that is to try and get a reward. When we’re little kids it’s to get that candy or whatever that thing is when we ring that door for trick or treats. For him the stakes were so much higher because it was how do I do this and change the world. Catherine I hope I answered your question?
That’s the man that intrigues me so and is the subject of my work, more than any other subject right now.
CMG: I’m astounded I know that we all feel the same way about him. How do you do this and put it into art?
AA: Well for me I started — one of the thing that always fascinated me about him, because Mike did disguise himself. There were times when he would sneak out of hotels and go to midnight movies and do things and was not discovered and it was an issue that you can not laugh because of that giggle but he could do it but the thing that was always very pronounced for me was unless his eyes were hidden behind sunglasses, his eyes were a giveaway and I felt that they were distinct and powerful about him so a lot of the work, the emphasis and imagery is on his eyes so I am working very hard to find ways in which to talk about that piercing sort of mesmerizing kind of properties that are inherent and you know he does these amazing things on stage with his eyes and it’s astounding how effective it is. It starts to effect, I believe even the people on stage and it’s always amazing to me, it seems to have an effect even when his back is to them, so I’m trying to find ways to get beyond that but for now it’s very much focusing on the eyes because it is about seeing and becoming a seer and seeing beyond the kind of obvious and superficial. It’s why the current body of work is called MJ Obscura because the whole context of obscura has to do with being, okay one of the characteristics and I don’t want to get too technical, but an obscura, that context has to do with the dark chambers in which images of objects that are outside of the chamber are projected onto a flat surface and it’s usually through a contact lens but I remember doing my first — making my first camera obscura image as an 11 year old with an oatmeal box, the old Quaker Oats box and just punching a hole in it and putting lights in to paper at the farthest end of the oatmeal box and getting a picture of my house and I was fascinated when the image was developed and you could see the house. So it is something about and you know what is a dark chamber? It’s a hidden place, a place where not much is seen and not much can be seen but to me there is a powerful symbol in the fact that a tiny hole, a tiny penetration into that chamber allows enough light and enough reflection that a whole and entire image can be seen and for me that’s an amazing way that I can refer to how we just penetrate into the inner chamber of the real Michael. How this wonderful image can be seen and that’s by just making a tiny opening behind that mask, you know that reward of that beautiful image and that whole image and that’s the beginning of a whole different level of understanding. As a photographer that’s a very strong entree into talking about that man behind that mask.
I’m very partial to the blue tones, and the blue tones particularly in the context of Mike, are very significant for me because there is something magical that began to happen on that stage when he submerged himself in this unbelievable explosion of blue light and then I started thinking of all the other implications of that blue. Blue is medically is a very healing color, it is synonymous with healing other cultures. There are cultures that..if you go to certain parts of Italy and even the Islands, they will paint their door blues and that is partly referencing healing and warding off disease but also warding off, in terms of folk mythology of those regions, it’s warding off everything that’s not good. The door is the symbol of that entryway to the chamber. That door is in the same way, that tiny little hole that’s pierced into the box to get you that beautiful image. So it’s like understanding that central passageway to the interior how that’s what you must protect. The central passageway into that interior, for me, in this part of my journey as it pertains to Michael, is the eyes. It is the eyes. It’s amazing, and you have ever noticed when you go to a masquerade ball or you put on a Halloween costume or whatever, even those your eyes are exposed, depending on how the mask is fashioned you still can’t tell who that person is? That person behind the mask, they can see the (inaudible) 23:35, their perception of the world and their access to the world has not changed but the world’s perception of them and the world’s access to them has been obscured, it has been made abstract. I just think on an intuitive level he understood that. He knew how to manipulate that mask, how to put it on and how to take it off and how to take it off in layers so that not too much was exposed and part of that is just like the blue door, it is a protective mechanism.
I also like the blue because I grew up at a time when K-Mart had a thing called the “blue light special” and when that blue light flashed, you got excited because something that was really wonderful was going to become more accessible to you because it was going to be marked down. Usually the “blue light special” meant you got either two for one or you got the one at half price and I often thought about — just think about what happened to all those people who bought those tickets to Michael’s concert. They got much more then they paid for, they got “blue light specials” because here’s a man who was performing, and I still believe Michael’s probably the first performer ever to do this, I can remember being young and going to concerts and you had to wait 30 – 40 minutes before seeing the headliner because there was always an opening act that started that tour. With Mike’s tours, the very first number he was on that stage and he gave his fans two and half to three hours of HIM and he poured everything he could pull out of himself on that stage for them to feast on, they got much more than they paid for and he did it with love. If there are people listening who went to his concerts, you know, you could feel it. When he said, “I love you” he meant it, you felt it and it was very, very amazing to me because he could point to the left and say, “I love you” even the people on the right said, “he pointed to me.” He had that ability to connect and even on that level with everyone that was there that was open to it and wanted to receive it. I think it’s why he is so loved even now, because everything he did and everything he gave, it was geniune.
CMG: I always wondered, I don’t know whether Michael ever reached his height, but from my point of view I wonder if he had reached self actualization, someplace no one else has ever been?
AA: I think there is a Mike of pure spirit and he knew things that he had no business knowing. If he wasn’t saying — I’ll give you an example, I shared this with a very close friend of mine Lana and another friend Claudette just a few days ago, and it still boggles my mind because I can remember how Mike could turn on a dime. He could be very playful and silly, and then all of a sudden you could look over and he’d be looking at you with this heavy, weighty kind of gaze and my reaction would always be “what are you looking at?” He would say, “I’m not looking at you, I’m looking for you.” There were always these little things that he would say that I now understand to be challenges for you to come to know something that was you that you had not addressed yet. To me it was like I’m saying, “look up from this being and discover who you really are, why you were born, what you must do, the depth, and the breath, and the height and everything of your destiny, discover what that is” and with just a choice few words could just set something off and then within 2 seconds he is silly again. Just an amazing ability to tap in and then come back out and I think that was probably a critical clue to the unusual dual nature of his humanity. It’s why he could talk and relate so well to children, but still walk with Kings, Presidents and Princes with no difficulty.
I think he knew how great he was, I don’t think for him it was ever perfect enough. It could always be better and I think all of that is a challenge to anyone who really loves him, I don’t know anyone who really loves and that’s fans included, who aren’t trying to figure out “what can I do to change the world”, “what can I do in whatever small way, what can I do” you know I think he has us all thinking that and for those of us who thought we had it figured out, I think a lot of us are rethinking it, because we reach a point and you think, “we’ve got it, it’s okay”, but for him it was always “let’s do it one more time”. I cracked this joke and I said, if I think Mike had been around on the day after his own transition, he would have said okay, I’m sad, I’m heartbroken, but let’s go to work. Let’s go to work, let’s make someone feel better, let’s make somebody laugh, let’s find some lost children, let’s lift somebody’s spirit, let’s change the world! Let’s go to work.
I think there is something about reflecting on him, especially as Mike as a giver that just challenges everyone to look at what can I be doing that I’m not doing and it takes me back to that, “I’m not looking at you, I’m looking for you.” I’m trying to find out who that destiny walker is, I want to see that destiny, I want to see you on that road. It evokes all of that and it really challenges you to find out who you are in that continuum and it’s a powerful, powerful thing. I think about the fact that he makes a statement, and my years may be off, but in 1992 he said, “I was a veteran long before I was a teenager” and I think it’s amazing and I think about that sometime and I say there are people who age year to year and then there’s Mike because in terms of certain kinds of wisdom he was an old man by the time he was 11. I love to hear Smoky Robinson talk about how he sang his songs but how does a boy know how to do that? I always respond in my head and say,“he doesn’t” because he’s not a boy. He’s not a boy! I think he sang out of a knowing and it was something that was in him and it came at birth. So he knew and whatever he needed to convey the thing that needed to be said he had that knowing in him and he tapped into it and he gave into it. I think about how there are so many people that feel that his greatest short of signature ballad is Man In the Mirror, and it is sort of interesting that he did have this idea that, I’m trying to remember how he said it once, you learn a lot by getting up in the morning and having a giant mirror right there so that you see yourself before you have a chance to say, I need to fix my hair, I need to put some make-up, I need to brush my teeth, you need to see yourself raw and sometime you need to see that first thing in the morning and see it without judgement and without criticism so that you know what your’e real person looks like and that’s one way of recognizing yourself. I think he’s had this thing about confronting who you really are and seeing your own reflection in proof, long before he wrote that song and why he sings it with such understanding and excitement, I mean he really get’s lost in that song and I think he’s singing that song, singing that song, somehow puts that mirror first thing in the morning right there in front of him, and I think sometime you need to see when you’re a mess and it’s okay to be a mess and think of the joy of being a mess, the joy of cleaning yourself up how proud you are when you clean yourself up. You don’t feel that rush if you couldn’t appreciate yourself as that mess. So I think that stage sometimes for me it was a battle ground, he once described it as his kingdom, but sometimes that kingdom has to go to war and I think of my assessment of it, that was one of his ways that he made it clear that there was this sort of social consciousness, not only in some of his music, but in the ways that he conveys it, I mean I love just the power and the authority and the force of those moments on stage when he would just yell, he’d make those sounds, but if you think about them, they’re almost like the Calvary, when the leader says, ‘charge.” It’s just phenomenal the things that he achieved on that stage and it’s like the audience, it’s like I’m going to battle for you.
CMG: So he achieved many of those things within us.
CMG: We know he was embattled but we were empowered by the fight that he put up.
AA: He’s a warrior, and he knew how to fight, and I think one of the things that really intrigued me about “Mike the Warrior” is that he went to war without accusation. He didn’t say, “this is wrong”, he would just say, “this is right”, he always took the positive road, he didn’t name call, he just took pronounced the positive names and it’s a very different approach, he just wasn’t someone playing soldier when he wore those military clothes, he was making it clear he was at war and he understood war tactics.
CMG: This comment is by Beth and it reads “I think Michael felt it very important to be as honest about oneself as one could be and whenever I accept my own doubt and insecurities I’m more open to other people and the deeper I go into myself the more I realize that is my real self. I just said that because it fits so well with what you’re saying.
Ms. Amaki: I agree with that. I always laugh even when people call him shy, he called himself shy, but I think because there was not the opportunity to learn social skills that I think that was a good think, I think it probably made him less comfortable around people that he did not know, or did not engage on a professional level or a performance level but the good thing about that is he did not learn some of the restrictive things that you learn with the part of learning social skills so I think it did make him more r appreciate of the need to really know himself. I think for a lot of us we have to unlearn some things before we can even do that because it comes across to us, if we’re trained not to do that, it’s a little narcissistic. I think we’re sort of conditioned into thinking that it can be a little narcissistic focusing on yourself to that extent but we go through other phases of our lives, but usually it takes hurtful things, trauma, you know, loss and suffering to learn it. You know I really need to know who I am and I really need to know how my little pile of sand fits into the whole demographics of the beach. I think that was easier from him to do in some respects than others. So yes, I very much agree with that statement.
There’s just so many thing running through my head, I have to….
CMG: There’s so much to Michael and when we start looking at so many things about Michael, you were talking about his intellectual capacity, and I kind of wonder whether or not it is all one thing. For instance, as a humanitarian, would it put your intellectual abilities into action? For instance, we all need the same things, you know sort of like I was talking about hierarchies and we all need so many of the same things. We don’t all get to self-actualization — everybody doesn’t get there, I don’t think, you know but somehow we need so much of the same thing and sometime Michael Jackson found a way to speak a language so that everybody could have the things that they wanted. For instance if one person wanted a glass of water, you might be able to give them a glass of water, someone else might need you to dance around them in order for them to get a glass of water. Michael would find a way for the dance to go on to make sure you got water. What do you think about that?
AA: I agree and when I talk about how culturally intelligent he is, it’s not understood in the global sense that I’m using those words, to me part of his genius was knowing, because he read, he was a ferocious reader and knowing and having a kind of specific understanding of certain cultural specificity in his life. Knowing he’s African American, knowing he’s an American, knowing that his childhood was shaped to a certain extent by Gary and the West coast and being a child star and all that but at the same time understanding that nothing had the power to touch another human being like love. He knew that and however he did that, think about it whenever he walked into a room there were babies in Aukland, New Zealand or the children in Poland, children in countries where you can’t even speak the language but the behavior is such that they get it. They gravitate to him. They don’t know he’s a superstar, they just know he loves them and that thing draws them to him, and that communication happens on a level that is above a normal understanding, so much so that there are occasions when he has to leave and the children start crying. It’s not just an ability to love it’s a willingness to love and it’s a willingness to do it in whatever form is necessary to convey YOU ARE LOVED! For some people it is the way he dances, for some it’s the singing, for some it’s the sweating but it’s amazing how it’s whatever is needed and it’s as simple as being sensitive to the people and the place where he is. He was such a “now” person. Like, where am I now? He wouldn’t go to Japan without knowing how to say, “I love you” in Japanese or going to Poland and learning how to say, “I love you” in Polish and going to Munich and learning how to say, “I love you” in German. It’s an incredible willingness to love because if he doesn’t say it in the language where it will be understood too much potentially, will be lost in translation.
CMG: There is something that I found out, there were people that learned how to speak English through Michael’s songs. Michael learned how to say, “I love you” but they tried to capture the love by learning what Michael was saying.
AA: You know it’s amazing to be in Bucharest, Romania and have the audience singing all the lyrics along with it and after the concert you can walk up to someone and say, “What is your name” or something like that and they don’t know what you are saying but they know every lyric to his songs. Another amazing thing is they hear two notes and they know the song. So they know if it’s time to light the candle or if it’s time to join hands and start swaying. Two notes. They were that familiar with the music and I think because he was able to draw them in with the music, they, every single person in those audiences felt an intimate connection to him. There is an ownership that Michael’s fans have that I don’t think I’ve witnessed with any other performer and I think it’s because of that thing. So much was pur there for them and they grabbed it. So he’s not just Michael Jackson, and guess what, he’s their Michael. He’s theirs. I mean how smarter can you be than to learn how to communicate through a language that is universal.
CMG: This is just amazing. I remember he said, “Really, not even a politician can do that.” He was just so amazed that people could hear it. We hear the spirit of love. It doesn’t matter what language. If you are talking anger we know what it is. We know the sprit of love.
AA: Getting back to him as a warrior, because I think of him not just as a warrior but a fierce one and all you have to do is really — one of the great advantage of video footage of concerts, of tours is that you can see the facial expressions, you know he talks to himself, and it’s a vindication of not just his determination to be victorious but to the extent of which he is ready for that battle and he has a spirit like a lion. I just love that, the gaze of his eyes. Often those pauses on stage, in my opinion, they’re not to rest, he’s not catching his breath, he’s giving the opportunity to decipher what he is doing. It’s like “Okay, I did that, now you’re thinking about it, now watch what I’m going to do next.” So the very powerful use of not just the use of a pause, but his silence. I just thought he was just brilliant, just brilliant on stage. The timing was immaculate he knew better than any performer I have ever seen, how to use timing as a kind of strategic part of that performance and the whole warrior ship around that performance. I love that element. You know Black or White which is — I’m so excited about rethinking some of the things that he did with the whole concept of Black or White and using those familiar kind of dichotomy of black and white and then putting it out there, but putting it out there as the thing that he is not, and making it clear that nothing and no one really exists in those polls. That what unifies us is we are neither one nor the other, we are all those shades of grey that are in between and then fighting that whole boundary. He puts it out there and then he destroys it. His tactical skill as a creator of images for someone like me, his tactical skill in creating the images and then destroying them for the sake of saying this is a false identification. I’m going to show you who you think you are and then we’re going to talk about who you’re really are and then in the process of making that discovery that we are really all those shades of grey in the middle, we’re going to destroy those false boundaries. It’s just a powerful thing and you know sometimes I think about the extent to which he went, and when I say, “the extent to which he went,” I mean he gave so much in those performances, I wonder if those of us who just enjoy it have any idea of the number of times he went on that stage in excruciating pain, physical pain. You know the knees hurt, the ankles are sore, the back aches, there’s a toothache on the left side of the jaw but that is not the time, as he says, to self indulge. People worked months, he said, just to buy one ticket, they’re going to get a show and they’re going to get a show like one they’ve never seen before. That’s an incredible human being who loves other human beings.
CMG: That is something, he would go and you know even though he was in pain, I always wondered why no one ever questioned that cast-like thing he had on his arm. I mean people just thought it was there for style. I never heard anyone really question, Michael, what’s wrong with you’re arm?
AAi: You know there were so many iconic, I don’t want to call them props, because they were more significant than that but there were so many iconic elements to his uniform is the word I would prefer to use, there were so many aspects to it that he could pull that off, and he didn’t want you knowing that the back hurt, because that’s a distraction and that’s not a part of what he want’s you to leave there with. You know we can talk about it in the past, we can look back at it and talk about it but at that moment, he was all about taking that audience to a place they’d never been before and even though he was the object of it, he was the focal point, for him it wasn’t about him, it was about the corporate experience.
CMG: You know, Beth, I don’t know if she will call in, but she is an artist too. I don’t really know what Beth does I just know that she’s an artist and she was talking about how Michael must have felt when he collapsed the day he was going to perform with Marcel Marceau. Of course, I didn’t know anything about this I must say but that had to be extraordinary because I know he loved Marcel. In many of his dances I see him trying to lean, you know how you’re supposed to be leaning on some kind of object, maybe on the top of a dresser or something and I see him trying to do that and I remember Marcel Marceau was trying to teach him that so I know he had to feel bad about it but you’re so right Michael went there with something wrong with his arm, I never knew what it was and we didn’t find out until later that he had burst a vein or something in his lung. He went there and he survived the burn that was on his head. He found a way to not bother with – I mean this man lost his color, lost his lung and I don’t know what else was going on and he still went on stage full of love. That’s amazing.
AA: It really is and getting back to the mime element, at the very end of Human Nature, his performances of Human Nature during the Bad Tour, he does a mime that — I have a dancer friend whose mind is blown every time she sees it. He clearly did master it and if there is something that appealed, and that’s one of the things that is tremendous about his performance and even to an extent, the way he lived his life. When there is something incredible that he sees, he could see it in a film, he could see it in an exchange between two people on a sweet, it could be the sound of an el train, it could be the sort of collective sound of children giggling and running in a playground, it doesn’t matter, if it catches his attention at that moment it’s like it registers in his mind, it’s like a mainframe and at some point when something is needed, when that’s the perfect association that’s necessary to get that thing where he wants it to be, its like he goes into that datafile and it becomes a part of a dance routine or it becomes the sound of a song. Just having that incredible ability to tap into that thing that maybe he saw or heard six years before and knowing that it is the perfect thing for that song, or that routine, or even that presentation. If he’s just making a presentation or an appeal for “Heal the World Foundation” or presenting a check, whatever, that’s a part of that whole genius nature that was so much a part of him and recognizing that dance at the end of the day – it’s no one. It doesn’t belong to anyone.
CMG: You know, I wonder if people are getting what you’re saying and I try to relate what you said to some — kind of the like things that have happened in my life, that’s the way I can understand things and I remember what it was like to go inside yourself and you hear the sounds, you hear the sound of people laughing, little children laughing or playing, maybe some music blasting. I wrote this thing called something like a “Beautiful Kind of Funk” that was the name of it, but it had to do with being that, where you hear the — it didn’t matter, going down the street you could smell all this stuff, you could smell hot dogs, you could smell whatever. It all had a kind of affect, it like it had it’s kind of personality. I’m just trying to say what Amalia is saying and how it affects me.
AA: It’s like, I’m trying to remember a situation once, and i was trying to give him a sense how amazing this sound was. I went to a glass factory and I remember as a 9 year old, learning for the first time that you had to make glass and going for the first time to a factory where they made bottles and hearing that sound lived with me for a month because I was so fascinated by the sound of the glass when it sort of popped a little when it was hot and then when they cooled them down there was a sound, and then they were on a conveyer belt and some of then would kind of cling together and just the symphony of sounds that came just from glass and it was such an experience for me. Then, I remember that sound is what woke my ears up because after that sound, I started listening to things that, because they were part of my common walk, my common experience every day, I started hearing those things, I believe Mike always heard them and this was what I was referring to as part of our socialization. If we’re not careful that process, one of the results of that process is that we learn how to tune things out and because he did not have that experience to the extent that we did, he did not tune things out. So he would hear the thump that would happens when the garbage man is picking up the trash and at the same time he would hear the chirping of the birds and he would hear the sound of the kids’ feet running for the school bus so he would hear all these things and I think part of what we perceive as shyness and he may even refer to as shyness is due to the fact that he is processing all that stuff he’s hearing. Think about it, that’s just hearing, he’s also seeing so the whole thing of processing all of that and putting it into that datafile so that maybe 20 years later he reaches back and draws from it because it’s the perfect thing for that moment. I think it’s just amazing when — I was explaining this to someone and they were saying that there are some conditions where people have that to such an extent that they cannot connect to the real world and my response was, well you just underscored why he was such a genius because he could do that, but he applied it in the context of what we call the real world. So in order to improve a song, in order to take a dance a routine, to kick it up another notch, in order to make a pause more meaningful, more noteworthy, so we would realize that, “Oh wow this corporate experience we are having is really incredible” because we got quiet at just that moment with that pause. What drew us into a kind of rhythm that was established by him, it was because he touched it. You know if you stand in a circle and hold hands, everyone’s heart beat will go in synch, our hearts will beat in synch. Just because we are holding hands, because we are touching. He touched his audience, whether you were in that arena, whether you just watched that video, it doesn’t matter what the nature of that context is, you’re holding his hand and our heart’s are beating at that same rhythm and that’s why he’s loved so much. The human touch is amazing, it is amazing and somehow something in him always knew that.
CMG: You know I think that he touched us spiritually too because how could people be able, so many people take his spirit of dance. There is a person who I think is magnificent and he was healed, well he’s still in a wheel chair, but he’s in his wheel chair and he can dance like Michael. He’s there and Michael’s spirit is with him holding him up. There are people that — with me I come to Michael’s spirit of love, I truly believe that Michael was a Godly man, Michael might even have been angel. Michael had such a Godly spirit to him. Nobody wanted to let him go, I didn’t.
AA: The nature of that touch in my opinion, is very much on a spiritual level and you know what is so amazing, I think it is because he reached out and he touched, and he asked for nothing in return. Nothing in return. It’s amazing, it’s absolutely amazing. Have you seen, I believe it may be on you tube, there are situations where when he had such severe bouts of dancer’s feet and a couple of times when he strained an ankle and he was committed to make appearances and he showed up in wheel chairs, and if a part of that appearance was to do a performance, he would perform in the wheel chair. So was it a gentlemen that had that spirit would dance in the wheelchair?
AAi: That is totally amazing and I could see that. I could totally see it.
CMG: It’s just amazing, he sent me a video and I thought to myself look at what Michael has done and you know and it’s true, I have never seen an artist that we loved that he was part of us and we know that he loved us.
AAi: Because, to a certain extent, he belongs to you. He put himself out there that way. He gave himself and I’m still overwhelmed by the way in which he did it because he put himself out there, he gave himself and he asked for nothing in return.
CMG: When Michael died, I don’t know about everybody else, but I immediately hopped on the computer and I started trying to find somebody who could find a way for that space to be filled, it was like immediately there was this hold in the atmosphere when he died. It was really something. I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life. So I went there and I found a group called “Heal The World Foundation” and that was not really quite what it ought to be, and then I came to Twitter and Facebook and found all these people who felt exactly like me but that’s not the thing, the thing is that the people on Twitter and Facebook developed skills or began to do things that they had never dreamed that they could do with their life. It was amazing.
AA: Because it’s something about him that challenges us to do that. You know what’s very interesting about — and I really, I have to say this, Mike is so alive for me, even now. I’d like to see a form, I prefer to have a human form but he’s still alive for me and it’s a difficult thing to articulate exactly what I’m saying but whatever he was he still is so I think generations to come will be challenged to do things they ordinarily wouldn’t think. You know I see four year olds who say I’m Michael Jackson, they’re four years old and I love John Mayer, I love what he said. When he was asked about Mike making the transition he said, “We’ve lost a critical part of our DNA as human beings,” I love that, I thought that was so on point. There is some void that cannot be sufficiently sealed and that’s when I would like to believe because they really are transitioned to a state of immortality.
CMG: I believe that is true with Michael.
AAi: Very much so, he’s still alive for me.
CMG: He said to Oprah and Oprah just kind of blew him off while he was saying it. When they had that interview he said to her “Who cares about mortality, I care about immortality.” Then you hear him singing the song HIStory and he’s already thinking about his history, “Every day create your history, every page you write, you’re writing your legacy.” He was there in a legacy, he was there working toward immortality and he achieved it because he can never die, he’s in our hearts.
AA: It’s true, it’s true and I actually teach a visual studies course and half the course is Michael and that first section is really — I use him as way to, I don’t want to say train, but for lack of better term that’s the one I’ll use, to train students to start seeing and stop scanning. and skimming and blurring and what I put out there for them is the fact that, I call it the MJ Factor and what I will do is I will take one performance, we will look at Smooth Criminal and we’ll look at that segment from a tour and I challenge them to go and see how many references to cultural stuff they can find that’s reflected in just that one performance. I’m always amazed at how amazed they are when they come back, and they do, they come back with pride, they talk about — some of them will list ten or twelve films “Oh, I found this movie, and they did this. The whole point was one person may find twelve or fifteen films where they will see references to maybe just one dance move and they saw something like that in a film and someone else will talk about how they looked saw something in an old fashion magazine, someone else will talk about a musical that they saw, and the staging had this. It’s really amazing as a class they all come together and start exchanging these discoveries. I always end by saying to them, “Okay, you missed some things, we may have to listed 50 or 60 associations, but you missed some things. We just dealt with one performance, now how much more do you think there is out there to discover about Michael Jackson? This is just a about a performer, we haven’t even begun to tap into who the man is. The issue is you can’t afford to miss an opportunity to see and I think a part of another aspect of that the cultural intelligence is the fact that he did not take anything for granted, things that he saw, that he heard, that he felt, it was legitimate and it all had possibilities in creating that magical experience that he fed us from that stage. I don’t think if I took everything I’ve ever seen, I don’t think I would survive on this side of the veil long enough to give justice in terms of an analysis of what he’s done I don’t think I will live that long, I won’t think I will be on this side of the veil and that’s an incredible statement to make about one person.
CMG: I know that there are people that won’t see it this way but I think people like Man in the Mirror because it was like gospel, it was like being with Michael or listening to Michael was like being in a sanctified church because he touched that part of you. We could be someplace and somebody could be there giving some long sermon and a bunch of people could be shouting “Hallelujah” but at the end of Michael’s concerts you see people hugging and you see this unity, you see something more. Even when the people are up there with the Bic lighters or candles, but there is a spiritual element to it and that is amazing, even when I listen to that song “Keep the Faith” Michael even said he even wanted a choir behind him.
AA: You know, from a selfish perspective, it’s very hurtful, and I’m being very selfish here but I really would have loved to have experienced the spiritual ballad CD that I know he was working on. He was working on doing something with, not just Andre Crouch, but he was going to involve a psalmist, whose a prophet from South Africa, his name is Kim Clement I think Kim was going to be on keyboard and tambourine, and I just would have loved to have seen and to have the opportunity to experience that product. I know it was in the works. I don’t know if all of the music was going to be new music or unreleased is what I should say, unreleased music, because I could always see something like “Keep the Faith” as a part of that but that’s something he very much wanted to do and was in serious preparation to do it. It would have been phenomenal I’m sure. I always felt that a kind of symphonic kind of opera was going to be very spirit based. There are just some of the incredible projects that I think, that had he survived just a few more years, would have been out there for us to be inspired by and for us to enjoy. I sometimes pray that those things were done and are hidden somewhere so that we can have that experience and I realize that is very selfish but it’s just what I would love to see because it would have been an opportunity to fully explore another dimension of that man behind the mask because he was such a spiritual being.
CMG: And I think that that’s what we got. There were people and they may have had love but it was a different kind of love. It was a fleshly love, it was a temporal thing, it’s like the people were there and while they were there you felt the love. When the time had gone by and somebody said, some people are there for a season, some people are there for a reason but see Michael was there for both and he is still with us. It’s more than a season
AA: And it wasn’t, it was not carnal love. It was so much higher than that. If anyone is capable, if you’re capable of stripping your thoughts of everything you’ve ever known, thought, or thought you’ve known about love, if you could just strip it for a moment, relieve yourself of that and then ask yourself, “What is the highest form of love like?” My answer to you is, if you want to see an example of that in flesh in this century? Look at Michael, because there was no agenda, he didn’t love to be loved, he loved because that’s what he was. He was love. He couldn’t help it and it wasn’t conditional, it wasn’t for sale, it couldn’t be manipulated, you know you could kick Mike in the face, turn around and help him up, ask for forgiveness and he would forgive you and I love you and he would mean it. He can’t help but love, it’s what he is.
CMG: And as Beth was saying, it’s unconditional love.
AA: Yes, it’s pure. You know, it’s pure, it really is pure, it is not tainted and I think there is a tendency to be suspicious because it is so rare. The average person is not familiar with that kind of love. We operate so much in a kind of mutual way, well I love you, if you love me first. If you love me, I’ll love you back. We are very suspicious of free gifts and that’s what he gave, free gifts. He couldn’t help it, it just oozed out of him, he couldn’t help it, it’s who he was.
CMG: Everything about him was love. I’m looking at someone who is writing in the chat room and he’s speaking about love from 1st Corinthians 13, the Love chapter and yes, I do believe that everything about Michael was something that was like — he was not puffed up. In that chapter it says, looking into a mirror darkly, and speaks about how we will see and I wonder and I know that Siedah presented that song, and a lot of times just because you write it, you feel it but it doesn’t mean that you will project it so that it can be heard. You hear it in your head. We have a writer on here, and I know she knows what I mean – just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you can take it out and give it to someone else. Michael was willing to take what was in him, pull it out and give it to someone else just like you. You’re able to take all of that, pull it out and spill it on a canvas. Now to me, a person who can’t even draw a little letter on a page, to me that is outstanding. I think it is tremendous when you have something and you can take it out and you can give it. People without love in their heart, they’re afraid to pull it out and share it. People might have food in their house, but they’re afraid to share it because maybe there won’t be enough for them. Their not selfish, they just don’t have it to share, it’s not there. But like you and all the people that are in this chatroom, I believe that you’re special. You have something. We all don’t have the ability to take out what God has put in us. Now God puts it in us, he gives us the gift, and I’m going to go straight in the bible where’s there a scripture that says, “stir up the gift.” Everybody can’t stir up the gift.
AA: And you know if you ask Michael, he would always say, if he were here today and you said “where did that come from” he would say, “God dropped it in my lap” and he says, “I have a problem sometimes putting my name on it because”, guess what he said and I love this, he said, “I wrote it, but I’m not the author of it, it’s from God.” and he would invariably say that. I deeply believe that Man In The Mirror, and I’m sorry I cannot remember the gentlemen’s name who wrote the music, Siedah wrote the lyrics, but I can’t remember the guy’s name that did the music but I deeply believe that, that song was written because a strong and passionate, and I’m talking a specific kind of passion and I’m not talking no fleshy stuff, I’m not talking about mush……
CMG: Someone just said Glen Ballard
AAi: Yes, that’s it. That degree of passion and that deep need to say it and to put it out to there in front of people was such in Michael, that he drew that song out of them. I think something in him compelled that song to be written. I really believe that and I think of other songs like Human Nature, that he did not write, he drew that music to him because those were things he needed to sing, he was born to sing those songs. He was born to minister to people, that was the other aspect of the stage performance that I really wanted to address and there’s a part of it that was warrior-ship, there was another part that was ministering to people and those songs, he was born to sing them. So he drew those things to himself that he had to then eat and spew out in front of those thousands of people and that’s part of how he changed the world. He changed their minds and have you ever noticed how with Mike, race is almost never an issue, it’s because when you walk that assuredly in your destiny, it can’t be pulled down to these superficial levels of classification. There’s just something about him, he didn’t — I told someone, they said, well he really broke that glass ceiling, and I said, no for him there was no ceiling, because beginning at the age of five he knew something and the sad thing about this side of the veil, they’re not going to let you through without — you got to go through some stuff. You’re going to be knocked down but I do admire the way he got up. I think about how difficult it had to have been being a teenager, going through puberty, dealing with the breakouts, and the hormones going crazy but in spite of it all, he went out there and totally mesmerized his audiences. That couldn’t have been easy, especially since as a society in the western world we are so influenced by physical appearance. I just think it’s amazing what he did, even as a young person but it’s also a testimony to what you can do if you know why you were born and I really believe he always knew.
I like to use this analogy of when you read a book you know how it ends, and it’s almost like he read the book and he knew he won. So he could be as fearless as he needed to be from day to day.
CMG: I’m thinking about a young man named Joseph and Joseph had a coat of many colors that should be interesting to all the artists; all those different colors, all those different shades. Primary colors turned into all sorts of wonderful things and out jealousy his brothers kind of tossed him away and I kind of thing that happened to him a little bit in his life. I do.
AA: I think more than a little.
CMG: Yeah, I’m pretty sure that happened to him. When it finally turned around it was Joseph who had to help them. I honestly think if you had to look at all these different characters in the bible, you’ll see Michael over and over again. I mean it’s amazing.
AA: It’s not question but that he was such a spiritual being, and his nature, because he was so much love you didn’t have to come to him as anything. So it’s why he can go into a Muslim nation and say, “I love you” and they get it. He can walk among Asian people and say, “I love you” and they get it. There’s something about the way he loved that did not divide. In fact, it created multicultural congregations and I think it’s just the fact that he was just pure love. It was free, there wasn’t an agenda.
CMG: Amalia, on Facebook, we who have come together are now the MJ Global Family, we have become, if you will, a multicultural congregation and a multicultural family. We’re more than a congregation. This thing where we’re united, I’ve never really thought about it. Even though I might go out there and talk about how I’m black and the people who are in politics are in there… but it has never had anything to do with my MJ Global Family. It’s stuff that from the outside. We have become one in the name of Michael.
AA: And this is why I say he has changed the world. He’s done it. We’re the evidence.
CMG: Beth says he hired Jewish people for producing Bad and I think he hired people — Michael, like Amalia said and me I’m going to go right into Kipling who said “If you can walk with Kings nor lose the common touch you’ll be a man my son” so Michael must have been a heck of a man. Even as a kid he was able to be around all those people and the one thing that was special was he was never dealing with the flesh.
AA: Yes, absolutely, I mean a typical Michael moment could be, he’d look at someone and say, “God, you’re make-up is beautiful, who did it?” and then in the next second he’s asking a little kid “Hey you wanna come over here?” and then the next moment he’s talking about, “You know there’s so much poverty, what can we do about that?” I mean he’s so flexible because the underlying element in all of that is I care about you. I remember when someone — I think he screamed out, and it wasn’t out of anger, it was just that he couldn’t get close enough to him not to scream, but he screamed out, “I heard you’ve become a Muslim” and the man who screamed it out, I hope it’s safe to say, the assumption was that he was not and he had an issue, he was concerned about whether or not this is true. “I heard you’re Muslim” and Mike’s response was “I’m a human being who cares about you.”
So it’s that spontaneity. You can’t do that if you’re not what you’re saying you are. It won’t come out of your mouth that quickly, that easily or that convincingly. You just can’t do it. He could say it because he meant it. He knew that was who he was. The guy was speechless, I mean how do you come back when someone says that to you. So he was essentially saying,“from where I sit, that’s less important than the fact I am here and you are there” and what that ultimately says is “we’re both here together and I care about you.” That’s so central to who he was and he is. We so often see fundamental stress as weakness and it takes a very strong person to wear their heart on their sleeve and survive. That’s as vulnerable as you can get but you can’t help but wear it there if that’s
who you are.
My mom had these wonderful sayings and one of the things she used to say is that, it doesn’t matter how hard the cow tries, it will never hop. You can’t help but be what you are. He was love and he couldn’t help it and he understood that some of the challenges to him had to do with the fact that he refused to hide that he was love. He didn’t “act” the way a superstar is supposed to act.
CMG: I wonder if he knew how much we loved him? Michael said, I’m going to destroy his quote, but basically if you start out knowing you’re loved and if at the end you know the same everything in the middle can be taken care of, and don’t you know it’s happening. Things are changing. We actually have World Vitiligo Day and I believe we will get a national day for Michael’s birthday. We will, his legacy is going on. You’re teaching about him, you’re doing Obscura, you’re here with us.
AA: I’m writing books.
CMG: You’re writing books? I’m so happy about that. Everybody I want you to know that Amalia has a book that’s coming out in the spring and its poems and it’s images. Now I don’t know about any of you, I hope it’s okay for me to…. or would you like to explain something about this book? It’s a very special book.
AA: It’s a special book and actually it was triggered by a series of losses and
so I decided — what the book is poems dedicated to people who rescued me at various points of my life and it turns out that there are sixteen people who are honored, and Mike is one of they are poems but they are also conversations that I am having with those people because I’m that grateful to them and each poem is coupled with an image, and each image is an image of my artwork and its called homage and it was a healing process for me because I had to get beyond that stage of grief before it became a way of life and by having conversations with these people, my parents are included. One of the lessons I learned from Mike — I did learn a lot about what it means to love and I learned that a lot of the ideas I had grown up with about love they were okay but they weren’t really love. So it was a necessary project for me and I suddenly realized when I engaged in this project that as much as I loved, respected and adored my father, in all the years of poetry writing I had never written a poem for my father, so it’s a milestone project in some respects and it was out of that project that I started working on my first MJ in visual arts and that was called “MJ in Blue Terms” and because after working on his section I said I have to do more, there are some things that I understand that I don’t know how to put into words. My first language is the visual. I do believe I do things in visual form that I cannot approach by speaking or writing because I don’t have the words so it was a natural next project after that project was to move right into addressing some things that I observed and things that I had and witnessed. Just coming to grip with the kind of personal understanding that I had. It’s been quite a journey.
CMG: I think it’s amazing that not matter what your language is.. if you speak it, if you do it — that everybody has a language.
AA: And it was like you were saying in your poems, you wrote a poem but you knew it was supposed to be an image and so you know that makes me think Catherine, that there is an artist in there, because I don’t think God sends you on any journey that he doesn’t equip you with the tools that you need to arrive at the destination. It can’t be imperfect and it can’t be unfinished and it certainly can’t be void. So somewhere in there is a — maybe you have to change your idea of what it means to be a visual artist. Mike was a visual artist as well as a performer and I would look at his work and so many times if you get into the music, if you just close your eyes which is what I would do sometimes and just let it saturate it through my mind and through my pores and you get a visual image. So it doesn’t always have to be a canvas or a photograph or something three dimensional, you can make those words create that image. So I believe there’s a visual artist in there.
CMG: I saw it, I saw it as sure as my name is Catherine. I could see it but I didn’t know how to say it and that’s what I’m talking about. We have it all the time we don’t know how to bring it out. I didn’t know how to stir up that gift in other words. I didn’t know what to do so i saw it and probably the best that I could have done is relate it to someone who could speak it. Sort of like people speaking two languages. I was lost in an airport and there was another lady and she was lost too but she spoke Spanish, so we figured out that we could get together, and she had a bible and I had a bible so she read the part in her bible; the first chapter and I read it in mine and we started developing an understanding of who we were and what we were saying and then I don’t know why I knew she was teaching me how to say “what is your name” Some how she said “cuál es su nombre?” and so I heard what is the quality and reality of your number that is what I heard “cuál es su nombre?” which is “what is your name?” So somewhere along the way that kind of thing happens you know, people can transfer it t you. We were able to connect and I had never had anybody that I could connect with that was an artist. So to me I just adore it but it’s like having the ability to speak but no one telling you how to form the words.
AA: Well you might, and this works for anyone, you know we call it a muse but I think for everyone there is something or someone who draws that stuff out of us. I was blessed to exist at a time when Mike was alive because he draws it out of me and this is why I say he is still alive to me because when I’m not motivated, when I’m frustrated, anything that would keep my from being productive I connect in some way with him.
CMG: You can hear him.
AA: That’s all it takes to get me back on track and I’m invariably driven by “okay get to work” because you can’t sit down on the gift, you just can’t and I think he probably does that for so many people, It doesn’t matter if you did not see him live or witness a perform, it doesn’t matter. There is still that potential to draw that stuff out of people and I have witnessed that. People say “I never saw him when he was alive and it’s amazing because I was busy raising my kids when he was at his peak and I just didn’t pay attention and now I’m like wow how did I miss this?” I say, “but you didn’t.” Because the power and the impact and the truth of who and what he was is still there.
CMG: Amalia, Faith has a quote up here by Vincent Van Gogh and it says,“If you hear a voice within you saying you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” Oh my goodness. That’s a beautiful quote.
AA: Yes it is. There’s another artist and I want to say — there’s two artist and they were always in conversation with each other so I tend to get their quotes mixed up sometimes but there’s an artist and I believe this is a quote from Josef Albers and he said, he was a painter and a color theorist but he said, “When you hear or feel I can’t, that’s the sign that you must.” So not doing it, not creating that’s not an option if the primary reason for your birth was to create, creating is not an option. I just love that quote because he understood that was fear speaking and my mom used to say “fear is the fire that fuels brilliance” so when you’re afraid, that’s fire, and you take that fear and you defeat it by brilliance so instead of it taking away — I always bring it back to Michael because there were so many things that occurred that probably would have compelled most other people to quit but it became something he stood on as a motivation not to quit. It’s probably the lesser known things that created the greatest challenge because not only do you have to overcome the things, you have to overcome it secrecy. Who battles the demon but no one sees but you? Who has any kind of compassion or understanding for that battle? It’s just an amazing story. We will never, probably ever know the full measure of his impact on the world.
(phone calls coming in)
AA: The interesting thing is at the same time, if you make a case that reasonable, that there’s been some talk about “Streetwalker” and for whatever reason he really liked that song. He opted not to include it because when the song was playing Frank DiLeo started moving in such a way and Mike jokingly said if people are going to move like that we don’t need it on the album. I mean it was a comedic moment for him but at the same time, even while he was listening to “Streetwalker” he was also remembering “Another Part of Me” and said maybe that is a better song, maybe that is a better segue. So there is a side that’s very much, I don’t want to call that perfectionism but there was a side of him that was sort of an artist that had a certain sensibility and knew when to submit to that sensibility and not just go 100% on intuition.
Just getting back to that whole idea of creating. I still don’t understand how you can do it. I do know when you just release and I’ll put it into the context of making something. I don’t know about other people who see themselves as artists but whether it’s writing or creating a visual image or whatever. Personally I cannot not do it. It’s no longer a choice for me. I can say I’m never going to do another photograph or mixed media piece again but I would by lying because I can’t help but do it because it’s in me to do it and it is necessary for me as breathing and I think all of the wonderful things that Michael gave us, it was as necessary for him as breathing. It’s not just what he did it’s who he is. So when I talk about that creative option, even on stage, no two performances were just alike and not because it’s not humanly impossible to do that. I’ve been around singers and performers, my father was a singer, I’ve been around performers all my life, there are people who — you think about you’re church experience, there are people who sing the same way every Sunday. It is possible to do it, but I never saw him perform a number the same way.
Lana: There was a point, I wanted to bring out when you said, it’s never too late to connect with Michael and his music, could you elaborate on that, because I knew a student that I taught that weren’t even alive when Michael was performing, they hadn’t been born yet but I’ve seen them connect with him. His message and his spirit lives on, could you elaborate on how people can still connect or what that connection is.
AA: Okay, well I’m going to sound very practical at first and then I’m going to take it where I think it really needs to go and that’s to a spiritual level but it’s why I think it’s a blessing that we do have the CD’s and the DVD’s to have that initial contact with what he created and just the look and the fact of him on stage but I think it is always possible to connect with that stuff because it’s still alive. That music is alive. All of that stuff that he put together that I relate to church that he did on stage it’s still alive and it’s why even a three or four year old — I love children, I totally get why he loved them so, because 3 and 4 and 5 and 6 year olds, they don’t say oh I can do like this MJ, they say I am Michael Jackson so they can take full ownership of all that stuff and they’ve not been through a process where someone would say, “Oh don’t do that, you can’t dance” they don’t hear it. They say, “I’m Michael Jackson” they don’t say, “I dance like him” they say, “I am him.” I think that is so powerful and if we would think in those terms, instead of saying, “How did he do that?” Just turn that thing around.
You know what? I remember a conversation about mirrors, mirrors are another thing that fascinate me like masks, because a mirror is a mask but that’s a fascinating thing that you see a reflection of whatever is in front of that mirror, but guess what you see it in reverse, so what’s left is right and what’s right is left. You know even though I see this, it’s like when people look at a photograph, they look at it and say, “Oh that’s me” “Look at me on Facebook, go on my page and look at me and look at me, and this whole idea of something that is projected somewhere else is me. Part of why we can do that is because there is a knowing in all of us, it is not something you were taught and you cannot learn what you know, you know what you know, that is why what you know you can’t unlearn it. You know it. There is a knowing in us and we know that this vessel is temporary but that there is something that is really us that is eternal and something that is eternal cannot be contained. Michael was such a powerful presence despite the attacks on this side of the veil because he knew he was eternal and because he was eternal, and knew it. It’s why he said to Oprah, Oprah couldn’t get it. She probably wasn’t ready for it, she probably wasn’t at a place where she could receive it, but you know he knew, he knows. So he could project that thing. And I’m telling you, no other being that I have experienced on a personal level in my lifetime had the ability to reach out and touch, you can’t do what he did, if you don’t know what he knew. It’s like when you take a pitcher of water and you pour it on the sidewalk and it evaporates, most people say, “It’s gone,” it’s not gone, it evaporated, it’s going up into the air and there’s all kind of moisture that’s doing that and at some point it’s going to become a cloud, and it’s coming right back… It’s not gone anywhere. You just don’t see the vapor. He is not gone.
CMG: I was thinking about a time when I taught Special Ed and I would always drop the water on a penny and I would ask them how many drops could get on the penny and I forget how many drops could get on there, but the point was that all the water could pile up so greatly because it would coagulate the drops of water would not separate, they had to be, and even if they just fell off you would see the water coming back together in one puddle. There’s even unity in drops of water, a oneness. I always thought that was amazing. I know they only saw the drops of water coming together but I saw another thing. I think that we might be like the drops of water
AA: There you go. I think that’s why in every performance Michael would make a point of saying “Everybody” he’d make them sing with him, and it’s like saying “come on, this is us” it’s like when you have conversations, and it’s getting very serious and there’s just flows of honesty that are occurring and I hope you won’t get offended and the other person says, “No, because this is us.” I always got that sense when he would say “Everybody” come on “this is us.” I really believe, without realizing that that was happening, that this is us concept was reverberating throughout those audiences and there were occasions when the people at the end of the concert did not want to leave, now they were fully aware that he had gone. “Elvis had left the building.” He had gone, but they didn’t want to leave, they did not want that thing to stop, they didn’t want it to end and I think at some point there was a realization that even when it was over, it hadn’t ended.
CMG: It hasn’t ended yet.
AA: It hasn’t. It’s just amazing.
CMG: We have come together and we are literally here in the spirit of Michael Jackson. Now many of the people that I’ve seen that are artists they are Michael Jackson painters, I can’t put my finger on it, but however it is they can do that you know, but they’ve never done it before. Many had never done it before and I have been here watching people and I have been watching people grow and they are growing artistically through the spirit of Michael.
AA: Well you know he was a great artist as well, visual artist, and he was so funny, he would say, “If I wasn’t a performer, I would be a famous artist” and people would say “an artist’ and he would say “No, a famous artist” so that whole idea of, it didn’t matter how it manifested he was going to be great at it. I fully embrace that there was just a knowing in him and when it’s there and it’s respected and that’s the other thing, he not only only honored his gifts, he respected and protected his gifts. I think there was always the opportunity to be a different person, and I mean that in the most positive sense, there was always the opportunity to be a different person because of experiencing Michael. I’ve heard all kinds of stories about how the glove came into being, the one glove. Well two, one is nice and one is cool, I also know that it served to cover up, I don’t know if it was covering up early signs of Vitiligo, I don’t know what it was, but it always interested me how there were multiple things that come together that result in a decision that ultimately became the kind of iconic garment or a part of a uniform that is associated with him and my goodness, I can’t think of another person where there are so many things that are so many iconic objects related to one person. I mean you got a glove, you got a fedora, you got a sequined black jacket, you got loafers, you got military uniforms, you got an armband, you got a huge belt. There are just so many things that are part of the wardrobe and I refuse to call them costumes, they are uniforms and if you start listing them it goes on and on, the bulky sequined socks, the love bead bracelets, once you have to take him off the stage, the personal things — the CTE shirts, he had a different fedora that he wore in his personal life than in his performances, the sunglasses, there were so many things, it’s just amazing so it’s going back to tapping into something that even Beth brought back into the forefront that you don’t allow yourself to be fixed into this model. You just go for it.
You know what’s so amazing, and I know I’m using that word a lot, but give me another word and I’ll use it, but he would not even allow you to restrict him that were fixed onto agenda. That sequined jacket was his mother’s jacket, of all the things… he had a father, he could have gone in his fathers — he goes into his mother’s closet, you see what I’m saying and this whole idea of makeup he made himself up like women and became very enamored for much his life he wore female fragrances and he mixed them and they said well that’s what we do for the female line, and he said well that’s what i want. Everybody talks about it whether they were around him for a lot of time or a limited amount of time he always smelled good. One of the most memorable things about him was his aroma. He wouldn’t allow that to be an agenda issue for him and nobody thinks of that jacket now as a woman’s jacket. It’s the “Billie Jean” jacket. He just totally alters….
CMG: By the time he did “Bad” that was a statement, that “okay, now you can stop thinking about me with a glove and mama’s jacket on, and now I’m not a little sweetie pie, I’m Bad”
AA: That’s right I’m a force to be reckoned with.
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