With or without his connection to Michael Jackson, the death of former South African president Nelson Mandela, better known to many by his tribal name of Madiba (“Nelson” was a misnomer forced upon him by racist missionaries when he was a child) is rightfully one that is being mourned all over the world. However, since this is a blog dedicated to all things MJ, I would like to take a pause to reflect on the very special relationship that these two global icons shared.
I would also like to expose and put to rest an unfortunate hoax that many fans do not seem aware of. It’s not my intent, of course, to rain on anyone’s parade. But truth is important, and I would like to celebrate the genuine friendship that Michael and Mandela shared without having it clouded by words neither ever actually said.
Mandela’s own history is well known, but I am sure for many young people today, Apartheid is just a word that they have only heard from history books, or maybe have heard their parents speak. As an American, I have to admit that in the 1980′s (a time when I was pretty much just a kid myself) I only had a vague notion of what people meant when they spoke of “Apartheid.” It was a word we heard a lot in the news, and I was aware that it was a cause that many political activists had taken up. All of the really “cool” and “hip” artists seemed to be writing songs about it, and staging concerts in united protest of it. But for many of my generation, “Sun City” was just a catchy single. Could we truly understand, from the comfort of our suburban American homes, what was happening in South Africa, where a political prisoner falsely named Nelson Mandela, a man of royal birth, sat in jail with no hope of ever seeing his family or the sun again?
But the late 80′s were strange, violent, idealistic and-ultimately-liberating times. Revolution was in the air. If the 70′s had been largely a passive decade, the 80′s were a throwback to the 60′s, when it really seemed possible that we could create world change simply by coming together and making it happen. The Soviet Union crumbled, and the Cold War was over. The Berlin Wall came down. And Apartheid, too, would become a casualty of what seemed a revolution of freedom. In the late 80′s, there was a sense that what we were witnessing was the dawn of a new golden age, where all the old, oppressive regimes would make way for a new democratic age of enlightenment and hope.
In 1990, I still didn’t yet quite understand all of the hoopla surrounding this man Nelson Mandela, or what his release from prison truly meant. I just knew that it was huge, and accepted blindly that it must be huge for a good reason.
Well, turns out there were plenty of good reasons. You can read here just some of the reasons why this was a man celebrated and, now, mourned all over the world:
One thing I have come to know about Madiba. While often celebrated as a man of peace, he nevertheless had a lion’s heart. One of the many qualities he did share in common with his “grandson” Michael was that rare combination of humbleness and meekness, coupled with a quiet yet raging and invincible courage-the kind of courage that doesn’t beat its chest or puff its feathers, but nevertheless, manages to move mountains. They both endured much and suffered much in their own ways, yet came out stronger for it.
Mandela, of course, had many celebrity friends. Michael Jackson was just one of a long list that included many of the most powerful and elite celebrities (but usually those most active in political causes or humanitarian efforts). Among his friends, Mandela counted such luminaries, world leaders, and humanitarians as Princess Diana, Bono, Stevie Wonder, Oprah Winfrey, Pope John Paul II, Tony Blair, Hillary Clinton, and too many more to mention.
Yet, for a man who could hold court with the world, there did seem to be an especial bond of affection that he held exclusively for the young man from Gary, Indiana, whom he would later call his “grandson.” Michael became more than just Mandela’s friend; he was, as Mandela himself stated in the letter read at Michael’s memorial, “family.”
This was an amusing story that was shared earlier by Dr. Patrick Treacy via Twitter:
“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 to had to little to say to my grandfather ‘Mandiba’ when you had the chance to talk to him’ ‘You talk about him enough’.”-Dr. Patrick Treacy
Fans of Michael Jackson are, of course, very much aware of the long history and connection between Jackson and Mandela. Since late Thursday, when the news broke, I have come across numerous blogs featuring posts dedicated to the history of their friendship. And it seems only befitting that, just as Mandela reached out to console us and Michael’s family in 2009, the Michael Jackson estate has offered its own statement in the wake of Mandela’s passing:
“Michael Jackson was proud to call Nelson Mandela his friend. Like millions of admirers around the world Michael drew inspiration from President Mandela’s courage, his fight for human dignity and his commitment to peace. During his visits to South Africa Michael met often with President Mandela, who described Michael as “a close member of our family.” Our hearts go out to President Mandela’s family and to his beloved South Africans as they mourn their incalculable loss.”-John Branca and John McClain, co executors of the Estate of Michael Jackson.
The opening montage of Michael’s HIStory tour included references to many iconic world leaders and political figures, among them JFK, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Neil Armstrong, Ghandi, and of course Nelson Mandela. While some have viewed Michael’s constant references to such figures-and the need to associate himself among their ranks-as more proof of his grandiose megalomania, there is actually a much simpler explanation. Michael spent his entire life paying homage to the people who had influenced him. Is it so very wrong that this little boy who grew up in such humble beginnings in midwest America dreamed of becoming like his heroes? Isn’t that exactly what we teach our children, that they should strive to follow the examples of our greatest leaders? Michael was attracted to these people, not because of their power or the mass adulation they inspired, but because their idealism and accomplishments embodied those same ideals that he most valued, felt inspired by, and tried to emulate in himself. Michael wasn’t perfect, and nor were the people he often referenced. But they did inspire us to reach for the best that we can be, given our human limitations.
Michael Meets Nelson Mandela in Cape Town, South Africa to Announce The Michael & Friends-The Adventure of Humanity” Concerts:
I often say that what I most admire about Michael Jackson isn’t what he actually accomplished, or what he was. It’s what he aspired to be that I find so compelling. Michael’s dreams- his vision for the world and for what humanity could accomplish-were as limitless and vast as the sky that stretched beyond the view of his little bedroom window on 2300 Jackson Street.
Michael’s greatest heroes all seemed to share similar traits, as peace makers who nevertheless had the courage of their convictions; as “lambs” who nevertheless refused to lie down. They were men (and a few women) who won their battles through graciousness, and bore their scars with fortitude and grace. They were people about whom storms blew, without ever affecting their inner core. This is what Michael himself had to say about his friend Nelson Mandela:
”He (Mandela) became a lamb in prison. He had no bitterness, to this day saying even though he is eighty and his youth is gone—because he was in prison so long—he doesn’t regret any of it.” “He [Nelson Mandela] is sweet, very childlike.” Q: Does he like to giggle? “He [Nelson Mandela] loves children because when I went to see him I had some kids with me and people were saying the kids have to stay, but Michael Jackson can come. I said. “I’m sure Mr. Mandela wouldn’t mind seeing children. I won’t go in unless the children go too.” I remember his representatives looked at me like this [makes stern and suspicious facial expression] and they went back and then they said, “Everybody come.” The first thing Mandela did is run to the children and pick them up and hug them. I knew he was that kind of man and he loved them. He was talking to them and then he shook my hand. I knew I was right.” ~ Michael Jackson
I have to wonder if this example wasn’t at least in part what enabled Michael to get through some of his own worst trials and tribulations. Perhaps he did see himself as being on a par with his own martyred heroes. And, just perhaps, he wasn’t too far off the mark in doing so.
Certainly Mandela himself gave some hint of this in his own condolence letter to the Jackson family after Michael’s passing:
“Dear Jackson family,
It is with great sadness that we learnt of the untimely death of Michael Jackson. Michael became close to use after he started visiting and performing in South Africa regularly.
We became fond of him and he became a close member of our family. We had great admiration for his talent and that he was able to triumph over tragedy on some many occasion in his life.
Michael was a giant and a legend in the music industry and we mourn with the millions of fans worldwide. We also mourn with his family and his friends over the loss of a dear friend. He will be missed and memories cherished of him for a long time.
I don’t think we have to guess too far to know what “tragedies” he was referring to, but then again, those tragedies may run far deeper than any of us will ever know, just as the heights of those personal “triumphs” may be far greater than we will ever know. Mandela knew Michael’s heart, and there is no doubt that their bond was a genuine and profound one.
At Madiba’s Private Birthday Party, 1999:
Nevertheless, I do want to point out that one particular quote I have seen floating around, attributed to Mandela about Michael, appears to have been a hoax originally perpetuated in 2005. I am referring to this quote, which many MJ fans have been innocently sharing on social media since the news of Mandela’s death broke:
“When you are behind bars with no hope of release, you need to find strength wherever you can. Personally, I found strength in Michael Jackson.”
Like many others, my initial reaction was that it was a wonderful quote that appeared to be from Nelson Mandela on his friend Michael Jackson. But I then wanted to know the original source of this quote, and did some checking. What I made was a pretty unsettling (though not entirely shocking) discovery.
A google search for the quote led me to this site, where the story containing the alleged quote appeared in March of 2005:
Freerepublic.com is clearly identified as a satire site, and in the context of the article, it becomes apparent quickly that this is a made-up story meant to be taken tongue-in-cheek. It goes on to quote Mandela as saying that he drew courage in prison from the example set by Michael Jackson in leaving The Jackson 5 and embarking on his solo career and then, ending it by claiming he also draws strength from Martha Stewart!
But the story did not originate on this site. A link there leads to a site called Jewishworldview.com and a writer named Andy Borowitz, who appears to be the originator of the phony article.
This is what the contributor notes on that site says about Andy Borowitz:
JWR Contributor Andy Borowitz, the first-ever recipient of the National Press Club’s Award for Humor, is a former president of the Harvard Lampoon,and a regular humor columnist for Newsweek.com, The New Yorker, The New York Times and TV Guide. Recognized by Esquire magazine as one of the most powerful producers in television, he was the creator and producer of the hit TV series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and producer of the Oscar-nominated film Pleasantville.
Okay, so Borowitz, in addition to all of his other credentials, is a “humor columnist” whose specialty is writing satire.
I did some additional searching to see if I might, by some chance, be able to unearth any original interview with Mandela from which that quote might have originated. The search only led me to another mocking article from the same writer, Andy Borowitz, that was featured in the March 28, 2005 issue of Newsweek:
The Borowitz Report: Michael Jackson’s ‘Great Courage’
Former South African President Nelson Mandela said today that he gained strength during his many years of imprisonment by thinking about Michael Jackson, adding that the King of Pop continues to be a source of inspiration for him today.
“When you are behind bars with no hope of release, you need to find strength wherever you can,” Mandela said in an exclusive interview with a Danish magazine. “Personally, I found strength in Michael Jackson.”
The former South African president said that while imprisoned in the 1980s, he drew emotional sustenance from following Jackson’s recording career. “It took great courage to leave the Jackson Five and go solo,” Mandela said. “I thought to myself, if he had the courage to do that, I, too, must have the will to go on.”
Even to this day, Mandela said, Michael Jackson is “a constant source of inspiration,” adding, “When I am not drawing strength from Michael Jackson, I am drawing strength from Martha Stewart.”
Jackson received kind words from another international icon today, the boxer Muhammad Ali, who told a Norwegian newspaper that he, too, draws inspiration from the platinum-selling recording artist.
“When people ask me where I get my strength from, I tell them that I look at the man Michael Jackson looks at when he looks at the man in the mirror,” the former heavyweight champion said.
Elsewhere, with enlistment levels falling, the Pentagon said it would focus its recruitment effort on people who had not read a newspaper in the past two years.
Borowitz mentions a “Danish interview” but there is no link to this source and all searches for it have only led me down a dead end path. It seems likely that, in fact, there was never any such “source” at all; that this is simply a fabricated story meant to poke fun at Michael and to mock his friendship with Mandela. In March of 2005, this would have been the height of the Arvizo trial (around the time of the infamous “Pajama Day”) and a time when mockery and satire of Michael Jackson in the press was at its unchecked height.
If anyone does know of the actual existence of this “Danish interview” I would love to know, but so far I have found nothing. And now I am finding it somewhat troubling and disturbing that so many fans are attributing a quote about Michael to Mandela that he not only never made, but that may have had its origins in a satiric article that was actually mocking their friendship. I hope I will be proven wrong, but until I see from it this actual “Danish source” and from anyone other than Andy Borowitz, I am calling hoax.
In Pretoria, South Africa, 1996:
However, allow me to just close this out by reminding you all what has always been said about small minds. Michael Jackson and Nelson Mandela did not have to prove to the world what their friendship meant, nor did they owe any explanations.
Nor did they have to “prove” what courage, grace, humility, and living your life by example meant.
Imagine Being Joe And Katherine, And Knowing That Little Boy You Gave Birth To And Raised In A Two-Room House Is Now Introducing You To The Leaders Of The World!
When both of these men died the world stopped in its tracks and mourned, however briefly. Both accomplished more, and did more for humanity, than all of the Andy Borowitzes of the world combined. All mockery aside, it wouldn’t surprise me if Nelson Mandela found courage and inspiration in Michael, even if only through his music. Mandela was a man whose heart had not been touched by bitterness, as Michael himself noted; a man who, for all that he had been through, still loved to dance, laugh and party. Don’t believe me, just read this account from a writer who still remembers vividly the day he saw Nelson Mandela dance:
Do you think Madiba, with that much joy in his heart, ever danced to MJ? You bet your bottom dollar he did! Both men led extraordinary lives; lives that carried them from the depths of poverty and despair to the heights of world fame and adoration. Michael may have indeed dreamed big and grandiose. But how many of us, in our lifetime, will ever get to meet our heroes, let alone become as family to them? Michael, like Mandela, would get to rub shoulders with presidents and queens, with kings and popes, all while maintaining the innocence and humbleness of spirit that remained at the core of their souls. Mandela may or may not have ever actually said, in so many words, that Michael’s courage got him through those dark days in prison. But what he did say spoke so much more.
He called him his grandson. He called him family. And sometimes, as we know, kinship runs deeper than blood.
RIP Madiba. May your long, courageous journey in this life reap its reward.
Tomorrow is that great American holiday known as Thanksgiving. Although it is a national holiday, it has sadly become in recent years our most underrated holiday-something to rush through and pass over on the way to the razzle and dazzle of Christmas. People barely take time to scarf down some turkey and dressing because their minds are set on Black Friday sales. For the kids at my college, it just means one more step towards the end of semester and Christmas break-an excuse to pack up, go home, and goof off for a long weekend. For myself and my colleagues, maybe it is at least one day (or two) without papers to grade and prepwork to do. Maybe; if we’re lucky. Other than that, it sometimes seems that Thanksgiving is all about the food; merely a stepping stone to that far more prestigious holiday. You know, the one that gets all the attention.
Sometimes It Might Seem That Way…
Yet there are many reasons why I prefer the quiet of Thanksgiving to the hustle and bustle of Christmas, a season that lost all of its meaning long ago other than how much money you can spend at the cash register. As a Native American, I do have mixed feelings about Thanksgiving-as a holiday, of course, not as a concept. But these days even those of us with Native ancestry still celebrate it, just perhaps in different ways-and with a deeper sense of what it actually means.
…But Only If You Let It. In This Photo, Michael Is Enjoying The Fruits Of Gratitude, From A Family In Japan.
For me, it has become an annual day when I can finally just slow the pace down. I can sleep late, get up late, and spend some time just piddling or reading a good book. Our holiday meal is usually a tasty yet simple affair, since I only cook for the two of us and our six little furry babies. (I save the big, stressful family get togethers for Christmas). Perhaps that is one reason this holiday is so special to me. It means a time when our little family closes out the world and becomes all about US-not in a selfish way, but as a way of slowing down and taking time to celebrate “us”-to be thankful for each other and those little blessings in our lives. We spend 364 days of the year looking out. On Thanksgiving, we look within.
Michael, too, knew the importance of looking within. This morning, as I was thinking of the possibility of a Thanksgiving themed blog, my thoughts turned to the words Michael spoke to Rabbi Schmuley Boteach on the subject. Yes, of course I know Boteach is somewhat of a controversial figure in Michael’s life. Yet I can’t deny he has enabled us through his books to glimpse a very profound side of Michael’s spirit. I would like to quote this excerpt from Honoring The Child Spirit. It’s a passage I’m sure many of you are familiar with, but in the spirit of this special day, it bears re-visiting. (Note: This interview was conducted before the birth of Michael’s third child, Blanket. That is why he is not mentioned). It might be surprising for some to learn what this global celebrity and multi-millionaire actually had to say about the importance of thankfulness and gratitude.
Gratitude and Thankfulness
“I can’t take credit for everything I do…
There is always some higher source…”
SB: You don’t want to spoil your children, you don’t want them to ever take things for granted. You make sure they are not spoiled. Even though there is candy everywhere in Neverland, they can have it, you told me, only on their birthdays or maybe on days when special guests come. You want Prince and Paris to appreciate their blessings.
MJ: Well, when somebody gives them something, I want them to really appreciate it and not to ever be arrogant. When they get the smallest little thing they go nuts. People go “Wow,” because it is a little thing and people are impressed by how they are not spoiled because they think they get everything. But I don’t let them get overtaken by it. There is so much stuff in storage and we put it away.
“Well, when somebody gives them something I want them to really appreciate it, and not to ever be arrogant.”-MJ
SB: So children have the capacity to be spoiled and you have to prevent it. Like Grace (the children’s nanny), when we were with the kids at Neverland, she said she wouldn’t let them go on the big rides, she said “I want Prince and Paris to appreciate this.”
MJ: They don’t get to go on the rides much at all. Only on special occasions, like if your family comes over or a certain family in the area. I don’t ever want them to feel like it doesn’t impress them. That would be so disappointing.
SB: You always want them to share. You don’t want them to be possessive about Neverland and about the toys. Even when we have bought them presents and you say, “Oh, say ‘Thank you.’” Manners are very important to you, how they behave.
MJ: Yes, it is a reflection of the adults. It is important.
SB: You also don’t want them to be possessive about Neverland and about the toys.
MJ: Never like, “This is mine and this is not yours.” Urggh. I never want them to be like that. That would be so embarrassing. It is very important to share. We share our house. We let the public in. We let the children in from all walks of life, from all nations. They have to know that. We don’t discriminate in any way.
SB: You’ve often said you wished you had moments of celebration with your family, Sabbath dinners and such.
MJ: Oh G_d, yeah. People have to come together.
SB: Like what birthdays are about. This is a very interesting point. You’re saying that the whole purpose of these holidays is mostly as a meeting ground, as a rendezvous point, a context for people to join together.
MJ: That’s right, that’s right.
SB: It seems that showing gratitude to the people who gave to you as a child and even today is very important to you. Specifically, Berry Gordy who discovered you at Motown, you have always tried to show-even after you got the label and you could have forgotten about him-you always tried to show him recognition and got him into concerts and always acknowledged him publicly. So speak to me about gratitude.
MJ: Yes, very much. To be gracious and have gratitude and show appreciation for those who have been good to you and have lifted you up in times of need, who have been a great aid to your life. I have always appreciated those who have helped me down the road when I so much needed it so many times in my life. I don’t see how I could have forgotten the kindnesses done to me.
“I don’t see how I could have forgotten the kindnesses done to me”-MJ
SB: Then there are a lot of people who you really gave them their break, like Wesley Snipes, whom you launched in a music video. Or even Elton John. I read he was one of your opening acts in Liverpool or somewhere.
SB: Yeah, before he became famous he opened up for the queen of England, several things like that.
SB: Do you think people have responded with the same kind of gratitude?
MJ: To me, showing thanks? Not the way they should have. Some do, some don’t. I think maybe in the future they will see, I hope. But you know, whatever.
SB: Do you feel hurt when people don’t show you that kind of gratitude? I know I find it hurtful if I help someone with something and later they just forget you and they become very self-absorbed.
MJ: Yeah, it can be hurtful.
“To me, showing thanks? Not the way they should have. Some do, some don’t. I think maybe in the future they will see, I hope. But you know, whatever.”-MJ
SB: In terms of instilling a sense of gratitude in your children, you want them to be grateful for the little things, the big things?
MJ: That is very important. That’s right. And everything I do and other people do, to be thankful for the smallest little things, to say “Thank you” and “You’re welcome.”
SB: But usually when someone becomes very famous and very successful, they do forget the people on the bottom of the ladder.
MJ: I don’t understand that.
“…to be be thankful for the smallest little things, to say ‘Thank you’ and ‘You’re welcome.”-MJ
SB: Why do you remember them? How do you remember them?
MJ: Because I am sensitive to other people’s feelings and emotions…and I am very thankful. I don’t know if I could have done what I have done without the help of other people on the way, really. Even those who don’t know how much they helped me, I thanked them later. Even those who do things from a distance and don’t know that it is affecting me from another place. Like writers and entertainers, people who died before when I was just a toddler.
SB: Did you ever call anyone up and say, “Hi, I’m Michael Jackson. I just wanted to say thank you because, you don’t even know this, but you made a difference.”
MJ: Yes. From Sammy (Davis Jr.) to James Brown to Jackie Wilson to Walt Disney, who I pray for all the time. I try to seek out their families if they have a wife left, a widow. Charlie Chaplin. I go to his grave and I pray. We (Michael looked at his children) love Charlie Chaplin. I don’t know if I could be the same entertainer without Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Wilson and Sammy Davis, Jr. I wouldn’t. They taught me a lot. About timing and rhythm and pathos and all those great things.
SB: Also, I read that you went to visit Charlie Chaplin’s widow?
MJ: Yes, I did. I was in my glory.
SB: Was that out of gratitude?
MJ: Yes. I had to say thank you to someone that was close to him. I said, “You don’t understand.” Or like what happened with Shirley Temple and I said, “Thank you.” She said, “For what?” I said, “For everything you have done. You have saved my life,” and she didn’t understand. I explained to her. Like the times when I felt like I couldn’t make it anymore, just having her presence there did it for me.
SB: Relating that to a childlike experience, do you think that gratitude is something that children naturally feel? You give them something and they appreciate it, they feel close to you if you give them a little present. If you play with them they don’t forget you, the way adults sometimes forget?
MJ: I think that is normal with children. Parents teach them to do the opposite, to be like, “Don’t talk to him,” to be cold and mean. But there are some good people. So I think they should teach children how to be loving and to understand goodness and real quintessential kindness. That’s important.
SB: Part of that has to do with humility. You are not afraid to admit that who you are today, a lot of people contributed to that. Maybe other people want to be arrogant about it and say, “I am responsible for my own success. I worked hard.”
MJ: I never say that. I am responsible for a lot of my circumstances, but there are a lot of people who have been there for me who have helped me along the way. I can’t take credit for everything I do. I don’t know if I can take credit for anything I do. There is always some higher source, just like a channel.
SB: G_d is the highest. So you are always thankful to Him and that is part of your gratitude?
MJ: Are you kidding? Of course.
SB: What would you say is the greatest gift G_d gave to you?
MJ: The gift of curiosity, life, love.
“The gift of curiosity, life, love”-MJ, On Being Asked What Is God’s Greatest Gift To Him
SB: Now that you’ve become a parent, does it make you understand your own parents more?
MJ: G_d, I don’t know how my mother did it. I have two, she had ten. I don’t know how she did it.
SB: Does that make you love her and appreciate her more?
MJ: Yeah, I cry more now. She was handicapped, she had polio and I…I don’t know how she did that. I really don’t.
SB: Do you feel a sense of gratitude to her?
MJ: Yeah, she thanks me, Schmuley. She’s always thanking me. She always says, “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me.” And I go, “Mother, what are you talking about?” “Look what you’ve done for me,” I said. “Don’t thank me. Thank you.”
POST SCRIPT: 11/28/13: Speaking of gratitude and thankfulness, I just briefly wanted to touch on some other things that the MJ fan community can be grateful for this Thanksgiving. The two individuals who, in my estimation had the biggest hand in Michael’s death, have both felt karma’s sting in the last few days.
Randy Phillips has been canned as chief executive officer of AEG Live:
The reports stop just short at saying he was fired, only that the exact reasons for his dismissal are unknown. But given that he had just signed a five-year contract, it doesn’t seem likely to me that he stepped down voluntarily. (But even if he did, I still think it is karma at work on him, giving him no peace until he stepped down).
I had to make the image smaller so it would fit on the page. If you can’t read it, you can go to this link and find it full sized:
This is what I posted on Facebook earlier today in response to this news:
This is the best, most thankful news I could have heard for this Thanksgiving! Of course, the next question is…how much impact does a cease and desist letter actually have? It cannot stop an individual from performing the action in question. For example, Conrad Murray could still give interviews if he chooses to. But he will be doing it at risk of knowing that the estate may take legal action against him if he does. I don’t think Murray is in any financial position to risk a costly law suit. But we have seen before that this man seems bizarrely lacking in common sense. So will a cease and desist letter be enough to stop him? I honestly don’t know. I think where the real pressure needs to be applied is on the media itself who are giving him this platform. Murray is a sociopathic individual and beyond normal reasoning. He will look for any way possible to circumvent this order. He is also going to attempt to paint this as the MJ estate attempting to “silence the truth” which will make him even more of a martyr to certain factions. But that’s okay. Let the fool talk. It’s all he can do. I honestly don’t think too many are listening. To be honest, I don’t even think those in the media believe him or take him seriously. It’s more like, “Let’s see what bizarre thing comes out of this guy’s mouth next.” However, the pity of it is that, either way, they are still giving him a platform and lining his pockets. And with lined pockets, he will be even more arrogant and outrageous in his claims-unless he IS stopped. I said when Murray was released that the best thing he could do is slink quietly away and start his life over, maybe in another country. Since he hasn’t chosen that path, all gloves are off. I hope the estate nails his a*%.
I am sure I will be writing more on all of the above later.
Aphrodite Jones’s book “Conspiracy” has been the bible of MJ advocates for many years. But her expertise, by admission, is the 2005 Arvizo case-not the ’93 Chandler case.
I wasn’t able to listen to this interview live on November 6th, but it was brought to my attention by several readers that Aphrodite Jones made some rather disturbing comments regarding the Jordan Chandler case. Of course, why this is such an issue is because Aphrodite Jones has long been a staunch Michael Jackson defender. Her book Conspiracy is practically the bible of all MJ advocates, especially when discussing the Arvizo case. And, as an award winning journalist, her work has been especially important in lending credibility to those of us who have advocated his innocence.
I found it almost hard to believe what I was hearing reported, but I went back and listened to the interview (which had been on my agenda anyway). Having now listened to it a few times, as well as reading all of the various reactions in the fan community (much of it quite heated) I want to offer some thoughts on it.
First of all, I am as disturbed and dismayed as anyone by what she said in this interview, not necessarily because I feel that the views of every MJ advocate have to agree completely with my own, but simply because this new admission of having “questions” about the Chandler case-as well as being “unnerved” by June Chandler’s testimony-goes against the grain of everything Jones has claimed up to this point, including in her own book Conspiracy.
Before I get into all of that, I want to qualify that these comments are only a small segment of what was otherwise a very positive interview. As always, Jones does an outstanding job of slamming the Arvizos and their phony case, and breaks her silence on the Wade Robson allegations (he gets slammed pretty good, as well). She also dismisses the claims of Jason Francia.
Michael At The 2005 Trial. Grace Under Fire.
Still…it may be a shame that such an otherwise positive interview has been marred by a few words that have sent shock waves through the fan community-again, only because Jones up until now has not only been a staunch public defender of Michael against the Arvizo allegations, but the Chandler allegations as well.
Clearly, I am asking the same question that a lot of you are asking right now. Why this sudden change of tune? And is it really so sudden, or has Ms. Jones simply been playing less than straight with us in some regards? I hate to have to address these questions, but they bear looking at.
I met Aphrodite Jones in 2010 and did a rather lengthy and detailed interview with her. In the course of that interview, we also talked at great length off the record, and one of the topics we discussed in great detail was that of June Chandler. At no time did she ever intimate to me that she found June Chandler’s testimony believable, much less “disturbing” or “unnerving.”
Aphrodite Jones Sitting For My 2010 Interview With Her. I Found Her Funny, Smart, And A Fierce Advocate For Michael. She Also Had Many Choice Words For June Chandler, None Of Which Included Finding Her Testimony Believable.
To be totally fair, Jones has never claimed to be an expert on the ’93 case. She has said as much many times. She was a witness to the Arvizo trial, and it is the Arvizo case that she has extensively researched. Still, anyone who came away from reading Conspiracy would certainly not come away with any “question mark” regarding the Chandler case, because no such question mark is ever raised. In the past, all of her public comments about June Chandler have been just as denigrating as her comments against Janet Arvizo-and certainly, she has never, up until now, given any indication of finding June Chandler’s testimony remotely believable.
Let’s go back and look at Aphrodite Jones’s own words regarding June Chandler and her testimony:
When questioned about the lawsuit, June Chandler said that she had been named in her son’s lawsuitbut wanted it known that she had not sued Michael Jackson herself. June Chandler told the jury that Larry Feldman handled the civil lawsuit on behalf of her son, Jordon [sic],reiterating that Jordie was the only person who sued Michael.
To the amazement of the media covering the trial, under cross-examination by Mesereau, June Chandler testified that she hadn’t talked to her son Jordie at all, for over eleven years.
Ms. Chandler tried to keep her composure regarding the money issue, but then, as the questions got more heated, the woman began to shut down. To courtroom observers, Chandler appeared to be a gold digger.As she squirmed on the witness stand, it became painfully clear that this elegant woman, dripping designer clothing, had purchased that lifestyle with Michael Jackson’s cash.
Courtroom observers found It odd the way June Chandler sometimes didn’t have a mind for remembering things. Watching June Chandler testify that she “couldn’t recall” certain particulars relevant to the Chandler lawsuit seemed completely surreal. For example, June couldn’t recall whether Michael Jackson had ever countersued the Chandler family for extortion.
June Chandler seemed to have a selective memory.She had vivid recollections about all her travels with Jackson, from Los Angeles to Florida to Europe and back again, but couldn’t recall even the simplest details about Jordie’s lawsuit. When she was asked questions about her personal financial needs and wishes in 1993, June Chandler recalled her ex-husband, Evan, had once asked Jackson to finance a wing on the Chandler house. But as for herself, though she had accepted a few expensive gifts from Jackson, a Cartier bracelet among them, June Chandler swore that she wanted nothing monetary from rhe entertainer.
When she spoke about her son’s friendship with the pop icon, Chandler testified that she never suspected anything inappropriate was going on between Michael and Jordie. This response aroused consternation among media because everyone was waiting for Chandler to say something—anything—t hat would implicate Jackson.
Instead, June sat very proudly and spoke about her son’s friendship with Michael as being something special.She told the jury that Jordie had dressed like Michael, had tried to emulate the pop icon from the time that he was a very young child, before Jordie ever met the pop star. She also admitted that back in 1992 and 1993, Evan Chandler was busy writing a screenplay, telling the jury that because Evan wasn’t spending much time with Jordie back then, she was happy to have Michael around their home. Michael was devoting time to her son, and June said she was grateful for that.
She told the jury that she considered Michael to be “like a child,” and testified that Jordie was the one who had insisted on staying in Michael’s room at Neverland, which she described as being “filled with dolls” and a lot of play toys. Mrs Chandler said she’d been in Michael’s bedroom many times, and described it as “a boy’s room, a big boy’s room.”
June Chandler answered Mesereau with a staccato that was palpable. She kept it short and tried to be nonchalantwhen she spoke about flying on the Sony jet, about flying on billionaire Steve Wynn’s jet, about traveling to Orlando and has Vegas and other resorts around the world.
Though Ms. Chandler was being very matter-of-fact in her responses,Michael watched her with an intense closeness, and his stare seemed to transcend her cavalier attitude. As June Chandler testified, the jury watched her very intently, and people were trying to read her body language. When Ms. Chandler casually stated that she never had an issue with Michael being around her son, courtroom observers seemed stunned.
The more June Chandler tried to argue with Mesereau’s portrait of the Chandler family, the more it appeared that she was protesting too much.It seemed that Jackson had given the Chandlers a sense of che good life, had exposed them to a life of fame and fortune, and, having tasted a bit of Jackson’s world, the Chandler clan wasn’t willing to give that up. The Chandlers had developed champagne taste, and they wanted more.
As the beautiful Ms. Chandler left the stand, many of the jurors seemed unimpressed. From the looks on their faces, it was obvious that June Chandler had not keen a good witness. The females on the jury, in particular, seemed to see right trough her.
There is no indication anywhere that these are the words written by a journalist who has just found herself disturbed or unnerved by this woman’s testimony.
The one question that keeps playing in my mind, just as I so often turned over and over with Wade Robson’s allegations-which version are we now supposed to believe? Do we believe what Jones said in 2007-when her memories of the 2005 trial should have certainly been much fresher-or now?
Or are the two versions really that disparate? The one comment above that may perhaps somewhat corroborate what she is saying now is that the jury seemed somewhat stunned when Mrs. Chandler stated that she never had an issue with Michael being around her son. This would, it seems, be the normal reaction of a jury that had just witnessed some rather unnerving testimony. But this is far outweighed by the portrait Jones paints of a gold digger woman who left jurors “unimpressed” with any but a notion that this was a woman who had “purchased her lifestyle with Michael Jackson’s cash.” She says outright that June Chandler had not been a good witness for the prosecution. These are her own words, written here in her book, in unarguable black and white.
Yet, if we go by this new tune she is now singing, wouldn’t June Chandler, then, have been an excellent witness for the prosecution? That certainly would have been my impression!
It Has Become A Disturbing Pattern Of Wondering Which Version Of The “Truth” To Believe…Then or Now?
If Aphrodite Jones is a such an impartial journalist who must remain true to herself, then why didn’t she tell us the truth in 2007 about June Chandler’s testimony? The problem is that, again, just as with Wade Robson, we are left wondering which version is the truth? It is, after all, not the truth that bothers me. It’s all this damned inconsistency. I just fail to see how she can make the comments she has made in this interview knowing full well that it contradicts her own words written in her own book. Surely, just as with Wade Robson’s testimony, she must know that words can come back to haunt!
The problem I have with her comments are much the same as those I have been hearing throughout the fan community. Ms. Jones, who is certainly an intelligent journalist, has to know that credibility is lost once you talk out of both sides of your mouth. How can she continue to be so adamant that the other cases were shams, if there is such a big question mark regarding the Chandler case? What makes Jordan’s claims any more credible than Gavin’s, or Wade’s for that matter? If she can so adamantly-on a public platform-rip these young men to shreds, call them liars and grifters, etc-why is Jordan all of a sudden given the courtesy of benefit of the doubt? Why be so adamant about the other cases, and yet fall back on the old cop-out adage of “I wasn’t there” when it comes to Jordan Chandler?
She wasn’t there to personally witness what may or may not have happened to Jordan Chandler. Well, she wasn’t there to see what may or may not have happened to Gavin or Wade, either.
The point I’m making is that she has now damaged her credibility very badly as an advocate for any of the cases because anyone now can come back and say, “Were you there for any of the others?”
It’s not so much the statement of a question mark that bothers me. It is when she uses phrases like saying she believed Michael was “in love with that boy.” My jaw hit the floor when those words came out of her mouth. And then, only a few minutes later into the program, she is again slamming the media and those who believe Michael was a pedophile-while she, herself, had just said she was led to believe by June Chandler’s testimony that he must have been “in love” with her son.
I really don’t know what planet Jones is from, but on planet earth, it is generally conceded that only a pedophile-or at least a hebephile-can be “in love” with a 13-year-old boy. Whether or not any sex ever occurred is really beside the point
If she came away convinced by June Chandler’s testimony that Michael was “in love” with Jordan Chandler, then honestly, I don’t know what else you would call it. So are we, then, to believe Michael was a pedophile who only struck once in his whole life, and all the other boys are just liars and grifters?
You get where I’m going with this, right? I am not saying it is what I believe. I am saying that, whether intentional or not, it is the impression-and the huge question mark-that is now hanging over Aphrodite Jones’s “defense” of Michael Jackson. Despite all her gushing platitudes of his innocence, she has left a very big chink for doubters and haters to fill. If Michael was capable of being “in love” with one boy, why would any reasonable person have reason to believe that it would stop there and only there?
I’m just having a really hard time trying to get my hands around Jones’s logic on this one. Perhaps it was poor word choice or phrasing, but nevertheless, the words are out for public consumption now, and the damage-both to Ms. Jones’s credibility as an MJ defender, and as an unwavering ally to the MJ fan community-has been done.
Judging from the conversations I have seen, all of the positives of Jones’s interview-of which there were many-have been completely obliterated by the shock waves of these few statements.
And personally, I agree with Deborah Kunesh who said that her response to David’s question was very condescending and unprofessional. David has been a well respected MJ researcher for several years, and one who has tirelessly promoted much of Aphrodite Jones’s work (as we all have). To hear him referred to by her as “honey bunny” for asking a legitimate question was unnecessarily insulting and demeaning, especially given that he was asking her an intelligent question that deserved, at least, a professional response.
Like I said, I have met and spent time with Ms. Jones. I like her. She has a very blunt, tell-it-like-it-is kind of personality, which sometimes can be read the wrong way as arrogance. The downfall of such a personality is that she can be brash and sometimes say things “off the cuff” without really thinking them through. (A flaw of hers, which I picked up on: She doesn’t handle criticism well, and is quick on the trigger when she feels her credibility is being questioned. I got a good dose of this, myself, when I challenged her to answer those critics who accused her of being “smitten” with Michael Jackson. It was a valid question, but nevertheless, one that struck an obvious nerve).
Nevertheless, it is this same no-nonsense approach that has made her, through the years, one of our favorite MJ advocates. Nothing is more fun than listening to her rip people like Diane Dimond to shreds! (And, let’s face it, if we heard her calling Diane Dimond “honey bunny” we would laugh; I know I would!). But that kind of personality can be a two-edged sword, and as we learned from this interview, she is just as capable of turning it on MJ supporters as MJ haters.
Michael With Joanna Thomae, A Girl I’m Convinced Was One Of His Many Low Key Affairs
I wasn’t too terribly shocked by the “asexual” comment, although I agree with some that she is really not helping Michael’s case by feeding into these very public myths, stereotypes, and misconceptions about him. Why? Because this feeds into the public caricature, and while it may to some extent “defend” him against the allegations of child sex abuse, it nevertheless does him a huge disservice by pigeonholing him as “weird” and “different”-again, feeding right into the caricature. I really feel this misconception comes from her association with Mesereau, who of course used the “asexual” angle to some extent quite successfully as a defense angle in the trial. Mesereau came into Michael’s life at a time when he had no serious relationships, and perhaps there was an advantage to convincing a jury that he was asexual (certainly preferable to the alternative). It’s no surprise that Jones, a friend of Mesereau’s who spent many months listening to his arguments in court, may have fallen under this belief as well.
I am not saying this in any way to denigrate Thomas Mesereau, for whom I have the utmost respect. I believe he did what had to be done to convince a jury of Michael’s innocence. But it still begs the question I always come back to: Why, with Michael, did it have to be a choice of apples or oranges? Couldn’t it be just as possible for him to have been a normal man with normal desires, and still be innocent of pedophilia?
I read on one forum where someone was questioning all of the heterosexual porn that was found during the raid on Neverland. How could Aphrodite Jones possibly believe Michael was asexual when she sat there in court and heard about all of that porn being found?
That is certainly a good question. However, it may be worth keeping in mind that people defined as “asexual”-in its strictest sense-are not people who do not have sexual urges. In fact, an asexual person may amass even more porn than what is generally considered “normal.” You see, it’s not the urges that the asexual person is devoid of. What the asexual person fears-or is revolted by-is intimacy with other human beings. In that case, the porn and masturbation becomes a kind of substitute for real life relationships.
Michael’s porn collection-just by its sheer size-has sometimes given me pause for thought. However, it seems from much testimony and what is generally known (both in the guise of urban myth and actual fact) that he did have numerous relationships throughout his life. Therefore, the idea of him having some sort of irrational fear of intimacy (as most asexuals do) hardly seems to apply.
I think it is far more likely that, as a man who seemed to have issues with serious relationships-not to mention strict religious convictions against casual relationships (though I do not think this was as much of a factor in his later years)-he may have preferred to retreat to his fantasy world rather than dealing with all the up’s and down’s and frustrations of casual relationships-after all, a Playboy or Barely Legal model can’t squeal to the press, nor is she going to conveniently “forget” her birth control and try to make you clothe or feed it later.
When all is said and done, we simply don’t know and-had it not been for the humiliating experience of that trial-none of this would be up for public consumption, anyway.
So enough of that. Back to Aphrodite Jones.
In the end, we have to remember that even though she calls herself a fan, she is still, first and foremost, a journalist. Perhaps the question we have to ask now is: Given that she has been, and remains, such an important public figure in staunchly advocating Michael’s innocence in the 2005 case, do we look the other way if she publicly admits to having doubts about the ’93 case, or do we take no quarter?
Personally, it has never been an issue for me if I do not agree with every position held by Michael’s defenders. For example, I certainly do not agree with Charles Thomson on many issues. But I respect him because of the outstanding journalistic work he has done on behalf of Michael’s innocence. I certainly do not have to agree with Aphrodite Jones on all issues, either. But I think what is really bothering me most about this is simply, as stated, the sheer inconsistency of it. No matter how she dices it, what she is saying now is not what she told us in 2007, nor throughout any of the six years since. Had she always maintained a position of someone who had doubts about the ’93 case, while defending him against the 2005 case, then her words now wouldn’t be such a shock.
It really begs the question: If this is how she truly feels, why did she not write any of this in 2007, when questioning Michael’s innocence was still the hip thing to do, and might have even helped garner her book a major publisher? Instead, she gives the impression, like Wade Robson, of someone who is only just now conveniently changing her story. But why?
In the interview, she speaks very admiringly of not wanting to contribute to the cesspool of people selling Michael out. I admire her stance on refusing to sell out his medical records and personal information. I also have a very vivid memory of how emotional she became in 2010 when she talked about visiting his home in Gary, and how hard worked to achieve a place like Neverland, only to have it taken from him. Her love and admiration for Michael is very sincere; of that I do not doubt. But then, why single handedly throw him under the bus in the next breath? Even if her words were totally off the cuff, she had to know the impression that using words like “I believe he was in love with that boy” would create.
Again, I am very saddened and dismayed; saddened to be writing such words about a journalist whom I have long admired, and a person I grew to actually like during our brief time together three years ago.
I hope that, perhaps in the future, she will come forward and clarify her statements. I feel she owes the fan community that much. After all, we have invested a lot of support in her and her book.
Every Fan Should Recognize This…The Beautiful Bridge To Neverland. I Am Posting This Image As A Reminder. Sometimes We Are Too Quick To Burn Our Bridges, And Have Almost Alienated Many Of Our Best MJ Supporters. Let’s Not Go That Path Again.
By the same token, I would, as always, encourage fans to behave with modesty, respect, and restraint. Sometimes we are too quick to burn bridges. Aphrodite Jones has done outstanding work on Michael’s behalf, and we should not forget that. I haven’t seen any indication, certainly not from this interview, that she has “turned traitor” as some are accusing her.
However, do I think she used a poor choice of words? Yes. Do I find her statements odd and contradictory, given everything she has written and said up to this point? Yes. Do I think the fan community has plenty of good reason to question her at this point? Yes.
I certainly would not put her in the same wagon with people like Wade Robson. However, with so many of Michael’s supporters turning traitor in the last few years (with Wade Robson being only the most recent and notorious) it certainly leaves an unpleasant taste.
I think that, as fans and advocates of Michael Jackson, we like to think that there are at least a handful of individuals and people in the media with whom we can invest our trust, faith, and goodwill.
Once those three qualities are tarnished-however small the quantity-the damage is done.
Two years. That is the message sent loud and clear by Conrad Murray’s release.
You can kill a person and, with a little good behavior and the luck of jail overcrowding on your side, walk scot free to enjoy your mistresses and you fine wining and dining.
You can kill the world’s most beloved entertainer, and continue to torture his kids with your delusions.
Two years later, and Conrad Murray has yet to offer one shred of remorse or to take one iota of responsibility for what he did. That still blows my mind.
Let’s revisit that historic day of Murray’s sentencing. Judge Pastor passed down the harshest sentence allowed within the law, and stated emphatically that if he could impose an even stiffer punishment, he would do it gladly.
Today, Murray walks. Coming on the heels of AEG’s “victory” it seems even more of a bitter pill to swallow.
I often go back to a favorite argument that is often made by many, but bears repeating. Whatever choices Michael made; whatever mistakes he made, he paid the ultimate price.
There are still, in my estimation, far too many who owe a debt that has not yet been paid at all.
Conrad Murray hasn’t even paid a percentage of what he owes.
As for the photo I chose of Michael to accompany this article, call it pathos if you will. But there is a reason why this is one of my favorite photos. Could anything else possibly capture the essence of his innocent sweetness more?
I look at this and think on that word “Homicide.” I look on this and think: Two years is not enough. It is not nearly enough.
I look at this and feel the twinge of helplessness, and then an immense wave of apathy at the hopelessness of it all.
Too many tonight are walking, breathing, eating, drinking, laughing, making love.
Michael is inside a cold crypt in Forest Lawn. His daughter’s life is a mess.
And millions of us feel the eternal cold emptiness of a world without him.
Are we to believe two years is sufficient to pay that debt?