Sicilian1's Blog

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sicilian1: MICHAEL JACKSON: A Tribute

 July, 6 2009 @7:00pm

  This post is definitely belated. Thoughts have been bouncing around in my head and emotions have been pulling me every which way since Michael died about a week ago. I just had to give Michael my own little tribute and I hope I do this wonderful man some justice, because though I never met him personally, he still meant alot to me and impacted my life in a joyful way ever since I was a little kid.

I LOOOOOOOOOVED Michael Jackson.

   I don’t know if I cribbed this from someone or if I patched it together from different commentators then assumed it for myself. But I’ve been saying it for a long time:

If you take Michael at the hieght of his fame (probably the Thriller/Bad era) and match him up against any celebrity in the history of the world at the hieght of that celebrity’s fame, NO one will ever even come close to comparing to Michael. When Michael was at the hieght of his fame NO one could ever even come within hailing distance of him. And that fact will stand for ALL time.

   I thank God for alot of things, but when I looked back at Michael’s life, I said a special thank you to the “Man” upstairs for allowing me not only to be alive during Michael’s life but for allowing  me to be born in that specific age bracket where I was able to experience the full capacity of the life and times of “The King of Pop”.

    I go back to the Jackson 5. As a little kid I had my 8-track cassette of the Jackson 5 that I’d take into my room and listen to for hours untill I wore the thing out. My mom bought me a Jackson 5 Christmas 8-track that we’d play every year untill the 8-track finally broke. I used to love Michael’s rendition of “Mommy kissing Santa Claus”, asking my mom if it was really true what Michael was singing.

    When “Off the Wall” came out I remembered how much I loved “Rock wit You” and still consider it my 2nd favorite  song of all time behind, “Billie Jean”. After I grew up I got back in touch w/the “Off the Wall” album and couldn’t believe how many timeless hits were on that record. (Don’t stop, She’s out of my life, Off the wall, etc.)

  Then Thriller came out and it changed the world. I still remember everyone with their red “Beat-It” jackets and studded “Billie Jean” glove. Who wasn’t trying to master the “moonwalk” in ’83? And all anyone wanted for Christmas was the Michael Thriller album. Then just when Thriller was losing steam, Michael performed “Billie Jean” and unvieled the “moonwalk” on the Motown 25 anniversary and suddenly an unstoppable wave of Michael mania swept the world. I’ll never forget going to school the next day and everybody talking about what they saw the night before. I didn’t know a girl, no matter the race or age, who wasn’t in love with Michael. For me, I never felt scared about admitting my unabashed love for Michael. Michael was never a guilty pleasure like Niel Diamond or Barry Manilow who you listen to when you’re alone in your car with the windows rolled up then quickly change the tape before you hit your block.

     The greatness of Thriller goes without saying and alot of people like to say that was Michael’s high-water mark. But for me, arguably, “Bad” may have been his best album. (Bad, The way you make me feel, Man in the Mirror, Dirty Diana, Another Part of Me, Leave Me Alone). Bad is where Michael started to express himself while answering and challenging his critics. Here we were introduced to a more edgy Michael; the defiance, crotch-grabbing, macho, trash-talking, screaming, etc. The beauty of all that was that Michael could express who he was (Bad), make a political and humane statement (Man in the Mirror) , show some machismo (The Way You Make Me Feel), talk-trash (Leave Me Alone), engage in existential inquiry of self (Another Part of Me) all while cementing his status as the “King of Pop”.

    “Bad” proved that he was more than just some sugar-coated, pre-packaged pop artist, singing cookie-cutter songs to a hip beat. Michael could touch the fans that were only listening for the entertainment value while at the same time sending a message to prove that he was not some robot but a person who had some deep insights and feelings.

    Michael showed how diverse he was as an artist on “Bad”. While “Thriller” was innovative with the Eddie Van Halen guitar solo on “Beat It’, the Vincent Price “Rap” on “Thriller” and the phatest beat bar none in the history of music with “Billie Jean”, (Tell me what person with blood flowing through their viens doesn’t get excited when the bass on “Billie Jean” kicks off?), it was still an album grounded in Michael’s R&B roots. But “Bad” crossed all genre’s. “Dirty Diana” was a straight rock song that any of the “hair bands” that were popular at the time could’ve put on their album and sold it with a straight face to their fans.

    My favorite song off “Bad” was “The Way You Make Me Feel”. This song was enhanced all the more by the video. To digress for a moment, it can not be understated what Michael meant to the visual medium of a pop artist. Michael melded song and video like never before or since. Michael made it a requirment to have a video to go along with a song. But it couldn’t be just some generic concert flick. With Michael as the innovator video’s became mini-movies where the message of the song’s words were conveyed through the story on  the screen.

    Getting back to, “The Way You Make Me Feel”. At the time there was the rumor and innuendo about Michael’s sexuality. Well, if anybody heard that song or saw that video they would know that it is an experssion of street, macho, misoginy at it’s best or if you prefer worst. Michael, like the best “macho” “thug” was saying to the girl in the video; ‘you’re hot, I want you and I got enough game to make you want this’. That’s how a true “player” would operate; no romance, no chivalry, just the attitude that he’s not going to get fooled by her coquettish ‘hard-to-get’ routine because even if she don’t know, he knows that she wants him, so, ‘what’s up?’ That video had me convinced that Michael liked girls.

     But Michael was still pumping out the hits with his next album, “Dangerous”. (Black or White, Remember the Time, In the Closet, Jam, Heal the World). Again Michael displayed his ability to deliver pop hits while expressing his inner thoughts and feelings and also including a message song or two. For relatively the same reasons I liked “The Way You Make Me Feel” from the “Bad” album, I loved, “In the Closet” from the “Dangerous” album.

    In this song and video Michael was doing his best  Joe Pesci from “Goodfella’s”, ‘so you think I’m funny how? imitation. The rumors about Michael’s sexuality persisted. So it was as if Michael was saying, ‘what, you think I’m gay?’, ‘are you sure you think I don’t like girls?’, ‘are you really sure about that?’

Well, Michael had something for all of us. He put Naomi Campbell in the video and proceeded to sex-her-up like nobody could. Michael had always sexed the female dancers he interacted with HARD. But he sexed-up Naomi SUPER-HARD. If anybody ever had any questions about Michael’s sexuality or if he liked girls, they were put to rest forever after that video. There is NO way Michael could’ve sexed Naomi up the way he did if he didn’t like girls. After seeing that I would’ve never wanted my woman around Michael because that video was evidence that if Michael REALLY wanted to, he could take anybody’s woman.

   Michael put out hits as long as he put out records. On his last record he had the hit, “You Rock My World”. That song was hot in 2001, it ‘s hot today, it would’ve been hot in ’82 and it will be hot 100 years from now. Who thinks that if Michael put out another album he wouldn’t have had another hit?

   Michael was the consumate “pop” artist. Not only did he tanscend races but he transcended cultures, ages, sexes, nations, and taste. As far as that last point, it didn’t matter if you were a rock-n-roll guy, an R&B guy, a Hip-Hopper, a headbanger, liked the hair-bands, dance hall, it didn’t matter. Michael’s core audience was the world. Everybody liked Michael and they didn’t have to be embarrassed about saying so.

    Somebody said to me that, ‘the moonwalk was nothing knew’, because they saw Sammy Davis, Jr. do it. Maybe Michael did crib it from Sammy. Maybe he cribbed from James Brown, Elvis, Stevie Wonder, The Beattles and who knows who else. But who cares? And you know why? Because NOBODY ever put it all together like Michael and NOBODY ever did it better than him. That is a fact. And what also is a fact is that NOBODY ever will. Having lived through the Michael experience, I can truthfully say that none of these psuedo R&B boy bands or solo artisis impress me in the least with all they faux dance moves that are nothing but straight inferior plagerized moves from Michael. Michael laid it all down for all time. Nowadays an artist thinks that the more acrobatics they do the better dancer it makes them. But Michael had moves, real Fred Astaire dance moves.

     And don’t ever take anything away from Michael’s singing chops. While Michael always possessed a soulful voice that in his younger days was bigger than his age, for me as he got older his voice became the definition of silky smoothness. What other singer ever made the transition from child, to teenager, to young man to adult while being bold enough to change vocal styles and still maintain a relevant and beautiful sound, tone, interpretation and meaning through each progressing stage.

     Knowing the tough life Michael had, it saddened me that a man who brought so much joy to so many had so much pain and what I percieved to be demons gnawing at his soul. The only time Michael seemed to be at peace was when he was on stage performing for his fans. He was such an unbelievable entertainer that not only did he get intrinsic value from performing but the intrinsic value he gave to his fans gladdened him all the more.

  I remember Michael’s 30th anniversary performance at MSG in 2001 when at the end of the show Chris Tucker came out and did Michael’s signature leg kick, as he was known to do. They interacted for several seconds then Michael put his hands on Chris’ shoulders and eventually fell to the stage in laughter over Tucker’s antics. That image probably made the most impact on me. It showed the humanity of Michael and caught him having fun just like any old normal person.

    I thank Michael from the absolute bottom of my heart for sharing his life with the world and bringing so much happiness to so many just by doing what came naturally to him. He was a great human being and I pray that his soul eternally rests in peace.

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July 6, 2009 Posted by | blog, culture, entertainment, health, history, Life, music, news, people, personal, philosohy, Politics, random, thoughts | 4 Comments

sicilian1: The Problem of Evil

    For the atheist the simple answer is that there can be no God because evil exists and that a perfect God would not create a world where the capacity for evil is allowed. That’s always the atheists “gotcha question.” But by making that generic argument the atheist is only scratching the surface. Which is not at all surprising because although the atheist always seems to think it is themselves to be the deep thinkers refusing to wrap their minds around such “infantile” and “constraining” thoughts as the concept of a “God” and that “ridiculous” thing called “faith”, it is actually the believer (at least a deist) who has examined the subject, wrestled with the evidence, reconciled and clearly constructed the available facts, accepted the truths bitter as they may be to swallow and persevered through it all to live by guiding principles of a God and a faith, who in fact is actually the deeper thinker.

     Is there evil in the world? Yes, absolutely, too much of it in fact. But once again upon further examination evil is in fact further proof of God’s existence. First off, evil lends credence to the spiritual nature of man. All other species kill only for food and survival. Man is the only species that kills indiscriminately and for purely emotional reasons. Only man has the real choice to commit evil acts such as murder. Whether right or wrong, justifiable or not, backed into a corner, man always has a choice to make. Every other species kills or commits “wrong” exclusively on instinct and for their survival. That man has a choice, the ability to reason proves that man has a conscience or spirit. The duality of mind and matter is not present in any other species.

   The conscience, spirit, feedom of choice leads one to the cliche’d concept of free will. Many people consider this to be a “yada-yada” argument and dismiss it without examination. But sorry to inform the atheist, it is fundamental to God’s purpose. This concept answers the question of why a perfect God would allow evil.

   The premise is that of a creator God who  created man. Now whether one believes in the karma of an afterlife or karma in this earthly life there can be no such concept if man does not have the freedom to choose between good or evil. If we as humans had no choice then we would only be robots and the concept of karma could never play a role in our decisions. If God made it so humans only had the option to choose between degree’s of goodness then that would only lead to the logical evolution that the lesser degree’s of goodness would become badness. What reasonable option would it be to only choose from degree’s of goodness. How ridiculous would it sound as humans weighed the options between being ‘really all out good’ or just ‘a little bit’ good. If one didn’t choose the option of extreme goodness than everything else would be evil.

    If humans didn’t have the option to choose then there could be no real good and there could be no real meaning to life. I myself want the option to choose. I myself invite the struggle against the forces of evil because it makes life that much more meaningful. Maybe it never was God’s intention to make this world perfect and that is not proof of His non-existence but in fact stronger proof of His existence. If the atheist want perfection then a good suggestion would be for them to live moral lives because then they can probably experience some form of perfection in this life and if there is an afterlife, in that life too.

   Why does God create evil? because if God created a perfect world that was completely moral and without sin then the concept of free will would be null and void which would not only make the strive for perfection in an afterlife for those who believe in that meaningless but also would make this life completely meaningless. God gives everyone the choice between right or wrongs, good or bad, love or hate, acceptance or rejection. If humans didn’t have those options then they could never really experience all the positives of life. The existence of all the negatives inherant in the world is what makes the positives available. How could one know, love and accept God, anyone or anything if they didn’t have the option to deny them? And that goes for all our interpersonal and societal relationships. When atheists reject God because of their insistence on freedom to do as they please they don’t understand that that freedom was given to them by God through free will.

    The personal pain and suffering of humans is another favorite argument of the atheists to prove God doesn’t exist. But what kind of humans would we be without obstacles to overcome or crisis’ to deal with? God doesn’t want weak and untested people. Our tests of faith are the greatest struggles we will ever encounter. The triumph over obstacles builds character and makes us stronger more principled human beinfs. It is during times of trouble when we discover things about ourselves and ultimately determines who we are. Those that can persevere through times of trouble and still maintain their faith in God or at least humanity have made themselves more principled human beings.

    Life is not meant to be easy. None of us live in a bubble ,everything we do and that that others do causes a chain reaction that impacts all our lives. All the trials and tribulations, both good and bad, activated by those chain reaction set off by each individual action is what makes life life and how we respond determines our ultimate fate.

     Those evil doers though sometimes seemingly getting over with their sins, will ultimately pay some kind of karmic price, whether here on earth, in a life hereafter, or with a legacy of sin and destruction for those they care about to clean up.

   I hate to say it but there is evil and corruption in the world, life is not always fair but that isn’t an excuse to compromise one’s own principles, let their faith in God and their fellow man crumble, or even to deny the bitter truths of life. God allows evil to exist by giving all humans who perpetrate it the free will to do so because it is that free will that allows humans to decide whether or not to live by God’s way ;which is for the good of mankind, so that if they decide to do God’s will they’ll be rewarded in the life hereafter or in this life through peace of mind in knowing they are living righteously. Ultimately the decision is each individual own.

June 26, 2009 Posted by | blog, culture, entertainment, health, history, Life, news, people, personal, philosohy, Politics, random, religion, thoughts | 13 Comments