Some of last nights coverage from the CBS Evening News.
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I have a connection to this which is not the usual one as a Musician. For example my Wife (also a Musician) used to take Drum Lessons from Joe Porcaro at Musicians Institute in L.A. Through that connection and others she eventually ran the Official Fan Club for the band his kids put together with their friends from Grant Hight, otherwise known as Toto.
Most of the members of Toto played on Michael Jackson's Thriller LP, in fact Steve Porcaro actually wrote "Human Nature" and his dad Joe used to Joke around about his "Son the Millionare" based on the Royalties that song generated. The funny thing is that Toto only gave that song to Michael because they were expecting to play Stadiums after the success of Toto IV, and didn't think that soft song would work in that setting.
Then Micheal went and played it in Stadiums. Figures.
On a personal level I find a lot of this spectacle really disgusting and crass. My day job is doing graphics for Websites and one of my primary clients is with a Silkscreen Company - in "Jimmy Jam" (as shown in the CBS Report) is one of my primay clients - and I've been really torn about doing graphics on the job. I was even on site during the segment taping, but I preferred not to be on camera consider my ambivilence about it all.
Yes, it's a paycheck. Yes, it has clearly created a mini-boom in the Local Los Angeles Economy that is in desperate need for a boost.
But as a Musician, as a person who in my own case spent Four Years in a Trademark Dispute with another band, fighting against a former member of Dream Theater who actually DARED to provide a falsified affidavit and phony flier to try and prove his band had been in place before my Band - I know the value of Copyrights and Trademarks in a way that most people don't.
During the time that the Original MP3.com existed, my old group (the Original) Planet X made some real money purely from listeners streaming our songs, but after Napster and other sharing services shut that site down, that revenue stream dried up. Why should advertisers pay for something that everyone can simply Take?
From my perspective a lot of these Michael Chotchke's are RIPPING Michael and his Family off. I've heard the arguement that - "Oh, he's got MILLIONS - why shouldn't I get some" - I've heard "Well, the FANS want it" and oh, the "Family isn't doing it = why shouldn't we"? and I find all of this completely unconvincing.
I don't think once the dust settles that Michael's Attorney's are going to find it very convincing either. That kind of Raw Naked Greed is frankly the same thing that drove the selfishness behind predatory lending, the sub-prime mortgage crisis the relentless pumping up of stock prices and exportation of American Jobs overseas to the determine of the American Worker and Economy.
It's high time we turned away from that as a people, society and country and once again began to embrace - well - Values.
You can't really fault fans for wanting a momento, but from my perspective - head down in the midst of the grind to get all this stuff made. It's a Crazed Feeding Frenzy. One of our guys says that one woman bought the shirt Off His Back on Hollywood Blvd.
And still I have mixed feelings about it all.
I saw this same kind of Frenzy to make Obama T-Shirts during the Campaign, and even though as my day job I was actually helping make designs - i didn't even KEEP one of those shirts for myself. I felt then, and still feel that the proper thing to do was to make a donation to the campaign and get an OFficial Shirt, not a bootleg. We actually did make Official Shirts for the McCain/Palin Campaign when they made their local swing through at Cal State Dominguez, and it was so funny to think all those people shouting Neo-Racist Slurs while wearing "McCain/Palin '08" on their shirts imported from Haiti and printed by a bunch of Black Guys and Mexicans in South Central.
That was kinda hilarious.
But this Michael thing to me is still kinda sad. All the drama is just so pathetic and ridiculous with his kids and the drugs and his own personal history with the law, his own personal quirks with plastic surgery and body modification. Ugh! To me, and this remains to be determined, he died much like Elvis. Drained of all functional cash reserves, he essentially Had to go on Tour or else begin liquidating his catalogue to pay his $500 Billion in Debts. To my mind, depending on the final autopsy results, it's is very likely that he Worked Himself To Death - trying to prevent that from happening.
And now people are doing everything they can to make a buck off his image and name - and we all supposed to just smile and nod and go "Well, it's good for the economy..."
The services is starting as I type this, and the thought of thousands of hucksters around Staples trying to Hawk all this stuff - just doesn't feel right.
They even asked me at work if I wanted to make a few bucks out there - and even though my personal finances suck, I'm two or three days from having my Cable/Phone and Internet Shutoff I said "FUCK NO!"
I can't do it. I can't disrespect Michael that way. The thought make me sick.
He was far - FAR from my favorite Artist. I would say I like Prince much more, but I knew his career going all the way back to ABC. I watched as he grew up - as he was just 5 years older than me. I learned the Jackson 5 dance moves as a kid. I remember when they left Motown and Jermaine had to go solo because he was married to Barry Gordy's daughter and decided to stay with their original label. I remember the Triumph and Destiny albums long before Michael would explode with the Thriller Album into both a phenomenon and and many ways a "Freak".
Today he will be laid to rest, and hopefully he can rest in peace.