INXS Michael Hutchence’s hauntingly prophetic words, days before his death

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The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

What I Watched Last Night...

Albert Lewin’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s notorious novel The Picture of Dorian Gray has always impressed me for its resolute lack of interest in Hollywood style story-telling. It’s not a question of how “faithful” it is to Wilde’s original. Rather, it is the way the book is used as the excuse for a series of exquisite period recreations that just happen to frame a story about a handsome, dissolute young man (Hurd Hatfield) who never ages. Oh yes, and he has his portrait done.

Arguably, such relative indifference to forward movement and story-telling in favor of glossy sheen is far more fundamentally “faithful” to the author’s ideas than a slavish translation of the novel. In the aesthetic movement of which Wilde was one of the most famous members, style was always more important than content. If the results are a touch precious and brittle, with each shot composed with the same…

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Michael Jackson’s Books – Black History

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“I love reading. There is a wonderful world to be discovered in books,”
Michael Jackson
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Black in America
Photographer Eli Reed documents the black experience in America, from tender moments between parents and children and the deceptive innocence of rural life, to the tensions of the urban drug scene. His work seeks to show the truth, in images of black America pictured with anger and compassion.

“When I want to discover something, I begin by reading up everything that has been done along that line in the past – that’s what all these books in the library are for. I see what has been accomplished at great labor and expense in the past. I gather data of many thousands of experiments as a starting point, and then I make thousands more. “The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”

That quote still stands as the truest reflection of Michael’s approach to his own mastery, and they were the words he actually posted in gold letters to the cloth, coffee brown walls of his sound studio at Hayvenhurst.
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Neverland Photo
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On display in his room at Neverland.

Discussion of the issues in racism and white privilege, the intro begins:

The depth and intensity of the race problem in America is, in part, a result of a 100 year flight from that unpalatable truth. It was a stroke of genius really for white Americans to give Negro Americans the name of their problem, thereby focusing attention on symptoms (the Negro and the Negro community) instead of causes (the white man and the white community).

When we say that the causes of the race problem are rooted in the white American and the white community, we mean that the power is the white American’s and so is the responsibility. We mean that the white American created, invented the race problem and that his fears and frailties are responsible for the urgency of the problem.

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Ordinary black women, more than any other group in America, have been left out of history. As Darlene Clark Hine points out in her introduction to this powerful and affecting book, “disseminating a visual history is more important with Black women, perhaps, than with any other single segment of the American population. We know all too well what this society believes black women look like. The stereotypes abound, from the Mammy to the maid, from the tragic mulatto to the dark temptress. America’s perceptions of Black women are colored by a host of derogatory images and assumptions that proliferated in the aftermath of slavery and, with some permutations, exist even today. We have witnessed the distortion of the image of black women in movies and on television. We have seen black women’s faces and bodies shamed and exploited. What we have not seen is the simple truth of their lives. This book will help to eradicate, or at least to dislodge, the many negative and dehumanizing stereotypes and caricatures of Black women that inhabit our consciousness.

What do black women look like? What do they look like at work or with their families? What faces do they choose to present to the world, and what faces has the world forced them to acquire? We can look in vain to most pictorial histories of America and even of African America for images of Black women. With noteworthy exceptions, even scholarly studies in Black women’s history tend to include few, if any, photographic images. Of the images that previously have been presented in print, the majority have been of famous Black women.

The Face of Our Past brings the ordinary Black woman to center stage, showing how she lives, loves her family, works to survive, fights for her people, and expresses her individuality. In addition to 302 cartefully chosen images, Kathleen Thompson and Hilary Mac Austin provide quotations from letters, diaries, journals, and other sources.
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Novelists Simone Schwarz-Bart (Between Two Worlds; The Bridge of Beyond) and Andr‚ Schwarz-Bart (The Last of the Just) present volume one of a four-part work that will be published over the next three years entitled In Praise of Black Women: Ancient African Queens, translated from the French by Rose-Myriam R‚jouis and Val Vinokurov and featuring a foreword by Howard Dodson, director of New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. A blend of oral tradition, historical accounts and 600 vivid illustrations creatively arranged and bordered by informative sidebars, this enchanting work transports the reader back in time and gives a voice to the little-known black women of the past, like Yennenga, Mother of the Mossi People. Subsequent volumes will cover slavery in the Americas and the Caribbean, modern African women and modern women of the diaspora.

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The legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement is well documented in prose, but for sheer emotional power, nothing can compare to the pictures from this era. It’s a challenge for a writer’s words to match the force of Bob Adelman’s photographs in this book, but novelist and essayist Charles Johnson rises to the task in his treatment of King’s life and death, as well as the heroic struggle of African Americans in the United States. Johnson, the author of Middle Passage (which won the 1990 National Book Award), offers an exceptional counterpoint to the stirring images with the depth and weight of his essays and captions. “How soon we forget that King was not only a civil rights activist,” Johnson writes, “but also this country’s preeminent moral philosopher, a spiritual aspirant, a father and a husband, and that these diverse roles–these multiple dimensions of his too brief life–were the foundations for his singular ‘dream’ that inspired millions worldwide.”

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“[N]othing less than an epic of Homeric proportions….Willi s’s magnificent gathering of images…rewrites American history.”—Robin D. G. Kelley
Reflections in Black, the first comprehensive history of black photographers, is a groundbreaking pictorial collection of African American life. Featuring the work of undisputed masters such as James VanDerZee, Gordon Parks, and Carrie Mae Weems among dozens of others, this book is a refutation of the gross caricature of black life that many mainstream photographers have manifested by continually emphasizing poverty over family, despair over hope. Nearly 600 images offer rich, moving glimpses of everyday black life, from slavery to the Great Migration to contemporary suburban life, including rare antebellum daguerrotypes, photojournalism of the civil rights era, and multimedia portraits of middle-class families. A work so significant that it has the power to reconfigure our conception of American history itself, Reflections in Black demands to be included in every American family’s library as an essential part of our heritage. A Los Angeles Times and Washington Post Book World Best Book of 2000, and a Good Morning, America best gift book of 2000. 600 duotone photographs, 32 pages of color.

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How To Eat To Live, Book 1 By Elijah Muhammad For more than 30 years, messenger Elijah Muhammad has been teaching the so-called Negroes of America on the proper foods to eat to improve their mental power, physical appearance, for prevention of illness, curing of ailments and prolonging life. Given the humble, economic conditions of the blacks in America, an inexpensive, yet highly nutritional diet was given to them by Elijah Muhammad. Before the health craze that has swept the country, Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam were head of the curve as far back as the early 30′s. This is the first of two books written with this simple, yet revolutionary way of eating.

Wesley: Subsequently [after Bad] I met him many times around the world. Man, I met him one time in South Africa and we were sitting in this palatial space. He happened to be there, I happened to be there. We sat and we started talking and chopping up, we chopped it up for like three hours, and he had a list of books, lined up all along the floor, and I looked over and I said, ‘Yo, Mike, are people just sending you stuff like that?’ and he says, ‘No, that’s what I read.’ I mean, he had everything, from the autobiography of Malcolm X, Eat To Live, he had Sri Aurobindo, [Kalki] Krishnamurthy, I mean, like these exotic books, you know? That you would never imagine Michael was down with. And we sat there three hours man, chopping it up about all of this, from metaphysics to psychology, ‘how the black man is treated.’ I was looking at him, like…
Interviewer: How the black man is treated?
Wesley: I’m telling you, it was a trip.
Interviewer: Eat To Live by Elijah Muhammad?
Wesley: Yes, sir.
Interviewer: Wow.
Wesley: Mike, Mike… people don’t know about Mike on the real. Mike had a consciousness that could blow your mind and he could recite things that could blow your mind as well. From like the street corner stuff.
Interviewer: Really?
Wesley: Straight up.

Wesley Snipes

Elijah Muhammad led the Nation of Islam and mentored Malcolm X, Luis Farrakhan, and Muhammad Ali.

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A landmark compendium of African American achievement over the past 100 years, this text explores the lives and work of 150 men and women who have profoundly influenced our culture. Through their inspirational stories, Smith presents a compelling means for African American individuals to further explore their rich heritage and for all Americans to reflect upon a century of accomplishment. 150 photos.

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Malcolm X’s searing memoir belongs on the small shelf of great autobiographies. The reasons are many: the blistering honesty with which he recounts his transformation from a bitter, self-destructive petty criminal into an articulate political activist, the continued relevance of his militant analysis of white racism, and his emphasis on self-respect and self-help for African Americans. And there’s the vividness with which he depicts black popular culture–try as he might to criticize those lindy hops at Boston’s Roseland dance hall from the perspective of his Muslim faith, he can’t help but make them sound pretty wonderful. These are but a few examples. The Autobiography of Malcolm X limns an archetypal journey from ignorance and despair to knowledge and spiritual awakening. When Malcolm tells coauthor Alex Haley, “People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book,” he voices the central belief underpinning every attempt to set down a personal story as an example for others. Although many believe his ethic was directly opposed to Martin Luther King Jr.’s during the civil rights struggle of the ’60s, the two were not so different. Malcolm may have displayed a most un-Christian distaste for loving his enemies, but he understood with King that love of God and love of self are the necessary first steps on the road to freedom. –Wendy Smith

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The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene

publ. Viking, 1998, a number of pages with passages underlined and annotated in various pens by Michael, providing an insight into his view of the world, with comments such as Make yourself respected, a God Demand Worship and No more talking silence is more powerful, and you create your own circumstances even in the manner in wich you are treated and looked upon, and deer are special because they hide if they walked the streets like dogs no one would care the moon comes every night so people don’t care to look to the heavens Haleys Comet,the fact it comes once in a lifetime makes it important.

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Michael Jackson’s notes in one of the pages.
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Michael Jackson, King Of Pop, Is Our Ultimate Style Icon.

The 26th Annual GRAMMY AwardsWho says you need to take your fashion cues from the ladies? Certain gentlemen emote style and deserve serious props for their wardrobe choices — and Michael Jackson is one of them. The “King of Pop” who won more accolades in his career than many other top musicians combined, became an international icon with his hits like “Thriller” and “Billie Jean.”
Grammy Awards 1984
Twenty nine years ago (on Feb. 28), Michael Jackson set a record by winning eight Grammy awards in one night. The father of three arrived at the ceremony in a sequined blazer and his signature sparkly glove. And, in true MJ style, he sported black pants, loafers with chunky socks and a pair of aviators … always a necessity at nighttime. Although we may tone down the shoulder pads and lose the glove if we were to copy his look today, this is totally something we’d love to wear to a party (or maybe the Grammys should we ever be invited).

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Michael Jackson and The Beatles

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Glass Onion: The Beatles In Their Own Words, by Geoffrey Giuliano
Book Description
Glass Onion consists of exclusive, rare, and uncensored transcripts of press conferences, letters, FBI memos, interviews, and dozens of previously unpublished photos. Here are the inimitable voices and views of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, juxtaposed alongside those of Yoko Ono, Linda McCartney, Pete Best, Julian Lennon, Brian Epstein, Billy Preston, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Ravi Shankar, Denny Laine of Wings, and many others. In this volume, readers will discover an early 1960s letter from George to Stuart Sutcliff; Elvis Presley badmouthing the Beatles to President Richard Nixon; John’s open letter to Paul after the rancorous Beatles’ break-up; a conversation between Lennon and Samuel Beckett; Lennon’s last will and testament; George Martin and Jeff Lynn discussing the Beatles’ twentieth-anniversary reunion; Paul’s feelings on God, John, and Linda’s death in 1998; and much more.

.How Michael Jackson acquired the Beatles catalog:
June 27, 2009
The Beatles’ catalog was sold to Michael Jackson in 1985.
Since the subject has been bandied the past few days with many misconceptions, here is a brief review of the events that took place that enabled Michael Jackson to buy the Beatles catalog. It’s a very complex issue that this article can’t completely begin to cover, so we’ve listed sources at the bottom that offer additional information.

The sale of Northern Songs had been bandied about for some time. EMI Music had considered, at one time, buying ATV Music, which included Northern Songs, but never made an offer.

Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, when they were working together, discussed investments in music copyrights. Jackson had commented to McCartney that he might one day buy his and John Lennon’s songs. McCartney took it as a joke.

But in November, 1984, Jackson’s representatives called with serious intentions. “When the ATV music publishing catalogue, which contains many Lennon-McCartney songs, went on sale, I decided to put up a bid. I consider myself a musician who is also a businessman and Paul and I had both learned the hard way about business and the importance of publishing and royalties and the dignity of song writing,” Jackson was quoted as saying.

The book “Northern Songs” by Brian Southall says Jackson’s lawyer talked individually to both Yoko Ono and Paul McCartney, suggesting they each each buy the catalog. Both said no. Ono was concerned about having copyrights of other Beatles’ songs, while for McCartney, it was said the price was more than he expected to pay. There’s no indication in the book that the two considered making a joint deal.

Nobody expected Jackson to pull it off. In fact, according to Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times in a lengthy article on the Beatles catalog deal in 1985, negotiators at first thought Jackson was standing in for McCartney. “It seems Paul’s people once told one of the ATV officers that their client was interested in buying the copyrights, but that he didn’t want to go through lengthy negotiations. They said, in effect, ‘You go out and get your best offer and we’ll pay 10% more,'” Hilburn quoted an unidentified person involved with the negotiations.

Jackson was said to have told McCartney he planned to buy ATV. McCartney has said he was never told.

The negotiations took time — with another buyer entering and exiting the picture — but Jackson persisted. In a note to his lawyer pictured in “Northern Songs,” he writes, “John, Please not let’s bargain. I don’t want to lose the deal.”

He didn’t.

Jonathan Morrish, former CBS UK and Sony press chief and Jackson associate says in the book “Northern Songs,” “He’d (Jackson) done tracks with McCartney, they used to hang out a lot, went to the BRITs together, so I can completely understand why buying Northern Songs was something he wanted to do. It was beyond money, and Michael does not feel he ever betrayed McCartney by buying Northern Songs.”

The outcome, not surprisingly, irked McCartney.

“The annoying thing is I have to pay to play some of my own songs. Each time I want to sing ‘Hey Jude’ I have to pay,” he was quoted by the UK Mirror.

(The most complete source of information on this subject is Brian Southall’s “Northern Songs: The True Story of the Beatles Publishing Empire,” also available through Amazon.co.uk. Another excellent source is the Los Angeles Times 1985 article by Robert Hilburn, “The Long and Winding Road.”)

For more info:

•Los Angeles Times 1985 article by Robert Hilburn, “The Long and Winding Road”
•NPR “All Songs Considered”: “The Beatles Catalog and Michael Jackson”
•Bloomberg.com: Sony/ATV Said Planning to Keep Beatles Songs Post-Jackson Death
•Link to purchase Brian Southall’s “Northern Songs: The True Story of the Beatles Publishing Empire”
•Beatle news briefs: Report says Macca won’t get chance to take back Beatles catalog
•Could Paul McCartney get back the Beatles catalog from Michael Jackson? Maybe, if and if …
•With Michael Jackson gone, what happens to the Beatles catalog now?

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The Relunctant Dragon

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Fans who visited the Los Olivos area relaying stories from the people who worked there about Michael visiting:
Description:
The Reluctant Dragon is an 1898 children’s story by Kenneth Grahame, which served as the key element to the 1941 feature film with the same name from Walt Disney Productions.

The story takes place in the Berkshire Downs in Oxfordshire (where the author lived and where, according to legend, St George did fight a dragon).

In Grahame’s story, a young boy discovers an erudite, poetry-loving dragon living in the Downs above his home. The two become friends, but soon afterwards the dragon is discovered by the townsfolk, who send for St George to rid them of it. The boy introduces St George to the dragon, and the two decide that it would be better for them not to fight. Eventually, they decide to stage a fake joust between the two combatants. St George harmlessly spears the dragon, and the townsfolk rejoice (though not all of them, as some had placed bets on the dragon winning). St George then reveals that the dragon is reformed in character, and assures the townsfolk that he is not dangerous. The dragon is then accepted by the people.

We quickly narrowed in on the antique store where I had previously met Dorothy, the owner of the Mole Hole who had met Michael several times.

Dorothy had also shared that Michael would take day trips out to Solvang, walk the streets, poke around and shop. He especially loved the book store, ‘Grand Tales’, which is no longer there but was on the corner next to the Mole Hole when Michael lived at Neverland. One day he was on just such a visit and entered the book store looking for his favorite book, ‘The Reluctant Dragon’ by Kenneth Grahame. She knew already from previous conversations with Michael this was his favorite book and made sure to keep them on hand. He would enter, she would greet him and then immediately smile and point him right toward the book. She said he liked to just stand in the store and read the books but also bought many. Dorothy was eager to share with me that Michael was a valued member of the community and gave generously to the local Rotary and also donated many items for auction to raise money for the town. You can always tell a true fan of Michael’s by the look on their face when they talk about him, and in Dorothy I saw that look of deep love and admiration on her face as she happily and freely talked about Michael Jackson. She shared that Michael was always polite, kind and generous. She jumped at the chance to share about one time in particular that clearly showed Michael’s sweet and considerate character. He clearly was just out shopping, looking for some quiet time and dropped into the bookstore. She had just pointed him toward his favorite book when suddenly patrons and tourists in town began to realize it was Michael Jackson. Soon he was surrounded by a crowd. Dorothy discreetly approached him and quietly offered to shut down the store so he could shop freely in peace. His response was an emphatic, “No, No this is your business!”, then stood there for hours, all afternoon, signing autographs and giving hugs. He never left once to take a break, get a drink or go to the bathroom. He just gave LOVE all day long. Yes, this was the kind heart of Michael Jackson.

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