Saturday, March 30, 2019


This  is what I wrote about Justin Bieber June 1, 2010.

Wow! is all I really need to say. Justin Bieber is neat, boyishly perfect looking, with a sweet-sounding voice  that tenderly croons, and belts out:
"My first love broke my heart for the first time,
And I was like
Baby, baby, baby ohhh
Like baby, baby, baby noo
Like baby, baby, baby ohh
I thought you'd always be mine mine."

I bet we'll be hearing his recordings, and hearing about him for years and years. His success is a show business, good-luck-fairy-tale--the story of a Disney-discovered boy--great looking, great hair, energetic, persevering kid who started with a perfect debut song, "On Time," then a first album going platinum,  then the "new artist of the year" award, then 7 songs on Billboard's Hot 100 Chart, then hit song  "Baby" in his recent, first studio release.

Around 2010, in a musical that bombed, I saw a fantastic singer with "soul" in her voice and every move. I even wrote her a letter. And now, I can't remember her name. Her next show, and the next one, just didn't work. In dance (my field), I've seen two male dancers and one female with "soul"--performers with the crackling extra flash, a centeredness that compels your eye to watch and feel their movement in your own muscles. I know their names, but you don't--all three are teachers now.

Today, Justin Bieber, is more famous than ever. That he's seeing a shrink, got a new tattoo, that he cut his hair, likes to wear a baseball cap, is being discussed in TV interviews that suggest he loves someone else/he wants a divorce/his wife's pregnant.

Depressed or not, his latest hits are marvelously performed, but lately, for instance on Ellen DeGeneres show, he was shockingly passive, answered her questions minimally, not being funny, charming or telling an interesting story. He sat there. Golly, all he has to do is be himself and thousands of fans love him, but he just sat there silently.

Last night Entertainment Tonight said, "Justin wants to be a great Dad for his children." (Bet that's  troubling him--he'll be on one of his world tours while they're growing up.)

It hit me--"being himself " isn't easy. Being myself and writing about him isn't easy--it's hard work. His music isn't my cup of tea. Elvis--that's for me, and the classic B guys--Beethoven, Bach, Bartok.

Anyhow, Justin N O W is the wow of the of the younger generation, who think he's sublime, but their taste isn't mine.

Monday, March 25, 2019


HBO's documentary "Leaving Neverland" is four-hours in which two grownups recount in horrific, methodical detail how they were befriended, at age 7 and 10, and seduced into years of sexual abuse by Michael Jackson.

Right now the air is filled with people that want Michael Jackson videos and music banned, while others want Michael and his music to continue to be revered.

Reuters said, "Hip Hop star, Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr., known as T.I., spoke for millions of decent Americans when he took to Instagram to protest the response to HBO's documentary and said, "Let this man speak for himself to defend his legacy. Don't just listen to one side and expect to find truth. Dead men can't speak."
      Reuters criticized Amazon for selling reissues of  Mick Jagger's "Exile on Main Street," and posthumous David Bowie live albums, stating: "Why is the legacy of the most beloved black pop star of the last century, the only African-American entertainer, something opinion writers can dispense with in an instant? There are many things we could afford to do away with before we lose him in an ill-thought-out fit of moral preening."

The Washington Post reporter refers to the child molestation in 2005, that found Jackson innocent, and reports the Jackson family estate calls the grownups in the film "liars," and is suing HBO for $100 million--"The film will convince all but the willfully blind of Jackson’s guilt. The question now is what we do, as a culture, with Jackson’s songs. My answer? Turn off the music and listen to these it or not, Jackson’s music is probably with us for eternity-- his songbook suddenly feels even wider, more lifelike in the saddest way."

The U K Guardian reports that Jackson is banned from radio and TV, but trying to cancel his music you deal with "The sheer magnitude of his footprint. We could stop playing his songs tomorrow and the transcendent beats of 'Billie Jean' and 'Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough' would still be woven into the rhythmic DNA of modern music."

Website states: "Two facts--Jackson changed the sound of global pop, bringing joy to billions, and he almost certainly molested children. Neither fact alters the other. Disavowing Jackson’s music would be an empty rhetorical flourish that would do nothing to repair the harm he caused his victims."

USA Today: "We can’t heal his victims’ wounds, but if we stopped listening to his music we could at least dry up the revenue stream that Jackson used during his life to facilitate and get away with his abuse of children, revenue his estate is using posthumously to try to discredit the two men in HBO's 'Leaving Neverland.' It’s all very well to talk in theoretical terms about the need to separate the art from the artist in the now countless cases of abusive men. But when we ignore an artist’s crimes, and continue to consume his art, the reality is that we are upholding the power structure that contributes to these crimes happening in the first place."

The New York Times focused on how M J disfigured himself with unnecessary plastic surgeries. "After seeing the HBO documentary, it’s hard not to see Jackson’s obsession with transformation as a semiconscious manifestation of a more semiconscious manifestation of a monster that lurked within."

Grabbing phrases from these opinions, I say, Why destroy another strong black historical  legend?  There are many things we could afford to do away with before we lose him in an ill-thought-out fit of moral preening. If we lose M J--should we lose him--he is part of our life, our culture, our history--his music, and dancing continue to inspire us and inflame our creativity. If you erase Michael Jackson, he will still be here.