Tuesday, July 07, 2009
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You know it's a special day when your T-Mobile cell phone allows you to make "Emergency Calls only", you know you paid the bill, and you can't even call customer service. I've seen a lot of days and a gaggle of events, but nothing like this. If you didn't know Michael Jackson passed way, today, you do now.
This memorial is incredible: Stevie Wonder just gave a terrific performance. Now, former LA Lakers great Ervin "Magic" Johnson is giving a really personal, funny, ("I didn't know Michael Jackson liked Kentucky Fried Chicken!") and touching speech. And now, Jennifer Hudson's taking the stage. It's simply amazing this was asssembled so quickly and yet so well. It's moving.
Unfortunately, in death, Michael Jackson is more powerful than in life. His power was always to make us happy, if just for one moment in time, feel carefree and joyful. Sadness today, yes, but also clapping, singing, laughter, and joy, and for me, awe. What an amazing power to have, that ability to bring a smile to someone's face. To change the world through the creative act of making a sound. A tune. A song. And how great to take that power and then give back with the money from it. Michael Jackson has given more to foundations and causes than any pop star in history. Michael cared.
For me, this feels like a weird kind of cultural flashback. Reverend Al Sharpton's talking about the 1970 PUSH Convention held in Chicago, at the Chicago Amphatheater, and I was there. From growing up on the south side of Chicago, and knowing people who at least claimed to know the Jacksons, who lived in Gary, Indiana, then coming out here to Oakland, then to Texas for college, and Berkeley for grad school, and everything else, there was Michael Jackson. Always a part of my life. And now, Brooke Shields is fighting back tears to explain a very personal relationship she had with MJ, but I feel like I've grown up with her too. There all of this is, my life in front of me. Maybe yours too.
And now Michael's gone.
But while he's gone, to Heaven, it's not just his music that lives on, but this message: make other people happy, if for one moment. If you have to write something, make it nice, not mean. Sharpton said it best a moment ago and to his kids: "There was nothing strange about your daddy, but what your daddy had to deal with." He's not kidding. Michael Jackson, from the time of his birth to childhood, to adult , to know, was an extraordinary, misunderstood genius of a man who just wanted to be happy, and spread happiness.
I hope and pray we take up his soul and do the same.
Berkeley City Council and the Marine Recruiters by CalTV Journalism. A report on the conflict where the Berkeley City Council gave permits to anti-war groups and the Marines retaliated by taking money away from the City. An old story that CalTV just posted.
jonpaulvd on YouTube is not an Oakander, but has this video perspective on the State's budget and how it's impacted colleges:
http://www.newsy.com - Newsy covers the State of California's new currency, IOU's. Now, the state has the lowest credit rating in America and the legislature is still far from a budget agreement.
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The passing via murder of former Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair is really hard to take. It's hard because McNair was a major player in my first Super Bowl: Super Bowl 38 (or XXXVIII) in Atlanta to open the new century in 2000. I was their as a guest of the NFL as I was working to bring the Super Bowl to Oakland. (We eventually lost to Jacksonville for the right to host the 2005 Super Bowl.)
McNair's Titans weren't favored to win that game agains the "Greatest Show On Turf", the St. Louis Rams. The Rams were blowing-out and steam-rollering opponents that year and there was no indication that wasn't going to be the case in The Super Bowl.
But someone forgot to tell that to the Titans, led by a stalwart defense and Steve McNair. With the Alcorn State legends fancy footwork, laser passing, and quick decision-making, the Titans stayed within scoring distance of the Rams, then came to one (Titans WR) Kevin Dyson-almost-touchdown-pass of tying the game. After that who knows who would have won? (Come to think of it, what if Rams WR Issac Bruce had dropped that dramatic 73-yard touchdown catch and run? It would have been a new game with the Titans having the momentum.)
What I loved most about McNair was that he was such a leader, such a powerful presence, few reffered to him as a "black quarterback". No. McNair was just the quarterback of The Tennessee Titans, and an undispurted leader. When the Titans drafted Texas QB Vince Young, I thought it was excellent because then McNair would be his teacher, but then he was traded to Baltimore and with that a great pairing for the future came to an end.
Off the field, I assumed McNair was a quiet man who grew up in the South and did not want to make waves. He and former Green Bay Packers QB Brett Farve were the kind of friends who'd go hunting in what I once heard Farve call their three-piece suits: suspenders and overalls. In fact, I'm very surprised Farve hasn't issued a statement at this time, not even on his website.
McNair will be missed by everyone. A sad moment in time.
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