I've always given much props to Japan for always showing love and respect to Michael Jackson.
When my friend Yousuke told me that there was a Michael Jackson specialty store called I LOVE MJ Shop in Odaiba, I couldn't wait to check it out together!
I LOVE MJ is a shop tucked away in a mall, just steps away from the train station. Visiting this store is a MUST for anyone who is fascinated by Michael Jackson and visiting the Tokyo area.
The store is quaint but, a hardcore fan could easily spend hours in here (like we did).
Before I continue, I must say: One of the things that makes me happiest about being a Michael Jackson fan are how often I met amazing people in the community. I never blogged about this but, I met Yousuke and his friends this summer in front of the Apollo Theatre in New York. We all totally hit it off and talked about when we became fans and how much we love Michael.
Anyway, I never imagined I would be able to reconnect with the new friends I made in Tokyo, just months after meeting. I am very thankful for my MJ friends all over the world and SUPER grateful for the rare treat of being able to explore the merchandise and ask questions about things I'd never seen before.
Signed memorabilia, tour passes, posters, and original film prints.
Calendars... and the list goes on.
They had Destiny and Triumph tour DVDs and even a compilation disc of Michael Jackson Pepsi commercials! . Unfortunately, I was too nervous to get DVDs because I wasn't sure if I would be able to watch a DVD from Japan back in New York. (Anyone know and able to help me out with that?) I LOVE MJ is not only a great place to pick up some rare DVDs, there are also novelty goods with Michael Jackson's face and name noted on them.
I walked away doing less than $100 USD of damage with just a t shirt and a really cute pencil case/makeup bag.
Yousuke and I spent two hours at the shop. We were pressed for time during this visit because I was on a business trip. Since our schedules were both open on the day I arrived, this was my first
stop after the airport (excuse the lack of makeup and the leggings, I travel in comfort- haha!)
One of the store workers was kind enough to take photos of us in the Thriller and Beat It jackets (pictured at the top).
So very cool!
I will be returning to Japan soon and heading back to the I LOVE MJ shop again.
Someone asked me the other day, if I thought that my fanship of Michael Jackson could be considered an obsession.
At the time, his question angered me. I secretly felt attacked and tried to explain to the best of my ability, why I was so enamored and interested in Michael- my childhood hero.
Nope. I think the best way to describe it would be LOYALTY.
In fact, loyalty is one of the most important things I've learned as a Michael Jackson fan.
I've had friends throughout my life from all different places. Summer camps, high school, part-time jobs, and the list goes on. But I have to admit... Michael Jackson fans have always been my best friends.
Looking back, it was always a challenge for me to fit in with kids my age, especially during my adolescence. In middle school, we had to get groups of friends together to perform a dance or song for our school-wide talent show. All of the other groups did contemporary and current pop selections... while I chose to do Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation". I was Janet and the other two girls reluctantly agreed to be my background dancers... in 2002 (over a decade after the song's initial release).
To say I was living in somewhat of an alternate universe was a bit of an understatement. I enjoyed being different for the most part but, I did miss out on having the friendships I saw everyone else around me enjoying. Until I found Michael Jackson forums.
I had friends in high school... but, it was my MJ friends who I hung pictures up of in my locker. I had always felt closer to them than any of my other friends in school (no shade to them). In spite of the many fans I no longer have relationships with... I wouldn't erase the years of friendship and the memories we made for anything. My Michael Jackson fan friends have been the most loyal to me, in the overall scheme of things.
If I were to take a step back and analyze why, I think it's because we've all learned how to be loyal to Michael. Through all of the setbacks and ups and downs, most of us (even 7 years after his death are still true and devoted fans.).
I woke up this morning on a quest to find this poem so I could share it with you all. I first discovered it in 2006. Whoever wrote this, really captured the essence of the fan community and it really stands out to me as a true representation of who Michael Jackson fans are (at least the ones who were fans prior to his death in 2009 and actually had to experience all of those highs and lows with him).
What do you think of this poem? Does it ring true to you?
"Michael Jackson fans are a strange breed.
One would be hard pressed to find another fan community whose object of admiration is the subject of so much unnecessary condemnation. Over time, Michael Jackson enthusiasts have watched their beloved's seemingly global idolization transform into apparent worldwide mischaracterization and mistreatment by the press and public alike.
Yet, through it all, true Michael Jackson fans have not abandoned him.
If anything, the harder Michael's opponents try to shove him to the depths of despair, the harder his devotees love him, if only for summoning the courage to persist in the midst of it all. Michael's continued endurance is an exercise in strength and resilience in the face of adversity and uncertainty. Michael's fans have learned well the lesson, as they steadfastly brave the almost daily emotional roller coaster ride that is a requisite experience of every Jackson supporter. They marvel at his seemingly inexhaustible talents and applaud his victories. They laugh with him in his happiness; weep with him in his sorrow and pray for him in troubled times. Their hearts are warmed when he is embraced, and bleed when he is ill-treated.
Despite the stratospheric highs and seemingly cavernous lows that come with being a Michael Jackson fan, they remain loyal. They, like Michael, refuse to allow naysayers to steal their joy, obstruct their way or shape their opinions. They, like Michael, refuse to have their destiny defined or dictated by another. They also refuse to stand idly by as others attempt to deny Michael his rightfully earned legacy. Simply, Michael Jackson's fans are just like Michael in that they will not be deterred.
By nature of their calling, Michael's fans are constantly summoned to put on the full Armour, stand on the front lines and fight. Oftentimes with their pen as their sword, they fight alongside and for Michael's right of humanity. By so doing, they fight for tolerance over prejudice, unconditional love over criticism; wisdom over ignorance and justice over inequality - not only for Michael, but for themselves as well. The battles are never-ending, hard-fought and oftentimes mentally and physically exhausting. Still, rather than surrender or reconcile, Michael's fans resist. They resist the desire to abandon Michael when all seems lost. They forsake the notion that theirs is a lost cause. They refuse to throw in the towel and resign themselves to the path of least resistance, which so often involves renouncing their fan support of Michael.
When the going gets tough, with weary minds and heavy hearts, they press on. They press on through Michael's tribulations and the attacks to which he is subjected. They press on in spite of tire. They press on despite mockery and question as to why they bother fight at all for Michael Jackson, a man some deem undeserving of their adoration.
Hazrat Inayat Khan once said, "God breaks the heart again and again until it stays open". Michael's devotees can see him as living proof of this idea, as he seems to be the embodiment of the notion. His own heart has been broken much and his fans personally feel the sting of each break. By the grace of God, Michael's heart does not become hardened as a result of its frequent fractures. To the contrary, his shattered heart allows for its tenderness and openness. Since out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, Michael's fans are able to truly see the fullness of his heart when they listen to him articulate his desire for acceptance, understanding, positivism, love and peace through song and speech.
As their efforts to break Jackson himself have continually proven unsuccessful, some Michael Jackson opponents have turned their focus to attempting to disband the fan community by attacking his defenders. Time after time, the press uses condescending, defamatory terms to describe Michael's fans. Being referred to as "delusional" and "*****" is not foreign to Jackson's supporters. However, Michael's devotees choose to ignore the juvenile name-calling and taglines bestowed on them by the media. The fans refuse to allow the press to project its negative, inaccurate perception onto them. This is because Michael Jackson fans realize that such inflammatory terms do not depict their true nature as intelligent, grounded individuals with a healthy admiration for Michael's music, vision and humanitarianism among other things.
Interestingly enough, Michael Jackson's influence is global and thus, so is his fan base. His detractors are under the false impression that his fan base is minuscule as well as one-dimensional. To the contrary, Michael Jackson enthusiasts are nothing if not vast and multi-dimensional. They can be found on every continent, in every country worldwide. Michael's fans transcend racial, age and socioeconomic boundaries. The fact that Michael's fans are so diverse adds to their beauty.
Few entertainers, if any, can lay claim to having the type of dynamic and varied fan base of which Michael Jackson can boast. If it is true our lives are open books for others to read, then the fans' study of Michael Jackson has taught them more than they ever could have imagined they would learn about life, love and survival.
Michael Jackson is a living testament of the notion that whatever one dreams and desires for his or her life can be achieved. Michael lives by the mantra that love should have no limitations -no conditions. Michael has shown all who dare take notice that it is possible to not only stay alive, but to thrive, with grace and fortitude despite adversity. By merely existing, Michael Jackson has taught his fans what it is to dream without fear, to create without boundaries, to listen without prejudice and to love without judgment. Simply, Michael Jackson's fans are a hard act to outshine.
Their loyalty, enthusiasm, intelligence and genuine adoration of their musical idol is unparalleled by other artists' fan communities. However, for all their attributes, when it comes to one particular matter, Michael Jackson's admiring fans will always be bested. For try as they might, no matter to what infinite degree they say and believe they love Michael Jackson, the King of Pop in true regal fashion, will always say and prove he loves them more ... " - written by Fantam
Now I'll be honest, I wasn't active on the MJ forums and boards much after the trial. I wasn't super familiar with Shana's name or her story while Michael was still here. But, when Michael Jackson died in 2009, I watched hundreds and hundreds of YouTube videos and came across some videos about her and their secret relationship.
If you are curious about Shana and think her face looks familiar- you are right. She was one of the actresses in the short film for "Ghosts" and also was featured in the short film called "Is It Scary". Filmed in 1993, "Is It Scary" was never finished or released but, is available on Youtube by doing a simple search.
Shana Mangatal's "Michael And Me" gives an intimate look at who Michael Jackson was behind closed doors. And interestingly enough, you find out that a love interaction with the King Of Pop was, at least for Shana, at times more challenging than fairytale romantic.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was how well Shana painted the picture of each moment. She keeps you engaged and entertained with the "little things". Shana describes how smooth and buttery his complexion was and how soft his hands were. Her descriptions made for a good read and painted Michael in a very intriguing and attractive light.
Another fun tidbit- some of you may already know that I was a Japanese major in college and really heavy into food, snack and novelty items from there. Shana wrote about fans from Japan meeting Michael and giving him a box of banana cakes. True story- I knew exactly what she was talking about and it is one of my favorite snack items - ever! To find out that Michael also loved "Tokyo Banana" just like I did, made me smile.
This is just one instance of how Shana makes you feel like you're right there with her, living in the moments with Michael. I do feel like the marketing lead me to believe there was more actual juicy content than there ended up being but, truthfully, I prefer it this way. (I really am not interested in changing my perception of Michael, particularly since he's not even here to deny or confirm any of the contents of the book.)
If you are picking this up because you expect to read excerpts of love letters, hear about late night conversations and rendezvous, see photos of elaborate gifts... memories of surprise flowers and jewelry... You will be disappointed.
"Michael And Me" is actually interesting because it's the typical tale of that confusing and "gray area" of dating.
Definitely not a one-night-stand.
Not quite a relationship.
A romance... still something real but, not quite defined.
If you want to read about a warm-blooded man, both seductive with his eyes and with his words, who knew exactly how to use his charm to get what he wanted... This is your book.
If you want to read about what it would feel like to go from a starry-eyed fan, to Michael's secret lover... This is your book.
And finally, if you want to get a glimpse of what Michael would be like as a lover....
This is your book.
I would recommend "Michael And Me" to any fan who is interested in the intimate side of Michael Jackson and can keep an open mind while reading.
Check it out on amazon.com here:
Did you read "Michael & Me? What did you think about it? I'd love to hear your thoughts!