Looking Back at Michael Jackson’s Dancing the Dream


Michael Jackson considered Dancing the Dream, a collection of his own poems and reflections, to be one of his most personal works. It was also one of the first Michael Jackson collector’s items I’ve ever purchased. When I realized that this was the 25th year anniversary of the books publication, I wanted to share some things about it.

Dancing the Dream Michael Jackson

I’ll be the first to admit that as a teenager, one of the things I looked forward to most after school was getting lost on the internet. I loved learning about different subjects, reading, and exploring on the World Wide Web. The internet was also my all access pass into the world of Michael Jackson.
I started high school in 2001, during the Invincible era. Though I had been a fan throughout childhood,  I had a lot of catching up to do. When I first heard about Dancing the Dream, all I knew was that it was one of the only books that Michael Jackson had written. And that gave me enough reason – I HAD to have it.


Today, as we see the 25th anniversary of the release of Dancing the Dream, I want to share some interesting tidbits about the book and my favorite poems too.

The Facts 

Dancing the Dream was released on June 18th, 1992- 25 years ago. Within the 148 pages, you will find 45+ poems, reflections, and short essays all written by Michael Jackson.

The inside cover of the book features full text of the first poem in the book, also entitled Dancing the Dream and a brief description of the books content from the publisher.

 “Dancing the Dream, bestselling author Michael Jackson’s second book, is one man's hauntingly beautiful, provocatively personal view of the world around us and the universe within each of us. Whether his prose or poetry are focusing on creativity, the children of the world, or the plight of the noble elephant, Michael Jackson's observations and concerns make us see that trust and love and faith are the foundation stones for a life well lived.

Some people wonder how they can make the world a better place, while other people have dreams that are so powerful that they have a vision that can touch us all. Dancing The Dream was written by Michael Jackson, a man with a vision. Come experience the dream".


The Real Autobiography 

According to Michael, Dancing the Dream was more personal than “Moonwalk,” the autobiography he wrote just four years earlier (1988). A 1992 article in the Chicago Tribune, “Determined to Dream” by Glenn Plaskin, calls Dancing the Dream “a fanciful collection of poems, reflections and photographs that champions kids, endangered species, the homeless, AIDS victims and planet Earth”.


Michael has been quoted as saying, “The book is just a verbal expression of what I usually express through my music and my dance” (Plaskin, 1992).

He addresses so many themes and the book as a whole really speaks to who Michael was as a person, the things he cared deeply about, and his thoughts on the human condition.

In 1995, Michael participated in a simulchat held at the MTV arena, where he sat behind a laptop computer and answered questions that fans sent into the chatroom, where he briefly mentioned the book.



Before there was Facebook or Instagram live, this was one of the best ways to try and connect personally to the celebrity that you loved. I recall joining in on many celebrity chats when I was a preteen, typing question after question and hoping that my inquiry would make it through the chat host filter.

But, Michael was a pioneer, participating in the simulchat that was broadcast live on MTV as well as online on AOL, Prodigy, & Compuserve, & the WWW. At the time, this was new and exciting technology! There is some footage of the chat here, if you're interested in taking a trip back to '95.


Below, is the excerpt where Michael briefly mentions the book:

Question: It is rumored (and I know you hate that word) that you are doing another book. Do you plan on another book, if so, what will it contain?

Michael: “I wrote a book called Dancing the Dream. It was more autobiographical than Moonwalk, which I did with Mrs. Onassis. It wasn't full of gossip and scandal and all that trash that people write so I don't think people paid much attention to it, but it came from my heart. It was essays, thoughts, and things that I've thought about while on tour. I'm not planning to write another book anytime soon…”


I totally understand the sentiment that Michael expresses above. Although I love Moonwalk, I know that it doesn’t dig as deep as people expected it to at the time of publication. Reading it now that Michael has passed on, I can recognize and appreciate it more than ever. It gives us a window to his heart and his mind that we may not have had otherwise.


"The Last Tear" is one of the poems that I see circulating around the internet a LOT. I suppose it is one of the only ones in the book with an seemingly romantic theme and that's why it's gained popularity. But, to me, it also is something that has helped me feel better when I start missing Michael's presence here on Earth. It's no surprise that he is still sorely missed- it's just there are times when the hurt is more prevalent than others. There's a frustration that comes along with the pain of loss, even when it's a celebrity or an artist that you've never met. "The Last Tear" always reminds me to think of the GOOD TIMES (shameless plug for my fave Jacksons song). No... but seriously, I find that when I am grateful and I open my heart up to the universe with gratitude instead of sadness, I feel much better. I feel appreciative for all that Michael left us with- instead of just being sad that he left in the first place.


My Favorite Poems 

Most people that know me know that Michael Jackson has influenced me in a very personal way. For me he has always been a pillar of strength, someone who wasn’t afraid to stand up and speak out against injustice, and his sensitivity and willingness to be vulnerable have inspired me to do the same. My favorite selections from Dancing the Dream are two that remind me of that-.

"Innocence" and "Courage".


In the first edition copy, "Innocence" appears on page 58 and "Courage" on page 63. In the first selection, Michael addresses something that I’ve always believed in strongly. He writes “there is a deep truth in innocence”. As we get older, we so often become jaded, spending energy on protecting our hearts and guarding our feelings. Instead, Michael suggests that living with an open mind and heart, allows you to appreciate life’s moments in a different way.

“…When you get right down to it, survival means seeing thing the way they really are and responding. It means being open. And that’s what innocence is. It’s simple and trusting like a child, not judgmental and committed to one narrow point of view. If you are locked into a pattern of thinking and responding, your creativity gets blocked. You miss the freshness and magic of the moment. Learn to be innocent again, and that freshness never fades”.

– Michael Jackson



The next poem, "Courage" is my favorite reflection in this book and perhaps, the most relevant to me. Michael references the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz- (which is my favorite film of ALL time).

What takes “real courage,” to Michael? Not performing on stage in front of thousands but, revealing ones true self and building an intimacy with another person. I’ve taken heat in my personal life for being what some would consider too “open”. Others might call it “weak” and some may even call it naïve. But I think there’s beauty and strength in vulnerability and opening yourself up to another person. And you might be judged for it but, so what? When you face your fears head on, there’s a feeling of contentment that you have because, you know you’ve made peace with what’s inside your heart.

Below, I have posted the selection in its entirety:

"Courage" by Michael Jackson

It’s curious what takes courage and what doesn’t. When I step out on stage in front of thousands of people, I don’t feel that I’m being brave. It can take much more courage to express true feelings to one person. When I think of courage, I think of the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. He was always running away from danger. He often cried and shook with fear. But he was also sharing his real feelings with those he loved, even though he didn’t always like those feelings.

That takes real courage, the courage to be intimate. Expressing your feelings is not the same as falling apart in front of someone else — it’s being accepting and true to your heart, whatever it may say. When you have the courage to be intimate, you know who you are, and you’re willing to let others see that. It’s scary, because you feel so vulnerable, so open to rejection. But without self-acceptance, the other kind of courage, the kind heroes show in movies, seems hollow.

In spite of the risks, the courage to be honest and intimate opens the way to self-discovery. It offers what we all want, the promise of love.


Dancing the Dream – in other forms

Many of the poems and reflections found in Dancing the Dream have been published in other forms, including in the album booklets of the Dangerous album and elsewhere.

The title poem “Dancing the Dream” and “Planet Earth” can both be found in the Dangerous album booklet. Planet Earth (read by Michael) can also be found on the This Is It soundtrack.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my post last month about the poem Michael wrote for his mother, Katherine Jackson. Entitled “Mother,” this work was first published in her book My Family: The Jacksons.  I won’t go into too much detail here but, it’s one of my favorite books about the Jackson family and it’s interesting to hear the story of their success from the one who literally started it all (with the help or Mr. Jackson too, of course).



Lastly, Dancing the Dream contains an extended version of the lyrics for the song “Will you Be There” and a reprint of “Heal the World”.

Although, the book didn’t do as well as expected in the mainstream, 60% down in total sales at its release in 1992, it has since become a coveted collector’s item among the fan community. I purchased my copy in the early 2000’s and even then, it was almost $30 (nearly double the $17.50 list price) for me to get my first edition copy. After Michael’s death in 2009, the book was republished in hardcover and can now be found online at any bookstore like Barnes & Noble or Amazon.com.




I recently went to the Hollywood Walk of Fame to visit Michael’s star again. When I arrived, it was just around dusk. People were just walking down the street until I stood on top of his star and started taking photos.



Thank goodness for patient friends- they must have snapped hundreds for me to get one I was satisfied with, haha!!

It’s been almost 8 years since Michael’s death and although times goes by, somehow it also stands still. For the last 7 years, I have dealt with a loss that never really feels real, until the moments when it does. I’ve always been very passionate about sharing my love for Michael but, all these years later, it’s finally shifting.

somewhere in Hollywood :)

My passion is now slowly becoming more about educating the next generation about his music, his accomplishments, and moments that are often overlooked.  Michael Jackson means more to me than just the moonwalk, more than the hundreds of items I have in my collection, more than the dozens of MJ t-shirts I've purchased over the years.

Michael always talked about how he wanted to be remembered and often, how he thought the focus should be on his art. The music, the dance, the short films, the shows, the writing… and Dancing to Dream is a reminder of all of those things for me.

I don’t know for a fact how many books have been written about Michael Jackson, how many movies have been made, or interviews given about Michael. I don’t even know how many blog posts I’ve written about him. But, I do know that whenever I want to get closer to Michael’s energy, I go to his music.

I go to his poetry.

I go to him.


Michael Jackson always said if you want to know more, if you want information- “go to the source”.


Dancing the Dream is so much more than just a book of poems and reflections; it is a source of so much of what was inside of Michael’s heart and on his mind. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about who Michael was not only as an artist, not only a personality, but as a PERSON.

'Cause isn't that important too?


Have you read Dancing the Dream?
What is your favorite selection from the book?


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GUEST POST- Searching for Michael Jackson by Rachel

After having read mjfangirl’s post (about how to see 5 Michael Jackson related places in LA), I was inspired. As a longtime Michael Jackson fan and not having seen him perform live (which I don’t love to remind myself) I decided to take her advice and go on a road trip to seek out some magical Michael Jackson energy.




I had already committed to a San Diego trip for Easter weekend and would take advantage of my time on the road to accomplish my MJ fangirling. I wanted to take my time and enjoy the trip so I chose to camp in San Luis Obispo to split up the drive. I gathered the necessary supplies including my favorite Michael Jackson t-shirt, sunflowers, his music and everything needed to make a poster to honor the King. 

After a four and a half hour drive, camping at a hot spring “resort” and waking up freezing my bum off, it was time to head to Neverland. I was full of adrenaline, excitement and wonder. I packed up my car, dusted off my pants and put on the HIStory album as I began to ease on down the road ;)

The drive down the California coast is absolutely beautiful and the drive into Neverland is no different. The sun was shining, the roads were clear and the scenery was green and vast. I started getting nervous about 20 minutes away, especially once I exited the freeway…I was shaking a bit and literally kept reminding myself that I would not actually be meeting Michael or even getting through the gates for that matter. I soaked up the peaceful small town roads and lands. There were barns, ranches and small wineries scattered among the rolling hills and sprawling Oak trees, trees not unlike Michael’s famous Giving Tree.



When I saw the Neverland entrance, my heart started pounding. I pulled right into the small driveway area and parked in front of a few construction cones. I was about to set up camp because I planned on staying awhile. I opened my door, left my car on and turned up the volume on Stranger in Moscow…hearing his voice while being there just felt right. The first thing I noticed was a low brick wall leading up to the lower gates. There was a brick pillar adorned with a lantern, all whimsy and storybook. As I grew nearer, I realized that every imaginable space was covered in handwritten messages from fans around the world, it is astonishing to see in person. There is writing on almost every piece of brick at that entrance, on the lanterns, the rocks, there are old paper notes, tin hearts, lockets, and dried sunflowers, so lovely. My heart and soul were smiling as I became lost in my own world. I was arranging the sunflowers next to the lantern and singing softly.



I barely noticed the Security Guard as he approached. I thought he was going to ask me to leave for some reason, But nope, he introduced himself and asked politely that I move my car to the side, closer to the fence that Michael Jackson must have touched a thousand times! He moved the cones for me and said I could stay all day if I wanted. Sweet. His radio sounded, he smiled at me, said he would be back to chat with me later. He answered “Sycamore Valley Ranch?” I cringed as he retreated back up to the security cottage, which I swear is straight out of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs…



I made my tribute poster, full on with 3D amusement park stickers, Disney stickers and of course Michael photos. I even found rhinestoned MJ letters, reminiscent of his famous glove. Once I was happy with it, I propped it up against the pillar and admired my work.



Next, I took time to read fan messages from ALL OVER THE WORLD – China, Brazil, Australia, Peru, Mexico, and many European countries. The notes all read something like, “Dear Michael, we love you! Thank you for teaching us that we can do anything, thank you for changing the world. Forever in our hearts. Long live the King of Pop!” The energy was palpable. The place (and I am only at the entrance) is filled with so much love and beauty, I could not only feel him there but I could feel all the love from every fan who had every stepped foot at Neverland.

As I am geeking out, videotaping and singing, the security guard came back down to chat, he introduced me to the two dogs who hang out on the property. I pet them and played fetch with them, very sweet pups. Because I could not help it, I asked the guard how I could get on property and what would happen if I climbed the tiny fence and ran. He pointed out the camera, said that if I ran as fast as I could, that I might make it halfway to the house before being caught. He said the police would be called and it wouldn’t be worth it or end pretty. I KNOW, ugh! I asked about a million questions…I can’t remember everything but he did say he wasn’t an MJ fan, yes he worked there before ’09, no – he never met Michael. No, there isn’t stationary left – or anything that has anything to do with Michael anywhere on property anymore. Sad face!

I heard a rumbling and looked up to see a Jeep driving in from beyond the hill, up near the house (lucky!)…so close, yet so far. A guy gets out and meanders over to us, a little serious looking and asks if the other guard needs help. I say, “Hey, I’m not causing THAT much trouble, geez” and we chuckle. He comes down to the rickety wooden fence and introduces himself, he’s got an accent so I ask where he’s from – he’s Czech and I’ve been to Prague so I talk to him about that. Then he told me that he saw me playing guitar and asked me to play for them, so I did. I played what I know of Earth Song and Give In to Me and a few other tunes. It was fun, they applauded and pretended to be impressed :).



They were both extremely kind. The guard I had just met went up to the house to get me a water and grabbed a couple green serpentine rocks for me. Neverland ENERGY! They are stunning…as green as emeralds. I was beyond excited to take away a small piece of Michael’s sacred space. We all hung out and chatted for a while, listening to Michael. We talked a lot about him and about what the property should be. A museum to pay homage to the world’s greatest entertainer, a space for sick and underprivileged children, a place for the fans to experience him, after all he did say “Neverland is me.” Instead, it’s sat empty for the past, what…twelve years? It should be restored, they agreed, possibly politely. They told me that they sat in Michael’s Giving Tree and I lost it, I started crying uncontrollably. Just knowing how many beautiful songs he’d written in that tree, how much he loved it, the fact that it was less than a mile from me and I couldn’t do the same, the fact that there would be no more beautiful songs written there, that the fan community could not experience it. It all just came crashing down on me. The guys were sweet, they could see how affected I was. I said that we all deserve to feel his energy and I truly think that’s what he would have wanted, but of course, who can truly know? My hope is that Michael's children will somehow acquire the property someday.



We said our goodbyes, hugs all around. I touched everything again and promised to be back. I drove away feeling good. I felt him there, in the wind, in the trees, in the rocks, the grass, the cottage and lanterns. He was there, everywhere. I switched over to Invincible as I drove away through the serene countryside. I was filled with Michael’s light and energy. 

Fast-forward a few days, after my trip to San Diego and on my way back up north I stopped in Los Angeles. An old friend kindly offered to drive me around for the day to a few different Michael Jackson related locations, ones I had read about on this blog. Our first stop was the Thriller house, this is the house where Michael says “I’m not like other guys” and then turns into a werewolf…


Ola Ray’s character runs into the house terrified. 



As you can see, we went on a beautiful sunny day so the feel was quite different. The house itself appears unoccupied and somewhat dilapidated. Honestly, it looks no different than it did in 1983. It’s actually a historic street in Echo Park lined with Victorian houses, it’s beautiful and quite charming. I got all the feels taking photos doing my best Thriller poses and playing the song in front of the house.

video


Our next stop was the Hollywood Walk of Fame, I expected it to be less crowded on a Thursday afternoon but it was jammin. There was music coming from some production stage and a lot of people taking photos. I am happy to say that there was a line at our Michael’s Star. I took photos and stood in his magical moonwalking, dancing shoes. You can absolutely tell that his footprints were made with those famous black loafers. There are two different sets of handprints from different eras (possible Jackson 5 era, as one set is very small) as well as a gloved print! Naturally I touched everything, stood in his shoes and took a lot of photos.




Our final stop of the day was the Encino Family compound on Hayvenhurst. This is the house that Joseph bought after they had been in LA for a bit in the early 70’s, Michael bought and revamped it in the late 70’s, creating a music and dance studio where he recorded some of his songs and rehearsed for the famous Motown 25 show. There is not really much to see there except the gates and security cameras. I believe Paris lives there now so I blew kisses to the cameras (probably to security guards! Ha!) and took a quick photo in front of the gates. 


I am sure that place holds a lot of magic, I’d love to see it. Paris, let’s be friends? :)


I did not visit Gardner Street Elementary, but instead went to the Carollwood Mansion. It was a bittersweet way to end this tour but I wanted to see it. It’s tucked away in the elite Holmby Hills neighborhood in Hollywood. The home is on a small quiet street corner.


In the picture above, the second gated entrance is on the right.  It’s actually quite peaceful and extremely serene. I got out and walked around a bit, took some photos and played his music. I said prayers and cried. I also wrote an Instagram post from there dedicated to him and all the fans around the world. I chose to use lyrics from Another Part of Me

“We're sendin' out a major love
And this is my message to you
The planets are linin' up
We're bringin' brighter days
They're all in line
Waitin' for you, Can't you see?
You're just another part of me”



As much as I wish he was still here, and things were different – I carry his message of love with me always. I am grateful to have had him in our world. To me, Michael was an Angel, almost too good for this Earth, for this is no place for Angels…but I am extremely grateful that he had the courage to try. I thank him every day for the lessons he shared with us, about how to be a better person, stronger, more humble, giving and courageous.

As I drove away, thinking about his contribution to our planet on a worldwide level, I felt at peace. I could do nothing but smile at the beauty that surrounded me as I wound down the twists and turns of Mulholland Drive. After all, “A star can never die. It just turns into a smile and melts back into the cosmic music, the dance of life.” (by Michael Jackson from Dancing the Dream.)

So I looked up to see the sun shining, the hills green, the sky blue and I hoped that maybe, just maybe Michael was looking down on me and feeling proud.  


____________________________________________________________________

You can follow Rachel on her Michael Jackson fan account on Instagram @MJMoonChild or leave her comments right here on the post!  


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Why every Michael Jackson fan needs to rewatch the short film for Leave Me Alone (NOW!)

Leave Me Alone has always been one of my favorite short films. 

To be honest, I notice something new almost every time I see it—and that’s saying a lot because, if there’s something that I do well and often, it’s watching Michael Jackson videos.

“Leave Me Alone” is the only short film that Michael received a Grammy award for and although it is super creative and interesting to watch, I don’t think it gets as much credit as it should.



Michael’s body of work is so extensive and his short films so groundbreaking, that it’s hard to show love to EVERYTHING all at once. But, in trying to satisfy my own curiosity, I have learned a lot about “Leave Me Alone”.  Today I’d like to share some interesting things about the “Leave Me Alone” short film and why I think very fan should watch it more closely.


The SONG

Did you know that the song “Leave Me Alone” was originally a BONUS track?



The song was available exclusively on compact disc when Bad was released (1987). It was track #11 on the Bad album, following “Smooth Criminal”. It was later (and now) available on all forms of release, including digital but, initially could not be found on the vinyl or cassette versions of the album. According to the Michael Jackson official website, “Leave Me Alone” was released internationally as a single on February 13, 1989 and reached the Top 10 in several countries.

It was the eighth single from the Bad album, and the song was written, composed and co-produced by Michael. (The other co-producer was Quincy Jones.)  The album credits also list Michael on solo vocals, background vocals, vocal synthesizer, and both rhythm and vocal arrangements. One thing I admire and love about Michael as an artist, is how involved he was in the creative process. Both the song and short film for “Leave Me Alone” exemplify how hands-on he was, even 20+ years into his successful career.



The song is widely considered to be the first in which he directly addresses the press and tabloid circus that followed his career. Michael spoke about the song in his autobiography, Moonwalk.

"I worked hard on the song, stacking vocals on top of each other like layers of clouds. I'm sending a simple message here: 'Leave Me Alone'. The song is about a relationship between a guy and a girl. But what I'm really saying to people who are bothering me is: 'Leave Me Alone'. - Michael Jackson

For me, I’ve always identified more with the song as one that you’d dedicate to an ex-lover returning from the past. For me, “Leave Me Alone” is fitting for situations like this, as well as its underlying message of Michael no longer being “Mr. Nice Guy” with the press.  I can relate to the lyrics from the perspective of someone who gave their all in a relationship and was taken for granted. Now I’m not a saint but any means but, I’ve been in those shoes before. Haven’t we all? Sometimes you give way too much before realizing that your efforts aren’t appreciated. And once you’re gone and over the situation, your ex comes back into the picture, like the ghost of Christmas past. To me “Leave Me Alone” is the ultimate “don’t want you back (and I’ve got the last laugh)” anthem from Michael and I LOVE IT.


THE MAKING 

Selected as Michael’s 8th best music video by Rolling Stone magazine, “Leave Me Alone” was the only short film for which Michael would receive a Grammy award in the Best Music Video, Short Form category (1990). The official website also notes that the short film won both a Cannes Gold Lion for Best Special Effects in 1989 and a “moonman” at the MTV Video Music Awards for Best Special Effects that same year. It was the seventh of nine total short films from the Bad album.

The concept of the video was to take many of the tabloid rumors and talk about them himself, instead of just laying dormant and being talked about. I first saw it as a part of the movie Moonwalker.

The footage of Michael for “Leave Me Alone” was taken over the course of a 3-day period in December 1987. But the special effects were so intricate and time consuming, that the project took a total of 9 months to complete.



Michael was all shot on 35mm film and then turned into still images to be cut out with X-acto knives and layered for animation. Director Jim Blashfield was interviewed by Rolling Stone in 2014 and revealed just how complicated the process was.

“Each and every bit of it is made up of still images that are stacked on top of one another on a piece of glass. Look in any one scene and look how many different things there are going on, so each one of those had to have its own shoot.” 

He and his team of animators also went out to photograph skies, elements of amusement parks, and the wildlife featured throughout the video (except for Michael’s snake and Bubbles, who were shot along with him).
Source: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/pictures/michael-jacksons-20-greatest-videos-the-stories-behind-the-vision-20140624/8-leave-me-alone-1989-0203194

In the short film (which you can see HERE) we are taken into Michael’s trailer, which sits on its own island, surrounded by dark waters. Michael is launched out of it and splashes into the water, resurfacing in a patterned shirt and donning an aviator hat. He is seated in a green, yellow, and red rocketship, similar in design to typical roller coaster carts.  This will be his ride through the tabloid circus that in the video, has been LITERALLY built upon and around him.

Michael, in the tabloids 

Real newspaper pages were used in the beginning scenes through Michael’s trailer, and footage of him singing was later superimposed on top.




You may have seen these photos before but, never knew quite where to place them. They are part of the newspaper singing scenes!

Here are some more that were shot in a similar fashion.






Also, seen in the trailer, is his ride through the animated “Elizabeth Taylor shrine”. It includes real scenes of her from classic films, and well known photos of the stunning actress who was a dear and loyal friend of Michael’s for so many years.

Michael, in the rocket ship 



The scenes in the rocket ship with Michael and Bubbles together, were filmed on a rotating stage, director Blashfield shared with Rolling Stone.






“Bubbles was not a problem. Bubbles, your job here is to crawl all over the rocket ship as it slowly rotates on this thing that you use to shoot car ads. Bubbles, please crawl over from here to here. And then please do not harm the python”. 

I was in Japan in 2011 when many of Michael’s personal collection was on “tour” and were temporarily displayed in the O2 Bubble in London and then soon after, in Tokyo Tower. During this exhibition, I got a chance to see the rocket ship used in the video in real life.

source: Getty Images

Although the rocket, like all other memorabilia, was roped off, I saw it at very close proximity. It was much smaller than I imagined it would ever be.  Growing up, Michael was larger than life to me, an untouchable super hero. I never imagined him being the slender, 5”10 man he really was. But, seeing the rocket ship in person put things into a more realistic perspective. Looking back, I wish I had been able to take my own photos (or was rebellious enough to sneak some)!

In the rocket, Michael navigates through the murky waters of the mainstream media. The “just stop doggin’ me around” lyrics come to life through the reporters and corporate representation in the short film- dogs superimposed onto human bodies. In the darkest part of the video, you might see a rotating brain that opens up to reveal a nose and a scalpel, a direct reference to his plastic surgery.

He also rides through to a “sideshow” of himself, this time dancing with the Elephant Man’s bones.


The Charlie Chaplin style “ball and chain” dance scene was done first live by Michael, and then completed using stop animation for the elephant man's bones.


**Just to give a little bit of background, it was reported in May 1987 that Michael wanted to purchase the remains (bones) of Joseph Merrick, also known as the Elephant Man. As he denied those rumors, the dance off with the bones in “Leave Me Alone” was Michael addressing yet another tabloid rumor, in his own fun way.


For this look, Michael 's style channels Chaplin from the film "The Circus". Michael was a huge fan of Charlie Chaplin's work and this was one of the times where he played homage to one of his faves, in a subtle way. 




Michael, the amusement park

The last thing I'll touch upon is the concept behind the amusement park built on and around Michael. It is based on the book Gulliver's Travels, according to the documentary, Bad 25.


In the book, the main character Gulliver is captured by six inch tall inhabitants of a nearby island, who keep him as prisoner. Gulliver is larger in physical size and strength than the people that captured (Lilliputians) him but he is in reality, normal sized. The Lilliputiansthink of themselves as "normal" and Gulliver as the freak and the giant. They keep him imprisoned because they are curious about him and want to learn more...but the only way to do it is to keep him tied down...

Sound familiar?

Here are some behind the scenes photos of the Gulliver's influenced parts of the video being shot.





A few days ago, Michael's iconic jacket from "Leave Me Alone," photographed above, sold for $112,500 USD.

It is a vintage style jacket that is believed to be an authentic English military uniform. The jacket is lined in white satin and it is still in pristine condition.

The auction for the jacket and lots of other music memorabilia was held at Hard Rock Cafe in New York City on May 20th, through Julien's Auctions. It was was a particularly challenging week for me. I was dealing with lots of travel, work responsibilities, and the loss of my grandfather, who I was extremely close to. The items were on display for a few days earlier that week and I had a date at the cafe, with the intention of being able to see the jacket before dinner. My date by the way, got extra points for humoring me and actually being excited to see the jacket too! To the surprise of both of us, the items were taken down earlier that week.

I was heartbroken.

But, in a crazy turn of events, that to me, was nothing but an intervention of the divine, I ended up having an opportunity that I'll never forget. (AND meeting a new Michael Jackson fan friend too!)

On May 20th, I took the photograph below with a piece of music history, Michael Jackson history, and MY own childhood memories...


A surreal moment for me.

Here are two of my favorite photos of Michael wearing the jacket behind the scenes of the short film.




"Leave Me Alone" is hands down, my favorite short film from the Bad album. It was ahead of its time, with unique special effects, a creative concept, and lots of hidden meaning under the surface. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out BAD 25 to see a few minutes of behind the scenes footage from the video shoot. You can purchase a copy on the official MJ website or HERE on Amazon.

I think as fans, we sometimes get stuck on our favorite eras, albums, or videos from Michael. But opening our minds up to rewatch things we may not have seen for a long time, or never really understood? It's important. It often helps me appreciate Michael in a different way. It's one of the reasons why I rediscovered the short film for "Leave Me Alone" and it's opened my eyes up to just how creatively talented Michael and the team that worked on this project were.
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Acknowledgement: Special Thanks to Julien’s Auctions.  (www.julienslive.com)


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