Oh, So NOW You Miss Michael Jackson? What the $@#%? – MB#305 APRIL 1 2006 – Michael Jackson has hopefully cleaned house by temporarily closing his California home to everybody-and-their-mama. What does this mean to those who had previously called for its closure, and who are now opining both about its and Jackson’s importance? This has became an issue with me after talking to certain people over the course of months about Jackson-related issues like the Hurricane Katrina single and the decision to close Neverland. It has come to my attention that whether they admit it to themselves or not, they miss Michael Jackson; a position made clearer to me after Jackson announced that he was closing Neverland Ranch. Neverland Ranch was in the news earlier this month because of the status of ranch employees’ workman’s compensation insurance. Jackson, made aware of the issue after the State had already become involved, took care of the situation. Then came word that Jackson had decided to close his house and reduce his workforce. He released a statement through spokeswoman Raymone Bain. From the press release:

STATEMENT REGARDING NEVERLAND RANCH Washington, D.C./1:30 AM EST…. It is public knowledge that Mr. Jackson currently resides in the Middle Eastern country of Bahrain. He therefore decided to close his house and reduce his workforce. This is a common practice when a residence is vacant for an extended period of time. Reports indicating that Neverland has been closed or “shut down” for good are inaccurate. There will be no further comments regarding this matter. ### Source: Raymone Bain (see MJ Closes Neverland (Official word) )

When word first broke of the workman’s comp. situation, many, including myself, wondered just why the hell there needed to be 50+ workers at Neverland when Jackson had already moved to another country. Was this another issue of Jackson being too nice? As one fan quipped, were the maids cleaning up after the mannequins? Were the cooks preparing gourmet meals for the chimpanzees? It just didn’t make a whole lot of sense from the outside looking in. To the media, it was about finding the drama in the situation. There were some ‘woe-is-me’ reports about what the workers were going to do next; as if Jackson was supposed to employ these people for the rest of their lives. Some articles written about Neverland were ripe with ridiculous speculation and nonsensical predictions. Shock! Other articles over the past months have relayed everything from Jackson looking to purchase properties, to him shopping at malls in Bahrain; things about which I have been peppered with questions. And it was damn near breaking news to some of these people when he accidentally walked into the wrong bathroom half way across the world. It was as if they couldn’t resist talking about it. __Neverland Never-Again?__ Recent articles read like write-ups of a bygone era. For example, the AP’s Tim Molloy (“With Jackson Flown Away, His Fantasy Land Slumbers”) wrote the following in a March 19 2006 article:

Trains once packed with laughing children no longer roll around the grounds. The arcade that pulsed with rap music, the curse words edited out, has fallen silent. No one waits at the gate with ice cream for youngsters to arrive. After years of rumors about its demise, the fantasy playland Michael Jackson created as a celebration of childhood and a retreat from his troubles is going dark. (see With Jackson flown away, his fantasy land slumbers (March 19 2006))

Oh, the humanity! The humanity! Ok, now that we’ve gotten the drama out of our systems, let’s get real. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t despise Molloy or his article. I used him as an example because it is so illustrative of what society does. This society can’t seem to appreciate Jackson for a sustained period of time unless he removes himself from the situation. It is as if society has to feel that loss to a certain degree for some of them to begin to understand his importance. What I do despise is the undertones of loss expressed by others about Jackson moving to Bahrain and about Neverland not being what it used to be, especially if these same people have been less than truth-seeking in the recent past. More than a few people I know who readily bashed him and/or laughed at the disgusting Jay Leno jokes during the trial, are now walking around like zombies waiting on the Katrina charity single, fondly sharing memories about the Thriller jackets and penny loafers they used to wear to school in the 80s, or asking me if he’s working on another album. These same people were calling for Jackson to stop hanging around kids and close Neverland. Now they talk about him like they wish they could go back in time. Why do they miss Michael Jackson NOW? After treating him like garbage and talking about him like a dog, why do they NOW want to hear a charity single? Why do they NOW want to buy an album? Why do they NOW want to talk about the good ole’ days? WTF? Where was that sense of possible loss during the trial? Where were these write-ups about the importance of Neverland? Where was the concerted effort to get factual information and use that as a basis for their opinions? Nope. All I got from these people was ill-informed blather about the 101 ways in which Jackson could….may…..might…..possibly be doing criminal things with children at Neverland. As for Neverland, the proverbial party is over for many under privileged children and others who may have needed to be there. To stand underneath ‘The Giving Tree” and know that the world is much bigger than their own immediate situations. To come to regal surroundings and be awed, instead of confined to a hospital room. The party is also over for the ones who repeatedly and mercilessly either took advantage of or sought to take advantage of its creator. This leaves those of us who knew or suspected that Jackson would have nothing to gain by staying at Neverland and those of us who know that Jackson can go anywhere in the world and sell millions of albums. __Media contributed to the ridiculousness__ The disgusting way in which Jackson was treated both by the authorities and the media not too long ago seems even more absurd in retrospect than it looked at the time. Because of the media, these types of people were annoying the hell out of me with their asinine questions and holier-than-thou analyses. But now I can’t go a week without getting a phone call or a question from a subset of these people concerning the latest Jackson news. And maybe it’s because the world has changed in dramatic ways since the coverage of the trial. Hurricane Katrina changed the way many viewed our government. Regular folk woke up and started to ask questions after seeing thousands of black and white (yes white, too) faces screaming for help while living in 3rd-world squalor waiting on the government to act. The Bush administration is finally starting to get some of the scrutiny it should have gotten for years after numerous criminal scandals with Tom Delay, Scooter Libby, Jack Abramoff, David Safavian, Tony Rudy, etc, etc, etc. With these upheavals came changes in the way the media covers stories in general. And looking back, it was absolutely ridiculous the way the media went to wall-to-wall Jackson coverage for hours and hours at a stretch; like the time the world apparently stood still while the media just HAD to get shots of Jackson’s plane arriving in Santa Barbara when he flew in to face down the false allegations in 2003. What about absurdly ridiculous reports like the one on MSNBC with Dan Abrams visiting the prison that Jackson would have been taken to had the jury disregarded the lack of evidence and convicted him? And don’t get me started on the lopsided coverage of what came out during the actual trial! I’ll never forgive the so-called legitimate press for making me have to watch the E! Trial Reenactments to get accurate reports taken from the [b]actual[/b] trial testimony! Damn you all for that! But seriously, I brought up all of the preceding points simply to say that things have changed. And reports opining about Neverland – its importance and unfairly tarnished image –causes a visceral reaction of spite in me which I can’t help but to feel. __…and the spies came out of the water…__ What also showed up on the radar of some of these recent converts is the leaking of the information about workman’s comp. problems with Neverland to the media, first. Some had speculated that Jackson may have needed to clean house if for no other reason than to exorcise those untrustworthy, loose lips from Neverland. Employees do have to sign a confidentiality agreement to work at Neverland. It’s one thing to report to the State that someone’s workman’s compensation has lapsed. No problem with that. However, it’s another thing altogether to go to any member of the media with this information first, in an effort to give a Jackson-crackhead (media persons obsessed with negative Jackson stories) a scoop; a scoop in exchange for lord only knows what. What would have been the purpose of that? Why does any media entity need to know of any labor issues before Jackson himself? What was the point in calling up a Jackson-crackhead to spin a story? There was a time when we would have gotten wall-to-wall coverage with helicopters flying over Neverland as employees were being dismissed. Not to mention everybody and their damn grandmother would be given airtime to spew ridiculous theories about the reason for Neverland’s indefinite hiatus. At least a few things have changed. Of course not all employees fell into that category. But I guess the few who were shysters in sheep’s clothing have to find a new profession. __Stealthy Silence Jackson has been shedding fleas like a dog getting a flea dip since the news of the allegations broke. Many who have had their connections to his wallet severed, have also tried to pursue ways of getting back at him; from lawsuits to allegedly-tell-all books. I guess they didn’t steal enough while they were still working for him? To be sure, closing Neverland was Jackson’s decision. You probably read the media spin by some entities that it was “shut down for good”. Those entities seem to have a vested interested in making this story as dramatic as possible. As with anything Jackson-related, the exaggeration of circumstances is always prevalent. In all these years of covering Jackson news, understanding a situation sometimes requires putting oneself into that position. Definitely if I were Jackson, those peoples’ workman’s comp. wouldn’t have lapsed because they would already have been laid off by that time! They would have gotten laid off the day I moved to another country. It’s important to note that just because the staff has been reduced, it doesn’t mean the place has been boarded up as if it’s been condemned. Neverland isn’t as wide open as it has been. While that’s a good thing for Jackson despite the hell which created the need for such a closure, it’s also a sad situation for the many genuine, non-opportunistic people who aren’t currently getting to enjoy its serenity. And maybe Jackson will ultimately do what all other rich people do with their private estates: keep it all to themselves for them and their own family’s enjoyment. But what about those who have pulled a ‘road-to-Damascus’ conversion after his acquittal and, now, with Neverland’s closure? I suppose they may continue to have a love-hate relationship with the man from 1983. I suggest they build a time machine. He is a fully grown man with terrible life experiences I wouldn’t wish on anybody…well….other than Tom Sneddon, of course. When Jackson pulls from that pain and puts it into his music, we may not be able to shake it from Billboard’s #1 spot. In the meantime, kids and adults who wish to visit Neverland but can’t, may send a sarcastic ‘thank-you’ to the authorities in Santa Barbara County. Without their approval and backing, the crooks, liars, and shysters probably wouldn’t have been able to get away with half of the crap they pulled. So thanks a lot, you sons-a-b_tches. As for those who publicly praise his talents while insulting his humanity, decide what you want to be…..and stop asking me when the Katrina single will be released, damn it. -MJEOL

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