Monday, July 13, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Two Days

Well, the rest of today, plus tomorrow, and then I can pick it up Monday! My new 137.

So to pass the time, I've got lots of activities going on. Did I mention that Jess is in Kentucky visiting her dad and his family?? She left this past Sunday (7/5) and gets back Wednesday (7/22). Yeah, 18 days. I KNOW. I'm over it. But like I said, plenty going on to keep me busy.

Tonight I'm going with a buddy to watch some big UFC fight. Apparently this is a pretty big fight, and a couple people I've told have said "oh yeah, I'm watching it too!" Tomorrow will be normal church in the morning, but then we've got a "Summer Sizzling Spectacular" in the afternoon/evening that should take up a good chunk of time. Then Monday morning I'll roll down to Hollywood and pick up my new treasure. It was a used item, so they had to hold it for 20 days to make sure it wasn't stolen. It was well taken care of, and I got it for about $850 cheaper than a new one. I'm excited!

To close, here's video of an 11 year old Korean boy who learned guitarist Andy McKee's arrangement of Toto's "Africa" in just two days.

Here's McKee's performance of the piece.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I Went To The Michael Jackson Memorial

I decided, just for fun, to try and enter the drawing for tickets to the memorial service at Staples Center this past Tuesday morning. I went to the website, but was disappointed to find that they had closed registrations. Bummer.

Then I get a call on Monday afternoon from my friend Jon. He says "I have probably the strangest question I've ever asked anyone..." And proceded to tell me that he actually HAD registered and actually HAD won tickets! He picked them up from Dodger stadium, and had gotten seats inside the Staples Center, and not next door at the Nokia.

So I left on the 6:08am metrolink train from Santa Clarita (with all the traffic closures and tight security, we were advised to be there really early), and arrived at Union Station at 7:03. I got a text from Jon at about 7:15 saying he was on his way (on the Gold Line), but was running late 'cause he overslept.

He got there eventually, and we jumped on the Red Line to 7th street and walked the rest of the way to the arena, passing all the bootleg memorabillia on the way (shirts, buttons, stickers, lanyards, other random junk).

I loved Michael's music growing up. His "Dangerous" album was one of the first albums I ever owned (on cassette tape!), along with "Totally Krossed Out" by rapper teens Kris Kross, and the soundtrack to the Disney Afternoon. My musical tastes have always been pretty varied. I recently acquired his "Off The Wall" album on original vinyl, and have always kept digital copies of his albums handy, even his "Invincible" album.

I would dress up like him, and attach keychains and various other metal items to black jackets, and practice my moonwalk in socks on the wood floor. I believe I may have even had some of my stuffed animal friends perform his songs in concert in our hallway (totally serious; just ask my brother)

The actual service got off to a little bit of a slow start when Smoky Robinson came up and read letters from Diana Ross and Nelson Mandela, and then nothing else happened for upwards of 10 minutes. The crowd was eerily quiet, as family and friends arrived most likely from the private service that had been held earlier that morning.

Once it got rolling, the transitions were pretty smooth, and the performers were tasteful and respectful of the occasion. My two favorite performances were John Mayer's instrumental version of "Human Nature" (on of my Jackson faves),
and Jennifer Hudson singing "Will You Be There" (the Free Willy song).
There were numerous testimonies and eulogies that were really appropriate for the setting. It was interesting to note that many people had a sort of god-esque faith in this man. I heard on more than one occasion that Michael Jackson "taught us how to love." He was also credited with giving the world hope, and breaking down racial and ethnic barriers. I suppose to some degree he did do those things through his art, and through his humanitarian efforts (Jackson is in the Guiness Book of World Records for Pop Star Who Supports the Most Charities), but did Michael Jackson really teach the world to love? REALLY???

I don't like to hold non-believers accountable to all of the same standards we try to hold to as believers (they aren't Christians, why should I expect them to act that way? That would only contribute to their sense of being "good enough" and earning a way into heaven...), but when there ARE references to a Judeo-Christian background, and belief that Michael is in heaven, then we gotta hold the line. I know Michael was a Jehovah's Witness growing up, but that later on in life, he became more pluralistic in his views of world religions. He was always a "spiritual" guy, but it seems like he became pretty religiously ambiguous. I obviously would have loved to have known that he was saved, but I don't, so I didn't pretend to agree by nodding my head or saying "amen" (as many did) when someone referenced God, or that Michael was looking down on us, or when Stevie Wonder said that as much as we needed him here with us, "God must have needed him far more." Yeah, like God NEEDS anything. I'm sure He was doing just fine...

I'm not going to waste time criticizing, but I will say what I was reminded of because of the service. I was reminded that I have a hope that is so much freakin' better than the hope that Michael Jackson gave to people. I was reminded that the one who taught ME how to love didn't spend useless years of his life mired in child molestation charges (whether he did or didn't do it isn't the point...). I was reminded that the one who "broke down racial and ethnic barriers" didn't try to alter himself through countless plastic surgeries to seemingly transform from a black man into a white woman (skin disease or not, how many noses has he gone through?).

My "Michael Jackson" lived over 2,000 years ago, and lived the perfect life that I could never live so that I could be reconciled to the holy God I'd infinitely offended in my sins. Hopefully, my very life is a memorial to Jesus every day. Then again, most memorials are for dead people, which he isn't, so...