As I made my way to Glendale Forest Lawn Memorial Park, I wondered what in the world I would write about Michael Jackson, that I haven’t written before. On a sunny Los Angeles day, the traffic kept me from getting there too easily and I listened to Michael singing early 70’s songs in my car.
Up the winding road to the Holly Terrace Grand Mausoleum, I came upon a sea of hand-made cards, flowers, balloons, a stand up figure of Michael and there I saw my friend Andrea from Dusseldorf, Germany who flew in the celebrate Michael. With her, she carried boxes of cupcakes decorated with sunflowers, Michael’s favorite flower. She ordered them early to hand out to the fans that showed up today. I felt myself getting emotional and even though I wasn’t going to try to get a blog out today, I decided I would for the fans around the world as I always do. For me, it’s easy to get to Glendale to honor Michael. But the cards always move me and I figured fans would want to see the love.
I met two fans who were sitting on the grass near Holly Terrace and we could feel a lovely breeze. We had a short talk about Michael. How he would be 64 years old today and wondered what we would think about our world today.
I saw cards from friends around the world and some from others I do not know. But what I could feel, no matter who made the card, was the love that is still felt for Michael Jackson, 14 years after he has left this planet. Heal The World, Michael sang. We are the World Michael sang. And, his grand opus, Earth Song. If you don’t know who Michael was, just listen to the music and everything he was is revealed in his songs. For all the fans who made the cards and flew to Los Angeles to honor Michael and to the fans who couldn’t be here today, and the ones that keep advocating for him on Twitter, like Andjustice4 some, this is for you. Michael would be moved to tears to see the outpouring of love for him, just as I have.
The truth is I wasn’t going to blog on the anniversary of Michael Jackson’s 62nd birthday this year. Not only have we been in a heat wave in Los Angeles but I have been trying to manage with my mother locked down in a nursing facility, left brain damaged from her second husband’s abuse. For the past six months, she has not been allowed visitors but I have been given permission to see her from a gate for 25 minutes, in the sun, with traffic whizzing by, two times a week. The isolation is getting to her as she does not understand why she has no visitors coming inside even though I have tried to explain the situation to her. She asks me to “come inside”, “let’s go” “vamanos” and “open the gate.” Finding a perfectly ripe avocado made me happy, because it’s the only food they allow me to bring her.
The medical director of the facility told me “We need your voice, don’t back down” so I haven’t but it’s exhausting. Then, to make matters worse, I was told that the facility working with the Dept. of Health would open up a safe, social distanced arrangement where family can visit without endangering the residents, staff or visitors at the end of August. There were 5 new cases in a building in the same campus two weeks ago, so the residents have been locked down once again.
In place of boredom, I offer my mother spontaneity. In place of loneliness, I offer companionship. Instead of feeling helpless, being able to visit with my mother gave me the opportunity to take care of another human being. I look forward to the day that will we set them free from this tyranny.
As I pulled into Forest Lawn Glendale, I was wondering if Michael would be remembered this year as more people tend to visit on the anniversary of his death, rather than his birthday. As I saw the intricate, creative cards and the stunning arrangement of flowers, I knew I had to share these photographs with his fans so here I am again.
Helena Ong – Malaysia
My heart is filled with sorrow because of my mother’s isolation and if I can bring a smile to someone in the world, sharing the love I am witness to at Forest Lawn, then I have accomplished something meaningful today. No one understood this better than Michael Jackson, whose genuine love and caring for humanity was part of why he touched so many hearts around the globe. Michael Jackson was the embodiment of love, kindness, caring and the most creative soul to ever walk this planet.
Finally, last but not least, the love between Gloria and her fiancé, is so heart affirming.
June 25, 2009 – I was a stuntwoman hired to work on Iron Man 2. As I drove on the 101 Freeway in the late afternoon, heading to the location in downtown Los Angeles, I couldn’t stop thinking about Michael and wrap my head around the fact that he was gone. The news of his death had been announced only a few hours prior, and a part of me refused to believe it. When I met the stunt coordinator, I casually mentioned it, not wanting to seem like a fanatic. Boy, how I would let go of that need years later. The scene called for three stuntwomen to be running away from gigantic robots. One of the stuntmen landed on me and, as I would find out days later, broke a few of my ribs. I couldn’t breathe but I got up and did the shot again. For some reason, getting hurt always made me go inside and ponder.
After researching, writing, blogging and sharing my photos with Michael Jackson fans around the world for nine years, I grew to not care what people thought about my “obsession” with Michael. Actually, I began to believe that if you tell me what you think about Michael, I will tell you who you are. Thus, began my search for the truth about who Michael Jackson was.
This year, like annual clockwork, the media has begun the totally baseless smear stories one month before the anniversary of Michael’s passing. The medialoid (mainstream media infected by tabloid journalism) loves to feed a constant diet of trash and lies about Michael. And his fans begin to defend him, as always, standing firmly for the truth and defending his legacy. I look forward to the day when Michael’s volunteer work for children trends instead of the lies. In the meantime, I continue my work on the anniversary of his passing to remind the world who he was, an innocent humanitarian.
Why did the media begin a witch hunt against Michael as soon as he started breaking every musical record? First of all, Michael was the archetypal misunderstood artist, committed to his art and his creative vision even though he was being judged.
Did you know that Michael Jackson was personally responsible for cutting the number of starving people on this planet in half back in the 1990’s? The media didn’t report that.
Michael Jackson was the personification of love. What do we do with someone whose heart is that big?
Tall Poppy Syndrome is “a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down or criticized because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.” That is what happened to Michael Jackson the moment he started to break every music record ever made. A simple walk through Twitter for example, will show example after example of people who never even knew him or read anything valuable about him trashing him. Hence, my belief of “tell me what you think of Michael Jackson and I will tell you who you are”. Are you judgmental? Accepting of someone who did not fit in any of the neat little boxes that society loves to place on people? Do you see his giant, loving heart that gave to strangers and visited sick and dying children before and after his concerts? A man who would donate millions of dollars from touring to various children’s causes? Is that what you see? Or do you believe the lies that the media feeds you?
A Jewish proverb says, Do not be wise in words, be wise in deeds.Michael Jackson was wise in deeds. Other-centered does not even come close to describing his character. Listed in the 2000 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records for “Most Charities Supported by a Pop Star”, he supported 39 charities and gave away $500 million in his lifetime. Even in his death his earnings are still going to charity, as specified in his will.
As I walk around Forest Lawn Glendale, I focus on the love that I see for Michael Jackson and I feel my heart chakra stirring. I see handmade cards so intricate, delicate and beautiful that my heart is moved to tears. I have been in actual relationships and not had such cards made for me.
Here is Robyn Starkland who tirelessly organizes One Rose for Michael Jackson, year after year. This year, there are 8,047 roses purchased by fans around the globe. On June 26, the roses are donated to various charities around Los Angeles.
I met Sarah, who flew 5 hours to Auckland and 12 hours to Los Angeles, from South Australia. This was her first visit to Forest Lawn. She said when Michael died “I was overwhelmed with tears and I didn’t know why. I had dreams where he smiled, picked me up and spun me around.
Every year I see artwork by an artist named Siren. This year I actually met and spoke to her. Siren is from Canada and did not start painting until years after Michael died. Her drawing began two years after Michael passed but she did not paint until 2014. She said “I credit Michael with all of it, all my creativity. That’s my connection to him, the relationship, my spirituality.”
Here are Rieko Ishii, Miyuki Amano, Yoko Abe and Yuki Otsuki, who came together from Japan. They brought this glorious angel winged, red rose tribute for Michael.
Here are Queenie Las, May Cheng and Jessica Kwok from Hong Kong. They layed out pictures for hours on Saturday but everything was gone on Sunday.
Yasuyo Kaneko was sitting with an umbrella and her 2 little MJ dolls, complete with miniature flowers. I found a framed photo I loved, which turned out to be hand made by her.
People like Yasuyo are why I come to Forest Lawn Glendale every years on the anniversary of MJ’s passing.
Yasuyo is kind, gentle, soft-spoke and other centered. She created a delicate wooden frame with MJ’s favorite flowers, and was part of the team that arranged the giant arrangement of red roses, and angel wings in gold.
Michael Jackson didn’t just love his own children: he loved all children. Perhaps that’s why he was judged so harshly by people who did not know him. In the end, it’s not just his music, dancing and videos that bring people from all corners of the world to Forest Lawn Glendale to deliver their sweet, homemade gifts. It’s because Michael Jackson was the personification of love and what we need now, more than ever, is love.
The Magic of Michael Jackson’s Memorial in Munich, Germany
One thing everyone should know about me is that I am a BIG fan of Michael Jackson. I’ve have been involved with the Michael Jackson community for more than eight years, and I had heard about the memorial dedicated to him in Munich years ago. I like to visit any Michael Jackson memorials and photograph them (with my MJ dolls, of course). On a recent journey to Germany, I made sure I gave myself time to do just that. I was going to be in Munich anyway for a photographic series I was doing on my father, who survived eight Nazi forced labor camps. After hearing about Michael’s memorial, I had to make it part of the trip.
I was heading to the hotel that Michael Jackson stayed at many times: Hotel Bayerischer Hof, which was just one turn and 20 minutes from my motel in the Old Town of Munich. I made a left on Promenadeplatz and the grand hotel with its blue awnings came into view.
Michael stayed in suite 32 in 1997 for the History tour and a year later he returned to take his children Prince and Paris to Circus Krone. In 1999, he had a concert at the Olympic Station, “Michael Jackson and Friends” for the Nelson Mandela charity. Due to a technical problem with part of the set, the central section of ‘The Bridge Of No Return’ collapsed, forcing Michael to climb back on to the stage. Michael continued to perform as planned and was taken to the hospital – after collapsing backstage from the pain of the fall. Did I mention I like Michael jackson?
When I arrived at the hotel, I quickly found photos of Michael Jackson’s smiling face. I sat down on a bench adjacent to the monument and overheard two men speaking about Michael.
“Why did he like being with children” they asked one another.
“Do you want to know?” I answered. They were interested, and encouraged me to explain.
“Imagine everywhere you go in the world, from the time you are eight years old, everyone wants something from you: a hand-shake, a hug, a photo, a kiss, a job or for you to listen to their song. Michael was an innocent, soft-spoken, shy, humble man who loved children because they allowed him to be who he was: a child-like soul.” I said.
The men nodded their heads and understood why Michael connected with children. I’m happy I helped them understand why Michael connected with billions of souls across the globe. It is because he was a loving, gentle, humble and kind man.
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, no matter where I am in the world, I am never, ever alone. I’m always able to connect with people in another country about Michael.
I walked to Michael’s memorial each of the four nights I was in Munich. On the last afternoon, I had plans to meet my friend, Nena, whom I met four years ago at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, where Michael is buried, on the anniversary of Michael’s birthday. Nena has been responsible for creating and running the memorial in Munich for the past eight years.
Nena received permission from the mayor of the city and the Bavarian Government to put up photos of Michael on a city monument. Every morning before she goes to work at the two coffee shops she owns she goes to the memorial to add fresh flowers. People send donations for the flowers, candles, pictures and laminating the photos people leave in his honor. It’s a non-profit association to remember Michael Jackson. Fans write to Nena from all over the world and come from France, Italy, from Japan, China, American, Australia, Canada. And many fans from Germany also go to meet Nena and see the memorial.
I was a Hollywood stuntwoman for twenty-five years, and though it might sound crazy, my life changed the day Michael Jackson died. I was working on Iron Man 2 at the time, and after MJ’s death, I endeavored to discover who Michael Jackson truly was. (Not what the media tried to force feed us.) Thus began my organic, eight-year ongoing series, Searching for Michael Jackson.
These photos are part of my journey to understand the man Michael Jackson was, and also functioned as an outlet for me to meet other MJ fans from around the world. My MJ dolls have been to Warsaw, Krakow, Prague, Budapest, and now Munich, and it’s been a fulfilling, but more importantly, fun, experience to photograph the dolls with Michael Jackson memorials.
My favorite photographs of my MJ doll and photos of Michael are the ones I made in the rain with water drops on my jacket sleeve. I love all the colors from the photographs of Michael on the monument along with the candles, flowers and the backdrop of the hotel.
I have visited MJ memorials around the world including the one in Budapest, Hungary and I always find it comforting to visit a memorial dedicated to the King of Pop, clear across the Atlantic ocean, so far from my home in Los Angeles. As I travel alone, seeing all the love for Michael is a real comfort, and helps to soothe my soul.
The Magic of Michael Jackson’s Memorial in Munich, Germany
Michael Jackson: This Life Don’t Last Forever: 5 Years Later on June 25, 2014
“This life don’t last forever.” That’s the first line of Michael Jackson’s Hold My Hand, which seems eerily prophetic now. Michael’s lyrics were inspired by friendship and togetherness themes. Friendships meant everything to Michael. He cherished, cared for and loved his friends. Michael’s spiritual view of living didn’t allow him to subscribe to duality; making others wrong. “It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right just beat it.” Michael understood loyalty, saying his fans were always there for him.
Not only did Michael Jackson create music that will stay with us forever, but he filled us with hope for a better world. Heal the world, Michael sang and he believed he could, one person at a time. “I am your friend, through thick and thin, we need each other, we’ll never part, our love is from the heart, we never say I don’t need you.” Michael wrote in Best of Joy. I loved him when he was a little boy, when he set the world on fire with Thriller and Bad and all the music he created always.
His light shined so bright that when he left, there were no words that could fill the sorrow in our hearts. Michael kept his light glowing even when his loneliness enveloped him. His music lives on. His passion for life; music, dance, singing, animals, film and art continues to inspire us. Along with his beautiful heart which is filled with grace, kindness and compassion and most importantly, forgiveness. “The only thing that matters in life is having someone who understands you, who trusts you and who will be with you no matter what.” Michael truly understood what it is to be a friend.
How do I even begin to convey how Michael Jackson changed my life? Through his lyrical content he’s inspired me to strive for good. He’s inspired me to be true to myself and never give up on my dreams. He’s inspired me to hold onto my vision.He’s inspired me not to let the naysayers and negative nellies get me down. I think more than anything else he inspired me to be the best I can be at what I do.
Henri Matisse said that creativity takes courage. Michael Jackson was a courageous man. He believed he should study the greats to become greater so he studied every art he could – from writing to poetry to dance, music and film. He studied and he learned yet he never lost his innocence. He didn’t shut his heart down; he kept opening it even though he was hurt again and again by the medialoid’s constant diet of trash & lies about him. Only small minded people accept and believe whatever the media writes on Michael. He was shattered over and over yet he kept his heart open, sending love into the world, over and over again.
On the 5th anniversary of his departure from the earthly plane, we celebrate Michael Jackson by remembering and honoring his courage and his art. I’m moved and amazed at the outpouring of love that comes from all over the globe to Forest Lawn Cemetery every year. It’s a sea of love because we understand that Michael was love.
These are post cards for Michael Jackson from Italy:
Yoko from Japan told me “I came 2 days ago. I go back to Japan tomorrow. It’s my first time here. Many countries and people gather. I stay downtown and take taxi to Forest Lawn.”
Here is a lovely quilt from Japan:
Some of the individual hand made pieces from the quilt:
Another quilt from Japan:
Insert on quilt:
Carine (Jadzzia) and Erik came from Belgium to lay out about fifty homemade cards for Michael. I asked Erik about coming all the way from Belgium. He said “The world is small, it’s easy to fly.”
His ability to love unconditionally, to forgive from his heart is a lesson to us all. Michael said that people may refuse our love or reject our message, but they are defenseless against our prayers. For all those who haven’t forgiven, may Michael Jackson teach us all how to forgive, before it’s too late.
We are Soldiers of Love whose mission is to spread love. We’re an army, a team of L.O.V.E. Just the way Michael intended.
What is so clear to me while wandering at Forest Lawn Glendale amidst the sea of people from all around the world is the desire for connection and the pain that comes from loss. Just like Michael sang about in so many of his songs.