Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Defending A King: His Life And Legacy by Dr. Karen Moriarty

Today I will share with you the first chapter of this biography on the greatest entertainers of our times, Michael Jackson. I generally do not ask my readers to 'definitely read' a book, but this one, you absolutely MUST read!

*This is a complimentary copy sent by the author and BookPleasures.

Here's a look at the first chapter from the book 'Defending A King: His Life And Legacy' by Dr. Karen Moriarty.


I was a seedling (of a fan) before;
now I'm an oak tree
with growing roots and branches.

"Was Michael Jackson really happy?"

I traveled 2240 miles from Ponte Verda Beach, Florida, to the desert of Las Vegas to hear the answer. When I met with Boyd Williams and Baron James for the first time, on Valentine's Day of 2011, I had my first question about Michael Jackson ready for them. I so hoped that these two men would assure me that Michael had overcome the trauma of his 2005 trial to the point of achieving some level of content.

 In truth, I had made this journey not only to seek a truthful, valid answer to this query. I went to interview with the security men who had protected Michael Jackson and his young family during the critical months before his tragic decision to move to Los Angeles to begin preparations for his 'come-back' concerts in London. To most of Michael's fans, he had never really been gone, but the prospect of his renewed performing career excited, and yes, thrilled people everywhere.

 In March 2009, an exuberant Michael Jackson held a press conference, standing-room-only, in London to announce his planned series of concerts, to begin in July. Because I was confined to bed and sofa by my physician, with my right leg in a cast and elevated above the level of my head for twenty-three hours per day, I watched television for hours and hoped that my ankle, broken in six places, would soon heal. Michael's high-spirited announcement was played over and over again throughout the day on various news programs; each time I felt joy for him. Way to go Michael! I thought, delighted that he had seemingly overcome his great adversities post-trial to the point of a glorious return to the stage.

 Little did I know at the time about the specifics of those adversities. I would soon learn from a variety of sources that Michael Jackson dealt with more challenges, pain and assaults against him than most people can even imagine, much less endure themselves.....

 Although I admired Michael Jackson and enjoyed his music for decades, I didn't yet refer to myself as a fan; I considered the term demeaning; and it smacked of teenage years. During the five-month circus of his 2005 trial in 2005, however, I found that I could not watch any televised coverage of it. I had to leave the room or change the channel immediately when there was reportage because the suffering on Michael's face was so apparent. If anyone appeared to need painkillers, it was Michael Jackson.

 He was surrounded by security guards as everyday he walked stonily to and from the packed courtroom through the hordes of people outside. The sight reminded me of a fettered lion-cub, robbed of his dignity, being led by his keepers to a performing arena for the amusement of blood-thirsty spectators. I felt the same reaction to defendant Michael Jackson that I experience when a tortured animal is shown on a commercial or Animal Planet program. I felt as if someone was squeezing my heart, and I fled.

 After Michael Jackson's death in 2009, I found myself mourning from a death I had not yet explored, from a place within that I had not yet discovered. I began reading and researching about the man; listening to his music; and buying his short films. I studied him with the same level of thoroughness that I had brought to the variety of subjects in graduate school, when I worked towards and completed a doctoral degree which qualified me to become a psychologist. When I learned about Michael's philanthropy and humanitarian works, his genuinely loving heart, and his immeasurable, ubiquitous impact on the world, I became.....a fan. 

 While watching his concert Live in Bucharest, especially, I marveled as Michael Jackson sang "Heal The World," surrounded by orphan children. The audience - men and women of all ages and races - wept. Then he performed "Man in the Mirror," and the security attendants could not keep up with the fainting and overcome individuals; they were carried out to unseen medical tents for treatment, 3,500 of them! More casualties here, I reflected, than in most natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes. These were willing casualties, however, with no permanent injuries, thankfully. They had seen Michael Jackson perform live.

 At his emotion-wracked Memorial service on July 7, 2009, I was amazed and deeply touched by the genuine outpouring of love for this man from all who knew and admired him. It was an epic event. His children emerged that day like beautiful butterflies from a cocoon for the world to see for the first time, as a newly-public family. People marveled at their dignity and grace. Michael Jackson had done right by these children; they were living testament to his dedication and abilities as a father.

 He became a real human being to me that day, no longer just the King of Pop on a light-drenched stage but a true giver of love, an inspiration, a role model.

 Time passed, and in mid-September of that year I almost lost my husband also. Robert suffered at least one heart attack - perhaps several during weeks of bouts of severe chest pain - which resulted in his need for quadruple by-pass surgery to save his life. It was a scary time. Robert was my confidante, lover, cheerleader, care-giver, and listening ear for more than three decades.While he was in the hospital for one week and then recovering at home, in rehab activity for many weeks afterwards, I set aside two hours every night - actually early morning from 2:00 to 4:00 AM - for a break. During that allocated time I watched concerts from the Michael Jackson Ultimate Collection - 32 DVDs and a CD of 97 songs - which Robert had given me for my birthday two weeks before his surgery.

 During those two hours, when Michael Jackson sang, danced, and gave his all, I found that I could not worry or feel bad...about anything. It was a precious respite; it provided a much-needed 'head-vacuuming'; I became addicted. And, then I felt overcome by gratitude. Michael Jackson as therapy!

 While, thankfully, my husband fully recovered, I did not! With my college roommate Lupe McDouald, dear friend Irene McDonald and her daughter Lori, I made the pilgrimage to Los Angeles on June 25, 2010. There we joined the Michael Jackson Tribute Tour and visited his Encino family compound (Hayvenhurst), the Holmby Hills home where he died, Neverland, the Staples Center, and Forest Lawn Cemetery. We left sunflowers at every site, where throngs of people were gathered, many of them bringing flowers, teddy bears, and other meaningful offerings.

 Back home, with friends, I visited the Jacksonville zoo for a behind-the-scenes tour. There I sought out Ali, the huge Indian elephant who had been transported here from Neverland Ranch after its closing. For many years, Ali had roamed freely with his companion Baba and Gypsy - the latter elephant a surprise gift to Michael Jackson from Elizabeth Taylor - on vast, hilly, verdant landscapes, along with tigers, lions, orangutans, giraffe, llamas, and numerous other species.

 I watched Ali, now confined to a few sparsely-treed acres where he can only retrace his own steps in an endless manner, his large ears constantly, gently flapping. I wondered if Ali remembered the kind hand of Michael feeding him leafy branches and green bananas from days long ago. Like Ali, Michael was garrisoned in close quarters, at least as compared to his Neverland kingdom, during his nomadic, post-acquittal years.

 Earlier, in March 2010, I watched security guards Boyd Williams, Baron James , and Michael Garcia on two back-to-back Good Morning America programs. (The real names of Boyd Williams and Baron James have not been disclosed in this book.) They talked about their days with 'Mr. Jackson' and 'his little ones' - a span of many months during which they shared in Michael Jackson's life to the surprisingly significant extent that their boss allowed. The three men spoke about how they immutably bonded with him and his three children in a profound way that they had never known before. I wept.

 Some months passed; I looked unsuccessfully for the book that they were writing about their experiences and interactions with Michael Jackson, 'the real man'; and I decided to take action. I sent them a proposal, thanking them for their intentions and efforts on behalf of Michael Jackson and offering my help. They wanted to present the human Michael Jackson to the world, the good man whom they had come to know, and I hoped to assist them.

 To my delight, Boyd Williams telephoned me on a sunny Sunday in early 2011. He told me, 'We know more about Michael Jackson than his family, not bad things about him, but just things that no one else knows.'

 'We are not doing this book because it is the last thing that we can do for Michael Jackson. We're doing it for him.....and for his fans. They deserve it.'

 'I'm on a plane!' a voice said in my head. I wanted to meet with these men to discuss my becoming their ghost writer - on a pro bono basis. Boyd explained that they had gotten thousands of hits to their website after their GMA program airing as well as overtures by would-be publishers for their proposed book. There was a catch, however, for the publishers; they wanted a scandal. Here we go again.....The media world, at least the segment that is willing to put out money, wants Michael Jackson as a villain or at least a miscreant or weird creature.

 'Michael Jackson was amazingly normal,' Boyd told me during our introductory phone conversation. After he further elaborated on the themes of their book, I happily responded, 'It sounds like you be continuing the love affair between Michael Jackson and his fans.'

 On the night of our first meeting in Vegas, Boyd and Baron came to the Excalibur Hotel, where I was staying. Michael Garcia, the third member of the security team and the driver of Michael Jackson's weapon-filled back-up vehicle, left the project during that week. I did not have the opportunity to meet up with Mr. Garcia until the summer of 2011. Boyd, Baron, and I met for four hours, until 1:00 AM the next day; we talked about 'the boss' and their memories of specific times and experiences with him.

 They both look security guards, I thought immediately upon our first handshakes. Both were noticeably scanning the casino environment, frequently looking right and left - an occupational hazard, a learned behaviour that cannot be turned off like a faucet. Boyd directed the hostess to seat us in a reserved area of the restaurant so that we could have dinner and talk without any chance of being overheard. They whispered stories about Michael Jackson's financial affairs, lawsuits, exploitative managers, and the extreme measures that were necessary to protect him. They seemed relieved to be able to share with me these various matters and 'inside stories.'

 Boyd struck me as a rare combination of 'Don't mess with me' and 'I could become your friend.' He was guarded - pun intended - and had a penetrating gaze, but he also occasionally spoke with a warmth that was comforting. Boyd, forty-seven years old, is a big, burly man with a barrel chest and arms the size of palm tree trunks. The sign posted next to the front door of his home, he explained, is strangely appropriate; it displays the unfriendly end of a gun with a warning 'Never Mind The Dog - Beware of Owner!'

 Baron looked like a professional actor of hero parts. At 6'4", 223 pounds, the thirty-four-year-old has the stature and bearing of a formidable, confident man. He smiles readily and comfortably in spite of the professional requirement for him to appear foreboding at certain times while guarding a client. Boyd describes Baron as the 'quiet storm,' explaining that his friend is to be feared when he is confronted or angry.

 Baron wore a knit cap that hugged his head and seemed strange in light of the warm weather. His arms were covered with tattoos, elaborate and highly detailed figures from shoulder to wrist. Near his shoulder resided an image of his mother, about five inches long, and he was quick to point her out to me. 'This is my mother,' Baron said proudly. 'We are very close. Even when my mother is wrong about something, she is not wrong to me.'

 When Baron began his service with Michael Jackson, he was the father of a newborn daughter, only one month old. He has two other children, a teenaged daughter and a young son. As a single father, he shares in the care of his children with their mothers.

 During our lively, intense conversation about Michael Jackson and their prospective book, I felt excited, energized and hopeful. We smiled; laughed a bit; and at one point cried together. Baron provided the Kleenex, while Boyd, a bit embarrassed, shook his head from side to side and muttered, 'Grown men shouldn't cry.' As they were leaving we hugged.

 The two men are African-American single fathers; they could easily identify with Michael Jackson. They empathized with his joys, worries, and challenges as a single parent.

 On February 16, 2011, two days after our meeting, Boyd took me to see Michael Jackson's 'primary house' during his months of service; it was located in Summerlin. I walked the streets that flanked the property and took photos. Boyd pointed out all of the various rooms in the house and elaborated on the security measures and personnel used in protecting Mr. Jackson and his children. He talked about the signal that Mr. Jackson used to communicate that he was retiring for the night. Boyd described the night that he met Michael Jackson and explained how 'the boss' had tested his loyalty. During the car ride, he regaled me with stories that were interesting and poignant, including Mr. Jackson's secret trips to the Strip just to watch the everyday people and his ritual in reading his fan mail.

 When Boyd returned me to my hotel, he informed me that he and Baron wanted me to work on their project. What an incredible opportunity for me to do something for Michael Jackson and for his fans, I thought with pride and eager anticipation.

 When I had left my home days earlier, I perceived Michael Jackson as a human Bambi - fragile, vulnerable, deserted, in need of protection, alone - in a perilous environment. By the time I returned, I perceived Michael Jackson as Bambi's little brother.

 Williams and James had devoted themselves to the safety and welfare of Michael Jackson across the span of time that they shared with him. Both appeared to be haunted by the question, If June 25, 2009 had been on our watch, would Michael Jackson still be alive? They will never know.....

 Boyd, Baron and I worked together intensively on the book via emails. During the weeks of full-time writing, I felt angry, confused, and agitated, and I sometimes cried. I was stunned by what Michael Jackson had to endure in his complicated, tumultuous life.

 In mid-April 2011, I returned to Las Vegas to work with Boyd and Baron on more material for their book. The two men, Boyd's assistant Angela, and I met at the Rio Hotel for dinner. Unfortunately, we never got around to the work that was the articulated goal and plan....

 As before, Boyd instructed the restaurant hostess to seat out group in an unoccupied area. In the vast restaurant, the four of us sat at a table against the far wall. Baron ordered a bowl of boiling water, which the waiter promptly served us. To my amazement, without a word spoken, he collected all our silverware and immersed it in the steaming water. Minutes later, explaining that he always engages in this precautionary ritual, he returned our silverware. What kind of experiences, I wondered, has caused this unusual pattern of behaviour?  

 On the following night, the four of us met in the condo where I was staying. Baron had offered to bring the refreshments for our group.

 'I'd like coke - nothing else,' I told him. Both he and Boyd burst out into broad smiles, blurting simultaneously, 'You want coke?'

 'No, no,' I hastily replied; 'I want Coca Cola.' Their smiles faded and I realised that we live in different worlds.

 'I love her passion,' Baron exclaimed several times to the others during our meeting. In spite of those welcome and complimentary words, it became apparent to me that they were not sufficient to bridge our divergent visions for a book.

 Our four-hour meeting together included colorful, 'salty' language and it turned emotional for everyone. The men pepper their conversation frequently with expressions such as 'yo' 'hey,' 'dude,' and 'bro.' At one point, Boyd suddenly left the room and the condo, after exclaiming, 'I have anger issues!' He returned - after ten tense minutes for the remaining three of us - and we resumed our debate. We had opposite opinions regarding Murray, and I struggled with my strong, immutable feelings of anger over Murray's role in Michael Jackson's death.

 Finally, exhausted and talked-out, we reached the conclusion that we were 'not on the same page' regarding the content of their proposed book. I could neither embrace some of the directions that they wanted to take nor the limitations of scope and perspective. The draft that I presented them served as the focal point around which our differences were clarified. We parted, with hugs, at 1:30 AM.

 My impression was that they were still suffering from feelings that included anger - not generally directed at Michael Jackson but at his 'people' - particularly over their allegedly not having been paid in a timely manner.

 In the wake of our disagreements, my profound desire to present Michael Jackson in a very different and comprehensive manner to his fans and non-fans alike was intensified. I felt inspired to return to the drawing board, to start all over again, and to create my own book about Michael Jackson. I wanted to focus on a celebration of the man, focusing upon his last years and the complexities and herculean challenges with which he struggled. I hoped to propose probable explanations for his decisions and behaviour and to shed light upon those characteristics of the man that reveal both his humanity and nobility of spirit.

 Sitting at my kitchen table the week of my return from Vegas, I felt myself flooding with memories. Flashback to 1995, when I jumped into the controversial media-driven Baby Richard case in Chicago,Illinois. On a pro bono basis, I had become the psychologist-therapist for the four-year-old child and his biological parents, Otakar and Daniela Kirchner, Czech immigrants. The state's highest court ruled the adoption of Baby Richard, when he was a newborn, by a 'WASP' couple who called themselves Mr. and Mrs. John Doe in court documents, as 'failed' and 'fraudulent.' Accordingly, the little boy, at the age of four, was suddenly transferred to his father Otakar and mother Daniela, who had married each other during the drawn-out custody battle. My job was to help the child and his birth parents become a family.

 The media, however, had decided to champion the adoptive parents and to exonerate Otakar and Daniela Kirchner. Friendless, they became an underground family, dealing with death threats, hate mail, and rejecting potential employers. The paradigm was set: Baby Richard, whose real name was Danny, was described as a boy who would 'never be normal,' who was 'doomed to a life of mental illness' due to his traumatic hand-over to 'unsavory' people, away from 'loving suburban parents.' I realised, across many months, that these people didn't have a chance. They had been vindicated and supported by the Illinois Supreme Court, but they were judged and condemned roundly in the media.

 The truth was that Danny, from his first days in his biological parents' home, rapidly gained weight, got on with the life of a four-year-old, and thrived. His parents dearly loved him; worked hard and devotedly; avoided the media and the public; and managed to eek out a decent, respectable life. In my opinion, however, they did not recover from the grossly sullied images of them - including the innocent child Danny - that were manufactured in the media. It was heart-breaking to witness...across years. The media won; these struggling, good people lost.

 From this deeply disillusioning experience, I viewed the phenomenon of Michael Jackson as Defendant during his 2005 trial. I knew that he didn't have a chance either to recover from the media-set perception of him as suspicious at best and criminal at worst. I ached for this man whom I didn't know, but with whom I felt deep empathy. It seemed cosmically unjust. I was convinced that he was an innocent with a kind heart, gentle spirit, and an incredibly uniquely vulnerable life situation.....

 Michael Jackson has been the indisputable underdog in the media, who love it that way. Their ratings, sales and profits have been astronomical.... at Michael's expense. As the life-long champion and rescuer of stray cats, I identified with the media-created plight of this man who was deservedly at the top of the world in his field but undeservedly an outcast in the court of public opinion.

 After the 2011 court proceedings that addressed the senseless death of Michael Jackson, who was a victim once again - a victim to the doctor who killed him and a victim to media that exceeded all bounds of decency and respect in their coverage of Michael during the manslaughter trial of Conrad Murray - I felt heartbroken once again.....

 Michael Jackson's influence on me was profound, I realized with a mixture of surprise and gratitude. Because of his example, I was inspired to volunteer every week at my local humane society, working to help potential adopters of the homeless cats and kittens. I also began feeding, on a daily basis, a colony of feral cats who live in a vacant field near my home. Now attending a Buddhist center to learn meditation, I have made new, close friends, individuals who value their spirituality and bring to the experience an open, probing mind. I go out of my way to give money to every homeless person whom I see; I remember that, from the time he was a teenager, Michael Jackson sought out homeless people to give them food or money. I've increased my donations to charities and try to do random acts of kindness. And, I've formed new, engrossing friendships with fans of Michael Jackson from Sweden, Russia, Germany, Australia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Nevada, Illinois, New York, California and Florida. I try new things and attempt to 'thing outside the box' when making decisions in my everyday life and in considering my future.

 Thank you Michael.....

 In May 2011, I had launched a campaign to speak to people who really knew Michael Jackson intimately and to renew my reading and researching, at the same level of dedication and work from my years in college and graduate school.

 Thomas Mesereau, the attorney who directed Michael's defense team at his criminal trial in 2005, telephoned me - in response to a letter I had sent him - from his Los Angeles office on a Sunday afternoon. He asked me pointed questions about my intended book, the resources that would be utilized, and the people who would be interviewed. Satisfied with my answers, Mr. Mesereau consented to meet with me to share information, insights and behind-the-scenes material with me for this book. With genuine and deep affection for his client, he believes strongly that Michael Jackson deserves a legacy of well-earned respect, admiration, and love.

 Calling the trial 'a disgrace,' Thomas Mesereau anguished over the horrendous mistreatment of his famous client by the authorities who dogged him, the media that tried to destroy him for their own gain, and his pathetic and perjured accusers. Mr. Mesereau felt powerless to control these factions, but he committed himself completely and tirelessly to defend the very life of Michael Jackson. He and his brilliant law partner, Susan Yu, led a team of attorneys, private investigators, researchers, and assistants in their quest to bring about justice for Michael Jackson - a full acquittal.

 Mesereau and Yu succeeded. They set aside their egos; avoided the media; took control of the defense preparations, replacing those who were less skilled and less selfless vis-a-vis Michael Jackson; and avoided the circus-liek machinations that are typical of high-profile celebrity cases. They ignored the inner circle of Michael Jackson.

 Michael put his faith in them, and they did not let him down. They worked with uncompromising zeal and a special level of wisdom, instinct, and skill on Michael's behalf.

 Thomas Mesereau spent many hours of his time with me in person, on the telephone, and in email communications in his unselfish commitment to contribute to this book 'defending' Michael Jackson. Mr. Mesereau knew Michael Jackson in a way unlike anyone else. He understood Michael's feelings, core values, and belief systems; he discovered nearly everything about his client's personal life. Thomas Mesereau's input has been invaluable to me.

 While in Los Angeles, I had the great pleasure of meeting Susan Yu also, in the offices that she shares with her law partner Thomas Mesereau.We spoke and hugged, and I felt a special bond with this woman who was the behind-the-scenes heroine during Michael Jackson's trial.

 Larry Nimmer, a professional filmmaker who was commissioned by Mesereau and Yu to videotape Neverland for the jury in Michael Jackson's trial, also gave unsparingly of his time toward this book. We met in person in Los Angeles and then continued to correspond across subsequent months.

 Describing himself as 'indifferent to Michael Jackson' at the time of his accepting the assignment to capture Neverland on film in a full, complete manner, Larry met Michael, 'got a feeling of him as a man,'' and became a disciple of Michael Jackson's. Today, Larry has 43 videos of Michael Jackson on his Facebook site, and he has started a 'Mike Like' organisation of people who perform acts of kindness and charity in Michael's honor.

 Larry remembers Michael Jackson as slim and graceful, 'looking like a Boy Scout in the hallway of the courthouse,' and as 'kind, humble, gentle and thoughtful.' He was genuinely impressed with Michael as a human being. According to Larry, Michael Jackson had an inner strength that he came to admire. Michael would give an Eastern bow to Larry, one of his typical gestures that communicate deference and respect for other people - something Larry never expected of a mega star.

 His videotape of Michael's Neverland Ranch and home was critically important to the trial. The judge had refused Mesereau's request for the jurors to visit the Ranch; instead, he ruled that a visual representation could be presented in court. Larry took his job very seriously. He testified for two days on the stand, interpreting the footage, explaining the beauty and innocence of the place.

 Most of the employees at the Ranch were Mexican Americans, and many were long-time staff members. 'They were all nice, down-to-earth people, and they expressed warm feelings towards Mr. Jackson.'

 Larry would hear Michael's children laughing and giggling in their bedrooms, which were off-limits to the filming for the sake of the young ones' privacy.

 'The smile on his face was so sincere when he was with kids,' Larry says. 'He was a spectacular person in so many areas - as a humanitarian, talent-wise, as champion of the disadvantaged and the sick, as advocate for the environment.'

 Larry Nimmer felt sorry for Michael because of what he had to endure throughout the trial months. Today he has dedicated himself to advancing the legacy of Michael Jackson.

 David Nordahl, an artist from Santa Fe, New Mexico, evolved into Michael Jackson's full-time personal artist. The relationship spanned two decades, during which David moved into Neverland for weeks at a time and sometimes traveled with Michael. He became a father figure to Michael. The men shared a gentleness of spirit and felt a strong mutual bond that was based upon creativity and a love of beauty. The two men would have long talks together, often throughout the night, and early morning hours, when Michael could not sleep. Today, David will do anything that he can toward the goal of advancing Michael Jackson's legacy. He has been supportive and helpful to me beyond description. David told lovely stories about Michael that I had never heard or read before. The artist had not only special experiences with his younger friend, but he gained unique insight into Michael's heart and soul. 'I always learned something new from him,' he marvels.

 Reverent June Juliet Gatlin, based in Los Angeles, became Michael Jackson's spiritual adviser during a span of many months before his death. As a healer and seer, she became a confidante of Michael's. Reverent Gatlin spoke openly to me and shared her feelings and insights about Michael, toward whom she obviously felt fiercely protective. This interview and other input from Gatlin provided a wealth and depth of information for this book.

 Each of the contributors to this book occupied a special niche in Michael Jackson's life.

 In addition to the major contributors, I have interviewed seemingly countless other people, ranging from a driver of his vehicle to a man who was his friend as a child to fans from all over the world, whose lives were changed by Michael Jackson. I am grateful to everyone for their unique additions to Defending a King ` His Life And Legacy.

We are never so defenceless 
against suffering as when we love. 
- Sigmund Freud

- Debolina Raja Gupta

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