07 July 2009

why i will miss michael jackson (hodgepodge of thoughts and recollections)


michael jackson died at the age of 50. man, the idols of my youth are now in the middle of their lives -- given that we only live up to a hundred.

but michael will live longer than that, thanks to his music, and his legacy.

yes, may ganung factor.

*

my aunt had a copy of this album
in cassette tape format.
lagi kong ninanakaw sa kuwarto niya
para patugtugin sa sala.


i am a child of the '80s, meaning i was born in the '70s and had pop culture consciousness awakening by the time the go-gos, madonna, cyndi lauper, duran duran and spandau ballet burst into the scene. some of my kahenerasyon were into punk - punk's not dead!!! some were into new wave and all those glorious synthesizer sounds of depeche mode et al. but i was into pop. unabashedly, unashamedly into pop. panganay ako, wala akong kuya o ate na mag-i-impluwensiya sa musical preferences ko, kaya i had to discover them for myself. and, by default, we all start with what's popular. so pop it is.

yup, pop. top40, top of the pops, top of the charts, billboard 100, casey kasem, america's top 10, rick dees, all those things. a wonderful invention called the walkman came into being in that decade, and i had one, of course. a cute technology called the cassette tape was slowly overcoming the vinyls of my childhood, and it coincided with the popularity of the walkman. imagine carrying your favorite music in a box-like thing where the speakers were so small that they were as small as your ears, even smaller. you can carry your music wherever you went. heaven.

but before i got engrossed into the tape technology
, i was also into vinyl. my family, given that our last name translated into "singer" or "a soloist in a choir," was into music. we were all music lovers, and all of us had our set of favorites, and clashes, of course. the usual old generation vs. the new generation of sounds still abound. i was six years old in 1979, and my then single aunts were gaga over guys like leif garret and shaun cassidy and other guys with farah fawcett hairdos (hay farrah, sumalangit nawa, but that's another eulogy). me, dedma! kebs ko sa mga da-doo-ron-ron-ron pakyut songs ng mga puting 'merkanong 'yun.

that age, a suitor of an aunt once gave me a vinyl, a 45rpm, the smallest kind, featuring the opening theme song of voltes v. we became friends for life -- or until the courtship period between him and my aunt was over. at six, i was happy memorizing and singing along to the words of this japanese anime show at the time when i didn't even know what "anime" meant. yes, i didn't know japanese either. but voltes v i know. i
can still recite the dialogues. "fatherrrrrr!" sabi ni big bird. crush ko si jamie, yung nasa paa ni voltes v. at di ko pa alam na lesbiyana ako that time. hm. i shoulda known.

four years later, i was in grade five, and this new thing called music video was slowly being played on tv. i never knew what it was; i just saw singers singing but not on the stage, and they were shot as if they were in a film, sometimes emote to the max, na di bagay, and that glam make-up! sometimes they acted, too. sometimes the visuals were nice, sometimes i just watched because i like the song or the singer.

and then i saw "billy jean," the music video. wow. that was something.

"billie jean" was sung by michael jackson. i liked michael already before this song, because he already had many popular songs, even when he was with his brothers in jackson five. i also remember him singing when he was still a kid, and that was cool. but "billie jean" was something else. it was monumental.

i am a child who likes lights. i don't know where that came from, but i just do. so when i saw michael jackson walking around, dancing, prancing, and everything he stepped on or touched lighted up in that video, that got to me. i wanted to know how on earth they did that! before this video, i already liked michael because his songs are very danceable. i betray my last name and always say i should have been surnamed bailar instead of cantor, because sing i do not, but dance i do. a lot. so with the dancing, the infectious pop tunes, and then the lighting tricks, i was totally mj-hooked. because of this video, i partly wanted to become a filmmaker, because i wanted to know how they executed it. the man was a visionary.


my vinyl album of this actually had a
"winner of 8 grammy awards" sticker on it


early that year, the grammy awards came. and the album from where "billie jean" came from just won 8 grammy awards. wow! achievement! he also performed there, i remember. yes, i remember watching the awards in 1983. and i remember asking my mom to buy me an LP vinyl (the big kind) of thriller when we passed by a record stall inside a department store in cubao. and she did. so aside from the 45rpm voltes v single, the thriller album is my second most prized vinyl possession in my life. it played endlessly that summer of '83, as we danced while we celebrated my 10th birthday. i have pictures to prove that, but i don't think i want to share my fashion statement of that year with you all just yet. :P

*

so i am a person who likes to dance, but i have no formal training whatsoever, at least early in my life. but i have this knack of easily following dance routines just by watching the choreography closely. i don't know where that comes from either (must be from a past life? three seers already said i was a gypsy in a past life, an artistically-inclined one), but i still have that up to now. and a pastime of ours in our teen years was watching music videos and imitating their dance routines. how did we do that? a burgeoning interest in video recording that my family had helped this interest - betamax taped tv shows from the air, and later vhs. so through that, i learned the dances. michael jackson, later his younger sister janet jackson, and later her choreographer-turned-star on her own, paula abdul. Thriller was on heavy rotation in our vinyl player, Bad was nagasgas na sa cassete player namin, same with janet's Rhythm Nation 1814 and paula's Forever Your Girl. yes, i can partly do the moonwalk given the right shoes (the trick is the shoes and how they slide), learned the routines of janet's "miss you much" and taught it to my high school friends which we used as a production number in a school program, and took up tapdancing as one of my PE2 subjects in UP because i wanted to replicate the opening sequence of paula's "straight up" video. okay, hindi ko na-achieve yung huli kasi kulang pa kami sa tapdance lessons, but what the hey. i can still kick-ball change with taps, a bit.

but learning michael was something else. mahirap, kaya pag nagawa mo, sobrang sarap! i almost got an asthma attack just by learning "smooth criminal" pero di na-achieve ng byuti ko ang patented niyang anti-gravity lean. that was just magic. so i was contented to watch him from Bad onw
ards. yes, i can dance "thriller" and "beat it" and that now famous "billie jean" routine (though i hesitate to grab my crotch...) at happy na ako doon. i was still a fan, even up to the Dangerous album... and tour. the music videos of that time were also awesome. the man was really a visionary. he knew the importance of the image with the music.


lavish, yes, but befits a king...of pop, lalo na.
he's not just the king of pop, pero siya rin ay
king of pop culture.


syempre may concert!

*

i like listening to music, but i love listening to live performances of music even more, lalo na concerts. at an early age, my parents introduced me to the joys of watching an artist perform live on stage. siyempre pop pa rin ang leaning. i remember watching a family of singers called the jets at t
he araneta coliseum. i also remember watching this puerto rican boy group named menudo at the same venue, with this cute new member named ricky martin who was about my age at that time, more or less, at lagi siyang naka-pink polo! pink! pramis. kakulay nung mga pink polo ni danton hehe. i'm just saying.

as i grew older, my taste in music changed, of course, but it was still predominantly pop. so yes, i saw singers i admired live in co
ncert, like my angst goddess alanis morissette, and singers i liked at the time they were likeable, like debbie gibson "lost in your eyes" pare, sankapa!), and mc hammer (yes i was into rap, so sue me). sometimes napipilitan din akong manood ng concerts dahil kelangan kong sumama for one reason or another, like that vanilla ice concert that my high school friends wanted to watch, and that new kids on the block that my sister was gaga over before. sige na nga, charge it to experience na lang... but when my friends wanted to watch "the real milli vanilli" i drew the line. dedma. away na yan, teh.

we also watched local artists, and i couldn't forget the first time i stepped into the very first structure of kuh ledesma's music museum in greenhills (before the first fire). we watched apo hiking socie
ty in a sit-down dinner-type concert of sorts. that was great. pero there's a vague memory of another thing i liked in that museum, given that it originally was a museum -- i think i saw a michael jackson sequined glove on display there. or was that an imitation of his glove as part of gary v's costume on display there? i couldn't recall. basta it was a museum and it had such things on display there. correct me if i'm wrong about the glove, though.




so the glove. the gloved one. eto na. HIStory tour. live in manila. Dangerous yun album na pino-promote niya ata nun, tapos eto ngang compilation history album chenes. december 1996 siya dumating dito, if i remember it right, doon sa lupalop ng paranaque noong si joey marquez pa ang mayor. humongous concert area, kung saan naroon ang SM mall of asia ngayon, i think, or thereabouts, at siyempre ga-dangkal lang ang nakita namin ng kapatid ko kay michael, kasi 10k ang tickets sa harap, and in 1996, that's like 20k today. who has 20k to shell for a concert? certainly not us purita kalaw ledesma peeps. so masaya na kaming naki-dance-dance at nakita at nagtititili noong 1996 sa likuran kasama ang daan-daang purita like us. kebs! i just wanted to see mi
chael moonwalk live, in front of my eyes, and i did. i am at peace na after that. well, i think we brought papa's binoculars, so nakita ko rin siya kahit papaano, white skin and all. and the cleft chin.

after that, di ko na sinubaybayan ang dance moves niya, pero i still admired what he did with the music video genre. he was such a pioneer and a visionary that the MTV music awards renamed their yearly video vanguard award -- the highest honor they give to an artist who contributed much in the evolution of the music video -- into the michael jackson video vanguard award. yes, i s
aw those awards shows kung kelan ito naganap dati. i had the habit of taping music awards shows dati for my video collection. i still have that on vhs.

still after that, the eccentricities kicked in. dedma lang. he is already an icon, at kahit ano pa mang kawirduhan ang naganap sa life niya, i think it's understandable, given the kind of icon he is, and the kind of life he had. and i don't want to remember him that way. mas marami akong memories na better than the latter
years, and i'm happier with those.

*

so bakit ko nga ba mami-miss si michael? magagand
a kasi ang mga kanta niya. magaling siyang magsayaw. artist siya, e, visionary in his own right. wala yatang tulak kabigin sa mga kantang pinasikat niya. kahit nga yung chummy chummy na "heal the world" e gusto ko rin, kasi totoo ang sinasaad ng kanta. lalo na yung "man in the mirror." basta. the man was talented. humongously. and such humongous talent na nawawala sa earth ay talagang big loss.





wala akong cable so di ko mapapanood ang memorial niya live sa cnn. i don't like watching tv these days during weekdays, kaya mami-miss ko rin ang replays sa local news nito. okay na ko na mapanood ito o makakita ng photos sa internet. okay na ko dun.

ayokong masyadong malungkot these days, kaya ito na lang ang outlet nun.

ito na ang tribute ko kay michael jackson.

gusto ko tuloy magsayaw.

*

okay fine, i'm watching cnn on facebook now. shyet. now i'm sad. :(

goodbye michael.



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