In Memorium – Apollo Theatre Tribute to Michael Jackson June 30, 2009

July 1, 2009 - Leave a Response

In Memorium - Harlem's Apollo Theatre honors Michael JacksonMagical. Have you ever received a blessing, an anointing from someone on the other side?

Has an angel from heaven put you on the guest list for the celebration of a lifetime?Michael Jackson Posters Galore

Michael Jackson hooked about 600 of us up at The Apollo Theatre on Tuesday June 30, 2009. I was one of the 600 people in the auditorium to witness Al Sharpton’s powerful and triumphant eulogy to Michael—giving Michael the credit and praise he deserves for monumental milestones from breaking through the color barrier at MTV to being the greatest selling recording artist of all time.

The only reason I was in the house was because of Michael Jackson.  I wasn’t even on the official Apollo guest list. Beginning at 2 p.m., they were letting lovers of Michael Jackson in the Apollo–600 at a time—to dance and shout to his music, being pumped in from a DJ spinning on a turntable center stage. Images of Michael were rotating on a big video screen, suspended on stage. The line outside the theatre had grown to thousands across several Harlem blocks. It was 4 o’clock that afternoon.  My work was done for the day and my butt was thinking about going to The Apollo.  A friend had already texted me earlier and said, “Girl, people been waiting outside for 12 hours.  It’s supposed to rain. I think I’m gonna pass, we’ll never get in. Take some pics.” I called the one hook-up at The Apollo I had.  He told me, “Mable, why are you calling me now? You should’ve called me yesterday. We submitted the guest list last night” I replied, “I just found out about this yesterday. I didn’t know you all had a guest list.” He stated very firmly, “Call me when you get there.  There are no guarantees. At this point, situation is crazy. I’m very busy. Good luck…click”

So, I collect myself and still decide to go. I get off the train at 125th Street and I’m headed west. Numerous vendors have capitalized on this money-making opportunity and Michael Jackson merchandise from buttons to T-shirts  to compilation cds to flags is being sold all the way up and down 125th Street. There are even a group of people who have dusted off their Michael Jackson dolls (mind you—they are not in a box) and are trying to get $80 a piece for them. I’m seeing throngs of people up ahead who have been waiting for hours in a line that is not moving. I think to myself, “I’ll never get in, but I’m here.”

 The line stretches several blocks long  

My friend Stephanie and I head as close as we can get to the theatre only to be confronted by police barricades.  We lie and say we’re on the guest list. The police officer curtly tells us to call our contact at the theatre. He says the only way you’re getting in is if this person comes and gets you. I make a call on my cell and get him on the phone “We’re standing in front of Jimmy Jazz…Can you come and get us?” To my surprise, I’m told, “Meet me at 127th and 8th, behind the theatre.  Make it quick ‘cause I don’t have much time and someone’s on the other line, click”  Stephanie and I rush past a whole lotta people, we’re travelling two long city blocks on 125th street, behind a corner and another block.  I’m moving as fast as I can in heels.

Me and my friend Stephanie outside trying to get in...

It’s cloudy. I take a break and buy an umbrella.  We keep moving. We get backstage and my contact is nowhere to be found.  I’m told to wait again in a line that has formed backstage. I’m trying to show his business card. A woman comes out and asks me, “What’s your name?” I reply, “Mable and this is my friend Stephanie” To my shock and amazement she tells me, “I’ve been looking for you. Come inside” We’re escorted in and…

Michael Jackson’s music is blasting. Everyone’s dancing. The DJ is on stage MC’ing and getting the audience hyped up about Michael Jackson.  His skin is just glistening; (Remember the Chris Rock special when he said Jermaine Jackson, the official Jackson family spokesperson’s skin was just glistening? The DJ was sweatin’ big time). The theatre is hot. It’s 4:49 PMThe Exuberant Crowd at The Apollo "We Love You, Michael"The MC plays The Hits as MJ Images are Shown on a Big Screen

We’re standing side stage front and we quickly join in. You can feel the outpouring of love. We’re singing along—live and loud so Michael can hear us. It’s electrical. It’s cathartic. Folks from every nationality, young and old are there. The love for Michael is color blind and spreads across time. This is the moment that I’ve been craving. I can celebrate and scream. I can bond and connect with others who loved him just as much.

I'm a Dancing Machine - Sweatin' all the Way!

It’s 5:11 PM. Al Sharpton gets on-stage. The audience begins to quiet. He speaks and he is the reverend. We feel at ease. Michael is getting his moment without the media bludgeoning it and trying to diminish his legacy.

Check out my video link below and you’ll hear Rev. Sharpton’s speech. The video speaks for itself.

Rev. Al speaks triumphantly in celebration of Michael JacksonReverend Al eulogizes Michael Jackson

Spike Lee representing for the people

The mood is heavenly. We know Michael Jackson can hear and see us. We know he knows we love him. It begins to rain as Rev. Al is giving the eulogy. It’s a torrential downpour. The rain is symbolic. It’s a cleansing. All the negativity is being washed away. The tribute is truly a tribute and a celebration of Michael’s work and legacy. The air is fresh and clear. We have our moment of silence at 5:26 PM. We pray. We remember and we also know we will never, ever forget.

We'll never see you again, but your music will live forever!

Flowers & Notes for Michael Jackson

Timeless & Unforgettable


The Day We Lost Michael Jackson

June 26, 2009 - 5 Responses
Lighting a Candle for Michael
“A cardiac arrest. He died of a cardiac arrest” I’m walking down Lenox Avenue in Harlem and there are people talking. I still don’t know who they’re talking about. As I walk down my block my neighbor says, “They say he died of a cardiac arrest but I don’t think he’s dead.” Still I don’t know who it is. I’m thinking maybe it was a kid who got shot. Then as I enter my home I hear the Jackson Five playing on someone’s radio. I’m thinking, “Wow, that’s a classic tune…an oldie but goodie.” I walk up the stairs and get into my living room; Turn on my computer and, of course, go first to Facebook and all of a sudden….
It’s a flood, a flood of messages about Michael Jackson: “Is he dead?”…..”It was on TMZ that he was dead, does anyone have a better source?”…..”CNN just confirmed he’s dead.”
Michael Jackson can’t be dead. He just can’t. My first true love and crush. The first artist that my white friends liked just as much as I did when I was growing up. Before Prince there was Michael Jackson. Before N’Sync, Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, New Kids on the Block and New Edition there was The Jackson Five, with little Michael singing lead. He was the first boy I dreamed about kissing. The first fan club I ever joined. The first person who I ever screamed for at a concert– “I Love You, Michael!”
A part of my childhood has died today. At 33, I’ve gotten old. People who I grew up with who I thought were forever young are dying. I’m meeting folks who weren’t even born when “Thriller” came out.
I’m reading more and more posts on Facebook. People loading up YouTube videos and clips of Michael Jackson like crazy. I turn on CNN.  They’re in front of The Apollo Theatre on 125th Street in Harlem. There’s an organic crowd of people who have gathered to remember Michael.  I’ve gotta go and see it for myself–after all, I only live 9 blocks away.
Harlem's Apollo Theatre

Harlem's Apollo Theatre

The crowd and TV cameras from every network you could possibly imagine are in front of The Apollo and across the street from The Apollo. There’s a small group of folks right under the sign blasting Michael’s music and dancing and doing a sing-along surrounded by media. In reality, there’s less activity right at the theatre than there appeared to be on TV. And, of course, there are photographers with photo printers taking pictures of people under The Apollo Theatre Marquee that says “In Memory of Michael Jackson, A True Apollo Legend 1958-2000” and selling them for $10. You’ve also got your hot off the press Michael Jackson t-shirts being sold, as if it were a concert that we were all at. I observe the scene.  The media’s gotta get there story and The Apollo is seemingly where it’s all at.  But then, I look across the street.  Across the street is really where the party’s at.  You see the love, loads more people are gathered and are dancing.  I gotta head across the street.

I cross the street.  There’s a true and genuinely heart felt Michael Jackson sing-along happening.  It’s not happening for CNN’s cameras. It’s happening for our cameras, our camera phones and for us. We’re dancing, singing harmonies to Jackson Five tunes “I’ll Be There” and Michael Jackson’s best classics “Man in the Mirror.” We are showing our love. It was a totally cathartic moment.  Then “Rock with You” starts. A few ladies next to me start doing The Electric Slide. I join in. It’s as if Michael Jackson never left us. For a moment I’ve forgotten he’s not with us any more. We are all in the moment of the music and just how great it is. Where has this music been all these years? We dance and sing until the police break up the party.  I head home.

On my way home, I’m looking for a bar where I can have a drink and continue to reminisce about Michael.  I want to drink to his music and be somewhere where they’re playing it.  I first try “The Lenox Lounge” No luck, they’ve got some lounge singer performing tonight. I try another place, “Black Liberation.” Struck out again, they’ve got a band. None of the bars are playing Michael Jackson. So, I decide to get some coca-cola and head home to my in-house bar and make me a rum and coke.

I turn on CNN to watch Larry King’s Live tribute. All the stars are talking about Michael: Celine Dion, Donna Summer, Kenny Rogers, Smokey Robinson, etc….And statements are coming in from Madonna….Lisa-Marie Presley….and then there are statements from people who are too traumatized to make a statement like Elizabeth Taylor and Stevie Wonder who are making a statement that something to the effect of “We are so upset that we have no words and can’t make a statement.”  All the while I’m wondering, “WHERE THE HELL IS PRINCE’S STATEMENT?” Michael and Prince were rivals back in the day.  It was to the point that you couldn’t like both of them at the same time.  You had to choose which one you were going to like. [Before I was a Prince fan I was a Michael Jackson fan.  I change parties and joined the Prince club when Michael started acting weird and lightening his skin. I also began to appreciate Prince’s musical dexterity more as I grew older].

Back to Michael. My 2 rum and cokes are wearing off. The reality is sinking in he’s gone.  Tomorrow I will start my morning listening to “The Steve Harvey Show” and the lamenting will begin. I’ll turn on “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America” and every other news network and I’ll be reminded of our loss. In a few days we’ll find out why Michael died. Our hearts will really break again. Our fragile, vulnerable Michael couldn’t take all the pressure. It was enormous. Could you imagine living under a microscope all your life since the age of 5? Like an animal in a cage?

Michael now has freedom. A kind of freedom he’s never had before. He can look down upon us. No need to take anything to dull the pain, the loneliness, the isolation and heartache. I know he’s happy in his new resting place. I will miss you Michael and I’ll love you forever.