In April of 1990, Michael Jackson was in Washington D.C. to receive an award, the Artist of the Decade, from President George Bush Sr. One of the many related events was a visit to the National Children’s Museum. Jackson was with a large entourage. His bodyguards, managers and publicists were milling with museum officials and selected guests. Photographer Scott Christopher was there to document the occasion. The group was halted as scores of school kids were assembling in the next room. Michael Jackson found a moment and he slipped away.
Jackson dodged into a small exhibit room and Scott Christopher followed. The photographer had developed a rapport with the pop star. They were comfortable with each other. Christopher and his camera had become invisible. Jackson sat down, next to a kid-sized table that held three toy xylophones. Above it on the wall was a photograph of jazz great Louis Armstrong. The trumpeter was rehearsing in a bathroom before a concert. A photographer had caught him in an unguarded moment.
Jackson took the xylophone mallet and began to play. There was a shift in the energy and Christopher sensed it. Michael Jackson was getting lost in his own little world. The photographer recalls, “Michael was within his heart of hearts.” His face began to relax and his eyes lost focus. The man was having fun. He was playing music.
A photographer looks at elements. Jackson was playing with one hand, the other was relaxed beside him. Louis Armstrong held his trumpet at an angle. The contemporary pop star was lost to himself and so was Armstrong. Scott Christopher wanted a shot where Jackson’s arm would parallel the trumpet. He could hope. He also could have popped off a few safe shots. He could possibly ruin the moment. He waited. Jackson continued to play, for himself.
After twenty to thirty seconds, the pressure of the photographer’s finger opened the shutter of the camera for a fraction of a second. Light hit celluloid. An image was captured. Immediately, an official popped into the room and announced the start of the event. Reality beckoned. The moment was broken.
The government’s response to the AIDS crisis was infamously terrible. Former President Bush, Sr. once “responded to a reporter’s question on HIV research with the insipid comment that most people don’t approve of ‘that lifestyle,’ implying that funding HIV research wasn’t a priority,” recalls Peter. It could be worse: Reagan’s White House press secretary Larry Speakes once mockingly implied that another reporter who pressed the issue must be gay himself, to even care.
That kind of allergy to action is despicable, but at least they weren’t campaigning for concentration camps, like California’s Proposition 64, sponsored by the Prevent AIDS Now Initiative Committee. Yes, they actually called themselves “PANIC,” presumably because “Early Virus Identification and Liquidation” was taken. PANIC insisted that all they wanted to do was add AIDS to the CDC’s list of communicable diseases, but public health authorities warned that PANIC was downplaying the consequences of this, including mandatory testing and mass quarantine.
Fury and frustration still mount over the downing of Malaysia Air Flight 17, and justly so. But before accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of war crimes or dismissing the entire episode as a tragic fluke, it’s worth looking back at another doomed passenger plane—Iran Air Flight 655—shot down on July…
Interesting read and not surprised that most major media outlets are not bringing it up…
Such a shame (breaks my heart, but then bscly all of history = oppression and white supremacy) that so many innocent people have died now and then due to conflict.
*On a side note, why the hell did G. Bush Sr. think this was an ok thing to say during a time when the US screwed the hell up?? “I’ll never apologize for the United States. Ever. I don’t care what the facts are”
April 5, 1990, six years after Ronald Reagan honored him for allowing “Beat It” to be used as part of an anti-drink-driving campaign. On this occasion President George Bush Sr. bestowed upon Michael the title: “Artist Of The Decade”, referring to his good works as well as his enormous contribution to popular music. There would be yet another presidential award in 1992, with Michael given the honorary title “point of Light Ambassador” for his efforts in helping disadvantaged children.
To drive home my frequently-discussed argument about how far right the Republican Party has drifted over the last 40 years or so, here’s a clip that’s recently resurfaced of Bush Sr. and Reagan in 1980 responding to the question: “do you think that children of illegal aliens should be allowed to attend Texas public schools free, or do you think that their parents should pay for their education?”
Their responses weren’t totally based in humanitarianism- there was certainly some self-interested economics and geopolitics- but still, Bush “reluctantly” says yes and comments that:
…we are creating a whole society of really honorable, decent family-loving people that are in violation of the law… I don’t want to see a whole—if they are living here, I don’t want to see a whole—think of six and eight years old kids, being made, you know, one, totally uneducated and made to feel that they are living with outside the law. Let’s address ourselves to the fundamentals. These are good people, strong people. Part of my family is a Mexican.
Reagan says that:
Rather than making them—or talking about putting up a fence, why don’t we work out some recognition of our mutual problems, make it possible for them to come here legally with a work permit, and then, while they’re working and earning here, they pay taxes here. And when they wanna go back they can go back, and they can cross—and open the border both ways by understanding their problems.
Remember, Reagan was on the far-right wing of the Republican Party at this time. In an interview on March 2nd (the month before this debate took place, on April 23rd,) Gerald Ford said that “every place I go and everything I hear, there is the growing, growing sentiment that Governor Reagan cannot win the election.” Ford compared him to Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican nominee who was about equally conservative that lost in a landslide in the general election because he was seen as too conservative. Reagan wouldn’t become the ideological standard-bearer of the Republican Party until the middle of his presidency. Now, he’d be too liberal for it.