On Michael's birthday (August 29th) I finally got to make a trip out to Neverland--my first time ever. I know now that it is technically Sycamore Valley Ranch but that really makes no difference to me--to me it is Neverland now and forever. It was not nearly as busy as I thought it would be though I have heard up to 300 people visit the front gate of Neverland each day. There were about 20 people there when I visited. It is pretty amazing to figure up to 300 people a day make the long drive to Los Olivos just to see the front gates to what was once one of the most magical places on Earth.
After experiencing Neverland and other sites related to Michael I have come to a conclusion and I am going to lay it out right here. What I have to say now I know some will disagree with but I frankly do not care. It is my blog and I will say what I want. We all are entitled to our opinions. I just hope you will listen to me with an open heart and mind and hopefully understand my sentiments. I have actually been working on this blog for months, off and on, but was able to only complete it now.
I have been to many "Michael Spots" in search of a "feeling". I have been wanting to feel him. I have been to Michael's childhood home in Gary, Indiana and surrounding significant spots in Gary and Chicago (http://someoneputyourhandout.com/The_Gary__Indiana_Tour.html). I have been to Forest Lawn where Michael now "rests". I have been in close vicinity to his home prior to him living at Neverland. Nothing, and I do not mean nothing gives you the feeling of being close to his spirit and at peace with him as being close to Neverland and mind you, all anyone can see is the front gate and some trees. You cannot see his house, his pool, where the rides and zoo once stood or probably the most important item for me--Michael's "Giving Tree". (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQLfJG1hmcM) I swear, I would give almost anything to climb into Michael's "Giving Tree" and just sit there, thinking about him, connecting with him. That tree is where Michael wrote songs like "Heal the World". It is special. I wish someone could make my dream possible for me but I have fears my dream will remain nothing but a dream when there is no reason for it not to become a reality.
Some believe Michael's childhood home in Gary should be opened to the public. I disagree. The house in Gary is too small, in a tight-knit neighborhood on a one-way street and the house is surrounded by neighbors who deserves privacy and solitude. They are kind and generous to passerbys but 2300 Jackson Street could not handle any form of grand public display. The guard shack at Neverland is not much bigger than the house in Gary. The house he lived in after Gary but before Neverland is a private residence and should remain as such. A museum with his belongings it just that--a building--it is not a home or a place of magic. Forest Lawn is public place to mourn his tragic and sudden death, not a place to promote his legacy.
People love Michael so much, maybe more than any other entertainer to ever live. He would want them to have a place to feel close to him. He would want a place to feel close to them. Neverland was never meant to be nevermore. Michael meant for his spirit to live on forever in more forms than just his music and short films. Even if he had moved onto live elsewhere Neverland was significant to him because so many of his years in life were spent there, his children were born while living there, a lot of musical creation and rehearsing took place there. His belongings were there, and before all the problems that came his way, his heart and soul were there.
I know that when Michael's home was brutally violated by over 70 sheriffs on November 18th, 2003 it was no longer a home but merely a house to him. Throughout Michael's short life others tried to ruin his life for him, and in some respects, they were successful. I do not want the ruin and destruction to continue in death for him but that is what I am seeing unfold before my eyes and at times it just about kills me. No other talented figure has ever had to face such obstacles, such ridicule and frankly such unwarranted hate. What began as petty jokes about his pet chimp Bubbles and a hyperbaric chamber as a sleeping quarters were dwarfed by the molestation allegations that were too much for anyone to experience but especially a man the entire world "knew", an innocent and shy man nonetheless. That pain and humiliation never left Michael but the knife was shoved deeper on that day in 2003 and furthermore during the entire trial during the first half of 2005. How anyone could survive what happened to him in 1993 and what followed I will never understand. I know that pain was something that never let up in Michael's life. How could it? The public at whole failed him when he depended on them in ways only a few can understand.
I know people have varying beliefs in what happens after we die and I respect everyone's opinion on this whether you believe in reincarnation, heaven or nothing at all. But, I would hope and think that once we all die any form of suffering would dissipate. I am not saying that in death we may have no feelings but I would hope that in death the troubles that we faced in life are no longer our troubles in death. I would hope all the pain Michael endured on Earth has not followed him in death or what would be the purpose of us having to die? I want him free from all that, from all the pain and misery and I want to think of him having a different perspective on his life, including Neverland. No matter what we can never erase all the horrible events that transpired upon his life. What needs to happen is people with a conscious need to take a step into his shoes and feel Michael's pain so they can understand him better because Michael has to be one of the most misunderstood people to ever live when in reality he is not that complicated. People from the outside made his life complicated by using him endlessly until it finally killed him. Michael Jackson was in essence used to death. Thousands of people went out to Neverland and had a time of a lifetime and a few, and I mean very few, ruined it for everyone--mostly for Michael. They ruined his life, literally. It goes to show how fragile life really is even when you are strong. People need to understand that, though, all of it. It is not that I want people to go to Neverland and be sad but I want them to want to learn the truth, even if the truth hurts. At the same time Michael had so many joyous moments at Neverland one should get to experience again some form. He had his first Christmas there with his great friend Elizabeth Taylor. Moments like that need to be relived, too, especially.
Michael tried his damnedest to live a normal life (as normal as it could be for someone who needed bodyguards 24-7), continued making phenomenal music but most importantly but I think is best accomplishment in life is reflected in him being a father. Neverland should belong to his children--it was meant to be theirs from the beginning. It will never just be property either--that is evident by the thousands of handwritten notes etched on the stones at the front gate. If sold, whomever buys it will have to deal with the people who will continue to flock to Neverland for decades to come hoping to in some way feel or learn about Michael. All those messages, though I do not agree with writing on property, are there for a reason.
I ask you--what do we have left standing to honor this man? I am not talking about his eternal art but what do we have to honor his life? The Gardner Street Elementary School Auditorium bearing his name was unjustly covered in 2003 (http://facebook.com/UncoverMJ and http://www.mjjsupport.com/uncover/). The Michael Jackson Burn Center at Brotman Medical Center no longer exists. The Grammy Museum no longer has the "Michael Jackson: A Musical Legacy" display. Only other display I can think of that is still available is the "How the West was Worn by Michael Jackson" exhibit at the Autry Museum which is an amazing tribute but it is not enough. There is no "Michael Jackson Museum". His possessions (though supposedly and hopefully none are from the Estate) are being auctioned off left and right by multiple individuals. There is suppose to be a Jackson Family Museum built in Gary but I will believe it when I see it. Gary the town needs revitalization before it receives a museum, in my opinion. Plus again, a museum is just a building to me. It does not house memories, whether good or bad.
"Jackson invited Bob Sillerman, the Wall Street entrepreneur who had acquired Elvis Presley Enterprises, to visit him in Ireland to talk about ways to turn Neverland into a fan destination" (http://money.cnn.com/2009/10/23/news/companies/michael_jackson_money_assets.fortune/index.htm). I know many things written about Michael are lies but I want to believe this statement and do believe it. I know people will always discover his music but again, what about his life? I want people to know about his life--all of it. I want them to know the facts and not the bullshit the media spews out there to try and grab ratings and profit. If you learn the truth from the source then you have no reason to find yourself sifting through the heaps of lies. For example, how many fail to realize his bedroom was a two-story duplex and not an actual "room"? People need to know that important fact. It does make a difference.
I have been to two musical artists' homes. I have been to Graceland and I have been to Prince's Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota. I went to Graceland not knowing much about Elvis but I left having a place in my heart for him. I became interested in his life, his movies and his music and even his death. Elvis indeed lives on at Graceland. It is an amazing experience even if you are not an Elvis fan. Everyone should go at least once because whether a fan or not, in some form Elvis has impacted your life through his art.
I have been to Paisley Park twice--spending a week there each time. Being a huge Prince fan and obsessed with music I could never explain to you how much it meant to me to see his recording studio and almost everything in it. I saw his awards, his certified albums, I got to sit on Prince's custom-designed furniture including two chairs I wish I could have taken home with me because they are just fabulous. I got to see his recording studios and learn why he had so many and how each room produced different kinds of sound when used for recording. I got to see his plaque that certifies him as an Honorary Texas Citizen (Yeehaw!). I got to see the creative world in which one of my musical idols lives and works. Nothing can compare to that experience. The same is needed for Michael Jackson! I know Michael will never be at Neverland again but I so desperately want him to live on somewhere. I want to imagine his spirit running free among children at Neverland. I want him to see joy in their faces once again even if they cannot see his. I want adults to remember what it is like to be a kid and to remember Michael and how he impacted their lives. I know some people got to see Neverland when it was the place Michael intended it to be but so many yearn to see what others got to see in vain. What are those who never saw it to experience? It is bad enough that many of us will never be able to tell Michael how much he means to us or how much we love him whether it be in person, in a letter or YouTube video. We cannot ever tell him how much he means to us. There are generations to come that will want to experience him in some way besides his music and there has to be a better way than the ways (or lack of ways) available now.
I wish people could together learn what Michael really stood for by seeing what his world was really like and not how they imagine it based on the numerous lies out there. Most books and sites out there are full of lies that haunt him. Curious people do not know where to go for information, accurate information as there is more bad than good out there at this time and even some of the good is inaccurate. The world really needs a place to honor him; he was not just another artist. He did too much to just quietly fade away but I fear that is what will happen if something is not done. I am terrified of it. Yes, his music and art will live on forever but I do NOT want the lies and pain to live on forever, too, and for generations to come to not understand. I do not want his children dealing with the lies, either. Neverland could help teach the people and that is perhaps my biggest point in all this rambilng. Something has to STOP the lies and pain by making people interested in his life, in the man behind the superstar.
I know some residents of Los Olivos have complained they are concerned about traffic issues. I do not blame them. I love the peaceful, quiet atmosphere that surrounds Neverland. I am sure something could be worked around this, like a Park 'n Ride could be utilized from miles down the road. Part of the magic of Neverland is the nature that surrounds you so I would not want to see that tarnished. Where there is a will, there is a way.
I know many feel that there are some that want to take advantage of Neverland and the potential it has to make money. I can understand that as many made money off Michael during his life never thinking about him for one second. I would NEVER want that to happen. It would be my hope that Neverland would be a place that would have all proceeds going to his children and the children of the world--given to various charities, children needing medical care, to help feed and clothe children, etc. Michael's legacy while alive was built on helping others on a personal level, especially children, and there is no reason for that to change.
I wish I could physically have a role in making Neverland what it once was--a place of love and artistic creation. I would take care of Neverland as if it were a child of sorts or the Mona Lisa. I somehow ended up with a BA in history though I never thought history was one of my favorite subjects. In reality, it is one of my favorite subjects when the focus is not on wars. I have always felt that things should never be destroyed, be it buildings or what not, because the history is important. I hate to see history erased. I want to see history preserved everywhere on this planet. History shapes our lives and makes us who we are.
Even though I want Neverland back, I am not proposing that Michael be buried at Neverland. He need not be there--just as long as he is somewhere safe--safety comes first. I want whatever he wanted to done for him concerning that.
I know I have repeated myself a lot in this blog but I just want to keep reiterating my points because they are important to me. I guess I am doing such because I am so afraid that nothing will happen because nothing is in my control. I wish I had some say in what happens. I wish I could do more to help Michael. I wish that what I have written above I could see take place with me having a part in it because I would place my heart in it, all of it. I fear the future now but I don't want to fear it. I want to make it--for Michael.