So as you sit there reading this through your round, black Harry Potter glasses, eating your Harry Potter cereal and playing with your new Harry Potter action figures, think about this: There is a similar character from fantasyland after your Harry Potter dollars, one whom we should all avoid completely for several reasons.
His name is Michael Jackson.
As you all know by now (the hype machine made sure of it), Jackass, er, Jacko has just released his first new album in nine years, the wishfully titled Invincible (Sony), and he's currently promoting it in ways that previously he thought were beneath him: the self-thrown tribute concert, which was taped for a TV special (the highest-priced concert event in history, so high that his brother Marlon bitched to the press about the obscene ticket prices); the in-store CD signing at Tower Records in New York City (along with news reports that the event was "so huge it shut down Times Square"); the long-form music video -- oh, wait, he's been doing that since Thriller.
Come to think of it, he's been doing a lot of the same things since Thriller: the same dance moves (except that he's not quite as good at 'em as he used to be--could age finally be catching up to our little pixie?), wearing the same silly-ass Sgt. Pepper reject outfits, singing the same damn songs -- oh, wait, these are actually new songs; they just sound exactly like the old ones. And as for that new video, in the words of David Spade, I liked it better the first time around, when it was called "Smooth Criminal."
I don't know anyone who's bought the new album, but in its first week of release 366,000 people did. That might sound like a lot of copies, but consider this: The album's release was timed so that there really weren't any other contenders for the Number One spot on the Billboard albums chart that the sales secured. By contrast, the following week, in its first week out, Britney Spears' new album knocked Jackoff out of the top spot by selling upwards of 745,000 copies, more than double Invincible in the same time frame. What was the name of that album again?
The TV special, however, was a smash success, giving CBS its best Tuesday-night showing since 1994. This is not surprising considering that a lot of people I know will watch Michael Jackson on television so they can say things like, "What a complete freak!" and "He looks more like LaToya every time I see him!" Jack-under-the-Knife stopped being a mere pop star years ago, around the time he started sniffing chimp asses, declared himself the King of Pop (apparently he's his own biggest fan), had so many plastic surgeries that he's become completely unrecognizable from the guy he once was (skin condition, my sphincter!) and bid on the remains of John Merrick.
Which is fine. Let him have his fun. Whatever floats your boat and all that. But the fact remains: To the average American he's become no more valuable than the bearded lady of a carnival sideshow. But certain facts happen to make him a more insidious creature than he gets (dis)credit for.
For one, there was that whole incident with Paul McCartney, with whom he once recorded such atrocities as "Say, Say, Say" and "The Girl Is Mine." The former friends are no longer on speaking terms since Jackson outbid McCartney in the quest for publishing rights to his catalog of songs in the '80s, and refuses to negotiate at all with the former Beatle over royalty rates. As a songwriter himself, Jackson obviously knows how important it is to own the rights to one's own songs, so the move was one of nothing more than a complete asshole.
But hey, Millionaire vs. Millionaire legal wranglings are chump change when compared to the allegations from a pubeless little boy that Jackson had molested him. Yeah, I know, he was never found guilty in a court of law--for the record, neither was O.J.--but the King of Poop did pay the family a $5 million dollar settlement to get them to keep their mouths shut. Think about it: If someone accused you of molesting their child, would you take it to court in an attempt to clear your name, or would you pay them what is, for you, a drop in the bucket and hope they just go away? That's what I thought. Not to mention he went on TV soon after the allegations were made public, whining about the search conducted on his home and the photos taken of his genitalia for evidence in the case. And not to mention that, to this day, he blathers on about the importance of the innocence and purity of "the children."
So won't you please join me in my boycott of all things Michael? The next time he comes on television, turn him off. If you're that hard up for a freak show, do what I do and go rent some midget porn. Giving him your attention will only encourage him, and inform the higher-ups that yes, we do love him and we want more.
And for Chrissake, whatever you do, don't buy his records. If you really need to hear his music go dust off that copy of Off the Wall you already own. If you consider any money you put into his pocket from here on out as part of that 5 mil settlement, it really shouldn't be that hard to refrain. After all, no one wants that kind of blood on their hands.
FRENETIC FRETWORK: If the term "jazz guitarist" brings to mind visions of Wes Montgomery and George Benson, it's time to do a little rethinking. Dom Minasi is just the guy to help you in the process.
More Nels Cline, Derek Bailey and Thurston Moore than he is Montgomery or Benson, Minasi's approach to the guitar is one of continuous seeking. In the past Minasi has performed with the likes of Buddy Rich, Lonnie Smith and Dave Brubeck and recorded a pair of albums for Blue Note, but his newest album is Takin' the Duke Out, recorded with his trio and released earlier this year on CDM Records. As you might have inferred from its title, the disc comprises five Duke Ellington compositions, plus his take on "Take the A Train," which Ellington made famous but did not write. Suffice to say that if you didn't know what you were listening to, you'd have no idea that these tunes were the standards they are, as they are rendered completely unrecognizable by Minasi's blazing improv.
If, as Miles Davis once said, the spaces around the notes are more important than the notes themselves, Minasi seems to believe that the notes played around the melodies are more important than the melodies themselves. You've likely never heard anyone play guitar like this, and if you have, you've certainly never seen it with your own eyes.
You'll get your chance this week when the duo of Dom Minasi and alto sax player Blaise Siwula performs at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 27 at the Mat Bevel Institute, 530 N. Stone Ave. The show is one of only two being performed in the western U.S., and is part of the Zeitgeist Emerging Voices series. Advance tickets are available at CD Depot. For more information call 622-0192.
THAT'S NOT K9: Santa Clarita, Calif.'s B9 (usta be Benign, but they had to change it because another band had already claimed the name) is quite possibly the best unsigned pop-punk band I've heard all year. Yeah, I know, I'm as sick of this stuff as the rest of you, but the group's self-released EP, Home Sweet Home, made me remember that catchy, bouncy punk can still be fun if it's done right. B9 won't change your life or anything, but I'd be willing to wager it'll be signed to a label by this time next year.
B9 performs at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, November 28 at 7 Black Cats, 260 E. Congress St. Cover is $3. For more info call 670-9202.