Friday, August 28, 2009

Dominick Dunne (1925 - 2009) - Made Crime in High Society Intriguing, Witty

It has been said that there will be none like him any time soon, and even though he was 83, I was shocked to hear of Dominick Dunne's passing this week. He was always so energetic and had an in your face approach to storytelling that would draw one in - whether you were reading an article or book of his or watching him on television. Dunne's style was captivating, sometimes humorous, but always intriguing.

High profile criminal cases are already a bit of spectacle for most, but Dominick Dunne had a way to make you look at a case from everybody's standpoint whether you were the one facing the charges or the jury deliberating them. I was actually looking forward to his new season of Power, Privilege and Justice on Court TV.

My close friends know that I have always been captivated by criminal justice. I studied it as my elective in college and my professor told me I would make an excellent statistician/profiler, because I was always looking into the stats and trying to figure out what led a certain type of individual to commit certain crimes over others. Was it circumstance? Or, was it genetics? I could go on and on, but I always looked to shows on Court TV such as Forensic Files and Dominick Dunne's series to further fulfill my appetite for such knowledge.

Who knows? Maybe in reading more about Dominick Dunne this week, it may push me to go back to school and educate myself even more on the criminal justice system. Dunne leaves behind a legacy of journalistic excellence. His columns in Vanity Fair are legendary. His books have been bestsellers. He was also not met without tragedy in his own life. There would be so much to tell about such an intriguing soul, so I encourage you to read the attached obituary.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Legacy: Edward "Ted" Moore Kennedy, 1932 - 2009

Edward "Ted" Moore Kennedy was a great man on many levels. He was a wonderful family man, a dedicated politician and, in a lot of ways, a survivor. Not without controversy, and maybe some questionable personal choices, he was always a trooper. He seemed to gain strength when met with adversity, whether in life at home or on the United States Senate floor. He was the last surviving Kennedy sibling, coming from a family once viewed as American royalty and one that constantly had to dust themselves off and rise above private tragedy, while leading such public lives time and again.

Through his long and storied career as a Senator, he was involved in a lot of decisions that were made to improve the lives of Americans – and how we Americans are viewed in the eyes of the world. Revered as the “Lion” of the Senate, with over 300 of the laws he had a hand in putting together having been enacted. Across the board, his career has affected the way of life for so many people covering topics such as health care, immigration, disabilities, AIDS, cancer, civil rights and mental health care; to name just a short list.

His personal life was very troubled at times, with the Chappaquiddick incident in 1969, where he drove off a bridge and plunged his car into a lake, killing his mysterious female passenger. That was after the loss of his two brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy – both to assassinations. Then there was the drinking and infidelity; the accusations of him being a womanizer. Both politically and privately, like my good friend pointed out to me earlier today – ‘the secrets that man took to his coffin, he should have written a tell all book to come out after his death.’ I am sure that would be an excellent read.

Like Ted Kennedy or not, you can’t deny that he leaves a rich legacy of great works in public service. His speeches are what most riveted me, even as a young child at age 10, watching him speak so openly and from the heart when at the Democratic National Convention in 1980, which brought tears to my parents’ eyes and recently while I was watching a special about the Kennedy family, I saw his stirring eulogy for his brother, Robert. Ted Kennedy walked the walk, and talked to talk – and did so with eloquence, pride and humanity.

I look to the Kennedy family in a whole new light, that with Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s death just a few weeks ago and now Ted has passed on – it is an end of an era for America and the world. You can say a lot of things, but as a family they collectively gave so much to this country and our people it is almost hard to comprehend. They have all left an indelible imprint on the very heart of the world.

Ted Kennedy gave his life’s work with the face of familiarity; helped the common man, woman and child feel worthy and able; he stood tall as a symbol of unity, strength and humility – even up to his final days in public life. He always held his head up high. This very respected man will be hard to replace. Whoever takes his seat has some pretty big shoes to fill. I hope that whoever it is, takes notice and learns by example that no matter what defeats, which sidesteps and hurdles one may face in their private life they can overcome and put the will of the people, and their best interest in heart and mind ahead of their own concerns – that is a true public servant.

Ted Kennedy’s life is stamped as an example for such; he will always be brilliant, will always be a symbol of what is just and good and my, oh my, what a wonderful legacy he leaves behind just through those laws he helped get enacted. Years from now, and after our generation and the next as life’s cycles turn through forevermore; his life’s work will still carry on. You can’t say that about too many people living in these turbulent times.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Aaliyah's Music & Style Are Still As Fresh Today As Ever

Eight years now... where does the time go?

Aaliyah was on the cusp of greatness - and just like that...gone.

My friend, Chris, used to be her tutor when she attended the Detroit High School for the Performing Arts back in my hometown. And she was your typical home girl from the Motor City. People will say what they will about where I come from, but they just don't understand. So many talented people come from there. It truly is a special place with special people who seem to capture an essence about them for talents in the arts, business and industry - to name a few.

She was simple, young, beautiful - and now, I will say, iconic in a way.

I never thought I would say that about Aaliyah, but after seeing the emergence of so many young R&B singers that have followed her these past eight years; one could say her impact has been large, but subtle. Her fashion sense at such a young age, her use of special effects and live animals in her videos and stage act, her makeup, the way she carried herself and her talent all went away that fateful night in August.

I remember when I first heard the news. I called Chris immediately and could tell he already knew. He was devastated. This wasn't a teacher, he was her tutor. That sort of set up is very in your face and very hands on. She was your typical teenager coming up in her high school years. She was already so established in both life and love, her career was already in full gear, yet she had the same aspirations and a willingness to let go and dream - just like any other school girl her age.

Then...poof...the essence of time during our brief lives is but a speck of dust, a mere spot on history's horizon...

Aaliyah left her mark on that horizon. Especially with her last studio album, the self-titled release that came out shortly before her untimely death. Of course, like a lot of music fans in general, I scooped up my copy the first day it came out and listened to it immediately. After her death... tears were shed, as I listened to this brilliant, brilliant artist who was only just 'becoming' and so talented. She had just about any kind of music style/genre packed into that one disc. I can't even begin to imagine what more she would have done, or how much she would have evolved as an artist.

What I do know...and what I reflect on is that she was - and still is - loved by so many. Her music, her fashion, her style and grace...touched many people and made her a role model for many a young girl; no matter their race, religion, where they come from, rich or poor... Aaliyah was old enough to know better, but still had that essence of youth that will always remain.

She will always be beautiful.

She will always be a trendsetter.

She will always have pushed the envelope.

She is an icon now; I can see that.

May she rest in peace, and if you haven't already - get a copy of Aaliyah from 2001 and be simply, very simply: entertained!


More info on the album referred to here

OPINION: The Plot Thickens as Jackson's Death is Ruled a Homicide


I just can't stop saying that three letter word.

Every time I read about or see a news story on the ever-changing saga surrounding Michael Jackson's death, it just gets more and more intriguing. I can understand why the news channels and digital media have covered it so extensively. They will continue to with plot lines better than a best selling novel.

My roommate and I joked one day, when I commented that it would make an excellent movie (and think of the task the makeup artist would have at hand for whichever actor they cast to portray Jackson - let's face it; not too many people look like Michael Jackson from these past few years). We laughed because it couldn't be just a movie. It would have to be a miniseries.

Now, the affidavits and sealed documents come to light and paint a pretty sad picture. It shows how tortured a soul Jackson was, feeling the need to depend on so many drugs. Though they say he was a wonderful father, I question that notion ever more after seeing the latest developments unfold. Children are much smarter than they are given credit for - and I am sure they saw much more than I would ever want to know.

I wrote a recent article pertaining to Michael Jackson's legacy, in hopes that his music would be what he would be most remembered for. That seems less and less possible when I look at these documents and await what the next turn of events will be. I see a legacy of a very selfish, conflicted man. An extraordinary artist and celebrity, but a typical drug addict - wanting and doing anything and everything to get the next fix; no matter what.

Toxicology reports and needle marks from neck to toes do not lie. It is almost uneasy to think of all this man put his body through. Then there's this doctor, who was hired like a month before Jackson's death and seemed in a desperate way himself ...a little strapped for cash, perhaps.

What a web we weave when the character's stay the same, but their characteristics change. At first instance, I looked at Michael Jackson as a weak, frail man surrounded by Judas' and Dr. Murray, on the run - a victim of circumstance perhaps. Now, musical legacy and good Daddy aside, I see Michael Jackson as his own worst enemy, who should have maybe been a bit more careful what he wished for and Dr. Murray as a seedy opportunist.

Time will tell the tale it always comes out in the wash. I just hope, for the sake of reason, that the children didn't see as much as they could have. I hope that as time goes on, Jackson's music will be what people talk about the most. And I hope that, if the doctor was in the wrong he gets what the laws have coming for him.

Most of all, after dealing with people close to me addicted to drugs and alcohol - I hope this tragedy can be a wake up call to people who think that just because they have money to do a, b or c OR can make money doing things. That they take up a sense of responsibilty in the process and if it looks, sounds or smells wrong - then guess what? It's WRONG - and just say no.

That almighty dollar... what ones will do for the possession of it, the lengths they will go to get their hands on own it, to feel it, to control people with it...

It shall be interesting to see how this all progresses... too bad a man had to die, a family changed forever and so many other's held responsible for the selfishness of one...

Turn the page...


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