Posts Tagged ‘father’

Michael Jackson’s Birthday

August 30, 2013

Thursday August 29th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Today would have been Michael Jackson’s 55th birthday. What a fascinating character study he was on so many levels. Only a handful of people who ever lived have had a worldwide influence like he did during his run. Like Elvis, he was the right person in the right place at the right time.

   Did he have talent? He was loaded with it, but that doesn’t always guarantee success. There are many things that have to come together for massive success, and both Elvis and Michael Jackson were the proverbial ‘one in a million’. They were one in hundreds of millions, but that in no way insured their lives would be Shangri-La. Their problems were larger than life just like they were.

   From all I’ve read I don’t think Elvis was a dented can but Michael surely was. I don’t think he and his father got along well to say the least, and that’s usually where it starts. Unfortunately, we as children of relationships like that often tend to think fame and fortune will heal those wounds, but it never does. Sooner or later that fact becomes apparent, and it’s a stunning disappointment.

   I can’t comment on Michael Jackson’s personal life, as I wasn’t there. Whether he did what he was accused of or not I don’t feel qualified to talk about. It’s absolutely none of my business and nobody else’s but his and his accusers. Unfortunately, on that level one’s personal life becomes a wide open book to be rummaged through by the public on a whim. That’s the downside of fame.

   I’m just focusing on his career. The success he had with The Jackson Five alone would be a big deal, but that was only the beginning. His star steadily rose, and he took entertainment to heights that had never been seen on a worldwide level ever – including Elvis. He set the world standard.

   He rode the global wave of MTV, and pioneered the way music videos were done. Every other act to come along after Michael Jackson basically used his template of a lead dancer in front with a flock of dancers behind, but few came close to doing it as well as he did. He was the innovator.

   Elvis had his own greatness for his time, but he wasn’t a dancer or writer of songs. He was one of the most charismatic stage performers in history, and that alone is impressive. Michael took it to a whole other level at a different time, and his influence is still being felt today. What a talent.

   I’ve always been especially impressed with the ‘Thriller’ album. That came out the year after I graduated high school, so it’s been a part of my life for decades. I heard the songs played on the radio, and they were a part of my entire life experience just as the Beatles were for a generation before. I hear Beatles songs being played today, but I was never part of that intense culture blast.

   I watched Michael Jackson’s career soar, and it was quite impressive. During the ‘80s it wasn’t easy to turn on a TV or radio without seeing or hearing something about Michael Jackson. It was a true cultural phenomenon, and part of the fabric of life. How many ever reach that level? Him.

   I’m sorry his and Elvis’s lives ended so sadly and quickly. No mortal can sustain that lifestyle for long, but the question is if one could choose would it be the short fast life of a superstar or an ordinary one filled with mediocrity that lasted into old age? That’s a decision most never face.  

Every entertainer would LOVE to have a project like this on the resume - an all time classic.

Every entertainer would LOVE to have a project like this on the resume – an all time classic.


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Gramps Of The Century

November 20, 2012

Sunday November 18th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Anyone who knows me even the slightest bit knows how much my grandfather’s influence has meant to me throughout my life. He was my father figure, mentor and guiding force and I always say if it weren’t for him I’d surely be dead or in prison by now. Even with his input, I almost had both of those outcomes anyway. I’ve met a lot of people in my time, but Gramps is still the king.

Today is the 100th anniversary of his birth, and I couldn’t help thinking about him all day. He’s been out of my life longer than he was in it, but I still feel his mark on my soul every single day I am alive. He was the wisest person I ever met, and the seeds he planted throughout my childhood have taken decades to germinate but are now in full bloom. I owe him a debt I can never repay.

Gramps spent quality time in my formative years, and taught me lesson after lesson that wasn’t always pleasant as I was learning it. He was from the ‘tough love’ school, and never held back if he thought I needed to hear or experience something. When I deserved a kick in the ass – I got it.

But when I deserved praise, he handed that out too. It made me eventually keep striving to gain his approval, and he set high standards for whatever I was going to do with my life. Maybe that’s why I’m so frequently disappointed, but I’d rather be that than the underachiever my father was.

Gramps and my father had a tumultuous relationship, and I don’t think they ever got along very well. Gramps used to tell me it was his biggest regret. He said no matter how hard he might try to reach him, he just never could. My father was a troublemaker, and stayed that way all of his life.

Gramps told me he could see I was the complete opposite, and vowed to do his best to give me the best fighting chance I could have to survive. I was five months old when he and my grandma took me in, as my mother had abandoned the family and left to apparently pursue her drug habit.

I have an older sister and brother, and they stayed with my father. I was originally going to get sent off to an orphanage, but Gramps told me later he thought it was his duty to raise me himself to make sure he knew someone was in my corner. He didn’t have to do that, and I love him for it.

Gramps was never mega rich or famous, but he did alright. He grew up in the Great Depression era, and was very ‘thrifty’ to say the least. He always looked for sales, and scraped by with cheap alternatives whenever he could. That’s just how he was, even when he could afford better things.

We became especially close in his final years as he battled cancer. Cancer always wins, and his body was totally ravaged in the end. Still, he volunteered to take new chemo drugs so as to serve as a guinea pig for future generations. Even in death, he was thinking of how to help humankind.

I sent a request to the Office of The Mayor in Milwaukee and it was accepted, making this day ‘Albert A. Dobrient Day’ in Milwaukee. Gramps was a lifelong proud Milwaukeean, so I wanted to do this in his honor as I know he’d have loved it. Very few are honored this long after passing, but Gramps was special and still is. If I can be half of who he was, I will have been a big success.