Michael Jackson: A Photo to Remember

Date: Saturday, June 27, 2009 2:01 AM
Category: Allgov Blogs

It was just by coincidence that I became acquainted with Michael Jackson. It was 1983 and my wife, Flora, was pregnant with our first child. Frequently, we ate at a vegetarian restaurant called The Golden Temple. Generally we went during the hours between lunch and dinner. There were few other customers during that time period, but there was one other regular: Michael Jackson. He had recently become a vegetarian, and he was fascinated to follow the progress of a vegetarian pregnancy. When our son, Elijah, was born in June, Michael was excited to see him. Once he asked me what it was like to be a father, and he told me that that was what he wanted most of all in life: to have a child of his own to take care of. Even then, there was something poignant about this man who had not been allowed to be a normal child himself wanting to be a father.

 
On February 18, 1984, when Elijah was eight months old, we took him to The Golden Temple. There were no other customers except Michael and his 13-year-old friend, Emmanuel Lewis, who was known to the world as “Webster.” Michael said that he wished he had a camera because he wanted his picture taken with Elijah. My wife had a camera in her bag, but no film. Michael suggested that she could get some film at a nearby drugstore and asked if he and Emmanuel could take care of Elijah while we waited. When Flora returned, Michael suggested various poses and she snapped a number of photos of Elijah with Michael and Emmanuel.  Michael asked for copies of the prints when they were developed.
 
Each of the photos turned out to be of interest, but there was one, of Michael holding Elijah in his arms, that stood out. Looking at it today, 25 years later, and seeing Michael’s bright look and clear smile, I can’t help but feel sad. He looked healthy, happy and untroubled. His album “Thriller” had caused a sensation. “Beat It” had been released only four days earlier. And ten days after that afternoon at The Golden Temple, he won eight Grammy Awards. When we next saw him at the restaurant just after his night of triumph, he was beaming, but he also seemed a bit embarrassed by his success.
 
I got a lot of mileage out of that photo of Michael Jackson and Elijah. Whenever I traveled, I brought with a packet of family photos. The Michael and Elijah photo was the last in the set, and when people got to it, they were usually stunned. Wherever I went, China, Russia, Burma, Tahiti, everyone recognized Michael Jackson. I have to admit that, as a journalist, I used it to put people at ease when I wanted to interview them.
 
As the years passed, Michael Jackson looked less and less like the Michael in the photo. His skin color changed; the shape of his nose and face changed; and that look of happiness and contentment disappeared.
 
Now that he is gone, I want to share that photo of Michael Jackson, from a time when he appeared to be at peace with himself and with the world. This is the way I want to remember him.
-David Wallechinsky

Latest News

Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Kassa Tekleberhan?

In October 2015, he was named minister of Federal Affairs and Pastoral Areas Development. There, he promoted a policy of “villagization,” moving families from the country into villages. After Ethiopia’s longtime leader and human rights abuser Meles Zenawi died in 2012, Tekleberhan became the vice chairman of the Meles Zenawi Foundation.   read more

Mongolia’s Ambassador to the United States: Who Is Yondon Otgonbayar?

Otgonbayar left the Foreign Ministry in 2004 to become secretary general of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP), now the Mongolian People’s Party. At the time, Mongolia was doing a lot of trading with China after years of being a client state of the Soviet Union. Otgonbayar worked to encourage trade with the United States, Japan, South Korea and the European Union as well. In 2006, Otgonbayar added leadership of the Ulaanbaator branch of the MPRP to his party duties.   read more

Ambassador of Guinea to the United States: Who Is Kerfalla Yansané?

in January 2014, Yansané became Guinea's minister of mines and geology, where he oversaw his specialty: contracts for oil exploration. One of the companies he dealt with Hyperdynamics of Houston, gained the right to explore for offshore oil off the coast of Guinea. They found nothing and filed for bankruptcy in December 2017. Yansané emphasized bringing in foreign investors, who have long lusted after Guinea’s reserves of bauxite, iron ore, gold and other minerals.   read more

Ambassador from Lebanon to the U.S.: Who Is Gabriel Issa?

The recently installed ambassador from Lebanon is actually a Lebanese-American who lived in the U.S. more than 40 years. Shortly before the 2016 presidential election in Lebanon, Gabriel Issa of Detroit returned to Lebanon on a permanent basis and became a close advisor to Lebanon’s soon-to-be president, Michel Aoun. By the age of 21, Issa had founded two businesses, AAA Language Services and Iterotext Translation, which, along with several other businesses, he devoted his career to building.   read more

Trump Administration Secretly Closed Program Helping Refugee Children

The plaintiffs say the Trump administration stopped interviewing program beneficiaries and froze their applications; stopped issuing decisions to likely parole candidates; and stopped scheduling the medical exams for parolees to travel to the U.S.– all in secret. Yet it continued to accept money from applicants, including $100 for medical exams and $1,400 for each child’s plane ticket to the U.S. The complaint also cites Trump’s racist statements made during the 2016 presidential campaign.   read more
see more...