I have been thinking so much of my friend Trevor lately. I realize now it was my subconscious reminding me that he died around this time seven years ago.
Trevor Goddard was an actor perhaps best known for his portrayal of Royal Australian Navy lawyer Mick Brumby in the TV series JAG. He also played Kano in Mortal Kombat. His last role was a bit part in Pirates of the Caribbean 2. I wrote Trevor a letter in 1999 because I appreciated his portrayal of the very gray Cmndr Brumby as opposed to the black and white hero types. Some fans actually seemed to dislike the actor when Goddard’s character hooked up with Catherine Belle’s character whom they thought should be with David James Eliot’s character. I wanted to let Trevor know there were people who could still make the distinction between actor and character and that his nuanced portrayal of a complex character was appreciated.
To my surprise he wrote me back. He even asked questions about my life. I wrote him back with the answers. This time I also included my email address and our correspondence began in earnest. It became a regular thing for me to get back to my dorm room from class and chat with Trevor on AIM. I would tell him about my classes, and about my hopes and dreams.He would update me on new jobs, how his day went, things he hoped to accomplish. He always encouraged me to follow my dreams.
I will never forget the night that Trevor called me from a pay phone of some dive bar. I was fast asleep when he called and if I hadn’t talked to him on instant messenger the next day and confirmed it, I’d have thought I dreamt the whole thing. I remember he said he was playing pool and I asked if he was winning. This didn’t seem to be the response he’d expected and he emitted a short laugh of surprise. It was always like that with us, never knowing what the other one would say. He asked me if I wanted to go back to sleep and I said yes, and did. Whenever we talked to each other before bed we’d end our exchange with G’night, and, sweet dreams. I hope the place Trevor is now is like a sweet dream.
I have been silent on my blog about the death of Michael Jackson. Part of it is due to the oversaturation of the event in the media, but part of it is the time it takes me to process some things. I didn’t know what Michael Jackson’s death meant to me. I was sorry he died, felt bad for his family, etc., but other than that had no real strong feeling. It wasn’t until my 10 year old nephew began sending me Michael Jackson music videos that it began to have more of an impact of me. He sent me the video “Black and White,” and I responded “I was 11 years old when this came out.” And I remember when the video aired. A Michael Jackson video being aired was a big event when I was a kid. This one aired simultaneously on November 14, 1991, n 27 countries. He really revolutionized what you could do with the music video. He also used them to provoke a reaction. Jackson got involved in trying to unite the world, and I think that was a fitting role for him. Jackson had vitiligo, in which the pigment of your skin is lost. I have known people with this condition, and it is usually a slow process where the pigment disappears in patches. Did Jackson have the process expedited? Maybe, but I don’t know that I would blame him, he was very much in the public eye. The nose thing? Was he trying to look more “white” I don’t have the answers to that. Maybe Jackson saw himself as a bridge. A bridge between races, cultures, and sexes and genders. Maybe his appearance reflected that.
Jackson was also a great entertainer. I can still remember the first time I saw the full length “Thriller” video. It was in my cousin Emily’s basement, just after dusk, the lights out as we sat cross legged close in front of the tv. I was a little scared, I admit it. As time went on and Jackson became more the butt of jokes and criticized in the media, I didn’t know what to think. Jackson was odd, sure, but that’s not against the law, and most successful performers are quirky in some way or other. As far as the allegations, well in this country you are innocent until proven guilty, so who am I to say? I can say the media was hypocritical in its portrayal of him before and after his death. I can say that I think they went overboard on the coverage when I wanted to know what was happening in Iran, as well. But the media has never really been known for being impartial– a big part of what they are is entertainment and selling commercial slots. I did enjoy Jon Stewarts “Rippy Awards” on the daily show, which mocked the mainstream American media coverage. I think it should have been covered, just not to the 24/7 extent it took on. And as Jackson was very private in life, he probably wouldn’t have been too keen on that either.
In short, I’m saying that I still don’t know what to say, and that’s not much. But after my nephew sent those videos, I felt I had to say something. Because his music is still affecting people, and that is what his legacy will be.
On a lighter note– proof that I know the Thriller dance:
The Police Siren Will Never Sound the Same Again
Eric G. Kelly,
Stephen J. Mayhle
Paul J. Sciullo II
“You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7-8)
Mourning doves harmonize
with police sirens plaintive cries
the dissonance of the dirge
belies the honor of the call
that went out and they came
thousands of police from near and far
police cars extend like a line of pilgrims
and passerbys are happy to be stuck in traffic
hats over hearts, the only incidence of mass patience
in a traffic jam.but then, how could there be road rage
when there has been too much rage
when the only thing left to do is to rage against
the dying of the light,
the spark of hope in the dove song,
the stillness of the salute
peace, the blue brotherhood,
for at least one day, encompasses
the oft forgot brotherhood of man
crowds gather not in anger or protest
not indifference and no matter who you are
no matter if the sound of a police car’s siren
normally fills your heart with dread,
today, it sounds like lamentation