Who’s Next?

You have to admit, this is a little over the top. Today Michael Jackson gets arrested, Phil Spector gets officially charged with murder, and the prospect of a trail and 15 years in jail looms over Martha Stewart.

First things first. If Michael Jackson would have know there were handcuffs involved, maybe he would have turned himself in sooner. OK – cheap joke. I know.

This story is probably the weirdest. Jackson has been accused of improprieties with young boys before. In fact, California now has a law on the books which can force testimony from a minor. The law is there specifically because it seemed like Michael Jackson bought his way out of the earlier accusation by buying the boy’s silence.

I’m a parent, so let me ask the rhetorical question. What parent in their right mind would let their child do overnights with Jackson? Hell… with any non-related adult?

This leads me to believe there is a backstory here, and Mark Geragos (Jackson’s attorney) will bring it out. But, even if the parent is more wacko than Jacko, that doesn’t take Michael Jackson off the hook in his responsibility to act as an actual adult.

Phil Spector is another story entirely. He is of the last generation. It is possible he is the most creatively talented music producer of the era of recorded music. But, he has been considered more than a little ‘unusual’ for decades.

There were always rumors swirling about drug use and that Phil was reclusive because he was never straight enough to meet the public. I remember seeing him on some televised event years ago and was astonished at the mere fact that he was appearing. I wasn’t there to give him a drug test or Breathalyzer, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he couldn’t have walked a straight line that evening.

if it’s possible to look stoned, he looked stoned.

To me, there are two significant Phil Spector moments. The first is the Ike and Tina Turner version of “River Deep, Mountain High.” This is one of the finest recordings of the rock and roll era. It is the perfect example of Spector’s famous ‘wall of sound.’ Ike and Tina Turner with full orchestration – who would have imagined?

The second is a little more esoteric. In the late sixties, an immense 48 hour, radio documentary called “The History of Rock and Roll” was produced (I think) by Ron Jacobs who worked for Bill Drake, the radio program director. The best segment in “History” was billed as “Phil Spector takes the blindfold test.”

Spector was put in a studio, headphones on, next to an open mike. As his hits from the 50s and 60s were played, he spoke off the cuff about what he was listening to and what went into making it. This was astounding listening. It was a backstage view unavailable in any other forum. It was the precursor of today’s DVD narrations.

I haven’t heard this segment in at least 30 years and wish I knew where to get a copy.

Spector going off the deep end is troubling, but not a major leap for me to buy.

Finally there’s Martha Stewart. I assume it would be easy to get on her case because she so represented what she did as the proper way to do things. Wanting her strung up for that would be vindictive (and though I am not above that emotion, it really isn’t usually warranted… certainly not here).

My bigger problem is, Martha Stewart was fully knowledgeable of the rules. She had been a stock broker. She had brought her company public. She knew what was allowable and what wasn’t.

If she saw that her investment was going bad and decided to save herself some cash, she deserves to be treated as the common criminal she was. We don’t punish enough people who commit what I consider ‘crimes of trust.’ At the moment, crime pays. We have to change that perception.

I hope the three of them are innocent (as opposed to not guilty which you can achieve while still having done something wrong) but it’s more likely prosecutors will be 3 for 3… 4 for 4 if you throw in Robert Blake.

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