Michael Jackson reads a book from his family library, 1979.
Annotations in Michael Jackson’s copy of the Robert Greene book, “48 Laws of Power”, published 1998
No more talking, silence is more powerful.
One day, Michael decided he wanted a llama. He asked me to take him to nearby Agora and we ended up at this lot packed with hay and horse trailers. From the car, we eyed four llamas out back. I parked between two trailers, unintentionally shielding my Mercedes from view. It was the only parking spot available. When we walked into the office – two kids dressed casual but smart in T shirt and jeans – this guy, bent across a counter doing some paperwork, didn’t even look up when he said, “We’re not hiring.”
“We ain’t looking for no job,” said Michael, wearing his shades. “We’re here to buy a llama.”
The man looked up. Not a flicker of recognition on his face. It took me about two seconds to know that his musical taste ventured nowhere near the Thriller album. “We don’t have any llamas,” he said. The look on his face said it all: you can’t afford it.
“You have four of them out back,” I said, trying to keep calm.
“You know how much they cost?”
Michael smiled. “We know how much they cost.”
Then came an incredible bombardment of questions, fired by the man’s prejudices and assumptions. “Can you afford a llama? What do you boys do to afford a llama? Where will you keep it? Have you ever thought about this?”
Ever patient, Michael explained that we had a house with grounds and were serious customers. “I know how to look after all kinds of animals,” he added.
The man begrudgingly asked to see some ID. Michael handed over a bank card. I handed over my driving license. And then night became day.
“You’re those Jackson boys?” said the man, his face lighting up. He began to back-pedal about how he had to be careful and he couldn’t sell to just anyone; you understand how it is. Bu we didn’t understand: we saw right through him.
“So you’re happy to accept me because now you know who I am?” Michael asked. The biggest misconception people had about my brother was that his legendary shyness made him timid, but he was a man of principle, especially where his roots as a proud black man were concerned and he wasn’t afraid to speak up on this when riled.
Michael took back his ID and came right out with it: “You are an ass, and we don’t want to spend our money in here any more.”
Then we walked out to the Mercedes the man had failed to spot when we arrived.
- Jermaine Jackson, You Are Not Alone
"Michael Jackson was always looking for ways to do wonderful things for people. In the early 1980s, I sent him a letter telling him about a black family whose property I had listed for sale right near the Coliseum. The 87-year-old father, who had severe heart disease, had three younger children ranging in age from 16 to 19, still struggling to get through their schooling. This elderly father took care of them as best he could. He sent them to school and prepared meals for them. They helped with house cleaning chores and did their own laundry. (There was no mother in the house; the drug- addicted white mother had committed suicide a few years earlier.)
I told Michael Jackson the story and I told him that the 50-year-old nephew had taken over this caring for the teenagers when the father died at Good Samaritan Hospital. They were about to lose their home to foreclosure; even though I had the property listed for sale, no one was buying it. I felt compelled to get help for them so they could continue to attend school.
Michael telephoned me after receiving my letter. “Well, I want to help,” he said, “so give me the address and the telephone numbers.” Michael then sent someone to visit them with gifts. He talked to the 50-year-old nephew who was taking care of these younger children after his uncle had passed away.
Michael kept the house payments up so it wouldn’t be seized through foreclosure and could remain on the market until it sold. It went into probate for open bidding by potential buyers because the elderly man did not leave a will or a trust for his children. Michael sent someone down there to keep bidding up the price. Finally the property was sold, and the children went to live with the cousin at his apartment. Michael arranged for them to get a larger 3-bedroom apartment so that this gentleman could take care of his niece and two nephews. These three teenagers graduated high school and went to college while staying with their cousin.
Since there wasn’t even burial insurance, Michael also helped to pay for their father’s burial, a man he had never met. And, of course, he continued helping these three teenagers until they graduated from high school and went to college on special grants.