Monday, March 4, 2019

Leaving Neverland



For years I have been an enormous Michael Jackson fan. Not the fanatical variety that dressed up like him and tried to emulate his every move, but I've been in awe of his musical talents from nearly as far back as I can remember. I've been around the block long enough to have watched him perform with his big brothers, ironically (in retrospect) seeming so much older than his years. At my first job as a summer camp counselor for 7, 8 and 9 year old kids at my church, the kids put on a talent show at the end. The girls performed Stop! In the Name of Love and the boys, led by this little guy who was a fantastic dancer, performed Dancing Machine. I remember hearing songs from Off the Wall the first time around and knowing immediately that there was a new sheriff in town. I expected him to become a big movie star after The Wiz but it turned out to be a one shot deal. Along with everyone else I recognized while watching Motown 25 that he was ready to explode to the next level. I remember anticipating the hyped debuts of videos such as Thriller and Remember the Time that actually turned out even cooler than we imagined they would be. In college I lied to a girl or two I was trying to impress, claiming to be one of the background dancers in Michael Jackson's video for Bad. I named one of my short stories after an MJ song (You've been hit by, you've been struck by...). If not quite a stan, I was definitely a Michael Jackson all caps FAN.

As Jackson got older he definitely got weirder. Stories about him grew increasingly disturbing. The odd changes to his appearance actually turned out to be useful distractions from odder, not particularly low whispers about his personal life. I remember feeling relieved when he married Lisa Marie Pressley. Maybe, in spite of some eccentricities, he was basically a normal guy after all. People try to take advantage of absurdly wealthy celebrities by making up salacious stories and suing them as a get rich quick scheme all the time. Michael Jackson was quirky because of an abnormal childhood, but nothing more sinister than that. I tried to believe this and was largely successful at convincing myself.

I was rocked when he died as evidenced when I wrote One Glove-One Love: Michael Jackson tribute and Michael Jackson Memorial Service. I knew there would never be another like him. Although I didn't consider him to be a music genius on the level of Miles Davis or Prince, Michael was certainly the ultimate entertainer. To make a proper comparison, rather than choosing another singer it probably makes more sense to compare him to Harry Houdini or Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Game changers!

Last night I watched the documentary Leaving Neverland. I've officially seen and heard enough. I can no longer see Michael Jackson as innocent until proven guilty. Now it's the other way around. At least I still have Janet...and Tito.







I would eventually learn why there was no appearance by the fathers in documentary. Not a whole lot of happy in these stories.






Yes there was a childlike quality to Michael Jackson,

but to what degree was it a lure?














If you're not able to stomach watching the documentary (you certainly wouldn't be alone) but you are interested in this subject, I recommend reading this BuzzFeed article at minimum.

Some other stuff I found (while looking for a picture or two to accompany this post) to be taken with as large a grain of salt as you wish:

MJ and BoysNY Post articleNational Enquirer article




Sunday, March 3, 2019

THE BLACK ATHLETE - Reprinted











Do African-Americans (and individuals of African heritage in general) tend to excel in athletic competition? If answered in the affirmative, what is the rationale behind this phenomenon? And most important of all, what are the implications of this reasoning?

Considered objectively, African-Americans clearly represent a significantly larger percentage of professional athletes (particularly at the most elite levels) than the portion of the population that they represent. This is beyond debate. On the track, if anyone will be gaining ground on Marion Jones or Maurice Greene any time soon, in all likelihood they will not have blonde hair and blue eyes. Whether in short distance sprints or long distance marathons, the person who crosses the finish line first usually has brown skin. On most teams in the NBA in recent history, if you were searching for a white man you would have been best served starting with the twelfth man on the bench, if there was one to be found at all. Disproportionate numbers of blacks occupy positions in the NFL that require the most speed, agility, and leaping ability. Think about it. If you were choosing sides for a game of pick up basketball and had to decide between the remaining white guy and the remaining black guy, all other characteristics appearing equal, whom would you choose?

Scientists have researched, and some even claim to have found physiological differences that prove members of one race are predisposed to do better at certain tasks than members of other races. If it is taken as factual that a person's heritage makes them more susceptible to a particular disease, then can an equally valid point not be made about one group of people genetically having faster twitch muscles than another?

And so, with both impartial numbers and unbiased science supporting the case, why is the statement that blacks are superior athletes to whites such a controversial one? Why do some people vehemently oppose such a seemingly obvious notion? The answer can be written in black and white. America is a land obsessed with race relations. Racial prejudice is by no means a lost art in the land of the free, home of the brave. So any broad statement that divides us along color lines will be open to great scrutiny. Even if a generality seems benign, it still constitutes a stereotype. Once a stereotype is accepted by those it is being pinned on, the argument for other less pleasant stigmas is strengthened. Is to accept being labeled as naturally faster worth the cost of also being considered inherently lazier, or less intelligent, or more criminal minded? Of course not. This is a clear cut case of the negatives far outweighing the positives. Sometimes evidence is best left ignored.

Besides, the latest wave of European imports and special American finds is slowly but surely bringing a semblance of racial balance to the NBA. If any race can be said to be tailor made to dominate Major League Baseball, that honor belongs not to blacks, but to Hispanics. Perhaps the next white heavyweight champion of the world is not lurking around a corner in nearby proximity (I was proven wrong here.  See Brothers Klitschko). But a Brit did recently manage to win and hold the belt for awhile, which is just about as fantastical as the plots of Rocky I through V.

It's just plain sense that those who were initially excluded from competing at the highest levels of sports would end up excelling when finally given the opportunity. As for dominating or at least achieving fair representation in coaching and front office positions, this is probably still a long time away. One barrier at a time. Changing institutionalized perceptions is a slow process, and Jackie Robinsons come around only every so often. So as tennis goes the way of the Williams sisters; Tiger Woods elevates himself farther and farther above his tennis brethren; and African-Americans continue to smash pigskin myths by demonstrating an aptitude for "thinking" positions like quarterback; those who long for a paler shade of sports are left to take solace for now that not too many folks who aren't greatly reddened by the sun have taken particular interest in ice hockey yet.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

BLACK HISTORY MONTH
























Last but not least, a date near and dear to my heart in Black History because I had the opportunity to participate in it directly was: 1-20-09

Monday, January 7, 2019

CHAPTER ONE - read by the author



I hope you enjoy listening to this excerpt (with accompanying slideshow of visuals) from my novel MATTERS OF CONVENIENCE. Perhaps I'll keep recording and create a full audio book. Then again that's probably best left in the hands of those with greater expertise, though I don't think I sound half bad if I do say so myself. I may have even managed to outdo my effort from the last go around. If you want more of the story, a printed or electronic copy of my book will need to be obtained and read. For now, just hit play and kindly grant me about six and a half minutes of your attention.







Sunday, December 16, 2018

End of Year Book Giveaway Blitz

I've decided to close out this one-of-a-kind year with giveaways for my two novels at Amazon (scroll down for links). Next up will be publication of my first children's book and the undertaking of my third novel. Stay tuned.



Kindle edition of MATTERS OF CONVENIENCE will be available FREE OF CHARGE from December 20th to December 24th (aka Christmas Eve).





Kindle edition of PATCHES OF GREY will be available FREE OF CHARGE from December 27th to December 31st (aka New Year's Eve).





Pickering’s talent is astonishing and ignores every precedent. – Alvah’s Books Pickering’s love for his characters makes us empathize with all of their plights. – Five Borough Books Pickering’s writing style will cause readers to empathize with the characters’ actions, no matter how wrong. – RAWSISTAZ Reviewers The plot kept smashing my soul into pieces. – Books and Wine Pickering’s writing is beautiful and poignant, causing the reader to become one with the characters, feeling their pain, their anger, and their hurt. – A Book Vacation "Patches of Grey” is a deeply complex tale with authentic characters whose personalities are strong and well developed. Mr. Pickering writes with a voice strong enough to one day propel him into the category with the likes of other great Novelists such as: Richard Wright [Native Son, Black Boy], Ralph Ellison [Invisible Man], and John A. Williams [The Man Who Cried I AM]. - Dianne Rosena Jones Roy L. Pickering, Jr. deftly weaves a coming of age tale. – Reads for Pleasure Patches of Grey is a story that will appeal to all audiences and make for great discussion between parents and their young adults, students and book clubs. – Precision Reviews Pickering’s talent is fluid and crisp. There’s a certain clarity to the prose that’s considered and well judged – just enough to paint the picture and more than enough to drive along the narrative. – Unheard Words ...a must read! This recently honored B.R.A.G.Medallion book is one you will be glad you picked! - IndieBrag #bookreview #bookstagram #PatchesOfGrey #RoyLPickeringJr #authorsofinstagram ##BookAndBarbecue
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Happy downloading!  Happy holidays!  Good luck with keeping your resolutions for 2019 especially if one of them is to read more often, more varied, more great books. Happy reading!!!



p.s. - Here is my final book review of 2018. Kept this one short and sweet.

The Poisonwood BibleThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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View all my reviews