Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Meeting Jermaine Jackson the morning after verdict day

"Seeing Murray handcuffed" did little to bring Jermaine Jackson "closure" at the conclusion of the six week trial of Michael Jackson's doctor. I met Jermaine at his home, the morning after verdict day.  It was his first interview after the roller coaster trial which tested the Jackson family's emotions and drew worldwide attention. Off camera he was quiet and subdued.  We chatted in his living room, surrounded by family photos - including one of the Jacksons in France, with Michael, taken a month before the singer's death.  It was to be their last together.  Jermaine told me the family was "still looking for answers" to help them understand the death of his brother. The family will pursue civil actions in the courts. "He was looking at the money instead of the human being," he said of Murray, who was paid $150,000 a month to care for Jackson.  "Michael wanted to sleep, he didn't want to die."

Video at BBC News

Monday, November 7, 2011

Night falls on a day of Jackson high drama

The fans have gone home, Conrad Murray is in jail, the court is locked -- but we're still talking. Picking over the day which exploded into action shortly before 11AM local time, when word came down the the jurors had buzzed, three times. Verdict!  The excitement and sense of anticipation was palpable. Two hours later, a stoic Dr Murray heard that he had been found guilty of a single charge of involuntary manslaughter.  He had killed Michael Jackson. The cuffs were on and he was transported straight to jail.  Few were surprised that he was found guilty.  The evidence seemed to be overwhelming.  It is not the final chapter in the life and tragic death story of Michael Jackson, but it will probably be the last day of high drama.  Murray will be sentenced in three weeks. There will be civil trials, but for the family's sake, at least, lets hope Michael Jackson can rest in peace.  And we will move on.

When will the Murray verdict come?

Waiting outside the criminal court building in a chilly, sun-deprived, tree-lined street in Downtown LA, the air is thick with anticipation and diesel fumes from the media trucks and inner city buses. Rival (but small) groups of Michael Jackson and Conrad Murray supporters try to out scream each other. "Justice for Michael..." "Victory for Conrad." The media is out in force, with reporters breathlessly interviewing the assembled throng of self-appointed legal experts and local loud mouths. Occupy LA people across the road join in, to muddle the message further. Inside the building, 7 men and 5 women are deciding Dr Murray's fate - guilty would mean up to four years in jail for the involuntary manslaughter of Michael Jackson. It's day 2. Lunch is an hour away.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Zoobombing in Portland

It's always good to get out of town - indeed out of state - to experience something new.

When I visited Portland in Oregon recently I was introduced to the crazy world of Zoobombing. Simply put, a bunch of free-spirited bike enthusiasts meet every Sunday evening, to hurtle down a steep hillside on kids bicycles. They take the monorail up, and bike down. And they do it several times in to the early hours of Sunday morning.

Why? It's fun. They bond, lose themselves in an entirely meaningless but thrill-a-minute world and let off steam.

The next day they go back to their jobs in the corporate world, local charity, coffee shop or the unemployment line.  It is dangerous, takes place on public roads and is not recommended for children. But the local police are cool with it and there are rarely any accidents.

I would not do it. I value my limbs too much. But hats off to this dedicated crowd of thrill-seekers, their hospitality and bravado.

Video at BBC News