There never seems to be a dull moment as fans of Michael Jackson count down to the emotion-packed one year anniversary of his passing on June 25th. Nothing has been officially announced as to what will be happening that day at Forest Lawn Glendale and that has left many fans who have planned pilgrimages from around the world on edge.
Adding to the 'will they or won't they' be allowed to visit Holly Terrace worry is the recent change in protocol made by Forest Lawn regarding activity on the terrace patio, which I wrote about the other day.
Perhaps we'll all get some answers today. Michael's brother, Randy Jackson, announced on his Twitter page Saturday that he'll be doing a Q&A there today (Sunday, June 6th) at 3pm PT. For readers in other time zones who want to see Randy's tweets live, here's a handy World Clock Calculator.
Presumably he'll be clarifying, among other things, his quote published June 4th on X17Online.com:
"I just had a meeting with Forest Lawn and beginning on June 25, the anniversary of my brother's death, fans will be able to go right up to the mausoleum and drop off flowers and pay their respects. Michael loved his fans, and the family wants to make sure that the fans are able to celebrate his incredible life."
Read the posted story here: Michael Jackson Fans Will Have Access To The Mausoleum, Says Brother Randy.
Update 6/6 5pm PT ~ And, he did. :) Here's his tweets. Thank you, Randy!
This set off a fire storm of discussion among fans on the internet with various interpretations of what Randy -- and the headline -- technically meant. Does access to the mausoleum mean inside? (My read on "up to" meant just that, up to the door.)
Reporting within the story also caused heated debate. Namely that "Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale is opening up the gates to Michael Jackson's fans" and "Forest Lawn security had been informed that fans were no longer welcome" at the mausoleum.
A case of ignorance about the lay of the land at Forest Lawn, or calculated pot-stirring? Maybe a bit of both.
First off, fans continue to be welcome. What's changed recently is that they are no longer allowed to congregate on the top porch after placing memorial tributes outside the entry door there.
Instead, those who feel the need to linger have been verbally instructed by security to only do so on the lower patio area, the sidewalk and the adjacent lawn. I know this because I've witnessed it happen and I also spoke with security personnel on-scene who confirmed these details.
Here's a visual to help clarify:
Secondly, my interpretation of "opening up the gates" is that it's a common turn of phrase which, if taken literally, logically refers to the famous 25-foot iron gates at the entrance of the cemetery, not the short, decorative sanctuary bronze gates in the alcove in front of the Jackson sarcophagus within Holly Terrace. Those gates are behind another barrier made up of a marble sanctuary book and chains.
I contend that people will read into the words what they want, wish, hope and pray for, lead by emotion and not logic, and that's understandable. But, taking into consideration that hundreds, maybe thousands, of fans who plan to be at Forest Lawn that date -- not to mention the thousands of roses initiative already on order -- which gates would logically accomodate the throngs in such a scenario? Here's photos of each, you be the judge:
I also believe there's a media mindset -- based on Randy's earlier tweet about plans to meet with cemetery and police representatives regarding June 25th -- that became engrained back in September, when the front gates to Forest Lawn actually were closed for Michael's funeral.
On that day Glendale Blvd. was shut down to accomodate the media pool and dozens of Glendale PD were brought in to coordinate. I saw a handful of fans show up at the barriers, but the majority stayed away as they were asked to. From that perspective, it's been the media who's been unwelcome, not fans.
It's been a year of twists and turns in this story to be sure, so anything is possible between now and June 25th. But here's the thing: try to step back and consider the source of the information you're reading. What's the editorial motivation behind these types of articles? Personally, I don't believe that tabloid media churns out stories to be helpful in any sense of the word.
Most recent example? TMZ posted yet another inflammatory piece on Saturday titled MJ Fans -- Cemetery Ban Won't Stop Us. It includes sensationalized reporting that misrepresents the facts about a "ban" which makes the situation, as I know it to be, sound more heatedly dramatic than it really is.
And when readers feed into it, the pot gets stirred further. Tabloid mission accomplished!
In the meantime, I'm looking forward to seeing what Randy has to say, and taking it, one day at a time, from there.