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My Friend Michael: An Ordinary Friendship with an Extraordinary Man Hardcover – November 15, 2011
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From the Back Cover
Everyone knows Michael Jackson—the myth. This is the revealing true story of Michael Jackson—the man.
To Frank Cascio, Michael Jackson was many things—second father, big brother, boss, mentor, and teacher, but most of all he was a friend. Though Cascio was just a few years old when he first met Jackson in 1984, at the peak of the pop star’s career, Jackson was at the center of his life for the next twenty-five years, allowing Cascio to observe firsthand the greatest entertainer the world had ever seen. In that time, he became the ultimate Michael Jackson insider, yet remained publicly silent about his experiences. Until now.
In My Friend Michael, Cascio refutes the rumors, lies, and accusations that have accumulated over the years, providing a candid look at the Michael Jackson he knew for more than two decades. Offering an uplifting and definitive account of the legend, Cascio details how he grew up alongside Jackson, traveling the world with him on concert tours and eventually working for him. Through this lens, Cascio captures Jackson’s most private and tumultuous moments, while also setting the record straight on the entertainer’s notorious and misunderstood lifestyle—from his Peter Pan reality and his sexuality to the false allegations against him.
As Cascio shows, there was a great deal more to Michael Jackson than the headlines about him have suggested. Cascio reveals his friend in all his complexity, bringing to light his passions and joys as well as his flaws and eccentricities. Including stories about Jackson that have never before been made public, Cascio creates a balanced, human look at the pop star, one that shows Jackson as the very real person he was—a lively friend with an endearingly juvenile sense of humor.
What emerges is a clear-eyed yet deeply respectful portrait of Jackson—a man who was at times unremarkably average but also terribly scarred by his life in the spotlight. Packed with never-before-seen photos, anecdotes, and insights, My Friend Michael is a trove of Michael Jackson lore that both celebrates his life and redefines our understanding of the man behind the myth.
About the Author
Frank Cascio is an entrepreneur, whose expertise ranges from business finance to music entertainment. His friendship with Michael Jackson began when he was five, and at the age of eighteen, he was hired by Mr. Jackson to be his personal assistant, eventually being promoted to his personal manager. Cascio was a producer of The Michael Jackson Interview: The Footage You Were Never Meant to See as well as creative consultant to and one of the producers of Michael Jackson Private Home Movies which aired on Fox in 2003. He has worked in New York City for the last six years, and he splits his time between there, California, Germany and Italy.
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Top Customer Reviews
My Friend Michael is very different than any other book about Michael Jackson I've read. To my knowledge, it's the first book written by someone close to the subject who isn't family, a business associate or a slick media hound. Frank Cascio is an ordinary guy who happened to have an extraordinary friendship with a man who was anything but ordinary. This book doesn't sugar coat its subject matter, nor does it place Michael on a pedestal beyond reproach. By contrast, it offers perhaps the most humanizing glimpse into the King of Pop's heart written to date; a man who craved genuine human interactions, yet lived in a world where no one could be trusted. Riddled with paranoia, Michael struggled to have friendships based on genuine, mutual love, as opposed to the shrewd opportunists that populated his life.
Michael Jackson wasn't only the most talented entertainer of all time, he was perhaps one of the most complex. It can't be easy to live one's entire life in a fishbowl, with little connection to the daily reality the rest of us face. This book reminds us that Michael Jackson was a mere mortal, like the rest of us, but lived a life beyond the scope the rest of us can imagine. Circumstances like that can't help but skew an individual's perspective on the world at large and how they choose to live their life. Michael may have been a human being like the rest of us, but the similarities veer off sharply pretty soon thereafter. Frank paints a picture of a man yearning to cling to some normalcy while strapped to the rocket ship called fame. It's almost as if Michael's super nova dragged him beyond the stratosphere and all he could do was hang on for the ride along with the rest of us; try as he may to steer it in the right direction, ultimately no one had any control over the trajectory.
Frank shares many intimate stories and misadventures he and Michael shared. Through it all, it's clear Michael was yearning to experience an ordinary friendship of inside jokes, childish pranks and genuine camaraderie. It would seem Michael handpicked the Cascios as his adopted family, with whom he could celebrate birthdays, Christmases and family vacations, in ways that he never experienced with his own family. Perhaps it's no mistake Michael chose a family from New Jersey; all American and away from the hustle of metropolitan life, yet not so far off the map to cause Michael much of a detour.
Frank details how Michael mentored him as a friend and father figure, teaching him how to create Mind Maps, and to set his goals high without limiting himself. It's a tutelage that I envy. There's no school or lessons in the street to equal that of the University of Michael Jackson; and Frank seemed to graduate King of Pop cum-laude. It's clear Frank learned much from this unique mentor, and that it will serve him for the remainder of his life. And what cool parents Frank had, to allow their children to travel Europe with a man just accused of pedophilia, and essentially allowing Michael to co-parent all of their offspring for over 20 years. I should have been so lucky to have parents like that. The mere fact that the Cascio's trusted Michael to such a degree speaks volumes to his innocence. They weren't brainwashed by Michael; if anything, they were one of the few to see the truth so clearly at a time when the rest of the world had doubts. Frank knew the children and families who falsely accused Michael. He was there, and in many cases, in the bedrooms during the sleepovers. Bottom line, the only impropriety to occur, was accusing an innocent man to begin with.
Frank also witnessed first hand Michael's prescription drug problem. To me, it makes total sense that an entertainer the magnitude of Michael Jackson would have a problem coming down after an energized performance, and would struggle to find the serenity to fall asleep. Particularly when coupled with chronic pain, and feeling the responsibility to wake up the next day and do it all over again. No, Propofol was not intended to be used as a nightly sleep aid, but then, the rest of us aren't working a job that pumps us full of adrenaline night after night, nor do we feel the daily responsibility to a stadium full of screaming fans. Yes, in one respect, Michael understandably lived life by a different set of rules, because his life resembled no other. The only thing I fault Michael for with Propofol use was trusting the wrong doctor, and not insisting on having proper medical equipment and staff present. But I imagine it's easy to become complacent when you're the King. Frank Cascio makes it clear that there's a big difference between a drug addict twitching for a fix, and a man suffering with chronic pain yearning for relief. I live with chronic pain, so I can relate to the helplessness and hopelessness that Michael must have felt in that regard. Compound that by having the entire world stare down at you as a pedophile, and it becomes clear the horrific reality that Michael faced on a daily basis. It's no wonder he couldn't sleep. Could you?
One of the funniest stories in the book was reading how Frank and Michael snuck into Disney World Paris and explored the grounds after hours. Apparently they even signed one of the Peter Pan exhibits, and I can't help but wonder if there mark is still there to this day. The image of Michael Jackson, the world's biggest star, losing his footing, and falling into a faux lake, waist deep and pouring water out of his iconic fedora, is an image I won't soon forget. And I imagine Frank won't either. It's obvious that Frank gave Michael the one thing he wanted most, friendship. But it's a friendship that was tested on levels few other face. And by the end of the book, it's understandable why Frank's friendship with Michael couldn't help but be strained under the weight of Michael's massive existence. At the end of the day, perhaps there's no way to have an ordinary friendship with an extraordinary man. But Frank and Michael seemed to come as close as they could get.
Bottom Line -- Michael Jackson was a human being, first and foremost. If you're prepared to read a book about Michael the person, a man with flaws, feelings and insecurities, then you'll enjoy this book. Frank Cascio made me feel closer to Michael in a way I never have before. So much so, that I felt the loss of friendship right alongside Frank by the end of the book. We all know there's no happy ending here, but continuing to celebrate Michael's life is where the "happily ever after" begins. I think Jermaine's book was more eloquently written, but Frank's fills the gaps that Jermaine's left behind. It's a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it to anyone who'd like to learn a new layer of truth to the humanity that was Michael Jackson.
MJ Forever & Eternally!
I personally LOVED this book and thank Frank from the bottom of my heart for sharing this part of Michael's world with us. Unlike some of the other readers who read the book in one day, I read a chapter each evening wanting to savor and take in each page, not wanting it to end.....
I, do not for one minute believe that Frank is cashing in with this book. I truly believe that Frank was one of the only people in the world who Michael trusted and remained close to for such an extended period of time. Look how many people Michael had known and befriended throughout his lifetime to only have moved on. What was it that Frank and Michael shared that made their relationship last?! If you read the book carefully, it is revealed that Frank gave up his professional soccer career, going to college, realtionships with women, basically his identity, for Michael. He stated in the book that he "lived for Michael." he had plenty of opportunity to "cash in" or "bail out." yes, things got very rough between them and their friendship was tested in the most extraordinary way but in the end they were able to find peace. It warmed my heart to know they did reconcile before Michael's death. I can only imagine the torment that would have lived with Frank if they didn't. I honestly believe that if Michael did not have Frank and his family that Michael would maybe not have been as strong and lasted through some of his ordeals.
Yes, I also question why frank did not do more to intervene in the drug use (he mentioned he did not share it with the family), or why he did share some details that maybe Michael did not want exposed but overall I think Michael would be happy with this book. I was not there, in these situations, I, we, cannot judge. For his whole life Michael just wanted to be understood. Hence his wanting to do the documentary with Brashir that stabbed him in the back. Frank was the one who arranged "The Michael Jackson Video, the Footage You were not meant to see" and Michael Jackson's Private Home Movies. Michael wanted so much for people to understand him and I think this book helps to understand michael much more as the human that he was with his gifts and faults. No human is perfect!
All in all my spirit and soul are able better to rest knowing that Michael did have Frank, The Cascios and his children that brought him so much joy and experiences. I always pictured Michael so sad and lonely Most of the time but this book showed that michael did have moments of pure joy, fun and family.
As already mentioned, I hope that frank is able to find peace in having written this book for I can only imagine him trying to move on with his life after having most of his life being connected to michael jackson. thank you Frank for doing what you did to protect Michael as best as you could.
As a fan who truly fell in love with michael jackson the humanitarian, BEFORE falling in love with his music, made this book a special read.
I love you and miss you Michael!!!