How Estonia made Michael Jackson a megastar
By Abdul Turay

Years ago as an undergraduate student I had conversation with someone who was studying psychology. I didn't know anything about the subject at the time, so I asked him what he thought of Sigmund Freud.

He said something so simple and so sage that I have never forgotten it.

“He was a genius, but he was one genius out of many geniuses.”

What he meant was that fame and genius are not the same things. Freud was one of a number of men and women doing ground breaking work in his field. Though he became more generally known by the public at large, Freud wasn't better than these other pioneers, he was simply more famous.
The same principle can be applied to any field; physics, acting, invention, history and pop music.
Some would have us believe that Michael Jackson was somehow superior to everybody else working in showbiz. That he was the world's greatest entertainer, a megastar in a premier league all by himself. He was none of those things.

I was living in the USA about the time that “Bad” came out. This was an album aimed at my target group, teenagers. We didn't like it, we didn't like him and we couldn't fathom who the hell was buying this overblown, self obsessed, pretentious, rubbish.

To be fair Jackson's career had its ups as well as its down. He did some good stuff, he did some really good stuff, but he did some em........ bad stuff, not to mention the downright silly stuff.

So why all the hyperbole especially from young people not old enough to remember his career peak “Thriller”?

Estonia made Michael Jackson. Not just Estonia of course but all the countries of the former Soviet Block, the Middle East, Africa, the Far East and Latin America. He was the biggest thing everywhere it seems except his own backyard.
Michael Jackson hasn't been especially popular in his own country for decades and the sales figures back this up. None of the albums Michael Jackson released in the 90s were the top selling albums for that year in the USA. A couple of them weren't even in the top 10.

Some of the claims about Michael Jackson are just plain lies. It is a complete fiction that Michael Jackson has sold 750 million units in total. A Wall Street Journal investigation on 15 July debunked this popular myth. It's not even clear if “Thriller” is the biggest selling album in the USA of all time. It is globally, but in the USA it is vying with an Eagles album for top place.

Michael Jackson has actually sold 200 million units worldwide. To put that in context, Michael Jackson's one time great rival, whose career declined in the early 80s, Donny Osmond, has sold 100 million units, and those figures are accurate. So in the end "Michael" was only twice as successful as "Donny", despite the fact that Donny didn't have a single hit record between 1979 and 1989.
Yet the average Estonian under the age of 30 probably hasn't even heard of Donny Osmond, whereas everybody knows Michael Jackson.

The explanation for this is simply. Michael Jackson was American. And he was the top American entertainer in the mid-80s at the height of the Cold War. He came to symbolise America.
Many Estonians, like the unwashed, huddled, masses from the rest of the developing world, looked to the USA as a shining land. It embodied freedom and prosperity. We call these people American Wannabes.
When the USA eventually won the Cold War, American Wannabes needed a symbol. Jackson fell into that role really by default. American Wannabes liked Michael Jackson because they thought that's what Americans liked.

The point is beautifully illustrated by something a close friend told me when I first met her years ago. Like a lot of young Estonian women, she was a hopeless American Wannabe. She liked Michael Jackson of course and the Rolling Stones and AC/DC. She told me she had only just discovered the Rolling Stones were British.

She described her stepfather having a rock history book. She was shocked to discover, on looking through it, that actually ALL her favourite rock bands were British.

With a couple of notable exceptions, none of the World's top artists in 80s fitted the profile unwashed, American Wannabes wanted. None of the World's top artists were actually American.

People have forgotten it now, but back in the 80s at the height of the Cold War most rock stars were British. Elton John, Depeche Mode, George Michael, Phil Collins, Fleetwood Mac, Duran Duran, Queen, Bowie, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Ozzy, etc; were all British.

I was in the USA at the time and most of my contemporaries took for granted that most music came from the UK in the same sense that people took for granted that most movies came from Hollywood.

Some rock stars had other nationalities. U2, without a doubt the biggest rock band in the English-speaking world in the 80s, were Irish. AC/DC were Australian; as was Kylie.

Other stars didn't suit for some other reason. Prince was just too weird for the conservative tastes of the Second and Third World. Frank Sinatra was too old. And Elvis, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix were dead.

That left Madonna and Michael Jackson. You could argue Michael Jackson is weird too, but no one thought that in 1985. Besides, his music has never been weird sounding.

Once the USA "won" the Cold War Michael Jackson's star went up, as the representative of US culture at a time when the sales of his records were dropping off in his own country. So if Michael Jackson had been from anywhere else, he wouldn't have had the same level of adulation. The irony is that Michael Jackson's act wasn't especially American. He could have come from anywhere.

Really the role of American icon for American Wannabes should rightfully have gone to Bruce Springstein. By the late 80s he was putting on a better show than Michael Jackson, he was undeniably more popular in his own country, he sold more records and he was more quintessentially American. But Springstein's star didn't take off outside the English-speaking world at all.

The trouble was his act was based on language. Michael Jackson's and Madonna's acts were based on dance. Your typical American Wannabe hairdresser, living in Haapsalu in 1989, didn't speak English. She couldn't have known that Springstein was singing heartfelt, witty, songs with biting social commentary, but she could enjoy Michael Jackson and Madonna swinging their hips and shaking their booties.

Also Springstein is honest about his country and therefore somewhat cynical about it. Any American Wannabe, sad-faced clown, who does eventually master English is going to realise this. And the last thing an American Wannabe wants to hear is: “America sucks”.

In knowing Jackson the unwashed, huddled, American Wannabe masses in places like Taiwan, El Salvador, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Estonia felt that they knew USA. In actuality this has never been true.

None of this means Michael Jackson was crap. I have enjoyed his music along with many other people. His gig was good, sometimes it was great. He was a genius, one genius out of many geniuses.




Paradise Lost
By Abdul Turay 11 August 2009
Finally the Estonian immigration authorities have done something of which they can be proud . They are getting rid of a very nasty man. Anyone who follows current affairs in Estonia may  vaguely have heard of Craig Cobb, a bearded, 57 year old, extreme right-wing American who for the past few years has made Estonia his home.
He hoped to make this country the centre for his one man campaign to promote so-called white nationalism.
Tallinn is host to Cobb's Podblanc site, where mostly Russian skinhead thugs post videos of themselves committing acts of brutal violence against men, women, and even small children from ethnic minorities in Russia.
Those of us who have been coming to Estonia for some years, either as visitors, investors, or as more permanent guests, have been sadden to see some of the more unsavoury characters from our part of the world show up here.
Cobb is of course the worse example of this phenomenon. It's like the situation Alex Garland described in “the beach.” whereby a pristine island paradise is turned into a hell when all the idiots show up.
Once it seemed Estonia was paradise for foreigners because of the warm welcome we received here. In the 90s and early 2000s everybody had a positive view about people from the West.
Once it seemed Estonians of all classes, fed on a diet of Hollywood movies and Australian soaps, saw Westerners as champions of democracy and freedom, We were beautiful, charming and rich. Or so I have heard. It probably was never that rosy but it seemed that way. Now Estonians must think we are the scum of the Earth.
It's hard to believe it now but a few years ago, typically Estonians believed that the average Englishman was a gentleman. I remember arguing with my partner when I first met her that British tourists were totally uncouth and far worse than Finnish tourists. She didn't buy it. This was before an army of young British men pissed and vomited all over Tallinn.
Thankfully the stags have stopped coming in such large numbers. They may have ruined my country's reputation but ultimately they were just a nuisance, they are harmless. This fellow Cobb, is not.
The most infamous video on the site was a beheading in the forest of two men from central Asia, posted by Russian neo-Nazis. It is without a doubt the single most disgusting and horrible thing I have ever seen.
In the video the two men are shown kneeling with their hands tied. Behind them are five masked men holding a swastika flag.
One of their captors takes an axe and slices the prisoner's head open like a melon. Blood pours everywhere. The captors then throw the corpse into a shallow grave.
The second prisoner looks on in horror and awaits his fate. He pleads with his captors. Another of the captors takes an axe and swings at the kneeling man but he is clumsy and he doesn't kill him. Blood pours out of him like water from a tap. The man repeatedly hacks at the man's head and body. Eventually the captor shoots the man in the head. Then this corpse is thrown into a shallow grave.
The video ends with a plea to support the cause and send donations to a postal address in Tallinn, Estonia.
Cobb didn't just confine himself to the web, he engaged in street propaganda. Last year Cobb videoed and harangue a crowd at a concert by the American rap-artist 50 Cent.
The last thing you want is niggers in Estonia, death to niggers,” he shouted.
As well as blacks and Jews, Cobb has campaigned against other groups of people. He has made bizarre claims that the Chinese were deliberately infecting Estonian women with STDs.
They're picking up used rubbers from the streets of China and then they toss them into a vat and recycle them somehow to make hair bands, these hair bands are literally capable of transmitting STDs ,” Cobb said.
Despite being almost 60, Cobb was prone to prowl the streets of Tallinn making unwanted approaches to young women whom he described as “exquisitely beautiful.”
Imagine if you are a 16 year old girl who loves all things American, and then the first American you ever meet is a dirty old man spouting hatred of Jews and Blacks.
A colleague of mine, a fellow journalist, was approached by him. Needless to say she didn't take him up on his offer.
This I think in the whole rub. Cobb is motivated by sexual frustration and envy more than by anything else.
I could spout platitudes about how there are good and bad people everywhere but unfortunately it is not as simple as that.
There are people like Craig Cobb running around over Western Europe and North America. Some of them even hold elective office. The rise of the organised Far-right is a real problem in even supposedly liberal countries like Norway and Holland. There's a Far-right in Estonia of course but they just aren't that organised.
At least Cobb is on the way out. But unfortunately people like him have succeeded in one thing. They have ruined the reputation of Westerners in Estonia.

The hated white man
By Priit Pullerits
Published Postimees 13 November 2008

We Estonians have now been warned. Black British journalist, Abdul Turay, imputed in Tuesday's Postimees that we treat black people badly and threatened that if Russia attacked Narva, the USA won't undertake to do something about it, because as Turay imagined President Barack Obama's wife Michelle would then say to her husband.


“Ah Estonia. Isn't that the little, small-minded, white country, to hell with them.”


How come we get this angry, gleeful and belligerent tone addressed at the Estonian land and the Estonian people. It probably stems from Turay's disappointment that we don't treat him or his racial compatriots with sufficient dignity and rights.


But it can't be claimed somehow that Turay's racial compatriots over in America, (where the President-elect presumably will help stop racism), have attitudes towards white people that are tolerant and friendly. Experience says the opposite is true.


One time whilst heading out, I stopped my car in Phoenix, Arizona city centre, to take a picture in front of the State Congress Building. I had scarcely taken my camera out when a threatening-looking band of black people began to assembly. I rapidly made tracks.


Another time in New York I asked a black person if he would let me take a picture with him in the shot. He pushed into his black leather coat's side lapel and exposed a cane from under it. I got the jest and backed off.


Some years back in Broadway, New York, I fell victim to a black blackmailer. He provoked a clash with me. He dropped a bottle in a paper bag and pressured me with his body language which didn't leave room for argument that I have to reward the misfortune.


In the Capitol, Washington, I was passing one time into a shop. In the front hanging about were some black youths. They can't have been more than a couples of steps away, I listened to their abhorrent spite.


In Washington's suburb, Bethesda, a black person ensnared me one evening. His car stopped next to my car and he asked if I could tow him along for a minute as his legs were too weak (to push it). He said he lived in a nearby room. Bethesda is an expensive part of town to be driving a jalopy. This dilapidated man, all things being equal, couldn't somehow live there. It was actually this feeling that saved me from falling victim to this black man.


White people must take care where to go in America. There are parts of cities such a South Central, Los Angeles, Anacostia, Washington or Opa-Locka, Miami, where you can't, for safety's sake, stick your nose. Unfortunately I don't know any parts of towns (in America) where black people can not safely go about their business.


In the same way you can't imagine that if John McCain had been elected president, someone would threaten Turay's racial compatriots :“Ah Africa, isn't that the big war-torn black continent, to hell with them.”

A black president for a small white nation