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Dorf Defends City Winery's Michael Jackson Tribute

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Soho West: City Winery's Michael Dorf has been catching some flak on the blogs today for his Michael Jackson Tribute Pairing, well because, it looks like he's turning a sad event into a commercial opportunity. In addition to playing MJ's music, the event would pair five wines with "5 themes in Michael Jackson's musical history all for a very reasonable price." (That's $25). The money is one issue, but more importantly, do people really want to celebrate the life of the King of Pop with wine pairings? Regardless, Michael Dorf writes in to defend his idea and mention they will not be serving Jesus juice, discussing the skin of the grapes, or focusing on te nose of the wines. Real nice.

Deciding to host a Michael Jackson Tribute immediately after his death was a complicated, emotional choice that evoked a mixed set of feelings. We were split about 80% thinking it was the right thing to do and join the celebration at the Apollo and other places around the globe, and 20% thinking it was too early, too exploitative, and too challenging for such a complex person. But Michael Jackson’s gift or genius is rooted in his paradoxical personality—like other great artists and figures, his damaged psyche was part of the package that came with his songwriting, showmanship, and celebrity.

Listening to his songs loud through a concert sound system over the last 24 hours reminds us of his prodigious abilities as a young child and how those early Jackson 5 songs are indelibly connected to all our childhoods. His middle work with Quincy Jones has reached more people, black and white, than anyone else's in our lifetimes. I want to listen to his work today and that passion will diminish over the next few days and weeks, and his work will get buried again in my collection. So it seems right to honor his music tonight, not next week.

We aren't out in LA to gather at the hospital, or his home, or his hollywood star. So for us, gathering together to celebrate his life at a common space made the most sense, and what more appropriate than a music venue. At the same time, charging money puts a commercial slant on the tribute, which is the biggest challenge. But we can’t give away wine for free and what makes our facility unique is the ability to pair wine with a theme--be it music or food. We hope to elevate the experience by focusing attention on 5 themes in Michael Jackson's musical history all for a very reasonable price. This was what we felt was a thoughtful approach to celebrating Michael Jackson through music and wine. It will not work for all people and for any who are offended, we are truly sorry.

And to respond to people’s accusations, here are the 3 things we will not be doing:

-We will not be serving “Jesus Juice”
-We will not discuss the skin of the grapes
-We will not focus on the nose or fragrance of the wines

May he rest in peace; May we celebrate his musical legacy; and May we learn from his mistakes.

· Highbrow Despicable? The Michael Jackson Wine Pairing [GS]
· The Depth of Taste [DBTH]