Tag Archives: Barry Manilow

June 17 and the anniversary of the O.J. chase. More Hawaii thoughts. And Miss Utah, oh, Miss Utah.

There are some anniversaries that are indelible in your mind: Your wedding anniversary, the day JFK got assassinated, etc.
But Monday, June 17 was an anniversary of another kind: The day reality TV got born.
Because on June 17, 1994, O.J. Simpson and his best buddy A.C. Cowlings took America on a freeway chase that 95 million people watched. (A tip of the cap to my friend Lisa, who reminded me that June 17 is also the great Barry Manilow’s birthday. From all your Fanilows, Barry, you are still the man.)

Like most of you who were alive then, I remember exactly where I was that day. I was still euphoric over the Rangers having won the Stanley Cup three days earlier, and I was hope from college for the summer and watching the Rangers’ Stanley Cup parade that day.
Later that night my Dad and I planned to watch the Knicks-Rockets NBA Finals Game 5 together, when early in the game all hell broke loose.
Suddenly Tom Brokaw was breaking in saying O.J. was on the 5 Freeway in California, with 100 police cars after him, with a gun to his head after allegedly killing his ex-wife and lover a few days earlier.

It was incredible. The chase went on and on, and you were afraid to look away from the TV. The newscasters had no idea what was going on, NBC split the screen for a while between the chase and the game, and all I wanted to do was watch that lone car going down the highway.

Of course we know what happened; O.J. eventually got out of the car, went on the trial of the century, and was somehow found not guilty.
But really, that was the day reality TV was born. Everybody was glued to their sets, pre-Internet, waiting to see if one of the most famous football players ever who may have been a murderer, was going to surrender or kill himself.
It doesn’t get much more real than that.

The fantastic ESPN documentary “June 17, 1994” (check out the trailer above) has great footage of that day; the whole movie is on YouTube here, I highly recommend checking it out.
Anyway, hope everyone had a great “OJ chase” anniversary.

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**OK, since I couldn’t get my Hawaii honeymoon all out of my system in one day, I have a few more thoughts to share from my just-completed trip.

— Definitely the most fun/scariest thing we did was ziplining through a rainforest on Kauai. I had ziplined (zipped?) before, but my wife hadn’t. It was thrilling and terrifying all at once; the best of the 3 ziplines we did was 1,800 feet long, where you traveled 65 miles per hour across the line for about 80 seconds. Me, who’s scared of heights, thought it was great as long as I didn’t look down.
The feeling of flying through the air is really, really cool.
— Other favorite activity we did was a night manta ray snorkel, where we saw these huge manta rays swim right up to us. (here’s a manta ray). They’re totally harmless but it was still squeal-provoking.
— Interacting with so many tour guide employees in Hawaii, I noticed they must possess a ton of patience to deal with the public every day. I asked one guy named Noel what the dumbest question he ever got from a customer was.
“Probably the lady who, when we went to a shrimp farm, asked if shrimp grow on trees or on bushes,” Noel said. (His reply: “They grow on trees, because we all know crabs grow on bushes.” Took me a few seconds to get that joke.)
— A fun game on your honeymoon: Count how many times the hotel staff calls you by your name. If I heard “Mr. Lewis” one more time I thought I would scream. Good thing I’m not a teacher or anything where I hear my name a lot.
Oh, wait…
— Finally, luaus. They’re just weird. I liked the dancing and the fire-eating and all that, but I had no idea what was going on on stage most of the time. Still, the food was great.

**Finally today, it’s been a while since we’ve seen a clip of a truly clueless beauty pageant contestant. We all remember Miss South Carolina and her lack of even basic speaking skills.
Well, now we have a new entrant into the club, Miss Utah, Merissa Powell. She was asked at the Miss USA pageant over the weekend what I thought to be a pretty straightforward question about women in the workplace, and Miss Utah, well, you need to watch to truly appreciate its wretchedness.

And you know, I saw a lot of people defending her on the Web today, saying “oh, she’s a beauty pageant contestant, what do you expect?” and “she was nervous, etc.”
But I’m sorry, just because you’re beautiful doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to know stuff, or have opinions on something like women in the workplace.

Just makes me sad how empty-headed some people are.

Seeing Barry Manilow on Broadway=one happy Me. The Super Bowl commerical you never saw. And the man who inspired the Baltimore Ravens all year.

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I saw Barry Manilow on Broadway last Thursday night, and it was wonderful.

My love for Barry Manilow and his music started right after I came out of the womb, practically.
As a baby my mother used to sing a variety of songs to get me to stop crying, but the one she sang the most was “Can’t Smile Without You.” To this day, it gives me a warm glow inside.

Pretty much since childhood, I’ve loved Barry. You can mock all you want; I’m sure I’ve heard all the jokes you might make about the man who wrote so many awesome songs in the 1970s and 80s.

I have suffered my Fanilow status like a badge of honor, and was thrilled to finally see him in concert in Las Vegas in 2008.

Why do I love him? Lots of reasons. One is that he’s never pretended to be anything but what he is: A composer who writes and sings simple, beautiful songs about life.
Another reason is he seems to get such joy out of singing, and playing with his audience. He knows he was just a Jewish kid from Brooklyn who was fortunate enough to be exposed to music and had a gift for it, and he seems to revel in every moment of his fame.

And for a third reason, he just writes great songs! “Weekend in New England” is a beautiful mixture of melody and lyrics; so is “I Made it Through the Rain,” and of course, “Copacabana,” the song that will be mentioned first in his obit.

Oh, I know he’s slipped in recent years; at Thursday’s show, (which, I’ll have you know, had plenty of under-40 people besides myself) his voice was a little weaker than usual, he didn’t move around all that well, and yes, his face bore the damage of way too much plastic surgery.

But for 90 minutes, he told stories and laughed and had a killer backup band helping him along. He gave the crowd exactly what it hoped for, and I think that’s all you can ask in a performer.

So go ahead and mock us Fanilows if you want to. We’re thrilled the guy’s strill around and performing, giving us all a few more smiles.

**If you were watching the Baltimore Ravens get awarded the Lombardi Trophy after that scintillating and bizarre Super Bowl on Sunday, you may have heard coach John Harbaugh immediately pay tribute to O.J. Brigance when he was interviewed, calling him “an inspiration.”
Brigance is a former Ravens player who suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and ESPN did a beautiful and touching piece on him a few weeks ago. Watch, and then be thankful for all that you have in life.

**Finally today, here’s a pretty funny Will Ferrell commercial that most of America didn’t get shown during the Super Bowl; sort of a “rebuttal” to the GoDaddy.com ad with supermodel Bar Rafaeli and the computer tech dude. Glad we didn’t get any close-ups of Will Ferrell, yeesh.

Bruce Springsteen and the joy of living life to the fullest. And Rick Santorum, farewell my friend!

Monday night, during Bruce Springsteen’s fantastic rendition of “Rosalita,” toward the end of a three-hour concert, I looked around Madison Square Garden for a minute.
I saw people of all races and ethnicities. I saw people who were under 20, and people over 60.  I saw women and men, boys and girls, people dressed in suits and people dressed in ripped T-shirts.
The only thing they had in common: Joy.
Every single person I saw Monday night was having a great time, as good a time as I was up in Section 225 (that was the view from our seats, above).
I had never seen a crowd, at any live event I’ve been to, having this good of a time.  Some were drinking, some were smoking pot, some were just swaying to the music that has been the soundtrack of their lives.
All of us were reveling in the moment, but none of us could match the joy radiating from the 62-year-old dude we’d all come to see.
Bruce Springsteen did on Monday what I’m told he always does in concert: He ran around the stage and through the crowd. He drank a few beers with the fans. He did the famous knee-slide and bantered with Little Stevie and brought chills to the crowd with a tribute to the late great Clarence “Big Man” Clemons.

Everything I thought and hoped a Bruce show would be, all these years when I hadn’t seen one, came true Monday. But I hadn’t counted on the sheer joy I would see. And for 40 years, that’s what Springsteen has brought. He is doing exactly the thing he was put on this Earth to do, and he’s having a great time doing it.
And for three hours every time he takes the stage, a Bruce Springsteen concert is truly the happiest place on Earth. And we are so fortunate he still is able to do it.

Some other quick-hit thoughts from my first live Boss show:
— Having studied the previous setlists on the tour, I wasn’t too surprised by much he and the band played. Loved that “Because the Night” was played, that was my favorite song of the show. Of course “Rosalita” made people go crazy, but I also thought “My City in Ruins,” “Backstreets,” and “Badlands” were fantastic as well.
— Really cool moment when Bruce pulled up a kid on stage and had him sing the chorus of “Waitin’ For A Sunny Day.” Kid had great poise and stage presence.
— Clemons’ nephew Jake can really play the sax. He’s a worthy successor to Big Man.
–Got a ton of entertainment from the woman sitting a few feet away from me. She was in her 50s, I estimate, wearing an orange University of Texas T-shirt, and swaying and singing every word to every song the entire night, non-stop. She was a whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm. She was also drinking heavily.
— So glad I went. I can cross something off the Bucket List. Having seen Bruce and Barry Manilow live in the last few years, my next “music act to see before I die” is Bon Jovi.

**Tuesday brought some sad news for those of you who hate contraception, any non-white people, and fair chances for all. Rick Santorum, a man who riled up millions of angry Caucasians and right-wing lunatics, has decided to suspend his campaign for the presidency.

Ahh, Rick. So disappointing we won’t get a President Santorum, who would ban condoms, bomb every country he could, and require all Americans to prove they are citizens. Well, at least we’ll always have the above video to remember him by. Still cracks me up every time I watch it…

The hilarious Brian Williams, a big product endorsement, and a little Barry M.

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When you think of great funny men of our time, we all can agree on the same basic list.

Jerry Seinfeld. Chris Rock. Billy Crystal. Brian Williams.

Yes, the same Brian Williams who hosts the “NBC Nightly News.” Seriously, dude is really funny. I’ve seen him on “The Tonight Show” a few times, and then this past weekend he was on my favorite NPR show, Wait Wait, Don’t Tell me.”

Guy just has great comic timing, is smart and self-deprecating, and just comes off in a funny way. Here, take a listen for yourself.

***My own tennis update! I maintained my undefeated record in the Greater Volusia Tennis League Men’s 4.0 division Monday night. My partner Keith and I, who I’ve only played with a handful of times, totally destroyed our doubles foes, 6-2, 6-2. I’m now 5-0 in doubles on the season, thank you very much. Tennis players out there, you know when you’re in the zone and you expect every shot to go in, and you’re genuinely surprised when they don’t?

I was there Monday night. One other thing: The guys we played seemed nice, but even though we repeatedly praised their good shots, they never once said “nice shot” or anything when Keith or I hit a winner. That’s just poor court manners.

**OK, you may be asking yourself why there’s a picture of Arnold’s Whole Grain bread up there. I’ll tell you why. Not only is this stuff fantastic to eat, but my own accidental little experiment over the last few weeks has proven one more thing: This stuff does NOT go bad.

I accidentally bought a loaf of this delicious bread a day after thinking I was out, only to discover that I had a whole full loaf already in the fridge. Well, let me tell you, I figured it’d be a race against mold (bread’s arch-enemy, like The Joker is to Batman) with my bread. I figured there’s no way both loaves would survive.

But let me tell you my friends, it’s been more than three weeks and this bread is still going strong! I’m nearly finished with it and not one drop of green stuff anywhere.

Arnold Bread people, I bow to your fresh greatness.

**OK, two things in this week’s Sports Illustrated I’m compelled to share. One, Joe Posnanski’s excellent profile of Joe Paterno. I’m biased because I think Joe Pos is the greatest thing since, well, since Arnold 12 Grain Bread, but this truly is a great story about an old lion of a football coach.

The second thing, and this completely cracked me up: Remember the clip of that 9-year-old hockey kid in Boston who scored that crazy goal? Anyway, his name is Oliver Wahlstrom, and he was asked if he’ll honor the sudden autograph requests he’s getting.

“I don’t know. I’m still printing.”

Classic.

Finally, I realize that I’ve been doing this blog for three months and have yet to share one my all-time musical favorites with you. I’ve been roundly mocked for loving this man, but dammit, listen to this and tell me he’s not incredibly talented!