Tag Archives: Billy Zabka

“Searching for Sugar Man” and when fame doesn’t change a man. Team USA excruciatingly ties at World Cup. And “The Karate Kid” turns 30


So I mentioned briefly last week that I finally got around to watching the Academy Award-winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man,” the story of a mysterious early 1970’s rock singer from Detroit named Rodriguez, who never found success in America but developed an enormous following in South Africa, where more than 500,000 of his records have been sold in the last 40 years.

The film, released in 2012, is astonishingly good, and at less than 90 minutes, packs a lot of story and fabulous music into an incredible story.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot (The movie is playing on the Starz cable channel all month, and is on Netflix), because the story is so incredible, about how Rodriguez was living his life in Detroit as a construction worker, toiling in anonymity for decades, before being “found” and told what a sensation he was in South Africa.

But for days now I’ve been thinking about this theme of fame and success. Sixto Rodriguez made a few records in the early ’70s, and never became famous. And he seems pretty fine with that. When he was “discovered” by two enterprising and dogged South Africans, he was stunned, and happy to discover his music found a huge audience.

But it didn’t change him, this “accidental” discovery. So many times in America we’ve seen people go from anonymity to instant fame and it completely changes who they are, and what they believe.
Very rarely does fame not change a person. What I found fascinating about Rodriguez is he was living his anonymous life, suddenly became famous, then went back to his mostly-anonymous life for years afterward, until “Searching for Sugar Man” brought him back into the spotlight.

He’s still the same guy, living in the same house. And I think that’s beautiful and rare. In his mind, he’s always been a success, because he’s doing what he loved, and had everything he needed.

Not sure if I’m making the point I’m trying to make here. I guess what I’m trying to say is the true character of a person comes out when they suddenly get “famous,” and in Rodriguez’s case, it was wonderful to see.

Now go see the movie.


**Man, that USA-Portugal soccer game Sunday night was intense. Has a tie ever felt more like a loss in our lives?
I’ve really gotten into this World Cup, and from what my soccer friends tell me, this has been the best tournament in decades. But Sunday night brought forth all the emotions: Despair when Portugal got the early goal, encouragement when we tied it, elation when Clint Dempsey and a 20-year-old kid named DeAndre Yedlin team up to give America an improbable 2-1 lead, and then utter shock when with 30 seconds left Portugal ties it.

Crazy. Now the U.S. has to beat or tie Germany, or hope Portugal squeaks by Ghana by only a goal or so, to advance.
You know what else is crazy? That soccer’s “extra time” period is a joke; only the referee knows how much beyond 90 minutes the team’s will play, and even that seems to be an estimate.
Is there some intelligent reason why the referee can’t stop and start the clock whenever there’s an injury or sub? I mean, every other sport seems to be able to do it, but not soccer.
Just seems ridiculous to me.
Still, even with giving up the late tying goal and all U.S. fans feeling deflated, it was a hell of a game, and a hell of a performance, from the Americans. Now a tie or win against Germany and our boys advance to the knockout round, something very, very few people thought possible two weeks ago.


**A teenage soccer player named Daniel LaRusso moved from New Jersey to California, fell in with an old Japanese guy who was the handyman at his new apartment complex, met and fell in love with a beautiful blonde girl named Ali (with an “i”), learned karate, got bullied by some mean boys, then got the girl and some revenge at the end.

Sounds like the plot of a classic movie to me! “The Karate Kid” was somehow released 30 years ago last week, and Mental Floss has once again come through with some awesome facts (30 in all) about a movie that I, and everyone else in Generation X, considers a classic.

A few of my favorite nuggets from this piece:

— Daniel’s original last name was “Webber,” and even more horrifying, Johnny Lawrence was gonna be “Donald Rice.” Sorry, Donald Rice could be your attorney, not a blond karate killing machine.

— One of the greatest song/movie montages ever (above), Joe Esposito’s “You’re The Best,” was originally written for “Rocky III” but was replaced by “Eye of The Tiger.”

–That was NOT Mr. Miyagi actually doing the crane kick in the famous beach scene, it was a body double.
Well, you might as well tell me there’s no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny either, man.