Monday, August 25, 2008

When Did We Start Sending Professional Athletes to the Olympics?

I think it's a sad day when we have to send professional athletes to the Olympics. Who cares if Kobe Bryant gets a gold medal? Or Serena Williams? Why wouldn't they? We would expect nothing less. But the Olympics is not for the Kobe Bryants and Serena Williams' of the world. Its' for amateur athletes who have never earned money professionally.

If they had wanted to be in the Olympics, they should have thought of that before they turned pro.

When did that rule change? I know it's been going on for a few Olympics now. But when exactly did we get so greedy and become such a sore sport that we had to start sending professional athletes? When did we decide that that was the only way we could effectively compete and win? Does everyone else cheat so badly that we had to cheat too?

I think it reflects badly on the United States as a whole. It makes us look like whimps, poor sports, and cheaters. When I see professional athletes winning medals, I feel cheated because there's no competition. There's no surprise. There's no excitement for the new athlete.

How are we ever supposed to get along with our global neighbors if we can't even place nice in a sporting event? I think the Olympic Committee should revisit this ruling. If the Olympics is corrupt, why even bother watching it?

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A whole new appreciation for Billy Vera

I’ve never been a big fan of recording artist Billy Vera. After all, I only knew of one song he ever wrote, called At This Moment, and always considered him a one-hit wonder. Remember, “What did you think, I would give at this moment? When you’re standing before me, with tears in your eyes?”

Anyway, I was never crazy about the song, and have always put it in the same category as Debbie Boone’s You Light Up My Life. Ugh. So when I learned that Billy Vera was the big act last Thursday at downtown Stamford’s (that’s Stamford, Connecticut) Live at Five concert series, I stuck my finger in my mouth and said “gag me” and even considered not going.

Boy was I wrong. And I’m really glad I went. My mind started to change that afternoon when I read an article about him in the local newspaper, the Stamford Advocate, and it caused me to develop a whole new appreciation and respect for the man.

The article explained that he had a very robust career writing music for others as well as himself, including a song called Storybook Children which I remember my mother having when I was child and one that I liked very much. It was on an Atlantic Records red and black label.

He also had and still has a very successful acting career. I was completely sold, however, when I found out that he was originally from my area and played many a gig in a local bar (long since demolished) in my home town, called The Stagecoach. In fact, ironically, the old “Stage”coach was right across the road from the live stage!

Well, when someone local makes it big, I automatically feel a certain affinity and loyalty for him. He was also a very friendly man — he let me take my picture with him — and he was a great entertainer. I really loved all the old stories he told inbetween songs, about the old days with his band and how he came up with the ideas for different songs. All night long, he introduced old band members in the audience.

And talk about well connected, Vincent Pastore, who plays Sal BonPensiero on The Soprano’s, came on stage and introduced him! He said that back in the ’80s, he opened up a nightclub in New Rochelle, New York, and he asked his good friend Billy Vera to be the act on opening night.

Also, Billy Foster, lead singer of Billy and the Showman, who is a long-time friend of ours, told me that Billy Vera actually got him started in music. And it was Billy Foster’s band who backed Billy Vera up on stage Thursday night! Well, if I wasn’t sold already, that would do it for me, because if he’s good enough for Billy Foster, he’s good enough for me.

But here’s the icing on the cake: he told me that he came all the way out here from LA just to play his home town. He didn’t have any other gigs in this area. He just wanted to give back to the people who gave to him all those years. Wow!

Thanks, Billy, for expanding my mind and enriching my life.

Please check out my novel, In Fashion's Web on Amazon.