…celebrity…at what cost…

Watching the Pope disembark from his flight today at Joint Base Andrews, it was as though God Himself was walking down the steps. At least to Catholics who believe that he is God’s emissary on earth. Dressed in white, Pope Francis seemed translucent, although he appeared like a man who enjoys good food. He seemed untouchable, although he’s a man who enjoys being touched.

What a dilemma for Pope Francis. While waiting for the chauffeur to drive away, the Pope looked as though he were about to bolt from his seat. The cries of the people behind the fence tempting him to do what he loves doing…walking among them…touching them and having them touch him.

Celebrity? At what cost?

The tabloids are filled with stories of entertainers trying to escape the clutches of their adoring fans. Those who jostle their idol for some tangible proof that they were up close and personal.

Michael Jackson tried to give his fans what they wanted…access to him. Sadly, there were opportunists who took advantage of Jackson’s desire to be loved. He paid dearly. One could say…with his life.

Elvis Presley enjoyed his celebrity. It provided unimaginable wealth which he could never have dreamed of…growing up like White trash on the wrong side of the tracks. He, like Jackson, allowed fans access. Whether it was a wise decision, is something you can judge for yourself. Numerous books have been penned about Elvis by those who had access to the icon.

If I were to meet Pope Francis, I would automatically reach out to hug him. That’s just my natural inclination, unless I feel the recipient would prefer I not. I think the Pope would reciprocate my hug, but I’m not sure his security detail would even let me. Those charged with protecting the Pontiff are on high alert to protect him from all harm. And no one can blame them.

The Pope realizes that allowing his followers access might cost him his life. He is willing to take that risk. He has said…”I feel the Lord has placed me here for a short time.”

Yes, Pope Francis is a celebrity…the state of being famous or celebrated (according to Webster’s Dictionary). However it’s unlikely that the pope considers himself a celebrity. He is what he has always been…

…a man among his people…

…a pastor shepherding his flock.

………hugmamma.

this…12th man

Not normally a football fan, I admit…I was caught up in the thundering tsunami that was the 12th man as it made its way to the Super Bowl.

That the outcome was not the event we had hoped for does not, in fact, dispel the gigantic wave and its accompanying roar that came crashing down in Arizona. And like the tsunami that caused seismic damage to Japan and its nuclear power plants, the Seahawks weighed in as a heavyweight contender. 

Russell Wilson, in only his third season as a pro quarterback, gave seasoned veteran Tom Brady something to think about. Wilson can only get better, as Brady surely has in all the years he’s been quarterbacking.

I feel as much for the ardent Seahawks fans as I do for the players themselves. For all their sake, I wish the team could have brought home the win. Fans and players alike did all they could to make it happen. No one can fault their fervor or hard work.

While the media replays that game-changing moment over and over and over again, perhaps it’s good to remember other more significant life-changing ones.

Pat’s battle with Multiple Myeloma and Amyloidosis.

Greg O’Brien eventually succumbing to Alzheimer’s.

The Japanese reporter slain by Isis.

Syrian refugees fleeing their homeland by the thousands. 

Jewish people once again facing annihilation at the hands of mad men.

African natives dying from ebola.

The havoc being wreaked upon the earth because of environmental changes caused by man.

Innocent lives lost because of crazed gunmen.

Young folks being bullied into taking their own lives.

Veterans returning…only to face death on the home front.

And the threat of another World War…as the Middle East continues to unravel.

There’s always another Super Bowl to win next year…

…but what will happen to the world in the interim???

………hugmamma.

“it’s a job,” oprah

Just finished reading Oprah: A Biography by Kitty Kelley, an oversized tome, befitting a mega-watt personality. I wasn’t inclined to read it when it first appeared in bookstores. It was too pricey at $30, and what more could I learn about the woman whose presence is literally everywhere. I know her better than the Pope, and I’ve been a Catholic for 61 years. But browsing the biography section of my favorite “Half-Price Books,” I spied Kelley’s book for less than half its original price. That sold me. And I’m very glad I bought it. I think I can now “close the book” on what I think about the reigning queen of day time talk shows.

Throughout Kelley’s book I vacillated between throwing myself solidly in Oprah’s camp or remaining at arm’s length, a stance I’ve maintained for years. I can safely say that after reading her biography, Oprah is just living up to the job description she’s written for herself, and continues to rewrite every day. Suffice it to say, there’s no other like it, in the whole wide world. And with her lofty career comes a lot of stuff that lesser humans like me, couldn’t begin to fathom, not in a billion lifetimes. 

Kelley has unearthed 495 pages worth of facts, good and bad, about Oprah. At first these seemed to offset one another, leaving me in limbo as to how I felt about her. Oprah is better than the Great Oz, for she has been adept at keeping her true identity secure, despite having openly lived in front of the cameras these last 25 years. How does she do it? With Herculean strength I would offer. 

“Will the real Oprah Winfrey please stand up!” Remember the TV show What’s My Line? Even for a kid like me back in the days of black and white television, I was always fascinated by the give and take between the mystery person and the celebrity panel doing the questioning. As good as they were, their questioning did not always render successful endings. That’s how I felt about Kelley’s trying to discern the “real” woman behind the woman, Oprah.

Reading between the lines, I think Kitty Kelley feels Oprah presents herself as magnanimous, when in fact, she is not.

Oprah became so accustomed to rapturous audiences that she reacted negatively if she saw someone not standing to applaud her. “One time she spotted a young black man who just sat there,” said the publishing executive. “She began heckling him. ‘I see someone here who is very brave.’ She began shuckin’ and jivin’: ‘Oh no. I don’t have to stand up and cheer for Oprah. No, sir. Not me. I’m the man. I won’t bow to Oprah.’ She did her whole ghetto shtick. It was ugly, very ugly for about four or five minutes while the poor guy just sat there as she mocked him. She wouldn’t let up….She was pissed that he was not giving her the adoring routine that the rest of the audience was….Turned out the young man was mentally challenged and severely disabled.”

On September 13, 2004, Oprah proclaimed the year her best, except for the year she started her talk show. The reason for her elation was that “she opened the season by giving away 276 brand-new Pontiac G6s, worth more than $28,000 apiece, for a collective total of $7.8 million.” Unfortunately the recipients, “Teachers and ministers and nurses and caregivers who had been walking to work for years or taking buses and having to transfer three times…,” were ill-prepared to pay $7,000 in taxes for the prizes, as the cars were deemed. In answer to their request for assistance from Oprah, her publicist “said they had three options: They could keep the car and pay the tax, sell the car and pay the tax with the profit, or forfeit the car. There was no other option from Oprah, and Pontiac already had donated the cars and paid the sales tax and licensing fees.”

Author Kelley highlights a particular show where Oprah “was barely civil to Hazel Bryan Massery, who as a young white student had yelled at Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine, who integrated Central high School in 1957 after President Eisenhower sent federal troops into Arkansas. ” Probably unbeknownst to the public, including me, Massery had apologized to Eckford “for her hateful rants,” the two becoming very close friends. When they were invited to appear on Oprah’s show, the talk show host was “highly skeptical of their friendship and would not accept that Hazel’s remorse had led to reconciliation.”

“They are friends,” Oprah told her audience in disbelief. “They…are…friends,” she repeated with obvious distaste. She then showed a massive blowup of the photograph taken that historic day, showing Elizabeth, silent and dignified, carrying her books into school as a crowd of screaming white students taunted her, the most menacing being Hazel. Oprah was icy as she asked Eckford why that photo still upset her so many years later.

“She (Oprah) was as cold as she could be, ” Eckford told David Margolick of  Vanity Fair.  “She went out of her way to be hateful.”

Margolick, who spent time with Eckford and Massery to write their story, added, “Characteristically, though, Elizabeth felt sorrier for Hazel. She was treated even more brusquely (by Oprah).

Oprah has openly spoken about being sexually abused as a youngster, beginning with her experience at 9 years old with a 19-year-old cousin by marriage. According to Kelley,

Oprah appeared to be so open with revelations about her intimacies on television that no one suspected she might be hiding secrets. Like comedians who cover their darkness with humor, she had learned to joke away her pain, and keep what hurt the most stuffed deep inside. She knew how to give just enough information to be amusing and to deflect further inquiry, which is one reason she insisted on taking control of her own public relations when her show went national. While she looked like she was telling the world everything about herself, she was actually keeping locked within more than she would share on television. She felt she needed to present herself as open, warm, and cozy on the air, and conceal the part of her that was cold, closed, and calculating. She was afraid she wouldn’t be liked if people saw a more complex dimension to the winning persona she chose to present. “Pleasing people is what I do,” she said. “I need to be liked…even by people I dislike.”

While Oprah has bestowed a good life upon her mom, Vernita Lee, buying her “a fur coat, a new car, a new house, no bills,” doubling her salary in retirement, and even gifting her with $100,000 one Mother’s Day, ” Oprah “really didn’t like her mother at all.”

…she was still bitter toward Vernita for “giving me away,” and she ricocheted from resentment to gratitude over those motherless years. She understood that the lack of her mother’s unconditional love drove her to develop skills to get praise from others, but she also saw that she tried to fill her motherless hole with food as a substitute for love and comfort and security. It would be many years before she reckoned with the depth of her psychological damage. …

Oprah goes on to say:

I don’t feel I owe anybody anything but my mother feels I do….She says, ‘There are dues to pay.’ I barely knew her (when I was little)….That’s why it’s so hard now. My mother wants this whole wonderful relationship. She has another daughter and a son. And everyone now wants this close family relationship….They want to pretend as though our past did not happen.”

Because she feels far removed from her birth family, several close friends are Oprah’s family of choice. Among them are poet and author Maya Angelou, of whom Oprah has said she ” ‘…was my mother in another life…I love her deeply. Something is there between us. So fallopian tubes and ovaries do not a mother make.’…Oprah carried Maya’s monthly itinerary in her purse at all times so she could reach her morning, noon, and night.”

“Once Oprah met Sidney Poitier, she bound him to her like a kind and loving father. ‘I call Sidney every Sunday and…we talk about life, we talk about reincarnation, we talk about the cosmos, we talk about the stars, we talk about the planets, we talk about energy. We talk about everything.’ “

Quincy Jones is a beloved uncle, in Oprah’s mind. ” ‘I truly learned how to love as a result of this man…I unconditionally love him and…I would slap the living shit out of somebody who said anything bad about Quincy.’ ” And Gayle King was the adoring sister, and John Travolta the brother, whom Oprah didn’t realize in her own kin, her siblings by birth.

” ‘…My friends are my family.’ Oprah frequently mentioned on her show how disgusted she was with all the beggars in her life. ‘I’m hearing from so many people now who want me to give them money, or lend them money. I say, “I’ll give you the shirt off my back, as long as you don’t ask for it.” ‘ “

We’ve all got “baggage” that we cart around throughout our lives. When and how we acquired it, with how much we’re saddled, and how we deal with our lives because of it, are questions only we can answer for ourselves. I’ve set my course in life based upon my own personal deprivations and disappointments, as well as my accomplishments and joys. I think laying expectations upon one another has the potential of backfiring. If people don’t measure up, our perceptions of them are muddied. But worse, I think we are hurt because of our emotional investment.

I’ve not felt inclined to invest in Oprah, because I was too busy investing in myself. I tend not to follow other’s advice, unless I can own it for myself. It amazes me that someone, like Oprah, can convince legions of people to hang upon her every word. But she has a gift, she’s even said so. What more telling event than her influence to get Obama crowned President.

With tears streaming down her face she rejoiced, standing on the right side of history and knowing that she just may have had a role in shaping it.

“My job was to make people, or allow people, to be introduced to Obama who might not have been at the time,” she said. “I wanted him elected, and I think I did that.”

I’ve decided that Oprah is doing a job for which she is well suited. She has positioned herself as Chairman of the Board/CEO and President of all she surveys. She’s paid her dues, and continues to do so. I say let her do with her life what she will. I had nothing to do with its creation; I have nothing to say about its evolution. She will answer to her Maker, as we all must. It’s between the 2 of them, and perhaps all those who have placed Oprah upon a pedestal. After all, they have a great deal to do with the billionaire she has become.

until you walk in someone’s shoes…hugmamma.

good samaritan #7

Newman’s Own has celebrated a landmark contribution of $300 million to charity. It was reported by Brian Williams on NBC’s Evening News. I wasn’t aware that every penny is donated. While I may not have been a huge fan of Paul Newman’s films, liking some, but not others; I commend his generous nature of seemingly, unconditional compassion for the less fortunate.

In a clip from an interview with Newman, he said “What could be better than holding your hand out to someone in need?”  Newman identified a need, and signed on for life, even in death. I’ll bet he’d be even prouder of his philanthropic legacy, than the one he left behind on celluloid.

My husband, daughter and I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Newman’s eldest daughter Nell, and her husband once. I believe she’s inherited her dad’s position as head of Newman’s Own. They’d bought an antique pine cupboard from me, which was selling at a charming, antique shop in Wilton, Connecticut, where I rented a space, called Simply Country. They asked if I could deliver the piece, which, of course, I consented to do. Who wouldn’t? Even if I had to rent  a truck to haul the cupboard! Luckily, it fit in the Ford Windstar van we owned at the time.

The couple lived in a smallish, white cottage, on a huge, level, parcel of land. Most of it lay behind the house, which sat at the front of the property. Nell and her husband were warm and friendly, smiling and laughing easily. While our husbands carted the cupboard into the house, bringing it to rest in its designated spot, Nell and I made “small talk.” Wish I remembered about what. But I’m sure I admired her home, her furnishings, and asked after her parents. She told me they lived nearby. In fact, I knew where their house was located. In my regular treks in and around Westport, I’d seen the stone lions that guarded the iron gates to the actors’ acreage. I may have glimpsed the home when we drove slowly by once, but viewing was difficult, since it’s set back from the road aways.

I think we commented on the lovely, old trees gracing their yard, so we were taken around towards the back to see more of them. Hanging from a very  large  branch of one tree, was an old-fashioned, rope swing, with a wooden seat. While we adults continued to talk, our daughter made herself comfortable, swinging contentedly, back and forth.

When we took our leave, it wasn’t like old friends, but rather like folks who were very delighted to meet one another. Perhaps, it was that they, and we, rarely, if ever, get to know people from two such different “worlds.” In truth, they weren’t really so different from us. Nell’s parents would’ve been proud of how cordial and welcoming she was to strangers, just making a delivery.  

for the “star” and his offspring, hugs…hugmamma.

“texas rangers, all the way!” or “angels in the outfield!”

I’m not a baseball fan. It’s too slow a game, causing my mind to wander, more so than at Sunday Mass, I might add. But after reading about 2 devout fans in a Wall Street Journal article, I’m rooting for the Texas Rangers, sight unseen. Let’s say I have a soft spot in my heart for the 2 women who’ve been rooting their team on since 1972, when they played their first game in Arlington.

Season ticket holders since forever, Maggie Hession, an 82-year-old Catholic nun, and her companion “in crime,” Frances Evans, 84 years-old, would make anyone proud to call them fans. These two have dedicated themselves to supporting their favorite baseball players just as, it seems, they have dedicated themselves to serving God. 

The nuns have faithfully attended Rangers games for 39 years, “listening to the play-by-play on their transistor radios and beating a drum they inherited from another fan.” They accompanied the team to New York for the playoff series in ’96, ’98 and ’99. Staying at the same hotel, the nuns rode the team’s bus to Yankee Stadium, sitting in the dugout during one game. Every day the devoted fans visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan to pray; unfortunately, the team still lost.

Occupying an area of their shared duplex, is a shrine erected by Hession and Evans, “decorated with religious figurines, crosses, refrigerator magnets of past players and three dozen signed baseballs, each enclosed in plexiglass. …There is also a framed portrait of the sisters in Rangers uniforms, taken when they attended Texas Rangers Baseball Fantasy Camp in the early ’90s.” During camp, Sister Frances, a self-described “ornery renegade,” broke her thumb when she was hit by a ball. Nonetheless, both she and Sister Maggie were thrilled when they hit the ball, and ran to first base.

Aside from the special attention bestowed on them by the Rangers, the nuns also received other perks. “The first season, they saved their money for tickets, but, after that, benefactors, including past Rangers owners and local businessmen, picked up the tab. ‘We like to say, “God provides,” ‘ Sister Maggie says.” At the stadium, they have parking space No. 1. And for many years, they flew to spring training in Florida, gratis the generosity of friends they’d made.

Having been schooled by Catholic nuns for 12 years, I know for a fact that they’re not the least bit shy about offering advice, requested or not. Hession and Evans were no different. They told Tom Schieffer, president of the Rangers, from 1991 to 1999, how to run the team, including “which player ‘needed to pay attention to his personal life.’ ” Sister Frances was displeased with former owner Tom Hicks, who signed Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year, $252 million dollar contract, which forced Hicks to sell the team in bankruptcy court this past summer. Hicks agrees with her about Rodriguez saying, ” ‘I do hope Sister Frances understands that I know I made errors, but they were all done because I was trying to deliver a winning team to Rangers fans,…Prayerfully, I hope Sister Frances can forgive and forget my past errors, especially as she is watching the Rangers in the 2010 World Series.’ ”

The nuns are delighted with the new president and part-owner, former, Ranger, star pitcher Nolan Ryan. When he saw a specialist for a hand problem, they were in the waiting room praying for him. Sister Frances had been encouraging Ryan to buy the team for years. She leaves him messages with coaching tips, like ” ‘If those guys would stay loose and have fun playing the game, they will play well.’ ”

The Rangers’ most religious fans, Sisters Frances and Maggie, will be at every home game against the San Francisco Giants, sitting in their 14th-row seats behind home plate. As for the away games, they’ll watch them on TV with the sound off, and the radio on, listening to the play-by-play calls. ” ‘You hear a lot of tidbits you don’t get from those TV announcers,’ Sister Frances says.” Despite losing the first two games of the Series, the nuns still feel the Rangers can win it. According to Sister Frances, ” ‘God’s time frame and mine are never the same,…but I really believe this is the year, this is the team.’ ”

from her lips to God’s ears…hugmamma.

oprah, one door closes…

Today is the beginning of the end, but when “one door closes, another opens.” I’ve not followed Oprah as avidly as millions of other fans. But I have admired her from afar, preferring to remain on the periphery of her empire. I’m not one to march to the beat of someonelse’s cadence; I like making my way through life, listening to the ordinary folks who offer practical advice. I admire celebrities for their accomplishments, but don’t identify with their lifestyles for they seem of another stratosphere. Their biographies are entrancing, especially those of movie stars from the “golden age of Hollywood.” I not only enjoy them for their entertainment value, but also as scripts about lives gone awry. In many cases they’ve made me appreciative of my life, not envious of the riches and fame which probably cause or exasperate the problems of the stars.

Oprah is unique in being able to walk the line between celebrity and ordinary. She is friends with John Travolta, Celine Dion and the Obamas; yet she can envelope audience members in a huge hug, as if they were long-lost relatives. Oprah’s charisma may leave strangers wanting more of her and, perhaps, from her. With $2.4 billion, how can she ever be sure of people’s intentions.

I was blogging on Oprah’s site before it morphed into its current format, which serves to promote her own cable network, OWN. Maneuvering through the blog world on her former site, I encountered both adoring fans, and “doubting Thomases” who questioned Oprah’s genuineness. While I’m not one to hang on her every word, I do credit her for pulling herself up by the “bootstraps,” and for funding philanthropic projects. My opinion, which I’ve shared in responses to others’ blogs, is that Oprah has lived her best life, as well as helped others live theirs.

Along with Oprah’s mega bucks comes mega responsibilities, mega privacy and security issues, and mega loss of a simpler life. Her’s is mine, amplified by a million, even a billion. I can grocery shop, walk my dog in town, sit in an audience, hug my family in public, have coffee with exercise friends at the local Starbuck’s. Oprah can do it all bigger and pricier, but she won’t enjoy it any better than me doing it smaller and cheaper. And I can do it without the scrutiny of the world. So I take my hat off to Oprah who, despite her wealth and fame, has maintained her human touch as evidenced by fans world-wide who, unlike her, live ordinary lives.

So while she bids farewell to 25 years hosting her current talk show, Oprah opens another “door,” onto OWN. It’s speculated that there’ll be an audience of 70 million ready and waiting, seats already “reserved.” She’ll want for nothing as she goes forward continuing to lead her best life, so I’ll just send Oprah…

hugs, and prayers…for continued success…hugmamma.

McGarrett, no replacement

As I sit typing away at the keyboard, Steve McGarrett’s face lights up the TV screen behind me. The low, husky voice is enough to conjure up the handsome Jack Lord. I’m reminded that in “Hawaii Five-O’s” heyday, I had a crush on the actor. So while I was disappointed in his marriage to someone other than me, I took comfort in his wife’s dark-haired good-looks as indicative of Lord’s preference for exotic types.

Beyond Lord’s presence in the series, “Hawaii Five-O” was a favorite of locals because it was filmed in the islands. The production company’s home base was located a few miles from my mother-in-law’s house. Filming on location meant natives would be used not only as extras, but possibly in featured roles as well. I think one or more of McGarrett’s  detectives were island men. Not only did the series provide jobs for locals but they, along with the islands as a backdrop, gave the show authenticity. Viewing the show I could identify every place they filmed, streets, buildings, restaurants, night clubs, malls, parks, beaches, hotels, churches, temples, airports and more. It was thrilling to see local celebrities like Danny Kaleikini and Genoa Keawe perform. Don Ho also guested but wasn’t a favorite of locals, who viewed him as a cheesy rendition of the true Hawaiian artist. Besides, Ho was always seen with a drink in his hand. Islanders did not relish being dubbed as slap-happy alcoholics to an audience of television watchers.

While not knocking the socks off of critics, the dramatic series entertained “Hawaii Five-O” fans for years. I know my family watched it with regularity. We probably set our dinner schedule around its time slot. After all, watching the show was like witnessing real life as it unfolded on our streets, in our homes, in our work places, among our people. We weren’t watching look-a-likes, so imagining that “Hawaii Five-O” was about us wasn’t far-fetched. And Jack Lord imbued the Hawaiian spirit, if not in looks then in his love of the islands and its people. During the series and through his retirement, he and his wife lived in Honolulu, calling it home. We were as enamored of the man, as he was of Hawaii, its culture and the natives. So while another reprise of the TV series is in the offing, there’ll never be a replacement for Jack Lord, the one and only Steve McGarrett. I wonder if the theme song will be updated as well; the old one is like “comfort food.” Right now, watching the original “Hawaii Five-O”, I’m remembering the “good old days” of my youth.

they can try, but…hugmamma.

NFL, for the men

My recent focus has been women, so I’m turning the limelight over to the men.

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, an interesting article got my attention “Who Forgot to Turn Off the NFL?” I have a difficult time paying homage to athletes with attitude who make a lot of money. So I perused the paragraphs, searching for ammunition to bolster my opinion. The subtitle read “As Football Booms, Once-Sleepy Training Camps Become Stages for Grudges, Boasts, PR Stunts and Psychodramas.” Aha! I thought. Here’s fodder for me to chew on.

The article opens with remarks by Dick Vermeil, former NFL coach,  “Sometimes in your effort to make the team better, you bring in players who bring a lot of attention to themselves,…These distractions are an irritation.” The article goes on to list some of the “sideshows.” Cincinnati’s camera-hogging wide receiver Terrel Owens and media magnet Chad Ochocinco are teaming up as “Hot Summer Couples!” Washington’s defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth has failed to pass the Redskin’s fitness test. Might it have anything to do with the fact that he opted out of the team’s off-season training program? Patriot’s quarterback Tom Brady hasn’t yet recommitted, once this final year in his 6-year contract expires. Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens safety, grumbles that he’s not able to quickly access game film from the team. Minnesota Viking quarterback Brett Favree still “sits on the fence” about retiring (for the third consecutive year). Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steeler’s quarterback, returned to camp before serving “a multigame league-issued suspension after an incident at a Georgia nightclub.”

NFL Network analyst and former Steeler defensive back and Hall of Famer, Rod Woodson describes current league athletes as “mouthier…and less beholden to the idea that all team business should be handled in the locker room. ‘Today’s players seem like they have an agenda every time they speak to the media,’…” Vermeil contends that “the NFL’s summer landscape has become increasingly loony.” even before the training camps commenced. A contributing factor might be the NFL’s increased popularity. According to Harris Interactive, pro football “has risen to a 35% favorable rating among American adults in 2009, a 46% increase since 1985.” In the past decade it’s shown an average 3.7% increase in regular season TV ratings, while three other major U.S. pro sports leagues saw an average 35% drop in ratings.

“The appetite for all things NFL was apparent Friday in Westminster, Md., when 11,506 attended the Ravens’ first full-squad practice, the largest turnout for a nonscrimmage practice in team history. When the big-talking Jets arrived at their camp site in Cortland, N.Y., on Sunday, 1,500 fans lined the street to welcome them.” Woodson seems perplexed that the league is in the news even when nothing’s going on.

Patriot’s longtime coach, Bill Belichick seems to suggest that present day players are being coddled. ” ‘Compared to when I came into the league, there is no training camp,…in 1975, we started camp July 5 and our first regular-season game was Sept. 21. It was forever; it was 2 1/2 months. So has training camp changed? (The players) have no idea.’ 

 The article ventures to add that training camps in earlier times were “far more likely to induce yawning.” The big news in 1990 from the Vikings camp was how to get more touches for running back Herschel Walker, and that 5 players from the Chicago Bears missed their camp startup. The San Fransisco Chronicle reported one day that phone service in the 49ers dorm was temporarily disrupted.

Comparing the hoopla surrounding NFL training camps today, former NFL coach Jerry Glanville claims “that training camps have always been crazy. The only real difference is the impression itself. ‘It’s just covered better…Nothing that’s going on hasn’t happened before 100 times.’ ” He remembers when the Houston Oilers required players to “complete a mile run in six minutes in order to practice. But the team’s star running back, Earl Campbell, couldn’t do it. The team’s coach at the time, Bum Phillips, came up with a solution, Mr. Glanville said: ‘If it’s 4th-and-a-mile, I won’t give him the ball.’ ”

Have the fans unknowingly created modern-day NFL Frankensteins who lay claim to all they see? Or are we unfairly scrutinizing every detail of their lives in an attempt to know them better? Do the players call attention to themselves, or do the fans put the spotlight on the players with unrelenting adulation? Maybe there’s enough guilt to go around.

what do you think?…hugmamma

new album

Not sure if there are any Michael Jackson fans reading my blog. If there are…good news! A new album of 10 unreleased, new songs should be in stores in November. Evidently someone found a hard-drive with hundreds of songs sung by MJ. Among them, was “Hot Time In The Summer Sun” by Sly and The Family Stone. In my mind, I could see and hear Michael singing the lyrics to the rhythmic tune. Head bobbing up and down, back and forth, while he sat moving to the beat. Happily doing what he loved to do, what he was obviously born to do. That’s how he should be remembered, how I’ll remember him.

My favorite memories of MJ are captured on a DVD of his live concert in Yokohama, Japan. He was in his late 20’s at the time. He cut a lean, mean, “dancing machine” figure. Belting out song after song, gliding and spinning across the stage, he owned it. The ultimate performer, MJ gave himself totally to the act, to the fans. Therein lay his Achille’s heel.

Jackson grew up in front of his fans; realized his full artistic potential because of them; he earned hundreds of millions of dollars because they bought his music, attended his concerts; and he felt completely engulfed by their love. On the flip side, Michael didn’t enjoy a normal childhood; he didn’t grow in other areas which might have given balance to his life; he spent money as fast as he made it, knowing he could always make more; and he kept many individuals who knew him and loved him, at arm’s length. He dedicated his life to his fans, the only ones he seemed to trust as being loyal and truthful to him. He lived in a fantasy, peopled only by himself, his fans and a select few, very few.

In his naiveté, MJ’s total trust in his fans was his final undoing. Inviting those who seemingly adored him to take shelter under his roof cost him dearly. While he went about the daily routine of his life, the free-loaders dug in their heels aiming to stay on the payroll for as long as they could. When MJ’s attention and devotion strayed from them, mother and children resorted to “bringing him down.” And they did.

Michael fled Neverland, a land of fantasies and wild imaginings, where all his dreams, and nightmares, came true. Living abroad with his 3 children, MJ tried to heal his life, himself. Their love, an innocent one, nourished his soul, bringing him back to a shadow of his former self. But at least he was alive, focusing upon them, and not his audience, his fans. But at 50, he contemplated a comeback, a personal performance for his children now old enough to understand and appreciate his talent. But in the bigger picture, Jackson owed millions in unpaid debts. Creditors were clamoring for their money. So “This Is It” was an answer to so many prayers.

Performing 50 live concerts was probably not in the realm of possibilities for Michael Jackson. In older age, he was not what he had been as a dancer, or even as a singer in his earlier years. But he was still amazing. My daughter and a couple of dancer friends were dumbfounded when they saw the film showing what might have been “the greatest show on earth,” for this generation. In their 20’s they could not believe MJ could belt out tunes and “shake his body” alongside younger dancers. They sat in the darkened theatre until the credits were done and the last strains of his voice were heard. I think they felt humbled by Michael’s huge talent.

Sad that MJ is gone, but like Elvis and others before him, such a predictable end to a glorious, but unreal life. Too much too soon, too fast to slow down, and fans always wanting more, expecting more. And their icons always aimed to please.

who controlled whom?…hugmamma