Live From Super Bowl Media Day, Not Me

Richard Sherman

Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman answers a question during the Super Bowl XLVIII media day Tuesday. (AP Photo)

There was a time in my life when I would have sold my third child to cover a Super Bowl.

Then, somewhere along the way, I never had a third child and the entire realm of professional sports took a back seat to so many other things.

This morning, exactly 75.44 miles (according to mapquest.com) from where I sit inside my humble abode, Super Bowl XLVIII is holding its annual mockery of a media day; five days before the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos do battle for all the marbles from the most recent NFL season.

Many of my in-state cohorts and counterparts are down there, in Newark, N.J., looking for the serious story or interesting angle. And they’re going to do a helluva job because they were some of the most talented, top-notch journalists I’ve worked with (and against) in my career.

But they are also standing side by side with journalistic jokes who are dressed in ridiculous costumes to ask the dumbest of questions of athletes who are held in higher esteem than they deserve to be just because they have a supernatural athletic talent.

Yes, I could have been there, too. I could easily have been credentialed as one of the masses and gotten up at 4 a.m to make the journey, down and back, through traffic’s version of Hell.

Once upon a time, I’d have been there. Not any more. I have far more important things to do.

Instead, tonight, I’ll be covering a high school basketball game as one of our two hometown teams takes on one of the best teams in the league. Our local team is in a fight for its postseason life and to those athletes, and our readers, that story is far more important to tell than what’s going on in the swamplands of Jersey.

Peyton Manning? Russell Wilson?

I’m passing on them so I can watch Zaire Wilson and Evan Skoparantzos square off along side their respective teams.

Now don’t get me wrong. I fully comprehend the importance of the Super Bowl to our readers, especially this year since it’s being held in our backyard of the Tri-State Region where we work and live. Every day, multiple stories will be put in our Sports Section so readers can know what’s happening on the western side of the Hudson River.

But we pay good money to a wire service to cover the national sports scene and I’m more than happy to let them do the job so that I am freed up to take care of our bread and butter — our local athletes, who pick up our paper every day (or, in the 21st century, go to our website) in hopes of seeing their names, their teams splashed across the front of the sports page.

Plus, I’ve learned, covering these great national championship events isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Last spring, I journeyed to New Orleans to cover the UConn women’s basketball team as it won its latest NCAA championship. The media — the beat writers for the teams covering the story — were tucked off in a corner, with the worst possible angle to view the game. This allowed all the NCAA big wigs to sit court-side with the best seats in the house.

Plus, in this day and age of earlier deadlines in our business, I found that doing the job to the best of my ability was actually a handicap. The best story never saw the light of the day in our print edition. Instead, the story was placed on the web where readers had 1,000 other options and stories to choose from. It just wasn’t the same as it used to be and certainly didn’t have the glamour I thought it would.

So when the Super Bowl came to town, I never even asked for a credential, never even considered it.

If the Giants or Jets (haha, sorry, just some comic relief there) had been involved, it might have been different a story.

But Broncos-Seahawks?

I’ll pass. And besides I’ll get to watch the game from the comforts of the office on Sunday and get to enjoy the commercials, as well.

MY THREE CENTS: The Day After — A Look Back At The 2014 Grammys

Nile Rodgers, Paul Williams, Daft Punk

Nile Rodgers, Paul Williams, and Daft Punk accept the award for Album of the Year during the 2014 Grammys on Sunday night. (AP photo)

It’s probably safe to say that the biggest winners to come out of Sunday night’s installment of the Grammys were The Robots.

Also known as the French electric music team of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, The Robots stole the show, not to mention the Twitter-verse, by racking up three of the night’s bigger awards, including Record of the Year (“Get Lucky”), Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and, of course, the biggie, Album of the Year for “Random Access Memories.”

One of the first things I did on Monday morning was hop onto my Spotify and give “Random Access Memories” a listen. I wasn’t sure what to expect but three songs in I found myself enjoying it … which, I admit, surprised me.

But I’ve been surprised a lot by music lately. Over the past year, I’ve really gotten into music. I’ve always enjoyed from music, even from my youngest days when I can recall Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods begging “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero” or picturing the scene painted out during Paper Lace’s “The Night Chicago Died.”

Music has always been one of the things that can immediately take us back to a time and place, to an era we might always cherish, or perhaps even hope to someday forget. But it’s the closest thing we have to a time machine and it does it’s job better than a DeLorean.

Because I’ve spent a big part of the last 365 days exploring new music and attending concerts at every opportunity I’ve had, I’ve come to appreciate all kinds of music in vastly different ways. This is just another reason why I’ve been intrigued by sounds my ears have never gravitated to before. After all, when you open your ears, your head and your heart to new ideas, you’ll find yourself pleasantly surprised sometimes.

This is perhaps a big reason why I viewed the entire “Daft Punk” story line playing out the way it did last night with such a high interest.

When they won their first Grammy, Pharrell Williams did all the talking for “The Robots” and it provided a moment of comic relief.

When the two made their way up to the stage for their second award, they had people’s attention.

And when it was announced that they won “Album of the Year” — which, let’s face it, is the Grammy’s version of “Best Picture” at the Oscars — it became obvious that they had put together something special.

But it was still plenty bizarre and legendary songwriter Paul Williams made that obvious during his acceptance speech when he said, “Back when I was drinking and using, I used to imagine things that weren’t there … And then I got sober and two robots called me and asked me to make an album.”

As I watched the televised version of the show last night, I was following along on Twitter to gauge people’s reaction, and the futuristic garb worn by The Robots was certainly gathering people’s attention. (According to their Wikipedia page, “Daft Punk is noted for its elaborate live stage shows, in which visual elements and effects are incorporated with the music. The group is known for its emphasis on using visual and story components associated with their musical productions. Daft Punk is also known for its use of disguises while in public and/or performing; specifically ornate helmets and gloves to assume robot personas in most of their public appearances since 2001. The duo rarely grant interviews or appear on television.”)

In other words, this was no act they putting on. This is who they’ve been as artists for a long time. In fact, the most staggering factoid I’ve learned is that Daft Punk has actually been around since 1993. That’s 20 years of hard work and toiling in the sometimes unfriendly world of the music industry that preceded last night’s win folks. That’s impressive.

Sadly, too many small-minded people simply ridiculed them, but that’s one of the downfalls in our society in the 21st century. Many of the naysayers likely had never heard of “Daft Punk” before last night, but because they were different, they were an instant source for ridicule.

The entire night went that way through Twitter, though.

Lorde

Lorde poses in the press room with the awards for best pop solo performance and song of the year for “Royals” at the 56th annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan Steinberg/Invision/AP)

When Lorde won her two Grammys, the haters were there to put her down, too.

I’m especially glad that Lorde — whose in the real world is 17-year-old New Zealander Ella Yelich-O’Connor — walked off with some hardware last night. I discovered her music before most and always like what I heard.

She’s brilliant for so being so young and so new to the industry. Her EP, which helped launch her big hit, “Royals” was more than a one-song wonder, and her debut album “Pure Heroine” is full of songs that bely her age and inexperience. (Her song “Tennis Courts” is perhaps my favorite, surpassing even “Royals.”)

While I was ahead of the curve with Lorde and behind it with “Daft Punk” there were plenty of other moments last night that were right in my wheelhouse.

One of the most disappointing moments for me was the pairing of Robin Thicke and Chicago. I don’t mind most of Chicago’s music and I enjoyed Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” but the two together just didn’t click for me. Oil and water? Perhaps. More like pudding and soda pop, though.

Like I said, it was the Grammys 2014 biggest fail.

For me, the best odd-matchmaking proved to be Kendrick Lamar, a rapper, with Imagine Dragons. I don’t know how or why, but it definitely worked.

I felt bad for country music upstart Kacey Musgraves, who had to take the stage right after and was lost in the wake of the energy of Lamar and Dragons brought to their performance. (Sidenote: I’ll be checking out Musgraves personally when I see her in concert with Lady Antebellum this weekend).

Coming in a close second, IMHO, was the duet with Carole King and Sara Bareilles, who did a great job with Bareilles’ hit “Brave.”

The show opened with a Beyonce-Jay Z duo which is was big in name and power, but did little for me personally. John Legend was good, too, and that song, an ode to his girlfriend/fiancee Chrissy Teigen is outstanding. Taylor Swift was equal to the task, as well. (How’s your neck there, Taylor? A little sore after that head-banging moment?). Pink and Nate Ruess (the frontman for the band fun.) were solid, also.

The Paul McCartney-Ringo Starr thing did little for me. I’ve never been a huge Beatles guy, having been born a little too late to be part of the craze. Sure, there are Beatles songs I like, but overall I’ve just never understood the madness behind them. They have my respect because they’re the Beatles and are a huge part of music’s roots, but that doesn’t mean I have to be overly enthralled by them, right?

The emotional highlight, without a doubt, was Macklemore and Ryan Lewis joining forces with Mary Lambert to sing their song, “Same Love,” as 33 couples as diverse and real as the world we live in, were married, for better or worse, ’til death to them part. (Just think: All of them get to see Beyonce was at their wedding).

Twitter again exploded some people admitting they were touched and in tears by the moment, to the more idiotic right wing zealots putting down the moment by saying it was a disgrace to God. Madonna’s surprise appearance also drew a  lot of negative comments, but guess what? She’s still richer and more talented than most people in the room, so sticks and stones).

All in all, I admit that I enjoyed the 2014 Grammys more than I ever have in the past.

I am more excited, though, with what 2014 will bring in terms of music and its stars as I take in more shows and explore more new music in deeper ways than I ever have before.

And if that leads me to “Get Lucky” and get back to listening to Daft Punk a little more then so be it.

For a link of all the Grammy winners for 2014, just click here.

Did Bieber’s Arrest Come Justin Time?

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Miami Dade Corrections photo

We all love a train wreck, and by “we” I mean all of us, collectively, as an American People.

That’s why “we” went crazy on Thursday morning when unknown-rapper-turned-teen-heartthrob-turned-spoiled-brat-turned-Canadian-National-Joke Justin Bieber was arrested on suspicion of DUI charges in Miami. This, of course, came a week after Bieber’s California mansion was raided by police who were looking for evidence in an egg-throwing incident at a neighbor’s house.

Oh, how we love to see the pedestal crumble and those standing upon it fall back to the earth.

Needless to say, this isn’t about the music. I wouldn’t know a Justin Bieber song if it was played for me right now. I know he’s far more Vanilla Ice than he is Eminem. I certainly didn’t put Bieber on the pedestal, but I am from The Generation whose sons and daughters did. They paid big money for his concerts, for his albums, for his movies.

He is there Elvis, not ours. But we all know how Elvis ended up, don’t we?

All I know is that Bieber is in our national conscience because he’s 19 years old, has more money than God and has a knack for doing stupid shit that gets him noticed for all the wrong reasons. And why is it happening? That’s pretty simple, isn’t it?

He’s 19. He has money. And, he has so many money-grubbing souls hanging on to his coat tails, he has access to any thing he wants. Drinks, drugs, girls.

When I was 19, I had access to drinks, drugs and girls, too. I just didn’t have as much money, and also didn’t have the paparazzi following my every move, just waiting for me to screw up.

But, we’ve seen all of this before, haven’t we? Lindsay Lohan? Amanda Bynes? Hell, let’s go back even further and look at Leif Garrett and Danny Bonaduce. This isn’t anything new to our society.

We love to see famous people fall. I almost wrote fail there, but that’s not quite true, is it?

We don’t want them to fail because they entertain us. They make us laugh (Bynes was an up-and-coming comedy actress from the Nickelodeon family of future stars), make us think (Lohan, regardless of what you think of her, is an actress who drawn many positive critical reviews before her downfall) and even make some of us sing. (Granted, it’s probably our 13-year-old daughters doing the singing with Bieber, but I digress).

We don’t want them to fail, but oh how we want them to fall.

Over the last week, we’ve learned that Bieber throws like a girl (egg-throwing incident) , has a serious drug problem that nobody will do anything about (intervention, family?) and now he’s been nailed for drinking and driving.

He claims he had one drink, took some prescription medicine and smoked some weed. Of course, he was behind the wheel of a car after he did those things which means this story could have ended two other ways, in addition to his arrest:

1 — He could have gotten away with it thereby delaying the next headline for another time,

Or …

2 — He could have wrapped his banana-yellow Lamborghini around a tree, or worse yet into another vehicle, thereby taking his own life, the life of his passenger, or perhaps innocent victims in another car.

Fortunately, he spent Thursday morning in a Miami jail cell where, hopefully, he had time to think about things and look at the big picture. He really does have it all: Boy-ish good looks, the money, and throngs that adore him for whatever reason. Like Charles Barkley before him, though, he obviously has no interest in being a role model. But what 19 year old does?

It’s appears obvious that Bieber’s world is in a tailspin. It appears to many of the collective “we” that he needs help of some sort.

To the rest of us, we’d rather just trade him back to Canada for an NHL star to be named later.

Where will this story go from here?

Comedy or tragedy?

Stay tuned, folks. “We” as a people, sadly, can’t wait to hear what happens next and I think that says a lot more about us than it does for Bieber, who is just being 19 and stupid just like so many others who have come before him.

After Weeping For Madison, Let’s All Find A Way To Laugh Again

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Madison Holleran

“The More You Laugh, The Longer You Live.”

— From Madison Holleran’s Twitter Page

Few people can tell you why Madison Holleran couldn’t laugh anymore. Many more people, however, are crying this week, brokenhearted with the knowledge that she will never be able to laugh again.

Last Friday night, Madison — a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania — took her own life. She jumped from the top of a parking garage in downtown Philadelphia. She was 19 years old.

The story, told just like that, is sad enough. A young person takes their own life before their life even really gets a chance to start.

But when you look a little closer, read a little deeper into things, you can’t help but wonder, “Why?” and that’s always the worst thing about suicides. Those who are left behind can only ask, “Why?” Rarely, can the question be answered.

Madison was 19 and she was beautiful. She was, by all reports, popular; a great student, a great athlete.

Over the weekend, her grandfather told NorthJersey.com, “There must have been 50 kids here telling stories about her. If I were to drop dead tomorrow, there wouldn’t be 50 people telling stories about me. They simply loved that beautiful girl.”

The fact she was a Penn student says everything you need to know about her academic prowess. She was an Ivy League student who was no doubt destined to do great things when she went out into the real world.

As an athlete, she was just as much a star, having been a two-time All-State selection in soccer. She also won the New Jersey State Open 800 meter champion while competing for Northern Highlands High School in Bergen County.

At Penn, she decided to run cross country and track. During this fall’s Ivy League XC Championship meet, she finished as her team’s No. 5 runner, in a scoring position, which for a freshman is a pretty fantastic and impressive accomplishment.

Madison had so many reasons to live. For some reason, though, at least inside her own mind, she decided she had no reason to laugh.

Her father told the New York Post, “We knew she needed help. She knew she needed help.”

When she left home for college, everything seemed perfect, according to Jim Holleran, her devastated dad.

“At the end of high school and going to Penn, she was the happiest girl on the planet. It was easy for her in high school. There was a lot more pressure in the classroom at Penn. She wasn’t normal, happy Madison. Now she had worries and stress.”

Holleran called his daughter a “perfectionist” and said she had “grown depressed” while adjusting to life away from home.

In December, Madison expressed thoughts of suicide and started seeing a therapist.

Again, from the New York Post: “My daughter’s stress was self-induced, and although we had started her in therapy to address her issues, she hid the severity of those issues from everyone,” her father said. “We knew she needed help. She knew she needed help. She had lost confidence in academics, and she also lost confidence in her track abilities.”

On a Friday night, just hours from her home and all of those who loved her the most, she lost hope.

I didn’t know Madison personally and didn’t even know she existed until I followed a web link that told me the story of her tragic death. I didn’t even realize she had been buried earlier this morning until I sat down to research a few things before I wrote this post.

I may not have known Madison, but I know plenty of young people like her and that’s why her death hits so close to home.

Student-athletes just like Madison are a part of my life every day and I’ve told their stories for my entire professional career. They’re great kids, great students, great athletes and they’re doing great things in both classrooms and sports arenas everywhere.

One of our most prolific athletes from my current landing spot, a field hockey player from nearby Wilton, is headed to Penn in the fall to play for the Quakers. Coincidentally, her name is also Madison.

The Bergen Record reported that Madison Holleran left gifts for her family, along with a suicide note, before making her final, fateful decision to end her life.

“I just wish and pray that Madison is truly at peace,” her older sister Ashley was quoted as saying in the Record article. “I always looked up to her as a mentor and a hero. Now, we’re even luckier to have her looking down on us.”

Today, we weep for Madison Holleran, and her family and friends.

Tomorrow, I pray we can all find a reason to laugh again.

For Pete’s Sake, I Owe All Of This To Him

As I write this, I am sitting at my desk inside the fourth-floor office space that I call my home away from home.

I have a window seat with a walk-out patio that gives me a picturesque view of the Norwalk River, along with the cute little downtown-like conclave of buildings that make up South Norwalk, which sits off in the distance.

Having risen up through the ranks of my chosen profession, I carry a title I am proud of — “Managing Sports Editor” — as I oversee the regional coverage for three different newspapers. I have the  honor of covering the University of Connecticut sports program as my schedule allows while also being located within an hour of New York City, which, let’s face it, is one of the best sports cities in the world.

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Pete Warner, left, talks with a basketball player following a game at the Bangor Auditorium. (Photo blatantly stolen from Pete Warner’s Facebook Page)

And, at this point of my life, I am making the most money I’ve ever made and am living, for the most part, comfortably, in a tiny little apartment located just two blocks up from the Long Island Sound.

I am blessed to be here and when I really think about it I owe it all to one man.

In the fall of my junior year in high school, Pete Warner came into my life inside a press box at Garland Street Field’s Cameron Stadium. I, along with one of my friends, was running the PA system for a John Bapst Memorial High School football game. It was a brain-check job — “So-and-so with the carry, him and him with the tackle” — and if I remember right it didn’t pay a single penny.

Pete was there in his job capacity as a sports writer for the Bangor Daily News, my hometown newspaper. He was covering the game and would write about it for the next day’s newspaper. To be honest, at first I thought Pete was just a statistician or something for the opposing team. I knew he was furiously taking notes, but he was far enough away that there was no reading over his shoulders. Every so often, if I recall, we’d help each out on which So-And-So had the carry and whether it was Him or Him that had the tackle.

At the end of the game, I jokingly called the home team’s Jeff “The Hawk” Higgins as our Chevrolet Player of the Game, and for some reason Pete got a kick out of that.

That following winter I met Pete again at a basketball game and it was there, inside the Bangor Auditorium, that I learned he was a sports writer.

Writing and sports had been two of my life-long passions at that point, and his job intrigued me. I was a regular reader of the Boston Globe by then, as well as the Bangor Daily News.

Hell, truth be told, he seemed to have the perfect job — writing about sports? It’s not like we’re really working for a living.

Later that basketball season one of Pete’s colleagues — Mike Dowd — wrote a story about an Eastern Maine Class B championship game that I had attended. When I read the story the next day, I was blown away. At the start, it read:

“BANGOR — Paul Haggan stood motionless at the top of the key, arms clasped behind his head in disbelief …”

Right then and there, after I was done reading that story, I knew in my heart and soul what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Fast forward another a year and a half.

Pete and I had stayed in touch as I saw him at a plethora of high school sporting events over the rest of my junior and senior years. We always made it a point to say to hello to each other and he knew of my interest in some day becoming a sports writer.

Following my graduation from high school, Pete reached out to me out of the blue.

I had been out playing in a spirited tennis match with one of my best friends, and I had called home to report in and just let my mother know that we were going to run out for some Chinese food and I’d be home later than I expected.

Not that I was that good of a son or anything like that. I was 18 and didn’t have to report in, but on this day I did.

It was perhaps fate throwing me a bone.

“I have a message you,” my mother said. “Pete Warner from the Bangor Daily News is looking for you.”

I had to dig out another quarter to plug into the payphone to call him. It was the best 25 cents I ever spent in my life.

“Want a job?” he asked.

“Boy, do I,” I replied.

And the rest is history.

Thanks to Pete, who got me an interview with his boss, I became a part-time, 20-hour-a-week sports clerk for my hometown newspaper. I was 18 years old and had yet to step foot into a college classroom.

I answered phones, took notes and wrote up phoned-in game reports, and type-set harness racing results and starters.

I was in Heaven.

Three months later, I got my first byline, covering a girls soccer playoff game.

Two and a half years after that, I was hired full time when one of our other staffers left for another job.

Guys like Pete and Mike, Larry Mahoney, Bob Haskell, Dave Barber and Joe McLaughlin, and Pete’s dad, Bill Warner, the BDN’s sports editor, and Bud Leavitt, the paper’s executive sports editor; they all truly took me under their wing and gave me a first-hand, sink-or-swim, up-bringing through the world of sports journalism.

They taught me the right way and when I made a mistake they made sure I learned from it.

The sports desk at the Bangor Daily News always had a family feel to it and I am so grateful that I got my start there, under their leadership.

But, out of all them, it was Pete I was closest to and, if I’m honest, I might say I am forever in his debt for his reaching out to me that summer night nearly three decades ago and giving me the chance to join his profession.

I know a lot of things about Pete Warner. He’s a good husband and a great dad, a good journalist and was truly a good friend to me back in those days. The only bad thing I can say about Pete is that he was a lousy saxophone player — but that is both a private joke and a story best shared over beers amongst friends.

This morning I learned that Pete was named the Maine Sportswriter of the Year for the eighth time in his career. I know the first seven of those awards were all well-deserved, just like this one is.

So congratulations, old friend.

But, even more importantly, thank you for all of this, for allowing to me to pursue a career where nothing is ever the same and where I’m still excited to go to work (most days) and tell the stories that deserved to be told.

I’ve Got “99 Problems” And Going To A Jay Z Concert Ain’t One

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Photo by John Nash – Jay Z performs at the Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday, Jan. 17.

As I stood outside the Mohegan Sun Arena awaiting our escort to lead us down onto the floor to shoot Friday night’s Jay Z concert, I must admit I spent most of the half hour or so people watching.

Black people, white people, all kinds of people strolled through the security lines, disappearing into the Arena in search of the same thing: a good time. Young people, older people — OK, maybe not as old as me — but it was in that moment that I realized how powerful a thing music can be.

Everybody was here to see a 44-year-old Brooklyn-born gentleman named Shawn Carter, an artist who rose out of Mercy Housing Projects in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvestant neighborhood to reach for the stars and surpass them.

Needless to say, the projects are a world and a place that me, a native Mainer, could not even begin to comprehend, but his life has played out like a fairy tale — at least if you take away the drugs and violence that left him with three gun shot injuries over the course of his life.

In the mid 1990s, though, Carter — who was known as “Jazzy” in his neighborhood — began recording his raps and selling the CDs out of his car. Just like that Jay Z was born.

Two decades later, nearly 10,000 people of all races, creeds and colors were paying more than $100 per ticket to see him perform.

Jay Z is one of the city’s success stories. He’s a multi-millionaire, not just through his music business (he has his own record label) but through a handful of other business ventures. Included in this vast portfolio are part ownership of an NBA team (Brooklyn Nets), a sports agency (Roc Nation Sports) and his own clothing line. Oh yeah, and he’s considered an executive producer for an NBA video game from 2K Sports.

Plus, the lucky bastard even proved to be the one who ended up with the beautiful Beyonce as his wife.

He really does have it all.

Going into a full-fledged rap concert, though, I didn’t what to expect. I’m not a huge rap fan — Sugar Hill Gang and Eminem pretty much top the list — but I was curious.

And, much to my surprise — nay, let’s make that utter shock — was the one comparison that I could make. I walked out of the Arena thinking back to a Phish show I attended at Radio City Music Hall in the year 2000.

Jay Z? Phish? In the same breath.

Well, yes.

What stood out to me during my first Phish show was how from the opening chords, the crowd was instantly into it, moving, dancing; just an instantaneous ignition that once lit burned brightly through the night and grew in intensity. And there was the smell of pot wafting through the Music Hall.

When Jay Z took to the stage on Friday, that same energy was there. By the fourth song, after shooting the first two songs down in the pit below the stage, I found my way to my seat — which went unused, might I add. A quick glance around the arena reminded me of the Phish show as everybody was up and moving as Jay Z rapped to them, sung to them and serenaded them with lyrics that rhymed and were well-timed (my bad, don’t be mad). And there was the smell of pot wafting through the arena.

But, it was so cool to see the entire place moving in multiple motions — 10,000 people acting as one — like arms raised off a single body, moving in unison that was so different yet so beautiful to see.

Another infamous black man once asked, “Can’t we all get along” and yes we certainly can, though sometimes it’s hard to believe with what the way the world is going.

I only knew about three Jay Z songs going into the night, including “99 Problems” and, of course, the legendary “Empire State of Mind.”

But I walked out of the Mohegan Sun Arena on Friday with a new look at such music and the people who like and enjoy it. Black. White. Blue, yellow or purple, I don’t care. If music touches us, it touches us

Over the last 18 months, I’ve had the pleasure to see 18 different concerts, ranging from 1970 rock Gods (Styx, REO Speedwagon) to Disney-created heroes and heroines (Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez), and some have poked fun at me for choosing to go to such concerts.

The worlds that are created inside each and every venue, however, has given me new appreciation for the music and the artists who create it, not to mention a new look and nod of understanding to those who listen and like such music.

With Jay Z on Friday night, though, it probably hit me more, like the deep thudding bass of many of his beats.

But it’s also why there are times in this October Weekend of my life — where far too often it feels like I’m dying — that I’m also very glad I’m still living to appreciate such moments.

Click here to read my official review on the concert, courtesy of The Hour Publishing Co.

An Image: A Thrown-Away Memory

Memories

So the other day while walking through a parking lot outside the Webster Bank Arena, one located under the I-95 bridge overpass that slices through the city of Bridgeport, I came across the above photo, laying on the tar and getting soaked and destroyed by the rain and the weather.

The artistic side of me — which sometimes feels barely there anymore — realized it was just a thrown-away memory and the thought made me kind of sad.

Thus, I decided to capture it for posterity.

And maybe it’s to remind myself that while I do hold on to my own memories way too tightly, I’d rather hang on to them than have them end up like this, discarded and laid to waste in a parking lot, under a bridge, getting rained upon and destroyed.