Celebrity Stories

Nov. 8, 2019

 

There are moments in our lives that we treasure until we’re called home: the day we get married, the birth of our children, or our successes in life. For me, I’ve added meeting some of the greatest boxers of all time. There may be some great ones to come, but these gentlemen come from an era that will never be duplicated.

Applewood House of Pancakes played host to a fundraiser for the Boxing Hall of Fame. I don’t know many sports players, if they’re NBA, NFL, or MLB, but you drop the names of these greats and I know exactly who they are: James “Bonecrusher” Smith, Fred Whitaker, Michael Spinks, and Earnie Shavers.

I even had the esteem pleasure of meeting (the late) Joe Fraizer’s daughter Jacqui Fraizer-Lyde. She’s a beautiful young woman who was present to help endorse this fundraiser on behalf of her father.

My love for boxing began with Muhammad Ali in 1974. You may remember the fight with he and George Foreman called, The Rumble in the Jungle. For me, it was love at first fight. I got to watch Ali and Fraizer, too. It was their last of three fights together in 1975.

Joe Fraizer was the first man to ever beat Muhammad Ali in 1971, but, again, it was the 1975 fight I got to see. After which my father deemed boxing too violent and I wasn’t allowed to watch it anymore.

Earnie Shavers was another fighter who fought Ali. I never got to see him fight, but I do remember his picture. He had the big mustache (look at this man’s biceps in comparison to Muhammad Ali – holy mother of boxing gloves! He was HUGE). He fought Larry Holmes in 1979, after he fought Ali.

There’s a rumor that Earnie Shavers threw the hardest punch in boxing. I even found a quote by Randall Cobb who said, “Earnie Shavers could punch you in the neck and break your ankles.”

Fred Whitaker fought between the mid 80s to the early 90s. He’s not to be confused with Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker who passed away some years ago. Fred was a boxing champion in his own right.

Of all of the men I met, Fred was probably the smaller of them in height and weight (now), but I am more than positive that does not negate his hard hitting punches required to be a world champion boxer.

In spite of the fact that I wasn’t allowed to watch boxing anymore, that didn’t stop me from sneaking in and seeing a little bit of a fight Michael Spinks (Leon Spinks’ younger brother) was in, either 77 or 78. I laughingly told Michael he was a bad influence on me. Michael Spinks defeated Larry Holms in ‘85 and has been the world champion in two classes. My father would know which classes, too, because he was a big “Spinks the Jinx” brothers fan.

James “Bonecrusher” Smith is a big man. I found a picture of he and Mike Tyson from 1987 and Mike looks like a little fella next to him. Bonecrusher started his career in 1981 and retired in 1999. He won the title when he beat Frank Bruno and then later lost to Larry Holmes.

Gosh, Larry Holmes was getting into all these fights. Now I feel bad for him. I’m confident that Holmes was a good fighter, as well, even though I wasn’t allowed to see him fight. I don’t think Ali fought Holmes, though.

I returned to my love of boxing when Mike Tyson appeared on the canvas. Yes, I love Iron Mike. We briefly mentioned the Evander Holyfield vs Mike Tyson fight where Tyson apparently in need of a snack, bit Holyfield’s ear.

“There’s more to that,” Jacqui said to me. “People don’t know what Evander did to Mike. Ask Mike… Spinks, he knows.”

I asked him, but he just flashed a grin at me and shook his head. Alas, a boxing secret that will remain a boxing secret.

I cannot express enough how much this day meant to me. I loved meeting these gentleman and taking pictures with them. I didn’t get one with Bonecrusher as he was busy talking to another fan. Nonetheless, I will treasure this day until the day I die.

I do wish they would come to Georgetown (about 30 miles south of Litchfield). As a personal note to Jacqui, Fred, and the rest… Hit me up if you’re interested. You can reach me through my blog site or GABNews and again, thank you so much for the memories (Be sure to check out my photo albums for the pictures of some of the greatest boxers).

Sep. 10, 2019

I was watching “Alaskan Monsters” as they searched for the ever-elusive, Bigfoot. At one point in the show, one of the team members tries to tough-talk the huge hairy primate. He looks menacingly into the camera and points a finger and threateningly says, “We’re coming for ya, man! We’re here for YOU!”

Now, I’m picturing Bigfoot sitting in his woody den snacking on a bowl of deer jerky and laughing hysterically at the TV. It’s got to be the best entertainment for Sasquatch because no one, to date, has ever taken a satisfactory picture of him, much less caught one.

Don’t worry Mr. Bigfoot; I’m pretty sure you’re safe.

Sep. 17, 2018

Josiah Henson was a slave in Maryland during the late 1700s and early 1800s. As a child, he was separated from his mother and bought by Isaac Riley. Even though he was a youngster, he was still able to show his leadership abilities as well as his intelligence. He was so intelligent and resourceful, in fact, that even at his young age; Mr. Riley had given Josiah a superintendent’s position on his farm.

Josiah was so trusted by the people around him, including his master, that Mr. Riley also gave him the responsibility of being his market-man in the nation’s capital in addition to the superintendent’s position on the farm.

Later, Josiah was given permission to preach and give sermons at a local Methodist church. In spite of the fact he could not read and write, he learned to memorize verses in the Bible and often preached using a style and sense of humor that many of his churchgoers came to love and respect.

A white minister helped Josiah to secretly raise $350 in efforts to buy his own freedom, but when Isaac Riley found out, he swindled the money from Josiah. Because of the betrayal he felt, Riley planned to sell Josiah somewhere down south thereby separating him from his wife and children. Some reports indicate it was as far south as Louisiana where he would likely never see his family again.

In 1830, Josiah took his wife and children and fled into the night. They walked over 600 miles to reach Canada where he and his family would be considered free from slavery. It was at this time; Josiah Henson showed what an extraordinary man he truly was.

Once in his new land, Josiah learned to read and write - a freedom he was not afforded in the states. While doing so, he also became a prominent member of the “Afro-Canadian Community” in an area called, “Dawn” which was the last stop of the Underground Railroad.

During the Civil War, Josiah became a great pioneer traveling between Canada and the United States helping other slaves. He reportedly helped 118 slaves and families escape and claim their freedoms inside the Canadian borders. This act would have been punishable by death if caught. Still, he did what he felt he had to do to help his fellow man.

Josiah Henson went from being a slave; beaten, abused, separated from his parents, and sold off, to becoming a hero among the black community while earning respect from the people around him, including white men. Even Isaac Riley came to respect Josiah as never before.

Because he was such an extra-ordinary man who followed his beliefs and was willing to sacrifice his life for what he believed in, several books were written about him: Truth is Stranger Than Fiction, The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, and of course, the most popular one, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

If being called an Uncle Tom in today’s time is the worse insult that can be slung, accept it and wear it like a badge. Josiah Henson, AKA Uncle Tom, was more than a freed slave, he was a true hero to all who knew him. He sacrificed everything for what he believed in.

Jun. 15, 2018

I’ve noticed many people on social media pointing out Chris Rock and his stand-up comedy about white kids and calling him a racist. I disagree. I’ve responded to several of the posts which I will repeat some of it here.

For instance, I used to know his younger sister and I adore her. She and I have talked about his stand-up. I’ve told her before that I did not care for it because it was so racially charged.

“But that’s not him,” she insisted, “It’s all an act. I swear that is not the real Chris; he’s just acting.”

When I shared that information, someone else responded to my comment saying, “Isn’t acting like a racist the same as being one?”

My response pointed out, “Robin Williams played a gay man in the movie, The Birdcage, that didn’t make him gay.”

I guess with that train of thought, Nicolas Cage playing a serial killer makes him a murderer, or John Travolta playing an angel makes him an archangel. Sometimes, you just have to stop and shake your own head. I often wonder where some of these people come from.

The role an actor/comedian plays does not define them as individuals. It’s a paycheck. They get paid for doing their job. For Chris, making jokes about the differences between races works, just like it did for Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, and others before him.

For instance, take the movie, The Longest Yard, starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, and Burt Reynolds. Paul Crew, played by Adam Sandler, puts together a football team. Has anyone really looked at that team? The only good white player on there is Battle (Bill Goldberg). The best player, before he recruits Deacon’s team, is Switowski, a huge black guy. Not racist?

As Paul grouses about his team of misfits, Caretaker, played by Chris Rock, turns to Paul and says, “You want speed...you know where to go.”

Where? To the black guys? Is this saying white guys can’t have speed or play ball? How racist is that?

Paul challenges Deacon (a black man) who responds, “The only thing I want to do is slap the point-shaving white boy like a baby back bitch.”

Really? “White boy?” That is pure racism. He doesn’t want to slap just anyone. No, just the WHITE BOY.

Paul continues the challenge and says, “You must be quite the athlete.”

At which time, Deacon responds, “You know I am, otherwise you wouldn’t have risked your ass coming into the jungle.”

The jungle! You’ve got to be kidding me! So “the jungle” is the only place you can find black men or black athletes because white guys can’t play?

After the game, Megget tells Deacon, “Anyone (Paul) who can take that kind of beating out here, I’d like to see what he can do in a contact sport.”

When Cheeseburger Eddie bows up, Deacon answered, “It’s okay, if he wants to run with the WHITE BOY, we will let him.”

Racist...pointing out the color of someone’s skin or his race is absolutely racist.

Caretaker turns to Burt Reynolds and says, “We didn’t get the whole chocolate bar, but we got a Hershey’s Kiss.”

The entire scene reeks of racism and that’s just one scene! No one ever says anything about that, no complaints, no boycotts on the movie, no anything. Why not, if everyone is so offended by racist comments? Could it be because the movie is a comedy and it’s funny?

It’s one of my favorite movies and it’s hilarious: racism and all. I may not like Chris’ stand-up, but his movies rock, no pun intended. He’s a very good actor and has great deliverance. He’s such a good Down to Earth actor that he could even play a heavy-set white guy and pull it off.

Oct. 6, 2017

Dear Mr. Hefner,

I am so glad to have known you in my lifetime. Not that I’ve ever met you in person, but I have come to know you as an icon in the entertainment industry that no one will ever compare to. You were truly unique. 

Born on the 9th of April in 1926, you have brought us a list of things that pay homage to the explosion of a sexual revolution no one ever saw coming. You’ve given us Playboy Bunnies, the Playboy silhouette emblem, Debra Harry, the Playboy Magazine, and happy men with tennis elbow.

You’ve been in Eddie Murphy movies as well as other cameos throughout the film industry, and you’ve been featured as a character-paraphrase on Law N Order: SVU.

You have had orgies that most men only dream of, bevies of big busted-beauties all around you everywhere you went, and you have inspired jokes about older men and Viagra, older men using Viagra with Ecstasy, and jokes about older men having sex with younger women.

You’ve brought us the Playboy Mansion and made lounging pajamas and smoking jackets cool. You’ve had pool parties, complete with scantly clad bunnies and a host of celebrities, including Bill Cosby’s frequent “ruffelicious” visits to your humble abode.

Truly, you have inspired many women to feel comfortable in their own skin by making them your Playmates and Playboy Models: even a pregnant Demi Moore. Your first inspiration was a young woman by the name of Norman Jean Morenson, later dubbed Marilyn Monroe.

You’ve shown us Pamela Anderson, Vanna White, Jenny McCarthy, Carmen Electra, Barbie Benton, and Anna Nicole Smith. You’ve shown us more of them than we probably should have seen. Your last Playmate model was Kristy Garett and she was your 749th Playmate to have her own Playboy centerfold spread in February of 2016.

Suffice to say that by the time you passed away on September 27 in 2017, you’ve done everything imaginable. I really don’t think there’s anything left that could be done in the style and pizzazz that you have managed in your 91 years of life on this earth.

It has been both an honor and a privilege to have had you in my lifetime. Children of generations to come will never fully understand how the Playboy Bunny symbol is synonymous with the name Hugh Hefner, but I will because I lived in through it.

Thank you and may you rest peacefully.

“Life is too short to be living someone else’s dream.”

-Hugh Hefner 4/9/1929 to 9/27/2017