Sunday, July 22, 2007

What's in a name? Ask the two Paul Stanleys

Milford Sunday
March 1997

The reunion tour of the flashy ‘70s rock band KISS hit New Haven (Conn.) last Friday night and, for one young fan, it was a night to remember. Five year-old Paul Stanley Ronald Frederick’s, whose father Ron is originally from Milford, met the man he was named after KISS lead man Paul Stanley.

“What an experience for both of us,” said Ron Fredericks. “What a nice gesture on the part of the band to have Paul Stanley meet my son.”

The idea that Ron named his first son after a member of a rock and roll band may seem odd to some people. But for Ron, it was a logical decision.

“KISS has been such a big part of my life that I knew it was a good idea,” said Ron Fredericks. “I didn’t want to name him after me or one relative and hurt another relative’s feelings.”

So before KISS’ performance at the New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum, dad and son met the man who has been such an important part of their lives. Dressed in full makeup and costume, Paul Stanley greeted the Frederickses with a broad smile.

“It’s an honor to know you have someone named after you,” Stanley said. “It’s nice to know we’ve had that kind of impact on people’s lives.”

As for the younger Paul Stanley, he stood proudly while shaking hands with the rock and roll legend. According to Ron, the younger Paul doesn’t see the band members as stars…just friends.

“He has n o idea what a big deal it is to meet Paul,” Ron said. “There are thousands of people who would love to meet him but never have and never will.”

Paul’s grandmother, Carolyn Fredericks, remembers that she and her husband were thrown for a loop when Ron and his wife Kristy announced their son would be named after the lead singer and not a family member. The couple already had a daughter, Barbara, who was 6 at the time.

Although this was the first time the two Pauls met in person, it was not the first time they had spoken. Stanley calls the Fredericks home on young Paul Stanley’s birthday each year and corresponds by mail.

“When Paul was born, I sent a copy of the birth certificate to Paul Stanley,” Ron said. “He signed it and returned it to us. He (Stanley) has really taken a liking to Paul and has shown sincere interest in him.”

And that makes Carolyn happy.

“It’s been so nice the way Paul Stanley has responded to our grandson.”

The family’s relationship with KISS band members has had drawbacks, however. Ron was recently forced to make the family’s phone number unlisted as people started calling him and asking him for tickets, autographs, and other favors.

“We even had a call at 2 in the morning,” Ron said.

One person who has the new phone number, however, is rocker Stanley.

I had a blast doing this story. I grew up as a big KISS fan, so meeting Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons was quite exciting. Both guys are smart, soft spoken and friendly. The Fredericks family are great people. And who am I to scoff at their decision to name their son after Paul Stanley since my son Taylor is named in part after James Taylor.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Mitt Romney - 2007

Utah Spirit Magazine

Driving through the rolling hills of New Hampshire about a year ago, then Gov. Mitt Romney contemplated a run for the White House.

“I’m not sure yet,” he said at the time. “We are definitely looking at it as a viable option, but right now there are no definite plans.”

What a difference a year can make in a person’s life. Romney has gone from not sure, to runner, and now poster child for the most intriguing presidential candidate. The handsome savior of the Salt Lake Olympics also happens to be a Mormon — which causes many to say a Mormon can’t be president in a tone similar to that once used concerning John F. Kennedy’s Catholic faith.

“I think a Mormon can be president, for sure,” Romney countered during that same country ride. “I think people are more interested in a man’s position on the issues than where he goes to church. Ultimately, however, the American people want a president who has values and some kind of faith. I’m not so sure people are concerned over which church that person attends per se.”

Not so fast.

In recent weeks, Romney has been grilled and, depending on whom you ask, attacked for his Mormon faith.

The infamous Mormons-aren’t-Christian jab that was quickly retracted by Rev. Al Sharpton, the film “September Dawn” (which looks at one of the church’s darkest moment in the Mountain Meadows Massacre) and even his being called a flip-flop candidate by many hasn’t seemed to hurt Romney. In fact, in the weeks after Mike Wallace of CBS’ “60 Minutes” was shut down when he attempted to stick his nose inside Romney’s bedroom and sexual past, this Republican candidate appears to be picking up steam.

But with all of this talk, Utahns still want to know where Romney stands on the issues important to the Commander in Chief, not whether he ever stepped off the straight-and-narrow Mormon path to salvation.

“It’s weird how all we seem to hear about when someone runs for President is things that don’t really matter,” says Jennifer Maltrose of Sandy. “I mean it’s nice that he was faithful to his wife, but would that make me vote or not vote for him? I doubt it.”

Highland resident Jonah Terangle agreed….to a point.

“I want a man of integrity in office so the morality of the man is important,” he says. “However, if everything else were equal and that was the one issue, I don’t think it would sway my vote one way or another.”

Neither of them have made up their minds as to whom they will vote for.

So, let’s take a look at where this Mormon presidential candidate stands on some important issues:

The War in Iraq

“There were definite mistakes made, and the situation is not perfect, but for us to pull out now with the job incomplete would be irresponsible,” Romney says.

Family Values

Romney told an audience at Regent University in Virginia in May, “If there ever was a time for great Americans, great and good Americans, Americans who are willing to cross into the deep waters of life, it is now. You cross into the deep waters of life by marrying and raising good children. There is no work more important to America’s future than the work that is done within the four walls of the American home.…”


MSNBC reported that during the Presidential Debate in California, Romney said: “And this is a country that can get all of our people insured without a government takeover, without Hillary-Care, without socialized medicine. Instead, get the market to do its job; let people have health care that they can afford; people have the opportunity to choose policies in the private sector.”

As for the average tax-paying American citizen, Romney seemed ready to protect those hard workers when he said that same night, “I’d like middle-income Americans to be able to save their money and not have to pay any tax at all on interest, dividends or capital gains.”

And what of the man who enacted the most horrific attack on American soil? Romney sounded as if he were ready to personally hunt down Osama bin Laden when he said: “Of course we (can) get Osama bin Laden and track him wherever he has to go and make sure he pays for the outrage he exacted on America. … We'll move everything to get him. But I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch that this is all about one person, Osama bin Laden. Because after we get him, there’s going to be another and another. … This is a global effort we’re going to have to lead to overcome this jihadist effort. It's more than Osama bin Laden. But he is going to pay, and he will die.”

Strong, powerful stances, no doubt, but as Peter Smith pointed out in his editorial for, Romney may suffer from his stances on issues some see as helpful to a governor in liberal Massachusetts but that may be hard to comprehend in a GOP presidential want-to-be.

Smith wrote: “On abortion, Romney says he experienced a conversion and is now ‘firmly pro-life.’ Romney said he had an epiphany while researching cloning and embryonic stem-cell research in November 2004, where he realized that more than 30 years of Roe v. Wade had cheapened the sanctity of life in the United States…. However, Romney favors a minimal ‘federalist approach’ to restricting abortion, where the country would determine the fate of abortion on a state-by-state basis with abortion legal in ‘pro-choice’ states and banned in pro-life states and has repeated this to audiences on the campaign trail.”

In addition, Smith pointed out, “On the marriage issue, good leadership from Romney may have galvanized a waffling Massachusetts Legislature into defending their rights against the Goodridge decision, or at least force them to decide the matter and face the consequences from the voters. However, none of that happened. Same-sex ‘marriage’ has come to America, and the longer it stays the more entrenched it grows, and the more difficult it will be to eradicate it or stop its spread.”

People across the country and here in Utah have not missed these facts and some find them disturbing.

“I would rather have a person in office who is firm on things,” says Farmington resident Jake Knowles. “When someone takes a stand and sticks to it I can respect them more, even if I don’t agree with them, than I can a person who flip-flops — and I think Romney has flip- flopped on some issues.”

Knowles did acknowledge that people do change, but he finds Romney’s timing curious.

“It sure seems convenient.”

Others are not bothered by Romney’s seeming change on some issues.

“People change their minds, and if Mitt Romney saw something to make him change his mind on some issues, I don’t care,” says Bountiful’s Tanner Smith. “I like him. If the election were today, I’d vote for him. Perfect? No, none of the candidates are, but from top to bottom, I think he is the best man for the job.”

And others, especially in ever-important New Hampshire, seem to agree with Smith. According to, Romney is picking up steam.

In an article written for the political Web site, Beth LaMontagne wrote: “May has been a good month for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s New Hampshire campaign. Following his performance at the Republican presidential debate in California and a series of television ads, Romney saw a sizable jump in the polls. He has secured a number of important endorsements and has raised more campaign funds within the state than any other candidate, Republican or Democrat…A Survey USA/WBZ-TV Boston poll of New Hampshire Republican Primary voters conducted May 4 and 5 showed 32 percent support Romney. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani came in with 23 percent and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., with 22 percent. In a similar poll conducted by Survey USA in January, Romney was polling in third place with 21 percent. The poll release pointed to a rise in popularity among voters who support stem-cell research, but that Romney also held steady with those who oppose stem-cell research. He is polling high with New Hampshire pro-life voters and those who call themselves conservative.”

LaMontagne also pointed out, however, that she doesn’t believe Romney is picking up as much steam nationwide as some think.

“Nationwide polls, however, tell a different story,” she writes. “According to an American Research Group poll of Republicans across the country that was taken in May, Romney is in fourth place with 8 percent saying they’d be likely to vote for the former governor. The dichotomy between New Hampshire and the rest of the country has got the local chattering classes speculating about what actually has caused Romney’s boost in the important primary state. When the New Hampshire poll results were released, the local newspapers and blogs ran a series of pieces on the apparent Romney surge. Some speculated it was the television spots, others said it was because he is from a neighboring state. Andrew Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center said the answer is simple.

With the GOP nomination close to a year away, Romney, with Guiliani, McCain and others yet to be announced have a long battle ahead of them, but whether the Mormon guy is a true, legitimate candidate, the answer must be “yes.” Why else would anyone care what he was doing?

“I think he’s for real,” Maltrose says. “Look at the attention he is generating. That can’t be a bad thing.”

Or could it be?

It all depends on whom you ask.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mitt Romney - June 2006

Salt Lake Magazine

Will he or won’t he?

Republicans (and Democrats) around the country remain puzzled by Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential aspirations.

He looks the part. He talks the part. And he seems ready for the challenge. Though challenge is hardly the word. Romney is magic. After all, who would have thought that a conservative Mormon could ever bag the most powerful position in the most liberal, predominantly Catholic state? Plus, he resurrected the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics from a moribund scandal and turned it into one of the most successful Winter Games in recent memory, even in the shadow of the September 11 terrorist attacks. And the Boston press has searched (and searched and searched) every corner of Romney’s past and has yet to find one indiscretion to hang him with. But will the Dudley Do-Right routine hold? Is Romney too nice to be president? More to the point, is America ready for a Mormon in the Oval Office? Romney talked recently (and candidly) about his future, the war in Iraq, and why, immigrants, it’s time to get your gosh dang green cards, now c’mon.

Salt Lake magazine: Will you be running for president in 2008?

Mitt Romney: That’s a decision I’ll make a long time from now. I’m keeping that option open and it’s an active effort, but the decision won’t be made for quite a while.

SL: There’s been a lot of talk about whether a Mormon or anyone from a non-mainstream religion can become president. What are your thoughts on that?

MR: Two things. First, the great majority of Americans want a person of faith as their leader. They don’t care what brand of faith so long as we share values. There’s a smaller slice of America that would just assume not vote for a Mormon, all things being equal. But we know all things are never equal. So my father [former governor of Michigan, George Romney] achieved a leadership position in the polls despite being Mormon because of his character. Then there’s a tiny slice of people who wouldn’t vote for a Mormon no matter what. I would lose those people. Also note, Abraham Lincoln pointed out in his La See Um Address that Americans subscribe to a political religion. An elected official follows the oath of office first and foremost.

SL: How difficult is it for you to toe the line on laws you are morally opposed to?

MR: That goes back to that political religion. What Lincoln meant was that we adhere to the rule of law and our oath of office and that is essential to our functioning as a society. That’s what made it possible for Jack Kennedy to become president even though he was Catholic and for Ronald Reagan to be president even though he was divorced and an actor. It’s even allowed me to become the governor of a state that is 55 percent Catholic.

SL: With that said, is it difficult when you see the law of the land go so against what you believe in?

MR: No question there are a number of laws and rulings of the court or the legislature that I disagree with, but as the chief executive in my state, I honor my oath of office to follow the law and when I disagree with a law I campaign against it and fight to get it changed, but I don’t disobey it.

SL: What are your thoughts concerning Iraq?

MR: It’s clear with the benefit of hindsight we made a number of errors with regard to our strategy in Iraq. First and most obviously, our intelligence was flawed. Second, we had insufficient troop strength to establish order following the point of major conflict. That error has led to a reemergence of conflict in the nation we subdued. At this stage we are where we are and it would be inappropriate for us to turn and run, having created a level of instability that is costing human life. On the other hand, it would be foolish to remain a day longer than is necessary to achieve stability through local security forces.

SL: What about Iran?

MR: It would be unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. Every option must be available to prevent that.

SL: How can we manage our U.S. borders, especially given the heightened problem with terrorism?
MR: Our immigration laws are upside down. We make it almost impossible for the best and brightest who graduate from top universities in masters and advanced degrees programs to become U.S. citizens. But we have an open and porous border for those people with no education and without skill. So our laws need to be right-sided. Our borders also need to be far more secure. We also need to register those who are here illegally and get them on the path to paying taxes, refusing them government aid, and getting them in line for visas and legal status.

SL: Do you miss Utah?
MR: I love Utah. That Olympic experience was the pinnacle of my professional career. The people in Utah were amazing. The volunteers, who worked so hard to bring a great experience to the whole world to enjoy, were an inspiration to me. I have nothing but fond memories of that time.

Rulon Gardner

Utah Spirit Magazine
By Scott Schulte
Douglas Schulte

Spending time with Rulon Gardner is much like hanging out with a kid. A really big kid, mind you, but a kid just the same.

“Check this out,” Gardner says as he punches the buttons of his cell phone. He turns the phone display. “It’s me and Garth Brooks.”

A few seconds later a new photo, “Jason Giambi.

“These guys are cool,” Gardner says. “It’s been fun to get to know these guys. They’re all a lot of fun."

“Wanna see something?” he asks.

Rulon opens the door to his garage where he keeps some of his fun toys, a Hummer, a specialized Harley Davidson motorcycle and a souped-up Mustang.

“You wouldn’t believe the deal I got on this Hummer…” he says proudly.

Now, understand, Gardner is not bragging. It’s not in his nature. For Gardner, it’s about sharing. Sharing what his hard work has given him.

“What fun is it if you can’t share your experiences and your life with others?” he asks. And it’s been that way since his retirement following his last match at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games where he claimed the Bronze medal. On that day, Gardner simply removed his shoes, a symbolic gesture of retiring from the sport of wrestling, and walked away. The man who had shocked the world four years earlier when he snatched the Gold medal by defeating the “unbeatable” Alexander Karelin of Russia and overnight became Sydney’s version of the 1980 U.S. Hockey team, had reached his goals and knew it was time to move on.

“When I removed my shoes after that last match,” Gardner says, “I had a mixture of emotions. It was sad because I knew it was the last time I would wrestle competitively, but as athletes we all think about what we’ll do when it’s all over, and then it happens."

"On that day I closed a chapter of my life,” he says. “Now I’m on to a new one. I get to coach, which is what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m involved in wrestling on many different levels.”

And although he enjoys reminiscing, Gardner is no dumb jock locked into his glory days. Gardner has clear business and personal goals he works just as hard to achieve as he did when he wrestled. His approach to these aspects of life remains the same as his drive to becoming part of Olympic history. It’s all about perspective for the North Salt Lake (Utah) resident.

“Wrestling and winning were never really identical goals in my life,” Gardner says. “Even winning the gold medal wasn’t necessarily the achievement of my goal. The goal in wrestling was to compete at the highest level I could and walk off the mat knowing I had done everything I could to win. Each time I competed I just needed to know that I had wrestled the best I could. In 2000, I did that and won the Gold medal. In 2004 I did the same thing and came away with the bronze. I don’t have regrets.”

Gardner lives in the moment. He has found the middle ground and ability to utilize his past experiences for today’s life.

“I do a lot of speaking,” he says. “I could live off my speaking engagements, but I have other interests that I want to pursue.”

The speaking engagements take in a number of audiences, from school children to high powered corporate executives. The message remains the same for these diverse audiences, only the delivery changes. The ability to motivate and give people, especially children, the confidence to strive for worthy goals gives Gardner his greatest joy.

“I don’t think winning a Gold medal will be the biggest impact I have on the world I live in,” he says. “Having the chance to take my experiences, the good times and the tough times and deliver a message to people and hopefully encourage them to dream big and not to give up when the going gets tough…that is a much bigger responsibility for me.”

“I want to utilize my experiences to inspire people,” he says. “If I can give people something to hang on to or a reason to get out of bed in the morning then I feel I’m being successful."

“When I give a speech and then receive letters or e-mails from parents telling me the positive impact I had on their child,” Gardner says, “that’s when I’m reminded that it’s a much bigger calling to have a good influence on the lives of others through my experiences than it was winning a Gold medal.”

Away from the podium, Gardner is using his background in physical education and his name for one of his newest ventures, Rulon Gardner’s L.A. Workout, a combination of workout facility and wrestling gym. The facility, slated to open in late 2007 in Logan, is part of the process of expanding the sport that has given him so much in his own life.

“We’re real excited about the facility,” Gardner says. “This will be a place people can workout, but also a place where we can start a competitive wrestling club for young people.”

Gardner explains this is the first step in developing several similar facilities in Utah and Wyoming.

“Between my partners and myself, we have about 70 years of experience, and we want to utilize those skills for something positive like this.” And as Gardner works on the fitness facilities, he is also eying the opportunity to invest in the oil industry. True to his background as an outdoorsman, Gardner isn’t interested in tearing up virgin land to hunt for new hot spots. Rather, by investing in Granite Energy, he will be part of a system that will work existing oil fields, leaving nature to itself and those, like himself, who want to experience all it has to offer.

“Right now I’m doing some marketing for Granite,” he says. “When you travel the world, you can see what we truly have and what we can lose, so owning stock in this company and actually owning some oil wells is a great opportunity for me as a businessperson and as an individual."

“Our job is to go in and help oil fields that are existing and quite honestly make some good money at the same time.”

Gardner has stepped off the wrestling mat as a competitor and is becoming a smart businessman, and in doing so offers simple advice for those seeking success in either direction.

“When I began training for the Olympics,” Gardner says. “I had to take a step back one time and look at it from a realistic point of view; much like a businessperson has to look at the risks of investing time and money into a venture.” Gardner noted he knew the average Olympic athlete retires in his or her mid-30s with no guarantees of financial reward, let alone security. This is, after all, the United States where most Olympic athletes fund themselves through personal and family sacrifice or by receiving small sponsorship stipends from businesses.

“I had to look at it and say, ‘Am I willing to sacrifice today, tomorrow and the next eight years of my life and then be able to walk away from the sport and be able to go into teaching and be OK?’” Gardner says. “I was willing to take that jump. It’s the same in business. There are no guarantees in life. But I knew I could be satisfied when my career ended if I worked as hard as I could at my goals."

“I have the same approach to business."

“If I go after something and do everything I can to be successful, then I can live with the outcome.”
This was a first for me professionally as my son, Doug (12), worked with me on this story. It was part of his Journalism Merit Badge and he did a great job. Doug asked some great questions that I had not thought of. I think due to Rulon's nature of staying young at heart, having a 12 year-old's perspective during the time we all spent together was important to the final product. As for Rulon, he's a great guy and lives in a nice home in a typical Utah neighborhood. He is always approachable by people and is great with fans. We did this interview just weeks before his latest brush with death, a plane crash into Lake Powell.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Garth Brooks: On Success

Featured in Priorities Magazine
July 1999

Finding Garth Brooks before a concert may be one of the most difficult tasks a reporter could have. Most performers can be found relaxing (usually napping) in a dressing room or being whisked off to a promotional radio or television spot. But to find Garth after the final sound check, one need only seek out the worst seat in the house-the most absolutely miserable spot for anyone to watch a two-hour (sometimes more) concert from. Find that spot and the guy with the baseball cap, sweat pants and tee shirt: that's Garth. Yep, that's him, all right, the biggest-selling performer of all time sitting in rafter seats transforming himself into that one fan in that one spot.

"To give the best show possible, you need to know what it's like to be one of the people stuck in these seats," says Brooks, looking down on the empty arena. "These people spend their hard-earned money to see a show, and they need to come away with a special feeling."

Brooks has always maintained this type of tight relationship with those less fortunate fans sitting in the high altitude seats. He, like other entertainers such as Billy Joel, sends security guards to the rafter seats before shows with front-row upgrade tickets for these, the most faithful of his fans. For Brooks, keeping connected to his back-row fans doesn't stop there, however. He has also been known to fly across a sold-out audience to forgotten sections of arenas, giving these people a taste of the front row, even if just for a few minutes. He has also made climbing rope ladders and swinging over frenzied fans-all while singing away-an art form.

"When Garth does these crazy things, he makes people feel connected to him," explains Nancy Brooks, country music reporter for Westwood One Radio (Metro Source News). "People feel like Garth cares about them. Like he's someone they could sit down and talk to."

And with Garth, it's true. Most anyone could sit down and chat with him. He not only finds it natural to entertain every single person in the arena, but he believes it to be his responsibility.
"Everything I have and have enjoyed in this business is due to the people who buy CDs or come out to concerts," Brooks says. "It's those people who have made my career possible."

Born Troyal Garth Brooks on February 7, 1962, to Troyal Raymond, and Colleen Carroll Brooks, Garth was introduced to the entertainment business at an early age. His mother, who passed away this past summer after a valiant battle with cancer, was a recording artist in the 1950s with Capitol Records.

"We had music in our house all the time," Brooks said. "My mother had a big influence on me musically."

Brooks spent most of his teenage years and early 20s honing his skills as an athlete and musician. His athletic ability paved a way for him to attend Oklahoma State University on a track scholarship where he earned a degree in marketing. His college years also gave Brooks the opportunity to improve his music and lay the groundwork for his stage show while he made his way across Oklahoma and Texas from one honky-tonk bar to another.

"Those were great times," Brooks has said. "Hanging out with a bunch of my buddies and playing was some of the most fun I've ever had."

And while his buddies were content playing small bars and frat parties, Garth wanted more. In 1986, he said goodbye to then girlfriend Sandy Mahl, packed up his car and headed to Nashville on nothing more than a guitar and lofty goals.

He lasted 23 hours.

After returning home and working on his sound, Garth bore down and took one of his biggest and ultimately most important risks of his career and life. He packed up the car again and, this time with his new bride, Sandy, went back to Nashville.

"Without Sandy," Garth says. "I would have never stayed that second time. "And that would have been it."

At one point, Garth became so frustrated with the slamming doors and broken promises of Nashville, he sat in his car pounding on the steering wheel complaining to his wife and wondering out loud if it was all worth the struggle. It was Sandy, not Garth, who found the courage to stay. She gave him an ultimatum.

"Either we stay and you get it done or we go home," Sandy told her husband. "But if we go home, we're not coming back."

The couple stayed and Sandy did temporary clerical work, Garth worked at a boot store and the couple cleaned a church, all the while working towards that one big break. It came, but not after nearly every producer in Nashville heard and rejected the guy from Oklahoma. During amateur night at a local bar in Nashville, one of the performers scheduled to take the stage before Garth never showed up, bumping him up a spot in that night's lineup. Terrified and not completely prepared, Garth took the stage and let his instincts take over. He played his own songs and tunes by other performers with the high-energy, bang-em-up, take-no-prisoners style his fans have come to love today. When his 15 minutes were up and he was shaking people's hands, an executive from Capitol signed him to a deal. The contract offer was made by Lynn Shults, one of the people who had recently passed on Garth.

For Sandy, the break came as no surprise, according to Garth. "She believed in me before I did," Garth has said about his wife.

Sandy's strength has always been an important part of what Garth Brooks is. She not only sat by Garth when he was ready to quit that night in the car, but she also stood beside him when he stumbled personally.

"It's no secret that Sandy and I have been through some tough times," Garth says. "But we're working hard to keep that special thing we have together."

It was also Sandy who held Garth's hand during the 1990 Academy of Country Music Awards televised ceremony when he watched Clint Black walk off with the three awards he had also been nominated for.

As difficult as it was for Garth to go home empty-handed, it only made him more committed to his work. This was, after all, the same performer who ran home after his first 23 hours in Nashville only to return and conquer. In retrospect, Garth says taking those early risks was as important as writing his first songs.

"It's easy to avoid risks," Brooks said prior to batting practice with the San Diego Padres last spring. "You can sit back, rest on your laurels and be scared, or you can take some chances, be scared and willing to let the chips fall where they may."

It has been risk taking that has carried Garth from being just another strummin' cowboy on the local radio station to super stardom. When his second CD, No Fences, included a song that tackled the topic of domestic abuses, Garth didn't back down from the swirl of controversy. In fact, when "The Thunder Rolls" video was pulled from most video networks due to its violent nature, Garth, who portrayed the abusive husband in the video, seized the opportunity to discuss this and other social ills, all the while having his picture plastered all over the country.

"I have always gone with what my heart says," Garth has said about "Thunder," "and I think taking on topics like domestic violence is the right thing to do."

Although his CD and videos helped keep Garth's name in front of the masses early on, it was stories about his stage show that circulated all over the music industry. His concerts always showcase his love for every type of music from James Taylor to KISS. Smashing guitars, flames, jumping into the crowd, screeching into the microphone one minute and then holding a single rose while quietly singing love songs with tears streaming down his face another, Garth had people eating out of his hands.

"His concerts are the big thing with Garth," says Nancy Brooks. "When you go to a Garth Brooks concert, you will have two or three hours of the widest emotional range you can possibly have."
With the knowledge of his stage prowess, Garth took his show into the living rooms of America in 1991 with his first of four televised concerts for NBC. "This is Garth Brooks" introduced the man Rolling Stone dubbed "The Cat in the Hat" to all of America. It was then that most Americans began to understand the phenomena that is Garth. As part of the two-hour special, Garth used two-minute pieces throughout the show to literally introduce himself to viewers. He allowed people the chance to see Garth the man kicking around in his Oklahoma State football jersey, while his friends and band members told stories about their front man.

"That was such a great move," Nancy Brooks says. "He almost forced people to pay attention to him. I mean he beamed himself into the homes of America."

And in doing so he beamed himself into the hearts of folks from New York to L.A.
Since then, his concerts have become almost legendary worldwide. Tickets to Garth Brooks concerts are gobbled up in the expected markets like Nashville and Houston, not to mention the not-so-usual country markets like Detroit, L.A. and New York. And unlike some performers, Brooks expels the same level of intensity and energy whether he's playing Cowboys Stadium in Irving, Texas, or the New Haven Coliseum in coastal Connecticut. His fans appreciate the effort and show this in their loyalty.

Nearly half a million of those loyal fans packed New York's Central Park in August of 1997 for an HBO concert. While some took the subway from Queens for the free concert, others trekked from as far away as northern Idaho and even England. One woman with a thick British accent said she would have traveled to hell and back to spend an evening with Garth.

"Standing up there before all of those people in the middle of New York was terrifying," Garth said. "But at the same time it was absolutely wonderful."

In doing the Central Park show, Brooks joined an exclusive group of Central Park performers, including Diana Ross, Simon and Garfunkel and Elton John.

"This was definitely a first," said one New York City cop following the show. "That guy puts on an amazing show."

Brooks understands his roots and loves honoring those who came before him, as was evident during the Central Park show. Billy Joel joined him onstage, much to the joy of the Big Apple crowd. Joel and Brooks performed one of each other's tunes with the Piano Man at the keyboard. Then to wrap up the show, Garth brought out the legendary Don McLean, who led Garth, his band and the exhausted crowd in one of rock's biggest anthems, "American Pie."

"It's just a way for me to show my respect and appreciation for those performers I grew up listening to," he said.

As his popularity grew and his name became synonymous with other stars, Garth roped in more loyal fans when he stuck to previous agreements in spite of the potential for lost revenue. In 1990, Garth had agreed to play a stint at the Silver Spring Gala in Arlington, Texas, for just $10,000. By the time the show had come, Garth was a megastar raking in millions of dollars and being one of the most sought-after musicians in the world, yet he played the show and then donated his fee to charity. In Queens, New York, a similar situation occurred and Garth brought in more than 12,000 fans for a fund-raiser for the New York Metro Country Music Association.
For many people, falling in love with an artist comes down to one thing...does this person care about me? Garth understands the need for people to be cared about and spends his time freely signing autographs and posing for photos, all the while making the one person he is speaking to feel as if he or she is the only person in the room. As one woman said after waiting an hour-and-a-half for an autograph outside the Peoria Sports Complex in Arizona during Garth's brief stint as a professional baseball player, "He didn't just sign my shirt, he actually talked to me."
As his stature grew in the music industry, Garth continued to keep focused on his target audience, the average guy riding around in his pickup truck listening to country music. That is, perhaps, why Garth has fought to keep his CDs and tickets reasonably priced. During his world tour Garth charged just $17.50 per ticket, while the Eagles forced fans to fork over $100 a seat. And while CDs were reaching into the $30 and $40 range, Garth worked hard to keep his releases reasonably priced at $20.

"People work hard for the money they have," Garth has said. "They shouldn't have to pay ridiculous prices to enjoy music." Garth has also gone to bat for common people, almost like a modern-day Robin Hood. When the House of Representatives voted to cut millions of dollars from the endowments for art, entertainment and humanities and public broadcasting, Garth teamed up with other celebrities to protest the move.

In keeping with his appreciation for all types of music, in 1996 Garth stood before a nationally televised audience and a room full of his peers ranging from talents in R&B to heavy metal. It was then that Garth declined to be honored over TLC, Green Day, Boyz II Men and Hootie and the Blowfish as the entertainer of year. Garth said it would be unfair to single out one performer and style above all others. Said Garth, "I mean no disrespect...Music is made up of a lot of people and if we're one artist short, then we all become a lesser music." With that he humbly walked away to a standing ovation.

Now as a new millennium is ushered in, the king of country music stands at the threshold of something new and exciting. Garth has set aside his cowboy hat and tight jeans for long, jet-black hair (a wig).

Garth Brooks in the Life of Chris Gaines was released in the fall and has been warmly accepted by fans and critics alike.

The CD is part of a prequel to his first full-length feature film, The Lamb. Not much information has been released about the film, except that Garth will portray a musician struggling to come to terms with his own life as a superstar. And although this may not necessarily be a stretch for Garth, it is, once again, a major career risk.

"Nothing this guy does surprises me anymore," says Nancy Brooks. "From what I hear, the movie is supposed to be great."

Especially if you watch it from the back row.
I've had the chance to interview Garth Brooks three times over the last 10 years. This story utilized some from each interview. At one interview Garth and I sat tossing a baseball back and forth as he was preparing to practice as a member of the San Diego Padres to raise money for his "Touch 'Em All" Foundation. The interview was fun because we just talked about average things like home, family, religion, etc. I mentioned that I had a son named Taylor (one of Garth's daughter is also named Taylor) and we started talking about our children. He asked how man kids I had and I told him two boys. He asked me the other name (Doug) and then Garth asked if he could sign my baseball hat for them. That hat sits atop a shelf in my home. Another thing about Garth Brooks is that his music is the soundtrack of my fatherhood days. I had never been much of a country music fan, but when Taylor turned 2 I was introduced to Garth Brooks on his first televised performance and I was hooked. My sons and I always has his music playing in the car when we were traveling or outside doing things. When I hear any Garth Brooks song it takes me back to some moment with my sons. I had the chance to experience his Central Park concert and it remains one of the highlights of my career.
Since this story appeared in 1999, Garth and Sandy divorced and he has since re-married Trisha Yearwood.

Herb Alpert - Brentwood Magazine 2006


Music's Herb Alpert Crafts Life-Size Sculptures

While preparing for this interview, I came to understand - by way of a question from my 16-year-old football and lacrosse-playing 11th grader - the influence that one man has had and continues to have on the soundtrack of several generations. The conversation went like this:

"Who are you interviewing?"

"Someone you wouldn't know."

"Try me."

"Okay, his name is Herb Alpert. He -"

"Yeah, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. I know."
With that, my son was off with his buddies.

"It's nice to know the younger generation knows who I am," Alpert says after I relay the story. "It's always nice to be recognized and appreciated for your work."

Today, being recognized for Alpert has as much to do with his audience's eyes as with its ears. Alpert's series of "spiritual totems," which were unveiled at New York City's Bryant Park this fall, remains on exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, the Pasadena Civic Auditorium Plaza and the Paseo Colorado complex.

"I have been busy with my artwork," Alpert says. "Painting and doing sculptures is something I have been doing since early in my musical career."

The totems were inspired by those of the Tlingit tribe of Alaska. Alpert created them during a stay in the Pacific Northwest.

"These spirit totems are just that - very spiritual in nature," Alpert says. "When I start in this work, I'm not completely certain what form it will take, what size it will be. Artwork and music are very similar that way. You may start one place and wind up someplace completely different."

For those who know Alpert solely for his music genius in the areas of composing, arranging, and performing, his turn as a visual artist might come as a surprise, which Alpert understands. But, he says, his art and his music come from the same source: a desire to be happy and to create something the world can be a part of.

"That's what music and art have always been about for me," he explains. "To play my music and do my art and be satisfied. I never set out to be famous. I always thought it would be nice if my work could make others happy along the way."

If numbers are the gauge, then Alpert has succeeded in making people happy for more than four decades. In 1962, Alpert and business partner Jerry Moss founded A&M Records, which has been responsible for some of the world's most influential pop artists, including the Carpenters, Sheryl Crow, Quincy Jones, the Police and Sting. But its first musical sensation was the Alpert's Tijuana Brass, which has had countless number one hits. Alpert, the Tijuana Brass and Moss boast six Grammy Awards among them.

"I've always been pulled to musical acts that had passion about their sound," Alpert says of those with whom he has worked and to whom he likes to listen. "It's like when we signed the Carpenters. They were just passionate and had a unique sound due to Karen's voice and Richard's amazing arrangements. They were just a brother and sister throwing everything they had into their musical gift, and it was very appealing."

Alpert's instincts were correct: The Carpenters went on to become one of A&M's greatest success stories.

And while he has become deeply involved in the visual arts, Alpert remains committed to music. A compilation of recently rediscovered musical tracks have been retooled and released as an album called "Lost Treasures." Putting "Treasures" together meant that Alpert had to add layers to songs recorded decades ago.

"The process of creating this was interesting because we discovered the lost tracks," Alpert says. "So we went into the studio, and I added my trumpet parts to the already existing music. It was an exciting creative process."

Alpert is also re-releasing his famous "Whipped Cream & Other Delights," complete with a new whipped-cream cover girl.

"The cover of that album back in the late 1960s was really pushing things," Alpert says of the image of a nude woman covered completely in whipped cream. "It was fun, and so we decided with the new release, we'd update it with a new whipped-cream girl."

From whipped-cream girls and smooth-listening music to paintings and sculptures, Alpert remains an icon - for all ages.

"It's all just a joy," he says.

I grew up listening to Herb Alpert and probably had my first crush on the woman from the original "Whipped Cream" album cover that my parents tried (unsuccessfully, I might add) to hide from my 5 siblings and me. Our family spent many nights at home listening to Herb or musicians that were in some way influenced by him. To interview him after being a child of the late 1960s was a true honor. He is a great man, humble and appreciative to those who helped make him successful. He has a real love for his fans, which I found refreshing.

Leading Man - Player Magazine 2004

CALL IT A CRIME OF PASSION. KRISTIE LEE WILCOX WAS LOOKING for a date. Not just any date,but one with the hottest hunk in baseball:Derek Jeter. Her not-so-subtle plan included a mad dash across the infield of the House That Ruth Built on Opening Day 2003. As throngs of baseball fans recall,Wilcox did in fact make her love connection. Thanks to a blinding burst of speed,she eluded stadium officials and handed Derek Jeter her name and number.
And she got her date ... in court.

"It was spontaneous ..."she told Hollywood Five-O. "It was like two innings [into play], and I told my friend, 'I'm gonna give Derek Jeter my phone number.'So I did." After getting a standing ovation from 56,000 fans, she was snagged by security and ended up spending the night in a Bronx jail. Unfortunately for Wilcox, her case wasn't heard by Kim Basinger because the Academy Award-winning actress would have dismissed the charges.

"He's a hunk,"Basinger told Sports Illustrated. "Women like guys who have a big presence but sort of play it down. It's very appealing."

The women, the money,the fame,and the adoration of the world's most demanding sports fans, Derek Jeter has it all. And then some. One day his life will be a movie and it will begin with a clip of the great Joe DiMaggio being interviewed by Keith Olbermann on Fox Sports.

"Legend has it that at age 5, Derek told everyone he would someday be the Yankees'starting shortstop. They laughed then. They're cheering now," said the Yankee Clipper.

And it's those cheers that finally convinced Jeter that he had hit the big time. In his autobiography, The Life You Imagine, he recounts his first trip down the legendary Canyon of Heroes. It was 1996, and the Bronx Bombers had just won the World Series by knocking off the Atlanta Braves. Jeter and teammate Jim Leyritz caught a subway to Lower Manhattan for the start of the parade. "It was kind of scary," Jeter writes, "because the subway was packed with so many fans that I wasn't sure if we were going to get off."

The duo finally did manage to escape and were able to catch up with the rest of the team. As they paraded down Broadway, following the route taken by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Thurman Munson, and Reggie Jackson, tons of ticker tape rained down from the sky. On one of the Yankee floats, however, it was a much different story.

"So many young ladies held up signs asking me to marry them that it turned out to be a joke with my teammates," Jeter writes. "It got embarrassing because my teammates teased me relentlessly."

Back in those days, George Steinbrenner and Co. paid Jeter a paltry $130,000, a bottom-of-the-basement figure that could best be described as the league minimum. His 2003 compensation package? Over $15 million,a figure that no doubt takes into consideration a career batting average of .317 (fifth highest in Yankee history) and a record 101 postseason hits. Throw in four World Series rings, and is it any wonder the Yankees re-signed Jeter through 2010?
But Jeter is more than just a clutch player. The sexy shortstop is an unparalleled branding opportunity, one that savvy marketers such as Visa, Nike, Fila, and Gatorade have tapped into to promote their goods and services. All of this translates into a lifestyle that is almost unimaginable. When Jeter goes for a night on the town looking to use that famous Visa he now endorses, one of his favorite hangouts is Manhattan's China Club.

According to manager Tim Gleason, Jeter, who is polite and accommodating, gets all-star treatment.

"Derek Jeter is not waiting outside in line to get in," Gleason says."We usually know ahead of time when Derek's coming in, and we try to help him have a good time."

When Jeter arrives, the paparazzi cameras flash,the girls scream,the guys try to get him to sign a ball, a hat, or anything else they can find. It's all about catching a glimpse of the star. Once in the door,Jeter is usually whisked off to a VIP area overlooking the rest of the club.

"When he comes in people definitely notice and there's always a buzz,"says Gleason."You can tell who is a regular here because they don't get as excited as the tourist types."

Gleason adds that Jeter is not a heavy drinker. Nor is he as boisterous as, say, former Yankee teammate David Wells, who was notorious for attracting good and bad press.

"Some celebrities draw attention to themselves," Gleason says."Derek's not like that."
Whenever Jeter hits the town, he always attracts, well, attractive people - particularly women.
"Derek is definitely surrounded by beautiful people," Gleason says."You might think he always comes from a model shoot. It's amazing."

Spring training offers an endless string of anecdotes; most revolve around the opposite sex. According to an anonymous staffer at the Radisson Bay Harbor in Tampa, "Things get pretty nuts around here when the Yankees are in town, but it's really Jeter that everyone, especially the girls, are after. They'll do almost anything to see Jeter."

"They'll wait forever. They'll scream.We've even had women who've tried to figure out what room he is in and then climbed the outside of the building to his balcony."

In conclusion? "It's pretty nuts."

Some of the women whose phone numbers grace the pages of Jeter's little black book include singer Mariah Carey, actress Jordana Brewster, MTV VJ Venessa Minnillo, and not one, but two Miss Universes, 2000 winner Lara Dutta and 2001's Denise Quinones. Most recently Jeter was seen at a Florida nightclub dancing with the famed tennis beauty Anna Kournikova. Both insist they're "just friends."

What makes Jeter so appealing is that he fills so many niches. He plays for the most storied and controversial baseball team on the world's biggest stage,and he does it with grace, style,and most of all,championships. His looks are impeccable, with his boyish face, bright smile, and stellar confidence neatly packaged in his slender 6'5"frame.

Former teammate Chili Davis may have said it best when he told Sports Illustrated, "Hanging out with him sucks because women flock to him. Let's see. He's been on the cover of GQ, is rich, famous, hits for average and power,and is a helluva nice guy."

Now that's a player.
Derek Jeter is an interesting person to meet. He knows he is Derek Jeter and what that means to the rest of us mere mortals. When I met him, Jeter was with Joe Torre, Roger Clemens and Tino Martinez at an event in Las Vegas. All four men were nice, polite even signing a piece of paper for my two sons who, like their dad, are raving mad Yankee fans. Of course, since then, my sons have lost the piece of paper, but that's another long story. I enjoyed the few minutes I spent with the four Yankee legends and eventually that meeting led to this story.