Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Susan Boyle: Just Who Is The Singer Susan Boyle?


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Unless you live under a rock, you know about the Scottish woman who has taken the industrialized World by storm: Susan Boyle.

Ms. Boyle, who appeared on a reality TV show called "Britains' Got Talent" last Saturday, April 11th and wowed a cynical audience and the judges, including the irascible Simon Cowell (also of American Idol) with her powerful performance of "I Dream A Dream" from Les Miserable.

What surprised millions - and does not make a great statement about our World industrial culture but is a great example of the power of online video distribution as the video has been seen over 15.9 million times on YouTube (I counted over 10 videso with over 200,000 views) as of this writing - is that someone who looks like her could sing like that.

But who Susan Boyle is as a person is a story of a good simple woman winning over a bad, complicated society. Ms. Boyle is 48 years old, unemployed, and she says never married or "kissed" which means she's a virgin. I do not laugh here because I think of her more as pure rather than question anyone's desire for her or perceived lack of same.

The Worldwide sensation lives in her childhood home in West Lothian, one of 32 council areas in Scotland, and which has Grapevine, Texas as its sister city, meaning they can claim her too.

Ms. Boyle cared for her mother until the elder Boyle's passing in 2007 at the age of 91; her father passed away 10 years before. Living alone, Susan attends Church each weekend and it was there that her singing talent developed, and where her late mother encouraged her to sing, but Boyle had reportedly stopped singing and did not know how she would do on that Saturday night she shocked the World.

Susan's life has not been one without pain. She was abused and starved of oxygen at birth as a result of that and has a learning disability because of the act. Ms. Boyle says she was teased by classmates, and apparently the scars of their comments remain to this day. Very sad.

What I identify with is, I myself having lost two fathers to prostate cancer in 2005 (my stepfather and my biological dad), and the same year my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer (she's still with me), one becomes painfully aware of their own mortality and the desire to "make one's mark" becomes ever intense. Susan Boyle's stirring song was as much a testimate to the power of the human sprit and a form of grieving as it was a display of talent. Susan wanted to make her mom smile, but in doing so made mothers all over the World smile -- my Mom called and said Boyle was the next Julie Andrews.

So, in a World of nasty pirates, mean internet commenters, and crazy right-wing extremists, we have to stop and embrace Susan Boyle for making us smile.

Visit "The Alley" On Grand Avenue

I just went around Oakland to really get out of the house, which means heading to places like Luka's, Cafe Van Kleef, and other venues. It's to socialize -- some of my best blog story tips have come in this way. But it's also to support the local businesses. In this case, the crowds generated by the successful appearance of Green Day at the Fox went away and downtown Oakland and the Lake was largely full of locals. So I dropped into The Alley really to get a copy of their menu, and the walked over to a drinkery called Smitty's two doors away.

Now I am not comfortable with Smitty's at all. Sorry but some of the clientele look like they're going to take hostages! Hey, I'm serious -- some rough-looking folks hang there. Not that I would not help raise money for an event there, but geez. I've had it with this "We're Oakland and so it's ok not to excel or be ambitious, in fact we'd prefer it if you want to be a loser."


That's why I'm happy for places like Pican and Flora, where you feel good for liking nice places and preferring to be around people who can dress appropriately!


CNN Needs To Axe Lou Dobbs

I don't know how many times I need to write or say this, but I'm sick and tired of Lou Dobbs. His entire CNN show is based on some outdated conservative idea that even he can't define and his shows have no example of his thinking being challenged. It's nuts. Why CNN has this guy on is unbelievable to me.