is proud to present the adventures of Ben
Fong-Torres, our very own Renaissance man: author, broadcaster,
and former senior editor and writer at Rolling Stone Magazine. This
guy's our hero! Ben was a featured character in the movie "Almost
Famous," the Oscar and Golden Globe-winning film by Cameron
about once a day, I roll my eyes as someone asks about Almost
Famous. It's been almost two years since that movie came out,
but the curiosity about my being a character in the film rolls on.
Whether it's by e-mail or in person; whether it's friends I run
into at social gatherings or complete strangers, it never fails:
"So, what'd you think? Did you like it? What was it like being in
the movie?" My eyes roll and I unreel my stock answer: Loved the
movie; it perfectly caught what it was like falling in love with
rock and roll in the early Seventies. As for my character and Rolling
Stone, and how we treated the kid writer -- that's Hollywood.
I was a plot device, and I'm happy to have been of service.
So, one of the
most recent inquisitors was none other than Sheryl Crow. We'd just
met, for an interview for Parade magazine, and, since we
were, uh, almost famished, decided to grab lunch. As we settled
into a banquette at the Grand Café in downtown San Francisco, and
as I set up my recording equipment, she popped the question. I could've
slapped her, but I didn't. She'd also said that she used to read
my work in Rolling Stone. "When I was a kid, I wanted to
be like the people that I read about."
And when I pulled
out a copy of Not Fade Away, my compilation of old articles,
to give her, she shrieked: "Oh my god! We were just talking about
this the other day. Will you sign it for me?"
So I lost a
book sale, but I gained a friend. At least for an hour or so.
Over a scrumptious
pesto pasta with rock shrimp (what other kind of shrimp would you
expect Sheryl Crow to order?), she talked freely and winningly about
how a girl from a tiny town in Missouri, who was once a schoolteacher
engaged to a religious young man, became a rock star.
For that story,
you'll have to check your Sunday paperweight.
Oh, stop your
whining. Here -- I'll give you a sneak peek. What subject shall
we explore? How about…say, how hot she looks, at age 40, and how
she's dealt with the issue of her sex appeal while trying to build
a career as a serious artist?
more fun for me now," she said. "It used to feel like a nuisance,
'cause I always felt it would rob me of my ability to be credible."
It's gotten to be so much fun that Sheryl posed, in brief briefs
and other enticing bits of clothing, for Stuff magazine.
"I loved the
photos," she said. "They were really gymnastic looking. I enjoyed
it; I loved the photographer, I liked the playfulness of it, even
though rock 'n' roll, for me, is based on sexual energy, not overt
sexualness. But it was fun!"
For more, watch
Last time out,
I broke out in a mini-screed about people who refer to September
11th as "Nine-one-one," reducing that event to another shortcut
nickname. I'd heard someone saying "9-1-1" on CNBC. The other day,
I heard it from another person on the air: Paul Harvey. The outright
legendary newscaster-commentator on ABC Radio was doing it. Aargh.
But that's only one of several things that are bugging me on this
unusually warm summer day in San Francisco.
a part of computing life. We're constantly warned about not opening
e-mail containing attachments unless you're pretty certain you know
who's sent it. (Even then, you can't be sure, since hackers are
robbing people's e-mail addresses and sending out infected attachments
to everyone on their victims' address books.)
So why do so
many people send out e-mails, often with attachments, without identifying
themselves, and with no explanatory message? When, on top of that,
their e-mail address doesn't offer a clue to their identity, you
should trash it. I get letters from people who, for all their good
intentions, leave me stunned by their lack of manners. No greeting
- or a misspelled name. A quick comment, perhaps a request for information
or an opinion. A call for my opinion, or help, or advice. And out.
No thanks, no signature, no idea where they're writing from.
on? Besides having no patience or use for common courtesy, people
are leaving their kids in their cars or out in the front yards,
subjecting them to all sorts of danger. They are racing to get onto
television to act stupid or to humiliate one another. They are running
red lights and driving as if they were in a video game. People are
killing, kidnapping, raping, abusing, lying and thieving as never
before. They are, in short, behaving badly and, invariably, in denial.
last September 11, there was all this talk about how the world had
changed; how people were becoming kinder to one another. That lasted
for, pardon the expression, a New York minute.
Now, as we approach
the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, this country will fall
silent, respectful, and thoughtful. We will once again feel unified,
united in memories of the past and wariness about what lies ahead.
We will be a kinder, gentler nation, albeit one with resolve.
Whether we gather
for the commemoration, at events like AURA (Asians United to Raise
Awareness)'s fundraiser at the Manhattan Center in New York (www.aurafund.org
for info), or observe the anniversary with a silent prayer - whatever
we do, let's try and turn that minute into a moment, a moment that
lasts a lifetime.