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“I Used to be an Open Book; Learning the Hard Way Why We Need Online Privacy”

girl-covering-mouth open book

(below is an updated version of this article)

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/update-my-horror-stories-why-im-no-longer-an-open-book-online-privacy-overview/

“I’m an open book”, said the naive person.

I’M AN OPEN BOOK!  Some even brag about it like it’s a badge of honor.  I learned the hard way how naive a statement that is.

I remember one time I was out with friends and one of them said how they admired that I was the type of person that was the first to try new things or to do something new instead of just following what others think or did.  Another friend laughed, “yea, Jim is the dumb one that does it first and finds out all the mistakes so the rest of us don’t have to go through it”.  They both were probably right.

I remember going online years ago as a kid.  I was in wonder over the internet.  I put in an AOL disk that I got in the mail.  At 14.8, the speed at that time seemed so fast.  The internet really didn’t have that many websites but I was amazed.  Over time I started using things like Yahoo, EBAY and Paypal.

I have always wanted to think that everyone has good in them.  In reality our culture has changed and not for the better.  Morals and character are harder to find and the evil that we see in the news is pretty scary.  Are all people bad?  Of course not; but ask the thousands that get bullied online every day how things have changed.

(one billion people lose their identity in Yahoo security breach)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-business/wp/2016/10/17/one-billion-reasons-why-the-yahoo-cyber-breach-matters/

How Social Media & The Internet Has Changed Our Communication:

The internet and social media is fun and has a lot of great rewards, but it also has a downfall.  It has made many people dysfunctional communicators.  Some people in business and in personal relationships are like Hemmingway in emails, texts and chats.  Get them in person and their personality is that of a napping frog and their communication skills are as good as one of the Teletubbies.  Look at people on dates; many don’t even talk to their partner.  They are texting others, looking at videos or even flirting with other people.  Go to a movie theater and try to find people that aren’t texting someone.  We have the attention spans of puppies on espresso and as a culture, we seem to use guesses, mind reading skills or jedi mind tricks to communicate with each other instead of just talking directly.

We Are Much More Open to Promote Quicker Communication:

Most Psychology studies shows that it takes a good year to really get to know someone. That’s a lifetime now.  Instead of getting to know each other, we use Facebook, Linkedin, and Match.com, or other sites to almost “instantly” learn about someone.  The problem is it’s shallow, lazy and dysfunctional at times.  It takes time to get to know people whether we are finishing each others sentences or not.  I’ve seen people move in with others after days of meeting someone on a dating site or they go into business with someone they barely know after meeting online.  It’s sheer madness.  We want it and we want it now.  The problem is you have to build a foundation be it business or in your personal relationships, and it’s more than a profile or mouse click away.  Affiliate marketing is a huge part of internet business and in reality you are joining an unknown business run by people you don’t know.  It has a 95% fail rate for a reason.

I’ve lost my identity twice and I once was used in a scam.  Between scammers and EBAY itself, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad.  Once two German hackers got into my EBAY account and started to put up fake adds selling high end Apple products and ended up stealing about $30,000 from people having bidders send them money by western union.

The Dangers of Being An Open Book With Online Dating:

I remember being an open book on Facebook the last 5 years especially in the dating scene when I became single.  After a while people would show up uninvited to my house and work.  I had one girl that I chatted with a couple of times do a search on me and found my business.  We had coffee once and I knew she was not the person for me plus she looked too young.  One day I came into my office to see patients in the afternoon and my secretary said, “you’re girlfriend is here”.  Well that was strange because at the time I didn’t have one.  I walked in and this cute young girl who couldn’t have been 22 was there.  I asked her what was going on.  I talked to her long enough to make sure she didn’t have an ax or Lizzie Borden tattoo, but I still wasn’t comfortable.  I eventually got rid of her.

One night when I was coming home from work, a man was sitting on my porch.  It ended up being a patient; kind of a borderline mentally ill patient that was a pretty scary guy.  He found my information from LinkedIn and Facebook and did a search on me and found my home address.  It was 11:30 pm and he asked if we could talk and if he could come in.  I actually saw my neighbor looking at him and I talked him into leaving and that if he was having issues that he should go to the ER.  I slept with a loaded gun next to my bed just in case.

I write online at times for political sites and I was Mr. Open Book then too.  Unfortunately I said something some people didn’t like and I started getting death threats.  Someone emailed me a photo of my front yard saying he was watching me.  I called the police but I was paranoid whenever anyone came by.

The worst situation I had was a girl I met online and we started to talk.  She lived near me and asked to meet.  We met a couple of times and would text and talk on the phone sometimes but just friends stuff.  There was just something not right with her and my spidey sense was tingling.  I told her that we should be online friends and that maybe one of these days we could get together again but that I was really busy at work.  I’m not a sleazy person and I don’t sleep around like a lot of people do so I just felt uncomfortable with being that close.

Some pretty girls rarely if ever hear the word no from a guy and she didn’t take it well.  She went crazy.  She started freaking out telling me who did I think I was and that she could get guys 100 times better than I was.  She then said I was messing with her and that no one messed with her and got away with it.  I’ve always tried dating the sweet, girl next door types so the psycho high maintenance I’m going to kill you while  you sleep type of girls were never my thing.

At about 12:30 am I began to get texts.  Now I have a lot of friends that text me at that time because they are night owls and usually bored; but this was different.  It was a girl asking to meet and have sex.  She then began to talk about things that we can do that I’m not quite sure are physically possible; I mean I looked it up and I don’t think those parts go together or can bend that way but I still could be wrong.  Anyways, I texted her back saying she had the wrong guy and told her to stop texting me.  I found out that angry woman had put an ad with all of my information and photo on a sex add on Craigslist.  Craigslist actually told me to call the police.  I warned her and she took the ad down.  Instead of taking my time and being careful, I was an open book with all of my personal information on Facebook and LinkedIn and I let my walls down.

(Yahoo scans emails to give to the government)

http://www.businessinsider.com/r-exclusive-yahoo-secretly-scanned-customer-emails-for-us-intelligence-sources-2016-10

Protect Your Photos:

You want to talk about open books, just go on Twitter or instagram.  People put up naked or sexual photos literally potentially ruining their reputation.  I knew a nurse once who got fired and many felt the reason was her Facebook photos that were extremely sexual.

It just blows me away how people can send near strangers naked photos of themselves and even videos.  It’s both dumb and risky at the same time and lacks class.  I know many are insecure these days needing lots of attention but man.  Once something is on the internet it is there forever!  Photos are easily stolen and I found out the hard way how people can use them to try and embarrass you or make you look bad.

Take Back Your Privacy:

I realized then that between big business pimping out our web surfing habits, locations, purchasing habits, and all of our social media information, I was not going to be used or exposed.  Now Samsung admits to recording us through some of their tv’s and appliances are the next to hook us up online.  Unfortunately there is only so much we can do to protect our information, but I’m determined to keep my accounts as private as possible.

I finally said “enough”.  I had written for many publications online but I started over.  I got a pen name and I stopped posting up family photos and giving personal information.  I closed all of my social media sites and started over.  I told my 3000 Facebook followers that I was moving on and that it had gotten too weird for me.  Magically all of the drama ended shortly after.

A New Lease on MY Online Life:

I started to write again and it felt good to not be weighed down by internet drama.  I’ve now restarted and I’ve been much less open online.  The drama is mostly gone.  Even though I have over 40k followers on my two Twitter accounts, I keep people at a distance. I now don’t have to deal with the nonsense.  I don’t put my real birthday online, or my address or my name, and I’ve slowly created safe, fun and healthy online relationships with some turning into friendships.  I’ve used Google voice for contact phone numbers and I feel much safer.

Social media and technology has entrenched a high level of trust in the latest generations and I worry about them.  Corporations have slowly eroded their sense of privacy and their respect for it.  I think some would put blood sample results online if they were asked to; they are open books and trust everyone.  They don’t have any money now but when they get older and start making money, taking their identities will be like taking candy from a baby because they are so trusting.  It’s even a risk with our money.  When I met with my banker once he spoke under his breath and told me not to use the banking application because in reality financial apps in his opinion were not safe.

Linked in is the worst.  Why in the world would I tell about myself and my business to people that are competitors so they could know what I am doing and what I’m working on.  I was taught to keep things under wraps.

It used to drive one of my ex girlfriends insane when every where we went; or even if I was online; people would tell me their life stories.  I’ve talked to people at times who will tell me their most innermost secrets and I barely know them.  Maybe in a way people are just lonely and with all of the dysfunctional communications, they just need a human being to actually talk to in person.

The Moral of The Story:

People can do what they want but I think people need to wake up and not be open books.  For our jobs some of us are forced to be as open as possible but on our personal accounts it’s our choice.  The world isn’t as safe a place anymore and people need to be much more careful.  You shouldn’t be a fearful hermit, but you also shouldn’t be Shirley Temple.  It takes one identity theft, one bad thing said online, or one picture to ruin a reputation and cause years of headaches.  Sorry Steve Zuckerberg, Apple and Google; I’m not trusting you any more.  Learn from my mistakes; I always make them before everyone else does.

 

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“Easy & Fast Decadent Shortbread”

shortbread three

“Easy & Fast Decadent Shortbread”

This is the fastest and easiest way I know to make amazing short bread cookies.  I used unsalted sweet butter and it is so tasty.  Eat it with my nutella hot chocolate, a cup of great coffee, or with a great brandy, cognac or glass of wine.  With a cold glass of milk, you are in heaven.

You can’t stop eating these amazing favorites!  I always try to make a double batch because they are so addicting!  Enjoy and save one for me!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Preparation:

Cream sugar and butter. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour and mix thoroughly. Turn out onto a surface floured with remaining 1/2 cup of flour. Knead dough until it cracks on surface. Roll out 1/4-inch thick and cut out with cutters. Prick cookies with fork tines and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 275° for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Makes about 2 dozen shortbread cookies.

Suggestions: 

-I sprinkle a little sugar on the top of mine before baking.  I’ve even used colored sugar for a unique look.  This is not an overly sweet cookie; the key to the taste is the butter.

-Dont use margarine!

-If you dont eat them right away, let them cool and store in an air tight container and they will stay good for days.  I’m sure they wont last hours though.

“Potion of Motion” amazing & easy alcoholic & non-alcoholic punch

potion of motion

Potion of Motion” 

My love for champagne is of legend and this is a great and tasty drink that is amazing for parties.  I still love it straight but this is a great summer drink for home parties or barbecues!

Ingredients:

-Drinkable bottle or bottles of brut champagne depending on how many people are drinking.

-for one part of the juices you can use cherry, pomegranate, cranberry, guava, mango, orange, grapefruit, or any other juice that you’d like.

-large can of pineapple juice

-tall glasses filled with ice

-sliced fruit of your choice

Directions:

Put as much ice as you’d like in a tall glass.  (per your taste) Add 1 to 1/2 ounces of pineapple juice. Then add 1 to 1 1/2 ounces of your favorite (or exotic) fruit juice (look above).  Fill the rest of the glass with champagne.  Enjoy!!

Tips:

-Add exotic fruit juices for a unique and great flavor.

-put all of the juices and sliced fruit on a side table.  Put the chilled juices and champagne on ice next to it and let your guests serve themselves.

-Use sparkling water instead of champagne for the kids.  Don’t leave them out of the fun!

Awesome!!

Colombia & Soccer Rises Above Violence, Pain, & the loss of Andres Escobar For Redemption.

andres escobar

 

“Life doesn’t end here”.  

Andres Escobar, Colombia footballer

It still hurts today.

When you say the name Andres Escobar to a longtime soccer fan, immediately the smile will come off of their faces and a sadness will be seen.  The pain is still there for the memory of the murder of Colombian soccer star Andres Escobar even 20 years later.

In the 1994 World Cup held in the U.S., there was one team that everyone wanted to see and that was Colombia.  They were like rock stars with the likes of Carlos Valderrama, Carlos Rincon, Andres Escobar and so many others.  From the famous scorpion kick from their goalie, to the fun and amazing way they played, Colombia was definitely the team to watch.  Defensive star Andres Escobar at the age of 26 was ready to sign a large contract after the World Cup with famous Italian team AC Milan.  His dream of marrying his Fiance Pamela Cascardo and living in Italy to play soccer was coming true.

In an amazing 26 international game stretch before the World Cup, Colombia lost ONLY one game.  In the World Cup qualifying matches they gave up an unreal, 2 goals.  They were on fire dominating the World Soccer scene.

To qualify for the World Cup in 1993, they needed to tie Argentina.  Instead they gave what I believe is the worst loss for Argentina in Argentina, 5-0.  What was amazing is video shows as a sign of respect, the Buenos Aires fans giving rounds of applause to the Colombians after the game.  It placed Colombia for the first time on the world stage of soccer.  Pele and many others announced that Colombia would win the World Cup in the U.S.  The country Colombia partied like rock stars and their passion was amazing.  For once they would shed the reputation of being a violent and out of control country, and gain the respect they wanted.

At that time the rise to prominence for Colombian soccer was linked mainly to one thing; drug cartel money.  Colombia had never been a world power.  The three biggest drug Cartels, owned teams in the Colombian soccer league.  Soccer was the perfect way to launder money that they had gained illegally.  With that money they now could afford the great fields and players that were needed to make them a world class power in soccer.  One of the drug Cartel leaders was Pablo Escobar.  He was so powerful and rich that Forbes Magazine had him as one of the richest men on earth.

A house is only as good as it’s foundation and when you have a foundation built on drug money, only pain and violence will follow.  That’s what happened to Colombian soccer.  Colombia was a mess in general with more murders being committed per capita there, than anywhere else in the world.  Public officials and politicians were bought off, and like many players said, you couldn’t trust anyone.

Pablo Escobar ran for office to avoid extradition to the U.S. for his drug running; and he won!  He and the other cartel leaders used Soccer to launder the money by lying about players salaries and bonuses and also about gate receipts and ticket sales.  Pablo Escobar did a lot for the poor, building housing and soccer fields and helping out the little guy. He also had public officials murdered and after one match where he didn’t like a referees call, he had the soccer referee gunned down in a parking lot after a game.  Much like Al Capone did in Chicago, it created a love for him like a modern Robin Hood to cover up for the violence and pain that he created.  Eventually though Escobar was killed and even a few of his family members were slaughtered; in front of their wives and kids in some cases; right before the World Cup would start.  After he was killed Colombia was in a violent chaos.  No more order in the underworld.

The stress on the Colombian players was now overwhelming.  Andres Escobars’ great friend and teammate Chonto Herrera was told the day before their World Cup match that his brother was murdered.  They began to worry about their own families safety.  Some players began saying they now had to win or wonder what would happen back home.  Andres shy smile was now gone.  In an interview he said he finds peace by trying to read at least a little bit from the Bible every day.  He found comfort in having a picture of his late mother and his fiance Pamela Cascardo in his Bible.

Andres was unlike any 26 year old you’d ever know.  While many were party animals, his faith was a foundation in his life.  He also loved his country and the poor.  His family talked about him going to stores and buying toys and driving through the city giving them away in poor neighborhoods.  Even before he signed a big contract, he set up scholarships for poor and needy kids.  His father was a banker and he set up foundations to help the needy.  His whole family had hearts of gold and his heart was no different.  He was handsome, kind, humble and felt for those in need.  Everyone loved him.

In the first game of the World Cup the joy was out of the faces of the players of Colombia.  In a stunning match, Romania beat Colombia 3-1.  The World was shocked.  Their next game was against the U.S. who they had never lost to and who had never been a world power in soccer.  Unfortunately the violence at home was getting worse and so was the stress of playing.  Also there were rumors that the Colombian cartels had lost millions in bets that were placed for Colombia to beat Romania and many were not happy.  There were rumors abound and you could see the fear and the pain in the players faces.

Against the Americans the impossible happened.  On a simple cross by John Harkes of the U.S., Andres tried to stop the ball and he accidentally kicked it into his own goal.  It was a dreaded moment that I will never forget.  I told my friends right then and there, they are going to kill him.  My friend said it’s just a soccer game and I was dumb to think that.  Even when I was a kid I loved history and cultures and I just knew growing up what some cultures could and would do.  A chill goes up my spine right now even writing this.  I still feel the pain of that moment.  I see Andres face on the field knowing what he had done and the possible ramifications.  One of his teammates commented that you could see the fear and the pain in Andres eyes after that moment.  In irony, Andres sister said that the second Andres did the mistake, her 8 year old son became upset and said that they are going to kill Andres.  She said that people loved Andres and that he would be safe.  Young people know more than what adults think.

Andres own goal made it U.S. 1 Colombia 0.  Another goal followed and after a late goal by Colombia the U.S. had stunned the world and beaten them 2-1.  Colombia beat the Swiss 2-0 in their third game but with Romania beating the U.S., it meant Colombia would go home.

There are conflicting reports but there was supposed to be a trip with Andres and his family where they would visit parts of the U.S. Andres didn’t go and he came home.  Friends and teammates say that he was crushed by his mistake but he answered all of the media’s questions.  In time the people of Medellin; his home city; were very supportive and caring.  He began to feel better.

On one night Andres was asked to go to a club.  Many of his teammates begged him not to go but he said he didn’t want to hide and that he would be alright.  In a club in Medillin, the Gallon brothers; notorious Colombian cartel members; began to mock Andres relentlessly. This upset Andres greatly saying he just made a mistake and he was sorry for it.  After a heated argument Andres left the club.  In a chilling video in the parking lot, Andres was gunned down by cartel bodyguard Humberto Castro Munoz with a .38 caliber gun.  His friends saw the shooting and rushed Andres to the hospital where he died 45 minutes later.  Andres girlfriend said that the murderer was laughing and yelling goooooooooaaaaaal when he shot Andres.  The World Cup was still going on and the soccer world was angered and outraged.  Colombia was in turmoil.

Andres death was too much for the country to take.  The grief now was unconsolable.  One famous Colombian writer said, “for the first time in my life, I’m ashamed to be Colombian”.  The country gave bodyguards to players with some having up to 40-50 of them to protect them and their families.  One players child was kidnapped.  The entire country was in pain and hope was hard to find.

The soccer team would never be the same.  Many retired or just played abroad.  Most vowing that they would never play for Colombia ever again for what happened to them and Andres.  It was rumored that after days in jail, the Gallon brothers paid off the courts with 3 million dollars in cash and were set free.  Murderer Humberto Munoz was the fall person and he did only 11 years of his 40 year sentence.  He was let out for being a model prisoner.  Andres Fiance and family were outraged.

Colombian soccer began to fall off the map.  For years it struggled.  Fans stopped coming; the pain was too great.  In 2010 at the owners meeting for the Colombian soccer federation, 14 of the 18 teams were now near bankruptcy.

Fast forward to the last 4 years where there has been a form of redemption.  The Colombian soccer team is now back at the World cup.  With a talented squad, they are now trying to prove again that their reputation for being a violent country based on drug money is wrong.  Their past haunts them.  I have some Colombian friends and they are a very kind and passionate people with great pride.  They long for people and other countries not to judge them and to get to know them.  They are also honest about their past and hopeful for their future.

A statue of Andres is now at a park named after him where soccer fields are.  Andres always dreamed of having soccer fields all over for every kid to enjoy.

Andres’ last written words were published in newspapers everywhere.  They were, “life doesn’t end here”.

Even with the loss of his physical life, Andres is still touching people today.  I hope through his memory, along with the soccer fields and parks made in his honor, that more people will support Colombia’s attempt at becoming the peaceful nation that Andres dreamed of.  I know that for millions of soccer fans in Colombia and all over the world, no one will ever forget the great Andres Escobar.

 

 

“In 3 Minutes the Two Most Famous Goals in World Cup History Shocked the Soccer World”

Image

While Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi rule the soccer world today, if you were to ask historians who the greatest soccer player of all time is, you would probably get two answers.  For many, the majestic and magical Pele’ may be their answer. To others though it would be the great Diego Maradona.  While in today’s soccer world athleticism and speed is a huge tool for players like Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, Pele’ and Maradona used their ball handling skills and imagination to delight the world of soccer. They were more than soccer greats, they were artists.

The 1986 World Cup quarterfinal in Mexico between Argentina and England had a deep rooted meaning of anger and bitterness. In 1982 the Falkland War between Argentina and the UK had begun.   It was a 3 month war that created extreme friction between the two countries. This game meant so much to both teams.

Maradona had electrified crowds with his vision, cunning, and amazing ball handling and playmaking skills.   Listed at 5′ 7″ tall, in reality he was only 5′ 5″ tall but he had a strong, stocky build with muscular legs. He led Argentina into the quarterfinals with dominating expertise on the pitch.

The talented England squad had a lot of expectations. They had their only World Cup win in 1966 when they were the host country. England and Argentina were both soccer crazy countries and if you add the Falkland War into the mix, this game meant much more than a World Cup semi final birth.

On June 22, 1986, Estadio Azteca in Mexico City was magical. The place was rocking with an amazing 105,000 people jammed into the stadium. Chants, songs, and every noise device known on earth were in full effect from the fans. On a warm, sunny day the electricity in the crowd along with all the beautiful colors would create a once in a lifetime experience.   Half Wizard of Oz, half religious experience, this game would be one for the ages.

The first half was a feeling out period for the most part. Both sides being wary of the scoring talents of the other. England’s star Gary Lineker was watched closely by Argentina. Lineker would later win the Golden Shoe award for the highest scorer in the World Cup.

In the second half Argentina came out more aggressive. In the 51st minute, Maradona went on one of his patented drives.   As he entered the goal box, he attempted a give and go move to his teammate. The English defender intercepted the pass but kicked the ball toward the English goalie. Maradona; who had kept going in the hopes of getting a return pass; jumped up in front of the goalie and hit the ball. GOAL!   But was it? The England team protested wildly saying that he had hit the ball with his hand. The referee said he did not see that and allowed the goal.

Later when he was interviewed and asked about the goal, the Argentine star said that the goal was scored, “A bit with the head of Maradona and another bit with the hand of God”. From then on in sports lore, this goal was known as the “Hand of God” goal.

Diego Maradona had just started. Three minutes later he took a simple pass on Argentina’s side of the field. Maradona then took off like a jet and dribbled through 5 English defenders and went the length of the field. English goal keeper Peter Shilton could do nothing as a rocket shot went past him. The Argentina crowd went crazy and the stadium was electrified. Famous Spanish Speaking announcer from Argentina, Victor Hugo Morales, was going nuts actually thanking God for seeing such a goal. Immediately people knew they had seen something special. In 2002 FIFA and the soccer world voted this goal as the goal of the century and the greatest goal ever scored.

Argentina was up 2-0 now but England was not going to go away quietly. At the 70th minute England substituted in John Barnes.   Immediately his energy and passing skills changed everything. Barnes began to pound the goal area with crosses. England looked like a different team and in the 81st minute a cross was put in the goal by Lineker. It wasn’t over yet. At the 87th minute with the crowd on their feet, another great Barnes cross was sent over the middle to an open Lineker but it was inches out of his reach. A few minutes later the crowd roared when the three whistles of the referee marked the end of the game. The game meant so much that many in Argentina felt this was partial revenge for the bitter military conflict between the two countries.

After the game the media and the soccer world was buzzing. People knew they had seen something special, and the charismatic Maradona fueled that fire on and off the field.

To this day Maradona is celebrated by most fans, especially in Argentina where he has icon status. For Americans to understand what a star Maradona is; especially during his heyday; think Michael Jordan and Babe Ruth; COMBINED. And that isn’t an overstatement.

Some fans though are also disappointed and embarrassed by his lifestyle and mistakes.   He was suspended for 15 months in the Italian league in 1991 when he tested positive for cocaine and he was also sent home from the 1994 World Cup in the U.S. for testing positive for stimulants. He owes millions in back taxes in Italy and has had more than a few run ins with the law, the press, and even soccer officials in his own country.

For all the turmoil Maradona has created in his life, the 1986 World Cup will always be his shining moment.  To this day just the sound of his name brings back great memories to Argentina and the soccer world. And in a 3 minute span, he created sports history that will be talked about forever.

 

 

“After 41 years of pain, the nightmare from the Indy 500 for Swede Savage’s daughter ends in Smiles”

swede savage

I truly believe Swede Savage would have done for Indy, what Dale Earnhardt Sr. did for Nascar.

I never was much into auto racing until I saw a story that was done by ABC sports about 5 years ago.  It was about an up and coming driver that had passed away in 1973, but he was unlike any other driver of his day.

David Earl “Swede” Savage Jr. was not your typical southern good ol boy race car driver.  With most drivers coming from the south or midwest, Swede was the typical Southern California boy.  He was tall, good looking and had a cool way about him.  He was nice and humble and many felt he would be one of the huge break out stars in the indy circuit.  Swede was a four sport athlete with a racers heart, first racing as a 5 year old in the soap box circuit.  Many were predicting the 1973 Indianapolis 500 to be his coming out party to stardom.  He was the guy girls wanted to date, and the racer guys wanted to be like. Dale Earnhardt had that marketing aura and I think Swede was a marketers dream.

More than a few race fans felt that the 1973 Indy 500 was cursed. The rain was a huge factor cancelling the race for two and a half days.  There had also been a fatal accident during a practice run.   Salt Walther was also critically injured on Monday with some spectators having to be hospitalized for burns from the fuel that was flown into the air. At the end of the race, 3 people would be dead, one racer critically injured and several fans were hospitalized.

In one of the most horrific wrecks you will ever see, on lap 58 the rear wing of his car came loose in turn 4 and it made the car unstable.  Jim McKay’s voice raised immediately when he saw this and it’s hard to listen to.  Swede’s car turned directly into an infield retaining wall at full speed hitting head on.  The car exploded and a huge plume of fire and smoke rose.  He ended up near the upper wall and the fuel leaked all over and caught on fire; debris was everywhere.  It seemed like a lifetime before they could get the fire out with fans screaming for the firemen to hurry.

 

Here is rare footage of the accident from the wall.

If the nightmare wasn’t bad enough crewmember Armando  Teran ran across the infield to help the drivers.  He was run over by a fire truck driving going the wrong way at 60 MPH and was killed instantly.  He was hit so hard his body flew high up into the air and the Indy 500 crowd screamed in horror.

 

When Savage began to move, Jim McKay was stunned.  Swede actually was joking around with those helping him and he went into the hospital with hopes for a recovery. Sadly in 33 days he was gone.

There still remains a mystery on what killed him.  Doctors said it was tainted blood that gave him hepatitis and caused his liver to fail; or his kidneys failed. His father and family have said it was pulmonary damage from the fire and the lack of oxygen that was given to him.  In the end even 100% oxygen could not keep him breathing.

Sadly Swede Savage left an unborn daughter.  His wife eventually would give birth to Angela.  They had another daughter Shelly who tragically died in 1995 from Leukemia. Swede also had a son John.

His daughter Angela has lived with pain for a long time.  She said she was born with a broken heart and never got over the loss of her dad.  She once said she thought she’d be sad forever.  She had battles with drugs and alcohol as early as 10 years old and never had peace.

On the coaxing of a race car fan who wanted her to see why her father loved Indy racing so much, she began to think of going.  With a groundswell of financial and moral support, social media friends raised money for her to go to the Indy 500 this year.  When Indianapolis Motor Speedway Management found out about it, they contacted her and paid for the basics of the trip including a memorial car for her to drive in honor of her father.

Angela went with her husband Scott and Swede’s brother Bruce.  A documentary book and movie are now in the works for all of Swede’s loving fans.

I had always been a little bitter that Indy did not do more to commemorate Swede but I can understand it.  I was very happy though to see many Indy people and former racers embrace Angela and Bruce during interviews. You could see their joy in talking about him. I think this gives the fans, as well as his family the closure they’ve longed for. Angela was all smiles and she wore her fathers old racing uniform today.  (Angela’s interview starts at minute 24)

Angela stated in an article,”What I want to do now is to take the open wound, sew it up and celebrate; cap it off with joy!”.  For Angela, the drivers and the fans, the closure and celebration of his life heals many wounds.

Swede Savage, his adoring fans, and his family deserve nothing less.

“Andy Kaufman: He Would Have Broken The Internet: From Wrestling to Hoaxes”

andy kaufman jerry lawler

Andy Kaufman was not a comedian.

When you ask a comedian what their goal is they will say to make people laugh. Andy Kaufman was different. His goal was to make himself laugh and to make you wonder if what he was doing was real or not. His goal was to watch people squirm in the realm of wonder.

Many people have said that Andy was a trail blazer for comedian’s, but I disagree. When it came to comedy, he saw the darkest and deepest path and took it.   No one then or since has ever followed him and taken that same path.

Andy once said he felt more like a song and dance man, but in reality he was so much more. From the beginning of his career you knew you were watching something unique. I’ve talked to a few people that saw Andy in clubs and the words they use to describe the shows are funny, uncomfortable, and thought provoking,

He stirred the pot and he wanted to mess with your mind by making you wonder if what you were seeing was reality or not. Life was a big prank to him and he would go to any lengths to make it seem real. Andy wanted to make himself laugh and to create a world where nothing was for sure. How many times did he do a routine where he was down and out with a hard luck story and when the crowd laughed he would smirk and say, “you shouldn’t be laughing because I’m being serious”. The crowd would then be quiet and you could feel how uncomfortable they were. Of course he wasn’t serious, and of course Andy loved it.

Some people felt disappointed when he did the television show Taxi, but he did that on the coaxing of his manager George Shapiro. Even though he hated sitcoms, it gave Andy the money and the fame to do what he wanted to do. In an interview with Tony Danza that is online, Danza said that Andy rarely came to the set during weekly rehearsals and that he stayed private. The cast of Taxi was a friendly environment and it brought an heir of animosity when Kaufman would just show up to the final reading, and then the day of tapings. What made the cast even more angry is that Andy never made a mistake.

Andy’s most famous antics to this day are still being debated. In one of his earliest appearances on David Letterman, he showed up saying he was financially strapped and needed help. David asked him what he was working on and Andy said nothing.   Letterman then asked about his bookings and Andy said he had none. He was unshaven and disheveled and had large amounts of mucous under his nose.   Letterman gave him tissue before Kaufman pleaded with the crowd to give him money to help him out. He walked out into the crowd and people started to give him money before security sent him away. Letterman wasn’t laughing.

The character Tony Clifton was pure genius. Andy created a character that was a lounge singer who was below the belt nasty with little to no talent.   In his contract, Andy actually had it written in that Tony was do to a handful of Taxi episodes. Clifton would show up each time to the Taxi set with a hooker on each arm, both being at least 6 feet tall. He then stated that the hookers would now be a part of the show.   Clifton was fired but he would not leave the set. The media; which Andy called; had a field day when Clifton was made to leave.

One of the all time epic storylines in wrestling history was the famous Andy Kaufman v.s. Jerry Lawler feud. Andy had spent months on Saturday Night Live wrestling women and began calling himself the inter gender champion.   Kaufman said that women were superior in cleaning, washing potatoes and carrots and scrubbing floors. People were incensed.  He also would get into the ring to teach the “redneck” people of Memphis, TN how to use soap and wash themselves.  The crowd went nuts!

Andy contacted Vince McMahon Sr. to see if he could get involved in the New York wrestling scene. Mr. McMahon Sr. was very sensitive to bringing anything fake into the wrestling world; the term sports entertainment hadn’t been invented yet; so he declined thinking it would ruin wrestling. Andy had a wrestling photographer friend in Bill Aptos, and he had Andy call Jerry Lawler in Memphis wrestling.

Lawler being a great showman knew this was a huge opportunity. He and Andy conspired to fool the world. Over time Lawler would coach a female wrestler to wrestle Andy. When Andy won, Lawler then challenged Andy.   In the famous first match Lawler did 2 pile drivers; a hold that powers your head into the mat; and Andy looked like he was dead but was only slightly hurt.

In a funny story, after the 2nd pile driver, Andy lay motionless on the mat. His partner in crime, writer and producer and sometimes Tony Clifton character Bob Zmuda, asked Andy if he was ok. Bob was actually the referee during the match. With the crowd roaring their approval, Andy quietly told Bob to call an ambulance. Bob then walked over to Lawler and told Jerry what Andy wanted to do. Lawler who is known for being frugal, said no way because it would cost $300. Zmuda walked over to check on Andy and told him what Lawler said. Andy whispered, “I’ll pay for it”. When Zmuda told him Andy would pay for it, Lawler said go get an ambulance.

Andy also did some very short lived television shows that were not overly supported by the networks due to his unpredictability. In one show Andy actually had the network mess up the vertical hold on the program.   This would make viewers at home think something was wrong with their tv’s.

Andy’s dream was to do a show at Carnegie Hall which he did in 1979. Saturday night live actually did a small story about it on their program that was very touching.

In a tender moment he brought out his “grandmother” who sat on the side of the stage to watch the show. She took a bow. At the end of the show his grandmother got up and clapped and then took off her mask. It was none other than his friend, fellow comedian Robin Williams.

Andy also had an elderly woman die on stage only to have him come back out as an Indian. He did a dance to revive her after the doctors pronounced her dead.  At the end of the show he wanted to thank the crowd and he had 24 busses take them out for milk and cookies and invited anyone who wanted to meet him to come to the Staten Island Ferry the next morning. He did some more bits and met his adoring fans.

Within six months of being diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer, Andy Kaufman sadly died on May 16, 1984.   His friend Jerry Lawler was in attendance at his funeral fighting back tears. Even then, tabloids, fans and the media wondered if this wasn’t another huge hoax. He had talked about faking his own death for years, but unfortunately this was not a hoax.

He was before my time but he always fascinated me and I loved learning about him. And with so many nominally talented people being famous for sex tapes, being sleazy or vulgar; or for just being attractive; you wonder what a talented person like Andy would have done to the social media world of today.

Could you imagine all of the twitter discussions or the YouTube videos proving or disproving things he said or did?  With social media he would have reached millions in a blink of an eye in a way no comedian ever could.  He would have had the world scratching it’s head but laughing all the way.  And in true form, nothing would have been more pleasing to the great Andy Kaufman.