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Who at the World Cup 2014 Can Stop Spain’s Record Winning Streak in International Soccer;

 

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La Roja es el rey del mundo de fútbol.

Spain is the king of the soccer world.

With Spain’s epic record setting championship run in the past 8 years, there is definitely no love lost between them and the rest of the soccer world.

They are setting records with every win. In Euro Cup history, no team had ever won back to back championships until Spain did it in 2008 and 2012. Spain then won their first World Cup in history in 2010 and now have an unprecedented 3 straight major world championships.   They are now kings of the soccer world.

The World cup is so hard to win because the best of the best are there. This year there are many teams waiting to dethrone Spain.

Who are the favorites?:

Spain has an artistic style that is controversial. The Tika-Taka style of soccer; or short controlled passing game; is amazing. It takes great skill to do it in the way that Spain does, and it’s also very successful. Some fans and critics though say that it is a boring style and opposite of exciting teams such as Brasil and Argentina. Say what you will, more than a few are now saying the Spanish team is the greatest team in soccer history and their success backs it up.

No European team has ever won a World Cup in South America. That is great news for host Brasil. Brasil may be the most balanced of all the teams. Add an artistic flair and amazing home crowds, and the Brasil national team is a big favorite to win it all.

Germany is always a contender.   One of the great soccer traditions in history, Germany is always talented and this year is no different.   Marcos Reus though has been ruled out for the World Cup with torn ankle ligaments and they are going to be hard pressed to find someone to replace him. Germany though is deep and talented and will go far in the World Cup.

Argentina is a popular favorite of fans due to the hopes of Lionel Messi finally shining during the World Cup, but in reality they are loaded with talent. Their attacking style is fun to watch and many fans are excited about their chances.   Messi is 26 years old. That is the same age that Maradona was when Argentina won the World Cup in 1986.

These teams have a chance to shine at the World Cup:

Portugal is not as talented as they were in 2010 when they had their famous loss in the World Cup but they will be a factor. When Cristiano Ronaldo elected to kick the last free kick, he famously didn’t even get a chance for his own glory because the game was lost by then, bringing a lot of embarrassment. His selfish moment fuels him to want to win a World Cup badly, so Portugal is a wild card.

Italy is one of those teams that can look awful one minute and look like world beaters the next. Mario Balotelli can control a soccer match when he’s on, and when he’s not, Italy can lose to anyone. After their second match we should know which Balotelli and Italy team will show up.

These are wild card teams that have lots of questions but may surprise.

The Netherlands are a dangerous side.   They don’t have a well rounded team, and they are lacking somewhat on defense, but any team with attackers like Robin Van Persie and Argen Robben is a factor. They can control games with their attacking style and any team that plays them will have to be good on defense to win. I like watching this team but they have a tough draw in their group with Chile and Spain.

Belgium and France are also interesting teams but they don’t play well in every game. Belgium can look good one minute and be terrible the next. Any team with Eden Hazard and Vincent Kompany is a threat. Belgium is a sexy pick by many and it will be all or nothing for them.

Uruguay now has a healthy Luis Suarez and their attack is as good as anybodies when they are clicking. They are not a well rounded team though and they will have to play better in the midfield.

Finally one of the countries that I always pull for is back. The sad memories of Andres’ Escobar’s murder and the extreme stresses that plagued the soccer team of Colombia during the 1994 World Cup in the United States still haunts people today. It’s good to see this team doing well.

Colombia plays a fun and exciting style that says one thing; attack. They are now back to being a scoring team with James Rodriguez and Jackson Martinez looking to make a name for themselves on the world stage.

One thing to watch for in the World Cup is the referees. Some of the calls borderline on ridiculous and match fixing has been a huge problem with FIFA and the soccer world in the recent past. FIFA is as dirty an organization as there is, rivaling the International Olympic Committee and the NFL in their corruption and greed. Some have called FIFA the mafia without guns. The hope every year is that the referees and penalty kicks will not play a big role in these games.

All of the great soccer talent now is in one place. Who will step up to greatness and who will disappoint; it’s always the question at each World Cup. There are a lot of fun early matches, so from beginning to end it will be interesting to see who comes through to the round of 16 and beyond.

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“Why Americans Should Love the World Cup; My Education”

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Soccer is the most important non important thing in the world.

This is what a friend of my Uncle Phil’s said when they were discussing what soccer meant to people from a soccer crazed country.

The first time I was introduced to the passion of soccer was when I visited London through my church youth group. Gazzamania was in effect with the great Paul Gascoigne still being very popular. It inspired me and I became a Tottenham Hotspur and international soccer fan because of this visit. The passion for soccer that I saw there is greater than our passion for football; it’s that big.

Everywhere you would walk there was a kid playing soccer. It was so much fun. Their skill levels were much higher than ours but we enjoyed their passion and it was infectious.

As an American though, I still don’t get soccer totally. I hate the flopping when players act like they’ve been shot by a high powered rifle, and then after a foul is called they jump up to start playing again. The lack of scoring doesn’t get to me, but it’s the lack of scoring chances that does.   In hockey a 1-0 game can be exciting because there are so many scoring chances. But in Soccer there are some teams that in 90 minutes of play, may only get 5 shots or less on goal. I’m also honest. Let’s face it; the U.S. men’s team is not a soccer power and probably never will be. Remember when the women’s soccer team won the World Cup? Our country went crazy; for a short time. The women’s soccer league eventually folded. We wanted to be the best on the world stage; but it wasn’t a passion. The best male athletes play other sports.

My uncle Phil has two friends that are from much different soccer cultures.   Hinco and Silvina are friends of his who are now Americans but both grew up abroad until meeting and marrying.   Hinco is from the great soccer country of the Netherlands, and Silvina is from Argentina, another soccer power.

I have always been a closet fan of the Netherlands because I love their personalities. A proud but laid back people, they seem to have a great way about them and and they go through life in a good way. Their love for soccer is epic though and the proud orange of the Netherlands always plays a role on the world soccer stage.

Hinco grew up in a small town near Amsterdam where he eventually moved.   As a kid he remembers being picked up by his friends older brother and driving around town waving orange flags after the 1988 Euro Cup championship. (To many the Euro Cup is as important in Europe as the World Cup. The Euro Cup is also played every 4 yrs and is played 2 years after the World Cup). He said that Orange is the Dutch National color (thanks to William I, Prince of Orange, the 16th century founder of the Dutch Royal Family). People were in the streets and in pubs everywhere sharing in the Celebration!

Hinco explained that soccer was a part of the culture. As a kid he would play until dark in the field near his home. His grandfather enjoyed soccer through his local club. At an amazing 96 his grandfather was crowned the clubs longest serving member.

In college his passion grew and soccer was a way of life. His dorm mates would talk soccer and learn more about the game through talking and sharing with each other. Just like what Americans do during march madness and the college basketball playoffs, he and his friends would have soccer pools during the World Cup and Euro Cup. They would talk soccer for hours on end discussing the players, the teams and the strategies.

In Hinco’s opinion, he feels that the U.S. is more than happy with football, basketball, and baseball. He doesn’t feel that will change any time soon. The rest of the world would also like that to continue.

In Argentina, soccer is life. Just like most South American countries, their fiery passion for life is seen in their unquenchable love of soccer. From the great Diego Maradona (some still feel he’s the greatest soccer player of all time) and now to Lionel Messi, you can’t think of international soccer without thinking about Argentina.

What blows me away when you talk soccer with people from a soccer country, is that everyone seems knowledgeable about the game and it’s history. The pride and passionate feelings run deep, and Silvina is no exception.

Silvina grew up in San Juan, Argentina. In Argentina, you are taught that the love of soccer is borderline religion, and for some it literally is a religion. Growing up, kids would play soccer anywhere; in lots, in streets, and in fields. And if kids didn’t have a ball they would make one out of wrapped up socks or whatever they could use.

Like most South American countries, the fans are as colorful as the players. The fans (Hincha’s) are as much a part of the game as the teams. Their singing, dancing, chanting and drum playing use as much energy as the players. Soccer fans have no rival when it comes to passion. In America if you add NFL passion and patriotism, now you have soccer.

The international success in Argentine soccer can rival anyone’s. They have won 2 world cups and many felt if Maradona had not hurt his ankle in 1990, they would have won another one. (They made the finals in 1990 losing to West Germany with many international fans questioning several controversial calls in the match against Argentina.)

They have won the Copa de America an amazing 14 times and their under 20 junior team has won a record 6 FIFA World Cups and many other championships.   Their success is amazing.

Silvina said that after the 1986 World Cup, the goal of every great young player was to be the next Diego Maradona. In a 3 minute span in the 1986 quarterfinal against England, Maradona made the 2 most famous goals in World Cup history.   The famous “Hand of God” goal along with what was voted the goal of the century by FIFA in 2002, when he dribbled half of the field through 5 English defenders while making an amazing shot to score what would be the winning goal. It would take years but Lionel Messi is now on top of the soccer world with many thinking he’s the best player playing right now.

Silvina agrees with me on why soccer isn’t that big in the U.S. First we aren’t that good at it and have had little international success. Most great athletes choose to play in the more glamorous sports like football and basketball. Remember how soccer crazy our country became when the women’s national team won the world cup? They even started a short lived league from it.   America loves a winner.

She also brings up some great points on why soccer is not embraced by American sponsors. Look at the Super Bowl. If someone ends a sentence there is a commercial. There are so many commercial breaks that the game is nearly 4 hours long. The pre-game shows; which have just as many commercials as the game; are 7-9 hours long depending on who the network is. There are many more opportunities to make money for corporations.   Corporate sponsorship means more marketing. More marketing means more fans.

When you watch the World Cup, you will not see many commercials. In fact during the game you will rarely see any breaks. They will promote the sponsor while the game is going on, saying that the continued broadcast is being sponsored by whoever paid for the add. As a fan I love it but if you are a corporate sponsor, there are not many opportunities to make money during the game.

As an American, I don’t think we will ever get to the point of loving Soccer as a country. I do think though that over time, we can learn to love and enjoy it more. It’s fun to watch the excitement and passion of the people during the games. In San Francisco with so many diverse cultures, many local bars are buzzing with excitement and soccer passion during the World Cup.

As Americans that aren’t into soccer, we can as a people respect and enjoy the passion and enjoyment that soccer has brought to the world for so many years. During political battles and personal pain; through natural disasters, wars, world strife, and civil unrest; Soccer has been a healer to millions where even enemies take a break from the madness and enjoy the greatest sporting event in the world. So I tell Americans to lighten up and don’t judge. Smile, put on your ethnic colors, and enjoy in the party. The World Cup 2014 is on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Player Was Loved as Much in Two Cities as the Great Bob Welch

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There are certain times in sports when magic occurs.  There are also times when special athletes and people make it happen.  Bob Welch made it happen in two cities. 

Bob Welch played for 2 teams; the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A’s.  In both places he was successful and was much loved.  

People forget what a great pitcher he was.  In college he led a little known Eastern Michigan team all the way to the College World Series Finals.  In one of the most magical moments in Dodger history, a 21 year old Welch gutted out a win in game 2 of the 1978 World Series. In an epic battle he struck out Reggie Jackson with two men on to end the game and preserve a 4-3 lead.  Dodger stadium was never louder.

In Oakland he won 27 games in 1990 on the way to a 27-6 record and the Cy Young award.  No pitcher since has won 25 games.

For many though, the greatest thing Bob did was not from his play, but from his heart.  He ended his career at 211-146 in wins with almost 2,000 strikeouts.  But most of all he taught people about life.  

In 1991 he wrote a book called 5 O’clock Comes Early.  It was a book about his struggles being an alcoholic.  At a time when players were not very open about addiction, Welch was brutally honest.  It touched a lot of people and if you go on book sites, even now people read it and thank him for it.  

I met Bob Welch once in the Oakland A’s Parking lot after a game during the bash brother days.  I wasn’t a kid that was into autographs but I just wanted to meet him.  He was down to earth, nice and actually looked you in the eye.  At that time the Oakland Coliseum was a great place to watch a game and big crowds were the norm.  There was a magical feel between the players and the fans and Welch was a part of that.  

It’s a funny thing about fans and players.  We never forget what the players meant to us and how they touched us in their own little ways.  Bob Welch was beloved in both Los Angeles and Oakland because when you come down to it, he was what all of us should strive to be.  That even though we make mistakes and struggle through life, in the end we are judged by our hearts and how we inspire.  Bob Welch succeeded with both.   

 

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

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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”

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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.

James’ Jammin Salsa:

James’ Jammin Salsa:  (SUPER FAST!) 

(super fast with a food processor or if you don’t have one, chop the items by hand; after you make the salsa you can also add chopped fresh tomatoes onions or peppers too if you like it chunkier!)

salsa)

 -1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained well (found in tomato sauce section of grocery store)

-1 red or white onion, cut in quarters

-1 Serrano or Jalapeno chili (more if you want; or do a different chili)

-1 clove of garlic (you can use more or omit it)

-Small or large handful of cilantro leaves, washed and dried (more or less to taste)

-juice of one lime with some lime zest

-salt, pepper to taste

Optional:

-1 bell pepper, orange, red or green (optional; I don’t like bell peppers lol)

-1 Shallot

-pinch of Cayenne pepper


Put the cilantro, seeded chili, and garlic in the food processor and pulsate items until you get to the desired size; I like a mince.  (Taste the chili to see how hot it is so you know how much to use.  Each chili will vary in heat.)

Other than the tomatoes, place all other ingredients in the food processor and pulse a little larger than the desired size.

Finally, add the drained tomatoes.  ONLY Pulse 2-4 times because if you over do it, you will create a froth and ruin the texture of the salsa. ENJOY!


 

Tips:

-Use any chili’s that you want.  Remember with Jalapeno’s that they vary greatly in hotness.  One will be super hot and one will almost be like a bell pepper.  Take a small piece on the tip and taste first.

-You can add anything that you want.  A pinch of oregano, a little chili flake, chili salt, tobasco or anything that you’d like.

-For easy guacamole, take a cup of the salsa and add a cup of avocado and mix.  Add the juice of a lime with a little zest.  Easy, fast and so good.

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

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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.