Cary man tests his limits running across North Carolina

New Years Day 2015 005

Story and Photos by Teri Saylor

Fueled by biscuits, waffles, hotdogs, ice cream, and a single cold Budweiser, Dave Cockman plowed through North Carolina on a pair of legs that carried him over 20 counties and more than 660 miles over two weeks on his quest to run from the Tennessee border at Murphy to the Atlantic Ocean at Nags Head.

Cockman, 57, who lives in Cary, started his journey in Murphy at 7:00 a.m. on April 4 and on April 18, he took his victory lap on Jennette’s Pier at 7:28 p.m.

When he finished his journey at the end of the pier overlooking the sea, Cockman checked the GPS strapped on his wrist and announced he had covered 664.44 miles in 14 days, 11 hours, and 28 minutes.

He hopes that was good enough to set a speed record for running from Murphy to Manteo.

This was the greatest 14-day adventure I have ever had,” he announced to a dozen friends, family and well-wishers who were in Nags Head to run the Flying Pirate Half Marathon and had gathered at the pier to greet him at the finish.

I cannot be more excited to be standing here on Jennette’s Pier,” he said. “I have run as far east as I can go, after starting out in the far western part of the state.”

Thanks to social media, newspapers and broadcast coverage, Cockman became a familiar figure along U.S. Highway 64, his chosen route across the state. He ran on busy highways and scenic rural roads, following the original highway, which often took him off the beaten path.

He ran roughly 50 miles a day and managed a steady pace, averaging four miles an hour. For the final portion of the run on Saturday, he covered 45.75 miles, running from Columbia to Nags Head. It took 11 hours.

Dave Cockman takes a water break at a convenience store along U.S. Highway 64 near Pittsboro (800x533)

In Pittsboro on April 13, Cockman took a refreshment break at a convenience store and explained he had slept no more than two hours the night before. He was anxious about his schedule. Pain in his left leg had slowed him down and forced him to make an unexpected stop in Lexington. When he found a place to lay his head for the night, he was eight miles off course.

Trying to make up for lost time, he ran 62-miles the next day, from Lexington to Siler City, arriving at a hotel at 3:30 a.m.

He rubbed his left calf, and described the pain.

It’s a shooting pain,” he said. “It starts in the back of my knee and radiates to my calf. But it feels okay as long as I keep running.”

Cockman, at 5’10”, is a durable athlete who has completed more than 40 ultra marathons. Last year, he wrapped up the Grand Slam of Ultra Running, consisting of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, the Vermont 100-Mile Endurance Run, the the Leadville Trail 100-Mile Run and the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run.

In 2013, Cockman ran the Tuna Relay which consists of teams of runners taking turns running to cover 200 miles from Garner to Atlantic Beach.

Cockman ran all 200 miles by himself.

Two years ago, Dave cooked up his most audacious goal yet – to run across North Carolina in a single, continuous ultra marathon.

033 (533x800)

For Cockman, this journey was a pilgrimage to find his physical, mental and emotional limits – if he has any.

He is also raising money to benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a 15-year old nonprofit organization benefiting wounded war veterans and their families. In 2010 the organization completed a 72,000 square foot medical facility on the Navy campus at Bethesda, Md. to treat veterans with traumatic brain injuries. Two years ago, the Fund launched a campaign to build nine satellite centers at military bases across the country. Two of these facilities, called Intrepid Spirit Centers, are in North Carolina – one at Camp LeJeune and the other at Ft. Bragg.

Cockman, who has a fundraising page on his website www.murphytomanteo.org, had raised over $5,000 by the end of the run and expects the total to crest $7,000.

The money Cockman is raising will help pay for the Intrepid Spirit Center at Ft. Carson, Co., according to David Winters, president of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

I am amazed at what he is doing,” Winters said in a phone conversation. “A few people have raised money for us through physical activities, but to do what Dave is doing, roughly two marathons a day for two weeks, boggles the mind.”

Cockman, who ran his race mostly alone, carried what he needed in a small backpack – a few clothing items and supplies such as sunscreen and toiletries as well as cash and credit cards for his daily expenses. Two small, fluttering American flags attached to his backpack symbolized his devotion to wounded war veterans.

Along the way, strangers stopped to greet him and donate to his fund. He ended his run with more than $1,000 in cash.

The high point of my trip so far is the people I have met,” he said in Pittsboro. “They are treating me like a rock star. People are even asking me for my autograph.”

In Murphy, the local fire department escorted him for 20 miles, and in Hayesville and Lake Lure, he had a police escort.

The low points came during the darkness of night when he ran along the highway alone, heading for his next rest stop.

Some nights he ran into the wee hours.

I don’t like to run at night. It’s very dangerous,” he said.

Even though he wore a reflective vest, flashers and a head lamp, he couldn’t be too careful. He always ran facing traffic and often saw vehicles coming right at him.

I could tell people were looking at me and they sometimes drifted toward me,” he said. “I got very scared. There are lots of big semis out there, and late at night when I was very tired, I had to fight to keep my wits about me.”

Dave Cockman approaches Nags Head (800x501)

Ron Wahula, City of Oaks Marathon race director and director of the Raleigh Galloway marathon program, complimented Cockman from his booth at the recent Rock ‘n Roll Marathon Expo.

What Dave is doing is amazingly difficult. To be out on the roads unsupported and alone,” Wahula said. “This is the farthest he’s ever run before, and he’s pushing himself into unknown territory.”

Two years ago, Wahula completed the Umstead 100-Endurance Run, a 100-mile ultra marathon and imagines how Cockman feels running long miles day in and day out.

He trained, he’s prepared, and he’s organized,” Wahula said. “It will also take a little luck to push him through, but Dave’s a special guy. He has tremendous durability and a tremendous heart.”

Dave Cockman runs through Manteo (800x533)

 

Cockman is a senior systems engineer with Itron, a company that makes utility meters. He uses vacation time for his running endeavors. His company also offers 32 hours a year for employees to use toward charitable causes, and he’s tapping into those hours for his cross-state run too.

According to his boss, Randy Owen, Cockman’s intensity in the workplace matches his zeal for running. His entire team has been tracking his progress across the state, and fellow employees have donated approximately $600 towards Cockman’s fundraising effort, which the company will match, according to Owen.

It has been a lot of fun for our department to live vicariously through Dave’s exploits,” Owen said.“We have been impressed and motivated by his dedication to reach his goals while at the same time being an exemplary employee in the office.”

Without having a scale, Cockman doesn’t know exactly how much weight has melted off his normal 167-pound frame, but he estimates he’s at least 25 pounds lighter than he was when he started his run.

Dave Cockman tries to consume as many calories as possible to maintain his weight and energy (533x800)

His favorite road food is biscuits, gravy and waffles. Along the way, he took advantage of local barbecue joints and scarfed down entire large pizzas, but it did little good. The running burned more calories than he could consume.

Near Apex on April 13, several of Cockman’s running buddies joined him for a few miles. They dropped into the Local Bar, a tiny watering hole alongside the highway, where Cockman caught up with friends and a co-worker who stopped by hoping to see him. Another friend showed up with a cooler full of hotdogs. Cockman sat for a spell, resting his legs as he washed down a couple of hotdogs with a cold beer before getting up and continuing on his way toward Raleigh, his overnight stop.

Along the way, friends joined him, first one then two, and like the Pied Piper, he collected runners as he cruised up Chatham Street through Cary, and onto Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, where he and his team, now up to nine, stopped at Snoopy’s. He ate three more hot dogs, drank a cup of sweet tea and signed his autograph for the servers. It was almost midnight when the group headed to the Holiday Inn, where Cockman would rest for the night.

The next morning, two dozen runners mingled with the early morning business crowd at Big Ed’s in City Market to have breakfast with Cockman before sending him off to complete his final 200 miles.

Dave Cockman heads east on U.S. Highway 64 near Pittsboro 2 (800x528)

Cockman downed a large helping of biscuits and gravy, a serving of plain biscuits, four eggs, bacon, a cup of coffee and a glass of milk. Then with a team of companions to keep him company for a few blocks, he set off on New Bern Avenue toward Rocky Mount, pressing onward toward the sea.

Terisaylor@hotmail.com @terisaylor

 

Freedom Found on the Saddle of a Bike

Bike riding chihuahua

Gasping for breath after pedaling up and down rolling hills for six hours on a beautiful sunny afternoon, my friend Ann Guevara and I mustered enough energy to cheer as we made it to the end of a grueling metric century Cycle-to-Farm bike ride, sponsored by Velo Girls of Black Mountain, N.C.

The ride was billed as “flat and fast,” so we thought we could conquer the 62-mile distance, even though we had hardly been in the saddle since last fall and had minimal training.

But considering the tour was around places with the “h-word” like Chapel “Hill” and “Hills”borough, we had our doubts about “flat and fast.” Plus, the elevation chart showed an ascent approaching 2,700 feet, including a short steep hill with an 11 percent grade. In short, the whole thing looked mighty hilly on paper.

We sighed, and reckoned that since the ride organizers were based in the North Carolina mountains, these rolling hills were indeed “flat” by comparison.

And as the lily-livered, wimpy flatlanders we are, we knew we would just have to suck it up and ride it out.

Ann and I had set out the night before the ride to see just how hilly the route was. We scouted shortcuts, and we got lost along those country roads and gravel pathways.

We found compass apps and downloaded them into our phones, just in case.

Turns out, we didn’t need a shortcut or even a compass after all, but at the end of the day, I don’t know if I could have forced my pedals into one more rotation, and the only point to point map I cared about anymore was from the finish line to the finish line party.

I have often wondered how slow you can go up a hill without falling over. Struggling for balance on that ride, my abs were fully engaged, and it felt like I was pedaling through mud as I wobbled over the crest of the steepest grade at a stunning speed of 3.7 mph. Of course, what goes up must come down, and I was rewarded for that pitiful uphill effort with a glorious downhill screamfest like a roller coaster running at 30 miles an hour.

Spending six hours on a bike gives you plenty of time to think, and as we worked our way across the countryside, I thought about growing up, and I thought about bikes.

When you are a kid, you don’t cycle. You go bike-riding.

I grew up in neighborhoods full of kids.

My hometown is Winston-Salem, a hilly, medium-sized city in North Carolina’s Piedmont area. During the summertime, we kids lived on our bikes. They were our wheels, our transportation, and our freedom.

We rode without gears, without helmets and without shoes.

Back in those days, we didn’t select our bikes based on sleek styles or weight; expensive titanium or carbon frames; aero bars or seat structure. We didn’t worry about a drive train or components. We didn’t wear bike shorts or gaudy aerodynamic bike clothing. Or even special shoes with cleats for hooking into clipless pedals.

The most important thing we considered before we selected our favorite two-wheeled wonder was how the pedals would feel under our bare feet.

Beach bikes

As kids in the south, we couldn’t wait for summer and for shedding our shoes. My brother and I would have contests to see who could acquire the toughest feet, and we would go out and walk on rocks and hot gravel like fire-walking believers to toughen them up. When we could step on a bee and hardly feel it, we knew our feet were ready for summer.

In Raleigh, as in other cities, I imagine, there is a class of young urban cyclists. They drag out their street cycles and converge on downtown in swarms, wearing street clothes with not a helmet on a single head.

A couple of years ago I wrote about an alley cat bike race sponsored by North Carolina State University. Kids, young and old, turned out on bikes of all shapes and sizes, from beach cruisers, to retro 3-speeds, to mountain bikes, to banana seat bikes with high-rise handlebars.

They had dragged their bikes out of crawlspaces under their parents’ houses, found them covered in cobwebs after years of storage in barns and sheds and under porches. They bought them off Craig’s list or at yard sales.

Some were rusty. Some were shiny. Some had bells, and others still had colorful streamers hanging from the ends of their handlebars, a nod to the glory days of youth and what kids think is cool.

There was not a single racing bike in sight.

As a kid, my brother had a banana-seat bike and loved to compete in heated contests with the neighborhood boys to see who could pop a wheelie and hold it the longest. Some of those boys could ride a wheelie the entire length of our neighborhood street.

We loved riding our bikes hands free.

On the 4th of July we’d go speeding down the street, arms out and holding sparklers in each hand. We used clothespins to attach playing cards to our wheel spokes, making a silly flapping noise, which we thought was cool. We rang the bells on our handlebars at random, and stayed outside until the lightning bugs came out and signaled it was time to go home for supper.

Back in those days, you could ride forever, and never get tired.

Feeling the wind in our hair and the asphalt under our wheels, we were free and wild, and we believed we could go anywhere we wanted – at least as far as our two wheels could take us.

It’s different now.

We worry more about cars and distracted drivers.

We have too much stuff to carry.

We have to observe traffic laws and ride in bike lanes.

We have to protect ourselves against road rage, as it is now legal for drivers to carry guns and even conceal them in their cars or in their pick-up trucks.

On the Farm to Cycle ride, we passed by a lovely farm with horses grazing in a pasture. On the pasture fence hung a sign that read “Warning: Due to price increase on ammo, do not expect a warning shot.”

When I ride on my own, I stick to the parks and greenways on my mountain bike, only venturing out onto the roadways in a group setting.

But despite the dangers, we still manage to have fun.

Today, I can look out my window and watch the neighborhood kids ride their bikes on the street in front of my house, jumping over speed bumps like they are in the motocross. And on the Farm-to-Cycle tour, I watched the adults ride their bikes, and I realized the kids and adults are really not that far apart in our attitudes and thirst for freedom.

Ann and Teri at the end of the metric century sm<

As adults, we may have fancier equipment. We wear aerodynamic clothes with padded britches. We clip our feet into pedals and don’t even think about riding barefoot. We are old enough to know when we are tired, and our only feeling of wild childlike abandon is when we blaze downhill as fast as our wheels will turn. It’s the up hills that get to us now.

And I think deep down inside, even the most sophisticated cyclist is always going to be a little barefoot kid at heart.

Outside bike-riding.

Out and About: Disappearing into South Carolina’s Bermuda Triangle of BBQ

Jackie Hite's in Batesburg, SC could very well be the Bermuda Triangle of BBQ, where you wish you could disappear, never to resurface

My friend Bill Rogers knows his barbecue.

As a certified barbecue judge down in South Carolina, he was my go-to guy for great Q when I visited him at the South Carolina Press Association in Columbia, where he works as executive director.

Face it, when you are friends with a real-life, card-carrying South Carolina barbecue judge, you gotta go with him to get some Q.

I grew up in North Carolina eating the red-sauced barbecue in the western Piedmont region. After migrating east, I learned to love vinegar-and-pepper Q from places like Simp’s in Roper, Wilber’s in Goldsboro, and King’s in Kinston.

But never in my life have I eaten as much barbecue in one sitting as I ate last week when Bill took me to Jackie Hite’s Barbecue in Batesburg, SC.

Getting full was no excuse to stop eating.

You see, Friday is pig-pickin’ day at Jackie Hite’s.

‘Nuff said.

The End.

Not really.

On pig pickin’ day, Jackie Hite goes whole hog.  Literally.

He lays out the meat of an entire pig under glowing heat lamps with the same care and pride a jeweler lays out the glittering gems of his trade.

A diner helps himself to a heaping plateful at Jackie Hite's

The cooking staff recites a litany of what you get on the bottomless buffet, and are happy to repeat it as often as needed.

“You got your string meat here,” a well-seasoned server points a gloved finger in the middle of the pile. “Here’s the rib meat. Here’s the shoulder. Skins are on the ends.”

Friday is pig pickin' day at Jackie Hite's and the serving staff are happy to recite a litany of the delicious meats on the buffet

No need to be picky. Bill piles heaping portions of each steaming section on my plate.

Beyond the hog are the sides and desserts: string beans with flavorful chunks of fresh brown bacon fully visible among the vegetables; creamy mashed potatoes; gravy, rice; baked beans; curried fruit; mayo-based slaw; chopped barbecue and fried chicken. And barbecue hash. And banana pudding.

The salad bar seems oddly out of place.

Jackie Hite’s Barbecue is one of a handful of South Carolina’s 100-mile barbecue joints. “I’d drive 100 miles to eat this barbecue.”

I actually drove 233 miles, to Columbia, and Bill drove the rest of the way to Jackie Hite’s.

We found ourselves in the heart of South Carolina’s mustard belt, named for the tangy yellow sauce used to flavor the barbecue in that region.

Jackie Hite reckons he’s been cooking barbecue for over 50 years, if you count the early days he spent helping out around the family business when he was just a kid.

“I believe I started helping my daddy when I was about 10 years old,” Hite says, holding court during lunch hour in his top rated joint.

The owner and author at Jackie Hite's BBQ

He’s learned his lessons well, and still cooks his hog the old fashioned way, as slow as possible over a wood fire burning in a sand pit at temperatures so low that cardboard laid over the grill doesn’t catch fire. Meat simmering for hours is treated with gobs of mustard/vinegar sauce for tenderizing and flavoring.

Jack Hitt, writing for the New York Times Magazine, called the area of South Carolina, north from Charleston to Columbia, the “Devil’s Triangle” of barbecue.

That’s where Jackie Hite’s sits, and it is where you might sell your soul to the very devil himself in exchange for barbecue.

Or you could call it the Bermuda Triangle, where you can disappear into its delicious vortex, never to resurface.

“There, the sauce is based on mustard, not tomatoes, and vinegar, not brown sugar, is the dominant back-taste,” Hitt wrote.

I know for a fact that in North Carolina, barbecue fanatics have gotten into fist fights over red sauce vs. vinegar sauce. I can only imagine the wars that break out in a state where there are four different sauces.

In addition to mustard-based Q sauce, you can get thick red sauce, vinegar sauce, and light red sauce in South Carolina.

Jackie Hite, in a show of diplomacy that would qualify him to be Secretary of State and has probably prevented all out wars among the barbecue regions, displays all four kinds of sauce on his buffet. He helpfully points out the vinegar as a way to make me feel more at home, and even brings a bottle of it over to our table.

The Q was so delicious and tender, it needed no sauce at all.

I gluttonized myself and ate two plates full.

And drank four large cups of sweet iced tea.

I was not hungry again for two entire days.

Jackie Hite’s staff has been with him for years. They are part of the ambiance of the place, a nondescript little white building decorated on the inside with trophies from Jackie’s life.

The joint is plain and spotlessly clean. Diners are as comfortable there as they are in their own kitchens. Even visitors who have never been to Batesburg before will feel right at home, as if they have been eating there forever.

Jackie Hite's is plain and spotlessly clean.

Everyone is family at Jackie Hite’s.

Jackie Hite himself is tall, broad and brawny from years playing football, years spent outside and years eating barbecue. He wears a ball cap emblazoned with the BL logo of his beloved Batesburg-Leesville high School where he earned trophies playing under the lights on Fridays. Those trophies, photos and plaques too, adorn the walls and perch on his buffet counter.

He’s still an avid football fan and fisherman.

Mounted bass with mouths gaping wide, join dozens of photos of Jackie and little kids proudly displaying their catches. Some of the photos are curled from light and sun after years of hanging on those walls. Kids smiling out from those photos are likely now grown and fishing with their own sons and daughters.

Jackie reckons he goes fishing four times a week at least, in between running his restaurant and going to football games.

The lunchtime crowd lines up on pig pickin day at Jackie Hite's

Midway through the lunch hour, the entire joint shakes and rattles as a train rumbles along tracks that go straight through the middle of town, just feet from the front door.

Conversation pauses while the train passes through.

Finally, Bill and I have eaten enough barbecue and have drunk enough tea, and we clamber out of the place.

I glance back inside the restaurant as we walk out the door. Our table is already clean, and a new diner is settling in with a heaping plate.

Back in Columbia, Bill and I struggle to hug each other before parting ways, but our swollen bellies get in the way. We are almost too full to even laugh about that.

I’m not sure when I will be hungry enough to feed from Jackie Hite’s trough again, but it doesn’t matter.

I’m going back.

There’s always room for barbecue.

Bill Rogers is a certified, card-carrying BBQ judge in South Carolina

Trending Tuesday: Top 10 Trending Tweets – Things Lasting Longer than Kim’s Marriage

The Twitterverse is all a-twitter over the “shocking” break-up of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries after 72 days of marriage.  #ThingsLongerThanKimsMarriage is at the top of the trending list.

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries at their wedding, 72 days before Kim files for divorce. Photo by StarTraksPhoto

Here are my The marriage break up between Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries trended for days. Here are my top 10 tweets #ThingsLongerThanKimsMarriage:

10.  A laptop battery (@STFU_Reese)

9.  Snooki’s legs (@mistacoopa)

8.  The time it took you to read this tweet (@EarthTolew)

7.  Taylor Swift’s speech before Kanye took the microphone (@DameFresh)

6.  The list of people who don’t care (@SJDgs)

5.  Casey Anthony’s murder trial (@ChrissieFBaby 1920)

4. The television episode that showed the wedding (@allison_beliebs)

3. Waiting in line to renew your license at the DMV (@CT_Fox)

2.  The total time of television ads for her wedding…how sad is that? (@DualSeize)

And my number 1 trending tweet about #ThingsLongerThanKimsMarriage

1. This trending topic (@RichieAudemor)

View From a Beach Chair July 4, 2010

Over the 2010 Fourth of July Holiday, the beach outside the Windjammer Inn at Salter Path Beach near Morehead City was teeming with life.  Throughout the day, the beach unfolded like a theatre production, and here’s the show from my beach chair.

 

This guy on the beach …

 

Classic

 

 

It was inevitable

   

There was dog walking

Dog surfing

Kids love the surfing puppy

Coming in for a landing

Washed ashore

A good dunking

 

A ride with a view

He's baack!

       
      
    

Bird Fight

Bird Flight

Colorful Umbrellas

No Vacancy!

We Are Always Hungry At The Fair

Fair workers sell  cotton candy, candy apples and other Midway delights as the double ferris wheel looms large in the background

Fair workers sell cotton candy, candy apples and other Midway delights as the double ferris wheel looms large in the background

We are always hungry at the fair.

And I wish people would just shut up about the fat and calories packed into the delectable, decadent, dipped-in-batter-and-grease, taste bud-pleasing delights lined up along the midway.

Ripped from the headlines on the Hungry Girl food blog: “The Fat Content in Funnel Cake and Other Fair Scares.”

Oh Puh-leeze!

Spare us the details.  Let us enjoy our fair food in peace.  Ignorance is bliss. Especially at the fair.

Let us chow down on fried turkey legs that are bigger than our heads without having to feel guilty about it.  We already know this little snack contains a week’s worth of calories, and we choose to be in denial about it.  Do we really need a reminder?

It is guilty pleasure enough to consume a whole funnel cake in a single sitting and chase it down with a tall cup of fried Coca Cola.   Do not reveal its contents without first alerting us that TMI is coming so we have time to plug our ears.

A web special on the Delish.com blog features photos and descriptions of 10 top food fads from the fair.

About halfway through the slideshow, where Hot Beef Sundae meets Pizza in a Cone, up pops an ad for Lipitor, the famous cholesterol fighting drug.

I am not making this up!

Talk about adding insult to injury, not to mention ruining a perfectly good daydream about fried twinkies and big wads of cotton candy.   And right on the eve of the NC State Fair, no less.

Bah Humbug.

Here’s an idea for showing ways to enjoy the gastronomic delights of the fair without absorbing the fat and calories. Instead of reminding us that a serving of deep fried butter may cause us our health insurance premiums to go up, why not simply advertise the Double Ferris Wheel or the Zipper?

Carolina Ag Fest 319

Many a fair goer has enjoyed the binge and purge method of chowing down on Fried Twinkies, Foot Long Hot Dogs and Chicken Fried Bacon, only to take a little spin on the Meteorite. Sure enough, a few minutes after landing on solid ground, up comes the food after just barely touching your stomach lining.

Presto, you’re ready to resume your quest to eat your way through the entire fair in between hair-raising, stomach churning rides.

Had a pair of fried frogs legs or two?

fried-frog-legs-400

Hop on the Sea Ray.

Carolina Ag Fest 218

Downed a Krispy Kreme Chicken Sandwich doused in honey?

krisp-kreme-chicken-sandwich-400

Take a trip on the Vortex and look down. Often. If you can even tell which direction “Down” is.

vortex

No need for Lipitor when you’ve got the Twister handy.  And you’ll survive a day at the fair without gaining an ounce.

chicken-fried-bacon-400 twister1b

Heck, you MIGHT even lose a pound or two.

Never Can Say Goodbye – to Michael and Farrah

I have some confessions to make about Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.  The wall-to-wall tributes to these two pop culture icons have conjured up some fun memories.   There’s no escape from the countless montages of photos chronicling Michael Jackson’s transformation from an adorable little boy into the strangely eccentric King of Pop, including a Michael Jackson video orgy on VH1 all day today.  Add these to the clips from “Charlie’s Angels” and photos of gorgeous Farrah Fawcett, who even managed to look beautiful throughout most of the self-made film that documented her struggle with the cancer that would kill her after all.

And that poster.  I thought I had seen the last of that thing after I graduated from college (more about that later).

The general public is strangely sad that Michael and Farrah died.  Most of the world never met either one of them.  We never saw Michael sing in person, and probably never would have.  Neither had produced anything new in years, and they only resurfaced from time to time in tawdry tabloids.

But they were always  there. Woven into the fabric of my own existence through my childhood, teen years and adulthood.    Now they are gone, and in a way, I feel like a piece of my life has gone with them. In mourning the passing of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, I mourn the passing of a little bit of me as well.

The beat goes on.

In memory and tribute to Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, I list some confessions that I have never admitted to anyone, at least in a long long time.

THE POSTER: Back in college, some boys in my dorm had THE POSTER of Farrah Fawcett pinned up in their room.  We girls used to threaten to go in their suite and draw braces on her teeth, and we got a lot of evil, wicked laughs about actually doing it.  We never had the guts to go through with it though.  It would have become the eighth deadly sin.

Farrah Poster

CHARLIE’S ANGELS: For awhile, that was my favorite show.  I loved it.  I wanted to be one of the Angels.

FARRAH’S HAIR ETC: I neither wanted nor had that Farrah Do.  Too big and blonde.  But I did get a swimsuit like hers, black though instead of red.  ‘Nuff said about that.

MOONWALK: I am sure that I am not the only one who has ever tried to moonwalk on a dance floor, both failing miserably and making a fool of myself.  I tried again today when I saw the Gloved One perform it on TV, but I almost fell over Bart the cat while he was sleeping and nearly scared him out of his wits.

THE JACKSON FIVE: I have long held onto an old CD called “The Ultimate Jackson Five,” and a commercial CD called “The Love Songs of Michael Jackson” and I have been blasting them out of my car stereo for days now.  “Never Can Say Goodbye.”

BUBBLES THE CHIMP: I admit it.  I got to wondering what ever happened to Bubbles, so I Googled him.  He’s got a pretty good Internet presence for a chimpanzee.  So here’s the scoop. Bubbles is known as Michael Jackson’s first “child.”  Michael adopted Bubbles from a cancer research center and raised him like a son.  Despite rumors over the years that Bubbles committed suicide, the chimp actually grew up, became aggressive, and had to go live at an animal sanctuary.  Michael Jackson may have been weird, but to his credit, he did right by Bubbles and saved him the same fate as another famous “chimp son” – the unforgettable Travis.

bubbles

A FAVORITE MICHAEL JACKSON SONG: I LOVE the “We are the World” and the video, co-written by Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson-produced by Quincy Jones.  I had not thought of it in a long time until today, when I saw it twice on VH1 and then watched it three more times on You Tube.  It came out in 1985.  I bought the record and listened to it so many times I learned all the words and practiced singing it in the voices of the featured performers:

SOLOS: Lionel Ritchie; Stevie Wonder; Paul Simon; Kenny Rogers; James Ingram; Tina Turner; Billy Joel; Michael Jackson; Diana Ross; Dionne Warwick; Willie Nelson; Al Jarreau; Bruce Springsteen; Kenny Loggins; Steve Perry; Darryl Hall; Huey Lewis; Cyndi Lauper; Kim Carnes; Bob Dylan; Ray Charles; Stevie Wonder

EXTRAS: Dan Akroyd; Harry Belafonte; Lindsey Buckingham; The News; Sheila E.; Bob Geldoff; Jackie Jackson; LaToya Jackson; Marlon Jackson; Randy Jackson; Tito Jackson; Waylon Jennings; Bette Midler; John Oates; Jeffrey Osborne; The Pointer Sisters; Smokey Robinson

(Click the link below the picture to see a clip)

We are the world picture

We Are The World

There comes a time when we heed a certain call

When the world must come together as one

There are people dying

And it’s time to lend a hand to life

The greatest gift of all

We can’t go on pretending day by day

That someone, somewhere will soon make a change

We are all part of God’s great big family

And the truth you know love is all we need

We are the world, we are the children

We are the ones who make a brighter day so let’s start giving

There’s a choice we’re making

We’re saving our own lives

It’s true, we’ll make a better day, just you and me