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Picture of the Week

Picture of the Week

Monday, July 20, 2009

AFL and Philly Soul

I saw this in my Google alerts and was saddened by the news. I'd hoped Jon's 50/50 pronouncement was positive. Guess not and for those still thinking he isn't computer savvy....guess again. (Besides the fact that in the old days of the FC he used to participate in chats...and Matt wasn't typing for him.)

The 1-year anniversary of the Soul's ArenaBowl championship is days away and rather than celebrate, fans, players and even coaches continue to sit in limbo.

Since suspending the 2009 season 7 months ago, the AFL has sat in purgatory while some owners try to salvage the league and others have thrown up a white flag.

Even Soul co-owner Jon Bon Jovi is struggling to grasp optimism. When asked by the Daily News whether the league would play in 2010, Bon Jovi replied by e-mail, "Do you believe in miracles? Are you a betting man? I said it all in the [New York] Times article. We are trying . . . hard. Every day."

The league, awash in red ink, got the players union's approval in March on a new collective bargaining agreement that basically slashed salaries in half. Still, the franchises in Los Angeles and New Orleans have folded, and others are on the ropes.

"But here's the truth," Bon Jovi told the New York Times 2 weeks ago. "If we come back, we will set a new benchmark for what is sports ownership. This is more than a lockout. We're on the brink of the abyss."

Even if everything came together tomorrow, it's still difficult to imagine a 2010 season beginning in March. Many players have gotten on with their lives and won't be able to resume their football careers at half the pay. There will always be younger players looking for an opportunity, but will the quality of play (and name recognition) be enough to draw crowds at venues such as the Wachovia Center?

Chicago Rush co-owner Mike Ditka earlier this month told the Chicago Sun-Times bluntly: "I would love to see the AFL come back. But if you ain't heard anything by now saying they will, I don't see them coming back because there were too many weak sisters. If the league does [return], it will probably have to scale itself down and make sure it has more solid ownership and much better team management."

At last year's championship parade, Philadelphia coach Bret Munsey sent the City Hall Plaza crowd into a frenzy when he proclaimed that the Soul would repeat. Today, he doesn't even live in the area.

Munsey is the director of player personnel for Orlando, of the fledgling United Football League, where Jim Haslett is the head coach. Munsey moved his family to Florida in June.

"I've had zero communication with ownership and have been in the dark [regarding the return] of Philadelphia and the Arena Football League," he said. "I couldn't sit around and wait. I waited long enough."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Small World - Big Message

Back a couple weeks ago, or was it a month ago already, Jon and Richie lent a hand to record Stand By Me for the Iranian People. I just saw this interview with Don Was at Metro Times and was blown away by the following quote:

MT: The video you recently made with Iranian pop star Andy Madadian doing "Stand By Me" to show solidarity with the Iranian people was incredible as well as very moving. What was the genesis of that? It was similar to the project you did last summer in Detroit with the Middle Eastern musicians. Do you believe that music can still bring people together and even change the world? And how did the Bon Jovi guys get involved?

Was: I was driving around, listening to Democracy Now on the local lefty station. Amy Goodman was talking about how the movement in Iran is not about overthrowing the government — it's a civil rights movement and a youth movement. Being a musician, my first thought was that these kids need a marching song! Anyone who was around in the '60s remembers the impact of songs like "We Shall Overcome," "Blowin' in the Wind" or "Give Peace a Chance." Music really can change the world; it has tremendous healing powers and a magical way of transcending the issues that drive people apart. So I called up Andy — who is, arguably, the most popular Iranian pop singer in the world — and asked if he'd be interested in recording such a track. We met at the studio later that day and, as fate would have it, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and their producer, John Shanks, were working next door. They're old friends of mine and, when we explained what we were gonna do, they volunteered to help out.

Three hours later, we had a finished record. The next night, we posted the video on my site at and on YouTube. Eight hours later, it was on CNN; a few hours after that, the BBC Persian language television and Voice of America started broadcasting it into Iran. We've had over a million hits for the video online. Three days after recording the song, our mission was accomplished and, based on the response we've gotten, the message of solidarity was profoundly appreciated. That's it — we're not selling or promoting anything. We didn't press any CDs. It blows me away that you can get a message out to the whole world with such immediacy.

Y'know, I produced a Richie Sambora album about 10 years ago and even went on tour with him playing bass for a while. He's my brother! There's a bond between people from Detroit and people from Jersey. The first time I met those guys, I felt like we'd all gone to high school together. And participating in that "Stand by Me" recording was a pure act of altruism on their part. I've got tremendous respect for those cats.

It just goes to show how very small this planet is when something important in the struggle against tyranny is created. I commend the guys of Bon Jovi for having participated and for the inspiration of Don Was and Andy Madadain in creating it. As someone that recalls news traveling days or hours before it reached us and now it's a matter of minutes, I never cease to be amazed at technology and how it can be used for good.


The generous Goddess Hathor has compiled a Directory of FF for all of us devoted to the genre.

If you have a story that's not listed, she'd be happy to add it!

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