ALL TIME NEW YORK METS TEAM: MIKE PIAZZA

Mike Piazza is the perfect example of how hard work, dedication and determination can guide you to fulfilling your dreams. Piazza wasn’t considered a blue chip prospect coming out of high school in 1986. Matter of fact, it was his father’s lifelong friendship with Los Angeles manager Tommy Lasorda that led to the Dodgers drafting Piazza in the 62nd round of the 1988 MLB Amateur draft. Four years later, Piazza began a six year run as the greatest Dodger catcher since Roy Campanella. Beginning in 1998, he began an eight year run as not only the greatest catcher in New York Mets history, but their greatest offensive player of all time as well.

On May 22, 1998, the Mets traded for and acquired Piazza from the Florida Marlins. It was the first time since Darryl Strawberry’s departure in 1990 that the Mets had a marquee offensive star in his prime. Piazza immediately delivered as he batted .348 with 23 homeruns and 76 RBI’s as the Mets fell one game short behind the San Francisco Giants Chicago Cubs for the National League Wild Card spot. Piazza, however, was not to be denied the following season.

The 1999 season was arguably the greatest offensive team ever in Mets history, led by Piazza’s stats of .303, 40 homeruns and 124 RBI’s. The Mets also had four other players hit over .300(Rickey Henderson, Roger Cedeno, Edgardo Alfonzo and Robin Ventura). Despite a starting pitching rotation that lacked a true ace, the Mets won 95 games and defeated the Cincinnati Reds to earn the National League Wild Card and their first postseason berth since 1988. In an epic six game NLCS, the Mets fell short to their nemesis, the Atlanta Braves. Piazza again was not to be denied the following season.

Despite winning 94 games, the 2000 Mets were not as good as the 1999 Mets. They lost John Olerud, Roger Cedeno and Rickey Henderson and replaced all three .300 hitters with the aging Todd Zeile, Derek Bell and journeyman Benny Agbayani. These three replacements numbers didn’t come close to the departed trio. The reason the Mets were able to repeat as the NL Wild Card team and go all the way to the World Series was because Piazza carried them on his back.

The 2000 season was Piazza’s finest as a Met as he hit .324 with 38 homeruns and 113 RBI’s. It was apropos that with the Mets season on the line in Game Five of the 2000 World Series against their crosstown rival Yankees and legendary closer Mariano Rivera that Piazza would make the final out. Piazza hit the ball as hard and loud as anyone had ever hit Rivera. I swore that ball was going out. Instead, the ball died in centerfield as Bernie Williams caught the ball to end the series and Mets season. The 2001 season would see Piazza hit the biggest regular season homerun in Mets history.

After the events of September 11, the sports world in America was shutdown due to the terrorist attacks. The first sporting event to take place in New York following the attacks occurred at Shea Stadium on September 21, 2001. The Mets were losing to the Braves 2-1 in the bottom of the 8th inning when Piazza came to the plate with a runner on. Piazza proceeded to hit a dramatic two run homerun that sent Shea Stadium into a deafening roar. In my 43 years as a Mets fan, it was the loudest I ever heard the Mets fan cheer in what will always be considered the greatest regular season moment in Mets history.

The 2001 season ended with the Mets finishing third in the NL East. Piazza had another outstanding season, batting .300 while hitting 36 homeruns and 94 RBI’s. It would be the last time Piazza hit .300 or better in a single season.

The next three seasons saw the Mets a struggling and mediocre team. While Piazza still made the NL All-Star team two out of those three seasons, his numbers seriously declined due to injuries and being in his mid 30’s. Finally, after the 2005 season, Piazza left as a free agent. He would play two more seasons before finally retiring at the age of 39.

In 2016, Piazza became the first Mets everyday player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He set an offensive standard for catchers that hasn’t been approached since. He carried himself with class both on and off the field. Despite alleged PED use, he was never proven to have used them. Teammates and management loved him. Most of all, he will be forever remembered as bringing New York City a moment of joy during a time of despair.

Mike Trojan’s Dating Tip #1: Sexual Magnetism through Goodness


Main point: If you want to have sex with the hottest women in the world, you MUST be the kind of guy who never cheats.

Hi there GEEKDOM! Mike Trojan here with a tip that may surprise you. Others may know what I’m talking about. Here it is: Be a Good Guy. By that I mean, don’t be a man-whore. Don’t EVER cheat on the girl you are with in a serious relationship. A lot of men think that now that they have advanced macking skills, that they can use them however they want and get as much sex as they can no matter how depraved. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility. This is not just a moral issue or something out of a Spiderman comic. Being an immoral man-whore affects your ability to get the hottest of the women in both the short term and also in the long term. More

ALL TIME NEW YORK METS: DAVID WRIGHT

Throughout the 57 years of the New York Mets existence, there have been a handful of homegrown talents with hall of fame ability that, due to unforeseen circumstances, failed to reach such lofty goals. David Wright, the greatest third baseman in their franchise’s history, is possibly the greatest example of such circumstances.

From his 2004 debut in a Mets uniform at the tender age of 21, Wright was immediately the most complete player in the team’s history. A contact hitter with tremendous power and an excellent glove, Wright was a can’t miss potential great. In that rookie season, Wright hit 14 homers and 40 RBI in only 69 games. Adding to his incredible ability was Wright’s golden boy looks and a photogenic smile. He was the Mets answer to their hometown rivals Yankees Derek Jeter: a complete ball player who was not only a matinee idol, but one who said and did everything right on and off the field. In 2005, Wright continued his ascension, batting .306 with 27 homers and 102 RBIs, and along with fellow Mets young star Jose Reyes, led the Mets to their first winning record in four seasons. 2006 would be a breakout year for Wright, Reyes and the surging Mets.

The 2006 Mets were easily the greatest offensive team the Mets ever assembled. The lineup, besides Wright and Reyes, consisted of Puerto Rican stalwarts Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado. All four players put up incredible numbers, with Wright batting .311 with 26 homers and tying Beltran for the club’s leader in RBIs with 116. This offensive juggernaut led the Mets to 97 wins and easily winning the National League East by 12 games. Unfortunately, the postseason would end in disappointment, as the Mets lost in seven games in the National League Championship Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, the eventual World Series champions. Wright had a horrendous NLCS against St. Louis, only hitting .160 with a paltry one home run. It wouldn’t be the last time the Mets choked during Wright’s career.

In 2007, Wright became the third Met in franchise history to have a 30/30 season with 30 homers and 34 stolen bases. In addition, he batted a career high .325 with 107 RBI. With 17 games left in the season, the Mets had a seemingly insurmountable seven game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies. Incredulously, the Mets blew the lead and missed the playoffs in one of the greatest collapses in the history of sports. Wright was tremendous during the last month of the season, batting .352 with six homers and 20 RBIs. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to stop the late season bleeding.

2008 was almost an exact carbon copy of 2007. This time, the Mets blew a three and a half game lead with 17 games to go. Wright had his third straight All-Star season batting .302 with 33 homers and a career high 124 RBIs. He once again flourished the last month of the season, batting .340 with six homers and 21 RBIs. Unfortunately, it was all for naught, as the Mets once again collapsed down the stretch and missed the playoffs.

The 2009 and 2010 seasons were huge disappointments for both the Mets and Wright. Wright only had 10 homers and 72 RBI. Wright’s low power numbers were greatly affected by the Mets move from Shea Stadium to the brand new Citi Field. Citi Field was initially built as a cavernous, pitcher friendly stadium. In 2009 and 2010, Wright hit a combined 17 homers at the new ballpark. While he did drive in 103 RBI in 2010, his fifth and final 100 RBI season, he struck out a career high 161 times and batted a career low .283. It was obvious to everyone that the new field had adversely affected Wright’s hitting.

In 2011, Wright suffered a back injury that would be the beginning of the end for him. It was a testament to Wright’s enormous talent that he was able to have back to back .300 and All-Star seasons in 2012 and 2013 despite the power numbers being down and battling back and hamstring injuries.

Wright had his worst offensive season in 2014, the result of injuries that slowed him down, despite only being 31 at the time. In 2015, Wright was diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis, which rendered his lower back to the point where Wright had a hard time getting out of bed. Because of his dedicated work ethic, Wright was able to come back late in the season and play a part in helping the Mets win their first National League East and playoff berth since 2006. Wright even hit a homer in his only trip to the World Series, a losing effort vs the Kansas City Royals.

Wright suffered another major injury early in the 2016 season, a herniated disc in his neck that unfortunately ended his career. Wright fruitlessly attempted to come back, but after missing virtually all of 2017 and 2018, announced his retirement. In a class act by the Mets organization, he was allowed to get two last at bats in the final two games of the 2018 season.

David Wright’s career was a microcosm of many of the disappointing seasons and potential greats throughout the Mets history: incredible potential struck down by unbelievable bad luck. Wright was the most complete player in Mets history. Seven seasons of hitting over .300. Five seasons of driving in over 100 RBIs. Two gold gloves for his defensive acumen. Add these on the field attributes to his off the field charitable work and a work ethic second to none, and you have the dream athlete any ball club would play huge money to acquire. Despite his setbacks, Wright is not only the greatest third baseman in Mets history, he also set the standard for sportsmanship for a franchise who’s had their share of malcontents.

ALL TIME NEW YORK METS TEAM: JOSE REYES

In the 57 years that the New York Mets have existed, few players have been as polarizing as Jose Reyes. Regardless of whether you love or hate Reyes, there is no denying that he is without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest shortstop in franchise history.

Reyes made his major league debut for the Mets at the tender age of 19 in 2003. The Mets were in the midst of one of many multi year malaises the franchise has experienced. Not unlike 1984 when a 19 year old Dwight Gooden made his major league debut, Reyes’ call up from the minors was an attempt to infuse life into a struggling team. Reyes played in 69 games his rookie season before suffering a severe sprained ankle while batting 307. The 2004 season once again saw Reyes battling an injury that resulted in him only playing 53 games while being moved to second base. Reyes was moved to second base in order to accommodate the newly acquired shortstop from Japan, Kaz Matsui. Whatever success Matsui had in Japan didn’t find its way to the United States, as he was one of the worst free agents ever signed by the Mets. Starting in 2005, Reyes was placed back at short. He then proceeded to have one of the greatest four year runs offensively in Mets history.

From 2005-2008, Reyes averaged 113 runs scored, 195 hits, 32 doubles, 16 triples and 65 stolen bases as the Mets lead off hitter. During that four year span, he led the National League three times in stolen bases and triples. He was the table setter for the 2006 Mets team that won 97 games and won the National League East before losing an incredible seven game NLCS to the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite his consistent excellence, Reyes received an enormous amount of criticism for the Mets epic regular season collapses in 2007 and 2008. Baseball is a team sport, and Reyes was not the only Met that both slumped and choked both seasons. It was the beginning of both the media and fans being overly critical of a player that had given his all for the Mets.

After two seasons of struggling with injuries, Reyes rebounded and had a sensational 2011 season in becoming the first Met to win a batting title. Once again, Reyes was unjustly criticized as in the final game of the season, Reyes took himself out of the game after getting a hit in his first at bat. Reyes had a .337 batting average and his closest competitor, Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, was batting .335. I figured Mets fans like myself would be glad that Reyes would try and protect what would become the first and so far only batting title in team history, but instead, he was heavily ripped by fans, media and Mets management. It made no sense. Reyes was the highlight of a horrible Mets season. It was the final game of the season and the only thing worth watching was to see if Reyes could create team history. He did, and yet was rewarded by heavy criticism and no significant contract offer as Reyes became a free agent after the 2011 season. Reyes signed a huge deal with the Florida Marlins, and the Mets were left with a huge hole both at leadoff hitter and shortstop.

From 2012-2015, Reyes battled several injuries and was traded twice. Then a domestic dispute with his wife resulted in Major League Baseball suspending Reyes for the first 50 games of the 2016 season. The Colorado Rockies then released Reyes, resulting in Reyes coming back to the Mets. It was a lukewarm return at best for the greatest shortstop in team history. After a slow start, Reyes was huge for the Mets in September. He helped lead the team to secure a Wild Card birth in the playoffs. His strong September convinced the Mets to retain his services in 2017. Unfortunately, both the Mets and Reyes started off horribly in 2017. Reyes, although only 33, looked like an aging player who had lost both bat and foot speed. A great second half saw Reyes’ anemic batting average raised to .246 while ending up with 15 home runs and 75 RBIs, strong numbers for a club that went nowhere. This earned Reyes another one year contract with the Mets. Unfortunately, Reyes’ resurgence the second half of 2017 was his last hurrah. In 2018, he was a complete shell of the player who was once the fastest man in baseball, batting only .189 with a paltry five stolen bases. It was the end of both his Mets and MLB career.

In my opinion, Jose Reyes has never been given his due by the New York media, Mets fans and the Mets organization. Reyes was an electric player who gave Mets fans several memorable moments. The most exciting play in baseball during Reyes’ prime years was him racing to third base in attempting to get a triple. He was unfairly criticized and maligned during the 2007 and 2008 collapses, as well as his decision to take himself out of the final game of the 2011 season to secure his batting title. Jose Reyes was one of the most exciting players I’ve ever had the privilege to see play live in person. He was also the undisputed greatest shortstop in Mets history.

GOLDEN AGE OF TELEVISION: THE SOCIAL CONSCIENCE

GOLDEN AGE OF TELEVISION: THE SOCIAL CONSCIENCE

In the history of television, there have been a minimal amount of programs that outlined the inequalities of “minorities” in the United States. In the 1970’s, iconic television series such as Norman Lear’s “All in the Family,” “Good Times,” and “The Jeffersons” all shed light on racism and politics through comedy. The greatest example of this was the late 80’s Bill Cosby creation “A Different World,” which in my opinion, set the standard for sitcoms centered around social conscience issues that to this date has yet to be equaled. The last few years, three television dramas have set the standard for social conscience in the 21st century: “Hap and Leonard,” “The Chi” and the incredible Netflix limited series “When They See Us.” All three series have stamped their mark on this new “Golden Age of Television.”

Michael K. Williams is in the midst of an incredible run as an actor since he debuted in 2002 as the iconic Omar in “The Wire.” He followed with almost equally iconic roles in “Boardwalk Empire” and “The Night Of.” “Hap and Leonard” was his first television starring role as he co-starred along with James Purefoy as two lifelong interracial friends attempting to maintain their friendship in the racist climate of late 80’s Texas. Williams’s Leonard, like Omar, is another anomaly he portrayed; a homosexual Vietnam War veteran. Purefoy portrays a White draft dodging, ladies man and hippie who detests guns and violence. Both men are diametrically opposed in both their race and political views, yet they unconditionally love each other as brothers. This is shown over and over again as both men risk their lives to save each other time and time again.

“Hap and Leonard” aired for three seasons on the Sundance network from 2016-2018. The second season was the best of the three. Season two centered over Leonard being falsely accused of being a serial killer of children. In the town Hap and Leonard live, several young, black children were murdered over several years. Hap and Leonard fight a racist hometown police force to prove Leonard’s innocence, culminating with a scene that is heartbreaking when the real killers are revealed. Incredible acting by not only Williams and Purefoy, but Irma B. Hall as Leonard’s elderly surrogate grandmother. I was extremely disappointed when Sundance canceled the series after another incredible social conscience season three, which had Hap and Leonard battle White supremacists. I highly recommend that if you’ve never seen this show, to seek it out, especially seasons two and three.

Williams recently appeared in the Ava Duvernay directed limited series “When They See Us” as the father of Antron McCray, one of the five adolescents that were falsely accused and convicted of the 1989 rape of a female Central Park jogger. This four part series is an emotional roller coaster to watch. It will anger you to see how these young men were railroaded, especially 16 year old Korey Wise, sensationally portrayed by Jharel Jerome. Williams, Niecy Nash and John Leguizamo all shined as parents of three of the accused. Although you know the result of the verdict in the courtroom, this series gives you raw and unforgiving dramatizations of the illegal methods used by NYPD detectives while interrogating the five young men. The courtroom scenes, especially the testimonies by both Williams’ and McCray’s characters, will move you to tears. Finally, the abuse Korey Wise suffers in prison is a testament to his intestinal fortitude. Imagine being convicted of a crime you didn’t commit and be physically and mentally tortured everyday in prison? It is unfathomable. “When They See Us” is must see television.

It saddens me to talk about “The Chi” because of the recent allegations that lead to the show having to terminate the star of the show, Jason Mitchell. Mitchell has had an incredible run the last five years, beginning with his phenomenal portrayal as NWA founder Eazy E in “Straight Outta Compton.” In the two seasons of “The Chi,” Mitchell’s portrayal of Brandon, a struggling African American chef struggling to fulfill his dreams while dealing with personal tragedy and financial woes is as great as we’ve ever seen on television. “The Chi” is very similar to “The Wire” as it’s large ensemble cast is set in a major city, this time being Chicago. The show focuses on the major issues plaguing Chicago: gun violence, gentrification, drugs, single mothers, and racism. Without spoiling the events that occur in the first two seasons, both season’s arcs center around Brandon and throughout you find yourself heavily rooting for this young man to overcome his strife and succeed. Showtime and “The Chi” will have to find a way to overcome Mitchell’s absence next season and beyond.

The entire 21st century has seen an incredible run of television dramas. Although “Hap and Leonard” was canceled, we will no doubt continue to see Michael K. Williams shine in future classic television as he did in “When They See Us.” I’m hoping the same can be said of Mitchell, as his sexual harassment allegations on the set of both “The Chi,” and the upcoming Netflix series “Desperados” has caused him to not only be fired by both shows, but being dropped by both his management and talent agency. If the allegations are true, here’s hoping that Mitchell gets the help he needs to get back to an acting career that has currently been short circuited.

ALL TIME NEW YORK METS TEAM: EDGARDO ALFONZO

There have been an infinite number of second basemen that have played for the New York Mets in the now 58 years the franchise has existed. Two of the greatest second basemen in MLB history, Roberto Alomar and their current second baseman Robinson Cano, have patrolled the position for the Mets. Neither one came close to the impact that Edgardo Alfonzo had while at the helm between 1999-2001.

Alfonzo originally was a shortstop while playing in his native Venezuela. Venezuela has produced many incredible shortstops over the years: Dave Concepcion, Omar Vizquel, Luis Aparicio, Chico Carrasquel, Ozzie Guillen, Carlos Guillen, and Elvis Andrus. Concepcion, Vizquel and Aparicio are three of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game. While in the Mets minor league system, Alfonzo eventually switched his position to third base and was the Mets regular third baseman beginning in 1995, his rookie season. After the Mets signed free agent All-Star third baseman Robin Ventura after the 1998 season, Alfonzo was forced to switch positions again. It was this move to second base that coincided with his greatest years both at the plate and in the field.

The 1999 New York Mets were one of the greatest teams in the history of the franchise. Led by future Hall of Famers Mike Piazza and Rickey Henderson, the team had a machine of an offense. There were five everyday players who batted over .300. They also sported one of the greatest defensive infields in the history of the sport, with gold gloves won by Ventura at third and Rey Ordonez at shortstop. First baseman John Olerud would win one the following year and many felt Alfonzo was robbed of the gold glove at third base in 1999. Despite not winning the gold glove, Alfonzo did win the silver slugger award for the best offensive player at third base that year, batting .304 with 27 home runs and 108 RBIs. Finally, to top off his incredible year, Alfonzo hit two home runs in game one of the divisional series playoffs against the Arizona Diamondbacks, including a ninth inning grand slam in the top of the ninth inning that proved to be the game winning hit.

The 2000 season was another stellar season for Alfonzo both in the field and at the plate. Alfonzo batted .324 with 25 home runs and 94 RBI’s and once again helped lead the Mets to the playoffs. He had a phenomenal National League playoff series at the plate, including batting .444 in the Mets five game defeat of the St. Louis Cardinals to reach the World Series for the first time in 14 years, eventually losing to their crosstown rivals the Yankees in five games.

Alfonzo’s numbers dropped drastically in 2001 due to several injuries. In 2002, he was once again moved back to third base as the Mets acquired future Hall of Famer Alomar to play second. It was a disastrous acquisition as Alomar proved to be past his prime and was a complete bust. Alfonzo batted .308 in what would be his final season as a Met.

My father loved the way Alfonzo played the game. When my father first saw Alfonzo play for the Mets in 1995, my father proclaimed that Alfonzo would go down as one of the greatest Mets of all time. Alfonzo proved him right, as his clutch hitting and superior defense makes Fonzie, as he’s affectionately called by longtime Mets fans, the greatest second baseman ever to wear a Mets uniform.

THE INEVITABLE DEFEAT OF MISTER AND PETE

I can’t believe it took me over five years to finally see this incredible movie. “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete,” is one of the greatest films ever in the depiction of at risk inner city youth. Masterfully directed by the always great George Tillman, “Mister and Pete,” keeps the audience glued to the movie praying that the movie’s two protagonists do not become another fatal statistic due to their dire situation. As I will go into a comprehensive detail of the movie, I urge those who have yet to see this masterpiece to watch it before continuing to read my review.

When “Mister and Pete” was first released in theaters October, 2013, I wanted to go see it, but it only lasted three weeks in the theaters. Then, it appeared on Netflix for a few years. Unluckily for me, when I finally began subscribing to Netflix, the movie was pulled from the streaming service the day after. It was not until last weekend that I finally saw the movie on HBO. Wow, I can’t believe I allowed this cinema classic to go unseen by me all these years.

“Mister and Pete” is the story of two young boys, ages 13 and nine, who bond through an intense summer of abandonment. Mister, the older, 13 year old Black adolescent played effortlessly by Skylan Brooks, has endured years of poverty and embarrassment due to his mother’s heroin addiction, brilliantly played by the always capable former Oscar winner, Jennifer Hudson. Mister has been hardened by his mother’s behavior and results in him becoming very stubborn in seeking outside help for his strenuous situation. Pete is a nine year old Korean boy who also has suffered due to his mother’s addiction. Pete’s mother has physically abused him with an iron. Both mothers work as prostitutes to support their addictions. After Mister’s mother is arrested for drug possession and Pete’s mother disappears, the boys are forced to fend for themselves with no money or relatives that can help them. This is where the survival instincts of Mister take fold.

Mister does his best to care for his younger friend while avoiding bullies, the police, child welfare authorities and a Brooklyn housing project that is unsafe for children with parents, never mind ones left on their own. Brooks and Dizon’s facial expressions and eyes show both their desperation and despair. Yet, the bond these two create during their two months alone together in this struggle is the ultimate positive out of this immense negative.

Director Tillman has directed three incredible movies: “Soul Food,” “The Hate You Give,” and “Mister and Pete.” Each movie focuses on social issues that have burden Blacks throughout the years. “Mister and Pete,” brilliantly illustrates how drug addiction continues to destroy inner city families predominantly consisting of black and brown families. The crack epidemic of the 80’s and 90’s destroyed several black and brown families that still affects these communities today. Whether it’s 1985, 1995, 2005 or today, drug addiction of parental figures has continually contributed to the destruction of black and brown families.

“Mister and Pete” though heart wrenching to watch, is an authentic look at the damage that children could suffer due to their parents drug abuse. “Mister and Pete” although bleak and full of heartbreak, shows the strength of two young boys who would literally die to save each other’s lives. The movie ends with both boys gaining a brother for life and their lives at a better place than when the movie began. Brooks and Dizon continue to excel in movies today at their respective ages of 20 and 16. I have a feeling both these talented young men still have their best work ahead of them.

CLASSIC DUETS: THE PEABO BRYSON EDITION

In the history of R&B music, you can make a strong case that Peabo Bryson is the most underrated singer of this genre. Bryson has one of the most powerful and smooth Tenor voices that ever existed. Bryson’s incredible Tenor has been the perfect compliment in the recording of several tremendous duet records with equally outstanding female counterparts. In 1979, Bryson recorded one of the greatest duet albums of all time: “We’re the Best of Friends,” with the late, great Natalie Cole. Then, beginning in 1983, Bryson recorded the first of three iconic duets with three different partners: “Tonight, I Celebrate My Love,” with the legendary Roberta Flack. A decade later, Bryson would record two of the greatest duets and motion picture songs back to back. We will start with his 1983 hit duet with Flack.

Bryson and Flack were no strangers to each other. In 1980, they recorded their own duets album together: “Live & More,” a live concert album that featured several of their own solo hits. Flack previously had several huge duet hits with her close friend and one of the greatest soul voices of all time: Donny Hathaway. With the success of both singers’ in duets, both with each other and others, it wasn’t a shock that their 1983 duets album “Born to Love” would go on to be both a financial and critical success. The highlight of this album would be the aforementioned “Tonight….”

“Tonight, I Celebrate My Love,” written by Gerry Goffin and Michael Masser, is a beautiful ballad that describes a couple’s feelings before they consummate their love. Flack’s soprano voice blends perfectly with Bryson’s tenor to produce a song both tender and seductive, as they go back and forth and together throughout the song: “Tonight there’ll be no distance between us. What I want most to do, is to get close to you. Tonight I celebrate my love for you. And soon this old world will seem brand new. Tonight we will both discover how friends turn into lovers. When I make love to you. Tonight I celebrate my love for you. And that midnight sun is gonna come shining through.” “Tonight….” would peak at number 16 and five respectively on the Billboard Pop and R&B charts. Eight years later, Bryson would record a duet so incredible that it would launch his partner’s career as one of the greatest female pop stars of all time.

Following the success of “Tonight….,” Bryson continued to embark on a very successful solo career. In 1984, he scored a top 10 Billboard Pop and R&B hit, the heartbreak song also co-written by Masser, “If Ever You’re in My Arms Again,” and in 1991 another heartbreak melody, “Can You Stop the Rain?” which went to number one on the Billboard R&B charts. That same year, producers of the Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast” were looking for someone to redo a pop version of the titular track. The original version was a standard sung by legendary actress Angela Lansbury. While Lansbury did a phenomenal job in her version, Disney execs knew that her version would not sell at the popular music level. They reached out to music producer Walter Afanasieff, the same writer and producer of “Can You Stop the Rain.” It was the perfect choice for Bryson to be the lead singer in what would now be a duet, as his past success with both duets and Afanasieff made that decision a no-brainer. Bryson would be teamed with a fledgling French Canadian female singer, Celine Dion. Dion had just learned how to speak English when she received this opportunity of a lifetime.

The musical chemistry that Bryson exhibited with Cole and Flack once again was on display with Dion in “Beauty.” Dion’s Lyric Soprano vocals blended perfectly with Bryson’s smooth and seductive Tenor. The very beginning of the song captures the audience as Dion’s voice sets the stage: “Tale as old as time. True as it can be. Barely even friends. Then somebody bends. Unexpectedly.” Then Bryson chimes in: “Just a little change. Small to say the least. Both a little scared. Neither one prepared.” The song captured the theme of the movie: a beautiful woman and a beast become friends and than fall in love. Bryson and Dion capture that essential theme with their amazing voices, especially when the song reaches its crescendo. “Beauty and the Beast,” would be both a commercial and critical success, going to number nine on the Billboard Pop charts and winning both the Grammy award for Best Pop Performances by a Duo or Group and the Oscar award for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture. The song helped propel Dion’s career, which ultimately resulted in becoming one of the greatest female pop vocalists. Bryson would follow this duet with another iconic Disney theme song the following year.

The third and final iconic ballad featuring Peabo Bryson, “A Whole New World,” was also the theme song of the Disney animated film “Aladdin” once again produced by Afanessieff. This time, Bryson teamed up with one of the great R&B songstress of that era, Regina Belle. This wasn’t the first time Bryson and Belle recorded a motion picture duet. In 1987, the two recorded “Without You” from the movie “Leonard, Part 6.” Unlike “Beauty…,” Bryson sung the lead verse on “A Whole New World,” and set the tone for what would be the biggest song for him, Belle and any Disney movie as it was the only song to go to number one on the Billboard Pop charts for all three: “I can show you the world. Shining, shimmering splendid. Tell me, princess, now when did you last let your heart decide? I can open your eyes. Take you wonder by wonder. Over sideways and under. On a magic carpet ride. A whole new world. A new fantastic point of view. No one to tell us no
Or where to go. Or say we’re only dreaming.” Then when it was Belle’s turn, her verse was just as magical: “Unbelievable sights. Indescribable feeling. Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling. Through an endless diamond sky. A whole new world (Don’t you dare close your eyes). A hundred thousand things to see (Hold your breath, it gets better). I’m like a shooting star. I’ve come so far. I can’t go back to where I used to be.” Finally, the chorus were the two sing together brought everything home.

“A Whole New World” would garner Disney’s second consecutive Oscar award for Best Original Song from a Motion Picture. It also was the second year in a row Bryson and Afanessieff would win a Grammy award, this time for Song of the Year. It would also be Belle’s only Grammy win in her storied career, which is just as underrated as Bryson’s. It would also be the apex of both artists’ career, as neither would ever come close again to such lofty heights commercially. Despite that, both artists’ continue to record and have established themselves as two of the most underrated soul music greats of all time.

Mike Trojan’s Dating Tip, 8/2/2018 – Don’t Complain; Become the Heroic Jokester

When you find yourself in the presence of a beautiful woman (and this includes ANY WOMAN in your life, BTW, from your Mother to your wife to your grocery bagger… They are ALL beautiful women in their own way, because they are women), never use that time to become the crying baby that wants his mommy to comfort him. And this rule pretty much goes for EVERYONE you talk to. Leave the gloom and doom predictions to those who get paid to pollute our air and minds with artificial anxiety based on their imagined, dire future nightmares. Nobody’s paying you to be nightmare-teller!

Don’t forget the very important:
RULE 23: Don’t complain to your woman about ANYTHING.

Every woman knows that the world sucks and we’re all fucked. She gets it very much and she doesn’t need to hear about it from you, who is probably after all, just a dumber version of her. She wants to FORGET ALL ABOUT THE WORLD when she’s with you. You’re supposed to transport her to a fantasy fun realm of pure happiness, pure abandon, and endless laughter. You’re supposed to remain the cheery and wisecracking hero in an action movie.
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