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Los Angeles Times

Vanessa Bryant Eulogizes her husband Kobe Bryant and Daughter Gigi

Vanessa Bryant



It was a somber bittersweet day in the Staples Center in Los Angeles when 20,000 mourners packed into the indoor stadium that the late NBA Player Kobe Bryant built to bid him and his 13-year old daughter Gianna farewell.

His widow Vanessa Bryant, a celebrity mom covered often on the blog, gave a heart breaking but still beautiful eulogy of her husband and daughter. As USA Today summarized in its coverage:

She mourned the loss of her “baby girl” Gianna, “a sweet and gentle soul” and preternaturally talented athlete who she said was destined for WNBA greatness. She remembered her husband as a soulful romantic with a “tender heart” and a “doting” father for whom family always came first.

“They were funny, happy, silly, and they loved life,” Vanessa said of Kobe and Gianna, adding: “God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together.”

Beyonce Knowles Carter opened the event performing one of her hits, “XO” which she said was one of Kobe’s favorite song with lyrics that go, “In the darkest hour / I’ll search through the crowd / Your face is all I can see / I’ll give you everything.” She later burst into a soulful rendition of her song, “Halo

Alicia Keys moved the crowd by playing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” a piece she said was favored by Kobe and Vanessa.

Keys had previously paid tribute to Kobe and Gianna on the night they died, performing “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye” alongside Boyz II Men at the Grammy Awards last month.

At various points throughout the event, the crowd broke out in chants of “Kobe! Kobe!”

Retired NBA stars Michael Jordan, Dwyane Wade, and Tim Duncan along with entertainer Jennifer Lopez and her fiance retired baseball player Alex Rodriguez and late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel were all in attendance for the ceremony, along with other celebs like friends of the Bryant family Kim Kardashian West and Kanye West.

The date chosen for the memorial — Feb. 24, or 2/24/20 — is a combination of their jersey numbers. Gianna wore No. 2 and her dad wore No. 24 in the latter part of his 20-season career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Tickets went for variations of 2 and 4, $24.24 or $224 for two.

Several NBA legends like former teammates  Shaquille O’Neal and Jordon gave rousing speeches by my fave was by University of Oregon player Sabrina Ionesco who gave a wonderful speech and tribute to girls sports too in honor of GiGi .

Proceeds will go to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation which raises money to provide sports education and training services for young women. The foundation was originally established as the Mamba Sports Academy, but Bryant’s widow announced that the name was changed to honor their daughter.

Kobe Bryant gave himself the moniker “Black Mamba” after a character in the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill.

“Because there is no #24 without #2, we have updated the Mamba Sports Foundation to now be called the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation,” Vanessa Bryant wrote on her Instagram page announcing the name change.

The two were headed to a game during a basketball tournament at a sports arena in Thousand Oaks, California named for Mamba when the helicopter they were riding in crashed killing them along with Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, 56, his wife Keri Altobelli, 46, and their daughter Alyssa Altobelli, 14; Sarah Chester, 45, and her daughter Payton Chester, 13; as well as Mamba Sports Academy coach Christina Mauser, 38; and pilot Ara Zobayan, 50.

Also from a NBCNews report:

Bryant and his daughter were traveling to Gigi’s basketball game in a Sikorsky S-76B helicopter, when it crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, Calif., on Jan. 26. All eight passengers and the pilot were killed.

The Bryants were laid to rest in a private ceremony in Southern California on Feb. 7.

Before the public ceremony got underway, the Los Angeles Times reported Vanessa Bryant has filed a lawsuit against Island Express Helicopters, the company that operated the chopper. NPR later confirmed the lawsuit with the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board said in its investigative update this month that the chopper’s rotors were both powered and turning at the time of impact, which it said indicates “the engines showed no evidences of uncontained or catastrophic internal failure.”

Photos taken shortly after the crash show conditions were foggy in the hills above Calabasas, but as NPR’s Russell Lewis has reported, the final investigative findings are not expected for at least a year.

photos: Getty

A Pesticide linked to Kids’ Brain and Nervous System Damage Just Got Ok’d for Use Again

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Here is more reason to buy organic if you can afford it.

Yesterday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday reversed an Obama administration recommendation to ban a pesticide linked to nervous system damage in children, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Newly installed EPA administrator Scott Pruitt signed an order that would allow farmers to continue using chlorpyrifos, which is sprayed on more than a dozen crops, including tree nuts, soybeans, corn, wheat, apples and citrus, writer Geoffrey Mohan pens.

For over 15 years, Chlorpyrifos has been banned from consumer products and residential use because the science suggest that it can hamper children’s cognitive development. A UC Berkeley study found that 7-year-old children in the Salinas Valley who were exposed to high levels during pregnancy had slightly lower IQ scores than their peers. A Columbia University study showed similar effects at lower exposure.

In 2015, former President Barack Obama’s administration vowed to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy for residue of that chemical on food, essentially ending its use indefinitely.

But Pruitt undid that yesterday.

A nonprofit group called Pesticide Action Network said the USDA buckled under pressure from corporations like DowAgroSciences which makes 5 to 10 million pounds of chlorpyrifos, which are used each year on crops across the nation.  The chemical is an organophosphate, a class of chemicals originally designed as a nerve agent weapon.

Eek!

“The new administration’s agency ignored their own findings that all exposures to chlorpyrifos on foods, in drinking water, and from pesticide drift into schools, homes and playgrounds are unsafe,” Schafer said.

The USDA says the science is inconclusive and removing the ban frees up farms to not interrupt their crop seasons.

“This frees American farmers from significant trade disruptions that could have been caused by an unnecessary, unilateral revocation of chlorpyrifos tolerances in the United States,” said Sheryl Kunickis, director of the USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy. “It is also great news for consumers, who will continue to have access to a full range of both domestic and imported fruits and vegetables.”

Again, like I said.

More reason to buy organic if you can afford it. If not, wash your fruits and vegetables  thoroughly before eating.

 

Tribute: My Fave George Michael Songs and Videos and Why I love Them

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Today, I, like many around the world, am saddened by the news of the passing of singer/songwriter George Michael on Christmas, December 25th. I was a huge fan of this late 80s/90s pop star especially in my teens and early adulthood. The Greek-Brit, full name Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, was extremely attractive, had a seductive dance and a voice that was big, unique and carried every melodic hit that he performed.

I agree with those who say that the overwhelming memory of his legacy will surely be the musical genius that encompassed both his time in UK pop duo Wham! and as one of the great solo artists of all time. With over 100 million records sold worldwide, eight Billboard #1 hits, and a bevy of awards

His look back then was a five o’clock shadow, leather jacket, rugged denims and guitar with one dangling earrings with dark shades. Very sexy!

 

 

 

I played this song to death in college my first year. It’s so jazzy and melodic. Love!

One of my fave albums of his was his second studio album “Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1” (volume 2 was never released) which was very controversial and almost didn’t get put out by Sony Music.

I love that it was full of ballads and showcased his lyrics and voice moreso than the upbeat dance songs on Faith.  It sold 8M copies but was considered a flop for such a big artist given that “Faith” had sold 25M copies. But it was a hit in the UK where it won Best British Album that year in their version of the Grammy‘s, the BRIT Awards.

 “Praying for Time” was an ode to times we live in where there is copious and overindulgence and greed abound with a message of warning to mankind. It is one of my favorite tunes from this album. Love this song.  Given ongoing battles with his record label at the time, Sony, he refused to appear in the videos for the songs on this album so the video is just lyrics on a black screen which is actually ahead of its time, given that lyrical videos are such a big trend nowadays.

“At some point in your career, the situation between yourself and the camera reverses. For a certain number of years, you court it and you need it, but ultimately, it needs you more and it’s a bit like a relationship. The minute that happens, it turns you off … and it does feel like it is taking something from you.”  he told the Los Angeles Times in 1990 about deciding not to do photo shoots or music videos any longer. “I would like to never step in front of a camera again.”

I think Freedom 90!  is one of the sexiest videos of all times and it featured super models at the time in a video directed by the same person who directed Madonna‘s “Express Yourself” video, David Fincher.  It included Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Tatjana Patitz and was inspired by Peter Lindbergh‘s now-iconic portrait of the five models for the January 1990 cover of the British edition of Vogue. Instead of playing someone’s girlfriend, as is common for models in music videos, they each lip synced the song. Brilliant!

More models werking the catwalk can be seen in the video for “Too Funky“.

This remake of Stevie Wonder‘s song is prolific given Wonder sang it recently in tribute to Michael Jackson and it could aptly apply to George Michael today.

His career started off as part of the two member pop music band, Wham! The preeminent 1980s big band sound was loud and apparent in this song and it peaked in the era of music television when MTV just launched. The video for it surely sold the song even more than the appeal it already had as a really awesome song:

 This song, “I’m Your Man” also takes me back to a carefree and less stressful time of my life, my late teen years.

 Another great hit from Wham!

My son loves “Last Christmas” and it has played almost twice an hour this past month on our local radio station that plays Christmas songs from Thanksgiving to Christmas non-stop. Even my 11-year old was shocked and upset to know one of the guys who sings a fave song has passed.




The biggest song from this album was “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go 

As a solo artist, George Michael performed some awesome duos like this one with Aretha Franklin, another fave of mine:

With Elton John, this song just makes me feel good every time I listen to it

And Queen (at a tribute concert for the late great Freddie Mercury)

And finally with the late great Whitney Houston, “If I told you that” 

Thanks for the music, George Michael.  You will be missed but your legacy will live on!