Janie B; NY Yankees; Soul Patrol & THE COUCH

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Friday, September 22, 2006

Welcome To THE COUCH...Sit on Down and Get Comfy...

Good Morning from a chilly Northeast...the switch was flipped and the summer is gone.
I received word earlier this week that another college friend has been taken from us way too early.

Janie B. Weiss of Cleveland, Ohio was a TKE Little Sister and someone who I spent many many many days and nights laughing with and drinking with and getting in trouble with, both at school and when she and I lived in NYC.

As often happens, we unfortunately lost touch with each other the last 15 or so years.

She passed in her sleep, which isn’t the worst way to go, but sadly, left behind a husband and family and a ton of friends.

I went to the blog where one of her friends set up an area for people to leave their memories.

Today would have been Janie’s 50th birthday. Happy Birthday Janie!

Somehow, yesterday I did not congratulate THE NY YANKEES for their 9th Division Title in a row.

It is kind of funny, since in June and July the subject on sports talk radio in the NY market was whether this was the year the Yankees would be shut out of the post season. Boston would win the American League East and in the American League Central division the
Detroit Tigers would be champs and either the White Sox or the Minnesota Twins the wild card entry, the talk was there was no way THE YANKEES would get in.

How things change…and in some ways stay the same.

Which leads me to a question posed by THE COUCH’S friend Tezero on her “It’s Just Tez” site.

Yesterday, Tez posed an interesting question and with her permission, I use her opening here:

Imagine, nine months ago most of us had never heard of this gray haired soul singer.

Nine months has changed our lives in so many dramatic ways. We have made new friends. Many of us have traveled more in the last nine months than ever before! We have laughed at our own foolishness, we have wept with those who have lost loved ones, and we have shared our hearts, our souls with one another.

And now here we are... nine months since our 'meeting' with Taylor Hicks.

What will you 'give birth' to from this experience??

What creation has now come of this encounter? We have books, DVDs, cds, troop support groups, jewelry lines - so many things have been spawned.

But what about YOU? What will you deliver from this gestation?? What are you taking from Taylor, mixing with a part of you and 'birthing' for the world to see?

I commented on her site and that comment is repeated here:

I have grown also Tez.

I learned some painful lessons the last nine months and I also learned some wonderful lessons.

I also learned that the underdog can win. The guy who was told ..."They will never put you through to the final round" and "You look like someone’s father at a wedding getting up to sing" - that guy who brought us together just kept looking past the negative comments and looking out at the TV camera and telling us..."Just hear my voice"

Now with THE COUCH people hear my voice...sometimes I miss a note or two...but mostly I think the "songs" I sing are appreciated.

Now, to continue those thoughts today…

sometimes look at you funny when you talk about your online friendships. All they think of are the horrible stories you hear about – the predators out there. They question whether those people you are chatting with are truly who they say they are.

I have been traveling the Internet for over 10 years now. I have been in hundreds, if not thousands of chat rooms and met thousands of people. Have all of them been true to their word? Absolutely not.

But in the last nine months I have been a part of an incredible group of people.

What makes this group incredible?

One reason is that we were all drawn to this gray-haired guy, who stood in front of three judges and simply said, “I just want my voice heard.” Then he opened his mouth and brought many of us back to the music of our youth…when songs were sung with heart and soul…no pun intended. (To explain to those who are not aware, one of Taylor Hicks’ original songs is called “Heart and Soul”).

I remember when I first came onto the AI boards, people wondered if Taylor had Tourettes or Cerebral Palsey, due to his movements when he sang.

I laughed and tried to explain it was the way the music moved him that caused those reactions, not some illness he suffered.

That was when a woman, who went by the name of Housewife, invited me to come to the threads that honored this man, not ridiculed him.

I became a member of the SOUL PATROL that day.

For the next 5 months, each week, Taylor Hicks was told he was good, but not the best. But his fans kept him in the competition. Each week he thanked them by simply shouting out “SOUL PATROL!”

Another reason this group is different is that we have never hidden the warts we all have. As a matter of fact, in some instances, some of the people I have met have told others things they never thought they would tell anyone, including their own family members.

The stories of broken hearts, of living with depression, of abuse by family members and spouses…the nasty underbelly of life many keep holed up inside.

Some of those people have admitted, that without finding this group (again, thanks to one man), they might have done things none of us ever want to admit to.

And then there are the joys we have shared. The people who have met and have found love. Yes, there are a few instances of that in the group.

Others have looked inside and realized they were missing a part of their lives that they had pushed aside due to “real world” goals. The creativity blossoms within this group now.

I am a perfect example of that. I don’t know if THE COUCH would have existed if I did not become a member of this group of on-line friends.

Many know the story of
THE COUCH and how it originated. Some do not.

The short story is, while on the American Idol boards, the moderators worked by a set of rules that
seemed to morph each day. One day you could say something, the next you were not allowed.

Our main thread THE OFFICIAL SOUL PATROL thread was deleted over and over. One day, when the thread was deleted, another one was started and I posted in a joking fashion that I was getting tired moving the BIG LEATHER COUCH from thread to thread, so I was just going to start a thread where it could stay permanently.

Many posted back – "GREAT IDEA"…so THE BIG LEATHER COUCH thread was born.

Of course, even that thread was deleted a number of times…but it always came back into existence.

When I decided to find a place to- originally post my reviews of the show- there was never a doubt that THE BIG LEATHER COUCH, would be its proper name.

What about the others? Well, only a few examples are:

Our friend Dana discovered she could write marvelous little stories about the group and it’s un-official (or is it official?) mascot, Bessie The Cow.

Over the last few months she has written a story for over a dozen different people where they are rewarded with an experience with Taylor Hicks.

Now, to those of you not involved, this all may seem trivial to you. But to many people the fun these stories bring…the smiles they bring…the laughter they bring…is a welcomed intrusion into our daily lives.

Our friend Sue has begun writing poetry again and smile more then she did in the beginning.

Anndi is the softie in our group, though she insists she is not.

Travis admits to playing music and writing more since he came into our group.

We now have nine different people writing blogs.

As Tez pointed out…many of the group have flown to other parts of the country to see concerts together.

But, I have always believed the concerts were secondary. It was the opportunity to meet, in person, those people who have become second and third families to many.

I even got to experience that, with the aid of a few of my new friends.

As you read here, a few months ago, over a hundred flew into Birmingham, Alabama to catch the AI concert and then the real show afterward with Taylor and his band. I missed this trip, but got to live it through the stories that are still being traded.

There were lunches, and get-togethers and karaoke sessions that weekend…and there was laughter and fellowship and love also. And there was the Red Velvet Lounge, where Bento welcomed all who wandered in.

How many out there can say that a chance meeting online has affected their lives like it has this group?

I am a 52-year-old man who watched the show on and off over the years and two seasons ago dialed the phone a couple of times for the contestant Bo Bice.

This past season, I waited each week to hear what Taylor Hicks would sing, and many weeks he touched me with his songs.

Yes, there were weeks, I wondered why he sang what he did and I knew he was not the best, but I knew he had better in him and I voted. Often.

The world outside has not heard the real Taylor Hicks yet. Those who have heard his two self-produced albums, or those who have seen him in concert with his band, know the passion he brings to his music. The soul that is deep within his heart.

Soon, the world will hear it when he releases his first album. He is fighting the people at the record company to not push out anything. He is fighting to make the album his way. He will succeed….

You see…all he wants is for the world to "hear HIS VOICE".

And all he did for a few hundred people is allow them to rediscover their voices.

Not bad for a
gray-haired guy … and I know about them!

Thanks again to Tez for sparking this discussion

Enjoy your weekends…

See you all Monday!

Thanks for sitting on THE COUCH, hope you enjoyed your stay.


Remember .. Nets For Malaria - UNFoundation.org/malaria - find the big SI's Nothing But Net logo ... Or call 202.887.9040. Every cent goes to buying nets to place over the beds of children in Africa to stomp out Malaria. PLEASE HELP.

Keep that spark of insanity kids...It helps keep you an individual.

23 Of Your Sparks

  1. tez Says:
  2. Bond - So eloquent and so true. It is the PEOPLE that have been the greatest reward to me through this whole Soul Patrol experience. New friends, that even nine months later I am still making. I wish I could share with Taylor Hicks the true impact he has had on so many in such a short amount of time. Thank your for your thoughts - it echoes so many of my own.

  3. Anonymous Says:
  4. I read this one twice, Vince. What an amazing saga we have all lived together in the past nine (has it really only been nine?) months. So many of us have reinvented our lives because of our experiences through this man. And now for the plug: I am going to use this in a classroom lesson very soon. It takes so little, really. But one small action can mushroom into ... well ... this. It's phenomenal to realize the impact we have had on each other. I feel privileged to have been a part of it.

    Hugs, Coco

  5. Bond Says:
  6. Tez:Truly, without your post from yesterday, this issue from THE COUCH does not exist. Many of us wish Taylor could know the true impact of his voice upon us.

    Coco: Yes, only nince months...some of you i feel like I have known forever.
    Love yhe plugs...and use the lessons!

  7. damm Says:
  8. anndi a softy LOL :)

  9. Dixiechick Says:
  10. Bond,

    First of all, I am so sorry for the loss of your friend. May she rest in peace.

    Secondly, Thanks to Tez for her post yesterday and thanks to you for continuing today. We have made so many friendships. Friendships that will last a life time. Friendships that those outside truly DO NOT understand.

    When Dad passed, I received a beautiful plant from ya'll.... my son said, "Mom... Who are those people?"... I said "Son...they are some of my true friends." I explained to him... He didn't get it!

    I agree that it's hard to believe that it has been nine months.... Nine months of pure joy and happiness. Nine months of HUGS, GROPES and SMOOCHES! I've never been hugged, groped and smooched so much in my entire life.

    I have not got to meet alot of my friends that I have made here...hopefully one day I will.


  11. Anonymous Says:
  12. BTW Vinny - congrats on your team winning that thingy ... at least, by my calculations, they should've won by now. Patrick Division, or something? Thanks to you, I now (kinda) understand a bit more about the game. Since NY is one of my favorite cities in the world, and I harbor great animosity towards Boston, which spawned the Bruins, I can honestly say I am thrilled that they won.

    identity protected, please

  13. Bond Says:
  14. Damm: Well she knows she is!

    Dixie: Thank you for the condolences..I wish i had not lost touch with her. Yes, I get the same from my family "How can you be frineds with people you have never met?"

    Coco: I promise I will not anyone know that was your post...I mean...ummm oops!

  15. Coco Says:
  16. You'd better hope the Boston Mafia doesn't come after me now!

  17. Bond Says:
  18. It was all a mistake..It was Sue that made that comment... LOL

  19. busy91 Says:
  20. I feel like singing .....memories.

  21. Bond Says:
  22. Sing it Busy...sing!

  23. Anonymous Says:
  24. From the mind of Meribah:
    Definately lots of memories! Would yuh believe I almost didn't join the message boards? Imagine the fun I would have missed out on! And the great new friends I never would have made. Y'all are great!

    Now, was that Damm I just saw??? Hey, ducky! Get back here I squeezes yuh!!!! LOL

  25. Anonymous Says:
  26. First let me offer my condolences for the loss of your friend.

    You and Tex have asked a very powerful question. I beleive my answer to be that I have learned how to better "balance" my life. I know that sounds strange, with all the time spent following Taylor. But following Taylor's AI journey gave my husband and I a reason to be happy.
    Just after Katrina, Wayne underwent cancer surgery and then completed 8wks of radiation therapy just as AI was begining. There were days he felt so bad, but would look forward to Tuesday nights. In our quest for getting some "normalcy" back in our lives, I found the Soul Patrol. And what a joyous ride we have had.Sharing, laughing, and even crying.
    So, my birth from all of this would be that I am a better person which means a better wife to my hubby and mother to our son. This is not anyway like the birth's others have shared with their writtings, but I feel it is right for me.

  27. Dana Says:
  28. Wow Vinny - thanks for mentioning me!

    :sticks out tongue to everyone else:

    Seriously though - I personally have changed so much that I don't think I recognize myself anymore - and that's good :)

  29. Bond Says:
  30. Meri:
    Yes special people and great new friends.

    Anon: Well I know who it was only because you mentioned Wayne! LOL. But your birth is very much as important as anyone elses.

    Dana: How could I speak of all this without mentioning you? You are so much a part of this group that i could not imagine us without you.

  31. Anndi Says:
  32. The duck knows.. and I love that Damm Duck!

    Losing touch.. I'll fight with all that I am so it doesn't happen. I too like LeeAnn have many friends I wish to meet face to face.

    I'm sorry about your friend Vince.

    :sticks tongue out at Dana: Not only was I mentionned by Vince, the Damm Duck posted about me!!! ;)

  33. Turnbaby Says:
  34. My experience with the Soul Patrol has been both life affirming and life altering. If I ever get to meet Taylor Hicks the first words out of my mouth will be Thank You.

  35. Travis Says:
  36. If I ever get a book published, the dedication will be pages long with all the people I'll need to thank. At the top of the list will be Taylor Hicks.

    Yes, Turn - if I ever get to meet the man I'll also be thanking him. One of the first things I'm going to do when his official site goes live is to thank him.

  37. Fred Says:
  38. I love all your random thoughts. (They are random, right?)

    The couch got so big. Very nice! Since The Missus and I will soon be buying a black couch for the spare room, I'll have to find one like this.

    Happy Birthday, Jane. 50 is too young.

  39. Bond Says:
  40. Anndi: TY for your condolences.. but no tongue sticking now... be nice you SOFTIE

    Turn & Travis: We wil all thank him when his site goes live and Trav.. i will race you there!

    Fred: Random? Wuts random???? I am Rich's brother ya know! More meaninless facts and thoughts in my head then anything else...

    JEOPARDY why haven't you called me....??????? Quint...a fruit... 5 letter words that begins with the letter Q

  41. Bond Says:
  42. I can let you know where I got this one fred! It is called PHOTOSHOP! LOLOL

  43. Angell Says:
  44. I KNOW you didn't mean to leave me out Vinnie baby.

    I love my SP family more than I can say, and on days when I feel like I haven't got a friend in the world, I know I can come online and find one of ya floating around. OR, if no one's online, I can read blogs by some of the best people I know, and remember all the fun we've been having.

    I'm sorry you lost your friend, and I'm sorry that you lost touch with her. Sometimes that's the hardest thing - cuz then you never get to say all you meant to. This is something I might address in a later blog, I'm feeling very sentimental right now.

    OH, and yeah, Yankees win, blah blah blah ...

  45. Anndi Says:
  46. Can't a girl lick a stamp anymore? Besides, Dana started it ;p!

    I really don't know how that softie rumour got started.. really I don't. I'll have to get the firm of Snoop and Watchyerback on it.


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