Broward News

Beating Adversity With A Stick

It's a big headline on the Local front of the Sun-Sentinel: "BEATING ADVERSITY TO BE FIRST IN LINE." Bad headline (who knew that beating adversity could move up to the front of the line so quickly?) over a story written by Nicole T. Lesson, Community News diva. It's about a teenager named Nick Sproul, whom we're repeatedly told "lost" his parents (thought they were still looking for them until we find out deep in the story, matter of factly, that one drowned and the other died of cancer) and yet continues to get good grades and remain captain of the school's drum line.

The lede quote:

"Playing helps me relieve stress and helps keep you out of trouble," said Sproul, 16, who lives with his grandparents in Pompano Beach. "I get strength from myself and inspiration from others. I want to succeed, and being someone that has had extreme adversity to rise to the top really says something to me."

That, friends, is one bad quote, about as natural Pamela Lee's chief assets. Soon, though, the reason for the existence (raison d'etre, for my French friends) of this mess of a feature is clear: It's a plug for a non-profit called Take Stock In Children In Broward County, which is peddling Sproul as a success story.

It's bad enough that the Sentinel has a "charticle" about rebar on the beach on the front. Now they're putting Community News stories up there. I thought they were battling with the Palm Beach Post and Miami Herald. Turns out they're trying to beat out the Pompano Pelican.

More, um, highlights from the dailies:

-- The Sentinel's Paula McMahon does a crack job on judicial candidates. What a motley crew. There's Ken Padowitz, most famous for prosecuting a 12-year-old as an adult for murder and winning a life sentence for the tyke (yeah, Lionel Tate). There's Samuel Lopez, who in 1998 was was "acquitted of federal charges including making a false statement to a federal agent and money-laundering." There's a lawyer/chiropracter who changed his name from Jordan Breslaw to Jordan H. Jordan and wrote a book that, if it's not vile itself, surely has a vile title: "How to Raise Millionaire Children." There's Jim Lewis, the defense attorney for Lionel Tate who created the ultimately failed "wrestling defense" (and also attorney for Miami Psychic author and Gypsy scam artist Gina Marie Marks, aka Regina Milbourne). He's still trying to live down wearing a KKK robe to a Halloween party in 1983.

Yeah, we live in a fucked up place. Get used to it.

-- The Palm Beach Post's Edgar Thompson clues us in on guys that spend half their lives on sports bulletin boards. Said one of them: "It's a real disease. I'm not joking." If you want to see the political side of the sickness, check out the comments on Ron Gunzburger's Politics1 site (punch on at the list at right). It's unreal how long these guys go at it online over obscure points.

-- I've made my feelings clear on the giddy coverage of American Idol in the Big Three, especially the Palm Beach Post and Miami Herald. It's just disgusting is all. And we got more of it this weekend when the Idol boys and girls came to perform in Sunrise at the BankAtlantic Center.

This was a local show, so I can't argue against running reviews of the thing. What was hilarious was the disparate opinions of the Herald Idol guru, Howard Cohen, and the Post's yummy-cool Leslie Gray Streeter, who certainly has the highest cringe index of any newspaper writer in South Florida.

They really didn't agree on anything. Cohen basically led with Mandisa as the highlight of the night. Streeter didn't even give her a mention.

Here's Cohen on Lisa Duncan: "Some performers surprised with true skill on a musical instrument, something we never see on the strictly formatted vocals-only TV series, as a poised Lisa Tucker did on electric piano for a stirring rendition of Elton John's Someone Saved My Life Tonight."

Streeter on the same performer: "Lisa Tucker was less than successful at proving that she's anything more than a very pretty girl with a nice voice who simply does not connect with the lyrics. She did have a nice rapport with the audience, but why, oh, why, was that child singing Elton John's Someone Saved My Life Tonight, about being saved from a near-miss with a bad marriage?"

Cohen on Ace Young, an unbearable and talentless teen idol wannabe:

"Some aren't talented singers; there's too much crushed testicle in falsetto Ace Young's lightweight delivery, but he's clearly having so much fun just being up there and radiating charisma it hardly matters. But Ace, get some new moves, dude. The open palm on the heart thing when mewling ballads is getting to be schtick."

Yo Cohen, who are you to talk about crushed testicles? Writing about American Idol for a living is the height of masculine boldness? It's sad and womanly, Howie.

Streeter, of course, dug Ace, whom she called "satisfying like a Snickers" -- one of those lines that incites a reaction that goes beyond cringe toward outright violence.

Onto the so-called headliner, winner Taylor Hicks. Cohen called him the "night's biggest disappointment." And then continued:

His shelf-life should expire before his major-label debut CD arrives this Fall. Perhaps Taylor triumphed over the others on TV because his spastic dancing, his prematurely gray hair and his not-so-good looks appealed to the average schlub among us who fantasizes about becoming famous. However, live, Taylor is abysmal. Charmless, soulless, he gruffly shouts his rote covers of Doobie Brothers, Bob Seger and Stevie Wonder songs with a broken, hoarse voice that is more Michael Bolton-styled bluster than Ray Charles soul.

This Man Is Not A Whore

Streeter's cheery take on the Idol, which was combined with her take on two-bit rocker Chris Daughtry:

"Someone saved my life that night, however — two someones. Daughtry and Hicks both showed the difference between a real musician singing a cover song and making it their own, and some dude singing karaoke. Daughtry's Wanted Dead Or Alive and Renegade were amazing, as were Hicks'... well, y'all, his everything. He exploded with a spirited Hollywood Nights and kept the energy up through his encore, Living For The City."

You heard it, y'all. Hicks' was amazing, not abysmal. Cohen, at least, mentioned the "night's most memorable political statement." What was it? Elliot Yamin wore a Star of David shirt with the word "Israel" on it. Way to add some intelligence to the debate Elliot, you schmuck. (Who can trust Yamin? After what he did to the national anthem in Dallas at the start of the NBA championship series with Miami, I can only believe he's truly a devoted Islamist parading around as a "nice Jewish boy").

I don't know what any of this proves, except that just about all the Idol stars suck and all of them are as vapid as the coverage they inspire.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman