View From Lodi, CA Pittsburgh, PA: Farrah Fawcett Remembered
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Doctors tell us that optimism adds to longevity. So I'm trying to be as positive as I can in an environment that creates daily challenges to maintaining a bright outlook.

Despite my native California sinking financially into the Pacific Ocean and with the nation's debt level seemingly unsustainable, I'm making a concerted effort to enjoy my new Pennsylvania surroundings.

If I try hard enough, I'll find that the upside is never far away. For example, even though Pittsburgh has had nearly two months of gray skies and rain, the hills and trees are certainly green!

But what constructive conclusions can I reach about the disgraceful Michael Jackson madness? While the media is mostly to blame by fueling the flames with its non-stop, "breaking news" coverage, let's remember that it is giving the dim bulb public what it wants.

Not only has the Jackson adulation been revolting, his supporting cast that includes the omnipresent Al Sharpton as well as Brooke Shields and Magic Johnson is repulsive too.

As for me, I side 100 percent with New York U.S. Representative Peter King who said on Independence Day that Jackson was a pervert and a pedophile that you would not allow your child to be alone with.

King correctly observed that Americans should be praising firefighters, police officers and our troops who sacrifice on our behalf every day. [Long Island Lawmaker Calls Michael Jackson A "Lowlife," by Raymond Hernandez, New York Times, July 6, 2009]

A small part of my annoyance about Jackson comes because his death on the same day knocked  Farrah Fawcett's passing out of the news. In my local newspaper, her obituary appeared on page B-3.

Now, it is not so much that I am a Fawcett fan but rather that, unlikely as it is, the Charlie's Angels   poster girl played a small albeit important role in Guzzardi family history.

In fact the Fawcett story has been retold at family gatherings for nearly three decades.

The tale of what happened follows.

In 1978, I lived in New York. And in October, I made good on a promise to my son to take him fishing off Long Island in Montauk.

Early on the evening of October 7th,  we pulled in to the    Shagwong Restaurant , an eating establishment set up with the bar in the front and a separate dining room behind it.

You may wonder how I can be so certain of the date. As it happened the New York Yankees were playing against the Kansas City Royals in an American League divisional series game with pitching star Ron Guidry on the mound.

When we entered, I asked the bartender the score. He replied: "No one knows the score or cares. Farrah Fawcett is having dinner in the next room."

Naturally, I didn't believe him. The thought of Fawcett patronizing a seafood joint a million figurative miles from Hollywood was just too incongruous. But as it turned out, Fawcett was filming Fabergé commercials on eastern Long Island.  

When our name was called to be seated, we were placed only two tables away.

There sat Fawcett, looking unmistakably like Farrah.

Throughout dinner, I urged my son to get her autograph. Finally, as Fawcett was finishing up, he approached her holding a paper place mat in his hand.

As you might expect from a Texas country girl Fawcett, after exchanging a few kind words with her young fan, graciously signed.

For months thereafter, my son proudly showed off the placemat to his envious friends, young and old.

When I learned that Fawcett had died after a long battle with cancer, I was perhaps  sadder than most of her casual admirers.

I recalled how kind she was to my young son. And I remembered how radiant she looked that evening long ago compared to how ravaged recent photographs showed her.

Fawcett's life exemplifies the importance of heeding the medical advice to stay positive and make the most out of every day.

One day we're young and healthy. And some of us may be rich and beautiful. Then, seemingly overnight, we're none of those things

Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.

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