Some 35 years ago, Jorge had the privilege of coaching a local basketball squad from the Maher Center in Newport in the Special Olympics. The team won the state championship and went to New Hampshire to compete in the New England regional championships. Most of what J. knows of Special Olympics came from that experience and it was a wonderful time.
We didn't win in New Hampshire, but it was a memorable trip. Most of the guys on the team and the cheerleaders had spent their early years at Ladd School, and the experience of staying at a Ramada Inn with television sets in the rooms was just an unbelievable thrill for everyone.
I remember one of the guys, Gordon, proudly showing up at my room to drag me back to his to show me the TV. "Look at that!" he said. "Good movie! Good movie!"
And I can tell you that I learned far more from my team than they could ever have learned from me. I learned about essential things like human kindness and love and caring for others. The team really made a point of looking out for each other.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver started Special Olympics and, as the first major organized event for people with intellectual disabilities, it was the progenitor for the myriad programs and services that followed. This was important and vital work, and she deserves our eternal gratitude.
ONE MORE GOOD ONE
We noticed in the obituaries for the musician Willy DeVille, who also passed away last week, that the term "punk rock" was frequently used. This could only be because Willy made his initial mark as a regular at CBGB's in New York, but he was in no way part of any "punk rock." Willy DeVille was an elegant neo-soul singer whose music was built on foundations set down by Leiber and Stoller, Pomus and Shuman, and the Drifters. The Latino influence in great old tunes like "(There Is a Rose in) Spanish Harlem," "Save the Last Dance for Me," and "Stand by Me" was readily identifiable in his sound. He made some great records and, if you don't have any, you oughta get some.
The gypsy jazz ensemble Ameranouche will perform next Thursday, August 20, at the Alco Green at 555 Valley Street (right next to the Everyman Bistro) in an event to benefit VSA Arts of Rhode Island. VSA is a statewide nonprofit arts and education organization that began in 1986 and has provided programs in the arts for people with disabilities. They have been doing fabulous things for years under the guiding hand of Casa Diablo regular and Pawtucket homegirl Jeanine "Miss Cha Cha" Chartier. This is exactly the sort of organization that we were talking about when we cited all the great ideas that Special Olympics inspired. It is local, it is inspiring, and it is something you want to support. Not to mention the fact that Ameranouche comes very highly recommended. The music will be happening from 7 pm to sundown and, whether or not Bob Tasca is there, we guarantee you will be satisfied.