Number One In My Book
I was 17 and a high school senior at the time. My school was similar to that of the one in the film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” starring Sean Penn and Jennifer Jason Leigh……forged sick notes, teacher dating, class cutting and drunken pool parties. I don’t recall who was the first student to order pizza for delivery to their classroom, ‘Spicolli’ or ThieBaud. An audacious bunch of kids, constantly teetering on the edge of disaster with absolutely no fear. To everyone’s surprise, both boys became very successful as adults with Sean Penn earning prestige as one of our generations greatest actors and Jimmy Thiebaud the leading creator of an international skateboard company.
I was an early participant in the game of politics with my unique ability to tell my fellow classmates whatever they wanted to hear. I was successfully able to avoid being part of any particular clique and found myself drifting in and out of several different organizations. One of my favorite teen communities were the stoners. OOOhh Weee! These kids smoked some serious ganja……..all day____ everyday spent getting high. When I hung out with this group, our lunch breaks were epic. On many occasions, it took over and hour to pick up a keg of beer from Val’s Liquors, roll it down the street to the nearest park, buy a pound of weed from “Pervert Kurt” and grab sandwiches from Ozzie’s delicatessen. In fact, our lunch breaks frequently took more than 2 hours and we rarely found time to return to class. What can I say, it was the 80’s and what paired better with beer (sometimes wine coolers), and weed other than some serious Hair Metal and Glam Rock…… in other words Jon Bon Jovi.
In January of 1984, the rock band Bon Jovi released their debut album called Bon Jovi, which included the singles ‘Runaway’ and ‘Roulette.’ This young group of big haired, spandex wearing, White boys from Jersey hit the ground running with a series of heart pounding super cheesy anthems that every 17-year-old needed to hear. It wasn’t until years later however, that I knew I loved him. (I’m actually “in love” with him but that’s a secret I would prefer to just stay between you and I.)
Although I enjoyed his 80’s style head banging guitar solos, sweaty headbands and super tight jeans, it wasn’t until the 1995 debut of the movie ‘Moonlight and Valentino’ with Whoopie Goldberg that took by breath away. Ladies and gentlemen if you have not seen this film, run don’t walk to the nearest TV, turn on Netflix and get your Jovi on. OMG, not only had he grown more handsome with time but his compassion for the welfare of his country and his faith in his fellow Americans had also grown.
While staying at the Ritz Carlton one night in Philadelphia, JBJ noticed a homeless person sleeping on the street and realized he had the power to change this man’s life forever. It would only be a short time later that he launched a movement to advance the livelihood of many. In 2006 the Jon Bon Jovi opened the Soul Foundation, to end the cycle of hunger, poverty and homelessness by developing partnerships and creating programs with grant funding. JBJ’s Soul foundation also assisted in establishing programs to provide food and affordable housing while supporting social services and job training programs.
In 2011, the first JBJ Soul Kitchen was opened in New Jersey to address concerns over food insecurity where diners use the pay it forward model by either volunteering in the kitchen or extending a donation for their meal. This is a brilliant way to offer disenfranchised groups the respect and dignity lost when hitting rock bottom and needing to start over. It is a full circle moment giving all participants an opportunity to succeed while investing in oneself and their immediate community. Everyone wins in this scenario and it is the perfect example of paying it forward in action.
Jon Bon Jovi has continued to be a high ranking symbol of truth, honesty and integrity and he most certainly meets my standards of what it means to be a “White Boy with Magic.” There are very few human beings who are as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside. He is like a gilded lily in constant bloom.
I am honored and humbled by his desire to do the right thing and as someone I know to be a brother on the right side of history. He widens his journey with a list of acknowledgments and awards including an involvement in charities, such as the Special Olympics, American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Project H.O.M.E, Covenant House, the Oprah Winfrey Show, “Everybody Hurts,” and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
The list continues on as he was recently identified as NUMBER ONE on Forbes’ Most Charitable Celebrity list. Bon Jovi says, “I’m certainly willing to leverage my celebrity……… when it’s time to be the closer.” Wow, number one, really? He beat out Paul McCartney and even Oprah Winfrey.
I’m sorry, how could you not love this guy!
He was awarded a Marian Anderson Award in 2014 for both musically and philanthropically………” his work honors the spirit of America and salutes the principles that define our nation. Self-reliance, optimism, and community are key concepts he embodies, not just in his music, but also in his charitable efforts”. The Marian Anderson Award was originally established in 1943 by African American singer Marian Anderson after she was awarded the $10,000 Bok Prize that year by the city of Philadelphia. Anderson used the award money to establish a singing competition to help support young singers. .
He also became a recipient of a Clinton Global Citizen Award in 2016 and recently joined Prince Harry of Sussex and the Invictus Games Choir to record a Bon Jovi-penned song, called “Unbroken,” to raise money for the Invictus Games Foundation which supports veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders. The foundation hosts a multi-national sporting event where injured or wounded services personnel can participate in 9 different sports at an annual event traveling around the world.
These are only a few of his many worthy accomplishments and so it is with a full heart and a tremendous of amount of gratitude that I enter this beautiful man, Jon Bon Jovi into the “White Boys with Magic” archives as its first recipient.