In 1991, I obtained this USSR government-issued press credential in Moscow just after the botched coup attempt to oust Mikhail Gorbachev as the Soviet leader. CNN President Tom Johnson and I teamed up with our Moscow-based colleagues to snag the first post-coup interviews with Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and other Soviet leaders, including the foreign minister, defense minister, and the KGB chief. Great fun.
Four months into the life of my Poll Position newco, we’re making news and generating news big-time – so much so virtually every major news outlet has reported on our poll results. Please check it out and let me know what you think. And follow Poll Position on Twitter and Facebook:
My Poll Position company launched yesterday. Here’s the announcement:
News, polling veterans team up to launch
hot topic social media company
Poll Position debuts, releases news-making national survey results
Atlanta, Sept. 14 – Today marks the launch of Poll Position, a unique hybrid news, polling, and social media company.
Poll Position’s mission: to engage, enlighten, and entertain users by providing exclusive hot topic scientific poll results and giving everyone an opportunity to vote and comment via online companion polls.
Award-winning news and polling veterans founded and lead Poll Position. The company’s co-founder and CEO is Eason Jordan, who worked for 23 years with CNN, where he served as chief news executive. Co-founder Jeff Shusterman, president of Majority Opinion Research, plays a leading role in the company’s polling. Former CNN vice president Larry Register is a key member of the Poll Position team.
Among the key poll findings at PollPosition.com:
- RICK PERRY: Only 29% of Americans share Rick Perry’s view that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme.
- BARACK OBAMA: A plurality of Americans prefers President Obama not be the 2012 Democratic presidential nominee, although 52% of Democrats stand by him.
- MITT ROMNEY, JON HUNTSMAN: Only 35% of Americans and 45% of Republicans say they would ever vote for a Mormon to be president.
- UNEMPLOYED: Seventy-eight percent of Americans say they know someone who is unemployed.
- AFGHANISTAN: Only 34% of Americans believe the war in Afghanistan has been worth the cost in U.S. lives and financial expense.
- U.S. POSTAL SERVICE: Sixty-four percent of Americans say they would be okay with the financially-strapped Postal Service ending Saturday mail delivery.
- FIRED BY PHONE: Seventy-one percent say it’s never appropriate for a boss to fire an employee over the phone.
- HEART ATTACK-PROOF VEGAN: Sixty-three percent say they’d rather risk having a heart attack than make themselves heart attack-proof by becoming a vegan.
The national polls were conducted in recent days, surveyed more than 1,000 adults, and have a margin of error of ± 3%. Poll details, including survey crosstabs, can be found at PollPosition.com.
Contact: Larry Register, LR@PollPosition.com
One of the highlights of Tanya and my 2006 trip to Vietnam and Cambodia: making a new friend at a snake farm outside of Ho Chi Minh City.
U2's recently-completed 360 World Tour was historic. Performing 110 shows for 7,268,430 fans, it was the top-grossing concert tour of all time – $736 million. This photo shot in Dublin. All photos by yours truly.
Over the past two years, I had a blast seeing my favorite band perform in Dublin, Chicago, DC, Atlanta, NY, Miami, Nashville, and Pittsburgh. Each show had its magical moments. Highlights included seeing U2 perform in its native Ireland; with Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, and the Black Eyed Peas at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th anniversary concert; and with a blind guitarist/fan who was plucked from the audience for an impromptu, emotional show-closing tune. The biggest thrill of all: experiencing the shows with loved ones. Of the countless photos I took at the concerts, here are my 20 favorite:
At the entrance to Afghanistan's only golf course.
My Headline Apps company will soon launch a video game based on the death-defying challenge of playing golf in Afghanistan.
Among the Kabul Golf Club’s real-life obstacles: landmines, bomb craters, tanks, barbed wire, monstrous weeds and rocks, fire ants, and the prospect of incoming rocket fire. Oh, and Taliban snipers and kidnappers work the area.
My golf game was all the worse because I hadn’t played golf in 35 years, and the only clubs to be found in Afghanistan were right-handed – bad news for a lefty like me.
To learn more about the Kabul Golf Club, check out this New York Times article. And here is the course’s website.
These photos were snapped when I played the course two years ago.
Putting on an oil-slicked "green."
With the golf course manager, caddy, and interpreter on the course's finely-groomed first hole.
With Afghan army and police on guard at the golf course.
If you only read one book this year, this should be it. Erik Larson’s “In the Garden of Beasts” is phenomenal – engrossing, disturbing, and fascinating.
The book provides a riveting account of the real-life exploits of William Dodd and his adventurous, amorous daughter Martha after Mr. Dodd in 1933 is dispatched as U.S. ambassador to Berlin, where Adolf Hitler and his henchmen are consolidating power, ruthlessly crushing their enemies and innocents.
The ambassador’s story would make for a superb book in its own right, but what makes this book unrivaled reading is Martha Dodd’s story. Although married, she is having often simultaneous affairs with a wild cast of characters including the head of the Nazi Gestapo, a Soviet spy, a French diplomat, and the author Thomas Wolfe. She even makes nice with Hitler, who gives her the eye and kisses her hand twice. During Martha’s four years in Germany, she goes from being a fanatical Nazi lover, literally and figuratively, to hating the Nazis after witnessing one horrific episode after another.
Ambassador Dodd, dismissed by many as a lightweight, initially has a soft spot for the Nazis, too – so much so, after Hitler kisses his daughter’s hand, Dodd half-jokingly tells Martha to never wash that hand again. Over time, Dodd turns into a harsh critic of the Nazis. In the end, FDR caves into pressure from the Nazis and Dodd’s envious and arrogant enemies in the State Department, replacing the ambassador with a pacifist who pushes for peace with Hitler at virtually any cost.
This terrific book stuck to my hands like glue; I could not put it down until I finished reading it. Surely it will be transformed into a blockbuster movie.
Sara Mitchell Parsons in her Atlanta apartment, March 2011.
My beloved grandmother, Sara Mitchell Parsons, died this month at age 99. She was remarkable in so many ways – a courageous, tenacious civil rights hero and education advocate as well as a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She was an inspiration to me and many others. She also was a cherished friend and confidant. I will miss her enormously. I was at her bedside during her last hours of consciousness, and I spoke this week at two memorial services in her honor.
Here is the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper report on her life.
Here is my memorial service tribute to my grandmother:
Grandmama Sara was the only person ever… to love… dancing with me. Every other woman in my life knows the real me… a train wreck of a dancer, which explains why no girlfriend, wife, daughter, or mother of mine would dance with me more than once. But Grandmama was different. She was my first and last repeat dance partner. Our first dance was one of my first and fondest memories. I was three years old.
My grandmother's memoir, published in 2000.
This past Monday, just before Grandmama slipped out of consciousness for the last time, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit with her. When Tom and I walked into her hospital room, she lit up. Until the very end, it was clear she adored Tom every day of their 45 years together. Tom, Sarah Yates, and I spent long, difficult hours with Grandmama last Monday, but there were happy, wonderful, loving moments, too. We held hands with Grandmama. Her grip was strong, and she caressed the back of my hand with her thumb. With me that day, she spoke fondly of how she and I danced so many times together while watching the TV show “Lawrence Welk”… all in my single-digit years of life. Among her final words… she spoke of how she treasured the memories of our family vacations on Jekyll Island in the 1960s.
In 1968, after Grandmama married Tom, they moved to California. Tom, Pam, and Tim’s gain in California was a loss for Grandmama’s Georgia-based family and friends, who missed her presence here enormously. When I was 11 years old, my Mama shipped me off to California for a year to live with Grandmama… what turned out to be a glorious year during which I bonded further with Grandmama, while Tom, Pam, and Tim became a second family to me. In the 1980s, when Grandmama moved back to Atlanta, all of us here in Georgia were overjoyed… Grandmama was home.
My 50th birthday wish: to have lunch with my grandmother. Wish granted. October 16, 2010.
Because she had a burning desire to spend as much time as possible with her family, especially her grandkids and great-grandkids, she devised a brilliant scheme that would draw us to her like a high intensity magnet: Her Atlanta home would have a backyard swimming pool. With that swimming pool, she went from being the world’s most impressive Grandmama… to also being the coolest, most fun, and most popular one. Our extended family spent countless days in that swimming pool, including many a July 4th holiday. My children, Zoe and Dylan, learned to swim in that pool… and they went on to become phenomenal swim team competitors.
My kids adored their Great-Grandmama, as we all did.
This past Monday in the hospital, Grandmama knew the end was near. She said to Tom and me: “Tell everyone I had a good life, and I love them.”
For so many of us, she was one of the greatest blessings in our life. Until this week, I could never imagine life without my Grandmama. She was with us for so long, many of us convinced ourselves she would be with us forever. Now I know she will be. Grandmama, we will always love you, and you will always be part of us.
U2 frontman Bono performing with Adam Bevell, a blind guitar player plucked from the sold out crowd of 45,000 at Saturday night's U2 concert in Nashville. Photo from U2.com.
Nashville – It was stunning, uplifting, and unforgettable.
Adam Bevell holding up his sign near the stage. From U2.com's FanCam.
The world’s greatest rock band had just finished a rousing concert performance at Vanderbilt Stadium, taken its final bows, and was exiting the stage when U2′s frontman made what seemed like an inexplicable U-turn, going alone to the front of the stage to speak with a man in the raucous crowd. The 45,000 fans in attendance and Bono’s bandmates were bewildered. The show was supposed to end following U2′s usual set closer, “Moment of Surrender.” But on this night, the 100th show of U2′s two-year-long 360 tour, Bono had an epiphany.
The fan who attracted Bono’s attention was a man who for the duration of the concert stood in the jam-packed pit at the foot of stage holding up a sign that read “blind guitar player, bring me up!!” Bono said to the man, “What do you want to play?” Whatever the man said to Bono prompted Bono to say to the stagehands, “Get a guitar for this dude…. Get him my guitar.” Bono said to the other members of U2, “Gents, we have a surprise guest.” Bono told the security guards at the foot of the stage, “Just get him up the steps here,” and when he started walking up the steps, Bono said, “I got you here…. I gotcha.”
On stage, Bono strapped his green guitar around the shoulders of the man, and Bono asked him, “What’s your wife’s name?” “Andrea,” the man responded, adding, “This is dedicated to her.” Then, “I’m really nervous, man!” A moment later, the man was strumming the guitar, and Bono began singing U2′s love song “All I Want Is You”:
You say you want diamonds on a ring of gold
You say you want your story to remain untold
But all the promises we make
From the cradle to the grave
When all I want is you
After Bono and the blind guitarist performed the song’s first verse, the rest of the band joined in, with U2 guitarist The Edge playing the electric piano. After the song concluded, Bono hugged the man and gave him the guitar, prompting the man to pump his fist in excitement – a moment that moved me to the brink of tears.
I have seen U2 perform many times, including with Bruce Springsteen and Mick Jagger, and in Dublin. No doubt this will be among my fondest U2 concert memories.
Nashville’s newspaper described the concert as “mesmerising” – arguably an understatement.
I later learned the blind guitar player’s name: Adam Bevell, a long-time U2 fan who made the trip to Nashville from his home in Arizona.
On his Facebook page, Bevell posted a video of his U2 concert cameo, writing, “Me playing with U2!!!!!!!!!!!!” In response, one of his friends chimed in, “Adam, that is the coolest thing in the world.” Indeed.
Here is the U2.com-provided video of”All I Want Is You.”
Here is a fun fan-shot YouTube video of the performance.
Photo by Tanya Malott, photographer extraordinare, http://tanyamalott.com
Photo by Eason Jordan.
Adam Bevell celebrating with a fist pump after Bono gives him his guitar. Photo from YouTube video by MrDocholiday76.
Clarence Clemons performing during a November 2009 Nashville concert of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
I was shocked and saddened to learn that Bruce Springsteen’s long-time sidekick, Clarence Clemons, suffered a massive stroke a few days ago. He is best known as the incomparable saxophonist in Springsteen’s legendary E Street Band. I have been a huge fan of Springsteen and the E Street Band since 1978, when, at age 18, I first saw them perform (I also met Springsteen that night, but that’s another story). I have seen them in concert dozens of times all over the country – Atlanta, Asbury Park, Red Bank, the Meadowlands, New York City, Boston, Indianapolis, Birmingham, Jacksonville, Lakeland, Richmond, Nashville, and beyond. Springsteen concerts have always been amazing, exhilarating, joyous experiences for me and countless others, and Clemons was a big reason for that. I snapped this photo of The Big Man the last time I went to one of their shows. The main reason I went to that Nashville concert: Knowing of Clemons’s deteriorating health, I suspected it might be the last time I’d see Springsteen and Clemons perform together. I hope I was wrong about that. Rebound, Big Man. We’re keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.
© 2013 Eason Jordan.