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Kobe & The Bus

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Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi. IMAGE INSTAGRAM/@houseofhighlights

Less than one week ago the world lost an icon. Suddenly. Tragically. Instantly. Kobe Bryant, Father, Husband, Sport ledgend, Community Leader, Role Model. The news coverage and social meida coverage has been 24/7 for a week. We all feel very badly for those lost and for their loved ones that survive them. All those lost, Kobe, his beloved daughter, Gigi, and the other seven passengers on that ill fated flight. This post serves as an open letter to all that grieve such sudden and heartbreaking loss in life. I feel a post is in order as so many people seem to be grieving the loss of these two humans at this time, His widow, his surviving children, other athletes, his former teammates and opponents, my own children, so many many people feel saddened by this loss. I hope this helps. Trust and believe in that in your darkest hour, that no matter what your personal tragedy might be, there will come a brighter day. You will grieve. You will recover. Some losses can seem insurmountable but I can assure you that survival is possible.

How can I be so sure? Allow me to share some personal experiences, not to testify to the negitiive but to attest to the possibilities of successful recovery. I have suffered my own sudden, tragic, seemingly unsurmountable loss. I am not alone. Many people have suffered these types of sudden loss. Loved ones killed in car accidents, the 3,000 plus lost on 9/11, any number of freak accidents. Allow yourself also to consider those lost in less sudden manners, such as those we lose to long term illnesses such as cancer. Try and keep in mind that at any time any person you come into contact my be dealing with their own personal tragedy that we may know nothing about.

This building was the Hester family home in Newark, NJ from 1980 until Feb.1, 1982. Photo by Brian Hester

Above is the home I lived in with my parents and most of my 16 brothers and sisters in my home town of Newark, NJ. This is the building as it stands today. I remember it was a wild time, the early 1980’s my big brother Richie and I always getting into some sort of trouble in the streets. My parents strict church going folks, more on that at a later date. In a family this size you don’t get to be close to all of your siblings. I was closest to two of mine, my brother Richie, he was a year older then me, and my younger brother Matthew, who was 5 years younger then myself. I had seven brothers and eight sisters.

Congressman Peter Rodino lived in this fine house on the oposite corner. Photo by Brian Hester

The view from our front steps. Way back in the day, in 1980 /81 I used to sit on the steps or some times in the attic window with my brother Matthew and we would have long talks about the original World Trade Center, The Twin Towers, as they were clearly visible between these two houses across the street. If you look closely you can see the new Freedom Tower in the smae place. Photot by Brian Hester

The Freedom Tower as seen from Clifton Ave. Newark, NJ Photo by Brian Hester

The Freedom Tower as seen from Clifton Ave. Newark, NJ Photo by Brian Hester

My brother Mattthew and I were very close. I always helped him with all of his school projects. My father had a practice of not feeding us kids lunch on Saturday’s, not sure why?? I can still hear him saying Lunch? It’s Saturday we don’t get lunch! I would take my brother Matthew for sandwhiches from an Italian deli in the neaighborhood on Saturdays. Below is the stoop on which we would normally sit and eat.

Pictured here, a “stoop” and urban term reffering to a building entranceway with wide steps that double as a seating areas for folks in a neaighborhood. Photo by Brian Hester

Our fav stoop. Photo by Brian Hester

The former family home, now fully restored, and with lower side porch now enclosed. Photo by Brian Hester

So how is it that I can be so certain that all those that grieve may someday know peace again? I have been there. I have seen it with my own eyes. Lived it in my own life. This home picture above caught fire in the middle of the night 38 years ago this Feb. 1 and we lost three siblings in the blink of an eye. My 4 year old sister Theresa, my 6 year old brother Owen, and my 10 year p;d brother Matthew. In a second. Three. Gone. No warning. In addition to that everything we owned was gone as well although the material things nevered mattered at all. I wondered how would we move forward? I questioned how could the world go on? But the very next morning as walked down the block I noticed the bus coming down the street. I thought why? Why didn’t the bus stop? But the bus, and the rest of the world continued to spin around me and life itself continued. The bus rolled on.

A man boards a bus in Newark. The bus never stops running. Photo by Brian Hester

It will be painful. There will be tears. Don’t fight these. This is normal. It part of the healing process. And yes, trust me, you will heal. It may not be Kobe that makes you grieve. Anyone could have their own personal 9/11, fire, car crash, freak accident… But no matter how insurmountable your grief may seem at first, if you give yourself a chance, you will see your bus still rolling through your town. The first year is the hardest. You go through each and every holiday as a “first” and not a good “first”. The “first” Christmas, the “first” birthday, all “firsts”without that certain loved one. But push on. Persiet. Know that this is what your lost loved ones would most assuradle want. The bus rolled on.

The #27 bus in Newark rolls along. The bus never stops running. Photo by Brian Hester

Back in 1982 a few weeks after our fire I was supposed to return to my senior year of high school. I can still remember walking to the corner and standing there as the first bus came. And went. And the second. And the third. By this time I had simply stood there in the cold for about an hour and a half just watching, wondering, why the bus had never stoped. But then it occured to me, my brother would want me to get on the bus, as Spike would say. He would want me to move forward.

Each year, each day we get stronger, we move forward, we recover. A very good friend of mine, has helped me work through many issues in my life, childhood tragedies such as the fire of 1982, child abuse prior to the fire, sexual and spiritual abuse from clergy and phsyical and emotional abuse from parents. My mother blamed me for the loss of my siblings. She reminded me that I was the one that had removed the battery from the one smoke dectector in the house about a year and half prior to the night of the fire. I had done this. I can still remember, it was a hot August day in the summer of 1980. The older technolgy in smoke dectectors would cause them to beep or chirp every 2 or 3 minutes to alert you that the battery was dying. As my mother started to loss it over this constant beeping she yelled for it to be silenced, keep in mind she had over a dozen kids and had just moved into a new house. I was 15 years old. I jumped up on a chair, removed the battery and closed the cover, never to think about it again until it was way to late. The current smoke detector technolgy does not allow for this to happen as the covers do not close now without a battery in the compartment. The bus rolls on.

I know now that it was NOT my fault. I was 15 years old. It took many years, over two decades of mental help and counseling to fully accept that this was not my fault. And as for my mother, I no longer blame her for balming me as she was most likely out of her mind with grief. We all were. There can be no greater loss than the loss of a child, let alone three. At once. The Bus rolls on….

NJ Transit bus rolls along the streets of Newark, NJ Photo by Brian Hester

Every year, for many, many years now, I have driven to the old house, the place where I last saw my beloved brothers and sister on the anniversary of the tragedy. Usually I sit in the car at the street level. I pray. I refelect. I notice, The bus rolls on. This year I thought I would try something different, motivated by my desire to help others dealing with grief. Greif over Kobe. Grief over whatever personal tramus that they may be experienceing. I thought I would do two things. One was to share my experiences to show people that there is hope for recovery from horrific events. The second was more personal still, I decided that I would use my creative skills of photography to help me capture and deal with my loss. I walked around the neighborhood for a few hours this afternoon. I went down to the old Italian deli for a sandwhich and planned to eat it on the same stoop that I had shared with my brother almost fourty years ago. The deli was long gone, replaced by some very friendly Spanishh people that sold these tasty empenadas and some supper caffinated coffee. Just what I need. High Test Coffee. Probably why i’m still up at 3:30 AM writing. The bus rolls on.

Two tasty empenadas and fine cup of coffee sit on a stop in Newark, NJ as an NJ Transit bus rolls on in the background. Photo by Brian Hester

Even though my baby brother is long gone, for some reason I purchased an empanada for him as well. I set it out on the bag the same way we used to share our Saturday sandwhich. Not wanting Matthew’s empenada to go to waste, I ate it over course. Had an entire conversation with him in my head while I dined. It was very thereputic. And the bus rolled on.

Then there was only one empenada … and still, in the background, The bus rolls on. Photo by Brian Hester

Empenadas all gone and coffer as well. and still The bus rolls on. Photo by Brian Hester

After a long walk and a tasty lunch I walked back up the hill to the old homestead. As I took a few last photos I notice that the attic window that I used to look out with my brother Matthew was open. In the middle of winter? I had always wanted to walk back up the giant two flights of concrete stairs to the front door of the house on each of the years that I had stopped by the location but I didn’t need or want to go inside. For some reason I just wanted to stand on the front porch and see the magnificent view that I always remembered of New York City. This year I actually got up the courage to walk up the flights of steps and ring the door bell. I had only planned to tell the current residents that I had lived there as a child and merely wanted to take a picture of NYC from the porch. It was a long nervous walk up the stairs.

The two flights of stairs that lead up to the old front porch. Photo by Brian Hester

As I stepped up onto the porch a super calm feeling came over me, washing down to my core, peace, tranquility. I rang both of the door bells as the building is now a two family home, and waited nervously to askk them if it was ok to take a few photos of NYC from the porch and leave. As fate and luck would have it no one answered either doorbell. I waved politely to the Ring cameras so as not to alarm the residents. Then, in plain view of the camera, I made a sign of the cross and sat down on thier steps and began to pray. On the street one block down I could see, The bus rolling on. I also noticed a beautiful religous staute had been placed on the front yard. It all seemed so peacful. I could not explain the utter peace I felt at this point. The bus rolled on. I suddenly and for the first time in as long as I can remember did NOT blame myself for this terrible tragedy. Peace and tears flowed. The bus rolled on.

A photo of my own shadow, finally standing tall after all these years. Photo by Brian Hester

Seeing one of the two attic windows wide open, the same window in which Matthew and I would sit and look out at the original World Trade Center / Twin Towers made me feel somehow closer to him. Noticing that the original Twin Towers are now long gone and remembering 9/11, that fateful horrible day in history, it was touching to see that a new building has risen from the ashes to reach to the stars. We rebuilt. Life moves forward. The bus rolls on.

An unexplainably open attic window on a winters day at the end of January. Photo by Brian Hester

Photo by Brian Hester

I felt inspired by those morning the lose of a man that I never met to share my own journey in the hopes of helping others to heal. I find it fitting that the day that the City of Los Angles will hold a huge memorial for Kobe Bryant lines up almost exactly with the anniversary of my own personal truma. I always picture that my siblings that perished that hellish fateful night nearly four decades ago have always remained forever young. For all we know Kobe is up there coaching my Matthew along side his Gigi, playing hoops in heaven. The bus rolls on. RIP Kobe, Gigi , all that were lost. Prayers and condolenses to all those that mourn. The bus rolls on…

Two NJ Tranist bues roll along Mt. Prospect Avenue in the City of Newark, NJ Photo by Brian Hester

Brian Hester is a New York City based freelance photographer covering any nature of event including but not limited to; breaking news, sports, entertainment, fashion, nature and whatever may catch his wandering eye. Since 2011 Brian, has been covering community events and high school sports for North Jersey Media Group and their successor Gannett USA Today. His clients include Rutgers University and Monmouth Athletics. ​You can see more of his work at www.brianbehindthelens.com

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Memorial Day Weekend Sips That Sizzle

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Summer, summer time is here!

Get ready for days in the sun that sizzle this Memorial Day Weekend with these amazing sips. Mix a cocktail or have it easy, breezy and straight from the can or bottle. All of these options will bring joy and delight to your picnic on the beach to your backyard BBQ!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend.

For Tea Lovers with a Twist – Lipton Hard Iced Tea

 Lipton Hard Iced Tea is the tangy twist on a classic that you will love. Crafted from a triple-filtered, premium malt base and real brewed Lipton tea, it’s a perfect way to enjoy the best tea with a level of sweetness that will dazzle your senses.

Whether you’re firing up the grill, hitting the beach, or simply enjoying some outdoor fun, Lipton Hard Iced Tea has you covered. With flavors like Lemon, Peach, Strawberry, Citrus Green Tea and Half & Half, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

For Wine Lovers Who Love Sophistication – Miraval

Miraval Rosé is a perfect summer day in a glass. With blend of fruits aromas and freshness, made on an exceptional terroirs in Provence.

Attractive bright and translucent colour,  its divine aromatic bouquet combines fresh fruit, freshly cut currants and roses, seasoned with a zest of lemon. A glass can be perfectly enjoyed with a luxurious meal with friends as the sun sets.

For the Traditional Lovers – Jefferson’s Bourbon

 

 

Cover art by Lucas Sankey on Unsplash

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New York Women’s Foundation Celebrating Women Breakfast

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New York Women’s Foundation Celebrating Women Breakfast took place on May 8 to celebrate leading change-making organizations and individuals.

Held at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel, honorees and The Foundation’s grantee partners who are advancing innovative and bold solutions to create an equitable and just future for women and families in the New York City metro area and beyond were recognized.

Cynthia Nixon

The day recognized Foundation CHANEL with the Vision Award for the organization’s courageous efforts in creating a world where women and girls are free to shape their own destiny. The following changemakers were awarded with Celebrating Women Awards: Andrea Arroyo, an award-winning visual artist, New York Liberty, an original WNBA team who embraces its role to elevate and embrace women while building community, Cynthia Nixon, Emmy and Tony award winning actress, activist, and theater director, Toshi Reagon, a singer songwriter who knows the power of song to unite and mobilize people for justice, and S. Mona Sinha, Global Executive Director of Equality Now.

Ana Oliveira

 

The awards were presented by Jacqueline Woodson, MacArthur Fellow and National Book Award-winner for her children’s and adult books, Ana Maria Archilla, immigrant rights, worker justice, LGBTQ rights, and women’s rights advocate, and Foundation Board Members Anne Delaney, Helene Banks, Lola C. West, and Karen Choi.

Notable attendees included Fogo Azul NYC, Andrea Arroyo, Cynthia Nixon, Toshi Reagon, S. Mona Sinha, Jacqueline Woodson, Ana Maria Archilla, Anne Delaney, Helene Banks, Lola C. West, Karen Choi, Ana L. Olivieri, and Jean Shafiroff.

Since 1987, The Foundation has invested $125 million in 500+ organizations, creating a vibrant community of grantees, philanthropists, advocates, innovators, and change-makers.

To learn more about The New York Women’s Foundation’s work to transform lives, families, and communities, please visit www.nywf.org

 

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The 78th Theatre World Awards Winner Are Announced

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The Theatre World Awards Board of Directors has announced the 2024 Honorees for the Theatre World Award for an Outstanding Debut Performance in a Broadway or Off-Broadway Production. Also announced, A.J. Shively will receive the 15th Annual Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theater. As previously announced, Tony Award winner Len Cariou will receive the 11th Annual John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre, and a 2024 TWA Special Award will be presented to Peter Filichia.

The historic *78th Annual Theatre World Awards Ceremony, in keeping with the decade old tradition of being held the Monday before ‘TONY’ Sunday, will be held Monday evening, June 10, 2024 beginning at 8:08 p.m. on the set of the Broadway Revival of The Wiz at the Marquis Theatre (1535 Broadway).*

Hosted annually by well-known theater journalist, Peter Filichia, the 78th Annual Theatre World Awards Ceremony will be produced by Theatre World Awards, Inc. Board of Directors /Dale Badway with Executive Producers Karen Johnston & Jeffrey Grove. Associate Producer James Sheridan, Production Assistant Christopher Calhoun and Michael Lavine as Musical Director.

2024 Theatre World Award Honorees
For Outstanding Broadway or Off-Broadway Debut Performance
during the 2023-2024 theatrical season

Ali Louis Bourzgui, The Who’s Tommy
Cole Escola, Oh, Mary!
Brody Grant, The Outsiders
Michael Imperioli, Enemy of the People
Phillip Johnson Richardson, The Wiz
Will Keen, Patriots
Nichelle Lewis, The Wiz
Rachel McAdams, Mary Jane
Maleah Joi Moon, Hell’s Kitchen
Tom Pecinka, Stereophonic
Sarah Pidgeon, Stereophonic
Chris Stack, Stereophonic

15th Annual Dorothy Loudon Award
For Excellence in The Theater
A.J. Shively, Philadephia, Here I Come

11th Annual John Willis Award
For Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre
Len Cariou

2024 Special Award Honoree
Peter Filichia

First presented in 1945, the prestigious Theatre World Awards, founded by John Willis, the Editor-in-Chief of both Theatre World and its companion volume, Screen World, are the oldest awards given for Outstanding Broadway and Off-Broadway Debut Performances. The Theatre World Awards are presented annually at the end of the theatre season to honor twelve significant, reviewable, debut performances in a Broadway or Off-Broadway production. The ceremony is a private, invitation-only event followed by a party to celebrate the new honorees and welcome them to the Theatre World “family.”

In what has become a highly entertaining and often touching tradition, 12 previous winners serve as the presenters, and often relive moments from past ceremonies and share wonderful stories rarely heard at other theatrical awards. Many people feel that this is the most fun and enjoyable awards show of the Broadway season! The historic 78th Theatre World Awards Ceremony will celebrate past and present honorees showcasing the historic heritage of our organization.

Previous winners who have won the prestigious Theatre World Award at the beginning of their careers include Meryl Streep, Rosemary Harris, Marlon Brando, Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Anne Bancroft, James Earl Jones, Liza Minnelli, Alan Alda, Zoe Caldwell, Christopher Walken, Alec Baldwin, Bernadette Peters, Audra McDonald, Al Pacino, Grace Kelly, Hugh Jackman, Tom Hanks, Bryan Cranston, Cynthia Erivo, Danielle Brooks, Lupita Nyong’o, John Krasinski, and so many more.

The Theatre World Award honorees are chosen by the Theatre World Awards Committee which is comprised of Linda Armstrong (Amsterdam News), David Cote (The Observer), Joe Dziemianowicz (New York Theatre Guide), Peter Filichia (Broadway Radio), David Finkle (New York Stage Review), Elysa Gardner (The New York Sun), Harry Haun (Observer.com), Cary Wong(The Interested Bystander), and Frank Scheck (New York Stage Review/ The Hollywood Reporter).

The Theatre World Awards, Inc. Board of Directors is headed by Dale Badway (President) with Tom Lynch (Vice-President), Michael Kostel (Vice-President), Stephen Wilde (Secretary), The Honorable Ilene Zatkin-Butler (Treasurer), James Sheridan, and Karen Johnston.

The Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theater honors an Outstanding Performance in a Broadway or Off-Broadway production. Dorothy Loudon, who had the unique talent of being able to make audiences laugh and cry, made her Broadway debut in Nowhere to Go But Up for which she received a Theatre World Award for her performance. She received a Tony® Award for her incomparable performance as ‘Miss Hannigan’ in Annie and went on to triumphs originating roles in Noises Off, The West Side Waltz, and Michael Bennett’s Ballroom.

Previous recipients of the Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theater include Julie Benko (2023), Michael Oberholtzer (2022), Audra McDonald (2021), Hampton Fluker (2019), Ben Edelman (2018), Katrina Lenk (2017), Nicholas Barasch (2016), Leanne Cope (2015), Celia Keenan-Bolger (2014), Jonny Orsini (2013), Susan Pourfar (2012), Seth Numrich (2011), Bobby Steggert (2010), and Susan Louise O’Connor (2009). Due to the pandemic, there was no honoree in 2020.

The Dorothy Loudon Award for Excellence in the Theater is chosen by the Trustees of The Dorothy Loudon Foundation, Lionel Larner, Executive Director, together with recommendations from the Theatre World Awards Committee.

The John Willis Award is given for lifetime achievement in the theatre to honor the man who created and maintained the Theatre World tradition for 66 years, encouraging new talent in an often-challenging business. The John Willis Award is presented annually by the Theatre World Awards, Inc. Board of Directors to an individual whose lifetime achievements and personal generosity to the Theatre Community merit special recognition and acknowledgement.

Previous recipients of the John Willis Award include Brian Stokes Mitchell (2023),Harvey Fierstein (2022), André de Shields and Patti LuPone (2021), Nathan Lane (2019), Victor Garber (2018), Glenn Close (2017), Bernadette Peters (2016), Chita Rivera (2015), Christopher Plummer (2014), and Alan Alda (2013). Due to the pandemic, there was no honoree in 2020.

In 2023, Special Award Honorees were bestowed for Outstanding Swing: Marilyn Caserta (Six) and Outstanding Contribution to The Theatre World: Dale Badway (Actor, Producer, and President of the Theatre World Awards Board of Directors).

The Theatre World Awards Board encourages theater lovers to “LIKE” the Theatre World Awardsfan page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheatreWorldAwards/and follow on Twitter at @TWAwards.

For additional information about the Theatre World Awards, visit www.theatreworldawards.org.

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Composer Randy Edelman Will Be Honored And Closes The Evening At The Metropolitan Club for Career Bridges

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On Tuesday May 7, 2024, The Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges, David Schuyler Bender and Barbara Bender will be celebrating their Twentieth Annual Concert and Dinner at the historic and illustrious Metropolitan Club located @ 1 East 60th Street, NYC. There will be a cocktail reception & silent auction beginning at 6:30 and the dinner and concert will begin at 7:30. Black tie is preferred, tickets are still available at careerbridges.org.

David Schuyler Bender and Barbara Meister Bender

The mission of Career Bridges is to help young opera singers launch their careers by awarding them grants in voice coaching, diction, language, repertory and stage presence. Many of the grant recipients will be performing at this year’s Gala hosted by renowned Metropolitan Opera Star Denyce Graves and Theodore S. Chaplin, former President of Rogers and Hammerstein Organization.

As one of the prestigious honorees, eminent Symphonist Randy Edelman will be granted “The Lifetime Achievement Award” for his endless contributions to the cultural mosaic of music in film, television, recording, and nearly every aspect of the music industry.

The music of composer Randy Edelman isn’t just a tune, but rather a touch, a supernatural force that makes galaxies collide and creates a million tiny universes. His music is an emotion unfurled and perfectly orchestrated, a melody that becomes a story making song and singer, a single force engulfed by the notes. The crowd caresses the echoes of his lyrics replaying past memories that awaken forgotten worlds. His music is stronger than time.

Others to be honored alongside the multi-award winning composer include: Jason Kwintner, Director of Special Events for the Metropolitan Club, Dr. Joan Taub Ades, who will receive the Humanitarian Award for her musical philanthropic work, and Tony Award winning producer Jane Bergère.

Special thanks to Lorraine Silvetz (Executive Director Of Global Stress Initiative), Yvette Wenger and Jane Thorngren.

The official website for tickets may be found at the Career Bridges Website here:
https://careerbridges.org

T2C will be interviewing Randy Edelman this Wednesday at The Hotel Edison.

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Tony Bennett Auction Exhibition at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco

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Tony Bennett: A Life Well Lived,” exclusive exhibition opening at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, California, celebrating the legendary life and career of the iconic pop jazz vocalist before its two-day auction event by Julien’s Auctions taking place April 18th and Friday, April 19th, 2024 at Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame in Jazz at Lincoln Center. The free public exhibition opens April 8th and runs through April 10th (10am-6pm daily).The Fairmont San Francisco and Mr. Bennett have enjoyed a special relationship for decades. Mr. Bennett first performed his hit “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” in the Venetian Room at the hotel in 1961. The Fairmont San Francisco has had the honor and pleasure of welcoming Mr. Bennett and his family to the hotel for decades. The hotel also touts a special Tony Bennett suite that pays homage to his career and features several pieces of his artwork.Highlights of the exhibition include artifacts pertaining to the American songbook master’s life and career with his special link to San Francisco such as a San Francisco cable car bell award presented to Bennett for his instrumental role in saving the city’s iconic cable car system in the 1980s; a San Francisco Giants jacket worn by Bennett as the Texas Rangers faced the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the World Series in San Francisco, California, October 27, 2010 and his white personalized “Bennett” San Francisco Giants jersey; his original “Landscape San Francisco” watercolor painting; as well as record awards, a Grammy nomination plaque for his iconic hit, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and more.

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