Monday, September 28, 2020

Celebrity Sightings

I'm creating this list as a permanent record and will update it as necessary.

I've seen a few celebrities in person over the years. Most people have. I do not engage in celebrity worship, because celebrities are still human and flawed, and worshiping other humans inevitably leads to disappointment. Still, it's mildly exciting to see a celebrity in person and I can't resist thinking about the various sighting sometimes, and decided to make a list of celebrities I have seen in person. 

I question how to define celebrity, since some local politicians and radio station DJs are considered celebrities. I wouldn't include them, but I probably would include a television personality from a major market. When I lived in Chattanooga, I saw several reporters around, but never the anchors, and Chattanooga is a small television market. I wouldn't count the reporters but I would count the anchors.

I'm also counting athletes if I have seen them outside of a sporting event. I've been to too many live sporting events to count all the athlete-celebrities I have seen in a stadium or arena.

I'm unsure how to rank these by importance and do not have a clear timeline in my head, so I'm just going to make an ad hoc list.

The List

George W. Bush - seen when he visited the hospital where I worked. He was president at the time.

Sting (Rock Star) - seen at a concert. This was after he broke up The Police for his very lucrative solo career.

Bryan Adams (Rock Star) - seen at a concert.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (NASCAR driver) - seen leaving the Lookout Valley Walmart, Tennessee, in his Lexus SUV, confirmed by vanity license plate "ERNHRDT."

Lynyrd Skynyrd (Rock Band) - but particularly the lead vocalist at the time, Johnny Van Zant. They were making a public appearance at a Walmart in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where I was living at the time. I went in to pick up some nylon rope to use with my kayak. I was amazed at the line of people waiting to see them that wound out the front doors and around the parking lot. I walked up behind them while browsing through the sporting goods section, where the band was sitting at an elevated table and Johnny looked back at me nervously, but he could see I was only shopping and we nodded at each other. I suppose someone like Johnny has to worry about stalking. It was a strange but memorable moment. I admit to being annoyed at the mobs when I was just trying to shop.

Lance Armstrong (professional bicyclist) - seen at a steakhouse in Durango, Colorado. I wrote a previous blog post about this but at the time thought it couldn't be him, because he was too bulky, and guessed that it was another rider who looked similar (can't remember the name now) but was bigger. I later found out that Lance had been strength training (this was after he retired from professional cycling, and after the scandals) and saw a couple photos of him bulked up. He was wearing a Specialized baseball hat, and after we made eye contact, turned it around so that the brand couldn't be seen. Specialized was his last sponsor and a brand with which he was closely associated. I'm now sure it was him, especially considering the prominent ears, a feature which we share, lol.

Martha McSally (US Senator) - I saw her at a park the other day when I was running. I did not speak to her but I think she realized she had been recognized. She was wearing a COVID mask but I'm sure it was her because she was driving a distinctive dark-blue Dodge Ram pickup truck that was featured in one of her TV campaign commercials. Also, she is reported to have a residence in Flagstaff.

Tommy Lasorda (MLB manager, two time World Series winner) - I'm counting him because I saw him sitting in the stands at a minor league baseball game, where fans lined up by the dozen to meet him and get his signature. I'd also seen him managing before his retirement, but that doesn't count since he was down on the playing field.

The Brown Family (from the TV show "Sister Wives" that covers their Mormon polygamous relationship).  - They lived two houses over from me for about a year. They eventually moved out after building a "compound" in Baderville, several miles outside of Flagstaff.

Mo Farah (Olympic gold medalist runner) - seen running a couple of places around town, but particularly on Woody Mountain Road, near my house. There is something amazing about being out for a run and seeing an Olympic medalist running in the opposite direction. Woody Mountain Road is world-famous in the running community.

Aliphene Tuliamuk (Olympic marathon runner) - winner of the 2020 US Olympic Trials at the marathon distance, and therefore the top runner on the Olympic Team for that event. I've seen her around town running on several occasions.

Molly Seidel (Olympic marathon runner) - second place at the 2020 US Olympic Trials, and therefore on the team. She stayed in a "runner house" on my street recently, about 4 houses down, apparently altitude training for the London Marathon. I literally saw her as I was jogging down my own street. Also:

Kellyn Taylor (professional marathon runner) - the 8th fastest US woman at the marathon distance in history. I've seen her out running and also outside my office at work. The hospital hosts regional continuing education for firefighters and paramedics in addition to our own healthcare employees, and Kellyn is a trained firefighter. The education offices are in the same building.

Glenn Robinson (NBA player) - I worked at a supermarket in West Lafayette, Indiana for a few months in college (my first degree - Purdue) and bagged his groceries a couple of times. Obviously that was when he was still in college.

Gene Keady (NCAA college basketball coach) - I saw him many times outside of sporting events. Keady is not a household name but was a top coach for over 2 decades, winning multiple conference championships, though never getting a Final Four. He was famous for scowling and looking angry all the time. Off the court he was a friendly person who clearly liked people and loved being a local celebrity.

Joe Jacobi (Olympic gold medalist) - Joe is a whitewater paddling athlete who lives near the Ocoee River in Tennessee, where he made his home after the end of his athletic career. I was on a first name basis with him for a while, as we both liked to hang out at the same surfing wave, where he was teaching his daughter to paddle. I saw him many times, though I doubt he would remember me, since whitewater kayakers are usually decked out in distinctive gear and helmets, and Joe knows a lot of people.

Jean Kirkpatrick (US Ambassador to the United Nations) - I attended a free lecture at Purdue, featuring Ambassador Kirkpatrick after her retirement. She had a combative view of foreign policy.

Jim Walmsley (Professional ultra mountain trail runner) - one of the most celebrated ultra-marathon runners. He lives in Flagstaff and is around a lot. Jim holds the record for a rim-to-rim run in the Grand Canyon.

Rob Krar (professional ultra mountain trail runner) - another very successful ultra-marathon runner, though he is less outgoing and self-promoting that Walmsley. He always waves or nods at fellow runners.

Herbert C. Brown (Nobel Prize for Chemistry) - I spoke to him in the corridors a couple of times when I was at Purdue, in the building that was named after him. He was a friendly fellow who liked students and greeted us with an upper class English accent. Although he is not generally famous, I'm including him because his legacy will last forever.

Other than the list here, I've been around various CEOs and other corporate officers, at least one two-star general that I can think of, and various local politicians, but I don't consider them notable, since most are only famous because of rank. Probably there are other celebrity sighting that I have forgotten because I didn't care that much about it.

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