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Songs of Innocence

Neil Diamond has finally revealed the answer to one of the great unsolved mysteries of Western culture: Who was the inspiration for his hit song


Neil Diamond has finally revealed the answer to one of the great unsolved mysteries of Western culture: Who was the inspiration for his hit song "Sweet Caroline"?

According to Diamond, it was none other than sweet little Caroline Kennedy.

"I've never discussed it with anybody before -- intentionally," the 66-year-old singer-songwriter told The Associated Press last week. "I thought maybe I would tell it to Caroline when I met her someday."

The opportunity came when Diamond performed the song via satellite for the late President John F. Kennedy's daughter - now bearing the name Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg - at her recent 50th birthday celebration.

Diamond told The AP he was "a young, broke songwriter" when he chanced across a photo of Caroline in a magazine. "It was a picture of a little girl dressed to the nines in her riding gear, next to her pony," he said. "It was such an innocent, wonderful picture, I immediately felt there was a song in there."

The actual song, however, wasn't written until some years later. Released as a single in 1969, it went platinum and rose to Number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Frankly, Upfront couldn't help being somewhat skeptical about Diamond's story. Caroline Kennedy was just 12 years old when he wrote the song; he was 25. What normal 25-year-old man would write lyrics like this to a 12-year-old girl?

I look at the night / And it don't seem so lonely / We fill it up with only two / And when I hurt / Hurtin' runs off my shoulders / How can I hurt when holdin' you / Warm, touchin' warm, reachin' out / Touchin' me, touchin' you / Sweet Caroline / Good times never seem so good / I've been inclined to believe they never would

However, if Diamond says that's the way it was, we guess there's no choice but to believe it.

But we still want to know who "Cracklin' Rosie" was - and we refuse to buy Diamond's story that she was a bottle of wine.

Do The Haka

In the run-up to last week's playoff showdown between Portland's Jefferson High School and Mountain View, much was made by about Jefferson's pre-game routine.

A story that appeared last week in the Oregonian told how Jefferson, whose mascot is The Democrats, had embraced a pre-game ritual that included a Maori Warrior Haka dance - a nod to half dozen or so team members with Tongan roots. The warrior dance had drawn the ire of opposing coaches, many of which saw their teams go down to Jefferson on the gridiron. State high school athletic officials weighed in, deeming the dance to be a taunt that carries a 15-yard penalty. Rather than submit, Jefferson players - backed by their coach - opted to carry on with the ritual and accept the penalty on the kickoff.

"I saw how much it meant to them...that's something as a coach, I couldn't take away from them," Jefferson Coach Anthony Stoudamire told the paper.

The story noted that the dance and chant is a highlight of home games, but that it had traveled successfully with the team to their first playoff road game at Klamath Union.

Well, the Island Magic didn't translate to the frozen field at Mountain View High School where the Cougars trounced the Democrats 27-12 last Friday.

But hey, can you really blame a team named the Democrats for wanting to adopt a Maori Warrior image. Politics aside, you have to admit an unsuccessful filibuster just doesn't have the same zip at pep rally as a battle dance.

Who knows maybe if the primary season drags on long enough, we'll see Hillary break out the Haka during the next televised driver's license debate. Meantime, undefeated Mountain View will play West Albany at West Albany this weekend.

Cue island drums.

We're Famous!

If there are still some ski and snowboard aficionados out there that haven't heard that Central Oregon has some good winter recreation, they'll probably catch word pretty soon. That's because Warren Miller Entertainment is turning the cameras on Mt. Bachelor and Bend for a feature segment in their 2008 ski flick.

Warren Miller, thought of by many as the definitive outdoor film production company, will be arriving in town thanks to a collaborative effort led by the Bend Visitor & Convention Bureau.

"I cannot think of a more efficient and effective tool for promoting winter tourism to a targeted audience both domestically and internationally," said BVCB president and CEO Doug LaPlaca in a statement Tuesday.

In bringing the film to town, the BVCB will gain the right to use footage from the film in future marketing materials.

Before you run out and revamp your wardrobe in hopes of landing a cameo, keep in mind that the segment, as it's currently planned, will last only about five minutes. But that doesn't mean you won't catch a glimpse of the camera crews that plan to stop off in town and on the mountain a few times during the winter, including a tour of the Bend Winterfest.

Hollywood, here we come.

Politics, the Second-Oldest Profession

Republican presidential aspirant Ron Paul says he's a devout Christian, but that's not stopping him from accepting an endorsement - and cash - from Nevada's most prominent brothel-keeper.

Dennis Hof, owner of the famous Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Carson, said he decided to throw his support to Paul last weekend after being impressed by him at a campaign appearance in Reno.

"I'll get all the Bunnies together, and we can raise him some money," Hof said at a news conference. "I'll put up a collection box outside the door. They can drop in $1, $5 contributions."

The Moonlite Bunny Ranch - which, according to its website, has been described as "the best little whorehouse in the Western world" by Penthouse and as "America's hottest cat house" by Larry Flynt - is one of Nevada's most venerable bordellos, having been founded in 1955. Hof, ever the patriot, announced in June 2003 that the first 50 Iraq war veterans who showed up at his brothel would get free sex.

"On a personal basis" Paul doesn't condone prostitution, a spokesman for his campaign told the paper. But from his libertarian perspective, he's convinced "it's not the role of federal government and it's not in the constitution for federal government to regulate these things. The Nevada voters and legislature have decided it is a legal activity in this state."

Curiously, Hof's appearance at Paul's event was arranged by none other than MSNBC right-wing talking head Tucker Carlson, who currently is on the road with the Paul campaign to research a story.

"Dennis Hof is a good friend of mine, so when we got to Nevada, I decided to call him up and see if he wanted to come check this guy out," Carlson said. He didn't indicate whether the relationship was merely friendly or also professional.

This Is a Losing Game

Things just seem to be going from bad to worse for Amy Winehouse, the little English girl with the big voice and big alcohol problem.

On Tuesday she announced she's canceling all her remaining gigs for 2007. "The rigors involved in touring and the intense emotional strain that Amy has been under in recent weeks have taken their toll," said a spokesman for her label, Island Records.

But Amy herself insisted health issues had nothing to do with it. Rather, she said, she's upset at having to be separated from her beloved husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, who's currently in the pokey awaiting trial on charges of assault and "perverting the course of justice" in connection with beating up a bartender back in June.

"I can't give it my all on stage without my Blake," Winehouse said in a prepared statement. "I'm so sorry but I don't want to do the shows half-heartedly; I love singing. My husband is everything to me and without him it's just not the same."

Fans of the 24-year-old singer can be pardoned for being skeptical. Amy's struggle with the sauce has hit a nadir this month, beginning with a disastrous performance - actually more of a non-performance - in Birmingham, England, at the start of what was supposed to be a 17-city tour.

"She came on stage half an hour late," one fan was quoted in a British newspaper. "She managed four songs but was slurring her words and swaying all over the place. ... She fell into the guitar stand and dropped the microphone - it was atrocious. The song dedicated to her husband was so bad it was like swinging a cat round your head."

Things sort of went downhill from there. At another show a few days later Winehouse showed up 45 minutes late and walked off the stage in the middle of songs several times. At her latest concert she looked emaciated and was photographed with a white powder on her nose.

Meanwhile she has lost the deal to sing the theme for the next James Bond movie. But on the bright side, Prince - who describes himself as "a big fan" - has offered to take Amy into his home and work on a musical project with her after Christmas. Maybe she should take him up on it.

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