In my nearly 50 years on this planet, I have done both seized and passed up those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I've had the chance to see Yoko Ono and George Burns up close in the flesh; I saw a rare stage performance of the Muppets; I bought a book autographed by my all-time favorite comedian Groucho Marx; I managed to be part of a private audience with the Governor-General of Canada -- Her Majesty's representative -- at his Rideau Hall residence; and I was a contestant on "Jeopardy!" On the other hand, I passed up a chance to purchase a first edition (in hardcover, with dust jacket) of Ernest Hemingway's 1940 novel "For Whom the Bells Toll" at a second hand bookstore in Montreal nearly 30 years ago for -- get this -- $5! To put it mildly, I'm still kicking myself around the block!
Lesson learned: NEVER PASS UP THOSE ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME OPPORTUNITIES!
Since I began writing my Grapevine column for the West End Times five years ago, I upheld the spirit of the above-mentioned lesson, and I'm glad I did. I have covered my share of fundraisers, gala events, festivals and even the 2008 Grey Cup when it made its way to Montreal (I even got the chance to see the game from the Big O press box). So imagine my excitement when I attended the press conference for the Montreal International Black Film Festival earlier this month, that I found out that organizers planned to have legendary singer and activist Harry Belafonte personally attend the festival not only to promote "Sing Your Song", a documentary about his storied life and career, but also to accept in person the festival's Humanitarian Award at its opening night.
Believe me, it's not everyday that you get the chance to see a bona fide show business legend live in the flesh, especially one who has made an impact on the music industry and the Civil Rights Movement like Harry Belafonte. And for me, this golden opportunity didn't happen once, but twice!