+
Lady Gaga shares the joys and heartbreak of making new album with Tony Bennett as he battles Alzheimer's

Lady Gaga first met Tony Bennett a decade ago, hanging out backstage during a New York City gala performance. The two became "fast friends" and unlikely singing partners, recording and touring live together. Their 2014 duet album "Cheek to Cheek" debuted at number one on the Billboard charts, capturing the hearts of multiple generations. Gaga has often spoken fondly of Bennett in interviews, and for the past two years, the duo has been working on a new album together.

But a newly revealed development puts that endeavor into a whole different light: Bennett's wife and son have publicly announced that the legendary 94-year-old jazz singer was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2016.

In the latest issue of AARP magazine, writer John Colapinto describes meeting Bennett recently in the New York apartment he shares with his wife and primary caregiver, Susan. The picture he paints in the article is a familiar one for those who have experienced a loved one's cognitive decline—alternating expressionless reactions and moments of lucidity with no seeming rhyme or reason. Susan says he can thankfully still remember family members, but he's not always sure of what he's doing or what's happening. "Mundane objects as familiar as a fork or a set of house keys can be utterly mysterious to him," Colapinto wrote.


Susan told AARP that they are fortunate in that her husband has tons of support and is able to still live a relatively normal life as his memory deteriorates. She wasn't sure if he was going to be up to the task of recording an album, but they decided to try. Music is a surprisingly powerful tool for people with Alzheimer's—even patients with severe and advanced dementia can have memories triggered with music—so Bennett's neurologist encouraged him to continue making music for as long as he enjoys it.

So that's what he's done making this new album with Lady Gaga, which is set to be released this spring. However, he won't be able to promote it himself through interviews or tours like he normally would. Even during the recording sessions, the evidence of his illness hit hard when he wasn't singing, as Colapinto shared:

"In raw documentary footage of the sessions, he speaks rarely, and when he does his words are halting; at times, he seems lost and bewildered. Gaga, clearly aware of his condition, keeps her utterances short and simple (as is recommended by experts in the disease when talking to Alzheimer's patients). 'You sound so good, Tony,' she tells him at one point. 'Thanks,' is his one-word response. She says that she thinks 'all the time' about their 2015 tour. Tony looks at her wordlessly. 'Wasn't that fun every night?' she prompts him. 'Yeah,' he says, uncertainly. The pain and sadness in Gaga's face is clear at such moments — but never more so than in an extraordinarily moving sequence in which Tony (a man she calls 'an incredible mentor, and friend, and father figure') sings a solo passage of a love song. Gaga looks on, from behind her mic, her smile breaking into a quiver, her eyes brimming, before she puts her hands over her face and sobs."

Watching the mind of a loved one slip away is grueling to the point of feeling cruel. There's no other way to put it. The friends and family of the approximately 5 million Americans who live with Alzheimer's can attest to how hard it is, especially when the cognitive decline leads to forgetting even the most intimate of relationships.

The difficulty of Alzheimer's makes it hard to destigmatize the disease. People should know that it's not an immediate death sentence and that people can live a quality life with the support of their loved ones long after they've been diagnosed. We don't need to hide away people with dementia—but we do need to understand how to interact with them as well as what to expect and not to expect.

And sometimes people with Alzheimer's can surprise us. Susan said that despite the obvious cognitive decline, Bennett was still able to perform his music flawlessly, right up until his last public performance in March of 2020, when the pandemic put a halt to concerts. She said that he could seem very confused about where he was and what was going on backstage before a performance, but as soon as he heard "Ladies and gentlemen — Tony Bennett!" he would stride out on stage, smile at the audience, and sing his heart out like he'd always done. During every performance the past four years, Susan would worry he'd forget a lyric or get confused on stage. "I was a nervous frigging wreck," she said. "Yet he always delivered!"

The entire AARP article is worth a read, as it profiles Bennett's illustrious career, his life before and after his Alzheimer's diagnosis, and how his family is handling the changes in him. It also includes some valuable information about dementia for people who are going through similar changes with their loved ones.

As the world awaits the release of the Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga collaboration, Bennett's family and friends await the inevitable. Susan indicated that she'll know the end is nearing when Bennett stops singing altogether. "Singing is everything to him. Everything. It has saved his life many times," she told Colapinto, before once again pointing to the power of music.

"There's a lot about him that I miss because he's not the old Tony anymore," she said. "But when he sings, he's the old Tony."

Images provided by Pacifico

Making waves in the best way

True

At last, summer is here. And for many people, that means it's time for heading to the beach and maybe even catching some waves. Surfing is a quintessential summertime activity for those who live in coastal communities—it’s not only really fun and challenging, it’s also a great way to celebrate Mother Nature’s beauty. Even after a wipeout, the cool water mixed with warm sunshine offers a certain kind of euphoria. Or, you know, just hanging back on the sand is plenty fun too. Simply being outdoors near the ocean is its own reward.

pacifico quiksilver beach cleanupLet’s protect the places where outdoor adventure happensAll photos provided by Pacifico

However, it's well known that our beautiful beaches are suffering the consequences of overcrowding, pollution and littering. What was once a way of playing in nature is now slowly destroying it. And of course, this affects beachgoers everywhere. The sad truth is—without taking action to preserve all the natural joys the earth provides, we will eventually lose them.

But there is hope. Two popular brands that both have roots in surf culture have teamed up to help make trips to the beach a more sustainable pastime. The best part? You don’t have to know how to hang ten in order to participate.

Pacifico®, a pilsner-style lager originally brought to the U.S. by surfers, and Quiksilver, an iconic apparel company loved by both surfers and beach goers alike, have created a brand-new range of clothing and accessories with sustainability in mind.

Take a look below. These threads are great for all kinds of fun in the sun, without compromising the environment.

pacifico quicksilver beach cleanupsReady to make some waves

The collection launches on July 5 and includes tees and woven shirts, boardshorts, hats, flip-flops and a special beach towel and tote bag. The unique collaboration features the vibrant, colorful designs that are the hallmark of Quiksilver combined with Pacifico elements, created to make a positive impact.

Each item has been thoughtfully curated to minimize an environmental footprint and protect the outdoors. The hats, for example, are made from NetPlus® by Bureo®, a raw material created from South American recycled fishing nets. Additionally, the board shorts are made from recycled plastic bottles, and tees are made with 100% organic cotton. Pretty rad stuff, to put it in surfer lingo.

The prices on these pieces are equally rad, ranging from $28 flip-flops to $60 boardshorts.

In keeping with the sustainable ethos and protecting the places we play, Pacifico and Quiksilver will celebrate the products’ launch by hosting two beach cleanups. The first is on July 5 at Sunset Point in Malibu, California, from 4-5:30pm, and the second is on July 9th at Deerfield Beach in Florida from 8:30 – 10:30am.

pacifico quicksilver clothing lineCleaning up and looking good while doing it

Theses beach cleanups are open to anyone over the age of 21 who’s ready to have some fun while taking care of nature’s playground.

Those who can’t make it to the beach (bummer, dude) don’t have to miss out on all the fun. The new collection will be available on July 5th at www.quiksilver.com/mens-collab-pacifico. And even if you don’t surf, never plan to surf, have no desire to even be near a surfboard, rest assured, the apparel is still cool. Plus sustainable choices are always good fashion.

Our planet provides us with an endless supply of beauty and adventure. But without more mindful actions from humanity, its natural wonders will eventually diminish. Fortunately Pacifico and Quiksilver are making it easier than ever for people to enjoy the great outdoors without jeopardizing it. That’s a wave worth riding.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


Being married is like being half of a two-headed monster. It's impossible to avoid regular disagreements when you're bound to another person for the rest of your life. Even the perfect marriage (if there was such a thing) would have its daily frustrations. Funnily enough, most fights aren't caused by big decisions but the simple, day-to-day questions, such as "What do you want for dinner?"; "Are we free Friday night?"; and "What movie do you want to see?"

Here are some hilarious tweets that just about every married couple will understand.

Keep ReadingShow less

The dog lovers in your neighborhood.

Is there anything that dogs can’t improve? They make us healthier, happier and even more attractive. That’s right. If you have a photo with your dog in a dating profile people are more likely to swipe right.

Now, a new study reported by Ohio State News shows that having more dogs in your neighborhood can make you safer by lowering the overall crime rate.

The study, conducted by sociologists at Ohio State, was recently published in the journal Social Forces.

According to researchers, dog-walking isn’t just about getting exercise—it makes us all security guards whether we know it or not.

“People walking their dogs are essentially patrolling their neighborhoods,” Nicolo Pinchak, lead author of the study, told Ohio State News. “They see when things are not right, and when there are suspect outsiders in the area. It can be a crime deterrent.”

Keep ReadingShow less

Paul Rudd in 2016.

Passing around your yearbook to have it signed by friends, teachers and classmates is a fun rite of passage for kids in junior high and high school. But, according to KDVR, for Brody Ridder, a bullied sixth grader at The Academy of Charter Schools in Westminster, Colorado, it was just another day of putting up with rejection.

Poor Brody was only able to get four signatures in his yearbook, two from what appeared to be teachers and one from himself that said, “Hope you make some more friends."

Brody’s mom, Cassandra Ridder has been devastated by the bullying her son has faced over the past two years. "There [are] kids that have pushed him and called him names," she told The Washington Post. It has to be terrible to have your child be bullied and there is nothing you can do.

She posted about the incident on Facebook.

“My poor son. Doesn’t seem like it’s getting any better. 2 teachers and a total of 2 students wrote in his yearbook,” she posted on Facebook. “Despite Brody asking all kinds of kids to sign it. So Brody took it upon himself to write to himself. My heart is shattered. Teach your kids kindness.”

Keep ReadingShow less