Monday, August 25, 2014

Carolina on My Mind

H. Lou Gehrig. We'll come back to him.
So I'm back from a pretty cool vacation.

I hatched the plan a month or so ago (maybe less, hard to say) but had wanted to do it for some time. The bottom line is that things came together where my niece, Kristy, her husband, Hector, and their three kids (Evelyn, Eleanor, and Isabel) welcomed us (me, my mom, and Sean) to their home in North Carolina. Sprinkle in my niece Laura, her boyfriend, and a cameo by her two kids (Kendall and Emma) and it was a Fayetteville Family Fest!

Let's call this "Three Soldiers." At the Airborne and Special Ops Museum, Fayetteville, NC
It can be easy to get really stressed when family comes together (ooooohhhhhh yeah) but this was five days of peace and harmony. For Sean, mom, and I, roughly 12 hours in a car can threaten ones sanity, but we survived.

By the way, have I mentioned how much I love to drive? Yeah, probably.

Pure. Evil.
I've created a monster, by the way. Not only has Sean picked up the love of Waffle House, but he is now obsessing over Golden Corral. I mean...seriously. It's the reason we stopped there in Colonial Heights, Virginia, and not too far from Baltimore, as well as near Fayetteville.

Looking into South Carolina on the state line at South of the Border.
I was worried as we arrived at South of the Border. Yes, it seems it gets a touch more dilapidated with each visit, but I worried Sean would find it boring. Plus I worried that it was even open at all, given that I didn't see a SOB billboard until we were within roughly 100 miles. Then we stepped into the base of the sombrero tower - the ONE THING the kids were excited about - to find out it was closed.

In fact, only the shops and restaurants were open. No rides. No mini golf. A few arcade games.

Yet. They. Loved. It.

"Daddy," said Sean. "Now I see why you LOVE it here!"

Big sigh of relief for the guy sweating in the 98 degree* heat.

*That reminds me of the godawful trend of boy bands we had at one time. Yes, I know, One Direction makes our ears hurt, but there was a proliferation of utter dreck. Now the dreck is in other genres (and every song still sounds the same.

Given the military presence in Fayetteville, it seems fitting that America's Dog lives there.

Fayetteville, NC is never going to be known as a destination town. It's a good stopping point, and a fine place to live. They've got shopping, restaurants, the major brands, and a few points of interest. The Airborne and Special Ops Museum is a must-see, for instance. For a baseball geek like me, the Babe Ruth plaque at the corner of Gillespie and Southern was a quick diversion.
Easy to find and near a highway office!
There is more I'd like to go back and see. Apparently Fort Bragg has a museum worth checking out. Plus I dig just seeing how a city/town/place gets by. I like going into a grocery store to see what's on the shelves. You learn things that way. Just strolling through the Target was interesting to get a feel, believe it or not.

The drive reminded me of just two years ago, when I went to and from Charleston, SC. This one was pretty good as well, despite a false start to go retrieve a DVD player that was left at home. Otherwise, it was basically a 12-hour jaunt south that could have been significantly less if I didn't stop at the aforementioned Golden Corral (and a stop in Arlington, VA). But I don't push my travelers like that, so we made sure to make good time while being leisurely about it.

The drive home...well, lesson learned. Don't travel on a Sunday unless you have a good alternate to Interstate 95. Of course, I had a backup plan but got lulled into not using it. Shame on me, I guess.

We also made sure to enjoy ourselves with a group dinner in honor of Gabriel Hernandez, who would have been five on Saturday (the same day as my brother - his grandfather). I wish we could have all met him.

Oh, so why is Lou Gehrig at the top of this post? Well I initially had some more thoughts on the Ice Bucket Challenge, but they seemed clumsy and, well, I've probably said all I need to say about it. But I found that great picture of him and wanted to use it. So I did. Again, somebody will need to explain to me how it's cyber bullying**, or how it is so bad when $60 million has been raised.

Like I said, I've probably said enough about it.

** OK, last thing (for now): I challenged four people. I don't know that any of them did a single thing. I'm not aware of them getting ice or writing a check. I was challenged with three other people. To my knowledge, I'm the only one that did a thing. Here's the thing: I genuinely don't care one way or another. If that's bullying, then I need a new dictionary. Just know that his thing is very personal to me, and will remain that way.

Oh, and Richmond still rocks.
Looking towards downtown Richmond, VA.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A New Look

I'm going there later this week. That has nothing to do with this post. I needed a picture.

You'll notice I've slapped a fresh coat of paint here. Perhaps.

I had the previous theme, with the road picture, for some time. Tonight I embedded a picture I shot from the radio booth at Dodd Stadium in Norwich back in April. I love that picture. I love most pictures from a press box when I'm broadcasting.
Except for my headset, it's all there.
My score card, defensive alignment, ipad, MacBook, a pencil, binoculars, and a lineup card are all there. Just missing my headset and the mixer (maybe a pen and a bottle of water or candy also).

I digress.

Anywho here's the new look. Have at it.

That view will be of various football fields soon.

The picture at the top of the post is my South of the Border mug. I will be there later this week. Sean may love it. He may hate it. Either way, I want him to see it.

#IceBucketChallenge

video
Sure, I was slightly conflicted about the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) at first. In some ways it seemed like many pursuits on social media. It seemed like a form of cyber pressure, meant to get people to donate money.

In general, it is. Sort of.

It's not cyber bullying. There's no shame in NOT doing it. Best as I can tell, it's a free country, so you do what you want with your time, your money, your ice, your water.

In the end, seriously, what's the big deal? I was honored to be asked by John Kovach, and I really believe in supporting ALS research (aka Lou Gehrig's disease).

I'll donate, and I did the challenge. Why? Because it was kind of fun. It was cold for a moment. Really, briefly. It made my son's day (he was asking all weekend "when can we do it?").

To be honest, you're supposed to nominate three people. I nominated four (Ryan DeMaria, Chris Kaelin, Kris Adams, and Lisa Slocum). I would have also nominated Mick McGowan but he's not on social media (though Mick on Twitter would be hysterical). I could have nominated a lot of other people (and you probably know who you are). Some of my choices already got nominated (Harold and Paul are two, and they were both prepared to nominate me in return).

Anyway, I did it. There are always contrarians who insist on not doing things just...because. There are others who have to make it about themselves in the process of kicking their feet and saying "Hell no. No H20!" This is to raise money, which it is doing, in large quantities. This is to raise awareness, which it is doing. This is a phenomenon.

This is an honor. I was happy to do it.


Eight Years

Yogi and Bill Dickey both wore 8 in The Bronx.

"If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes." - John Wooden
The history is simple. Eight years ago, after feeling the pressure of other writers who stepped into the world of blogging, I took the plunge. Many of them have come and gone, and I'm sorry they haven't returned (and I, at times, out of nowhere, will remind them of this. I'm like that).

I didn't want to do Exit 55 unless I did it right. I didn't want to write for a few months and walk away. I needed a name, and it hit me just before I began our efforts here. I wanted it to be topical, sometimes personal, and create conversation. Sometimes, the goals have been met.

I got more at times. I made friends as a result. I ticked people off. The readership numbers have never been great, and while I didn't write for the readers, it sometimes made me wonder why I should keep doing it.

Kind of like radio in that way where you just keep plugging along with the hope that someone is interested.

Yet here we are. A lot has happened in eight years, and those who have been around know this. My life has changed so drastically from August 17, 2006, and you all know it. I think, in a lot of ways, I have changed. In many ways I'm still the same, but I really think if you knew me then and now, you would say the shell is still the same, the heart and soul are still the same, but that there are differences.

I'd like to think I'm a better person today. I don't really know who can judge that.

It's been fun, and I still lament that I don't write enough. Most of the time, I have a story I want to tell but finding the time/energy/words isn't always easy. There are still a few who tap me on the shoulder and say "you need to write more" and I'll put Mick at the top of the list for that. I know a few others who, best to my knowledge, still read all of it. I think Jon is always there, and Harold, and have picked up Paul and John and some others along the way. I can't thank you enough. I like to write. Sometimes I didn't care if anyone read it. In reality, I think that's false. I care.

I'm sure I've lost some along the way also. Sometimes members of my family read, and sometimes they don't. To be honest, I don't really know for sure. Overall, I don't know who is reading.

The journey has been like all journeys. It's been sad, spectacular, thought-provoking, angry, bewildered, and more.

We've seen hurricanes and Super Bowls. Births and deaths. Broadcasts and World Series. We've talked about Blue Knights, Renegades, Cardinals, Rams, Blue Wave, Tigers, Bluefish, and Sound Tigers. We've covered the Yankees, Mets, Rangers, Steelers, Devils, Giants, and so on. You get the point.

We've been to Aberdeen, Boston, San Diego, Los Angeles, Virginia Beach, Key West,  Las Vegas, Washington DC, Tampa/St. Pete, Oneonta, Albany, Charleston, Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, Scranton, and of course, Richmond. I'll likely pass through Richmond on Wednesday on my way to Fayetteville, NC.

Which brings to me Waffle House. Krispy Kreme. Wawa. Yacco's hot dogs. Too many roadside stops on too many roads.

I've taken you to too many press boxes, and a Press Box. We've been to WGCH, WBNR, WLNA, and HAN Radio. There are new horizons and big changes in my radio life to come...

I've perhaps said the names Bobby Murcer, Vin Scully, Huey, Lewis, Sean, Lisa and a few more way too many times. Maybe that pushed you away. Maybe that endeared you.

I've enacted Rule 55 a bunch of times also, when I just really wanted to say something, but couldn't.

I've had to explain the words written here, or on social media probably more than I ever really wanted to. Sometimes it was because I was too vague. Sometimes it was because I was too blunt. Sometimes it was because of an error in judgement.

I've introduced you to friends and writers who have come and gone.

At best, I've been loyal to those same friends, no matter who they might be. If they've walked into my life, I likely haven't dropped them.

At worst, I've been loyal to those same friends, no matter who they might be. If they've walked into my life, I likely haven't dropped them.

The last two sentences are the same, all based on perception, but it's just part of being me.

To quote a wise man (Popeye), "I yam what I yam."

That still couldn't get me to eat spinach.

As we start year nine, I make no predictions about writing more, and I realize I don't need to. I'm not paid to do this, but I remain committed to it, no matter how many times I've plotted my farewell post (to go along with shutting down my Facebook and Twitter accounts).

But I'm still here. Lisa is along for the ride. Sean, the most wonderfully unique and loving child/young man, is still the co-pilot. I'm trying to simply enjoy these days as I can.

I know my life isn't perfect. I'm not perfect. Yet all I can do is go a day at a time. I learned that a long time ago. Just keep moving forward.

So we will.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Playing the Game I Love

From left: me, Rocco Valluzzo, and Martin V Hersam. It looked like Marty's play, so I pulled up. You can see the potentially disastrous result. Error on the pitcher. (Thanks, Joshua Fisher, for the great photo)
I wasn't going to play. Honest. When I played in the 74th annual (give or take) Hersam Acorn Newspapers softball game last year, I pulled a charley horse and was using my dad's cane the next day. My shoulder hurt. My elbow hurt. I couldn't throw. My bat felt particularly slow.

I wondered if it was just time to be a broadcaster or a spectator.

We needed players this year, so I decided I could use some laughs. Keeping my expectations low, I made my way to the field in Branchville.

Let's get this out of the way: we lost. We were down 9-0 after a half inning. My pitcher (and boss) Marty Hersam, has never - NEVER - won a game. Could we have stacked our defense better? It's possible. Adjusted the lineup? Perhaps. Could we maybe pick teams by NOT pulling names?

Here's another thing: I probably should have played the outfield, save for the achy legs and knees and, most notably, my arm being shot. It's depressing, but my shoulder barked at me every time I tried to uncork a throw. So I played second base and had one ball hit to me.

At the plate, well, I'm not embarrassed. I'll save you the "glory days" recap and say that I was able to find a little youth with a triple to right center field. In fact, I had two triples. I shouldn't have, but I did.

But here's the thing: I laughed. I played hard. I made other people laugh. I was laying on the grass at one point in mock disgust. Yet I loved seeing people who work so hard really letting their hair down and having fun. The camaraderie was a huge part of the day.

Plus I was back at the site where I hatched HAN Radio, and I don't forget that. Marty and I had a few laughs at that.

I'm no player. Never really have been. But I still love this game. The pain I feel today is beyond worth it and makes want to play again. It is great to be active.

Just let my body heal first.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ferguson

AP Photo/Jeff Roberso
I was reading Twitter last night when I came across more details of the situation in Ferguson, MO.

It's awful and disgusting and really, really bad. When looting is going on...when police and citizens are at such odds...when tear gas and rubber bullets are being fired...I mean, really? In Ferguson, MO. In the United States?

As they say, "Merikuh!"

Sigh.

Most awful, of course, is an 18-year-old man is dead. A life that was just getting interesting is over. He was unarmed. He apparently had no criminal background. He, in short, had no reason to be shot.

But he was shot. By police. In a town of mixed races and mixed economics. The police won't release the name of the officer who shot Brown, and of course, they are defending one another.

Oh, did I mention Michael Brown was black? Ferguson is two-thirds black, which is a stark change from just 15 years ago. The police force is predominantly white. Now add in lingering Trayvon Martin outrage and let's play the feud!

Again. Sigh.

The fact that Michael Brown is black is relevant and, yet, I wish it wasn't. But he is, and it is. I'll leave that right there for those of you smarter than I to analyze. What's bothering me more is a man is dead and there is chaos between police and people.

And the media. Wait, what?

Wesley Lowery, a reporter for The Washington Post, and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post, were working in a nearby McDonald's, taking advantage of wifi and power outlets, when SWAT officers decided that they were going to kick everyone out. Lowery decided to film the exchange, which initially caught him grief (this is not illegal, by the way). The bottom line is that the police felt the two, who had never met before yesterday, weren't moving fast enough.

They were handcuffed, arrested, taken to jail, booked...and released with no paper trail or reason as to why they were arrested.

This is what Lowery remembers of it all.

Later in the evening, Ferguson police were demanding all cameras be turned off. Yes, TV cameras included. Which is, ya know, illegal and all.

What's got me is that, where I'm used to seeing 24 hours of blathering over things like this, I'm seeing nothing. When the LA riots occurred, I remember watching plenty of live coverage. Last night, I saw Iraq...Lauren Bacall (yes, I know how to whistle, RIP)...Robin Williams (Nanu Nanu, RIP)...and a little Ferguson. I'm more confused than anything else over this.

Again. Staying focused, a young life is over. I think what people want is an answer. Answers. Who was the officer? Why was Michael Brown killed? Why were those reporters arrested? Why did this whole thing evolve into this?

What's going on?

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

From the Press Box

Broadcasting in Ridgefield in July. (Rob photo)
On occasion, I pop onto the HAN Radio site and throw a few thoughts of my own into the mix. In fact, I just posted one now.

Oh, Paul Silverfarb and I had a chance to talk to John Sullivan, he of the Minnesota Vikings and Greenwich Cardinals. It was nice catching up with him.

That will also be on the website at hanradio.com, on iTunes (search for Hersam Radio in the store!) and on Soundcloud.


Saturday, August 02, 2014

Vader and Krispies



Just saw this earlier today while looking around Twitter, which led me to Deadspin. I went there to read more on the awful Paul George injury from last night (see the images at your discretion...pretty gruesome). Here's hoping he makes it back to the NBA fast.

As for these sports logos, what's not to love? The Yankees and Darth Vader? Of course! The Steelers and Rice Krispies? That's me right there!

AK 47 Studios on Instagram is responsible for them.

So this made for a fun start to the day.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hi

Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue...
I know. I owe you better than this. Some of you (Mick, Jon, a few others) have been remarkably loyal to this blog since day one. Finding the time - the strength - to sit down and write isn't easy these days. No excuse. Just the facts.

I'm at the back end of a week that I don't want to forget, simply because of how incredibly bad it was. Yes, I'm still gainfully employed, still have the car (Will the Three, so deemed by Sean), am still breathing, etc.

But...oy. The fact is that I'm dangling a carrot here, but I really can't tell you why it was so bad. At least not yet. But ch-ch-changes are a-coming, for good and bad. I'm dealing with hurt, anger, bitterness, while also viewing opportunity.

And that was just Monday.

It wasn't just one thing. It was a lot of things. That's life.**

No point in whining any further. Stuff is going on. That's all.

** Not all of the news was bad. Great friends Mick and Gretchen welcomed a new Yankees fan (despite their split allegiances, I know Mick will treat his young charge the right ways, as will his friend "Uncle" Rob). Congrats to two people I love a lot. Your lives are officially changed, and it will be glorious. Buckle up for a great ride, and keep that youngster away from the Red Sox.

And now we leave you with a song (#Rule55)