Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sandy...the Storm

The Saw Mill Parkway was closed. Then again, when is it not? (RA photo)
It was a year ago today that Hurricane and, eventually, Superstorm Sandy hit the metropolitan New York area.

I wrote about the experience here - a surreal day that left me largely unscathed and lucky.

By the way, don't bother following the the link in that post for the Simi Sara show. It no longer works. Ms. Sara still does a show there, and she was wonderful to talk to. I have the audio of those appearances in my collection.

What I remember about the day are bits and pieces. I remember seeing if the station needed me that night (and they thought my being there would be a good thing). It was, after all, a Monday, so I was ostensibly coming in to do The Press Box.

Kato, CJ, and Ryan all stayed home. I can't even imagine what the night would have been like had they all come in. As we found out hours later, travel was very much discouraged. Jim Fischer (Campbell) was told to not even bother to try to get to his house in Greenwich by a cop who stopped in around 11:30 that night.

I remember pulling my stuff together and stopping at Subway for lunch - other than a Nature Valley bar, it  was the last thing I would eat. The ladies in there said that they would be open for a little longer after I left. They also didn't seem very chatty.

Things were calm at WGCH when I first got there. Yes, the calm before the storm. Then Mary Anne DeFelice called to say that she wouldn't be doing her show at 3:00 that day.

I stepped in, and it was game on. At first I tried to do business as usual. Talk about general things.  The pendulum would swing as the day went along, and by the time Darby Cartun left at 6:00, we were into full storm mode.

I remember being chided after I got off the air for not saying that the storm had been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm (or superstorm) when I was on. I remember hearing that as Tony Savino, Bob Small, Jim, and I stood in a dark office just after the power went out.

I also remember that I did say that it was downgraded on the air. Such is life.

I remember phone calls - many of them. We took note of each outage that they reported. We reported as much as each caller passed along, and avoided rumors. We kept an eye on the power maps from the various companies.

I remember hearing about the big fire in Greenwich, near the water.

I remember not blowing up my air mattress, in part because I saw that Jim and Tony didn't have one, and I thought that would be obnoxious to me. Then, when we all called it a night, I couldn't blow mine up because power was out and batteries were dead.

I tossed and turned all night. The only thing still lit was a traffic light at the corner of Lewis and Mason Streets, just outside the studio. It ran on a backup for a short time until it, too, died.

I think, in the heart of the storm, I stepped outside once. I wanted to see what it was like. I'm sort of like that. I also wanted to make sure my car hadn't been damaged. I parked in a spot that kept it close to the building, and that was a conscious decision.

I sat around the office with Tony and Jim, and Bob eventually came in. I felt helpless and useless so I decided to head for home.

I remember a rumor that Dunkin Donuts was open on Putnam Ave (that's US 1, by the way). But indeed, that was a rumor.

Trees were down all over Greenwich as I started to drive home. Interstate 95 was technically closed, but nobody was stopped from entering the road. Best as I could tell, nobody was going to pull me over, but I kept my press credential handy in case. Traffic was very light.

The Saw Mill Parkway was closed at "the Hawthorne Circle," as old-timers still call it (it was once a traffic circle and was built into an interchange right around when I was born). Then again, the Saw Mill closes in a misty rain.

I remember there wasn't too much to clean in the yard when I got home. We were spared, and lucky. However, we had no power. Still, a very small price to pay.  I had enough battery power to keep the radios and flashlights going, and daylight gave me enough to keep things light.

I remember pacing in the yard as I spoke with Simi Sara on CKNW. Unless I'm sitting down, I tend to pace when I'm on the phone. Something about the movement, I guess.

I read. I'm pretty sure it was Marty Appel's pretty brilliant Pinstripe Empire. I might have finished it.

I remember telling myself that, if I needed to charge anything, I could jump in my car. Gas wasn't an issue...yet. We had some issues up our way but, ultimately, we got off easy, at least at first. I recall going to Lisa's eventually, and then seeing stations - even up near Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park, without gas. Still, it was nothing compared to other areas.

According to my post from last year, the power came back late in the night of October 30. Apparently around 11:00 or so. I remember doing what anyone does when power comes back: running around and fixing clocks, and turning off things that were left on.

Then I turned on the TV and looked at how lucky we were by comparison.

I remember there wasn't a football game to broadcast for a while. In fact, it was almost two weeks before high school football was played again in Connecticut.

In areas along the Hudson River, the Atlantic Ocean, and Long Island Sound, the destruction was intense. In lower Manhattan, there was flooding, especially down at the Battery. Places like Breezy Point and points along the Jersey Shore was devastated.

In New York City, the plan was to still hold the New York City Marathon, until smarter heads prevailed and realized that it was, simply, wrong.

Of course, there was loss of life as well.

I remember so much of it. Yet I can't say I remember it all.

Monday, October 28, 2013

1971 All-Star Game

The things you can find on YouTube are truly wonderful. Check this out from 1971: the opening of the broadcast on NBC. Watch and listen as Curt Gowdy, Tony Kubek, and Lindsey Nelson (all three Ford C. Frick Award winners) discuss the game.

The starting lineups are also introduced. Of particular interest to me is the part at 9:11. You see, that's where the public address announcer introduces Bobby Murcer. Here is Bobby Ray's first All-star intro, and it gets totally botched, right down to the lack of even showing him, or a graphic with his name on it. He trots out around 9:39. It takes until 13:52 to even see his face.

Oh, but the rest of this is pure gold. The headset that Lindsey Nelson wears, along with his godawful choice of blazer.  The zoom in and out on Gowdy and the way the shot of he and Kubek is laid over the background - first with Nelson, and then of just the field - are priceless.

This it pure 70's baseball at its finest.

And the National Anthem is fantastic. The whole crowd singing. Wonderful.

Not to be forgotten are the players. What an amazing collection. So many Hall of Famers assembled there.  Seaver, Mays, McCovey, Clemente, Killebrew, Carew, Yaz, Reggie, and on and on.

Plus two guys named Murcer and Munson.

And Joe Torre's amazing sideburns.

The full game broadcast is available also. Bobby Murcer comes up at 26:53 and collects his only All-Star hit. Of course, a bunch of homers were also hit that day, including a shot off the roof of old Tiger Stadium, hit by Reggie Jackson. The American League got the victory.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Some reading from Wilton and Greenwich

The program from Sunday's GHS HoF Banquet
On occasion, I like to highlight a few stories that I've worked on.

The first is in honor of Virginia "Ginny" Rico, the former principal of Cider Mill School in Wilton, who passed away back in June. I attended a memorial in her honor, and the story is here.

The second is from last week's Greenwich High School Hall of Fame Banquet. I wrote the story for the Greenwich Post. John Ferris Robben's fantastic pictures accompany the words.

That's all. Enjoy.

The Mall

Cloverleaf Mall, Richmond, VA. Photo courtesy of the fantastic, and currently inactive, Vintage Richmond website. I hope that the webmaster, a guy named "Jon" whom I  used to see in the mall a lot, gets back to doing his thing again soon.
There was a time when I loved that bastion of social activity known as "the mall." It didn't necessarily matter WHAT mall (although it sort of did*), but it had to be a mall.

*No, it did matter: you would take the Danbury Fair Mall over the Jefferson Valley Mall or - yikes - the Baldwin Place Mall. Or the Westchester Mall (and not the fancy Westchester that sits in White Plains, but the rag-tag one that was in Mohegan Lake).

Yet, still, it was the mall. It beat being at home.

So when I saw a friend post a link to this on the dreaded evil known as Facebook (such a double-edged saw FB is), I clicked with interest.

Pictures of mall...er...rats in the late 80's and early 90's? Oh yeah.

Let's face it: I was one. On Senior Cut Day (December 12, 1986), my crew and I gathered for breakfast. Then we went to Danbury. Of course, a guard asked if we were supposed to be in school and, I, as the oldest-looking and, generally, more mature of the group (scary as that sounds) replied: "They're with me. I'm in college."

"Where do you go?"


Such was life at the mall. We dated there. We made friends there. We had our own language. 

It was also fun to walk around malls - not just in my area, but in other areas. It was part of how I discovered what life was like. Sure there were a lot of the chains, but there was also a certain amount of local flavor to be found - stores that we didn't see back home.

I've walked so many, from Maine to Florida to Nevada to California.

This book, Malls Across America, looks pretty interesting.

Heck, I even worked in the retail publishing industry at one time, for two years, at Directory of Major Malls in the late-90's.

So, yeah.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Me, Chris Kaelin, Ryan DeMaria, in Danbury in 2011 (Paul Silverfarb photo)
This has been expected for some time. It needed to happen. It had to happen.

WGCH has been sold.

The early word is that my status, and the status of sports, is OK. I was told that I shouldn't be concerned about anything.

Of course, I haven't met the new owner yet, so all is speculation and on will be on a day-to-day basis.

We've upgraded our equipment, if you haven't heard. It is beyond clear, and beyond fantastic.

It gives me hope that new ownership will like what we do, and increase it.

Change is generally terrifying. But it can be good. It can be exciting.

I expect to be behind the mic tomorrow night when Greenwich plays at Trumbull (in what I'm told will be a crowded press box...oh I love high school football).

So, yeah, there's the news.

At the same time, the Business and Lifestyle Talk Radio Networks have been sold to a Dallas company. As I also worked for them (WGCH was owned by BTRN until Wednesday morning), the future there is a little more murky.

It's a time of transition. People leaving. New people coming.

And that's about all I can probably say about that.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Changing a Habit

Yep. Guilty (PS, Google came up with this. I normally abhor these dopey memes.)
When I took the position at the Bulletin, I knew my writing would be scrutinized like never before.

For the most part, I've been able to write in my voice. Reporting isn't what commenting is (I still think I make a better columnist) but that's not the gig.

So I report. I write with the professional voice. I use "Mr. Smith " instead of using the last name. I deal with the other format and grammatical things because that's the proper style.

I don't use "transported" and some of the other words that are like the proverbial fingernails on the blackboard to my editor. Of course if I do, they get deleted.

There's still one thing that I've had to change about my writing. The stupidest, smallest thing.

The number of spaces after a period.

I don't know why (who knows how these things happen?) but I was one to write with two spaces. Not so, says the editor, publisher, and even some online debate (yep, I Googled it). One is the loneliest number.

So, yes, even here, I'm trying to use one space between sentences. It will take some time (I still have to edit it in my professional writing) but I'm trying to get used to it.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013


"If you start with 'it was a dark and stormy night,' you won't go wrong. It works for Snoopy." - Tim Parry, 10/8/13

Please don't be offended, but I'm using you, or more precisely, the bloggy.  You see, I'm trying to finish a story for the Wilton Bulletin - today is deadline day - and I'm stuck.  Something about this one has not inspired me.

It's not the subjects fault. Not even close. It's just that my audio is suspect and I can't seem to wrap my head around the topic.

Trust me when I say that it's not rocket science I'm writing about. No, hardly.  Not brain surgery.

So here we are - a little after 7:00 on this morning. 

I've been asked how I find the time to keep even a semblance of the blog alive, and the answer is that I often use it to generate my creative juices. So while I don't write here nearly enough, I squeeze a few minutes to throw something together, normally on Thursday or Friday. There's something about it - writing creatively and for the sheer hell of it - that seems to soothe me.

I would do it more while sitting at my desk, but well, no.  The truth is, while I'm currently sitting at home and stuck, I tend to write my best at the library, in Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or anywhere other than the office where I can get some wifi.

Now, off the bench...

There's no doubt I have little to no love for the Boston Red Sox, but I'll take anything that gives us drama.  So while I wanted the Rays to win, I mostly wanted that series to go the maximum number of games.

While we're at it: GO PIRATES.

I looked at the score...Sharks 9, Rangers 2. I looked again. Sheesh. It's just one game, of course, but wow.  Only three games into the season though.

Last night's League of Denial on PBS's Frontline was some of the most compelling sports-related television you will ever watch. Find a copy of it if you haven't seen it. It just might change the way you feel about football.

I think, ultimately, that football will find better equipment and safety precautions, but it's going to be touch-and-go for a while. We'll get close to being two-hand touch, but the NFL is just too powerful.

One other thing: the Steelers play a big part, directly and indirectly, in the documentary. Four players are featured, and there are other mitigating pieces. I'm not saying the Steelers are a blame in this - they're no worse than any other team - but it was still jarring.

Who looks the worst, besides owners? Many of the NFL doctors and, most of all, two men.

Paul Tagliabue and Emperor Roger Goodell.

Awful. A lot of (metaphorical) blood on their hands.


John Lennon would have been 73 years old today.

We still all shine on, but we could probably also use a Revolution.

The US government is an embarrassment. This shutdown just goes on. It's not "an Obama thing." It's a government thing. Republicans look really bad here. At the same time, I hold everyone accountable.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Oh, and it's Hump Day.


And with that, maybe I feel inspired again.

Friday, October 04, 2013

A Picture Says a Lot

While driving back from covering a story today in Wilton, I saw this sign at Weir Farm, a National Historic Site.

I'd post a link to their website, but that's shut down as well. (Have a look at what it says today - 10/4/13)

I can't even begin to express the rage that I feel. As a country, we should be pissed.  Absolutely furious.

Can you imagine traveling to Washington, DC, or the Statue of Liberty, or Yellowstone?  You're all set for a vacation and you pull up and see a sign like this.  Your vacation plans - the money - all shot down the tubes because of pettiness and brilliant incompetence.

The government isn't going to reimburse you for the your lost wages, or the time you took off from work.

Fire them all?  Of course, we've know it's not possible, but my god something has to be done.  We - THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - are looking like a joke to the outside world.

We can't get our junk together.  Instead we have Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx) recite Green Eggs and HamWe've got this stooge berating a Park Ranger for doing her job - the job HE voted for (thanks, Sal).  We've got World War II vets saying "screw this" and pushing past the barricades.

How DARE they barricade us from the monuments and memorials?  I understand that buildings - the Smithsonian and so on - need to be closed (not that I agree, even remotely), but the World War II Memorial?  IT'S A MONUMENT.  Leave it open and get on with it.

I'll go one further - my sister is going to France.  She leaves tonight.  One of her goals - hell, one of MY goals - is to visit Normandy.  This is supposed to be her chance.

IT'S F**KING CLOSED.  Closed. Shut. Fermer (which is supposed to be "closed down or shut" in French)

Let that sink in again.  Think about it.


EFFING (I really want to curse here but just can't bring myself to).



If that doesn't infuriate you then I'm not sure what else to say.

People aren't working.  They're either being furloughed or having their money "delayed."  Of course, the bills won't be delayed, but the government doesn't give Martin Van Buren's ass about that.

It's nuts.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Talking Heads - The Pittsburgh Pirates Edition

Last night, for the first time in 21 years, there was postseason baseball in a place called Pittsburgh.

You may have heard of it.  They have six gleaming Lombardi Trophies there, win by a team called the Steelers.

They once had a fairly proud baseball heritage, but not a whole lot of winning.  They have five World Series titles (1909, 1925, 1960, 1971, 1979) and became, essentially, an embarrassment of a franchise.  After 1992, they didn't play above .500 until this year.

So you would think, given the excitement of seeing the 'Burgh reemerge as a baseball town, that TBS (broadcasting last night's wild card game against Cincinnati) would want to let you get a sense of how great it was.


Instead, we get the continued tradition of worthless pregame banter by (no doubt) talented talking heads in a studio - or even on a set in the ballpark.

Who...the bleep...cares?

Seeing the introduction of these players helps allow us - the viewers - to meet them, especially if we've never seen them.  It allows us to get a sense of what it's like to be there.  Then the National Anthem, which was only sung by Pirates center field Andrew McCutcheon's MOTHER, brings the different emotions.  Then the ceremonial first pitch.

That's the pageantry.  The buildup.  The job that TV is supposed to play - to help us understand what it's like to be there.

It's been going on for years.  In countless postseason games at Yankee Stadium, we watched as the ceremonies took place before air time, god forbid Jeanne Zelasko or Matt Vasgersian might have some brilliant nugget that their producer wants to throw at us.

It's not their fault, of course, but somebody somewhere is making awful decisions.  They're forgetting what the fans want to see.

I guarantee you NOBODY in Pittsburgh (or Cincinnati) was in front of their TV going, "Great point, Keith! Can we have another one?"

It's ponderous.  The same goes for radio.  Crowd noise, with a public address announcer introducing each player, is wonderful.

You want your pregame? Change your start time.  Then babble all you want.

Incidentally, the brilliant Amanda Rykoff has more on this, including videos and tweets, over at Awful Announcing.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Roger and 61

It was on this day, October 1, in 1961, that Roger Maris did what some had tried to do but could not: break Babe Ruth's single-season home run record.

Maris, in more games than Ruth, passed the Babe with home run number 61, on a 2-0 fastball from Red Sox righty Tracy Stallard.  Of course, that earned him an "asterisk" that never really was next his record as was believed.  Eventually, it was cleared up by baseball that the record really was his, no matter how many games it took.  In light of steroids accusations, many believe the record still belongs to Maris.

It took years for Raj to ever get his fair share.  Just a quiet guy from North Dakota, he never wanted the spotlight, and couldn't win the fans over who wanted Mickey Mantle to break the record.  Roger needed Mickey, as a teammate to challenge him, and to help him in the lineup.

Mickey needed Roger, as a roommate to help calm down a little of #7's partying ways.

They were an unlikely, but perfect pair.

Few ever had a bad word to say about Roger.  He was a wonderful ballplayer, who got overlooked for hitting the 61 home runs.  He was more than that.  He was a two-time MVP, a brilliant base runner, and a special outfielder with a good arm.

Oh, Roger was much more than 61 in 61.  But it's nice that he has that legacy.  It's what keep people remembering him, for sure.  A curse, as much as a blessing.

He died, far too young, at 51 in 1985 of cancer.  Bob Costas, at the close of the NFL postgame on NBC that day, remembered him.

Motorcycle Mania

Something went really wrong in New York on Sunday.  A pack of motorcyclists had a confrontation with a father driving a Range Rover on the West Side Highway (aka, NY Route 9A) with his wife and child. 

From the YouTube video that has been posted, it appears they surround the SUV in what appears to be a confrontational manner.  One cuts in front of him and and slows down enough to have the SUV bump him.

What started it? I have no idea.  I don't know the full story.

Here's the story as written by the Daily News.  The YouTube video is included.

Crazy.  Slightly scary.  Pretty missed up.