Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Flip of the Calendar

Sean - The Doctor's Apprentice - plays his new WiiU.
So we're done with this year.

It's tempting to look back at 2015 and break it all down. Sure, it was trying, but it does me no good to wallow in the mire*.

*Come on, baby, light my fire.

I'd rather, if anything, look at the good. There was plenty. So many broadcasts. So many shows.

So. Many. Games. I loved it. Call fifteen baseball games over five days? YES, PLEASE?!?
A favorite picture, with one of my closest friends: Paul Silverfarb, in Cooperstown.
I got to travel a bit - even if I never left the east coast. I still got to visit Boston, Scranton twice (mock if you wish), Cooperstown, Vermont, and everything between here and the North Carolina/South Carolina border.

As always, friendships were strengthened. Relationships were deepened. We loved. We lost.

There was bad to 2015, but there's bad to every year. I'd rather focus on the good, and of course, keep moving forward©.

Again, there was good.

There are things that drive me for the future. I said this a year ago - about wanting certain things badly. Nothing has changed.
Two guys talking sports. John Kovach and I rocking in Cooperstown.
We didn't do much around the bloggity this year, and for that, I apologize. But I'm grateful - so very - for the views. For every kind word. Even the criticisms. They sting. Sure. But they help make me better. They give me things to think about. I got more criticism of my broadcasting than ever this year, and that had much to do with more ears and eyeballs on it. I think about all of it, and assess it. Then I move on and decide how to address it.
Two guys, 50 FCIAC Championships: Chris Erway and I.
I love my friends and their support means so much to me.

While my family vexes me, I still love them.

I'm honored by the people who have helped make HAN Network a machine. A couple of times stand out to me:

- Cooperstown, in which I glanced over my shoulder at one point on NY Route 28, to see I was the lead car of a whole bunch of HAN people, all dedicated to a kick-ass baseball broadcast. We did that, and a lot more. The spirit there is remarkable.

- The New England Babe Ruth Regional, where we did those 15 games. Then I rested my voice.

- Vermont, where for four days, we spoke with business leaders and more in some truly beautiful settings. My great son was there. Plus we didn't get electrocuted when our tent was launched onto wires.

- The Turkey Bowl/FCIAC Championship game, where we put on one hell of a broadcast, despite being minutes from possibly not getting on the air. It's where my 25 years in this business came in handy. I knew - KNEW - we'd find a way to pull it off. The number of games that haven't made the air in my career have been minimal, and that one was going to be fine.
Kato and I. Laughing and drinking coffee.
The images that I shared here represent just a few of the many wonderful moments. I can't possibly represent everyone and everything.

There are more. Many more highlight moments. Laughs with those great friends of mine. Dinners. Quiet moments. Moments of reflection.

Things that I've learned about myself.

"All I want from tomorrow is to get it better than today." A wise man once wrote that (Bruce Hornsby) and a great man sang it (Huey Lewis).

Onto 2016. Another day follows January 1. Let's make that one better than the one before. Then repeat.
Sean gets shy talking about "Snakey."
Onward.

The Final Nutmeg Sports of 2015

Casey Kasem on the left, and Shadoe Stevens on the right...counting 'em down!
This came together quickly.

Nutmeg Sports - our final broadcast on HAN Network in 2015 - counted down a top 15 of 2015.

I put the list together on Sunday with a random collection of memories. Then I tossed the idea towards both AJ Szymanowski and, eventually, Eric Gendron. Initially, it seemed too last minute.

Then we put it together. A couple of final suggestions came in, and with social media from Kate Czaplinski, video editing from Eric, audio editing and photo selection from me, a nudge from Susan Shultz for a particular call*, and Marty Hersam's enthusiasm, we banged it.

Donald Eng joined me for the show (he's normally not available on Wednesday's) to co-host.

It's one of my favorite shows of the year.

Just phenomenal work from the HAN Network team.

*People have quoted a few calls and comments to me over the years. It seems that "Eat a sandwich, catch a touchdown" is a favorite. I appreciate the love for it, but I've used lines like that before. Nevertheless, I'm happy it resonated, although maybe not so much with the Trumbull Eagles. Susan told me that she thought it was hysterical, and that her reporter, Kevin Webb, has even mentioned it. Yet it's more about Michael Collins, the New Canaan quarterback who threw nine touchdowns that night, en route to eventually breaking the state season record. It's about the games and the athletes. So the call was fun. I hope it enhanced it.

Here it is - the final show of 2015. Thanks for watching.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Christmas Song?


I just saw a post on the evil of FB from old friend John Monteforte (ah, the Sears days of 1986-88) about Christmas songs.

Indeed, for instance, The Pretenders* didn't intend "2000 Miles" to become a holiday staple, just because it mentions Christmas. Alas, it has.

* Incidentally, every now and then I come back to listening to The Pretenders, and if you need educating, let me just say Chrissie Hynde rocks. I mean, so does James Honeyman-Scott, Pete Farndon, and Martin Chambers (the original lineup for the first two albums, along with Hynde), as well as the lineup she used on Learning to Crawl, their 1984 album. Both Honeyman-Scott and Farndon had died and she regrouped with Malcolm Foster on bass and the wonderful Robbie MacIntosh on guitar. Maybe it's the correct spelling of Robbie that I like about him. Anyway, getting way off-topic, I recently revisited The Pretenders' first album. Wow. That's basically the point. Start with "Precious" and let Hyndy simply punch you in the gut.

Wow. Again.

Ok, I digressed wildly there.

Now, back to non-Christmas-yet-Christmas songs.

This isn't a Christmas song. Yet it mentions Christmas. As I write, it's Christmas Eve. Again, alas.

Turn on all the Christmas Lights (and listen).


Such a great, under appreciated song from Billy Joel. The Nylon Curtain has long sat right near the very top of my favorite albums of his, and this song is part of why.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Music (Non-Christmas Division) Just Because

Ah yes...1991...
Here's an old HLN song I saw on the evil of Facebook today.

The song was on the album Hard at Play, and came out in 1991. Yes, the video and the song ooze of 1991, but so be it. The band is in major blues/soul mode. He don't know. No, I mean he really doesn't know.

But I do.

Favorite album? No. Favorite song? Nah.

It's still Huey and Johnny and Chris and Mario and Bill and Sean. The original lineup.

That's all.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Perfection - Sinatra

Sinatra and Basie
I've said this before.

I'll say it again.

Frank Sinatra, with Count Basie and his Orchestra (conducted by Quincy Jones), in an arrangement by Nelson Riddle, performing "I've Got You Under My Skin" in early 1966 is just about the greatest piece of recorded music I've ever heard.

Written by Cole Porter, the song was part of a "wonderful new show" at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas that was released as Sinatra at the Sands later in 1966. The overall album is widely-regarded as one of the greatest live shows ever put on record (or CD or 8-track or digital media). Rolling Stone placed it at 36th all-time.


The Chairman of the Board had just turned 50, and he is in fine voice throughout the album. But it's "I've Got You Under My Skin" that is simply blistering. Basie and the band don't overwhelm it. They sit in waiting, tingling along until WHACK!

That's when things explode.

It settles back down, with Frank's voice - that masterful interpretation - taking it from there.

Then it climbs until we reach the zenith: "Don't you know, you fool, there ain't no chance to win. Why not use your mentality?  Wake up! Step up to reality! Annnnnnnd each time I do, just the thought of you makes me stop just before I begin!"

Then a moment of silence. The slightest moment, as Sinatra breaks it down.

You feel it. You know our hero stands no chance.

None. He's trying to be wise. He's trying to recognize it and walk away.

He can't. He's whipped.

"Because I've got you," he sighs. "Under my skin. Yeah you're grabbing me under my skin."

Basie bangs the piano and we're done.

It's exhilarating and exhausting.

On this day - the 100th anniversary of Sinatra's birth, take a moment and listen to something of his. Even if it's not your genre. Just take three minutes and listen. Listen. Hear that voice. He's not just singing. It's something entirely different.

You'll feel it.

It's Sinatra.

Accept no substitutes.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

A Smile


Tonight was Sean's holiday concert at his middle school. If you've been to one, then you know the drill. You wait patiently for your child/brother/friend/cousin/whomever to perform and try to survive the rest of the evening.

Sean rocked on the sax as always, but that wasn't the story of the night.

Sean doesn't have braces anymore. Yet that's not the story either. Not entirely.

Let's back up.

From the time he could do so, Sean had an electric smile. I mean, simply mega-watts. It was the expression handed down through generations.

Then, basically, it stopped.

He'd grin. He'd smile without showing his teeth. On occasions, he'd show his teeth, but it was the smile I was used to.

He didn't like his teeth.

He got braces a few years ago, and the smiles continued to hide, or be seen in moments with the braces showing.

Yet tonight, after he finished the concert and greeted his family, he posed for a picture. The braces were removed today, and I encouraged him to show those teeth off. This instantly became one of my favorite pictures of him.

By the way, here is his eighth grade picture. Still handsome for sure.



Saturday, November 21, 2015

Happy Second Anniversary

Before the first broadcast: Me, Bill Bloxsom, Dave Stewart. Nov. 21, 2013 (Joshua Fisher photo)
A quick note to recognize the second anniversary of what is now the HAN Network.

We started, softly, with a pregame show at Noon on November 21, 2013. Our "grand opening" happened a night later.

This is what that pregame show sounded like.



The next night, New Canaan beat St. Joseph for the FCIAC Championship. Paul Silverfarb and Chris Kaelin joined me for the call.



Two years. Two-hundred-fifty-one games. Too many programs for me to comprehend. The move into video. The development of broadcasters and production people.

Boyle Stadium. Doubleday Field. Pelham Country Club. Brewery Ommegang. Vermont. Mohegan Sun. Even Key West.

The addition of friendships. Tons of emotion. Blood. Sweat. Tears.

Laughs.

Pride.

The future is very exciting.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

0-for-October

Just me. With Mo.
I struck out in October. I went a complete month without posting.

That's never happened. Not since we started this whole thing.

Sure I have topics. Sometimes I have a few minutes where I can write.

Yet I didn't.

I've been reading lately, and just finished up To Kill a Mockingbird. After all these years, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is next.

Incidentally, To Kill a Mockingbird is special. Very special. Far more special when you read it as an adult.

I interviewed Mariano Rivera in October. Yes. Very cool.



I've called games. Lots of them. I flew past 900 for my career, and will sail to 1,000 pretty soon with any luck.

I tried to get back into the world a little. I went to the movies on Halloween night and saw Bridge of Spies. I recommend it.

I watched some sports - especially baseball. As a Yankees fan who has long considered myself to be fair, I get that I am charged with bias and whatever against the Mets (and any other team that fits the narrative). Yet here's the thing: I picked the Mets to make the playoffs. I created the hashtag #Metsies15. The nicest thing I can say is that I didn't care how they were doing otherwise. Ambivalence is a beautiful thing.

The Yankees departed the postseason after one game. Sigh.

The Mets made the World Series. So did the Royals. The Royals won in five. Bully for them.

Over the past month, I've seen more Mets hats, t-shirts, license plater frames, etc than I have in the past 30 years. Why is that? I wear my Yankees stuff when times are good or bad. Wore plenty of it in the 80's, when the Mets "ruled New York."

I always wear something the day after they lose in the playoffs. It's a pride thing. Coincidentally, I saw no one piece of Mets garb yesterday. Again, that's a coincidence, given that I know reading comprehension can be a struggle and, hey, there's a narrative to be told.

Fans who said - categorically - they would never watch the team again suddenly came roaring back.

These same fans lauded Daniel Murphy as the second coming of George Herman Ruth. Then, days later, they booed him.

Yet I get called out about it. OK. Makes sense.

Anyway, congratulations to the legitimate fans. I know a bunch - Dave Sweet, Tony Savino, John Connelly, John Kovach, etc. They wouldn't have emptied out Citi Field the other night (which was first reported by several sports guys on Twitter. Then FOX's camera showed the pictures).

I've got not time for the phonies. I can't be one.

I actually didn't care who won or lost, but I saw some bad stuff during this week. Can't add anything more to that statement.

I'll focus on what my team - the Yankees, my team since 1972 - will do next year. But since I'm a sports talk personality, I also have a job to comment on the goings-on around the world of sports. So I shall.

Anyway, it's Election Day, and for the first time since 1999, I won't be covering any elections. No campaign headquarters for me this year. I'll be calling the FCIAC field hockey quarterfinals tonight at championships.han.network.

Hopefully I'll be posting more also. Like anything else, it just take a few minutes. Yet it's easier than it sounds.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

An Editorial: Not My Child


Many of you who read Exit 55 are parents. Most of you are around children that you care about.

Many of you - many of us - believe our kids are safe and insulated from the evils of the world.

And that's where we make the mistake.

So read this editorial from the Darien Times.

As usual, the writer in question (TWIQ) is spot-on, and while she is specifically writing about Darien, CT, the information can be applied anywhere.  I suppose we can surmise that Darien is an affluent community and, as such, it's easier to acquire narcotics, but the reality is one will get what one wants.

That's the sickness of it all.

In fact, I discussed the editorial with TWIQ and praised her for it. Just another in a long line of excellent writing by her. If there was anything to quarrel with, it was the last line:

"Don't be a friend now, because you want to be a parent for the rest of your life."

It's actually not a quarrel, but it's the conundrum of the life of a single dad.

Specifically, this single dad.

Susan, er, TWIQ is absolutely correct: "Don't be a friend," and indeed I'm not. Sean does know, without question that (commence Darth Vader breathing), "I am your father."

Yet I see him every other weekend (and Wednesday's when I'm available). My friends (and likely, you) know that I worry about him constantly because I don't know the level of details that I want to know.

I know there is bullying at school (that's what he tells me, and I have no reason to doubt him). I know of the other contentious parts of his life. Yet I hear other things either second-hand or well after the fact.

I can't be a helicopter to him. As I once said, I wanted nothing more than to hug him on the day of the Sandy Hook story. I couldn't.

We're finally at the point where we're talking about a smartphone for him, and believe me, the same things that I've enforced with his iPad will carry on. He's a smart kid and is largely reminiscent of his father as I was truly not someone to engage in such activities.  I'm still not.

A man in a deli told him to make sure to stay away from all evils yesterday morning. The man felt that his telling him - as opposed to his father - would have more impact, especially since this guy had just given up smoking, and was a reformed drinker as well. Sean was, as ever, polite if shy.

I trust Sean. I do. We're pals. We're father/son. That doesn't mean there aren't evils.

Therefore, back to the editorial. As TWIQ Whatshername writes:
"Ask questions. Violate privacy. Look at phones. Note changing behavior. This can alert us to a variety of problems, not just drug use."
So true.

Boston Baked: The Departure of Don Orsillo

From NESN/Twitter

Things will look and sound different in the TV booth of the Boston Red Sox in 2016.

Don Orsillo, their play-by-play voice, has been let go.

Orsillo, who has been hanging around the Sox since 1989, when he was an intern, will do his last game today (Michael Silverman, Boston Herald), likely step away with the same class and decency that he has exhibited all along, and move on.

Oh don't cry for him too much. There are rampant rumors that he is on his way to San Diego to take over the Padres job, especially as the legendary Dick Enberg enters his final year as TV voice out there*.

* A quick aside: I told Chris Erway this yesterday, and I'll say it here. With Enberg stepping down and/or backing down to a very reduced schedule and...gulp...Vin Scully projecting 2016 as his 67th and final year, you might want to invest in stock for tissues purchased in the metro-Mahopac, NY area.

The decision to dump Orsillo is the responsibility of NESN, the regional cable network that carries the Red Sox. Of course, the team gets a say in that also, and don't think otherwise. Like it or not, here in New York, there are people who approve the return of John Sterling, Michael Kay, Suzyn Waldman, and yes, Ryan Ruocco. The YES Network, WFAN, and the Yankees are in cahoots in these choices.

Like it or not.

Orsillo and his partner, Jerry Remy, the former Red Sox second baseman, have become a very popular pairing. Orsillo plays the straight man, the honest play-by-play voice who calls the game (and does it very well) while playing along with the goofier, New England-accented "RemDawg." Together they became appointment TV. When Remy stepped away a few times (various reasons abounded), it was Orsillo, acting as the glue and working with other analysts who continued to entertain the Boston faithful.

Yet it just wasn't the same.

Yes, we as fans largely tune in for the game. Generally, we hope the broadcaster doesn't get in the way (as in the recent times that I've muted YES and it seems I will have reason to in 2016), or even enhances and gets us to watch/listen (a rarity of course. I call this "The Vin Impact.'")

If Sox fans aren't tuning in, it's simply because the team stinks.

And let's be honest, it's been an awful year in Beantown.

It's no secret to those who read this little corner of the world that I am a passionate Yankees fan. It's also no secret I have plenty to say when it comes to broadcasting. Yet I must also add I've always enjoyed a pleasant relationship with the fans of the team from Boston. I like their history. They've had plenty of players worth admiring. They've often, as an organization, done so many first class things, from the Jimmy Fund to the 1999 All-Star Game to the way they treated both Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter.

But the Red Sox, and NESN, dropped the ball here.

As I said, it appears Don will be just fine. The Padres, networks, and so on will come calling. He will weigh his options. Will he move his family (he's a New England native)?

It's a lot to consider, and it's the Red Sox fans who come out the loser.

Broadcasters move on. Believe me. I know. Time moves forward.

Fans, overall, don't truly forget. They get over it, but they don't forget, and with the likely move of Dave O'Brien to the Boston TV booth, the Sox will recover from the PR hit.

For the departure of the ultra-popular Red Barber in Brooklyn brought on that kid named Scully full-time. Mel Allen's messy divorce from the Yankees moved Phil Rizzuto to prominence. You get the idea.

Boston better do the same.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

At The Yankees Saloon...


It's open mic night at the Yankees Saloon, in a fabled place, situated at the corner of E 161st St, River Ave, and a corn field.

Of course, because this is, well whatever this is, then a corn field must be nearby.

Toots Shor is running things, as usual, because everyone wants to be near Toots.

Mystique and Aura, a local band, just finished their set.

Thurman Munson is grumbling over a beer at a corner table, talking hitting and family with Bobby Murcer. He still feels slighted by Sparky Anderson, who said he was no Johnny Bench in 1976. At least that's what Munson still thinks. Murcer just smiles.

Joe DiMaggio, looking like he just stepped out of the California sun, makes sure his hair is perfectly in place before grabbing a drink.

Babe Ruth has just finished a hot dog. This being, you know, the place, Ruth doesn't have to behave himself as well as he did post-1929, when he married Claire. Oh no, the Babe, as heavenly a figure as any, can have all the dogs and beers he wishes.

The Colonel, Jacob Ruppert is here. Of course he is. Before he bought the Yankees, he was a brewer. So he supplies all of the beer to this establishment.

Robert Merrill, the famed baritone, is performing onstage at this point, when suddenly Bob Sheppard, the "voice" of Yankee Stadium, approaches the microphone. Mel Allen, "voice" of the Yankees, is standing nearby. Something is clearly up.

Pete Sheehy, the legendary Yankee Stadium clubhouse attendant, stops things by flicking the lights. This annoys DiMaggio because Sheehy normally does this only for the Yankee Clipper.

The room falls silent. The laughter stops.

Sitting at the bar, Mickey Mantle and Billy Martin wonder if Whitey Ford is finally coming through the door.

"Your attention, please," Sheppard intones. "Now catching, for the Yankees, number eight, Yogi Berra. Number eight."

Phil Rizzuto is the first to speak, uttering, of course, "Holy cow."

Casey Stengel greets Yogi as he comes in. The two always had the closest of relationships.

"I came to the fork in the road," Yogi says. "I took it. It got late early out there."

The place explodes in laughter.

Lou Gehirg ambles over. It's shocking to see The Iron Horse here, but everyone knows he's on his way to either his mother or his wife, Eleanor. He stops to greet Yogi.

"Nice to see you, son," he says, and disappears without a trace.

Bill Dickey is waiting patiently to hug his old friend. There's a lot to suggest that Berra doesn't truly become a Hall of Fame catcher without the tutelage of the gentleman from Arkansas. Of course, Dickey was number eight long before Yogi.

Roger Maris smiles at the site of Yogi. They were teammates in '61 (yes, always 61 with Roger) and Yogi managed Rajah in '64.

All seems to be well in the saloon. Many other Yankees sidle over, waiting for their chance to chat with the man of 10 World Series Championships. Someone offers a Yoo-Hoo, but that won't do in this room.

"Hi ya, Kid," says Ruth (he never knew names anyway). "Barkeep, get this guy a beer."

Elston Howard, not only the first black Yankee in 1955, but a friend of Berra's, and his successor behind the plate, quiets the room for just a moment.

"Friends," he begins, "we have our catcher."

Many in the room nod in approval.

"Yogi," he continues, "we thank you for your service to our country. For being at D-Day."

Hank Bauer, the tough old Marine, quietly chokes up. Only Moose Skowron notices, and doesn't dare say a thing.

"We salute you for all that you did on the diamond," Howard says. "For raising of a wonderful family with your beloved wife, Carmen. We welcome you into the family you knew your always had."

"Thanks, everyone," Berra finally says. "And I don't care what anyone says. Robinson was out at the plate."

Raucous laughter ensues. It's deja vu all over again.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Opening Night of FCIAC Football

Lancaster Field at Tiger Hollow, Ridgefield (RA photo)
The HAN Network is four broadcasts into the high school season. We called football games at Yorktown and Notre Dame (Fairfield), as well as soccer(!) matches (correct lingo) at Brien McMahon and Greenwich.

Those felt like the warmup acts, and I mean no disrespect with that statement.

Oh, let's spend a moment on soccer (aka futbol). I know how loyal fans are of the "Beautiful Game." I also know how they feel about their broadcasters (the Gus Johnson disaster, anyone?). I'm no Ian Darke, or Kenn Tomasch, or any other respected soccer voice that I admire. For now, I'm a narrator, as I respect the passion for the sport and don't want to infringe on it. The last thing I want to do is insult fans. I'm content to guide the broadcast along as best as I can, with the analyst (both Dave Stewart and Tim Murphy were excellent, as Mike Suppe will also be) explaining the game. This will also be the style for field hockey.

Anyway, I'm babbling. Back to the point.

Friday night was the fifth broadcast of the fall season, and it was not only time for football, but it was time for FCIAC football.

To me, it was really opening night. As such, despite the addition of a whole new level of production, it was time for the emotions.

Yes. Those emotions.

You see, now in some cosmic way, I'm the...er..."voice" of the FCIAC. Or the face. Or whatever. Football has always been the opening of my year. These emotions that I speak of normally hit me before the first Greenwich game of the year.

It's a combination of nerves, fear, and pride, coupled with a certain amount of doubt.

Things felt OK as we got close to opening the extended pregame show (FCIAC Tailgate and FCIAC Gameday). Yet once things shut down on those, I texted a friend the following: "I'm getting nervous."

The response, naturally, was of support and empowerment. Still, I stepped away to get my thoughts together and get ready. At that point, my emotions were that of tremendous pride and excitement. It was a good nervousness.

Many hours earlier, I had texted Chris Erway, my "A-Team" broadcast partner a simple message: "FOOTBALL FRIDAY!" Clearly we were both ready, but that was also some 10 hours before kickoff.

Now, in the lobby of Lancaster Field at Tiger Hollow, I gathered myself.

The lights were lit in our "broadcast booth" (we used our tent in the crowd, and it looked great), and Chris and I did our live opening. We high-fived each other as we went to the commercial for the National Anthem.

And...boom.

Fortunately, nobody could see me. I paused. I thought of family, friends (past and present). I thought of those that I wished were able to watch. I thought of those that I wished were at the game.

That moment, during the anthem, is very important to me. It's my last breath. It's my warmup music.

I felt sad. I felt proud. I felt pressure. I felt that I. Was. Exactly. Where. I. Belonged.

It was time to get to work.

The game wasn't great. No, nothing is ever perfect, but it was an excellent broadcast, with the outstanding analysis of my friend, and the merely OK that is me.

So we're off and running. Down to business.

Pregame


Game Broadcast

Tunnel of Love, Indeed

Photo by Jamie UK on Flickr
Thanks to a largely dry summer, I hadn't needed to mow the lawn in a few weeks.

Until today. Which is always dangerous because it gives me time to think.

Sometimes I put a game on in my headphones. Alas, the Steelers were still over an hour away from kicking off. The Yankees were scheduled to play someone tonight.

As I moved a car to get the tractor out of the garage, I spied a title on the radio: "Tunnel of Love."

It seemed like fate.

Bruce Springsteen and I are on speaking terms, and it's certainly not the split of 1984, when I was just sick of him (and can still not entirely tolerate Born in the USA). Indeed, for me, "Bobby Jean" is still the best track on the album.

But I've felt a disconnect with the Boss lately. The reasons aren't entirely clear or important, I guess, though I admit that I've felt a little un-Boss-worthy because I've only seen him once.

Yes, some fans - especially Springsteen fans - look down on such things.

There is a certain amount of resentment built it. I feel it towards him because his tickets are normally obscenely high-priced. Then again, they're not easy to get, and I generally resist scalpers, save for one time outside The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY, when Sean's mother and I plopped down winnings from a football pool to see a band called The Sports Section.

They're usually known as Huey Lewis and the News.

I resent myself because I can't afford his obscenely high-priced tickets.

Oh, and not that this matters, but I don't really have a date for such events. That's for me to deal with. The aforementioned Mr. Lewis is playing Long Island in October. Tickets are reasonable. But...nah.

I'm getting way off-track here.

I set up a system that sent the music from this very computer to my radio so that I could listen to Tunnel of Love. If not for the J. Geils Band, the album could easily be called Love Stinks.  The album is as much about flawed romance as it is about loss. His marriage to the actress Julianne Phillips was crumbling. He was splitting from the members of the E Street Band (and "shacking up" with Ms. Scialfa).

The words, as usual from the poet Bruce, hit home.
"I tried so hard, baby, but I just can't see, what a woman like you, is doing with me." (from "Brilliant Disguise")
"When I look at myself I don't see the man I wanted to be." (from "One Step Up")
"Ought to be easy. Ought to be simple enough. Man meets woman and they fall in love but this house is haunted and the ride gets rough. You have to learn to live with what you can't rise above if you want to ride on down, down into this tunnel of love." (from "Tunnel of Love" and, quite honestly, one of my favorite song lyrics.)
Of course, that's just a small sample of the collection of the quotable lines.

We've touched on "One Step Up" before (Jan, 2013).

I'm sure if I had written this post immediately after I finished mowing the lawn, or even while I was on the tractor (kidding...sort of), this would have been a little deeper, and more profound. Probably a lot darker, but I'm guessing that's pretty much assumed by this point.

For the record, Bruce and I aren't totally on the outs. I'll still find a higher volume for "Born to Run", "Spirit in the Night", and others, and I know both Sean and I have an extremely tight bond for "Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)."

But something's not right. Today didn't patch that up, but it didn't hurt either. It was the right album for the right mood.

No easy answers.

One step up and two steps back.

*Incidentally, if you ever want to hear another great "Tunnel of Love" song, and have never heard it, I encourage you to listen to Dire Straits' 1980 song from their masterful album Making Movies, with the gorgeous "Romeo and Juliet." A fascinating tidbit between the two "Tunnels" is that Roy Bittain - yes, "The Professor" on E Street - plays on both versions. The things you learn.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fourteen Years Later


It's been something of a rite around here: a post dedicated to the anniversary of September 11, 2001.

It's hardly minimized when you're a New Yorker. Oh, no. It will take many years for that to happen. If ever.

Even for me: nothing more than a lousy suburbanite who suffered no truly personal losses that day, there's still a sting. An anger. A bitterness. The whole day - every ounce of it - is still so vivid to me. Walking out of our apartment to a blue sky that seemed to bless the warmth in the air. Listening to Mr. Imus as Warner Wolf called in to say he felt the first impact from his apartment. Knowing I was on NY route 139 in Somers, NY, right near its intersection with NY route 100. Beginning to turn the dial for more.

Remembering how I glanced at the sky after the second plane hit while southbound on Interstate 684 near the Katonah service area.

The scene at WGCH as everything else unfolded, and relaying things I had heard on the radio to my colleagues Jim Thompson and Dima Joseph, who frantically worked the story to get on the air.

Seeing a friend sob as one of the towers fell.

Watching the final tower fall myself as a I sat in a nearly empty conference room.

There was a piece of me that ached to get on the air and talk. I'm not sure what good I would have been.

Short of that, I drove home.

I wound up on air - in theory, to do a golf show - on September 12. I can't think of a darker hour of radio in my career.

Every year since, I've relived it. I've watched the video. I've listened to the audio that I collected.


I always think of my great friend Harold, still pondering the loss of a childhood friend. I always think of the Zions of Greenwich, a football family who lost a father. I think of wanting to be close to my unborn child, as we tried to figure out exactly what the hell was going on.

This is rambling. I apologize. Maybe it's the mood. A lousy night's sleep. A bad football game. Bad...stuff. I can't quite seem to get at what I'm trying to say here.

It will pass. Work to be done. Football to broadcast.

Every year, I put Springsteen's The Rising on. I feel sick. Sad. 

For some reason, I don't have it in me this year. Again, maybe it's the mood. I admit something's not right.

What I feel matters very little. It's those who lost - and those we lost - that matter on September 11.

I don't want today off. I don't want a holiday. I want life - the very thing we were all doing 14 years ago - to go on.

So I'll call into WGCH in a moment to chat sports with Tony Savino. I'll go on the air on the HAN Network at 11 from a remote in Vista, NY. Then I'll do my best to call football later on from Yorktown High School.

And as we always do, we keep moving forward.

In New York, Washington, Shanksville, Boston, San Francisco, and everywhere else, the same will go on.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

A Song, Fate, and Coincidence


I was chatting with a friend when I texted them a YouTube link.

It was a link to a song. The song, while it had meeting to me and that moment, was nothing grand beyond that. It worked in that particular conversation.

The friend liked it, yet had never heard it before.

I reacted with a touch of shock, feeling that this tune, while not a big hit, was another piece of a legendary artist (The Beatles, of course). Yet I filed the conversation away and moved on with my evening.

A day later, the same friend went to an unusual place. It wouldn't shock me if it was the first time ever going there, and certainly not more than once or twice a year at most.

Coincidentally, not unlike me going to a church.

Just after I got the first text to say where they went, I got a second. It might as well have said the following:

"Dude. That Beatles song is on here."

I mean, I dig fate. I buy into it. I also have a healthy dose of skepticism. Yet sometimes I just can't help but glance into the abyss.

Why - WHY - was that song playing THEN?

I was stunned. Just dumbfounded. I mean, of all the songs in all the gin joints, it played there?

It's not obscure, but my friend had. Never. Hear. It. Before.

And yet, here it was, bellowing over a PA system in an off-the-wall place. A place that has far more importance to me.

Coincidence? Maybe. Yet funnel some of the tunes that played on my recent trip to North Carolina (the first one when I got in the car just made me laugh) and you can't help but wonder.

What can I say?

The Babe works in mysterious ways.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Post #2200: A Video From Two Years Ago

Front...

Back...East Meadow, NY
I wore my Huey Lewis and the News Sports 30th Anniversary Tour T-shirt today, and it hit me as I put it on: that concert was two years ago today.

Now I can't say it was the best show of theirs I've been to. It will be very hard to top 1986 at the Garden, when they were as big as any band in the world, and MSG was rocking.

But I can say that it was an emotionally wonderful show because my dear friends Mick and Gretchen (with baby on the way) were there.

Oh so was Sean. It was his first concert ever.

Now, keep in mind that it was a free concert on Long Island. They had, roughly 10,000 or so. It. Was. Packed.

We had to sit at the top of a hill, and couldn't see the stage. We could, however, hear the music.

I wrote about it.

Due to the crowd, we made our way to the car towards the end. Let's just say that I know a thing or two about HLN shows.

Mick: We should probably get going or we'll be stuck in traffic (not "Stuck with You") all night.

Me: Well they probably have "Power of Love," "Do You Believe in Love," and "Working for a Living" left.

Mick: You're a sick man. OK. Meet you in the lot.

So Sean and I watched "The Power of Love" together with the best view of the stage all night. I grabbed my phone and filmed some. The quality is terrible, but the music sounds great. Sean danced. I danced. Pretty heavenly.



 If I never go to another concert, that's a good moment to stop on.

Nine Times, and Thank You

ROONEY...GRRRRRRR
I wanted to do it. I wanted to.

Somewhere, in the back of my brain, I knew I could write. I knew I had a voice.

My friends - a couple of them - did it. It felt like a challenge.

So I jumped in also. I started a blog.

Exit 55 was born nine years ago today. Nine times I've celebrated this thing (now maybe you can understand the title and the picture of Ed Rooney).

That first post rings true. I'm still annoyed that the old Yankee Stadium is gone. You know that, no doubt.

We've waged war on so many topics. We've celebrated triumphs. We've dumped tons of emotion around these parts. Sports? Oh yeah, we've talked just a wee bit about them. Travel? Music? Movies? TV? Life? A kid named Sean? Yeah. All of the above.

We've dealt with heartache and heartbreak. New beginnings and some endings.

I've made mistakes. I've shared too much.

We've visited the past, as we try to do every year on September 11. This is that first one, from 2006.

I've backed down a great deal. I don't write as much. I delete more than I used to (or leave drafts simmering, as I did last week).

I've nearly walked away from this countless times. Not because I don't want to do it anymore, but because I feel like I should. I like having readers, and I like fostering conversation, but having a small, dedicated group of visitors here works also.

I've nearly walked away because my voice had been quieted, largely by my choice. I can't be as open or honest as I would like to be. Common sense dictates it, but I also find it sad.

There's more as to why I've almost stopped. I've lost confidence as a writer, despite the thoughts of several people who have been huge supporters. I used to just write. I generally trusted my language, my spelling, my grammar. It's like I've forgotten the difference between they're, their, and there.

I said "like." I haven't forgotten. It's just a expression. Sadly, I make that mistake way too often.

I always get affect/effect wrong. Check to see how many times I've used either spelling of that word. I'm willing to bet it's one one hand.

It's been a challenging nine years, but it's been fun also. Things ended. Things began, then ended. And again. With offers to eat excrement and perish, too.

I've been loyal and honest. Often to a fault (yes, that's a reference to the last sentence in that last paragraph).

I forged an idea that I'm deeply proud of. It started as a radio station. It ventured into video. It's now a network. I always wanted to work for a network. Specifically, NBC.

Vin Scully and Dick Enberg were both on NBC. That was enough for me.

Proud as a peacock, indeed.

Along the way, through these nine years, we built friendships. Some because of the blog, others maybe strengthened by it.

Others hurt and damaged.

I officially became a writer, and dare I say, I respected print reporter in early 2013, when I went to the Wilton Bulletin. It's also fair to say my confidence began to dip as a result.

Then again, I've always been a work in progress.

With this post, we hit 2199. There is so much more to say. So much more to do. I've thought about ending it at 10 years, but I don't know. Let's just see where it goes.

I've always enjoyed the journey anyway.

There has been support from many, and I'll forget someone. But Jon, Harold, Mick, JK, Susan, Paul, Jason, Tim, Sean (Kilkelly, that is, though Adams also), Shawn, Kato, Ryan, CJ (ErJuan of ErJuania), Dave, Tony, Jim, Brian, and Kris have been among the many names who have ready many words, if not all of them. (Again, as always, I know I forgot to name a name. I try.)

A few of those names are in the deepest circle of trust, and know me better than anyone. I think they know who they are.

Some, honestly, have read none. Not a single one. Yet they've supported by just being themselves.

So many people in Greenwich have been wonderful. That dates back to the late 90's.

I wish more people in my own hometown knew.

Too many radio friends have been supportive. Newspapers friends. Media friends in total.

Family. Mom, Laura, Doug, and all of my nieces, nephews, and great nieces and great nephews.

The good people that I've never met, or barely know, like all of the guys and girls who enjoy the open highway.

None of you have blinked an eye when the topic resorted back to my dad, my son, my job, my life, my world, the Yankees, the Steelers, Huey Lewis, or roads. Or anything else.

We've covered a lot of ground in nine years. That first post was conceived, largely, on August 16, truth be told. I worked up the courage to hit publish the following morning (the time stamp says 7:00 am).

So year 10 has begun. I really hope, one year from now, we're all in a much better place.

As always, let's keep moving forward.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Jefferson Valley Mall Will Live Again

The future?
I wrote in early 2013 about a stroll around the Jefferson Valley Mall in Yorktown, NY and its demise, mixed with my memories.

The idea of renovating the 32 year-old relic has been bouncing around for some time, because it looked like "JV" was heading towards the fate of the Dutchess Mall, Baldwin Place Mall, South Hills Mall, and others.

Those three are either dead or look completely different.

Well Jefferson Valley is finally getting its long-overdue facelift.

New York State Senator Terrence P. Murphy sounds the trumpets of progress.

A hopeful sign for a place that once meant a lot to the mall rats of the area.

The place I bought my copy of FORE! the day it came out.

Lots of memories. Lots of laughs.

I used to be there almost every day (of course, I worked there for some time). Now I go there about once a year.

So let's hope.

I encourage to watch this delightful video of life at the JV Mall in 1987!

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Feet Up

Sean's artwork on the balcony at our villa in Vermont
For the first time in what feels like weeks, I'm home alone on a Saturday.

On the one hand, there is the loneliness that comes with this, and is why I am always so active on the weekend. On the other hand, after five days of shows in Vermont, it's a welcomed break.

Up there, I was responsible for the programming and audio on HAN Radio and the HAN Network. I also feel a large responsibility for the video side of things, which is why I am more than just the radio manager. I believe, in my heart, I have an obligation to every aspect of our broadcasting.

Beyond that, I had Sean with me. For as easy as he is to watch over, he is still such a large chunk of my world. Therefore, when our tent blew over onto a power line - with Sean sitting below - I shook for probably a half-hour after we resolved it.

My first reaction was to yell at Sean to get away and to grab the tent. Then I realized it was on the power line.
Yes. That happened. See the leg up against the (thankfully insulated) power line? (Photo courtesy Kate Czaplinski)
I take my world seriously. I'm not being pithy, dramatic, disrespectful, unreasonable, or anything else. I'm being honest. I take my job, my friends, my acquaintances, my relationships, and most of my life, seriously.

With a lot of laughter, of course.

A few thoughts about Vermont: it's still as beautiful as I remember from a lifetime ago. Bennington is a very sweet town. The Bennington Motor Inn is surprisingly pleasant in its simplicity. The Wilburton Inn is amazing (Melissa Levis and her adorable dog Jetson were wonderful hosts). Manchester can get clogged with shoppers looking for goodies. I could spend hours in the Northshire Bookstore.

I cooked chicken on a grill and nobody got sick. I saw some interesting art at the Wilburton. Sean and I found Jetson on the loose a few times.

Sean is growing up, yet he's still a boy, and I'm holding onto that. But he loves the stories that I tell him, and that's a wonderful gift.

Melissa and Jetson chat with Marty Hersam and some other guy. (Joshua Fisher photo)
I loved the simplicity of Vermont and didn't want to come home. Yet I'm pleased to be stretched out at home, watching baseball.

On the other hand, when Chris Kaelin called a short time ago to say he was driving to Virginia, I almost jumped at the chance to ride along.

The Green Mountain State was a fun experience, to be sure. We all put a lot of work and energy into setting four broadcasts up and breaking them down each day. Our Vermont colleagues seemed happy to have us there, and I hope we can go back again.

I'm especially grateful to everyone who welcomed Sean. The kindness makes him feel good. Toasting him at dinner on Thursday night brought a big smile to his face.

It took some coaxing, but he had a blast learning to fly fish from Peter Kutzer at the Orvis flagship store.

I had mixed emotions when I dropped him off last night. I was certainly ready for a break but sad to be alone.

I guess I'm torn.

Four days, three nights here? OK. (Strawberry Hill Villa, Wilburton Inn)
Anyway, I'm rambling.

I'm home. Next adventure is coming up very soon. Looks like North Carolina is happening again.

Sean learning to fly fish at Orvis, with Ian Murren filming in the background. Special thanks to Peter Kutzer of Orvis for his amazing kindness.

Sean is in the video from Orvis twice: once at 1:50:00, and again at 2:48:00, where the fly fishing segment begins.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Rule 55: Stop Trying

Greetings on a sticky Saturday.

Here's a tune for you: a rare live HLN tune, from the first album. Stop Trying.

That's all.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Amy...and Me


I was chatting with some friends and colleagues the other day when the topic of Amy, the new documentary about Amy Winehouse, came up.

After she had become a caricature - another striking example of the famed 27 Club - we (well, maybe just I) forgot about the music. I was reminded of how striking her sound was. How intense the lyrics were. How there was a complete flashback to the 60s soul that hit our AM radios.

I also remembered how I had not listened to Back to Black, her stunning 2006 album, in probably eight years.


*****

Trust is a vital part of life. Like many, I have thrown a large collection of eggs into the basket of various people in my world. I've often felt, rightly or wrongly, that I could lean on a person in my inner circle.

There are those - we all have one or two (or more) - that we can feel completely unburdened with. For sure, we feel like we can tell that person every little flaw. Every quirk. We feel like they will never let us down, because we trust them. So they truly become that soul mate.

Even as things are falling apart, we hold on for dear life, because there's just no way that person that you put so much faith into will hurt you. They simply will not cheat you. They won't tell the secrets that you gave them. They won't stray.

As Ms. Winehouse would croon: "No. No. No."

*****

Her album would rocket through 2007, gaining worldwide airplay, and find itself in my iTunes. But times were changing. Tastes were changing. Life, itself, was changing.

For Amy Winehouse, there would be disastrous public appearances, drugs, booze, and ultimately, death in July, 2011. A life full of promise was gone in a haze.

Amy Winehouse and her Back to Black album would visit me again, when I discovered that it could be the soundtrack to destroying trust and all that one believes in.

I've been struggling to find it ever since.

Life moves on. You have no choice. You coin a mantra: "Keep moving forward." You do just that.

You're better off in continuing to move with it.

You discover that maybe, just maybe, you can try trusting again. Maybe you can let your soul be what it once was.

Then again, maybe not. It's a work in progress.

I went home following the conversation about Amy Winehouse and put Back to Black on as I mowed the lawn. The music astounded me. Moved me.

I suppose, in some way, it was therapeutic. Almost a form of, wait for it...

Rehab.

No. No. No.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

A Flashback and an Addendum: WGCH-FM Revisited


I don't often get comments left for me on the site, but I stumbled on one today. It was for a post that I wrote in 2008.

Yes, seven years ago.

It was about WGCH, or should I say, the predecessor to the AM station at 1490. It was about WGCH-FM, at 95.9.

I found the story of it in the history originally here, while there's more on Hartford Radio History as well. I've since stumbled across a third version on the Greenwich Library website.

With all of that said, I wrote about WGCH-FM on March 10, 2008. A reader commented on it back in late June of this year, and have added her comments as a quick update. So jump into the Exit 55 Wayback Machine again and have a read.

Oh yeah, and since it's Huey Lewis' birthday, and we're going back in time, well...yeah...

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Musical Musings of Monkees Mayhem and More

Rivalry? What rivalry? Michael Nesmith and John Lennon
I truly enjoy a great conversation about music, especially when it's not one of those "Bon Jovi is da greatest American bands evah"-types of debates, where you know you just can't deal with logic.

I'm not one to shy away from an a good music debate (John Cougar Monkfish, anyone?) but I like it when it stays civil and fun.

I especially like a conversation that makes me (or perhaps the person I'm talking to) seek out some of the tunes being discussed. When there's a moment of "Holy moly! I thought I was the only one that liked that song/artist/band/genre."

One of those chats occurred the other day. By the end of it I was seeking out my copy of Billy Joel's Cold Spring Harbor, an album famous for being mistakenly mastered at a higher speed. You realize what a wonderful album it is that sets him up for greater success.

Music can come and go emotionally. The song you detested in 1986 is beloved today. A band like U2 can be genius circa 1982-1985 before The Joshua Tree destroys it. It takes 15 years to come back to them, only to have life sort of ruin it.

A song like "Take On Me" can go from being "meh" to annoying to detested to laughed at (thank you, Family Guy) as you connect with your child over it.

It's all truly personal preference, though one has to try to be fair, like it or not. I get it: Mr. Mellancamp has sold millions. Of the nearly 17,000 songs in the iTunes on the computer I'm typing from, I spy three songs of his that were undoubtedly given to me or part of some collection. He is, no doubt, a talented musician. Again. You have to be fair.

Another recent conversation revealed a fondness for "Let It Grow" by Eric Claption. It creates one of those moments when the conversation hits stunned silence at the discovery of something that you didn't expect. Yes, indeed.



Still another conversation got me thinking about The Monkees. I always love the narrative that gets created (by fans and media, of course) of a rivalry between The Beatles and The Monkees (and of course, between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones).

None existed, folks. Hit the Googler (or look at the top of this post). Discover it for yourself. See how both Nesmith and Dolenz were hanging out at Abbey Road with John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

If anything, "rivalries" occasionally produce music. Without Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys, we might not get Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Liverpool Lads.

I can tell you that I liked the Pre-Fab Four, and of course loved the show. The music, especially the earlier work had tremendous songwriting behind them (Neil Diamond, Carole King, Harry Nilsson, among others). But wait! There's more!

Now I'm not here to tell you The Monkees are better than The Beatles. You know from hanging around these parts that The Beatles are in my blood, so I will always be a bigger fan of theirs. That's where personal preference comes in (and sometimes, with it, a certain level of "guilt."**) I'm not going to tell you Huey Lewis and the News are America's GREATEST BAND, but I'm sure going to tell you that they don't necessarily get the respect they deserve. They are what they are.

** Bonus reading at the bottom as we hit the Exit 55 WAYBACK MACHINE!

I will say the same about The Monkees. Their hits are monsters, and yes, they didn't play on them...blah blah blah. It's still their voices. Look, let's not go there. This isn't Milli Vanilli we're talking about. Yet we tend to overlook them as being a goofy novelty act without digging deeper. I submit to you a couple of tunes.

"Listen to The Band" Just when you want to say, "Oh this is just some Mike Nesmith country-western twang thang," stop. Immediately(because even if it was, so what?). Listen to the horns kick in. His vocal works perfectly. There's a great bass line in there. I was stunned to rediscover this one.


You can hear why "Papa Nez" has his cult following. Now listen to "Words" in which you get the great vocal of Micky Dolenz, but check out the harmonizing and co-lead vocal of Peter Tork. Often thought of as, arguably, the Monkee with the best instrumental chops, you hear another dimension. Again, there's a great bass line (Nesmith plays that one, with Tork on lead guitar).


Lastly, check out "Randy Scouse Git (Alternate Title)" with its reference to the "Four Kings of EMI." (The Beatles, of course)

I love a song with depth. A tympani drum? The piano interlude in the beginning? Nesmith yawning in the video? OK, that last piece has nothing to do with the song itself, but still. Read Wikipedia for more on it.

Unless you really know their music you're probably not aware of these tunes.

Look, I'm not trying to get them elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but let's be honest, are the Monkees better than, er, Mr. Mellancamp (who is, shamefully, in)? Again, personal preference, but it's a debate worth having.

Anyway, the point of this exercise was to discuss how a great conversation, a moment, a thought, can lead one to discover or rediscover music. There are certain bridges that likely will never be crossed, but there are others that, with an open mind, can lead to a whole new world that the wisdom of time can give.

** I said we'd hit the WAYBACK MACHINE (Sherman and Peabody are nowhere to be found for this). Back to 2009 we go, when I previously wrote about guilty pleasure in music.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Home and Quiet

Is that a monument protruding from your shoulder or are you just happy to see me?
I was going to write tonight. I had a topic.

But...no.

I'll focus instaed on the weekend that has just concluded - an impromptu road trip back to Scranton, PA that turned into (almost) a repeat of the one Sean and I just had in April. There were changes and, at the last-minute, a decision to stay overnight.

Of course, I had thought about packing a bag just in case, but I didn't. So a quick shopping trip was needed to pick up some goodies.

The reason to go was Father's Day, combined with the end of the school year. It was great for both of us, as well as my mom, who came along for the ride.

As was the sprit of the weekend, we stumbled into High Point State Park in New Jersey (no jokes. I'm being polite). My mother's family had frequented the park many times, and there is supposedly a document from my grandfather buried in a time capsule at the war monument, which opened in 1930.
My grandfather Adams, Mom, and Dad. High Point State Park, NJ (circa 1958)
I'd been there a few times myself, including sometime in the late 70s (or maybe 1980), when the monument was closed.
Me with my cousins Alice and Matt
Another visit came in 2005, this time with Sean and mom.

Each trip was made out of season, meaning we didn't pay for park fees, but also meaning the monument was closed. In recent years, the park faced closing and the refurbishing of the monument, among other things.

Today's trip meant paying $20 in park fees because it was the weekend and we are out of state residents. So to do so, I needed to know the monument was open.

It was.

A long climb to the top was made and after over 35 years, I finally visited the top of the High Point monument.

The climb awaits.
 Sean and I made it. The heights didn't bother me, and it was a good workout.
Success!
Back at the bottom, I was exhilarated. Sean was, er, not.

Anyway, that's all I've got. It beats writing about silliness.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

She's Right on Time


Ah the 80s.

A time in which videos were cheesy and how we lived.

When the M stood for MUSIC in MTV.

When Billy Joel was, you know, Billy Joel. Not an overpriced franchise at Madison Square Garden* but a living, breathing, brilliant hit maker.

*I still love you, Billy, but tickets are too expensive. Besides that, I don't have anyone to go see you with, and as much as Paul Silverfarb is a dear friend, he should be seeing you with his wife. That's always been how I've rolled. (P.S., Paul agrees with this sentiment)

Anyway, I've long thought, going back to when The Nylon Curtain came out, that She's Right on Time was among his most underrated tunes. That an Vienna from The Stranger.

I suppose there's a Rule 55 in here somewhere (posting a video when I want to say something else). The truth is this song was in my head before (it takes me to a special place) and I just wanted to post it.


Such a Grand Old Flag


Thank you, nameless person on the interwebs, for inspiring me.

Thank you for posting a picture that, in my mind, disrespected the flag of the United States of America, on Flag Day.

Look, I get some of your anger at our great nation. Indeed we are a fractured fatherland with unresolved racism but also problems with gender inequity reverse racism (racism is racism, after all) and what seems to be an abundance of violent crime.

But.

Is it really as bad as it might seem?

Are we - am I - part of the problem?

Well...yeah.

First, we can blame the media. Not all of us, of course, but yes we can certainly glance at the need for viewers. So yes, we need dirty laundry! CNN, MSNBC, FOX, TMZ, and so on. You get the idea.

We need stories. Don't have one? MAKE ONE UP! Embellish.

Ugh

But there's more. We are all responsible. Do you read Twitter? Facebook? Instsagram? Well that's where some leads come from for stories, as well as demonstrating our instant gratification society.

Let's put if this way: we report nearly everything now. We didn't always.

Also think of how far we've come as a country. Ever hear of that Jackie Robinson guy? The one who broke the modern baseball color barrier? Yeah. That's clearly changed, thankfully. Glance at Washington. Love him. Hate him. Whatever. A black man (please spare me the politics) is President of the United States.

Oh I have lots more, but just go read a history book. Glance at a documentary. Check out the googler on this world-wide-internet-thingy!

No, we're not perfect. Health care is still a mess. The President - the very one I mentioned above - doesn't seem to be a whole better than his predecessor. Chuck Schumer is still talking into microphones. Al Shapton...good lord.

I said I wasn't getting into politics, so I'll stop there.

Ferguson and Baltimore and Eric Garner on Staten Island didn't help things. Certainly it opened wounds.

Yet does anyone know how divisive this country was during the Vietnam War? Do we recall when blacks couldn't eat at the same lunch counters as whites? When they had to go to separate hotels? How about when women couldn't vote? There's also a bad history of religious idiocy.

Then I hear way too much about "the good old days," when we were one big group hug of a country. Eisenhower, baby!

Yet, again. Separate hotels. Lynchings. Come on, people. Just different eras.

I often hear it: what is wrong with this world? In some ways, we ARE worse. Yet, in some ways, just look around. It's better. Much.

Sure, I wish we could have a lot of things back, but we can't. So let's accept what we have now and move on with life. Let's try, just a little, to make it better.

I'm no 'Merica type of guy. I have my form of patriotism that is very much my own style: honest and real. I detest the "September 12" phenomenon, in which we're one big HAPPY country...and within days the same problems creep back up, and those flags that are flying and acting as bumper stickers are tattered and faded.

But I won't see the flag disrespected. Too much blood was spent. Too many battles - on too many fronts - were raged.

It's a symbol of this country. To disrespect it is to dump on my uncles, friends, my nieces husband, and other loved ones who fought for it. It disrespects my own father, who desperately wanted to go to Korea so that he could defend it.

I apologize if this sounds like some form of jingoism. I assure you it's not.

Think before you post, people.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Pathetic


I'm sort of a damaged soul, if you haven't learned by now.

There are reasons various and sundry for that. Some of it is not caring what people think.

Some of it is caring too much.

I'm not to be pitied, nor am I looking for such. There are a lot of stories in the world. This is where I get to tell mine.

I don't write everything of course. Honestly, how can I? For one thing, not every story is for public consumption. For another, stories are open to interpretation because I often don't name names.

Such is the risk.

Among the things that has damaged me was the time that someone I cared greatly for called my pursuit of a broadcasting career "pathetic." I can still hear it. The truth is that it could have been said specifically to hurt me. Eventually, I didn't know what to trust or believe.

Still the words stayed with me.

It was a different world when I started my career, almost 25 years ago. I kept working full-time while going to school part-time and dabbling in radio on the weekend. Eventually I slid over to WREF and WGCH and began an odyssey of so many things.

Life decisions had to play into all of that. I stayed in New York for family and friends. I passed on a chance to go away to college at 23 to finish up my Bachelor's Degree. Eventually Sean came along and I couldn't see the point of relocating. I was 33 by then and it didn't seem likely that a play-by-play job would pay the bills to raise a family.

Generally, despite layoffs, I made some good money in other worlds, which led to a house and a decent life.

Yes I made some attempts to move on, but I never left.

I continued to soothe my broadcasting jones by calling whatever I could. I handled Greenwich football and jumped on Hudson Valley Renegades broadcasts and a lot more.

Of course, that life came crashing down.

Pathetic.

Tomorrow I will handle, arguably, one of the biggest assignment of my career. From the radio calls in Greenwich of multiple sports to the Renegades and Sound Tigers and Bluefish and Mount Saint Mary College and interviews and other amazing experiences, I've done a lot.

Satisfied? Hardly. Would I still love a team of my own or to make the jump to a big league? Of course.

Yet tomorrow I will call all three state lacrosse championships in Connecticut. I will be "the voice" of them. Nobody else is supposed to have that duty and, beyond that, they will run on CPTV (yep, television) next week.

I've never taken a championship assignment lightly. It doesn't matter if it's a league championship, state championship, or youth football league. I care about that call, just as I do about all games.

Somebody cares about it. I've learned that. People tell me - years later - what I said in that moment. They remember. It's shocking.

I often say it's an honor. That's not just a line. I mean it.

I called two lacrosse semifinals on Wednesday night. They didn't run on HAN Radio but we produced them, and the same will go for tomorrow. At first, I was a little off my call because I felt like I was out of my element. Call it putting too much pressure on myself, but I felt like I might hyperventilate in the opening of the first game.

Eventually I pulled it together and it became another broadcast. Yet it wasn't.

The same goes for tomorrow.

Let me be quite clear: I'm fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. I'm fortunate that the powers-that-be elected to have HAN Radio take this lacrosse assignment on. I'm fortunate that my powers-that-be want me to be the lead broadcaster.

Don't think for a second that anyone said they had to have us because of me. Not at all. We're a great team.

Tomorrow I'm the voice - the face (YIKES) - of the 2015 CIAC lacrosse championships on the NFHS Network.

No matter the result, the broadcasts will get the same attention, passion, and energy that I've given the others. If it's awful, it won't be due to lack of trying.

I'm sure I can give you other reasons that I'm pathetic.

My broadcasting isn't one of them.