Monday, August 17, 2015

Post #2200: A Video From Two Years Ago


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

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.