Next Stop Milwaukee, Hopefully

There is no Marcus Welby medical care in America. It’s sad for patients. It’s sad for docs too. Lots of physicians want to do medicine that way, but it’s not practical in the 21st Century.

harold-and-bettyWe’re attempting our Milwaukee trip again. We leave from LAX this time (drive 40 miles save 50%), but again change in Phoenix. Please, no more shootouts/car chases from Tempe!

Lots of folks wrote me after I mentioned my mom in the blog. There were lots of suggestions, all different, some mutually exclusive. Still, the one thing that everyone seemed to agree on was being an advocate for mom.

That’s a nice way of saying keep an eye on the nursing facility.

There is no Marcus Welby medical care in America. It’s sad for patients. It’s sad for docs too. Lots of physicians want to do medicine that way, but it’s not practical in the 21st Century.

There was a meeting this afternoon at my mom’s current facility. Social worker, nurse, speech therapist, my dad, sister and brother-in-law plus me on the phone.

The physical therapist was a no-show. As explained, this person with the most insight to help us answer questions left work early. FML! Trudi and Jeff were justifiably furious.

As best I can tell my mom is making some progress. None of this comes easy or without effort and pain. She is frail. I can’t put myself in her shoes. We’re hoping she can reach the benchmarks that have been set.

roxie floorStef, who’s coming, drove down from H’wood with Roxie. Roxie and Doppler will be watched by Dop’s sitter who Roxie met today for the first time.

In the past Stef told me how Roxie responds as they exit the freeway. It’s a romantic story where Roxie basically comes to attention as they pull down the exit ramp to the light. She stays on guard for the next 5-6 minutes to our house.

On the way back today, in my car, I watched Roxie stand at attention as we passed that same spot! Crazy. Totally different experience, different car and length of trip. She still knew.

wpid-wp-1411080785006.jpegOf course there’s also good news in our trip. We’re lodging with my niece Melissa, her husband Mark and Charlotte who has promised to stay tiny for us, though the shot on the left now qualifies for “file photo” status.

Two full days on the ground. We’ll be busy

Cover Of The Advocate

Claude Raines, in Casablanca, is not the only one to be “Shocked, shocked.” That’s how I felt when a copy of this week’s New Haven Advocate was thrust at me while getting coffee next door at Roberto’s.

On the cover of the December 28, 2006 issue of the Advocate, in an homage to the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album cover, is a montage of 44 identifiable locals… including #29 – me.

I’m flattered they think enough of me to assume people can identify my mug shot (it’s all part of a contest, which I now seem to be shilling for them). I’m not sure I want to know how many of the entrants actually identify me as someone else.

Our former governor, the one who served jail time, used to tell a story of how he was spotted at the mall. When they said how much they enjoyed him on the weather, he realized they’d confused him for me.

Anyway, it’s nice to be on the cover of anything without being associated with a major crime or Britney Spears!


New Haven Advocate Best Of

I was very pleased to hear I’d won the New Haven Advocate’s Best Of Readers’ Poll. Though I usually pick up the Advocate when I get coffee at Roberto’s, I missed the voting issue so I didn’t even have a chance to stuff the ballot box.

That this is a vote by viewers makes it all the more gratifying.

There are some interesting, nearly dubious, honors bestowed. Some categories are split so many ways that you’d better get something. And, I totally understand that the Advocate does this as an advertising booster (look in the print issue and see all the back slapping ads). It’s still nice.

Christopher Arnott, who I’ve known for years, wrote my little blurb – and now I’m blushing.

Tonight is the ‘get your award’ dinner, and I’ll be going. I’ll bring my camera.

Best Local TV Personality

Geoff Fox, WTNH Channel 8

Geoff Fox stops by the Advocate offices in the early afternoon. The energy of the 9-to-5ers in the room is starting to lag, but Fox is wide-eyed, funny, fresh, loud-voiced, glad-handed–the life of the party.

He woke up about an hour earlier. His workday’s just begun.

“Basically I live my life in Hawaiian time. I wake up at noon, and I don’t get home until midnight. I’m used to people calling me and waking me up. I liked it when I had a friend living in Singapore; he’s the only one who’d call me when I was at the right time.”

Geoff Fox has weathered that rough-and-tumble schedule for over 20 years as a weatherman, and he’s been a broadcast professional since 1969. And despite cleaning up annually as Advocate readers’ choice for Best Local TV Personality, he’s still improving his job prospects, studying meteorology for the past three years.

Geoff Fox New Haven Advcoate photo

One thing that makes Geoff Fox so engaging in person is his quick wit, and it’s a skill he’s able to use on the air. “I get to do stand-up. I get to ad-lib. I’m the only one who works without a script.” Some of his best exchanges are with the Channel 8 directors and cameramen; he’s like a comedian who delights in cracking up the house band. “For me, it has a lot to do with growing up watching George Burns, Soupy Sales and Sandy Becker,” TV comics who loved to break the fourth wall and display the nuts and bolts of the TV set.

Offscreen, he engages with viewers via his weblog, for which he’s already penned over 1,100 entries. A self-admitted tech geek, Fox has built a few computers himself, and he has connected another of his passions–poker–to the net by playing an online game through a casino in Costa Rica, almost tripling his initial investment.

It’s a life well lived, on air at 5, 6 & 11 p.m. (plus 10 p.m. on Channel 8’s sister station, WTXX) and “on” constantly from noon until his wee-hours bedtime.

On the same page: Yale wins the Best Local Four-Year College category. Who woulda thunk it?

Blogger’s note: The writeup says I’m on WTXX, but our 10:00 PM news is on WCTX, channel 9 on most cable systems.

Judgemental for Christmas

My friend Josh Mamis, who publishes the New Haven Advocate, asked me to come to their offices and judge Christmas decorations. Is there a job I am less qualified for?

I said yes.

The Advocate is a weekly tabloid devoted to local arts and entertainment. It is often the best place for ‘bite the hand that feeds me’ expository journalism on local politics and business. I always enjoy reading their longer feature stories.

In the past, the Advocate had been very unkind to my station in a story that I felt was vindictive and a maybe little heavy handed (though they were always nice to me…. even in that article).

Though once locally owned, it recently become part of Times-Mirror which also owns the Hartford Courant and Channel 61.

Josh knows I have a soft spot in my heart for print in general and the Advocate specifically. Though TV has more impact and is much more immediate, the written word has an elegance and permanence that TV can’t touch. That’s probably why I enjoy writing this blog.

I drove into Downtown New Haven and parked under the Omni Hotel. Though cold, today was a beautiful day with high thin cirrus clouds adding some texture to an otherwise blue sky.

It is only in the past few years that New Haven has had a first class hotel downtown. I popped up to street level through the hotel’s lobby and walked around the block to the Advocate’s offices. They are located on the 11th floor of a building over what was the Chapel Square Mall. The building had fallen into disrepair, but looked very good today. Obviously, someone has spent the money to try and turn it around.

The mall is long gone – a failure through a few incarnations. I was surprised to hear it had been converted to upscale apartments. What was the actual mall is now an enclosed courtyard with an open air roof and apartment entrances. Upscale apartments going into Downtown New Haven (and now a 4-screen artsy movie theater down the block) is another very good sign for the city.

Josh’s office is near the receptionist and has a killer view of the Green and then north to East Rock&#185. Very impressive… especially so with today’s weather.

We schmoozed for a few minutes and then it was on to the judging. To my eye, Christmas lights around Connecticut seem to less visible this year. The Advocate’s office maintained that trend. There really wasn’t a lot of cubicle decorating, though I did pick a winner.

The winning cubicle featured a very scrawny little artificial tree but lots of other little homemade Christmasy type accoutrements. It was enough to show real holiday spirit. That won me over.

As I walked around the office, saying hi to people and chatting, I noticed someone working on a page from the paper featuring a photo of a group of people. They were from a store called “Group W Bench.”

I smiled… actually chuckled at that name. No one else did. The name “Group W Bench” only meant something to me. My age was showing again.

“The Group W Bench” was made famous in the late 60s by Arlo Guthrie in his song “Alice’s Restaurant.” For 18 minutes Arlo told and sang the story of his arrest for illegal dumping… in the town dump… on a legal holiday… and led to his day at the local draft board.

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty seven eight-by-ten

color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on

the back of each one, and he stopped me right there and said, “Kid, I want

you to go and sit down on that bench that says Group W …. NOW kid!!”

And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W’s

where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after

committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly

looking people on the bench there.

Hey, it was the late 60s! Times were different and this story of a song became huge.

I left the Advocate a little disappointed – not because they didn’t know Arlo, but because there weren’t more decorations to be seen. But I also left feeling a little better (and this is a continuing, incremental process) about New Haven.

&#185 – At the end of the last ice age, as the ice retreated, huge chunks of rock that had been pushed forward by the glaciation remained in place. East Rock is one of these steep, sharp rock mountains. It overlooks New Haven Harbor and is a few miles from downtown.

An Incredible Gift

Tonight was the New Haven Advocate’s “Best of” awards. There were thunderstorms on the radar, so I took a quick trip to The Annex (eastern portion of New Haven) to say hello and thank you (and nosh on a little smoked salmon). I only stayed for 15 minutes, and didn’t even get my award. I got something even better.

Josh Mamis, publisher of the Fairfield County Weekly and former editor of The New Haven Advocate, said he had a gift for me. So, we headed out to his car and he proceeded to open the trunk. As soon as I saw the orange/yellow color of the sweatshirt, I knew.

It was a WMCA Good Guys Sweathirt!

I won one when my name was called on the radio, about 40 years ago. Not that it was a major deal, but I still remember: “Geoff Fox, name it and claim it. Call PLaza 2-9944.”

Somewhere along the way my smiley faced sweatshirt disappeared – probably outgrown or worn out. Looking back, I should have treated my sweatshirt with the same reverence a Barry Bonds home run ball would get. It was something valuable, not to be judged by its physical appearance as much as its place in history.

New Haven Advocate – Best Of

I am thrilled to have been voted “Best of New Haven” in the TV personality category. OK – it’s not like winning the Oscar (or the New England Emmy – ouch), but it’s the best I can do from here.

I enjoy going to the New Haven Advocate’s offices. They used to be in Long Wharf, but have moved to an office building atop the now closed Chapel Square Mall. They really do belong in Downtown New Haven (this is not a pejorative statement), considering they’re the pulse of local entertainment, dining and a bit of really good muckraking.

What makes going to the Advocate fun is hanging with people who write for a living. Writing good prose is not easy. Plus, there’s the jealousy factor. In a newspaper, the printed word is pretty close to permanent. TV is gone in an instant.

There’s another advantage to print, which you didn’t see, but I just used in the last sentence. I was able to revise my words and make decent writing a little better. Computers in general, and word processors specifically, have changed the skill of writers in much the same way the Hubble Space Telescope changed the astronomers!

I mentioned, to one of the reporters at the paper, how envious I was of writers . She said if I were writing, I’d miss television. There’s no doubt TV is the most powerful medium of expression ever unleashed on an unsuspecting public. It’s just not as elegant as the printed word.

The Advocate offices, on the 11th floor, have a commanding view of New Haven. It gave me the chance to get a good photo of a sad artifact of the city’s past. On a tower, atop the abandoned and derelict Macy’s Department Store building, is a broken TV aerial.

It’s from an era when there was a department store, with a TV department, in a pre-cable city. Macy’s has been gone since 1993. The fallen antenna lives on as sad testament to what was.

A Few Nice Gratuitous Mentions

This was a good week to see my name in print. Nothing earth shattering. I didn’t cure cancer… again.

First, in the New Haven Advocate, Colleen Van Tassell (certainly a member of the ‘all name’ team, and a favorite of mine) wrote:

The morning after weather fellow Geoff Fox issued a warning to stupid humans to bring pets in out of the cold, Miss B heard that the First Lady of New Haven got involved in rescuing a Westville pooch. A neighbor, fed up after making repeated complaints to the animal shelter, called Hizzonor’s house. Mrs. DeStefano told her husband, and the dog was rescued from its neglectful owner the next day.

It’s true. When it’s cold outside I try and remind people to bring outdoor pets in. My sense is, it’s more of a feel good thing than anything else. Most people keep domestic animals inside, and those who don’t probably can figure out when it’s cold enough to do otherwise.

Still, if one puppy is sleeping on the rug because of what I’ve said, it’s worth it.

My second mention was from Joe Miksch in the Fairfield Weekly (and probably to the other papers in that group, including the afore mentioned Advocate).

Viewers of New Haven’s WTNH know Geoff Fox as the avuncular, high-energy weatherman. But do we really know Geoff Fox?

We can if we punch www.geofffox.com into our Web browsers and peruse the 53-year-old’s Weblog.

We learn that Fox and family had one hell of a time in New York City over Thanksgiving, though Al Roker stiffed them on bleacher seat tickets to watch the Macy’s parade. We learn that Fox has a strong antipathy toward winter. And we find out that Ivy, Fox’s 12-year-old Westie, died of a heart ailment, going peacefully nuzzled against Fox in bed.

Fox has been blogging since July and his site has recorded more than 45,000 hits. A computer buff, Fox uses Movable Type software to craft his blog.

Fox said the blog gives him an excuse to do a couple of things he loves: write and take photographs. “But I don’t really have a clue why I started it. I can tell you that it’s a cathartic experience to write every day. It never ceases to amaze me that people read it. It’s not the most important stuff.”

Again, I’m thrilled to be mentioned. But, I’ve got two very small bones to pick.

Joe calls me “avuncular.” Let me look in the dictionary, because I believe that means ‘uncle like.’

Yup

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