This Calls For A Blog Entry

I was twenty and skinny. I looked like I was 14. I had a 1960 VW that mostly didn’t run. My apartment in Lake Worth had no air conditioning. Brutal.

I was program director at Mother. It was more like being a traffic cop.

My email often contains unexpected treasures. I am easy to find.

Dear Geoff-

I ran across your site a few years ago but did’nt feel the urge to write until I realized that time is of the essence and we’re not getting any younger (how about those cliches?).

Since you were the first PD at Mother, I figured you would be able to help me out. I grew up in South Florida and lived in Lantana when WMUM was on the air so it was about the only station we listened to and responsible for alot of my tastes in music to this day,for better or worse.

I was wondering if you have any airchecks from the station which could be posted on your site or maybe Youtube or somewhere else? I’ve been looking for years with no luck and as I’m now in my sixties I would love to try to recapture some of that special time before it’s too late.

Sorry that this sounds so dire,but I think you get my drift. Thanks for any help you can give- Pete

For readability I have added paragraph breaks to Pete’s email.

Good god! I went to WMUM sometime in 1970. What a strange trip that was!

More on that momentarily.

Hi Peter,

First, thanks for listening. Thanks for remembering. It’s been over 40 years.

Someone sent me a few airchecks while I was in Connecticut. I’m not sure they made the move. If I come across them, I will make a copy for you.

I haven’t thought about WMUM in a while. This calls for a blog entry.

All the best,
Geoff Fox

Culturally, the early 70s can be considered “the sixties.” The sixties ended when Nixon resigned.

I was working part time in Fall River, MA. I’d dropped out of college. The company I was with offered me a job in Florida at their FM station.

$160 for a six day week. Imagine.

FM was just getting a toehold. The ‘big stations’ were still all on AM. Most cars only had AM radios.

We called the station “Mother.” Our format was “underground.” We spoke in soft whispers. We played inside tracks.

We were pretty far left in our politics. It was the height of the Vietnam War. We ran PSAs for clinics helping men avoid the draft.

WMUM was located on the beach in Palm Beach, Florida. Walk out our front yard–next stop Europe! The fire red Sun rose from the sea in our large picture window every morning.

The property later became a private residence. It’s now a medium rise condo.

Our property ended at the south edge of the Lake Worth municipal beach. Hence&#185, a year round stream of scantily clad young women.

I was twenty and skinny. I looked like I was 14. I had a 1960 VW that mostly didn’t run. My apartment in Lake Worth had no air conditioning. Brutal.

I was program director at Mother. It was more like being a traffic cop. I may have fired someone for smoking a joint in the studio. Only a fuzzy memory. I make no claim at being a good administrator. I didn’t know what I was doing.

It was a quirky station. The format proved mostly unsuccessful nationwide. I moved on to more mainstream radio.

&#185 – This is my first unforced “hence” usage.

My First Fulltime Job

I’m really not sure why I went looking for this, but this is my first ever mention in the ‘trades.’ This article was from the February 28, 1970 issue of Billboard. WMUM was my first fulltime job in broadcasting!

The article (sorry that’s as large as it gets) mentions the Knight Quality Stations. As it turns out many weren’t on at night and most had little relationship with quality.

Damn, that’s a long time ago!

Richard Nixon, Geoff Fox And A Wollensak Reel-To-Reel Recorder

There was no real purpose for me going to see Richard Nixon, a man I reviled, speak. I thought it might be fun, especially as a member of the working press.

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While out in Brooklyn with Matt I saw this Wollensak tape deck at the flea market.

So old. So outmoded. So close to getting me wrestled to the ground by Secret Service agents!

It was October 27, 1970 at the Palm Beach Auditorium and Richard Nixon was speaking. I was working at WMUM, what was then called an ‘underground station,’ located on Palm Beach Island.

There was no real purpose for me going to see Richard Nixon, a man I reviled, speak. I thought it might be fun, especially as a member of the working press.

OK, I was pretending to be a member of the press–but the ruse worked!

I packed up our Wollensak recorder, threw it in my Volkswagen and headed to the venue. As I remember the White House staff set up a ‘mult box’ which provided a clean podium feed to all who needed to record it. I plugged in a cable I’d brought and waited.

When Nixon finally came out to speak I pushed the play and record buttons simultaneously (that’s how you recorded) and watched the reels begin to turn.

A few seconds later there was noise–lots of noise. The Wolly had slipped a belt and was complaining loudly about its state. People were turning to see what was causing the ruckus.

Three tall men in suits with identical abstract buttons on their lapels walked toward me. Two turned their backs while standing between me and the podium. The third asked what was wrong?

“I think it’s a belt,” is what I remember saying as the whir grew louder.

He looked at me and my long hair. He was not happy.

I took my hand, clenched it in a fist and hit the tape recorder hard a little left of center where the counter was. The bigger the problem the bigger the hammer, right?

Silence. All it needed was a zetz!

The Secret Service agents turned and without a word quickly faded into the crowd. I began to breath again.

I Stalk Myself

We’re talking 1970-71. Is there really someone out who knows my career details from 35 plus years ago? Wow!

It’s true, I stalk myself. Google searches for me across the Internet and when it finds a new listing it sends me an email with the link. Thanks Sergey and Larry.

I don’t get that many hits, but every once in a while it’s something juicy. People forget they’re speaking in public. They don’t realize Google reads sparsely traveled boards.

This was posted around a month ago. It was part of a conversation about West Palm Beach radio.

Before that it was WGMW a rock station, co-owned by Tom Kegel (sp) ex of WIRK. He brought over Geoff Fox ex WIRK, WQXT, WMUM and now a TV weatherman in CT. The odd thing was that they had a night time talk show with an older ex-NY radio guy known as Half beard. Apparently in his early days his stunt had been to shave 1/2 his face

We’re talking 1970-71. This guy has just correctly named four stations I worked at. Is there really someone out who knows my career details from 35 plus years ago? Wow!

The guy with the, then, clean shaven face was Mitch Sandler. He had been Professor Half Beard in an earlier incarnation. I don’t remember his air style, except he was older, smart and very liberal. There were a lot of very liberal people back then. Mitch passed away a long time ago.

This was an interesting station. Physically, we had glassed in studios at a failed mall with little traffic in Riviera Beach, Florida. We were automated, meaning tapes and cartridges fired in sequence or by timer. I designed the format and it was impossible to tell we weren’t live. It was a mostly (not totally) dependable system from Shaffer, who served mostly beautiful music stations back then.

To save money, the owners had me do the morning show, but work all-night. Then, they’d forget to saunter in until 9:30 or 10:00 O’clock. Maybe some day I’ll forget that treatment.

Tonight’s other Google tip was for a more recent post by someone who calls himself “TheNews”

“WTNH’s Geoff Fox Out?,” “His bio is off the WTNH site. It would be sad he’s been there since 1984!”

It would, wouldn’t it? This was a screw-up at the station. They redesigned a webpage and left me off. It happens.

“His pic is still on the storm team 8 banner on top. And other graphics. I never really cared for Geoff Fox. At least at Channel 3 when Hilton left they gave him a be party at the end of the newscast and everything,” – Ken.

For those skimming, Ken didn’t care for me. Hilton is Hilton Kaderli, formerly of WFSB in Hartford and an icon in this market. I’m glad to have him as a friend.

I would be lying if I said Ken’s opinion of me doesn’t make me cringe a little. It’s part of my job and I accept it–but grudgingly.

On the other hand, there’s stuff like this from “oldschooltv”

“I think he was on vacation last week (see his blog: geofffox.com). Personally, I like Geoff. Forecasting in Connecticut is not easy with all the various micro-climates we have due to the hills, valleys, inland, shoreline, etc. He knows our area well and has been around for a long time. They’d be crazy to ever get rid of him.”

This is eavesdropping, right?

At the moment, I’m wondering how many of my co-workers and contemporaries do the same thing with Google? I have no clue. I wonder if Hilton will see this?

My First Car Reappears

Back in 1969, while I was living in a dorm at Emerson College (it would be unfair to Emerson to claim I was attending school), I bought a car. It cost $400, a big investment for me.

Today, I was pulling into the parking lot at Dunkin’ Donuts when I spied this 1960 oxidized green VW Beetle. That’s exactly what I owned!

OK – it wasn’t originally oxidized green, but that’s what it evolved to.

The 1960 Volkswagen was a tiny death trap with no safety features. There are no seat belts. The dashboard is metal. The gas tank is under the hood in the front, where the crumple zone is today. With thin tires, any wind pushed it back and forth across the road.

Its six volt positive electrical system (today’s cars are 12 volt negative) made getting parts a chore. It also had headlights with the power of birthday candles and a three speed manual transmission.

With no radiator (it was air cooled) the heating and defrosting systems were pretty close to worthless. Air conditioning… you rolled down the window – by hand.

I loved this car. You just have no idea. It was liberating.

I once got my VW to 62 mph, but that was on a long, flat, deserted stretch of Military Trail in West Palm Beach. Going up hills, it often had trouble sustaining 50 mph.

The owner of the car pictured below runs a garage restoring old VWs. I have seen him driving around in classic Beetles before, but never in my car.

The back story is, this particular car was owned by a woman who kept it in storage for thirty years.

It will be its old self soon. This guy knows what he’s doing.

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A Drive To Worth Avenue – Palm Beach, Florida

Thursday in Florida. My mom’s birthday is tomorrow.

Today, we wanted to get out of the house. My choice was to take Steffie somewhere she’d never been… and yet there was still shopping. We headed to Palm Beach and Worth Avenue.

Long before there was Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, there was Palm Beach and Worth Avenue. Beverly Hills is nouveau. Palm Beach is old line.

We crossed onto Palm Beach Island at Southern Boulevard, making the sweeping left around Mar-A-Lago (Hi Donald) and then north on Ocean Boulevard, aka A1A. When we hit Worth Avenue, we turned left.

It was eerie. It looked like the day after a neutron bomb. Worth Avenue had cars parked on both sides of the street, but there was no foot traffic. It looked deserted.

The cars were a show in and of themselves. I saw Ferraris, Masseratis (yes, more than one), Rolls, Mercedes and Porsche. Only on Palm Beach does a Lexus represent Chevy values.

Beyond the curbline around 25% of the shops were still closed for the summer. September… hot and sweaty September… is not the season in Palm Beach.

Stefanie lit up as she looked around and recognized the names. Every high end, decadent, over priced retailer was there.

Guys don’t get it. Certainly, I don’t get it. Stefanie does. It’s been there from birth.

We walked around for an hour or so, then headed south. Steffie left carrying a shopping bag. I can’t tell you more than that as we have a don’t ask, don’t tell policy in the Fox Family.

We took A1A home, passing through Palm Beach, South Palm Beach and Manalapan. It is difficult to fathom the amazing estates that front the ocean and Intracoastal. Some straddle the road and front both.

Mainly the buildings in Palm Beach and along A1A are what I consider “Spanish Mission” style. Whether that’s the real name or not, it’s what I call it. They are appropriate and strikingly beautiful.

Back To The Sunshine State

I’m writing this while on my way to Florida – again. This time it’s with Helaine and Stef, and this time it’s a more pleasant occasion – my mom’s birthday.

Because of where Steffie goes to school and because you can fly to West Palm Beach non-stop, we’ve opted to fly from Islip’s MacArthur Airport on Lawn Guyland.

This is an interesting airport in an interesting place. It is hemmed in on all sides by the sprawl that Long Island’s become. In that way, there are similarities to Midway Airport in Chicago.

We found our way to the remote long term parking, right on the airport grounds, and waited no more than a minute for the shuttle. The terminal was another minute or two away.

From a distance the terminal looked large. That perspective remained as we pulled up, except now it reminded me of the airport in Rockford, IL.

Stick with me on this.

In Rockford, the airport is large, but usage is not. Same here. Judging by the TV screens, nearly all the flights are operated by Southwest. The few USAir and Delta flights smelled of commuter plane routes. This is an airport where 737’s share the taxiways with Cessna 150s.

As we pulled away from the gate, I saw all six Terminal A gates and jetways. They were all vacant. It’s a shame (though nearby Islip residents might not agree with me on that).

Our flight headed southwest down Runway 24, took off and turned east. We flew over the center of Long Island. Off to the south was Fire Island. North was Long Island Sound and Connecticut.

I don’t know that much about Long Island landmarks, but I was able to pick out Brookhaven Airport, an abandoned Naval airfield and Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach before we turned south, heading over the Atlantic in the general direction of Florida.

The flight was a non-event until the last few minutes. With towering thunderstorm clouds on either side of the plane, the pilot came on the PA. The rest of the flight was going to be “very bumpy.”

Ding.

On went the seatbelt signs. The flight attendants were asked to take their seats. We headed down.

It wasn’t as bad as the pilot let on. It wasn’t too smooth either. We landed 15 minutes early.

It’s nice to see my folks, even though it’s only been a few days since I last saw them. Florida, as it turns out, has changed. It’s much more humid. Much.

For dinner tonight, we headed south to Boca Raton and a place called Stir Crazy. I forgot to bring “Clicky.” A shame, because this was a very photogenic place.

Basically, you choose your protein and vegetables and then watch as your dinner is stir fried while you stand and watch. Pretty cool. Very tasty.

I’m bushed.

The Return Trip

I’m typing from seat 3A aboard Southwest Flight 616. It’s a direct, as opposed to non-stop, flight from West Palm Beach to Hartford via Baltimore. All the passengers, save four, thought Baltimore was far enough.

This afternoon I couldn’t help but think of my first commercial flight. It was on a Lockheed Electra L188, a second section flight on the Eastern Shuttle&#185. I was on my way to a college interview in Boston. That was 40 years ago. A lot has changed in flying.

Back then I could have asked to see the cockpit without being arrested.

I remember looking out the window during that flight, much as I looked out the window on this one. I was fascinated by the countryside of Connecticut and Rhode Island as we flew from LaGuardia to Logan. Today I was fascinated by the clouds that floated above Florida and the adjacent Atlantic.

We headed pretty far east before heading north today. The pilot did a good job avoiding the towering thunderheads. I wonder if anyone else on board knew how bumpy it might have been?

I don’t remember the flight attendants from that first trip, though they probably would have been puzzled by the term “flight attendant.” They were stewardesses, mainly young, probably pretty. To me, a seventeen year old unaccustomed to any of their world, they were glamorous and sophisticated.

None of my flights for this trip have been full. From what I read, that’s unusual. No one sat in the middle seat between me and the strangers with whom I’ve shared the row. Nowadays, that’s a luxury.

Being an early boarder from Southwest’s Group “A”, I had my my choice of seats. On the way down it was on the aisle. Now I’m at the left window, chosen for its access to a view of sunset. I try to sit forward of the wing, where first class is on other airlines, the better to snap a few shots.

I watched a PHP tutorial video on the computer, ate an unbelievably expensive sandwich I bought in the terminal, took some photos, loosened, then removed, my sneakers and fidgeted. Helaine should be glad she wasn’t here. My fidgeting would have driven her nuts.

I just looked down to see a dense lattice of streets. I didn’t recognize it at first, but it was Brooklyn. In the distance, Manhattan was underwhelming. I made it out by its shape more than its lights.

I did catch the lights from Shea Stadium and the Tennis Center, but mostly everything under me is nondescript. Anything I recognize from here in will be because I’ve lived there.

I’ll be flying this route again Wednesday. This trip was a last minute deal because of my dad’s hospitalization. Next week it’s my mom’s birthday.

Actually, this turned out to be a pleasure trip, didn’t it?

&#185 – Back then, if the plane was filled, another would be rolled out for the remaining passengers. Though the scheduled flight was on a jet, an old prop plane served as the backup.

Moving Out – Stef Returns To College

After I flunked out of Emerson (At the height of the Vietnam War. What was I thinking?), I took a job at a radio station in Palm Beach, FL. I packed everything I owned into my VW Beetle. I still had room to pick up a hitchhiker on the way (who let me sleep on a couch at a dorm at Georgetown).

Again, everything I owned in a Volkswagen. Everything! But I digress.

Stef returned to campus today. She’s helping the underclassmen move in, so she got her room in the dorm a few days early. We set out at 2:00 PM, knowing we’d have time to get lunch before the dorm officially began accepting residents at 6:00 PM.

The packing had been going on for days at home. At times I made the fatherly mistake of questioning what was being assembled.

“You’re taking two dozen pairs of jeans,” I whined in the general direction of my non-sympathetic daughter. How could anyone “need” more than twenty pairs of jeans?

Steffie does! She says she does. Perception is reality here.

In a perfect world, Stef would go through life like Cher at a concert, changing outifts to something new and fabulous every few minutes. She’s probably reading this now and thinking how good an idea that is.

Last night my little car slept outside while Stef’s was parked alongside Helaine’s in the garage. She had backed in; the car’s hatch facing the door to the mud room. Let the packing begin.

I probably shouldn’t say this, but when it was all over, there was room for more… though not much. Stef and Helaine managed to stuff both a full size and compact SUV! There was room for me to ride as a passenger, but only barely.

I was riding shotgun as Stef left, around 2:00 PM. We saw Helaine leave the driveway and then she was gone. We took the turnpike. Helaine went on the parkway.

Actually, Stef and Helaine have very different driving patterns. Helaine is cautious and moves at a moderate speed, staying with the prevailing traffic.

Steffie drives faster – too fast really, but that’s out of my hands at this point. She’s is very cautious, constantly checking those around her in her mirrors. Thankfully, she avoids the speeder’s trap of weaving in and out of lanes.

As we crossed the Throgs Neck Bridge, Stef told me how she likes taking thte bridge so she can catch a glimpse of the New York skyline. I was pleased to hear that, because I feel exactly the same way.

She said she knew there were lots of people who wait their whole life to go to New York and that she was lucky to have it at her feet. Again, I totally understand.

We made it to the campus a full half hour ahead of Helaine. She doesn’t drive that fast. The turnpike is just a faster way, even though Google says it’s only three miles shorter.

After lunch we headed to the dorm. As is always the case, we headed inside to get a giant, wheeled, rubber cart… but there were none! We’d have to carry everything by hand.

Moving a child into a dorm isn’t like moving in a moving van. Clothes, though on hangers, are loose. Lots of bulky items, like the TV, are brought ‘as is,’ not in a box. We had more bulk than we had weight, and we had plenty of weight.

This year Stef’s in a single. It’s a small room about the size of a walk-in closet. It’s got a bed, dresser, wardrobe cabinet and desk. It’s high up, on the 14th floor of what looks like a poured concrete building.

She has an amazingly unobstructed view of the Manhattan Skyline, nearly twenty miles away. When I asked her to look, she was blown away. It’s breathtaking, even at that distance.

Stef sees more than the city. She can watch planes landing at LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports and most of Nassau County, Queens and Brooklyn. With binoculars, I suspect she’d see the Statue of Liberty.

As nice as the room is, there is one downside. It is on the 14th , but the elevator only goes to 13.

I’m serious.

With each load we’d leave the elevator, walk a short corridor then open a fire weight metal door and climb a flight of stairs where another fire weight metal door was waiting.

Steffie’s next door neighbor and friend, Kim, was also moving in . Between Kim and (mostly) Stef, the hallway was soon a staging area for the final critical elements of the moving process.

After a while it was time for me to put on my pocket protector and become tech support. I set up the TV and DVD (please – no comments showing your age by grousing about Steffie having a TV and DVD in her dorm room).

Somewhere along the line she had lost the long cable necessary to circle the room to the outlet. She’s on her own for that one.

I untangled the rats nest of cables for her speakers and put them on a shelf above her printer. I hooked up a wired network connection only to find she had an excellent wireless signal. That’s new this year. For versatility, I hooked her up to the 802.11g signal.

A little after 8:00 PM, with much of the room still to be unpacked, we said goodnight and headed north.

We will miss Steffie a lot. This was a great summer for all of us. We enjoyed each other’s company and spent a lot of time together.

I’ll especially miss stopping by her room when I come home. We had some great conversations and I suspect I learned a lot about Stef this summer. She has changed with the college experience.

We’ll see her again in a few weeks when we all head down to Florida for my mom’s birthday. As much as we took today, I’m sure we’ll be bringing her something she forgot.

Computers Can’t Be Trusted

“Computer problem.” I’ve heard those two words a million times. Mostly, it’s a crock. Computer problems aren’t usually computer problems but problems which appear when humans operate computers. In other words, it’s mostly human error.

Computers only do what they’re told. Hardware failures that allow them to run amok are relatively rare. It’s that fingertip/keyboard interface where all the trouble arises.

With that perspective, it’s off to Chicago where, earlier this week, WGN radio found itself broadcast all over the radio and TV dial. I was tipped off to this story by Adam Chernow in Wisconsin, but I’ll quote the Chicago Tribune:

In the parlance of the Cold War era that spawned the federally mandated Emergency Alert System, launch codes were issued throughout Illinois on Tuesday morning, automatically pre-empting dozens of radio and television stations as if the region faced nuclear annihilation.

Rather than President Bush reassuring citizens after an atomic blast or some other calamity, the audience of many Chicago outlets was treated to the sound of dead air followed by the voice of WGN-AM 720 morning man Spike O’Dell struggling to figure out what had happened.

It turns out O’Dell’s pair of brief surprise appearances between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. on everything from local public broadcasting to music stations — an “unintentional disruption,” a Federal Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman called it — stemmed from a FEMA contractor’s installation of the state’s Emergency Alert System satellite receiver in Springfield as part of a nationwide upgrade.

If the contractor had asked me to call all those stations, I would have pointed out the error of his ways. Computers are more obedient and, unfortunately, don’t question authority!

Why do we do this? Why do we allow an automated system take control so an errant human can cause chaos?

I know why. I was there the morning the old system failed!

It was February 20, 1971. As I remember, it was a sunny and mild winter’s day. I was working as a disk jockey at WQXT, located right on the ocean in Palm Beach, Florida. Life was good.

At 9:33 AM a series of ten bells rang out from the Associated Press teletype. Ten bells was the signature for a national emergency, an EBS alert… but this was Saturday at 9:33 AM. They tested the system every Saturday at 9:33 AM.

Somewhere deep within Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado, a technician put the wrong put tape in his teletype. Instead of sending the test, he sent the real thing!

From Wikipedia: An EBS activation message authenticated with the codeword “HATEFULNESS” was sent through the entire system, ordering stations to shut down and broadcast the alert of a national emergency. A cancellation message with the wrong codeword was sent at 9:59 AM EST, and a cancellation message with the correct codeword was not sent until 10:13AM EST.

Most radio and TV stations did nothing! They had no way of knowing the message was wrong. In fact, every indication was it was real.

In my case, I heard the bells and disregarded them. It was test time. I heard those bells every Saturday morning.

By the time I looked at the teletype, the alert had been corrected. The few people listening to my little radio station were well served because I totally screwed up!

After that debacle the government worked to change to a better, faster, more streamlined, heavily automated system. And yet, with this week’s problem, the cause was exactly the same – human error.

It’s this automated system that has sometimes allowed cable companies to cut my television station’s audio as they run emergency crawls… even though we’re giving emergency info when they kill our audio!

Society has become so complex, we can’t operate without computer assistance. Unfortunately, that has forced us to put much too much power in someone’s fingertip. The folks in Chicago understand.

Perspective, I Suppose

It’s currently 49&#176 at Palm Beach International Airport. I’m sure it’s colder inland (aka – here), probably low 40&#176s.

Weather is the lead on the 10:00 PM news. My friend John Matthews, meteorologist on Channels 29 and 12, is the picture of calm in this faux-tastrophy.

Shelters are open. I just saw a reporter in a coat, wearing gloves, with a scarf around her neck.

In Connecticut, we sometimes see 40&#176s in August.

They are saying everything we said last week, except the temperature was 40&#176 colder and we had a wind chill factor.

I am flabbergasted.

Bad Weather In Florida Is Still Great

Last night on the news, meteorologists were raising the volume on this unseasonable cold Florida weather. “You’ll need a sweater,” one said. “The kids will want to wear coats to the bus stop,” added another.

It was in the 60s today. It was sunny. It was beautiful. It’s Florida. No complaints from me.

Our flight home is at 2:55 PM tomorrow. At 2:55 PM today we got our boarding passes. On Southwest, that’s how you get seated together.

It wasn’t until after the boarding passes that we considered leaving the house. Actually, before we left a friend of my parents came so I could explain how a photo book is made.

Here’s what I discovered. You can’t explain. It’s something organic which must be done to be learned. This isn’t to say she didn’t take copious notes. She did. But she’ll have to play around and ad lib to get anything going.

No matter what I said, it wasn’t going to be the whole story.

We left my parents’ condo and drove toward the beach. My parents are way out west, past Military Trail. The beach is straight down Boynton Beach Blvd to Federal Highway (aka Route 1) a quick jog to Ocean, and then over the Intracoastal draw bridge to Route A1A. We turned north toward Palm Beach.

I know this area well. I worked at 3000 South Ocean Blvd (A1A) in Palm Beach back in the late 60s/early 70s. It was a radio station located right on the beach. How stupid was I to leave that idyllic spot?

There’s been lots of new construction over the years, but much of what I remember is still here.

We drove up A1A past the very expensive, very little towns that fill the barrier islands along Florida’s East Coast. There were condos and houses – some immense monuments to conspicuous consumption.

I looked down at the rushing current as we drove over Boynton Inlet and onto Manalapan. For 35+ years I haven’t been able to not look at Boynton Inlet every single time I drove over it.

We turned right just past Lake Avenue, into the parking lot for Lake Worth’s municipal beach. This beach is actually an easement carved out of Palm Beach.

A few days of stiff breeze had whipped up the surf. That’s what I was expecting. It was my chance to take some surfer photos.

I found a place where a few other photographers had congregated and quickly developed a case of lens envy. That lens you see is a 400mm F4. It’s longer than my longest lens and captures a whole lot more light.

Most non-photographers are surprised to hear the lens is a few times more expensive than the camera it’s mounted on!

The laptop I’ve brought with me is pretty old and very slow. I’m hoping I posted the best surfing shots, but I’m really not sure. I definitely know they will be differently tweaked when I get home.


It was chilly on the beach. Helaine and my folks retreated to the car. I went down to the water line. Being there gave me a slightly different perspective and allowed my feet to go underwater at the tide continued to come in! Oops.

As I was getting ready to leave, I saw a cluster of birds hovering right at the shore. A man in a t-short was holding his hand out, a piece of bread between his fingers. The birds were thrilled to fight the wind and get the bread.

As long as we were down by the beach, we headed to the Banana Boat for dinner. It’s a seafood place right on the Intracoastal Waterway.

My seafood pasta was perfect.

You Probably Don’t Know Don Kelley

I worked with Don Kelley back on Palm Beach a zillion years ago. An email from a mutual friend told me he was ill and in the intensive care unit at Massachusetts General. That can’t be a good thing.

Judging by what I’ve read, he’s been to hell and back – but is recovering. That’s exceptionally good news.

What makes this blogworthy is that Don’s illness has been documented on its own blog and web page. It’s not something his family decided to do, as much as it’s something that seems to be available through Mass General.

They are using CarePages (what ever happened to SpacesBetweenWords), which seems to be Chicago based and owned by TLContact (again, with the spaces).

TLContact, Inc. improves the healthcare experience by providing tools to help healthcare providers connect with the people they serve. Our customers and partners include the nation

Why Does The Phone Ring At 7:30 AM?

OK – I’ll admit it, I’m spoiled. When Helaine gets out of bed in the morning, she closes the bedroom door. That leaves me in a room with a phone… but with its ringer silenced.

There’s no such protection here in Florida at my folks condo. In fact, the size of the cordless phone, sitting in its charger, belies its ability to shriek. It is LOUD!

The phone began ringing at 7:30 AM. My parents photo was in the Palm Beach Post. Friends and neighbors wanted to make sure they knew.

The article was about their physician, who has begun to charge for the privilege of being his patient – regardless of how often, or even whether, you visit his office&#185.

Amazingly, they were pictured, but not quoted!

When the photographer visited my parents he asked them not to smile. That worked. They look positively glum.

Is that slanting the news? Their photo certainly doesn’t make the doctor look warm and fuzzy. But, even without quoting them, the photo perfectly represents how they feel about the whole affair.

The day has begun. I’ll be looking for an opportunity to nap later. Please don’t call.

&#185 – I wrote about this last August when it first came up.

Juno Beach Art Show

My promise to Helaine was, this would not be a trip spent in flea markets and Costco. We would do stuff in Florida other than kill time. Today was my first opportunity to come through.

The Palm Beach Post had an ad for an art show in Juno Beach, about 35 miles north on I-95. Everyone agreed we’d go!

While waiting for the last Fox to be ready (no names), I checked the website of the show’s promoter and saw David Gordon was one of the exhibitors. Helaine and I know David and have a half dozen works by him scattered around the house. We hadn’t seen him in at least ten years, so this would be an added bonus.

The trip to Juno was uneventful. The promoter had wisely set up a remote parking area and buses to the exhibition. It was a beautiful, sunny, warm Florida day – and the exhibition was adjacent to the beach.

Rather than bore you with more details, I’ve taken some of my photos and put together a slide show.

I have no idea why, but youtube.com hosts videos like mine for free! How could I resist, especially when I can’t remember how to properly embed the wmv file which contains the show.

Actually, I put it together with Microsoft’s free Photo Story 3. It’s simple and heavily automated, and as you’ll see, it really works.

What will tomorrow bring? Who knows! In my parents world, every day is Sunday. How nice.

Click the video button (above) to start the slideshow.