Christmas With A Cold

My cold continues to blossom. Last night I felt it make its first move, escaping from my throat. Today, I’m sneezing.

I took some Sudafed this morning, which made a difference for a while. Tonight, it was capped with Alka Seltzer cold tablets. The jury’s out on how those work.

Originally, it was going to be an easy day. Sit. Relax. Forget about work. That was not to be.

We’re very short at the TV station. One of our meteorologists is out of town. Another was injured jumping out of a second story window in a fire (Mostly bruised, he’ll be back shortly)!

I’m in, again, tonight. I’ll be in, again, tomorrow too! I’ll be working 13 in a row and 20 of 21, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Don’t cry for me. It’s not as if I don’t like my job.

PIC-0175Between shows I went with Helaine and Stef to a little pre-Christmas get together at our neighbors’. The tree is up and the house is decorated. It’s really pretty. Dinner was served on Christmas plates.

Yeah, we’re jealous. Having a tree and all the accouterments of the holiday is very appealing.

People always ask, “Why don’t you just get a tree?” It wouldn’t be right. It’s not our holiday. We still enjoy celebrating with our friends.

Our neighbors have the two best behaved, most polite, boys I’ve ever seen. They’re almost Stepford like. I’ve known both these kids since they were born and they both call me Mr. Fox.

They were brought up like that. Respect is a lost art for most 21st Century kids.

Amazingly enough, the younger one, now in the 4th grade, was the bartender! I’m not talking about pulling a beer from the cooler or pouring wine. He had a handwritten set of instructions and was measuring out some pretty fancy concoctions. Martini glasses were frosted and filled.

Maybe it would be wrong under different circumstances, but not here. He was helping his parents and doing a pretty good job of it! This was all about being a team player. It had nothing at all to do with the liquor.

Mr. Fox did not imbibe.

Frank McCarthy

We got the word a few days ago, Frank McCarthy had died. You probably didn’t know Frank. He was a quiet guy.

When Helaine and I first moved to Connecticut back in ’84, Frank and Mary Ellen McCarthy were our next door neighbors. They were downsizing from a home farther east. We were just starting and had put nearly every penny we had into our down payment.

I don’t remember if they came to us or us to them on that first day, but I do remember what they told us: This place is awful. We’re getting out of here as soon as we can.

Their name is still on the mailbox. They never did sell or move out.

Frank was from the generation that preceded mine. He fought in World War II and was incredibly proud to have served in the Yankee Division. He still socialized with the guys and carried their unit’s initials as a tribute on his license plate.

By the time we met him, Frank had semi-retired as an operating engineer. They’re the guys who operate heavy construction equipment. Frank had the complexion of an Irish guy who’d spent a lot of time out in the elements.

He was a good guy, true to his friends and a team player. It was in his nature to help. That was particularly fortuitous for Helaine and me, because Frank was a wiz in everything at which we were inept!

I hope he knew how much we appreciated his help?

Toward the end of Helaine’s pregnancy we faced a quandary. We had all sorts of baby furnishings for our child-to-be, but Jewish tradition says you can’t bring that stuff into the house until after the baby is born. Frank and Mary Ellen gave us their living room while we waited for Stef to arrive. That one room was a substantial percentage of their unit.

Mary Ellen said Frank died from cancer. When it had spread through his body, he faced a choice. It is the courageous and honorable choice of a battle hardened veteran to know when to give up the fight. That’s what Frank did.

Frank passed away at Hospice in Branford.

Guys from Frank’s generation, the so called Greatest Generation, are fading away quickly. They won the peace. They built this country. They will be missed.

Frank certainly will be missed.

Roseanne For Rosie

Don Kaplan writes in today’s New York Post:

Roseanne Barr has emerged as the top contender to replace Rosie O’Donnell next year on “The View,” sources say.

A rep for Barr says she has not been approached.

The Post’s headline, “Ro-Placements” is perfect.

I thought I might weigh in on this, having seen Roseanne perform about a month ago at New York, New York in Las Vegas.

If (and this is a huge if) Rosie is leaving because of her outspoken behavior, Roseanne will be no different. She was not shy on stage. There are lots of people, policies and lifestyles she has opinions about.

If, on the other hand, ABC is looking for another Rosie, this might be a master stroke. As I said, she’s outspoken. She is also fast and funny with excellent comedic timing.

As with Rosie, I don’t see Roseanne as a team player. I can’t imagine Roseanne and Barbara Walters sitting in the same room with Barbara asking Roseanne to come as their new savior – though she’d have to. I can’t imagine them having a meal or traveling together – and they won’t.

Barbara Walters is New York affluence – a woman who never learned or needed to drive. Roseanne is a semi-conscious parody of her own classless Utah upbringing.

Roseanne Barr would be an excellent hire.

Into New York City To Shop

It’s really been a long time since we went to Manhattan to do some shopping. Today was the day – all five of us: Helaine, Stef, my folks and me.

There was no rush, so we left the house after 10:00 AM. There’s always a little family conflict about this, but I like to drive to Stamford and catch the train from there. Helaine prefers going to New Haven to pick up the train.

She says it takes less time. I say there are a lot more trains go to Stamford to choose from on the way home. Maybe we’re both right. Unfortunately, the long term trend says when there’s this kind of family conflict, either I’m wrong or Helaine’s right.

We parked in Stamford and headed into the train station. I wanted some coffee, as did Steffie. As we got our drinks, the express pulled out! Next train: local… and a half hour wait.

We had no trouble getting to Grand Central Terminal. From there it was a quick subway trip on the “6” local to Canal Street.

Welcome to knockoff shopper’s heaven.

We’re used to hitting Canal Street and the Lower East Side on Sundays. Tuesday is a totally different animal. There’s actually room on the street to stand without being bowled over!

Usually, Canal Street shopping is done from storefronts and curbside stands. On this Tuesday, most of the curbside stands were gone.

I had read about a huge crackdown recently. Big raids on Canal Street had driven out the knockoffs. I still saw some fancy watch names, though no Rolexes.

At one time, Canal Street and $10 Rolex were synonymous.

As far as handbags were concerned, there was merchandise, but none of the high end labels, like Kate Spade, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Coach. These were the names that brought on the raids.

Still, looks can be deceiving. As we walked through the stores, the brand names we desired were being whispered at us, usually in Chinese accented English. After being asked at one store if that was what she wanted, Steffie said yes and was taken to the shopping underground.

Along with my mom and Helaine, Steffie followed the salesperson through a locked door in the back. As they walked out, the door was locked behind them. Then through another locked door, also locked behind them, and into a storeroom.

If they were going to be victims of a crime, this was as good a place as any… and I think there was at least some apprehension as their exits were successively bolted shut.

Where were they? I don’t think they could find the actual store the journey began in, much less the hidden warehouse!

After a little show and tell and typical Canal Street haggling, they were on their way… with a few bags and later, a wallet.

How prevalent is this kind of thing on Canal Street? The huge Heineken billboard, up on the side of a building says it all: “The only authentic label on the block.”

I hadn’t bought a watch in a while, and that was my prey today. Years ago, Canal Street watches, those $10 Rolexes, only looked good from afar. Today, they are masterfully complex and sturdy and Rolex isn’t the only luxury name represented.

I’m sure an expert can tell the difference&#185, but I can’t, nor can anyone I know. In fact, for all I know this was genuine merchandise.

My watch collection, a long running obsession, is filled with watches I trust are real and others I assume are pretend. Like children, I love them all dearly and play no favorites.

Helaine had recommended a rectangular tank style watch, but I though most of what I had seen in tanks were too large and bulky on my wrist. A leather band would be nice, since most of my watches have metal bands. I kept searching.

I settled on a mechanical watch – it’s called an automatic chronograph. As you wear it, a mechanism (visible through a crystal on the watch’s back&#178) winds the mainspring. The face has a main dial, with sweep second hand, plus dials for day of the week, day of the month and hour (in 24 hour notation). There are also two windows for year and month.

It’s very nice looking and, so far, has kept accurate time. Since it’s mechanical and won’t be worn on a daily basis, it will need to be reset before each use. That much is bad. The rest is very good.

Today was a very hot day in an area with little air conditioning. We tried to stay cool with lots of water and soda, but it was tough.

I suppose I was the first to get a little cranky, wanting to bail. That wasn’t nice – wasn’t right. I should have been more of a team player… and I wasn’t. I could blame my aching toe, but the responsibility is mine.

By the time I acquiesced, it was too late. The damage had been done.

We turned up Broadway heading toward SoHo and Greenwich Village. SoHo really is as happening as you’ve heard, with lots of stores and lots of people – mostly young.

After stopping in a few stores it was my dad’s turn to raise the white flag. In his case it was justified. The heat had become more than he could take. That’s the bad news. The good news is, he’s 79. He put up with an awful lot of heat and humidity as if he were half his age!

We cut across to Bleeker Street and found the Uptown “6”. As we approached the station I found the one shot that I think typifies this day in particular, and New York City during the summer in general. Leaning up against a subway entrance were two cops. They were resting and taking in the sights.

Their ease and relaxation set the mood for everyone around them.

Please understand, I am not criticizing their actions. In fact they were very appropriate for this time and this place and I have no doubt they were ready to be “cops” if necessary. Like I said, they set the mood.

We had dinner at Junior’s in what had been the lower waiting room at Grand Central Terminal and what is now a busy food court. This time we caught the express and made it to Stamford in about 45 minutes and the rest of the way home in an hour.

I know this because I’ve got a new watch.

&#185 – Actually, I’m not sure. With some of the products, I suspect they’re made in the same factory, by the same workers, with the same raw materials.

&#178 – I have just learned this type of watch, with parts of the works exposed, is called a skeleton watch.

Busy Day On The Radio

Our station’s promotion department was wondering, would I be able to go to WPLR and be on the radio with Chaz and AJ… and, oh – can you be there by 7:00 AM?

I so wanted to say “no,” but decided it was better to be a team player. Seven in the morning is early for lots of people, but I normally don’t wake up until the crack of noon. This would be way before my normal waking time.

I got home and went to sleep ‘early’ last night – around 1:00 AM. By 3:30, my body said, “nice nap” and I was awake. A little time on the couch, on my side and I was back to sleep until the alarm went off at 6:00 AM.

If you normally wake up that time of day, I do not envy you.

I hit the road by 6:30 and stopped at Starbucks before getting on the parkway. Memo to Starbucks: You are not Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m sure you’re nice people, good to your parents, but your coffee is too strong. Above and beyond that, I don’t want to have to say “grande” to get a medium&#185.

WPLR is located in a nice mid-rise office building in a quiet area in Milford. They are owned by Cox and share space with Star 99.9 and WYBC (though much of WYBC’s programming is syndicated and doesn’t originate in Connecticut).

The studios are very nice and modern. AJ and Chaz sat on opposite sides of the console with Chaz ‘driving.’ Billy Winn, who had come downstairs to let me in, was at a corner of the desk.

I’ve known Chaz for years since I used to go on his show over the phone when he did nights there. We sat and schmoozed for about an hour. I thought it went pretty well. During a break Helaine called to tell me if I wanted to sound hip, I’d need to stop making references to people who were famous forty years ago.

Why is she always right?

As is always the case when I’m in a studio, I became enamored with the freedom to speak your mind on the radio – especially morning radio. It’s not that I said anything profound or controversial. It’s just that I could say anything with little forethought.

When my hour was up, I took off the headphones, said goodbye and began to make my way out of the building. It was then I decided to see if I could have a “Bob Hope moment.”

Back in the Johnny Carson Tonight Show era, every once in a while, right in the middle of an interview, the band would begin to play “Thanks for the Memories” and Bob Hope would stroll out to the set. It wasn’t planned. Johnny never knew. If Bob was in the neighborhood, he had carte blanche to walk right in.

I walked into the Star 99.9 studio.

The morning show with john Harper and Randye Kaye was in progress. There was no “Thanks for the Memories,” but without missing a beat John started talking to me (even before Randye realized I was in the studio) and we were off to the races. I probably stayed for 15-20 minutes.

I’ll admit it. I’m still a sucker for radio. Heck, I would have walked into WYBC if not for the fact that Tom Joyner’s show comes from Chicago.

&#185 – Forcing me to speak your language also goes to the rootin’ tootin’ folks at Denny’s. Sorry.

Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather – I Understand

There has been a lot of talk about Walter Cronkite’s CNN interview and his answer to questions about Dan Rather.

“Although Dan did a fine job, I would have liked to have seen (Schieffer) there a long time ago,” Cronkite said during an interview on CNN. “He would have given the others a real run for their money.”

“It surprised quite a few people at CBS and elsewhere that, without being able to pull up the ratings beyond third in a three-man field, that they tolerated his being there for so long,” he told CNN.

You might expect Cronkite, still a member of the CBS board, to be a little more charitable… be more of a team player. I didn’t. In fact, I am surprised this kind of talk didn’t happen earlier.

Thinking back, my recollection is Dan Rather putting on the pressure and forcing CBS to move Cronkite out. Roger Mudd, who was passed over in this bloodless coup, bolted and went to NBC.

From Mike Straka on

According to the late ABC News and Sports president Roone Arledge’s autobiography “Roone: A Memoir,” Rather used ABC as a negotiating chip to force CBS’s hand to install him as the anchor of CBS Evening News six months earlier than Cronkite had planned to retire. This was at a time when Cronkite was considered the most trusted man in America.

What’s the old line? Be nice to the people you meet on the way up. They’re the same people you’ll meet on the way down.