Thursday, June 30, 2016

Big Love For Therapists

True story.

I was at a Stroke Convention in Tuscaloosa, home of the Crimson Tide aka the University of Alabama. I was scheduled to speak the next day and was at a small dinner party the evening before.

Seated next to me was a physical therapist.

I turned to him and said, "Thank you."

He thanked me back and looked at me a bit perplexed. It gave me a chance to tell him why I did that.

I told him that he really helped people like me. When I had my stroke, there I was in a hospital bed, struck down, and trying to piece my life back together. Therapy was part of the path to do just that.

I told him that helping people is what you do. I told him that when your time with them is over you move on to the next patient. BUT. The person you helped never forgets you.

I'll bet you all kinds of therapists can tell you the following story.

The story of their joy in seeing someone leave the room better than when they entered it. The story of knowing they helped a train get back on the tracks. The story of seeing a patients' joy in doing things they thought they'd never do again.

Therapists see you at your most vulnerable. We all know that old nursery rhyme about 'all the king's horses and all the king's men.' Therapists help put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

My therapy included Speech, Physical, and Occupational. Three hours a day, five days a week.

I remember the small steps forward.

The hard work.

How it seemed like real hard work at the time. How your body couldn't do the simplest of things and how over time it got easier to do them.

Therapists help all kinds of patients.

From heart attack survivors to people who've had knee surgery to rotator cuff patients to cancer survivors to those learning how to talk again to stroke survivors like me.  Helping you to go back to your work, your home, your family.

The list of who they help is a long one.

But, that's what they do.

On paper it's one of many jobs. But to us?

It's more than just a job. It's a life raft.

They deserve the love.





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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee

Remember when movies were good and TV shows were not? Nowadays movies are shaky and there is way too much good teevee.

What's a boy to do?

That's where the phrase 'must watch tv' comes in.

I have a few shows I never miss and I thought I'd share one with you. This one is not on television, it's on the web, but close enough.

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.

If you're not familiar with it, this is how it works.

It came from the mind of one of the best comedians out there, Jerry Seinfeld. I can't stress enough how good, how funny, I think he is.

I like smart. I like funny. He's both.

We know Seinfeld the show but Jerry's standup, which got him that show, is superb. As far as standup comedy goes, he says, "I'm lucky to be very good at a very difficult thing."

Amen to that.

Back to Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. It's pretty much what the title says it is but it's way more than that. Jerry talks to all kinds of people...David Letterman, Kevin Hart, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Steve Martin, let's not forget Barack Obama, Chris Rock, Louis CK, Bill Mahr, Jimmy Fallon and many more.

First, talking while driving around and then over coffee.

What I like is the easy conversation that these people have and the 'behind the curtains' take the show has on comedy.  For me, every time a new episode comes out, it's like it's Christmas morning and I know Santa has brought me something good.

Okay, a couple of remembrances...

First season with Alec Baldwin. Now Alec is not a comedian but he sure is funny. The whole segment is great, I've watched it over and over and I laugh out loud every time. Seek it out, my friends, you will not be disappointed.

Season 6 with Steve Harvey. In between funny and interesting conversation, Steve says something that I think is profound. "Comedy is the one profession that is non-transferrable. Comedians can become great actors, great actors can't become comedians."

Think about that.

They also go on to say they've both spoken to a Comedy Class. Advice? Jerry said to the class, "The fact that you are here is a bad sign." Steve told his students, "None of you have what it takes. If you did there would be no need for this class."

Funny stuff.

Season 4 with Robert Klein. Jerry calls Robert his hero and Robert is as funny as they come. His first person stories on Richard Pryor, Johnny Carson, Rodney Dangerfield, Yogi Berra, Groucho Marx, are to me; like rain to the desert. I soak them up and could listen to them all the live long day.

I'll say it again. Funny stuff.

And of course the President. Season 7, episode 1.

A 1963 Corvette and Barack Obama. Very cool.

Jerry says that the Commander-in-Chief, "has gotten off just enough funny lines to qualify for this show.'"  On the show Obama says, "I do really well with the zero to eight demographic. Partly because my ears are big and I look a little like a cartoon character."

Let me know the last time you heard a president say something like that.

It was a hoot watching the President answer his own phone, seeing the stern guard at the White House gate, watching them talk and have coffee in the White House. Plus, after coffee, he drives the car.

Great segment.

Great show.

Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.

Must See TV.


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Saturday, June 25, 2016

A Change Of Direction

There's been so much awful in the world of late that it feels weird talking about anything else. I don't know about you but I need a bit of respite from the din of OMGs so here goes.

There's been drama at the McEwen Hacienda.

My sweet girl, Lola the Dog, was being petted by my dear mother-in-law when she felt a lump in Lola's ear. It was a hematoma and off to the vet we went. Dogs like her, she's a Goldendoodle, are known to have problems with their ears. Before we knew it, an operation was planned and Lola bravely went in.

Have you ever worried about your pet, your friend? It'll make you cry.

Lola went under and when it was done, out she came. Loopy, bandaged, with the cone of shame (ask your kids or your grandkids) and did I mention loopy?

And thus the adventure began.

Putting her pills in cheese so she would swallow them only to have her eat the cheese and spit out the pills when I did it. Walking into walls because the cone around her head was bigger than what she was used to. And the scratching. All Lola wanted to do was get all that off of her, and that's where the scratching came in.

The house was full of scratching sounds and head shaking sounds and cries of, "Lola, no!"

Quite a nightmare.

But this has a happy ending.

Lola went to the vet this morning and is now home, stitches free, bandage free, and cone free. And guess what? No more scratching.

And in the words of Martha Stewart, that's a good thing.

As we speak, Lola is on the couch in my den, sleeping upside down. One ear is shaven but that'll grow back.

Our dear friend is home.


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Monday, June 13, 2016

Orlando

I was on the treadmill at my gym and happened to look outside. It looked like just another Monday morning in Orlando.

But it's not.

The story coming out of this part of the world is horrific. By this time you've heard the news. 49 confirmed dead, many more wounded, from the worst mass shooting in US history.

The worst mass shooting in US history.

Orlando is not my home but it is. Let me explain. I moved here 12 years ago from New York. I still read The Times, still root for the Yankees, still call myself a New Yorker, but I'll say this: if I never live anywhere else I'm more than fine with that. There are wonderful people here. It's the land of please and thank you, of have a nice day, and so much more.

I lived in New York during 9/11. I saw the towers go down, as we all did. I was on CBS then and when we got back on the air it was the only time you could cry, on the air, whenever.

Awful and so sad.

Orlando.

I woke up Sunday to the news and I turned on the television to see wall to wall coverage. To see survivors dazed, to see people crying.  I watched until I couldn't watch anymore. Too emotional. Too much of trying to process something and getting nowhere.

The headlines keep saying the shooting happened in a gay nightclub.

Let me tell you a story.

I'm named for my Uncle Mark. He was one of those people who aren't really your uncle but you call them that. He was my father's best friend. Uncle Mark was white. He was also gay. He and my father went to Officer Candidate School in the 50s. A story I heard early in life is that they both went to the Officers Club back then and the powers that be stopped my Dad at the door. Wouldn't let him in because he was black. My Uncle Mark was incensed, put his finger in the face of the guy at the door and proceeded to tell him my father was his guest, was an officer and was going inside. He also said he'd have the guy's... if he didn't. The guy let my Dad go in.

A story like that goes a long way.

I tell you that because it doesn't matter what a person is, it's what's in their heart, how they are to you. Good people are good people. Bad people are bad people.

Orlando.

A friend of mine said her son was at the club and left a half an hour before the shooting began. A friend of my wife's was outside and left because it was too crowded. They were lucky. My heart goes out to the ones who weren't so lucky. And to their families and friends.

Awful and so sad.

It's sunny today and there are few clouds in the sky.

But it's raining.

A rain of tears.


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Friday, June 10, 2016

June

My parent's anniversary is this month.

It's June 19th and for those playing at home that's also Father's Day. Although my father is 86 my mother is no longer with us. A sad part of growing older.

Let me just say, "Hi Mom." I talk to her alot. Still.

I'll get to my Dad in a second but first the importance of that day.

It starts out as just the day you get married. Lots of toasts, lots of smiles, lots of love. There is an open highway in front of you and the promise of building a family, a life, together.

One turn around the sun and you come to your first anniversary. Nice, but the more time marches on the more special those days become. Two turns into five. Five into ten. Ten into twenty. And on and on.

Marriage is funny. When it doesn't work it seems like seconds are hours, hours days, and the days seem to last forever.

But when it does...

Don't get me wrong even good marriages have bad days now and then but all in all they're pretty special.

It's fun to watch your spouse blossom.  In my case I get to watch how good a mother my wife is. Our kids can tell you.

My parents were married 35 years.

My father used to joke that he had more anniversary cards from the crumb snatchers, that would be us, than he could count. Well, if he hadn't married my Mom there would be no crumb snatchers.

Okay, Father's Day.

Although I have kids and I'm a father myself I will always be a son to my father. It's funny to see one of my children (who shall remain nameless) repeat things I've said, mimic things I do, and like things I like, just like I did with my Dad.

When you're little these celebrations don't mean a whole lot to you. As one gets older they do.

Mother's Day, Father's Day, Anniversaries, resonate more when you're the mother or you're the father. Watching your kids turn from peanuts into grown ups is oh so sweet.

So Dad, Happy Anniversary and Happy Father's Day from this crumb snatcher, this father and your son.

Who loves you very much.


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Friday, June 3, 2016

Making The Jump From Radio To Television

I'd never been fired in radio before, I was fired twice in New York. At WAPP and NEW. Needless to say there are better cities to be unemployed in than New York.

After NEW there had been a big story in The Daily News about what to do next. I thought maybe I'd go cross town to do afternoon drive to Howard Stern's mornings.

Along came CBS.

The Executive Producer of their soon to be morning show saw the story in the paper and said, "I think I found my weatherman." That's how I found myself in a studio, in Manhattan, and about to do something I'd never done before--the weather.

The story behind that story was that one of their Senior Producers had called NEW. The station gave me his number and I was reluctant to call him because WCBS-FM (radio) was an oldies station and I didn't want to do that format.  On the good side I also thought that most morning shows are lucky to have one producer much less a number of them. Throw in I didn't have a job and there you go.

So I called.

His name was Peter Bonventre and he was very sharp and very nice. We talked and the whole time I'm thinking radio and then he drops the bomb, "And we're going up against the Today show and GMA."

"Excuse me, this is television?"

"Yes. Interested?"

"Yeah. Yeah I am."

They had me come to Black Rock, CBS's corporate headquarters.

Most rock and roll deejays have, maybe, one suit.  I put mine on and headed cross town. I had just done a thing for HBO (on camera) for when they used to unscramble their signal for a weekend to get potential customers to sample their wares and hopefully sign on. I was one of their anchors pointing out what was up next, I did interviews and did my best to help guide you to different shows, different movies. My father said to bring that tape, just in case, you never know, and I did.

I was brought into the office of the new EP, Bob Shanks.

The lights on his phone. each one signaling a waiting caller, blinked incessantly. He paid no attention. We sat and started to chat and he began...where are you from...how many brothers and sisters did I have....favorite sports team in town...stuff like that. He asked me if I had ever been on camera before. I mentioned the HBO tape that I'd left at the assistant's desk. After sending me to go get it (thanks Dad) we watched it in silence.

"This is the first time you were on camera?"

"Yes it was," I answered.

He nodded and kept watching. After it was over he asked me The Question. "How do feel about doing the weather?"

I wasn't prepared for that one but I didn't want him to know. I thought this would be more about me anchoring. "Sure, I could do the weather," I said. "You'd be great," he added. "We'll get you a meteorologist and he'll put together the forecasts, you'll deliver them." As I was leaving Bob told me not to tell anyone about our get together.

I told everyone.

That meeting led to the audition in a studio somewhere in Manhattan.

It was a rainy, yucky day. As I came in I saw Bob Saget an old friend from a show I did, Comedy Tonight. He whispered, "I think you got this."

I walked into a studio that had Bob Shanks, a camera, and a bunch of people from CBS in it. Bob told me he would stand next to the camera and ask me questions. He told me to answer to him and indirectly to the camera. He also said could he ask me something that would lead to my comedy.

I said, "Ask me where I went on vacation."

It got quiet and off we went. He asked me all kinds of stuff and then here it came..."Where did you go recently on vacation?"

"Jamaica," I answered. "Everyone there has an accent. Where you going, mon? What's your name, mon? Even the dogs," I continued, "Bark Bark, mon."

Everyone laughed.

I did a few more things and went outside and sitting there was the co-host. She thrust out her hand and said, "I'm Mariette Hartley."

I thought, "I think I got this job."

One day a deejay.

The next day a weatherman.


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