When you combine Julebord, Santa, Dr. Evil, Thor and a parody song of Oklahoma, you must be doing something. Hang on for this week’s episode!
We’ll come back to that.
A quick flashback to my college days for just a moment. The year was 1975 and I had been at the University of Washington for a couple of years by now and still hadn’t figured out what my major was going to be. Probably needed to make that decision fairly soon.
Then one day, I was talking with a guy from the end of the fifth floor of Terry Hall who mentioned the campus radio station. The what? You could do radio and call it a major? So, off I wandered off into the world of communications, with an emphasis on Radio & TV. Ask me for the long form of the story next time you see me, but for the time being, I decided that radio was the way to go.
It was my career for the next 30+ years. I consider myself very fortunate in that I was only let go twice during those three decades. Radio is pretty much like golf–the lower the score, the better you did.
This past week, we saw two Seattle radio stations get flipped. For the outsiders, that means a personality was saying a slogan for a station one minute and a few moments later, there were new call letters. KMPS, which has survived as a country station since Gerald Ford was president, fell as part of the CBS Radio/Entercom merger. Across the lake, 98.9, which had been some kind of rock station for a couple of years, flipped over to country to keep the Wolf honest. I still think of 98.9 as Smooth Jazz, much like I keep calling Macy’s The Bon.
These events brought back memories of my second radio retirement. December 19th, 2003, at the Village Theater in Issaquah. It was the Murdock, Hunter & Alice annual Christmas spectacular. I believe it was our 3rd one, as each year we kept getting bigger and bigger. This particular morning, Bryon the Producer had pulled out all the stops. We had Brenda White, the original singer of “Christmas in the Northwest” performing live. Channel 5’s Dennis Bounds read, “Twice The Night Before Christmas.” There were kids singing, story-telling, it was some pretty great radio, despite the fact that all three of us knew this was probably going to be it.
And so, at 9am, after introducing our final act and thanking everyone for listening, our general manager came backstage and asked if we were done on the air. We said, “Yes” and he said, “We’ve decided not to renew your contract. See ya. Take your time cleaning out your desk and well throw you a big party next month to say thanks for all those years.” (I had been in the building 19 of them)
Six days before Christmas. I suppose he could have come down the chimney Christmas morning and had more impact, but maybe this was his way of being kind. Oh, and that party? Never happened.
Once you’ve been in radio, it’s a hard demon to shake. It’s an addiction. Maybe the city of Seattle, once day, will set up Safe Broadcasting Sites. I have to admit, even though I find myself in a dream situation for work, if the right situation were to come up, I would be seriously tempted to give it one more round. All this while watching several members of my extended radio family being kicked to the curb and can’t for the life of them get back up on that horse. One was even kicking butt in the ratings and was still let go. Radio is just that kind of master.
So, to all of those hard-working folks who found themselves on the street this week, just know you’re in one heck of a club. It’s a badge of honor in this biz and also a powerful reminder that, hey, it’s just a job. You’ll survive. You’ll grow from the experience and eventually, realize that you’re better off in whatever you take on next. The industry has been changing for a long time and not for the better. I’ve told friends more than once that I truly do believe I was lucky to have taken part in radio’s last big hurrah. In these days of satellite and having your own personal format on your phone or multiple streaming options, all without commercials, it really is just a matter of time.
But damn, it was sure fun while we had it.
I got ’em. Might as well post ’em!
Of the billions of people on this earth, we’ve chosen a few along the way to label as “friends.”
Friends come in many forms. Facebook Friends. Best Friends. Close Friends. Great Friends. Sorta Friends. Casual Friends (some with benefits). There are Childhood Friends, High School Friends, College Friends, Work Friends. Think of any of those categories and I’m sure names and faces pop up in your mind. As many as there are different types of people, there are varying degrees of friendship. I put an extremely high value on my friends. Over my six decades, I’ve made a lot of them and stayed in touch with as many as possible along the way.
There are some people who limit the amount of friends, keeping it a core group. The group of friends they stay in touch with are pretty much it. In my case, I’ve got a ton of really good friends that I see sporadically. It could be several months, it could be years. But those are the people who know, when we get together, it’s as if it had just been moments before and we just pick up where we left off. None of that, “You never called” stuff.
There were the elementary school friends, who I lost track of. The high school friends, which I’ve reconnected with thanks to Facebook. I hit the jackpot with my college friends. I’m hoping at some point, I can do justice to that story and write a screenplay about those crazy days at Terry Hall. And of course, my incredible collection of radio friends that I have made along the way. There’s a lifetime supply of stories right there.
The one term I have a really hard time with is, “Best Friend.” To single out one person out of all the people I know, I’d probably have to default to the cliché answer, “My wife.” I don’t really have one person I would call a best friend but that’s because I want it that way. If forced to identify someone outside of my marriage as a Best Friend, I’d probably say, “It’s whichever friend I’m with at the time you ask.”
There are people-watchers. I’m a people-listener. The bottom-line is that everyone has a great story. Last weekend while chatting with Victoria, somehow I got on the topic of a certain person and suddenly, details started spilling out about their life and their story. All stuff that could easily end up on the Hallmark Channel. Maybe it’s the writer in me, the story-teller, but it’s the details of people’s lives that simply fascinates me.
If you’re a friend and you’d like to sit around some day and compare life stories, just say when & where. There are actually two people from my past that I would love to have that conversation with and hear how life has gone since the last time we saw each other. I think we all have people like that. For no other purpose, just for the curiosity of it. Here’s what happened to me, how about you? How was your life? I really doubt these two particular conversations will ever happen, but I’d like to believe they will.
Or maybe, just maybe, that’s what heaven is. Just sitting there, with a friend from long ago, swapping stories, getting answers to your questions, remembering old times. Having their stories trigger more of those long-lost adventures from your memory bank.
For yours truly, that would work. A lot. Yeah, that sounds like heaven to me.
Family is assigned to you. Your friends are those wonderful bonuses that add so much to our crazy story of life.
To all of my friends, thank you for being a part of my story.
Got a star-studded Apple Cup version of the Wacky Week Podcast for you this week, including guest appearances from Larry Nelson, Bob Rondeau, Kathi Goertzen, Steve Pool and Ray Ramsey, just to name a few. Just a little of the radio madness I helped contribute to over the years.
Well, here comes one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving. Minimum decorating, no gifts to buy and its centered around eating. Bob Thanksgiving or whoever it was that invented that holiday, we thank you.
I’m grabbing a few minutes and doing a quick parade through my brain of all the people and events I have to be thankful for, knowing darn well I’ll probably miss an important one along the way, but here goes:
Mom & Dad–How do you skip past them? Having done the great parent experiment myself, I look back and admire what they did for us. Not so much for the”things.” God knows as kids my sisters and I would complain that we never got to experience real Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, we got the Springfield brand. Springfield soda, Springfield popcorn. It was the lesser-cost version of all the popular foods. But like I said, it wasn’t about the things, it was the environment. They gave us an abundance of guidance, stability, faith, and allowed us to be kids while growing up during those turbulent 1960s. Even when dad was out of work because of a strike or we were dangerously close to nuclear war with Cuba, my world was made up of school friends, Cub Scouts, Little League, Dodger baseball and the kids in the neighborhood.
Mr. Ray and Mr. Maxwell–two of the teachers I had along the way, both with clever, dry senses of humor. I credit them for helping shape my comical thinking.
Gary Owens–This Los Angeles radio legend and eventually, the announcer on “Laugh In” was nothing short of brilliant. While other kids were listening to Boss Radio KHJ (and that’s where I went after Gary was on the air) I couldn’t wait to tune in KMPC, wade through another Ray Conniff song, only to hear his witty banter and bits like The Story Lady. Blame him for me heading into a 30-year radio career.
Getting Fired–Yes, it wasn’t just people, it was events. Having your career pulled out from under you either destroys you or makes you stronger. Twice, my life plans were thrown into chaos and uncertainty, but each time I emerged better off than I was before. This helped brand in my brain to keep focused on what’s really important–your life. Lose a job? You’ll be fine. Getting honorary mention is deciding to quit a job and go out on my own 3 years ago. A step I never would have taken if I hadn’t been fired. I basically fired myself, which put me into the dream situation I enjoy now.
Family–My incredible wife who showed me that people can be kind and caring as a way of life. My mom & sisters, my kids and step-kids, the grandkids, the assorted nieces and nephews. Oh and all those aunts and cousins throughout the greater United States. Quite the collection of characters. Love you all!
My Radio Brothers & Sisters–I made some life-long friends during that 30-year stretch of my life, most of whom I still stay in touch with today. It’s not a constant-contact kind of thing, but put us together anywhere and we can pick up right where we last left off.
My Memories–In the amusement park that is my mind, there’s a wonderful place called Yesterday. It’s where I go and reflect on my dad, my radio mentor Larry Nelson and my former morning show co-host Alice Porter. One of my high school classmates Dr. Jon Lemler is there, too. The class of ’73 will remember him playing “Suwanne River” with his hands at the senior talent show. I’ll be forever grateful to him for talking with my wife at one of our reunions where she told him about her kidney disease. Jon helped us with some alternative medicine that we are convinced helped Victoria’s disease go into remission. A couple of years ago, Jon was walking in Las Vegas when he collapsed and died from a massive heart attack.
You see, I’ve had the incredible fortune of meeting some amazing people along the way.
Star Boreson–I had incredible timing and, even though I didn’t grow up with him here in Seattle, during my days at KOMO, he came in as the revered former TV show host and I got to know him. Enough that he invited me over to his and Barbara’s house for a couple of afternoons, where we wrote parody songs for his next Christmas album. Read the fine print on the cover, there I am. Buried in our basement are the original hand-written lyrics to a lot of those songs on the album. It was a college-level course on how to create a comedy, which I used many, many times throughout my career. And still do, to this day.
Matt Riedy & Frank King–It’s all about opportunity. Back when radio brother-turned-actor Matt was working over at Smooth Jazz, he connected me to a comedian he had worked with, Frank King. Frank used to do stand-up comedy with Jay Leno and had remained connected to him, faxing him jokes each day. Frank invited me to join his White Collar Comedy submission sheet and for most of a decade, I was lucky enough to be able to sell jokes to Jay. The thrill of having him tell a joke that I wrote, word for word, was about the biggest high a comedy writer could experience.
Dwight Perry–This Seattle Times’ lighter side of sports writer has dropped in some of my Wacky Week lines over the years and given me exposure that I wouldn’t otherwise receive, being off the air. As recently as last Sunday, a friend said, “Hey, I saw you in the sports page again today!” Thanks for the plugs, Dwight!
Jean Godden & Sherry Grindeland–When both were back in their day writing newspaper columns, they gave me quite a few mentions and let me show off my comedy writing skills to their readership.
You–A writer is nothing without readers. If no one bothers reading it, then I would be just entertaining myself. (which I do anyway. I’m a great audience) I’ve managed to write over 800 blogs these past 15 years, with 42,543 views the last time I checked. I am humbled.
I’m just a guy going along for the ride who believes everyone should be doing what they love to do. It truly makes all the difference in the world. I wish you peace, hope and happiness as we gather again to give thanks for all we’ve got.
It’s a shame we really only do this once a year. If nothing else, the holiday serves as that annual reminder that we truly are blessed.
Give Lincoln full credit. He was the guy who made Thanksgiving an actual holiday.
You gotta love it: the government mandating the obvious–for God’s sake, don’t think about what you don’t have, but instead, be grateful for all the blessings you DO have!
While I try to live that way day-to-day, it’s easy to get caught up in the busy pace of life and one of the first things that goes away is gratitude.
Everyone should hear the word Thanksgiving and begin thinking of all the blessings in their life. As I do that in 2017, I marvel at everything around me and just can’t believe this is all really happening to me.
First off, I have my health. As you get older, you realize more and more what a valuable commodity that can be. Seriously, if you don’t have good health, pretty much everything else gets thrown out the window.
Now, let’s take it a step further. Your health, and everybody else in your life that matters to you–their health. Oh, screw the minor aches and pains or the stuff that comes with getting older. The fact that 100% of the people you care about are doing OK? Just sign the Thankful Certificate and call it a day.
However, this year, I have another really big thing to be thankful for.
A couple of weeks ago, while putting together one of my Wacky Week Podcasts, I was listening to a tape from my KCMU days. That was the college radio station at the University of Washington that has since been sold to Paul Allen, who moved it over to KEXP at his MoPop Museum. But back in my U.W. days, it was where I cut my radio teeth. And one night, while I was showing off the radio station to a nursing student I was dating, I recorded a phone call she made to her mom.
The moment I heard it, I strongly felt she should be able to hear this recording. As I listened to it, the memory of that girl from 40 years ago came rushing back. Her laugh, her voice, the voice of her mom–it took me back to the mid-1970’s, when a 21-year-old version of myself was about to head out into the world.
But the way I remember leaving it with her was not good. I recall being a jerk, a legitimate asshole. However, because I felt she should have access to that recording, I searched for her on Facebook and reached out, really expecting the worst. Maybe she would lash out or just block me from contacting her on Facebook.
Instead, she couldn’t have been more kind and said she didn’t remember the caustic ending that I had attached to the last time I saw her. While I could question or contest that, I’m going with the flow and if she really has no resentment towards me, then I am beyond blessed.
I clocked in at 62 years in September. Dear God, that’s old. In my brain, I had done this girl a tremendous wrong as I headed out from the U.W. and into the working world. Four decades later, I find out it must not have been as awful as I remember. That truly was the only thing that, at some point in my life, I wanted to rectify, to apologize for, to amend for my behavior.
This girl was a part of my last year in college. She was a serious student. She introduced me to Fleetwood Mac. I remember she threw me a going-away party when I took my first radio job in Yakima. She was very, very kind. She LOL’d before it was popular. She was simply a very nice person. They really do exist in the world. And now I found out, after thinking otherwise for 40 years, she didn’t hate me after all!
And now, adding that to my 2017 list of things to be grateful for.
My wife made the comment just this morning: “Can you believe it’s just a little over two weeks until Thanksgiving?”
After decades of going through this ritualistic season, you’d think we’d be better at it. But like clockwork, you’ll hear the same things, year after year:
Seriously, you’ve heard ’em all before. But I do have to say, in spite of our really busy personal schedules with work tossed in, I think I’m doing a decent job of actually enjoying the holiday season. I do have over-achieving as a goal, but somehow each year I pull it off and it’s just about time to fire up the engines again.
Here’s my collection of annual holiday “duties” I thrust upon myself. (because I know that one day, I’ll look back and remember when I used to do all this)
The N.A.C.C. Julebord–I began attending this when I married Victoria, the uber-Norwegian. It’s an annual lunchtime gala at the Seattle Golf Club that is decadent and extremely fun. Within a couple of years, the elderly emcee had to give up the microphone and I was called into service. I think this is my 6th Julebord (pronounced YULE-uh-BOARD). It’s actually a pretty cushy gig and let’s me get being a goofball out of my system. I do a brief monologue at the beginning which evolves into me doing a parody song about something. Then it’s just keeping the event moving along, with songs, door prizes and a tad bit of drinking.
SANTA CLAUS ARRIVAL AT BOTHELL’S COUNTRY VILLAGE SHOPPING CENTER–I believe I’m in my 14th year (at least) of hosting this event. My evening duties begin at 6pm when I stroll the village dressed up like a town crier, “Hear ye! Hear ye!” bell and all, announcing that Santa Claus arrives at 7pm. Back when I started, Santa’s sleigh actually flew in on a wire, but eventually, the liability became too much. I’ll never forget the year that someone parked right in the flight path and I led the crowd in a “Tow that car!” chant until they eventually did. Longest 25 minutes of my life. The event means even more to me because we’re down to the final two Christmas’s where I’ll be doing this. The village has been sold and after the 2018 Santa arrival, the place will become history.
THE NORWEGIAN LADIES CHORUS OF SEATTLE HOLIDAY CONCERT–What I love most about this is I just have to show up. I usually go up in the rafters and videotape the concert and, much like country village, this could be a limited-time tradition. Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church in Ballard–where we were married–is going to be undergoing a massive renovation in the near future, which includes taking down the choir loft.
Those first three events happen in order on the first weekend of December–Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I also take on–
MY ANNUAL CHRISTMAS CD–The days of it actually being a CD are limited as well. In fact, only a select few will be burned this year, as the world moves towards digital music. This will be my 17th edition of “HO HO BROTHER”, which features fun, festive and funny Christmas songs, along with some original comedy bits from either my radio past, or new ones. If you’d be interested in getting this year’s collection, just let me know and I’ll put you on the naughty list.
MY ANNUAL CHRISTMAS MUSIC VIDEO–This is probably the most ambitious thing I do and I need to get going on it. I hooked up with a young singer named Alana Baxter some years ago and we have done a series of silly Christmas songs, complete with video. Now, since she has relocated to Hawaii, it’s made the task even more challenging. So what we did last year was to record this year’s song. I’ve got her voice track. I’ll just have to round up some video and be creative and then we’ll have another one to add to the collection. Her song is also usually included with my Christmas CD collection. If you’d like to enjoy some of our previous works, here you go!
Add to all that the holiday shopping, the annual parties, a Bothell Wine Walk, watching some favorite Christmas movies, getting out the Christmas cards (we’re STILL doing that) and everything else that crops up and yes, we are heading into one, busy, festive season.
But as I said, there will come a time when I’ll be reflecting back on these days and all of this will be nothing more than my ghosts of Christmas past.
So, I’m just going to enjoy the heck out of them while it’s all a part of my present.
Ho, friggin’, Ho!
That would be my fantasy headline. You’d see it and say, “Oh, wow, Tim knew Don James, the legendary football coach of the University of Washington Huskies! The guy they just unveiled a statue of, out in front of Husky Stadium.”
I actually DID know Coach Don James, on a professional level. Our paths crossed dozens of times, as I’m sure it did with so many other people who wanted to have a couple of minutes with the coach. Let’s face it, he was not only a nice guy, but a very talented football coach that left Kent State–a school more famous for its ’60s student shooting than its football program–to head for the University of Washington. There, he rescued a floundering program, taking it to unprecedented heights and even a national championship.
I worked at KOMO AM-1000 back in the early 1980s. I had gotten a low-voiced call from Seattle while I worked at KMWX in Yakima, went over for a job interview, accepted it and two weeks later, headed to the wet side of the mountains to be Larry Nelson’s morning show producer.
Going from a small market to Market 13 in the U.S. meant a lot of learning and growing was yet to come. That was back in the time when KOMO embraced their history as being one of the first radio stations in Seattle. The wall in front of the office I shared with Larry had cartoon drawings of the radio greats from the ’30s and ’40s. W.C. Fields, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Jack Benny, Fred Allen and more.
That was a different era at KOMO. During my tenure there, they were a Full-Service AM station with music, news and up to 30 minutes of commercials per hour. Years prior, Fisher Broadcasting gave away the frequency that KUOW now occupies because, in the words of one general manager, “FM radio will never amount to anything.” KOMO had also let the Sonics slip away, but that allowed them to seriously go after the University of Washington sports broadcasts.
At that time, if you had the broadcast rights to a school, you got it all. What did you want to cover? Football, basketball, maybe some crew races? KOMO had access to everything purple and gold. Bob Rondeau, the voice of the Huskies, was the radio station sports director and did the morning sports reports during the week. On the weekends, he climbed into the broadcast booth. Because of that, it wasn’t unusual for the likes of Mike Lude (the Athletic Director) or even Don James to be seen around the building.
Between those occasions, a Rose Bowl trip in ’81, and even being involved somewhat in “The Don James Show” on KLSY years later, I can’t tell you how many conversations I had with the coach. Mostly chit-chat, but enough I could tell this was a seriously good guy. Oh, I heard he could be really intense on the football field. That’s what great coaches do. But off the field and one-on-one, he could turn it off and be just a guy named Don.
One year after I had moved on to KLSY and the Huskies were in Pasadena for the Rose Bowl, I remembered that New Year’s Eve was the coach’s birthday. So, we called the hotel where he was staying and had breakfast delivered to his room. Of course, we gave our studio backline number with the order and sure enough, Coach James called up to say thanks. That was awesome. That was Don James.
The last time I was fortunate enough to see him was at one of the Husky Spring Football games. He was in the Tyee section (the hoity-toity reserved section) and he was near the edge talking to someone and so I figured when that conversation was over, I’d sneak over and grab a selfie with him. For all the years I was around him, I had never bothered to get a picture taken with him. What a hallowed spot I would have on my Husky wall if I had only taken the time to get up there and say hi one more time. I looked away to watch the spring game, but when I turned around, he was gone.
We lost Don James way too early. Not only as a head coach, but also in this world. He was just 80 years old when he passed in 2014. It’s been 25 years since he last coached the Huskies. But when I look back, it’s not with sadness, but instead, with massive appreciation for being able to be alive during his era. I was there in the stands as a student when he first took over and not too much later, be fortunate enough to actually get to know the guy a little bit. I really wanted to be at Husky Stadium last week for the dedication of his statue out front, but work prevented it.
However, that statue is not going anywhere and eventually, I’ll get back to Husky Stadium for that long overdue photo with the coach.
My Voter’s Guide
Yeah, it’s been a year since we threw our federal government into complete chaos. It finally caught up to our Seattle City government, which has been dysfunctional, inept, non-achieving and over-taxing for years.
I don’t know if I’m a conservative progressive or a liberal conservative. I have opinions and thoughts on everything, but it seems to be my own brand of politics that is sometimes Democrat, while other times Republican.
Most Seattle voters pride themselves on being progressive–formerly known as liberal, left wing or socialist. Take a look at most of the council races and you get to choose between uber-progressive and really-uber-progressive. I’m waiting for the day that the city council changes all the streets to left-turns only.
I want to truly help homeless people and all those in need, but I don’t want to enable them. I don’t believe allowing camping on sidewalks and city parks, and dumbing-down heroin addiction to the point Seattle is trying to make it a lifestyle is demonstrating compassion. You’re addict? Here, let us set up a safe injection site. That way you’ll be healthy enough to hit those neighborhoods and steal more to fuel your habit. And now we feel better about ourselves and didn’t have to make any hard decisions.
Yeah, that’s helping.
So, the other day, I found myself at a place where you could pick up the copy of The Stranger, which I did. (after all, it’s free) I didn’t even realize at the time, in spite of the cover, that it was the Election Issue with their recommendations for our off-year election. Coincidentally, my ballot showed up in the mail around the same time. I had started to fill it out based on some of the main races, but then I hit a point where it was going to take some digging through the voter’s pamphlet to figure out the rest of the candidates.
As I skimmed through The Stranger and came across their endorsements, I realized that they were 6-for-6 in endorsing the opposite candidate I supported. That gave me an idea.
For the first time ever, I used The Stranger’s recommendations to choose who I was voting for. They recommended A, I voted for B. They said Yes, I said No. Since they pride themselves on extremism to the radical left, I figure the candidate they didn’t support might at least be a little towards the middle.
That was it. I finished the rest of my ballot in less than a minute, put on the stamp and ran it out to the mailbox.
And a new way to vote was born.
Election Day, as of this writing, is still two weeks ago. So lots of time left to get your copy of The Stranger.
What finally happened that it was suddenly OK to out a powerful person like Harvey Weinstein and expose his abuse of power and the sexual depravity that so many women have to endure silence?
It doesn’t matter. This is a great thing.
Unbelievable behavior has been going on for decades. There have been payoffs. There were threats. Careers were ruined. Others, spared for favors.
But that’s Hollywood, right? The home of the casting couch. Where sexual harassment and assault are “just part of the process.”
It’s with heartbreak I read story after story of what actresses and models have endured for the sake of not having their careers crushed by powerful men. But now, they’re finally fighting back and I’m cheering them on.
The current “let’s put an end to sexual harassment and abuse” campaign has spread outside of Hollywood and has become a powerful wake-up call to me and hopefully millions of men.
Last Sunday, the #metoo campaign was given a boost by Alyssa Milano and it spread like wildfire. Sadly, for good reason. If a woman had been victims of sexual harassment or abuse in their lifetimes, they were encouraged to post #metoo. Practically every woman I have as a friend on Facebook joined in. Some hesitated, because they didn’t want people to know or didn’t want to relive it. Others have used it as a light to show us it’s far from OK. In fact, it hasn’t been for a long time. Hopefully, this is where we finally start to change things.
If you know me, you know I’m a goofball. I keep it light and have a hard time being serious. (apparently, except when I blog) I have this deep-rooted need to make people smile or laugh. Looking back over the years, I never, ever intentionally sexually harassed anyone. At least, in my mind. I’m playful, flirty at times, but only with people I felt close to.
The #metoo campaign has me re-thinking and that’s when change begins. It has shed light on something that wasn’t said before to the masses–that being sexually harassed or assaulted has been more the rule, than the exception.
My hat is off to the women who have bravely stepped forward to tell their story with the hope that things will change and that, hopefully, others won’t have to go through it.
KING 5 News Anchor Amity Addrissi bravely told her story.
A Facebook post by a former co-worker was the real tipping point for me. I mean, for God’s sake, I never knew that had happened to her. I felt incredible sadness and anger as I read her story while realizing that she had been living with this all the time I’ve known her. She is one of the brightest, nicest, just deep-down people I know. Here’s her story:
When I was in high school, I was held down and raped by two drunk/high boys from school. To complicate matters, one of them was actually my boyfriend. For YEARS afterwards, I was in denial that this was even rape — that’s how brainwashed our culture is. Since I didn’t scream at the top of my lungs, since I didn’t bite and punch and kick, since I didn’t physically fight back with ALL MY FORCE, this was clearly my fault, right?
I did try to shove them off, I repeatedly asked them to stop, I cried, I tried to squirm out of their grip as the pinned me down. But, again, I didn’t fight back with all my force, so it wasn’t REALLY rape, right? (SMH)
I kept dating that boy for a long time afterward, mainly due to feelings of low self-worth. This incident had a long-lasting impact on my life. An impact that is still very much felt. It kicked off a long-lasting bout of depression, decreased my belief in my value as anything more than an object, fostered an ambivalence toward life, and worst of all, gave me intimacy issues that continue to this day.
Now I wonder, how I ever could have thought this wasn’t even rape. I was A CHILD. I was raped. I never said anything. What is WRONG with this world?
I’m not glad to have had this experience, but I am happy to add to the growing #metoo lexicon.
And one last thing. Don’t feel sorry for me. I’ve grown past it. But do join me in my outrage.
Story after story, #metoo after #metoo, from friends and relatives, knocked the wind out of me. That we’ve been silent as a society as long as we have been seems inconceivable. How could we have side-stepped this issue all the way until 2017?
The New York Post put a brighter spotlight on Hollywood’s past, which was notorious. Give this a read and you’ll see what I mean. Harassment and assault were not publicly accepted, but even worse: they were privately ignored. Power corrupts and Harvey Weinstein used his power in the most corrupt way. His attacks on women were widely known, but remained a poorly kept secret.
As for the impact on my ground zero, this forced me to come to the realization that there were most likely several times in my life when I inadvertently harassed someone. Something I viewed as playful might have been very disturbing to a victim of previous harassment or assault. They had been wronged in their life and I was reminding them of that incident or incidents. For that, I hope they will accept my apology.
I have many, many female friends and acquaintances and to you, I’d like to humbly ask that if I ever do anything that goes beyond your comfort zone, you tell me, “Tim, you’re crossing a line.” Your friendship means too much to me. And it’s long, long overdue to establish a no toleration policy.
My wife and I have talked about her #metoo story. I know it still hurts because we tried watching “Mad Men” and the sexual harassment that was part of that era and part of that show still made her uncomfortable. She had lived it.
I have my own #metoo stories. There was the bar manager in Yakima who groped me one night out of the blue. I’m talking full-out grabbing-my-crotch, claiming he accidentally tripped into me. Yeah, right. Close friends have heard me tell the tale of the famous singer who invited me to his hotel room, gave me wine and then asked if I would take a bath with him. Now, I am NOT bringing this up to say, “I understand.” I don’t. I really don’t know what you went through and I don’t know how people can use power to harass or assault people and then sleep at night. What kind of human beings are they?
It’s my hope that all those who suffered in silence now feel empowered enough to either raise their voices or at least call out something when it happens. There can be no more Harvey Weinsteins. The problem isn’t anything new. But it’s time for it to go away.
We’ve hit the breaking point. We’ve had enough. We’re going to do something about it. All of us need to make this a priority, no exceptions, no excuses. This hidden tradition of sexual harassment and assault ends now.
It’s time to step up for our wives, our sisters, our daughters and generations to come.
No more secrets.
OK, still reeling from the UW Huskies loss last weekend in the desert to Arizona State University. I’m taking you back to the early 1980s, the last time we beat ASU down there, with Larry Nelson, Bob “the Voice of the Huskies” Rondeau and a cast of several. You’ll hear a KOMO Music promo and a couple of Halloween bits we did at 4th Avenue North.
Not afraid to bare my college soul on this week’s episode. Digging out some classic moments from my days at KCMU at the University of Washington. For a couple of quarters, I did a daily comedy bit called, “Return to Normalcy.” Don’t remember why I called it that. Cameo’s from friends of long ago, including Gale Ensign and Steve Fimmel. Basically, I’m putting this out there in the archives so that years from now, someone can ask the question, “Why didn’t they stop this?”
You may have gotten up this morning and had a slightly stiff neck you’re going to have to deal with all day. Maybe later, you’ll accidentally spill coffee in your car, some jerk will open up his door into your car or your boss is in an uber-bad mood.
Life is loaded with ups and downs. We think things like the above-mentioned challenges are ‘downs’. Actually, they’re just part of life.
For every dropped glass there’s a beautiful sunset. For each time you do battle with a cold there’s the giggle of a baby that makes you smile. The key is to focus on the goods and just let the bads pass. At least, that’s always been my philosophy. Live is balance.
I look back on my high school days as jam-packed with lot of goods. I managed to win over the girl of my dreams (at the time, they were young dreams), played basketball, had some great friends, did the popularity thing–it was just all in all a great experience for me.
Among the good ones I met along the way was Mike Duarte. Mike was just a solid guy and while we didn’t hang around often, whenever he saw me, he’d say hi. We’d exchange pleasantries. He was a super-athlete. Mike was a 3-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball with intensity. I still remember that husky voice and chiseled good looks. You could just tell this guy was going places and had a bright and beautiful future ahead.
So it didn’t surprise me when I heard later at a reunion that he had gone into law and was taking on the L.A. gangs. These days, he’s the Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County. I understand that he and his wife Barbara have a couple of kids: Mikey, who picked up dad’s athletic jeans and is now in the Chicago White Sox farm system, and a beautiful daughter, Christiana, who goes by the name Chrissy. She was a recent graduate of the University of Arizona and had just landed a job in the marketing department of the L.A. Kings.
Both kids, just like their father, seemed to have a tremendous future ahead. But Chrissy’s life will remain forever frozen in time. She will always be 22. Her incredible smile, the playful pictures she took, the singing voice some friends were lucky enough to hear was silenced. Chrissy was one of the 58 victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting.
I haven’t spoken to Mike in decades but it’s just heart-breaking to see something so tragic happen to a family of really good people. It just eats me up that this tragedy will become the latest high-water mark for a deranged mind in the future who will feel the need to randomly shoot even more innocent people. The gun debate will be revived for a short time, it will fade away and nothing will be done to make our world safer. We’ll all just wait for the next event, which continue to get progressively worse, praying we won’t lose a family member in the process.
There will come a tipping point when people feel enough is enough. The gun debate is a war of extremes. As more and more people lose their children, their family members and their futures to senseless gun violence, there will be a solution. I just wish we’d get there sooner than later. I would think that if you have loved ones, you’d have a pressing desire to make simple things like going to a country music concert non-life threatening.
I can’t imagine the horror of what the Duarte family is going through, but it’s amazingly easy to think of how many ways that tragedy could have been prevented.
Last Thursday, the LA Kings honored Chrissy by having all the players wear CD helmet stickers.
There is a GoFundMe campaign to help the Duartes with all the expenses involved in burying a daughter that was taken from them way too soon.
Another senseless act serving as a reminder: hug ’em while you’ve got ’em.
Everyone’s going to have an opinion on this one. What’s the greatest concert you’ve ever attended? Which concert set the standard as the one to beat for all future experiences?
Going into last Saturday night, I’d have to say the Paul McCartney show I caught at Safeco Field a couple of years ago was the high-water mark. It’s still up there. The 70+-year-old McCartney put his heart and soul into his performance, playing songs that covered most of my lifetime. It sounded like he was having fun, that he “still had it” and then, bringing out the two surviving members of Nirvana for an encore of Helter Skelter was the cherry on top.
Last weekend, my wife and I went to catch The Classic, as it was billed. An evening with the Doobie Brothers and The Eagles. I have to admit, during the weeks prior to the concert, my enthusiasm was fading. I had always wanted to see the Eagles, but now that Glenn Frey was gone, were they still The Eagles? Or, like so many touring bands out there, a few original members augmented by a bunch of studio musicians.
It didn’t help that I started seeing Groupon offers of tickets for $35 for this event, after I had ponied up $125 plus screw-you fees for each of our seats. The weather was starting to get fall-like, so that meant we could be outside, being cold, a million miles away from the stage and we could spend an evening regretting we had committed to this night. Besides, we had caught the Doobies a couple of summers back and while they were pleasantly surprising, energetic and fun, we probably were going to see just the same old thing.
Add to that, we had caught a Don Henley concert and a Joe Walsh concert at the winery in recent years. I like to say we saw the Eagles, just in pieces. All to say, my expectations were pretty low.
And then, the show began.
It ended up being one of the greatest concerts ever. From any standpoint. Now, to explain why they may have knocked Sir Paul out of my number one spot:
The Doobie Brothers–They came to play, they did the hits, had some fun with some deep album cuts and rocked us all down Memory Lane. They showed up on the music scene during my high school years and I played their music on the radio in the earlier years of my broadcast career. Tom Johnston, founding member and one of the two main voices of the group, delivered big-time. The Doobie Brothers were pretty much with me throughout the 70s and 80s, and they were back tonight in great form. Yes, no Michael McDonald, but he was later-Doobies. They had other members cover his hit songs and it was just fine. The sing-along version of “Listen to the Music” at the end was a great way to wrap it up. GRADE: A
The Eagles–There are so many ways this could have been disappointing. Like I said, with Glenn Frey gone, would some of the songs just be cover versions of his hits? That was the big question and it was answered right away, when Joe Walsh introduced Deacon Frey, Glenn’s son, to sing of those songs. You could see Glenn in his face and could hear him in his voice.
But the Eagles doubled-down and brought along country legend Vince Gill to tackle some of those Frey vocals and he nailed it. So now, I’m watching the friggin’ Eagles, but it’s like the Eagles on steroids. They played around with some of the songs, slightly tweaking the melody, keeping it fresh, not just regurgitating. But I noticed, after introducing the young Frey, Joe Walsh kind of laid back. He offered harmonizing vocals, but mostly hung out on the right side of the stage, and just blended in. Being a solo act, I was impressed he could be a team player like that.
It was all part of the plan, because at one point, the band started playing “Life’s been good.” That’s Joe’s song, not the Eagles. But like he was helping round out the Eagles, they returned the favor. Then another Joe Walsh song. And another. It was a concert, within a concert, with psychedelic video and all kinds of fun thrown in. The crowd was loving it.
They went back to Eagles songs, wrapped it up, came out and did an encore, wrapped it up again and gave us one more encore. Wow. From the time the music started (and, on time, at 7pm–when was the last time you remember that happening) the groups took us all the way until 11pm. Most of four hours of great music, great memories and feeling like I had shared a very special experience with a bunch of other fans. GRADE: A++
Those are my reasons for putting this event in serious contention for the Greatest Concert Ever. I’ve got a few more years of reviews to get in, but this one has already secured a spot in my Final Three.
So, I’ve managed to eek out a living somewhere along the line by noticing things, and then twisting them around so that they smack of comedy.
For example, I recently saw a news story that told of a new study that claimed “playing tackle football before the age of 12 could lead to brain issues.”
I don’t know about that. I played before I was 12 and cheese.
You see what I did there? I took the existing story. Looked for how you could twist it–what’s a universal truth?–and I went with, well, duh, you’d get brain damage–and so I thought, since I’m telling the story and I claimed I played before the age of 12–if I HAD brain damage (and the jury’s still out) so I would say something non-sensical, like “cheese”. I could have said walnuts, beans or prunes, but the word, “cheese” stuck in my head. Thanks, Ken Carson.
So, while observing is a key tool in crafting comedy, it’s also true of life. I’m always watching for details and then, when I notice something, I like to take note and pass it along to whoever might benefit from it. If I had traveled down a road with a giant pothole and I knew you were going down that same road, why wouldn’t I warn you? You would enjoy the benefit of my experience and observation and I would hope, some day, you might return the favor.
In the past week, I’ve had three experiences/life lessons that, with the above rule being strictly enforced, I’d like to pass along to you.
The 90-4 Rule Way To Eat–I went in and saw my personal physician, Dr. Brad Shoup, for my annual physical. We were talking about my adopting the Whole30.com approach to eating and he was fine with that, but….he said he was doing the “90-4” eating plan. “What’s that?” I asked and he explained. With an average of 30 meals a month, take four of the meals (like once a week) and eat whatever you want! The rest of the time you’re eating well, which is the majority of the time and, that’s all that matters, right?
Every Day’s Saturday, Except Sunday-A friend of ours who I thought enjoyed the luxury of being retired explained to me one of the realities of being at that stage. Mark these words: “Every day’s Saturday, except Sunday.” Yes, on paper, that sounds great. Saturday’s P.R. machine has you believing it’s a day of rest, play, something fun, etc. Well, Ed…..oh, crap, I wasn’t going to mention Kloth’s name…..OH CRAP…..well, the secret’s out…..anyway, Saturdays for the working class is the day after the work week when you have the most ambition to take on the house projects. Oh, yeah, WE decide what would be nice to do around the house, but a very small amount of the WE population is there when it’s time to tackle those projects. The moral of this story–when you retire, every day is Saturday….a day when you SHOULD do that home project you’d normally reserve for Saturday. (and that brings us back to, “Doh!”)
Last, But Not Least–This is more of an experience than a lesson. Let’s call it a reminder. So, last Saturday, I emcee’d a Lutefisk Eating Contest at the Fishermen’s Fall Festival down at the Ballard fishing dock. Before the competition began, I was handed a stack of cards identifying the Lutefisk eaters who would compete. I invited a ‘Staci’ to come up to the stage and next thing you know, I see a woman being carefully lifted up on the stage so she can compete from her wheelchair. Then, the woman who helps here and another woman hop on the stage as fellow contestants. It turned out it was the woman in the wheelchair, her sister and the woman in the wheelchair’s daughter. The wheelchair bound woman’s daughter was named Grace and when all the slimy dust settled, Grace came in 2nd place. She was out visiting from Ohio, accompanying her mom, Staci, who had visiting Seattle as part of her bucket list. Her sister quietly leaned in towards me during the competition and told me that Staci had been given maybe a year to live. So, coming out to Seattle was a dream and she was living it. It was yet another reminder to savor every day that we’re given on this rock. Tim McGraw has a haunting song, “Live like you were dying” and Staci was doing that through no choice of her own.
So there you have it: a trio of experiences that made me just a little bit smarter that I thought I would share with you. Be in the moment as best you can. Observe things. Did you pick up some life knowledge today? Pass it along. We all do much better playing as a team.
….where the dog has been going out for several weeks and you never got around to picking up after him. I’m going to step into it, but I’ll probably regret it.
This is not an attempt to try and sway you one way or the other about the whole “not standing for the National Anthem” issue. But if I can help you understand the other side better, regardless of which side you’re on, maybe it will edge us closer to a resolution, or even a polite agreement. After all, we’re all Americans, we have inalienable rights and assorted other ‘givens’.
Let’s start with the fact that people are raised differently. Some put ketchup on their eggs. Others open their Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas morning. There’s no right or wrong, it just is.
Boomers, for the most part, were raised at a time when we were taught certain things. We did the Pledge of Allegiance in school. We ducked and covered in the event of a nuclear attack (like that really would do a lot of good). We were taught things in Cub Scouts or Girl Scouts that the flag represented our country. If it touched the ground, you were supposed to burn it. You could fly it during the day, but it had to be taken down at sunset. And so on.
That brings us to the National Anthem. Boomers had parents that fought for our freedom. They faced a World War, with a crazy German one way and suicidal Japanese warriors the other. To them, the threat of losing a war and singing someone else’s national anthem was unthinkable. It made our clunky, barely rhyming Star Spangled Banner something very special. Almost sacred. So, a generation of kids were raised that, when the song was played, you removed your hats, placed your hand over your heart and stood at attention, facing the nearest flag.
OK, that’s how we were raised. So, to do anything to the contrary is wrong. Not legally, technically, morally, whatever. It’s just wrong.
So, when Colin Kaepernick or Michael Bennett or whoever decided to start sitting during the playing of our National Anthem, it bothered me. I understand why they’re doing it. They want to use the occasion to point out social injustice. I got it. They have the right to do that. Speaking of rights, judges ruled a while back that burning a flag, while formerly an unthinkable thing to do, was a protected right. Taking that and running with it, I suppose sitting down while the National Anthem plays is a lesser evil than burning an American flag before every Seahawks game. But then again, if that’s a protect right, why not? I mean, let’s keep pushing. If you’re angry at how our country is doing right now (and there are a lot of legitimate reasons to be concerned), let’s see it. Sit down during the National Anthem. Burn a U.S. flag. Or, how about this?—urinating on an American flag while the National Anthem is playing while you’re sitting down. If you want to light it on fire first, then put it out while you’re peeing, that would be extra points. That way, it’s impossible to miss that you’re really upset about how things are going in America right now. Point made.
Now, how’s that going to change things? It won’t. How could someone lucky enough to reach that level of skill, ability and matching paychecks do something to change the way things are? Frankly, sitting down seems lazy. Pissing people off, counter-productive. What about taking some of that money and donating it to groups or organizations actively working to change things for the better. The ALCU, Black Lives Matter, ANYONE! That would probably have a bigger payoff, be less inflammatory and get us closer to moving on.
If sitting down during the National Anthem is such a great way to make your point, why don’t you see that happening in all the other sports? The NFL has the blessing and the curse of being THE sport right now and so some are seizing the spotlight. There was a time that baseball was America’s national pastime. Hey, for a while, professional wrestling actually made a ripple and packed stadiums. Popularity comes and goes. What one generation worships, the next ignores. It’s true of toys, it’s true of clothing styles, music, lifestyles, you name it.
And don’t look now, NFL, but your TV ratings are in a free-fall.
This is an 967-word way of saying I don’t know what the solution is to the whole “sitting down during the national anthem” thing. All I know is that it bothers me, but I tolerate it because I defend their right to do it. At a time when I’m happy and positive and excited about what’s to come out on the football field, I get this bad taste in my mouth. It makes me care less about the player involved and naturally following, less about his cause, whatever it is.
Logically, does it make sense to do something that offends people to try and sway their point-of-view? Let’s say you’re disgusted by the word, “Poop.” I want you to realize that we need more free parking spots, so I’m going to say “Poop” over and over again until you agree with me. See much of a chance of that working?
Just know this–for every single one of these attention-getting athletes thinking they’re making a social difference by sitting down, kneeling , raising their fists in the air or turning their backs while the National Anthem is being played, there are tens of thousands of people who would love to stand for it if they could. But they can’t, because they died defending the right for people to sit on their ass.
There. I said it.
P.S. I truly meant the above piece to help the die-hards among the “everyone should kneel” crowd to try and understand that being disrespectful to our flag, our national anthem and our country doesn’t help your cause. This guy takes it much further and I think it’s worth posting here.
I am extremely happy.
No, seriously, lately life has been one big huge reminder of how great it is to be alive. My son’s wedding in Montana not only took me to a monumental family event, but also to the natural monuments of Yellowstone and all the beauty that life has to offer.
I’ve never been able to accept compliments very well. And so, when life goes well, I feel surprised. When life goes extremely well, I actually have a tough time handling it. Whether it’s an underlying feeling that I don’t deserve it, or a suspicion that I know it won’t last long, that doesn’t matter. I’m awkward at best when it comes to good times. I was even telling my step-daughter (and I hate that term) Kjersti at my acupuncture appointment the other day, when she asked, “How’s it going?”, I told her, “I’m really, really happy right now.”
So, while Monday didn’t ‘harsh my buzz’, it did provide a moment of concern. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m a big believer about things happening for the reason they do, all things are meant to be, etc. but this past Monday, the 16th anniversary of the 9-11 attack on the U.S., I heard comments that bothered me.
That fateful morning, my radio co-hosts–Bruce Murdock and Alice Porter—and I were heading into just another day, with a pre-recorded interview to play in that 5:30-6am time slot. After all, most people weren’t up by then, so if we had an interview and played it during that early morning stretch, we could replay it later in the morning–say, in the 8am hour–and most of our audience wouldn’t have heard it. This particular interview was with the author of a book about 9-1-1- calls. Thus, the 9-11 theme. We were within minutes of playing it when we noticed on the TV monitor in our studio that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers in New York. We assumed it was some small aircraft that had screwed up badly…but next thing you know, we were getting notices about a special ABC report. That canned interview never aired. Life would never be the same.
Thousands of lives were lost. Our lives were changed forever. Remember going out to the airport and actually walking out to the gate to greet a passenger with a funny sign or flowers? Gone.
So, this past Monday, when I heard the things people were saying about 9-11, it bothered me. “C’mon, that was a long time ago!”, “Oh, just move on!” or “We don’t need another holiday!”, I just shook my head.
First off, those of use who remember that day will never be the same. It was our Pearl Harbor, our Alamo, our reminder that our perfect little land of America is just as susceptible as any place on the globe. This isn’t political rhetoric, this was people’s lives. People who weren’t planning to have it all end that day. In their honor, I cherish every day since then. What they wouldn’t give to be able to complain about politics or global warming or any of the other complaints we have about today.
I truthfully don’t know what to do about that date. Make a National Day of Remembrance….or, does that make it a target for terrorists to use for an attack? Let it fade into history? (I’d have a hard time with that)
The bottom line is that it’s a decision that should be left to those who will be here 40 years from now. I doubt that includes me, but then again, I’m a stubborn bastard. I won’t go easily.
So, it is for that reason that I can’t get too caught up in the lack of enthusiasm about an event that seriously shaped my life 16 years ago. So, I’ll express concern and then go back to being extremely happy.
However: never forget!
So, I’m tapping away on my keyboard in the bowels of my house known as ‘my office’, writing away, when I hear the sound of a text or something coming in on my phone. I check–nothing.
It happens again. Not from the phone. I listen carefully and it seems to be coming somewhere down below me. I’m thinking, “Oh, great! My computer is starting to go out and I’ll have to pony up a bunch of money and buy a new one.” I go back to writing and some motion caught my eye. I looked down and crawling on the front of my shirt, a yellow jacket that I’m pretty sure was 30-feet long. I remained calm, reached over and grabbed my phone, lifted it off my shirt, shook it down to the ground (a Michael Jackson song is about to break out) and…..well, for you insect lovers, let’s just say “he stopped buzzing.”
How he got there, where he came from, God only knows. All I know is the next time I hear that familiar buzzing sound again, my phone will be the second place I check.
I’m a writer. Well, technically speaking, anyone who can pick up a pen or keyboard and start tossing words down on a canvas is a writer. But even though I stumbled through a 30+ radio career, having the time to write and refine my thoughts is when I am most comfortable. I tend to be a perfectionist, so I love the idea of being able to carefully hone a line or a blog before casting it out into cyberspace for judgement. When you’re on the radio, sometimes you stumble on a word or the music’s too loud or someone is talking at the same time. So yes, I’m a part-time control freak.
On paper, I should be able to convey how much this past week has meant to me. However, I’m struggling with the words. I could go with the standard collection of adjectives and adverbs, but they feel inadequate. Rather than being concerned about their deficiencies, I’ll simply tell you what happened and I’ll cheat a bit with photos.
There was a gathering this past week at a place near Bozeman, Montana, called Rainbow Ranch. That was the place chosen over a year ago to be the site of my son’s wedding to an absolutely incredible lady named Lacey. Technically, it was a destination wedding, but it didn’t feel like one. Those are usually small groups, on a beach somewhere. This was more like a family/college reunion, with a crowd of around 80 people setting up for an extended Labor Day weekend at one of nature’s greatest playgrounds.
It was everything I expected about Montana, but also so much more. Outside of driving through the state on my way to South Dakota, this was my first time exploring it. We arrived at the airport filled with bronze artwork of bears, bison and dinosaurs. We grabbed a van and hit the road and were instantly engulfed in mountains, fields and rolling plains. Over the next several days, we saw herds of elk and buffalo. We went to a rescue animal park for close-up looks of bear and wolves. We hooked up with the bride and groom to be Thursday night at a barbecue place across the street from our Air BnB rental that had outstanding barbecue, micro-brews and people wearing cowboy hats & boots.
Friday was Yellowstone day. Heck, we were that close, so we drove for an hour, leaving Montana and sneaking into Wyoming. We decided to get an early jump because of the crowds and it was a good hunch. Our first stop was Old Faithful. These days, an app can tell you approximately when it’s going to erupt. That’s nature at it’s finest. From there, we went to Grand Prismatic Spring. I had never heard of it before, I will never forget it.
Saturday morning’s events included a hike up into the mountains followed by a river float. The float was relaxing and fun, with a lot of the river being no more than a foot or two deep. We rounded up a crowd of around 40 and had a blast.
Saturday night was the ‘rehearsal dinner’ which was more like a happy hour with a bridal party. That was at another micro-brewery in town. And then came Sunday, the big day. The weather, originally thought to be near 90, was more in the 70s. Smoke from the state fires was evident, but not obnoxious. The scene was a spot near the river and the day was just magical.
I’m sitting here, thinking about that day, and I have to pause and sigh.
To the 20 and 30-somethings starting out a family and beginning the kid thing, it seriously becomes a blur from the time you’re holding that little hand as you cross the street to the time you’re hugging your kid on their big day. Don’t be in a hurry. It was a fun, incredible stretch of my life, having that little person be so dependent on you, watching to learn how to act, what to do, the family way to handle problems. etc. The child’s perspective eventually evolves from wanting information to knowledge of their own and then, they become experts on their parents. They decide what they liked about the family way, and how they’ll do things differently when they get in charge. It’s a natural process, we all go through it.
What’s surprising is that, as the years go by, the ways mom and dad did things becomes comforting and eventually, the day rolls around when you find yourself doing something you never thought you would. Because they did it that way.
I cannot be any prouder or happier for Tyson and Lacey and I’m so excited for what lies ahead. They planned and executed one of the greatest gatherings of family & friends I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending. To meet their circle of friends, to see some of Tyson’s buddies from the high school and college days, to get to know Lacey’s closest friends, to go on adventures with my wife and family, including my sister Debbie and mom Fran, I could not possibly ask for a greater experience.
So thanks to the newlyweds, the Lowber family and all that made this event possible. I find myself replaying so many moments in my mind and I have a feeling I’m going to be doing that the rest of my life. Here are just a few of the images making their way through my head right now.
God bless you all!
This is the weekend that we’ve known was coming for over a year that, at one time, seemed so far off in the future. Tomorrow, we hop on a jet and fly to Bozeman, Montana, for the wedding of my son and his awesome fiancé’ Lacey. These two kids just seem to be doing it right and it’s so great to see.
Both figured out their careers, then decided to up their game by going for a masters degree. As fate and timing would have it, the two both enrolled in the evening program at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Over time, they got to know each other, there were sparks and then you could just tell this was becoming a very special thing.
I remember once talking with Tyson about the whole marriage thing. Can’t tell you when that was, but what stuck in my mind was his vision of the kind of person he wanted to marry. Attractive would be nice, but he really wanted someone he could intellectually talk with. Someone to discuss things with. Being an active person, I knew that was an unspoken consideration. With Lacey, he hit the trifecta. Both are, at the core, really nice people and that will serve you well for a lifetime.
We’re heading over to Montana, their Destination Wedding site (with absolutely no affiliation to Destination Marketing) for what should be a spectacular weekend. There’s going to be a hike, a river float, a rehearsal dinner resembling a happy hour and an outdoor wedding in a beautiful setting, Last I heard, Sunday was supposed to be around 88-degrees.
I’m going to milk this weekend. I’m talking serious efforts to living in the present and enjoying every second of this adventure. We’re going to catch Friday’s first Husky game of the season at a bar somewhere. Yellowstone is said to be a 45-minute drive from where we’ll be staying. And while I’ve driven through Montana on my way to South Dakota, I’ve never really spent any time there, so I’m looking very forward to that.
But most of all, I’m very excited for two great people who are taking another big step in their future together. One of them just happens to be my son.
And I don’t want to come off as anxious, but I’ve already added Lacey to my Facebook status as my daughter-in-law.
Let the party of the year begin. And congrats you two!!
Love you guys,
Here we are again. We’re back to that time of year where “Back to School” is old news and people start saying “Where did summer go?”. Just a week remaining in August and football season is upon us.
But as you know, summer trickles away. You start to notice the cooler mornings and the dampness that sneaks into the evenings that wasn’t there just a couple of weeks ago. We still score 80-degree temps during the day, but the nights start flirting with the 40s. A few weeks ago, I started making up a summer bucket list—a collection of things I’d like to do before we slide into fall.
One of those things was visiting the grave of martial arts legend Bruce Lee and his son, in an old cemetery in Seattle. Did it.
Earlier this summer, we actually did the Tillicum Village thing again. For outsiders, it’s where you hope on a ship, that takes you and 100+ tourists out to Blake Island where you enjoy a taste of the Native America lifestyle. Some dancing, smoked salmon and such. I had not done that in at least three decades. Another checkmark.
Something I have done that I’d highly recommend is to head up to either Bothell or Kenmore and go for a kayak ride. A guy I met through the Bothell Chamber started What’s Up Board rentals and he launched a booming business. What a wonderfully calming getaway. $15 + tax gets you a one-hour rental to go up and down the slough or explore the shore of Lake Washington and really, that’s all you need. I know there are die-hards that make a career out of kayaking, but it’s one of those things I enjoy, but it will have to settle for when I have time.
When I did finally make the effort to head north, I pulled up into the Bothell Landing, walked over to the stand and explained I had no idea what I’m doing. The kids working there were great and apparently, not knowing what you’re doing is a pretty big club. So, it’s OK. You don’t have to be a pro, they set you up, help you get in to your kayak and off you go.
One employee told me that if I was to fall in, it would probably be when I was getting out. Eventually, I saw what she meant, but the darn things are actually fairly stable. I had brought along my swimsuit, so I ran over to the restroom, changed, then put my phone and car keys in a reseal-able plastic bag and I was off.
I had a relaxing blast. The quiet. The birds like ducks, geese and blue heron. I saw one kayaker pull up her craft next to the blackberries hanging over the water. But for that entire 60-minute stretch, there were no emails, no disturbing Facebook posts–it was flat out relaxing. My goal now is to work in one more adventure before the summer is through and drag along my wife, Victoria.
As I got back on shore, my wheels immediately began spinning, imagining that I had discovered my new sport. Something I could do a lot and on a regular basis. Hmmmmm, I wonder what a kayak costs?
Well, I did the research.
You can go inflatable (cheap) or make it a plastic one, then add on a roof rack to help you get it there and I’m rounding it out to around a $1,000 investment. If I were to just stick with renting one for under $20, that would give me 50 rentals. Get out twice a year and I’d be able to just rent a kayak for the next 25 years. I look at the golf clubs sitting in the corner to remind me that best intentions don’t always turn into actions. Tell that to the smart-alec who wrote “1883” in the dust of the elliptical machine behind me.
If you just can’t make it out this summer, put it on your Summer 2018 Bucket List. But if you do manage to work it in and give it a try, you’ll thank me for the recommendation. Maybe when we’re out on the water together.
What the hell is going on right now?
I feel like I’m watching a replay of a PBS series on civil rights. When did I go asleep and wake up in 1957?
I’m probably a couple of days of outrage behind you. This weekend, we did a day-trip on Saturday and had a pre-func wedding beach party on Sunday. I’ve gotten to the stage where I may glance at my phone, but if I don’t, I know the world will keep spinning and I can check on things when I settle down.
While driving, my very plugged-in wife Victoria was reading her Facebook posts and commented that something was happening back in Charlottesville. Then, she followed that by saying there was a protest march in downtown Seattle.
I’ve already hit my limit on protest marches. I mean, seriously, people taking to the streets to emphasize how much they’re against what everyone is already against. Yes, it’s a right. March your brains out. But what happens is that something goes wrong–an injury, an arrest, thugs infiltrate and cause problems, store windows break, or police are pushed and a riot breaks out.
Protest marches are just a live version of your Facebook page. The people marching are the ones who spend their social media time trying to convince you to think the way they do, even though there’s never any actual convincing done. If you agree with what’s said, you pass it along or give it a ‘Like’. If you disagree, but want to preserve the friendship, you hide it, and long for the days of cat videos.
HBO did a phenomenal job of capturing the hate of Charlottesville in this video, which I’ll warn you, is hard to watch. But it gives you a real picture of what’s going on in the disturbed minds of the White Nationalists.
This is where I’m torn. I don’t want to give them a minute of news time or any coverage, whatsoever. All it becomes is a platform by which they can flush out all of the other hate-mongers that lurk in this country. When I finally got the details about all that went on during the weekend, I was outraged like you. But at least I was able to enjoy a couple of nice days.
We need to deal with bigotry and hate. We can’t ignore the threat of Nazi-ism. That we even have to be talking about this 80 years after it’s blight on humanity is dumbfounding. The moron who drove through people and killed one of the protestors was a 20-year-old brain-washed hick. Sadly, there are still people teaching hate and raising their kids with that kind of fear. This photo struck me particularly hard when I came across it yesterday.
My first reaction was, “Well, there you go. Kids are being raised to hate.” Then I read about the picture. It wasn’t from this past weekend–it was from an event 20 years ago. For all we know, that little girl could have been among this weekend’s Nazi-marchers.
We absolutely need to take this threat seriously, but those White Nationalists are but a small, tiny portion of the U.S. population. There’s a lot more of us than the haters. And as much as we’re disgusted by what they say and believe, they’re guaranteed the right of free speech, just like us. However, they’ll only be talking to themselves if we ignore them. Like so many things, from O.J. to the Kardashians, this is being turned into a media event and a hot topic, so that every newscast every 15 minutes feels the need to be talking about it.
I think every one of those pro-Nazi demonstrators should have their eyeballs taped open and be forced to watch, “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas“, which we happened to watch over the weekend. After that, “American History X“. Although, I’m sure in both cases, they would dismiss them as purely propaganda films.
I had higher hopes for this president, in trying to make the most out of a dismal situation. I basically considered it survival mode. I wanted to just ride out these four years and hope that someone credible would step forward in the meantime. Then we’d all say, “Well, that’s a no-brainer.” I’m still waiting for a leader to make themselves known.
With President Trump, we have no idea what’s going to happen in six months, let alone the next six minutes. However, I am convinced that, years from now, there will come a time we’ll all be able to look back and say to each other, “Can you believe that actually happened?”
Keep believing. Good will prevail.
Gee, that could mean a tip that is hot during the summer. Or a hot tip that you’re being given during the summer. Or, a tip about summer while it’s hot.
Actually, all three could apply.
I like this little corner of the Internet to be amusing, to leave you with something to think about or to make your world somehow better. This week, as the smoke-filled skies of a sizzling Seattle summer begin making us yearn for the rain-filled months of fall right around the corner, I’d like to talk with you about your furnace or gas fireplace.
Congrats to those who opted to keep reading because you’ll thank me at the end of this.
Our house has a gas furnace and, in my little downstairs man-cave, a gas fireplace insert. The other day, my always-cold wife Victoria flipped on the fireplace to take off the morning chill (I’ll bet it was down to 74 in the house) when it made a sputtering noise. That prompted a discussion that ended in the realization we have lived in this home for 10 years now and have never bothered to have the gas fireplace serviced.
Now, when it comes to something like that, there are two trains of thought: 1) Yep, I’m going to hire a professional to do it or 2) I’m not going to pay $100 for a guy to come out, vacuum the fireplace and tell me everything’s fine. When it comes to anything natural gas, I always choose #1. Because possible mistakes could easily top the $100 you think you’re saving.
Why have your furnace or gas fireplace professionally cleaned and checked? Lots of reasons.
I called up one of the members of the Bothell Chamber, Sundance Energy, and they sent out a guy named Brian last year who cleaned our furnace, gave me some thoughts about the filters, made sure the pilot light and everything involved was running smooth and efficiently and then he was gone. We were left with an efficient furnace and the peace of mind that comes with knowing it was checked out. $100 well spent.
OK, this is the one that inspired writing this piece for you.
So, there are lots of reasons to reach out to Sundance or your regular furnace company right now. It seems an out-of-season subject, but doing it now will definitely pay off for you in the months ahead.
By the way, my friends at Sundance are having a Grand Re-Opening next Thursday, August 17th, at their Bothell store, which was severely damaged in the great Bothell fire that almost wiped out downtown last year. The party starts at 5 and should be a lot of fun. If you go, I’ll see you there. And remember the rule–you need to have a swig of wine every time J.D. says the phrase, “ductless heat pump.”
Hopefully, they have air conditioning.
Our Shiny Clean Fireplace
If you lived in Seattle back in the 1960s, your routine after work probably included coming home and turning on your black-and-white television to catch the evening news. After a few local headlines, the KING-5 news anchor would toss it to the weather guy, Bob Cram. Bob was a plain-looking sort of fellow with glasses who had a niche in the weather business–he included his cartooning skills in the forecast.
By the time I arrived in the Pacific Northwest, Bob was in his post-weatherman days, but remained a local personality. During the early 1980s, I returned from my 3-year Yakima exile to Seattle and became Larry Nelson’s producer at KOMO Radio. Part of those duties included being back-up production guy, which meant I would often find myself in a recording booth, engineering for the people who had come in to record their commercials. It was thanks to that Fisher Broadcasting side-job that I got to meet Bob, along with his daughter Sara, Husky Football Coach Don James and his wife Carol, Rainer Rey, and even the voice the Mariners, Dave Niehaus. Dave would sit down to record the latest Brooks-McKnight Chevrolet commercial and let out a “My, oh, my” but not without taking the time to talk with me about baseball, last night’s game or what he had been up to in the off-season.
When I first got back to Seattle, Bob Cram was the voice of QFC. In time, Bob and his daughter Sara, did a tag-team version of the spots. Then, they were replaced by Carol James and Rainer Rey and that was the last I saw of Bob.
But while he was the grocery chain’s spokesman, I remember him coming in, being revered as “THE Bob Cram.” A story he told that stuck in my mind was the time in 1965, when Bob was with Frosty Fowler and his morning radio show at the top of the Space Needle. How Seattle can you get? Well, that particular morning, Seattle had an earthquake that registered 6.7 on the Richter, killing seven people and causing $12.5-million in damages. Bob and Frosty found themselves being waved back and forth atop the Needle, with seconds feeling like hours until things finally calmed down.
Bob Cram was soft-spoken, talented and had a great run. He continued drawing all the way up to his final days and it wouldn’t surprise me if a bulk of his work doesn’t end up at the Museum of History & Industry. I feel very fortunate to have briefly met and worked with one of the good ones in the biz. Here’s a nice look back from KING 5.
Bob passed away last week at the age of 91. Comfort and peace to his family as we all say goodbye to another face from old Seattle.
Tell him what you have planned for your life. My late radio brother Larry Nelson used to say that to me.
It’s true. Take a look at where you are in life right now. Very few of us can say we predicted it with Nostradamus accuracy.
For 30 years, I was able to enjoy a career in radio that I could have never imagined having. My goal, once I arrived at the University of Washington back in 1973, was to take 18-credits a quarter, so I could graduate two quarters early from the full four years and then head back to southern California, marry the girl across the street and grab just any kind of job, like a ticket rep at United Airlines and live happily ever after. That was the plan.
What wasn’t in the plan was to have said girl across the street have a ‘sign from God’ to break up with me one Thursday morning near the end of my sophomore year and then marry the minister that helped her with the translation of that sign a couple of months later.
Never saw it coming. But it happened. I can look back and realize the consequences more with all the power that hindsight offers, but it really was for the best. That’s OK. Because of the change in my future plans, I looked around, saw that Radio & TV was an option for a career path and never looked back.
You do something for 30 years and it will stick in some people’s minds. It does my heart good when I hear people say, “You’re the Hunter? Oh, I remember you. ” For 17 years, I spent mornings at 92.5-KLSY, the invisible carpool member giving people something fun or interesting to listen to. Just the other day, one of our faithful listeners that won one of our contests posted this on Facebook.
These days, I am blessed in so many ways–being able to do what I want to do, work on fun side projects, help clients get noticed, and all with the flexibility that you would think only comes when you retire. This October, it’ll be three years since I broke away from a secure 9-5 routine and never looked back. If all goes according to plans, I’ll ride this out until I’m 70 and then I’ll most-likely continue what I’m doing, but thin out some of the stuff I’d rather not. At that point, I’ll be going pure fun only.
Then again, I said the p-word: plans. It could happen. It might not. That little rumble you just heard could have been God busting a gut.
What I do know is that I’m going to keep enjoying this dream as long as it lasts. If changes need to occur, so be it. With age comes the wisdom that each day matters, each moment should be enjoyed and cherished. Slow down, stop rushing to get to the next thing so you can rush to the next thing. And for God’s sake, don’t talk on your phone while driving.
At the risk of this turning into a travel blog, I’m going to take you on a second adventure in a row. This time, to north of the border and the picturesque city of Victoria, B.C..
Yes, it was a tad redundant going there with my wife, Victoria, but the trip delivered on the promise of being one of the best day-trip adventures available to those of us here in the northwest.
We went last Thursday after a busy week of playing tourists in town with some out-of-town guests. Probably not the best planning, but outside of the time commitment, it’s a pretty easy undertaking.
OK, you could drive, heading towards Vancouver and veering off to the left to catch the Tsawwwassen ferry, which drops your car off on Vancouver Island. (yes, Victoria is on Vancouver Island, but Vancouver is on the mainland. Those wacky Canadians!) That will take you 3 hours to get to the ferry terminal (if the border is kind), then there’s the boat ride and 40-minutes to Victoria.
OR you head downtown, catch the Victoria Clipper and less than 3 hours later, you’re getting off in the harbor, across from the Empress Hotel. We chose plan B.
WHAT TO DO
That’s pretty wide open. Shopping is a good idea, since the exchange rate has returned to the 1970s and you basically save 31% on everything you buy. In town, there’s high tea at the Empress (which is now missing its ivy covering after a $30-million makeover). Butchart Gardens is one of their most famous attractions and while they keept it attractive during the fall and winter, spring and summer is when you want to catch it.
That’s a perfect place for an added stop because right next door to the butterflies is a winery we absolutely love called Church & State. They’ve got the grounds, the growing grapes and a place to grab lunch. Oh, and of course, wine tasting. We even tasted a Merlot that had received 98 points. It was $40 a bottle, but the exchange rate lowered it to under $28. You’re supposed to only bring back one bottle per person, we pushed it to two and all arrived home. All are under heavy guard.
I’ll bet it’s been five years since my last time in Victoria. Back when the Clipper first started making runs up north, I would host KLSY Listener trips to Victoria and I developed a fondness for that place. What a wonderfully clean, quaint city. And with this year’s stellar summer weather, it just doesn’t get much better. I’m going to have to make a point of not forgetting about this excellent one-day escape.
When was your last time in Victoria, B.C.?
We dropped off our houseguests at the airport this afternoon, after five days of playing tourists in our home town. It was a blast.
We hit some of the restaurants we knew would deliver a unique Seattle experience–Elliott’s, Wild Ginger, Bitter Root Barbecue. We even dragged them along to Ballard Seafoodfest, where I emceed my 14th Lutefisk Eating Championship. If you want to hear what that sounded like, click here.
But it was the trite, often overlooked, “Oh, brother” suggestion that was the hit of the extended weekend. You know, that feeling you get when out-of-towners say, “We want to go to Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, the Underground Tour, etc.” For me, growing up in southern California, when family came to town, it was off to Disneyland. But our Florida guests wanted to do something that I haven’t experienced for 25+ years. They had read in USA TODAY about this place called, “Tillicum Village.” Oh yeah, one of those tourist experiences you COULD do, but then you start listing the excuses–it’s expensive, it eats up a good part of a day and you don’t have that much time here, it’s “only for tourists”, etc.
For all the times I thought those things or said them out-loud, I’d like to apologize and withdraw my statements.
First off, true: it’s not cheap. However, the value you get for your money rivals any of the other touristy things you could do in town. It’s a four-hour experience that includes a boat ride, an all-you-can-eat buffet, the Native American longhouse and show and, on a sunny day, one of the best views of Seattle you can get anywhere. Basically, that’s $20 an hour. On that front, I’d like to pass along just a few of the photos I grabbed along our adventure.
Of course, you can’t expect Seattle to be in day 24 of a dry spell, for Mount Rainier to make itself known on the ride home, to see wildlife like raccoons, deer, seals and bald eagles put on a show for you as they did, so maybe we were just lucky. But Blake Island and Tilicum Village are not just for tourists. It was a nice reminder to see families in awe of the place we live, to hear people say they were from Federal Way to Israel and all points in-between. This day impressed me—and I live here.
I’ve seen that, in the off-season, you can get a pretty nice discount on Groupon, if price is a concern. But if you need a one-day vacation and want to stay close at home, I’d highly recommend grabbing a lunch cruise over to Tillicum Village. AAA gets you 20% off your tickets.
And I can promise you, it won’t be another 25 years until my next visit.
If you could go back to any decade in your life, which one would you choose? Last Saturday night, the choice was made for me when we attended the Queen with Adam Lambert concert at KeyArena in Seattle.
On the surface, it would be easy to say, “Oh, yeah, another rock band from the 70s with a couple of the surviving members and some other lead singer.” While that’s a fair description of a lot of vintage bands out there, this is not just an exception, but an example for all the others.
Let’s start with Queen. If you’re old enough to remember them when they first came on the music scene, the next words you should be saying to yourself is Freddie Mercury. His four-octave range and flamboyant lifestyle took us all to places we had never been before. At a time when the world was dancing to a disco beat, he lead his group through a pop music revolution. Oh, it was rock, but a produced, sometimes classical or operatic sound. When a new Queen album came out, you never knew what you were going to encounter.
Queen started becoming incredibly relevant as my twenties arrived–that decade of metamorphosis where you begin post-college adulthood, take that first job in the field you plan to spend your entire working career and find out if that’s true. Back in those days, it was when marriage broke out and people started having kids. I turned 20 in 1975. Two months and a day later, Queen released their epic album, “A Night at the Opera.” The title appealed to me because it matched the name of a Marx Brothers movie. The music world embraced it because of songs like “You’re my Best Friend” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
The decade of my twenties went from 1975-85. So much happened in my life during that stretch of time from getting married and moving from Yakima to Seattle, to having two kids and starting to climb the ladder of my radio career. As fans gathered at KeyArena last Saturday night, Queen took the stage and played the soundtrack of that decade for me, as well as offering flashbacks to my college rock concert days.
Queen with Adam Lambert to the casual music ear might seem like a stretch. A classic rock band and with the runner-up of American Idol’s 8th season? It couldn’t be a better match.
Queen guitarist Brian May hasn’t missed a beat. Plug in that guitar and you’ll soon be enjoying that classic Queen sound.
Roger Taylor drummed his way through the evening like he was still in his twenties, even offering up the classic rock concert drum solo.
Then there’s Adam Lambert. Sorry if you haven’t been following his career, but the dude is real. Songwriter, singer, performer and this just in–he’s been touring with Queen for five years now, as well as developing his solo career. My wife Victoria and I caught him a couple of years ago at the Puyallup fair and became even bigger fans. And for the Queen purists, he makes very clear up front that he’s not in any way trying to replace Freddie. In fact, Mr. Mercury even makes a couple of appearances on the big screen in two of their songs. It was good to see him again.
Lambert performs proudly and is honored to be in that position, all the while knowing that he’s filling a void, but this is still Freddy’s world. Adam even performed his new single, “Two Fux” the day after it’s release with the Queen band members.
Add in the showmanship and special effects that would make Freddie proud and this traveling entourage should definitely be on your must-see concert list. Not sure when they’ll pass through town again, but I have an idea I just might be there. And for a solid two hours plus a 15-minute encore, make another return visit to my twenties.
My mom had a surgical procedure a few weeks ago and is recovering nicely. Each of the kids took some time off to help around the house and try to slow her down. Yeah, that’s pretty much where I got it.
Going back this time was a little different. I decided to try grabbing a Lyft from the airport, instead of renting a car and having it sit around for a few days. That was smart and easily saved me over $100. I think I’ve got a new routine.
I arrived at the old neighborhood and, this time not driving, I noticed more things as we cruised down the street. We went past Irene Laskow’s house, a girl we cruelly gave the nickname, “Bozo” because of her big toes. We went past “The Bachelor’s” home, a name the neighbors bestowed to a guy named Irv who, when the neighborhood was new, was a single guy. He was married by the time I reach a coherent age.
I briefly saw Sharon, mom’s next-door neighbor, whom I’ve known for decades. But her home was previously the residence of one Raylene Crocker, the girl who gave me my first kiss. I was 5, she was 6 and it was a quick smooch under a folded-over wading pool.
Of course, across the street was the girl that got away, who eventually will get an entire blog or two in her honor. Just too many stories and directions to go for now.
This little street in Torrance, California, was where we played hide ‘n seek and touch football. We spent hour after hour competing in tennis ball baseball and I’m talking about you Kenny Vaughn, Mike Cobb, Mike McClaren, Glen Rico, Kelly Toman, Karen and Dennis Belcher. When we weren’t playing, we were wheeling and dealing baseball cards that we had bought for 5-cents a pack (including a rock hard piece of gum) from the Helms Bakery truck that routinely visited our neighborhood.
One of my regular hangouts around home was the driveway, where dad had put up a basketball hoop for me to practice on. We played endless games of H-O-R-S-E, as well as driveway-sized games with dad pumping up his famous West Virginia set shot. In time, I started playing a little bit more in order to be outside when that girl across the street might come outside.
The neighborhood is now the place where ________ used to live. Look at a home, and if I say, “Oh, that’s where Fred & Carol used to live”, my mom and sisters know right where I mean. It has now evolved from a mostly Caucasian blue-collar hood to a nicely diverse collection of ethnicities. It’s strange–sure, they’re the same homes. But while the years and coats of paint try to disguise the memories, but they’re all still there.
There was Mr. Lawrence, the poster adult for the phrase, “you kids get off my lawn.” Or the Hein family down the street and yes, her name really was Bea. I think the Vaughn family had six kids–Kenny was my age and he was surrounded by cute sisters. Sandy and Lori were the main attractions. There was that time Mike Cobb shot himself in the stomach. He lived. Oh, and Mr. and Mrs. Kidd, right across the street who invited our family to their house on New Year’s morning so that we could all see the Rose Parade on their brand-new COLOR TV!!!!!
I was very fortunate and remain so thankful for growing up where I did, when I did and with that old Wonder Years bunch of mine. Most of my time these days is spent going 100 mph, multi-tasking and trying to win the Overachiever of the Day Award (I haven’t won one yet) which tend to push aside those memories of 226th Street. But give me a couple of days back in the old neighborhood and those memories come running like kids to a popsicle truck.
And there’s another one. It was fun visiting my ghost town.
I’m sure there will come a time when I don’t know how many Father’s Days its been since my dad left this earth. But with this being only the second one where I wasn’t conspiring with my sisters on what he would like or picking out a goofy card to send to him, (which usually arrived late) I’m still counting them.
Not a day goes by that I don’t wake up to his smiling face by my keyboard as I begin my daily writing duties. And I’ve made it a habit to be a positive reflection, rather than a mournful feeling of loss. I got lucky. Not only because of the man and everything he taught me by example, but also for how long he stuck around. He was the last of his siblings to go when he died just three weeks shy of his 92nd birthday.
I remember at his wake how a childhood friend reminded me just how lucky I was. His dad had already been gone for 20+ years.
I can easily hop into the memory jalopy and flash back to those camping trips, the Little League games, going to church in our Sunday best, playing basketball with him in the driveway, hearing about the guys “at the field”, which was mechanic-talk for the gang he worked with at United Airlines. It seemed like he would always be there, but eventually, the years took a toll on his body.
I’m one of those people who have fully embraced the Amazon Echo (named Alexa) and it’s partially due to my dad. Towards the end of his life, his hearing was failing and if he didn’t understand you, instead of saying, “What?” he would just say, “OK.” That became his default go-to expression.
Now, when I ask our Alexa to turn the living room light on, the lamp clicks on and she says, “OK.” Time to turn it off, and after the instruction she replies, “OK.”
That’s fine, but just remember Alexa, that was Dad’s word first.
If your dad is still around, I’ll echo the words of Kelly Toman who reminded me just how lucky you are. You know what to do from here.
Happy Father’s Day Weekend!
I’ve become quite an expert when it comes to Facebook. For quite a few years. How many? I can’t figure out how to tell.
OK, almost an expert.
Experience has taught me a lot of things about this social media platform, so I thought I’d just put them all down into a handy collection for people to review occasionally and check to see if they’re doing it right. There are some definite do’s and don’ts:
The key thought here: think before you post. There is a wealth of negative things out there right now. Why bring them to Facebook? Positive feeds on positive. I think you can figure out what negative feeds on.
For all of this country’s faults, for all the problems going on in the world, for everything not going your way if you were the global ruler, we’re all doing pretty well. Appreciate it.
And if you don’t, why drag it out into the social media arena for all to see? Well, that is, until you become my next un-follow.
Being funny has never been easy.
I’m not talking about me, but in general. We all love to laugh, but what cracks us up is as different as our individual lives. That’s why, over the years, I’ve paid attention and taken mental notes about what’s funny and what makes people laugh. Heck, I even put together a pamphlet (hardly a book) about how to write funny jokes that’s available for your Kindle on Amazon.
To save you the free download (and seriously, I can’t even remember when I wrote that) it’s based on the two golden rules of comedy–know your audience and go for the common experiences. I’ve spent my career going for the quick kill. Do a brief setup and while people are nodding their heads in agreement, you zing ’em with the punchline.
If you’re standing up there on the stage and setting up a joke by saying, “You know how you go the leper colony because they’ve got a great cigar bar in the back,” you’ve already lost the people who have never been to a leper colony, or don’t care that they have a cigar bar. If you go for the quicker, “President Trump met with the Pope today,” with those seven words, you’ve created a picture in the audiences’ mind of Trump, the Pontiff and the stereotypes that come with each of them. Where I went with it was “Their conversation began with one saying, “So what’s with that big thing on your head?” and the other replying, “Back at ya!”
Donald’s hair, the Pope’s hat, ha-ha, let’s all go home.
This week, Kathy Griffin (who I’ve always felt was a needy comic) thought it would be hilarious to do a photo shoot that included her holding onto a bloody Donald Trump head. For the science of comedy, I would have loved to have been in that meeting where that concept turned into “a funny idea.”
You thought the leper colony set up didn’t work? If your audience was the U.S., then you’re already heading down the path where 50% of the people who see the photo not only won’t think it’s funny, it would be viewed as offensive. Now, do you really want to instantly piss off half of your audience, some of whom might even have liked you as a comic until now? Next, let’s whittle down the prospective hysterical laughter even further by reducing it to just the part of the audience that thinks ISIS beheadings are funnier than Benny Hill. In a world where innocent kids are blown up at a pop concert, where reporters have their heads cut off live on the Internet, regardless of how you feel about the president (who, is still the president, by the way), holding a bloody Trump head is shocking, disturbing, and a lot of things, but not funny.
Remember that pursuit of shared experiences? OK, so if you think a bloody Trump head is funny, then we should probably do it with a Hillary head, too, right? I mean, that’s a funny gag! And while we’re at it, let’s grab the heads of two more former presidents, bloody them up and have an upside-down Mount Rushmore!
Can you imagine the outrage if someone had done this with an Obama head? We’d be hearing how wrong it was and that it could only have come from the mind of someone who is a right-wing, white supremacist racist scumbag.
So, to summarize:
Kathy has now entered the Gilbert Gottfried zone, where one day, she might get to open for Michael Richards in a comedy club that offers a Groupon for two drinks and some laughs for $17.
I know that comedians who constantly reach for that edge have to keep stretching for the outer limits, but someone with Kathy’s experience should have seen at least a small warning light going off. The same is true for Gilbert and Richards. Jokes about Tsunami victims days after the tragedy or thinking the N-word is funny when spoken by a white guy defies logic. I don’t get it, nor do I want to.
Oh, I’ve had my dark humor moments. I’ve thought of some pretty sick stuff over the years. It’s part of the spectrum. But then you go back to the “know your audience” part of the comedy formula and make sure those jokes never see the light of day.
Even if you share Ms. Griffin’s contempt for the president, do you really want to live in a society where something like the above photo is considered mainstream funny?
Freedom of speech? Absolutely. Knock yourself out. Want to be a comedian? Try being funny.
I’ve been involved in a fund-raiser or two over the years, but I’ve tried my best not to bug people that I know. I mean, seriously, how many friends do you have that would like you to pledge some money towards a very good cause so they can walk, climb, bike, yoga, whatever? I’ve done the “Beat the Bridge”, the Bleeding Disorder Foundation of Washington walk, countless auctions and of course, those “Make a Wish Marathons” when I stayed on the radio for 28 straight hours. I think we did three of them.
But, fair warning, if you keep reading this, I’m going to ask you for a buck. One dollar. It’s to help a situation that is no doubt going on all over the U.S. right now, but the folks at the Northshore Schools Foundation are actually doing something about it.
With a week to go in May, I thought I’d call special attention to the N.S.F.’s annual “Milk Money Campaign.” I remember when I first heard about this, I thought, “Well, yeah, kids need milk. Calcium for their bones, etc.” But M.I.L.K. is actually an acronym for Making an Impact on Learning & Kids. To play on the theme, milk bottles (generously donated by a northwest dairy) have been labeled and placed all over the Northshore School District–meaning Bothell, Kenmore and Woodinville. In businesses, in churches, where ever someone might toss in their pocket change to help the cause.
What exactly is the cause? Homeless students. We’re talking kids that, through no fault of their own, cringe when some of the fun things about being a kid come up, because they just don’t have the money. They could be living in a shelter, a relative or friend’s home, because these important years have been far from smooth.
The folks at the Northshore Schools Foundation reached out to me this year and asked if I would produce a video that helps tell their story. So, if you’re up for it and have three minutes, I’d like to invite you to watch it.
If you skipped down to here because you’re too busy, I get it. I’m right there with you. Let me introduce you to this fact–there are 200 homeless kids attending school right now in the Northshore School District. That’s where my kids went and where I’m still quite connected. It’s not a poor community by any means, so it’s hard for me to imagine that homelessness even exists up there.
I figure I know enough people that if I put out the plea and you could spare a dollar, we could really make a big difference in this campaign that wraps up at the end of the month. All the money raised is distributed to principals in the district that have asked teachers to let them know when they discover a kid in need. Maybe its money for a field trip or a book from the book fair, or fees to take a college entrance exam or even some kind of a nice dress so they could attend the prom.
This is a soft ask. I won’t know who kicks in and who doesn’t. If you’re thinking, “Well, those kids are up there. I’d rather help someone in our area.” Do it! Make it happen. We are all so incredibly blessed and lucky for all that we have that this seems like a pretty small way to make a big difference in some young lives.
If you’d like to donate $1 to the M.I.L.K. campaign, just click here.
Yeah, just one dollar.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
P.S. Oh, for Pete’s sake! So, apparently the online donation software can only accept a minimum of $10 donations. So, if you see a jar this week, drop a buck in. Just wanted to pass along some kudos and congratulate all the worker bees behind this cool program.
This past Sunday, we ended up having an incredibly good time as my two step-kids decided to treat their mom to a Mother’s Day adventure. Of course, I tagged along. We first went to the new Revolve restaurant in Bothell, made a quick trip to Country Village and then headed off to Woodinville Wine Country.
As has happened every time I go wine tasting there, I ask myself–why don’t we do this more often???
For readers outside the area, Woodinville is a suburb around a 25-minute drive northeast of Seattle. There’s a city surrounded by neighborhoods, but there’s also acreage where the Washington State Wine industry thankfully decided to invade and set up shop. As of this writing (and it seems like the number changes a lot) there are over 130 wineries with tasting rooms in and around Woodinville.
The way it works—you pay $10 to sample some of their wines, spend $XX on wine and you can use that $10 towards your purchase. Or, should you decide to join their wine club, there’s usually no fee, but you are expected to buy several bottles twice a year or quarterly. Another benefit, as a wine club member, you get to go in and enjoy free tastings whenever you like and you get invited to special member-only events. Plus, when you buy wine as a member, you get a membership discount.
A couple of examples of that membership bennie thing–
I went to one winery on a Tuesday to pick up our club wine. Of course, while there, I did a tasting. One particularly tickled my palate, so I bought a bottle. I got the special Tuesday discount they were offering PLUS my membership discount, so I saved 25%. Score!
During that Mother’s Day tour, we visited one of the more upscale wineries and our tasting including the big finale` of a Cabernet that clocked in at $180 a bottle. With one of us belonging to their wine club, the tasting was free. And, after we had tasted our allotment, the wine server asked if we wanted any repeat tastes. We all went for that expensive Cab again.
I tell ya, it ruins you. But it a wonderful way.
We’ve joined a total of four wine clubs in the area: Efeste, Dusted Valley, Refuge & Prospect and Martedi. Each has it’s own unique style and all are doing amazing things when it comes to wine. Plus, there are some great stories to be heard while tasting. The family operation handed down, the fun names they’ve come up for their varieties, the winemaker who went through a divorce and took every penny left to go for his dream. But there are literally over 100 others that are also produce amazing wines, with stories to match. Washington is now the number 2 wine producing state in our country and we can all be very proud of the quality being produced.
There are wine tours where you climb on a bus, or you could Uber or Lyft your way around. If you’re driving, force yourself to taste and maybe not finish every pour to the bottom of the glass and limit yourself to three wineries at most.
I joked online when I posted a picture of our group on Mother’s Day with the comment, “So glad no one else thought of going wine-tasting with mom.” The truth was, it was packed. We are very lucky to have such a great attraction so close to home. If you even remotely enjoy wine tasting, Woodinville is calling.
First off, those of you who know me understand I like the middle. I don’t have a D or an R by my name and proudly choose the better of the two candidates when there is one.
You also have most likely noticed that our country has taken a drastic turn towards polarization. Us versus Them. If you don’t think like me, then you’re a bigot or a racist or just a downright evil person. And that’s sad. We’re the same people we were before the most recent presidential election, yet we’ve allowed the major parties to shape how we think. Right now, the only game being played is how to villainize the other guy.
For a brief while, I noticed a push to try and talk out our differences. To be civil and to discuss politics. It gave me hope, because it’s through discussion and comparing points of view that we can move towards a compromise and work together as Americans.
If you insist on being caustic, bitter and angry and view that as a solution to our country’s problems, you have the absolute right to do so. However, if you’d like to begin the journey out of this cesspool and start the slow climb back to being civil to one another, may I suggest this little test?
Every time there’s a slam on Donald Trump, would you have laughed as hard if we were to substitute in the name of Hillary Clinton? My guess is, probably not. It’s a simple little filter I put to most of the stories that come out about our current president. For example, if Bill Maher had made an incest joke about Bill Clinton and his daughter, or if Martha Stewart was photographed flipping off a portrait of Hillary, would that have been equally as funny? I can beat the 5-second timer on that response. It comes down to basic decency and respect.
Don’t respect the office or this president? Good for you. Take a craft class at the senior center, create a gold medal out of construction paper and put it on your coat and wear it proudly.
On the reality side of the world, this is the time to come up with better candidates, better ideas, ways to fix things, to make things better. The problem with whining and complaining is that, eventually, people just quit listening.
And now more than ever, we need to listen to each other.
It’s weird how life works out.
In the 1970s, I was roaming the University of Washington at the same time as a girl from Ballard. But we were on different paths. We each headed off into the world to experience all kinds of adventures, in completely different directions.
Upon graduation, I went east of the mountains for that first radio job, ended up getting married, moving back to this side of the state and raising a family.
Victoria graduated from the U and stuck around town, having a family as well. It wasn’t long until she found herself a single mom and life was far from easy.
No need to go into details on either side, but it took an incredible timing pattern for us to be in the spaces we were in when we were introduced ten years ago. Yes, it was on a second attempt for a blind date that this woman came flying into the Mill Creek Boston’s pizza after a hectic drive from Ballard. I can replay that scene in my brain any time I want. I felt a click, but proceeded with caution.
There are so many ways we could have never met. I had an uncle who told me to look him up after I graduated from college and he’d do what he could to get me a radio job back east. Victoria went to school in Norway for a year, fell in love with it, and didn’t really want to come back. It was at her family’s insistence.
I really don’t know how I was lucky enough to find someone as kind, pretty and caring as Victoria Arlene Templin Sangrey Hunter. Any more names and we’d need two t-shirts, but I digress. Not a day goes by that I don’t look at her and feel grateful for how this whole crazy ride of life worked out.
It’s her birthday this week. Victoria-fest, as I call it. The years are passing by too quickly, which is why I continue to be on a mission to make every moment of every day count. It’s so easy to push through life and suddenly look back on a big old blur. We’re here now. I’m here with her and am truly grateful to have found her.
That’s enough gushing for now. Happy birthday, Victoria. I love you as much as humanly possible! Stay exactly the way you are.
Well, good news. The threatened writers strike has been avoided. In the wee hours of this past Tuesday, both sides came to a tentative agreement on a three year deal, which means all the late night shows and the series starting to shoot episodes for this fall can keep going.
However, not all of the writers approve of this deal that still has yet to be voted on. Since this is my little space on the internet, I’d like to share some space and post his thoughts about still going out on strike.
Yeah, I’m not surprised he didn’t sign it, either. Pretty controversial stuff.
Thanks for reading!
This next season of University of Washington Football is going to be a special one.
Coming off last year where they were part of the top 4 teams in the nation, that’s a tall order. But what’s going to make this year incredibly special, regardless of the Dawg’s record, is that it will be the final season for the “Voice of the Huskies”, Bob Rondeau.
I am and will always be so grateful for the path life has taken me. One of the more scenic detours was getting a phone call from a low voice over in Seattle, wanting to know if I had an interest in being his producer. KOMO radio news guy Bob Gillespie was over in Yakima visiting his in-laws one day, heard enough of me one day to suggest to KOMO morning guy Larry Nelson that we should talk, and the rest was history.
As Larry used to always tell me, if you want to make God laugh, just tell him the plans you have for your life.
Two weeks away from being married, I accepted a job that started the Monday after the honeymoon. That meant getting hitched in 10-below weather, going over to Seattle to find a place to live in a 3-hour search, going on the honeymoon, coming back and then moving over through the snow-covered passes in a truck with bald tires.
But it was so worth it.
Among the personalities and friends I got to know during my 4-1/2 year stint at AM-1000 was the KOMO Sports Director, Bob Rondeau. Bob was the morning sports guy, while a fellow named Gary Johnson was the afternoon sports anchor. Years before, in the Midwest, their roles had been reversed. Gary was the main guy, and Bob was his second.
To this day, if I bump into Bob Rondeau, it’s mere seconds before a pair of dueling Nixon impressions breaks out. For a while (until management forced us to stop–they felt it was disrespectful. Yeah, to a guy who resigned in disgrace), I would call up Larry in the morning and chat with him as “Mr. Former”, as if Richard Nixon was a fan of the show. Man, did we have fun. Our GM fought mildly for us, then brought out the white flag and the cease-and-desist went into effect.
While Bob enjoyed the big-time job of calling all the Husky football and eventually, basketball games, KOMO wanted to expand their reputation as “Your Husky Station.” So, to pad our part, we developed the whole “Tailgate Party” show concept, with Lar having fun, playing the Husky Fight song or Tequila over and over, while I produced bits to play in-between all that. One of the recurring features we did was something called, “Special Times”, where Larry and Bob would talk about the game, what it all meant, all the while walking as close as they could to the silliness line.
Bob Rondeau was Bob ‘frickin’ Rondeau. He still is. But Bob always treated me as an equal, a friend and just another member of the KOMO family.
I attended the University of Washington from 1973-77 and have absolutely no clue who did the broadcasts back then. The only “Voice of the Huskies” I’ve ever known has been Bob Rondeau. It’s going to very strange to not have him up in that broadcast booth a year from now. I have a feeling I’m going to be listening to radio broadcasts of the game a little bit more next season.
Go Dawgs! Oh, and Bob, Mr. Former says ‘hi’.
This is my current goal. After 60+ years on this planet, I’ve lived a lot of different ways. The excited, dream-filled teenage years, the crazy days of college, those decades trying to get your career to take off, then maintaining that success while trying to constantly increase my experience and knowledge base. The common theme: very little sleep.
So I enter this decade of my life hoping to spend as many days as possible doing what I love to do. It seems like the smart way to live. However, this mindset was inspired by watching the passing of people I have known and loved over the years.
I’ve had this feeling for a while–making every day count. It’s just SO easy to get caught up in a busy, go-go-go lifestyle. Sure, its lots of fun, good times, etc. but the end result is that it makes time fly by. And when you’ve reached this stage, you really want to milk it for as long as you can.
Probably Alice Porter’s early departure was my wake-up call. Her husband, Shawn, followed her just a few years after that. If you’ve visited these blogs for a while, I’ve introduced you to several of those people who left this planet way too soon.
Recently, another one of my Torrance High School classmates passed away. Yes, it’s going to happen when you come from a class of 600 students. But when you read that name or hear it from another classmate, its easy to flashback to those days where you really did live day-by-day. Everything, every day was such a big deal.
Facebook, for all of its issues, has made it easier to stay in touch with those people from long ago. Some alum took it upon themselves to keep tabs of those we’ve lost. I just discovered this list online the other day and came across a few names that took me back to some pretty exciting times in my life. I don’t know how they died or any of the details, I just saw that they are no longer with us. But the memories remain.
Wayne Ferm–Wayne was a short, stocky guy with squinty eyes and a big smile as we walked around campus. His nickname was ‘Winky’.
Dexter Wolfgang–Dexter was years ahead of his time and my first acquaintance with a gay anyone. Everyone knew who he was and I understand he went on to be quite the hairstylist.
Mike Justice–I had him in a couple of my classes. Nice guy. Probably saw him at a reunion or two, I don’t remember for sure. I do know that he went on to become quite the photographer and died during a helicopter shoot over the Los Angeles Harbor earlier this year.
Merry Laskaris–Was one of those high school cuties you just didn’t forget. All that beauty and she could twirl a baton with the best of them.
Danny Gans–I played Little League with him and our paths didn’t cross much in high school, but he became quite the Las Vegas headliner.
Jon Lemler–Jon became quite the naturopath and healthy-living advocate. He met my wife Victoria at one of my reunions and we are both convinced it was with Jon’s help that Victoria conquered her kidney disease. Ironically, Jon was attending a conference in Las Vegas when he dropped dead from a massive heart attack.
The pictures in my head of each of these former classmates are as they appear in my old dusty yearbook. It’s how I remember them.
I really did have some great high school years. Some people look back and think those were the happiest days of their lives. For me, I’d include them, but I’ve always believed that if high school was the best time of your life, the rest of your life is nothing but a letdown. For me, it was just the start.
These days, my work schedule means launching into a new collection of conquests every Monday. Some routine, some new. But I’m amazed how anxious I still get every seven days, even though I know I’ll accomplish everything (and I do) but there’s this nagging feeling like I shouldn’t be able to do this. That there’s a rule I’m not observing. I should be in a 9-5 job, going to work and wishing I was somewhere else.
Well, I’m lucky enough to be at that “somewhere else” and feel blessed for having this opportunity. It’s becoming more and more obvious that I need to go back to my high school thinking, where every day was so incredibly important and special.
Because they are.
We base our opinions on what we see and experience. I’d have to say that, after this past week, United Airlines is a done deal. The Titanic of Airlines was struggling to stay afloat despite their descending quality of service and withering reputation. That’s the United Airlines we all know today.
But there was a time….
I grew up as a United Airlines kid. My dad proudly worked at the airline in it’s Hey Day, which for you younger whipper-snappers, meant when it was “the sh*t!” There was a time when airlines were like banks. There were zillions of them. And while there were big ones that covered the world like Pan Am and Trans-World Airlines, United was the top dog in the U.S., the #1 domestic airline during the 1960s. My dad was a mechanic who kept the service trucks on the ground working so they could service the aircraft. He had come out to California after World War II from West Virginia and landed a job as a fueler for, I believe, was a whopping $1.47 at the time. Over the years, he climbed the ladder and was quite the mechanic for “the friendly skies” back when they were still friendly.
It’s sad that United has ended up in this situation. The United Airlines I grew up was first class. In the 1960s, whenever our family would use employee passes to fly on United, we had to dress up. If we rode in first class, the guys had to wear ties. As kids, we were given plastic wings that signified we were honorary pilots. I can remember United Airlines employee summer picnics at the Los Angeles Police Academy (yep, same place as in the movies, just not as funny), and Christmas parties where Santa Claus actually showed up and handed out a present to each of the kids in attendance.
When United Airlines took possession of the first 747, they invited employees to come out to LAX and go on board before the general public got to see it for themselves. I remember waiting in line on the tarmac with other families, climbing those stairs and going into a brand-new, shiny Boeing 747, complete with a spiral staircase up to the first class lounge.
In college, I commuted home every other weekend on United. Back then, round-trip airfare for me (stand-by, yes, but flights weren’t that crowded back then) was a whopping $6. If I wanted to fly first class, it would have been $12. It cost less for me to fly to Los Angeles than it did for some of my dorm friends to drive home to Portland or Spokane. The planes were clean, the employees friendly. I even worked a couple of summers in the United Airlines flight kitchen in Los Angeles. The next time we get together, ask me about it. I’ve got stories.
That now seems like it was a century ago, even though it was only 40-some years.
United stock has plummeted and this dragging-a-customer-off-the-plane incident is far from over. Since the passenger was of Chinese descent, in China, they were watching that video at a rate of 20-million views an hour. If I was a betting man, I don’t think I would put any money on the airline surviving. But we shall see. It’s not like up until now I hadn’t heard many a complaint about United–delayed flights, lost baggage, etc. There was just a part of me that hoped it could right the ship instead of orchestrating a mutiny with its passengers.
For someone of my advanced years, it’s truly unthinkable.
Just a week ago, the parent company of Sears said it was doubtful they would survive. The vultures are circling, a younger generation says, “So what?”
Admittedly, Sears is not anything close to what it used to be. Then again, none of the stores are these days. Macy’s, Penney’s and yes, Sears are all closing stores nationwide. To help the younger folks understand, think of where you’ll be 30 years from now and how you’d feel when you hear Amazon is going away.
There was a time (and it was in my lifetime) that Sears was all that and more. OK, it was Sears & Roebuck, the American retailer that every Christmas put out a catalog of all the things that Santa might bring to the good little girls & boys. I remember ripping out pages and cutting out pictures to include in my letter to Santa, so he could get it right. When other kids got gifts from Santa from Schwinn or Lionel, my Sting Ray bike and model train set had the Sears name on it.
Sears was the anchor store at the Del Amo Mall in Torrance, California, just three blocks away from my home. It was in 1966 that I rode my bike over to the Sears parking lot to see a couple of guys running for office. They gave their speeches from the back of a flatbed truck. One was a guy named Valentine running for congress. The other, a former actor running for governor named Ronald Reagan.
Sears is where I got my first job in high school. Those who know me will find this hard to believe, but I was on the Sears Teen Fashion Board, which meant I modeled clothes in a couple of fashion shows at the mall, and I was able to work part-time at the store. As a ‘floater’, I could find myself in the Garden Center or Men’s and Boy’s departments. But my favorite hangout was Division 9: Hardware. I got pretty good at selling circular saws and Craftsmen tools, because after all, they had a lifetime guarantee. I remember a guy bringing in a ratchet he had bought in the 1940s. It was broken, and of course we replaced it because it was a Craftsmen.
I also remember that I was there when they first introduced “computerized” cash registers. I got so good at inputting numbers that I would often be done and would wait two minutes for the register to catch up and print out the receipt.
I have no recent stories about Sears because, heck, who goes there anymore? On the rare occasion I find myself in one of their stores, I see bored employees standing around, talking with each other. It just looks like a dying store.
I mean, think about it: what does Sears have that you couldn’t get for less at Amazon?
And so, we continue to evolve as a society and, sometimes, at a cost of losing some things we’ve had around for a long time.
Remember how records became cassettes and 8-tracks that evolved into CD’s which became digital music files that we downloaded? This past year, for the first time ever, the #1 way that people bought music was through streaming services. 51% of the music sold was purchased through those streaming services you’ve come to enjoy.
All this to say, the next time you’re near a Sears store, wander around and take a good last look. They’re soon to join the ranks of Montgomery Wards, The Bon Marche, White Front, Pay ‘n Pak, Pay ‘n Save and so many others.
The future does not bode well, but I fondly remember that time when Sears was “where America shops.”