Thursday, May 11, 2017

Memo to Mom

To: Mom (Mother, Ma, Maw, etc)
From: Oldest Son
Re: Mother’s Day
5/11/2014 (still works)
I’m sure you enjoy being a spark in the Universe, you always liked to travel. Have you caught up with the old man yet? I’d have liked to have witnessed that first meeting because you had a lot to say to him, I’d also like have seen you two hug, kiss and make up and have some fun again.
Things are interesting here, Cakes (I know you hated me calling her that) has a new job and is kicking ass. I’m sitting around trying to figure out what to do. Don’t worry I’ll get it figured out sooner or later. I always have.
The kids are fine, Stephanie is in Costa Rica, I can hear you right now, “What the hell is she doing down there!” relax Mom, she’s in love and sounds happy as a lark. Kristen’s business is taking wing after a lot of hard work and lessons learned. You’d be proud of her. Your great grandchildren are spectacular, the girls have finished college. The boys are a couple of little shit heels just like I was. (pause)I know, I know, I was just kidding. They’re doing fine and they even enjoy brief visits from me. Bruce, Kathy and Margo are fine, so are all the kids. You’d be pleased to know that your name comes up all the time. So your memory lives on and will. Liz is still a pain in the ass and is a great grandmother, but I’m sure you know that story
I’ve read some great books lately. I miss our “Book Club”. You’d love “Game of Thrones”. BTW, I’ve read 7 Vonnegut’s over the past two weeks, I know you thought he was nuts and we argued about him for years. I still think you’re nuts to think he was nuts, so don’t even talk to me about it anymore, god dammit! Hope you run into him, tell him just how nuts you think he is and he tells you are just another deranged, misguided lunatic from his generation carrying around a bucket full of loose screws, who wouldn’t know a screwdriver from a thermonuclear device. Serves you both right.
Hey Ma thanks for visiting me in a dream the other night and reminding me to pay my American Express bill, you were always good about stuff like that.
Cakes (I know you hate that) is still sleeping, otherwise I’d put her on. I noticed the other day she picked up your picture and her mother’s picture from the English desk and stood there looking at the both of you. I didn’t ask what she was doing. I knew.
It’s a nice day Mom, wish you were here. We could sit in the sand at the beach, eat some seafood at Neptune’s Net, come home, take a nap. Have a nice light dinner and watch Game of Thrones together. You can have the new chair, it’s a wingback and you always loved those.
Love, hugs and kisses,
Your first kid.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bill O'Rieilly is a Dick

Bill O’ was up for spending a few days in the Florida sunshine. Our AM in South Florida carried his radio show from Westwood One. Bill needed a place to do his daily show live, we provided him a studio, we provided him a hotel and a limo. He owned a condo in Fort Lauderdale, but he needed a hotel suite, more on that in a minute.

A couple of hours before O’Reilly’s appearance, his producer showed up at the station, nice young guy, easy to work with. He and our producer, the highly competent Lupe Soto worked everything out. Then O’Reilly showed up 10 minutes before the first show and pretty much threw a grenade in the room, slammed the door, waited a minute or two and then proceeded to scream at his producer and our staff. No one could figure what he was pissed off about. He was just pissed. He was angry. He was a dick. According to Bill O, nothing was right, nothing worked to his satisfaction. Somehow our station, a radio station that operated like a fine watch 24/7 was a smoking, steaming pile of shit.

After the show got under way, I left for lunch, I walked out in the parking lot, noticed a black town car idling in the hot Florida sunshine. Sitting in the back seat was a young woman filing her nails. I realized at that moment why Bill needed that suite at the hotel and wasn’t using his family condo.

We did a meet and greet with a few clients and listeners after his show the next day. Bill O was a dick to them too. He was short, ill-tempered and treated them with contempt.

As he closed his last show he told his loyal audience that he was meeting his family for the weekend at their Florida condo as he closed the “Factor”. Never mentioned the station, never mentioned our staff. As he walked out the door, he didn’t shake a hand or bother to say goodbye.

Bill O’Reilly is and was a massive dick. Worse than Michael (Wiener) Savage, who spent his time in South Florida wearing a heavy coat and a long scarf, at least Savage didn’t shit all over our staff.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

No Trumpets before 9 AM


On a warm and sunny day in Southern California, a man is sitting at a table, across from him is an earnest young woman with a tape recorder. It begins

“I have no idea why anyone would be interested in any of this or what I think about what’s happened to the radio business.”

“You spent most of your life in it, your opinions and thoughts matter. They’re a part of the history of the business. You were there at the beginning, as a participant.” She said.

“I wasn’t there at the beginning, when I showed up and got involved it was a few years after it began, So I wasn't a pioneer, that’s for damn sure." The man lighted a cigarette, an American Spirit Yellow.
"The opportunity for change was there, the big guys, the smart money, just couldn’t see it. Think of it this way, the fire was ready to burn and a few of us showed up with the matches, all you had to do was strike one and light the kindling. The smart guys didn’t even think the stack of wood would burn, to the point of denying that it was even burning, after it started. Some couldn't even feel the heat.”

“What do you mean?” She asked.

“It was obvious at the time FM would work, there were beautiful music stations on FM all over the country generating huge listening audiences, some of the money men and the smart guys, the big companies, owned the damn things, who knows what they were thinking? A company has a facility. Let’s say in San Francisco, the fucking thing is number one or two in the market. At that point in time, almost nobody owns an FM receiver, but somehow the station is generating a huge audience. I used to wonder what the hell went on in the board meetings. I had dinner one night with the father of beautiful music, the guy they were paying to create the programming. I asked him, you know what he said?”

“I haven’t a clue.” She said.

“He said nothing, he just shrugged his shoulders. He didn’t know either."

“So what happened?”

“The music changed for one thing, that was the catalyst. The music needed an outlet. It sure as hell wasn’t going to get it on sixties era Top 40. Stations at the time tried to play an edited version of “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan. The listeners revolted and forced them to play the song unedited, all 5 minutes and 56 seconds of it. That happened in the mid 60’s and it was a big deal in an era of record companies editing songs down just for radio, shit they used to cut old Beach Boys songs to under 2 minutes. I can’t remember which of the Beach Boys songs it was, whatever it was, I think the original was 2 minutes 36 seconds long. They cut it to 1:56." The man took a long drag on his cigarette, blew the smoke up in the warm air. 

"Capitol actually put out radio only albums called “short cuts”. Really, really stupid and the listeners wouldn’t put up with it anymore. The people running the radio stations at that time couldn’t understand what was happening. Actually, the silly bastards didn’t want to understand, they couldn’t get their heads around the fact things were changing, that they could no longer dictate musical tastes or control it anymore. Neither did the record companies."

"Our generation certainly wasn’t having or taking it anymore. There had to be a medium where what the listener could hear what they wanted to hear, demanded to hear. The un-loved, underutilized step child FM signals were the solution. Somebody once called them, the funny little stations down the hall.”

“Only took about 5 years for them to stop laughing. A few of them never got it.”

“Want another cup of coffee?” The man asked.

The woman nodded, yes.

Thursday, March 2, 2017


Our family's unknown man is my Great, Grandfather Harris, he was killed in a coal mining accident in Illinois. He left a young wife and two little girls. Why was he in Illinois? He immigrated because the Welsh village he grew up was devastated by a mine explosion and collapse. Devastated to the point that the village ceased to exist. They called it a disaster and it was. Young Harris moved from one disaster zone to another. He survived the first, not the second.

Coal mining has always been a dirty, nasty job. If you weren't killed underground you died later of the effects of black lung or of the injuries connected to your job.

Our republican President has promised that coal is coning back, it isn't and now this has happened:

Almost 23,000 retired coal miners and their dependents on Wednesday received official notification that they could lose their health care benefits by April 30.
“This is causing tremendous mental and in some cases physical trauma to these senior citizens,” United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts said Wednesday. “They will now have to begin contemplating whether to continue to get medicines and treatments they need to live or to buy groceries. They will now have to wonder if they can go see a doctor for chronic conditions like black lung or cancer or pay the mortgage.”
For the last year, U.S. senators representing Ohio and West Virginia have worked to preserve health care coverage and pensions for retired coal miners. Roberts and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said the health care coverage was originally slated to expire at the end of 2016, but Congress passed a four-month extension at that time.

Then the turd in the punch bowl floated to the surface...

When KY Sen. Mitch McConnell strode into the Capitol for last month’s State of the Union speech, he took with him a guest whose presence was sure to be seen as a slap against the Obama administration and its policies on coal.

“I brought along this unemployed coal miner here,” McConnell (R-Ky.) said, gesturing to fourth-generation mineworker Howard Abshire, “to see the person who put him out of work.”
The Senate majority leader said he wanted to call attention to President Obama’s “heartless” regulations that he argues have devastated communities in Abshire’s native eastern Kentucky. Yet just weeks earlier, McConnell’s office had delivered its own blow to Appalachian coal towns: It blocked efforts to rescue health and pension funds on which thousands of retired and disabled miners rely.

A plan that would ensure the solvency of the funds nearly made it through Congress in December as part of the bipartisan budget deal that cleared both chambers. But the bailout attempt — backed by key lawmakers from both political parties — was excluded from the deal at McConnell’s request, according to four Senate officials directly familiar with the events.
McConnell’s spokesman does not dispute that telling of events. And McConnell has not publicly explained his opposition to the measure.

Add to that, deregulation of existing mines, (read that as lax safety standards) lowering of water standards and increased mountain top removal operations and you get not only a perfect recipe for disaster you get zero no jobs because there is NO MARKET for COAL.

I wish some country singer would pen a song about "Coal aunt Comin' Back" or "Piss off Mitch" rather than more nonsensical bullshit about pickup trucks, beer and country girls in Daisy Dukes.

Patti Loveless wrote one...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Thoughts and insight from the “New Career” files…

I have a friend who built a formidable fortune in the car business. He is still involved in selling cars via his auto auctions.

Here are some insights he gave me about the business.

“The biggest problem in the car business is poor management.”

“Dealers hate the manufacturers and the manufacturers hate the dealers.”

“Some dealers are afraid of the internet and some embrace it. If a customer shows up with a print out from a website, they’ve already bought the car, show it to them, test drive them and write the deal up.”

After 7 months selling cars (or as my sister says, “trying to prove something to Dad”) I have some thoughts as well.

Customers need to do the math. You can’t buy a $50,000 car for $400 a month unless you have a superb, paid for trade-in or are ready to put 30k down on the new car. The rough rule of thumb is $22. a thousand financed over 60 months or 220 a month for every ten thousand financed.

You won’t get a discount for cash. Paying cash for a car makes no difference. Yes, the dealer makes money on the financing from the bank, not a lot, but some.

Leasing makes sense if you drive 15k a year or less. You always have a fresh, up to date car and you only pay for your use of it. Research the residual value of cars you are interested in. For instance a Jeep Wrangler Sport has an extremely high residual and that has a huge effect on the lease payments.

If you finance a new car, know you are going to be “upside down” for a long time. Remember the bank always gets paid first. Essentially you are “buried” for the first 3 or 4 years in a long term auto loan.

Nobody is trying to “screw” you at a legitimate car store. It’s illegal and if a dealer does it, they get huge fines and can lose the right to business.

Buying a car is generally the 2nd largest purchase you’ll make, there are a lot of details to take care of, a lot of papers to sign and it takes time to do it right, Don’t rush it and ask questions if you don’t understand something. If there is something that needs attention, get it in writing and get it confirmed by management, before you sign off on the car.

The credit application has to be filled out correctly, no fudging on income, nothing can be crossed out and leave nothing essential blank. Never let the salesperson or manager fill anything in for you. Never! The credit application generates your car’s registration so it is doubly important.

You’ll never know what your payment is going to be until your credit is run. Payments are determined by the car you’re buying and your credit history. I will get you a ball park number if you know your credit score, not exact but close. Be aware the management hates it when I come in and ask them to run a number without a credit app. However, if you hand me a recent copy of your credit report it’s less of a hassle. Don’t ever go from dealer to dealer and let them run your credit. It’s dumb and it drives your score down.

I sell a lot of trucks. My clients buy trucks for many difference reasons. Here are a few truck tips, unless you drive over 17,000 miles a year don’t opt for the diesel engine, the fuel savings don’t add up. The more miles you drive the quicker the diesel pays off. The Cummins diesel option on the Ram 2500 costs almost 10k more than the V8, think about it. The diesel gets better mileage and has more power, but unless you drive a lot or tow heavy things around on a regular basis you are be spending money you don’t need to spend.

If you buy a truck to tow a boat or a trailer calculate the towing capability this way, use 70% of the towing capacity as the holy grail of towing. Here’s why, add up all the things you are going to be carrying in your trailer, fresh water, black water, food, ice, clothing, etc, etc. Now your 6,000 lb trailer weighs 7,000. Then add people to your truck, 4 people at 150 each. Now add coolers, luggage, bikes, tools, lawn chairs and your dog. Now you’ve added another 700 lbs to the load. If your truck is rated at 8500 lbs towing capacity you are pushing it. Be like a pilot and leave a large margin of error.

One last thing…

Buying a car is the balance between need and desire. That said, there is nothing like owning a car (or truck) that puts a smile on your face every time you start the engine.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Single handed

 I was 11 years old when I read Joshua Slocum’s “Sailing Around the World Alone”. I’ve read it at least 5 times since. I like to sail alone too. I’d like to sail around the world but it’s too late, at least I think it is.

Webb Chiles has sailed around the world 6 times, alone. One circumnavigation he didn’t finish, he quit in the Canary Islands. Chiles made that trip in an open 18 foot boat, San Diego to New Zealand to Africa to the Red Sea. Chiles was arrested in Saudi Arabia for being a “spy”. He spent two weeks in jail and his boat was confiscated. He got a new one and continued his trip only to have it end in the Canaries.

Later Chiles and his wife Jill left New Zealand, sailed around Cape Horn and up the South American coast to Montevideo, Uruguay. They continued on to Key West.  

In Key West Jill left him. Chiles continued his trip alone.

Off Fort Lauderdale, he made a decision. He opened the sea cocks on his 37 foot boat and sailed it until it sunk. At the last moment Chiles stepped off the boat and into the Gulf Stream wearing a tee shirt and shorts. He had committed himself to dying at sea. He took off his glasses. He unstrapped his watch and let it go into the water. It was 11 at night. The next morning he was still treading water. He made another decision, he started to swim, he swam all day and all night. 26 hours and 125 miles north of Fort Lauderdale he was rescued by two young fishermen.

Since then Chiles has married his 6th wife and circumnavigated once again in a Moore 24.

Webb Chiles is almost 75 years old, he listens to classical music, reads and enjoys his daily drink of scotch from a crystal high ball glass, whether ashore or at sea.

Chiles writes…

“Old men should be explorers.”  I first read that in a book by Jan de Hartog, but subsequently came across it in T. S. Eliot’s FOUR QUARTETS, which predates Hartog by several decades.”

A life well lived.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Deep Shit, a transition recap...

We are a day away from Donald J. Trump becoming the 45th President of the United States of America. Here is how the Make America Great Again team is doing so far..

Billionaire Betsy DeVos the nominee for Education Secretary has donated money to 10 of the 12 Republicans on the committee tasked to vet her for the job. That, not to mention she doesn’t know jack shit about education.

Dimwitted ex-Texas Governor Rick Perry, the guy who wanted to eliminate the Energy Department, will be replacing this guy, Ernest J. Moniz, who was chairman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology physics department and directed the linear accelerator at M.I.T.’s Laboratory for Nuclear Science. Before Mr. Moniz, the job belonged to Steven Chu, a physicist who won a Nobel Prize. Mr. Perry didn’t know that the Energy department is responsible for the maintenance and up grading of our nuclear arsenal. Perry thought he was going to be, in his words, “Ambassador of Oil and Gas.”

Health and Human Serves nominee Congressman Dr. Tom Price of Georgia has admitted to charges of insider trading on the stock of a medical device manufacturer.

I could go on and on but all you really need to know is this. Overall, out of 690 positions requiring Senate confirmation tracked by the Washington Post and Partnership for Public Service, Trump has come up with only 28 people so far.

This is not normal, this is not the way things work. This is not draining the swamp.

The Obama administration has prepared thousands of briefing papers for the new administration; Team Trump has not acknowledged their receipt. This is not normal or in the best interests of our country.

Trump is taking the weekend off after he’s sworn in, he’ll probably go to Mar a Lago or back to Trump Tower after showing up at a few parties. He says he’ll get to work on Monday. What if something happens?

This is not normal, this not the way things work, this is not draining the swamp and this is not “Make(ing) America Great” again.

Remember the hullabaloo about Hillary giving speeches to Goldman Sachs executives? It was an OMG situation. Bill O’Reilly looked like he was going to stroke out. Bill doesn’t seem the least bit concerned that 6 Goldman Sachs executives have joined the new Trump administration…6 of the bastards.

We are in deep shit kids…

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Lunch at the Garden Club with Milt....

At the first of our lunches, I ate my clam chowder and listened to Milt, here's some of what he said.

"For so many years the league and the teams ignored American plyers, living here I went to a lot of college games and I knew there were American kids who could play in the NHL."

"I was 17, lived in a boarding house in Brookline, took the trolley to the Garden for practice. Wore a suit, a white shirt and tie everyday."

"The big road trip was out to Chicago on the train. On the way back we'd play the Wings and the Leafs. Sometimes we'd play Montreal too, then back to Boston."

"6 teams, 48 game season, played each other 8 times a year, 4 and 4."

"Montreal, it was always Montreal, still is isn't it?"

"We played a lot of cards on the train."

"I think Frankie Brimsek was the first American I had as a team mate. Frankie was a great goal tender. When he came up from the Reds in in 38-39 he had 6 shut outs in his first 7 games, if I remember correctly there were 3 or 4 players that made the NFL from Eveleth at that time."

Milt was the center on the Bruins' "Kraut Line" with wingers Bobby Bauer and Woody Dumart. All three of them grew up together in Kitchener, Ontario. They won two Stanley Cups together, After winning the cup in 40-41 they all joined the Royal Canadian Air Force and served for the duration of WWII.

"Woody, Bobby and I finished 1-2-3 in scoring in 39 and we won the Stanley Cup. The Bruins wanted to cut our salaries from $4100 to $3700 for the next season."

I was introduced to Milt Schmidt in 1979. Milt died the other day at 98, the oldest living NHL player. Milt was the only player to Captain his team, coach his team and become the General Manager of his team. Milt had an incredible career,
  • Stanley Cup champion - all with Boston (1939 and 1941 as a player), (1970 and 1972 as general manager)
  • Finished his career with 229 goals and 346 assists for 575 points in 776 games.
  • At the time of his retirement, was fourth in NHL history in points scored and third in assists.
  • Named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1940, 1947 and 1951.
  • Named to the NHL Second All-Star Team in 1952.
  • Played in NHL All-Star Game in 1947, 1948, 1951 and 1952.
  • Won the Lester Patrick Trophy for contributions to hockey in 1996.
  • Was the last active NHL player who played during the 1930s.
  • In 1998, he was ranked number 27 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.
  • Won the Hart Trophy in 1951
  • NHL Scoring Champion in 1940

  • Milt was one of the two greatest Bruins of all time. Milt said the greatest is Bobby Orr, Bobby says the greatest is Milt.

    Here they are being honored at a Bruins game, the 80th anniversary of Milt becoming a Bruin and Bobby's 50th. (Milt first noticed Bobby when he was 12 and took a personal interest in his development as a young player)

    I cherish the time I spent with Milt, I know you're skating again like you did when you were a 17 year old kid with the Bruins. It was an honor to get to know you.