Sunday, November 6, 2011


Last week I spent a few wonderful days visiting my friend Betty in California.  She lives up on a mountain that towers above Palm Springs in a picturesque & quirky little town.  One of the things I like best about where she lives is that you can take your dog almost everywhere, so Dixie accompanied us on all our treks. Dog-friendly towns are the best in my book.
I’ve known Betty since the late 80’s when we both worked at a TV station in Atlanta.  It was a start up news operation, Tribune Broadcasting had purchased a Christian station and decided to convert it to an independent commercial operation, complete with a news department.  We had a different format than anything else in town, we did one hour of news at 10pm (back East the late newscasts were a half hour starting at 11pm) and that’s all we did and we did it very well.  Most of the staff reveled in the format.  We had seasoned veterans and newbies who all wanted a chance to tell a better story than you could do in 1:10.  Although I do remember the producer, Hugh, wanting to kill me when I turned in a photo essay on the Georgia/Georgia Tech football rivalry that ran 3 and a half minutes, but he later forgave me and let me air a two minute music video on little league baseball that later won an Emmy.  We weren’t just fluff, by any means.  Betty covered the legislature and all the impacts it had on our daily lives better than anybody in town.  We sent a crew in with the Georgia National Guard to the first Gulf War, but only after spending weeks trying to secure visas.  By the time we got them I was on a first name basis with the clerk at the Saudi Embassy in DC.  
I it was a very special time in our lives, but that was then.  
The thing that keeps it alive and much more than just “glory days” memories are the wonderful people I worked with in that shop that I can still count as friends. Betty is certainly high among them.  Neither of us are still in TV news, in fact neither of us even care to watch local news anymore, but we have each pursued our own creative endeavors. Betty has also managed to raise three wonderful children while becoming a fabulous writer. 
Yes, WGNX-TV was a magical time, but the real magic has been how the people we knew then continue to touch each others lives today.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I enrolled in ASU without ever talking to a guidance counselor (bad idea)....
When loved ones died or ran off I sought help from a personal counselor (good idea).
Now I am in the hands of a new kind of therapist.  A physical therapist.
I have been lucky in my career to not have suffered many injuries, but my recent surgery to repair a punctured rotator cuff and shave off some bone spurs in my right shoulder really laid me up.  I couldn’t do anything.  Getting dressed or undressed resembled some strange spastic dance.  More like I was trying to escape from a straight jacket than just pull a T-shirt over my head.  And that was only part of it.  I couldn’t cook, I couldn’t comb my hair, I couldn’t move a mouse.  The first 10 days of recovery were not pretty.  Then they sent me to Andrea.  A physical therapist who runs herd over a group of knee and shoulder surgery survivors.  She is amazing.  Strong and fit and not shy about showing off her ample figure, she looks like she should be in a Wagnerian opera - or the NFL.  She plays rugby in her spare time.  She and her two helpers run us through a series of electro stimulation, strenuous exercises and the dreaded hands-on treatment.  She is the only one who actually performs this particular torture.  As I lay helpless on her table she takes my right arm and pokes, pulls and pushes it into all types of positions it no longer has the flexibility to go.  As I bite my lip and look up at her with the biggest puppy eyes I can muster when it really gets to what feels like the breaking point and say “that really hurts” she replies in the most understanding voice, “I know.”  While it seems counter intuitive to put so much pressure on a fresh wound, guess what?  It’s working.  In a few short weeks I have regained most of my mobility. I’m still a little short on the lateral stuff, but it will come and I haven’t questioned her methods since the first couple of sessions. (When I wanted to run screaming from the building and never return).  I have a few more weeks to go and then I will be able to pick up my camera and get back in the field, doing what I love.  And I will owe more than a little bit of that to Andrea.  Queen of pain.  Thank You.   

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Long Good-bye

Life in it’s later stages, very often, is not pretty.  My next door neighbors are a wonderful old couple in their mid 80’s we’ll call “Mary and “John”.  They are great neighbors, we talk, sometimes go on walks together, one of their sons is a handyman who remodeled my bathroom and they love my Golden Retriever, Dixie. We are close as neighbors go.  But it has been obvious lately that Mary has not been herself and her son recently informed me that the family is putting her in a nursing home next week because her Alzheimer's has gotten to the point that she may be a danger to herself or to John.  It is heartbreaking.  So in the evenings Dixie and I go over and sit with them.  There are two things Mary always remembers, her great grandson Caleb and Dixie the dog.  So we go and sit and Mary loses herself in petting and talking to Dixie.  Once in a while she will look up and ask me how old Dixie is and if she just had a bath because she looks so good, for about the 100th time, and I respond and then she focuses her gaze back into Dixie’s deep brown eyes and stays there while the rest of her world crumbles around her.  John is trying to be brave, but tears are just a moment away because he knows he is losing the woman he has loved for more than 60 years and he isn’t going to get her back.  So he pets the dog, too and and together they share a moment about how old Dixie is and whether she has had a bath because she looks so good.  Her children are on the verge of tears as they do what needs to be done, I’m on the verge of tears with a big plastic smile stuck on my face because it’s the best I can muster.  Dixie, on the other hand, just sits calmly, accepting their attention, occasionally looking over at me for reassurance and I nod a silent “good dog” that she seems to understand. That’s all I can do, Dixie is doing all the heavy lifting here.
I know I’m going to reflect on all this later, as it sinks in.  There is just too much to absorb right now.  How do we make sure we get the most out of our lives while we can? What is the special connection we have with animals? Can you really prepare yourself for the long good-bye?  
It’s been a long week, at home and at work, with little solace except for a pair of amazing brown eyes who are more accepting of the world and people than I can ever hope to be.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Horses are amazing creatures and I have always felt I had a symbiotic relationship with them.  Even though they are big and strong and unpredictable, I have never felt fear around them.  So I like horses.  I am one of the millions of “girls” who really likes horses.  I haven’t own my own horse since I left Mesa for college, but I try to be around them as often as I can.  Today a new friend invited me to ride with a group that goes out every Sunday morning, of course I said yes immediately.  I didn’t know what horse I would be riding, how old or young, how well trained, if much at all, but I do know that I believe the best view of the world is from the back of a horse. So today I put on a brand new pair of boots that I had purchased with the idea of  dancing, not riding, but with no dance partner in sight it was waste not want not, so I showed up in my shiny new boots and goofy cowboy hat where I was escorted out to the barn to met Kelso.  He was calm enough as I brushed him out, he let me clean his feet just fine, “Hey want to put that big old saddle on me. No Problem”.  Kelso was a piece of cake.  We rode out into a nice piece of desert near Cave Creek Road and it was there that Kelso begin to resemble his namesake, a character created by Ashton Kutcher on That 70’s Show.  He was a big, good looking, airhead.
This meant that to keep me from doing a giant face plant off of him and completely ruining my coolness factor with these people, I needed to devote my full attention to riding him. You see, to Kelso the world is full of horse-eating fence posts, loose paper and, oh yeah, rocks.  A horse who wants to survive has to stay vigilant and be able to jump sideways at a moment's notice to avoid being devoured by such predators.  So as he danced all over the place I managed to stay with him and we made it safely back to the barn. it was an interesting, albeit tiring, few hours. 
Ironically when a coyote wandered by looking us over, Kelso could not have been less impressed, or concerned.  “Why get all worked up over that mangy thing when there’s a vicious looking candy wrapper lurking in those bushes?”  Still Im very glad Kelso let me share his world with him and if I’m invited back I would be honored to ride him again.  Now, that I look back over my life I realize I have always been a sucker for big, good looking, airheads.  Especially if they can dance.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Old Farts Club

I recently got together with a few good folks with who I share a common history of Phoenix television news from the “good old days”.  So, yes we could all be considered old farts, even though most of us are still working in the media in some form or another.  You didn’t get into TV news in the 70’s for the money, you did it for the adrenaline rush, to be where things were happening, to get the story on the air before the other guy, to drive a marked news car down a sidewalk and think it was perfectly okay or just because it was really cool to be on TV.  You did it because you loved it.  This little group witnessed a lot of history, saw Arizona's capitol change from a cow town controlled by the Phoenix 40 to what it is today.  And we tell stories, a lot of stories, mostly on each other, most punctuated with profanity and plenty of laughter, so there are lots of stories.  Yes, Bruce your name did come up a time or two. The majority of them we have all heard before, but the stories in themselves aren’t the reason we get together.  It’s to spend a little time with a small band of brothers and sisters who shared a unique and powerful experience in our lives, to be able to remember, yeah, we did that, we saw that and we lived to tell about it and we know it will always connect us. It was an experience that someone who wasn’t in that particular media circle will never fully understand.  To the people sitting at the next table, and I pity them, I’m sure we sounded like a bunch of old fogies just recalling our glory days, but they were very glorious days indeed.  I can’t wait until we have the next unofficial meeting of the Old Farts Club - Phoenix TV Chapter.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Today was a good day in the field, left field that is...literally.  A few times a year the Diamondbacks play a day game during the week and it is my guilty pleasure to take a good friend and hang out with about 20,000 other people who are playing hooky from work at the ball park. Most people who know me know that I really like baseball, in fact my boss even called me a “rabid baseball fan”.  But the things I like about baseball don’t generate a rabid intensity, that would be like saying you are a rabid Buddhist.  
I like a lot of things about baseball, first and foremost, there is no best two minute ten second is as Yogi Berra said “over when it’s over”  and that strikes a chord with me.  I’m one of those people with a genetic time keeper that makes it almost impossible for me to show up late for anything, even when I want to be fashionably late, it just doesn’t happen.  That served me well during my 30 years in TV news where we all lived or died (or at least our news directors thought we did) by deadlines.  In all that time I never missed my live shot time slot.  Was it always pretty?...well, let’s not go there. So I appreciate maybe more than most the idea of “it’s over when it’s over” not when time just runs out.  
Baseball is an easy game that anybody can play, but is it a deceptively difficult game to play well. Hitting a good fastball is really, really hard.  And I admire the guys who can do it as well as the guys who can hurl it.  I marvel at the right fielder who can throw a bullet to home plate and deny a run or a speedster on the bases who stretches a single into a double.  It’s even fun to watch the manager and umpire get into a good dirt kicking fight once in a while.  But the thing I like most about baseball is that when I watch the game I can enjoy it on whatever level of involvement I wish to employ.  I can sit back with a beer, or two, and a hot dog, or two and just take in the simple “hit the ball, catch the ball, throw the ball” aspects of the game or I can get caught up in the strategic complexities the managers apply to each hitting situation. For a simple game it has a rule book the size of a Buick, but it can be as elemental or as complex for me as I wish to make it on that day.
So, yes, I like baseball - for all that it is and for what it doesn’t have to be.
One more thing I find interesting; baseball is the only sport where the defense controls the ball.   
Think about that for awhile.
And how you might apply it in your life.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day One

It seems lately that I have been bombarded with smart new technologies that I am trying to cram into my oh so full brain.  It all started with the Mac and final cut pro, then Face book, quickly followed by an iPhone which can do everything except the laundry.  I don't even want to talk about twitter.  Now I don't want to come off as one of "those" people of a certain age who are struggling with new media, but when YOU are the person of a certain age doing the struggling it suddenly becomes very personal.  So with all of the posts and links and bells and widgets this seems to be the most natural.  Sitting and writing, even if it's just for myself.  So I'll see how it goes, maybe I'll have a thought or two I want to share and maybe someone else will want to read.  We'll see, said the blind man.