Thursday, July 31, 2014

Write What You Know

"All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know." - Ernest Hemingway

Nature kills, human nature, too, I wish that wasn't true.

"This above all - to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man." - Shakespeare, Hamlet

There was a man who cut in front of me at a crowded rooftop bar overlooking the Chrysler Building which popped against the deep blue Manhattan sky on a pleasant summer night. I brought it to his attention and he shrugged his shoulders. I recalled the wisdom of Queen Elizabeth, who when asked what lesson was the most important to learn in life replied, good manners.

"I don't know much, but I know I love you." - Written by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil and Tom Snow. Performed by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville. 

I was sitting beneath a tree having lunch on the campus of a large corporation when I called home. My mother and father, sister, nephew, wife and sons were 53.8 miles away from me and contemplating ordering Chinese food. I would have swum the Sound for an egg roll.




Sunday, June 29, 2014

World Cup: A Fan's Note

I admit it, I only watch soccer every four years during the FIFA World Cup. While I do appreciate the sport, I don't have the bandwidth to keep up with it, but every four years, it's no trouble at all.

Crowd at Heartland Brewery in Midtown.
I have stood six deep at a bar near Plaza Meyor to watch Real Madrid play Barรงa and I've taken a long lunch to watch the Rangers play the Celtics in a dark hall where the comedian Billy Connolly was in attendance. It's hard not to get swept up in the atmosphere of these rivalries.

Now that the USA has emerged as a global contender, it is wonderful to see this country get on board with the rest of the world, which is to say that everything stops when the game is on. For example, I was in a crowded restaurant near Bryant Park this past week when a voice nearby said, "shouldn't you be in Connecticut?" I turned to see a friend I haven't seen in quite some time due to our busy work schedules.

I do understand the complaints of loyal soccer fans who feel encumbered by all of the new faces crowding around the set, asking which team is the USA and shouting orders at the barkeep, but I gently counter with a bet that they haven't watched a giant slalom since Sochi when a NBC reporter badgered Bode Miller to tears after he won the bronze.

Hooligans at a bar in Queens.
What if we could harness the enthusiasm and shared sense of purpose an event such as the World Cup produces and carry it through each day? There's certainly worse ways to spend an afternoon. What if we could all turn to each other with a knowing smirk at the dramatics of some players when pleading their cases to the refs? What if when we lose, we still win as was the case with USA vs. Germany thanks to our foe turned friend, Ronaldo?

I like to imagine what the world might look like then. Would we still see pictures of men lined up in front of a firing squad and satellite photos of recently moved earth where a mass grave was dug? Wouldn't it be better if the only evidence of violence we saw was pink teeth marks on a player's shoulder while he pleads to the ref?

I, for one, am glad there's a game to look forward to this Tuesday!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dylan Penn Treats Us to a Smoke Show

That didn't take long. Dylan Penn has signed on to do her first movie, a horror film titled Condemned. In the meantime, she grabbed the lucky number seven cover of Treats! Magazine with a scorching portfolio by Tony Duran. Check it out:

Dylan Penn, Treats! Magazine, Issue 7.
Dylan Penn, Treats! Magazine, Issue 7.
Dylan Penn, Treats! Magazine, Issue 7.

Dylan Penn, Treats! Magazine, Issue 7.


Dylan Penn, Treats! Magazine, Issue 7.


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I'm Out Like the Fat Kid in Dodgeball

People of Earth:

That was how Conan O'Brien began his statement to alert the world that he was leaving The Tonight Show, a statement he ran on PR Newswire, the company that has graciously employed me for the past 15 years. Today, April 30, 2014, concludes that run.

As I gave thought to how my statement should read, I reflected on all of the exit emails sent from colleagues through the years and there was one line that resonated: I'm out like the fat kid in dodgeball. I believe it was written in the summer of 2001 by a woman, Jen L., who was a natural born comedian. She could make us laugh in those stressful earnings periods, often at her own expense.

I spent the bulk of my time with PR Newswire at 810 Seventh Ave in Manhattan, located next door to the Ed Sullivan Theater, home of the Late Show With David Letterman. As Mr. Letterman has recently announced plans for his own retirement, I thought it would be appropriate to create a Top Ten List.

As I think back through the years, the colleagues I have worked with at PR Newswire have been some of the best people I've known. Chances are, if you're reading this, you're one of them. I began to think of the watering holes my colleagues and I would go to after the overnight shift at 8 a.m., or the Friday happy hour at 5 p.m., or when visiting another city. Believe me, it was hard to narrow them down to ten, but I managed. Here we go:

10. Checkmate Inn (East Setauket, N.Y.)
9. The Map Room (Cleveland)
8. Jimmy's Corner (New York)
7. The Dresden (Los Angeles)
6. Old Castle Pub (New York)
5. Houston Hall (New York)
4. The Iron Monkey (Jersey City, N.J.)
3. The Big Hunt (Washington)
2. The London NYC (New York)
1. Nice Guy Eddies (New York)

Nice Guy Eddies, NYC
    -0-

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Time

I often think of time, moving from one place to another, remembering my meals and appointments, cognizant of schedules and every now and then I pause to consider it. Today, I was in church and a couple renewed their vows in celebration of their golden wedding anniversary of 50 years. Tomorrow, I will meet with the legendary Harold Burson to discuss the year 1954 when PR Newswire was founded. Remarkably, he was one of its first customers. Through the years, I've come across many wonderful descriptions of time, here are three that stand out: 

From The Tudors: Death of a Monarchy (Season 4; Episode 10) (2010):

King Henry VIII: [Opening lines] In these last days I've been thinking a great deal about loss. What loss, your grace, is to man most irrecoverable? 

Charles Brandon: His virtue. 
King Henry VIII: No, for by his actions, he may redeem his virtue. 
Charles Brandon: Then, his honor. 
King Henry VIII: No, for again he may find the means to recover it, even as a man recovers some fortune he has lost. 
Charles Brandon: Then I can't say, Your Majesty. 
King Henry VIII: Time, your grace. Of all losses, time is the most irrecuperable for it can never be redeemed. 

King Henry VIII (right) and Charles Brandon from The Tudors

From "Killing Time," by Mumia Abu-Jamal, Forbes ASAP (November 30, 1998):

"Time is as elusive as a thief, silent as death. Only later does it appear, on the day you look into a burnished metal slab solidly riveted to a cell wall, and ask, 'Who is that old man?'


"For most prisoners, time is oppressive and liberating. At the beginning of a sentence, time stretches ahead, almost insurmountable in its height, almost unreachable in its distance. At the sentence's midpoint, time seems more navigable, for the time one has to do is measured by the time one has already done. Toward the end, time becomes a sweet promise."



Mumia Abu-Jamal

From Prince, Purple Rain, New Year's Eve (2000):

"Time ... Time is a trick ... How many birthdays did you have? ... One ... You had one day of birth ... You continue to count birthdays ... Your mind gives up ... Your body deteriorates ... This is the trick of time ... Man was never supposed to die ... We were given everlasting life ... By The Creator ... The Father of Jesus Christ ... There is no other King ... There is no other King ... Only Jesus Christ ... Time is a trick ... 1999, huh, I don't think so ... We could be in the third millennium perhaps ... It might be 1492 ... Who knows? ... I only want to see ya in the Purple Rain ... if you want to sing with me, it's alright ..."



Prince in the Purple Rain, Super Bowl XLI (2007)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Thoughts at The Turn: Jennifer Lawrence, Blake Wingtips and Ernest Hemingway

Jennifer Lawrence, Hunger Games
NY premiere.
Back breaking snow shoveling storms sabotaged my strategy to sip 18 taps of Blue Point brew on eastern Long Island before it gets trampled by Clydesdales, but now have time to dive into old blues albums while I jot down diversionary thoughts rather than face The Turn.

I've always liked Tom Chiarella of Esquire and his piece 40: When You've "Made" It  is a great pep talk.

Speaking of Esquire, was it just me or was the February 2014 issue, Weird Men, not too weird? Then again, what would I know about it.


Jennifer Lawrence, Film Independent
Spirit Awards.
Can't wait for American Hustle to be available on Netflix. Something about that movie trailer with Jennifer Lawrence parading around in her underwear coupled with rumors of a kiss with co-star Amy Adams sounds intriguing.

Why is the whole world obsessed with Jennifer Lawrence anyway? I mean really Jack Nicholson, she's old enough to be your daughter's daughter. I guess I have nothing new to add to the tomes of internet adulation, but JLaw does seem like the girl-next-door type who liked to smoke pot and listen to The Dead until wham-o, she's hyper glammed up and doesn't have a moment to say hey, I know that dude, he lived next door to me, but I digress. I guess like every other man, Jack Nicholson included, I'd like to smoke pot with Jennifer Lawrence -- the legal, medical variety of course.
Jennifer Lawrence, 83rd Oscars.

Big, big fan of Rancourt & Co. Shoecrafters located in Lewiston, Maine. They rolled out the Blake wingtip not long ago and I have had a shoe-porn like obsession with it. Yet to figure out how I can justify the purchase and quell the likely barrage of "Imelda Marcos" quips from my wife.

Going to Key West at the end of the month to celebrate a dear friend's betrothal. Will certainly visit the Hemingway house again, even though I already know the tour by heart. Good time to replace my Sloppy Joe's t-shirt with a brighter version for the summer, but quite frankly, I'll be happy if I escape from the Southernmost Point in one piece.

Bonobos, big fan. Will buy more Bonobos this spring.

Now that's a compelling midlife crisis portrait: Safety Pink Sloppy Joe's tee, navy Bonobos shorts, tan Blake wingtips sans socks, medical marijuana license, obligatory sunburn and delusions that, if given the chance, Jennifer Lawrence would totally go for it.

Ernest Hemingway, Key West.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

The Origin of My Story Telling

It's funny how some memories lodge themselves in your brain like a poppy seed in your teeth. I have ones that have followed me for nearly three decades.

Waves at Tobay Beach, Long Island.
I recall being at a beach on the south shore of Long Island, most likely Tobay. I was playing in the waves with my friend. His mother loved to lay in the sun and since she worked nights, she took us there during the week when it was not crowded.

The sea was choppy that day my friends.

We were playing in the surf and I recall being thrown about by the waves like laundry in a dryer. It was exhilarating. As soon as I'd drift to shore I would look for my friend, eager to describe what had just happened. As I jabbered wildly, he nodded looking out to the horizon, lost in his own experience. I had this amazing feeling and this eminent desire to tell someone, anyone about it.

The emotion has never left me. It has aged like a fine wine.

Shortly after the summer, I had a writing assignment due in class. Not knowing where to start, I asked my dad for help. He was lying half asleep on the couch, resting between his two jobs with a cup of coffee half-full in his hand. The story was to describe a trip around Manhattan holding on to a red balloon. Dreamily he took me past the Statue of Liberty, between the valley of the Twin Towers and over the 59th Street Bridge until the balloon popped and I landed in the golden glove of Mets First Baseman Keith Hernandez. I couldn't write fast enough, amazed by how real it felt. Later that week, after the papers were returned to the class, mine was held by the teacher and read aloud. I can still feel the flush of embarrassment in my cheeks and the exhilaration of being thrown about by the waves on the beach.

Whether or not he was aware of it, my dad had passed on to me the tools to build something from my imagination and share it, after you've had time to look to the horizon and come back from your own experience.