Showing posts with label journalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label journalism. Show all posts

World Mourns Princess Diana 20 Years Later

Twenty years ago today it was a Saturday night and I had just arrived at the 56 Fighter Group in East Farmingdale, NY and went to the bar to get a drink. I looked up at the TV and saw the headline that Princess Diana was in a fatal car crash. I sat in disbelief as if someone had told me I had lost a dear friend. 

Through her well publicized life I had witnessed Diana's wedding and the birth of her children and her enduring campaign to rid the world of explosive remnants of war strewn across fields where innocent children played unaware of the hidden dangers lurking below. I was crestfallen. As the events that led up to the car crash pointed toward a desperate escape from pursuing paparazzi, the royal tragedy unfolded: Princess Diana, 36 years of age, was taken abruptly from her two teenage sons.

Princess Diana, England's Rose.

Today, her boys are grown and the world goes on, but for a moment it stood still 20 years ago. I recall writing a eulogy soon thereafter and mailing it to the Long Island Voice, which published it on its Letters page. Looking back, I must have shared in a universal grief as I associated Elton John's "Candle In The Wind" with the loss long before he played a revised version of it at her funeral. Here is my letter:

Goodbye, England's Rose

Pictures of Di are worth big bucks. She was a gold mine. Much like the great rush that sent miners across an unknown territory some hundred years ago, anyone with a lens pursued her in hopes that one strike would earn a fortune. I wondered why.

After hours of silent contemplation and careful analysis of media coverage, I deduced that Lady Di was indeed a gem. She shined like a diamond under intense light. Her life was a fairy tale filled with romance heartbreak, ending in tragedy as if Shakespeare constructed it himself.

It did not take long to realize her talent and mourn her loss. At the conclusion of the ABC special Royal Tragedy on the somber Sunday evening after the fatal car crash, I went to my bedroom and dimmed the lights. I played Elton John's "Candle In The Wind" and wept.

Say Hello 2 Heaven Chris Cornell and Gregg Allman

I hopped in the back of pick-up truck and sped toward Manhattan for the much anticipated Guns N' Roses concert. We had just finished our shifts at IHOP and two of the waitresses had changed out of their blue plaid frocks into fishnet tights and black leather jackets. Their lips were painted ruby red and their friends provided the transportation along with a case of beer. One of my fellow refugees was not going for Guns, he was going to see the opening band Soundgarden. He had on a Badmotorfinger t-shirt that was well worn.

Chris Cornell performs in 1992.

That concert was my introduction to Soundgarden and the emerging Seattle music scene. I can still hear Chris Cornell shake the walls of Madison Square Garden as my neck snapped back and forth with each passing rocker chick who left nothing to my teenage imagination. I would hear that same booming voice again some years later when Audioslave played atop the marquee of The Late Show with David Letterman  and shook the neighboring building were I worked 32 stories above.

News of Chris Cornell's passing was shocking. He was the beacon that led the way for the tumultuous talent in flannel shirts who occupied the nation from coast to coast for more than a decade. Chris Cornell had a voice. Not only to shake the concrete walls where he performed, but also to carry the beleaguered hearts of his generation. His lament for the loss of his friend Andrew Wood on the Temple of the Dog album is eerie as it is a fitting eulogy for himself: There's just one thing left to be said, Say hello to heaven.

There's Nobody Left to Run With Anymore

With zero time to comprehend the loss of Chris Cornell, we were hit with the passing of Gregg Allman. I've lost count of how many Allman Brothers shows I've seen and how transported I was at each one across each state I visited. There is one show that stands out. It was not due to the sheer power of Gregg Allman's voice, rather it was due to its absence.

Gregg Allman and Cher circa 1975.

It was late morning in the summer of 1995 when my phone rang. My friend broke the news that Jerry Garcia had passed. I met my friend at our familiar spot and friends dropped by at various times to grieve the loss along with us. We went to the Allman Brothers show that night at Jones Beach where the crowd was in a somber mood. 

The Allman Brothers took the stage and Dickey Betts addressed the crowd by saying, "We lost a brother today." It soon became apparent that Gregg Allman had lost his voice, so the band played many of the songs Dickey sang including Ramblin Man which they had retired after its chart topping success. The Black Crowes were in town and the Robinson brothers joined the band for a spirited rendition of Southbound. Gregg did manage to to sing No One to Run With that featured a montage of fallen musicians with the recently added Jerry Garcia. 

As I look at my music shelf, a good percentage of it comprises Chris Cornell and Gregg Allman records. The impact these musicians had on my life can be measured in decades. I take comfort in knowing they left behind many recordings and I imagine the choir of angels has gotten even better.    

Made in the USA

Buying products that are made in the USA has long been a passion of mine. It can be a challenge sometimes as these products may not be easy to find or may not be made here anymore. In categories such as autos, shoes and clothes, there are many wonderful American manufacturers to choose from. While price can sometimes be more than foreign counterparts, I find the quality of American products is worth it with the added benefit of supporting jobs here. 

From the coffee I drink, to the car I drive, there are numerous opportunities to buy well-made products that are manufactured in the USA. Here are a few examples in men's wardrobe:

Shinola Men's Watches

The Runwell Chrono by Shinola

Randolph Engineering Sunglasses

Aviator by Randolph Engineering

Hickey Freeman Suit

Navy Chalk Stripe Tasmanian Suit by Hickey Freeman

American Trench Socks

Pima Cotton Houndstooth Socks by American Trench

Rancourt & Co. Shoes 

Blake Wingtip by Rancourt & Co.

Try any one of these products when it comes time for your next purchase, not only will you feel good about it, you'll look sharp.

Running of the Bulls in Jamaica, Queens

A bull escaped from a slaughterhouse on Tuesday running through the streets of Jamaica, Queens with reckless abandon, terrorizing pedestrians in its path. The NYPD was in hot pursuit as the bull paraded down city sidewalks and hopped fences looking for its way out of the urban maze. The beast was struck with tranquilized darts resembling carefully placed swords from Spanish matadors while crowds gathered to watch the event. Its captors from the nearby Aziz Slaughter House chased the bull until it turned its horns toward them and charged. They escaped being gored without the customary cheer of Olé!

The bull traveled two miles and was seemingly cornered before escaping to run a half mile more. It finally sat down in a yard on 158th Street and 116th Avenue and was captured and transported to a nearby animal shelter where it was later pronounced dead from the corrida. The gallant run by the beast to escape the butcher's knife prompted a candlelight vigil in its honor outside the slaughterhouse the next day. 

Bull escapes slaughterhouse in Queens. Theodore Parisienne

While the annual Running of the Bulls Festival takes place in Pamplona, Spain in July, New Yorkers received an unexpected preview this winter. To some, it came as no surprise as the bulls have been running wild on Wall Street for the past month.

The Enduring Beauty of Liz Cho

Have you ever stared at a portrait of a lady for an eternity? What if eternity was measured in 10 minutes or 10 hours or 10 days? What if you saw the same picture each day for 10 years? Would it feel like eternity? Could any portrait hold you captive for that long? Perhaps if it changed ever so slightly each day, a new hairstyle, a different dress, a dash of pepper here, a pinch of salt there, would it continue to entice the palette? Imagine if the lady could speak and you could watch her expression change from mock disbelief to spontaneous laughter in an instant? Would eternity be long enough?

Liz Cho, Eyewitness News, Feb. 4, 2016.

I first wrote about Liz Cho in December of 2006 when she was the co-anchor of Eyewitness News at 11pm. Her bright portrait illuminated my tranquil living room each night. Those times when she was absent, there was a noticeable void like a blank space on a museum wall. I took note of one such absence in 2007 when she was on maternity leave and triumphantly announced her return a few months later. I chronicled the disappearance of her wedding ring in 2008 and speculated there was a budding romance between Liz and her co-anchor Bill Ritter. It was an unfounded rumor; however, it forshadowed her public divorce in 2012 and her equally public romance with Good Morning America's Josh Elliott with whom she would marry in 2014.  

The consummate professional, Liz Cho's personal life rarely interfered with her professional one. The only disruption in a decade was when she left the 11pm broadcast to fill the 4pm void in programming when Oprah Winfrey retired. The change in shift was thought to be temporary at first, but it soon became permanent. The portrait of the lady that had become a fixture in my home seemed lost forever, snatched away by an earlier broadcast that mercilessly conflicted with my own schedule. Luckily, it wasn't for long. As my living room grew less tranquil with a growing family, my schedule skewed earlier and earlier until her 6pm broadcast filled the time slot before dinner. 

Liz Cho, Eyewitness News, Feb, 14, 2017

To me, it does not seem like an eternity since I first gazed upon the portrait of this particular lady. Her elegance and beauty has not only endured a decade, it has radiated in high-definition from an increasingly larger frame, leaving me as captivated today as I was back then.      

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Billy Joel Plays 33rd Show at Madison Square Garden

You can tell Billy Joel enjoys what he does for a living. From the moment he walks on stage, the room shrinks and the audience feels like they're sitting in his living room. These days, that living room happens to be Madison Square Garden.

He called his 33rd show at MSG, the "Halloween" show, and peppered his fans with the themes from Halloween, Friday the 13th, The Addams Family and Jaws along with a raucous snippet of "The Monster Mash" amidst "The River of Dreams."

While "You May Be Right" on any "Long Night" with the "Piano Man," I was thrilled when "The Downeaster Alexa" won the "toss up" over "Say Goodbye to Hollywood." Ya-ya-ya-oh! Strong Island in the house!

I brought my "Uptown Girl" to the show for our ninth wedding anniversary as she's wanted to see Billy Joel for "The Longest Time" and, well, "She's Always a Woman" to me.

We embraced our "New York State of Mind" as Billy Joel propped up a skull with Shakespearean flare before taking us on a tour of "Leningrad" and "Vienna" and then stopping for a pina colada at Trader Vic's with Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London."

"The Entertainer" has played songs throughout "My Life" from "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant" to when I was "Movin' Out," his classics are akin to Beethoven's "Joy" and "Nessun Dorma" by Giacomo Puccini.

Billy Joel opened his encore with guitar in hand reminding us that "We Didn't Start the Fire" while twirling his microphone stand like a baton before the King of Queens, Kevin James, who shouted "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me!"

We all left the show smiling and satisfied as if we had just finished our dessert on Thanksgiving. We were all in the mood for a melody and our "Piano Man" had us feeling alright.   

Billy Joel at Madison Square Gardern.

Matt Harvey: The Dark Knight of Gotham Will Rise

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
People of Gotham, have you lost your Vulcan minds? Mets fans, have you been infiltrated by front-runners who switch their allegiance as casually as they transfer from the 4-train to the 7-train? Have we collectively sunk into deep despair as we watch the villains pillage our city in the absence of its protector?

Indeed, we have.

We've seen the movie before. It was released in 2012, the very same year Matt Harvey first took the mound in Gotham Citi Field and gave the few who still believed, hope. He put the franchise on his shoulders and was invincible. He wrestled headlines and models away from the Yankees Captain and brought back a swagger reminiscent of his Hall of Fame predecessors Tom Seaver and Mike Piazza. He walked the tightrope and he did backflips on it with the snap of his cape before disappearing into the shadows to await the next arrival of would-be assassins from DC, Philly and The Bronx. If he let up just one run, the fat lady would sing in her operatic voice.

How many games have we watched where Matt Harvey was brilliant while his teammates flailed at the plate, unable to scratch out a base runner, let alone a run. As if the lack of offense wasn't enough, his teammates would crack under the pressure of a routine pop fly, a tailor-made double-play ground ball or a Little League throw from first place to home plate. Did he complain? No. He simply asked for the ball and another chance to take the hill and carry the gigantic load his teammates, his franchise and his city placed upon him.

Now, Atlas, it's time to shrug.

Matt Harvey of the New York Mets
The booing after the debacle against Washington and the swelling negativity from the Mets in their own broadcast booth has reached a fever pitch. Like the movie, the hero has become the villain and the city has turned its back on him. The chorus of boos bleeds into anarchy until the hero vanishes and begins to question himself and his ability. He retreats to the cave while the larger-than-life image thrust upon him is incinerated in the streets amidst mayhem and lawlessness. He wrestles with his own self doubt until he stares at himself in the mirror unvarnished. Then, like the Phoenix, he rises from the ashes with a fury, stronger, more powerful than ever before to save his city from itself.

Among the boos and the naysayers you'll find the You Gotta Believers. They'll be wearing a mustard splattered jersey with the top two buttons undone and the number 33 on their backs. They will gather behind their leader with the indomitable knowledge that giving him the ball when he extends his right hand is the same as Commissioner Gordon climbing to the top of police headquarters to send his signal over Gotham.

Who Is the Girl in the El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels by Karisma TV Ad?

Often times a long journey can lead you back to the beginning. Such was the case in my quest to uncover the model featured in the El Dorado Spa Resorts & Hotels by Karisma TV ad.
You know the one, she's wearing a white string bikini, leaning against a four-poster bed on a sandy beach, watching a man in blue boardshorts approach. It's a stunning ad, produced by Dorn Martell from Tinsley Advertising with original music by John Jay Martyn and Jimi Ruccolo on guitar. I uncovered all of these contributors, including the voice-over-artist, Jodi Krangle, in my search for the woman in the white bikini.

Katie Luddy for El Dorado Maroma

What prompted me to set sail on this odyssey? While the sensuous ad targeting the luxury traveler was the vehicle, the catalyst was as ancient as Helen of Troy, desire.

"I wish that was my butt," said my wife. 

"Me, too," I said. But whose butt is it?

A Google search led to countless other searches, taking apart the ad over and over again on YouTube, going through stacks of portfolios on Instagram of models featured under the #karismaexperience banner, all to no avail. The pursuit was maddening. I'd throw my hands up in disgust or pause due to waning battery power. If I was researching a cure for cancer, one might understand my being overzealous, but the owner of a perfect posterior? It was crazy.

Katie Luddy for El Dorado Maroma

I was beaten. My ego was bruised. I pressed on.

With many unsolved mysteries, one has to assemble evidence and weigh it against the known facts to draw a conclusion. Even when this occurs, the researcher is always haunted by a lingering doubt, how can I be sure?

My conclusion is that the woman in the white bikini is 27-year-old model Katie Luddy from Rochester, NY via Miami, FL. While I have written to Katie via comment on Instagram, I haven't heard back (I completely understand, there are a lot of creeps and weirdos online). And so, dear reader, I submit my evidence for you to see for yourself.

The long journey to uncover the woman in the white bikini has ended. It spanned several continents, multiple locations and many languages before leading me back to Katie Luddy, who, as it turns out, is a fellow alumnus of the University at Buffalo, where she studied architecture and design before moving to Miami to allow the world to study her own architecture and design.

Katie Luddy via Facebook from April 2014

After all of this toil and the satisfaction of a job-well-done from my wife, I could use a vacation.

If only I knew where to go.

Katie Luddy by Max Foto Sudios

Katie Luddy has the last laugh via Instagram

Twitter Should Listen to Calvin Harris

Twitter's first quarter earnings report was a debacle. It was leaked early and the miss on expectations launched a fire sale similar to a Christmas tree lot on December 26. CEO Dick Costolo dove back under his desk, hiding from the angry mobs calling for his resignation.

From Silicon Valley to Wall Street to garages and basements around the world, it seems everyone is offering advice on what Twitter should do to regain its mojo, so I'll toss my marshmallow stick on the bonfire, too: Twitter should take a page from Calvin Harris.
Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris

In full-disclosure, I had no idea who Calvin Harris was until a colleague of mine returned from Las Vegas this week with photos and wild accusations that this DJ makes "$100 million" a year for pushing buttons! I was incredulous, but a quick search on Google turned up an article from Forbes that confirms Calvin Harris' earnings were $66 million last year ... for pushing buttons!

Turns out this DJ knows all the right buttons to push and my radio dial has found his music many times without my knowing it. Calvin Harris is able to manipulate emotions through his medium of electronic dance music much the way Walter-White-type chemists have done with MDMA. He certainly has his magical fingers in many honey pots and has recently been seen with Taylor Swift leaving fans of both musicians salivating in anticipation of their break-up song while fearful of an ill-advised collaboration similar to John Mayer and Katy Perry's Who You Love.

Dick Costolo, Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stone of Twitter
So what can Twitter learn from Calvin Harris? 

It needs to reconnect on an emotional level with its users. The Twitter experience has yet to evolve to capture a sense of intimacy now that the party has grown in number, leaving its members wandering about with their hands by their sides. Calvin Harris knows what buttons to push to get those hands in the air. He adds new wrinkles and chronically innovates to build on what's familiar to his audience to lead them back to those heightened, intimate experiences that drew them in in the first place ... I feel so close to you right now, it's a force field / I wear my heart upon my sleeve like a big deal ... Twitter should listen to him.

Twitter's Periscope Is the Next Big Thing

This morning, I met a lovely couple in Dubai, played with a bunch of dogs in a park in Oregon and strolled through the gardens of Amsterdam all in the time it took to put on my slippers.

Periscope from Twitter
Earlier this week, I read the buzz on Twitter about its launch of  Periscope, so when I saw it in the App Store as an editor's pick, I grabbed it.

Within a minute, I was off and running. The features are intuitive and easy, the quality is terrific, so I decided to broadcast the lively debate my children were having over what to eat for breakfast. Within seconds, 21 people joined the debate from around the world and I took a cue from one of them to ask my kids if they wanted bacon and a near riot of enthusiasm broke out.

A few days ago, a building exploded in downtown Manhattan due to a gas leak. Passersby caught a video of it that was later disseminated via the traditional news outlets. I think Periscope will bring about a paradigm shift in breaking news as eyewitnesses will now broadcast events from the palm of their hand. The ability to interact with these broadcasts will move people from the sidelines to the stage to see impromptu performances, interfere with an injustices or simply grab an item from a nearby yard sale they otherwise would not have attended.

Periscope will allow us to become our own newsroom producer, calling up screens that capture our attention. Traditional journalists will warn that anything can happen in a live broadcast and we're no stranger to the vulgar comments people post in social, but these realities won't detract the masses from Periscope's utility.

I suspect politicians and advertisers will show up on the platform soon, so I invite you to download Periscope now and see for yourself whether or not it's the next big thing.

Liz Cho and Josh Elliott Are Engaged

Liz Cho and Josh Elliott are engaged according to Page Six and People. I guess some guys do in fact have all the luck. Weird Long Beard Press wishes them the best!

Liz Cho and Josh Elliott.

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 Barça 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!

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


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)

Twitter's IPO Conjures Shining City on the Hill

Bob Pisani and Scott Cutler at the NYSE.
This morning's initial public offering of Twitter's common stock was brilliant in that it allowed a level of transparency that was sorely missed when Facebook debuted in May 2012. CNBC reporter Bob Pisani (@BobPisani) was at the post alongside the New York Stock Exchange's Scott Cutler (@CutlerScott) to allow a level of public access to an event that has long been shrouded in mystery. "Ten million at 35," barked the designated market maker from the pit through every TV tuned in to this historic event as NYSE CEO Duncan Niederauer stood nearby Twitter CEO Dick Costolo (@dickc) so that the public was being informed alongside the investment community at the same time, which to me exemplifies what Twitter's all about.

I recall when events unfolded in Tahrir Square and later in Damascus as news organizations and citizens from around the world learned first-hand from eyewitness accounts via Twitter that this social media application had become a legitimate source for breaking news. It's ubiquitous, real-time dissemination of news quickly sparked conversations that led to actions and debates after being parsed through each individual medley of filters and follows. In my mind, it was then that Twitter became the tipping point of the information age by democratizing media and accelerating transparency faster than a bullet. From the starlet who "accidentally" uploads a nude selfie, to the frenzied rebels dragging their wounded to safety while under fire, the parameters of public access fell like the Berlin Wall leaving in its wake the question of not where, but will we ever draw the line again?

At the NYSE this morning, the public watched as Twitter's Costolo and Jack Dorsey walked among the ebullient crowd before positioning themselves on the floor below the dais of the opening bell where among the crew stood none other than Captain Jean-Luc Picard to lead this voyage into the next generation.

Cheryl Fiandaca, Vivienne Harr, Scott Cutler and Patrick Stewart ring opening bell at NYSE for Twitter.

Liz Cho and FDNY Calendar Model Mr. April

For those of you who have seen the movie Tombstone, you may remember the scene where Wyatt Earp, cornered and outnumbered, charges across the river and guns down his nemesis Curly Bill. After the gunfight, Doc Holiday is sitting by a tree when he's asked what he's doing out in the middle of nowhere when clearly he's not well, to which he replies, "Wyatt Earp's my friend."

Val Kilmer as Doc Holiday in Tombstone.
When I think of friendship, one of the ingredients I've come to know is a lack of jealousy at your friend's success, in fact, you're happy when they succeed. In some cases, you're even proud of them. These things have held true with regards to my friend Ralph, that is until the day he met Liz Cho. 

Through hard work and sacrifice, FF Ralph Ciccarelli made the coveted FDNY Calendar that benefits the FDNY Foundation and can be purchased here. The firefighters themselves end up devoting even more of their time to help raise awareness for the foundation through a well-executed public relations campaign. During one of these press junkets, FF Ciccarelli, aka Mr. April, appeared on WABC-TV in New York City with Liz Cho.

FDNY FF Ciccarelli, aka Mr. April, and ABC Anchor Liz Cho.
For anyone familiar with this blog (all three of you!), you know I've had a casual obsession with Liz Cho through the years, so when I saw the pic above, you can bet I turned as green as The Grinch. Luckily it didn't last and the jealousy I felt gave way to pride and I phoned my friend to find out more.

From his eyewitness account, Liz Cho is friendly, gracious and has a good sense of humor. I asked if she was as pretty in person as she appears on TV. Even prettier, I was told. Was she as thin as a rail like most TV personalities? She's in great shape, good definition in her shoulders and arms, she's no stranger to the gym.

And there you have it. Liz Cho is everything she appears to be and more. Of course if you thought it hard to get a glimpse of her before, I wouldn't try it now that the entire FDNY is watching her back.

Happy Birthday, RC! 

Mexican Mayor Maria Santos Gorrostieta Murdered

Across the border of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, a woman who personified these beliefs was savagely beaten and murdered. Although her death made headlines around the world, the barbarous animals responsible for this crime will likely go unpunished.

Maria Santos Gorrostieta was a mother and wife who survived previous assassination attempts, one that took her first husband, before being abducted in daylight while dropping her daughter off at school. As mayor of the small town of Tiquicheo, Mexico she stood against the illegal drug trade and poverty that ravaged her people on behalf of the "men who break their souls everyday without rest to find a piece of bread for their children."
Thirty years after Nancy Reagan pleaded with Americans to "Just Say No," the many broken souls who find solace in artificial paradises will turn a blind eye to this slaughter as if it were part of the food trade, unavoidable, and the profiteers will get back to the business of delivering the medication to numb the guilt. The idea of justice will be left to comic book heroes and the guys wearing the white hats in westerns. 
After all what can we Americans do?

Can we saddle up the horses and ride until we hang every last one of those responsible before loping off into the sunset leaving the poor man we liberated to fill the void?

Can we attack the demand side of the equation by collectively saying no? Can we end addiction after seeing how insidiously it took the life of Whitney Houston and countless others?

Perhaps the most effective way is to eliminate cartel profits by legalizing drugs with the same wariness we applied to alcohol. It is estimated that American states that have legalized marijuana have siphoned billions from criminal enterprises across our border.

The answer may be all of the above. 

In the meantime, I will pray for Maria Santos Gorrostieta and her family and when the time comes for me to stand up for what's right, I will pray that I may find her strength.

Liz Cho Dating Josh Elliott

@LizCho7: Collecting shells
on Long Island
Liz Cho seems hellbent on turning the part-time, hyper-local gossipy-gops like Weird Long Beard (WLB) into full-time hackitty-hack snoops. 
Back in June, WLB reported that Liz Cho and her husband Evan Gottlieb were still married only to be scooped three months later by Page Six with this bombshell: "Anchor Liz Cho & hubby split: dating Josh Elliott?"

Curiously, the timing of her separation seems to coincide with her new hair-do, which I for one do not like. The bone-straight approach is not nearly as luxurious as the full-body quiff she used to don and seems to lose its fizzle in the evening broadcasts.

Unfortunately, if these rumors of Liz Cho and Josh Elliott do not fizzle, it proves that she is human and at 41 years-old not immune to the mid-life crisis we ordinary folks hold so dear ... but why Josh Elliott? 

Liz's new do

I did catch Josh Elliott over the summer on Good Afternoon America, but mainly due to his co-host and WLB fav, Lara Spencer. While I concede he possesses the criteria: tall, dark, handsome and on national TV, the only memorable flashes of personality (aside from Lara) during the GAA run were at the hands of guest-in-residence D.L. Hughley. But I digress ...

Lara did a masterful job of supporting Josh as a boy-next-door with a young daughter for the mommy demographic, so it was surprising to see him suddenly catapult himself into the most enviable bachelor in the tri-state area. I suppose work's an easy place to fall in love after all.  

Eyewitness News team.

Breaking Bad in Happy Valley

The much lauded AMC series Breaking Bad is mesmerising in its expert, intricately woven story directed beautifully through the finest detail. It's precise like a thematic chemical reaction that loans an air of authenticity rarely found on TV.

Among the myriad of human entanglements portrayed in Breaking Bad is the notion that someone wicked and evil can appear right before your nose without presenting a single clue. In this its final season, there is a scene where DEA agents Hank and his partner Steven are sharing a drink with their retiring boss, George Merkert, in his office when it becomes evident that George can't forgive himself for not recognizing who the druglord Gus Fring really was. He laments having invited him into his home and among his family when the camera deftly stops on Hank's face alluding to his brother-in-law Walt, who has been perpetrating the meth explosion Hank seems powerless to stop, chasing a mythical figure named Heisenberg.

The truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. As such, it is hard not to see a correlation between this show and the massive scandal that has shaken Penn State University to its very core. Although it would appear that Joe Paterno may have known more about his coach than initially suspected, it is clear that Jerry Sandusky's child molestation remained undetected for many years.

I had a chance to catch up with my high-school classmate, Gerald Filardi, over the weekend at our reunion and I asked him if there was any notion of this scandal while he starred there from 1994 to 1996 at linebacker. He shook his head with the same disbelief that we all did when the allegations of abuse were finally brought to light. This idea that evil could be right in front of our nose while we are completely unaware is deeply disturbing.

In the wake of the recent massacre in Aurora, Colo., I again find myself searching for answers. Were there any signs? Could we as a people have prevented this tragedy? How can we detect the next human time bomb before it detonates?

I don't think there are any definitive answers, but it is clear that the human personality has many facets and often the public facade we present is all there is to go by. Sometimes it is judged fairly, other times not so much. I am reminded of the line from the brilliant film Miller's Crossing where Tom Regan says, "No one knows anybody. Not that well"

The quest for answers could lead into a greater philosophical discussion about the journey of self and the struggle we all share to determine who we are and what our life is about, which may only deepen the mystery. Maybe ignorance is bliss ... until the next bomb goes off.

It Appears Liz Cho Is Still Married

Looking at the recent queries that lead to this blog, there is still a great deal of wonder about the marital status of WABC-TV Channel 7 Eyewitness News' anchor Liz Cho. Admittedly, I have fanned the flames with a gonzo-style report that she may be in love with her co-anchor Bill Ritter, but people, that was four years ago!

Of course I still watch Liz Cho and like the rest of you I am still intrigued by this notion that she does not wear her wedding band or engagement ring on her left ring finger during the broadcast. I seem to recall her flashing a rather ornate diamond once upon a time. Maybe there is a trade secret as to why news anchors don't wear their rings, but her colleague Lee Goldberg always seems to wear his.

Intrepid blogger that I am, I took to search and found a recent article in the New York Post that not only reports that Liz Cho is still married to Evan Gottlieb, but that the two are involved in a "nasty legal battle" over renovations they had done to their Westchester mansion.

Really, Liz, couldn't you have gotten 7 On Your Side after them? I mean Nina Pineda would just get a door slammed in her face, but you know Tappy Phillips. Couldn't you lure her out of retirement for old-times' sake? She'd get to the bottom of it. And maybe she could figure out what happened to your ring, too.