Friday, July 31, 2009

Where the windows clean the people

"First liar in doesn't have a chance."
That bit of advice from longtime railbird, Ernie Myers, was some of the best I've ever received. Everybody at the track has at least one story of a fantastic win they've experienced but they're very hazy on any recent loses. I think it was Ernie who also advised me to "always bet the mob horse'. (You know---the one with the Italian owner.)

Like a moron I still buy the Daily Racing Form, read a couple of tout sheets and pretend to know what I'm doing before betting a few bob on the bangtails. Is this nag stepping up in class? How much weight is he carrying? Who's aboard this afternoon? None of it matters. The horses don't read the Form, but it makes me and other habitues of the track feel like we really have a chance to win. Yeah, right.

It's Del Mar time here in San Diego. The historic meet happens every summer in this beach town and it is a dandy place to spend an afternoon waving good-bye to your money. I love it.
Yesterday, after much serious research, I managed to win exactly NO races, but did pick-up a delightful sunburn and only lost around $100. A splendid outing.
Of course, until my next fleecing, I will be pestered by repeated dreams involving the murder of a certain "just a little too fat" jockey who came in FOURTH in the feature race. FOURTH!!! I had him bet across and the bastard comes in FOURTH. Why not make it LAST? What's the difference? Oh well, I'll just double up next time.

The beauty of horse racing is this: You may lose---no, make that WILL lose money, but damnit it's our last great American pastime. These days, where else can you take the kids and still swear, smoke, drink and gamble? The answer: NOwhere!
All of that and the horses have cool names too. Remember Buckpasser? How about Barroom Hussy and Gas Passer? Ya gotta love it.

Oh...I almost forgot the absolute best part of spending an afternoon with the thoroughbreds. You get to waste money like a congressman. Well, it's not quite as much fun as that. They, after all, get to spend money they DON'T have and merely plan to STEAL FROM YOU LATER. ( Your kids and grandkids too!)

If you see this fat f%$#, ask him who he likes in the seventh.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Count this early adaptor OUT!

(AP) NEW YORK--Following in the footsteps of's Kindle, another e-book reader is set to get a wireless connection from a cellular carrier, letting it access books anywhere there's a signal. AT&T Wednesday said it will support an electronic book reading device due early next year from start-up Plastic Logic.

This, ladies and gents is where I get off! I love gadgets, but...NOPE---I won't be on board for this one. No way.

I have learned to love computers. I've always been a sucker for the newest TV toy. I had the first TIVO in my neighborhood and will always be looking for the latest in cameras. I've got an up to date cell phone, though I never answer the damn thing. But, books on an electronic device are not something I will EVER embrace.

Every day I talk to somebody who's getting a Kindle and is actually excited about it. How can that be???
How do you underline favorite quotes? How do you dog ear pages that you want to read again and again? How many books can you keep on one of these creepy devices? As far as I'm concerned, there are no good answers to any of these questions.

Books are like old friends that you can call on for good advice or comfort in difficult situations. They are right there on a shelf ready and willing to take you away to a better place on a rainy day. Or, take you to a rainy day when you can't stand another day of sunshine and good news.

Books should be between sturdy covers and on paper gathering dust created right there in your own home. You should never have to worry about how much juice is left in your battery. Just worry about running out of juice in your refrigerator as you bunker in for a good long read of a book that actually opens and closes instead of powering up.

Winston Churchill said, "Words are the only things that live forever." He would never have risked any he uttered or owned to the vagaries of electricity. His were always on the shelf---right next to the brandy and cigars.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Of Almond Roca and Tacoma

The next time you need to hustle a free drink here's one that ought to stump most of the local barflies: Where does Almond Roca candy come from?
The answer of course, for those on top of their Pacific Northwest lore, is Tacoma, Washington.

You may wonder how I, a well traveled broadcast tycoon, came to know this particular nugget of candy goodness. Well, the story begins in San Francisco sometime in the early 80's. I had just

been blown out of my morning radio show by a new program director who objected to my spending four hours a day at the radio station and six hours a day hitting the saloons in North Beach and Chinatown. (Picky SOB!) In those days the morning news guy, John Emm, and I were out the door of the station by 10:01 AM and in the bag at one of our favorite bars by 10:02. We were "The Boys" and, probably because we had a radio show, seldom had to actually buy a drink. It was heaven. But, I suppose if we had continued riding the Jack Daniels limited much longer the train would have ultimately jumped the tracks and left us as a couple of grease spots on the road bed. That prick PD probably saved my life.
After a couple of months spinning the "Howdy hits", (radio speak for the Country format), in Oakland--of all places, I wound up being rescued by my former radio partner, Rob Sherwood. Rob, who had a long career in the Minneapolis market, had spent a year teamed with me on K-101 in San Francisco and was now running a station in Tacoma, Washington. He hired me for the morning show on KTAC.

San Francisco to Tacoma...It was a hell of a bounce.

Tacoma is drizzly and gray. And, as you know by now, they make Almond Roca there.
The station was sort of a fading star. It had been one of the big top-40 stations in the Northwest for years, but because it was an AM station in an FM world, was a work in progress. Rob, and the general manager, Harold Greenberg, were both great to work for and the staff were all friendly and talented. I liked it there. Tacoma and the rain depressed me, but the job was fun. I got to work with Chuck Boland, a curmudgeonly news and sports legend in the Puget Sound area. "And that's the way the ball bounces." was, and probably still is, a tag line familiar to most denizens of the Pacific Northwest. He was a master of all that was snarky and snide. MY kind of guy!

The morning show also came with a female traffic reporter who is one of the funniest and most delightful friends I have ever had--Dayle Nelson. Her name was Parks back then and, like most of us, she has since acquired a couple of kids and moved on from the radio business.

Dayle has glasses now and will no doubt be furious with me for putting this picture in the blog. She thinks that the glasses make her look smart and serious, but don't be fooled. She is still a total wackjob. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

I lasted only a year in Tacoma. The rain was too much. When a shot at owning a station in Las Vegas came my way, we booked for the fun and sun of Sin City, but left knowing there was a lifelong friend in Tacoma.

I never know who reads this blog. I do it because a middle-aged white guy who spent nearly forty years talking crap on the radio needs a place to spew when he no longer has the keys to a station. It's this or the goon garage.

What got me thinking of Almond Roca and the laughs I had working with Dayle is this...
Her son, Andrew, is a 22 year-old sailor who is up for consideration to sail in the Audi Medicup which is being held in Portugal this August. This is a very big sailing deal and Andrew has submitted an essay which will determine who gets the coveted slots in the event. He needs votes to win AND YOU CAN VOTE!
Here's how: Go to HTTP://
Click on Andrew's essay and vote for him.
Andrew will thank you and I know Dayle will be forever in your debt. She has most likely scheduled a heavy makeout session with her current boyfriend during Andrew's absense.


Vote NOW; vote OFTEN.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The city so BIG they had to name it twice...

Every time we go to New York, which is often these days, the city surprises us with something new.

There is always a new restaurant, historical site, jazz venue or something that wasn't on our radar before. Having spent way too many years fermenting my cynicism in the broadcast racket, this is a Big Apple plus.
New stuff to see and do!
Naturally, there are old favorite activities too. Hardly a trip goes into the history books without getting together with longtime pal "Skipper" Dave for a prowl of junk shops, cigar stores and dive bars where I watch him down whiskies that no longer love me back. Ahh, but I have my memories!
In 2006 we even discovered an eatery devoted to all things peanut butter just off Washington Square. If you go, I recommend the "Elvis" peanut butter and 'nana sandwich with bacon. (Coronary by-pass optional.)

The King would have loved this joint!

This most recent trip that Linda and I took turned up a surprise on lower Fifth Avenue. As we walked North toward Chelsea, I spied the Forbes Magazine digs right next door to the New School. Near the entrance to the building there was a sign advertising the "Forbes Gallery". Hmmm. What might that be? Well, it just happens to be one of the most fascinating FREE things to do in New York. It is a massive collection of toy boats, toy soldiers, antique games, photographs and trophies collected by Malcolm Forbes. There are hundreds of elaborately sophisticated miniature boats and thousands of toy soldiers from all over the world. The photos, trophies and paintings are historically fascinating as well.

The Forbes family charges no admission for what is truly a worthy peak at a national treasure. Put it on your "to do" list for New York City.
Probably the most unique free show we saw last week was the one that happened on the rooftop opposite our hotel on Allen Street. The Thompson Hotel is a wonderful brand new facility on the city's Lower Eastside. It is our absolute favorite place to stay because, not only is it close to our kids, but it has magnificent rooms and a staff that is superb. (It is also home to Shang, one of Manhattan's most delicious new restaurants.)
Well...last Tuesday morning, after returning to our room from breakfast, Linda and I looked out our window to see a young man on the roof of a building on Orchard Street. It took a few seconds for it to register with us that the man was naked and sitting in a lawn chair.

(Typical NYC rooftop...sans naked guy.)
Another couple of seconds passed before it became clear that he was---
Uh.....ah....let's see...He do I put this? He was cranking his Evinrude. Waxing his carrot? How about, BOPPING HIS BALONEY?
(Sorry, what do you have?)
Both of us decided that this was something that may not be all that big a deal on the Lower Eastside and that maybe he would tire of it and go back inside in a few minutes. We had papers to read and some time to kill before an appointment in about an hour.
We couldn't help ourselves. Every ten minutes or so we would check to see if he was still there. He was. Only now he had moved to a standing position on the edge of the building. This went on for over AN HOUR. (This fact help me ballpark his age as definitely...under 40.)
Just before we had to head for our meeting, we saw the young man suddenly bolt for the roof of an adjoining building. It was a spectacular leap that nearly cost him some mighty important family heirlooms as he cleared an iron fence. Apparently his show had attracted the attention of enough people that a squad car containing two of "New York's finest" was now parked on the street below. Soon two fat cops were in rooftop pursuit of this new young performance artist. We don't know if they managed to shut down the show because we had an appointment, but since he failed to appear on any subsequent mornings, I'm guessing they may have nabbed their man.

Check out this neat bridge I bought. It goes all the way to Brooklyn!!

Friday, July 3, 2009


Well, we're now into week two of damn near non-stop saturation of all things Jackson. Tuesday is to be the big send-off for one of the creepiest entertainers of all time. Maybe after the festivities at L.A.'s Staples Center they will finally plant this clown and all the TV, radio and newspaper sycophants can move on to the next train wreck personality. (By the way, who pays for security and traffic control for this circus?)
I was in New York when the news of Michael Jackson's death came and the television coverage was frenetic. The local stations converged on Harlem and the Apollo Theater to interview the grieving multitudes. My favorite sound bite came from a woman who blubbered at length about "all Michael has done for humanity". Really?? Please explain. Of course the TV reporter, being equally as vapid as the person she was interviewing, saw no need for a follow up query.
Nope, as near as I can tell, this was just another case of "death by entourage". Jackson was one more, albeit skinnier, Elvis surrounded by "friends" willing to provide and tolerate any kind of substance and behavior their boss desired just as long as he kept them on the gravy train. "Whatever you need Michael." "You the man!"

Jackson's posse was so incapable of linear thought that it took almost half and hour for anyone to think of calling 911 for a guy who wasn't breathing. Geniuses! That almost, but not quite, tops Elvis catching the BIG Bus with his pants around his ankles while dropping a deuce in the throne room at Graceland.

There is something wrong with a society that shows this kind of adoration for a self mutilating, drugged out freak who likes sleeping with little boys. The guy had some talent and, thanks to the genius of Quincy Jones, produced some very successful hit records, but--come on. There are lots of talented entertainers who don't sport his kind of baggage. (Some of them actually have children made from their very own genes; not purchased from a surrogate.)
It wasn't that long ago that this country shed real tears and expressed great admiration for humanitarians like Dr. Tom Dooley who was his own personal Peace Corp before President Kennedy created the real thing. (If you're too young to know who Dr. Dooley was, Google him.) He was an American who defined what this country is all about.

Dr. Tom Dooley with a couple of boys whose lives he saved. He wasn't interested in grooming them for a "sleepover at Neverland."
I don't know about you, but after Tuesday I want to hear some cop say: "Show's over folks...time to move along."