Friday, June 26, 2009

The Day the Nets Traded Vince Carter - Recapping a Wild Show Biz News Day

May 16th 1990…. Shortly before Noon.

I was working in radio at the time and as I was gearing up for a Noon newscast, I looked at my script and realized I was about to do yet another exciting newscast about local nonsense that only the cows and chickens cared about in rural Sussex County. Then just a few minutes before airtime, my AP machine started beeping wildly which meant an urgent story was coming over the wires… It was then that I saw the shocking news that Jim Henson the creator of The Muppets had died! Wow, I thought…. the local police report has just been relegated to back burner status…and I get to lead with the death of a celebrity. I quickly did a little paper shuffle and prepared to go on the air with the lead story announcing the death of the voice of Kermit the Frog.

And just moments later, as I was about to stroll to the news studio to deliver my news cast….the AP machine started beeping and humming again… I figured it was just more follow up to Henson’s death, but I went back to the machine just to make sure. It was then that I saw the news that Sammy Davis Jr. had died too! Sammy's death was less of a shocker... his suffering from cancer had been well chronicled over the prior year. But with the clock ticking away and with just seconds to spare, I had to figure out how to lead off the newscast!

Ultimately, I “split the lead”… proclaiming that “2 Show Biz legends have just died… we’ll have more on Jim Henson’s death in a moment, but first we have just gotten word that former Rat Packer Sammy Davis Jr. has just died!”. The DJ was shocked to hear about Henson and Davis when I announced it, so at the end of my newscast as I recapped the top stories, she popped on her mike, and we had some newscaster-DJ “small talk” about the 2 deaths. She even opened the phone lines so listeners could call in to speak of the show biz legends. One call came in from the young psychic Pumpstradamus who noted the oddity that 2 famous people died on the same day, and proclaimed that we should watch out for June 25, 2009.

June 25, 2009… Shortly after 1pm

I worked from my home office this morning… and meandered to the office at approximately 1pm. The second I got there… my coworker John (Facebook followers will know we nicknamed our office John and Nate plus low rates) told me that he just saw on the internet that Farrah Fawcett had died.

It was not really a shocker.. she has been sick for awhile and frankly I was growing increasingly disgusted by how she had been exploited during her illness. I liked Farrah.. not a huge fan.. but liked her. She was the perfect looking woman during my early teenage years… but as she got older… not only did she age quite well… but she also turned into a dynamite actress… see The Burning Bed if you don’t believe me that she was more than just a pretty face. Granted she had her ditzy moments on Letterman, but she seemed to be a special part of those late 70s in that Suzanne Somers, Cheryl Tiegs kind of way,

But these last few months, I have grown increasingly disturbed by the media coverage of her illness. The NBC documentary was very well done.. but I was growing a little tired of the Swayze-esque coverage that always seemed to have some kind of connection to Ryan O’Neill. This week he was supposed to appear on 20/20 to announce that he would marry Farrah as long as she could mumble a yes to his proposal. Why do I find this absolutely sickening.

Hearing about Farrah’s death meant the end of that hyped ABC interview and also a moment to ponder whatever happened to Lee Majors? As I started making some business calls, I started to think about news I had read earlier in the day (I think it was in Linda Stasi’s column) that a relative of Walter Cronkite’s had confirmed that not only was the newsman seriously ill as was reported last week, but the 92 year old news legend was not expected to recover.

This raised an interesting topic of discussion during most of the afternoon. I remember that in the late 1990s when Princess Diana and Mother Teresa both died within a few days of each other. The Diana coverage was wall to wall and over the top… and once Mother Teresa’s death was announced, the media realized that they had painted themselves into a corner and there was no way they could air tons of Diana coverage without dedicating a lot of time to Mother Teresa too. Which made me wonder…

Even though I hope he lives to be 120, if Walter Cronkite were to die Thursday…. would his death bump Farrah out of the lead story? And so began the debate.. I thought for sure Cronkite was more important historically and would take the lead…. But my coworkers didn’t necessarily agree… which led to a long drawn out debate about what would have to happen news-wise for Farrah to be bumped off the lead off spot.

June 25, 2009 - Around 5’ish

I was gearing up for a typical Thursday evening of calling my mortgage clients. It had been a somewhat quiet day and as usual I was periodically getting my news fix by checking out, and grumbling that the NJ Nets had traded away Vince Carter. I must have seen a “Breaking News” flash that Michael Jackson was in cardiac arrest and really didn’t think much of it. Then I started seeing people mention it on the recently restored Facebook live feed.

It was shortly thereafter when I saw that one of my FB friends had posted word that Perez Hilton’s Twitter was announcing that Michael Jackson was dead! Huh? Nobody else had this story and why oh why would one of my FB friends even bother caring to subscribe to his twits or whatever they are called… I am so sick of Perez Hilton. His stupid irrelevant question cost Miss California her title… who cares what a beauty queen who agrees with President Obama thinks anyway…. But his pathetic cries for help when one of’s entourage beat his sorry little ass after he dared use a gay epithet towards Mr.! And now it appears Hilton didn’t make the comment to but it was actually directed to his CNN hologram…

Nonetheless, that update about the Hilton twit prompted this wishful thinking response:

Nate Kean at 6:15pm June 25
Hopefully this inaccurate irresponsible reporting by Hilton will end his absurd career once and for all.

And then moments later, I noticed after many more refresh hits on my browser that the LA Times was also reporting that Michael Jackson had died… Some facebook friends were updating his cardiac arrest.. some said coma... and a buddy who was at work at Channel 11 was confirming that the story was true. CNN held out official confirmation for about another hour... even asking a family lawyer who himself said he could not confirm it although he slipped in some eerie comments that Jackson's lack of care was reminding him of Anna Nicole Smith.

Jackson was the topic of conversation the other day. A friend of mine bought a new house and told me that a prior owner of that house was a Michael Jackson CPA! However, after a few minutes of Three’s Company-esque confusion, I realized that I had wrongly assumed that my friend had been talking about the LA talk show host!

I really don’t know what to say about Michael Jackson… I always thought of him as one of the most incredibly talented musical artists of my generation…and it seems like we know his whole family. I grew up watching the Jackson 5. And Michael's sister Janet was part of a huge controversy several years ago at the Super Bowl when she bared the same body part that Farrah winkingly teased us with in that bathing suit in that infamous mid 1970's poster. And Michael Jackson's Thriller was an incredible piece of work… and I was impressed that my friend in Clark lived so close to me in the mid 1980’s that I could drive to his house door to door to coincide with the start and end of that song. It’s an odd memory that always stuck in my head

I only saw him in person one time.. as I wrote in a previous column I worked at the 1988 Grammys and got to see the rehearsals and live performance of Michael performing my favorite of his songs… Man in the Mirror. The rehearsals were incredible… he would stop mid song and make small talk just to tweak a little detail so it would be just right. That phenomenal performance is Today’s Clip of the Week.

And yet I felt that he too had been exploited when he was a kid and was really deprived of a childhood. I don’t know if these child abuse allegations were true but it’s troubling to again see replays of the tv interviews where he says there is nothing wrong with an adult sharing a bed with a child. Yet this child in an adult’s body was just really crying for help to regain something he never seemed to have – youthful innocence. Up until recently, he stopped parading his kids around in those crazy surgical masks... now I hope their mom Debbie Rowe is able to get custody before they end up in South America with that crazy Brazilian family that stole David Goldman's poor little kid.

And oddly enough the moment we were informed that Michael Jackson’s heart had stopped beating, Ryan O’Neill’s 15 minutes of fame came to an abrupt end…. And like that day in May 1990, we once again lost 2 incredibly famous show biz legends during one crazy afternoon.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Father's Day Column about.... Mother's Day!

Happy Father’s Day to all you baby daddies out there! Once again the ol’ blog seems to have inadvertently been relegated to Back Burner Status. Work seems a tad busier lately… plus I have a lot of other stuff going on in my spare time that has decreased my computer time including a lot of walking around town, and I am also helping our synagogue recruit Torah readers for the summer! One other activity taking up my time is my fantasy baseball team which oddly this year consists of many west coast players including my 2 stoppers which means ol’ Nate has been spending many late night hours watching the last outs of otherwise insignificant Seattle Mariners and Oakland As games. Just last night I finally finished watching my season finales when I caught the Heroes episode.

Even though the critics have been ripping into it...I was actually impressed with how Heroes wrapped up its season with the "demise of Sylar"… It also further showed that the Petrelli family really is one kooky family with dead relatives being resurrected and other dead ones living on through other wacky methods! Just in case you don’t watch Heroes… Sylar is a shifter who can assume the persona of another person and grab his memories too… Matt Parkman has hypnotic powers, and Nathan Petrelli is a US Senator. Petrelli gets killed and his family decides to cover it up, so they have Parkman force Sylar to shift to Petrelli’s persona and then hypnotizes him so he thinks he really is Nathan Petrelli. Sounds like a plot from a soap opera?

Last month on Mothers Day, I made my inaugural trip to CitiField. My friend Steve K. who lives in town has a season ticket plan and arranged to sell ducats to games to several people. Trophy Wife and I picked out Mother’s Day’s game against the Pirates… plus at the time I had 3 Pirates on my fantasy team although one of ‘em has since been traded (Nate McLovin’ McLouth) and Ryan Doumit is injured.

Nonetheless, we got a terrific deal… the tickets were only 15 bucks each and Sunday morning we were on our way. We went to the Edison train station to grab the train to Penn Station, and then caught the subway to the 7 Train. In the old days, we knew that we were at Shea because you can see the stadium approaching from the above ground train… But now that Shea is gone, we had to just wait for the Willets Point stop to arrive… and watch other Met fans eagerly wait for the train doors to open so they too could take their first trip to CitiField.

However… whereas in the old days you had to shlep off the train and walk down to the park and then around half the stadium to your entrance… now all you do is walk off the subway and there it is… in all its majestic beauty… CitiField! A sparkling new, clean stadium with sinks that have not been pished in!

As soon as you walk in, you see that the park has set up a main grand entrance that includes a pavilion dedicated to Jackie Robinson. It’s a nice touch, even though Robinson never played for the Mets, but I think its important that minority ballplayers (and fans) appreciate the sacrifices that Robinson made and enabled future generations of ballplayers to get paid millions and millions of dollars. Included in that area is a giant #42…. which on my facebook contains the caption… “Here I am getting ready to watch 24 with the dyslexics club!” Yeah yeah.. I know.. I shared this stuff on facebook before my blog readers.

By the way, to go off on a tangent… is Facebook inadvertently killing off blogs? The New York Times had an interesting article about this topic recently that was emailed to me by Pumpstradamus… (with a sidenote that he predicted this…). It could be somewhat true. Back in the pre FB days, if I thought of something funny, I would just write it down and incorporate it into my blog… now I just put it in my status update..but a few days later I forget about it. At least with the blog, there is some sense of permanence to these wisecracks… For example, a FB friend put a status update recently…: “I should have listened to warnings against opening videos – I opened the American Idol Box Set, and now I’m stuck with it”.. I think that’s very clever.. but it gets forgotten pretty quick when its lost in the shuffle with other FB silliness such as quizzes and How Bitchy Are You questionnaires.

Getting back to the trip to Citi… Trophy Wife and I walked around a little bit… on this inaugural trip the game was secondary to the actual adventure of seeing the park for the very first time.. because like losing one’s virginity it is something that happens only once… and stadiums are built to last for approximately 30 years, so it will be until 2039 before I have another first trip to see the Mets play in a new home stadium.

Our seats were way up….. check out this pic to see how close I am to the top… By the way, I actually took this pic on my cellphone.

However getting there was another story. Finding a seat at Shea was like finding the beer at your house.. you know where you keep ‘em and you know where to go to get ‘em. However, like most of the other fans there, we walked around like zombies.. not knowing our way around our new ballpark. The ushers were extremely helpful to point us in the right direction… but most of these guys were in the concourse guiding all the lost souls and there were few of them at each section to show you to your exact seat as we discovered when we found someone else in our seats. Instead of tossing them out… we decided to sit elsewhere in the somewhat vacant section and after being kicked out a couple of times, we finally settled on some other seats around the 4th inning.

The stadium is designed so you can see almost the entire park except for the corner of left field right under where those seats are. This was similar to the location where I saw Tom Seaver win #300 at Yankee Stadium in 1985… I couldn’t see the last out… but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment! Likewise I was at an odd angle to the out of town scoreboard.. but nowadays with smart phones, it was very easy for me to look up any out of town scores that I wasn’t able to see. Also, the upper deck doesn’t appear to be as high up as the upper deck at Shea… you don’t talk a loooong escalator all the way up.. but actually ascend a series of shorter staircases to get to the top of the park.

I don’t remember much else about the game other than the Mets won by a pretty decent margin. The kosher food guy was right near out seats so it was convenient to grab a hot dog. I found it kind of odd that some religious guys approached me at the kosher concession during the 8th inning to ask to join for Afternoon prayers… I asked them why don’t we wait a few minutes till the game ends since those prayers can be said up until around 745 and it was only approx. 3:30 at that point.

Here are some more pics from our upper deck seats…

Steve was also at the game with his teenage son… they had box seats for the game and as the 5th inning rolled around he came up to visit us. I thought that was very nice of him… but even nicer than that… he offered to switch seats with us for an inning or two. Trophy Wife and I took a nearby elevator down to field level… the elevators are (wo)manned by leggy young women sitting on stools wearing little miniskirts that press the buttons for you. As we got down to the field level, we were quite impressed by the incredible view.. as you can see from these pics.

We thought it would be funny to stay down there the rest of the game.. nah just kidding.. we stayed for an inning and then meandered up to our seats. We sat there the rest of the game just soaking it all up…. And even though the Mets were winning, I was hoping the Pirates would tie it up so the game could go extra innings so I could spend even more time at the park on this incredibly special day. The game actually ended after the traditional 9 as the usually reliable K-Rod recorded the last out. Here is the end of the game..

After the game, we lingered at the park for a little while.. checking out a gift shop.. not the main one but one in the upper levels of the park near a nice outdoor plaza.. I’m not a big souvenir guy, but for this one day I decided to spring for a scorecard, and some other stuff like a CitiField keychain and a CitiField baseball hat along with a banner, a bumper sticker and a free All Star ballot which I forgot to vote with. We actually met a nice family from Pittsburgh outside the gift shop who were traveling with a handicapped child, so we took the elevator down to the exits with them so I don't know if they have the traditional exit down the ramps like they did at Shea with the traditional chants of "Let's Go Mets... Yankees suck!" Incidentally the elevators exit is right near the main one and it looks like the park has a lot of the accomodations necessary for people who use a wheelchair.

Overall it was a day I will never forget.. and hopefully there will be many more happy memories there.. and hopefully the sinks won’t get pished in.

By the way, I have never done a column with so many pictures... Gosh is it a pain in the neck to upload all this stuff... I don't know how the amateur porn bloggers do it.. not that I would know about those types of sites. Here is one last shot of Shea taken there during our last game there in 2008.