Hang on, we’re going back to the 1980s! I’m talking Bhagwan, Aaron & Hattie, Waterbeds, Tanning Booths and more. What a collection!
The idea of a head tax has never been a good idea.
So, the Seattle City Council did it. They passed the highest-ever “head tax” in the country this week, hitting Amazon and other large businesses in the city for $275 per employee per year to supposedly help in solving the homeless problem in Seattle. And it is a problem, along with drug addiction and mental illness. That’s actually three separate issues being bundled under the name, “homelessness.”
This council’s solution to anything has always been “spend more money.” Not “solve the problem”, just spend more money. Remember, the city of Seattle spent $54-million on homelessness services last year alone. Since cutting spending isn’t in their vocabulary, that has to mean the $50-million generated by the Head Tax will go on top of last year’s spending and so over the next year, $104-million will go towards the efforts.
With the majority of the population against the tax, the Council ignored that fact and went ahead with it because they think they know better. I’m then going to assume that this will improve our situation. Notice I didn’t say “solve the problem”, just improve it. Therefore, if you double your spending and the problem gets worse, you have failed and you should return all of that tax money to the businesses.
Better yet, this is a wake-up call to the voters in Seattle to take these City Council elections a little more seriously. Instead of voting in ideologues who match your shade of blue, we need people in office who know how to run a city. Small business owners and community servants, not politicians and tax addicts. There is no place for tents on the streets and freeway off-ramps, needles on playgrounds and people shooting up and defecating in public. That’s not civilization.
Low-cost housing is a lofty goal. But if we’re spending millions of tax dollars to create people where mentally-ill, drug addicted people can just continue their lifestyle out of our public view, who is that really helping? It inspired one more analogy. The city of Seattle is a beautiful car everyone wants. But when you start it up, it puffs smoke and leaks oil. This City Council’s solution is to get it a new paint job and a couple of shiny coats of wax and that’s supposed to solve the problem. “Isn’t that beautiful? We feel so much better about ourselves.” Yet, it does nothing to remedy what’s really wrong.
I can’t be the only one who would like to take this back to square one. Let’s identify all the money set aside for the battle against homelessness and do a hard sort of what actually works and what doesn’t.
My previous blog tossed out some numbers on Seattle’s current misguided efforts. This Amazon ad gives a strong reason why we need different people in charge.
Seattle has the opportunity to become a better and even greater city. But that requires great leadership. This is where you come in.
You’ve probably heard about what our Seattle City Council is considering–a Head Tax on companies like Amazon.
It’s not surprising from this council that five of the members brought this idea to the table. This group of elected officials (so, see, the blame actually comes back at us) LOVES to raise taxes. I’d say they’d like to spend like a certain group of people, but the Drunken Sailors Local 1460 have threatened me with a lawsuit. I think that’s what they said. Or, it could have been warm soup.
This city council’s solution to everything is to slap a tax on it. Their claim is that, if they nick Amazon with a tax on every worker, that’ll give them $75-million to spend on the severe homeless problem in Seattle. I have so many thoughts exploding in my head that, for therapeutic reasons, I’m going to just rattle them off here:
More Money Spent By Government Does NOT Solve the Homeless Program–Do you think we forgot a mere two years ago, when you said that Seattle needed to double it’s $75-million commitment for battling homelessness to $150-million and we went along with it? I didn’t. Last year alone, Seattle spent $53-million on trying to solve the homeless issue. You’d think that should make a serious hit. In the past two years, our homeless count has gone up 40%, from an estimated 3,000 to 5,000. (and you can find bigger numbers if you want) Over the past decade, the city has spent over $200-million on the homeless issue as it gets progressively (ironic, huh?) worse.
Cutting off Their Nose–Spiting one’s face can come back to bite you. It’s an old cliché. So nailing Amazon for a Head Tax may give our city council another $75-million to flush down the drain, but at what cost? I remember a few years ago when people were complaining about how Boeing was getting too many tax credits. That they should be paying more of their “fair share.” I forget what year that was. I’ll have to go down to their company headquarters IN CHICAGO and ask. Oh, and speaking of the Windy City, there’s a town that tried a Head Tax. It turned out to be a job killer and that was a lesson learned seven years ago. So, City Council, if you’re going to nick Amazon for $75-million, that will affect their future decisions about placing employees here. Just this past week, they announced thousands of new jobs up in Vancouver and out in Boston. If they permanently scrap building that high-rise in Seattle and locating jobs here, estimates are that it could cost our economy something like $3.5-billion. Brilliant!
Misguided Politicians–There’s nothing more irritating when a politician uses the “us versus them” approach. Identify an entity as wealthy and say, “They can afford it” and all of a sudden, you’re doing “the people’s work” by trying to take their wealth away for your purposes. (While not mentioning the six figures you pull in or the thousands of dollars being aimed your way by political interests) When you vilify someone or something as responsible for your problems, things happen like the French Revolution. The people were rallied by blaming their problems on the rich. That was when the Head Tax first appeared, but in a much different form.
An Addiction Problem–I thought of this while I was formulating my thoughts for this blog but then, while listening to Ron & Don on KIRO yesterday, Ron used the “addiction” analogy. The city council is addicted to spending your money. They are out of control and say that if you give them even more money, they can solve the homeless issue. The problem is that the people we’re talking about don’t want to be helped and are perfectly happy staying in their situation. So are the homeless drug addicts.
The Shoplifting Analogy–Shoplifting exists. You and I know it. The store owner knows it. For the store owner to protect his business interests, he needs to keep an accurate inventory, figure out how much is being shoplifted and then increase his prices to cover that loss. In other words, when a few steal, the rest of us pay for it. The store owner doesn’t.
If the Seattle City Council wants to bully Amazon into paying a Head Tax because they need to “do their share”, they can shoplift that tax money, but most likely, Amazon will just adjust the cost somewhere else to cover it. The charity that would have benefitted from Amazon will now lose their money to the money addicts down at city hall.
Amazon is doing things to help but doing it and then moving on and getting back to business. Remember their gesture a year ago today regarding Mary’s Place? That was a commitment for perpetuity. Oh, and then there was their donation of space for five Farestart restaurants in the Troy Block development.
It would only make sense that if the city council is going to bully Amazon for their $75-million worth of lunch money that gestures like those will go away.
Look: There’s the Money!–KIRO’s mid-day mouth, Dori Monson, pointed out that during Ed Murray’s reign as Mayor of Seattle, he added 1300 jobs to the Seattle payroll, most of those (with benefits) clocking in at the $100K range. That’s $130-million of employees that could be eliminated and then use that money to help solve the problem. OK, half of ’em. That gets you $65-million to fiddle around with.
Selective Law Enforcement–As I’ve blogged about before, what’s very frustrating to me is that we have laws that prevent the camps and squalor that have spread all over the city. Growing up, my family loved camping. However, I never remember dad saying, “Hey gang, let’s pitch a tent over on that sidewalk or underneath that freeway overpass!” Besides having no place to fish, we knew that there were vagrancy laws as well as the old classics like trespassing, and loitering, as well as possession of a controlled substance, public intoxication and disorderly conduct. All laws still on the books, but these days, if you are “homeless”, you’ve become a protected species and if we let you get away with violating those laws, we’re showing compassion.
The Term “Homeless”–Look, if we’re going to spend millions of dollars, a couple of things. A) Anything we do needs to have tangible results. B) Let’s start with the homeless who have found themselves in an unfortunate situation and want to get out. The guy who’s life went south and spiraled out of control, the single mom getting her kids out of a domestic situation and has no place to go. People who are just down and out and need a helping hand.
Now, the drug addicts and mentally ill who resist assistance and have chosen the streets as a “lifestyle”–that doesn’t work. As much as the U.S. Constitution protects their right to live on the streets, I also have the right to not have my car broken into or property from my carport stolen in the middle of the night to help fuel a drug habit. Some people cringe when you talk about forcing them to get help, but apparently that’s OK if your drug of choice is alcohol, but not meth or heroin. (see Selective Law Enforcement) If we’re truly concerned about healing these people and giving them a shot at a long and healthy lifestyle, they may need intervention. It’s the kind of thing families do for one of their own.
There was a time when people who chose to live on the streets were called hobo’s, vagabonds, or drifters. I don’t remember Red Skelton’s character “Freddy the Freeloader” having a heroin addiction and leaving a trail of needles behind him. As I see it, there are three camps: the truly homeless, the drug addicts and the mentally ill. Each should receive treatment and our help, but all in completely different ways.
Put Up or Shut Up!–Here’s a concept, o’ Wise Ones down at City Hall. Go ahead with the Head Tax, get that much needed $75-million and then, in two years time, if the number of homeless and drug addicts living on the streets increases, we’ll consider it a bust and you’ll have to refund every penny of it to Amazon. That’s called accountability. Look it up.
A Quick Reminder!--All that tax money we’re talking about is actually YOUR money. They take it from us and then are supposed to spend it wisely to run our city. That part of the equation has apparently been thrown away.
To Summarize My Approach–Cut loose all those new city employees we’ve hired over the past four years and add that money to the homeless pool. Now, with those millions of dollars standing by, start from scratch. Every program currently in place is given a thorough review. Every six months we ask, “Are there tangible results? Did we save or help at least one person and help them get out of being homeless?” What we desperately need are results. We’ve got the money already for what is needed. We live in a place with plenty of brain power. Those need to come together.
This week, I take you to Grand Opening weekend for the brand-new Nordic Museum in Seattle (Ballard), chatting with three of the key folks–Marianne Forsblad, along with the museum’s Jan Colbrese and Eric Nelson.
Might as well toss in this article about the museum from AAA
For a few moments, let’s escape the craziness of our world and come along with me on the adventure of a guy I know with an absolutely fascinating life.
I like to fill up my blogs and podcasts with topics I feel you’d probably like to hear about. Maybe a fact you didn’t know or introducing you to a cool person that I’ve had the good fortune of meeting.
The Donnie Dacus story (pronounce that DAY-cuss) will, one day, be a must-read book. I know that because he’s been working on one. The quick beginning and end of Donnie’s story is that he was born in Texas and learned how to play a guitar something fierce and then, fast-forwarding to today, he’s married to my wife’s cousin and lives in Florida.
Now for the fun part–filling in the middle.
Knowing that his life’s story in book form is eventually going to come your way, I’ll lightly touch on just some of the key points I’ve become privileged to hear over the years. When I first found out who he was, I immediately headed to Wikipedia. There, you’ll see he picked up a guitar and was teaching music and in a band by age 14. In the years to come, he would be one of the main characters in the movie version of “Hair”, take over lead guitar duties for Chicago in the aftermath of Terry Kath’s death, play with Badfinger and write songs with some legendary musicians. One of those musicians stiffed him and actually used some of his songs without compensating him. Like I said, I’ve been privy to some awesome stories that will find their way to that book, but the best one has to be when a major rock group called to ask him to join their band (a group you’ve heard of and which is still out there performing) but a meddlesome manager intercepted the phone call and told the band that he wasn’t interested.
He would only hear about it years later.
Every couple of years, we get together with Donnie and his wife, to get caught up, do a little hanging out, go to dinner, drink fine wine, talk about family. On occasion, he’ll even get out his guitar and play a song or two he’s been working on.
After a lot of success in his early years, Donnie was pushed to the outside of the music biz. He was unceremoniously kicked out of Chicago and that created a sore point that lasted decades. But, as is true with everyone, as musicians get older, they remember the good old days and the people with whom they shared the journey. A couple of years ago, Peter Cetera invited Donnie to come and join him on stage one night. The gigs started coming back as did the love of getting up on stage and showing an appreciative crowd what he’s got. Then, Danny Seraphine, former Chicago drummer, along with former bandmate Bill Champlin invited Donnie to join them on a brief tour of Japan as part of California Transit Authority.
Donnie just returned home this past Monday and while we haven’t chatted with him about it yet, we did get this video from one of their performances.
The quality’s not great and there will be no cinematography awards for this one, but what you’re seeing is a man doing exactly what he loves to do. It would have been so easy for him to say, “No, those days are over.” But they’re not and if had any doubts going in, they’re gone now. With a bunch of sold-out shows behind him, Mr. Dacus is back and he’s here to make music.
Congrats, Donnie. It’s great to see you return to living the dream. Your dream.
But eventually, could you get around to finishing that book?
P.S. Just found this review on their recent concert tour
If you know me, it’s no secret that fall is my favorite season. Football, playoff baseball, fall colors, Octoberfest, tailgate parties, all kicked off by the month of SepTIMber, as I call it. My birthday month.
I guess I would have to say that spring is my second favorite season. Or, at least, it used to be. The hope that accompanies a new baseball season (at least for a month or two), the Sounders start playing again, the cherry blossoms at the UW, the daffodils and tulips putting on a show. Oh, sure, there’s pollen and every discomfort that comes with allergy season, and maybe a little more rain that we’d like, but that’s what keeps it so green around here, right?
But as you know, these days, the weather is getting a little squirrelly. I’d love to complain about the amount of rain we’ve gotten (and we are on track to tie or break the April rain record) but I have family and friends back in the midwest, and they’re re-living winter! Check out this picture my cousin posted from her home in Minnesota.
I’m assuming there are no kids at the bottom of that sign.
As the old joke goes, “Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” That’s right, because you can’t. Except roll with it and maybe have a few laughs along the way. I read online that some people back in the Midwest have come up with the name, “Sprinter”, combining spring with winter. Others say the calendar is wrong–that it’s really January 105th!
And then there’s the new slogan, “April showers bring snow plowers!”
Piling on, I created this shining example of rolling with the season.
So, it’s snowing a little later than a typical spring. Or, in our case out west, every day is a great day to put on the leash and take the goldfish for a walk. Stand back and realize that, at least for this brief, shining complaining moment, we’re not talking about politics or guns or porn stars or nuclear attacks.
We have a shared commonality and something we can all agree on, no matter what our outlook on the world–this spring sucks!
Ain’t it wonderful?
Happy spring, everyone!
I took part in an annual passage today. Well, part one of that passage, anyway.
I purchased a fishing license.
The end of April includes a special Saturday when I find myself up at Lake McMurray, just east of Mount Vernon. We usually get there Friday night, eventually go to bed and then I get up at the legendary “butt crack of dawn” to launch a boat and go out on the “Opening Day of Fishing Season” along with all the other die-hards, including father-in-law, Ernie.
Some people don’t get fishing. Others can’t get enough. I guess I was raised in a fishing family.
One of my earliest fishing memories was when I was about five-years-old and I went away for the weekend with my Uncle Chuck, Aunt Colleen and cousin Charlie. It was my first-ever time out on a boat and while I don’t remember catching any fish, I had fun. My uncle and cousin got a big kick out of watching me eat salmon eggs. I can’t explain why I did it, I just know that it happened because he told that story for years.
A few years later, I was in South Dakota visiting relatives when my late uncle James and my dad took me out on a boat and we fished the Missouri River outside of Mobridge. They gave me one of those kiddie rods designed to keep a kid quiet and make him feel like he’s fishing. I ended up hooking and landing the biggest Northern Pike of the day. I remember asking for help and my uncle saying something like, “He’s gotta learn how to do it himself.” That’s pretty much when my personal addiction was confirmed.
Remember, I said I came from a fishing family. When we went back to South Dakotas for vacation, a Sunday afternoon thing to do was pack a picnic lunch and “head to a fishing hole.” While growing up, when we went camping (which we did most summers), family fishing was part of the adventure. I’d have to say that I had some luck passing along the curse, er, uh, tradition, to my kids. Both Christina and Tyson have fished over the years. Christina, her husband Ryan and the kids have been on fishing/camping trips. Tyson and yours truly actually slipped up to Alaska and Canada for some salmon-fishing trips and had a blast.
Yeah, I know that’s a halibut.
So, Saturday, April 28th, I will begin my day with father-in-law Ernie launching a boat on to Lake McMurray. Could be beautiful, could be a downpour. We’ll fish for a couple of hours, hoping to hook at least a couple of fish and then come back for the Fishermen’s Breakfast they put on at Norway Park. I think Ernie looks forward to the breakfast almost as much as the fishing.
Oh, and the fish we’ll catch? How big do you think they’ll be? Add on a couple of inches each time you tell the story and you could be a fisherman, too. Or fisherwoman. Or fisherperson. Whatever.
And the tradition continues….
Some rare nuggets in this one. You’ll hear a bit we did on the air for my son’s 18th birthday, back in the MH&A days, a Gardening with Frisco bit with Bill Swartz and Dan Murphy, and a couple of jingle collections. One from KING radio back in the 1970s….and the other, as MIX 92-5 got ready to fade away into history. Some really weird stuff that I thought I would share. Thanks for listening!
I’ve got this quirky little April Fool’s tradition going. Each year, on April 1st, I release a video that honors the holiday, “National Gullible Day.” It’s my probably-too-subtle attempt at an April Fool’s joke that I had planned to do just one year. But I had so much fun, I did it again last year and then, I couldn’t resist doing another for 2018.
It’s not just a quick hit. In fact, the 2018 edition of National Gullible Day clocks in at 13-minutes. If I were to ballpark the hours it took to put together, with video taping, gathering resources, editing, having things go wrong, etc. I easily put 40 hours into the project. And while there were some frustrating moments, its an awesome exercise and lets me prove to myself that I can do it.
I thought I would share a little of the behind-the-scenes of what went into this year’s video.
MY SEGMENTS–All of my contributions were shot downstairs in my office, using a green screen and being a one-man production company. What you saw were actually shot in the THIRD retake. The first time, I recorded all the lines, but then some things changed. People who were supposed to be in it bailed out. Extra guests and ideas were thought up after the first shooting. So, I did a second round of takes. (yes, that means setting everything back up that I had put away because I thought I was done) But this time, the clip-on lavalier microphone had some technical issues, popping, clicks and such. So, I had to shoot some of my scenes a THIRD time. To add more challenges, as I was putting things together, changes took place where I needed to re-do the audio, but I figured a way around that, where I recorded new audio while being off-camera.
THE GUY IN THE WEATHER SCREEN–That’s my former supervisor, Chris Settle. Chris is that go-to guy you can always count on. When you ask, “Can you scratch your butt and pick your nose on camera for me?” and without missing a beat, he asks, “What time?”, that’s a go-to guy. That was actually shot on the roof of the building where I used to work at Destination Marketing.
THE HOROSCOPES–I hope you took the time to read them. I had a blast writing them. That was the result of last year’s weather guy being unable to play again this year. Apparently, some of the other news people at his station demonstrated bad judgement in some of their outside projects, so Brian was unable to join us this year. As I watch our own local TV news deteriorating, I thought I’d take a gentle poke at the industry.
DORI MONSON–I admit, I’m a fan. I actually got Dori to join me in announcing the 17th of May Parade in Ballard a couple of years back. One of my proudest appearances on his radio show was when he put me on the air with seconds to go one day and I blurted out the line, “You know, if God didn’t want us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them out of meat.” Dori actually was going to help out in last year’s Gullible video, but his schedule just got too busy. So, I approached him earlier this year and he was all for it. But, as you would expect, he’s got so much going on in his day that this didn’t happen the first week. Finally, 5 days before show time, I reminded him and he stepped up to the plate, knocking it out of the park.
THE WALL GUY–Joe Doyle was the crazy guy on camera. That was quintessential Joe. He’s actually a Bothell kid who went to school with my daughter, went down to Hollywood for a while but missed the Northwest. He does stand-up comedy around the area and even had a guest spot on the TV series, Z-Nation. Now, for the background story on the wall between Bothell and Kenmore. That was an idea I proposed to the Bothell Chamber, to help promote the fact that Kenmore is being brought in and it will soon be known as the Bothell Kenmore Chamber of Commerce. My suggested plan was that, on April Fools Day, we’d put out a press release with a video, as if there was really a wall going up between Bothell and Kenmore with a website name. Then, when you visited the website, you found out it was an April Fools gag and the announcement that the two cities were now co-Chamber members. However, there were some people in higher places that felt saying that a wall was being built between the two cities might be taken seriously and it could scare people. As you witnessed, it is the most terrifying piece in the entire production.
THE SEATTLE GULLIBILITY CONFERENCE–That was shot at the Leif Erikson Lodge in Ballard during their recent Heritage Day celebration. I had several folks reluctantly try some lines for me, but they ended up on the cutting room floor. May I also add, the Thank You bouquet they sent over is beautiful. Great job Howie on putting your presidential demeanor to good use.
GARDENING WITH GRETA–Brian, our banned weatherman, was kind enough to coerce his talented and lovely wife to do the gardening bit and the two of them shot that in their kitchen. What a team!
THE DEAD END BIT–Kudos to father/daughter team, Mike Rue and Brittany Wells, for nailing the idea I had of a clown behind a reporter. That took two attempts as it was pouring the first time we planned to shoot. Again, another go-guy, Dale Amundsen, was asked if wouldn’t mind filing his fingernails for me on camera and his response: “How short do you want them?”
THE CLOSING SONG FOR THE CREDITS–This is the miracle piece. I had reached out to a local singer and asked if she would do a silly National Gullible Day song for me. She agreed and was so excited, but said she was working a lot of hours at her regular job and asked if could we do it on Friday. Yes, two days before broadcast. Friday rolled around, I hadn’t heard from her, so I shot her a note on Facebook and she let me know that the day she was supposed to be off, she had to work and she was sorry. Couldn’t do it. So, there I was, with no song and everything else in place. I remember singing along in the car with a Neil Young song and while I’m no Neil Young, I could sound NY-esque. So, I created an album cover for a NEAL Young, found a music bed that I could sing Happy National Gullible Day over and, in the second take, I hit the golden “well, that’s good enough!” But a Neil Young sound-alike should have a harmonica bridge somewhere in the song. I had a gap that was perfect for that, but didn’t have a harmonica. Honest to God, I went to YouTube, searched for ‘playing a harmonica’ and there was a guy playing a harmonica, just basically demonstrating how it worked. I took that, laid it over the top of the music bed and it sounded like it was meant to be that way. That was a goose bump moment.
AND A FINAL MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT–I thought of this as I was wrapping things up. Rather than just the song ending, how about one more little goof before wrapping it up. I asked Fred Bugg from my radio-days-gone-by if he’d lend me a Trump voice and it was back several hours later.
THE FINAL STEP–That happened Saturday night, when I uploaded it to my YouTube Channel, send the link to all the participants to provide to their attorneys, updated the website (www.nationalgullibleday.org), posted it on social media and then, it’s stand back and see what happens. Two days later, its at 134 views, so I am pleased. No more than half of those are me.
If you get inspired and would like to join the party, let me know. Glad to drag you into next year’s edition of National Gullible Day.
Thanks for the read and for watching!
PS–In case you haven’t seen it:
Got quite a collection going in this one. You’ll hear some voices from the past, including Wendy Mann, the track announcer from Longacres, and Bill Swarts bringing us his Ron Fairly to help kick off the baseball season, as well as more Murdock & Hunter shouts than one person should ever have to hear. Enjoy!
Life is going really well right now for me. It’s actually been doing that for a while.
I’m not gloating, just stating the fact. I’m grateful to be doing what I love to do, all while enjoying decent health. Now, don’t confuse “going well” with perfect. Oh, please. There are lots of things going on around me that could be used to spiral down and feel like the world is against me. It’s easy to wake up every morning, dreading what could possibly go wrong next. There’s a White House joke in there somewhere.
I’ve got some very good friends and family members that lately, have been dealing with some pretty ugly blows. Health, marriage, their lives. Things that can happen in life, real stuff, but also things you have to deal with and move on the best you can. And that’s never, ever easy.
A phrase I’ve learned to love is, “But, by the grace of God, go I.” We’re all human and share this experience called life. If you’ve ever seen a slasher pic or watched “Survivor”, all you have to do is think that bad things could never happen to you and the next thing you know, it’s your turn.
I appreciate you making it this far through these ramblings, but hang for just a bit longer. Think of all the good in your life. What’s gone right, those things you possess that are beyond what you ever expected. If it helps to write it down, make a list. It will amaze you. And when you think of all that you have, the “what I don’t have” list pales in comparison. And how did you come to put those on your ‘what I don’t have’ list? Most of our wants, aren’t really needs. Through marketing, society and friends, you’ve been trained to want those things and do whatever it takes to get them.
The trick about wanting things and getting things–it’s an endless journey. As soon as you get something, you want something else.
Some day, yeah, I’d like to own my own boat again. If it works out, great, if not, I’ll be just fine. I’ve just got to remember the many life lessons I’ve had along the way. The reminders, like being in a job I couldn’t stand, being let go from one I loved, losing a father, saying goodbye to longtime friends. Those things, as sad and potentially traumatic as they could be are continuing reminders to remember what’s important. To appreciate today, this day. To wake up in your own home with the person you love, the smell of coffee, all the potential of a brand-new day, and facing a list of projects that are exactly the kinds of things I love to do.
Maybe life is going well because I no longer need those reminders to appreciate what I’ve got. Oh, see, there you go, this is where the tribe meets behind your back and votes you out at the next council.
But before they vote, they have to ask themselves–does Tim have a hidden immunity idol? It could be another thing I’m being thankful for. Just sayin’…
Are you living an appreciative life? If not, how many reminders will you need?
Taking you behind the scenes this week. During my KOMO radio days, my producer role often had me running the boards for recording sessions. I saved a couple of those sessions so you’ll hear some raw tape along with a finished product or two. Starting with Bob Rondeau and Larry Nelson talking about the Final Four in Seattle….and then, Stan Boreson and Larry record some Ballard Seafoodfest promo’s. Enjoy!
I have lots of guesses. Drank or ate green stuff on Saturday for St. Patrick’s Day? Slipped over to the University of Washington where the cherry blossoms are putting on their annual show?
Weekends come and weekends go. Some are a celebration of surviving the work week. Others are savored and drawn out as long as possible until the inevitable Monday morning rolls around again.
This past weekend, something very special happened down in Los Angeles. It was the fulfillment of a promise that a dad made last year. He and his daughter had decided they were going run their first-ever marathon when the L.A. Marathon rolled around in 2018. The dad was a high school classmate who I’ve blogged about before, Mike Duarte. All the background details are right here.
With reading that, you know that his daughter was one of the 58 people shot dead in Las Vegas last fall by a crazed gunman. Christiana Duarte was celebrating her new job with the L.A. Kings hockey club and taking in a country music concert with thousands of other people. She and her dad were supposed to begin training for the marathon when they returned.
Mike had made a promise and so on Sunday, after months of training, he ran the L.A. Marathon in Christiana’s memory. Her loss made no sense. Her promising future, extinguished. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and grief Michael and his family went through and endure to some degree every day.
There were 24,000 people running on Sunday from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica, including one broken-hearted dad, running for the memory of his daughter and keeping that promise he made to her.
I thought you should know.
God’s peace, Duarte family.
Doing the St. Patrick’s Day episode, with everything Irish I could come up with from the archives. Scott Burns, Eric McKaig, Dan McGuire, Robert Geller–wait for it–from Emerald Downs and, of course, actual sound of St. Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland with a little help from radio brother Matt Riedy. Enjoy!
OK, each week there comes a time when I’m staring at my keyboard, deciding what topic I’m going to tackle in this week’s blog. I can get political (but fight it off as much as humanly possible) or observational or practical. I’m choosing option C.
And it comes from recent experience. You see, a couple of weeks ago, my computer began making a beeping noise. At first, when it was booting up and eventually, on random occasions. I went online and looked at Yelp reviews about where I could take it for an exam. I don’t know if you saw the story about Best Buy’s Geek Squad, but apparently, some of the computers they were given made their way to the F.B.I.. Not that I have any great secrets I’m hiding, but I decided to look for a local tech geek.
It turns out I had a failing hard drive. Living a rather precise life without room for things like failing hard drives, I asked a local computer repair shop to replace the drive. Now, that gives me a new, faster drive. But what about all the programs that were installed? Well, first, I had to ask my backup company (backblaze.com) to send me a hard drive with all my important files on it. Then, I had to reinstall all the programs. Basically, I lost a week, but still managed to get everything out I do in a “normal” week thanks to having the backup service and having a dependable laptop to rely on.
The point of this week’s ramblings is this–you need a backup plan. Hard drives fail and usually at the most inopportune time. An unsolicited plug for BackBlaze–there are others and I just chose this one, but it constantly backs up where your computer is, 24-hours-a-day, online. Should it crash on a Tuesday, you can order a hard drive backup copy of your C-drive the day before it crashed and get everything back. Photos, files, projects, they’re all there.
Now the reason I felt strongly compelled to touch on this subject this week is because I had a recent hard drive fail. That’s when you need a backup system and your turn is coming. I mentioned BackBlaze, but here’s the deal (as my brother-in-law Kris likes to say): If you have Comcast Cable or most of the other major companies, they offer a free Virus protection. Log on to your Internet provider account, go to support and search for Norton.
In the case of Comcast, they GIVE you the $160 package of virus protection AND backup. So, you’re just a download away from having everything you have on your computer backed up, for free.
Seriously, reach out to me if you have questions, because just knowing that all those photos, documents and files are backed up “just in case” is incredible peace of mind.
You’re welcome. Now get back out there!
I was talking with an avid Seattle Mariners fan the other day about the team re-signing Ichiro. I was excited about it, because he brought a lot to the Mariners during his first term and, even though he now clocks in at 44-years-old, he could still bring a lot into the clubhouse if not on the field.
The friend downplayed the impact and expressed a bigger concern about all the injuries the team’s had since they started spring training. I was acknowledging the early season bad luck when he then blurted out an explanation, a possible theory behind those injuries.
The Mariners’ hats.Over the years, baseball has proudly become one of the most superstitious of all the sports. When a pitcher walks to the dugout after an inning, he steps OVER the chalk baseline, never on it. When a batter backs out of the box between pitches and does his ritualistic batting glove adjustment, it’s to better his odds of getting a hit. Fans are equally superstitious, turning their hats around in the 9th inning to convert them into “rally caps”, as if what they’re wearing will cast some positive mojo upon their team.
Oh, and there have been some great team superstitions that turned into traditions. Of course, the most famous was the “Curse of the Bambino”. The Boston Red Sox had a player named Babe Ruth, who was not only a great pitcher, but also had quite the bat. For some reason, they traded Babe to the Yankees in the 1919-20 off-season. Die-hard Red Sox fans know that the curse was credited for keeping the team out of the World Series for 86 long years.
When tavern owner William Sianis took his goat to Wrigley Field back in 1945 to promote his Billy Goat Tavern, he was kicked out. So he placed a curse on the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs didn’t make it to the World Series for 71 years. Apparently, that’s all a goat curse will get you.
Now, back to the Mariners. I’m sure not going take credit for this theory. In fact, here’s a nice article on the subject. But the bottom line is that the Trident that appears on their hats is apparently bad luck. Oh, sure, the head of Neptune’s spear usually means good luck. But, to make it look like an ‘M’ for Mariners, they turned it upside down. You know what they say about horseshoes and if you turn them pointing down, the luck will run out? Same thing. With the Trident pointing down, all of the Mariners good luck has just run out.
Amusing theory. It would be absurd to think that it could actually be the cause of all their injuries. Then again, the team has never made it to the playoffs in years that the down-pointing Trident appeared anywhere on their uniforms.
Maybe just to amuse those superstitious people, we should get rid of the Trident for a season or two. Like now. Is it gone yet?
In the immortal words of one of the greatest philosophers of our time, Bud Light, “It’s only superstitious if it doesn’t work.”
Welcome to the perfect 25th anniversary.
It was a celebration that was supposed to take place in the future, but I felt the odds were against it. It was the Murdock, Hunter & Alice 25th Anniversary Show! Here we were, 13 years into this radio experiment, around 18 months away from imploding and going our separate ways. Maybe I sensed something, but I thought it would be funny for us to put on our 25th Anniversary show now, rather than wait. I mean, why take chances.
This week’s Wacky Week Podcast is probably my best and most entertaining one I’ve cranked out yet. Truthfully, I was looking for something easy to keep me on schedule. Earlier this week, my computer blew up. It took precious days–days that I normally would be putting together a podcast–and I’ve spent the last day re-installing all my programs.
I stumbled across this CD and man, this is quintessential Murdock, Hunter & Alice. You’ll hear voices no longer with us like Alice and news guy Jim Kampmann. Paul Tosch and his brief stint with us before heading over to KOMO as their “Eye in the Sky.” There’s Alice, the beer-drinkin’, chain smoking psychic, Mike Evans, Susan the Astrologer, and my good friend Ken Carson, who was the emcee for the morning.
This is a beefy one, so listen to it as you have time. Great stuff and a wonderful collection of just how much could be had on the radio.
Thanks for listening, then and now.
I’d like to introduce you to one of the acquaintances I’ve made over the years. A fellow by the name of Bill Wright.
Bill has been employed over the years by various companies and that’s about all I know. It’s apparently the kind of stuff that, if he tells you, he has to kill you. So, I didn’t ask.
I’ve known Bill as a determined producer. A guy with ideas who passionately does all he can to make those ideas become reality.
I don’t exactly remember how met all those years ago, except that I was a hired voice for some projects he produced. Bill has always been a major fan of the Wizard of Oz books. Yes, that was meant to be plural. 13 of them were written by the original author, L. Frank Baum. A total of 43 official books have been written by various authors over the years.
Back in the 1990s, Bill decided he wanted to turn a couple of those adventures into audio books. He brought in Seattle radio traffic legend Debbie Deutsch to do the narrating, hired a 12-year-old girl named Alexandra Barkley to provide the voice of Dorothy, and yours truly did ALL the other voices. There were many a Saturday and Sunday afternoon in the Lake City recording studio where we spent hours laying down all the voice tracks. Local audio guru Bob Majors did the tweaking and the next thing you know, there were audio books. (although, as of this writing, they are only available on cassette)
Over the years, it seems like Bill & I would get together, hear about each other’s lives and then off we’d go to our neutral corners. A couple of years ago, I helped his daughter with a demo video for a cooking show. Then, earlier this year, he reached out to me about a special project.
And this one is special.
Without going too much into detail, I can give you the headlines. Bill has done research about some lost stories from World War II. He’s even gotten the state of Hawaii to fund his project and we are at the beginning stages of bringing one story to video. I will be providing the narrator voice. The long and short of it is, during World War II, the United States decided to set up camps where Japanese Americans had to ride out the war. The Japanese-American males of military age were used to form units that were deployed to Europe to fight the war. One of those units provided the heroes that freed 5,000 Jewish prisoners from the notorious Dachau Nazi camp when they intercepted a death march. The irony is thick. There they were, risking their lives to free prisoners from a German concentration camp, while back home, their families were locked up.
Finally, that story is going to be told. When there’s a finished project, I’ll do my best to bring it to your attention.
Then, after a few decades pass, maybe Bill & I will collaborate on yet another project. Don’t be surprised when it happens.
Tom Brokaw wrote about my parent’s generation and called them, “The Greatest.”
You have to fully dive into what it might have been like to be alive back then and, at a time when it would have been so easy to get overwhelmed and just give up, they fought a crazed dictator in Germany and a cult-like leader in Japan (they considered him a god) and won on both fronts. Most of them had survived our country’s greatest depression only to roll into a World friggin’ War. While growing up, I never would have guessed it. Maybe it was because my parents–like so many others of their generation–just dealt with it, learned from it, and grew to appreciate all they had.
There was a time I was quite proud of my peers and how we changed the world. I’m still amazed at how much life has improved and progressed during my generation. The evolution of technology, equal rights for races, genders and more, a high value on education, questioning our government, striving to make things better for all Americans, etc. Hey, we are FAR from perfect, but we’re making serious strides and have really come a long way during the course of my lifetime.
As much distain as the younger generation has for the boomers, it’s no secret that older people don’t think very much of the Millennials or whatever the generation is after that one is called. The common thinking is that they feel entitled, spoiled, they don’t know the hardship of having to dial a phone number with a rotary phone and their toughest day is the result of Siri not providing them with the answer to a take-home test.
But, as my brother-in-law Kris likes to say, “Here’s the deal.” Those teens and 20-somethings running around today that will some day rule the world–they’re the ones who will finally figure out the gun thing.
Yes, the gun thing. This endless cycle of “It’s our right” versus “Oh-oh, someone just shot up a school full of kids again.” Seriously, how long has this back and forth been going on? Someone mows down a bunch of people with a gun, there’s outrage, a call for banning assault weapons and then, it just fades away. A few months later, we go through it all over again.
I see this “We have a right to have any guns we want” equal to “We have a right to hate people of any color we want.” It’s a generational thing that has been passed along. Good, well-meaning people, drink the Kool-Aid that is Gun Rights and feel that any control, any restriction is the first step towards the government coming to our homes and confiscating our weapons. A very serious threat–in 1775.
This is where the memorized mantra comes out on both sides, as it always does. But that’s not the point of this writing.
What I’m saying is that my generation has failed to solve the gun thing. But it’s become quite clear that this younger generation coming in, the ones who were in the schools when the shootings broke out, the ones who have seen classmates gunned down and schools go into lock down: they see the insanity.
They don’t know that they should be thinking “There’s nothing we can do about it” and will eventually do something about it.
It won’t be tomorrow or the next day, but there is a legion of future voters who are going to see the value of having their voice heard, of making the change that is long overdue. The blanket gun rights people will end up being their own worst enemies. Their “I have a right to own a semi-automatic weapons so that crazy person over there does, too” attitude has to come to an end.
To today’s students, I would like to apologize for my generation not solving the plague of gun violence. We know what to do, we’re just not doing it. You, on the other hand, will finally figure this out. I can only hope to be around long enough to see it come to fruition.
Remember, be great. In fact, be greater.
Well, add this to my continuing series of blogs written and inspired by the latest mass shooting.
Look–I’m no genius. (please, the line to chime in forms down the street) For the sake of my comedy-writing skills, my observation muscle is really in good shape. I see things, process them, look for similarities and connections to other topics and create amusing quips and comments.
There is nothing cute or funny about the Florida shootings. But part of the routine response process (“More gun laws!”/”Stricter mental health regulations!”) kind of stands out to me this time.
The true solution is going to be a compromise that’s strictly enforced on both sides.
THE GUN ISSUE–Yes, 200 years ago, our forefathers made sure there was an amendment guaranteeing the right to own weapons and protect ourselves. The majority of people who own guns do so for for target practice, hunting and home security. But, like everything else these days, guns have become a political commodity–are you FOR guns or AGAINST them? Say the phrase “gun control” and the die-hards immediately respond with “that’s the first step towards the government taking all of our guns away!” And, there we are, back at that Second Amendment.
THE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUE–Between all the social media bombardment, where our media has evolved, and let’s throw in drug abuse while we’re at it, there are a lot of unstable people out there. Some are out-right dangerous. And not just at the homeless camps, but the bullied teenager who, in this case, lost both of his parents and was living with a family that took him in out of the kindness of their hearts, not knowing the complete mental damage that had happened. Someone with a history of violence, that had been kicked out of school, who had posted on YouTube that he wants to be a “professional school shooter”…I think it’s safe to say he has mental health issues. He needed help and wasn’t getting what he needed. It seems like a pretty simple concept that someone in that state of mind should have a tag on them, somewhere, that prevents them from buying an automatic weapon that can mow people down. But in this ever-so-PC world, we can’t label someone like that because it would be violating their rights.
I probably need to re-read the Constitution again, but I don’t believe there’s a right to shoot dozens of people with an automatic weapon.
Calling on the Republicans or the Democrats to fix this falls right into the camp that there are two teams playing. We’re one nation. The NRA has politicians in their pockets: shame on them. Then again, they’re doing what the pharmaceutical, insurance and other industries do. That’s how the political game is played.
But it’s time to call a time-out in this game and take positive steps so that people aren’t sending their kids off to school and not being really sure if they’ll ever come back.
GUN PEOPLE–Yes, you have the right to an AR-15, based on that second amendment. You’ll most likely treat it with respect and only shoot it at a firing range. But here’s the deal–there’s a disgruntled ex-co-worker or an abused or battered teen planning to lash out like all those shootings he keeps hearing about. First off, is owning that kind of weapon really that important to you? If so, shouldn’t a special license and training be required? You need that to drive a car. You can’t just hop behind the wheel of a semi and start driving. You also need special training and a special license. Notice a pattern here? There’s also a high accountability that comes with owning a gun. Having one that suddenly disappears and is used in a crime or killing spree–that’s on you. Perhaps if your weapon is used in a crime, you’re charged as an accomplice or face a $100,000 fine. Maybe if you knew that could happen, that semi-automatic would be treated like gold and locked up instead of being a quick grab away.
MENTAL HEALTH PEOPLE–When people go off the deep end, it’s not them. Their minds aren’t right. In the case of this Florida shooter, dear God, how many signs do you need? If you have parents of teenagers, ask them if they have kids at their school “most likely to go off.” I pretty much guarantee they do. They always have. A snoopy grandmother in Everett this past week opened her grandson’s guitar case and found a rifle, along with his journal plotting a school shooting. She reported it. Yes, it’s family, and it could drive a wedge in your relationship, but God knows how many lives were saved by that action. Dropping all the concern about being PC for a moment, if you’re mentally ill, you should NOT have the right to buy a gun. Is that really so difficult? Get help. Get therapy. Eventually, prove you deserve to be able to own a gun. We don’t allow 10-year-olds to buy weapons. We have laws that try to prevent ex-cons for owning them. The thing is, we’re at least trying in those areas. We are way overdue to identify those who are struggling and even just temporarily prevent them from owning weapons.
In summary, this is a Gun Control AND Mental Health issue. Did you ever think you’d live in a world where a dozen or two innocent people being gunned down became a common event? The frustrating part is that political parties have become packages. If you vote in this party, you’ll get this, this and this. If you vote in the other party, they represent that, that and that. But what if I’m for this but also want that? Get my point? I think we’ve reached the time that Gun Control for Mentally Disturbed People has become THE issue. The one that will determine who gets my vote.
Because those who already got our votes just don’t seem to care.
I’ve had this long-standing theory and perhaps I’ve written about it before. But this has been one of those weeks that I remind myself that life is all about balance.
Basically, we’re born and we die. Now, that period between those two monumental events of our life is filled with good stuff and bad stuff. It’s how the world works. It’s not perfect, it’s not evil. Here, let me show you this chart.
The Tim Hunter Hypothesis is that we are all given the same amount of good and bad in our lifetime. If you sat down, created two columns and started listing every good thing that’s happened to you on one side and all the bad stuff on the other, by the time you’d reach the end, you’d see that we get equal amounts of both.
Here’s the challenge. During your life, it comes in random amounts. Like, say, this week, I easily had a much larger dose of bad stuff happen than good. Oh, and there was good. I got to hold my new granddaughter and play with the grandkids. I was able to direct a video shoot for some new commercials for a client. I enjoyed a romantic dinner with my wife at Picolino’s on Valentine’s Day. I’m having lunch today with a long-time friend who beat cancer last year. I continue to be able to write and play and create in this career-like-job I’ve crafted over the past several years.
But there was a ton of things you could consider bad stuff. Outside of my world, there was that horrific school shooting down in Florida. (see my previous blogs on that topic–I’m tapped out) My main computer decided to wig out. The one on which most of my writing and producing is done. Things that should have taken seconds crawled along. I had to research, experiment, delete and install, all eating up the time I would normally do each week’s regular projects. On top of that, my cell phone has been acting up and while not mentioning the company by name because they’ve been nice, a supposed fix to the port has resulted in a half-dozen visits to their store. They’ve had to install a second new screen, have gone through two ports and today, I have to drop it off and be phoneless the bulk of the day. Doable, but it just adds to the challenge.
I found out that a $1,000 check I had deposited a month ago never made it in. It was that “depositing by phone” thing that failed, but I just assumed it went in. As you can imagine, funds went short a couple of times.
Clients needed things yesterday. Extra projects came up. Precious time disappeared so that I would get up even earlier than 4am just to get it all done.
Its weeks like this one that I remember the chart. So, I had a few challenges and, if I were keeping a weekly score, the bad probably won out over the good this week. No matter. I just take it all in stride and remember that it must mean a bunch of good is coming my way. If not next week, the week after. Eventually, it all balances out.
When life gets tough, just remember that there’s good on the way. Remember the chart. It’s all about balance. It’s all about how it’s dished out.
It really is.
When you feel like time is blurring by…when you find yourself saying, “Wow, it’s already February!”…when you have to stop and think, “Uh, what day is this again?”: be a tourist.
It dawned on me the other day at Universal Studios Hollywood. While my wife and I have a strong affection for Disneyland, Universal is the place we just don’t go to that often. But when we do, we have a blast and I turn into a kid again.
Norman Bates loading something in his trunk. He must be spring cleaning.
During that four-hour visit, despite the world-famous Los Angeles traffic to and from our destination, I had a non-stop smile on my face. We went on fantasy rides in the Harry Potter area, enjoyed that Simpsons adventure (which is just hilarious) and even made it through the “Walking Dead” zombie house. I was grinning from ear-to-ear the entire time and when I took so many pictures and video that my phone died, I became detached from the outside world. No emails, no text messages, no news updates. I didn’t know what the stock market was doing or what the president had said or anything happening outside the park. I was present, enjoying the California sun and just having fun.
The experience reminded me that, being a tourist is probably something we should incorporate more into our day-to-day lives. That care-free, forget-about-the-problems-of-the-world outlook that I’m sure does my mental health a world of good.
I was being a tourist in southern California, but thousands of people do the same thing in Seattle where I now live. You can be a tourist anywhere. It’s more of a mental than physical thing and I have a feeling there are some rewards there that we all should be tapping into.
So, some friendly advice, as you navigate your way through another busy, crazy hectic work week: when you can, set aside a couple of hours for yourself, go some place fun and treat yourself to an escape.
Be a tourist.
Something huge is coming to the Pacific Northwest and you may not have even known about it.
Due to the fact I was swallowed up in the Nordic community as a result of my marriage to a girl from Ballard, I know that there’s a lot of excitement about the first weekend in May. Yes, this year, Cinco de Mayo falls on a Saturday. And, if I may digress just a bit further, did you know that whatever day St. Patrick’s Day falls on is the same day as Cinco de Mayo? And in 2018, BOTH are on Saturdays!
OK, now back to the subject at hand–that first weekend in May, Seattle is going to be celebrating the opening of the brand-new Nordic Museum right there on Market Street in Ballard. Let me try to help you realize just how big of a deal this is:
- This has a been a dream for years, with some convinced it would never actually happen. In the early days, there were two factions–one that wanted the museum at it’s new site and another group that wanted it to be where the Museum of History & Industry ended up on Lake Union. The ones who wanted it closer to Seattle thought it would be best for the sake of tourism, but the long Scandinavian history of the Ballard area seemed to make the Market Street location more appropriate. Market Street eventually won out.
- The new museum was designed by Mithun. Among their more famous works, the National Holocaust Memorial in Washington, D.C.. They also designed the Seattle Aquarium and the Januik/Novelty Hill Winery over in Woodinville, among many other projects.
- That opening weekend could bring quite a few Scandinavian celebs to town, and even heads of state. We’ll see how the guest list shakes out.
- The New York Friggin’ Times even named the yet-to-open museum as one of the Top 52 Places in the World to visit in 2018!
The new Nordic Museum is going to have a larger performance hall with better acoustics, more room for exhibits that they couldn’t bring in to the previous location at that abandoned Seattle elementary school. (which is being refurbished and put back to work as a school in the near future)
Sadly, one of the things not making the move is the “Dream of America” Exhibit. As I understand it, the exhibit was given on loan to the museum by Denmark and apparently, it is going to head back there now. A lot of the things that “Dream” demonstrated will now be done electronically, as the move is made into a high-tech environment. I was fortunate enough to video-tape the final docent tour of the Dream of America and by watching the video below, you’ll be able to enjoy the full experience of what that exhibit offered, thanks to the expert commentary by one of the long-time supporters of the museum, Mari-Ann Kind Jackson.
I’m a big fan of everyone living their dream. The new Nordic Museum has been a long-time dream for so many Seattle people who have dedicated hundreds of hours to making it happen.
And in just a couple of months that dream becomes reality. The celebration is set for that first weekend in May. Hope to see you there.
I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, Bruce Johnson. Or, as he was known for years on KOMO radio when Larry Nelson did commercials for his photography studio, Bruce Rowland– “65th Street’s slickest shutter snapper!”
Back in the 1950s, Bruce’s dad launched Rowland Studios just east of Greenlake, in the Ravenna area. I can’t tell you how many years he was in that same studio, but he was there more than not, right on 65th street, just off Roosevelt. That’s where Bruce learned the craft of taking amazing, beautiful, well-thought-out pictures, eventually taking over his father’s business. Bruce continues to take phenomenal pictures, using both cameras and his cellphone. He’s just got that eye, that vision, and always will.
I met Bruce back in the day when I was Larry Nelson’s producer on KOMO and Bruce and Ballard attorney Tom Treece were pretty much part of Lar’s Three Amigos. They weren’t always together as a trio, but usually when I’d see one and he would leave, the other would soon show up. Bruce operated Rowland Studios, where practically everyone who worked at KOMO had their portraits done. Yes, that was back in the day of a studio and portraits and packages that cost hundreds of dollars, all shot on film. On top of that, Rowland Studios was pretty much THE school photographer. Anyone who went to school in Seattle has at least school photo tucked away in a book with the word “Rowland” down at the bottom or on the back.
Here’s a video I put together for him, when he was trying to shore up his Senior Picture business.
I knew Bruce as a crazy Swede. He loved to party. On St. Patrick’s Day one year, I remember he came by KOMO radio and visited Larry in the control room with some female friend of his painted green and in a bikini. When I first started at KOMO, he would call up Larry’s office number (an office we shared) and when I answered, he identified himself as Arnie Schmatz, a pseudonym that he liked to use. As I became involved with Larry’s extended family, I would get to know and hear stories about some of Bruce’s hunting buddies. Yes, part of his fall routine was going to Chehalis and returning with lots of stories and a winter’s supply of venison.
At his recent retirement party, there were lots of his pictures on display from over the years, including this one of our buddy, Larry Nelson.
Bruce also took Larry’s last portrait that remains on display in my office to this day. Lar’s quick departure a decade ago from lung cancer really hit Bruce hard. In fact, I believe it was a year later that he gave up drinking and has been dry ever since. He proudly announced he had passed his 9th year of sobriety when I arrived at his party.
Even though I wasn’t close with his family or his three beautiful daughters, I watched them grow up because one of Bruce’s holiday traditions included sending out a photo card with a group shot featuring his three girls. Years ago by themselves, and these days, with their families.
Bruce’s retirement party was held at his oldest daughter’s house, and the second I saw her, I remembered a Christmas card gag from longs ago. Larry Nelson had gone to her wedding and while he was there, had his picture taken with her in her wedding dress. The following Christmas, he sent out the photo with no explanation and of course, everyone on the receiving end immediately thought, “Oh, my God, he got married again. And look how young she is!”
This is the crowd I hung out with.
My KOMO radio days are 34 years behind me, but Bruce and I have stayed in touch and kept up with each other’s lives over the years. Bruce is a colorful part of the tapestry of my life. As he steps into retirement after taking on cancer and defeating it last year, he continues to post on Facebook his photos of coffee and (insert location here). For all he’s been through, I believe now more than ever that he’s fully embracing the “make every day count” concept and I’m extremely happy for him. So many people say they’re going to start doing that and, like a New Year’s resolution, it’s not long until it was just a short-lived good intention. In the retirement card I gave him, I included a certificate good for one retirement lunch at Mike’s Chili in Ballard, one of his favorite haunts. I look very forward to sitting down and flashing back to the days of Lar and all the crazy times that were had. And I plan to make those happen a little bit more frequently because the good times we enjoy today are the ones we’ll be remembering tomorrow.
Life may not have been perfect for Bruce, but his pictures always are.
Congrats on your retirement, Mr. Johnson-Rowland- Schmatz. A very well-deserved new beginning and I know you’re going to really make this count.
Bruce is the one on the right
I’ve always figured there’s most likely just as much bad in the world as there is good. Life is about balance and it’s long been my philosophy to focus on what’s positive and build on that. It doesn’t mean I ignore the negative, but I acknowledge it, learn from it and move on.
As far as the whole “metoo movement, we’re still very much in the ‘acknowledge it’ stage and, sadly, we’re going to be there for a while. The problem is as old as time and, in a way, it’s really hard to believe that it took this many years to finally say enough is enough. But we’re here.
The following is a Facebook post published last weekend by “that little girl in the movie True Lies”, which is one of my personal favorites. Frankly, I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch that movie again without thinking about her story.
When I was 12 years old, while filming “True Lies”, I was sexually molested by Joel Kramer, one of Hollywood’s leading stunt coordinators.
Ever since, I have struggled with how and when to disclose this, if ever. At the time, I shared what happened to me with my parents, two adult friends and one of my older brothers. No one seemed ready to confront this taboo subject then, nor was I.
I am grateful to the women and men who have gone before me in recent months. The ever-growing list of sexual abuse and harassment victims who have spoken out with their truths have finally given me the ability to speak out. It has been indescribably exhausting, bottling this up inside me for all of these years.
I remember, so clearly 25 years later, how Joel Kramer made me feel special, how he methodically built my and my parents’ trust, for months grooming me; exactly how he lured me to his Miami hotel room with a promise to my parent that he would take me for a swim at the stunt crew’s hotel pool and for my first sushi meal thereafter. I remember vividly how he methodically drew the shades and turned down the lights; how he cranked up the air-conditioning to what felt like freezing levels, where exactly he placed me on one of the two hotel room beds, what movie he put on the television (Coneheads); how he disappeared in the bathroom and emerged, naked, bearing nothing but a small hand towel held flimsy at his mid-section. I remember what I was wearing (my favorite white denim shorts, thankfully, secured enough for me to keep on). I remember how he laid me down on the bed, wrapped me with his gigantic writhing body, and rubbed all over me. He spoke these words: “You’re not going to sleep on me now sweetie, stop pretending you’re sleeping,” as he rubbed harder and faster against my catatonic body. When he was ‘finished’, he suggested, “I think we should be careful…,” [about telling anyone] he meant. I was 12, he was 36.
I remember how afterwards, the taxi driver stared at me in the rear view mirror when Joel Kramer put me on his lap in the backseat and clutched me and grew aroused again; and how my eyes never left the driver’s eyes during that long ride over a Miami bridge, back to my hotel and parent. I remember how Joel Kramer grew cold with me in the ensuing weeks, how everything felt different on the set.
And I remember how soon-after, when my tough adult female friend (in whom I had confided my terrible secret on the condition of a trade that she let me drive her car around the Hollywood Hills) came out to the set to visit and face him, later that very same day, by no small coincidence, I was injured from a stunt-gone-wrong on the Harrier jet. With broken ribs, I spent the evening in the hospital. To be clear, over the course of those months rehearsing and filming True Lies, it was Joel Kramer who was responsible for my safety on a film that at the time broke new ground for action films. On a daily basis he rigged wires and harnesses on my 12-year-old body. My life was literally in his hands: he hung me in the open air, from a tower crane, atop an office tower, 25+ stories high. Whereas he was supposed to be my protector, he was my abuser.
Why speak out now? I was 12, he was 36. It is incomprehensible. Why didn’t an adult on the set find his predatory advances strange — that over-the-top special attention he gave me. Fairly early on he nicknamed me “Jailbait” and brazenly called me by this name in a sick flirty way in front of others (at the time, I remember asking one of my older brothers what it meant). Sure, I’ve come to understand the terrible power dynamics that play into whistle-blowing by “subordinates” against persons in power, how difficult it can be for someone to speak up. But I was a child. Over the years I’ve really struggled as I’ve wondered how my life might have been different if someone, any one grown-up who witnessed his sick ways, had spoken up before he lured me to that hotel room.
Years ago, I had heard second-hand that Joel Kramer was “found out” and forced to leave the business. I learned recently that in fact he still works at the top of the industry. And a few weeks ago, I found an internet photo of Joel Kramer hugging a young girl. That image has haunted me near nonstop since. I can no longer hide what happened.
Hollywood has been very good to me in many ways. Nevertheless, Hollywood also failed to protect me, a child actress. I like to think of myself as a tough Boston chick, in many ways I suppose not unlike Faith, Missy, or Echo. Through the years, brave fans have regularly shared with me how some of my characters have given them the conviction to stand up to their abusers. Now it is you who give me strength and conviction. I hope that speaking out will help other victims and protect against future abuse.
With every person that speaks out, every banner that drops down onto my iPhone screen disclosing similar stories/truths, my resolve strengthens. Sharing these words, finally calling my abuser out publicly by name, brings the start of a new calm.
Not much else needs to be said. There are rules. There’s common sense and decency. It’s up to all of us now to seize this moment, to crack down on the abuse and make the world as safe as possible for our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends.
Because we’re way past Time’s Up.
Hang on, we’re going back to my early radio days. First, you’ll hear a comedy demo tape I sent to Ross Schafer with the hope of getting involved with “Almost Live” and, as you know, I didn’t. Then, we’ll go back even further to the first episode of my college radio comedy program, “Tim Hunter’s Return to Normalcy.” Damn, seems like just a few years ago….
Every now and then, I like to rummage through the dusty corners of my mind for long-lost stories that, most likely, some day I will forget. I mean, for Pete’s sake (whoever Pete may be) our personal hard-drives can only contain so much data, so I understand that some of the lesser significant incidents in my life will one day disappear.
However, for the next 800 words or so, I’ll make a quick dash through my mind and see what little nuggets I can pluck from over the years.
When I was five, I attended kindergarten at Meadowpark Elementary. This was back in the days when it was OK for your kids to walk 10 blocks to school without fear of being kidnapped. I’m sure I was escorted at first and the odds are that, most days, I got a ride from my mom. But I do remember walking home occasionally and, there was a time, I developed an infatuation with a rosy-cheeked girl named Susan. There was just something about those cheeks of hers. Then one day, I wanted to see if they really tasted like peaches and decided to bite her on the cheek. To my disappointment, they tasted pretty human. The following day, her older brother threatened me that if I ever did that again, he would pound me. I didn’t. Pounding avoided. This might also explain my lack of interest in peaches.
By third grade, I had found myself in a private school at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Redondo Beach, California. We’re talking really small church school, as in two classrooms: first through fourth grades in one, fifth through eighth grade in the other. Among the memories I can pluck from those years: the time we were playing Hide-n-Seek and rather than being called out by Laurel Scherer, I pushed her face first into a flag pole which chipped her tooth. (I don’t know why) When other church schools came to play us in basketball, there were games when the fog rolled in (we played on the asphalt court outdoors) and you couldn’t see the other end of the court. Terry Smith, you get credit for telling me the first dirty joke I ever heard (and having to explain each step of it to me) and because there was a Greek Orthodox Church next door to our church school, whenever they had a funeral next door, we lost out on recess because, otherwise, the kids would all hang on the fence to get a look at a casket.
In 7th grade, I found myself back in public school and was trying to fit in. One day, during recess, I broke my collar-bone but so I wouldn’t get in trouble, I didn’t say a thing and just went back to class. The teacher eventually sent me to the nurse’s office, where the principal asked if me and the other kids had been playing Chicken Fights (where one kid carries the other piggy-back style and they try to knock over other kids doing that). I vehemently denied that it happened during Chicken Fights and I remember moaning more when pressed. The principal eventually gave up, no names had to be given up, so our secret was safe. But I officially retired that day from the Chicken Fight Club.
My sophomore year of high school, I was falling in love with the girl across the street. But she was a year older and I wasn’t even on her radar at the time. When it came time for my school’s “Sweethearts Ball” (where the girl asks the guy to the dance) a nice young lady named Eileen Matsuda asked me to go and I said, “Yes.” Not because I wanted to go with her, but rather because I was hoping it would make the neighbor girl jealous. She never did, I was a complete dud of a date for Eileen who deserved much better and a lousy night was had by all. Not sure she ever spoke to me again after that night.
Now, I came to the college years. I swear, one day that era of my life will be captured in a screenplay because so much happened during those years and I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has expired on most of those incidents. I made some life-long friends at Terry Hall, one of the dorms at the University of Washington campus, where so many of my adventures took place. The biggest life-changing one came one morning when that neighbor girl I had eventually wooed and won over called and left a message with my roommate, saying I needed to call her back. I had worked that morning at the dorm cafeteria, so when I got off, I headed upstairs and dialed her up. In a tear-filled explanation, she described how she had a “sign from God” the night before to break up with me. Coming out of the blue like that, I tried to reason with her and asked her to wait until I could fly home and we could talk things over. She said no and we were done. Several months later, she married the Baptist minister that helped her realize that sign from God. Yeah.
A pretty random collection of stories, but all with a purpose. You see, each of us have these highs and lows lurking in our past. There are moments we recall fondly and others we wonder what the heck we were thinking. That unique collection of experiences helped shape our thinking, our attitudes, our beliefs, to create the unique being we are at this very moment.
It’s easy to say things like, “If only we had…” but stop right there. Things happen for a reason and in time, you become aware of why, or how they fit into the big picture. Sure, it’s fun to think about do-overs and if you could have a couple of them, how differently life would be for you today. But it wouldn’t just change just the parts you want to alter, but your entire world as you know it today. And frankly, we live in a pretty awesome world. Far from perfect, but as you’ve read above, I’ve had my share of non-perfect.
Life is awesome. Setbacks happen, problems arise, but if you have the will and the means to just keep going, it all balances out.
I’m counting this as my spring cleaning. Thanks for the read.
I sit here, looking out at a New Year before us. What will we do with the opportunities? How will we handle the challenges? Will things break us, or will we emerge stronger than ever?
Awful heady stuff for a sunny, Wednesday afternoon in the Pacific Northwest, but I’m reminded that I owe endless thanks to God above for being in my current situation. As my brain keeps slinging the concepts, I continue to get my biggest rewards from grabbing those passing thoughts and converting them into tangibles–jokes, comedy bits, blogs, you name it. And I would not be living this dream if things hadn’t fallen into place exactly as they did.
But it’s one thing to have the pieces fall into place–are you going to take advantage of it? I believe I am doing exactly that, doing creative projects on a daily basis in the 10-ring circus I call my career. I spoke with Bill Wright this week, producer of those Wizard of Oz audio books I voiced back in the 1990s. He’s got a new TV project that he’s asked me to join in, that would put a spotlight on some unsung heroes of World War II. Cool stuff. Tomorrow, I have meetings with two of our Create Impulse clients, Sole Perfection Shoes and NW Plus Credit Union, with new radio and TV spots, and coming up with other marketing concepts a part of those sessions. Next Monday, I shoot video for the Northshore Schools Foundation, to help them tell their story. Oh, and this day also included this blog, my latest edition of the Wacky Week podcast and my daily contribution to Radio-Online, a show prep service for disc jockeys. A steady, busy flow of projects that some people would call work, but for me, they’re outlets. And by getting those ideas out of my head and into some exterior form, I can begin brainstorming about whatever comes next.
The corporate headquarters for Tim Hunter Creative Services is right here in the corner of my little man cave downstairs at my home. This room has been a green screen studio, an audio recording studio and is the home of the Logitech keyboard from which everything originates. It’s my space, my creative setting. To my left, a collection of CD’s and DVD’s that contain radio bits, sound effects, background music and more. Just above them is a collection of celebrity photos I’ve gathered over the years from people I’ve interviewed, including David Hasselhoff and Katey Sagal. Go further up and you’ll bump into Seahawk photos and memorabilia. To the right, at eye level, is a collection of the people that inspire me and keep me going. My kids, the grandkids, my wife and the picture of my dad from his memorial. Up from there, my Husky Hall of Fame, with lots of pictures of me with players. There’s a JP Patches Nutcracker, a photo of my radio mentor Larry Nelson, autographed pictures of Kathi Goertzen and Stan Boreson and a bunch of odds and ends that demonstrate I’m pretty much a freak. I mean, how many people have their own St. Tim candle?
It gets drilled into me more and more as we lose people over the years, we watch stores close that we thought would be around forever and everything we know is turned into trivia for the next generation, we don’t need to make every day count–we need to cherish the seconds. If you’re starving for a resolution, get in the habit of hitting the brakes routinely, look around and realize as much as humanly possible, just how fortunate we truly are.
Take a breath, enjoy what surrounds you and savor this gift while you’re able to fully embrace it. That’s my plan for the New Year and beyond.
2018, come over here and give me a big hug!
Right before the start of the New Year, I like to polish the old crystal ball (no really, I polish it. That’s not an euphemism) and create a collection of bold predictions of things I feel will happen in the year to come. I make them with 100% accuracy. Oh, they’re rarely correct, but it’s accurate to say that I always make them.
Nostradamus actually predicted the world would end in 2018. Then again, he also had the Mariners winning the World Series last year.
So, bet the house–here’s what I predict will happen in 2018:
- President Donald Trump will post something offensive and awkward on Twitter. (OK, that’s my one softball)
- A small girl from Kansas will throw a bucket of water on Hillary Clinton, causing her to melt.
- Disney expands their Star Wars franchise by launching a new TV series, “Dancing with the Ewoks!”
- Meryl Streep admits she knew it all along. Then reveals she meant that “She Devil” was her worst movie ever.
- Bernie Sanders gives a riveting, 20-minute speech about the unfairness of our society. No one in the bathroom is impressed.
- Al Franken announces that he’ll run for president as the candidate of the newly-formed “Honky-Honky” Party.
- In an incident that causes Jeff Bezos to give up drinking, he gets so stewed one night that he actually buys Amazon from himself.
- Speaking of Amazon, they introduce 30-minute deliveries of all beef products. Their new service is called Amazon Prime Rib.
- The Seattle Times announces they are replacing all newspaper delivery boys with drones. Both of the remaining subscribers express concern.
- YouTube introduces a new channel for video selfies, called MeTube.
- Russia Vladimir Putin wins re-election by a landslide, two months before the actual election.
- France bans Smartphones from elementary schools starting in September. In a popular move, congress votes to ban all cell phones from the oval office. Thank you.
- After fighting bankruptcy for years, Sears finally closes all of their stores. However, no one notices until 2019.
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle exchange vows in a ceremony performed by Mr. Bean. Meghan honors the memory of Benny Hill by tying a piece of elastic to her bouquet for the toss.
- In December, Mommy accuses Santa Claus of forcibly kissing her, underneath the mistletoe last night.
- In North Korea, Kim John-un is finally forced out and replaced by Christopher Plummer.
- Melania Trump records a song to raise money for charity. The way it works is, if you make a donation, she won’t release it.
- Garrison Keillor attempts a comeback, changing the name of his fictional town of Lake Wobegon, to Lake Whoa-is-Me!
- Finally, TaylorMade announces the first ever self-driving golf ball, allowing golfers to focus on what’s really important–tracking down the beer cart.
I had to hurry up and get this list out before they all come true. Thanks for stopping by throughout the year and letting me take you on a tour of what’s running through my mind.
Have a very Happy New Year and all the best in 2018.
Notice I didn’t include my prediction about you and that…well, enough said.
Look, for starters, I love Christmas. I’m a bit of a Christmas nut. Love the songs, the love traditions, feel it’s not Christmas if I haven’t over-done the house. You know, that kind of a Christmas guy.
I write up a family Christmas letter with an assist from my wife, mail out cards to over a hundred people, and put together a Christmas CD that has become a tradition. This year, I produced the 17th annual edition of “Ho Ho Brother” and, if I may say, it was my best version yet. I’m already working on the 2018 version.
But something I also took on several years ago was doing a Christmas parody song about the holiday season. Through my Destination Marketing buddy Scott Burns (actually, radio brothers who never had the chance to work together on the air), I met a local singer named Alana Baxter. I would write the lyrics, Scott helped me record and mix her songs, I experimented and learned about shooting video and while they were rough, we still managed to pull off some pretty good holiday tunes, including “It’s Silent Night”, “He rides a sleigh”, (yes, that’s me in the cow costume), “I won’t hate you very much tonight (It’s Christmas)”, and the salute to the Starbucks holiday cup debacle, “Where are you Christmas?” .
But lately, the project has gotten pretty challenging. Alana got a medical degree and moved to Hawaii. Last year, while she was in town for the holidays, I managed to write and record a song with her, called “All I need for Christmas (is booze)”. Fun concept, but we hurried through it. I wrote it quickly, she came over and recorded it with the idea of releasing it this year. However, when it came to put it all together, while listening to the tracks, it just wasn’t up to par. So, I called in some Hawaii radio favors and connections (thanks, Chip Begay and Dan Deeb), Alana slipped into a studio and I got some in-tune, fresh vocal tracks. I had already put in 5 hours mixing down a preemptive video, but when the vocal tracks didn’t match the old version, I had to start from scratch.
12+ hours of remixing and re-editing of video later, we have a song. I hope you enjoy it. “All I need for Christmas (is booze)” is too late for this year’s Christmas CD, but it has inspired me to already begin working on the 2018 edition, which will include this.
It wasn’t easy, but totally worth the effort to keep the tradition alive–here is Alana Baxter and “All I want for Christmas (is booze)”.
Merry Christmas to all!
A couple of decades ago, a typical morning for me started with an alarm that went off at 2:17am. A random time I had embraced as the official starting point of my day, if I wanted to get in everything I hoped to accomplish. I’d shower, grab something to eat, sit down at the computer and do a little show prep for the next Murdock, Hunter & Alice Show on 92.5-KLSY and then climb in the car and head to the Bellevue Studios. More often than not, I’d arrive in the garage and there, having his morning cigar, was Matt Riedy. (pronounced REE-dee)
Matt was the morning guy on Smooth Jazz, one of the five stations that lived inside the Sandusky cluster. Once you walked in the lobby, you’d head down a different hallway to each station, so most days, you didn’t really see the other folks. Then again, we were there from 4am-noon, spending the bulk of our time in a studio or our office, so most of our encounters with people from the other stations were just in passing.
But I do remember those cigar chats with Matt fondly. He was curious how we did things over on KLSY with our contracts and how our morning show worked. (people still wonder about that) You could tell that Matt had a restlessness and that being a Smooth Jazz morning guy was just a stop on his way to something bigger. But it would involve risk. To make it happen, Matt would have to abandon the comfort of a secure job and head down to Los Angeles to pursue a dream along with thousands of others. Eventually, when he felt the time was right, Matt gave up his radio job in Seattle and headed south. He grabbed a part-time radio gig, went on countless auditions and eventually, the career he had envisioned began to happen. The acting opportunities, the voice-over work, the video game gigs. As I’ve watched him succeed, I’m proud to say I knew him back in the days when he was wondering, “What if?”
Twenty years later, we’re both living our dreams. He’s an actor and I’m emceeing Lutefisk Eating Contests. OK, that wasn’t my dream, but I am. Congrats to Matt for showing everyone how to not only dare to dream but also that you can achieve it. I’d like to also pass along a huge thanks to him, as it was Matt who hooked me up with one of his stand-up comedy friends, Frank King. Frank, in turn, connected me with Jay Leno, which allowed me the opportunity to write one-liners for his monologues for 8 years.
Matt just shared his Theatrical Reel of just some of his work. I thought I’d share it with you, so the next time he pops up on the screen in front of you, you’ll be able to say, “Hey, look. It’s THAT Matt Riedy!” (which is what he called himself back in his KJR Radio Days)
I’ve sent a note to the Internet, apologizing for posting such a positive story. These days, they’re pretty rare.
I’ve been noticing that more and more people are posting pictures on Instagram instead of Facebook. My current theory is that all the politics that have permeated the Facebook platform have driven some people out, or at least, limited their interest in friends trying to persuade them to a political point of view.
Over the past year, I’ve become very serious about blocking and hiding posts, which has made Facebook all that much more enjoyable. I usually start with blocking the source, even if it’s a reputable one, because if I figure if I ever want to view that source again, I can do so on my own. Not surprising, you can actually live without seeing a lot of those posts. Step 2 is hiding someone’s bitter, caustic rant, because I don’t want that energy in my feed. Then, if the person just won’t give it a rest, they’re unfriended. It’s that easy.
However, somewhere during my generation, people have decided to tie their political awareness to their real-life happiness. The result is that they’re simply not happy. Watching the day-to-day antics of the political arena and allowing that to determine if it’s a good day or not is a ticking time bomb. Plus, that causes you to ignore all the good things happening around you (and, they are) all because of what’s going on in Washington, D.C..
Well, even though that’s an insane way to live, you’re entitled to exist that way. It’s an unhappy, stress-filled, depressing existence, but that’s all you, baby.
So, it is at this most festive time of year that I would like to offer a Copy & Paster’s Guide to the Holidays. A convenient way to continue your discontent by simply copying and pasting these responses to some of the more commonly-used holiday and seasonal expressions. You’ll be the hit of Facebook!
When someone says…
Copy & Paste This
|Oh, for you! #45 is still president and there is so much injustice in this world. We’re killing the planet and fires are burning up California. You call that merry?|
“Happy New Year”
|How is it going to be ‘happy’? Unless they impeach #45, the tax cut will give more money to the rich, the planet is dying and we’re at the brink of nuclear war. How dare you be happy!|
“Look at this picture of my new niece”
|And look at the world she’s going to grow up in. With #45 as a president, she’s not going to have much of a world left. I feel sorry for her. Put that away!|
“What a beautiful sunset!”
|Yes, but we’ll wake up to another day of #45 as our so-called president. God knows what he’ll do to our country tomorrow, if he doesn’t begin a war and there is no tomorrow. How do you live with yourself?|
|Oh, you’d like that, wouldn’t you? That was intentional, just like #45 said those awful things on Entertainment Tonight. Excusing yourself is just asking for permission for something you meant to do. You monster.|
“The snow is beautiful”
|You sick bastard. It’s just earth’s way of covering up, just like #45 is doing with the Russia investigation.|
Think of all the time you’ll save and the people you’ll convince!
Or, you could prioritize your life to the positive realities around you. Yes, there is a lot of fixing to do in our world. This just in–there always has been. You think the 1960s and the decades that followed were perfect? However, positive changes occurred, influenced by people who cared and that you must always do. But funnel your energy to methods that will actually cause change. Donate to a group, volunteer hours, believe in positive evolution of our world.
Whining, living a bitter life, those kind of things don’t inspire people to adopt your point of view and you’re better than that. And while all that is going on, you’re missing out on some beautiful sunsets, snowy winter mornings and the sweet cooing sounds of a newborn baby.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Oh, yeah, that’s the egg nog kicking in. Diving into the holiday spirit this week with a salute to my late friend, Curt Moulton, a Ray Ramsey Chipmunk intro, a chunk of Beers & Carols from the Thirsty Fish this past week and a couple of songs from Alana Baxter as a warmup to the debut of this year’s song next week. Whew!
Somehow, I managed to pull off another one.
At a time of year when commitments and gatherings and parties consume my calendar, I decided to add on traditions that are incredibly time-consuming, but oh, so rewarding.
One of them is an annual Christmas CD, that I gave the name Ho Ho Brother. In the late 1990s, I was working with an I.T. guy named Rick Taylor at KLSY. Rick was my ambassador to the techie world, which I had a fascination with, but limited time to explore. I believe it was in 1998, he gave me a Christmas collection of songs that he had rounded up and burned to a CD. Some odd ones, some funny ones and some sentimental favorites. The following year, he burned a Christmas CD complete with fancy label that featured all Jewish singers that sang Christmas songs. Bottom line, the technology existed that we could collect songs or anything pre-recorded, put it together and then give to family and friends to spread Christmas cheer.
I loved the concept, so in 2000, I produced my very first collection, Ho Ho Brother. This year (for those of you lousy at math), I’ve put the finishing touches on Ho Ho Brother 17. The secret formula isn’t that secret–it’s a blend of comedy bits, new and old, holiday classics, fresh new songs you may not even know existed and with a personal goal of not repeating any of the recordings I’ve used before. I think a couple of repeats have slipped in during the past 17 years, but I’m of the opinion if I don’t remember, why should you?
I know that the days of CD’s are waning, but I’m still burning them for those who have CD players. Reality hit me this year when I bought a new Hyundai Ioniq that didn’t have a CD player in it. The move is to digital, but since everyone is not there yet, I still hand out these CD’s to friends and family as a holiday spiff. Something festive and to a few, unexpected. It’s fun to watch the first-timers get a puzzled look and say, “So, what is this?” But I love giving it to the people who have been looking forward to the latest edition and comment that they were just listening to a previous year’s Ho Ho Brother while decorating their home.
One of the regular contributions I love to include in this mix is an original song and, this year, I’m sorry to say, that didn’t happen. Well, it did, but it didn’t. My regular singer, Alana Baxter, got her medical degree and headed off to Hawaii. We managed to record her voice last year while she was home and I had all the intentions of including our new song, “All I want for Christmas is booze.” But, after carefully listening to it, we weren’t pleased with the voice. So, thanks to connections over on the islands, I was able to sneak her into a studio last week to re-record the voice. I will have that song and matching video for you in next week’s blog, but it was just too late for this year’s CD if I wanted it to reach distant relatives by Christmas.
That’s how it was meant to be, I guess. I’m already working on next year’s CD and song in an attempt to be even more ready for 2018. And, of course, that is when I’ll include Alana’s latest holiday hit. I’ll get more into that next week.
For now, here’s this year’s Ho Ho Brother collection for you to download, put on your phone or computer and enjoy.
Apply generously and enjoy.
Merry Christmas to all!
We’ll come back to that.
A quick flashback to my college days for just a moment. The year was 1975 and I had been at the University of Washington for a couple of years by now and still hadn’t figured out what my major was going to be. Probably needed to make that decision fairly soon.
Then one day, I was talking with a guy from the end of the fifth floor of Terry Hall who mentioned the campus radio station. The what? You could do radio and call it a major? So, off I wandered off into the world of communications, with an emphasis on Radio & TV. Ask me for the long form of the story next time you see me, but for the time being, I decided that radio was the way to go.
It was my career for the next 30+ years. I consider myself very fortunate in that I was only let go twice during those three decades. Radio is pretty much like golf–the lower the score, the better you did.
This past week, we saw two Seattle radio stations get flipped. For the outsiders, that means a personality was saying a slogan for a station one minute and a few moments later, there were new call letters. KMPS, which has survived as a country station since Gerald Ford was president, fell as part of the CBS Radio/Entercom merger. Across the lake, 98.9, which had been some kind of rock station for a couple of years, flipped over to country to keep the Wolf honest. I still think of 98.9 as Smooth Jazz, much like I keep calling Macy’s The Bon.
These events brought back memories of my second radio retirement. December 19th, 2003, at the Village Theater in Issaquah. It was the Murdock, Hunter & Alice annual Christmas spectacular. I believe it was our 3rd one, as each year we kept getting bigger and bigger. This particular morning, Bryon the Producer had pulled out all the stops. We had Brenda White, the original singer of “Christmas in the Northwest” performing live. Channel 5’s Dennis Bounds read, “Twice The Night Before Christmas.” There were kids singing, story-telling, it was some pretty great radio, despite the fact that all three of us knew this was probably going to be it.
And so, at 9am, after introducing our final act and thanking everyone for listening, our general manager came backstage and asked if we were done on the air. We said, “Yes” and he said, “We’ve decided not to renew your contract. See ya. Take your time cleaning out your desk and well throw you a big party next month to say thanks for all those years.” (I had been in the building 19 of them)
Six days before Christmas. I suppose he could have come down the chimney Christmas morning and had more impact, but maybe this was his way of being kind. Oh, and that party? Never happened.
Once you’ve been in radio, it’s a hard demon to shake. It’s an addiction. Maybe the city of Seattle, once day, will set up Safe Broadcasting Sites. I have to admit, even though I find myself in a dream situation for work, if the right situation were to come up, I would be seriously tempted to give it one more round. All this while watching several members of my extended radio family being kicked to the curb and can’t for the life of them get back up on that horse. One was even kicking butt in the ratings and was still let go. Radio is just that kind of master.
So, to all of those hard-working folks who found themselves on the street this week, just know you’re in one heck of a club. It’s a badge of honor in this biz and also a powerful reminder that, hey, it’s just a job. You’ll survive. You’ll grow from the experience and eventually, realize that you’re better off in whatever you take on next. The industry has been changing for a long time and not for the better. I’ve told friends more than once that I truly do believe I was lucky to have taken part in radio’s last big hurrah. In these days of satellite and having your own personal format on your phone or multiple streaming options, all without commercials, it really is just a matter of time.
But damn, it was sure fun while we had it.
I got ’em. Might as well post ’em!
Of the billions of people on this earth, we’ve chosen a few along the way to label as “friends.”
Friends come in many forms. Facebook Friends. Best Friends. Close Friends. Great Friends. Sorta Friends. Casual Friends (some with benefits). There are Childhood Friends, High School Friends, College Friends, Work Friends. Think of any of those categories and I’m sure names and faces pop up in your mind. As many as there are different types of people, there are varying degrees of friendship. I put an extremely high value on my friends. Over my six decades, I’ve made a lot of them and stayed in touch with as many as possible along the way.
There are some people who limit the amount of friends, keeping it a core group. The group of friends they stay in touch with are pretty much it. In my case, I’ve got a ton of really good friends that I see sporadically. It could be several months, it could be years. But those are the people who know, when we get together, it’s as if it had just been moments before and we just pick up where we left off. None of that, “You never called” stuff.
There were the elementary school friends, who I lost track of. The high school friends, which I’ve reconnected with thanks to Facebook. I hit the jackpot with my college friends. I’m hoping at some point, I can do justice to that story and write a screenplay about those crazy days at Terry Hall. And of course, my incredible collection of radio friends that I have made along the way. There’s a lifetime supply of stories right there.
The one term I have a really hard time with is, “Best Friend.” To single out one person out of all the people I know, I’d probably have to default to the cliché answer, “My wife.” I don’t really have one person I would call a best friend but that’s because I want it that way. If forced to identify someone outside of my marriage as a Best Friend, I’d probably say, “It’s whichever friend I’m with at the time you ask.”
There are people-watchers. I’m a people-listener. The bottom-line is that everyone has a great story. Last weekend while chatting with Victoria, somehow I got on the topic of a certain person and suddenly, details started spilling out about their life and their story. All stuff that could easily end up on the Hallmark Channel. Maybe it’s the writer in me, the story-teller, but it’s the details of people’s lives that simply fascinates me.
If you’re a friend and you’d like to sit around some day and compare life stories, just say when & where. There are actually two people from my past that I would love to have that conversation with and hear how life has gone since the last time we saw each other. I think we all have people like that. For no other purpose, just for the curiosity of it. Here’s what happened to me, how about you? How was your life? I really doubt these two particular conversations will ever happen, but I’d like to believe they will.
Or maybe, just maybe, that’s what heaven is. Just sitting there, with a friend from long ago, swapping stories, getting answers to your questions, remembering old times. Having their stories trigger more of those long-lost adventures from your memory bank.
For yours truly, that would work. A lot. Yeah, that sounds like heaven to me.
Family is assigned to you. Your friends are those wonderful bonuses that add so much to our crazy story of life.
To all of my friends, thank you for being a part of my story.
Got a star-studded Apple Cup version of the Wacky Week Podcast for you this week, including guest appearances from Larry Nelson, Bob Rondeau, Kathi Goertzen, Steve Pool and Ray Ramsey, just to name a few. Just a little of the radio madness I helped contribute to over the years.
It’s me. I was the one. Point all the fingers my direction. I’m the one to blame.
I don’t remember the exact moment, but I’m very sure at some point I committed the regrettable. Just like in a slasher movie when of the characters says, “Let’s hide in here. The guy with the hockey mask and chainsaw will never find us!”, I know that at some point in my existence I must have said the words out loud: “How could May possibly get any busier?”
After all, there’s Mother’s Day and Memorial Day Weekend. Cinco de Mayo usually tempts us to do something. Oh and there’s my wife’s birthday, my sister-in-law’s birthday, my father-in-law’s birthday and my granddaughter’s birthday.
Tuesday night, I was privileged to enjoy a Norwegian Dinner called Torske Klubben, an all-guys gathering up at the Everett Lodge with a 40-year tradition.
There’s the big 17th of May celebration coming up later this month in Ballard for Norwegian Constitution Day, which means a luncheon and doing the play-by-play of the big parade. Plus, we make an event out of it and stay two nights at the Hotel Ballard so we can wallow in it.
I’d probably observe May 18th, the anniversary of the eruption of Mount Saint Helens back in 1980 since I was up to my arse in ash for a week, but I just plain don’t have time.
So how could I possible wedge in one more thing? Well, it’s actually several more things, all surrounding the grand opening of the brand-new Nordic Museum in Ballard.
On top of the social events (we’ve been invited to multiple “sneak peeks”–I’ve actually been there three times in the past week), I’ve been asked by the museum to grab video of as much as I can for historical purposes. So, when I’m not there schmoozing, I’ll have the camera rolling.
For the outsiders wondering why it’s such a big deal, let me give you some background. This has been a 10-year quest, appropriating the site, battling factions who wanted it in another location, those crazy Seattle real estate prices, construction costs, fund-raising, you name it. How everyone involved in making this happen doesn’t have completely white hair is nothing short of a miracle.
But for all the struggles, all the doubters, all the critics, this new museum is happening. Even while under construction, the New York Times listed it as one of the 52 places in the world to visit this year. The crowned Princes of Denmark is going to be here. The president and first lady of Iceland will be here. Night after night, there are special sneak previews (we’re going tonight), but the big ribbon-cutting and grand opening is scheduled for this Saturday at high noon. It will be a small gathering of me, my wife and 2500 other near and dear friends. I understand admission to the museum that day is sold out, but you might be able to get in on Sunday. Visit their website for details.
So a couple of days into the month, I’m hanging on. It’s all fun, it’s all part of the busy adventure I call life. And I suppose the good news here is that there’s absolutely no way now that May could get any busier.