You Just Never Know

Over my decades of working for a living, I’ve met an amazing collection of characters. You know how when you reflect upon a certain period of time in your life, certain people suddenly pop back into your mind?

That occurred this week when I was notified of the passing of a former client.

Towards the end of my tenure at Destination Marketing, a local ad agency, I worked with a client called Leaf Filter, which was run by a guy named Mitch Reed.  Having a great radio name and the pipes for it, what I soon learned about him was that back in the day, he was quite the advertising guru for one of the major New York agencies. He enjoyed telling stories about those days and always included something special in all of our meetings: he smoked like a chimney.

We’re talking indoors here people, as in meetings where, if you sat anywhere near him during the meeting, you left their smelling like you had just come from a Marlboro test facility. Our agency wanted to keep him so badly as a client that we just smiled and didn’t say anything. The one time he talked about coming up to our offices, we knew he would probably light one up in our building and I was pretty sure no one would have the nerve to say something about it. He ended up not coming.

Even though in this day and age, it’s extremely illegal to smoke indoors in an office, the other Leaf Filter employees didn’t say a word. I remember at least three meetings where I came home, threw my clothes in the hamper and took a shower to get rid of the cigarette smoke.

In one of my earlier shoots as a director, we shot some footage at a fellow DM employee’s house. We produced some very nice commercials for Leaf Filter and, after stumbling across this video, I see that it was in 2010. Wow, almost a decade ago.

 

I haven’t seen or thought about Mitch for most of the last decade, so when I heard earlier this week that he had passed away, my limited assortment of memories returned. But one former co-worker was sent the inside scoop about Mitch’s life and I marveled as I read about this even more colorful character. So I thought I would share this very nice collection of memories written by his former wife:

Mitchell was a larger than life character and raconteur with a radio voice, sharp sense of humor and brilliant mind, who started his career as a radio broadcast journalist, but spent most of his career in advertising.

He was born and raised in Philadelphia, the son of Quaker and Jewish parents. The family business was Jacob Reed’s Sons, a clothing retailer with a 159 year history including outfitting the army and navy dating back to the Civil War. The flagship store on Chestnut Street that’s now a CVS Pharmacy, still stands as a historic building in Philly.

He was an athlete who was sought after by every MLB baseball team. Baseball was a passion but he was even better at hockey and played goalie. He would have loved to pursue a career in sports if his dad hadn’t talked him into going to college, so off he went to study at the University of Iowa School of Journalism, followed by an MBA from Fordham, which led to a career in advertising.

In advertising, he drove the creative for countless campaigns on Madison Avenue, many for P&G. When Listerine was the dominant mouthwash brand, he knocked it off its pedestal with Scope by forever associating Listerine with “medicine breath”. He would cringe if I said he’ll live on with his copy “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down” but I think it’s true. Advertising and marketing was his craft and he could appeal to the consumers’ mindset better than anyone with simple, meaningful messaging.

He was a New York ad guy until he moved to Japan to lead global ad campaigns in Tokyo where we met. He was CEO of Grey Daiko Advertising and a governor of the American Chamber of Commerce of Japan. His insight into the Japanese culture and consumer allowed countless global brands to succeed in the Japanese market. He loved his time in Japan and made lifelong friends. We fell in love with Seattle and moved here 25 years ago because we wanted to raise our kids in the most beautiful place on earth.

It seemed nothing was ordinary in his life. He’d tell stories of riding in a limo with JFK, hosting Jimmy Carter in his home, spending months with Jerry Lewis or Peter Ustinov in Israel for UNICEF commercials, working with Muhammad Ali, Howard Cosell, Crocodile Dundee, Sigourney Weaver…

While with the American Chamber he met Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger and several Russian diplomats. He knew many Russian hockey players from his hockey days so he asked after several players. Dropping Russian name after name sent the wrong message. Thinking he was sending a signal that he wanted to defect to the USSR the Russians started a dialogue. He thought they were being friendly until his friend who was a US Embassy “cultural attaché” AKA CIA clued him in on what was going on. The reality was he loved to chat with people.

He always had a soft spot for The Phillies and The Philadelphia “Iggles”, but he became an avid Seahawks and Mariners fan.

He traveled the world extensively and experienced more of life than most people which added to his story collection. He genuinely cared about people and would be the first to visit friends in hospital or check in if they were sick. In our last conversation even though he was recovering from a previous stroke, he was calling to see how I was since I’d been under the weather.

Not all ex spouses get along but we were lucky. Despite ups and downs we remained family and he became BFF’s with Paul DeMars. Every conversation I had seemed to include Mitchell asking where Paul was.

At the end, he went according to his terms. We had transitioned to comfort care and were told he would pass quickly. Sure. The chaplain said prayers. Mitchell wasn’t religious but we wanted to cover all bases so we’d asked for a rabbi too. Sadly she wasn’t available until the next day, so we were resigned to not having Jewish prayers. We started playing his favorite songs and braced ourselves for the inevitable. 12 hours+ and almost 200 songs later, I’d run out of songs and resorted to playing Christmas music, which of course is when the rabbi walked in. Did I mention he had a sense of humor? He went peacefully as she was saying prayers. The day nurse had just come back on shift and said that in 25 years he had never seen anyone hang around that long, let alone 12 hours. He must have liked the music.

He was an East Coast guy on the outside, but soft and sentimental on the inside and loved nature and animals. He was many things but more than anything he loved his girls, Erica and Sara. They were his pride and joy. He was an attentive, doting dad and best friend to both. Erica inherited his sixth sense for marketing, business and appreciation for advertising, as well as love of sports and cooking. Sara shares his passion for baseball, politics, current affairs, people and is a natural public speaker and debater. They both have his gift of gab, curious mind and love to travel and explore different cultures. They appreciate good food and wine. He loved the sea, so together they went on many cruises to Mexico, The Caribbean, Panama Canal, South America, Canada, Alaska. They were lucky to have the time that they had but when someone fills your heart with so much love, laughter, adventure, imagination, wisdom and bear hugs, the loss is immense.

We will miss him, love him and remember him always ❤️❤️

I have to say, I liked the guy, but when he quit being a client of the ad agency, he instantly transitioned to being just a blip of my past. Even though it took his passing, it was nice to be reminded about those couple of years when I worked with one extremely interesting person that I actually knew very little about. Until now.

I can almost smell the cigarette smoke.

Rest well, Mr. Reed.

Tim Hunter

Chris Settle pointing out to Mitch

what we were doing next

Time IS Marching By…

I don’t know how I ended up in this particular place at this point, but time is racing along.

Oh, there have been weeks that seem like they last forever. But lately, it seems as though I blink and we’re heading into another month.

As we stand now, November arrives a week from Friday. Really?  Thank God Thanksgiving is so late; but, then again, that means there are fewer days between the end of November and Christmas. OK, quick reality check–Christmas is just 9 weeks from today.

I’d like to circle around to the thought that was inspired from all this: Make it count.

It’s just another day at work–make it count.

Got one more parent/teacher conference–make it count.

Yeah, this is a pulpit I’ve preached from before, but I’m called to remind everyone reading this collection of ramblings: if you do anything over the next couple of years, make them count.

I was just a nerdy kid who left a Lutheran elementary school and found himself in a public school with very few friends. That seems like yesterday.

I ended up a pretty popular high school student, who played on the basketball team, dated the girl of his dreams and was Senior Class President, ASB vice-president and Senior Prom King. As Walter Brennan used to say, “No brag. Just fact.”

Off into the real world I went and I can easily come up with a handful of moments where I wished I had “made them count.” But instead, I let them pass, figuring there were lots more opportunities like that in the future. That isn’t always the case.

I remember Al, the overnight security guard at KOMO radio & TV, who I befriended during my radio days there. He just wanted friends. At one point, Al had to be hospitalized and so I thought, I’ll get down and visit him eventually. He never returned.

There was a girl I was dating my senior year of college that I pretty much disbanded. I thought it was just too darn early to settle down and it probably was, but she was a quality human being and I was a young guy trying to get it all out of his system. I owe her more than an apology, but I’ve offered that and she said it wasn’t necessary.

So, people move on. Maybe I’m the one hanging on to things I should let go. I’m seriously convinced that everything that happens in our life has a purpose, maybe even a lesson attached. Geeze, I’ve learned a ton of lessons during my years on this rock and I’m grateful for all of them. I’m also big on “everything happens for a reason” in that, where I’m at today is an accumulation of everything I’ve experienced before.

And here we are. I’m here, married to an amazing women who cares about the things in her life more than I could ever dream. Oh, I love my wife, my kids, my mom and sisters, and all the relatives I stay in touch with. I really do appreciate you. But the curse of being a perfectionist is that you review what you did–good or bad–and continually reevaluate if it was the right thing to do.

And because of that “everything happens for a reason–good or bad” philosophy, I’ll have to assume my choice was correct.  In putting a high value on time, it seems like its wasteful reliving things that have already happened. They had their time, as that precious commodity disappears so quickly.

So do whatever it takes to slow it all down. Don’t be in a hurry for it to all be over. Let it breathe, enjoy the ride and while I’m at it, thanks to everyone who has been a part of my incredible journey.

And as your ride continues….make it count.

Tim Hunter

       I still remember posing for that picture

Spending the Week Surrounded By My Past

I’ve gotten on a recent kick of being sure to make every day count. Alex Trebek is the latest reminder in the news that our time here has its limits and we’ve got to make the most of that precious commodity.

This week has been chock full of little reminders of just how fast it’s all flying by:

Rip Taylor: This crazy funny man who made a living out of wearing a bad toupee and throwing confetti came into KOMO radio twice during my 4-1/2 years there in the early 80s. Back then, as Larry Nelson’s producer, Lar was on the air while I was down the hall interviewing guests and then cutting up the interviews to make it sound like Larry had talked with them. I didn’t mind because he was the star and I got to meet the celebrities passing through promoting their book or theater show or movie. Rip passed away over the weekend at the age of 84, so he had two decades on me. But it seems just like yesterday he was choking me in the KOMO hallways.

Peter Frampton: We’re going to see Mr. Frampton on Wednesday night at the Paramount. Hearing that this was going to be his last tour (yeah, they all say that but he offered up some health news that backed it up)  I felt I had to catch him one more time. We let Elton John get by recently because we just weren’t up to a late night on a work night and driving back & forth to Tacoma. Our justification on that one was that Elton will probably do a residency in the near future down in Las Vegas and we’d catch him then.  I saw Peter a couple of times back in college at the peak of “Frampton Comes Alive” and he put on a great show. We’re talking over 40 years ago and that just doesn’t seem possible.

Linda Botts: Linda has been a longtime friend, going back to my early KLSY days. We were on board the Victoria Clipper watching when they blew up the Kingdome. She was our “Royal Expert” on the Murdock, Hunter & Alice show, who would offer thoughts and opinions on all the royal goings-on in the Princess Diana era. In the small world of things, I knew Linda forever and so did my wife Victoria. When Victoria and Linda got together for lunch, she let it be known she was marrying a disc jockey, and Linda yelled out, “I know him!” Wednesday night, we’ll all be enjoying Mr. Frampton together.

Wayne Newton: I heard a radio commercial that he’s coming up here to perform at a Northwest casino and boy did that bring back memories. Flashback to my days at KOMO where I was Larry Nelson’s producer and we were welcoming Wayne to the Paramount for an appearance. It was such a big deal at that time. We were broadcasting live backstage and Larry was scheduled to chat briefly with Wayne.  Before we get to that, Wayne’s “manager” who looked like he was a stunt double for the cast of Goodfellas told me that Larry was NOT to bring up the recent debacle involving the 4th of July celebration in Washington, D.C.  You see, at that time, the Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, felt the Beach Boys were too hippy-like and so he replaced them with America’s entertainer, Wayne Newton.  So, I went to Larry, told him NOT to bring that up and sure enough, moments later, we were live on the air–with Larry asking Wayne about the incident. The manager looked at me with cold threatening eyes and I thought for sure I was going to be fit with cement shoes.  Somehow, I’m still around to tell that story.

Shirley Thom: Back in my KOMO radio days, there was a young go-getter named Shirley Thom who eventually ascended to Sales Manager at KOMO, AM-1000. This past week, they had an 80th birthday party for her at the Nickerson Street Saloon. More flashbacks to a time that seems like a handful of years ago and all the fun we had at “Your Husky Station.”

That’s Shirley on the far right (not politically)

All these ancient memories flushed to the top of my consciousness in the span of a week. The good news is I remember them all like they were yesterday and hope to hang on to them as long as humanly possible.

Oh, sure, this is just another busy, non-stop week in the life of you-know-who as I create even more memories for that little brain of mine to absorb. But while I live in the present, I equally enjoy looking off into the distance and being reminded of some other really good times in my life.

Living in the present while being surrounded by the past. Basically, the best of both worlds. I am friggin’ lucky.

Tim Hunter

 

A Significant Date

Well, lookee there—it’s already October!

When this month arrives, everything under God’s green earth is available in a Pumpkin-Spiced flavor, we start seeing suggestions for Halloween costumes and brightly-colored leaves are tossed into every piece of advertising. As I’ve said before, this is my absolute favorite season, with the return of football and big games on both Saturday and Sunday, baseball and soccer playoffs and so much more, I welcome each day as a favorite relative making an annual visit.

So it seems only fitting that October 1st should mean so much to me. That’s the date, five years ago–October 1st, 2014–that I rolled my career dice to see what would happen.

I was in my late 50s, in a job that was slowly smothering my creativity. Whatever I came up with was dumbed down. I saw projects I was proud of be “corrected” into Pablum. I initially talked about quitting that summer or looking for work elsewhere, but my salary was boosted enough to make me stay, at least for a few more months.  But as the summer wore on, so did my patience. When I went away for an extended Labor Day Weekend, I came back to find out that radio commercials I had creatively written had been slashed down to the 4th grade reading level and targeted towards consumers in the 1980s at best. I walked into my supervisor’s office and gave my one-month’s notice.  That would give them 30 days to find someone else to take on this mental flogging.

As September 30th approached, there were going-away events, tying up loose ends, and cleaning out desks to keep me busy. After all, I had been there 10 years and a lot of crap tends to pile up. I made some life-long friends at this place and stay in touch with a dozen or so of them still today. I actually sat down to count up the number of people I had worked with in that building. It was an even 100, with a staff averaging 16-41 people at any given time. Yes, people came, people went. I was going, but not in any particular direction.

I decided this would be a great time to create my ideal work situation. Rather than going into another full-time job, I wanted to piece-meal and craft some kind of situation where I could do more of the things I love and then just keep doing those until I was ready to hang it up for good. (not that I ever think I will)

For some of those close to me, there was trepidation and concern. There are those who need that sure-thing, full-time job for security’s sake. Having been eliminated from radio positions twice in my career, I found both times that when a job goes away, everything will be OK. You gotta believe in yourself and your skills and know that someone out there is going to appreciate them.

I reconnected with a former co-worker, Corey Newton and joined Create Impulse, a local ad agency. I started Tim Hunter Creative Services and picked up a handful of clients right away, and then spent more time developing other ventures I had dabbled in–voice over work, creating videos, writing more comedy, etc.  And now, it’s been five years since this grand experiment began and I’m so glad I finally took the big plunge. I’m also very grateful that it all worked out.

I remember, somewhere in mid-September of that year, I got a phone call from Fred Herring, a Bothell real estate guy that reached out to me every couple of years to have me speak at the Bothell Kiwanis breakfast. He asked if I was available to come and chat at their next gathering and I asked, “When’s that, Fred?”  “October 1st,” he responded.

“As a matter of fact, Fred, I’m available that day.”

It would be Day One of my grand experiment, so I already had a topic: “Now this is living!”

I live a busy life and every now and then, like this week, commitments pile up and make for an on-the-go adventure. I live for it, yet some don’t understand it. “You’re too busy!”

I laugh and over-schedule in your face.

The day will come when I can’t do this anymore. But for now, I can and so I will.

And loving it. For five years now. Something I heard many years ago was that, in your final moments, you don’t regret what you did during your life–but rather, what you didn’t do.

I’m making that list shorter every day.

Tim Hunter

 

Can Everybody Just Calm The BLEEP Down?

So, last Sunday was going to be epic. We didn’t have any plans to speak of, were going to spend the day putzing around the house and maybe run a few errands, all after the Seahawks finished their early game.

I got up, turned on the TV and the screen was blue. I was able to switch to Netflix or Prime, no problem and the cheap digital antenna I hooked up worked. So, there was something wrong with the cable.

I did a couple of resets of the system without any luck. I got a Xfinity/Comcast person on the phone, we tried a couple of his tricks and still, nothing. So, I booked the soonest service appointment they had available which was Monday afternoon. Go without cable for over 24 hours? Unthinkable. My plan was to run over to the Comcast store when it opened at 10am, swap boxes and if that ended up being the problem, I’d just cancel the repair appointment. This should work.

In the meantime, a bunch of panicky emails started circulating from my KRKO & KXA radio brethren up north.  Apparently, a staff member had posted a picture of some teens and several of our Facebook followers were pointing out that they were allegedly flashing “White Gang Signs.”  The immediate response by one of those in our group was to take it all down, which they did.

But what’s this White Gang sign thing? I apparently operate in different circles and I’m not doubting there is such a thing, but how did several of our listeners become such great experts in this field?  Well, let’s start with the controversial picture:

 

OK, I’ll give you that they’re white. There’s three of them, so technically, it could be a gang. A small gang, but a gang none the less.  But before we start making accusations about some teens in Snohomish County, why would you immediately go to the darkest place possible? Do you know these kids and what they are into?  My God, how many times did I mug the camera when I was in my teens, doing goofy things.

So, are they “White Gang” signs?  Well, you be the judge–here’s a website that identifies all of the possible White Gang signs.

Not really a lot of matches, unless you’re considering the classic “OK” sign to be a gang sign. Are you willing to go there and think the worst of these kids because of the OK sign they’re flashing?  Then I’d just like to quickly point several other White Gang members of whom you may not be familiar.

 

Yeah, I always knew they were up to something

 

You tell ’em, T-Pain

 

Such a young age to be a racist

 

No, Johnny, No!

 

Paul, how could you?

 

Hermione, say it isn’t so!!!

 

I should have known by the gang hoodie.

I think that’s a hoodie.

All this to say, just calm the BLEEP down. Like I said, if you know those kids are White Gang members, SAY SOMETHING TO THE POLICE. But if you’re just trying to troll from the confines of your parents’ basement, get a life. Or go after some of these other, more well-known targets above, Mr. or Mrs. Gang Sign Expert.

Now, back to my cable situation. Well, with the Seahawks playing at 10am, my game plan was to hop in the car and be at the Xfinity/Comcast store right when they open, swap out boxes and hopefully be back watching the game by the second quarter. It seemed crazy enough that it just might work.

Except, when I arrived, I found out that they don’t actually open until 11am. Well, rather than running back and forth from my house to the mall, I called my wife and said I was going to go hang out at The Ram, have a beer and watch the game until the cable store opened.  I pulled up to the Ram–and it was closed. They didn’t open until 11. So I headed over to Stanford’s and they also didn’t open until 11.  OK, that’s it, I surrender. I’ll burn up a little more fossil fuel and go home for 20 minutes and then head back.

My second trip proved more fruitful. Within 3 minutes, I had handed over the old box, grabbed the new one, and zipped home.  VICTORY! It was a defective cable box all along!  My big beautiful 70-inch television was once again filled with Seahawks football and my precious Sunday morning was back to normal. I was elated.

So much, I flashed myself the “OK” sign.

And all this left me with just one question: Can everybody just calm the BLEEP down?

Tim Hunter

PS  So now the move is on to make all of those people pictured above racists. Here’s the story

 

Sometimes, You Can Go Back

It seems completely bizarre that the year 1969 was 50 years ago. Half a century has passed since I was 14-years-old, growing up in my hometown of Torrance, California.

It was the year I graduated from 8th grade and made the transition to high school. I took a summer school class–P.E. of all things–so that I could spend some time on campus before going full-time in the fall.  The Beatles were still together, although they had gone all hippie and there were rumors of them not getting along. And while it was the year we finally made it to the moon, it had been a long decade. The Viet Nam War kept escalating,  a president, his brother and a civil rights leader were assassinated and people were anxious to get to a fresh new decade and move on.

 

The Levy Elementary School Class of 1969

 

While the major spotlight of the 50th anniversary of 1969 fell on the moon landing with a little bit left for Woodstock, for the 14-year-old kid growing up on 226th Street, when I recall 1969, I go straight to the Manson murders.

Remember how back in 2001 when those passenger jets crashed into the Twin Towers and it took your brain a long time to accept someone could actually do that intentionally? When Charles Manson and his followers went on their killing sprees–two separate nights, with stabbings and mutilations–it was unthinkable. That anyone could go in and butcher people like that. Who were these monsters? it resulted in news coverage that rivaled what you saw during the O.J. trial.  Being in the Los Angeles area, I remember a lot of people wondering, “Oh, my God, could we be next?”  We had made the transition from hippies representing peace and love to whacked-out psychopaths with crazed eyes that carved swastikas on their foreheads and killed people. The hippies they arrested said they were inspired by the Beatles song, “Helter Skelter.” They even left that written in blood at one of the slaughters.

In the months and years that followed, Charles Manson, Tex Watson, Squeaky Fromme, Patricia Krenwinkle, Linda Kasabian and Susan Atkins became household words. The Spahn Ranch, a former site where they filmed a lot of westerns, had been engraved in our minds as the home base of Manson and his followers.

 

All this to say, I was very aware of what happened that fateful summer and was curious how Quentin Tarantino was going to work it into his new movie, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” I’m going to avoid spoilers as best I can because the strongest payoff for that movie is for you to be completely unaware of where it’s going.

For a teenager growing up in Southern California in 1969, this movie had a profound effect on me. I was two years away from a driver’s license, so if I went anywhere in a car in those days, I was a passenger. The same was true of Tarantino, so he intentionally included a lot of shots of vintage Southern California from the passengers’ point of view. To do that, he had to recreate streets, freeways, signs and traffic as it was 50 years ago. That’s where this movie became a time capsule for me. As the plot thickened, I was fixated on all the billboards, the now-defunct stores, and the bus stops with ads on them for things like TV Kids Show Host Hobo Kelly (who I had completely forgotten about) and L.A. news guy George Putnam. Everywhere I looked, I was back in the So Cal I grew up in, 50 years ago.

To be clear, this movie is not for everybody. Tarantino loves his f-bombs and extreme graphic violence so I can’t recommend it to mom. But if you allow yourself to get past that stuff, you will be treated to one amazing movie. It’s not a documentary, it’s a fairy tale. It’s not how the story ended in real life, but rather, how you wished it could have ended.

DiCaprio, Pitt, the entire cast acted their rear ends off. I’ve only seen a couple of Tarantino pictures because the cartoonish violence is often too much. But in this case, I had to restrain myself from breaking out into a standing ovation. It was that feeling you get when watching the coyote get crushed by something he intended for the roadrunner…times a hundred.

One probably shouldn’t make Oscar predictions in my current emotional state, but Leo and Brad are very deserving and I think a little gold statue is due to Mr. Tarantino, if nothing else for the fantastic time machine he created. He took me back to that unsettling summer of 1969 and made it all better.

Then again, isn’t that what fairy tales are supposed to do?

Tim Hunter

You Can Have My Spot

Some weeks I can’t wait to see what comes out of this keyboard and others, I fight the urge to pile on to the latest political unrest. It seems like there’s a new one every week and while I have thoughts on each fresh, disturbing topic, I attempt to keep most of those opinions to myself, or discuss them verbally with open-thinking people.

Oh, the occasional politically-themed blog sneaks out, but I prefer that this little corner of the Internet be more positive and uplifting. Even when I break down and dive into a politically sensitive topic, my hope is to contribute  some balance to the topic.

Not a whole lot of possible balance this week, so I’m heading to space.

Actually, I’m not.

You see, there’s been a lot of talk about going back to the moon with the 50th anniversary of the first time we were there rolling around this week.

That was an amazing time in our country. Even with a war raging on in Viet Nam, a decade-long pursuit of safely landing Americans on the lunar surface happened when I was 14-years-old. I had graduated 8th grade and was bracing myself for entering the world of high school. During the summer, I took a cross country running class to get in better shape to try out for the basketball team in the fall. I remember buying a bottle of salt tablets because that’s what the coach said would help me retain water. God knows what my blood pressure went up to.

I do remember all the hoopla surrounding the moon landing. I’m pretty sure I have the front pages of several newspapers tucked away in boxes under the house. The Law and Order candidate, Richard Nixon, was president and so much was going in the world to compete for my attention from other things like, oh, girls.

Seriously, when you’re talking 1969, you’re talking about the Manson murders, Woodstock, the first Pontiac Trans Am came out, the “Miracle Mets” and gas was 35-cents a gallon. It was a completely different world.

Receiving my 8th grad diploma from Sam Levy Elementary.

Yes, I was a proud Levy Llama.

Years later, I’ve naturally aged like a Facebook app and hear today’s explorers saying that they’re looking forward to going to the moon. If we somehow manage to make commercial travel to the moon possible in my lifetime, I think I’ll pass.

I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing, first-hand, what it’s like up there.  But there are already so many things down here that I haven’t seen or experienced yet. I only made it to Yellowstone National Park for the first time a couple of years ago thanks to my son’s wedding. They booked a venue in Montana and I was able to cross that off my bucket list.

Next month, I’ll be heading to Scotland for the very first time and among our stops, visiting the town of Wishaw where my dad was born.

You see, as far as places I’d like to visit in my lifetime, the moon probably is #2,589 on the list.

Think the flight to Australia is long? And then, to fly all the way up there just so I could look out at a bunch of rocks and craters and tell the old joke about, ‘That’s why they don’t have a restaurant up here–it lacks atmosphere.” And what happens when you’re in that space suit and you fart?  I definitely need an answer before I put one on.

Moon, I can see you just fine from here. A few of us might come your way for a visit, but I’ll pass.

To the explorer who can’t to fly there, you can have my seat.

Tim Hunter

Just How Insane Does Seattle Have To Get?

To paraphrase a politician’s once-famous statement, “I know Seattle. I’ve lived in Seattle and played in Seattle and right now, you’re no Seattle.”

The place that branded itself “The Emerald City” years ago is a far cry from that right now. Unless there’s an Oz book out there where the Cowardly Lion is passed out from smoking some of the Scarercrow’s stash while Dorothy is free-basing something with the Tin Woodsman’s left arm.

That sounds insane, but apparently that’s the new normal in Seattle.

You know how people would come up to you and say, “My, how your kids have grown!” and you know they have, but you hadn’t really noticed because you see them every day. I realized yesterday just how crazy Seattle has gotten when a guy with obvious mental issues and 22 arrests to his credit decided to start stabbing people out in front of the downtown Nordstrom.

Hey, Nordstrom, you can’t buy publicity like that!

But not to worry. Our mayor says that Seattle is safe. She insists on it. Well, she didn’t say it after this incident, but she did last year after another unbalanced person decided to just start shooting at passing vehicles, people, whatever, killing two.

Yesterday was the equivalent of someone saying “My, how your kids have grown!”  But instead of those words, I found myself getting text messages from people and talking on the phone with my mom in California, who were all shocked at what had happened at Nordstrom. My immediate response was, “What happened?”

You see, I had a busy day, with lots of work followed by meeting a friend for happy hour, then dashing home to catch baseball’s All-Star game. I had missed the evening news on television, really hadn’t checked Facebook, so all was well in the World of Tim. Meanwhile, the rest of the country had its eyes on the terrible tragedy that had occurred in Seattle.

Living here, it’s just not surprising. Nor are car break-ins, needles on the ground, and camping tents put up on any vacant spot in the city. The other day, I parked my car in downtown Seattle and while walking my usual route, passed two new tents that had been set up next to the sidewalk. The irony was that the spot they had set up was marked as a “No Parking” zone, so that if you had parked a car there, you would have gotten a ticket or have been towed away. But put up a tent, urinate or defecate on the street, or shoot up drugs–in Seattle, that’s fine! Oh, none of that is legal, but doing whatever you want as a homeless person is perfectly fine here in Crazy Town.

I should point out, that allowing your city to be taken over like this isn’t cheap. The Seattle area somehow spends over a billion dollars EVERY YEAR on homelessness with highly publicized, minimal results.

At the afore-mentioned happy hour, my friend told me about another guy who cashed out here in the Northwest and headed back to his native Vermont, where he bought a 4,000 square foot home on 20 acres with a barn and territorial view for around $700,000. The guy and his wife are enjoying life, have honeybees, and make their own maple syrup and sell it to neighbors. Hearing him describe the place where the guy now lives and the lifestyle he enjoys made me take a deep breath and realize that the possibility of living that way still exists.

That’s going to be a few more years down the road for me. In the meantime, we have some elections coming up next year where the city should be able to clean house and replace the crazies in office who have allowed this gem of a city to deteriorate to a free-range mental institution and drug den. Ideally, I’d like to get Seattle back to some normalcy, helping those who accept help and locking the rest up. I know at least three people from yesterday’s incident that would probably agree with me.

I pretty much consider next year’s elections a referendum on the future of Seattle. I fell in love with this place over 40 years ago and it still has so much going for it, but frankly, Seattle is having its own mental breakdown. My hope is that we’ve hit bottom and eventually will begin climbing back up. Or maybe we’re not there yet.

Just how insane does Seattle have to get?

Tim Hunter

Happy Birthday, America!

You’re looking good, at 243! Actually, they say that 243 is the new 220.

Oh, you’re not perfect. Then again, who is? I, for one, am going to use July 4th as a reminder of what a great country I live in. One that was founded on freedom and that allows and encourages us to complain about you the other 364 days of the year.

These days, the 4th of July means going back up to my adopted hometown of Bothell, where I get to do the play-by-play of the city’s Freedom Festival Parade for the city cable TV channel. Then, we head over to Mike & Annette’s house for the traditional after-party. Before dark, we’ll be home to protect the home from errant bottle rockets and attempt to calm the pets.

That’s how I celebrate these days. I’d like to take you back with me to my earlier celebrations.

I remember those days of growing up on 226th street and the anticipation of going to the fireworks stand with my family to pick out this year’s assortment. Would we go to one of the much advertised Red Devil fireworks stands, or that new brand, Black Panther?

The kids, bouncing around like we’d eaten a box of sugar cubes, would point at the giant assortment, knowing that dad would pay that much. Most years we did the $14.99 family fun pack, but it seems to me there were at least a couple of years where we went big and got the $19.99 value pack.

Each assortment came in a box wrapped in cellophane that had to be ripped off so you could see and handle all the contents. There were those fountains that you’d light and then watch as a shower of sparks would burst out for 10-seconds or so. Those had to be saved for the night of the 4th for the full effect.

There was the Log Cabin, a cardboard box made out to look like a log cabin that you’d light and smoke would come out the chimney for a few seconds. Wow.

Of course, each box came with at least one Piccolo Pete. A firework that basically whistled loudly for 12.57-seconds and….that was it. Over the years, as we got older, we learned that if you clamped down on the second P, it would whistle for a while and then explode. We were such rebels.

Pinwheels eventually made their way into the packs. There were smokeballs that you’d light and watch them smoke for a few seconds. Oh, and those snakes. You’d light a match, hold it on that little black tablet and ash snakes would pour out of them along with the delightful smell of sulfur.

And of course, there were sparklers. Another treat reserved just for the night time celebration, out on our driveway, where dad made sure that a bucket of water was standing by for us to toss our burned ones into. We were very neat celebrants.

In California, sunsets are pretty consistent throughout the year. So, we’d do the family fireworks in the driveway around 7 or whenever we’d convince our parents it was dark enough. Then, we’d all pile in the car and drive over to some hill in Redondo Beach to watch their big fireworks celebration over the ocean.

I’ve opened up this little time capsule as a reminder that on the 4th of July, you can immerse yourself in all the good of the holiday and go a little red, white and blue.  There are some who would argue that there’s no way they could celebrate because of everything going on—-the threats of nuclear war, racial inequality, people being locked up for the color of their skin, GMO’s, Global Warming, whales washing up on the beaches, etc.  That’s true, if you want to surround yourself with all that’s wrong in the world.

Thankfully, my parents chose not to do that back in the 1960s. Our home wasn’t filled with the daily news diet of everything that’s wrong and believe me, we had plenty surrounding us. Assassinations, war protests, race riots, a war raging on in Southeast Asia and so on.

It’s good to be aware of your surroundings and taking steps to make this a better place, but to make your day-to-day existence all about the problems of the world–that’s going to make for a long and miserable life.

And you only get one.

My advice–go to one of those remaining “Safe and Sane” fireworks stands and buy a box of snakes. Sit down on the curb and light a few of them. Watch as they amazingly come to life and then, blow away with the wind. For a brief moment, you’ll be a kid again and happy to be alive on another 4th of July.

Oh and one more thing. One of our family traditions growing up was going to the fireworks stand, getting that assortment pack, climbing back into the car and hearing dad say that phrase he’d say every year. Decades later, I would call him up on the phone and ask him to repeat those words on my radio show.

To hear my dad’s famous phrase, click here.

Happy birthday, America.

Tim Hunter

Dude–You’re ‘The Dude!’

Things happen in our lives and I’m pretty convinced, all for some kind of reason. It doesn’t have to be a great one, but like a jigsaw puzzle with a billion pieces, that little snippet of time plays some part in the story we are creating on this earth.

I’m trying to dig deep and flush out those stories that really had no significance in my life, but that I would like to preserve for posterity or if nothing else, for just a fun flashback when I confined to a rocking chair at a retirement home staffed by former Playboy Bunnies.

Here’s one such story.

Back in the early 1980’s, I had been hired by KOMO AM-1000 to be the morning show producer for Larry Nelson. Larry was the on-air superstar, I was the guy in the background doing things to make him sound better.

I was all of 25-years-young, with my post-college experience limited to three years of playing radio in Yakima, Washington. One of my assigned duties was to conduct interviews, take out some of the clips and then write up a script so it would sound as if Larry Nelson had talked with our special guest.

That meant that over the years, I got to meet authors, movie and TV stars, and formerly famous people trying to eek out a few more minutes in the spotlight. I could drop names, but I’ll save that for a future blog.

This time, I’d like to tell you about the dude named Jeff Dowd.

The Seattle International Film Festival was around 4-years-old and their promoter was a guy named Jeff Dowd. I remember when he showed up to record an interview, he was quite a bit overweight, and frankly, dressed like a slob. I mean, this was KOMO radio, and I had to wear slacks and a tuck-in shirt, so what gave him the right to just show up as if he was helping someone move?

No matter. For a couple of years, when it came time for the festival, Jeff would reach out, come in and we’d record tidbits about the hot movie that year or some of the special guests that were scheduled the show up.

Then, in 1984, as it happens in radio, KOMO threw me a surprise going away. The face I was going away was a complete surprise. Jeff became one of those folks I had got to know through the job, but I never saw him again.

In talking with him, I knew he had aspirations of going to Hollywood, where they made the movies, and getting involved with the industry. Apparently, he did, although I didn’t put the pieces together until many years later.

Jeff got to know the Coen Brothers while they were promoting their first film, Blood Simple. The next thing, he became the basis for one of their most popular characters, Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski from The Big Lebowski.

Yes, Jeff Dowd was the real-life “Dude.”

I don’t know what was going on in my life when “The Big Lebowski” came out, but I’ll be completely honest with you–I’ve never actually seen the whole movie. I need to do that one of these days. I’ve heard so much about it from friends that were fans, I almost feel like I’ve seen it.

But none the less, it’s based on the life of a guy that was one of the puzzle pieces of this yet unfinished story. And that makes one less piece to find among those that fell off the table.

I just thought I would share.

Oh, and here’s the link to the story that flushed out this memory. Best of luck, man. After all, you are, the Dude.

Tim Hunter