The Long And Winding Road

There’s something about a road trip alone… just you and the road. More specifically, just you and the road and your thoughts. As you clock miles on the odometer, without distractions, it provides thinking time, decision time, precious time. And so it was for me. This past week I traveled to the Bay Area for a couple of days of job interviews. It’s been a summer of chasing opportunities and those roads had led in different directions… all of a sudden converging right here… to an intersection where I’d have to choose. And so I hit the road. I could have flown for sure, but I wanted that time alone. I wanted that time to think things out. I wanted that time to myself.

The meetings went great here in LA and there in the Bay Area. So many incredibly talented people giving me faith that the news business is far from doomed. It’s beginning a metamorphosis.. and so am I. For two days I stayed with my cousins, toured San Francisco, lived out of a suit case, spoke with my wife and kids on the phone at night. It’s pretty amazing but just a couple of days away from the family can make you miss them so much. My kids asked how the trip was going, they wanted to know when I’d be home. They wanted to know if we’d be moving. They wanted to know all the answers. So did I.

After the second day of meetings finished, tired from the trip, with a long road ahead, I crossed the Bay Bridge to begin the trek back home. My iPad was my companion, a chance to listen to 400 miles of music that I never get to hear. I did the first 100 miles in no time. It’s that second hundred and the hundred after that where most of the thinking is done. The road down the 5 to Los Angeles can be long and lonely. It’s farmland and lots of it. It’s just you and the road and those thoughts. And so it was for me… thinking about these opportunities and a potential move and what the best move was for my career and for my family. My eyes stinging with exhaustion, the road continued on. The music kept playing. My iPad is a mix of a lot of old stuff and some news stuff. It was on shuffle and clearly the shuffle was trying to tell me something. Styx started with “Babe” and the words welled up inside me: “you know it’s you babe.. whenever I get weary and I’ve had enough… feel like giving up… you know it’s you babe,” I was homesick. Then the iPad sucker punched me again with Chicago’s “Colour My World”… “As time goes on, I realize, just what you mean to me…” By now I thought the iPad was conspiring against me. It was me and the road and the farmland and the iPad of music which was trying to sway my decision making. The iPad went in for the kill with a song you might not even know. It’s one of my favorites.. that song we all have which always triggers just the right emotions.. THAT song. “Forever Autumn” a song by Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues. In the middle of ten thousand songs of music, on a lonely drive back to Los Angeles, a chance shuffle of the iPad brought all these songs together. And Hayward sang, “A gentle rain falls softly on my weary eyes… as if to hide a lonely tear… my life will be forever autumn.. ’cause you’re not here“. And there I was on the 5 with two hundred miles left in my my drive, just a man and his thoughts, with tears filling my eyes. And all of a sudden the months of searching for my next career stop seemed to come into focus. If we needed to separate for months to make the job happen, if we had to leave the neighborhood we love and the friends we’ve made, if we had to sacrifice each other and that precious time together…

Without my family beside me, all of it was meaningless.

The final hundred miles of a long trip can go slow as molasses or lightning fast. Knowing my wife and girls were on the other end made the ride move quick. Sun was setting as I made my way over the Grapevine and into the LA area and finally down the side streets of town. As I made the final leg of the drive, I thought of one more song to add to that iPad mix “The Long And Winding Road” “that leads to your door… I’ve seen that road before… It always leads me here”. I finally pulled into the driveway of our tiny house. I went inside, dropped my bag, and greeted everyone. I was home.  My decision was made.



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Nirvana Nevermind: an appreciation

It was this week 25 years ago. 25 years. Where did the time go. I was 16. I was in high school still reeling from the death of my father when I heard this new song for the first time. MTV played the video. The dirty gymnasium with the cheerleaders and the janitor. The song was “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and the band was about to change what we thought of music forever. Nirvana tore across the music landscape like a comet. My friend Ben Donovan and I had already started our DJ company in Boston playing music at school dances, proms, parties. I guess you could say we were the outcast DJ’s, a little like Nirvana. We weren’t afraid to play classic rock or disco or whatever people really wanted to hear in addition to top 40. That included Nirvana. The song would be an automatic mosh pit at schools. It blistered through our Peavey speakers and pierced the souls of all those school kids including myself. Somehow it spoke to what we were all going through at the time- adolescent angst. Nirvana became more and more popular. By the time I got in to the WBCN listener line and eventually into the studio as an assistant producer on the afternoon show, Nirvana had graduated to elite status. I’m sure Nik Carter Bill Abbate or Oedipus can confirm we were playing them probably once an hour and oftentimes at the very top of the hour. If you listened to WBCN in the early 90’s, Nevermind was screaming out of your car speakers for sure. And it deserved to. When Kurt Cobain died, I never really thought about the impact that album and that band would have all these years later. It helped shape the last 25 years of music. I’m now married, with kids, living in California. WBCN is no longer. But Nevermind always will be. Which brings me to today, thousands of miles from home, from WBCN, from my dj days at schools and colleges. I went to the back corner of the garage and rummaged through some boxes and there it was. MY copy of Nevermind. THE copy I bought in 1991. You can see the letter P that I put on all my discs to tell them apart when we dj’d and the duct tape I used on the case when the cover broke because we played it so often. I took the disc out and looked at it. I got in the car and popped the disc in. 25 years later, Smells Like Teen Spirit blasted out of my car speakers. It sounded just as good.

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Dare To Fair: The 2016 LA County Fair

There’s something about a fair: the rides, the crazy food, the smiles, the fun.  Ever since I was a little kid I’ve loved going to carnivals and fairs.  Since moving here to Southern California years ago, I’ve marked the change in seasons by the fairs.  The LA County Fair arrives in September with school and football and my birthday.

So this weekend we made our annual pilgrimage to Pomona and the Fairplex to check out this year’s fair.

Full disclosure: since I’m a blogger writing about the fair, they covered admission for four and parking.  That was certainly a big help for any family but there are discounts people can get.  My kids donated canned food one year for our free admission on a weekday.  This year, we planned on getting $50 unlimited ride wristbands for the kids but got there too late in the day for the wristbands.  So I made my biggest purchase of the day: $200 in ride tickets that I split onto four cards for my girls, their friend, and an extra for us.  No one ever said the fair was cheap and rides/games always seem to cost the most.  The kids had a blast on rides which spun, rolled, twisted, and flipped.  I loved just watching them on the rides.  I still got my Tilt A Whirl on.  Love that thing.  Awesome.

As the sun set, it was time for dinner.  Can’t go wrong with the giant turkey legs at the chuck wagon.  They were definitely shareable, massive,  and delish.  We got one of those refillable drinks and refilled it about 50 times with lemonade during the night any time someone was thirsty.   After dinner,  we went over to one of the stands where they fry everything and had deep fried Oreos for dessert.  Actually that was dessert number one.  Because later in the night I had a chocolate gelato Sundae.  Hey, it’s my birthday weekend and it’s the fair and whatever happens at the fair stays at the fair.

We did a TON of walking, made our way slowly around, saw some of the exhibits including the flowers which were beautiful.  We didn’t have tickets to the concert in the grandstand but were close enough to hear every song which was played by country star Lee Brice.

The time went so fast.  Before we knew it, it was after 11pm with the kids and their friend and they had nearly closed out the fair.  Some fair attractions weren’t covered by tickets: we paid extra for our kids to do the euro trampoline jump, and the hamster wheels on the water.  But at the end of the night, they still had some tickets left which was a good thing.  We used them on the fishing game where EVERY player gets a prize.  We started to head toward the exit and grabbed a final corn dog for the walk.  Don’t tell.

In the end, I took out $400 from the ATM for the day and with rides, games, food, and extras, we didn’t use it all.  I came back with money.  So we know the fair isn’t cheap.  But the fair is tradition.  The fair only comes once a year. The fair is family, and memories, and fun, and awesomeness.

Till next year, LA County Fair.







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Happy Birthday Freebies To Me!

I got up in the morning and went right for my morning cup of coffee.  Today was my birthday.  And my birthday coffee was free.




I dropped the kids off at school and went to have breakfast.  Next stop Denny’s.  With a show of my drivers license they greeted me with a “Happy Birthday and a free grand slam breakfast.  Yum.  You know what?  It was nice to enjoy a quiet breakfast by myself and to reflect on what has been a busy and unexpected year.


Breakfast was delicious.  They didn’t even give me a bill, just wished me a “Happy Birthday!” My next stop was the Lucky Car Wash in Pasadena, CA.  They offer a free birthday car wash if you were signed up with them and I was.  The car was so dirty but not for long.  It came out spotless and beautiful and it was more than $20 saved.


It was close to lunch time and on my way back home I stopped at this awesome cake place.  Nothing Bundt Cakes.  They let me pick whichever flavor I wanted for my free birthday bundt cake.  I got the marble.  I was going to save that to have with the family later this weekend.


After the kids were out of school, one of them really wanted ice cream.  So we went to Baskin Robbins for my free birthday scoop.  We got the wild and reckless.  They just scanned the birthday email on my phone and off we went.


Too much food.  Might need to give up the free Krispy Kreme birthday donut.  I was going to get my hair cut but forgot my birthday coupon for Sport Clips.  Maybe we’d do some clothes shopping instead.  I had my Old Navy birthday coupon for a big discount.  In the end, I got the youngest daughter to soccer practice and then the family went out for a birthday dinner.


We ate together at BJ’s brew house and then I was serenaded by the family as they brought out my free dessert pizookie which is an evil warm chocolate cookie with ice cream on it. It was the perfect way to end my birthday.

There are a lot of items you can get for free on your birthday and you know what?  You deserve it!  It requires a little planning ahead of time and maybe a look online at some of the sites which list all the freebies you can get since you need to sign up for some of them.

The Catalina Express in Southern California even offered free ferry rides to the island for my birthday and that was soooo tempting.

I looked at places near me, places that didn’t require another purchase to get a birthday treat, places I’d enjoy during the day.  Annoyed I didn’t get my hair cut but that’s a lesson learned for next year.

As a friend told me, your birthday only comes once a year, so you better enjoy this next trip around the sun!


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40-Things To Do Before I’m 40: Acupuncture

Last year I started an ambitious project to go out of my comfort zone and try 40 new things before I turned 40.

I did water aerobics with seniors, tried Pilates, visited the Grand Canyon, stayed at a spiritual retreat.  The project was eye opening, and revealing, and truthfully, took way longer to accomplish than I thought.  One summer wasn’t enough.

So my 40th birthday came and went without me completing my 40 tasks. Now here I am staring down at 41.  So I’ve continued my list.  This summer we took a cruise to Alaska.  Amazing.  I’ve been job searching like a new college grad.  Exhausting.  And now, my list continues as I try acupuncture for the first time.


I’ve heard about it my entire life but like many things I was reluctant to try it out.  But now more than ever, I’m realizing that I need to take better care of myself to be a better parent to our kids, and a better husband to my wife, to be a better me.

One by one the doctor put the needles in.



Weight loss.

Sleep improvement.

I thought I’d look like a pin cushion when she was done, but truthfully, it was only ten or so strategically placed needles.  She then had me lay down in the dark, in the quiet, without my kids running, or the phone chiming, or car horns honking, or anything else.  Just me and my needles.

Acupuncture is an ancient treatment and now I was pinning its success on some very modern day problems.  After about 20 minutes they came to remove the needles.  Everyone wonders so here’s the answer: The needles didn’t really hurt at all.  They’re whisker thin and felt just like a little pinch going in and going out.  They’re disposable too.

The first thing I noticed was the calm I felt.  Just calm.  Calm.  My head felt warm and fuzzy, that feeling after you’ve woken up from a really satisfying sleep.  It’s been so long since I had sleep like that.  Mostly it was just calm.  That initial fuzzy feeling lasted a couple of hours.  The calm lingered longer.

They gave me some herbs (not THOSE herbs) and booked me for another appointment in a week.  As I approach my birthday this week, another year older, maybe another year wiser, realizing it’s incredibly important to keep trying new things.


check out some of my other 40 before 40 adventures:


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Much More Than A September Day

On Tuesday morning September 11, 2001 I was looking forward to my birthday coming up. I was looking forward to my wife Gloria returning from a couple of weeks on the west coast for business. I did my usual drive to WBZ that day in the early morning. And I distinctly remember passing the Dunkin Donuts on Market street in Brighton, the one with the old neon sign, as I first heard about the unusual morning shaping up in New York. The first reports on the radio were of a small plane hitting the World Trade Center, probably a recreational plane, and there was a fire. I remember naively thinking that it would probably be an interesting story as the day developed. When you’re a news producer, you think of events in terms of your news rundown, and chunks of news, elements in your rundown that make up the news of the day. I remember thinking it would probably be good for a minute-thirty or maybe even a live shot from New York. I remember getting to WBZ as people still did not fully realize the scope of what was starting to unfold.

As we would later find out, this was much more than a small plane, much more than any normal September day, much more than a minute-thirty in a rundown.

The morning would unfold, and history would write the story for us. I distinctly remember, and will never forget the face of our assignment manager when he alerted us that at least one of the planes had originated from Boston’s Logan Airport. A collective gasp went over Soldiers Field Road where our studios were located. It takes a lot to shock a group of hardened news people who’ve pretty much seen it all at one time or another.

But this was much more than any normal September day, much more than a minute-thirty in the rundown.

Our newsroom would go into crisis mode. Boston wasn’t ground zero, but it was the epicenter of the suspect search. Well known Boston landmarks and hotels were searched top to bottom as authorities honed in on just who the hijackers were, where they came from, and how they had carried out their plot. As federal agents began the suspect search, the real rescue and recovery began in New York. Two of our colleagues happened to have caught an early flight to New York that morning prior to any of this unfolding. They ended up being our first eyes and ears to history. I will never forget the roll call of local names on the news which just got longer and longer, all people with Boston ties, all people who were confirmed to have died. The news would not end that day. The list of names would not end. We worked around the clock till early in the overnight. It took hours to confirm my sister was safe in New York City. It took hours to confirm just where my wife was on the west coast. It would take days more for her to find a way back to Boston. I remember going home that night feeling the weight of the world and a very empty feeling on top of that. I remember downing an entire bag of Doritos and leaving the TV on to hear the developments. In the coming days, names like Lisa Frost would become etched in history. Stories of surviving family members would become etched in history. Stories of the many heroes would become etched in history. I didn’t really celebrate my birthday that year, didn’t really want to. Several days later, after going non-stop for hours on end, day after day after day, I remember driving down Route 9 in Boston with tears streaming down my face, as it finally began to sink in, just what I had witnessed in my newsroom over the past days. I will always remember September 11th, and I will always remember the effort of my colleagues at WBZ who worked tirelessly to present the news, to find the facts, and to honor the victims.

This was much more than any other September day, much more than a minute-thirty in the rundown.

Ten years after 9/11, and thousands of miles from my old newsroom in Boston, my team in Los Angeles was tasked with putting together a half hour special on the attack anniversary.  Lisa Frost’s family took part.  They wanted to remember the Boston University graduate who was just 22 when she died that day aboard United flight 175.  Frost was a daughter, a sister, an artist.  They gave my producer this copy of her artwork as a token of thanks.

For Lisa, and for ALL the 2,996 victims, I remember that day.  This was much more than any other September day, much more than a minute-thirty in the rundown.




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Spending Our Anniversary With Coldplay (no kids and guilt free!)

It was our 16th wedding anniversary and the kids were headed to grandma’s for the night. For once we had our act together, planned ahead, and the wife and I were hitting the town. We had tickets for Coldplay at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California and couldn’t wait to celebrate our anniversary together with tens of thousands of other people.  Kid free.

The lights went down, the music turned up, the band took the stage and started rocking out to the songs we all remember: Yellow, Clocks, Sky Full Of Stars. They had given out these very cool wristbands for everyone when we entered that lit up different colors and choreographed the audience with the music. It was cool. It was very cool. And it was fun. Couples were dancing. Friends were singing. Parents were dancing with their kids.

About an hour into things I thought it. But I refused to say it. Then my wife thought it. And she finally said it, “The kids really would have had fun tonight.” I told her I had thought the same thing but had decided not to say it. As parents it is so tough not to get caught up in the cycle of feeling guilty when you enjoy something WITHOUT the kids.

But we’re all allowed to. We deserve it. I’ll say it again: We parents are ALL allowed to enjoy and indulge WITHOUT the kids. And we don’t need to feel guilty for it. That last part is most important: no guilt!

Long before we had two kids, long before we had our little house in our little suburban town, there were two young college students who found each other and fell in love. Long before the family, there was the couple. On this night, we were celebrating THAT. The COUPLE.

The music took us down a memorable journey for the night: In My Place, Viva La Vida, Fix You. As balloons bounded in the crowd and fireworks rocketed in the air, I put my arm around my wife and she put her head on my shoulder. It was that nuzzly head on the shoulder that sends tingles down your spine. That, “I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to have someone who feels the way about me that I feel about them.” On this night, for these few minutes, it was back to just us again. And it was guilt free deliciousness.

We left the concert and got each of the kids a t-shirt. A guilt free t-shirt. Don’t tell the kids, but EVERY time they wear that shirt, I’m going to remember the time we left them home with grandma, and went out to celebrate our anniversary by enjoying a much needed and wonderful guilt free night of coupleness.


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