Monday, March 31, 2008
So the other day I got this form letter from the local WORKFORCE CAREER CENTER. These are the people commissioned by the state Department of Labor to help people like me get back on their feet and find a job.
It's been just a few weeks since David A Patterson took over for Elliot Spitzer, the disgraced former Governor who resigned amid a prostitution scandal.
So, I started thinking how many hundreds of government agencies had to change their letterhead to make sure that David A. Patterson, Governor was listed on the top of each and every piece of official government paperwork.
Now, let's multiply that by all of the "Welcome to New York" signs and all of the signage in front of scores of government buildings. They will all need to say, "David A. Patterson, Governor."
Who started this ego stroking trend, anyhow? And, at what cost. Hundreds of thousands of dollars? Millions? Is it really necessary to have the Governors name on every official state document and sign? What purpose does it serve?
"Oh look honey, we just got a cease and desist order from David A. Patterson, Governor."
"Isn't it nice that David A. Patterson, Governor cares enough to personally stamp his name on our water bill?"
Stop it. Just stop the silliness. There must be some overpaid government employees who must set this whole name conversion in motion. Someone must pick up the phone, send an email or send a smoke signal to the lower powers that be and order them to immediately remove Elliot Spitzer's name from every document and sign and replace it with the name of the new chief executive, David A. Patterson, Governor.
Mr. Patterson considers himself somewhat of a reformer. So I suggest, he start reforming. Order his name removed from all documents and signs and sign an executive order prohibiting future Governors from stroking their ego. But, then again, removing his name is going to cost money, too. What's a good, conscientious, budget minded Governor to do?
Sunday, March 30, 2008
It was like a scene out of the 1980's movie, "Airplane." I was accosted by Jesus freaks at the Port Authority Bus terminal in New York City. Listen, I was raised in a religious family. Born Catholic, but my parents consider themselves non-denominational Christians.
But, I don't like religion shoved down my throat. In "Airplane," the Leslie Nielsen character confronts all sorts of peddlers as he's strolling through the terminal. He punches them out and kicks them, as each approaches.
I kind of felt that way at the bus terminal. "Have you been saved." they asked. "Have you found Jesus." I could have responded with a bunch of crude jokes, but I bit my tongue.
Like many other public places, those who solicit inside these spaces are heavily regulated. Often, the vendors are told to move from place to place. But, the people at the King James Bible Baptist Church in Manhattan have a free reign.
They hand out tiny leaflets with titles like "this WAS your life", "men of peace", "no fear" and "Satan." They're religious stories using cartoons and they're designed to steer you on the straight and narrow. Again, no problem. That is until, they shove them in your face and begin lecturing you as you walk through the bus station.
I sense that because they are a religious, non profit organization they can have free reign. You wouldn't want the ACLU breathing down your back.
Listen, I get irritated when the newspaper vendors are yelling in your face, hawking their wears in front of Penn Station. It's a gauntlet really.
It's about time these "public places" treat religious organizations like for-profit enterprises. Some of the brownstones in my neighborhood say "No Menus." Yet, there's nothing stopping the Jehovah Witnesses from knocking on my door and lecturing me about Jesus.
Like my sexuality, I'm comfortable in my religious beliefs, I just don't want to be molested by the Jesus freaks.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
"All along the southbound odyssey the train pulls out of Kankakee Rolls along past houses, farms & fields Passin' graves that have no name, freight yards full of old black men And the graveyards of rusted automobiles Good mornin' America, how are you? Don't you know me? I'm your native son! I'm the train they call the City of New Orleans I'll be gone 500 miles when the day is done "
This wasn't just about a trip to New Orleans, it was about riding the rails. I've done this trip two times before and it never gets old, despite the 32 hour long ride. As hundreds of passengers in coach dealt with screaming babies, snoring men and farting fat guys, I lay comfortably in a compact, but efficient sleeper compartment. My tiny room had two beds, one that lowered from the roof of the high ceiling car and the other made up by folding together two face to face coach seats.
The compartment had it's own toilet and sink. The shower was down the hallway. The larger rooms had a sofa and a shower.
"And the sons of Pullman porters & the sons of engineers Ride their fathers' magic carpets made of steel. Mothers with their babes asleep, rockin' to the gentle beat. And the rhythm of the rails is all they feel. Good mornin' America, how are you? Say don't you know me? I'm your native son! I'm the train they call the City of New Orleans. I'll be gone 500 miles when the day is done. "
Claude was the attendant on our way down and Steve took care of our sleeper car on the way back to New York. I mention their names not just because they made my journey a blast, but because they are both survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Real survivors.
Both lost their homes during the storm and both relocated. You could tell they had told the story a hundred times before, but it didn't make telling it any easier for these two men, both born and raised in New Orleans and employees of the railroad for decades.
"Night time on the City of New Orleans Changin' cars in Memphis, Tennessee Halfway home, we'll be there by mornin'. Thru the Mississippi darkness rollin' down to the sea. But all the towns and people seem to fade into a bad dream. And the steel rail still ain't heard the news. The conductor sings his songs again "The passengers will please refrain: This train got the disappea rin' railroad blues "
The trip by train from New York to New Orleans takes 32 hours. By car, just over 20 and by plane about three hours. So why would anyone in their right mind take a train. Three reasons, really. Many people don't like flying. Some do it because in coach, it's cheaper than flying, but for me, I'm just a train buff. I've traveled on train from Denver to California, from New York to Chicago, from San Diego to Santa Barbara and from Denver to New York. I've always been fascinated by trains and train travel since my late grandmother took me on my first train trip, a ride on Philadelphia's elevated Broad Street line.
The Crescent pulled into New Orleans around 7:30PM on the second day. After checking into the hotel, I hit the streets of the French Quarter. Claude and Steven told me about a couple of bars where I could find authentic jazz and blues. One of them was the Funky Pirate on Bourbon street. The sleeper car attendant told me I had to catch the nightly show by Big Al. But, How would I know it's him when I walk in? Claude said "you won't miss Big Al." He was right.
Big Al Carson is a legend in these parts. He's belted out tunes with the best of them and he packs the joint five nights a week.
It's a show you don't want to miss. The guy knows he's fat and he jokes about it. He has a good sense of humor and the show is worth the cost of the over-priced drinks and smokey surroundings.
I can't remember the lady's name, but the woman who was singing the blues behind the piano at Lafitte's Blacksmith shop was a blast. I came back twice to see her during my three night stay in "Nawlins." There's a couple of reasons to stop here. For one, good music. But, this place has history. It was built somewhere before 1772 and survived two fires, one in 1788 and another in 1794 that destroyed most of the city. One of my biggest treats was convincing the lady singer to give a whirl at Arlo Guthrie's "City of New Orleans." She did a great rendition, as the eight people around the piano sung along to every word.
"Good night America, how are you? Say don't you know me? I'm your native son! I'm the train they call the City of New Orleans. I'll be gone 500 miles when the day is done. "
Besides the French Quarter, you should take the Charles Street trolley into the Garden district, a residential neighborhood filled with ornate Victorian mansions and anchored by Tulane University and Loyola College.
The trolley passes Audubon park and the city zoo, but you had better know the rules of the trolley. The grumpy drivers won't give you change and you can't get on and off along the way, unless you pay the full fare again . They'll hand you a transfer, but it can only be used on the buses.
I could write an entire blog on where to eat, but I'll mention two places.
First there's the Court of Two Sisters on Royal street. Their daily brunch buffet is well known in New Orleans. At $28.oo a person it's an expensive feast, but the food is great and the view is even better. The courtyard at Two Sisters is worth the price of brunch. The service is impeccable and the view unmatched. A three piece jazz band plays in the background.
If you're looking for authentic New Orleans creole and Cajun cookin, look no further than the Gumbo Shop. They do it all here and some of the world's most renowned chefs have eaten here to learn a trick or two about Cajun cooking. Order the combo platter and you'll get a sample of three of their most popular dishes.
I'd be remiss if I didn't end this story by mentioning Hurricane Katrina and the effect it's had on the people of New Orleans. The city's population has shrunk in half to about 200,000. Most of those people never came back when they were evacuated to surrounding states. Those that did stay rebuilt or re-located to another neighborhood in New Orleans. Their spirits are high, but you can see the pain in their faces when you ask them to talk about it. Some told me they had no insurance. Others talked about the fear of another Hurricane and the lack of confidence that the levees will hold back another major flood. Mother nature rarely picks on the rich. She gobbles up trailer homes in the Midwest and wood shanties in New Orleans 9Th ward.
The French Quarter and the wealthy Garden district were barely touched by the wrath of Katrina. Here in New Orleans, people refer to present-day New Orleans as Post-K. I bought a Cajun cookbook and it even has a section titled "Post-K cooking." These were meals people cooked up when the supermarket shelves went empty and all they had were the simple Cajun staples in their flooded out homes. Most tourists will never see what Katrina did to the city's poor neighborhoods, because tourists never went there to begin with. But, row after row of homes sit abandoned. Some have been bulldozed, but many remain boarded up and empty. If you'd like to help in the ongoing relief efforts here's a link for a list of organizations that are helping residents recover. http://www.give.org/news/katrina.asp
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Here's what happened. Just an hour or so after some friends of mine at WABC threw me a belated going away party at the Blarney Rock on 33rd street, a friend of mine collapsed in the bar. He had just one drink. It wasn't the drinking, but best we can tell it was a reaction to high blood pressure medication. I called 911 after he fainted. During that time we got him outside to get some fresh air, but he fainted again. Now, we were scared.
I was still on the cell phone giving details, when a fire engine from Company 1 showed up. Five firefighters jumped off the truck with oxygen and other essentials. More often than not, the fire department arrives before paramedics and in this particular case, they had to have gotten there in under four minutes.
Five minutes later, an ambulance arrived with a paramedic crew. At the urging of several of us, he went into the ambulance to be checked out, but in the end refused treatment and walked home. Looks like he'll be fine.
In a city of clogged streets, stuffed with eight million people, it's pretty darn amazing how quick these guys responded and it's comforting to know they're just a phone call away. For them, it was just another emergency medical response, but for us at the Blarney Rock at that moment it was matter of life and death. Not since September 11th had I felt prouder of New York City's bravest, eventhough for them, it must have been considered just a small task. Thanks guys.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
You know the one. I found it on line ...and if it can make me happy for even a fleeting moment, it might just give you the lift you need. Have a sunny day.
I'm getting a kick out of watching this soap opera unfold in Albany. New York's new Governor, David Patterson now admits he has had... not one, not two, but several affairs with women other than his wife, Michelle.
What makes humiliated ex-Governor Elliot Sptizers' alleged sex with a prostitute any different than Patterson's extra marital affairs? Here's what. Best we can tell right now, the black and blind Patterson didn't break any laws. Sex is legal, as long as you don't pay for it. Not that it should be against the law, but it is.
Patterson denies he ever spent your tax dollars wining and dining his younger hotties. If that's the case, he should be in the clear.
For years, we've been judging politicians and candidates by their infidelity. It use to be drugs, but we've seemed to have gotten over those types of indiscretions. Now, it's all about sex. Hey, it's what brought down Gary Hart a few decades ago when he needled reporters to follow him. They found him with another woman in Bimini on a yacht called the "monkey business."
It should be noted that no political party has the monopoly on extra marital affairs. No sir, our politicians have a long, proud history of fooling around out of wedlock. If aliens are indeed watching us from outer space, they're quickly learning we are not perfect human specimens. We all have our faults and our weaknesses and what happens in our bedrooms (or Days Inn motels) should be nobody elses business. Period. Break the law, when you've been elected to enforce it, then we've got a problem and Elliot Spitzer got caught with his pants down and perhaps even with his hand in the government cookie jar. Time will tell.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
For those of you missing me on the air, I'm giving you a little bit of George. This is from the day after September 11th on 77 WABC. You can find more audio of me at www.georgeweber.net
Saturday, March 15, 2008
When Curtis Sliwa goes national on WABC, there won't be a single local program until 8 at night. So here you have the nation's most powerful, highest rated news/talk station and it doesn't have an ounce of local programming. Major broadcasters have already done this with music radio stations. They've eliminated the local jocks in favor of a voice-tracked talent from one of their big city stations and a computer plays, "a better variety of your favorite music." It makes me want to puke.
There are plenty of very talented out of work broadcasters in New York and they're not unemployed because of lack of talent, but because of budget cutbacks.
I say put John Gambling, Ron Kuby and the like on local radio. Support them by hiring a news staff and promote it. You have talented management people looking for work as well. Take Crys Quinby, the talented and smart former program director of WCBS radio.
You can't do this on WWRL or any other low-power, end of the dial station, but you can do it to under performing big signal, strong frequency stations like WOR or even on the FM dial. It doesn't have to be liberal or conservative. It has to be LOCAL.
Let me ask you this. If you look at some of my blog posts, you'll see stories like the anarchists who bombed the military recruiting station, New York City schools wrongfully promoting dummies and why Mayor Bloomberg won't be running for President. You won't hear these stories on WABC. Program Director Phil Boyce worked so hard to develop strong, local talent and now he's left with an entire radio station of nationally syndicated, albeit talented, talkers. This is a terrible shame.
Now, several members of well known anarchist groups are whining to the newspapers that the police are giving them a hard time, always on their backs and trying to pin the potentially deadly assaults on one of them. Guess what? It probably is one of them.
These are the same people who spike trees of loggers and are the ones who rioted in the streets of Seattle a few years back. They are violent, evil people who don't like the American way. They obviously don't want to live here and while it's easy enough to say MOVE, that'll never happen.
You know why? While they're against taxes, big corporations and the military, they like being in a free country where you can raise your voice as loud as you want and take on the government. The one thing you can't do and should never be able to do in a civilized country is BOMB the government!
But, alas, the Department of Education is trying to make amends by instituting tough new requirements to hold children back who don't perform.
Now, guess what? Parents are up in arms. I'm reading in the Daily News that a group of parents "stormed" the Department of Education building and demanded to see Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. They were furious that his Board of Education was about to vote to make it more difficult for flunkies to move into the 8Th grade.
Basically, if you get an F on the the standardized math and English tests or you flunk one of four other classes, you're held back. Yet, these dimwitted parents think that's a BAD thing. They obviously must approve of their children being idiots, unable to read or write. So get this. These are parents who have enough time to storm the education building, but not spend time with their kids to help them learn. They want the easy way out. They expect the schools to be the sole educators of their children.
These are parents who must believe in mediocrity. Hey, look my kid just got a D-minus. Let's go out for ice cream. In my family, a D-minus would get me grounded for two weeks.
I encourage the Department of Education to bolster their standards and make it more difficult for kids to move forward. For years, New York City school children got an easy pass. Now, Mayor Bloomberg and his education boss are finally cracking down, doing something to make our kids smarter and what do the crummy parents do-----protest!
Thursday, March 13, 2008
My good friend, John Gambling was also cut. John is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet and he's a great broadcaster. Like me, he's a survivor and will land on his feet. John and I often wondered how long it would be before Citadel starting cutting. We watched the stock price hit a dollar a share, while the company continued a top heavy work force of highly paid broadcasters.I've kept in touch with John and he's doing fine and enjoying himself in sunny Florida.
As for me, I'll be going national in the next few weeks, but you should be able to hear me here in New York. Dates and details to be announced.
I rebounded quickly, indeed, but I'm still hoping you'll be able to hear me full-time on a local radio station somewhere in New York City.
I'd be remiss, if I didn't mention another good friend of mine, Ron Kuby. Not only do I consider him a good friend, but he's one of the most brilliant , creative minds out there. Politics aside (and believe me, I disagree with a lot of what he says), Ron is someone I really like to be around. He might be left, but he's not always right! Ron continues his very successful law practice defending the likes of mobsters, biker gangs and as Curtis Sliwa would describe as "the assorted miscreants of society." He, his wife and daughter are doing just fine, but I miss playing with him, Curtis and Warner Wolf on the air.
As for Curtis, he's a stand up guy. What you didn't know about the leader of the Guardian Angels is that he refused to take John Gambling's post at first until he knew that Citadel was cutting scores of jobs solely because of money. Curtis is truly a decent man, a believer in truth, justice and the American way. Oh, and thanks Curtis for your kind and heart felt words on your first show.
Warner Wolf is the best in the business. He was one of my on-air partners in the morning on the Curtis and Kuby show. Hands down, Warner is THE best radio sports anchor in the country. Not only that, he's a genuinely good guy. He works his butt off, drives producers crazy, but we love him for who he is----a sweetheart of a guy.
A special thanks to Frank Morano, the producer of the Curtis and Kuby show who continues on at WABC. Frank is sharp as a cookie (why do they say, what's so sharpe about a cookie) and he's a good friend. This guy is a walking history and political book and it comes in handy when you're putting together newscasts and a show on a tight deadline. He's also really talented and creative and watch out WABC, I may try to steal him for one of my future ventures.
Phil Boyce was my program director at WABC. You should know it was NOT his decision to fire any of these people. The calling came from the uppermost levels of Citadel management, the number crunchers. I know how hard it was for him to call me into his office that Friday morning and tell me he was letting me go. After all, I had thought he was calling me into his office to announce he had just received my new contract back from corporate lawyers. I've known Phil since my days in Denver radio back in the 80's, when we were both young guys eking out our place in broadcasting. Despite my firing, he remains my friend.
Many of your letters suggest I'll be able to spend more time with Noodles, now that I'm out of a job.
Unfortunately, I won't. My best friend died just days after I was fired. It was bad week for George.
Earlier on the day of his death, I was playing catch with the little guy. He was jumping around, licking my face and cuddling next to me on the living room sofa. I went out for a while. Came back. Usually when I come in to the house, you can ear noodles little nails rattling against the hard wood floors as he darts out of bed and into my arms. That afternoon, I didn't hear the pitter patter. I found him sleeping in his little doggie bed next to my bed. Still, I left a bowl of food for him so that when he woke up, he'd have something to eat. He never woke up. Sometime while I was gone, Noodles took his final breath. I only wish I was next to him when he did. I felt his body and it was cold, his body stiff and yet he lay there just like he always did. I'm crying now like I did endlessly for hours after he died . I couldn't sleep. I couldn't sleep with his lifeless body laying right next to me. The next day I carried him over to my vet, who lives next door and had her take away my best friend. He will live on in my memories, photos and stories. One that comes to mind is a year or so before my first dachshund, Romer, died, Noodles came rushing into the living room, barking, turning and running towards the back porch. He did this several times until I got my fat ass off the sofa and followed him. Tail wagging, he was looking over the balcony and 10 feet below, where Romer had fallen. He was all muddy and tangled in a garden hose. He was in convulsions. Romer, though. would be fine. Not a single broken bone, but it was Noodles who sensed something was wrong and like Lassie, summoned me for help. Noodles was just 8 years old and even in doggie years, he was too young to die. I'll miss ya little buddy.
I don't get it. Okay, I can understand if he can't get it up with his wife anymore or perhaps has some perverted sexual fantasy his wife won't engage him with, but you are the fricking Governor of New York!
What is it about high profile politicans and sex? Bill Clinton, Larry Craig, Jim McGreavy and now Governor Spitzer. Do they think they are so far above the law or do they really believe nobody will ever find out. We always find out. How many corrupt Republicans and Democrats have fallen in New Jersey? Dozens. They include mayors, councilmen, senators and commissioners. But, despite the publicity surrounding their arrests, their political colleagues continue to take bribes and kickbacks.
They should no better, right? You know what I think, I think everyone has a public and private life and at any moment they can turn one off and the other on.
Here's another thing: What's Spitzer thinking, paying up to $5,000 for a call girl. I'd like to suggest he pick up a copy of the Village Voice and check out the massage ads on the back pages. How about Craigslist? Go to the "erotic services" section and check out the chicks. You can bag one of them for a measley $150 an hour, what appears to be the going rate. Some even come with pictures so you can be assured that your $150 is getting you a $5,000 lady.
"That grump at McDonalds is so stupid she wouldn't be able to find her own hand, but what a sweet voice she had."
OR:"Excuse me sir, your dog just took a crap on my sidewalk. Where did youget that beautiful shirt?"
OR...back in the elevator:"Hmmmmm. Hear that rumbling. Maybe the elevator is about to free fall 17stories. Well, at least we'd get to the lobby quicker."