Hall of Fame


Last night was the second New Jersey Hall of Fame induction ceremony at NJPAC. It was great “rubbing shoulders” with some of the most famous people of the state. (I was there as the announcer of the event, also known, I am told,  in stage parlance as V.O.G. or  “Voice of God”, but I’ll save that for another blog.)

The event got me thinking about the common thread of successful, famous people. What do they all have in common?  It was interesting seeing them all interact back stage.

What does Senator Bill Bradley have in common with say Jon Bon Jovi?  What does Gov. Jon Corzine (who was a presenter and was hanging out back stage too) have in common with Paul Robeson?

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It was an amazing piece of of cyber-theatre.  The President of the United States “streaming” on my computer. He was answering questions from thousands of Americans who Emailed the White House with their queries.

A Cyber-Town-Hall meeting.

Sort of reminded me of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “fireside chats” on radio that helped America through some pretty tough times.

Mr. Obama made it a point to “get out from behind the podium”, to meander around the room, filled with adoring subjects…uh…audience members. Very media savvy, I thought. Maybe a bit staged.

I glanced through the questions that were posted on the White House web site.  Most looked pretty normal. There were lots of people watching. Plenty of hits for the White house web site.

But wait.

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Picture This Bernie

Bernie Madoff

If ever there were a case for cameras in the court room Bernie Madoff’s appearance in federal court on Thursday is it.

The main objection to having cameras has always been that cameras create a “circus” atmosphere in the court room. Bogus argument. Every judge that I’ve seen in every courtroom has run his or her court room with amazing precision and control. At the slightest hint of a “circus” most judges gavel things back to order.

Anyone take notice what it was like when Bernie ran the gauntlet of cameras, photogs, reporters and producers this morning?

Dead silence.

Not a word from anyone. The predictions from veteran court observers of their being a “real zoo” at Bernie’s appearance this morning was over-rated. If cameras were allowed inside, I am sure there would have been similar control by the media.

Now’s the time to revisit the cameras in the court room controversy. It’s time that our judicial system take a look at the calendar. It’s 2009 not 1809.

Bernie cheated thousands of people out of 50 or 60 billion dollars. It would have been great for his victims to be able to see him in front of a judge. It would have been gratifying for all his victims to see Bernie led out of the court room in handcuffs.

Instead we got to see just snippets of our judicial system at work. Bernie’s victims were ripped off twice. Once by Bernie and a second time by the antiquated and biased judicial rules against the news media and the public it serves.


Dubya’s Desk Drawer

Dubya's Desk

You know when you start a new job and you move into your new desk?  There’s always something left over from the previous owner:  some stray paper clips, maybe a key that never seems to fit anything.  Then if you dig around way in the back of the drawer you might find a nasty surprise; perhaps an exploded catchup pack mixed in with mangled gobs of chewing gum and packs of soy sauce.  It looks like a science project gone horribly wrong.

I wonder what Barack Obama will find in the top desk drawer of the presidential office when he moves in Tuesday afternoon.  Do you think President Bush left a special little note?  And what’s buried way in the back of the desk that past owners have forgotten? (Yeah, I know the cleaning crew went over the desk with a fine-toothed comb, but work with me here as I beat a metaphor to death.)
Continue reading ‘Dubya’s Desk Drawer’


We Need a Hero

It was quite a rush.  Reporting on the “Miracle on the Hudson” yesterday on My9.  So many people ask me, “why do you always report the bad news…”

Well, yesterday it was our pleasure to report something positive: 155 people are safe and sound after  a four minute ride-from-hell, courtesy of a flock of Canada Geese.

The pilot, Captain Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III, is being hailed as a hero.  (He deserves the moniker and also deserves a presidential invite to Barack Obama’s inaugural, a front row seat, please.)  But there were also other heroes as well.

How about his co-pilot?  How about the flight attendants?  What about the New York Waterways captain(s) who darted straight for the plane as it splashed into the Hudson?  Then there were the countless first responders who jumped into action to save the terrified passengers floating in the river.

All in all, it was one of those good days on the anchor desk.  Plenty of heroes, high drama, and a happy ending.  It is a shame all our stories can’t be like this one.


it took a village

We jumped off the tiny boat onto the shores of a fishing village on Lake Victoria.  It was a side trip I just had to make on my recent vacation to Kenya, the African country about the size of Texas. After a few welcoming handshakes and a few introductions one of our first topics of conversations was…drum roll please…politics.

“I am Barack Obama’s brother,” Mohamed Asanti bragged.  He was one of the first to greet us as we splashed ashore, amid curious children sitting in the idle fishing boats.

“Really, I exclaimed,” with a healthy dose of reporter skepticism.  “Let me interview you.”  The video camera was at the ready.

“Well…wait, wait, wait,” Mohammed hesitated, “He’s not my real brother, but my father knows his father.  He was from his village which is just a short way away.”  Obama’s father was from Alego just to the north of Kolunga, the place we visited.

At the health center there, workers proudly display a poster with Barack Obama and his wife being tested for AIDS, a growing health problem in the village.  (Senator Obama was tested in Kenya to promote AIDS testing throughout the country a few years ago.)

Then there’s the computer center where fashion designer Kate Spade donated computers so the village could have internet access and the women in the village could learn to use computers.  The men continue to fish while the women learn new skills.

“How do you feel about Barack Obama?” I asked Mohamed as we strolled through the village.

“We love Obama.  We love Obama.  Very good man.”

“Will he be the next President of the United States?”

“Ah, no one knows, we like him…”

“And how do you feel about John McCain?”  I asked fully expecting a less enthusiastic reply.

“Oh…John McCain.  We love him very much too,” answers Mohammed without hesitation.

Apparently, the village has not only learned computer skills, but diplomacy as well.


adopt an elephant

So it’s not every day you adopt an elephant.  But today I did just that outside of Nairobi, Kenya. That’s the big surprise location I mentioned last time and it’s from where I’m posting this blog.

This is a magnificent place and a vast and spectacular country. Despite some recent political troubles and isolated pockets of unrest, everything seems to be getting back to normal now. The saving of orphaned elephants is a heartwarming example of how caring and dedicated Kenyans are to their wildlife and country.

So this is the new baby named Kimana.  He’s just about three months old and was abandoned by his mother.  One day he came wandering into a Massai village looking for a little companionship. He was picked up by this magnificent agency that saves baby elephants.

It’s called the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust…a place where about a dozen or so care takers nurse baby elephants back to health and then eventually release them into the wild.  It’s a lot trickier than you might think because elephants are highly social animals.  If they don’t learn all their elephant stuff as babies, their new herd won’t accept them.

So, these young men feed, teach, and act as surrogates.  They feed them every four hours with elephant baby formula (it took them 28 years of research to get it just right), and they even teach them how to be elephants (thirty years of elephant psychology study perfected that).

Here one of the care takers teaches a baby to wave his trunk, which is a key skill if you’re going to be a responsible member of an elephant herd some day. (They use these signals to communicate all different kinds of important elephant info.)  These men are so careful with the elephants that they even sleep in the same pens with them so they don’t become lonely and frightened.

All of this takes money of course, and that’s why we adopted one of the babies…to help defray the cost. (Above, I’m snapping off a few baby pix). If all goes as planned, our young pachyderm will be back in the wild in a few years. It’s a good thing these men are so successful because my son James was wondering how we’d get this little guy back to New York.  I’m sure there would be an extra charge to fit him in the overhead compartment of the plane.  (More posts when I get bandwidth.)

May 2018
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