Friday, July 25, 2014

The "Best Seat in the House: Diary of a Wrigley Field Usher" Promotional Video


I've been working diligently on my "Father Knows Nothing" book, which comes out this Christmas season. I came across this column that I wrote a few years ago, and thought it would be appropriate to share it with you again today. It's about my old friend and neighbor Nancy. Today would have been her birthday. I always remember it because it's just a few days away from my own. I'm reprinting this in honor of her...

It was just an ordinary summer day in 1973.

The old neighborhood was filled with kids. There were a dozen or more kids on my street about the same age as me, give or take a few years, and we played together outside for hours and hours at a time. The games of choice were Spud, Kick the Can, 500, Capture the Flag, and of course, baseball.

On this particular day I was watching some of the older kids play baseball at the park across the street from my house. They weren’t letting me play because I wasn’t good enough, but I didn’t mind. My best friend Stu was allowed to play, and I was lending my support by rooting for him, and chasing foul balls.

“Hey Ricky!” I heard from across the street. I recognized the voice of Stu’s sister Nancy, but I didn’t see her anywhere. “Up here,” she said. “In the tree.”

The tree in the front yard of her house was our favorite climbing tree. The lowest branch was low enough to allow even little kids access. Some of the neighborhood kids could climb nearly all the way to the top, but I was afraid to go that high. It was a pretty tall tree. And Nancy was up higher in that tree than I had ever seen.

“You can see the water tower from up here,” she said.

Now she had my attention. This was a small town with absolutely nothing exciting, but we did have a water tower downtown a few miles away. It seemed impossible to be able to see something of that magnitude from the bucolic confines of our little side street. So I wandered over to take a look.

When I stood at the base of the tree and looked straight up, it seemed like Nancy was a thousand feet in the sky. There was no way I was going that high.

“C’mon,” she said. “You’ve got to see this.”

She was right. I had to see it. So I started climbing, and this tree was made for climbing. The branches were smooth. They were staggered perfectly. They were sturdy. There really was nothing preventing me from continuing my climb except my fear.

I made it past the mid-point of the tree (my new all-time record) and saw something for the first time in my life: the roof of the school across the street. I could see a couple of dodge balls that had been kicked up there–an incredible find. But I still couldn’t imagine that I would make it as high as Nancy.

She was urging me on as I hit the 3/4 mark, but I still couldn’t see the water tower. I saw something else, however. Our Ford LTD was making it’s way down the boulevard on it’s way home from the train station. Inside that car was my dad’s car pool–my dad, our next door neighbor Mr. Reiss, and our backyard neighbor Mr. Walsh. It was my mom’s turn to pick them up.

I knew that car meant the end of my climb because dinner started moments after dad walked in the front door, so I put my fear aside and kept climbing. I made it just beneath Nancy as our car pulled into the driveway, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. There it was; its gold glimmering paint shining from a few miles away. A giant “1917″ was painted on its side, the year our town was founded.

“Can you see it?” Nancy asked.

“I can see it,” I replied.

We could hear the car doors open beneath us, and I couldn’t contain my excitement.

“Dad,” I called. “I can see the water tower from here.”

“Get down from there,” my mom called. “You’ll kill yourself.”

“Look at that,” Mr. Reiss said. “Ricky’s really all the way up there.”

He didn’t sound concerned and neither did my dad, who just told me to come down for dinner.

I never made it up that tree again. A few months later my little brother fell out of it, and one of the neighbors broke her arm saving him from getting hurt. After that, Mr. Page (Nancy & Stu’s dad) enforced a no-climb zone.

We moved out of the neighborhood the next year–all the way to Germany.

The Pages moved away in the mid-80s. By then Nancy was married, and Stu was in the Air Force. Many of the other neighbors eventually moved too, but one constant had always been Mr. Reiss. That era ended a few weeks ago, when he passed away. He had been the last living member of the carpool.

When I attended Mr. Reiss’ funeral, I couldn’t help it, I flashed back to that summer of 1973. I pictured him getting out of that Ford LTD, and looking up at the only tree climbing accomplishment of my life.

Sadly, it wasn’t a long journey back to 1973 for me, because I was already there, ever since Stu called me a few days earlier to tell me that his sister Nancy had also died. She died of ALS the same week as Mr. Reiss. Nancy would have been 50 this summer, 38 summers after she reached the top of the tree.

The neighborhood hasn’t physically changed much; the same houses on the same street in front of the same park. Even the tree is still standing, and if you’re crazy enough to climb it, you can still see the water tower, which was recently repainted.

But you can’t see what I can see.

I can see Nancy. I can see Mr. Reiss. I can see Dad.

And I can see a perfect summer day in 1973.

Steve Goodman

Today would have been Steve Goodman's birthday. It's poignant today to watch him performing his classic "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" from the rooftop overlooking the ballpark he loved so much.

Serious Legal Questions

I've been following the attempted takeover bid of Rupert Murdoch and Time Warner. The Time Warner brass is starting to get worried that Rupert will be successful (even though they have rejected his offers), because he is working on a hostile takeover now. According to the New York Post (owned by Rupert)..."Time Warner’s board took its first step toward warding off a takeover by eliminating a provision in its bylaws that lets shareholders call special meetings."

So here are my questions.

If corporations are people too (thanks again for that Supreme Court), what do you call it when one person takes over another person against his or her will? Wouldn't we have a clear case of kidnapping?

For that matter, what do you call it when one corporation (person) forces the second corporation (person) to cease to exist (through competition, pricing, distribution or any other means)? I know it's just business. But if you're a person and you've ended the life of another person, don't we call that something else?

Here's another serious question. If a corporation doesn't have a pulse, and is older than any previous person in recorded history (say 130 years old), can't they simply be taken to court and declared dead?

I used to think these were ridiculous legal arguments brewing in my head, but after the recent court ruling striking down obamacare subsidies because of essentionally a typo, maybe they aren't that ridiculous.


Amazon stock is down. I weep for them.

Turns out Eckhartz Press made about $126 million more in profit than amazon last quarter. Not bragging, just telling the truth.

Revenues are not the same thing as profit. Your investors may cheer as you crush the competition, but they are still investors. They want profit. Controlling the world doesn't do it for them.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Come and Get It

One of my son Sean's favorite songs was recorded on this day in 1969. From Bob Dearborn's The Olde Disc Jockey's Almanac...

July 24, 1969…At EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London, Paul McCartney recorded a demo of his composition "Come and Get It." He gave the song to the Iveys (soon re-named Badfinger), and it was later used as the theme for the movie "The Magic Christian."

A heartwarming story about Anthony Rizzo

It's sort of like the Babe Ruth movie.

Except it's true.

Sports Illustrated has the details.

Larry Mendte

At one time he was an anchorman here at Channel 2 in Chicago. He has gone on to work in television in Philadelphia, and was fired for inappropriately going through a colleague's e-mails. He confessed to that, and to having an inappropriate relationship with her that went sour, and was sentenced to probation. But he's back. From today's RAMP Newsletter...

Cumulus News-Talk WABC/New York augments its weekend line-up with the addition of The Larry Mendte Show Sunday nights from 7-9pm, starting this weekend. Mendte (left) is a familiar voice to the New York metro area, having most recently contributed his commentaries to WPIX-TV's nightly newscast. He's also a well-known figure in Philadelphia media from his long stint as an anchor on KYW-TV and his 2012 morning radio show on WWIQ-FM. WABC PD Craig Schwalb said, "The addition of Larry Mendte to our roster of trusted New York personalities makes Sunday nights on 77 WABC an appealing and exciting destination for our listeners." An equally excited Mendte added, "77 WABC is an iconic radio station with some of the biggest names in talk radio. I'm thrilled to be a part of it."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Funniest "Guy Walks Into a Bar" Joke Ever

Hang on for a few twists and turns.

You can read it here.

Bruce Bohrer on WGN-TV

A full report of our day at WGN-TV yesterday with Eckhartz Press author Bruce Bohrer has been posted on the Eckhartz Press blog, complete with video of the actual interview, and behind the scenes photos.

Check it out here.

Young Cubs

Loving watching the Cubs these days. I don't care that they're out of it. I feel like we're beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Kyle Hendricks pitched well last night. According to Rick Sutcliffe, he's a keeper (in the mold of Mussina or Maddux). Anthony Rizzo is on fire. He now leads the NL in homers. Castro is having a great season.

But to me, the most exciting kid out there now is Arismendy Alcantara. He hit one onto Sheffield last night, and it was a thing of beauty. Remember, he's not even really known as a power hitter. That's just a bonus.

Love the name too. It's too bad my wife and I are not having any more kids. I would have named the 4th boy Arismendy.

Sad to see Darwin Barney go, but it was inevitable. There are just too many young stud infielders in the pipeline. Baez is now playing 2B in the minors, and is back to crushing the ball. Kris Bryant is having one of the best seasons in minor league history, and he's getting better at 3B. The kid we acquired in the Samardzija trade, is a great shortstop (Peter Gammons compares him to Barry Larkin).

There's more on the way, kids. The Cubs now officially have the #1 farm system in all of baseball. They've got two other players who are tearing it up in the minors, Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber. Both project as big-time power hitting corner outfielders.

I know not all of them will make it. But if even two or three of them do, and live up to the projections, look out.

Mancow Lawsuit

Details at Radio-Online...

Veteran Chicago air personality Mancow Muller filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court last week claiming a North Carolina man defrauded him out of $50,000 that was supposed to be used to purchase radio stations, reports the Chicago Tribune. The acquisitions did not happen and the suit alleges Rodney Rainey and his company, Maverick Radio Partners, used the funds for purposes other than station purchases.

There's more at the link. Sounds like Mancow really did get hosed on this one.

Media Merger Mania

There's a smell of media mergers in the air. If you feel like you smelled this stink before, you have. The media moguls who want to pad their own wallets and increase their own power over the information you receive are frantically lighting candles to mask the smell.

They're hoping you don't remember how badly this went last time around.

They're hoping regulators don't remember the crushing debt loads that accompany these deals, and the effect that will have on the actual media products. (Ask radio and local television, which have never, and might never recover).

There is at least one analyst who thinks that regulators will have no choice but to block at least one of these deals. Here's a portion of his analysis: "Media consolidation is always unpopular, and all the more so now when merger mania has seemingly run amok and when press attention to Net Neutrality has inflamed distrust. The anti-trust case against any one of the recent spate of mega-deals is perhaps less important than the gestalt... the already-big are getting bigger. The DOJ and/or FCC will be under tremendous pressure to block at least one of the mega-deals lest they be viewed as being asleep at the switch.”

It's too late for the comcast merger. Hopefully it's not too late to stop the madness of News Corp/Time Warner or ATT/Direct TV.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Eckhartz Press Promotional Video

From our crack production team led by Tommy Kaempfer...

Set Your DVRs

This morning I'm going to WGN television with our author Bruce Bohrer. He'll be appearing on the WGN News between 11:30am and 12 noon. Be sure to tune in. Bruce will be telling stories from his book that has been flying off our shelves..."Best Seat in the House: Diary of a Wrigley Field Usher."

I'll take pictures and chronicle the event. Details to come...

More Love for "Best Seat in the House"

Thanks to DNA info for this nice piece about the Eckhartz Press book: "Best Seat in the House: Diary of a Wrigley Field Usher".

Monday, July 21, 2014

Announcing our next book: "Back in the Game" by Rich King (due this fall on Eckhartz Press)


New Drinking Game Suggestion

Didn't get a chance to watch the Cubs since their return from the all-star break, but I did listen to a few games on the radio. I have a suggestion for a new drinking game. Every time Ron Coomer says "it really is" or "it really was" in response to an observation from Pat Hughes, you have to drink. Try to limit it to one inning or you'll be blotto.

Get it?

Casey Kasem's body is missing

This story is getting weirder and weirder. Last week it was announced that his body was shipped to Montreal by his widow. Today it was announced that the funeral home in Montreal never got the body.

Here's what the RAMP Newsletter reported this morning...

It seems that last Wednesday, a judge had granted Casey's daughter Kerri Kasem a temporary restraining order preventing her stepmother Jean Kasem from removing Casey's body from the Gaffney Funeral Home or cremating his remains pending a decision about who would conduct a possible autopsy. However, it turns out that Jean Kasem had already filled out a death certificate indicating that Kasem's body should be transferred to the Urgel Bourgie Funeral Home in Montreal -- a move that made no sense to anyone who happened to be in full possession of their mental faculties. Making a strange twist even stranger, that Canadian facility later told the Associated Press that Kasem's body was not there, nor was his name in its system. "My dad has nothing to do with Canada. He lived in Los Angeles for 45 years," Kerri Kasem told The New York Daily News. "It just once again proves that my stepmother is not acting in my father's best interest or respecting his wishes." Kerri has repeated said that her father wanted to be buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale. The situation is "pure insanity."

The Money Demo

Robert Feder printed the top ten morning radio shows in the money demo this morning...women 25-54. That's the demo that makes advertisers salivate.

Eric and Kathy are #1.

The top ten for the men in that demo is very different.

Pat & Felecia are #1. And there are two sports radio stations.

Amazon Won't Be Happy Until Entire Publishing World is Destroyed

This is the way the actual headline reads: Amazon announces Kindle Unlimited in the US, an all-you-can-eat book subscription service for $9.99 a month

Or as my Eckhartz Press partner so colorfully put it: Bend over authors, this one's gonna hurt.

Tribune Newspapers

Now that the Tribune newspapers have spun off, what are they worth? According to one analyst, $635 million.

And don't worry about Rupert Murdoch buying them either. For one thing, he's a little busy trying to buy a much bigger media conglomerate (Time Warner). For another, there are still laws in place preventing him from doing it (because he owns television stations in both Chicago and Los Angeles). And people say regulation is a bad thing.