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Confessions of a Hebrew school dropout...or "Crow-bart's" mid-70s journey

It was in the mid 1970s. My father recently permanently wallpapered and paneled the interior of our family’s modest dingy white aluminum-sided 1950s row-like type suburban Cleveland home. By permanent, I mean the basement paneling was driven into cinder blocks with heavy-duty concrete nails. Father even covered the basement windows which was good to keep burglars out. I liked that idea. The wallpaper was glued to the house's interior plaster with the strongest thickest paste imaginable. There was even wallpaper on the ceiling! I couldn’t make that fact up any day of the week.
When I came home from third grade one day for lunch, I witnessed my father's rugged determination to make sure that damn loudly-blue-green-striped ceiling paper would never fall down. My father was successful in making sure that these "enhancements" were never going to fade away. In other words, like many dads who cared about their household projects, my dad was quite thorough. Okay, obsessive i…

We avoided another 'Snowpocalypse' this time

Whew! We avoided another Snowpocalypse – this time. The ingredients were there, all right. Most of us -- weather forecasters included – rested upon our laurels thinking that perhaps an inch of light snow was going to fall on December 8th, 2017.
“Only snow on grass, bushes, grills, roofs and decks!” the forecasters proclaimed throughout December 7th.
We woke up to a quiet Friday morning with some moisture, but my mid-morning, the flakes started falling. By afternoon, the snowflakes’ numbers were increasing as well as their sizes. While school was not called off that morning, suddenly, most parents scrambled to get their kids. The saving grace was that there was a break in the snowfall.
This easily could have been a repeat of the 2014 debacle. Authorities on the state level felt that there was no reason to panic and that they were well ahead of the game. Whew! Maybe the right calls were made and authorities possessed more information than most of us had at the time. Still, to many of …

Would you like some pies with your free drug samples?...and other Thanksgiving observations

Where has this year gone? We are now at Thanksgiving time! How did that happen? Weren’t we just cranking our air conditioners to end recently? The one thing to remember is that these chillier months come and go in the blink of an eye.
I’m sure stress levels are at an all-time high for many folks now - since it seems that holiday decorations needed to be up by Labor Day. I think the idea of leaving up permanent holiday decorations on our homes is a great idea. It saves a lot of time, energy and hassle. I’ve heard that the so-called experts say that it’s not safe to leave the electronic decorations out all year long. Bah Humbug! What a bunch whiners. Still, those so-called experts might have a point. Certainly, the elements cannot be good for the lights to be out year-round. After all, if a lot of time has passed and then one goes to flip the switch on those permanent holiday lights, who knows what could possibly happen at that moment.
Perhaps it’s just perception, but these days, time h…

Election, Run-offs and Fall Bursting Out All Over

Election Day 2017 took place on November 7. For some candidates, the results are complete and for others, there will be run-off elections on Tuesday, December 5. Please mark your calendars.

Now some folks out there might be saying, “What? I just voted for a president last year! What’s this all about?” Indeed, one would have had to be in their own worlds not to notice the political signs all over the metro Atlanta area these past weeks. That trend continues into the "run-off season." Candidates in the run-offs will have almost one month to make their cases for office. Doesn’t it seem like there’s always an election of some sort these days? In one sense, it appears that things have changed and that elections are never-ending in our lives. One year, it’s the big presidential election and then two short years later, it’s the congressional elections, nicknamed the “midterm elections.” In between those contests, there are city-wide elections across the land, otherwise known as “of…

I am feeling nostalgic for the mall

For me and most likely folks across the country, I can get nostalgic. For me, I recently got a bit nostalgic when I caught a few minutes of the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Much of the 1982 film takes place in a thriving American mall. I’ve always connected with those scenes which was a good part of my life growing up on Ohio’s North Coast. When I was there in the 1970s and 80s, folks were excited by malls which featured futuristic looks, cutting-edge shops, eateries and movie theaters.
The explosive growth of malls was no exception to the Cleveland, Ohio metropolitan area. It was happening everywhere. Malls seemed like they were symbols of American financial and marketing success which would never end. How could I ever forget this one mall that was touted as being like something out of a science fiction film with its long ramps and bright hues in the mid-1970s? I hear that mall is now long-gone. Then there’s another mall that pre-dated me. I have no idea what happened to that …

The saga of 'Abomination Island'

I’m still amused by the responses to a pedestrian island that was recently installed in my neighborhood. It always seems that the squeaky wheels on any subject matter get the most attention in reader comments sections in online forums on issues. The pedestrian island “dilemma” is no different. The squeaky wheels won on the pedestrian crossing’s nickname: “Abomination Island.” Yes folks, creative types live outside of the city and in the suburbs and exurbs. Creativity knows no bounds.

Many who oppose the pedestrian island state that the island is a waste of taxpayer dollars. They say no one uses the island. Indeed, the island doesn’t get much use most likely because potential users don’t feel safe because most drivers travel far too fast through the area. Whether it’s contempt for the island or ignorance about slowing down and allowing pedestrians to cross, many drivers make pedestrians reluctant to use this amenity.
Those who support the island say that it makes a positive impact on …

Interview with A.J. Croce and Puerto Rican artists band together

This has been one productive month.

I  put together another feature for on Puerto Rican artists coming together for recovery efforts on the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Check this video out:

In the middle of the month, I interviewed the son of the late music legend, Jim Croce - A.J, who has been a recording artist in his own right for close to a quarter of a century. A.J. was in town and played at Decatur, Georgia's Eddie's Attic - a really nice venue in that city's gorgeous downtown area. I interviewed A.J. for a mini video feature for - which I conceived, wrote, directed, produced and edited.

The is the official released version:

I have an extended version of this feature on one of my YouTube channels here:

It was a complete pleasure to produce these features. Let's hope that October will be just as exciting - if not more exciting than September!

...and for something a bit more local. A number of weeks back, Tropical Storm Irma affecte…

Book review: Norm MacDonald "Based on a True Story"

Based on a True Story by Norm Macdonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I honestly think that there is no gray area with Norm MacDonald’s brand of humor. It is either well-loved or well-hated. If I could sum the humor up in a nutshell, I would say that it is part uber-dry and part…BS. The title of Norm’s book, Based on a True Story is that it is not really based on a true story. It takes life events and whips them up into delusional tales a la Dr. Hunter S. Thompson-style, but with a Canadian smart-ass twist.

You either get it or you don’t get it with MacDonald. A certain segment of the population gets it while a vast part just doesn’t get it. The thing is, MacDonald is not an underground comedic rarity. He has enjoyed years of success as a stand-up comedian, NBC Saturday Night Live performer/writer/mock news anchor and even starred in a few films and on a television situation comedy. But it was at ‘Saturday Night Live’ where MacDonald expanded his fan base as well as his detractor base inclu…