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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…

I am feeling nostalgic for the mall

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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'

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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

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This has been one productive month.

I  put together another feature for cnn.com 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 CNN.com - 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"

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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…

Eclipses, podcasts, hurricanes and more

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We are feeling the fallout from Hurricane Harvey with rising gas prices. In the Atlanta metro, petrol is no longer cheap. As of this writing, I see at least $3 per gallon in about one week.

August has been a rather productive month. The Eclipse on August 21 was a total treat. I was a tad skeptical about the event at first, but was soon "converted" to "believer status" when the Eclipse took place. Cami convinced me to drive into the Path of Totality in North Georgia, which is about 80 miles from where I reside. When the moon and sun align, a unique darkness descends upon the area affected. It's not exactly like dusk nor is it like a heavy cloudy day. Rather, it's like viewing daylight through a camera lens with the f-stop manually turned down. Speaking of that, I have a few pictures:




I am delighted that I had the chance to appear again on the Peachtree Corners Life podcast where host Rico Figliolini and I discuss video, music, backyard chickens, abomination…

A pedestrian safety island makes good sense for our city

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I’m once again getting local on this blog, but many can relate with this topic across the nation. In my neck of the woods, planners installed a well-marked pedestrian island on a busy two-lane county thoroughfare that cuts through my neighborhood. Runners, joggers, walkers, strollers and cyclists alike enjoy going up and down the sidewalks that line a good portion of the road on both sides.
For years those who use the sidewalks – I shall call them pedestrians - have been complaining that it’s tough to cross the two-lane road – even in the protected crosswalk that has been in place for years. Their complaints were heard loud and clear. This past summer, city and county leaders did something about the issue and installed an island near where the old crosswalk was located. As expected in any city no matter how small or large the project, brouhaha ensued.
It seemed like the moment the first service truck showed up to build the island, the complaints began rolling in about the project. T…

Flashback to 2005: The frat party in Iraq

If we're serious about tikkun olam, reparing the world through peace, then we can't minimize our sins in Iraq. We must face them and hold ourselves accountable. 
by Robert J. Nebel 
Autumn 2005

"It's a bunch of guys blowing off steam," ranted conservative syndicated talk radio host Rush Limbaugh. The copycats in every market quickly followed suit and echoed America's number one neo-conservative. Before you knew it, the right convinced its legions that the detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was one big fraternity party. 

While the government and mainstream America was asking salient questions about, "Who knew what and when did they know it," the talk masters were having a field day. Many of these programs featured juvenile mockery from the host and callers who said that it was OK to treat the detainees with mistreatment because they were terrorists and deserved it anyway. 

Callers to these talk radio shows should have made comments that said, &q…