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Showing posts from 2017

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…

Fiction: The lawn chronicles

I cannot keep up with the vegetation growth in the yard. The hot days and rains have been relentless this summer. To me, the whole thing means death to me and the poor lawn mower. The last time I mowed, the poor thing was choking on the amount of grass and weeds that the blades cut through over the course of three hours under the blazing sun. This summer, I feel like I have been living in the Brazilian rain forest. Indeed, I realize that I’m being dramatic, but I confess that I’m sick of mowing the weeds and grass in my yard. I have been mowing, weed-whacking, weed-pulling, weed-killing for more than a quarter century.
I figure that if I cannot beat them, join them. By that I mean, stop mowing the lawn. With lawn mowing, I’m well past my expiration date. I now have the craziest yard overgrowth ever seen in Suburbia, USA. I’m done Finished. Fin! Done! I’m on lawn mowing strike and quite proud of that fact.
With the lawn overgrowth, I could care less what the homeowner’s association …

Fiction: Poor Rufus

I was approaching the house on another humid Atlanta afternoon when I noticed something out of the ordinary sticking out of my air conditioning unit also known as the condenser. This summer it feels like we have been living in the rain-forest so the hum coming from my condenser is music to the ears. Was it another raccoon doing whatever it took to lick the water flowing out of the overflow pipe? No, water isn’t as scarce as it has been in past summers when we experienced extreme droughts. This summer, water has been plentiful, I explained to myself.

I was in my station wagon doing my best to assess the situation. I quickly turned the ignition to silence the engine and exited the car. My heart was pounding. I tip-toed towards the condenser on the left side of my home. I heard some rustling wondering what type of activity could possibly be occurring around my air conditioning outside unit?
I turned the corner and saw two large boots moving about. As I approached, I saw a rotund white-as-…

A wildlife break

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It's summer and time to share some wildlife photos from the neighborhood.






The “dog daze” of summer making many delirious

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I was delirious as the lawn mower was choking on the thick dew-stained grass under the blazing hot sun attempting to make my yard somewhat presentable. It was only a matter of minutes before I was going to crawl to the shed to get the sledgehammer so that I could put the poor mower out of its misery.  How could I possibly do this to my mower which only wishes to cut my grass, not “murder it” by taking down “mountains of vegetation.” That’s torture for anyone or anything which includes this innocent machine.
Cami intercepted me to offer a break and some water. I refused. The sounds of thunder were approaching.
“I got to get this monster lawn full of grass, weeds, tics, ants and deer droppings sliced down before the storm arrives!” I protested.
Cami gave up on me, heading back inside to the AC. Instead of reaching for the sledgehammer, I retrieved my water bottle which saved me during plenty of my insane summer runs and guzzled away, trying to save myself from a heat stroke and/or a nervou…

What happened to actual summer?

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Now that we are here in mid-July, it looks like summer is almost over. What? That’s right. Back-to-school 2017 is right around the corner. Where did summer go? Can you believe that some schools go back in session on July 31? For education professionals, there is no doubt that they are preparing to go back to work any minute. I’m not sure when this started, but back-to-school has crept up earlier and earlier through the years, making it seem that summer pretty much ends after the last firework is out and the last Nathan's wiener is eaten by hot dog-eating champ Joey Chestnut on the Fourth of July.

So, what happened to actual summer?
Our fair state has its reasons for returning to school in late July/early August, but I could think of advantages and disadvantages with these dates. Since the schools are air conditioned, students are better off in a climate controlled environment rather than sweltering at camps throughout August. The disadvantage to going back to school in early Aug…

Pedestrian safety is making its way into Suburbia, U.S.A.

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It’s no secret that America’s love affair with the modern-day automobile took too much of a hold on the nation from the 1970s to this day. The result was an automobile-centric culture that has been a drag on America’s communities thus building fences between individuals. We have heard about our car addiction leading to increased smog, more sedentary citizens and unsafe pedestrian conditions. Over the past decade, it’s obvious that many of us long for genuine communities where we could live, work and play. While it’s a long way to get to that goal, many of us are “taking it to the sidewalks, paths and trails.” Obviously, we cannot “take it to the streets” as the pop music group The Doobie Brothers sing so well about at their concerts.
As an avid runner, walker and cyclist, I’m encouraged by the sheer volume of people getting out on the sidewalks in “Suburbia, U.S.A.” Trust me, that is major progress. I have been living in this type of culture for nearly three decades in suburban Atl…

From TV binge-watching to road races, spring was very, very good to me

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Believe it or not, right now, it’s spring. Indeed, we are in the last week of spring, but we are giving way to early summer. Flag Day is upon us this week. For some reason, I always must remind folks about Flag Day and I have no idea how I even remember that day.  I also remember that former Beatle/musician/composer/singer/songwriter Sir Paul McCartney celebrates a birthday this week on June 18. This year is extra special as Sir Paul turns 75. What an inspiration. Paul is still releasing new music and constantly tours including a stop in Gwinnett next month. Speaking of concerts, I had the honor to attend my sixth Billy Joel show. This time, I went backstage to interview one of Billy’s guitarists for this story:
http://ow.ly/hkDv30cvfII
‘Tis the season for outdoor grilling, camps, festivals and of course, television binge viewing. While I don’t recommend binging on streaming television programs, they’re quite riveting and honestly, hard to resist. So far, House of Cards wins for me on…

On this Memorial Day

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Once again, Memorial Day is upon us. What strikes me with each passing year is that we are losing members of The Greatest Generation. I am fortunate enough to remember that generation, but I weep for future ones who will not experience their presence. The positive angle to that feeling is we have technology which preserves their memory.

On this post, I'm sharing two videos related to Memorial Day. The first is a natural sound package shot at Arlington National Cemetery, titled Old Guard. The video was shot by Bob Kovach. The project was released in 2008. The second video features an Atlanta resident whose front yard is a tribute to Normandy.



Old Guard from Robert Nebel on Vimeo.

A tribute to Normandy from Robert Nebel on Vimeo.

Why not re-brand the CDC

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With all of the talk about the federal budget these days and cuts to certain departments, why not do a lot more privatizing? Take the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here in Atlanta - since they will be seeing serious cuts, I suppose President Donald J. Trump could simply take the place over as a hotel/center to watch out for diseases. The president could kill two birds with one stone. Visitors to Atlanta could stay the night and if they so choose, go looking for diseases and how to deal with them.

I met a 'Big Shot' at the Billy Joel show

Back on April 28th this year, I got the chance to get an interview with Mike DelGuidice, guitarist/vocalist for Billy Joel. The result is the following feature that I put together. I hope that you will all enjoy.  Click the image below to view this video feature:

More I-85 bridge collapse "hacks"

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Here is another local post, but this does serve the national and even international interest. On March 30, Atlanta lost a portion of I-85 from a bridge collapse following an inferno.Thus the highway has been shut down ever since this unfortunate event. The impacts are felt throughout the metro area as commuters, local residents and business traffic find ways to deal with this event. 

As of this writing, I-85 in Atlanta should be re-opened in less than two months. With a bevy of incentives to get this much-needed road repaired and in today’s terms, “placed by online,” things look good for Atlanta’s near future.
As expected, we are feeling the pain with having this road “offline” throughout spring 2017. There have been several incidents with accidents happening on the Buford-Spring Connector which is already handicapped with one southbound lane closed – to allow construction equipment some room to rebuild the I-85’s bridge.
Unfortunate episodes already occurred since the highway’s shutdow…

Earth Day Teen Hero

Saturday, April 22, 2017 marks another Earth Day. Check out this package that I was involved with to honor this special day:



Marine carries flag to the finish in Boston

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I'm always amazed with the Boston Marathon and this year was no different. I viewed the legendary spectacle on April 17th. There are some great stories that came out of the race - especially with Kathrine Switzer who was the first woman to run the course in 1967 (50 years ago as of this writing). Then there is the story of Staff Sergeant Luis Sanchez, a member of the United State Marine Corps and amputee. Sanchez carried the American flag across the finish line. Check out the story at Runners World. 

ATL traffic woes continue

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It's no secret that March 30's I-85 bridge collapse caused a traffic headache in metro Atlanta. We all knew that there would be more challenging days than others. April 17 has been one of those days. At 3 a.m., there was a mix up with a truck carrying chemicals which spilled all over the Downtown Connector thus effectively shutting down that road north and south.

To top all of that off, I-20 buckled! That explains the photo above. Okay, the alien was added for effect, but I do hope that you all get the idea. I certainly could use the comic relief as our traffic woes add up and the days get even hotter.

I'll keep on going with my traffic hacks as much as I can, but even my great patience is wearing thin. I drove into the I-85 mess on Easter Sunday. It was okay as I made my way through the 20 minute tie-up, but one must remember that it was Easter Sunday. Most days, this tie-up is far worse.

Bridge inferno, collapse highlights metro ATL’s vulnerability

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As most of us know, the March 30th I-85 North bridge collapse made challenging traffic situations even worse in metropolitan Atlanta. This vital link of roadway forces thousands of commuters and travelers alike onto the few alternative routes available thus making our already-awful traffic conditions into a nightmare of epic proportions. This debacle took over our television airwaves as viewers watched in amazement as a federal road burned to the ground. Much is being debated as to who started the inferno as well as why in the world were there materials stored under the bridge that could have accelerated the fire. “Atlanta burning” made national and world headlines once again, but the unfortunate event showed that this could happen anywhere.
I’m about to get a bit too local here, but this is the scenario taking place with I-85 out of commission. Those traveling I-85 north must exit at the Buford-Spring Connector, a four-lane thoroughfare that parallels I-85 for several miles. For me…

Marathons and an annoying campaign

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I recently completed my first full marathon. I have been a runner for several years, but did not start joining races until July 2015. In that time, I completed 5Ks, 10Ks, 10-milers and half-marathons since that time, but I always wanted to do the ‘full enchilada. I confess that I was pensive leading up to the marathon. The races always start in the dark and it’s typically chilly on late March mornings. What was ahead of me was quite daunting, but I broke it all down mile-by-mile. I took advantage of all aid stations, but stopping to drink and eat – something that I refused to do in shorter races. When I hit mile 23, it was a wall that I feared I would hit earlier. So, from that point, I did a lot of run-walking. I finished around the time I had hoped for and felt all right the rest of the day. The biggest casualty in all of this was my left big toe nail. I’m in the process of recovering from having it removed. Evidentially, the marathon traumatized that toe nail. Let me tell you, it’…

Airbnb getting bigger in China

Wish to see China and save a few bucks? Did you know that Airbnb is available in China? The good folks over at Airbnb are making a big splash in China. Check this out:


World Water Day

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Being down in Georgia means that I think about water supply a lot these days. I have seen a few droughts come and go over the years. One of the worst occurred in summer 2007. We have been back to drought conditions since last year. Quite honestly, I would be surprised if we dug out of this current drought any time soon. We might receive a stormy spring, but will that put a dent in Georgia's current drought? I certainly hope so after paying dues going through a number of bad storms - like what we had on March 21. Right now, despite those ferocious storms/monsoons, it seemed as though we would be out of this year's drought in a snap. I suppose the answer is that instead of being at that horrifying "exceptional" or "extreme" level, we are somewhere between "moderate" and "severe." Here's hoping we will improve with more steady rain without the high winds, hail and lightning.
This brings me to the fact that March 22 is World Water Day …

Jay Dozer builds microphone stands for the stars

Here is my latest video product that I would like to share on this blog. It was a pleasure meeting and interviewing Gwinnett County's own Jay Dozer. Jay builds custom microphone stands for some of today's hottest musical acts including  Backstreet Boys, Toni Braxton, Billy Idol, Reba McIntire and countless other performers.

When he's not crafting these amazing stands, Jay sings in tribute bands.


They say it's your birthday

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Today is my birthday. Just like every passing year, I don’t feel any different psychologically, emotionally or physically. I didn’t wake up today and thought to myself, “Uh-oh, everything is going off the rails starting today.” Give me a break.
Birthdays are truly just a number. Why do we get worked up over birthdays and anniversaries? I’m not sure how it is in other countries or societies, but in the U.S., we are fixated on numbers and measurements. We then let those figures dictate our thinking. We would all be better off if we stopped fixating.
For me, nothing is different today. I’m still here and thankful for that fact. So what’s the huge deal? Indeed, I look completely different from my days growing up on Ohio’s north coast. When I visit these days many do not recognize me. I’m sure they walk away and are stunned that I’m a grown man. I suppose I can make a big deal out of that, but I cannot because it’s natural.
We all simply get older. So what. That’s fine with me. In many ways…

The 1980s Cold War Thrillogy - 35th Anniversary 'Edition'

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My Super 8mm original film production with legendary artist Dan Freed is certainly a 'catalog of trail and error.' I'm almost certain many ask, "Why stream these amateur shorts?" In some cases, it's for posterity and others, I just love sharing what my movie-making chums produced on shoestring budgets, imagination and the use of raw materials.

One of my favorite moments during the "Super 8 Years," is the "1980s Cold War Thrillogy" that we produced. It started with the short titled, "Comrade: X" which is a takeoff on the 1940 Clark Gable film of the same name. Our "Comrade: X" was produced when all of us in the crew still could not drive. Hence, the static automobile shots. The moving car shots featured our mothers driving the vehicles. What I find fascinating is how we were tuned into geopolitics. In this film, Stephen Harlow, a young American scientist stumbles upon Soviet plans to blow up The White House and put the U…

Trump: I know who you are!

Proud to call @BBCJonSopel my colleague - picture of professionalism when POTUS slams BBC News, insists he answer #travelban question pic.twitter.com/lRGCJEfh6z — Julia Macfarlane (@juliamacfarlane) February 16, 2017 Thursday, February 16, 2017's presidential press conference turned out to be quite rowdy.
The link on this Tweet from BBC shows President Donald J. Trump getting into a bit of a tussle with a BBC reporter. The exchange got heated when President Trump said, "I know who you are..." That one moment reminded me of the Martin Short/Harry Shearer 1984 short film sketch about men's synchronized swimming from Saturday Night Live. In the sketch, the synchronized swimmers' coach played by Christopher Guest, showed them how to synchronize themselves with their hands with the coach repeatedly saying, "I know you, I know you" at 2:33 in the clip.