It’s about performing with your BFF.

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The wonderful thing about performing on the radio with my wife Melody was that people couldn’t see the grimace on my face when she  kicked the crap out of me when we disagreed – about politics or religion, of course.

I loved our show.  It was called “He Said, She Said.”  We named it that because Melody always got the last word.  Every Wednesday at noon, Mel and I would get together in the KLAY-AM studio in Lakewood, Washington and discuss religion and politics.  Not the boring way.  Not the typical “here is my opinion, who cares about yours” way that you hear today.  When we discussed religion and politics, we did it in a way that only a husband and wife could do it.

Indeed, we did it in a way that two people who love each other should do it. Although we would argue our positions ferociously for an hour, we never took the show home with us.  Okay, Mel or I might run to the library, or a computer and research like crazy so we could disprove the other one on our next show.  But we never held hard feelings because of what we said to each other on the show.

Of course, we were more than husband and wife.  She was a US Marine, a liberal, an attorney.  I am ex-Navy, more conservative and I made my living in government and politics.  Our personalities are quite different too.  Neither of us was unabashed about speaking our minds, even in front of live audiences.  People really enjoyed the banter.

Often times, we would be sitting at a restaurant or shopping at a store and someone would come up and scold me or encourage her on an issue that we had discussed on our show.  I think listeners were often encouraged that a husband and wife could disagree openly and honestly and still remain close, personal friends.  Just like a husband and wife should be able to do.  It has taken many years of practice to put our personal puzzle pieces together to make a marital picture of love, trust and friendship.  We work very hard at it each and every day.  No kidding!  We have been BFF’s for nearly 30 years and happily married for more than 15 of those years.

We did our show for nearly three years.  We’ve missed those radio moments.  We still argue about religion and politics.  We still disagree, speaking our minds with wild abandon in an open and honest fashion.  But there was something magical about being on the radio with my BFF when we did it.  There was something special that we shared with other people when we were on the airwaves.

But then, it’s not about me.

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It’s about our childhood heroes

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Beginning at five years of age, growing up in the burbs of Chicago, many of the boys in our neighborhood would sit around the television and watch Cubs baseball.   It came on right after Bozo the Clown.  Jack Brickhouse, the sportscaster on WGN-TV Chicago would call the play by play action.

“Santo to Beckert to Banks!” Jack would yell and the crowd would go wild.  Gathered around the television, we would go wild too.  Regardless of whether the Cubs won or lost, we would root for our favorite players and our favorite team-the Cubs.

When each and every game was over, we would run out to my backyard and play wiffle ball.  Wiffle ball is comprised of a plastic ball and a plastic bat. We would pretend we were Ron Santo or Glenn Beckert or Ernie Banks, number 14, Mr. Cub.  Ernie was my favorite player.

We might even pretend we were Roger Maris and had just hit our 61st home run or Willie Mays going back to the warning track.  But being Cubs fans, we always aspired to be Cubs and always aspired to be America’s next baseball heroes.  We wanted to make a difference.

After the wiffle ball games, we would get out our shoeboxes filled with baseball cards. They would provide us with entertainment for the rest of the afternoon.  And there was never any doubt in our minds that this was the year the Cubs would win the pennant and make it to the World Series.

For us, it was never about the first “Hispanic to a Caucasian to an African American turning a double play” moment in history!  It was never about a salary cap or a failed marriage.  It was never about domestic violence or collective bargaining issues.  The only black and white was the picture on the television.

For us, it was about courage and determination.  It was about hustle on and off the field.  It was about working hard to be the best at the game.  These are the character traits that we grew up with as kids, and by the way, these are the character traits that made our nation great.

What happened along the way?  Did more athletes start beating their spouses?  Did athletes stop visiting kids at hospitals or stop establishing foundations to give to less fortunate kids who aren’t their own?  Did they stop working hard in the gym or stop trying to win ball games? The answer to all of these question is a resounding “No!.”

What happened was that sports has become far more about entertainment and much less about sports.  We owe this to the media.  Just like our news today. The list of journalists who don’t sensationalize the news is a mighty short list.  The difference between a journalist and a sports broadcaster like Jack Brickhouse is that we knew Jack Brickhouse was going to root for the Cubs.  He identified both his agenda and his bias.  Both were quite clear at the beginning, during and at the end of the day.  Today, like my blog, nearly every journalist has their own “column” and many opinions are cloaked as objectivity when they are really subjectivity.  The primary goal is always will it sell and to how many end users.

The result is that sports is more about what happens off the field of play and less about what happens on the field of play.  Of course if you live in Seattle, when it comes to professional basketball, there is no field of play.  But you don’t want to get me started about that!  Suffice it to say that our kids are missing one of the greatest opportunities to see one of our nation’s best basketball players in Kevin Durant.  Again, because sports has become more about entertainment and less about sports, we lost an NBA franchise here in Seattle.  The corporate media is largely to blame and journalism, or the abandonment of best practices in journalism, is the culprit.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says that “a journalist is a person engaged in journalism; especially : a writer or editor for a news medium and is a writer who aims at a mass audience.”

Journalism seems like it should be so much more than that.  I took classes in journalism in high school and in college.  I was an editor of a newspaper both in high school and in college.  I wrote for a newspaper and was a radio broadcaster and I received compensation for both.

Heck, let me be the first to admit it.  I’m not a journalist.  I’m giving my opinion based on my personal experiences.  Yet, by Webster’s definition, I’m a journalist.

But it’s not about me.

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It’s about being a talented artisan

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My daughter Sarah is a talented artist. She is an amazing photographer too. My daughter Jenifer can dance.  She is an amazing dancer.  My granddaughter Caitlyn can paint up a storm – and it looks like a storm on the canvas.  Grandson Tyler draws and he could work for Disney any day now.  Granddaughter Simcha is an amazing author just like her Grandma Mel and no doubt will be on everybody’s Christmas list soon.  In fact, our family has a long line of artisans.  I am truly blessed.  Not a one of them has received the awful artisan gene from me.

I am an alumnus  from Western Washington University, an esteemed party school in Bellingham, Washington.  Bellingham is a town famous for its musicians, actors, artists and expensive sculptures and art pieces on campus.  During my tenure there, I decided I wanted to make some money to get through college and it appeared that Western Washington University would buy almost any alleged art piece placed in front of them during the early 80’s.  So I decided to take an art class.  The class I chose was Drawing 101.  I mean how can anyone fail Drawing 101!!!

Our professor wanted to see what kind of talent she had in the classroom so she told us we could draw anything we wanted to draw.  For my first drawing, I chose to draw God.  I figured that nobody has ever seen God so how could I be bad at it.  The professor told me that I couldn’t draw God because nobody knows what God looks like.  My point exactly!  “Well, they will in a minute!” I said.

She decided to get a bit more strict of her requirements after that so she told us that for our second assignment, we had to pick a reknown artist and attempt to draw something that they had.  I picked Degas and than I drew a picture of a redheaded woman in our class – naked.  I mean, the man drew an overabundance of redheaded women naked during his career.  They were naked on the couch, naked in a bathtub, naked redheaded women everywhere!

Needless to say, this did not sit well at all with my art professor.  And most certainly, not with one redheaded woman that I drew in particular.  I penciled what I thought was a real life drawing.  Her head was so small in relation to her boobs.  If the sketch had been anything close to reality and she would have pierced her ears, she would have died.  And her hips, well, I could have sat my beers on them.

The professor told me I should withdraw from the class before someone got hurt.  I’m guessing she meant me.  So my first foray into the world of art ended with a big “W” for Withdrawal.

But it’s not about me…

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