Monday, December 31, 2012


       This is the second cup of adrenaline laced hope in this great season.  A week after Christmas and the season of joy comes the New Year, the makeover of all makeovers, when all that is hoped for is possible, at least for this season and sometimes that is good enough to create momentum.
       Dream it now, and in the winter to come, do it.

       Excuse me as my Scots blood turns me to sentimental recall of Robert Burns anthem
       "...and there's a trusty hand my friend 
       and give us a hand of thine!
       and we'll take a right good will draught,
       for auld lang syne."
       Take your choice of style, just have a happy ending and joyous beginning.

       Thank you for your readership this year.
       Be safe and be well.
       See you down the trail.

Friday, December 28, 2012


Sometimes a piece of a tune, a hint of fragrance or a glimpse is enough to put you on memory lane.  

What's a cloudy cool day among friends?
    A favorite task in the newsroom was to review the work of our photo journalists, to find the images that told of a year.  Here is the year reconstructed by images from shooters at Reuters. I suggest you watch this full screen.
Enjoy your weekend and the reminiscence.
See you down the trail.     

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


     OK, District of Columbia police are stating the law, maybe even doing their job well, but, hey!!!
      NBC News and Meet the Press anchor David Gregory being in a hot spot because he held an automatic weapon ammo clip on the air while Americans own and use such things is a snapshot of how absurdly silly this complex nation is becoming.
      School children die when a "legal" weapon is used against them, but hold a clip in a studio and be the object of an investigation?!  Should we laugh, or cry?
      Frank Raiter played the best Scrooge I have seen.
      I struggled to remember his name last week, as I noted the great performance in Tom Haas's adaptation of the Christmas Carol at the IRT a couple of decades ago. 
      My thanks to those of you who suggested other names, and while I know some of them and they were indeed very worthy, Raiter played old Ebenezer better than any I've seen, on stage, film or television.
      Frank's name popped into mind over the weekend as I devoured any thing Christmas Carol on the air, DVR or On Demand. One more Christmas ghost, jarred loose.  I don't think Raiter's performance was captured on film or tape so like many other good stage performances, it lives on in memory only.

  See you down the trail.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


     Incredible, amazing, even miraculous that the birth of a legal bastard of questioned fatherhood, born in an alley stable to a poor couple, the mother both reviled by community and rejected by her intended husband's family, two thousand years ago in a backwater village is the cause of a celebration of joy and hope that wraps the globe.                   
     When gazing upon that tender infant's face, Christians for two millennium see he who links humans with the divine and the child who grows to be a rabbi who demonstrates sacrificial love. Unbelievable that such a story line is a trigger to such cultural outpouring.
     Christmas, as we know it today, is a relatively new occurrence.  But even in a cultural milieu of silver bells,  Santa Claus coming to town, decking the halls, rockin' around a Christmas tree, family gatherings, feasts, parties, pageants, ballets, choirs, wrapping paper, and every thing else that has grown around the date, it centers back to that illegitimate baby boy born among live stock to a young girl. 
     Guess those astrologers from a line of scholar disciples of Zoroaster may have been onto something when they read the charts and traveled under night skies to visit the child and his bewildered parents. In a very real sense they were the guest at the first Christmas party.
     For two thousand years critics and doubters and the intervening madness of wars, mass killings, disasters, disease, poverty, decadent commercialism and even hate have been unable to stop the party.  
     A curious birth, lower than the lowest level of civil society, in a smelly stable and it has come to this. Unbelievable isn't it?
      Merry Christmas. 
      See you down the trail.

Friday, December 21, 2012


     A couple of weeks ago I posted a video with Dan and Phil Ponce, a couple of Chicago news casters who are also extraordinarily talented musicians and singers.  Dan was one of the founders of Straight No Chaser an a Capella group formed at Indiana University that is now a hot ticket.
       As fate would have it, several of you have sent me videos of the group, so I am "re gifting."  Most of you are no doubt aware of them, but for those of you who are not-
Enjoy.  Here's an early gift.


     An era came to a sad but noble end today. I think of it as a ghost of Christmas future.  
     A tennis partner quietly announced at the net as we were shaking hands at the conclusion of a match, that he would no longer be playing. David said he could not trust his balance anymore and he didn't want to take another fall, as he has twice this year.  David is an octogenarian.
     I didn't play tennis until we moved to Cambria.  My court sport in Indiana was basketball, but wanting to stay in shape I began as a late aged neophyte on the tennis court. It took months of some awful play before I was worthy of joining into a foursome.  David, Phil and Janos were the first group to ask me to sub from time to time.  They were also the first group to ask me to join as a permanent player.
     I play three days a week in three different foursomes now, but the Friday morning 9AM foursome on Court 1 was the "mother's milk" of my tennis play.  David, Phil and Janos allowed me to learn and grow and they are a delightful group of guys. After our play, we always end up at Lilly's coffee deck for wide ranging conversations and a good dose of friendship.
      David and I were often partners and there would be times he wore a frustration at what had departed his game. But there were also those times when his wicked cross court shot, or a hard hit liner would do the job and was evidence of a man who had great game.  He particularly enjoyed, as I did as well, when we would rally back from being down and win the match. We both would leave the court with more spring in our step.  He remained a competitor though he knew his days of being an excellent player were history. He loved the game and he continued to play.  
     David was also the picture of a gentlemen competitor at all times.  He evinced a great sportsmanship and integrity.  He is also a true gentlemen in every other regard.  A class act if ever there was one.  As well traveled as anyone I've met, even among other globe trotting journalists, David is a great joy in social settings.  We hope he will continue to join us for our post match coffee.
      Our buddy Phil has been on medical leave of recent, though his love for the game is pushing him to get back on the court as well.  In my few years of play I have come to know that love of the game and can understand how tough it must be to hang it up.  David will now take up lawn bowling, of which there is a tough league in Cambria.  And he may join the ping pong matches.
      I am indebted to Janos, Phil and David.  I will miss David's enthusiastic narratives and droll humor as we play. And I hope at some distant match, holiday season or other wise, I can leave the game with the same class and gentlemanly style as David.
      And for the record David's quick returns and well aimed shots earned us several points today.
      See you down the trail.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


     Paul McCartney playing with Nirvana may have been the  cosmic rift that some have attributed to the Mayans.
      First at the Sandy benefit international broadcast, 12/12/12 and then again on Saturday Night Live (SNL), McCartney assumed the late Kurt Cobain's role. That is not something we saw coming, nor would ever expect.
        By virtue of his "Beatledom," McCartney is probably the reigning star in the Rock realm.  Some ascribe such cultural and musical shaping influence to the Beatles they belong in Darwin's theory of evolution.  Of course most of that is true.  And Paul is a superb player, in addition to writer, composer, arranger, producer and by most accounts a grand fellow.  He certainly held his own, and in a way was saying, I maybe the grand old man and the master of pop and ballads and lyrics, but I can still kick out the jam.  Still
McCartney with Nirvana was just plain weird!

     One more item of Iconography.  One of the greatest sports legends, because it is true, is the "Goliath killer" Butler Bull Dogs.  
       The small Indianapolis north side University thrilled NCAA fans a couple of years ago with back to back national championship runs, ending up as runner up two years in a row.  Over the weekend the "Dawgs" worked their way into the nation's top 25 again by knocking off the nation's number 1 powerhouse, neighboring Indiana University.
       The IU Hoosiers lay claim to 5 national championships and 8 final four appearances.  To some, IU under Bob Knight, UCLA under John Wooden and Duke under Coach K are the epitome of college basketball powerhouses.
      Well,...way back, in my kid hood, we remember the great and historic Butler teams under the legendary Tony Hinkle.  Always a small school, but with a brand of basketball that cast a national shadow.  
      Under former coach, now athletic director Barry Collier and coach Brad Stevens, Butler has become the favorite little guy. Their intelligence, determination and toughness remind millions of how basketball excellence can look.  
      If you saw the classic movie Hoosiers written by Angel Pizzo, you may be inclined to say the real Hoosiers in Indiana-the little guys who knock off the big boys, are the Bull Dogs!  Great stuff.
Day File
at the coast

  See you down the trail.

Monday, December 17, 2012


    Television news producers called it a false lead-that headline in yellow gold above, a case in point. Get your attention with it, but do another story or two first.  Sometimes because the headline story wasn't ready, perhaps a technical issue, or simply to make you wait through earlier info.
  This photo and an accompanying letter has been passed down through our family since the 1940's.  More than once it was a topic of a school essay or report.
    Orville Wright, who with his brother Wilbur created the age of air travel, is a cousin. It was on this day at Kill Devil Hill, North Carolina the Ohio brothers alternated flying for the first time, as captured in the photo.  Orville's letter of May 2, 1945, to a relative genealogist verified her research that our family lines joined with Edmund Freeman, born in 1590 in England.  He came to Boston in 1635. His research and hers were consistent. The Freemans, Booths and Jones-part of the English line were my father's mother's lineage.
     I remember the night my father and I drove to cousin Rhea's home to see her massive genealogical charts and I can still remember her great excitement at making the Wright Brothers connection, some ten years prior to our visit.  It was a big deal in the family.  
    The Charles Dicken's classic A Christmas Carol made its first appearance on this day in 1843.  I loved it from the first telling by an English uncle and in my later first reading from an old English illustrated copy.  I've seen it staged more times than I can remember and assume by now it has become part of my bones.
     The best Scrooge I've seen, and in fact some of the best staging ever, was the Tom Haas adaptation performed for years at the IRT in Indianapolis.  I'm drawing a blank, if you can remember the fine Rep actor who played Scrooge several times at IRT, let me know, please.  

    That was the best question to come from the hours of coverage and reportage on the Newtown tragedy. America has been through this too many times.  As always we resolve to something.  We do nothing and politics always intrudes.
      As I have posted previously I've covered this sort of violence and wrote and directed a documentary which dealt with the topic.
     I am a firm advocate of the Bill of Rights, but I wonder if there isn't some way to develop a standard that closely approximates the type of fire arm the writers of the Second Amendment would approve.  
    I think a good case is made the Second is focused on the right of people to keep and bear arms only as a means to organize a regulated militia for their defense. It is not about keeping specific firepower.
   Clearly the firearms of 1791 were less sophisticated, but couldn't there be a way to equate what was available and in use in those days, and bring the standard forward to include modern technology, but draw the line some place? If self defense is an operating principle then some of the weapons available today clearly go beyond that.  Automatic weapons are meant to kill, rapidly, efficiently.  Anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool and or apologist.  Assault rifles are meant to be used as tools of war and to kill.  
    I wonder what James Madison, George Mason, Patrick Henry and Alexander Hamilton would think.  How would those writers of the Second Amendment react to Newtown, or Aurora, or Columbine, or etc, etc, etc.?
    Can't we find a way to define classes of weapons, or ways to categorize what is consistent with being able to mount a militia?  Though I confess those who are overly obsessed with being able to create a militia seem a little shaky themselves.
    I don't profess an answer, but the question needs to be
answered.  What are we going to do about it?
See you down the trail.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


    There is nothing to remove the tragic sadness of Newtown Conn., but there is a dimension of humanity where actions prompt joy and spirits soar.
     This came in from several friends this week.  Here is a lift for us all.
    See you down the trail.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


    Words, important for all Americans to hear, have been inscribed now into the historic record of the US Senate, but first they should be heeded. What Senator Richard Lugar said in his farewell to the Senate is counsel and wisdom to this generation and to the future.
     Lugar is the most senior Republican in the senate and has served there 30 years.  He is widely considered to be one of the most intelligent Senators in history. 
Link here to see Lugar's farewell on the Senate floor.
     Lugar's 15 minute farewell could well save this nation years of acrimony and heartbreak. 
     He cautioned his own party.
     "...Republicans must be willing to suspend reflexive opposition that serves no purpose but to limit their own role in strategic questions and render cooperation impossible." 
      Lugar is one of the nation's leading thinkers on foreign policy. He chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has advised Presidents.
    "All parties should recognize the need for unity in the coming year when events in Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea and other locations may test American national security in extreme ways."
     Americans are fortunate Lugar will continue to work on nuclear non proliferation and the cooperative threat reduction program that he and former Senator Sam Nunn started after the fall of the Soviet Union. They deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.  Their work to stabilize and control nuclear and chemical/biological weapons is one of the great chapters in world history.
     I wrote earlier about Lugar's impact and my history of covering him. You can link to that post here.
     If you have any interest in the state of American politics, I urge you to see the C-SPAN file on his farewell.
 It's called the King Tide and indeed it is.  

   It is the rare cosmological and natural phenomena where the tide is so high, the beach disappears.

   Here are a few frames of the same beach, before the King Tide.

   See the difference in boulder before and after- 

       See you down the trail.                                      

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


    Joy in this season, or any other, is seeing parents or family members watching their kids in chorales, plays, skits, ballets, concerts and the other performances that make this season so merry.
       Love is modeled best whenever it happens and we get to absorb a large gift of it during the holidays. Seeing proud parents and those little communications from kid back to them is a heart-warming information loop. It's good for all of us.


  Dickens demonstrated for us how Christmas ghosts play a role.  Don't you think memories morph into a kind of apparition?  I think of old stories as becoming a kind of ghost of times passed. 


     You may need a context for this.  
A Story AS Response
        That goofy shot from the beach where swim suit and the beach chair matched the color of peppers on the grill prompted the above comment.  You would know this if you read the comments below the post.
        Despite the denunciation re-printed above, his recent post about our long friendship, renegade forays at political conventions and other carrying on is mostly true, as either of us remember those years of "pedal to the metal" television news.
         It started in radio.  My first day on the metro news staff of the 50 thousand watt "Voice of News" found me assigned to shadow the veteran Bruce Taylor.  It was the pre computer era and the old line station had truly been the Voice of News for the state capitol. Unimaginable today, our radio news staff was larger than one or two of the television stations in the city.  It competed with the  three, then two, daily newspapers to break stories.
         I had been hired to work 3PM to Midnight, starting my day by picking up city government and/or state house leads before sources left their office or the bars some retreated to. Then I moved into our cubicle at the "cop shop" to cover police, sheriff, fire and emergency news.  At some point in the evening I went back to the studio where I wrote and produced the 15 minute 10:00 PM news.  I was to learn that newscast had thousands of listeners, many of whom had listened for years.  Back then people would get what they needed from our cast and didn't need to wait up until the late local TV news.
        Taylor had been working that beat for a while. I'd heard him on the air.  He wrote great copy, used a lot sound in stories, had a very professional big market style. Here I was, the new kid from a smaller market getting my orientation from the old vet.
        He wore a pin stripped shirt, mint green as a I recall, and an orange patterned tie, loose at the neck, as he sauntered into the news room.  His jacket was on his finger over his shoulder, he carried a cup of coffee, a cigarette clamped in his teeth.  His face and eyes said this was a guy who you could not bull shit.
      Our boss, a legendary radio news man and ex sailor, who swore better than the best, said something about "glad he could make it!" 
      "It was one of those kind of nights,"  Taylor shot back. 
       He looked to me like a guy who probably was a veteran of those "kind of nights."   
      I was a year out of college and had worked radio news in a medium sized factory town.  I'd been around a little bit, but I knew this guy Taylor was from the major leagues in being around.  
      We'd been dispatched to a north side shopping mall where a works project had changed the flow of water and several shops had been flooded.  It's hard not to be impressed by a guy who smokes, drinks coffee, talks on the two way radio and drives like a bat out of hell simultaneously.  
       Heading to our first assignment I thought a couple of things; man, this new job is going to be a blast!  And what a cool dude Taylor is.  He even liked jazz. That was a start to a friendship that for many years existed in those famous letters he wrote of.
      So, let him deny knowing me now, but let me tell you this.  Lana and I showed up in Phoenix one year for our periodic visit.  I was surprised when Bruce met us at the airport.
        "I thought you had to work," I said.
        "I quit.  They didn't give me the weekend off, so screw em!"
         We had a wonderful weekend up in Zane Grey country and created another story or two, as we always seem to do.
        Some time we should tell you about the Democratic mid term convention in the Kansas City landmark Muehlebach Hotel.  Here's the teaser-Bruce, a friend who is now a respected broadcast executive, a woman who ran for congress and I find our way into the deep innards of the old hotel.  It was a portion of a floor that had been walled off and had not been remodeled as the rest of the hotel had been.  It was a kind of 1940's pastiche of old hotel in decline. We were in a Felliniesque scene. It looked like an old conference room, now a storage area of dated furniture and other discarded stuff on the way to being junk.  
         Cutting to the chase-Taylor is jamming away on an old piano, clunking out a version of Sentimental Journey. The lady is singing, someone is pounding on a chair bottom like a drum and someone is trying to modulate the blast of a fire extinguisher to ape a trumpet when we are suddenly interrupted in our dusty jam session, by a Secret Service contingent. The lead guy asks "Can you tell me what's going on here?"
         All of that was early in the evening. It gets more interesting when Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace work into our evening.
        Don't believe for a moment what he wrote above!

See you down the trail.

Monday, December 10, 2012


     An exquisite evening- Strings in the Chapel with the voices of Jude and Ra Johnstone, the writing of Judith Larmore and the traditional "T'was the night..." from Bruce Black. This California village was at its creative best.
       A deep star field wrapped around the candle lit Chapel on the crest of the hill presiding over the east village. A garland of sparkling luminescence cloaked the shrub in front of the white wood and the walk way. The  shimmery glow on the top of the hill beckoned Cambrians who made the steep pilgrimage. A mellow spirit filled the fresh air, rich with pine and hints of the sea.
      143 years of community mingled with those in place on this night; extraordinary players-violins, cello, viola, harp, guitar and the villagers, anticipating the magic of a special night, unique in a settlement of talent, authenticity and eccentricities.
     And powerful the music was.  Young Ra Johnstone's a capella opening of Amazing Grace prompted tears and lumps in the throat which only intensified when her accomplished mom, Jude, joined in.  The mood was set.  Virtuoso string performances of classic, traditional,  contemporary music and carols--poetry and the vivid time shifting story and message from Judith as the bow on the gift of this special night. This little village tucked beneath Monterey Pines between the Pacific and the Santa Lucia Mountains is accustomed to the best from California players. The candle lit second Saturday in December, in the acoustically charmed chapel, is something even more.
     I wish everyone could have sipped of this extraordinary night of flickering light, strings, voices and memories on a Christmas watch where 143 Advent seasons have been greeted.

Photo Courtesy of Santa Rosa Chapel -Cambria Ca.

Photo by Lana Cochrun. Taken a few seasons ago on Sanibel Island Florida.
     Sorry, I was just struck by the similarity of color.

     See you down the trail.

Friday, December 7, 2012

THE WEEKENDER- That time...

     Merriment and good cheer are afoot. Smiles and greetings abound.
A Variation
My dad, a WWII vet and a big band dance era fan enjoyed Como and loved this...
hospitality night

   The Cambria American Legion post offers free hot dogs and hot chocolate and a warm fire.
  If you read this elsewhere-hospitality night is when locals graze their way through the east and west village merchants with stops along the way, most offering food and or drink.  It is a bazaar of tastes and mingling.  A social evening and high spirits.

Zebras at the Pacific
Next week.

You need to be a certain age to understand......
     Laughing at memories today with Paul, another media vet.  Crystal radios-those tiny little crystal rocks that we would run a hair like strip over until we found a frequency or signal, heard through uncomfortable old ear phones-nothing like the ear buds of this generation or ear phones of the boomer youth.  We recall hard, plastic and uncomfortable pieces to hold to the ear for a faint radio signal.  
     Tis the season for memories and mirth.  
     See you down the trail.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


      An advantage of a life in journalism is friends from every political persuasion.  My Republican friends have been singing the blues, but one fellow in particular says the party is likely to be locked out of the White House for many years.  I'm not so sure of that, but I agree that some of the self loathing is on target.
      Recent polls show most Americans blame Republicans for the self imposed flagellation called a fiscal cliff. Business people worry the Republicans will refuse to budge and will be the reason for another recession. The sequestration mean massive cuts to defense spending, some of which could have negative impact on national security. He says the party will be blamed for that.
      My friend believes the public impression is that Republicans are sore losers.  President Obama's re election validated his economic view of the future.  He notes that before the election the Fox News Analysts were predicting a Romney "landslide."  Ironically the numbers they cited were less than the Obama "mandate" in both popular and electoral college votes.  He also talks about the "Fox effect."
      The Fox News right of center tilt and punditry post, amplifies everything.  The Republican and Fox position was rejected by a majority of Americans, but they appear to be unable to bend to the will of the majority and accept defeat.  
      What about all of the Republicans returned to the house where they maintain a majority I asked?  First he said, the House is a "joke" populated by "dimwits" and "bull shit artists" of both parties.  As for the double message of an Obama win and a re-election of a Republican majority-  some of that is just the way districts are drawn but "even the biggest fool should understand that."  Or he adds, "it's like the voters say we like you and what you've done for us, but pay attention to the big picture."
      I've noticed that he and a handful of other long time-I call them centrist Republicans-are not against changes in our tax code.  
      We are at the lowest tax rate in decades. Back when the rate was higher "people were still making money, corporations were earning, investments were being made."
      I asked him about who the Republican constituency is or should be.
      "That's the trouble.  We don't have one. Being the lap dog for the richest percentage of Americans won't work any more.  We need a connection with real working Americans. And we need to quit watching Fox News."
      And I would add to that tell Grover Norquist to take a long walk off a short pier.
                                    DAY FILE

   See you down the trail.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


    It's embarrassing to think how hard we worked on finding the perfect tree during our first seasons together. One year it took several days, it seems scouring the state. It became a point of contention each year, so I defaulted to letting Lana make the choice.
      Now we are more easily content. Maturity? Laziness? A desire to give an ugly tree a home? Probably, but it doesn't matter.
     Just having the green and the old ornaments together again is a gift until itself.  And choosing up here in the village is pure Cambria-friendly, easy, laid back and cheery.  
     Still there is that issue of the lights and the cosmic riddle of why they don't work-but a brilliant daughter and a driven Lana tackle that. My skill comes in placing the Dickens figures on just the right branch, and putting the angel atop the scene. And pouring the egg nog!
    The garden center provided many choices of tree. Being from Oregon you can probably smell the freshness.

  We found one quickly. It needs only a little rehabilitation. 
     Then into the twinkle house where you automatically
become a kid. Wonder lurks in this season.

    It probably helps to maintain a festive spirit when we know this is the only snow we'll need to navigate-unless we want to drive a half day to ski country.  Not going to happen though.
    See you down the trail.