Monday, March 31, 2008

Post-Vacation News And Notes

I'm still getting caught up with the news after returning from Hilton Head...

  • A big congrats to the Washington Nationals, winning the opener in their new ballpark, a 3 - 2 dandy over the dreaded Altanta Braves!

I was not able to make last night's game, however I do have a couple of very memorable opening days in my past! My Dad took me to what turned out to be the last opening day ever for the Washington Senators in 1971. Frank Howard slammed a homer as the Senators shut out the A's, 8 - nothing, and I got to miss an entire day of school! And in a personal career highlight, I covered the opening of Camden Yards in Baltimore in 1992! I co-hosted the Harden and Weaver show on WMAL that morning, because the great Jackson Weaver was out sick. My lingering memory from that day was that we were given commemorative train whistles by the O's, but mine didn't last long! When O's Vice President (and baseball legend) Frank Robinson came up to the press box for an interview, he pocketed my whistle. I've always wondered why!

Two other news items of note that occured during my absence...
  • In an obvious concession to my riveting commentary on the foolish effort by lawmakers to pick and choose which distractions should and should not be legislated while driving, the Maryland House has killed a proposed handheld cellphone ban. Thank God! I'll be prepared to go hands-free on the cell phone just as soon as they ban every other potentially dangerous driving distraction. If they want us all to be safe, maybe they should ban driving, too!
  • My Congressman, Albert Wynn, was so badly beaten and humiliated in the Democratic primary by Donna Edwards, that he's decided to step down in June... six months before the end of his term. Wynn's departure leaves Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley with two BAD choices... Either A) - fill Wynn's seat via an expensive and no-doubt sparsely attended special election or B) - Leave the seat open until January. Considering that I was one of Wynn's constituents for nearly all of his 15 years in Congress, and that as far as I know, he never even visited my part of Montgomery County, I say let the seat stay vacant for now... It's not like it was being filled for the past 15 years! Thanks for nothing, Al... and don't let the door hit your backside on the way out!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pedro Sez - Visit South of the Border! (Just Don't Get Out Of The Car!)

The distance between Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and Brookeville, Maryland is 617 miles. I know this for a fact because I drove every single blessed one of them on the family's return home from vacation. For the first third of the trip, I, like so many before me, passed the time reading billboards every couple of miles like this one...

For those of you who've never had the pleasure of driving through the Carolinas on I-95, South of the Border might be a bit difficult to describe. The massive tourist trap, which sits just South of the North Carolina/South Carolina border(get it?), includes a gas station, several restaurants, souvenir shops, fireworks stands, a motel, mini-golf course, amusement park and even a store selling pornography and sex toys.... I would describe the theme as "pre-politically correct 1950's Wetback kitsch". The mascot for South of the Border is Pedro, a Mexican equivalent of a Negro lawn jockey or Chief Wahoo, the idiotically grinning mascot of the Cleveland Indians. Pedro is a caricature - perhaps what our parents might have thought a Mexican looked or sounded like. His billboards "speak" in a thick Mexican accent, like this one -

In fact, I wonder whether"South of the Border" might be what Corey Stewart and his anti-illegal immigrant crowd in Prince William County picture as their own version of Hell!

It's probably been 25 years since I last stopped at South of the Border, and it might be that long before I stop again, but I couldn't resist passing through, and taking a look around. Sadly, "SOB" has seen better days. Even in the middle of the day, much of the place was shut down, even though it was spring break. Many of the buildings were in disrepair, and it seems many other local businesses that once leached off of the tourist mecca have turned the area into a Tijuana ghost town. Just beyond "SOB", we saw boarded-up car dealerships, shutdown sex shops, and other dingy nightspots that once presumably used the allure of South of the Border to bring in customers. Sadly, it seems time has passed Pedro by... But we'll always have his billboards!

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Unemployed Need Vacation, Too! (Don't They?)

Hello from sunny Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, where Life On The Beach reports this week from an actual BEACH! Yes, the Beach Bum is three weeks removed from getting the ax, but here I am with my family, staying at a timeshare that I bought way back when I was a Disney cast member and all was right with the world. I must admit... being here when no job is beckoning upon my return does seem a little extravagant, and every vacation tchotchke that Mrs. Beach Bum looks at now seems like even more of a waste of money than it did when I was working... However, these reservations were made seven months ago, and thanks to cell phones and wifi for my laptop, I can just as easily be surfing for work here as I can at home. Plus - it's nice to spend this time with the wife and kids... When we get back, it's back to rushing them off to school and work while I stay home!

I saw that Georgetown lost in the second round of the NCAA's... I ALMOST wish I was home so I could listen to John Thompson cry like a baby that his kid's team was somehow screwed out of making the Sweet 16... Sorry - I hate the Hoyas. That's what going to Syracuse will do to ya!

If anyone has a job for me, I'm all ears... Even down here in Low Country!

Friday, March 21, 2008

They Should Ban Drive-Thru Lanes And Car Radios, Too!

Watch out, people- he's getting up on the soapbox!

It now appears likely that Maryland will soon ban the use of cell phones while driving. The Senate has passed the measure on a party-line vote, and it's now headed to the House in Annapolis. All of this in the name of highway safety. Ok, fine. The bill would allow drivers to continue to cell-chat by using a hands-free device, so apparently the safety issue is that drivers should have both hands on the wheel, and apparently NOT that phone conversation itself can be a distraction. So follow this line of logic with me... If holding a cell phone while driving is unsafe, how about trying to eat a Whopper while driving? How about reaching to change radio stations? How about applying lipstick in the rear-view mirror? How about reaching in the backseat to give your kid a good whack when he deserves it? Shouldn't all of THOSE things be illegal as well?

Look... we've all been annoyed by seeing other drivers doing asinine things while talking on their cell phones. But choosing one distraction over another is a slippery slope. A lapful of spilled ketchup is every bit as likely to cause an accident as a cell phone call. So how soon will it be before drive thrus are boarded up? Just give it time, people!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lies And Falsehoods!

I have two items on the plate for you this morning, my readers (or is that reader? or is that NO ONE?)... and both of them have to do with the truth - or lack thereof.

Item one is personal and possibly affects my future employment. I offer you this headline from

Carlson & Matthews (Not Chris) To Fox News? - 3/18 - DCRTV hears that Tucker Carlson is planning to heard straight to Fox News as soon as his NBC/MSNBC contract is up, and his non-compete clause expires. Carlson ain't happy that his MSNBC show got axed. Also, look for former WMAL News Director John Matthews to also wind up at Fox News, in some behind-the-scenes gig, we're told. More soon.....

The problem with this headline is that there is not one shred of truth to it. To my knowledge, I have never spoken with anyone from Fox News in my entire life. I am not opposed at all to working for Fox News, but this rumor is simply made up from whole cloth! Let this be a lesson to all - Not everything you read on the internet is true... and that goes DOUBLE for DCRTV. (This blog is a notable exception, of course!)

Item two is, by comparison, totally trivial... but it also speaks to a lack of credibility. I am talking, of course, about the judging on "Dancing With The Stars"! In general, I usually agree with the judges' marks on the show, but every once in a while, you just KNOW they received their marching orders from on high. Priscilla Presley, who, by the way, should have a lawsuit pending against her plastic surgeon, received glowing remarks and scores! See for yourself!
A 24 out of 30 for her first dance of the competition... ABC has been pimping (yes, I said PIMPING, Nehman... whadda ya think about THAT?) Presley as THE star for the new season, and they made damn sure their star wasn't going to be the first woman out the door! If she had a 24 in week one, how long will it take for her to reach perfection? Week 2? I smell FIX!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Good News For One Of The Good Guys!

A quick beachfront shoutout to my friend, Paul Duckworth, who decided late last year that he was going to end his 35-year love affair with radio, and retire as the Operations/Program Director at WMAL. Paul told us all at the time that he was going to "try" to stay out of the radio biz, but he didn't seem too convinced it would work. Well, his suspicions proved correct. Paul's retirement didn't take, and now, three months later, Paul is going back to his old job at the big 630. That's right - he's replacing himself! I've been warned by Paul and many other radio lifers that leaving the biz is easier said than done... We shall have to see about that. But in the meantime, WMAL is better off to have Paul back... and for the moment, anyway, Paul is no doubt happy to be resuming his affair.

My Kind Of Job!

There was definitely a time when THIS would have been for me!
Aggressive Street Reporters – Sin City

Oh the stories from Vegas. Celebrities, corruption, school violence, making ends meet, boom town, etc. If you’re a bust-your-tail, want-to-lead-each-newscast-because-your-stuff’s-so-compelling reporter…then the KDWN 24/7 local news team needs you in the entertainment capital of the world. Tools?…no problem. People?…professionally stimulating. Weather?…great.
Too bad I have a mortgage and a wife and two kids - and more to the point, an unfortunate affinity for blackjack! I fear splitting on aces and eights would be the death of me!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Turning On The Wayback Machine...

This afternoon, I had the distinct pleasure of enjoying my first visit to a local tradition - the 37th Annual Sherwood High School Rock N' Roll Revival. This 3-hour extravaganza featured 48 songs performed live by a cast of nearly 200 singers, dancers and musicians, all playing with far more polish than you would ever expect from a high school production. The songs ranged from early-50's doowop to 60's Motown to 70's Southern Rock and Disco and the 80's era Michael Jackson. The most exciting part of the show for me was seeing high school kids having a blast while taking part in a show that requires complete teamwork and a commitment to excellence. Here's a clip from the show:

Of course, this was also a major dose of nostalgia for your blogger, himself a noted high school thespian! Here's a photo of yours truly with high school best bud Brad Krupsaw in the 1979 Springbrook High School production of "The Wizard Of Oz"... He's the Wizard - I'm the other guy...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

THIS JUST IN! - Yesterday's News!

Happy weekend, folks - Yes, even those of us in the world of the unemployed still enjoy weekends... That's because the wife and kids are around to help pass the time. I spent some of my time this morning reading the Sunday Washington Post magazine, and the wonderful article that lists 209 once-commonplace things that have become obsolete. Here's a choice example of something that has gone by the wayside, thanks, in this case, to the internet -

Doing Nothing at the Office
b. 1853 -- d. mid-1990s

The 20th century's best minds might have brought us many wonders fantastic (Decaf soy lattes! Shoulder-fired missiles! Plastic!), but what is truly stunning is the number of office hours Americans clocked during those same years doing . . . nothing much. Taking a cigarette break could sometimes nudge the minute hand a little. The water cooler was also created for this purpose. And paper clips. But in those many empty moments between tasks, much time was spent staring into space.

"When I started in the early '80s, there were word-processing centers," recalls attorney Howard Gutman, a partner at Williams & Connolly. "A 120-page brief could take two hours, and one mistake and you'd have to do it over again. Printing places would vie for business by having beds and food. If you were a young lawyer, sitting and waiting there really was your job."

Idle time's death knell was the Internet, which created a way to fill every moment while giving the appearance of productivity. The joys of making wastebasket two-pointers and using Scotch tape to extract nasal blackheads pale when compared with the minute-hand-massaging possibilities of Craigslist and YouTube.

According to Nielsen ratings, the average American visits more than 2,000 Web pages a month while on the clock; surveys by suggest that close to 90 percent of workers spend part of their day doing Internet browsing that's unrelated to work.

This last factoid, of course, means that most of you are reading this at work... on the internet... the place where many more of you are now getting most, if not all of your news.... the place where advertisers are spending more and more of their dollars, at the expense of radio. Which explains all too well why radio news has joined the list of the obsolescent! Hmmm...

Friday, March 14, 2008

If It's Good Enough For "Kristen", Count Me In, Too!

From the Times Of London:

The call-girl who brought down the Governor of New York moved yesterday to use her new-found celebrity to boost her flagging singing career.

Ashley Alexandra Dupré, a struggling singer, uploaded a new track to Amie Street, an online music-seller, hours after she was exposed as the prostitute Kristen talking on tape about the disgraced Eliot Spitzer.

Ms Dupré apparently hopes to cash in on her notoriety with sales of her CD Unspoken Words. At about midnight local time on Wednesday she logged on to the website to upload Move Ya Body, a second track from the album. Move Ya Body and the first track, Can You Handle Me, Boy?, quickly surged to the site’s maximum price of 98 cents, based on popular demand. “This is definitely the most traffic we have had,” Joshua Boltuch, a spokesman, told The Times.

More than four million people viewed Ms Dupré’s MySpace page before it was taken down yesterday, and hundreds of thousands downloaded her songs from there.

Penthouse magazine said it would consider offering her a cover shot. Diane Silberstein, the publisher, said that Penthouse would make a photo shoot “worth her while”.

What was I thinking? If I can get rich and famous by bringing down a Governor as a high-priced call girl, then why am I messing around with resumes and cover letters? I'm getting me some lingerie and Martin O'Malley's phone number! (If this doesn't work, perhaps the thought of seeing me in a nighty will scare some employer into offering me a job!)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What Do Hillary Clinton And I Have In Common?

... We're both on the comeback trail! My former employer has openings for news people, and I happen to LOVE potatoes! A natural fit... Speaking of fits, just wait for Mrs. Beach Bum's reaction when she finds out where we're moving next!

Anchor/Reporters Needed
Citadel Communications in Boise, Idaho is building up it's news department to continue to dominate the local radio news market. Please send audio demos of newscasts and news reports, live from the scene of breaking news or studio-produced wraps and voicers ASAP. Send resume, writing samples and list of references as well.

1419 W. Bannock Street
Boise, Idaho 83701

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I Found The Island From "Lost" - It's Oahu!

Unemployment - The New Fad Diet!

I was poking around this morning, following my new routine of starting the day by seeing what's new in the world of online job searching. When I googled "news jobs", the very first entry on the search page was this: "NewsJobs: Because you need to eat."

This made me laugh... Eating is something that is definately (or should be) optional for yours truly! But it gave me pause to consider that maybe the best thing that could happen to me in terms of my health and well-being is to NOT work, and therefore NOT be able to afford to eat!

And yes, perhaps Google was giving me a sign. The site in question,, has not been updated in a couple of weeks, and had little to no value for me. This is better than Slimfast!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bring On The Snow!

Channel 7's Doug (of DOOM) Hill is teasing tonight that we could get some snow overnight in a fast-moving clipper. Now, as a lifelong Washingtonian, I know damn well that the chances of snow causing any major problems in mid-March are pretty slim, but there's nothing more I would like right now than to sit and look out the window and enjoy a decent snow storm. I have not been able to just sit and look at the snow since 1982 - when I was in college in Syracuse, New York. Since that time, snow has meant early and long hours at work. In fact, 90 percent of all of the snow shoveling at home has been done by Mrs. Beach Bum over the years. Now that I'm on the beach, maybe I can take over that job... I'm certainly getting in plenty of shoveling practice right here!

Who's gonna police the police?

Did you hear about the conundrum that the Montgomery County police department is finding itself in concerning its officers routinely getting speed camera tickets and refusing to pay for them? The cops' own union is advising officers not to pay, and police lieutenants are now having to investigate the tickets individually to determine whether the officers are actually responding to calls or are simply leadfooting it around town. I'm a leadfoot myself, and I have, unfortunately, received more than one of these little 40-dollar beauties in the mail. If I had to pay, then the cops should, in my mind, certainly have to pay as well. If there is any valid reason for a police officer to be speeding past speed cameras, then they ought have their lights going. And if their lights are not going, then the cops should have to pay for their impatience... Perhaps we should just get rid of speed cameras altogether, but that's another story.

If we live in a society where the cops live by one standard and everyone else lives by another, then it's only a matter of time before complete anarchy sets in... Whatcha think about THAT, Nehman?

First Musings Of A Beach Bum...

Well, here I am... joining the navel-gazing world of blogging. Two weeks ago, I would have told you (as I told everyone) that I spent my day writing stuff for a living - why would I spend my free time writing as well? Well - God (or Farid Suleman, take your pick) had other plans! Now, I suddenly have some time on my hands... and I'm not getting paid to write - at least not at the moment, so here we are!

I've never been unemployed before, so I had no idea what to expect...but my friend, David Burd, explained it to me like this...

Step one - At first, you'll hear from everyone you know in the radio business... the rubber-neckers who can't resist looking at the roadkill (me) as they drive on by... The roadkill appreciates all the attention, and soaks it up like a biscuit to gravy.

Step two - After that, the tedium of updating the resume and the audition tape (how dated - of course I mean the audio file) sets in, followed by hour after hour of repeating your hard work on an online application forms, because employers really DON'T want to read your resume...

Step Three - (sounds of birds chirping)

Suffice it to say we're at step two now... and we don't want to see step three, hence the "Life On The Beach" blog.

Just a couple of personal observations before I bring this inaugural blog posting to a close...

1/ My kids like my new "arrangement", because for the first time in their lives, Dad is home to help them get ready for school in the morning. And while this is a big help to Mom, Mom is not so thrilled to see Dad home. This simply serves as a reminder to Mom that Dad should really be off someplace else...

2/ I used to get in to work in the morning and groan at seeing at least a couple of dozen new emails waiting for me. Be careful what you wish for. I pine for email now... even to the point that I've signed up for some selective junk email because it ensures I'll have something new to read every day! For those of you who might want to contribute to the cause, the address is

3/ Old habits die hard - or in some cases, don't die. I still find myself sitting with a cup of coffee at 6 am every morning, scanning the Washington Post and making mental notes on how to cover each story. I suspect some of my soapbox rants concerning these stories that used to be released to my newsroom cohorts will be released here on the beach instead. Lucky you.

4/ When I used to hire people, one of the last things I did before making an offer was to google the applicant's name and see if anything interesting came back. To be honest, more than one person was not hired because the person they portrayed themselves to be on myspace or facebook was NOT the person I had just interviewed. I suspect discerning employers may also use this practice... so don't expect to read any stories of debauchery or other tawdry tales here. Those will have to remain the stuff of legend and vivid imagination!

Let me hear from you - ESPECIALLY if you find me getting whiny. I can't STAND whiny... Thanks!