Sunday, December 20, 2015

BORN TO BE BAD

It's About Pride

Hello New York and everywhere else, I'm Bird and you're in the Birdcage here at Hockeybird.com.

Sit back and relax as I tell a story that spans five decades. It all begins in Levittown, Long Island NY. Back in the 70's. NY radio was ending a heyday of broadcast excellence. Rock & Roll radio had a lot of choices to make. A little station in Hempstead NY became THE place to tune in if you really loved your music. The interviews, the Tuesday Night Radio Concerts, the bands they played and the shows that came to town were all a part of what made WLIR so good. Southern Rock played a huge part in what WLIR was doing at the time. I had become a big Lynyrd Skynyrd fan and WLIR turned me on to a whole new crop of bands like Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet, Charlie Daniels, The Alman Bros., .38 Special and of course one of my faves, The Outlaws. Getting exposed to these bands lit the fuse to a passion for music that would take me on one hell of a journey.

In 1976 I was a freshman in high school at Levittown Division. I was brought up to the varsity wrestling team and it was the seniors who were playing Green Grass and High Tides in the locker room. By '78 I was able to buy and own everything the Outlaws had recorded along with Skynyrd and many other acts. My friend Troy Moore was a heck of an artist and he painted me a Levis denim jacket with the Outlaws 2nd LP logo. It became a prized possession and I wore it all the time and everywhere.

Then a tragic event changed everything.

I found out about the plane crash on the CB. Rene Costarella informed me that WLIR was reporting a plane carrying Lynyrd Skynyrd had crashed. Ronnie Van Zant, Steve and Corina Gaines had been killed. This rocked the southern music community. Charlie Daniels wrote a song called Reflections and the Henry Paul band had Grey Ghost. WLIR played the hell out of those songs. Then at the Nassau Coliseum Charlie headlined with Henry Paul opening. I had to be there. There was just one little problem. Dad had a family camping trip planned and I was not allowed to go. After leaving a note in the camper, Troy and I headed off to meet Charlie at a record store on Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow. Larry Kleinman was the WLIR radio guy there and I had the only bottle opener for their Heini's. I got my southern flag autographed and then it was off to the show. We were hitch hiking and it was my dad who stopped. We ran.

Running into a backyard we were stopped by a fence. The homeowner came out to ask what we were doing. I explained and she offered us a ride. Once inside the parking area I thought we were safe but there was my dad looking for me. We hid. We hid by the ramp used to load in and that's where Henry Paul and his band came walking in. We said hi, I described my issue and  Henry offered to escort us into the show. My tickets were replaced with floor seats and inside we went. Now we spot my dad inside the coliseum still looking for me. The lights went down and the Henry Paul Band starts the show! My Future boss Denis McNamara introduces Charlie later and all in all quite an emotional night takes place. Of course, Dad kicked me out of the house an all my stuff was piled on the front lawn when I returned home. It took a few weeks for me to get back in and a year before my dad and I reconciled. However, my journey into the music biz had begun. All the while that jacket was with me.

The following year I would once again go to Nassau and Denis would intro the band. Only this time it was Molly Hatchet and the Florida Guitar Army, The OUTLAWS. What a night! We sat behind Freddy Salem and of course, my jacket was there. Over the years while hanging out with bands like the Ramones, Joan Jett, U2, Billy Idol and Mick Jones I'd get asked about my southern roots and the jacket. I'd explain that it's where my passion for music came from. Besides, once an Outlaw, always an Outlaw!


Now you all know the rest of the story.........how I got into the music biz and how I became a part of the WLIR story. If not the links to the history of Hockeybird or the WLIR links will fill you in.

Now we fast forward to 2012. Back in 2000 I had an email exchange with former Outlaws drummer Monte Yoho. I asked about the band playing again. Hughie was with Skynyrd and Henry was doing his Black Hawk thing and Monte said it didn't seem likely. But after a lot of lawyers and other crap Hughie leaves Skynyrd and an Outlaws album is in the works. I don't know much about this time but unfortunately, Hughie passes from a heart attack. Henry decides he must keep the music alive and an album comes out that just blows me away. It's About Pride is as good as anything I've heard in decades. The Outlaws are playing out and I may finally get my wish, to see them again and see them here in Florida where it all started. True, I had seen several shows in the 80s with various line ups but that was then. It took a few years for me to pull it off but when I heard about this reunion show I just couldn't miss it. The Henry Paul Band would reform for one weekend and open for the Outlaws in Clearwater, Florida. This had never happened in all the years these bands were touring.

 I bought seats and invited my buddy Tommy Gambaro who was with me back in Levittown during the 70s and 80s and he lives in St. Pete close to the venue. He had moved to FLA back in the 80s while I got down here in '04. He and I have been friends since we met and music is something we've both shared together over the years.

It's a four plus hour ride and I got stuck in traffic delaying me. We missed sound check and the before show meet and greet. We took our seats as history unfolded before our eyes and ears. The Henry Paul Band was every bit as good as they were back in '78. The Outlaws were ever better. Special thanks go out to Richard Laurenzano whom I met online. He remembered how WLIR supported these bands and we had become friends. He hooked us up and we were able to go up to the roof after the show and hang out with the guys. Henry couldn't have been more gracious and hospitable. Many of the bands original fans were there and he was quite busy and tired. But he took time with everyone as did the rest of the guys. Swapping stories and taking pictures, my buddy and I had a ball. And yes, that jacket from 1978 made the trip and is featured in the pics! Some of the guys got a kick out of it.
This nice lady got the set list. The Horsemen are the hard core fans at every show

Bird and Henry Paul

Bird and Monte Yoho

Bird and David Dix

Bird and Chris

Tommy and Monte exchanging stories on the roof


video

So I've come full circle. It's been said I was born in the wrong place. Either up north in Canada with my passion for hockey or down south with my passion for music and bands like The Outlaws. I'd say I was born in the right spot. Sure NY is up north but I'm now southern by the grace of God. I got to do both. I suppose it all happened because it was supposed to. Just the same, I'm honored to be a part of music history and damned proud of it. To be a part of this historic weekend is kinda icing on the cake.  The guys played a second show in Orlando but I didn't go. I had to get back to my family and job. But for one night I was part of the OUTLAWS family. Meeting the Horsemen and the various musicians was a real treat and worth the 500 plus miles of driving across the beautiful state of Florida. Maybe we'll do this again sometime, eh?

----}- Bird

Saturday, December 5, 2015

DARE TO BE DIFFERENT - STILL DARING

Hello New York, Hello Pittsburgh and everywhere else, I'm bird and you're in the Birdcage! Yes, after all these years there are still people daring to be different. What we started all those years ago is still having an impact today. Let me tell you what I'm talking about.........



On November 28th, 2015 at the STAGE AE in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, listeners, musicians and the original disc jockey's of Pittsburgh's WXXP 100.7 gathered to celebrate 30 years of the impact the station had on the city's music scene and economy. The city's current mayor, Bill Peduto had declared the day WXXP day (same as last time) and not only attended but he gave a speech that showed he was not just a listener.....he understood exactly what we tried to do and the impact it had on the Pittsburgh music community. Meeting the Mayor was one of the highlights of my trip. I don't know his politics but I can tell you he loves his city and understands what I have always known about the place. The people are great Americans. They are part of the heart and soul of this country and I learned so much from them.

Back in 1985, the owner of WLIR 92.7 in NY (the station I worked at) bought a station in Pittsburgh. Located in a little town called Millvale, the AC format at 100.7 was barely registering in the ratings that were dominated by the AM giant KDKA, the AOR WDVE and the top 40 station B 94. They had the most ratings and influence in the market by far. But, to the credit of the local music scene, the stage was set for someone to come in and tap into a small but passionate base of creative people who just needed a little push to get the scene to grow. That's where I come in.

I was asked to take the music director position, do a daily show and help shape and sell a hybrid version of what we were doing at the World famous WLIR. Because of my Rock & Roll background and my passion for the "New Music" we played it was like a perfect dream come true. WXXP was born and had launched the format change before I arrived so a lot of work had already been done. But there was so much more to do.

I won't bore you with all the details of the behind the scenes work that went into shaping what became WXXP and it's format but there is one element that I believe was THE SINGLE reason why WXXP still influences the Pittsburgh music scene. We listened to and then played local bands. Not just on an hour show buried in some crappy once a week time slot. We gave them the same treatment as any other good new band got. In addition we also featured a weekly show where local bands were played if they weren't ready for regular rotation. This was the fuse we lit on a scene that was primed to explode, and explode it did! I never understood why it took out of town-ers to get that party started but I was happy to play a roll. Many of the pieces were in place...venues, record stores, clothing boutiques and the musicians themselves were all there. 

It's my belief that the combination of bringing a new music format together with a strong local band scene is why so many are still influenced by the very brief existence of WXXP. The connection between the station and it's listeners quickly became a bond that remains to this day. With that in mind, allow me to tell you my story of the WXXP reunion  that took place at Stage AE on 11/28/2015.

10 years ago we gathered on Carson Street at the Rex Theater for two nights of WXXP music. It was a huge success and a ton of fun. There was a second show in 2007 at the same place. But when Paul Cramer (WXXP DJ and operator of WXXP.com complete with a web radio station) and Rod Swartz (Bass player of the 11th Hour and Generation XX) began to put this together it was decided to do one night at a bigger place. Stage AE is located between the Football stadium and the Baseball stadium in the city. It's a great place to see or play a show.


Iron City beer is still a fave of mine!

I flew in on Friday the 27th and set out for some food and memories. Once again I made the trip from the airport and when I went through the Ft Pitt tunnel and saw the city lights as I exited I was taken back 30 years. What a beautiful sight. We decided to hit Carson street and Bob Studebaker with his lady joined us for a good meal and some stories. We then hit a place called the Lava Lounge which has an eighties themed night in progress. Most if not all the songs played were WXXP staples. I was able to meet some of the musicians from Seven Color Sky, the band who would open the show the following night. Even my bartender was going to be attending. It was a real fun night filled with great memories and a few adult beverages. We headed back to the hotel which was only two blocks from the venue. The next day was already here and the real fun was still ahead of us.

I woke up early and grabbed a coffee before heading out for a walk and a smoke. The overcast skies seemed typical but the warmer temps were a welcome surprise. I walked out towards the river where the city has various monuments I wanted to see. I saved that for a little later but I was already feeling the excitement of the day. I returned to the hotel and we had breakfast. Then it was time to walk it off. With a drizzle of rain coming down we dodged the goose poop and walked along the river. We visited both stadiums as well as the various war memorials that dotted the riverside. Pittsburgh has always played a large role in the history of our country and the monuments told the various stories of those who had served and the roles they played. In addition, the sports hero's are well represented with street names and statues. Even the great Honus Wagner is on display. I had just enough time to get a nap in and then prepare for a 3:00 sound check. Then it was off to Stage AE for my first look at the place from the inside.

The place itself is fantastic. The first floor is quite large with plenty of space for concert goers. There is a bar so no worries there. Even the bathrooms were plentiful and clean. The sound system and the staff were beyond my expectations.......very professional and the high end equipment was used with expertise. As the various musicians took turns getting set up and tuned I had the chance to catch up with a few guys whom I had befriended all those years ago. Paul Cramer was beginning his marathon night by loading in a bunch of stuff and worrying about all the details he hoped to fix or finish. One can't say enough good things about the time and effort Paul put into this show. We all owe him our gratitude for his tireless work. I had met my buddy Duncan at the hotel and he, who is often overlooked in the WXXP story sat in the balcony as I walked the place and got a feel for it and the stage. If the sound check was any indication we were in for a great night! Then I did my part, not very well I might add but at least I remembered all the words. I was maybe at 65% as I didn't want to blow out my already weakened voice. It was time to return to the hotel and get ready for the show.

I had noticed all the parking lots in the area filling up and thought to myself, wow.....there are a lot of XX fans and they sure are early. Funny, there was the State High School football championships at Heinz Field. Thousands of locals were pouring into the area for several games that took place throughout the day and night. That too added to my excitement, it amplified the buzz around the entire area. Finally it was time to get to the venue. I didn't want to miss anything.

After arriving and checking into the XX DJ dressing room, other XX DJs began to arrive. What great fun seeing people I hadn't seen in ten years. We began to reminisce about our time together and swapped a few stories. We really did have a great staff and it was nice to see that my former co-workers were as excited as I was. The fist band went on as the place continued to fill and the night was off and running. Everything after that happened so damned fast I can hardly remember all of it. I had a chance to intro the Generation XX band and had way too much fun talking to the fans who had shown up. I'm told I asked the city to make love. Hey, I was having fun and so were they!

The outstanding performances were too numerous for me to describe in detail but a few highlights are in order. The Affordable Floors probably had the biggest benefit from their WXXP airplay and to this day has quite a loyal fanbase. Their fans cheered with delight as the Floors payed their set. Chris Theoret who fronted the Sponges (and owns the Rex Theater) did a version of Bowie and Queens Under Pressure that was just magnificent. I introduced the RE 52s who killed it and so many of Pittsburgh's finest took their turns delighting the audience. I would have been happy to just be there let alone be part of it.

Then the XX DJs were introduced and I had the privilege of standing on stage with these wonderful people one more time. We came from all over to say thanks to all those listeners who still care even though our last broadcast was back in 1987.  I an so honored to be a part of something we did that still means something decades later. It really is a special feeling to know that the work we did was appreciated by so many and continues to be a part of so many peoples lives today. I can't thank my fellow DJs enough for their hard work and for their time and effort to attend. Some traveled from even greater distances than the 1125 miles that I traveled. I'm quite sure they had as much fun as I did.

Being the ham I am I just couldn't let an opportunity get away so once again Rod and I had discussed me singing with the band. I had a three song set that I had worked on but trying to get all the musicians to learn and rehearse three songs on top of the 70 plus songs they had already scheduled was not to be. So we decided it would be easy to just do U2's I Will Follow as I had ten years ago. Sure, I would have really enjoyed the set I had in mind but this was still a chance at having some fun and I don't get a 1500 plus audience to perform for these days so I was happy to get any song at all!

I was always one that incorporated current events into a show and this night would be no different. I had thought about a few things I wanted to shed light on and hell, they gave me a mic and turned it on. First, I felt the need to express my thanks to the local bands so I took a lyric from a song by the S.P.U.D.S. an inserted it into I will follow. I hope that message was received. Second, Joey Ramone called me for a live interview on WXXP during my first week on the air and that helped give me some credibility with the listeners. Joan Jett did the same. I get to say thanks to Joan every so often. Joey is gone. So, the shirt was to say thanks to Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee. I am tied to the World Famous Ramones in so many different ways and they deserve to be honored. So I had thought about that a bit. The Human League who had played Pittsburgh first in the US had a song I loved, Things That Dreams Are Made Of. It all kinda made sense in my mind, so I get where all that came from.

The opening just came out.

".......two weeks ago some bad guys shot up a place just like this, the first shots on music in this war on terrorism...... forcing U2 to cancel two shows in Paris. They've since been rescheduled because you CAN NOT KILL OUR MUSIC. You can not kill our freedom. This is for Paris,.....this is for Pittsburgh, This is for WXXP, The Station That Dares To Be Different!"

I Will Follow



video

I'm hoping to get audio and video of the show at some point. Until then, this is one of two videos I have. Sorry, I can't film and perform at the same time but if any of you have video or pics, please send them to me. I'd love to have it.

I can't thank the people of Pittsburgh enough for inviting me to take part in this celebration. I truly enjoyed living there and each time I visit it's a treat. Perhaps we will do this again. I promise that if I am able, I'll be there.

----}- Bird 
   

Friday, September 11, 2015

September 11th 2001

Every year for the past 14, I re-post this story. It's important to me to do so. While I've not told my story from that day and I'm still not ready to I feel it's important to continue this Hockeybird tradition and I will continue as long as I own this domain.

 

The following is just one of thousands of stories being told about September 11th in NYC. This one is written by someone I know. Read his story and think of those who will never get the chance to tell theirs. - Bird

What I've written here is a sequence of events of my experiences on September 11, 2001, the day the World Trade Center was attacked. I've written it for myself so I wouldn't forget any of the details or sequence of events. Details tend to get jumbled up in one's head or forgotten over time. So, forgive me if it seems a little over-detailed.

I got to work, on the 74th floor of WTC1, at 8:00 am. At about 8:30 or so, I went to the cafeteria to get my usual coffee, milk and danish. To get to the caf, which was on the 43rd floor, I had to go to the 44th floor and take an escalator down one floor. Returning from the caf with my food, I entered an elevator in the bank of elevators that serviced floors 67-74.

A little note on how the elevators worked in the building. From the ground floor, if you had to go to an office on any floor up to the 40th floor, you went to a bank of elevators and took an elevator to your floor. If you had to go to a floor from the 75th floor on up, you took one elevator to the 78th floor lobby and then you went to a bank of elevators and took an elevator to your floor. If you had to go to a floor from the 41st through the 74th floor like me, you took one elevator to the 44th floor lobby and then you went to a bank of elevators and took an elevator to your floor.

So, I got into an elevator that serviced floors 67-74. Five other guys got in after me, the last fellow being a window washer. He was carrying his bucket of soapy water with his squeegee and his wooden extension pole. The elevator started moving. Suddenly it stopped and banged violently from side to side. The lights were still on. We pushed the emergency call button to call for help. As far as we were concerned, the only thing that happened was that the elevator had stopped. No one answered right away so we pushed the alarm button. We pried the doors open only to find a wall in front of us with "50" chalked on it. Apparently, we were stuck at the 50th floor. We closed the doors and then someone answered our calls for help and I believe said something about an explosion in the building.

Then I smelled smoke. This changed things. We had to get out. I got out my handkerchief and covered my nose and mouth. Then I remembered that it was better to wet it so I dipped it in my milk. I suggested to the others to do the same. We pried open the doors again and laid down the window-washer's pole to keep the door open. It was the perfect size. Now we started kicking the hell out of the wall in front of us. It was no use. It was sheetrock, a.k.a. plasterboard or drywall, in 2 feet wide sections with a steel frame around it. It hardly moved. We would have to dig through it.

Nobody had a knife or any tools. The only thing I had was my keys. The window-washer, John, pulled out his squeegee and another fellow, also named John, starts digging into the wall with it. This second John turned out to be Deputy Director of Operations for the World Trade Center. The squeegee had a sturdy metal piece, which held the rubber part in place. All this time the smoke is getting worse.

John the director and I both had cell phones but neither one of us could get a signal. As they worked on chipping through the wall, I climbed up on a handrail on the elevator wall and the back of another fellow to try to find a way through the top of the car. It consisted of metal panels. There was no obvious way to get them open. They didn't slide or push in or have any latches so I started to pound it with the heel of my hand. It didn't give. I had to get down anyway. The smoke was getting to me.

Eventually, someone got through the wall. We now had a hole about the diameter of a finger and fresh air was coming through. The elevator shaft wall turned out to be 3 inches thick. It consisted of 3 ply of one inch sheetrock held together by the steel frame I mentioned. We continued to chip away and kick at the wall. Then I noticed John the window-washer was holding a piece of the squeegee that had come off. It was the part where the pole screwed in. It was triangular with 2 pointy corners and the corner where the pole screwed in. I grabbed it and started hacking to one side of the hole and another guy worked on the other side. Then I got the idea to try and score the wall so that when we kicked at it, there would be weak points. As we took turns kicking the wall, my foot finally went through and we had a nice sized hole now. We took turns kicking at the edges of the hole making it bigger. Eventually, we had a hole about 2-3 feet high by 1 foot wide. But there was another wall on the other side.

We saw aluminum framing and more sheetrock. But this sheetrock was much thinner and we kicked through it easily. It turned out to be a bathroom on the 50th floor. We kicked through the thin sheetrock and wall tiles and made a hole big enough for a man to fit through. One guy went through and ran to find some help. Then I went through. Someone in the elevator started kicking at the aluminum stud, made the hole a little bigger and the rest came through. We were in there for about 40-45 minutes total.

The guy who was through the opening first came back with someone and we went to a staircase that took us to the 44th floor lobby. This was where we first learned that the towers were both hit by airplanes. We were led to another staircase, but before heading down, I made a cell phone call to my wife. She answered the phone crying and I told her I was not hurt and had been trapped in an elevator but had escaped and was on my way down from the 44th floor. It wasn't a good connection and I couldn't make out everything she was saying. I told her I would call her when I got outside.

The trip down the staircase was, at first, uneventful. It was stop-and-go. There were firemen everywhere. Many doors on the way down had either cops or firemen going in and out making sure the floors were empty. The occasional fire fighter passed us going up with axes and sledgehammers. They were huffing and puffing in their heavy outfits. I guessed they were going up to the impact site. It was like this until I got to the 13th floor where things changed drastically.

The ground below us shook and there was a long, deep thundering sound. Then dust started coming up the stairway. It got to where you couldn't see 3 feet in front of you. Someone said it was probably an elevator that fell down but that wasn't what happened. I covered my mouth and nose again with my handkerchief and we all made our way down the stairs led the whole way by the firemen. A few floors later, a fireman opened a door and said things were clear and to follow him. Since I was near the end of the line, only 3 or 4 of us followed him through. It was now pitch black and dusty and we were walking ankle deep in water. The only light came from the firemen's small flashlights. We came to another door but there were people standing there and things weren't moving. I pointed out to the firemen that at least the other staircase was moving and we were led back to where we came in. We continued down and came to a door, which also led into a dark, dusty and wet passageway. We exited the passageway and emerged onto the mezzanine, which overhang the first floor lobby of the building. This mezzanine was where the Engineering Department had our Christmas party last year. It was strewn with dust and debris. The firemen told everyone to stay close to the wall and we were led outside through a broken window.

What was once the beautiful plaza between the 2 towers was now like a scene out of a B movie. There was dust, paper and twisted pieces of metal everywhere. We walked along the building through the rubble and a policeman informed us that the Pentagon had also been attacked. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The Pentagon? When we were clear of the building I looked up and saw the gash in the tower where the first plane impacted. It was shocking. We were led down a set of stairs to the street and told to just keep walking away from the area. As I walked away, I heard someone say that World Trade Center 2 had collapsed. I totally dismissed this. It just wasn't logical. I looked up at where it should be and saw smoke and dust. That didn't mean it wasn't there, right? Then I came to realize the thundering and dust that occurred when I was at the 13th floor must have been WTC2 coming down. I just couldn't believe it. I tried and tried to get in touch with my wife but the whole town was also trying to get calls out. I couldn't get a line.

When the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, it took some people over 3 hours to make their way down the stairs. WTC2 collapsed a little over an hour after the whole thing started. I kept thinking that there must be thousands dead. Two blocks from the site, I ran into a friend of mine, Tom, who worked on the 82nd floor. Tom is a big man; about 6'3" and 330 lbs. in his early 50s. He was breathing hard. We stopped for a minute or two and chatted. We continued on and ran into a guy he worked with on 82. I thought to myself that this was a good sign. If people from 82 got out alright, there was a good chance for my coworkers and the rest on the upper floors. This fellow we ran into, Tad, told us that he was sitting at his desk, a window seat, when the first plane was approaching the building. It seemed to be coming right at him. He could see the pilot's face! It veered up and struck the building. I had been out of the building for only 15 minutes. We were about 5 or 6 blocks from the WTC when I heard some explosions and turned to look up at where they had come from. What I saw was surreal.

The antenna and the rest of the roof atop the building I had just left, leaned to one side and fell in on itself. The rest of the floors below collapsed under the weight and an enormous cloud of dust and debris was expanding outward from the Trade Center. Everyone turned and hauled ass. I turned around urging big Tom on but he wasn't able to keep up. When I turned again, I didn't see him. Today (9-13) I talked to him and he told me he had ducked around a corner and into a doorway. I spent 10 minutes or so in the area looking and waiting for him to come walking down the street but I couldn't find him. I felt horrible. I was sure he was OK but felt sad thinking about how he must feel to have been left behind.

I kept walking and found out that I was heading north. Then I ran into John the window-washer! We embraced and talked some and walked together. Finally I got through on my cell phone and spoke to my wife and my sister Lynn. After calming them down, I tried to reach John's wife at work for him. Eventually, we got a ringing phone, but no one answered. John went off on his own and I walked until I reached the Holland Tunnel. It was closed and there were a lot of people standing around talking and listening to the radio in some guy’s car. After ten minutes of that, I went west until I hit West St. and continued north. I stopped at a pizzeria and bought a Snapple then continued north.

Then I got a good idea. I got through to home again and got my friend Tom's home number from my sister. I called his wife and told her I saw him and that he was alright. Then I ran into a guy, Frank, who worked on my floor in the Mechanical Engineering Department. He told me he saw lots of people from our floor so things were looking good. After 10 or 15 minutes chatting with him, I continued north. Something Frank said stuck in my head. He said that he was avoiding the major train stations. Terrorists knowing these to be a likely place where people would flee might make them a target.

I figured I could get to the ferries in midtown and get the hell off of that island. I got to Chelsea Piers which is around 30th St. and there were people in the street with bullhorns telling anyone interested that ferries to New Jersey were leaving from Pier 61. I went in and was walking to the end of the line when I saw a another guy, Dennis, who worked on my floor in the Electrical Engineering Department. We shook hands and had a few words before I took my place at the end of the line. The line was about 600 feet long. It looked like a long wait. I called home and gave a status report. After 20 minutes or so, a ferry came and took a load of people and the line moved up some. I figured it would take 5 or 6 more ferries until I got on one. About 15 minutes after the first ferry, the Spirit of New York, and dinner cruise ship that runs out of that pier, parked itself at the dock and all of the rest of us who were waiting were loaded aboard and taken to Weehawken, New Jersey. We were told that buses would take us from there to Giants Stadium which was going to be used a staging area.

When I got to Giants Stadium, about 2:00 pm, I walked around the parking lot looking for someone I knew. This is the same parking lot, #13, that I had many a beer and barbeque in before heading in to a soccer or football game. I didn't find a familiar face. My wife and sister were on their way to get me but then they closed Rt. 3, the major highway to the stadium. I spent about 3 hours there and my wife was stop-and-go on the highway. I went over to a state trooper and asked him if he could find out exactly where on Rt. 3 the road was closed. He tried but couldn't get an exact answer. He took one look at my dusty pants and dust caked shoes and asked me what I'd been through. After I told him, he all but dragged me over to a reporter who was interviewing people about their experiences. I gave my story to channel 12, a local PBS station. I haven't seen it but lots of people have told me that they have.

I decided to take one of the buses to Newark's Penn Station. I called my wife and told her to get off of the road when she could and to try to get to Newark. Once on the bus, I overheard the driver's radio say that Rt. 21 into Newark was all clear so I called my wife to pass that on. The road was all clear but then traffic came to a stop. There was an accident about a half-mile ahead. My sister called to say that they were about a mile and a half behind us and also stuck. We sat there for about 30 minutes or so. The bus driver wouldn't let me out on the highway but once the traffic started moving, I talked him in to pulling over at the next exit to let me out. Ten minutes later, they came along and picked me up and there was an emotional reunion.

I got home (after 7:00 pm), kissed everyone, showered, phoned loved ones and had a bite to eat. I responded to as many of the messages on my answering machine as I could get through to. From about the time I was at Giants Stadium until I ate, I had had some pressure in my upper chest. I figured it was from the smoke and dust that I must have inhaled during the course of the day, but it had gone away after I'd eaten. Everyone nagged me until I agreed to go to the hospital to have myself looked over. My lungs and heart sounded fine but they wanted to do an EKG. Well, they saw a wiggle on the EKG they didn't like so they wanted to run some blood tests. It was now after 11:00 pm. They said I would be there for another 7 hours minimum. The blood tests had to be run 6 hours apart. In the end, it was going on 9:00 am when I got out of there. I had gotten a total of maybe 3 hours sleep all night and my poor wife didn't sleep a wink.

Later in the day, I spoke to a former boss of mine, Fred, in an office in New Jersey where I had worked for 9 years until this past December when I was transferred to the WTC. I was one of two guys unaccounted for that worked on the Civil Engineering Department. In the end, everyone was accounted for and unharmed.

The news reports of the day are very disturbing. The phone calls from the planes to their loved ones, the passenger lists showing children names, people leaping to their deaths avoiding the fires... Then there are the people dancing in the streets celebrating somewhere in the Middle East. Even in my town of birth, Paterson, New Jersey, where there is a section of Arab population, there were reports of people dancing in the streets celebrating. Police were there to stop a certain riot situation. What kind of people celebrate the deaths of the innocent?

The 2 things I think of most are the sight of the second tower tipping over and falling in on itself and of all of the firemen directing the evacuation and climbing the stairs in full gear to help those trapped high in the tower. There was never a doubt on which way to go and there wasn't much panic. This is because of the presence of the firemen, those brave souls who run into burning buildings. Every time I think of them, I cry.

Only a fool wakes a sleeping giant. These murderers have now given the civilized world just cause to go in and wipe out terrorists anywhere, anytime we see fit. We know where they train and we know who supports them. This is the beginning of their end....


©2001 - George S. Phoenix, III Garfield, New Jersey, USA

Sunday, June 14, 2015

JUST GET ME TO A GAME SEVEN...........

Hello NY and everywhere else, I'm Bird and your are in the birdcage here at Hockeybird.com

Man, I haven't said that in a while.


To be honest It's taken me more than a few days to recover from the loss to the Bolts at Madison Square Garden, the world's most famous arena. I had an expectation than not only would the Rangers beat the Bolts but also go on to win the Stanley Cup. It's true, I really felt that it was our year, our time, our destiny to win that damned Cup. Nope, it was not on all counts. I was so wrong.

OK, happy? 

I WAS WRONG.

I have no problem admitting that. I had solid data to go on. The data was right, it still is. What went wrong is kind of complicated but I stand by my prediction. Had the Rangers played as they did in the Regular season, they would have won the Cup. They didn't.

Why?

I have no clue.

Rick Nash scored 42 goals in the regular season. He had five in the playoffs. FIVE. I know, it's his history. Rick has poor playoff numbers historically but I saw no reasons he couldn't have scored more. Yes he was checked well, yes he took lots of shots and yes he showed effort. But he didn't score. The team itself didn't score but for three games maybe four all playoff long. Why? I have no clue.

It began in the Pens series. 

Every damned game was decided by one goal. 2-1 became a normal game win or lose. In each game the opposition was close throughout allowing for one bad bounce, one spectacular effort or one bad play to give them a win. Unlike the regular season at no time during the playoffs did the Rangers dominate with the exception of game six in the conference finals. I really expected the Rangers to dominate teams and not even give them hope. Instead, every team had the feeling they could win and the Bolts decided to take that opportunity and cash in.

I have read that Dan Girardi and Marc Staal had surgery. I kind of expected to see a larger list of players who were playing with bad injuries. Marty St. Louis was nearly invisible after his return from a knee injury. His one goal and seven points in nineteen games was less than noticeable. His giveaways and missed opportunities did however stand out like an eyesore.

Going into the Playoffs I expected a deep team with many offensive weapons, the best defense in the NHL and one of the best keepers in the world to bull their way into the finals. From game one on it became a survival test. At some point they had to crack with all the pressure they had to endure. It was self inflicted in my opinion but I can't claim to know or understand what changed and why it had the effect it did. It was clear to me that the philosophy changed and while it seemed to work for a while, it did not achieve the goal. What else can I say?

I sure as hell didn't expect the pesky Bolts to replicate game five in game seven but that's exactly what they did. It was damn near flawless hockey from them. You work all year to get home ice in case you need it in a game seven, you get to that place in time and then........poof! It's gone. How in the hell can the NY Rangers fail to score at home in a game seven? How?

I have no clue.

As of today, The Hawks are one win from a Cup with two games to play. I am rooting for the Bolts to win the next two but Chicago looks tough to beat. I then expect to ignore hockey and play a ton of golf. I'm trying to break 80. So far I get close only to take a few steps backwards. It's a frustrating journey so far.

I am working on a project that might include Hockeybird, I'm just not sure yet, I'll let ya know.

Until then, Beer Me!

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

HockeyRodent Hockeybird Radio Show

It's two hours long

Since you waited all this time we spent the time and recorded last night and today while watching Jordan Spieth win the Masters I did the post production. Here it is for your listening pleasure.

I know it's long but I hope you enjoy it as much as I did doing it with the Rodent. Comments on the show can be found on Rodents message board here.

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