The Coronation Rumination

I had no intention of watching Charlie’s coronation but one of the mixed blessings of aging is the inability to sleep past 5 a.m. I mean, you’re either hungry, gotta pee, or both. Usually both. So I was up.

Satisfied the latter first, then settled in with a bowl of Raisin Bran, a cuppa coffee, the digital N.Y. Times then whispered “blimey!” to myself, so as not to awaken the other inmates of my house.

I trundled over to the computer, found the NYT’s live feed of the ceremony and gawked at the screen watching an ancient rite that reminded me of an attempt back in the 1970’s to initiate me into the Elks Club. At least they served wine and cheese and they didn’t hide me while pouring old oil on me.

I’ll admit, it was fascinating for awhile, then disturbing. On what was supposed to be the best day of Charlie’s life, next to that blissful night with his polo pony, his literal crowing glory, he looked like someone about to undergo a colonoscopy with a fire hose.

When the Archbishop of Canterbury performed the actual crowning, he seemed to screw the thing on Charlie’s noggin’ and I’m imagining Charlie thinking, “balls, it fit in the store!”

Regardless of your opinion of the monarchy, the coronation was a rare opportunity to witness a version of a process a thousand years old and hadn’t occurred in over 70 years, or roughly as long as “The Simpsons” has been on TV.

So I was watching Charlie’s face and demeanor throughout. Some body language experts later said it showed he was taking his ascension to the throne very seriously as well as feeling the weight of his new responsibilities, which include, mainly, not dying.

I’m thinking the guy is 74 and has very mixed feelings about the whole turn of events. On the upside, he’s finally King of England, but on the downside he only got the job because his beloved mother passed away.

The other downside is he and the new Queen had to wave to his subjects from the balcony of Buckingham Palace wearing those crowns and looking like they just left a bad Halloween costume party.

But when you think of someone at last landing the job for which he’d been preparing most of his life, it makes you think of your own career. You work hard, you put in the hours, you build relationships, you get the promotions you sought, maybe hired away for a prestigious, big bucks position then get to the point where it dawns on you how much you gave up for all that.

It happened to me a couple of times and then it hit me how much time I lost with my family traveling around, chasing stories, going on business trips. I made some good dough, but missed the priceless part of life.

So I retired early. I have a couple of very part-time freelance gigs I enjoy that allow me to use my skills but after almost seven years I’m reducing my load even further.

Which brings me back to King Charles III. He got the job at last. Performed all the duties required of royals. He had no competition since as long as he was alive when his mother died, he was next in line.

But you have to wonder if the old chap feels any satisfaction, any sense of accomplishment, retains any goals, or, instead, wonders if the whole thing was worth the wait.

Well, now, at age 74, he’s stuck with a big, new job for the rest of his days. Kings don’t tend to retire and join pickleball leagues.

Yeah, that’d make me take on a dour demeanor if someone plunked heavy headgear on me and hollering for an unknown guy in the sky to save me.

Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if the newly crowned King Charles III snuck a peek at his youngest son, relegated to the third row, thinking, “lucky bastard, he escaped while he was still alive.”

Bed Bath and Be Gone

I’ve got drawer full of those damned giant blue 20% off coupons from Bed Bath and Beyond. They’re a little ostentatious as bookmarks, too ugly to be coasters and, I tried, they make lousy paper airplanes. Of course that may due to my total lack of origami aviation skills.

I guess keeping those coupons in my drawer and not actually using them is part of the reason Bed Bath and Beyond is going Bye-Bye—oh yeah, their chain Bye Bye Baby is going night-night too.

Here’s the thing with B, B, and B, the place went from vital to NG. It’s sad because in its earlier days we enjoyed walking all around the place, feasting on the choices of a dozen different coffee makers, a billion sheets and pillowcases, kitchen gadgets galore, Hanukah candles and menorahs in which to burn them and even a rack to store the golf clubs I never use which included a little space for a basketball and other sporting goods that look good but haven’t been used since the internet seemed novel.

It’s in my basement.

Oh, you could buy some of that stuff in discount or department stores, but they never carried the sheer volume and variety.

It always felt like Toys R Us for domestic adults…but you saw what happened to that emporium of kid fun. Poor Geoffrey the Giraffe is probably working at a call center trying to sell diaper rash insurance.

Much of Bed Bath and Beyond’s troubles have been attributed to the hiring of a tone deaf CEO who replaced national brands with store brands, which no one wanted. The company also booted the move to online commerce. He got fired fairly quickly, but not soon enough.

What did it for me was the day I stopped in to buy a small drip coffeemaker. The website said the store near me had the one I wanted in stock. So we popped down there to pick one up.

We get to the coffeemaker department and sure enough there’s my machine on display. The usual procedure is grab one from the supply right below the shelf. Hmm. Big empty space where I expected coffeemakers to be lurking.

So I attempt to find a store staffer for assistance, but maybe they were all hiding where the allegedly in-stock coffeemakers were hiding, perhaps in the “beyond” section of the store.

I finally flag down a person who saw the look of urgency on my face and, fearing a customer in need, attempted to avoid me by quickly pivoting behind the loofah display. Being a reporter used to people trying to give me the slip I stalked the worker till she finally surrendered asking, “can I help you?” Probably hoping the chase took enough of my breath so I couldn’t express my needs.

I explained my dilemma emphasizing their website said my coffeemaker is in stock. Her demeanor immediately changed.

“Oh!,” she said in a most mocking tone. “The website is never right, but I’ll take a look in the back.”

Don’t you love it when they say they’re going to the back. During high school I had a part-time job at a department store. I used that “back” thing all the time. You feigned a search for the desired item, but really detoured to the break room to grab a Hershey Bar, then returned to the customer with a look of regret.

“Oh, so sorry. We must have sold the last one a short time ago. Very sorry. Would you like to order one?” No one wants to order one, unless they’re at a computer where they don’t have to speak to a human.

We cooled our heels for about 20 minutes when the staffer returned with a smile and my coffeemaker in her hand. She was out of breath…I’m guessing because the break room was on the other side of the store from “the back.” Thought I saw a little chocolate on her fingers.

“This is kinda weird,” she explained. “For some reason they didn’t put the stock under the display shelf as usual, but just piled them on a table on another side of the store near the beard trimmers.”

Makes sense, right?

Wonder where the corkscrews were stocked…over by the toe nail clippers?

I’m guessing the poor worker’s dilemma was based on the combination of under-staffing and under-stocking since suppliers balked at sending the store with three B’s in its name new merchandise because its poor business decisions earned it all F’s in paying its bills.

Still, as someone who was once laid off due to an idiotic merger that, 21 years later, is still ruining CNN, I have a special sympathy for innocent workers who end up losing their jobs because of poor decisions made by much higher-paid executives.

Not your fault! I hope all those folks who trudged on the sales floors of all those BBB’s and Bye Bye Babys aren’t out of work long. I always felt very bad for that person who ran hither and yon in search of my poorly placed coffeemaker.

I still have that coffeemaker. It makes a delicious pot of my morning eye-opener. I owe that person gratitude..and a Hershey Bar.

I’m with ya. Been there. Believe me, for those caught up in this retail debacle, sooner than you think before going to bed, you’ll be taking that refreshing bath and in the morning, heading to a job that’s rewarding way beyond that shuttered big box.

Epilogue: I hear a couple of stores will accept those 20% off coupons for a few weeks. I guess I can use them at Big Lots to score a deal on a bag of Poppycock.

Figuring It Out At Niagara Falls

We stopped by Niagara Falls the other day on our way to visit relatives in Rochester, N.Y. We’d seen them before, the Falls, that is, because they’re not far off the route across Canada from Michigan we’ve taken for over 30 years. Yeah, we’ve seen the in-laws plenty but they don’t have a gift shop.

In the past, we’d stop on the Canadian side because the long-held opinion is the view from there is better.

But this time I wanted to see for myself, so we pulled into Niagara Falls State Park on the U.S. side and walked and drove around for some close-up views.

No, we didn’t do the tourist stuff by taking a cruise on the Maid of the Mist or take an elevator to the top of the observation tower. Just walked around along the fence then where you’re close enough to get kissed by the falls’ mist . See the photos and video.

Here’s the bottom line. No matter what side you’re on, it’s a lot of water plunging over the rocks with a crash, stirring up clouds of mist and your face gets wet.

But since I’m getting to that point if life where wonders seem more matter of fact and my biggest wonder is wondering about the symbolism of millions of gallons of water spilling over a cliff.

So my gaze turned upriver from the falls as we worked our way around, then off, Goat Island toward the bridge to Grand Island. Within a few miles you see the dramatic change. The Niagara River appears placid and innocent, apparantly without a clue it’s headed for a fall.

Suddenly the current quickens and accelerates into what’s known as the American Rapids. The water turns turbulent and confusing. White caps and waves, danger and demise just ahead.

Indeed, the river then splits over three towering precipices forming the triumverate of famous Falls—The Bridal Veil, Horseshoe and American. The once lazy Niagara River unwittingly violently dumped overboard about 170 feet into the Niagara Gorge then just as abruptly shakes its head, clears its mind and wanders willingly into Lake Ontario wondering what the hell just happened.

So now in my seventh decade with so many years of alternating personal turbulence, acceleration, stagnation, surprise, disappointment, agony, elation, success and failure behind me, I can’t help but both look back to the upriver portion of my life and then ahead to where I will meet my precipice.

How much longer will the relative peace and yes, occasional boredom, of retirement continue flowing like the lazy Niagara River that oozes from Lake Erie then heads north and west and north again where it empties into Lake Ontario.

At what point will I be rudely rousted into the American Rapids of my life—that final, irrevocable sprint to a point you only see once it’s too late and your personal river has run its course.

But just like the wondrous Niagara Falls—not before providing for yourself and others you pass along the way some thrills, love, memories, kindness…and a refreshing mist to remind them you were there.

Let Sleeping Limbs Lie

The other night I got up around 3am because my left arm fell asleep. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered why, in the middle of the night, the rest of me wasn’t asleep. When all of me is asleep does it actually feel as numb as my sleepy arm, only I don’t know about because, well, I’m asleep?

Taking this further, if I start shaking my arm that’s asleep and wake it up, then go back to sleep, have I just wasted my time? Seems like I’m pissing off my arm which was sound asleep, until I rudely rousted it then expected it to immediately return to slumber.

When I finally awakened to start my day and grab some breakfast, it was difficult to lift a spoon to eat my Cheerios. You see my spoon-lifting left arm was lethargic from having its sleep interrupted and was grouchy the rest of the day, at one point, refusing to participate in nut cracking—a two-armed task, and threatened a stirring strike, leaving undissolved sugar at the bottom of my coffee cup.

Oh, I could use my right arm but as a southpaw it would only result in a dreadful mess and give my left arm another reason to elbow the milk carton in a mocking manner.

Consider this a valuable lesson learned. If you wake up in the middle of the night with a snoozing extremity, turn over and let it go. It’s nothing to lose sleep over.

A Breakup, Unmasked

We first met in the spring of 2020, albeit reluctantly. It was more of an arranged coupling. I was quite happy in my current situation but fate mandated our star-crossed relationship. Oh, I suppose we all experience initial errors and false starts when considering what would turn out to be almost constant contact, but I chalk this up to aiming way too low, ratcheting up my vulnerability to levels dangerously high.

Here I was, perfectly healthy with a firm intention to stay that way. Then the “relationship” came into my life at the command of the government. First it was quarantine to stave off an incidious virus, then, in order to take baby steps in public my first face partner was forced on me. It was paper, temporary, barely functional but what can I say, it wasn’t as if there were many choices at first.

I slapped it over my nose and mouth and gamely ventured to the grocery store for a few vital necessities: bread, milk, Oreos, and craft beer. We didn’t get along from the get go. Scratchy, stiff, utterly inflexible—the quick breakup was a relief, but I needed to quickly find a new partner or be sentenced to house arrest.

And then, ah…as if created out of thin air I was presented with a vision of soft, black-lined cloth with a forgiving elastic strap. As I placed it upon my face we were in instant simpatico. I hadn’t felt such comfort and ease since overdosing on Dulcolax during a lost weekend in Inkster, Michigan.

Oh, we had our little spats from time to time. There was the instance where I foolishly decided to enter an overcrowded Cabela’s a week before deer hunting season. My facial protector scowled at my indiscretion scolding me saying, “you KNOW I’m no N95. Why put me in a position of almost certain failure?”

In my guilt I turned tail, made my way around the displays of dead, stuffed wildlife and emerged into an almost deadlier environment—the massive parking lot populated almost exclusively by diesel-powered heavy duty pickup trucks spewing black clouds of lethal dreck. There would be hell to pay when we got home, including a thorough laundering.

Still, we hung together for almost exactly three years through super spreader environments that included malls, air travel, occasional visits to the office and the in-laws. My protector was impervious to it all and I suffered not even a slight runny nose all that time.

But then, just in the past few weeks, I felt a distance—between my mouth, nose and my material significant other. Gaps had formed. It wasn’t the same. I felt vulnerable. It felt loose. Then one night I awoke with a scratchy throat, runny nose and an unexplainable anticipation of the next episode of “Call Me Kat.” Something was wrong.

My family urged me to take a test. I did. I failed. I instantly moved into a spare room isolating me from those I loved and others who were willing to let me win Uno. I called my doctor. A strong prescription was ordered followed by a question only an experienced, training healthcare professional could conjure: did your mask fail you?”

I caught my breath, thought of the good times we had over the past three years, our initial adjustment period but ultimate comfort level between us and then admitted, “yes doc, I believe it to be so.”

The callous bastard ordered me to immediately toss it in a can and replace it with another that would offer sufficient protection for the long haul.

Tough love, he called it. I slowly removed it from my face, said my goodbyes, thanked it for its service. We parted as friends, but not before it landed one last shot.

“You just had to lower me in that crowded Costco to taste that free guac sample…and I get the blame. You’re all the same. No self-control…it’s a damn pandemic.”

Spendid Isolation

I’ve got pretty much everything I need right now. Laptop, tablet, smartphone, big bottle of cold water, three vials of assorted medications, a closed door and an effective mask. No, I’m not on an urban bivouac, I’m in Covid isolation.

As I’m writing this I’m in the middle of day 4 and not feeling sick at all but my latest test was still positive, although the T line (the bad one) is barely there. Is that progress? Maybe, but all I know, and I hate, really hate to admit this, is that I’m really enjoying, in the words of the late, wonderful Warren Zevon, “splendid isolation.”

There are a few ways to look at being closed off in a spare room in my lovely home away from family and salty snacks. For one, I have almost no responsibilities. For the past six-plus years I’ve been semi-retired. For the past four days I’ve been completely retired. No, I can’t travel to a warm client but since I’m technically a victim of a global pandemic nothing is expected of me. I can stand that, at least temporarily.

I do feel bad I can’t enter the kitchen or eat with the rest of my family. My wife has been kind enough to leave food and beverage at my door. In turn I don’t ask for a lot because it bothers me to have her serve me and she knows I’m a shitty tipper.

Early in my isolation I didn’t really feel up to doing anything creative. So I blew a lot of hours gaping at my laptop screen. Watched some old rock concerts..any Tom Petty/Heartbreakers show is the best show. As a guitar player, Tom Petty songs are the easiest to play. He only used a few different chords, none of them very complicated. Thanks Tom, wish you hadn’t gone to the great wide open

Swung over to a long Hall and Oates show they did in Sydney, Australia. Why does Oates only get to sing two solos and barely say anything to the audience? Seems unfair. I wonder if they ever considerd changing their name to “Mostly Hall and A Small Bag of Oates.” Things you think about when you’re on Paxlovid.

Yearning for something completely new I discovered the wonders of the new show Poker Face starring the revelation known as Natasha Lyonne.

Her character is like a modern day Columbo. OK, don’t give me that shit you’re too young to remember Columbo. Look it up. Anyway, she can always tell when someone’s lying and that’s how she solves crimes….and she’s not even a cop. When someone lies she quickly responds, “bullshit!” No one says “bullshit” better than Natasha Lyonne. I actually think she should star in every single show and movie.

Couldn’t get to sleep right away last night so I dove into the memoirs of Mel Brooks. Figured it would be funny and make it easy to gently go into that good night. It was a good strategy. Still only at his early career in the Catskill Mountain Borscht Belt. We went their often in my childhood having been brought up in the NYC borough of Queens—a two-hour drive. The food and the jokes were equally stale but you always came away full, happy and constipated. Loved the Catskills.

I’m told to remain in my subdivision cell one more day after this and I’m sure my family will be happy because I’m hogging the combination guest room and room where my son has a lot of his precious stuff stored that he can’t get to.

But I’m not so sure I’m ready to return to the “outside” and lose my excuse for not doing stuff people expect of me. That’s why I’m hanging onto a couple of those positive Covid tests. Might need them as my ticket to extend my splendid isolation.

I’m Just Mild About Harry

Did you read Prince Harry’s book, “Spare” ? Yeah, I did because it was in my house and my library books were all overdue. I also wanted to “get” all of Stephen Colbert’s jokes and craved anecdotes regarding what happens when you freeze your “todger.” It is winter, you know, and one can never be too prepared for the wonts of nature while pushing the snow blower in the driveway.

I’ve always looked at Great Britain’s monarchy as a human zoo. With no power and an unfathomable love for bagpipe music, really, what purpose does it serve other than a lucrative tourist attraction in a nation that sorely needs the quid.

Perhaps the nation would be better served hiring the functionless bluebloods as knowledgable tour guides to educate the public as they schlep through Buckingham Palace and other assorted castles and musty old places.

This way they’d earn their keep without sucking up scarce public funds to maintain an unjustifiably lavish lifestyle.

It would also be effective in addressing Harry’s main beef in the book regarding the scummy British tabloid press and paparazzi. If the former royals were just working stiffs they’d cease to be of interest. Who’s gonna buy a paper with a headline screaming, “Palace Tour Guides Break For Lunch!” Problem solved.

Now I’ll admit, I did learn some things in the Spare’s book. The boy doesn’t like beer? Doesn’t relish downing a pint of piss warm brew at the corner pub, opting for tequila or gin and tonic instead? Sorry, I can’t hang with a bloke like that.

I learned that freckles on the face of Harry’s wife Meghan were airbrushed out of official photos. He lamented he thinks the freckles are cute. I’d maintain you don’t just eliminate part of someone’s face, unless you’re going to eliminate all of Camilla’s.

I never got the function of curtseying. When I was in grade school they tried to teach us how to pull off a curtsey for some reason. The girls had no problem. They were graceful. The guys just fell down. I always thought if I was in a position where someone thought they had to curtsey to me I would start laughing as I told them, “if you’re gonna go down that far, may as well kill the cockroach by your left leg.”

Frankly, I don’t think the dear, late Queen enjoyed the curtsey. I always imagined Her Highness thinking, “oh for crissakes. I can hear your joints cracking and this purse isn’t getting any lighter.”

Harry does come off as a troubled guy having endured the trauma of his mother’s death fleeing the “paps”, a brother who is portrayed as a bit of a turd and a father more concerned with his image than his offspring.

In the end it’s a little hard to feel sorry for someone who’s living in ultra-rich Montecito, Calif.–.same hood as Oprah, Rob Lowe and Arianna Grande and lots of other lesser-known one percenters. But I appreciate Haz and his family can’t live in just any suburban subdivision given serious security concerns, so no gripe there. But man, the HOA fees must be a killer.

Well, after slogging through 407 pages of Harry’s mostly depressing travails, I’m good. I get it. I’ve had enough. That’s why when Harry revealed he actually cut about 400 pages of content to protect his family but could conceivably publish a sequel, my only reaction is, Spare me.

Secrets of CNN Center From Its First Supervising Producer

Two Eds are better than one. Ed Turner and me at the Supervising Producer pod in CNN Center

The news broke this week that CNN Center in Atlanta will be closing by the end of the year. Here’s something few people know. I was the first supervising producer on duty when CNN Center opened in 1987.

I was working the 11pm-7am shift in preparation for the morning show called Daybreak at the time. Sounds like a shitty graveyard shift, but overnight in the States is prime time for overseas news. Can’t say “foreign” news because Ted Turner didn’t allow it. You had to say “international” or some other synonym for news not happening in the U.S. because, he correctly asserted, people in Bulgaria hearing news about their country wouldn’t consider that news foreign. Ted was a pretty brilliant guy.

We weren’t actually on the air yet from CNN Center. That would happen when Daybreak signed on at 6am. The last live newscast from CNN’s original location at 1050 Techwood Drive across from Georgia Tech University was Newsnight Update, which ended at 1:30 am.

With a TBS camera rolling for an upcoming documentary on the move at the appointed time I called over to Techwood to say something like, “operations are complete at Techwood. Time to move the mile or so down to CNN Center.” I’m sure it was better than that but sadly I never documented my remarks because I was sure they were unremarkable.

A little while later, Susan Rook, who had anchored that last live show from Techwood, arrived at CNN Center with a gift for me. She had removed one of the CNN logos on the anchor set and presented it to me. It’s on my office wall along with a photo from the 1989 CNN bureau chief’s meeting in Ted’s office and a poster signed by Ted wishing the Detroit Bureau luck when it opened in 1982.

I was the Detroit Bureau chief and correspondent from May, 1989 to January, 2001. When I was laid off in the great purge of ’01 I took the framed poster with me. The bureau was closed later that year.

Something else about CNN to which I will sheepishly admit. While the place was under construction I was appointed to a committee to help design the layout of the newsroom. For some reason I had the hairbrained idea it would be cool to emulate a print newsroom set up with circular team workstations with an editor in the middle—the slot..get it?

To my dismay the others loved it and that’s the way the “pods” were built. They were almost universally despised. Writers and producers around the rims were uncomfortable and the editors often complained of feeling like chestnuts roasting on ambient fires.

Once I caught wind of this dissatisfaction I never once, until this moment, mentioned that I was largely responsible for my colleagues’ misery. Apparently no one else remembered and the subject was never brought up. Why am I admitting this now? Because someone is likely to write another “history” of CNN and not get it exactly right. Call me.

For many years I had the blueprints for the newsroom design and I still might, but I can’t lay my fingers on them because there’s a good chance one of my family members used it to wrap Christmas presents and they’ve long ago been buried in a Michigan landfill. I have some boxes to exhume. Maybe they’re in there. But I won’t be looking today.

One of my strongest recollections from being the first supervising producer at CNN Center was learning the layout, especially the location of the washrooms. You see, working at CNN could be very stressful and when someone had the need there could be no delay.

It actually cracked me up as I sat in the elevated supervising producers pod, which was crescent shaped and not round, and crazed producers and writers who hadn’t taken advantage of the advance tours, screamed at me, “where the hell is the fuckin’ bathrooooooom!” If it was someone who had exhibited especially ass-holey behavior to me in the past, I’d kinda look up and ask, “what?” “Gotta go!!!!! Where!!!!!????” they’d holler while nature was hollering back at them. Then I’d point them in the right direction.

Often, when there were finished doing their business and returned to the newsroom they’d offer their appreciation for the information I shared with a familiar hand gesture, which I’m sure, in some culture, meant, “Next time I will pee on your shoes.”

Being the supervising producer meant largely, um, nothing. You didn’t actually produce. You mainly made sure the upcoming newscasts were leading with the best and latest stories, the producers knew of new material coming in on the satellites and if someone called in sick you had to find a replacement.

I loved that part. A producer would call in sick at, say, 1am and I’d ring up the designated replacement. Without fail I had rousted that person from their chaotic dreams and they’d bark at me, “do you know it’s the middle of the freakin’ night?” I’d calmly reply, “it’s the middle of my work day. Need you to come in tomorrow and produce the 2pm show.” Rough words were exchanged but the deed was done. I’d won again.

Working in the middle of the night I often had conversations with correspondents stationed overseas. Sometimes it was to approve a script, but at least one based in Japan just wanted to talk because he was lonely.

During many of the hours when I had literally nothing to do, I’d decide to prowl the oddball nooks and crannies of CNN Center. From the top floor of the CNN space you could look out at the atrium and see all sorts of things. Sometimes I’d see couples emerging from the movie theater or Omni Hotel or offices that were coupled with other people in real life. Omerta!

I remember the very last time I was in CNN Center. I had come down from Detroit in late 2000 to meet with the bosses. It was a one-day quickie. Unremarkable, but somehow I knew my time at the network would end soon. I kinda turned around and took what I just felt was my last look at the place and cracked up to myself thinking, “those poor slobs are still sweating in my pods.”

Storm and Drang

Today’s the second day of winter. You know what happens in winter? It gets cold and often snows. What?????? This is news to you? For the past 48 hours weather people in at least three time zones have whipped up a frenzy about a coming winter storm. I know, they’re trying to give fair warning, keep people safe and mostly, boost ratings and web traffic.

You ever wonder what weather people do in places where none of the crap happens? Where there’s nothing to hype but another great day? It just so happens I was one of them very early in my career. My first TV job was as the weekend weather guy on KGUN in Tucson, Arizona while I was going to grad school at the University of Arizona to earn my Masters in Journalism.

I just happen to have one to show you.

You should know I had no weather training whatsoever. To get the job I went to the library, pulled some books on meteorology, learned a few words I could toss in to make it look good and learned how to decipher a weather map.

I showed up at the station for my audition and was told to just use the map the real weather guy just used on the air. Total prep time with that map, 10 minutes. No scripts. Like other weekend weather guys in that market, I was hired because I was good at spewing extemporaneous bullshit from my experience as a radio DJ.

Now Tucson has three basic weather features: hot, really hot, quick downpours in June and July called chubascos, or typhoons. The rain would last for about 20-30 minutes, flood the streets, then drain out into the desert. After that Tucson weather would revert to either hot or really hot.

That’s not much to fill a 3.5 minute weather cast. So what to do? Turns out there are a lot of snowbirds or permanent transplants from the midwest and the east coast. Many of them spent a lot of money to lead that lifestyle. So I was told to spend 3 of those 3.5 minutes recapping how crappy the weather was in those areas to make the transplants feel good about their moves, and also to give them fodder for calling their relatives and friends back home to rub it in. “Hey Izzie! I hear it sucks in Chicago…like 12 degrees, snow and bastard winds! It’s 103 for the 12th day in a row out here in Tucson…in December. I’m not even wearing pants! Take care, sucka!”

The final 30 seconds of the weathercast was the forecast for Tucson. “Yup, hot again. It might even be hotter this weekend.” One time, though, something unexpected happened. A rogue rainstorm cropped up on a Sunday. Came out of nowhere so it wasn’t in my “expert” forecast.

The next day while at the supermarket with my wife, some guy recognized me and started yelling, “you screwed up my family picnic on Sunday ya bastard!” The folks in the checkout line stared at me and one murmured, “ya eff’d up mine too.” Figures, the one time there was actual weather we missed it.

Weather was never gonna be my thing anyway. It was just a foot in the door on my way to my real goal of being a reporter. But my short experience ad libbing my ass off in front of a weather map followed me years later after I was at CNN for a few years.

I was working at the CNN headquarters on election night 1986 as a reporter when around midnight the weathercaster for the morning show called in that her mother had just died and of course, needed to take some time off. The backup weather guy didn’t answer his page, which caused some panic. Then one guy remembered my dark past and told the boss, “Hey Ed did weather in Tucson.”

The boss came to me and asked if I wouldn’t mind giving it a shot. Why not. We had an awesome weather producer name Ross Hayes and he got me through it. Made the maps, briefed me on top weather features and I had enough to wing it through a half dozen weather segments. I guess I did ok because the boss asked me if I wanted to be a permanent weather fill-in guy. Eh, by that time I was a full-time network correspondent but I didn’t say no. I was never asked the to the weather again.

I have to say, I did enjoy doing the weather because it was a chance to show a little personality, ad lib and not have to cover a shooting or plane crash or city council meeting.

I did learn, however, back in my KGUN days, people don’t always listen carefully. After popping onto the set to report a tornado warning my phone rang. At the other end of the line was a very irate senior citizen with a disturbing question and accusation. “What’s that you just said about President Carter dying?” I politely explained I said nothing of the sort, but rather I reported a tornado warning. “Ha!” she snorted. “Hiding the truth! Can’t trust you weather people!”