broadcast booth



October 16th is always a sentimental day for me. What once used to be a day like any other is now stained with awful memories of the accident that took one of motor racing’s greatest talents in Dan Wheldon. I write this eulogy every year to justify why six years later, I can’t allow myself to forget Dan Wheldon.

I was not yet a racing fan in 2005 when Dan won his first Indianapolis 500. But according to everything I’ve been told, that was something of a hollow victory for Dan. He was hardly acknowledged as the race winner, because so much media attention had gone towards Danica Patrick becoming the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500. 2011 was something special. Wheldon did not have a car that should have won the race that year, and he was mostly anonymous all race long. The centennial anniversary race of the Indianapolis 500 came down to pit strategy, and in the closing laps, Wheldon found himself in second place. The guy that was leading on the last lap, J.R. Hildebrand, oversteered around Charlie friggin’ Kimball and socked the wall in the final turn. Wheldon, who had been about half a straightaway back, passed Hildebrand’s crippled machine in the final thousand feet of the race and stole the victory. Wheldon’s victory should be considered something of an upset, but for Wheldon, for the first time, it was his victory. Likewise, for the first time he had a family to celebrate it with. So when the offer came through for Wheldon to run the season finale and try to win the race from the last starting position for a purse of one million dollars, you couldn’t blame him for wanting to give it a go while his confidence was riding high.

I was thirteen years old when it happened. I was not watching the Las Vegas race that Wheldon was killed in. I don’t remember why. First I heard of Wheldon’s accident was on a message board that I frequented, and it was not until much later that I saw the ABC broadcast of the race that day. Something that always struck me was Wheldon’s poise during pre-race and the pace laps. He was so ecstatic and ready to go. He was going to win that race, and you’d be damned if you were going to stop him. And it’s all so eerie now, looking back on it. Wheldon was talking to the ABC broadcast booth during the pace laps, and he said, “what a way to go out”. And nobody, not one of us knew it then that those words were about to take on a whole new meaning.

Ten laps later, Wheldon had worked his way past several cars and now was running solidly mid-field. ABC was showing Wheldon’s onboard camera crossing the front chute approaching Turn 1. A few cars got together just up the road. ABC cuts to a wider shot of the first turn. Seconds later, I watched helplessly as Wheldon’s car launched off of another, somersaulted in mid-air once, and slammed the catchfence cockpit-first. Deafening silence followed. The world went blank. Even after knowing that Wheldon was gone in that moment, you could feel the air of consternation start to set in over the speedway. The atmosphere of brimming excitement was replaced with panic. Several minutes pass before IndyCar CEO Randy Barnard finally reveals to a crowded press room the news that nobody wanted to hear – Dan Wheldon had been fatally injured in the accident in Turn 1.

The tributes followed. The effect was visible on the drivers. They were teary-eyed in their interviews, trying to explain that the risk of death was an inherent part of motor racing, but inside they couldn’t care less. They talked about Dan, and the feelings they had towards him. The race was abandoned and stripped from the record books. The remaining drivers not involved in the Turn 1 melee fired up their cars for five laps around Las Vegas Motor Speedway at pace speed in three-abreast formation, while bagpipes blared and the scoring pylon was blanked except for Dan’s #77. And finally, ABC anchor Marty Reid’s closing words before broadcast sign-off, “People ask me why always end with ‘Until we meet again’. It’s because goodbye is always so final. Goodbye, Dan Wheldon.”

At the time, all of this was completely foreign to me. A death of this magnitude wasn’t something I had ever experienced before. And in the hours, the days after Wheldon’s death, all the controversy regarding that race weekend, all the context were replaced immediately with thoughts of Dan and the family he left behind. His wife Susie a widow, his children Sebastian and Oliver now fatherless. I heard my friends, my fellow racing fans reminiscing and commiserating about Dan. Drivers and fans from all over were extending their sympathies. This bright, flamboyant, luminous personality that Dan exhibited had suddenly vanished, and all of us were left with the faded memories of his triumphs and the impressions he had on those around him. You couldn’t help but realize the dumb irony, that just months ago we were celebrating Dan’s surprise victory in the Indianapolis 500. And that’s when it all hit me. In the days following, people would try to talk to me about the accident, but I didn’t want to say anything. Everything was pointless, nothing mattered.

That’s what Dan’s death means to me even now, six years later. It was a proverbial loss of innocence, both as a person and as a racing fan. It was the first time I could adequately remember what happened when somebody died, and the first time I could remember how I felt about it. What Dan’s death taught me is that we’re all mortal. Our hobbies and our jobs are just something to tide us over en route to the grave. Dan’s line of work was more dangerous than most. He accepted the risk and paid the ultimate price for it. But the way he lived his life; the profound affect he had on his friends and family reminds me that in this life, all we have are the connections we make. When you meet your end, you still survive through all the ones you’ve loved. The way you interact with those around you reflects on what they will remember about you when you’re gone.

To this day, I have been fortunate enough to have never seen a fatal accident in motor racing on live television. And yet, whenever I think about death, inside and out of racing, it’s always Dan that comes to mind. Death is futile, and it happens over and over again. And everytime I’m faced with it, the feeling I have reflects what I felt in regards to that sunny October day six years ago.

For now and all times, rest in peace Dan Wheldon.

  ‘Some nights if she found herself alone and restless, she liked to call in to one of the radio stations and chat with the all-night disc jockey. She would as the dj to play one of her favorites. The song she most frequently requested was Gershwin’s wistful “Someone to Watch Over Me”—in later years it would be “Lush Life,” Billy Strayhorn’s world-weary ode to a life of “jazz and cocktails.” Sometimes she would go to the station and sit in the studio and just quietly listen to music. “She did that a lot,” recalled Johnny Grant, a North Carolina native and in the period a top disc jockey in Hollywood, for a time broadcasting life from a booth at Ciro’s. “She absolutely loved music, and she would just come by and sit while you played the records. She didn’t want to talk on the air or anything or have you mention she was there. You’d have a little chitchat during a break, but she just like to come and listen to the music. I played the regular stuff, Dorsey, Artie Shaw and all, but she liked to hear a lot of the harder jazz, and there was another guy, a disc jockey named Don Otis she liked to drop in on quite a bit because he played a lot of the music she liked. They had a very good friendship. It wasn’t a romance or anything, as far as I know—well, it could have been, who knows?”’

— 'Love Is Nothing’ by Lee Server.


Billy Crystal’s beautiful tribute to his good friend Robin Williams. Rest in peace. <3

He made us laugh. Hard. Every time you saw him, on television, movies, nightclubs, arenas, hospitals, homeless shelters, for our troops overseas, and even in a dying girl’s living room for her last wish. He made us laugh, big time. I spent many happy hours with Robin onstage. I mean, the brilliance was astounding, the relentless energy was kind of thrilling. I used to think that if I could just put a saddle on him and stay on for eight seconds, I was going to do okay. 

Robin, Whoopi, and I were once in Shea Stadium, in the broadcast booth with the great Tim McCarver. It was comic-relief day for the New York Mets. Robin knew nothing about baseball. I asked him, “What’s your favorite team?” And he said, “The San Franciscoes.” So he was a little lost in the conversation, so I got an idea and I said, “You know, Tim, we have a great Russian baseball player with us.” I looked over, his eyes got all bright, his ears perked up like he was a little dog that was inside all day and the master came and said, “Hey, you want to go for a walk?” So I said, “What’s baseball like in Russia?” Without missing a beat, he said, “Well, we’ve only got one team: the Reds.” Well, the next pitch, the batter fouled one off and it came screaming back at us, we ducked down, it slammed against the wall. Robin turned around and bounced it into his hands, and then he stood up and screamed, “I love America. I’m going to defect.” He could be funny anywhere. 

We were such close friends. He would come to all of our great family functions: weddings, bar mitzvahs, that kind of thing. He would sit with my older immigrant relatives like he was one of the guys. And he would tell them about his journey from his little shtetl in Poland to America. One uncle of mine said, “I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.” And Robin said, “I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.”

Well, as genius as he was onstage, he was the greatest friend you could ever imagine: supportive, protective, loving. It’s very hard to talk about him in the past because he was so present in all of our lives. For almost 40 years, he was the brightest star in the comedy galaxy. But while some of the brightest of our celestial bodies are actually extinct now, their energy long since cooled, but miraculously, because they float in the heavens so far away from us now, their beautiful light will continue to shine on us forever. And the glow will be so bright, it’ll warm your heart, it’ll make your eyes glisten, and it’ll make you think to yourselves: Robin Williams, what a concept.
HIS ILLEGITIMACY PLANS ON ERODING FREEDOM OF THE PRESS: The Trump Administration May Evict the Press from the White House
"They are the opposition party," a senior official says.

Peter J. Boyer at Esquire:

According to three senior officials on the transition team, a plan to evict the press corps from the White House is under serious consideration by the incoming Trump Administration. If the plan goes through, one of the officials said, the media will be removed from the cozy confines of the White House press room, where it has worked for several decades. Members of the press will be relocated to the White House Conference Center—near Lafayette Square—or to a space in the Old Executive Office Building, next door to the White House.

“There has been no decision,” Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, said about the plan today. But Spicer acknowledged that “there has been some discussion about how to do it.”

Spicer cast the possible relocation of the press corps as a matter, in part, of logistics. “There’s been so much interest in covering a President Donald Trump,” he said. “A question is: Is a room that has forty-nine seats adequate? When we had that press conference the other day, we had thousands of requests, and we capped it at four hundred. Is there an opportunity to potentially allow more members of the media to be part of this? That’s something we’re discussing.”

Another senior official, however, suggested a more pointed motivation for the move. According to the official, the potential relocation reflected a view within the transition team that coverage of Trump has been so hostile as to indicate that the press has abandoned its role as neutral observer.

“They are the opposition party,” a senior official says. “I want ‘em out of the building. We are taking back the press room.”

Reporters have had some sort of workspace at the White House since Teddy Roosevelt’s time, but the current press room is an artifact of the Richard Nixon era, the dawn of the symbiosis of the press and the modern presidency. The “room” is actually a space containing work stations and broadcast booths, as well as the briefing area that is so familiar to viewers of presidential news conferences.

His Illegitimacy’s going the Erdoğan/Putin route to attack the freedom of the press. This is yet more proof that he hates being held accountable for his lies and embarrassments. And this move, if it goes through, will be seen as an insult to the freedom of the press in America. If it goes through, this will be seen as an attempt to put in those friendly to him, while booting those adversarial to him, à la Putin/Erdoğan.

“When the final game was over, Jean Beliveau had finished the 1971 playoffs with 22 points in 20 games, and he led all players with 16 playoffs assists. There had been a rumor that he was going to retire. Nobody had said anything. He hadn’t. I remember spending a good part of that night in the broadcast booth wondering, "Am I watching Jean Beliveau play for the last time?” And, indeed I was. I’ll never forget that scene of him skating off the ice for the last time with the Stanley Cup. That was an absolutely fitting way for him to end his career and it’s exactly the way it should have been: Jean Beliveau, going out a champion.“
~ Legendary hockey broadcaster Dick Irvin

Usually by the time I get down here from the broadcast booth, I’ve kind of gathered my thoughts, gathered my emotions. Not so much tonight. I think as a Penguin fan, I think you should be ticked off tonight, because your goaltender laid it all on the line. That’s one of the best goaltending performances I’ve seen in years. He was taking my breath away.

To lose the game like that, it should bother you. It should bother you a lot as a player. I don’t know if anything was said in that room, but it bothers me. I take a lot of pride in working for this organization and what this organization stands for. And what I witnessed out there tonight, it was not Penguin hockey. You had a goaltender that absolutely laid every ounce of energy he had on the line, and you lose the game like that, on a shorthanded goal where he makes the save and you just don’t cover up Brandon Dubinsky? That should really stick in your craw to the point where things should change after this game tonight.

Because I think enough is enough. Enough has gone on here, and everybody’s kind of being patient: ‘OK, we’re gonna be fine. OK, we’ve got Malkin, we’ve got Crosby, we have Letang.’ It should get to the point of unacceptable, what’s going on the ice. … It’s not about working hard.

Don’t get me wrong, you did some good things against Washington, but the way that you unraveled after the Ovechkin two-hand chop on Letang, you end up shooting yourself in the foot. And you come back, and you don’t have a great start here against a team that’s clearly out of the playoffs, it’s frightening. In their room, they’re thinking ‘We’re going down with the ship. we’re going down swining. we’re going down and we’re gonna empty the tank every night.’ They beat the Philadelphia Flyers, they come rolling in here. and they snatch two points from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

I don’t know what the comments are from the players, but you should feel like this is rock bottom. Just because of the way Marc-Andre Fleury played. Sid’s trying to fire himself up, he’s trying to fire the troops up by fighting Brandon Dubinsky, but I don’t know. In my estimation, I see too much talent and too much character on the ice and in the room for this to go on any longer than tonight.

(GM Jim Rutherford is) a guy that’s more likely to pull the trigger in the next few days than wait for March 2. On top of that, if you don’t have that fear of being traded, you might want to start having the fear of not making the playoffs. You might think you’re all nice and cozy where you are right now, but guess what: All of a sudden, when you pick up the paper tomorrow or you go online and look at or, the Penguins are going to be in the wild-card position. They’re No. 7 right now. And guess what: The Boston Bruins aren’t that far behind, and the Florida Panthers are not that far behind. And if you continue to slide like this, I don’t think you want to go into the last 15 games of the regular season going ‘holy moley, we are two points from being out of a wild-card position. And the way things are going right now, that reality should be staring you in the face right now.”

Not with that talent and what ownership has done to build a team to win now. And that’s the thing: I know there’s a little bit of a sense (where) everyone is looking at the Metropolitan Division. Now we’re four games below .500 in the Metropolitan, and the teams we beat are the teams that are not in the playoffs for the most part. You’re not beating the Rangers, you’re not beating the Caps, you’re not even beating the Flyers for that (matter).

There’s kind of been this ‘Don’t worry. We’ll be fine. Don’t look at the stats. Don’t look at the numbers so much.’ That’s kind of what you’re hearing. You know what, at this point, you better look at the numbers, because it’s a reality. It’s not a small sample size anymore. It’s a reality that right now, this team is not good enough, and there should be some real, real healthy fear of what’s going on right now.

—  Phil Bourque after Thursday night’s loss to the Blue Jackets (Source)
Remembering Robin Williams’ Visits to Shea

Comedian and actor Robin Williams made two visits to Shea Stadium to take in a Mets game while filming in New York over his career. 

His first visit came in July of 1989 with friend and fellow actor/comedian Billy Crystal and was filled with a nice surprise for Williams, who was attending the second baseball game of his life after going to his first a few weeks earlier in San Francisco. Williams and Crystal were invited up to the TV booth with broadcaster Tim McCarver for the Reds-Mets contest and during the bottom of the fourth, Williams was fortunate enough to grab his first foul ball thanks to Kevin Elster. As Williams and Crystal were providing colorful play-by-play and commentary, Elster his a laser up to the booth that sent the folks in it scurrying for cover. In the end it was Williams who came up with coveted souvenir. 

After Elster was retired to end the inning, Williams can be heard jovially thanking Elster for the foul ball as the telecast went to commercial. 

In July of 2007 William made a return to Shea with actor Jon Travolta to root on the Mets and film the movie “Old Dogs.”

Before the game, Williams was invited to join the team for batting practice. Mets staff that were around him on this day in 2007 said he was “his typical self.” Robin was constantly joking around with the players and they really enjoyed being around him. 

Before the game, Williams was invited to join the team for batting practice. Mets staff that were around him on this day in 2007 said he was his typical self — constantly joking around with the players —  and they really enjoyed being around him. 

Williams’ allegiances were with a team by the bay, but it was great to have one of the funniest people on the planet around the Mets organization for a few games.

So if you count each "one" in Bright Eyes' "One for You, One for Me"...

That is

1 for:
the righteous
the ruling class
the tyrant
the slaughtered lamb
the struggle
the lasting peace
the Führer
his child bride
the wedding
the suicide
the bunker
the broadcast booth
the people
the parliament
the weary
the malcontent
the master
the protégé
the bread lines
the billionaires
the missing
the barely there
the certain
the real confused

And 4 for: