Saturday, August 1, 2015

BREAKING NEWS: Last Bell for Hot Rod

On July 31,2015, Roderick George Toombs, better known as WWE superstar Rowdy Roddy Piper, died in his sleep after a heart attack at his Los Angeles residence.. He leaves behind a wife, Kitty, four children, four grandchildren, and four decades of memories. The rest of the world knew him as the villain you loved to hate, I knew him as one heck of a nice guy. I had the pleasure to meet him at "the mecca of professional wrestling," Madison Square Garden, but not in the squared circle, (I wouldn't have lasted five minutes against him! LOL) but, instead, at the Comic Art Convention, which was staged in 2000 and 2002 at the World's Most Famous Arena's Exposition Rotunda. He began his stellar wrestling career in 1973 with Verne Gagne's legendary American Wrestling Association before joining the National Wrestling Alliance ("The Major Leagues of Professional Wrestling!") in 1975  where he fought Mexican lucha libre legend Chavo Guerrero and his family, and  eventually moving on to Jim Crockett's Georgia Chamipionship Wrestling where he went mano-a-mano against legends such as Bob Backlund, ,Sgt.Slaughter,Nature Boy Ric Flair,Playboy Buddy Rose, and Gregg "The Hammer" Valentine.

When the mid-80's reared their Mullet-wearing head, Vince McMahon coaxed Piper back into the squared circle where he faced his greatest battle in a tag team match with Cowboy Bob Orton against the team of Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. After a few years as an antagonist, both in the ring and on his own show, Piper's Pit,Piper left to pursue an acting career which resulted in a string of cult favorites, including John Carpenter's "They Live!" ("I came here to kick butt and chew gum. AND I'M ALL OUT OF GUM.") Eventually, Piper returned to the ring to settle the score with "The Million Dollar Man," Ted diBiasi,Jerry "The King" Lawler,and Dustin "Gold Dust" Runnels, among others.

Piper worked with the now-defunct Xcitement (sic) Wrestling Federation as well as WCW, where he caught up with his old nemesis, Hulk Hogan, who turned from "baby face" (good guy) to "heel" (bad guy) and started his own clique, the nWo (New World Order) with fellow ex-WWE-ites Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. To counter the nWo's influence, Piper started a clique of HIS own, ICON, short for I Cower Over Nothing.

In 2003, Hulk had been banned from wrestling in the WWE under his own name, and Piper returned to fall victim to the Hulkster's masked alter ego, Mr. America.After a period of self-examination, during which he questioned everything including his involvement with drugs, Piper joined Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 and continued to wrestle and provide color commentary on a regular basis until just this year. (Fans of Cartoon Network's irreverent Adult Swim show "Robot Chicken" are sure to recognize his inimitable voice in a few bits.)

Even in death, Piper managed to steal the spotlight from his longtime rivals. The Mid-Atlantic Wrestling League was supposed to have dedicated its annual dinner to the memory of "The American Dream," Dusty Rhodes, but as news of his passing broke, they changed their focus to Piper and his own extraordinary career.

Love him or hate him, we will miss him.

(I KNOW, I KNOW, I PROMISED A WHOLE LOT OF STUFF! I WILL GET TO IT, JUST HOLD YOUR HORSES, 'KAY?)

Steve out.

Monday, June 29, 2015

3.15 BREAKING NEWS: NBC To Trump: You're Fired!

For years. I thought Donald Trump was the closest thing New York had to Walt Disney. Both guys had their names on real estate even though they didn't plan it that way at first (Walt wanted to name his Anaheim park after Mickey and the Donald wanted to name his tower after Tiffany's.),and took us to places beyond our wildest dreams (Walt told us stories of Fairy Tale Land, worlds under the sea years before Ariel swam across movie screens worldwide, and South America, through the dazzling cartoons that resulted from his goodwill visits, and the Don took us to his opulent casino-hotels.) every week on TV, but while Walt came across as the favorite uncle with a gentle sense of humor, the Don, despite his love of America and all things New York, comes across as a big baby who keeps crying every time he doesn't get his way, the latest example being the comments he made as  he announced his Presidential candidacy. (ICYMI, he made some comments about Mexico, his fellow Republicans, and his objection to the upcoming Girl-Powerful remake of GHOSTBUSTERS.)

NBC, which has served as a broadcast home to both Walt and the Donald, and in particular, has been a partner in the Donald's Miss Universe Organization and the network carrying Donald's THE APPRENTICE, today severed all ties to the Donald. Even though I have supported the Donald (So sue me!) for the past few years, I'm seriously beginning to question my respect of him as a person. If my employer tells me to do something involving the Donald, I WILL do it, no question about that, but I might have to limit my personal visits to Trump properties such as Trump Tower. I know I have friends who still respect the Donald, and I respect THEM, but as far as I'm concerned, Donnie, old pal, YOU'RE FIRED! (Or, as Walt's best known creation would say, "See you real never!")

Coming up: Info on my trip to Boston (including a side-by-side comparison with Albany, NY) and an original story: THE MAN WHO WROTE FICTION! (Unlike Walt, I can't promise a happy ending!)

Have a glorious Fourth of July, my fellow Americans!

Steve out!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

3.14 Top of the World, Ma!

Coming to New York this Summer? There are three things you must remember:

1. Contrary to what guidebooks tell you, New Yorkers are VERY busy people, so if you want to know where such and such a place is or which train goes to such and such, call the person you want to meet, Google Search the place you want to visit for directions, or, my personal favorite, ASK A COP! (Seriously! Contrary to popular belief, our officers really care about their public and they'll be happy to help you. Heck, they know this city better than we do! We just live here!

2. Metrocards and taxis are ideal for getting around.

3. (AND THIS IS CRUCIAL!) Do NOT miss the One World Observatory on West Plaza at One World Trade Center (285 Fulton Street) at the corner of West and Vesey Streets in Lower Manhattan.This amazing attraction (brought to you by Legends, a joint venture of the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys) JUST opened, and tickets are going like hotcakes! (Your best bet is http://www.oneworldobservatory.com .) After you brave the LOOOOOONG lines, you take an escalator to the lower level where you hear personal testimonies from people who helped rebuild Tower One, as One WTC is officially known in a beautiful multi-media presentation. After a walk through an underground tunnel, a Sky Pod takes you up to the 102nd Floor IN ONLY ONE MINUTE! After witnessing the growth of New York before your very eyes, (Thank you,time lapse photography!) you move into the three floor observatory (101,102 and 103) and get a widescreen view of the Greatest City of the World as never before. (For a better experience, pick up a One World Explorer iPad. It'll set you back a few extra bucks, but it's so worth it! You can get an even closer view of the city, and little Pop-Up balloons identify certain important landmarks. If a certain balloon is in red and is decorated with an arrow, such as the Empire State Building, touch the arrow and watch an informative multimedia presentation. Although the Yankees co-own the Observatory, the Yankee Stadium and Citi Field presentations are equally informative. There's a dining area specializing in everything from fast-casual to a more relaxed experience, although nothing like the late, great Windows on the World, and helpful guides who are well-versed in everything from the Bronx to the Battery. (If you want to spend more time finding out the events of that tragic day in American and world history, I recommend the 9/11 Memorial in that same neck of the woods. For more info on THAT, visit http://www.911memorial.org . My favorite part is the video from Saturday Night Live's first show after the tragedy when then-Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani spoke about SNL's importance as a cultural institution and executive producer Lorne Michaels asked, "But can we be funny again?" Rudy did a double take and replied, "Why start now?" Whether you remember Tower One in its original glory, like I do, or you just want to find out what all the fuss is all about, One World Observatory is one place worth visiting.

Speaking of SNL, if you want to relive the history of that wild,crazy, and cherished comedy institution, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: THE EXHIBITION is the closest thing to a time machine. Located on 39th and Fifth (417 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, to be exact) this pulse-pounding presentation of Premier Exhibitions and SNL Studios takes you through a week at  NBC Studio 8H from writing to rehearsal to the finished product. Look at the costumes, relive classic sketches, and even sit on Wayne and Garth's couch, and try to tell me you're not worthy! (The highlight of the show is a special SNL show hosted by Tina Fey with musical guest Bruno Mars.) George S. Kaufman said, "Satire is what closes on Saturday night." These talented people said,"NOT!" The memories are unlimited, but the show's run isn't, so get your tickets at http://www.premierexhibitions.com ASAP!

On a more serious note, I would like to say goodbye to Beau Biden. the son of Vice-President Joe Biden who left us too soon after falling victim to brain cancer after only forty-five years on the planet.. Our sincerest condolences to the Vice-President, Dr.Jill Biden, and Beau's widow Hallie.

Also gone from Earth, but fortunately, having had a better run, is Anne Meara, who some remember as Jerry Stiller's wife, others as Ben Stiller's mom, still others as Dorothy, the wise gal neighbor on ALF. I saw her at a special function in Lower Manhattan in honor of Jerry and I told her I loved her in ALF. She replied in her own unique style, "GET A LIFE!" She may not have been proud of her work on that show but we were all proud of the laughter she left us with.

COMING SOON TO STEVE'S BOOK BLOG: Book CON?!? You Have No Idea!

Coming soon to THIS fine blog, a report on the Belmont Stakes. Can American Pharoah be a king with three crowns? Find out soon!

Until then, keep that chin up and stay good lookin'!

Steve out!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

3.13 BREAKING NEWS: Requiem For A Peacock


Alas, poor NBC. I knew it, Steve Nation, a network of infinite possibilities.

As I will chronicle in my upcoming book, I had the pleasure to craft a 92-page ode(term paper,to be exact) to the National Broadcasting Company during my tenure as a Media Arts major at Long Island University. I honored the legacy of founder David Sarnoff who clearly believed in the hard work ethic and, employing the resources of the New York Public Library, NBC, its then-parent company, RCA, Disney, and various competitors and international broadcasters, retraced its steps from radio pioneer to "The Full Color Network." As time went on, I became an investor in NBC through GE Capital and its current owner. Comcast/NBC Universal, and I continued to respect NBC's ouevre, from TODAY and NBC NIGHTLY NEWS (before Brian Williams) to SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and SEINFELD. NBC's cable networks MSNBC and CNBC each represented a different side of the political aisle, but they both continued the tradition of Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, John Chancellor, Tom Brokaw, and many others.

This year, Comcast/NBC was getting ready to acquire Time Warner Cable, spun off from its famous communications giant namesake. and explore the unlimited horizons of the digital age. Today, I was shocked to hear that after much opposition on Capitol Hill, the NBC/Time Warner merger has been tabled indefinitely, and with it, an NBC compatible with this brave new world aborning. There's another earthquake about to hit DC, and it will be caused by Sarnoff spinning in his grave. How will NBC's far-flung family, from its news networks to regional and national sports channels to its award-winning Sprout kids' channel even survive now that it has been told that it, and TWC, star-crossed lovers like Romeo and Juliet, can never live together?

Granted, they have existed as separate entities up till this point and they will continue to do well in the future, but the future of communications has been changed forever, and NOT for the good. The  NBC/Time Warner merger should not be allowed to die! It can only HELP people! The NBC Peacock's feathers deserve to shine brightly over TV screens around the world, regardless of what a few backward-thinking know-nothings have to say.

Thoughts?

Steve out!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

3.12 PLAY BALL!

Ladies and gentlemen, Winter has left the building.

FINALLY!

For those of us in the US,and Canada,  and our brave men and women who can only follow the game on Armed Services Radio as they protect our rights and liberties overseas, baseball is back, and with it, the promise of spring and a glad goodbye to the dismal weather and ill feeling of the past six months.

Already in New York, the Yankees have risen like the legendary phoenix from the ashes of a dismal season made even sadder by the departure of team captain Derek Jeter and avenged a 19-inning defeat at the hands of the Red Sox by defeating them in the rubber game of an exciting homestand at Baseball's Home Office in the Bronx and swept the Tampa Bay Rays at their home park, Tropicana Field, (HOME OF MUSIC FOR THE HEARING IMPAIRED!), and the Mets have returned to Citi Field in Flushing, Queens after scalping the Braves in Atlanta while cultivating a winning streak unlike any in their history. Would a Subway Series be too much to ask? Hope not!

In other news, it's time to send a long-overdue shout-out to Todd Pettengill, who many of you may remember from his ads for Cabin Fever Entertainment, his TV shows WWF (now WWE) Mania, Dish Nation, and Come Dine With Me, and, of course, the many phone scams he perpetrated on WPLJ Radio here in New York. I had the pleasure to see the Toddster at 'PLJ and NASH FM 94.7's "Best of the Tri-State" show at the Affinia Manhattan hotel across the street from Madison Square Garden, and since I followed his former partner Scott Shannon from 'PLJ to WCBS-FM, I was worried that he would call me every dirty name in the book, but, quite the contrary, he was genuinely happy to see me. His new partner, Jayde Donovan, is also a very nice person, and it was also fun catching up with Executive Producer Joe Pardavila, also known as the Monkey Boy. (LOOOOONG story.) Of course, it was fun meeting all the various event participants, although there are some I'll never patronize, (Best Pizza?!? Best Gym?!? Best Cupcakes?!? My trainer would kill me!) but meeting Todd and Jayde was definitely the highlight of the evening. (And the fact that he loves this blog doesn't hurt either!)

Time to close the door on this edition, but check out http://www,steveonbooks.blogspot.com for the first episode of the greatest blog since, well, this blog, STEVE'S BOOK BLOG! It will change the way you read books forever! (Or, at least, get you ready for Steve's Book, coming soon to a bookstore, library, or website near you!)

Steve out!


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

3.10 Fooling Around Just Before April

Two years ago, the Garden of Dreams Foundation, the non-profit educational division of The Madison Square Garden Company that unites government and educational figures with members of the MSG family, staged "Garden of Laughs," a benefit comedy concert hosted by sportscaster Bob Costas and featuring athletes and entertainers introducing the greats of the comedy game.

Last night, the new Garden tradition was renewed, as longtime Ranger fan Steve Schirrippa (A Ranger fan, a  fellow Steve, a proud New Yorker, and a funny guy. I LOVE HIM!) took the reins and introduced another all-star comedy card featuring HBO star Bill Burr, DAILY SHOW alum John Oliver,the "Mike" of MIKE & MOLLY, Billy Gardell, the former Mr. Jessica Simpson, I refer to Dane Cook,and one of the voice actors of the upcoming Disney/Pixar feature "Inside Out" (a major emotion picture) as well as an author and playwright, Lewis Black. (The star of MSG's talk show 4 COURSES WITH J.B. SMOOVE was originally scheduled, but he had to cancel at the last minute due to a death in the family.) On hand to introduce the various acts were Whoopi Goldberg, Daryl McDaniels (the DMC of RUN-DMC, the famous rap act from the 80's), former New York Rangers Rod Gilbert and Adam Graves, comic actors Michael J. Fox and Will Arnett (the former Mr. Amy Poehler), and the voice of MSG Networks, Al Trautwig, who, in one of the evening's rare serious moments, introduced the real stars of the evening, a few of the kids who benefit from the Garden of Dreams' after-school programs. Longtime readers of this fine blog will know that it was suggested by Nicole Vranzanian who worked for the Garden at the time, and I have seen footage of the Foundation's talent show at Radio City Music Hall as well as kids fulfilling their dreams of interviewing actual athletes (in basketball and tennis) for special programming on MSG and on the Gardenvision video monitor. These guys do a great job and they truly deserve your support. For information and to donate, visit http://www.gardenofdreamsfoundation.org. You (and the kids!) will be very glad you did.

As for last night's "Garden of Laughs,"it was truly a group effort, as usual competitors such as Sports Radio 66 AM/ 101.9 FM WFAN and ESPN Sports Radio 98.7 FM and the New York Post and Newsday teamed up as principal sponsors along with Garden sponsors Chase and Delta and Turner Construction Company as well as in-kind donors Time Warner Cable, AMC Networks, Showtime Networks, (where you'll be able to see the finished product, for the exact date and time, log on to http://www.sho.com ) and the Prudential Center, including the New Jersey Devils. (The Rock stepped up to the plate and let MSG's WNBA Liberty play on their home court while the Garden was being transformed.)

The best bits of  the evening were Lewis Black's comprehensive description of his trip to Copenhagen, John Oliver's ruminations on Superstorm Sandy, (He was watching NY1 and saw a guy waterskiing while NY1's reporter kept imploring the viewers to stay indoors.) Australia (founded by the UK as a penal colony. He thinks Britain should have built a barbed wire fence around the coast.) and US stick-to-itivity. (Nothing says F.U. like a spike in Halloween dog costumes while Europe is drowning in debt.) I had to go out for air when I heard Dane Clark talk about porn, and Billy's argument against Walt Disney World (He agrees with their claims it makes adults feel like kids because his grandpa said, "Gotta pee." and his kid said "Gotta pee.") didn't sit well with me, but other than that, I had a great time laughing my troubles away in the knowledge that I was also making kids happy by helping the Garden of Dreams Foundation.

Laughter is indeed the best medicine, and this evening was the strongest relief for depression you could get without a prescription!

Until next time,  remember the immortal words of the legendary Bozo T. Clown and...Just. Keep. Laughing! AND....



Bye,Buckaroos!
Steve out!