Chapter One: A LIFE WELL-LIVED (AND CELEBRATED!)
I know a lot of people are going to diss me for blabbing about this all over the interwebs, but my mother Bettijane L. Eisenpreis, without whom there wouldn't be a Steve, let alone a Steve's Blog, hit the Big Eight-Oh on August 6th. We WERE going to celebrate in Paris, but the brown stuff hit the air conditioner after Charlie Hebdo published those cartoons, so we changed it to Vancouver, BC. Unfortunately, the poop hit the air conditioner AGAIN when she suffered a heart attack, but since we're part of a long line of New York Yankee fans, (Cousin Sarah converted from the Phillies,my Pop used to have me over every weekend to watch the game, my Dad, the late, great Alfred Eisenpreis, helped the then-Principal Owner of the Yanks,Mr. George M. Steinbrenner, turn the crumbling 1926 Yankee Stadium into a more modern facility,and my Mom was born in Wilkes-Barre,PA, currently the home of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders, one of the Yanks' better minor league teams.) I asked her if I could take her out to the ball game on the 6th. After all, it WAS Umbrella Night,and who doesn't need an umbrella? She declined, but I persisted and suggested NYY Steak on 51st and Fifth, one of three such-named Yankee-owned steakhouses. (The other two are at Yankee Stadium and in Florida.) She approved, and at 7:05 PM, which happened to be first pitch of the game, we met at NYY to celebrate her birthday and see the Bronx Bombers clobber their perennial nemesis, the Boston Red Sox. (Reader's Digest report on my Boston trip:, Saw the Sox whoop the Astros, watched a great Boston Pops fireworks show featuring Billy Joel's protege, Michael Cavanaugh, heard a stirring Liberty Address from CBS 4's Lisa Hughes, and saw the USA Women's Soccer Team win the World Cup over Japan in City Hall Plaza and was interviewed by FOX 25. But,as they say, I digress.) I gave her a whole slew of great presents including an OFFICIAL Yankee jersey, (She is now Number 80 on the Yankee roster and Number 1 in your hearts.), and since NYY is a classy place and not your average sports bar, they have the TV on mute and the captions off, which was a problem since I like to read them aloud like a script and impersonate the talent. But, since they were off, I decided to just play it naturally and tell her what was going on with the game (Even the weather!) in my own voice, and I admit it, I'm no Howard Cosell, but she loved my play-by-play almost as much as she loved the steak. I told her that we were going to take this slow, like a traditional game at the House That Ruth Built, but a half-hour later, she decided to visit the room of the miniature maidens, and I asked my server to "call in the closer," in this case, the birthday cake. The server informed me that although she got my message that my mom was celebrating a big birthday, they had all but suspended birthday parties. BUUUUUUT, the manager decided to make an exception and stick a candle on a chocolate cake. The manager rewarded my efforts by giving us two tickets to the following night's game at Yankee Stadium. Not what I expected, but not too shabby! (Unfortunately, the Yanks went on to lose that game to Toronto, but we had great seats near Monument Park, where plaques honoring the Yanks of the past are located. To summarize: Total Cost of Dinner for Two People=$120. An Unforgettable Evening=Priceless. To list all my Mom's accomplishments would take another blog, but celebrating them all was sooooooooo worth it!
Chapter Two: TWO LIVES CUT SHORT
Wednesday, August 26 was just another day in the small city of Roanoke,VA. WDBJ 7 reporter Allison Parker, renowned as a "rock star" reporter, had just finished interviewing Vicki Gardner, director of the South Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce for the "Mornin'"show with her cameraman, Adam Ward, recording the event for prosperity, when, without warning, a gunman approached and shot Allison and Adam, who died on the scene,as Roanoke watched in horror. (Fortunately, Vicki only sustained minor injuries and she is expected to make a full recovery.) They perished at the hands of fired WDBJ ex-employee Vester Lee Flanagan, who reported under the name Bryce Williams until his unceremonious departure in 2013. "Williams" had frequent encounters with Allison who said she would "swing by." He misconstrued that phrase, which is common, as racist, and as he told ABC News in a rambling confessional which he faxed to the network's New York headquarters, he was influenced by the Charleston tragedy and worshipped the Columbine gunmen. Police were convinced this shooting was just a small part of a larger game plan when they found wigs and costumes in his car some time after he died of accidentally self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Allison, born Allison Bailey Parker, was remembered for her youthful joie de vivre as evidenced by her Facebook page.
She loved dark characters like Don Draper (MAD MEN) and Walter White (BREAKING BAD) and she couldn't wait for the new season of HOUSE OF CARDS. She grew up in Martinsville, VA and attended James Madison University and Patrick Henry Community College. She had just moved in with 11 PM anchor Chris Hurst and they were looking forward to their upcoming marriage, as were Adam and his intended, WDBJ producer Melissa Ott. Adam was a proud Hokie, or alum of Virginia Tech, and like his friend, was Virginia born and raised.It is a shame that these young people, with so much to look forward to, were cut down in their twenties by such a twisted individual. Now, I don't care who you are or whether you are a card-carrying NRA member or not, but I had to be shielded from the horror of that Dark Day in Dallas when John Fitzgerald Kennedy took his last ride and I remember when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bobby Kennedy, and John Lennon were similarly cut down and when Ronald Reagan's and Gabrielle Giffords' lives were inextricably altered by a madman who got ahold of a gun.
I have had the pleasure to know journos who run towards disaster while everybody else runs away and put their lives on the line just to tell a story. Needless to say, they are all alright, "Up right and respirating," as my friend Todd Pettengill likes to say. I wish Allison and Adam were so lucky. (Ironically, I also had a friend named Adam, Adam Joseph Beckman to be exact, and although we wanted to be bestest best buds, it didn't always work out that way. Still, we were together for a long time, and he always had an interest in theatre. He tried to make a prop with kerosene, but at the cost of his life. Although he didn't believe in God, I hope he knows peace now.)
Allison and Adam, if you read this all the way up in Heaven, could you say Hi to Lisa Colagrossi and tell her that with the Rangers' hockey season about to start at the Garden, Henrik Lundquist, Sam Rosen and Joe Michelletti, and Margot Robbie, Adam Sandler, and everybody else on Celebrity Row misses her? Also, could you please say Hi to Frank Gifford for me? As far as I'm concerned, once a Giant, always a Giant.
As for you, Bryce Williams or Vestor Flanagan or whatever you call yourself, I hope you burn to a crisp in The Bad Place.
Until next time, this is your announcer reminding you to stop hatin' and start participatin'. After all, we're the only human race we've got!
Allison Parker, and Adam Ward, Rest In Peace.