Family Christmas card 2018

BK Bulletin – December 2018: Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! Just wanted to share some year-end notes and share some things I’m looking forward to in 2019…and some other odds and ends.

Support me in the 2019 Eagles Autism Challenge


Sorry to start this email out with a fundraising plea, but this is time-sensitive. Beginning today, Wednesday, December 19, the Eagles – thanks to the generosity of The Kelly Family (see graphic below) – will match, dollar for dollar, the first $15,000 in online donations raised by participants such as myself. So if you support my 5K run in the 2019 Eagles Autism Challenge with a small donation now, it will be doubled for greater impact.

Donate Now!

Eagles Autism Challenge - Kelly Family Match

Donate Now!

Visit to Morris Arboretum

Morris Arboretum

Earlier this month, we reserved free tickets from our local library and made the trip to Morris Arboretum in Philadelphia. While it’s obviously not the season for flora, the grounds are still interesting with sculptures and trees, etc. The big draw these days is the Holiday Gardens Railway, which can be seen in a couple of the pictures above and below.

My Ensoniq ESQ-1 Lives!

I recently reset my keyboard setup in our basement after it was moved around a bit as the result of some flooding a few months ago. In doing so, I decided to try to turn on my Ensoniq ESQ-1 synthesizer, which was the first pro-level keyboard I ever purchased back in 1987. The last time I did this a few years ago, the display showed a “low internal battery” message and went dark. But this time, after showing the “low battery” prompt, it took me to the screen showing the sound patch options and I was able to hear it again for the first time in about 20 years! Some keys don’t work, but there’s a place in North Jersey that specializes in vintage synth repairs so, someday, I may bring it there for a battery replacement and keyboard repair. But the fact that I now know for sure that it’s salvageable made me so happy.

Here’s a short video taken minutes after I realized the ESQ-1 still works.

And here is a photo of my keyboard rig, which consists mostly of instruments purchased between 1987 and 1989 (the only exception is the Alesis QS-6.1 in the foreground, which was purchased around 2004 or so). The ESQ-1 is at bottom left. (And, yes, they’ve gathered a bit of dust over the years.)

Remembering a Rider legend…and a reunion, of sorts

Longtime Rider University journalism professor, Willard E. Lally, passed away in November at the age of 96. I attended Rider long after Lally’s retirement in 1985, but his influence and presence within the department and at The Rider News, where I served as news editor (1995-96) and executive editor (1996-97), are still felt even today. As part of The Rider News legacy, I felt I should attend a memorial service held on campus December 15, and I’m glad I did. First of all, it was great to see some of my former professors for the first time in ages. Second of all, it is always great to hear the stories of so many journalism students who came before me.

After the service, there was a luncheon in one of the academic buildings, where I was reunited with the Frederick L. Ferris Award (see photo above), which is named after the “father” of Rider’s journalism program (Prof. Lally replaced Prof. Ferris) and awarded to the graduating senior for their accomplishments in the journalism program over their four years at Rider. I won it in 1997, even though I transferred after graduating from Ocean County College and only spent two years at Rider.

The Ferris Award used to sit in a display case in a hallway near the journalism faculty offices (and likely still does), but I had not seen it in years and it was nice to hold it again. And that’s when I realized something…21 years after winning it, I noticed my last name is spelled wrong. As it turned out, there was another former Ferris Award winner in the room that day who had the same problem. Of course, I complained about it, but it was mostly for comedic effect.

So, yeah, look at 1997…my last name is missing the second “e” before the “y”.

The cool thing was, because there were so many former Ferris Award winners in the room, including its first-ever recipient, Stuart Gellman ’57 (more on him later), and the most recent recipient, that all of us there gathered around the trophy, which somehow I wound up holding, for an epic and historic Rider journalism department photo. It was really an honor to be included in that. I’m not sure when or if I’ll see that photo online, but I’ll be sure to grab it when I do and share it in one of these updates.

OK, back to Stuart Gellman. I had communicated with him back in 2000, when I was working at Rider. Two of my former professors asked me to help them track down Rider News alumni for a homecoming event celebrating the newspaper’s 70th anniversary. I found Stuart in Arizona and talked to him, but he was unable to attend. He did, however, send a letter that I read at the event (I wound up serving as moderator for a panel of former Rider News editors). The following year, in early or mid 2001, Stuart was visiting campus with his son. He stopped by my workspace and introduced me to his son by saying “he writes for The Washington Post.” Of course, I didn’t realize at the time he was THIS BARTON GELLMAN!

Just a few months later, Barton Gellman became a household name (for those of us who follow journalists, anyway) for his reporting on 9/11. He later went on to report on the false intelligence regarding WMDs in Iraq, Dick Cheney (which turned into a book) and NSA overreach (he oversaw The Washington Post’scoverage after the newspaper received documents from Edward Snowden), winning multiple Pulitzer Awards for individual and group reporting for The Washington Post.

Even last week, when I re-introduced myself to Stuart after so many years, he remembered bringing his son to campus and, again, he just said “he was a reporter for The Washington Post.”

I left it at that.

Oh, one more story from this day. One of the Ferris Award winners not present was the late Herb Wolfe, who went on to be the president and CEO of Showboat Atlantic City. He is always listed as a ’64 grad, but I discovered years later when I was working at Rider and preparing to interview him that he left Rider a few credits short of a degree and that he was actually taking courses at the time – about 40 years later – to complete his degree requirements. But the university considered him an alumnus, most likely because he was a great success story and a benefactor. Anyway, he was the editor of The Rider News for the 1963-64 academic year, which meant he was overseeing production of the newspaper on Friday, November 22, 1963. Despite the grief and despair brought on by the assassination of President Kennedy, Wolfe rallied his staff to produce the paper as scheduled so it could be printed over the weekend and delivered on campus the following Monday, November 25. The bound volume of newspapers including this issue was also on hand so I took this photo…

Anyone see what’s missing on this front page…and in the rest of the paper (trust me, it’s not there)?

Yep, they were so focused on assembling the issue they had planned before Kennedy had been assassinated during its production, that they didn’t think to include any coverage of the assassination in the newspaper itself.

Amazingly, there is a photo in the Rider archives showing Dr. Lally critiquing this front page with Wolfe, but doesn’t mention this fact. And you really can’t see the date in the photo. When I interviewed Wolfe for a Rider University magazine feature 18 years ago, he let the cat out of the bag. I can’t remember his exact words, but he said to me, “This photo shows Professor Lally saying to me, ‘Herb, it’s great that you got the paper out, but you should have probably included something about Kennedy.'”

That particular photo accompanied the article I wrote, but I can’t seem to find that magazine among my archives. If I find it, I will post it somewhere. It’s a classic when you know the whole story behind it.

WXPN Best of 2018

Below is my contribution to WXPN’s Best of 2018 list. While most of what I listen to is popular on WXPN, there is still quite a bit that escapes even their attention. Young Gun Silver Fox’s first album from a couple of years ago got played a bit, but the station ignored their superior 2018 release, which was a shame. And even though I discovered the band Field Music through WXPN’s Indie Music Hit Parade on a Friday night in 2016, they have just never made it into regular rotation. In fact, that may have been the only time Field Music has ever been played on WXPN. But I loved the band because they sound like Talking Heads, XTC, Peter Gabriel/classic Genesis and Prince (yes, Prince…who posted then deleted a tweet approving of their song “The Noisy Days are Over” a few weeks before his death) all rolled up into one. So I doubt they’ll make the list, but I still wanted to acknowledge those acts as the Best of 2018.

China Crisis in Asbury Park

China Crisis

A very underrated and overlooked band from the 1980s is China Crisis. I first became aware of them when “Arizona Sky” from their 1986 album What Price Paradise received a bit of airplay on MTV. Oddly enough, when I first heard that song, a big attraction to me was that I felt they sounded like if Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen and Walter Becker had grown up in late 1970s/early 80s Liverpool. It wasn’t until much later that I learned CC’s Gary Daly and Eddie Lundon were, in fact, huge Steely Dan fans and that Becker had produced their previous album, 1985’s Flaunt the Imperfection, and was considered an official member of the band at that time.

To this day, I find myself humming “Arizona Sky” at random parts of the day.

Anyway, China Crisis just wrapped up a small tour of North America, which included a stop at Asbury Park, NJ’s The Saint on Sunday, December 9, that I attended (they also played at Randy Now’s Man Cave, a tiny record store/novelty shop just 15 minutes away from me in Bordentown, NJ, which I didn’t know about until after the fact). Below is a not-so-great video of China Crisis performing “Tragedy and Mystery” at The Saint. The person who took and posted the video added a somewhat offensive “death metal” intro to it and, for some reason, thought we would want to see periodic shots of him instead of the band. But it’s a taste of what I saw at The Saint. I configured the link to hopefully bypass the disturbing intro part, but I’ve found those configured links only work some of the time so who knows? Also, I think the guy who shot this video is the same one wrongly singing Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family” when the band briefly goes into Chic’s classic “Good Times” during the bridge.

And here is the song that launched my China Crisis fandom in the late 1980s, “Arizona Sky.”

“Christmas Must Be Tonight”

My friend Christian Beach recorded this cover of The Band’s “Christmas Must Be Tonight” for a holiday compilation CD in 2009. It’s one of our favorites to listen to this time of the year.

“It’s Christmas Time Again” (Live, 2014)

So I shared my Christmas song last month. This month, I’m presenting this live version from a performance at the 2014 GSP Holiday Party. The video isn’t great and the audio was really weak, as were my vocals, so I added the audio from a rehearsal recording into the mix.

2019 Scheduled Races

I have already lined up my key races for 2019. They include another marathon, which will be my fourth (2 New Jersey Marathons, 2 Philadelphia Marathons), and my return to the Olympic-distance Atlantic City Triathlon (1-mile swim, 22-mile bike ride, 10K run). I did the Tri AC in 2014 and finished in 3:04:34, but that year’s edition included just a 20-mile bike ride and 5-mile run (although some that year believe they low-key added about a 1/4 mile to the swim portion).

New Jersey Marathon
Sunday, April 28, 2019

Broad Street Run
Sunday, May 5, 2019

Eagles Autism Challenge 5K
Saturday, May 18, 2019

Atlantic City Triathlon (Olympic distance)
Saturday, August 10, 2019

Philadelphia Half Marathon
Saturday, November 23, 2019

I am also interested in doing the Crest Best 10-Miler on October 13, but registration isn’t open for that yet. The same is true for the Broad Street Run on May 5, but by signing up for the Philadelphia Half Marathon using the “Philadelphia Challenge” option, I will be emailed a special registration link for a guaranteed spot in the Broad Street Run.

Of course, now that I’m also doing the Eagles Autism Challenge 5K on May 18, that means I’m doing two running events in the three weeks following the New Jersey Marathon. That should be interesting for my legs. So much for recovery time!

Other than these, there may be another 5K or two added to the race calendar. Barring any conflicts, I would like to do the WXPN Musicians On Call 5K in Philly in early October. I missed it this year because it was the same day as the inaugural Crest Best 10-Miler, which I opted to do instead. However, I think they will be a week apart in 2019.


My Year in Running: 2017

Just wanted to end 2017 with a quick look back at my running achievements during the past year.

654315_254682350_XLargeMy most important running milestones in 2017, of course, were running in the first two marathons of my life — first, the New Jersey Marathon on April 30 and, then, the Philadelphia Marathon on November 19.

Although I was thrilled to finish my first 26.2-mile race, I was generally disappointed in my marathon debut at the Jersey Shore.

On top of that disappointment, I had to prepare for the 10-mile Broad Street Run the following weekend. Two days after the New Jersey Marathon, I went for a 5-mile workday run during lunch and began experiencing excruciating pain in my right knee at about mile 3. I stretched it out a bit and was able to continue, but it kept on happening during my runs that week.

I tried to doing some things to mitigate the knee issue (ice, stretching, massaging, etc.) and had to resign myself to the fact that I may — for the first time — be unable to finish a race.

But — wearing a knee brace not at all suited for running (because it was all I had at the time) — and fighting through some discomfort the final five miles, I wound up finishing the Broad Street Run in a personal-record 1:27:03.

After the Broad Street Run, I took a three-week break from running to get my knee right again. I would have taken more time off, but had to tune up for a 5K held at my alma mater, Rider University, each June to benefit women’s athletics. Even with my knee issues and the heat that day, I managed to complete that in a respectable 25:02.24.

The next race I did was one that I wasn’t sure I would do until about a month before the event, and that was the Hightstown (N.J.) Triathlon, a sprint-distance tri held each year not too far from where I live. Amazingly, even though I didn’t do any open-water swim training and squeezed in only two or three training rides on the bike, I still finished 76th overall in the event with a personal-best time of 1:21:21. Somehow, despite the 1/4-mile swim and 11.2-mile bike ride preceding it, I ran what was likely one of my top-10 5K times to set that PR with a time of 25:49 during the run portion.

At that point, I turned my attention to training for the Philadelphia Marathon, with the lone exception being one last short race — the WXPN Musicians On Call 5K in early October. Even though the course may have been short by a bit, I finished that race in 23:39.69 — and then got to stay for the ever-popular post-race 80s dance party!


Crossing the finish line

Then it was back to the Philly Marathon. Sadly, I was only able to get in two really long-distance training runs — a 16-miler and an 18-miler — leading up to the race. But I had done a lot of pacing work on my shorter runs and felt ready to vindicate myself from the disappointing marathon debut in April. I just wanted to finish in less than five hours.

And despite wet, brisk conditions and ridiculous, swirling 40+ mph wind gusts, I managed to do just that, finishing in 4:51:22.

So that was my year in running. Oddly, except for the Hightstown Triathlon (the event I made a last-minute decision to do each of the last two years), I don’t have any events lined up yet for 2018. But I’ll be running somewhere. Just trying to figure out what races to do.

Happy New Year!

Congratulations, Jason Thompson…the 12th pick of the 2008 NBA Draft!

Sacramento Kings 2008 Draft Pick – Jason Thompson

Jason Thompson, a senior out of Rider University, was selected by the Sacramento Kings last night with the 12th overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft. Projected to go later in the first round, Thompson’s stock rose to the point where he was taken as a lottery pick by the Kings.

Geoff Petrie, the Kings’ president of basketball operations, on selecting Thompson with the No. 12 pick…

We had considered a small at 12, but as the draft went on, we felt the best place to go was to go big. He was the number one pick at 12 for us if we were going to go big. He is a 20 (point) and 12 (rebound) guy and there was only one other guy like that, and that was (Michael) Beasley. He gives us another young forward that I think will compliment the rest of the people we have such as Spencer (Hawes).

When we first met him he was 6’2’’ in high school or maybe even junior high and was playing point guard. He said ‘but I have these big feet’ so when he got to college he was around 6’4” and then grew to 6’10”. Again, when you see him make plays he really runs well and is really comfortable when he makes plays with the ball. I think that some of that is because he got an early start playing a position that was more of a size for his body at that time.

It is such a gradual process as you work through all of the different players that work into all of the other information and reports you have on people. At some point you have to make a choice. I think we made a good one.

He is a more mature kid and his game is more developed. It is part of our process of trying to rebuild our front line, plus we have other areas we need to work on too, but we can’t do that with just one player, unless Magic Johnson just so happened to be there at number 12, but he wasn’t.

Kudos to the Kings for taking Jason at No. 12…and for their web site staff for putting the following splash page up just minutes after the team made the selection (click image to enlarge):

The Sacramento Kings selected Rider's Jason Thompson with the 12th pick of the 2008 NBA Draft.

Rider, Jason Thompson continue playing in CBI tournament

Well, it’s not the NCAA Tournament, or even the NIT…but the Rider men’s basketball team (23-10, RPI #110) will get a chance to play at least one more game when the Broncs visit Old Dominion on Tuesday night in the first round of the inaugural College Basketball Invitational tournament.

I’m not sure if this CBI tournament is going to last beyond this year. Any tournament that has teams declining home games because of money issues and then invites Cincinnati (13-18) to play has some real issues. But it’s giving Jason Thompson and Rider a chance to keep playing, which they deserve.

Jason Thompson carries Rider into MAAC final

Jason Thompson scored 32 points — reaching the 2,000-point mark for his career in the process — and grabbed 18 rebounds in leading No. 2 seed Rider to a thrilling 76-71 come-from-behind victory over sixth-seeded Marist in Sunday’s semifinal round of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament in Albany, N.Y.

The Broncs (23-9) advanced to face top seed Siena in Monday night’s championship game. Rider will be making its second appearance in the MAAC title game, with the previous trip resulting in a loss to Niagara in 2005. A win would put the Broncs in the NCAA Tournament since back-t0-back appearances in 1993 and ’94, when they were members of the Northeast Conference.

Rider was without sophomore guard Ryan Thompson (concussion), who is Jason’s younger brother, and starting point guard Justin Robinson (high ankle sprain). Both were injured in Saturday’s 75-71 quarterfinal win over 10th-seeded Canisius.

RIP: David Rebovich, professor of political science at Rider University

David RebovichMy alma mater, Rider University, and the New Jersey political scene lost a true giant today when David Rebovich, professor of political science and managing director of Rider’s Institute for New Jersey Politics, died after suffering a heart attack while teaching a class. He was 58.

Rebovich, called “The Answer Man” by the New York Times, was a media favorite for his knowlege of the New Jersey political scene. It seemed I heard his voice in a sound bite two or three times a week on radio station NJ 101.5 FM, discussing a wide array of topics dealing with politics in the Garden State. He also generated a ton of media hits for Rider.

Last year, Dave was listed as the 16th most powerful figure in state politics by (for which he also served as a columnist).

I had the pleasure of creating the first version of the Institute for New Jersey Politics’ Web site back when I was the content coordinator for Rider’s Web site. He was just a cool guy and he really enjoyed talking about the wacky world of Jersey politics.

Dave was also dean of Rider’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences back when I was a student, and he helped me out with some paperwork a few times.

I would like to offer my condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues at Rider University.

Here are some links:

Rider University: In Memoriam – David Rebovich (The Times of Trenton): Rider professor and political analyst Rebovich dies David Rebovich dies and More kind words for David Rebovich

N.J. Campaigns & Elections: New Jersey political icon Rebovich dead

The Associated Press (via Respected political analyst Rebovich dies

And here is a Google News search full of related stories.


Photo courtesy of Rider University.