Mike Kolasky was seated at his desk in the basement of The Orrville Journal office in Northeast Ohio when he asked if I knew how to spell the word ‘February.’
“I was born in February,” I replied.
He glanced at his computer screen and then to me, and back again, with one hand on his chin. Mike always had a calm Zen-like presence from what I remember, and those sort of memories remain with me all these years later.
There was not much else to be said that particular day. I quickly realized he was editing a story I’d just written, one that was likely littered with typos and run-on sentences. I told myself I’d never be so careless again.
Two years ago I recruited two of my younger brothers to record a hip-hop song. It was a hectic process at times, but the track turned out well. I tell the behind-the-scenes story of that process in the latest edition of the Mass Chatter podcast.
Joel recently recorded and added musical elements to a song performed by a young female vocalist at his home studio. He shares that recording process and how he lucked out while tweaking the track on a rainy day.
Life continues to be consumed by local sports writing for me. And I absolutely love that I’m able to make a living doing something I’m passionate about.
But during those moments not spent in a sports state of mind, I’m usually running around with my family, digging through my music collection or attending some sort of live event.
That’s where a new podcast collaboration with Joel Martinez comes into play. We’ll be talking about those sorts of things on a weekly basis beginning in January.
Until then, enjoy the debut episode of Mass Chatter. You’ll be introduced to us through the highs and lows we’ve experienced over the years during the holiday season. The episode features stories about a home-made haunted house, backyard football, and a Christmas tree left in the front lawn.
My guy Swamburger was offering a holiday special on hip-hop beats and I felt the time was right to make a move on the offer. The intent was to have two of my younger brothers put together a complete song, something I figured they’d be suitable for after so much time spent rocking the 8-track recorder without much direction up north.
So I sat with Swam for an hour, nodding my head and making facial expressions as he fleshed out an instrumental. Then I sent it to Ohio for Arron and Jayson to begin putting their pieces in place.
Jayson drove to Orlando two weeks later ready to roll with two verses sometime in late January/early February. Arron flew down with no idea what he was planning to record, which I guess could be considered both a gift and a curse depending on your viewpoint.
All I did was figure out words for the intro and hook, and guide the creative direction.
Check out the track “Matters of the Mind” by clicking here on the link or hitting the play button below. Leave a comment and let us know what you think. And stay tuned because more music is on the way later this year.
I was in my early teens when dad loaded us up and headed for the outer banks of North Carolina. The vacation rental was stocked with a record player and piles of albums with speakers in all corners of the house.
It was the self-titled debut by The Doors that I remember spinning the most that week.
I’ve since analyzed the band’s career over the ensuing years, long after my 15-year old former self was making out in a theatre during the Oliver Stone film or was initially inspired to scribble poetic drivel of my own.
And so last week while binge listening to The Doors I solicited people for their favorite songs via Facebook and text. I was only slightly taken aback by the responses as not many veered from the typical selections.
It was at the conclusion of The Big Kahuna many years back when I first heard the inspirational spoken word track “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” by Baz Luhrmann.
The words were apparently written by Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich, who offered up some sound advice for graduating teens preparing to embark on the next phase of their lives.
It’s likely many of those same teenagers, now closing in on 40, wish they would’ve actually taken those words to heart.
The Big Kahuna, starring Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito, had already riddled my mind by the time this piece of prose began. It served as a worthy backdrop to DeVito packing up his belongings in a hotel room and Spacey checking out at the front desk as each prepared to move along to live another day, ever the wiser for their experiences.
My grandfather has lived through the deaths of nearly everybody he’e ever known over the years. He turns 80 years old this July.
We often chat about this very topic over vodka and tonic each time he makes his annual trip south to pay me a visit. I’ve come to terms with the reality that I’ll be sitting in his seat decades from now sharing similar stories.
If it’s not the recent passing of pop culture figures I’ve grown up with in some form or fashion, such as David Bowie or Prince, it’s the moms and dads of friends who’ve been laying to rest for the final time over the past few months.
Just a couple of days after it was published Skinner was put in the intensive care unit after going into septic shock. An infection was discovered, then more than a week later he was flown by air ambulance to Dallas in hopes of undergoing a previously planned experimental treatment.
Being nostalgic is my worst trait as a human being. And I’m still trying to come to grips with that reality.
So today we take a trip down memory lane, to a land so desecrated and abandoned that its current state is fascinating only for what it once was.
I made a handful of trips to Geauga Lake in northeast Ohio as a kid numerous times in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Wave and water slides are what still stands out to me most. But it appears those good times were expendable as they no longer stand at all.
In 2007 the doors to what remained of Geauga Lake closed forever. Check out this video from DiJi Aerial Media to experience what it looks like today.
I tried like hell to hold back tears the first time I dressed up as Santa Claus to entertain kids at an income-restricted apartment community in Orlando.
A little girl told me, while sitting on my lap as I was dressed for the part, that all she wanted for Christmas were shoes for her little brother. A young boy said he just wanted for his mom to be happy while another boy asked to receive nothing at all.
Similar requests were made in between the typical interactions of kids asking Santa for toys and gadgets they’ll lose interest in by February.
It was the looks in the eyes of parents and grandparents that made my heart ache most as they soaked up whatever joy these kids were experiencing.
You really missed out if you never experienced the Beastie Boys live in concert.
I saw them twice back in the 1990s, first on May 17, 1995 during the Ill Communication tour and again on August 14, 1998 in support of Hello Nasty. Two times seems far too few now that I think about it.
But I’ll never forget the shenanigans shared on the way to and from the Convocation Center in Cleveland, Ohio each trip. Remind me to tell you all about it the next time we see each other.
Until then, relive the Glasgow, Scotland show from 1999 featuring Ad-Rock, MCA, Mike D and Mix Master Mike. I just did, and it was pretty damn great.
After years of grinding my way through freelance writing assignments and radio shows, I finally latched on full-time as a multimedia sports reporter at the Orlando Sentinel newspaper. There, the grind carries on.
I’ve been busy since the end of July on the high school and local sports beat at the Sentinel, which encompasses much more than you’d care to read about at this point.
The exciting part has been the high school football coverage we’ve been doing for the 76 area programs (yes, 76 high school football teams) through print and online video features.