Saturday, February 27, 2010

This Week on Oprah: It's A Thumbs Up For Roger Ebert

(Photo: Ethan Hill © Esquire Magazine/Hearst Publications)

As we say good-bye to the month of February – it’s time to adjust the rabbit ears and our digital tuner boxes for a look at the world of television in this edition of “Frost Bites” (or should it be ‘bytes’ since we are being digitally correct).

Roger Ebert has been writing about and reviewing movies for the last thirty years for the Chicago Sun-Times – but he’s probably better known for his thumbs up and thumbs down reviews on the nationally televised “At The Movies” movie review show that he hosted with the late Gene Siskel.

In 2002, Ebert was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and over the last eight years he has gone through more surgeries than even he can remember. Because of all of the surgeries that he has gone through in the last four year, Roger Ebert can no longer speak, eat or drink and his lower jaw has been surgically removed. After all of that you might think that Roger Ebert would want to give up on life, but you'd be wrong. As a matter of fact, it's because of all that he's gone through that has a better appreciation of life and is living life to its fullest; and although we don't see him on TV anymore, he continues to shares his thoughts about movies in his reviews and life in general on a blog he writes for the Chicago Sun-Times.

The current issue of Esquire with Leo DeCaprio on the cover features an excellent article about Roger Ebert by Chris Jones. You might be startled by the photo of Ebert, but you’ll be uplifted by his resilience against all odds. If you can’t find this month’s Esquire on your newsstand – click on to the following line and read the article online (which also includes a link to Ebert’s blog):

In the Esquire article, there is a mention of a Scottish software company named CereProc that is helping Ebert to “get his voice” back – in a digital way. CereProc has been cataloging the vast amount of vocal recordings of Ebert’s voice that are available for a software program that will allow his own voice to be heard when he types out messages on his computer keyboard. Get ready to set your DVRs, because Roger Ebert’s voice via CereProc – will be able to be heard for the first time in public on Oprah (4:00pm Tuesday, March 2 and repeated 1:05am Wednesday, March 3 on WXYZ-Channel 7, Detroit).

On the lighter side…..I don’t know about you, but TV hasn’t been the same for me since Denny….Denny Crane and his “Boston Legal” law firm was shut down by ABC nearly two years ago. I know that Denny’s alter ego, William Shatner, got a half-hour interview show on cable’s Biography channel, but that’s just not enough Shatner for all of us who miss his hi jinx with James Spader and their late night sleepovers. Well, I’ve got good news for you…according The Hollywood Reporter…CBS has given the ok for a new comedy pilot being produced by “Will and Grace” creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. Shatner will be playing a Dad who says some wacky things in this pilot with the working title of “Shit My Dad Says” (which it’s safe to assume will be changed if CBS picks up the show after the pilot is shot).

And for those folks who miss “Boston Legal” and don’t own the complete Boston Legal boxed DVD set – those folks at TVLand have picked up reruns of the show and have added them to their schedule. As they say in TVLand – check your local listings for time and channel number.

TVLand has also added the Ray Romano sitcom “Everyone Loves Raymond” to their schedule and TNT last week aired the season finale on Romano’s new critically acclaimed comedy/drama “Men of A Certain Age”. TNT has yet to announce whether or not that they are picking the show up for a new season – but it’s a safe bet that they will. In the meantime – should they re-run the show this spring – I urge you to watch it. I’m not going out on a limb when I say that “Men of A Certain Age” is probably the best show on television today. I predict that the writing alone will win awards for them at Emmy award time and if the actors aren’t awarded statues for their work on the show – then I would demand a recount.

If you’ve been watching the Winter Olympics coverage on NBC – you’ll probably well aware that Jay Leno will be returning to the Tonight Show this month after dropping a gigantic turd during his prime-time run. He’s lined up a couple of interesting guests for his first week back – that’s if you consider Sarah Palin to be interesting.

We haven’t heard a whole lot from Conan O’Brien – who some feel (including yours truly) that Leno screwed to get the Tonight Show. O’Brien – who many expect to have a new talk show on another network by year’s end – can do any interviews or any television shows until September because of an agreement that he worked out with NBC, but they didn’t say anything about Twitter.

Conan O’Brien is now on Twitter ( His Twitter bio reads: “I had a show. Then I had a different show. Now I have a Twitter account.”

And what is Conan tweeting?

Tweet #1: Today I interviewed a squirrel in my backyard and then threw to commercial. Somebody help me.

Tweet #2: This morning I watched Remington Steele while eating Sugar Smacks out of a salad bowl. I was naked.

And Tweet #3: Today I connected all the freckles on my arm with a Sharpie. It spells out RIKSHAZ9LIRK. Clearly I am The Chosen One.

That’s going to do it for this edition -- keep your TV set on and remember to live by the TV motto: By the glow of the cathode tube – there's better living through more channels.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Growing Up In My Own Little Radio World

(Photo of me playing music in between music sets
at a Wild Wednesday at Sherwood Forrest...
Courtesy of Peter C @

I noticed that a couple of my Facebook friends recently became fans of a group called “When I was younger I would record my favorite songs off the radio onto tape”, and I had to laugh, because it sounded like something that someone who would eventually end up in the radio business would have done. I wasn’t one of those who recorded songs off the radio, but I got pretty close to it and if there’s ever a Facebook group with the title of “When I was younger, all of the records that I owned had cue burns at the beginning of each song,” I would be one of the charter members.

You see, when I was younger and I wasn’t listening to WCFL, WABC, WLS and WBZ on my transistor radio, I would “play radio” in the bedroom of the house that we lived in on Marshall Street in Flint, Michigan. My little make-believe radio studio consisted of two suitcase record players that I would set up next to each other on my Mom’s ironing board. I would read the advertisements with lots of copy in magazines like Reader’s Digest, Life and Time for my commercials and newscast copy would be the “News In Brief” page from the Detroit News. It was my little make-believe radio station and I would literally do make-believe radio late late at night in my bedroom for hours on end. My Mom must have thought I was nuts – but at least she knew where I was at night and I wasn’t out in the streets with the other hooligans getting in trouble.

There were no boundaries when it came to my make-believe radio station. I would do Top 30 play lists of all of the records that I owned and occasionally I would have my own little countdown show. If I got burned out on the records’ “A” side, the “B” side would become that artist’s new release in my little make-believe radio world. Most of the records that I owned were by the original artists, but there were a few “hit” records on my make-believe radio station that were recorded by sound-alike artists on the “Hit” record label that you could only buy at Ben Franklin for 39¢ each. There were also a few records – such as Sam The Sham and the Pharaohs “Ju Ju Hand”, The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, “Doo Wah Diddy” by Manfred Mann and “Black Is Black” by Los Lobos that I shoplifted from the Cook’s Drug Store on Richfield and Western Road. I would cue up every record that I played during my “air shifts” which eventually led to all of my records having a cue burn of varying lengths at the beginning of each song.

I wasn’t the only person involved in this little make-believe radio world that I was living in – occasionally my buddy would spend the night with me playing radio. He was more into cars and stuff like that – but he would sit with me in my bedroom as I played radio. He didn’t think I was nuts when I told him to “hang on”, because I had to talk up the next record that I was going to play – he just went along for the ride – and what the hell, the music was good. At one point in time – we thought that this little radio station was too cool for us to enjoy and we had this grand plan of wiring up the neighborhood and selling subscriptions to our radio station and this was long before cable television was ever introduced in the area.

You would have thought that with all of the training that I got playing radio in my bedroom that I might have been a little better at it in real life – but I discovered just how difficult doing real radio can be when I got a little older. I had some grandiose dreams of being a disc-jockey and tried my hand at it, but discovered my true calling in radio was behind the scenes and I had a good run in the business for nearly a quarter of a century…and to imagine -- it all began in that make-believe radio studio in my bedroom.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Childhood Memories Of Those Summer Visits To See Grandma and Grandpa in Cheboygan, MI

(Uncle Benny and I at his home in Cheboygan, MI home in 2002)

There’s a deep little secret that I share with a lot of my cousins that we all know will never happen. If you could survey us one by one – we all wish that we could relive those great big family get-togethers that we use to share as kids at Grandma and Grandpa Enos’ place in Cheboygan. I’m not saying that we couldn't all get together in Cheboygan – it’s just that it would never be the same and we’d all be disappointed when today’s realities didn’t live up to all of our memories of yesterday.

My Mom was one of ten children that grew up in a big farm house in Cheboygan, Michigan and it was at that farmhouse where the family all got together pretty much every summer when we were kids. The long car trips that many of the grand children had to endure to get to Grandma and Grandpa’s place was more than rewarded once we got there. I can remember the cows, the chickens, pigs and all of the fun that my cousins and I would have jumping in the hay that was stored in the barn.

Being from the city – I thought it was so damn cool that my Grandparents had an old fashion (working) gasoline pump in their drive-way. I know that they used the pump to fuel their trucks and tractors, but it was just one of those objects that you could gloat about to your friends when you went back to school in September. I’m sure that none of my childhood school chums had grandparents that had a gasoline pump in their drive-way, but mine did.

I have so many childhood memories from all of those family get-togethers in Cheboygan. I always wanted to be the first person inside the house to see Grandma and Grandpa after the long drive north. Grandma and Grandpa would usually be waiting at the kitchen table for everyone to arrive and they looked as excited to see us as we were to see them. Grandma would greet you with a big hug, grab both sides of your face and then smother you with kisses. And you didn't think anything of it when Grandma would say something like “boy, have you gotten big” or a “we’ve got to put a little meat on these bones”, because that was what a Grandma usually said, or so we thought.

Being a little kid from the city – you can just imagine how intoxicating it was to take in all of the sights and sounds of a working farm. If we were lucky – Uncle Benny or Uncle Victor – would give us a ride on the tractor and let us put our hands on the wheel and steer the tractor for a short bit. We would be so damn excited by our little farm adventures that we couldn’t wait until we got back to the farmhouse to tell our parents – who we could usually find chatting with Grandma and Grandpa at the big table in the kitchen or preparing for one of those huge family meals.

And let’s talk about those dinners – all of the adults gathered around that huge table in the kitchen and kids they got to eat on the steps that went upstairs to the bedrooms. There was always plenty to eat and most of the time – it was all homemade – from breads and rolls to the cookies that were made and then cooled on the counter top behind where Grandma’s place at the table.

I can remember that there was always a small bottle of saccharine tablets close by Grandma for her to sweeten her coffee or tea and all of the kids were told they were Grandma’s and we were warned not to touch them. Grandpa usually sat to the left of Grandma at the table and it was not unusual in the morning to see Grandpa holding someone’s white porcelain cup up and turning it all around as he read that person’s fortune in the tea leaves. I can’t tell you if he was accurate in any of the predictions that he read – but nonetheless anyone who had a cup of tea usually wanted Grandpa to read what the tea leaves had to say.

One of the things that I always wanted to do when I was a kid was to milk a cow. Every time that we visited Cheboygan, I would ask Uncle Benny if he would let me do it and he would usually tell me that I could when I was old enough. I was so use to hearing no every time that I asked him, you can imagine my surprise when Uncle Benny finally said yes...I couldn't believe what I heard! I was finally going to milk a cow (or so I thought).

I could not have been more that four or five years-old when Uncle Benny “arranged” for me to milk a cow for the first time. At the far end of the barn, where they had all of the cows lined up for milking, Uncle Benny had put a small baby calf inside a small corner stall with a wooden fence around it.

With my Dad standing next to him, Uncle Benny asked me, “Well, here it is…you ready to milk a cow now?” When I told him that I was – he lifted me up and put me inside of the corner stall with that young calf (which in the eyes of a kid might as well have been a full size cow). Even though I was four- or five-years old, I was smart enough to know that something was wrong because I couldn't find the teats to grab onto and milk. When I pointed that out to Uncle Benny – he told me to pump this – and he pointed to the calf’s tail. Grabbing the calf’s tail, I “milked” the cow’s tail like one would pump an old fashion pump for water and it had Uncle Benny laughing so hard he fell down and broke the wooden fence that kept the calf and me inside this small stall.

I think out of all of my aunts and uncles – Uncle Benny was a larger than life character that kids were naturally attracted to. I don’t think that I could have ever asked Uncle Victor to let me milk a cow – Uncle Benny seemed like to go-to-guy for something like that – always the hard worker but he had that dash of playfulness to him. He would come in the house after milking the cows and add maybe five or six teaspoons of sugar into a big glass of the milk that he brought in with him – nobody said anything to him about it -- that’s just the way Uncle Benny enjoyed his milk.

Along with being a farmer – my Grandpa was also a bee keeper. He may have had something like six or seven bee (and maybe more) hives set up off to the side of the farm house. I can remember watching Grandpa bringing these big honey cones into the kitchen filled with honey and then extracting the honey from the honey cones so everyone could have fresh honey on their toast or in their tea in the morning.

I was probably more afraid of the bees than I was any of the animals…only because bees sting. And it was because they sting that Grandpa’s bees went on to play a part in another legendary story of something that happened at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm in Cheboygan.

For as long as I could remember – my Grandparents had indoor plumbing – but they always maintained the outhouse that was not too far from the hen house. The only reason they kept the outhouse was because they knew that sooner or later nature would be calling when they’re out working in the fields or in the barn and it was easily to “take care of business” in the outhouse than to run all the way back to the house. My Uncle Victor had one of those days – he had to go – but he knew that there was no way in hell that he was going to make it to the house – so, off he went into the outhouse. This wasn’t one of those “stand-up” functions – this was one of those “Sears Roebuck” catalog moments that you wanted to sit down and let loose of all that there was to offer. So, he walked into the outhouse, dropped his trouser to the ground and sat on the seat and let it rip. When he let it rip – there just happened to be some bees there in the outhouse that proceeded to sting his butt cheeks with reckless abandon. I’m sure that the pain that the bees inflicted some hurt on his ass – but you got to admit that just the thought someone going into an outhouse to take an innocent dump and comes out with a stung ass is pretty funny.

I’m only scratching the surface when it comes to talking all of those family reunions that we use to have each summer at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Cheboygan. They hold a special place in my heart and in the hearts of all of my cousins – for we were young and innocent and there was no better place to share those experiences than on a farm in Cheboygan with our parents, Grandparents, and the people that we loved. It would be nice if we could bring back those days just one more time – but the truth be told – we’ll never be able to relive them again.

(Grandma and Grandpa Enos outside of the farmhouse in Cheboygan, MI)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

From New Glasses To The Knack -- It's A Mid-February Edition of Frost-Bites

(Here I am in wearing one of the pair of the new specs)

Lots of things to chat about in mid-February edition of Frost-bites – beginning with: Four eyes are better than two when you need to see….Doug Fieger of “The Knack” dies…We take a look at rock n’ roll and dying…and Dylan shows up on public television….so, let’s delve right into it all.

Any one who reads my status updates on Facebook knows that I recently went in for an eye examination to get new glasses. Well, I’m happy to report – I got ‘em! If you live in the Port Huron area and you’re looking for affordable eyewear – I recommend that you check out “Better Vision Center” a little Mom and Pop optical operation on 13th Street. Believe it or not – I was able to walk out of the place with two pairs of bifocals (one tinted) for the low price of $145.50 (and the eye exam was included in that price). I don’t think that there’s another place in the Port Huron area that can beat that price. It had been nearly two years since my last pair of glasses and I really needed a new pair – and I’m happy to report that I can see a whole lot better with the new specs.

We have all done this at one time or another: While watching a really good old movie on TV – we’ll point out to others that this actor or that actor in the movie is dead. Why we do it – I’ll never know – but we do it.

Here’s another thing that we do….we’ll read the obituaries and justify our mortality to the poor sap who has just died. The obituary will read that so-and-so died at the age of something or other and you’ll say to yourself, “Jesus, I better get my shit together, I’m just a few years away from that dumb bastard.” Do we change our lifestyle after reading the obit? No…but for that few seconds after reading it you realize just how short our time is on this planet.

On Sunday night, when I started to write this blog entry, I went to my Google News page to see what’s happening in our world and was surprised to read that Doug Fieger, leader of the Detroit rock band “The Knack” and younger brother of attorney Geoffrey Fieger, died of cancer on Sunday at age of 57. “The Knack” will forever be known as the band that gave the world one of it’s catchiest rock n’ roll records – “My Sharona”.

Anyone who has ever heard “My Sharona” can instantly pick up that it was influenced by the music of the 60’s British invasion. I can remember when the single was released and how the record company tried pushing that Beatles/British invasion angle in promoting the record and the group. The Knack’s first album was “Get the Knack” is eerily similar in title and look to the Beatles first US album, “Meet The Beatles”. Plus, The Knack’s record label, Capitol, brought back their old orange and yellow label that they hadn’t used since the Beatles to print the name of the album and song titles for the vinyl album.

I got a chance to see Doug Fieger and The Knack in concert during their “Get The Knack” tour when they stopped in Detroit to play Masonic Auditorium. I loved Sharona and the Knack’s other hit “Good Girls Don’t” – but I wasn’t blown away by their performance on stage. Their opening act – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – put on a much better show and history has shown that Petty had a lot more staying power when it comes to rock n’ roll popularity.

Doug Fieger’s passing also brings up another aspect to the “death” topic that I have seemed to latch on for this blog entry. I can remember a time when the news came out that one of our favorite rock star had died we’d naturally assumed that it was from drugs. There was a string of rock n’ roll deaths in the late 60s/early 70s – Jimi Hendrix – Janis Joplin – Jim Morrison – Keith Moon – John Bonham – Brian Jones – drugs, sex, rock n’ roll and death – it was the combination that we associated with one another. We still shocked that someone like Keith Richards – who was a poster boy for a junkie if there ever was one – is still living and watching around on the planet today. How in the hell did that happen? And now our rock stars are dying from things like cancer – does that mean that they are mortal just like you and I? How can cancer attack and kill someone like Beatle George Harrison – that’s not suppose to happen – Beatles don’t died from diseases and natural causes.

And speaking of rock n’ roll reality checks: Who would have ever thought that people like Bob Dylan and John Mellencamp would be performing at the White House? Both Dylan and Mellencamp appeared in a special White House performance dedicated to music and its influence on the civil rights movement that aired on last week PBS television stations across the country. I don’t know about you – but I am appreciating Bob Dylan more and more as he has grown older. His singing voice – which some people have a hard time understanding in the past – has seem to grow even more distinctive – sounding almost like Leon Redbone.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Hate Winter...But It Won't Be Too Long....

(Looking out our back door - Winter 2009)

I don’t know about you – but I have had it with winter – it could go away tomorrow and I wouldn't miss it one bit. And, it’s not like we have had one of those brutal kick you in the ass Michigan winters either – you know the kind -- with temperatures so cold that your thoughts freeze and the snow drifts way past your naughty bits. To be honest with you – it’s been a pretty mild winter – it’s just that we have had enough of it already.

Let’s be honest – winter weather sucks. I also know that there are lots of people who cherish a hearty Michigan winter so that they can take to the slopes and ski – I’m not one of them. I never was and never will be one of them.. Skiing is something that I have never understood. What’s fun about strapping putting pieces of wood or fiberglass to the bottom of your feet so that you can go sliding down the side of a ski slope? If you like going down a ski slope – cut out the middle man and just do a belly flop and do it naturally. Plus, skiing is not one of the safest things that you can do either, and if you need proof, I have but two words for you: Sonny Bono.

Winter has no social redeeming values going for it. With winter – you get snow (and depending on where you live -- and lots of it). Snow requires you to shovel it so that you can get from point A to point B. If you live in the country like I do, not only do you shovel, but you have to pay someone to plow your driveway. Plus, winter weather provides you with another item that you can add to your “something you have to do” list – and that’s brush the snow and scraping your car windows. I hate waiting for my windows to defrost in the winter about as much as I hate sitting in my car and waiting at a train crossing or, better yet, waiting for the Military Street drawbridge in Port Huron to go down.

There’s something else – other than the cold, the wind and the snow – that is irritating about winter and that’s the local TV weather team. Yup – there’s nothing like watching a TV weather team go into a full attack mode when a ugly winter storm front comes barreling through your town. They’re outside standing in they’re “weather patio” with the big fur-lined coat with the station’s logo over the left breast measuring the downfall with a yard stick; or they have enlisted every member of the station’s news team to do live shots in front of every busy intersection in the viewing area. The TV coverage during a major storm makes you feel like the end of the world is coming when all it really should be doing is telling us when the storm is coming, when it’s here, how much snow are we going to get and when is it going to end. We don’t need wall-to-wall coverage – because believe it or not – there is other news happening other than a god-damn storm.

So, here I sit and bitch about winter. There’s nothing I can do about it except to wait for spring and warmer weather. In the meantime, I’ll join that growing list of people like my friends Jason and Paul at Radio First in Port Huron and my step-mother Helen in Zeyphrhills, Florida who hate winter just as much as I do and are counting down the days to the start of Tiger spring training in Lakeland.

I can hear the music playing in my head as I speak:

We’re all behind our baseball team…

Go get ‘em Tigers.

World series bound and picking up steam…

Go get ‘em Tiger.

They’ll be joy in Tiger-town

We’ll sing you a song

When the Bengals bring the pendant home --

Where it belongs…

We’re all behind our baseball team…

Go get ‘em,,,

Detroit Tigers…

Go get ‘em Tigers…


Monday, February 08, 2010

My Name Is Rich Frost And I Didn't Watch The Super Bowl

I think the newspaper reports said that some 108 million people watched the Super Bowl on Sunday evening. The newspaper stories go on to say that this was a record breaking Super Bowl with more people watching the game than had watched the final episode of “M*A*S*H”. That’s a whole lot of people – and believe it or not – I wasn't one of them. Yup, My name is Rich Frost and I didn't watch the Super Bowl – I didn't go to any Super Bowl parties – and I didn't have a bet on the final score or who was going to win. Incredible, huh?

If you think that it’s easy to be out of the “Super Bowl” loop – think again. If you don’t believe me – next year I want you to try avoid the Super Bowl hype and influence that is all around you during those last couple of weeks leading up to the game. You pick up a newspaper – there’s all of the Super Bowl stories and next to the stories are ads with people trying to associate their products and services to the big game. When are retailers going to realize that you can have a Super Bowl Sale on Super Bowl Sunday? People want to watch the game – they don’t want to shop…oh well.

Not only was I not one of the 108 million eyes tuned to the Super Bowl – I also didn't get to see or even hear one minute of a half-time show featuring “The Who”. Did I miss anything? I don’t think so. There’s nothing really sexy about a sixty-plus lead singer in a rock n’ roll band swinging around a microphone singing, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” and shouting that “We won’t fooled again!” C’mon!!!! Who are the Who singing about – they’re all old enough to have oatmeal mush and drool coming out of their mouths in some rock n’ roll nursing home – why are they doing a half-time show at the Super Bowl?

How did I avoid not getting caught in all of the hype on Super Bowl Sunday? Well…you can have your year and a half and three year old grand children spend the day with you. The little ones are good teachers for adults when it comes to things to not give a damn about. You see, grand children are more concerned about whether Grandma and Grandpa have a pantry that’s well stocked with chocolate donuts and cheese puffs; and they’d rather be watching “Dora the Explorer” or “Sponge Bob Square Pants” than watch a overpaid jock readjusting his cup in between plays. I’m sure that once they get older – they’ll change their views about the Super Bowl…but for right now…you could douse John Madden with gasoline and set him on fire on the sidelines and the grand kids wouldn't bat an eye.

There’s another way to avoid the hype of Super Bowl Sunday….you could grab a book and sit in your favorite chair and get lost in some of the great works of the classic authors. J. D. Salinger died recently – you could crack open a copy of “Catcher in the Rye “and read it – while 108 million other people are tuned into the football game on CBS. You could…and like me…you probably didn't.

I shouldn't admit what I was doing when the Super Bowl was being played – because you’ll only laugh --- and dare I say – call me the biggest pussy on the planet earth. Yup, while the Super Bowl was being played – my girlfriend and I were sitting comfortably in front of the television set watching an episode of “Chopped” that I had recorded off of the Food Network on the DVR. After a new “Chopped” champion was crowned – our attention went to a two-hour movie – not HBO, Showtime or Starz – nope – we sat and watched a totally unforgettable two-hour movie about a woman with amnesia who was having some doubts about her “fiancĂ©” that aired on the Lifetime Movie Network. (I told you that you’d call me a pussy.) It was one of those bad movies that you had to sit through to the conclusion, because you know that the people making it knew it was as bad as you thought it was.

Yup…I totally avoided the Super Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday. And all of the commercials that aired during the Super Bowl game – I didn't get to see any of those either – including the controversial abortion ad. Well, life goes on, they say. They’re will be other Super Bowls. I’ll have my chance next year to join the millions who get taken in by all of the hype and hoopla and maybe I’ll even give a damn about the game….but this year wasn't going to be one of those years.

My name is Rich Frost and I didn't watch the Super Bowl.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Day I Took On City Hall

(Photo of Flint City Hall from Google Earth)

I was a bit of a nerd growing up in the city of Flint, Michigan in the late 60s and 70s. It’s not that I was the kind of nerd that wore glasses with thick ass lens that were held together with bent paper clips and scotch tape. And, I wasn't one of those nerds who had all of his writing pens neatly arranged in his pocket protector, but I was a nerd nonetheless. On Monday nights, when most kids my age would be listening to people like Wild Willie on WTAC, I would be tuned in to listening to Flint City Council meetings that aired live on WFDF. (And for you trivia buffs -- The council proceedings lead-in show on WFDF was the syndicated "Joe Pyne Show") Did I understand anything that I heard that was taking place at City Hall? Hell no, but I listened anyway.

Eventually my interest in City Council got a point where I had to see a City Council meeting for myself. I couldn't tell you what was discussed at that first meeting that I attended, but I got to see my government at work, along with the added attraction of watching the media cover the event. WFDF’s Les Root was always there covering the meetings and if there was something big going on – the news cameras from Channel 12 and Channel 5 were there to film it. (Yeah, film – this was long before video tape and live camera shots.)

The one part of the meetings that I enjoyed would be when the Mayor would open the floor to the citizens to address the council. It was the only time during the meeting that seemed real to me – there was none of that structured “rules of order” – it was a chance to people vent their views in front of their elected officials. Occasionally someone said something that would piss off someone on the council, but most of the time the people who came up to the microphone had positive things to say – unlike the night that I spoke before the council..

I was in 10th grade at Flint Northern and I saw a police car that had a bumper sticker on it that read: “You don’t like the police, the next time you’re in trouble call a hippie”. There was a couple of reasons why I got angry when I saw that bumper sticker on a Flint police car – first, the bumper sticker singled out a group of people unfairly and secondly, I didn’t think that the bumper of a taxpayer-funded police car should have a bumper sticker on it promoting anything. So, along with a couple of friends there for support, I nervously spoke my peace before the Flint City Council. There was not one comment pro or con from any member of the Council, but I quickly discovered that my comments didn’t fall of deaf ears.

You can imagine the surprise on my face the next day when I read the Flint Journal and they printed a pretty lengthy summary of my comments before the Flint City Council. The Flint Journal reporting back then not only included my name, but my address as well. Everybody I knew in school saw the article and for a day or so I was a mini-celebrity for speaking my mind.

I quickly discovered that other people read the article in the Flint Journal, too – because I also got a couple of letters in the mail. The first letter that I received was in support of what I said, but not the second letter. About two pages in length – the second letter was unsigned and hate-filled with the writer somehow figuring out that I was a “nigger lover on welfare” just from the comments that I made before the Council. And, if that wasn’t enough – the writer let me know that if I didn't like this country that I should move to Canada. As funny as I thought that unsigned letter to be, I also kept in mind that this person also knew where I lived.

Nothing was ever done about the bumper sticker, and maybe it was a coincidence, but it wasn’t too long after that that the Fraternal Order of Police (or some other group like that) had billboards put up all over town showing police in a positive light. Did my little speech accomplish anything? Probably not, but at least I had my say and I discovered first hand that you might not be able to take on city hall – but you can let them know how you feel – even when you’re just a nerdy kid in 10th grade.