Archive for Aging

The Best First Job I’ll Ever Have

Making television is fun, especially when you’re also making miracles.

NBC’s George to the Rescue is more than just an Emmy-winning human interest/home renovation TV series. It’s a living, breathing organism greater than the sum of its hearts. While nobody has a bigger heart than our peerless leader, George Oliphant, our team’s collective heartbeat is what makes this little show the biggest miracle I’ll ever be a part of.

IMG_9535

Eight seasons of surprises, smiles, and tears reveal how passion and purpose can dramatically enrich countless lives. To date, we’ve spearheaded and showcased nearly ninety transformations in ten states for deserving families facing physical, emotional, financial, and spatial hardships. These families often include public servants who regularly give back to their respective communities. Whether supporting a three-time Purple Heart recipient in Compton, a loving mother/teacher battling ALS, or a recently paralyzed olympic gold medalist, every new George to the Rescue story extends a professional narrative that feels uniquely personal.

Although our remarkably lean and scrappy production team faces budgetary, manpower, and technical challenges, our desire to illuminate goodness consistently drives us towards greatness. Accolades are humbling (our recent trip to the national Daytime Emmys felt like Gonzaga’s bittersweet 2017 Final Four appearance), but belonging to such an eclectic and inclusive workplace family is a special gift.

Gifts are really what make the magic happen. Substantial donations of materials, talent, and time (from local/loyal contractors, designers, town officials, suppliers, and viewers) help create reality TV that’s surreal. Unrivaled generosity and selflessness allow us to simultaneously build lasting experiences, homes, and relationships.

It sometimes feels like I have a symbiotic relationship with this endeavorI joined as a 2010 summer intern, just as George to the Rescue was transitioning from an existing show segment to a standalone program. Since being hired as the production assistant in 2011, I’ve gradually evolved into a self-sufficient producer and adult. George, my production mentor/supervisor (Andrew Scerbo), our resourceful editors, steadfast executives, and visionary shooters have taught me more about creativity, empathy, leadership, self-reflection, and willpower than I could ever imagine. I try to appreciate, apply, and spread their values every single day. I know I’ll continue to do so for the rest of my career and life.

While it’s impossible to foresee how much longer my George to the Rescue run will continue, I’m eternally grateful for the opportunity to make meaningful entertainment that illuminates humanity’s most essential values - compassion and togetherness. This rare ability to positively influence culture is hard to walk away from.

The best first job I’ll ever have will surely be a tough act to follow.

 

Stadium Decadium

“Clean it up, Johnny.”

At the 2:32 mark of Stadium Arcadium‘s heavy, bass driven jam “Readymade,” Anthony Kiedis fortunately wasn’t asking lead guitarist John Frusciante to kick another drug habit. While getting clean has certainly played a significant role in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ improbable evolution, longevity, and success, collective sobriety gave this 2006 request new meaning. Kiedis was instead directing the esoteric axeman to sweep in with the kind of beautifully filthy solo that defines the California quartet’s landmark double album, which celebrates its tenth birthday on May 9th.

Although Frusciante left the band for weirder pastures in 2009, this twenty-eight-song collection is undoubtedly one of his (and the group’s) masterpieces. 1991′s Blood Sugar Sex Magik and 1999′s Californication may be more widely renowned (2002′s By The Way will always be my personal favorite), but the eclectic Stadium Arcadium comprehensively illuminates the musical and metaphysical extremes the Chili Peppers (in all of their various reincarnations) have experienced and shared for over three decades.

 

 

For me (and several of my best/oldest friends), Stadium Arcadium is a unique time capsule. No other record transports me back to such a specific era, place, and feeling. The record always evokes the ambiguity, innocence, and fun that defined my most formative high school summers.

“Charlie” and “Tell Me Baby” remind me of sucking at beer pong. Frusciante’s “Wet Sand” solo returns me to a frenetic Hawaiian pool party that now feels like a Project X prequel. “Death of a Martian” weirdly puts me back in the driver’s seat of “Clive Owen” (my 1994 325 coupe named after the star of BMW’s The Hire) during a crazy Long Island storm. These moments weren’t exactly adolescent checkpoints, like prom or graduation, but they are far more representative of what makes youthful mundanities quite extraordinary.

While this epic work may be impossible for the Chili Peppers to replicate (2011′s Frusciante-less I’m With You is solid, but forgettable), the band’s recent album announcement and single release filled my ears and heart with joy and hope.

Stadium Arcadium may be ten-years-old, but revisiting it is one of the few things makes me feel like I haven’t aged a day.

 

Throwback to the Future

Remember when it was cool to be retro? I sure do. Growing up on the Beatles, Converse, Nick at Nite, and Larry Bird highlight tapes made me feel generations ahead of my time. As a kid, I used to love chatting with my friends’ parents (perhaps even more than with my friends themselves) because it was exciting to bridge our age gaps through nostalgic dialogue. Referencing Lennon-McCartney and Lenny-Squiggy set me apart from others my age who were more familiar with Evan & Jaron and Keenan & Kel. Sporting “Dr. J’s” and a #33 Celtics jersey gave me character, and made me feel like a man among boys wearing Sambas and the Bulls # 23.

The only reason worth watching "Laverne & Shirley"

Nowadays, being old-school paradoxically means being with the times. Retro style isn’t truly “retro” anymore, and it often feels painfully uncool. When everyone including your eighth grade sister rocks several colors of low-top Chuck Taylor’s, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate our age’s love of all things past. Throwback jersey-filled stadiums, Journey sing-alongs, and high school chicks in Ramones’ t-shirts all make me want to vomit and immediately torch my vinyl record and baseball card collections.

I (REALLY) Wanna Be Sedated!!!

My generation is relatively apolitical, non confrontational, and cleanly, so why is it that we all want to dress like punks and hippies!  Why do we play “Beatles Rock Band” and quote  Across the Universe, when many of us would likely confuse George Harrison with the guy who played Han Solo (I’m right now picturing a future YouTube video called “I am the Wookie”).

"George" Harrison Ford

Perhaps we love what once was because we fear the uncertainties of what’s coming. Or maybe we find security with past styles in order to mask our age’s apparent lack of substance. I fervently doubt most of today’s music, TV, films, clothing, and automobiles will possess similar staying power as those we celebrate from prior times.

It’s scary to think that my generation isn’t contributing much worthwhile and long-lasting culture to the future. Still, it is probably more frightening to believe we are doing so! If my children grow up listening to the Dave Matthews Band, watching Gossip Girl, and wearing corny rubber bracelets around their wrists, I’ll feel partially responsible for cheating them of the sheer retro awesomeness my parents’ generation passed on to my peers and I.

Maybe throwing things back a bit has its perks, however. By continuing to follow trends of the ’60s, ’70s, and early ’80s, my generation can make history forget that we’ve never really had a distinctive cultural identity of our own.

Perhaps it’s impossible to establish a unifying, representational image for a generation so absorbed in the past. Our identity crisis is also complex due to addictive social networking and new media allowing individuals to strategically manipulate the ways they are viewed by others (as a blogger, “Tweeter”, and Facebook user, I’m as guilty as anyone). True individuality is hard to notice within collective networks, making it even more difficult for unique people to stand out and inspire positive cultural reform. Consequently, many revert back to older forms of expression (classic rock music, iconic images) to share how they truly feel.

As much as it sometimes pains me to see retro become so commonplace, I’ll have to bite my tongue and continue donning my “Larry Legend” attire quietly. After all, I believe John Lennon inspired many throwback t-shirts that boldly read “Give Peace a Chance.”

Imagine...all the t-shirts!

On Aging

In the classic action movie Lethal Weapon, film legend Danny Glover famously declared  I’m too old for this shit!” On Monday evening,I couldn’t help but share this sentiment.
Penn and his silent sidekick Teller

Penn and his silent sidekick Teller

While attending a charity basketball event at Madison Square Garden with my buddy Zach, I was lucky enough to meet three of my favorite New York Knicks who were graciously donating their time to a worthy cause. I first encountered 43-year-old former Knick Anthony Mason, who appears to be strictly adhering to The Charles Barkley Post-Retirement Diet.   I then met 22-year-old rising star Wilson Chandler, a man of few words, who lets his game do the talking (Simply put, he makes the magician Teller seem chatty).

Fortunately, the third Knick I met was more engaging. Danilo Gallinari, the 20-year-old Italian chosen sixth in last year’s NBA Draft, was quite personable. Zach and I spoke to Danilo about the upcoming season and his summer rehabilitation program (the nearly 7- foot-tall “small forward” played in only 28 games of his rookie season due to severe back problems). Gallinari told us that he was feeling much better and that he was optimistic about the team’s chances next season (Hey, at least someone is).

IMG_0689_2

Zach, Myself, & Danilo Gallinari at Madison Square Garden.

When it was time to go, we decided to ask Danilo if we could take a photo with him (see above). We didn’t think it would be a big deal, and neither did the young Knick, who gladly stood up (making me look shorter than Danny DeVito) and smiled alongside us. It’s always nice to have your photo taken with a celebrity. But never before had we asked to have our pictures taken with one who was born in the same year as us!

As a kid you worship your heroes (many of whom are your elders). Your musical icons are gods, and you aspire to be your favorite action heroes and sports stars (The aforementioned Danny Glover has actually been both for me…in addition to his work in Lethal Weapon, who can forget his inspirational portrayal as baseball manager George Knox in Angels in the Outfield ?)

Me and my childhood hero Danny Glover back in 1996.

Me and my childhood hero Danny Glover back in 1996.

But what happens when one day the people occupying these roles are younger than you. Is there no more poignant symbol of the aging process?

As a soon-to-be college junior, I am moving closer to the true beginning of the rest of my life. Sure, growing older has its perks. Increased freedom and the chance to confront new challenges is exciting. Yet adulthood’s differences and uncertainties make it frightening. It seems like everything you gain with age is balanced out by some kind of loss. Yeah, I can’t wait to find out where my career pursuits take me… but I don’t want my professional advances met with my hairline’s regression!  I’m also eager to see the world, but I don’t want to have to do it through a pair of thick glasses!

I wish I could comprehensively share my feelings about aging through writing. Unfortunately, I just don’t have that much experience with this process. And perhaps that’s where my problem lies. Maybe I’m simply too young to be so pensive about this subject.

I guess all I can do now is heed the advice of beloved singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett, and accept growing older… but never up.