Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Folly of The Follies

Here are photos from last night's 2013 Financial Follies, a benefit dinner and satirical show organized by the NYFWA (New York Financial Writers Association) at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. That's me on the bottom right, with Verizon colleague Ray McConville. I've been going for a few years, and I'm always amazed when journalists who choose not to attend simply trash the event and everything about it. Some of the Twitter comments this year were (surprise) mean-spirited. And yet, the many people who attend the event always have fun.

It's not the show -- although last year there was an entertaining rendition of "It's Raining Yen" -- it's just the energy there... and the setting (always the Friday night before Thanksgiving, seemingly always the second busiest night in Times Square)... and all the people... and ALL the laughter.

It all reminds me of the scene in "Hannah and Her Sisters" when Woody Allen's character finds meaning in his life after he wanders into a Marx Brothers movie. In just that way, my annual ticket to the Financial Follies has become my personal "Duck Soup."  Very uncool of me, I know. But just let me enjoy the show.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Life Was Easier When I Knew Everything

When I first joined NYNEX, there was a hard-drinking PR pro who headed media relations: Jack Fallon. He was Tony Pappas' boss, and he soon retired... so I only got to meet him once. It was a breakfast for new hires arranged by Ted Federici, and I remember that morning the bus from Bogota (where Nancy and I lived at the time) was stuck in traffic for nearly an hour. So, even though I always arrived at work early, I arrived at this breakfast gathering a few minutes late.

I received a withering stare from Mr. Fallon, and an admonition later from Mr. Federici that it would have been better not to have shown up at all rather than to have arrived late. But I don't remember being too concerned about this, or being too impressed by Jack Fallon... after all, I was young and already knew everything.

For example, I knew that my Dad had worked with Fallon, and that he had been a reporter before joining the Bell System as a PR executive. Also, just a few months ago, John Bonomo passed along a note that Fallon had died at the age of 89.

Fast forward to earlier tonight. Nancy and I were watching a great PBS special on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. It focused on the inner workings of the news coverage of the event, and was even narrated by George Clooney.

As I'm watching this, the name "Jack Fallon" was mentioned -- and it turns out that this Jack Fallon -- the same Jack Fallon I had met at 1095 Ave. of the Americas -- was the UPI Dallas bureau chief that day, and he played a significant, historic role in the coverage of the assassination. You could look it up.

If I had known then what I know now, I would have left the house at least two hours early that morning in 1986.

And, just perhaps, I can be a little more respectful of my job. Today, when a Guardian reporter sent me an email with a typo asking me to comment on some complicated issue at 3:20 p.m., I tweeted, "Just got a media request from someone with a 3 p.m. deadline today. Excuse me while I travel back in time."

And then tonight, I did.