Archive for April, 2008

Who is Bobby Sherman?
April 30, 2008

    Tonight on the 6PM news I mentioned how Denise is awaiting the return of warm weather so she can go walking outside with Bobby Sherman playing in her headphones.    She immediately broke into a rendition of “Julie, Julie, Julie, do you love me.”    Our producer Jamie Mascia,  a mere child at 27, then told us she had no idea who Bobby Sherman was.

Bobby Sherman is very much alive.  He turns 65 this summer, but in 1970 he was the most popular teen idol in the land.   He was Denise’s first schoolgirl crush along with Davy Jones of the Monkees.   “Bobby Sherman was just the neatest and cutest,” Denise told me tonight, with just a tinge of swooning in her voice.  She and her three sisters used to play his records over and over again at their home in Rockville, Maryland.    These girls born in the Eisenhower era were trendy tweens in the times of Vietnam and Nixon.  

Bobby Sherman was also an inspiration of sorts for boys.   I started taking guitar lessons around then and remember having long hair like Bobby Sherman and  David Cassidy.   I still have that first small guitar that was almost too big for my 7 year old fingers.    I’ll post a picture of me with my Bobby Sherman “do” as soon I can.   These guys were cool and the girls loved them.   The wild pants, the loud shirts, and of course, the hair.

For me and other boys in my generation , Susan Dey of the Partridge Family was the dream girl along with Marcia on the Brady Bunch.    

Easy come, easy go. 

UPDATE:   Denise heard from Bobby Sherman!

and Denise was contacted by a man who runs an organization in Los Angeles that Bobby Sherman is very much a part of it.  Here it is:

What is this?
April 30, 2008

 House for Senate?  Are they talking about me?

Vice President Dodd?
April 29, 2008


This week our guest on Face the State is Senator Chris Dodd, and he was refreshingly candid.   Most politicians dance around the question when asked if they would want to be Vice President, but not Dodd.   Dodd is considered a possible running mate for Senator Barack Obama, so I asked him what he would do if asked.   You can see his answer this Sunday morning on Face the State.   He also talks about running for governor in 2010, his friendship with Senator Joe Lieberman, and Hillary Clinton’s trustworthiness.   I’ll see you on Sunday.

UConn vs. Notre Dame
April 27, 2008

On the April 27th edition of Face the State we talk about the controversy over whether the UConn football team should play Notre Dame.

First, this is an amazing opportunity for the Huskies to play the Fighting Irish, the team immortalized in films like “Knute Rockne” and “Rudy.”    A host of legends have come through South Bend like Joe Montana and others.  This is the school that has been playing in bowls for generations and goes up against powerhouses like the University of Michigan.   Yes, they want to play UConn.

No one can really argue that this is not a good thing for UConn.   It would be of enormous help to coach Randy Edsall in recruiting the top talent in high school football.    The university would make money, and the prestige of playing Notre Dame would elevate the Huskies position in the football world.  The problem is Notre Dame has laid out some conditions for accepting the invitation.   No games at Rentschler.  Zippo.  Nada.   It’s too small.

What if Rentschler was expanded?   Sorry.  Notre Dame thinks the Hartford market is too small.  This is the 28th biggest television market in the country.    By the way South Bend is market 89 and Notre Dame certainly plays in smaller markets, like Lansing, Michigan, market 112.

Notre Dame wants UConn to use New Jersey and Massachusetts as their home fields.   The Meadowlands, and Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.  Notre Dame wants to showcase its brand in the Boston and New York Television markets, markets 7 and 1 respectively.    The assumption is Connecticut fans will drive the 100 miles to Foxboro and Secaucus, but Notre Dame fans in Massachusetts and New Jersey won’t drive the 100 to Rentschler.

Plus there is that Bob Kraft issue.   One of the biggest villians in Connecticut sports history owns Gillette Stadium.  He will make money off the state and the football program he jilted a decade ago.

Clearly if the Rentschler were bigger, the situation would be even stickier.   It would be all about the dissing of the Hartford market.  One of the big complaints about Hartford is that is a no-man’s land between New York and Boston, and agreeing to play in neighboring markets only plays into that argument.     So while the Notre Dame agreement may be good for UConn, it hurts your capital city and the region.

What do you think?

Please make sure to leave your city, town, and name

Bring on the nice weather!
April 22, 2008

The warm weather is finally here!    Everywhere you look spring has sprung.   If you get time this week take a trip to Bushnell Park and the grounds of your State Capitol.    Everything is in bloom and the ducks and fish and plenty of people are enjoying every minute of it.  

Spring Cleaning?
April 22, 2008

Kara and I spotted this strange sight in the West End over the weekend.   Someone had finally decided to get rid of their Christmas tree.   What’s remarkable about this  tree is the condition:   hardly any dead needles indicating it was well cared for over  the 117 days since Christmas! 

Knock down I-84
April 18, 2008

Isn’t this building beautiful?  It was the old Hartford Public High School, whose majestic towers could be seen from just about anywhere downtown.  It was a grand old building, befitting one of the oldest public high schools in the nation.   

It was demolished decades ago to build Interstate 84.   HPHS wasn’t the only architecturally significant structure torn down for an asphalt freeway.     Dozens of homes, and public buildings, entire neighborhoods were wiped out for I-84, and I-91.  One of Katharine Hepburn’s childhood homes was bulldozed for this, in fact the late actress’ autobiography “Me,” she writes about it and a candy store she frequented as a child were wiped away in the name of “progress.”

Hartford was not alone in being decimated for interstates.   It happened all over the country.    Other cities like Milwaukee and Boston have already taken major steps towards reclaiming potentially valuable land by relocating highways.   It is time for Connecticut to do the same for your capital city.

check out Heather Hegedus’ report on this:

read Tom Condon’s column on this:,0,869555.column 

Would a new arena bring back the Whalers?
April 11, 2008

This Sunday on Face the State we have a fascinating topic:   whether a new arena should be built in downtown Hartford, and whether that arena would mean the restoration of a major league sports team in Connecticut.

Our guests make up an all-star panel:    Larry Gottesdiener, CEO of Northland Investment Corporation; House Speaker James Amann; Mayor Eddie Perez, and Al Victor, President of the Whalers Fan Club.

Watch the program and let me know what you think.

Ode to my Dry Cleaner
April 10, 2008

One of the things I admire most in anyone is loyalty, and my friends and family will tell you that I am fiercely loyal.   Just recently, I reaffirmed my loyalty to my dry cleaner.  Yes, the shop that launders and presses my shirts.

First, I know someone is going to write to me asking why I don’t do my own shirts.   I did for a while.  When I worked as an anchor in Rockford, Illinois my salary was really low….and I scrimped and saved on everything.   I ironed my own shirts, even took the “typical guy short cuts” in doing so.  I would iron only the collar and the “v” in front:  the part that appeared on camera.  Everything under my suit was wrinkled!     Anyway, I hated ironing and as soon as I got my first raise I splurged, and started bringing my shirts to the dry cleaners.   I have never looked back.

I have been going to MZ cleaners on Haynes Street in downtown Hartford since I moved to Connecticut more than 15 years ago.   They’ve always done a superb job, but what kept me going there were the people who worked there.   It was owned my an elderly couple, Mr. & Mrs. Z, and their grown children worked there along with a wonderfully warm woman,  Sophie Lubka.   Mrs. Lubka is Mrs. Z’s sister.  

As I would answer questions about whether I wanted hangers or boxes or heavy or light starch, Mrs. Lubka would tell me stories about growing up in Europe.  It was a horrible childhood.  Her family was snatched by the Nazis and taken to the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.   Her entire family was put to death, with the exception of her sister, Mrs. Z.

Mrs. Lubka told me one day when they were being marched off to the gas chambers,  she and her sister noticed the Nazi guards were looking the other way, and the vicious attack dogs were out of sight.   These two  girls made a break for it, and ran into the woods, and ran and ran.  They came upon a potato field and dug up these dirty vegetables and ate them.  They were so hungry.  They pinched their cheeks to make them rpsy, and told a family they were Polish and that their house had burned down and they were homeless.  If they had admitted they were Jewish, they would have been sent back to Auschwitz and certain death. 

They came to the United States and raised families and grew a business in Hartford.    The original cleaners on Asylum Street is now part of the Goodwin Hotel, and the “new” shop (circa 1980s) is in the bottom of the CityPlace tower on Haynes Street.   Mrs. Z died around the turn of the century and Mrs. Lubka retired from the dry cleaners shortly thereafter, in 2001.  She moved to New Jersey to be closer to her children.  Kara and I both missed her stories and her interest in our lives.    We never saw her again, or so we thought.

Now that we no longer live downtown, someone suggested we find a dry cleaner closer to our new home.  I was resistant, feeling really guilty even considering cheating on my dry cleaner, but I thought it might save some time, so I went to the dry cleaner a few blocks away. 

I walked in and immediately didn’t have a good feeling.   The woman behind the counter greeted me tersely by saying “name?”    No “good morning” like you get at MZ.    I told her I was a new customer, and she said “I need your name,” as she started to type into a computer.  There is no computer at MZ, by the way.     “How do you spell House,” she asked.   I mean, really…what did I walk into?   Next she asked for my address and phone number.   I said I would rather not give my phone number,  it always seems to end up on a telemarketing list.   “I need your number if you want your shirts cleaned,” the woman stated, without even the slightest smile on her face.   I told her “I’m not getting a good feeling here, and this is just not a good fit.”   I took my shirts and drove to MZ.  

I knew I’d made the right decision, and this past weekend I got a sign that I most certainly had done the right thing.  Kara,  Helena and I went to A.C. Petersen’s for lunch and there she was…Mrs. Lubka.   She was in town visiting her son and grandchildren.  She gave us a warm hug and gushed over our daughter.   At 84, she looked just as we’d remembered.   She told us about her ambitious schedule:  trips to Israel and Florida, followed by a trip to Auschwitz this summer.     It will be her first trip there since she fled in terror more than 65 years ago.    I can’t even the imagine how emotional that journey will be for her.

Seeing Mrs. Lubka really made our day.     Her niece-in-law (is that a word?)  Jackie runs MZ cleaners now with the same disposition the company’s founders had.     They really are my dry cleaner for life. 



Dunkin or Starbucks? How about JoJo’s?
April 9, 2008

When it comes to coffee many people are either a fan of Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks.   I’m often asked to which chain my java allegiance lies.    I drink coffee from both, but my favorite isn’t either one.  

I prefer the mom and pop coffee shops, although I confess it isn’t always easy to use them exclusively.    I often go through the drive thru Starbucks in Wethersfield on my way to work, and the drive thru Dunkin’ Donuts in Rocky Hill is the closest coffee to WFSB. 

But my fave for Joe is JoJo’s, on Pratt Street in downtown Hartford.   It has that cool laid back atmosphere you might find in a place like Ann Arbor, Michigan or Greenwich Village.   Their breakfast sandwiches and pastries are awesome, though not exactly good for your abs.

Owners Kathy and Bill are wonderful.   They are from China and have a tremendous dedication to the renaissance of Hartford.  Best of all, JoJo’s is open 7 days a week, and they are open late.  

That’s what bugs me about Starbucks.   Here they are devoted to the environment,  and communities yet out of step with the billion dollars in development happening in your capital city.  In fact here is a line from the mission statement on the Starbucks website.   

       “Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.”   

With that in mind, why does the Starbucks in downtown Hartford not cater to the people of Hartford?  They are closed on Sundays, evenings, and shut their doors at 2PM on Saturday.    Hundreds of people have moved downtown in recent years.   Dunkin Donuts has opened 4 locations downtown within blocks of each other.   The tallest residential skyscraper in all of New England went up mere yards from Starbuck’s.    They are right across the street  from the perpetually busy Trumbull Kitchen.   JoJo’s is busy on weekends and evenings.   Doesn’t Starbucks want to be a part of this?  

I’ve actually seen people stare at that Starbucks on a Sunday…disappointed they can’t drop $4 on a latte on their way into a UConn game.  

More than a handful of people have complained to me about this strange Starbucks phenomenon.   On their behalf I wrote to Starbucks asking why they don’t open on special occasions, for instance First Night Hartford, when 30 thousand people are walking the streets looking for a warm beverage.    Why would Starbucks remain closed when vendors set up stands to sell coffee and hot chocolate?

        Here is the official Starbucks reponse:

Hi Dennis,
We received your email and wanted to get back to you as soon as possible. Please see a response from Starbucks below:
“The Starbucks Experience is unique and provides much more than a premium cup of coffee to our customers. Starbucks strives to be good neighbors and active contributors in the communities where they live and work. In response to the Hartford neighborhood inquiry regarding the CityPlace location’s hours, Starbucks store location hours are decided upon at the market level.  Since this location is in an office building that is closed on the weekends, Starbucks has adjusted the hours to best meet our customer needs. We are excited about the revitalization of Hartford and will continue to assess the community’s request for weekend hours. While the community grows, we hope to include additional weekend hours and be included in future events, such as these.  “





Courtney Rice

Another great place for coffee downtown is Cafe Bellini, outside the Goodwin Hotel.   Gianpaolo Bellini makes a great espresso.    I’m also a fan of Tisane in the West End.  

I’d love to hear about your favorite coffee.   The Houses are always looking for new places to check out.




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 146 other followers