Archive for the ‘mullets’ Category

The Pontiac Dentura
October 14, 2013


The cheapest car I ever bought was this very used 1973 Pontiac Ventura, that was as red as a tomato with a white top. It wasn’t a vinyl top, but rather a glossy painted white roof. This was a stripper of a model that featured vinyl seats and a vinyl floor. No carpeting, but that option delete made by the original owner during the Watergate years came in mighty handy for me. Read on.

I bought the Ventura when I was college in the 1980s for $350 and it had well over 100,000 miles. There was some rot and rust, but nothing I couldn’t fix with some Bondo. I patched a few holes, painted over the filler, added pinstripes, and a cassette player and I had the perfect campus cruiser.


The Pontiac Ventura was fairly rare in its day. Even though it was a rebadged Chevrolet Nova, which also spawned the Buick Apollo and Oldsmbobile Omega, you didn’t see too many of them on the road. Mine was unique and that’s what I loved it. It went on to have quite a history.

It began when I had a carload of college friends and we were heading back to campus after a night out. A friend in the backseat apparently had too much to drink and threw up onto a girl’s lap and because there were four people in that second row, she had little space to avoid what had to be one of the grossest things to ever happen to her. He was seated directly behind me and then proceeded to hurl again, only this time he tried to cover his mouth to protect the vomit-drenched babe to his right. Instead he created a fountain of spew, and his regurgitated Pabst Blue Ribbon-soaked chunks ended up on the back of my head, neck and shoulders. I’ll never forget it, even the Barracuda jacket I was wearing. The stench was overpowering, and we rolled down the windows in freezing weather. The next day my buddy’s task was to clean out the Ventura, a task made much easier due to the lack of carpeting. That spartan interior option made cleanup a breeze.

Not long after, my brother took the car out when I was home for Christmas break and returned it with a giant dent in the front fender and a missing hubcap. The story was he was doing wheelies in a parking lot after a snow storm and learned the hard way there are often large stationary objects buried in snow banks. When I returned to college, the Ventura was renamed the Dentura, for its giant blemish and a variation of my name. A few more dents were added over the next two years, and after being a great mode of transportation for my sophomore and junior years, the Dentura went to the junkyard.


Read about my Buick Roadmaster:

Also check this out: Remember Mercury?

Marking a Milestone
October 28, 2008

This is me back in 1988 learning how to become a reporter.    Trying to make the transition from Rick Springfield wannabe to Dan Rather wasn’t easy.    Kara calls this my “Chachi” look.   One of our graphic artists saw the picture and immediately said “Charles in Charge.”    Enough with the Scott Baio comparisons!  

After an internship at WPRI in Providence, Rhode Island, I got a paying job as assistant assignment editor at WMUR-TV in Manchester, New Hampshire.   The pay was horrible, about $13,000 a year, and the hours were worse, but the education I received there was priceless.  

Two weeks after I started, my supervisor left to work for then NH Governor John Sununu.    I got promoted to assignment manager, and got a raise of more than $2000.   Woo hoo!  I tended bar on the weekends and made more money mixing manhattans and martinis in two days than I did all week in the glamorous world of television.

I lived with my grandmother for a while to save money.  Her house was about a half hour from the station.  It was great.  I got to spend time with her, she did my laundry and on Thursday nights we watched LA Law together.    Eventually,  a reporter at Channel 9 needed a roommate so we got an apartment in Manchester.  

I immediately fell in love with the news business.  I thrived on getting new information about stories.   On election day, at 4PM thanks to exit polls that only the media see, I knew that Vice-President George Bush had beaten Massachusetts Governor Mike Dukakis in the race for president, even if it couldn’t be reported until hours later. 

Every day I was at the station by 7AM, and went through several newspapers, made beat calls, and assembled a list of assignments for our crews to cover.  I hired people, did tons of research (there was no internet then,) answered phones, all under the watchful eye of a very demanding boss.     I was off the clock around 7PM, after the evening news and a post mortem of our newscast.   By the way, lunch was at my desk.

On some days, I stayed late…on my own time, and accompanied reporters in the field so I could learn from them and try to achieve my dream.  I would write my own version of the story, the reporter would tell me how to hold a microphone, and the photographer would record what I would say.    I went to crime scenes, meetings, even a plane crash.   Many nights stayed  with the crews through their 11PM live shots, and then go home.   I sometimes even came in on a Saturday or Sunday morning where my news director Miles Resnick would often work with me in the studio.  His advice:  lose the Boston accent and get a haircut. 

Those were long days, of  “paying my dues,”   and I loved every minute of it.

 I edited a resume tape (a sample of my work) and I was all set to work for CBS news.    Seriously, I knew I’d end up in an exotic locale such  as Amarillo, Texas,  Bakersfield, California or Wheeling, West Virginia.   On Thanksgiving weekend ’88 I house sat for some friends of my parents.  I took my typewriter and typed out roughly 35 resumes and cover letters and sent them with my tapes all over America.     I ended up getting  two offers:  one in Sarasota, Florida and the other in Rockford, Illinois.     I was off to the Land of Lincoln and the rest, they say,  is history.


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