Monday, April 28, 2008

STANDING UP

I was half asleep coming home on a train with one of my best friends Saturday night. We were in NYC at a goodbye celebration for another friend who’s moving to CA. It was now late and we were on the last train out of the city.

I could hear the group of young people who were seated near us. One of the girls and her boyfriend were relishing in a public display in the form of an argument. At first the girl was being cute with her insults toward him. I think she was trying to get a charge out of the people sitting around her more than she was from him. I could tell she liked the attention she was drawing.

I felt myself sinking in my seat as I started to fall asleep from the rocking motion of the homebound train when I could hear the loud, arguing girl try to “out cute” herself in her insults directed at her boyfriend.
“You have AIDS” she said to him over and over. A comment like this alone is harsh and ugly. Suddenly and to my surprise, my friend literally leaped from his seat and confronted the pair. Outraged he protested the exchange of insults. He told them they were way out of line with their comments and to stop. Now you have to know my friend to really appreciate this. He’s a schoolteacher that has a pretty cool demeanor.

The girl had a look of total shame. Her boyfriend, trying to save face told my friend to sit down. My friend stood his ground and again told them, in his most intimidating “schoolteacher voice” that their comments were out of line and unacceptable. You could suddenly hear a pin drop on the crowded car.

My friend’s point couldn’t be argued with. This was one of those moments when someone took a stand and spoke out against something they believed wasn’t right. He refused ti sit idle as these ugly comments were being made. He later told me that he shocked himself. He said he couldn't sit quietly anymore and listen to the thoughtless comments. It also showed that you never know who’s around you in public and how your comments could offend and even hurt someone.

A moment later the girl approached our seats and with tears running down her face as she apologized. She said she didn’t think of how cruel her comments were. She told us that she knows someone with cancer and that she woul feel horrible if she heard people making fun of them and that she was ashamed of her actions.

As she left the train at her stop the girl looked back at us with tears still in her eyes and smiled as my friend returned the smile and blew her a kiss. I think at that moment we realized that this train ride may have changed this girl for the good, even if it's in a small way.

My mom always told me "You are who your friends are." Unlike the family you're born with, you choose your friends and they choose you. I believe in my heart that I have an incredible circle of friends. They’re a group of people that I’m proud to call not only friends, but my family. They are my friends because of their heart and integrity. This is one of those times where that point shines bright.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's Halloween...no wait... It's ComicCon NYC 2008

They say that there's a million things to do in NYC. Today I found a doozy. My friend convinced me to go to the World Series of Comics.. Comic Con NYC. This is like Geek Christmas to some people. To others it's just plain old fun. Now they describe this as an event where all the comic book artist, writers, toy makers, sci-fi makers all get together and show off their work. How I describe it is a Revenge Of The Nerds ala Trekkies meets The Comic Book Guy. This is a once a year event...THANK GOD.

As I made my way into the Jacob Javitz Center I was met by a line that held THOUSANDS of waiting people (no joke). As we slowly crept into this massive building I took in the sites and sounds of dorkism. From the dozens of Storm Troopers to Elf Women to men wearing superhero costumes, enjoying the fact they found under-roos that fit them and being brave enough to wear them in public. The funny part was how much these people were getting into these characters. You could see some of them had that "I believe in the force" look in their eyes.

Once I got into the Javitz Center it became more entertaining. I saw some middle aged man dressed as a Star Trek Officer. I bumped into so many Spidermen that I wish I had a can of bug spray on me. I even came across a whiskey bottle carrying Banana. I still have no clue about that one.

One cool highlight was having some guy strike up a conversation with me while I was in line. It turned out to be actor Seth Green. The bad part of that was it was the first 2 minutes I was in the building..and it was down hill from there.

Now I'm being a little harsh on this whole thing but I'm only poking fun. I actually had an OK time. I think a lot of us have some geek inside of us. I met some incredibly talented artist for DC Comics and Marvel Comics. And everyone there was having a good time so all the power to them.

As for me, it was one of those once in a life time things. I say that because if I did it again I'd probably die. (OK, that was a little harsh).

Here are some pics from the day. The red headed guy is Seth Green by the way. Check out the Banana Man also.

(click on the pictures to see full size)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

With You: The Mark Bingham Story

My life has taken me in all direction. I've seem some incredible things and met some fascinating people but two years ago this month I met a group of people that forever changed my life in a wonderful way.

Alice Hoglan is the mother to United Flight 93 hero Mark Bingham. Mark was one of 4 men who was believed to have rallied the passengers of United Flight 93 after their plane was hijacked on September 11, 2001. These 40 people gave their lives stopping the terrorists on their hijacked plane from crashing into out nation's capital.
Mark inspired me to take a step that was more like a jump without a net. But as my toes left the cliff I realized that Mark's mom Alice and his friends Joe and Todd would be my net and help me land on my feet more grounded then I ever thought possible.

A documentary is being made about Mark's life and with great honor I was ask to be part of it. It's still in the work but it's expected to be released in early 2009. I was sent a trailer to the documentary about this extraordinary man.
Chick the play button and check it out. (I'm the guy in the gray t-shirt and blue cap with Mark's mom Alice on the rugby field)

video
Director and Producer: Scott Gracheff is an Emmy-Award-winning documentary filmmaker.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Picture That Makes Me Smile

I was going through some of my pictures and I came across this one that makes me laugh every time I see it. It's of my best friend Joe's two daughters, Molly and Kelsey. I left my camera at their house one day and when I got the camera back I found this picture on it. I couldn't stop laughing.

Joe and his family (Cynthia, Colby, my godson, Molly and Kelsey) moved away to South Carolina a couple years ago. Even tough I see them several times a year I still miss them all so much. Now and then it helps to bust out the pictures for a good laugh. I'll see you guys in May! I can't wait.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Some Spring

My friend Kenny who is an incredible photographer decided to send me some "spring" and I'd thought I'd share it with everyone else. Thanks Kenny!