Conceived above a saloon, delivered into this world by a masked man identified by his heavily sedated mother as Captain Video, raised by a kindly West Virginian woman, a mild-mannered former reporter with modest delusions of grandeur and no tolerance of idiots and the intellectually dishonest.


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Saturday, December 14, 2002

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear...

One of the things that made waking up in the morning in Pittsburgh barely tolerable was a morning radio show hosted by Larry O'Brien and John Garry.

Fans of the duo are ecstatic (well, okay, mildy enthused) over the release of CD that features some of the pair's greatest radio moments, including the adventures of Mister Science and Little Jimmy, Lieutenant Macho, Beauty and Kittyface and Tethers the Clown.

Larry O'Brien (the short one), explains it best:

"When the O'Brien & Garry morning show first emerged Monday, March 10, 1975, on the now-defunct 1250/WTAE (R.I.P.), our broadcast was the only two-person morning show in town. In those days the Pittsburgh market was ranked tenth nationally, the steel mills were booming, both the Pirates and Steelers were winners, Pitt was a year away from a national football championship and all seemed well.

"Now, all these years later, virtually every morning show in town has multiple hosts, many of them actual high school graduates, and these days Pittsburgh is no longer even in the top 20 cities nationally, the once mighty mills are mainly gone and the Pirates are happy to have not lost 100 games. Pitt, the Steelers and Pens are all headed in the right direction, but generally the glory of the 70's and 80's has yet to be re-captured. Now we cheerfully accept the blame for pioneering this two people on the radio in the morning thing, and while we deny the morning team concept's connection with negative municipal events, we nonetheless offer, as an atoning intellectual tonic, this fine compact disc, produced at enormous cost and with exhaustive effort.

"As you journey through this audio adventure, you'll meet again with many of the imaginary and semi-imaginary characters and situations, the collective impact of which either partially explains the O'Brien & Garry success, or perhaps explains why we got the boot as soon as we did.

"On the other side of the blame coin, bigtime credit and heartfelt thanks go to a great gaggle of characters (real ones) who through the years fought through blizzards, school closings and corporate obstacles to do a lot of heavy lifting, characters without whom the O'Brien & Garry Show simply would not have happened. The incomplete list is headed by (wait 'til he sees this!) the market's best General Manager ever, Ted J. Atkins, the beloved Cap'n Showbiz, then on to great Program Directors like Mark Roberts and Dave Dillon, crack newshawks like Alan Boal, Kathy (Newsette) Kerestes and Joe DeStio. Clearly no one's impact exceeded that of our long-suffering Producer, the withdrawn, self-effacing Intrepid Scout, whose real name remains a closely held secret. Nearly every sports guy in town had some time with us...the immortal Myron Cope for eight years, plus Stan Savran, John Steigerwald, Beano Cook, Jim Colony and more. A lot of these people deny the association, but we have witnesses!

"We hope you know the biggest thank you goes to you for letting us be even a small part of a few of your mornings. Please know you were a big part of ours.

"So pop this gem into your rig, and if you like it we'll find out and maybe crank out another one. There are still a few tape-filled cardboard boxes to go through."

Larry retired to Hilton Head, South Carolina, where he golfs every day and creates some of the best damned answering machine messages you've ever heard ("Hi, this is Larry. I can't answer the phone now because I'm busy caroling...oh, Carol!"). John still does announcing from time to time while puttering around (in a manly way, of course) his palatial estate in Pittsburgh's far eastern suburbs.

Buy their CD, (http://www.buythiscd.com/htmpages/artists/obrien/obrimenu.htm) and tell them I sent you. Maybe the guys still have a couple Wands of Existential Despair they can wave in your direction.

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Friday, December 13, 2002

Friday the 13th

For reasons which may or not be related to this date, I'm running quite late and don't have the time to write anything.

Suggest you amuse yourself by going here.

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Thursday, December 12, 2002

Sugar and spice and everything nice...

Little girls, like butterflies, need no excuse.-Robert A. Heinlein

Our daughter had her sonogram last night, and based on an analysis of the procedure, our first grandchild will either be a girl or a bitter disappointment to the ladies. More accurately, she was told there's an 85% chance it's a girl. The position of the umbilical cord made it difficult to be absolutely sure.

I have to admit I was hoping for a girl. Girls are less stressful for fathers and grandfathers. You don't have to worry too much about being a role model; you just have to appreciate her innate cuteness and possess the flexibility required to be wrapped around her little finger, skills I mastered thanks to mom-to-be Sara.

The kid's lucky.

Not many children have an angel for a mother.

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Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Stayin' Alive

New York now leads the world's great cities in the number of people around whom you shouldn't make a sudden move.-David Letterman

Perhaps I'm mellowing as I age, but New York doesn't intimidate me as much as it used to.

If you get out on the streets of Manhattan and walk around, you discover the infamous New York assertiveness is just a survival skill. When there are that many bodies in motion, you have to stay alert and you have to keep pushing on. People who use Walkmen while crossing streets amaze me. You need all five senses to maneuver in this town.

It takes a couple days to get my metabolism cranked up so I can deal with the city. I think the pace of a metropolis is directly related to the size. Perhaps that's why this visit isn't that traumatic. After a couple years in Chicago, I'm semi-acclimated. Chicago to New York is doable. Pittsburgh to New York is a killer.

These folks are tough. The impending transit strike and its potential chaos doesn't seem to faze many here. Oh, they're making plans for alternate transportation, but otherwise they're not obsessing about it.

Today there's a "gridlock alert" in effect because of all the people who go to Broadway matinees on Wednesday, in addition to the extra traffic caused by holiday traffic and tourists.

I'm really curious to see how much worse it can get. Issuing a gridlock alert in Manhattan is like issuing a stupidity alert for a Pauly Shore movie.

Anyway, you gotta love a town where you can walk 50 feet from your hotel room at 4 am and get a Wall Street Journal and a Carmello bar.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Big Applesauce

Manhattan's a mosh pit. You jump into it in the morning, close your eyes, grit your teeth, and hope you're still breathing when it tosses you out at the end of the day.

That said, it's a fun place. The key is to not be intimidated. Be bold. Release your inhibitions. Sure, back in Chicago or Pittsburgh they may frown on clubbing the guy who stole your cab over the head with your umbrella, but this is New York. Revel in the moment.

I've never had a boring cab ride in the city. Back in February on the way to JFK, my cabby actually got out of the car and threatened a driver who had cut him off three miles earlier.

Last night on the way uptown on Third Avenue, my cabby and the one to our right engaged in a contest right out of Ben Hur. All that was missing were the whips and the Miklos Roza score. My cabby won the contest, depositing me at Third and 52nd. Aside from a slight cut incurred by grazing against the hubcap blades when disembarking, I was none the worse for the trip.

If someone wants to make a fortune in the New York taxi accessories business, just come up with a device that blows the horn every time the gas or brake pedal is touched. It's almost as if New York cabs are propelled and braked by the sound waves generated by their horns.

Lovely corner room in the hotel, with a 180 degree view of the city. But the room heaters were apparently scavenged from late 60s Volkswagen beetles. There are two temperature settings: frigid and subtropical.

No matter. I have a high-speed net connection in the room and all the ice I need.

Ah, life is good. Aside from the pending transit workers strike, which will cost the city $100 million a day and make the daily 3 mile trip to the client site and back a real challenge.

Time to sharpen the umbrella.

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Sunday, December 08, 2002

On the road again

Whenever I prepare for a journey I prepare as for death. Should I never return, all is in order. That is what life has taught me.-Katherine Mansfield

Or, in other words, make sure to take out the garbage before you call for the cab to the airport.

I don't know what it is about December. I always seem to be on the road then. Two years ago I was stuck in St. Louis when a snow storm diverted the plane from Pittsburgh to Chicago. Last year I was in Germany. All I know is this is the second consecutive year I'm going to miss the company Christmas party.

On the plus side, if you have to go to New York, Christmas is a good time to do it. The lights, the music, the smell of barbecued pretzels and falafel in the street. What a town. With apologies to Conan O'Brien, where else can you see a guy in a turban wearing a Mets jacket working in a lesbian bookstore?

If Chicago is New York on Xanax, New York is Chicago on crystal meth.

Time to get packing, literally.

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So there.  
The kgb@kgb.com e-mail address is now something other than kgb@kgb.com saga.
kgbreport.com used to be kgb.com until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up kgb.com and adopting kgbreport.com created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the kgb.com domain name in 1993, and had since that time used kgb@kgb.com as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that kgb@kgb.com was no longer kgb@kgb.com but rather kgbarkes@gmail.com which is longer than kgb@kgb.com and more letters to type than kgb@kgb.com and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than kgb@kgb.com but actually just as functional as kgb@kgb.com? I sent e-mails from the kgb@kgb.com address to just about everybody I knew who had used kgb@kgb.com in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the kgb@kgb.com change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which kgb@kgb.com was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for kgb@kgb.com would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that kgb@kgb.com no longer is the kgb@kgb.com they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. kgb@kgb.com. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...

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