Archive for June, 2012

To The Hupmobile

June 18, 2012

Sunday June 17th, 2012 – Kenosha, WI

   I took a nice relaxing day off today to hang out with friends and enjoy life. Other than trying to help as many people as possible, that’s about all that’s even close to being important. If life is not fun, why live at all? That’s a waste of breath in my opinion. Find what fun is, and do that – a lot.

Sources of fun are different for everyone, and I find mine changing as I get older. Today was a prime example. I went to a car show in Kenosha, WI with my friend Mark Gumbinger. He loves old cars just like I do, and found out that our mutual friend Lou Rugani from WLIP had a car on display at the show. It’s a 1938 Hupmobile, which I’ve heard about a lot but never got to see it.

Today was my lucky day. The weather was as good as it gets, and Mark and I drove over to the Moose Lodge on the north side of town to check out the row of tin. There were some outstanding specimens of all kinds of car genres from the muscle variety to AMC to early models like Lou’s.

I loved trolling the aisle and just soaking up the beauty of all those pieces of mobile art. I used to want to own a fleet of show cars like Jay Leno or Jerry Seinfeld, but now that couldn’t interest me any less. I was fine with just the looking, and telling the owners how much I liked their baby.

If there’s one surefire way to make new friends, that’s it. Go to a car show and tell an owner of one of the cars on display how much you admire it, and you won’t be able to shut them up. Ask a well placed thought out question and you just may receive a dinner invite for next Thanksgiving.

I happen to be interested in old cars, so I don’t have to fake it. I can usually find some kind of angle to bond with owners whether it be engine size or paint color. I talked to dozens of owners today, and I made it a point to try and make each one beam with pride of ownership. It worked.

After the show, Lou took a bunch of us for a ride in his Hupmobile, and that was fun to watch everyone else watch him as he toured through downtown Kenosha. I thought I’d seen just about all I could see of the town, but he took us places I’d never been to and everyone had a great time.

Again, I didn’t have to be the center of attention or own any of the cars. Seeing Lou get a kick out of people enjoying his pride and joy was enough for me. We stopped and had a meal at some outdoor café I’d never been to before and it couldn’t have been a more enjoyable day for us all.

After that, I drove to WLIP myself and hosted The Mothership Connection program from 8pm to midnight. We had some interesting guests, and the four hours flew by as they tend to do when things are going well. We did receive several phone calls, so at least a few people were listening.

I have to say, if there are more enjoyable ways to spend a gorgeous day in June I have to think pretty hard as to what it could be. I really had fun, even though I didn’t make a plugged nickel to do any of it. It didn’t cost me anything either, and there was zero pressure. The vibe was just like I like it, and it was a perfect way to forget about Father’s Day and all the ugly memories I don’t want to have to revisit. Life is a blast when the days are like this, and I hope there are a lot more.

A Helpless Feeling

June 18, 2012

Saturday June 16th, 2012 – Grafton, WI

   No matter how low or out of touch I have ever felt in my life, it has never been low to the point that I can’t volunteer my time and energy to help someone else if at all possible. It’s just the right thing to do, and I try my best to give what I can for the right reasons. Nothing else matters much.

I don’t know why it’s so important to me to be of service, but it totally is. I want to be one who is known for being generous, but I can’t help thinking that’s a selfish motive. Why do I want that reputation? I don’t know. Does it make me feel better about my shortcomings? Maybe, but that’s not what motivates me to do it. I just like the vibe I get when someone receives help or pleasure.

It doesn’t even have to be anything major. Sometimes just a smile or a tiny nod of appreciation for opening a door or a sincere wave of thanks when I let someone merge in traffic can make me feel like a million bucks. I know I made a difference, minuscule as it may be. I really enjoy that.

I think that’s why I love teaching comedy classes so much. Seeing someone who wants to be a comedian more than anything get their chance to make that happen is a rush. I can feel wonderful energy coming out of the receiver, and it makes me want to do it more. It’s the purest high ever.

In a way, performing is like that. When an audience is having a good time and laughing, that is THE best feeling I’ve ever experienced. Then, when people line up to tell me how much fun they had or how hard they laughed it feels even better. In a way that’s being of service, and that’s who I am and what I want to be about. It means a whole lot more than being rich for my own benefit.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be rich though. I definitely do. I want to have enough money for the basics of life, but the rest I’ll more than likely give away. It may sound corny or sappy but I couldn’t be any more sincere. That’s why it’s so frustrating to be in the position I’m in now. All I want is to use my creative ability to make others happy. Money shouldn’t be an issue – but it is.

This morning I drove to Grafton, WI to volunteer my time to support an event called ‘Tour De Cure’ for the American Diabetes Association. It’s an annual bike ride that raises both money and awareness for the disease, and it was my pleasure to show up and offer my help. I just wish I had more to give. I met some very nice people, but I really didn’t have that much to do. I felt useless.

They were nice enough to have me speak briefly at the starting line before various groups went off on their individual rides. There were several different levels of riders, some more experienced than others. I was supposed to thank them for riding to benefit those like me who were diagnosed with the disease, and I did, but nobody there knew who I was and I felt like a complete imbecile.

This is where the power of celebrity would really help. I would want to use it to give the riders a boost, maybe make them even more excited they showed up for the cause. Instead, all I did was stand there for a couple of minutes having a bunch of people stare at me wondering who I was or why I was there. I wish I could have had some clout, as it would have been a lot more fun for all of us. I did my best, and if they ask me to show up again I’ll do it. I just wish I could help more.

A Ten Week Tease

June 16, 2012

Friday June 15th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   A bit of disappointing but not unexpected news came today as the internet outlet on which our podcast ‘The Unshow’ ran weekdays for the last ten weeks has completely ceased operations as of yesterday. I received the mass email from the program director thanking us all for our efforts.

It’s not the end of the world, but it does bum me out a little. I thought we were on to something fun and different, and I was hoping to build a fan base. My partner Jeff Schneider and I have fun doing the show, and we’ve gotten some very solid reviews from quite a few people, mostly in the comedy world. It’s great to know one’s peers enjoy what one does, but I wonder who else did?

I know not everyone liked it, but that’s the risk that’s always taken with anyone who tries to do anything different. We were like jazz musicians riffing together, and we had no idea where we’d end up on any particular show. Some were better than others, but there was usually at least some worthwhile listening in every half hour episode. We thought so anyway, and we enjoyed doing it.

Those that I got the most negative feedback from were those who are in more traditional circles and I don’t discount their input. Yes, admittedly sometimes we swore a little and crossed the line on some topics a traditional audience wouldn’t enjoy. But that’s also why a lot of people dug it.

One person I talked to told me it’s not smart to do a show like that if I want to get bookings in a corporate environment. I never really thought about it, but I think he’s right. All I’d need is one person to hear something I said as a joke on a podcast and it could lose a highly paying booking.

Personally, I don’t think it should make any difference to anybody what I do with my free time, but I know that’s not going to be the way things work. It’s like a political campaign when mud is being slung and every single parking ticket a candidate ever got is brought back into the picture.

I just want to entertain audiences. Is that too much to ask? I like being a comedian and I like to do radio shows and podcasts. I don’t want to hurt anyone or go off on any tangents that have any agendas other than entertaining an audience. That’s it. I don’t think doing it should be this hard.

I’m in a slump right now, and I’m more than a bit concerned. These are difficult times for all of us, but in entertainment it’s especially rough. We’re a disposable income product, and there’s not much of that to go around these days. And the internet isn’t helping, with so much on it for free.

Times like this make me think of Kenny Rogers. I got to meet him when I worked in Salt Lake City, and he was a down to earth nice guy. He said he had been up and down so much throughout his career that he never let himself get too high or too low. No matter which position he was in, it didn’t matter because he always knew the other was just around the corner. I never forgot that.

I’ve been down before, but I can’t remember too many droughts like this. I was usually able to find a way to bring some cabbage in from somewhere, but it’s really getting snug out there these days. Entertainment is what I really enjoy, but will I have to mop floors to pay bills? I hope not.

Contacts And Persistence

June 15, 2012

Thursday June 14th, 2012 – Milwaukee, WI

   If there’s an actual ‘secret’ to success in the entertainment business or life in general, I think it can be boiled down to just two words – contacts and persistence. And, it’s not only who a person knows but how interactive synergy can be developed to benefit both parties over the long haul.

Sometimes contacts drift in and out of one’s immediate radar over the years, but all it takes for the connection to be restarted as strongly as ever is a simple reach out phone call or email. That’s exactly what I need to do right now, and fortunately I have a vast number of good people in tow.

If nothing else, I’ve been around the block a few times and have crossed paths with some really outstanding individuals in a number of fields. Those are the people I’m looking to reconnect with now as I’m reinventing myself to compare notes and see where they are in their own life journey.

Maybe we weren’t an exact fit to work closely together in the past for whatever reason, but our circumstances have significantly changed so now may be the ideal time for us to team up. It’s not only smart to go back and rattle the cages of these people, its good business. We could both be in a position to do a lot of good for the other, even if it means pointing that person to someone else.

An example of someone I reconnected with recently is Lenny Sisselman in Nashville. Lenny is the former manager of the Zanies there, but moved on to other things and is now doing quite well handling the careers of several acts like Jeff Allen and James Gregory. Jeff is now a top Christian comedian and James is an institution in the Southeast. Keith Alberstadt is also on his client list.

I’ve always had a good relationship with Lenny, and like him personally. One thing that he’s as good at as anyone I know is being logical and objective when it comes to the entertainment game as a whole. He doesn’t take anything personally, and offers his opinions strictly from a viewpoint of what he thinks are workable ideas or not. I tend to think with my emotions, as most comics do.

In the radio game, Kipper McGee has always been a big time supporter of mine. He has been a program director at several top stations in big markets like San Diego, Orlando and most recently WLS in Chicago. It was Kipper who nurtured us as ‘Jerry’s Kidders’, and we clicked as a team.

As the meat grinder all too often works, Kipper was unceremoniously bounced from WLS even though the ratings were solid and things were going well. He now makes his home in Milwaukee where he is working on his own reinvention process. This was the perfect time to compare notes.

I drove up to Milwaukee to meet Kipper at Ted’s Diner on 62nd and North Avenue. If you’re in the area, that’s a great little joint that’s been there forever. Prices are low and quality is high, and we spent a couple of hours catching up and going over possibilities of what our options may be.

Eventually, a Lenny or a Kipper or someone else or a combination of people will fall into place at the right time and that’s what it takes. It’s a constant process, and winners hang in there and go through it knowing that’s what it takes. Is it easy? No, but what is? I’ve come too far to quit now.

Whores And Gangsters?

June 14, 2012

Wednesday June 13th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Oh, how I wish life were like an Etch-A-Sketch and I could just turn it upside down whenever I got sick of what I was doing and start over with a clean slate after a few shakes. Wouldn’t that be swell, by golly? Jeepers criminy, it sure would be. You’re darn tootin’. It would be just dandy.

Unfortunately, life on this here cosmic plane doesn’t happen to fly like that. I think I must have missed my connecting flight somewhere and am stuck here without a travel agent. This place has some strange rules, and I’m going crazy trying to figure them out. It feels like I’m being Punk’d.

Today was a perfect example. I was taking my morning walk and stopped to use the bathroom in a Laundromat not far from where I live. There was a pile of magazines lying around and as a lark I paged through all of them to see if I could find one that did NOT picture any Kardashians.

EVERY last one of them did. Was I surprised? I guess I shouldn’t be, but I kind of was. I have been trying to do dangerously close to anything within the bounds of what’s legal to get at least a tiny bit of media coverage and the best I’ve ever been able to do is five minutes on late night TV.

And I was happy to get that. Then I came out of the bathroom and heard two people discussing the death of Henry Hill, the gangster who was played by Ray Liotta in ‘Goodfellas’. This wasn’t any kind of hero to emulate, but because people knew who he was he enjoyed a celebrity’s life.

He was apparently a regular guest caller on The Howard Stern show, and I’d heard him several times being interviewed on other shows as well. Again, where’s the justice? Here’s an individual who freely admits he participated in innumerable felonies, but yet when he dies it’s in the news.

Unless I do something noteworthy but quick, I won’t even get a mention in the back of the free shopper paper’s back page with the lost dog ads and 900 bi curious sex numbers. I’m trying to be honest and by the book, but nobody gives a rip. Whores and gangsters? THAT gets ink. Really?

Strumpets and Mafiosos? Sluts and criminals? Hosebags and henchmen? Is that what it takes to win the admiration and attention of the American public? Those all sound like a title of a Warren Zevon album. Again, he’s dead from a long ugly battle with cancer, and Charles Manson is alive.

Where IS that mothership? I’m about ready for a ride back to my home planet, wherever it may be. I really don’t think it’s here, or I’d have to believe I’d feel more at home in the midst of all of this constant insanity. I don’t. I just grit my teeth and try to plow through another day of lunacy.

I did take my walk today and it felt great. The weather was beautiful, and that was nice as well. I ate healthy foods, and drank a lot of water. The basic needs of life were there, so I felt lucky to have those not to mention grateful. I’m trying not to only focus on what’s wrong, but it’s tough.

I wrote some articles today I’d been meaning to get to, in addition to making a few contacts for possible future bookings. I cleaned my living area and sorted laundry to be done soon. That’s not a lot, but I did make small steps. Oh, and someone paid me back $100 they’d owed me. Victory!  

Mouth Management

June 13, 2012

Tuesday June 12th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Sometimes, too much freedom can be a bad thing. It has been with me unfortunately. I’ve been calling the shots in virtually every aspect of my life to the point of being pigheaded about it, and looking at the results I don’t have very much to show for it. I think it’s time to ask for some help.

Being a self starter is one thing, but self sabotage is another. Sometimes I tend to confuse those two terms and it has done way more harm than good. There’s a time to stand up for one’s dignity and self esteem, and another to shut one’s mouth and take it. I’ve made poor choices there also.

Sure, I’ve been right there to run my mouth and have my way – but then I’m standing in smoke from another burned bridge and after a while a pattern develops. I get so used to letting it rip that it gets easier and easier to do. It may feel good at the moment, but in the long run it’s not smart.

With age comes wisdom, and I’m seeing things a lot clearer now. All those mistakes I’ve made have sure taught me a lot, but they’ve also indirectly taken away a lot of opportunities. I’m never going to be one of those repulsive little ass kissers who always seem to get ahead in life, but I do need to tone down my cowboy attitude a few notches. The world just isn’t ready to deal with it.

If I were in the Mafia, I’d have probably been wacked by now. I just never believed in backing down from anyone, especially a bully. I’ve gotten myself into all kinds of trouble with my mouth way too many times, but I felt the truth needed to be said. Or typed. Maybe it did, but not by me.

The world and all the crazy people in it are not going to change simply by me pointing a finger at them and calling out their shortcomings. I have more than enough shortcomings of my own to work on, so for the time being I’m going to focus on those for a while. That’s the smart choice.

That being said, where do I start? Every aspect of my entire life seems to be in an unorganized flaming pile right now, and it took a long time to get that way. What do I do to straighten it out? Which pile do I start working on first? Where do I go for help? I don’t have any solid answers.

It’s extremely difficult for dented cans to trust anyone, and I know it is for me. I’ve been taken to the emotional cleaners way too many times by those who were supposed to be closest to me so giving anyone else a shot is tough. I can’t help but flinch, and it’s so hard not to expect the worst from people. I know that’s not the right way to think, but I do. That’s why I’ve been such a loner.

Well, that brings it all right back to square one. How am I going to move forward if I won’t let others help me get out of the rut I’ve gotten myself into? It’s a cruel joke, but that’s the situation I’m in and I have to do something about it or I’ll die like this. This is not what I want life to be.

I want to get out there and make things happen. Good things. Creative things. Things people in generations to come will be studying for inspiration. I want to make this wacky planet better than it was when I got here, but I can’t do that in the position I’m in now.  I have to look at my whole life in detail, and honestly assess where I am in all areas. Then I have to come up with a strategy.

New Doors Open

June 12, 2012

Sunday June 10th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   I have to say, this weekend has really opened up all kinds of new doors in my already cluttered brain box. I’m glad I was able to be a part of ‘Internet Prophets Live!’ both as a performer and as an observer. If nothing else, it showed me I don’t have to be stuck in the comedy club rut for life.

I really do love to perform live, and I think I’m pretty good at it – especially when the audience isn’t drunk to the point of zombiedom. Working in clubs can be hand to hand combat, and I don’t have the patience for it anymore. Is it too much to ask to have a crowd who wants to see a show?

The people who showed up this weekend were there because they wanted to be there. It wasn’t a room full of freebies that won tickets for them and 200 of their closest friends by dropping their business cards in a fish bowl. They paid a significant chunk of change for a weekend of learning.

There was some entertainment thrown in there too, and that’s another thing I enjoyed watching from a distance. Most of the scheduled speakers incorporated technologies comedians don’t tend to use like power point presentations and flashy video intros. It was more WWE than anything.

The performing conditions were ideal. There was a big beautiful stage with plenty of room for speakers to roam and giant video screens on each side of it like a rock concert that made it larger than life. The sound and light systems were killer, and all of that together is a recipe for success.

How many frustrating nights in my life have I spent standing on a rickety beer crate in front of a single flickering bug light straining my voice hollering into a tinny sounding ‘Mr. Microphone’ with one Radio Shack speaker the size of a quarter trying to entertain drunks? WAY too many.

Being part of this weekend was like getting called up to the big leagues. I know how to deliver when I’m on a stage, and I know I could do more of these kinds of events if asked. I’m not dumb enough to expect to be asked though; I’ll have to seek them out myself. But I know I can do this.

I’ve got as much stage chops as anyone I saw this weekend, and that’s no insult to any of those that I saw. They were competent, but I am too. I’ve been teaching for years in addition to being a comedian, and I have content I could use to educate a corporate type audience in the humor field.

I really think this needs to be a direction I go, and quickly. Dale Irvin is an example of a comic who has successfully transitioned into this area and has made a LOT more money. Greg Schwem is another, as is Tim Clue. Those guys all worked comedy clubs, but have evolved to other areas.

One thing I definitely need to do yesterday is get a book out. Every one of the people I watched this weekend had some kind of a book, package of books or audio/video instruction course ready to be sold in the back of the room at a huge discount ‘if you buy today’. It was a big sales pitch.

You can bet your library card I’m going to have at least one book available toot sweet, and that probably won’t be the last. I know I can pack some good content into it too, not just some quotes rehashed from Zig Ziglar. I saw how the big guns do it, and I learned a lot. I’m not overmatched.

Larry Winget Live

June 10, 2012

Saturday June 10th, 2012 – Schaumburg, IL

   Day two of ‘Internet Prophets Live!’ at the Marriott Renaissance in Schaumburg, IL. I was able to spend most of the day participating in some of the outstanding programs put on by the speaker lineup, which was nothing less than stellar. These people are the best of the best in their fields.

I always love to participate in conferences like this, as there’s a synergy that develops with the people who attend. There’s a definite energy that solidifies when like minded people collect in a specific place for a weekend, and it’s always positive. Connections are made that last for years.

This reminds me of the Comedy Conference I organized at Zanies in Chicago years ago. It was a similar format, with speakers and teachers from the worlds of standup and improv comedy that had a similar vibe. I still am in contact today with people I met at that event. It was well worth it.

One of those people is business speaker Todd Hunt. Todd came to the conference to add humor to his presentation, and we have stayed in contact and been able to help each other. Todd markets himself extremely well, and I continue to learn from him on that level as I need help. His mentor in the speaker world is Larry Winget, who happened to be the keynote speaker for this evening.

Larry is the recognized king of that genre these days, much like Jay Leno was in standup when I started. In the ‘80s, Leno was the undisputed king and Jerry Seinfeld was the prince. Everybody else was after them. In speaking, it’s Larry Winget and then there’s everyone else. He’s the guy.

I’ve wanted to watch him work for years now, only because I like to study well done examples of any performance genre. I remember watching both Leno and Seinfeld as I was climbing up the comedy ladder, and enjoying them very much. I knew how much work it took to get that good.

I had the same feeling watching Larry Winget, only this time I could relate to a lot more due to the fact I’ve got a lot more of my own stage experience to draw from. He was a total pro, and the audience appreciated his skill level as well. This wasn’t a corporate gig, they knew who he was.

I have a ton of respect for how Larry has built his business. Just like a successful comedian, he has developed a very identifiable stage persona, and is consistent with it the entire time. Not only that, he’s a master marketer and offers a bag of his merchandise after his presentation for $100.

There are DVDs and books in the bag, and his picture is on it like Colonel Sanders puts his on a bucket of chicken. He’s a sellable package, and I enjoyed watching it in action first hand. He’s a tremendous entertainer, as is Todd Hunt. Todd learned from Larry, and they both do it right.

Steve Olsher has really put together a solid event. The people who were smart enough to attend got to see Jay Conrad Levinson and Larry Winget in the same weekend for a bargain price which also included an all star lineup of other speakers. I hope he makes money so he can do this again.

Nothing done well is ever easy. Comedy or speaking or organizing live events is difficult and it always will be. Seeing a weekend like this come together so well is satisfying. It gives me hope.

Internet Prophets Live!

June 9, 2012

Friday June 9th, 2012 – Schaumburg, IL

   I have a fantastic opportunity this weekend to be part of a major first time event in the Chicago area called ‘Internet Prophets Live!’ which features 29 speakers sharing ideas on how to succeed in the internet generation. It’s being held at the Marriott Renaissance complex in Schaumburg.

My friend Steve Olsher is the one putting this together, and he did an outstanding job of getting the best of the best in their fields together for a weekend of networking, learning and fun. He was very kind to include me in the mix, but also very smart. He asked me to do 20 minutes at the end of a full day of speakers as a palate cleanser right before dinner, and it worked out tremendously.

Steve is one sharp guy to say the least. We crossed paths a few years ago as he was doing a one man seminar called ‘The Reinvention Workshop’ in Chicago near Zanies. I don’t even remember exactly when it was or how I decided to be a part of it, but I’m sure glad I did. This guy nails it.

I’ve watched him develop in just a few short years into a real force in the speaking game. First, he wrote a very well done self help book called ‘Journey To You’, which I enjoyed. He followed it up with a brand new one called ‘Internet Prophets’, which he is smartly calling this conference.

I have nothing but respect for Steve, because he’s a DOER. A lot of people talk a good or even not so good game – myself included – but he gets out there and DOES it. Writing one book is not easy, but Steve has two. For now. Knowing him, he’s just getting started. I’m sure learning a lot.

It really is all about action. Well, maybe I better rephrase that. It’s about action that includes an actual plan to go with it. I do have action going for me, but way too often it’s rather scattered and not in any logical working order. Steve has been able to focus and put together some great work.

This event is a real winner, and he has a top quality staff of people around him. Amanda Black is the point person this weekend, and she has worked with Brian Tracy who is a giant in the field of self help and development. She’s really on the ball herself, and it has been fun to work with all the people Steve lined up. I showed up early to volunteer my time in case they needed any help.

I know how difficult it is to put on any event, and if I can offer my services in any way I’m not too proud to work a little. It’s nice to have a spare set of hands on deck to run an errand or handle a situation that needs dealing with, so that’s fine. Plus, I got to see some really amazing speakers.

The keynote speaker after dinner tonight was the legendary Jay Conrad Levinson. He’s famous for the Guerilla Marketing empire of books, of which I am a huge fan. He cuts to the chase and is not only a world class writer; he’s a dynamic speaker as well. He captivated the entire audience.

I was in awe of his charisma and ability to mesmerize the crowd for a solid hour. He was to the point, relaxed and in charge – even though he rarely got out of his chair. He’s been ill of late and in fact his doctors gave him six months to live a year and a half ago. He’s still around, and on the very top of his game – truly remarkable. The conference website is www.internetprophets.com.

Richard T. Crowe

June 8, 2012

Thursday June 8th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   I received some very sad not to mention shocking news today that Richard Crowe passed away from complications of pancreatic cancer. He was a ghost hunter, entrepreneur and frequent guest on The Mothership Connection radio show. I was fond of him personally and professionally, and had no idea he was even sick. He was just on the air with us live in studio only a few weeks ago.

We always looked forward to having Richard on with us, as he’d usually show up as a package deal with our other Chicago area paranormal friends Karen Uchima and Grant Wylie. Karen is an expert on dream interpretation, Feng Shui and several other topics and Grant is a master psychic.

Karen and Grant have also been on with us often and it has developed to the point where we all go out for dinner before the radio show. We don’t do that with all our guests, and in fact there are very few. But they’re such nice people; it’s become a tradition whenever they’re on. They drive a long way to get to Kenosha, and it’s much more relaxing if they get there early and have dinner.

Richard became part of that caravan a while back since he was from Oak Lawn on the far south side of Chicago, and would tag along with Karen and Grant for dinner. He was a fertile wealth of knowledge and fascinating stories about all kinds of subjects in and out of the paranormal realm.

I remember sitting mesmerized at dinner several times while Richard entertained us all with his big booming voice that made the rest of ours sound like baby sparrows chirping. It wasn’t all that long ago, and that’s what makes it so chilling. He never once mentioned he was fighting cancer.

What’s unbelievably disappointing is that I never got a chance to experience one of his famous ghost tours, for which he was most well known. He was an outstanding entrepreneur, and carved out a fabulous niche for himself by doing tours of Chicago’s haunted spots. He was featured on a variety of local, national and even worldwide media, especially around the Halloween season.

We had spoken often of having a listener tour, but never did get around to doing it. I really did intend to make it happen, but unfortunately life just gets in the way sometimes. Now it’s too late. I’m sure we would have had a fantastic time, and hopefully even made it into an annual tradition.

What a shame this is on many levels. Here’s a guy who really found his stride in life, and there is no way he’ll ever be replaced. His was a totally unique contribution, the kind that once is gone is gone forever. And now his is. And I’m very sad about it. I’m even sadder I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. I didn’t think there was a reason to, and looked forward to many more meetings.

Once again, this is a stunning example of how life has no guarantees. It could all be over for all of us at any time – myself included. All the good intentions in the world won’t be able to change that fact, and like it or not we get what we get. Personally, I don’t like it – but I can’t do anything except deal with it and remember that every time I cross paths with someone it could be the very last time that happens. My first reaction is to be even nicer to people, especially quality examples like a Richard Crowe. The dinners and radio shows we had were fun, and I’m sorry they’re over.