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Roger Yale (L) with twin brother Chris Yale (L)

Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, implied in 2016 that smokers who quit by using e-cigarettes don’t exist – calling these people “hypothetical individuals.”

It should also be noted that Zeller was also a previous political consultant for the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, the makers of Nicorette Gum.

Make no mistake about it, Zeller – we exist.

An article on Vapes.com explained the nefarious nature of Zeller’s endgame, as well as the

“Zeller spearheaded the campaign to write new FDA e-cig regulations that would eliminate the competitive advantage that electronic cigarettes held over ‘The Patch,’ Nicorette Gum, and other similar smoking cessation products.  But the new regulations would also need to be marketed to the American Public in such a way that the typical voter would somehow view e-cigs as at least as deadly as traditional tobacco cigarettes, if not more. Who better to do this than anti-smoking advocacy groups like the American Cancer Society?”

Anybody smell conspiracy? Add Big Tobacco and its interest in holding on to market share, despite the fact that most cigarette companies have their own vape divisions, and the stench grows.

But the truth always comes to light, regardless of the deep pockets of the dishonest.

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With Orit Deverell of Zuluvape in Myrtle Beach

Good thing there’s a new sheriff in town – or at least at the FDA – in the person of Scott Gottlieb, the organization’s new chief. Hopefully he will continue to muzzle Zeller, who still, unfortunately, has his job.

In a surprising turn of events for the beleaguered vape industry and for the millions of e-cigarette users who have successfully made the switch from cigarettes, the FDA on Friday announced sweeping changes to its policy regarding electronic cigarettes.

In a July press release, the FDA had this to say:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced a new comprehensive plan for tobacco and nicotine regulation that will serve as a multi-year roadmap to better protect kids and significantly reduce tobacco-related disease and death. The approach places nicotine, and the issue of addiction, at the center of the agency’s tobacco regulation efforts. The goal is to ensure that the FDA has the proper scientific and regulatory foundation to efficiently and effectively implement the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. To make certain that the FDA is striking an appropriate balance between regulation and encouraging development of innovative tobacco products that may be less dangerous than cigarettes, the agency is also providing targeted relief on some timelines described in the May 2016 final rule that extended the FDA’s authority to additional tobacco products. The agency will also seek input on critical public health issues such as the role of flavors in tobacco products.”

Obviously, one of these “innovative tobacco products” is the electronic cigarette. Unfortunately, we will have to live with the word tobacco for now.

The deadline for product review applications has now been pushed to August 8, 2022 – a win by any definition for the vape industry as well as for consumers who have embraced the electronic cigarette as a step toward harm reduction.

Despite Big Tobacco’s best efforts to obfuscate the benefit of the electronic cigarette, the FDA under Gottlieb has begun to turn the tables.

I officiated my niece’s wedding last month.

Cathy and Pat Altar

Cathy and her now husband Pat had met and dated in high school in the 1980s, and as life happened, the pair went on to their own lives and respective marriages.

They reconnected nearly ten years ago, rekindling the fire that never quite went out between them – and on June 24, they made it legal and tied the knot.

Aside from being flattered and honored that they would have thought of me for such a milestone, I also felt unqualified – to say nothing of the fact that I was not an ordained minister.

But I also knew that I could do this. I officiated a wedding at the last minute here in Myrtle Beach a few years ago, when a minister failed to show up to a friend’s wedding. Thankfully, there was a notary on hand to make the deal official – and I did the best I could to drum up an impromptu ceremony. Nothing like a little pressure – but we all know enough about weddings from movies and TV shows we have seen and other weddings we have attended to know the basic routine of a wedding ceremony.

Cathy and Pat Wedding Group

I said yes immediately, thinking that we could replicate the whole notary-on-hand thing. The problem was this: After a quick search on the Web, I discovered that a notarized wedding is not allowed in North Carolina.

Cathy sent me a link to an outfit that ordained folks online – and it was perfectly legit – only I wasn’t particularly down with the oath I was supposed to take before proceeding. This was something to the effect that marriage was only for a man and a woman and I would have to swear that I agreed with all that – including a decisively fundamentalist doctrine.

Check, please.

It should come as no big surprise that I am for marriage equality – and diversity. Call me what you will, but I believe that if they so desire, any two people who love each other should be entitled to marry and to enjoy all the privileges, benefits and yes – the headaches – of married life.

I also believe in God, but I can live without some of His people.

After a brief search, I was happy to find an organization called American marriage Ministries, which more accurately lined up with my beliefs – and after a simple process, I became an ordained minister.

Some states require that officiants register within the counties in which they are to perform marriage ceremonies, but North Carolina is not one of them – so I was good to go.

The cool thing about my ordination is that I am free to design and perform whatever type of ceremony the couple wants – from uber-religious to secular to quirky – and I am not hamstrung by one set of beliefs.

Cathy and Pat opted for a traditional Christian ceremony with an added feature called a sand ceremony, where the officiant and the couple pour different colors of sand into a vessel, signifying the union in a nice visual and symbolic way. The sand ceremony is an alternative to the better-known unity candle ceremony.

Roger With Cathy and Pat - Wedding

The gathering, at my sister’s home in Denver, North Carolina, was attended by friends and loved ones – all in all a beautiful setting.

Saying yes opens doors and paves the way for sometimes unexpected opportunities. I believe that.

Roger Filling Out Marriage License

I remain honored to have been asked – and happy that I punched another hole in my comfort zone.

ICI Exterior

International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach

Over the years, I have frequently read about the value of saying yes to opportunities that expand our horizons and take us out of our comfort zones.

Even though I have been performing music professionally for years, work in a public-facing job at a high-end cigar shop and have interviewed hundreds of people for my newspaper features, I still consider myself a bit shy.

Many of my friends might scoff at this because I enjoy friendship and camaraderie, but at the same time I still experience a bit of social awkwardness in new settings.

Which is exactly why I said yes last month to take on two wildly different roles – as a judge in a culinary competition and as a wedding officiant.

The following is part one of my week of saying yes.

My friend, Joe Bonaparte, is executive chef at the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach. I have profiled him a couple of times – once for The Sun News and once for the now-defunct Weekly Surge, an alt weekly that was under the umbrella of The Sun News and its parent company, McClatchy Newspapers.

When Joe asked me to participate as a judge, this was on the heels of a story I had just finished about a pitmaster named Phil Wingo of an outfit called #porkmafia, who visited the Institute for a barbecue intensive.

Naturally, I thought I was judging a barbecue competition.

Nope.

I was nervous enough about saying yes to this because I felt like I didn’t know enough about barbecue to be of any real value – but Joe assured me I would be fine.

But what I didn’t know was that this competition was a bit more, shall we say, complicated – than barbecue.

Judges' Table

The event for which I was to participate as one of three judges was the National Pork Board’s “Be Inspired” cooking competition for foodservice educators, part of the 13th annual leadership conference for CAFÉ – The Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education – a 3-day program chock-full of culinary events, breakout classes and presentations.

CAFÉ is headed up by executive director Mary Petersen, who founded the organization in 2002, but brings more than 20 years of experience to the table, promoting the professional development of foodservice educators.

Marilou Tate

Chef Marylou Tate

The International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach, with Bonaparte at the helm, played host to this ambitious conference.

The cooking competition was put together by Chef Paul Sorgule of Harvest America Ventures, LLC, which according to its website is “a network of seasoned food service professionals who collectively have the ability to provide any service that an up and coming restaurateur may need.  This network covers all typical issues faced by a chef/owner as they set the stage for a successful restaurant venture.”

I was overtaken by the sheer awesomeness of the institute’s brand-spanking new, $15 million facility – gleaming in all of its glory. And folks – foodies, teachers, visiting chefs, culinary students – were swarming the place.

I felt outclassed and definitely out of my element.

But after I met a few people and said hello to Joe – I and relaxed a bit, realizing that the event, while earning the chef-contestants continuing education points, was meant to be fun.

Thankfully, I was able to get a few pointers from a fellow judge, Chef David Bottagaro of the National Pork Board as well as from Sorgule – the upshot being to enjoy the process while tasting some wonderful food from three outstanding chef-instructors – judging on categories like effective use of protein, taste and flavor, plate composition, plate presentation, and texture and temperature.

Sorgule, Bottagaro

Chef Paul Sorgule, Chef David Bottagaro

The other judge was Don Odiorne of the Idaho Potato Commission.

My only regret is that I didn’t have anything meaningful to say afterward when the chefs were called in for individual critiques.

Sorgule was gracious when he told me that all I really had to do was think about whether or not I enjoyed the individual dishes and whether or not I would have ordered these in a restaurant. Thanks, Chef Sorgule.

Stay tuned – I will have more about Chef Bonaparte and the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach in future blog posts.

Culinary Contestants

Chef-Contestants

 

 

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Never got to see Sublime? Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime has been channeling Sublime since 2001 – and they are at The Boathouse in Myrtle Beach this Sunday! Check out my Q&A with drummer and co-founder Scott Begin, which just posted on The Sun News companion site, Myrtle Beach Life.

*****

Sunday, The Boathouse Waterway Bar & Grill hosts Badfish: A tribute to Sublime as part of its 2017 Summer Concert Series.

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Badfish: A Tribute to Sublime has been active since 2001, dedicated to playing the music of Sublime and building an impressive fan base along the way – some of which never got the chance to see Sublime.

Just two months after Sublime frontman Bradley Nowell’s untimely death from a heroin overdose in 1996, the band experienced considerable success with its third album, Sublime. That album hit number 13 on the Billboard 200, and the song, “What I Got,” became a number one hit single – and other well-known songs like “Santeria” and “Wrong Way” came from that album as well.

But without the presence of its lead singer, guitarist and songwriter, the writing was on the wall. Sublime was to be Sublime’s final album.

Badfish, not to be confused with the Southern California-based band of the same name, has been channeling the spirit of Sublime since its inception in Rhode Island 16 years ago, with no sign of letting up.

Badfish drummer and co-founder Scott Begin spoke with The Sun News by telephone last week.

Q: Do you guys still live in Rhode Island?

A: The bass player [Joel Hanks] and I live in Rhode Island. The singer [Pat Downes] lives in Hawaii. Dorian [Duffy – keys, guitars, samples] lives in Chicago. We’re kind of all over the place, but as much as we have a home base, Rhode Island is it.

Q: I read that you were computer science majors at the University of Rhode Island. Can you give us a rundown on this? How did Badfish come together?

A: Just [Joel Hanks] and myself were the computer nerds. He and I met in classes right here at the University of Rhode Island. It was the type of thing where – not to generalize, but I think a lot of the people in those majors or fields of study tend to be less inclined to do something like play music. They’re pretty much in front of a computer screen.

Joel and I were more like, “yeah, this is cool and we like the computer stuff,” but we also were musicians too and this was a passion of ours – so we realized that we had that in common. We just started to develop the idea of trying to put together a Sublime tribute show – which is really all it was at the inception of this whole thing – and see how it goes.

We loved Sublime. All of our friends loved Sublime, and there were no bands doing that then. We put on a show at our local beach bar here, and it went really well – and then we said why don’t we keep doing this once a month or here or there – and try to branch out.

Between 2001 and 2003, things started to snowball, and the next thing you know, we’re graduating. I worked for maybe a year in the programming field until Joel and I said we can keep ourselves busy enough to continue to keep this ball rolling – and maybe I am playing drums now for a living instead of sitting in front of a computer screen.

And that’s how it all went down.

Q: How do you capture the essence of Sublime?

A: We never got a chance to see Sublime – but just being so in touch with them by playing their music over the years, we always try to bring a show that we feel has the energy and the vibe of that a Sublime show would have been.

There are cover bands all around the country that play other people’s music. To any music fan, it’s clear when a band is sort of phoning it in. You can tell. But the songs themselves are not difficult. It’s not like we are playing progressive rock – so what you have to do then is not to just play the chords and sing the lyrics, but you need to project a vibe that feels authentic. By way of enjoying Sublime’s music so much – and having the crowd sing all of the words back to you – it’s a really cool synergy in a show. We feel like it’s a really cool, authentic experience.

And it’s honest, what we play. It has enabled us to keep going. We really have a passion for it.

Q: You guys are playing up and Eastern Seaboard until September, with some interesting stops, including The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, N.J., and something called the Garden Grove Festival in Southwick, Mass. The festival seems like an anchor for Badfish. What is that all about?

A: A few years back, we had done a few of those Garden Grove Festivals. We’re trying to kind of build the festival. It’s sort of Sublime-themed, with bands that we are friends with and kind of have a Sublime vibe to them.

The idea sort of got shelved for a little bit, but we’re trying to resurrect it right now. There have been some new bands that we played with since then that just really incredible bands – part of a really great scene, and we really want to get this idea kicking again.

Q: Is this your first Boathouse show?

A: We have done at least twice already at The Boathouse. Maybe we have even done three. We will do House of Blues at different times of the year. The Boathouse is always a free show, it’s always on a Sunday, and it’s a really cool hang right there. It’s always a really, really fun gig.

Q: Are you actively involved in the bookings anymore?

A: We work in conjunction with a booking agency out of L.A., but we are pretty hands-on when it comes to the booking stuff. It’s not so much that we just say go ahead and book us a tour. We’re actively involved in making decisions about how often we play, where we play – and how long we are away from home.

Q: Since you have been at House of Blues Myrtle Beach and The Boathouse, you are no strangers to the Grand Strand. Do you guys have a rabid fan base here?

A: I think that we do.

Q: So you are well-received down here?

A: Yeah. I think we started playing at House of Blues 10 years ago at least. Maybe even 12 years ago. We played a couple of smaller spots around town, but it’s been pretty consistent with people coming out to check us out. We see a lot of familiar faces when we are out there – people that have been coming for years and years, so there has definitely been that good core of rabid fans, I guess. And you always meet some people who say, “this is the first time we saw you, and we really enjoyed it” – so that’s encouraging as well.

Q I am sure you have the superfans too – the ones who know more about Badfish than you do.

A: Oh yeah – we do. Sometimes it’s pretty surprising.  People tell me where we are going to be playing in four months – and I’m like, “I’m glad you know because I don’t.” It’s wonderful to have fans like that.

Q: Did you get a chance to poke around here and experience the fabled Southern Hospitality? Or do you just stick and move?

A lot of times, it’s, in town – do the show – and get out of town. I’d say more than Myrtle Beach, we probably spent a little more time in Charleston. I feel like we’ve had a few days off there where we’ve been able to kind of get out – walk around – get some good food. That’s one of our favorite spots too, and it’s got that kind of vibe – that southern hospitality kind of vibe.

[Badfish is scheduled to play The Windjammer in Isle of Palms with Sun Dried Vibes on June 26.]

Q: What about the younger fans –the people that didn’t get a chance to see Sublime? Does it surprise you to see young faces at the show?

A: It doesn’t surprise me in the sense that we do. I feel like it’s more spread out now than it was when the band started. When it started, it was just college-aged kids – like people that were fans of Sublime. But now those people – myself included – have gotten older, and what’s happening with Sublime is that it has sort of gotten passed down through the generations – or through the generation, I guess.

We see a larger spread of ages now, and it’s really cool to see how the legacy of Sublime has sort of meandered through the fandom to really illustrate what kind of a band Sublime was. They had this unique thing going on. I can liken it to kind of a Grateful Dead thing where they have a cult following. They might have had a couple of radio hits, but they still have a following that gets passed down as younger people get turned on to it. It keeps us busy.

Q: The mantle has kind of fallen on you guys now, 16 years in.

A: We have been lucky enough to get sort of the unofficial blessing from people that were involved with Sublime. Bradley’s wife was at a show in Anaheim – and she was onstage, rocking out with us. A couple of the horn players that have played with Sublime have sat in with us and have even done little tours with us.

I feel that we have always tried to be respectful to Sublime’s legacy. We try to bring the best show we can bring. If people consider that we are kind of carrying the torch, we don’t want to let them down.

Q: What are future plans for the band?

A: The plan is just kind of just keep it trucking. We’re working on a few different things with these outdoor festivals that we are going to try to build. A few of those that we have done for many years have done well, but we’d like to try to make a couple more big events happen. Otherwise, we have our spots that we love to go to and that love having us back – like Myrtle Beach and so many other places between here and there and around the country. We’re just going to stay the course and keep going for it.

I look forward to being at the Boathouse and doing some day drinking.

As part of my work on author and speaker Jeff Yalden’s creative team – I’ve been blogging about The BOOM Podcast as episodes come up. Hope you enjoy:

BOOM Podcast Logo

Many know Michael Oher from his football career – he now plays offensive tackle for the Carolina Panthers – and from the Oscar-winning film, The Blind Side. At 6’ 4” and 315 pounds, he’s hard to miss.

For Oher, it all started at Ole MissThe University of Mississippi – and its legendary NCAA Division I football program.

When Richie Contartesi walked on to the practice field at Ole Miss, he was 5’7” and tipped the scales at 155 pounds. By an awesome twist of fate, he was given one chance – and one chance only – to prove himself.

In classic “feel-the-fear-and-do-it-anyway” fashion, Contartesi made the team and became an Ole Miss Rebel – eventually garnering a full SEC scholarship to the University of Mississippi.

Yalden - Contartesi

In the ensuing years, Contartesi became an in-demand public speaker, with a focus on kicking off and closing conferences. He is also the bestselling author of In Spite of the Odds: A True Inspirational Journey from Walk-on to Full Scholarship at Ole Miss.

Reader Pat Canuso had this to say about the book in an Amazon review:

“Reading In Spite of the Odds was like watching the movie Rudy, but with a machine gun.”

Youth motivational speaker and Amazon bestselling author Jeff Yalden hosted Contartesi in the third episode of his BOOM Podcast.

“Richie and I have a relationship that goes back a couple of years now, and I knew from the beginning that he was going to do some epically awesome stuff,” Yalden said, adding that he helped Contartesi get into the speaking market and mentored him from the very beginning.

Contartesi grew up in Palm Beach, Fl., where there was a lot of competition for Division 1 and Division II scholarships. And he was already at a perceived disadvantage because of his size. But he said he was lucky enough to attend a new high school in his sophomore year.

“There was not as much competition, [and that] gave me the opportunity to touch the field as a sophomore. I got to learn a lot early on,” Contartesi said.

By the time he was a junior, he said he could play because he knew what was expected – and he was able to outsmart some of what he called the talent just from experience.

But he hit a major snag in his senior year. A broken ankle sidelined him, and the colleges that were looking at him about potential scholarships fell by the wayside.

Contartesi shared his story on the BOOM Podcast – how he had a chance to play at Jacksonville University, a non-scholarship school – but redshirted his first year. The next year didn’t go well either, after a change in coaching staff.

“He took a look at my size without really getting a chance to see me play, and basically just cut me from the team,” he said.

He had a decision to make: Hang up his cleats and quit, or continue to follow his dream of playing Division I football.

He resolved to keep going, putting together a spreadsheet of 119 Division I schools, including phone numbers and the names of the head coaches.  Contartesi picked up the phone and started dialing. Most conversations didn’t last more than 30 seconds, especially when he got to the height and weight question. But he kept grinding.

A silver lining appeared when he found out that a man by the name of Kyle Strongin was interning with the Ole Miss football program. Strongin, who eventually became director of football operations at the University of Mississippi, went on to work for the San Francisco 49ers and is now coordinator of football operations with the University of Tennessee.

Contartesi said he built a relationship with Strongin when he was 12 years old, and Strongin also coached Contartesi’s football team in high school.

“He saw my character, leadership and playing style. Because of the relationship I built with him, I called him and said, ‘Hey man – can I play football at Ole Miss and can you help me get in?’”

Strongin told him that if there was one person that he would help get in, it would be Contartesi. This was three weeks before school started and way past the admissions deadline.

“He was able to get me in academically, and was going to give me one shot – one try,” he said.

In this episode of The BOOM Podcast, Yalden and Contartesi talk about the importance of overcoming fear and self-doubt, while holding fast to perseverance – pursuing an important goal with bulldog tenacity.

Contartesi mentioned studies that show only three percent of Americans write down their goals, and uncovered an interesting correlation.

“When I was playing [youth] football, my coach said to me that only three percent of high school football players play Division I football,” he said. “When I was studying about goals and the fact that only three percent write them down – the same three percent get whatever they want in life. They live a lifestyle by design, and do what they want to do every single day.”

Powerful stuff.

“I wasn’t the given size. I wasn’t the most talented. I wasn’t the fastest, but I pushed myself into the top three percent by always putting myself in the position to be successful – by getting there early and leaving late – working with coaches, being in the film room every day – being in the weight room as much as I could, and doing everything I could that was humanly possible every day. It wasn’t given to me, because I didn’t have all of those other gifts.”

In this episode of The BOOM podcast, you will discover Contartesi’s empowering views on healthy competition and how to find the fire within yourself, and more.

Yalden and Contartesi work together in the youth speaking market and speak often on leadership, character and resilience, but they have a great relationship and help each other out – the exact opposite of cutthroat tactics and self-preservation. For them, it’s all about service.

“Healthy competition is when you are secure with who you are – and you want to see other people grow and succeed as well. I think that’s awesome,” Yalden said.

Contartesi’s daily routine involves affirmations, personal development study and a few minutes of meditation and regular workouts. He utilizes a vision board and a goals spreadsheet, taking the main specific goals and writing them down on a Post-It note every day.

He also uses a task management app called Todoist.

Yalden mentioned that Contartesi’s routine was like a customized version of the principles laid out in Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning.

Contartesi is currently implementing the principles laid out in the Dale Carnegie classic, How to Win Friends & Influence People.

Both Yalden and Contartesi are huge proponents of self-discipline, and Contartesi  laid out his three-point plan to bring the BOOM and make a huge impact in a person’s life.

  • Build Relationships/Find a Mentor
  • Overcome Fear
  • Be Persistent

Yalden closed this episode with an admonition for folks to put down the cell phone and make that face-to-face interaction.

“Come out of your shell,” he said. “Recognize fear. Overcome it. Feel it. Crush it and go through it. We all experience fear, but you have to learn to overcome it,” he said.

And never forget the value of persistence.

“Richie talks about the football analogy of giving it everything you have,” he said, adding a shout out to entrepreneurs: “Wake up and give it everything you have – every single day.”

For more about Richie Contartesi, go HERE.

Learn all about Jeff Yalden HERE.

To listen to this episode of The BOOM Podcast, click HERE.

For more of The BOOM Podcast, point and click HERE.

Grab your copy of BOOM! One Word to Instantly Inspire Action, Deliver Rewards, and Positively Affect Your Life Every day, click HERE.

This month, Kevin Kline won the Tony for Best Leading Actor in a Play for his performance in Noel Coward’s Present Laughter.

My daughter took me to see Present Laughter at the St. James Theatre in New York over Memorial Day weekend.

 

As some of you know, I was captivated by Coward when I was a young man – read everything there was to read by him and about him. I had plays, records, diaries, biographies, memoirs. You name it.

Coward even inspired me to smoke cigarettes. That was a bad idea. I switched to vape three years ago.

Through July 2, Kline stars in the lead role of Garry Essendine, one that Coward – AKA “The Master” – brought to life in all his self-absorbed glory in 1942.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

I spent an amazing long weekend in New York City with my equally amazing daughter, Taylor. What started out as a casual comment from Taylor – the fact that she had three days off and it would be great if I could finally come to see her – turned into an impromptu trip that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Rog and Tay NY Skyline

I’m 53, and this was the first time I had ever been there.

There isn’t a good reason why I’d never been. I had entertained romantic thoughts of driving across the country when I was 18, taking jobs along the way and ultimately winding up in the Big Apple. Who didn’t at that age. But I know myself then as I know myself now – not much, mind you – but that trip wasn’t about to happen.

The ensuing decades enabled me to build up a solid repertoire of misconceptions about New York and New Yorkers. You know the stereotypes – like, watch it or you will surely get mugged in Times Square (holdover from the seedy 1970s) – or that New Yorkers are rude, impatient and always in a hurry. I know so many New Yorkers who are not those things at all. Why would it be different on their turf?

Rog Times Square

Billy Joel bragging about walking through Bedford-Stuyvesant alone in “You May Be Right” kind of worried me because that’s exactly where my daughter lives, although she doesn’t have a motorcycle and probably wouldn’t ride it in the rain if she did.

My imagination couldn’t quite make out what “The City” would really be like – the sights and sounds glamorized in movies and television – and the music – the litany of bright lights, big city stuff – the hustle and bustle – the “if-I-can-make-it-there-I’ll-make-it-anywhere,” mantra.

And the other New York, New York (On the Town) line, “The People ride in a hole in the ground,” made me wonder what the subways were all about.

Somehow, riding the London Underground and for that matter, the Los Angeles subway (Metro Red Line) made me think the subway experience in New York couldn’t be much different. How about the touring companies performing the myriad Broadway shows I caught at the now-defunct Shubert Theatre or the Music Center, or the Pantages Theatre in L.A. – could the Broadway experience really be much different?

Roger NY Library

And could a simple slice of pizza really be any better there?

And how was everything connected – the boroughs, the layout? The reality had to be different from my imagined version.

The thought of setting foot where the unspeakable tragedy of 911 happened was also a bit surreal, chilling, and profoundly sad.

 

And, finally, I was about to take it all in.

From the moment I got off the plane at JFK, I could feel the energy.

Over the next three days, Taylor and I relied on the trains and walked our asses of – and I am surprised at the sheer amount of ground we covered. Taylor gave me truly immersive experience, and with the exception of an excellent leisurely breakfast at place where she used to work, an outstanding French-American restaurant and café in Brooklyn called French Louie (where she reconnected with her friends and coworkers and I could feel the love), we relied on lighter, faster fare in the form of tuna melts from a bodega on her block in Bed-Stuy, a couple of slices of pizza on her block, bagels and an interesting culinary oddity from a place called Sushirrito – and more.

I am still a bit overwhelmed by the trip – and I wanted to get something down in this blog to get started, but I think this deserves multiple posts.

I think it’s fair to say that I will never be quite the same after this trip – and now, in the limited time I was there – I have been there, done that.

But I am struck with how well my daughter is doing up there, putting that College of Charleston communication degree to work, currently at an awesome advertising agency called SpotCo – specializing in theatre, and more specifically the branding of many leading productions.

Taylor has really gotten to know the lay of the land, has awesome roommates, and doesn’t appear to take any shit from anyone.

Thanks for the advice, kid – but I can’t help saying hello to strangers.

I will always remember our long weekend in “The City,” but spending time with Taylor was priceless!

I’m so stoked to be a part of Jeff Yalden’s creative team.

Here’s a recent blog post from Jeff’s site.

In tandem with the release of his Amazon bestseller, BOOM! One Word to Instantly Inspire Action, Deliver Rewards, and Positively Affect Your Life Every Day, author and speaker Jeff Yalden has launched his BOOM Podcast – the perfect companion to bring the BOOM into your life, reinforcing the principles laid out in his life-changing book and digs even deeper, featuring people who have implemented the BOOM in their lives as well.

BOOM Cover Hal Elrod Endorsement

A leading youth motivational and mental health speaker for more than two decades, Yalden has addressed more than 4000 teen audiences in all 50 states, every province in Canada and 49 countries including Singapore and Vietnam.

His message has always been hard-hitting, bringing a world of actionable principles to the table and inspiring his audiences to take personal responsibility in all areas of their lives.

And now he has taken these principles and given them life in his book and in his podcast.

In this inaugural episode, Jeff explains with astonishing honesty and self-reflection where the BOOM comes from, what it means to him and why he decided to write the book.

“It’s pretty simple,” he said. “In this first episode, I want to come clean and give you guys a sense of where I have come from to where I am now, and how the BOOM really impacts everything I do.”

As he talked about in the book, coming to his BOOM moment involved a series of major setbacks that could have stopped him in his tracks, or worse.

About four years ago, Jeff went through a divorce which ended a 14-year marriage. Instead of placing the blame on anybody else, he went straight to the mirror and asked himself tough questions, coming to the realization that his mental health issues were much more severe than he thought them to be at the time.

Jeff was pre-diabetic and putting on weight. He said he knew what to do and what to eat, but was basically ignoring the warning signs.

“All of a sudden I was a full-fledged diabetic, but I still didn’t pay attention,” he said.

He vividly recalls the time he went to his parents’ house, physically exhausted and mentally drained and with his diabetes flaring up.

“I told them I felt like I was going to die and I didn’t want to die alone. They gave me some orange juice and something to eat, and I went home a few hours later.”

But his parents intervened that night. Jeff’s dad came to his house, woke him up, and called an ambulance for him. Jeff was a mess. His triglycerides were a jaw-dropping 2784, his blood sugar over 500 and his A1C level was 15.5.

“My endocrinologist said to me that at any moment something catastrophic was going to happen,” he said, adding that even despite these serious warning signs, he still didn’t make the necessary changes, citing his grueling speaking and travel schedule as a deterrent to a healthy lifestyle.

And that’s not all by any means. He endured a spinal cord fusion because of a CrossFit injury and was immobilized for six weeks.

“I couldn’t speak for almost four months and I ended up having a mental breakdown. My diabetes was flaring up and my depression got worse. I wanted to give up, and I did,” he said.

He quit speaking and got a 9-to-5 job, thinking at the time that he just wanted to have what he calls a normal job.

He packed up his office – his life – into cardboard boxes: Computer, fax machine, mementos, awards – even his varsity letters and photos – essentially getting rid of everything near and dear.Yalden Pic2

But something awesome began to happen when he started going back to counseling once a week.

“When I walked in there, I was emotionally broken. I was not the Jeff Yalden that many of you know. We started at the beginning and built a toolbox, and I began rewarding myself for small victories.”

As a result of building this toolbox, Jeff eventually made the decision to go home and restore his office and get back to doing what he loves.

This was his first BOOM moment.

Jeff also started taking care of himself – including a gastric sleeve surgery that might well have saved his life.

“That was something I needed to do for me, and when I did do it – it was like – BOOM! That was the reward. I don’t have to let my weight be something that monopolizes my every waking thought anymore. I am down 80 pounds. I am free of diabetes. I brought the BOOM into my life. I celebrate with the BOOM every single day.”

Jeff Yalden has come back stronger than ever, reestablishing his place among the best of the best.

“The BOOM is about you taking responsibility. The BOOM is about you saying, ‘I can do this.’ And the BOOM is about rewarding yourself for your accomplishments and little victories. Remember: Nothing changes if nothing changes.”

To listen to the BOOM Podcast, click HERE.

The BOOM will change your life. Grab this Amazon bestseller now by clicking HERE.

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