I have a new book coming out next month called Rock ’n’ Roll & Comic Books Taught Me All I Know. Yeah, it’s autobiographical.
Because you’re so cool, I want to give you this book FREE a month before it goes on sale. You’ll wake up Christmas morning and this brand new ebook will be waiting for you, a shiny, precious gift! All you have to do is join my mailing list. You can even leave a fake name (but a valid email address).
Everybody who signs up before Dec. 24, 2018 will get a FREE(bold. all caps. important.) digital copy of Rock ’n’ Roll & Comic Books Taught Me All I Know.
My goal is to get a dozen reviews for this book on Amazon and/or Goodreads before it releases on January 22, 2019. That’s gives you nearly a month to peruse this fine publication and write a review.
Wait, writing? Writing sucks!
I couldn’t agree more. Just copypaste one of the pre-written reviews below! It’s easy! You don’t even have to read the book!
5 Stars – Brilliant Insights Into A Pop Culture Renaissance!
I loved this book! The essays were very thoughtful and moving. I laughed. I cried. I fell in love. Who wouldn’t? This book is filled with ‘80s nostalgia, and Rob Errera is a slim, sexy superhero!
3 Stars – This book of non-fiction essays is quite bookish
This book contains words. The words are arranged in sentences. The sentences are arranged in paragraphs. The paragraphs are organized by topic. There are a handful of numbers in this book, too.
1 Star – Awful! Stay Away! Toxic Thoughts and Malicious Ideas Inside!
This book stinks! It’s filled with ‘80s nostalgia and old man gripes about how music used to be better, blah, blah, blah. Rob Errera is NOT a superhero and looks nothing like the guy on the cover. Rob’s a fat bastard IRL!
How will you celebrate your 100th birthday? And, more importantly, where’s the party?
Bloomingdale is celebrating its centennial August 8 at Delazier Field, with the world premiere of the feature-length documentary, BLOOMINGDALE: An American Small Town.
Directed by resident Paul Bastante, BLOOMINGDALE: An American Small Town digs deep into the borough’s storied history. Bastante captures Bloomingdale’s beauty with the eye of an artist, bringing the borough’s history to life through personal interviews, historic photographs, and archival video. (And some of the most impressive drone camera-work you’ll ever experience! Hey, we can see your house from here!)
BLOOMINGDALE: An American Small Town looks at the borough’s economy, schools, and government, delving into the major events that shaped the borough’s history. Bloomingdale’s Federal Hill not only showcases awe-inspiring geological features, it’s the site of one of our nation’s most dramatic military mutinies. The documentary also features segments on Samuel R. Donald School, The Bloomingdale Cornet Band, and the borough’s signature business, including The Glenwild Garden Center.
The documentary’s Beautiful Bloomingdale Lakes section highlights the stunning natural beauty of Lake Iosco, Kampfe Lake, and Bogue Pond, before digging deep into the history of Star Lake Camp. Established in 1923 by the owner Star Razor Company under the auspices of the Salvation Army, this 400-acre, multi-lake compound is dedicated to helping under-privileged inner-city children and international musicians alike.
Each summer, Star Lake Camp hosts two music camps. The first offers under-privileged children a chance to experience the wonders of nature and music. The second is an international music camp were teenage musicians from all over the globe gather to receive high level instruction.
“These woods have heard a lot of sacred music over the years,” Star Lake director Greg Tuck says in BLOOMINGDALE: An American Small Town.
Bloomingdale’s historic Delazier Field also gets a star turn in this documentary. The stone amphitheater, built during the Great Depression under President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration, is the spiritual heart of Bloomingdale borough.
Named after the borough’s first mayor, Delazier Field has hosted events as diverse as a visit from baseball legend Babe Ruth in 1946, to a field-destroying demolition derby in the 1970s. Minor league baseball team, The Bloomingdale Troopers, called Delazier Field home during the 1940s.
The August 8 festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. at historic Delazier Field on Ballston St. The film debut features a red carpet for the film’s cast and crew as well as interviews with prominent residents. An exhibition football game commemorating the 1947 Bloomingdale Troopers Pro football team and the 1998 Bloomingdale Chiefs will begin at 7:30 pm, followed by the debut of BLOOMINGDALE: An American Small Town.
This cover is divisive and inflammatory. What gives you the right to bully the President of The United States?
The First Amendment gives every citizen the right to free expression. Cover artist Dominic Wilde captured the spirit of this book perfectly. There’s a lot of anger, outrage, and injustice inside the book as well as on the cover. But it’s not a Trump-bashing book, other than noting The Donald stole the term “fake news” from me.
You’re accusing the President of theft? Can you prove the term “fake news” is your intellectual property?
I can prove I used it in a 2008 essay, but I don’t own any property, intellectual or otherwise.
What is this book about?
It’s a collection of essays examining how the news media has deteriorated over the last two decades.
What do you know about it?
I’ve been a journalist for nearly 30 years. I’ve seen a lot of changes in the news business since my days as a local newspaper reporter. Things have gone from bad to worse.
Is this leftist, lib-tard propaganda?
No. I dump equally on Republicans and Democrats in these essays. My main target is the news media tasked with keeping elected officials honest. The news media has become a propaganda machine rather than an unbiased source of information.
Why should I read this book?
If you’re under forty, this book will give you a sense of journalism’s history, how it has progressed and where it has regressed. Readers over forty will find a path through the confusing maze of Info Age insta-news…and maybe a bit of nostalgia.
Is this book funny? Serious? WTF is it?
Most of the essays are tongue-in-cheek, but a couple are somber—like my 9/11 and OJ Simpson essays.
Sounds heavy. I don’t like heavy thinking. It hurts my head. I want to keep it light, and breezy.
There’s fun in Fake News and Real Bullshit. Great info, too. In addition to explaining the breakdown of modern journalism, I also explain national healthcare, gasoline prices, Big Pharma scandals, cute cat memes, and why Nancy Grace sucks.
Nancy Grace doesn’t suck! She’s awesome! I love Nancy Grace!
Come on. Nobody loves Nancy Grace except for my wife. And Mr. Grace. Maybe.
You’re disrespectful and rude. Does your book have a surly, insolent tone?
I suppose. That’s my writing style. But you’ll find a few smiles and laughs there, too. Maybe even a few ideas worth remembering.
Why is the “i” in bullshit replaced with an “*” on the cover?
My publishers at Giantdog Books were afraid readers might be offended by the word “bullshit”.
Are you on drugs?
I don’t see how that’s your business.
Of course it’s my business. It’s everybody’s business. You’re trying to sell yourself as an “honest journalist.” You can’t have secrets!
Yeah, sure. Okay. I take 10mg of Lexapro every day. It’s a life saver, and keeps me semi-normal. You can read all about my mental breakdown in Autism Dad 2, if you’re really interested.
Oh brother! Are you an attention-seeking exhibitionist?
I’m an author trying to promote a book, so…yeah.
I don’t have time to read. Is this available as an audiobook?
Not yet. The essays in Fake News and Real Bullshit only run about 500 words each, so its an easy book to pick up, put down, and skip around. I grouped the essays by theme, but you don’t have to start at the beginning—read whatever looks interesting first. It’s a great read for the beach…or the bathroom.
Yuck! You’re disgusting! Nobody reads fecal splattered books and magazines in the bathroom anymore! You look at your phone!
Ah. I stand corrected. Don’t you put your dirty phone up against your face to make a call?
Don’t get smart! You don’t know me! You don’t know who I be! Cash me outside!
Wait…when did you become a thug?
See! That’s what I’m talking about! You can’t judge me by the way I act and speak! That’s profiling!
I can judge you by how you act and what you say! That’s how you’re supposed to judge character. I’m not judging you by your appearance. That’s profiling.
You profile as a fat, middle-aged white guy.
No, you profile as a fat, middle-aged white guy!
Are you nuts?
Yes! I told you about the Lexapro!
I bet your book sucks because you suck.
The rise of social media has eliminated the buffer between artists and fans, making it impossible to separate an artist from his or her work. I may (and often do) suck on a number of personal and professional levels, but my book does not. Fake News and Real Bullshit can hold its own against anything published in the last year.
That’s a bold statement.
How do you know? What have you read in the last year?
I know a bold statement when I hear one, and that’s a bold statement.
Read the book and decide for yourself.
What’s your book called again?
You are the world’s worse interviewer.
Teenagers with autism need life skills and job training. Life Skills & Life Lessons: Autism Dad 3 is a personal memoir told with humor and grace that looks at the unique challenges facing special-needs children transitioning into young adulthood. This collection of essays not only details a father’s take on raising a special-needs child, but tells the story of a family shaped by the everyday challenges and rewards of raising a child with autism.
* What Causes Autism And Can It Be Prevented?
* Teething Pain Is Only The Beginning
* Autism And The Art Of Toilet Seats
* Help Wanted: Employers With Open Hearts And Minds
* Celebrity Autism Insults Real People Struggling With ASD
* Precocious Pre-Teen And Racy TV Ads Yield Parental Torment
Autism Dad 3: Life Skills and Life Lessons ISBN-13: 978-1983499593 ISBN-10: 1983499595 $10.99 print/$3.99 digital
Big fish eat little fish. That is the law of the sea as well as the law of business. Smaller companies get bought up by bigger companies. It’s happened in the telephone and cable business, and in many retail markets—giant box stores like Loews and Home Depot have put nearly all of the Mom-and-Pop hardware stores out of business. Big businesses keep getting bigger, until the government steps in and breaks them apart into a bunch of smaller companies again.
Publishing is a business like any other. Local newspapers and magazines were once family-owned businesses serving residents and business owners of a certain geographic area. Eventually those small weekly or monthly publications are bought up by a regional daily newspaper. Then the regional newspaper gets bought by a state newspaper, and, ultimately, the state newspaper gets consumed by a large publishing conglomerate.
As a reader, this may seem beneficial at first. Your local newspaper is suddenly filled with a broader range of writers and articles than ever before! But, before long, readers find what’s gone missing from their local newspaper is local news. Big companies don’t want to pay a bunch of small-time, small-town journalists to cover local news. They’ve already got plenty of writers cranking out content under their corporate umbrella. Why waste money on more?
I’ve been a bystander to corporate buy-outs before. As an employee of the “little fish,” you’re made to feel about as important as an old office chair or outdated computer while the “new boss” assesses your functionality and worth. What does it do? Does it still work? Do we need it? Ah, let’s keep it around for a while until we either upgrade or scrap it altogether. My post-employment record after a buy-out is usually a year or two before the new boss cleans house. The big boys (and girls) at Gannett Media brushed me out the door in ten months.
I’m not alone. Last month, Gannett fired me, Nancy Rubenstein, and a slew of other longtime writers from its “weekly” division—TODAY Newspapers, Dateline Journal, and the South Bergenite among other publications. I’ve been writing my column “Hmm…” twice a month for the last 25 years, covering issues and events that affect Wayne, Totowa, Little Falls and beyond. Nancy’s written “Believe Me” every week for 55 years!
When Gannett bought The Record in October 2016, its didn’t just buy a bunch of newspaper publications to use as advertising vehicles. It bought a staff of writers that embody the voice of hometown news, and a readership that appreciates and trusts those voices. With those local voices gone, I expect the readership will soon follow. Why read a local newspaper that no longer features local news and opinions?
I knew I was in trouble when my contact person at Gannett was a “print planner” and not an editor. The “print planner” was more concerned with how I submitted my articles than what was in them. I’d occasionally submit story ideas to my print planner, who was supposed to pass them on to an editor, but I never heard back from anyone. I never got any editorial feedback from Gannett other than the email informing me of my dismissal. Are there still real, live people who assign, shape, and publish stories (aka “editors”) somewhere inside the giant Gannett machine?
By cutting local writers from its local newspapers, Gannett lost one of the major assets that made its weekly division valuable. Without real writers, weekly newspapers become nothing more than “shoppers,” advertising circulars without substance, and readers will view them as such, using them to wrap fish, line birdcages, and not much else. The readers will leave and the newspapers will die. Writers like me, Nancy, and the rest will try to find new markets for our work in the few remaining print publications or on the digital publishing frontier.
My nine-year-old daughter got invited to spend a week with her cousins at their lake house in New Hampshire. It’s been in the planning stages for weeks, and she’s got everything worked out. She knows what outfits to pack, which shampoos to bring, and which stuffed animals will make the trip with her. She’ll be under the watchful eye of my brother and sister-in-law the entire time. She’s going to have a blast, the time of her life.
But I don’t want her to go.
“Look, Dad, you have to be reasonable,” my daughter says, her expression so serious, she looks 19 instead of nine. “I’ve been to sleepovers before. And I spent the whole week with my cousins when we were at the shore. I’ll be fine!”
She’s done two sleepovers. The first was a Girl Scouts campout at a park across the street from our house. I spent all day — and most of the night — staring out the window, wondering if she was okay. The second was a slumber party at a friend’s house. She was fine both nights.
But I wasn’t.
Our house feels strange when a family member is missing at lights out. I feel the same when my wife spends the night away. (A rare occurrence — the only times I recall her being gone overnight were when her Mom was dying, and when she was in the hospital following her stroke.) Our home doesn’t feel right — doesn’t feel like our home — if the entire family isn’t present and accounted for.
I know I’m fighting a battle that’s already lost. My daughter has her mother’s support.
“It’ll be good for her to get out of the house for a week. And she’ll be with family,” my wife says. “You know the old saying: ‘The best thing you can do for your kids is give them roots, and give them wings.’”
“Wings suck,” I say. “She’s only nine. Too young to fly.”
“Didn’t you have sleepovers at her age? Didn’t you spend vacation with your cousins?”
Yes, I had sleepovers, and vacations away from my parents at her age. I remember having fun. But what I remember most is the feeling of freedom and independence. I was a big boy. I didn’t need my parents so much anymore. I could take care of myself. I had my own life, and they had theirs.
It was the start of a detachment from my parents, my first stumbling steps toward adolescence.
I don’t want my daughter to detach from my wife and I. I don’t want her to taste freedom. I want to stop it, squelch it. I want to stunt her growth. I want to seal my wife and kids up in a bell jar, freeze time so none of us gets any older.
Like I said, I’m fighting a losing battle. But this isn’t about being an overprotective father, or a visit to my brother’s lake house.
I fear my daughter is growing up too fast (Well, too fast for me — too slow for her.) Before I know it, she won’t be lecturing me like a 19-year-old, she’ll be a 19-year-old, wings fully spread, and she’ll be able to fly wherever she wants.
I’ve seen my daughter’s wings. They are beautiful, powerful, colorful, and strong. I know they will carry her far in life.
But I’m also afraid that someday they’ll carry her away from me.
It didn’t matter what the act was. Tickets were cheap in the 1980s: $15-$20; maybe $27.50 for fancy seats.
One week in the mid-80s I saw REO Speedwagon on a Monday night, and KISS that Thursday. I was at an Ozzy Osbourne/Metallica show where the crowd ripped open the seats and tossed seat cushions around the arena until a swirling cloud of cushions hovered over the arena floor. I thought there was a fire when Rage Against the Machine played the Lollapalooza Festival in 1993, but it wasn’t smoke; it was the mosh pit kicking up dry dust in front of the stage. A decade earlier Brian Johnson walked down our aisle with Angus Young on his shoulders during an AC/DC concert at the Brendon Byrne area. It really impressed my girlfriend at the time.
Back in the day, the Brendan Byrne Arena and Giants Stadium were the main concert venues for big touring acts. Both venues are still around but they’ve sold their names for corporate sponsorship; they’re the Izod Center and Metlife Stadium now.
Even though I haven’t been to a big rock concert in over a decade, I was happy to take my 10-year-old daughter and her friend to see One Direction at Metlife Stadium recently. Live music is awesome and I was eager to indoctrinate my daughter into the rock concert experience.
1D For Me
Making our way into Metlife Stadium I noticed a trend; it seemed most parents were waiting in the parking lot, tailgating, while their kids went into the concert. Not me. I was there for the music, man! Plus, my daughter’s only 10, I wasn’t going to send her and her friend into Metlife Stadium by themselves.
One Direction played a fine set, though the emphasis seemed to be more on explosions, fireworks, streamers and balloons rather than the music. During the power ballad everybody held up the flashlight app on their cell phones and waved them back and forth. I wondered what happened to all the cigarette lighters, but then I realized that nobody smokes anymore, and lighters are dangerous.
The One Direction concert came off a bit impersonal, but I can’t blame the band. They’re just following a trend that began years ago, back when I was still a regular concertgoer.
Giant video screens have been around at rock concerts since the early ‘80s, and while it’s supposed to make big stadium shows feel cozy, instead they reduce live performance to a TV show. Why watch the little man with the guitar from 200 yards away when you can watch the video screen and get a close-up? Why even go to a live concert at all when you can watch the same video footage from the comfort of your home?
Before the use of big video screens, bands used stage effects that enhanced the music rather than distract from it. From the mid-‘60s and into the ‘70s rock bands had liquid light shows or psychedelic light shows projected behind them while they played. The swirling, colorful amoeba shapes were eventually replaced by elaborate lighting rigs that synched with the dynamics of the music. The Genesis light show was a selling point for their live performances well into the 1980s.
Lost In Techno Translation
But as technology advanced, an intimacy was lost in the concert going experience. Giant video screens simultaneously brought audiences closer to the performers and reduced them to characters on TV. During the One Direction concert I saw several fans recording the concert with their camera phones, but instead of focusing on the members of the band, they were recording the images on the giant video screens. Why?
One thing that hasn’t changed about modern concerts is the energy created when fans gather together to celebrate the music they enjoy. This is the core essence of the concert experience, the same blueprint as religious gatherings. I saw many Grateful Dead concerts over the years, and the atmosphere was very close to a church mass. There was the same sense of reverence, respect, ritual, and release.
And hopefully that will never change. Long live rock-n-roll!
When life gets confusing, sometimes you look to the universe for answers or a sign. This is especially true if you’re facing a big life choice, making a major decision, or, like me, looking for a new job.I took our dogs out for a midnight bathroom break the other night, and I noticed a small, black shape on our landing. At first I thought it was a blackened leaf, or maybe a little “gift” from one of the dogs. I bent down for a closer look and the black shadow wiggled.
It was a big, thick, fuzzy black caterpillar. It was equal parts creepy and beautiful. I’d never seen one like it before.
Where did it come from? Maybe it fell from the trees above. It certainly didn’t belong on our back landing; that was way to close to being inside our house. This multi-legged, furry-backed creature belonged deep in the Great Outdoors. I helped Mr. Caterpillar get one step closer by flicking it into the grass with the end of a broom. It was better suited there among the roots, shoots, and dirt.
But after giving the dogs their biscuits and locking up for the night, I wondered if the mysterious black caterpillar wasn’t the heavenly sign I sought. Caterpillars represent change. They mean fall is coming.
Good Luck, New Birth
Some cultures consider caterpillars a sign of good luck and new birth. Caterpillars mean it’s time to start a new project or endeavor, shed the old and welcome the new.
Old farmers claim you can predict the severity of next winter’s weather based on the amount of fuzz on a caterpillar’s back. According to the guy I met the other night, we’re in for a rough one.
Caterpillars transform themselves like no other creature in nature. They’re built for change. Trading in ten little legs for a pair of colorful wings is what they do. Caterpillars become butterflies, and butterflies are free to fly, fly away. (Though I’m pretty sure the “wooly bear” caterpillar I met the other night will become a Giant Leopard Moth, but you get the idea.)
An Internet hippy named Presley Love puts it this way:
“Caterpillar holds the grand dream of becoming all that it can be, with no limitations. It reaches out to become its greatest expression of self, spirit, and soul. Putting everything aside, it follows the drive to evolve. Caterpillar teaches us to do the same, to find our power to transform in deep meditation, to go into the cocoon and emerge as a greater aspect of self…believing in the possibilities that with faith all things great and small are possible and to remember that the grand and beautiful things have very humble beginnings.”
Creepy Bug At The Door
What was my role in Mr. Caterpillar’s future? Did I sentence him to death by flicking him into our yard, where he might fall prey to birds and other wildlife? Or did I provide him with a “relocation opportunity,” a chance to start over someplace new, a place he’d never considered, a place he would have never reached, without my intervention?
Being unemployed gives you time to think (maybe too much!) Sometimes you feel like a caterpillar, or some other creepy bug, lying on a stranger’s doorstep, waiting to be either crushed or brushed aside. Other times you can feel the wings growing on your back, waiting for the right moment to break free and send you soaring skyward.
Either way, it’s time for a change.
Originally published in Wayne TODAY, September 2015