Sunday, December 8, 2013

I Heard The News That Day, Oh Boy

Where were you on December 8, 1980?

That night, actually. I was 23 years old. It was just after 11:00PM EST, I was watching the news on New York City's NBC channel 4 in my bedroom in New Jersey. Chuck Scarborough was delivering the news when he was handed a bulletin: "We just received some startling news. A man believed to be former Beatle John Lennon has been shot outside Central Park". That was all the details he had. Later in the broadcast he confirmed that the man was indeed John Lennon, and he had died.

I then shut the TV off and tuned my radio to WNEW-FM ("Where rock lives"). DJ Vin Scelsa, his voice shaking,  was riffing on the shocking event that had just happened, lamenting that "the life of a man of peace would end in such a damnable manner". He then cued-up "Watching the Wheels" from John and Yoko's comeback album, "Double Fantasy". I fell asleep listening to the radio.

I cannot say that the death of John Lennon affected me personally, but like many of my generation, for us, the music of The Beatles was the soundtrack to our childhood and coming-of-age. From their arrival in 1964, a welcome antidote after the assassination of John F. Kennedy (another "Where were you?" moment) when I was in 2nd grade, to the break-up in 1970 when I was entering high school, to Lennon's surprise appearance at an Elton John concert in Madison Square Garden on Thanksgiving 1974. I had a third row center seat that night, and it was, of course, one of the highlights of my life as a music fan. It was also the last time Lennon would ever appear on a stage.

It is impossible to say what John Lennon would be doing now if he had lived. I am almost certain, however, that he would have continued to be an outspoken critic of war and an advocate for peace.

Would he have made more music? I hope so.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The JFK Oral History Project - Mission Accomplished

This is a re-issue of a blog post that originally appeared in Pick's Place 1.0, re-issued in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination.

As mentioned in these pages previously, my friend Andy and I were invited by the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza to be interviewed about our memories and impressions of the events of November 22, 1963. Here is a brief chronicle of the trip, which we made on Friday, February 17, 2012.

I arrived at Houston's Hobby airport Thursday afternoon (on time, amazingly, thank you Southwest Airlines), took the shuttle to Andy's office in downtown Houston, then headed to his house in the Houston suburb of Spring, TX. Over dinner, we attempted to prepare for the interview, but having gone over this story so many times, there really wasn't much to rehearse. I went to bed, stayed up late like a kid on Christmas Eve, and woke up early.

We began the day with a blend of coffee called "Lunch with Elvis", that contained a hint of peanut butter and banana flavoring. Andy is a coffee enthusiast and tries various blends of beans he gets from a place called HEB Cafe on the Run.

At approximately 7:30am CST, we hit the road to head for Dallas.

According to Andy, no trip up I-45 is complete without a stop a Buc-ees, a rest stop in Madisonville. He had been singing the praises of this highway Mecca ("better than South of the Border") ever since we began planning this trip. The place did not disappoint. It has everything. Great for shopping, browsing and people-watching. We were stalked and stopped by a guy describing himself as a World War II re-enacter, and told us we must go to some event in Palestine (pronounced "PAL-est-een") in May. They even have a George Patton impersonator! We managed to break away and hit the road again.

We arrived in Dallas around noon, parking in the Sixth Floor Museum parking lot, grabbed some lunch at a restaurant around the corner, then went over to the museum at 1:30. (Sign on the front door of the museum: "No Firearms"). We checked in, asked for Stephen Fagin, Associate Curator, who greeted us in the lobby and took us to the media room. Although we have dubbed this event "The Sixth Floor Summit", the media room is actually on the first floor.

I had my copy of "Rush to Judgment", a first edition I bought used at the Strand book store in Manhattan many years ago. I asked Mr. Fagin if Mark Lane happened to be in the building. When he said yes, I jumped out of my seat and asked if I could get him to autograph my book. However, by "in the building", Mr. Fagin meant there was video of Mark Lane among the museum displays. Oh well.

We sat down, got mic'ed up, and started shooting. The interview went on for just over an hour, with Mr. Fagin moving the discussion along with brief questions and allowing Andy and me to do the talking. There were no brain freezes, very few, if any, "ums", and we had a great discussion, from our impressions of watching history unfolding through the eyes of a second grader and how our perspectives evolved over time.


Once the interview was over, we went upstairs to the museum, which had not changed much since I had been there in 2005, just spruced up a bit. Mr. Fagin took us to the renovated seventh floor, which is used for special exhibits and lectures. We then went outside to walk around Dealey Plaza.

The thing about Dealey Plaza is, when you go there for the first time, you feel like you've been there already, having seen so many pictures and documentaries. It all looks very familiar.  Another thing about Dealey Plaza is, there really isn't much to do there, except walk around. Other than a very small plaque embedded in the ground, marking the spot as a national historic landmark, there is not much to see. The picket fence, one possible sniper's perch for a hypothetical second gunman, has been replaced with a new fence and backs to the museum parking lot. Nothing mysterious there. The other possible sniper's perch, the manhole on Elm Street, used to have a removable cover, but has now been welded shut. We walked around a bit, took some pictures, chatted with some tourists, and we headed back to Spring, stopping, of course, at Buc-ees for gas, and some beef jerky to take home.

The next day, we sat at Andy's kitchen table and discussed the interview on video, and the awesomeness of the whole experience. After that, Andy drove me to Hobby for my flight home (again, on time).

We will be getting a DVD in the mail of the entire interview. The video will also be available in the Reading Room of the Sixth Floor Museum for researchers and scholars. If anyone wants a copy of the DVD, please email your address to me at jrpickens@gmail.com and I will send you a copy.

We hope all will find our story as interesting as we think it is.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Confession: The Day I Voted Republican


On this day in history, September 8, 1974: President Ford granted an unconditional pardon to former President Nixon.

On December 18, 1974, I turned 18. This made me eligible for the draft (which by then had been abolished but I still had to register), allowed to drink my first legal beer, which was at Tumulty's Pub in New Brunswick, and eligible to vote.

I missed by just under two months 1974 Election Day, which would have been the House and one Senator probably (I can look it up but I don't feel like it). The next year was an off-year in most states, but in New Jersey we elect our State Legislators in odd years. I don't remember if I bothered to vote in 1975.

1976 was a different story. It was a Presidential Election year. I was born and raised in a Democratic household and couldn't wait to vote down the Democratic line. We had a choice between some rube from Georgia (*) named Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, and the incumbent Gerald Ford, a Republican.

(*) Like many north-easterners who didn't travel much, I had a dim view of southerners and the South. I am now older and wiser.

When the news came out about Gerald Ford pardoning Richard Nixon for unnamed crimes, I was ambivalent. I didn't like the idea of Nixon getting away with his crimes, but Ford seemed like an honest guy and he believed he was doing what was best for the country, getting past the Watergate hangover so the country could move on to other things. When he was called into Congress to testify about an alleged secret deal, he did not hide behind Executive Privilege but rather sat before Congress and testified. And I didn't think Nixon would live that long anyway.

I was impressed by what I saw as a profile in courage. Ford knew he was committing political suicide, but he granted the pardon anyway (apparently, Caroline Kennedy agreed). So, when I got in the voting booth for the very first time, I did something I didn't ever think in my wildest nightmares I would do - I voted for Gerald Ford, a Republican, for President.

I don't remember if I told anyone. I preferred to hide my shame while still feeling comfortable with my choice. 

However, as time went on, I saw Nixon staging a comeback, trying to repair his reputation by writing books, doing the David Frost interviews, keeping a relatively low profile but still making appearances and getting paid. He lived in Saddle River, NJ, not far from my parents. After a decade or so his high crimes and misdemeanors against the United States were largely forgotten. I realized I had made a terrible mistake.

I hope history treats Jimmy Carter better than he was treated when he was president. He was the only president in modern history not to have a war. Although the Iranian hostage crisis happened on his watch, we now know that an agreement had been made to release the hostages but George H.W. Bush )the only person alive at the time who can't remember where he was on 11/22/63) negotiated with the Iranian government to hold on to the hostages until January, virtually guaranteeing Carter's defeat. Jimmy Carter was also right when he gave that energy crisis speech in his cardigan sweater. No one listened.

We also now know that in 1968 Nixon sabotaged the Paris peace talks to prolong the Vietnam War to help his election chances. That was treason. LBJ knew about it, but did nothing about it. Nixon was a crook.

So, in hindsight, I believe Gerald Ford's pardon for Nixon was the wrong thing to do. Nixon should have stood trial and been punished for his crimes. 

Fast forward to 2009: newly-elected President Barack Obama decided not to prosecute Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, and their cronies for war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Gerald Ford had set the precedent.

So, here is my confession: On November 2, 1976, I voted for Gerald Ford, a Republican, for President of the United States. It was my first Presidential election and I blew it. 

Since then I have never again voted for a Republican in a federal or statewide election. 

Please forgive me.



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Give With Target to Saint Francis of Assisi School

A special request, on behalf of my brother, Rev. David J. Pickens, Pastor of St Francis of Assisi Parish in Haskell, NJ - 

This year, Give With Target will give money to schools all over the country for one simple act: a vote. 

St Francis of Assisi School in Haskell, NJ has reached its 25 vote minimum to earn a $25 donation from Target. 

But that's only the beginning!


For each additional vote, St Francis Of Assisi School will get $1 more. So please remember that, although the gesture is small, the rewards are potentially huge. 


Go to THIS LINK to vote for St. Francis of Assisi School once a week through September 21 or until Target has given away all $5 million.


DON'T DO IT TOMORROW, DO IT TODAY!


Saturday, August 17, 2013

By The Time We Got To Woodstock (we were headed back to NJ)


"The New York State Thruway is CLOSED, man!"

Thus spoke Wavy Gravy, the legendary announcer at the Woodstock Music & Art Fair. By that time the crowd had swelled to "half a million strong", according to the Joni Mitchell song.

The Pickens family was about to find that out while on our way home from vacation in August 1969. Now, if everyone who claimed to be at Woodstock was really there, the entire state of New York would not have been able to hold everyone. But we were there - sort of. I didn't go to the Woodstock music festival because I was 12 and couldn't go myself, and didn't have hippie parents to take me.

That summer, my parents had decided to forgo our usual vacation to the Jersey Shore and spend a week in the Adirondacks instead. We went first to Saranac Lake, then Lake Champlain, with a side day trip to Montreal.

On the way home, Saturday 8/16, the NY Thruway had reopened, but the traffic was still bumper-to-bumper, and I remember my Dad grumbling about some hippie music thing going on in NY and we were stuck in that traffic.

We eventually made it home, and that Christmas my folks got me the live album, a three-record set, which introduced me to all the great musical acts of the time. I listened to it so much it was almost like I had been there.

So, if anyone asks me if I was at Woodstock, I can say, yeah, I was there.







Above: The headline from my original post in CNN iReport. Note the line through my name, as I have been Banned-For-Life from posting on iReport. Yet they have not removed my material and are still benefitting from the traffic it draws.







Sunday, August 11, 2013

Happy Birthday Mike Douglas


I met Mike Douglas in 1997 in Philly when he was in town to have his star enshrined on the Walk Of Fame on Broad Street. He was also doing a signing for his new CD, "A Rare Treasure Of Memorable Music", including an updated version of the cheesy "The Men In My Little Girl's Life". My mom's birthday was coming up, so I slipped out of work and went over to get a signed CD.

What struck me about him was (were?) a few things: how Irish he looked (I had only seen him on a B&W TV), his firm handshake, and his charisma, how he just fucking exuded likability. It was easy to see why his show was so popular, despite its weird but interesting format.

When it was my turn, he stood up and shook my hand. I told him the CD was for my mom - who like just about everyone who was home at the time - watched his show every day. My brother and I watched it too. It was our afternoon ritual of waiting for Dad to get home from work so we could eat dinner.

I told him it was for her birthday. He asked her name, and I told him "Lucille". Without missing a beat, he replied "That was my first girlfriend's name", which was probably bullshit but hey, that's the kind of thing you say when you're a professional talker.

He signed my CD, I congratulated him on his Walk Of Fame honor, and I was on my way.

Mom had specifically said that year she did not want any gifts for her birthday, but this was a once in a lifetime thing so I did it anyway. She liked it.

Mike Douglas also has the rare distinction of having his "Bachmann Birthday" the same as his birth birthday. He died on his 81st birthday in 2006.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

George Zimmerman's Crackpot 911 History

Here is a partial list of 911 calls made by George Zimmerman, according to a recent article in Mother Jones Magazine:

At 9:02 p.m. on September 21, 2005, he called 911 about a stray dog on Skyline Drive


At 7:22 p.m. on St. Patrick's Day, 2005, he called 911 about a "pothole that is blocking [the] road." 
Then there was the pile of trash in the road near the local Kohl's, which he reported on Nov. 8, 2010. "[Complainant] states it appears recently dumped and appears to contain glass," the dispatcher dutifully reported.
A male driving with no headlights
a yellow speedbike popping wheelies on I-4
an aggressive white-and-brown pitbull
an Orange County municipal pickup cutting people off on the road
loud parties
open garage doors
the antics of an ex-roommate, Josh, that he'd thrown out of their apartment
On September 9, 2009, he called to report another pothole, this one on Greenwood road, advising the dispatcher that "it is deep and can cause damage to vehicles."
On June 16, 2009, shortly after school had let out for the summer, he called to complain about six to eight youths playing basketball near his development's clubhouse, "jumping over the fence going into pool area and trashing the bathroom"
This past January, he called to report five or six children, ages 4 to 11, playing in the neighborhood. The kids, he told a dispatcher, "play in the street and like to run out [in front of] cars."
At 2:38 a.m. on Nov. 4, 2006, he called about a late-model Red Toyota pickup "driving real slow looking at all the [vehicles] in the complex and blasting music from his [vehicle]."
In August 2011, he called to report a black male in a tank top and shorts acting suspicious near the development's back entrance. "[Complainant] believes [subject] is involved in recent S-21s"—break-ins—"in the neighborhood," the call log states. The suspect, Zimmerman told the dispatcher, fit a recent description given out by law enforcement officers.
Three days later, he called to report two black teens in the same area, for the same reason. "[Juveniles] are the subjs who have been [burglarizing] in this area," he told the dispatcher.
And last month, on Feb. 2, Zimmerman called to report a suspicious black man in a leather jacket near one of the development's units. The resident of that townhouse, Zimmerman told dispatch, was a white male. Police stopped by to investigate, but no one was there, and the residence was secure.
After that, there's one final call logged in the report. At 7:11 on February 26, Zimmerman called police to report a black male in a dark gray hoodie.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

My kinda bank, TD is, my kinda bank

It's always an exciting time for me when my change jar is almost filled. That means I can go to my local TD Bank and drop my coins in their Penny Arcade. Unlike most other coin counting machines, that take a cut in exchange for counting the coins, Penny is free to TD customers. 

My favorite thing about Penny is they ask you to guess what the total will be. If you guess within $1.99 you get a prize, some trinket with the TD logo.

So, I guessed $14.98, and the total came out to $14.48, only a fifty cent difference! 

I took the receipt to the Sandy, the teller, and she told me she was afraid she didn't have any prizes. I told her it was no big deal but Sandy pulsed her colleagues, asking if there were any prizes. At that time I told her it really didn't matter, and her response was:


"It matters to us".

Somehow she managed to find a key ring and gave it to me. I thanked her and joked that she just escaped a nasty Yelp review.

It may seem to be only a key ring, but it represents the over-the-top customer service that is the hallmark of TD Bank. I wrote a letter to the Branch Manager praising Sandy for the attention she paid to what I saw as a trivial matter. Trivial to me, but not to the good people at TD Bank.

"It matters to us" is what sets TD Bank above and beyond other banks, and it's why TD Bank is MY bank.

Why can't everybody be like that?

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dad

In the photo, Harold Pickens, newly-minted Jersey Guy, transplanted from Cincinnati, OH, gazes lovingly at his young son (can you blame him?), while the little boy, safely enclosed behind the bars of his play pen, thinks, "some day I want to be like him".

On a side note, Mom was a much better photographer than she was ever given credit for, usually ceding that job to Dad. But the photos of me and Dad from the old days are gems.

Dad is holding what appears to be a staple gun, fixing something, as he often did. He fixed everything. When the TV broke, we didn't buy a new one. Dad would take the back off the TV, remove all the tubes, and we would go to the hardware store and test each tube in the tube tester. Once he identified the bad tube(s), he would buy news one(s), put all the tubes back in the TV, and it was fixed.

An aircraft mechanic by trade, Dad fixed the cars, and tried, with moderate success, to teach me how to do the same. I was not that good at it but at least I understand (kind of) how an internal combustion engine works, and was able to do basic repairs, and today I can speak to a mechanic with some degree of knowledge and not get ripped off.

I never really fully picked up Dad's penchant for DIY-ing; I am basically useless in that regard. A vew years back Dad called me to help him install a garage door opener in his house.


"Where did you buy it?"
"Sears"
"Why don't you have them install it?"
"Because they want $150 for it"
"You can afford that"
"I want to do it myself. Come over and help me"

So I went over and we got to work, me on the ladder and Dad handing me the hardware and giving instructions. It went well until we hit a spot in the garage ceiling where there was no stud. Dad said, "looks like we need a molly", and went over to his tool box to get a molly screw and handed it to me.

I held the molly; clueless.

"Don't you know what to do with that?"
"Uh, no"
"Don't you ever have to hang anything in your house?"
"Sometimes"
"What do you do?"
"I find the stud"
"What if there's no stud?"
"I don't hang anything unless there's a stud"

And so, at the ripe old age of 49, I learned how to use a molly screw. It was the first and last time. I know better than to try it myself at home.

Dad fixed everything. He picked me up whenever I fell, as he did for Mom, and my brother and sister. He is the most selfless person on the planet; the real deal when it comes to family values. It will take a lifetime to repay him for all he's done for me and my family.

Happy Fathers Day, Dad

Saturday, June 8, 2013

I'm Heavenly Blessed and Worldly Wise

Some of my prized possessions include my various New York Jets memorabilia: my Jets teddy bear, my box of Chrebet Crunch cereal, my numerous Jets Christmas tree ornaments, my Jets t-shirts, sweat shirt, and fleece. 

But one of my all time favorite things was my pair of Jets sunglasses. I don't remember where or when I  got them. At some point a few years ago, I misplaced them. I knew I would never be able to replace them.

Anyway, the other day I was gathering up my empty printer cartridges to take to the store to recycle. Most places give you a credit if you turn in empties when you buy cartridges. I had been gathering the empties on a shelf on my desk. When I pulled all the empties out, lo and behold, there were my Jets shades, stuffed way in back of the shelf behind the empties!

So, lessons learned:
1.) Whenever you are looking for something, you always find it in the last place you look (do you know why?)
2.) RECYCLE your printer cartridges.

Of course, this is a harbinger of the upcoming Jets season. Their future's so bright, I gotta wear (Jets) shades!


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Remarkable Young Man Was He

If you remember where you were on November 22, 1963, you may also remember this song, from the Peter Pan collection, "Sing A Song Of Presidents". It went from George Washington all the way to John F. Kennedy.

Lyrics are below (including additional post 1962 bonus lyrics), so sing along -


John F. Kennedy

A remarkable young man is he

At age forty-three

Elected to the Presidency

He was born in 1917
The second child of nine
In the state of Massachusetts
In the city of Brookline

His granddad was a Mayor
His dad Ambassador
He graduated Harvard
Then gave service in the War

(repeat chorus)



As commander of the PT Boat
He got the Purple Heart
He was a combat hero
And he bravely did his part

He served his country proudly

And when the war was won

The hero of the Solomons

Went on to Washington.

(repeat chorus)

Then for three terms he served the House
Of Representatives
And after that a Senator
He gave all he could give

As Senator this Democrat
Worked harder than before
'Til he became the President
Number thirty four (oops)

(repeat chorus)

He liked to have his booty calls
With Marilyn Monroe
He shared her with his brother Bob,
And Ted had Mary Jo

And when Jackie was out of town
He used the White House pool
For skinny-dipping with the staff
While Caroline's at school

(repeat chorus)

He took a trip to Germany
The city of Berlin
He made a declaration
That started with "Ich Bin"

But when he finished his speech
The audience was droll
'Cause "Ich Bin Eine Berliner" means
"I am a jelly roll"

(repeat chorus)

He was shot in 1963
His brain was blown to bits
Lee Harvey got three shots off
But he only made two hits

Was there a second gunman
Behind the Grassy Knoll?
We don't know that but do know
In Jack's head there was a hole

(repeat chorus)
John F. Kennedy
A remarkable young man was he
At age forty three
Elected to the Presidency

Friday, May 17, 2013

Better To Be Half Italian Than Not Italian At All

When my Dad cleared the house so he could sell it, I took out of the attic all my grandparents' old stuff, photos, 8mm films, slides, newspaper clippings. I'm still in the process of going through everything. I was remembering my Uncle Joe, my grandfather's brother. For the hell of it I Googled his name and this came back:

Could this be OUR Uncle Joe? I posted the question on our Saltamach Facebook Group and learned that, yes, Joe Saltamach had published four songs.

My cousin Rosemarie surprised me by mailing me her copy of "Symbol Of Love", a song Uncle Joe wrote in 1946. One problem: I don't read music. To the rescue came Stella Crispo, a parishioner at my brother's former parish. Dave is a Catholic priest and now pastor at a parish in Haskell, NJ
The other day Fr. Dave sent to my sister and me Stella's piano and vocal rendition of "Symbol Of Love". 

I got to work, compiling some old Saltamach photos and video clips and put together a video to the music. The result is a "Once Upon A Time In America" type montage, the quintessential American story. Catherine Fonte and Giuseppe Saltalamacchia, my great grandparents,  arrived on the shores of the Hudson River at the turn of the 20th Century and settled in North Bergen, NJ. Great grandpa built the homestead out of stone with his bare hands.

Seeing these photos, set to music, reminded me how much fun it was growing up in an North Jersey Italian family. The Saltamaches were a fun loving group. Every family get-together was filled with great food, music and laughter.

My great grandparents came here with practically nothing and spawned a sprawling, prosperous family. I'm forever grateful for my rich Italian heritage.

So, here's our video, our Valentine to our wonderful forbears:


Sunday, April 7, 2013

American Cancer Society Bikeathon - Why I Ride (cont'd)

VITO

In the days of yore, men went to the barber, women went to the beauty salon. The idea of gender neutral haircutting places, the norm today, just began to take hold in the mid 1970's. They were called "unisex" salons. The first unisex place I went to was Here Comes The Sun in Westwood, NJ. I was a freshman in college, had let my hair grow long, and didn't want my dad's barber cutting it.

When I checked in, I was still not comfortable with a woman cutting my hair so I waited for the one dude who worked there. His name was Vito. I got shampooed, conditioner, and sat down. I wanted to keep my hair long, but just cleaned up a bit.

Vito and I started chatting, exchanged brief bios, and I learned he went to high school with my college roommate. This was a different hair cutting experience than I was accustomed to. My dad's barber, Dominic, who barely spoke English and watched soccer on a fuzzy TV while he cut my hair. It was an experience not much different from going to the dentist except without the pain.

Vito knew just the kind of haircut I wanted, and we had a pleasant conversation while he was cutting my hair. After that, I became a regular customer.

Vito eventually opened his own shop, called The Late Show because it was next door to the Pascack Theater on Center Street. I referred my family and friends there, and I became a regular there. I always enjoyed going to Vito's shop. Although we were not personal friends, getting my hair cut there was always like catching up with an old friend. 

I moved out of the Westwood area in 1985 but from time to time would stop by The Late Show and say hello to Vito.

In late December 2012, I got an email from my brother informing me that Vito had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. I forwarded it to my friend Andy in Houston - another former loyal Vito customer - and he had already heard the news from his mom, who still went there. Vito had just undergone 10 hours of surgery and they were pretty sure they got everything out. Fingers crossed, hoping this story would have a happy ending. It didn't.

Then, in January, my sister sent me a copy of an ad from the local paper, the Pascack Valley Community Life announcing the closing of The Late Show due to Vito's illness.


Last week I was reading the obituaries in the Bergen Record and learned that Vito had died on March 27. I was deeply saddened, but not shocked, to read this news.

I hear too many cancer stories like this, but this one hit home particularly hard. Someone I knew and liked, a guy MY AGE, with a wife and grown kids. He will never know his grandkids. All I can say is that it sucks, and I hate seeing families go through this. This can happen to anyone. There's no rhyme or reason to it. 

The motto of the American Cancer Society Bikeathon is "Who Are You Riding For?" (note to Grammar Police - STFU). This year, I'm dedicating my ride to Vito. I doesn't mean much, other than I'll be thinking of him as I'm groveling for donations, I'll be thinking of him while I'm pedaling 65 miles in the 90 degree July heat. I'll be thinking of him and his family when I cross the finish line.

Unfortunately, every year there is someone new to dedicate my ride to. We need to find a way to beat this thing.

If you want to contribute to my ride, please CLICK HERE and make a donation. 


Thursday, March 21, 2013

The American Cancer Society Bikeathon - Why I Ride


This is a retread from a post I wrote in Pick's Place 1.0 last year, slightly updated.


Two weeks in a row last May, two colleagues of mine lost parents to cancer, both in their early sixties. 

hate watching people I care about suffer the loss of loved ones to this disease. Through my lifetime, I have seen too many friends, relatives, colleagues suffer and die, too young, from cancer.

It's a horrible thing to watch someone go through this - the initial diagnosis, the aggressive treatments, cautious optimism, remissions sometimes, wishful thinking, desperate attempts to extend the patient's life, then the realization that, in spite of everything, they are now in an end-of-life situation, a life ending too soon. Seeing the anguish on a person's face as they are telling me their story kills me, being unable to do or say anything to help. 

The good news is, a cancer diagnosis is not necessarily the death sentence it used to be, but we have a long way to go. 

For this reason, every year I get on my bicycle and ride 66 miles 90 degree heat in the Philadelphia Bike-a-thon to help raise money for the American Cancer Society. I have fundraising my goal is $1,000. I have a way to go, but I know I can count on my friends and family to help me fight this disease so no family has to go through the anguish of losing their mothers, fathers, and other loved ones to cancer.  

The ride is Sunday, July 14, 2013. If you'd like to help out, you can click on THIS LINK to get to my fundraising page.

Thank you to all who have contributed so far.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Inside The Editor's Studio

Big news - my makeshift video editor's studio is fully equipped and ready to roll!


L-R: 
  • 8mm projector
  • MacBook Pro with iMovie
  • Ion VHS to Digital Converter
  • VHS Player
  • The Director II: A device that captures film so it can be recorded with a camera. 
  • Camera


I have a treasure trove of old 8mm movies and VHS videos to work with. Stay tuned to The jeffpickens YouTube channel for the latest and greatest videos!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Who Wants To Go To Cuba?


Wanna go to Cuba, legally?
Or do you know anyone who would?

A friend of mine works for Explorica, and they just got their license to do Cuba.  So they are putting together a group. There is a minimum number of people needed, so if you are interested, they would want to hear from you within about ten days. 
When: July 6-13
Price: $3,500 approx.

I wish I could go but I can't afford it, but if YOU can, please consider it!

CLICK HERE for more information. Pictures and words below:


Again, HERE IS THE LINK for details!





Sunday, March 3, 2013

Welcome to Pick's Place 2.0

Since I cannot for some reason link my regular mail account to the original Pick's Place, and is forcing me to continue using my Comcast email as my log-in, I have decided to launch Pick's Place 2.0, which will be linked to my Gmail.

The original Pick's Place will always be there, but from this point forward this page will be the Official Picks's Place blog.

 - Jeff