Thursday, August 27, 2015

Memorial Scholarship Information for Television Journalists Murdered Yesterday Morning in Virginia

Alison Parker 1991-2015 and Adam Ward 1988-2015
The shortest sentence I know of in The Bible is this one: "Jesus wept". And I am not ashamed to say that I did too--last night and this morning. Rather than write an Op/Ed of outrage that will probably go nowhere, I've decided to recap the following information with a call to action:

Recap: Yesterday morning at 6:43 AM in Roanoke, Virginia two young people were murdered in cold blood during a live broadcast on WDBJ-TV 7. The victims were news journalist Alison Bailey Parker, age 24 and Videographer Adam Ward, age 27. Both were engaged to be married. Both leave behind mothers, fathers and finacee's. Both were murdered by a deranged man named Vester Flanagan, who later took his own life. The interviewee, Vicki Gardner was shot in the chest with the bullet having grazed her spinal cord. Although she survived, her husband said that she is facing a very lengthy recovery. I hope and pray that nobody ever forgets the lives of these two journalists and their family members. 

Scholarships to Honor Alison Bailey Parker

Alison Parker graduated from Patrick Henry Community College in 2009 and James Madison University. Scholarships at both schools have been established.

James Madison University Scholarship
Checks for the Alison Parker Memorial Scholarship can be made payable to:
JMU Foundation and mailed to: JMU Advancement Gifts and Records, MSC 3603, Harrisonburg, VA 22807 ATTN: Alison Parker Memorial Scholarship
    Patrick Henry Community College Scholarship
    Donations for the Alison Bailey Parker Memorial Scholarship can be made online or by cash or check to the Patrick Henry Community College Foundation, 645 Patriot Avenue, Martinsville, VA 24112. For additional information, call (276) 656-0250.
    A scholarship for Adam Ward is in the process of being set up. Adam graduated from Salem High School and Virginia Tech. As soon as these arrangements are final, I will update this blog post.

    Sunday, August 23, 2015

    A New House, and a Little Imagination

     Photos: Michael Manning
    I grew up in a ranch house in the Midwest, which probably explains why I like ranch houses a lot. Upon occasion, I enjoy snapping photos of homes for sale that are inviting and have charm. While not the most impressive home I've seen, I took out my camera on the way to my work out at the gym, and took a few shots of this home.  
     We've all heard that adage about "location, location, location". Case in point: If this home were located on the street where I grew up in western Cincinnati, it certainly wouldn't be able to support a cactus in the front yard. Neither would the asking price be $1,495,000 from Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. My guess is that it would list at $250,000. But as Dorothy states in The Wizard of Oz: "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more.

    On the way up the walk to my Barbecue party 
    using the indoor gas range: 6 burners too!
    Now, I want to be fair to all of you who sell real estate. This home has a split floor plan that features four en suite bedrooms (ladies, please explain this term to me), a separate large office (which I would personally enjoy), an over-sized 3-car garage, a chef's kitchen (which is "open to the expansive great room for ultimate entertaining"), a glass-walled wine display (I'd personally ask for a discount on this item, since I'm deathly allergic to wine)..and last but not least, "tri-fold doors which provide for indoor/outdoor living" (I used to write copy like this in broadcasting). 

    The view looking across the street at the neighbors! 
    This next item  kills me: "dual dishwashers"! The home is 4,200 square feet. I'm certain the real estate agents and I have the same dentist, judging from their photos (but I didn't partake of any bonding or bleaching). The stone sculpture at the entrance is a nice touch, and it's easy to see this home in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada  or California. The architectural lines are modern and uncomplicated. 

    Your Feedback, Please
    I'm curious. What other state can you see this home built? I have a few answers I'll divulge after I receive some comments. The three car garage would have a vintage Mustang convertible (if it were my home). And before I forget, it has 4 bedrooms with 4.5 baths--enough for "The Brady Bunch" and Alice! All in good fun, and I do hear a Sarah McLachlan song playing when I review the brochure too...

    Have a great week!

    A Short Blog on NASCAR's New Aerodynamic Package...

    Photo: Mike Kalasnik
    For those of you who may or may not enjoy motor sports as I do, NASCAR, in a bid to improve race track attendance--and television viewers--has forced drivers to install an aerodynamic spoiler system. This forces the car down on the track to achieve higher speeds, but it has three unintended consequences. The car's are harder to control, passing in a gap is difficult and rear view vision is impeded. Lastly, the new package generates heat of up to 140 degree's inside the car. The latter concern is being addressed through venting. But, overall, I find this ridiculous. 

    Drivers in NASCAR are seasoned professionals who don't need to be micro-managed. If anything, they are in a position to teach NASCAR authorities a thing or two about improving the race with a revision of a few rules and safety matters--pitting being one concern. Hopefully, this too shall pass--before someone loses a life over ratings concerns. Maybe NASCAR should look to their marketing to improve track attendance and viewers at home. That's just my opinion. 

    Wednesday, August 19, 2015

    Short Blog for Wednesday Photo Op!

    Photo: Michael Manning

    My BLOG Posts have run a little long lately, so I'm keeping this one short. Hope your week is going well!

    Tuesday, August 18, 2015

    A Short Blog Movie Review on "Best of Enemies"

    Always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”
    --President Richard M. Nixon 
    For those of you who were born in 1968 or thereafter, and merely read about the ten televised debates between William F. Buckley, Jr., and Gore Vidal on the ABC network, it was a historic event. The year 1968 marked a violent period of anti-war and anti-establishment rebellion and violence. Against the backdrop of the summertime 1968 Democratic and Republican conventions in Miami and Chicago, this documentary in my assessment, resembled two intellectual giants that became "two scorpions in a bottle". All of which is to say that I haven't seen such unbridled hatred between two adults like this in a long time. But this story, with its intellectual war of nerves between writer and conservative William F. Buckley and liberal novelist Gore Vidal starts out entertaining enough, then turns blatantly ugly. That these two men--now deceased--never escalated their vindictiveness to physical violence on live television is amazing. 

    Each man loathed the other, and genuinely felt that if given further influence, the other had the potential to take American society down a sewer. Their mutual solution was to therefore attempt to annihilate one another over cultural issues of ethics and morality. Each man felt the other to be criminally hypocritical. What the theater-going public can expect is actual film footage from the original network debates. Directed and written by Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville, television news is revealed as possessing the staid, if not anemic arms length positioning that is anathema to the cheap sensationalism of today's instant news-instant gratification-bordering-on "Reality TV". 

    Of the three major networks in existence at the time (PBS was still in its infancy), ABC News was always in third place among the incumbents, NBC and CBS. To remedy this, ABC management decided to pit two ivory tower intellectuals--William F. Buckely, the torch bearer of a new conservatism movement, and Gore Vidal, a liberal counterpart and cousin to Jacqueline Onassis (from whom he became estranged after a falling out with Robert Kennedy in 1962) in a series of debates. 

    If you can imagine a Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier boxing match, this film captures no less of a battle between two warriors who appeared to live for the chance to pummel one another intellectually before millions of television viewers. Their exchanges were replete with personal insults, strategic debate traps set for one another, total distrust and an unvarnished hatred. The tension between the two during makeup in the greenroom backstage was so thick that it could be cut with a knife. Viewers had never seen anything like this display of open animosity before, with each man using brinkmanship to "go for the jugular" and defeat his opponent. Narrator Howard K. Smith is visually rattled on more than one occasion by what is playing out before him, as he barely keeps control over the two men. 

    Filmmakers Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville wrote and directed this film. Neville will be familiar to Sundance Film Festival aficionados for his recent film "'Twenty Feet From Stardom". 

    No matter what side of the political fence you happen to be on, President Richard Nixon's famous words came to this reviewers mind as the movie concluded: “Always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.”

    Just the same, this is a worthwhile film that I recommend as both an exercise in social discourse, inasmuch as it is a historical document. The most casual viewer cannot escape gaining a sense of the tenor of American society in the late 1960's, so soon after the senseless and shocking murders of President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. 

    In spite of all I've shared here, this review is hardly a spoiler. Rather, viewers will have to decide for themselves what this ideological clash says about our current day culture. Yes, decades have passed. But fundamental questions remain. Are we less informed? Are our senses dull to the point of apathy? Have we lost our sense of curiosity to become informed on the issues? How do we define personal and nationalistic pride? What is acceptable today versus 1968, and to what extent does either man--Buckley or Vidal emerge with any legitimate points of view? 

    Do not miss this limited engagement in select theaters near you. It is divisive and gloves off, proving that intellectual blows can inflict often as much psychic damage as physical violence. Each man bore the ultimate responsibility for his actions, and how they lived with themselves at the end of their lives is telling. This is not your high school debate class. I should know. I represented my high school in regional debates. 

    Sit back and buckle your seat belts for an energetic and riveting exchange that is at least as provocative as CNN's advertising campaign of the late talk show host Morton Downey, Jr. series, which is appropriately titled "Evocateur".

    Monday, August 17, 2015

    Long Beach, California Saturday Morning...

    This past Saturday I flew to Long Beach, California via Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for the Airline & Aviation Expo. Here are a few photos from that event. 

    All Photos Below: Michael Manning

     Landing at LAX after a brief 56 minute flight from Phoenix, Arizona. 
    Left to Right: Key members of the Airways Magazine team: the lovely Andrea Mazzei-Perrella, husband Enrique Perrella, Airways Editor-In-Chief and Owner, Yours Truly (remember my previous post about possibly requiring a plastic surgeon to correct my tendency to shut my eyes when I smile in pictures?) and Historian Writer extraordinaire David H. Stringer.  

    The highlight of the trip was finally having the opportunity to meet my Editor-In-Chief Enrique Perrella in-person. Enrique is also a pilot. My former Editor of 20 years was a fine man and remains a very good friend. But over two decades, sadly, we never met in-person. Thus, there is something authentic and rewarding in the experience of actually meeting in-person to catch up on pleasantries and matters important to our current projects. 

    To this end, Enrique has completely overhauled our magazine with a new visual image, new content, formatting, quality paper, improved photography, new staff members and departments, along with making significant investments in technology. We now feature an app that you can download to your Smart phone to subscribe and keep up on breaking news within the industry. And we are very proactive in listening to our readers' feedback and responding to many thoughtful and inspiring suggestions. Visit us at: 

    At least three people asked for Enrique's autograph. I was pleasantly surprised, when a pilot of Atlas Air Cargo stopped by our table and asked if he could have his photo taken with me! Atlas was our first-ever cargo carrier to grace our cover last September, and the issue featured my interview with CEO William J. Flynn. 

    As a veteran news reporter and anchor in radio and television, the interview format suits me well, and I have enjoyed meeting many personalities who have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Businessweek, TIME and Newsweek magazines. On television and radio, many have appeared on NPR Radio, MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour, and even one executive, the late trustee Marty Shugrue of Eastern Airlines made it onto David Letterman's "Top 10 List" in October 1990 (which was a lot of fun). Letterman was a fan of Shugue, and memorably walked up to the camera within inches of the lens and said afterwards, "I love you Marty", amid much laughter. Shugrue, who saw the broadcast and laughed along with the skit, sent Letterman a hand written note on Eastern Airlines stationary with a sharpie pen that read: "I love you too, Dave!"    

     Atlas Air Cargo became the first cargo carrier to grace the cover of Airways

    The hotel ran short of boxed lunches, and some of you may recall the line uttered by actor Al Pacino in the movie, "Scent of a Woman" when ordering a drink at The Waldorf Astoria in New York with co-star Chris O'Donnell. Speaking to the waiter: "Schlitz. No Schlitz--Blatz. No Blatz? Improvise". As such, I had to "improvise" for a quick meal. So, I took the elevator to the Penthouse level for two Fish Tacos and a glass of lemonade. While I waited for my order to arrive, I snapped this photo of the street below.

    Since I spent half of my life living in Dallas, Texas, I was fortunate to watch Southwest Airlines grow from a small carrier, to the largest domestic U.S. carrier in 2015 as measured by total passengers carried. Southwest, without a doubt, carries more business travelers today than ever. This 737-700 and the Series -800 was a project that was managed by former Boeing executive and Continental CEO Gordon Bethune, author of the New York Times Best Seller "From Worst to First". 

    Incidentally, you can find my print interview with Gordon over on my Interview Page, accessible by clicking the small button located atop this BLOG Page.

    A wonderful airline with a great culture of fun and personable service, I was privileged to have shared some laughs with co-founder, and now Chairman Emeritus Herb Kelleher years ago during a Press Dinner, held at Southwest's headquarters adjacent to Dallas Love Field Airport. 

    Sir Richard Branson is also an avid aviation buff, and founder of the highly regarded carrier Virgin Atlantic. He once sat with my former Editor John Wegg for an interview. An assistant to Richard tapped him on the shoulder to remind him that he was due at CNN to tape an appearance on "Larry King Live". Richard looked at my Editor and said, "Pity. I was enjoying our conversation. Why don't you join us in the limo and ride over to CNN for the taping? Afterwards, we'll pick up this conversation over dinner". Branson, who owns 400 Virgin branded companies is, by all accounts, down to earth. He wrote a highly respectful tribute of Pan American World Airways founder Juan Trippe in TIME Magazine's "Top 100 Titans" issue years ago. 

    I picked up a few items at the show: Here is a Braniff International Airways Coffee Mug appearing in the Chocolate Brown "Ultra" Paint Scheme and Power Stripes that adorned the fleet in it's final years. 

    In college, my Senior Thesis in 1999 focused on the subject of Delta Air Lines, which later merged with Northwest Airlines on October 28, 2008. I packed this tail section into my brief case before flying back home.

    Coming Up Next: A Short Blog Movie Review of "Best Enemies", the debates between William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal!

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015

    A Short Blog on An Iconic American Drive-In Restaurant

     All Photos by Michael Manning
    On my last day in the Midwest, I snapped these photos in Fairfax, Ohio. Most people are familiar with the iconic Big Boy statue of a young waiter hustling along to deliver a double-decker hamburger sandwich with a smile. Dave Frisch of Cincinnati created this statue and trademarked it to other franchisee's across the country

    The restaurant business is a high risk venture, with a 50 percent failure rate among new entrants. So many factors are involved that determine whether a concept will succeed or fail. Like any business, there is the product itself. Next, there is the service and the employees who are tasked with delivering the product to the customer. Then there is the issue of location--basic fundamentals. Here's a brief success story.

    Bob's Big Boy was founded in 1936 by Bob Wian in Glendale, California. He is credited with designing the circular drive-thru that featured carhops. Hamburger patties were thin and could be cooked quickly to serve customers. A tasty meal at a great value and fast service, with accessible locations led to a successful business model. So, Wian moved to franchise his concept. This is where Dave Frisch entered the picture. He met with Wian in Glendale, California and shook hands on a deal to offer franchised locations throughout Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky--what locals refer to in my hometown as the "Tri-State". 

    Today, the nation's oldest original location of Bob's Big Boy is in Burbank, California. Bob Hope used to enjoy stopping in for a meal, and this location was also visited by The Beatles during their 1965 U.S tour. But in a sign of changing times, the Frisch family heirs will sell their 121 restaurants to venture capital firm NRD Partners this October.    

    After failing in the Great Depression, local Cincinnati businessman Fred Cornuelle, put up the funding for a new restaurant. In 1939, the "Mainliner" was opened as Cincinnati's first year-round drive-in. Interestingly, the "Mainliner" was named for the aircraft that flew over the restaurant into Lunken Airport. Coincidentally, Lunken was the same airport that I flew in and out of as an NBC Helicopter Reporter. 

    Located just four miles from downtown Cincinnati, Lunken Airport dates back to 1925 when the Lunken Family purchased land from the Cincinnati Polo Club. The airport was formally dedicated in 1930. By 1947, Boone County, Kentucky officials lobbied successfully to build what is today Greater Cincinnati International Airport (CVG). When American Airlines, TWA and Delta relocated from Lunken Airport to the new Airport--roughly a ten minute drive across the Ohio River into Kentucky--Lunken was relegated to a general aviation airport. Today, the only commercial service is the Ultimate Air Shuttle, utilizing Dornier 328 aircraft with service to New York, Chicago, Charlotte, Nantucket and Martha's Vinyard. But I digress. 

    While it's not visible in this photo, the planes propellers turn rapidly on this nostalgic sign. I have siblings who are two decades older than me, so this restaurant is really a part of their generation and not mine. But my eldest brother has informed me that this was the place "to be seen" in high school. Guys would cruise through the parking lot (often in convertibles) to "make an appearance" in front of the girls--you get the picture. The challenge for NRD Partners, of course, will be to retain the culture of friendly and fast service with a good product to offer the public--a tasty meal.  

    Dave Frisch's Big Boy statue was originally his creation, and he holds the trademark to it. Originally, he painted the statue with a striped uniform that was later modified to a red checker design. This was one of my last pictures taken before I returned to Arizona. While I don't eat fast food as a rule, what is your idea of a fun restaurant with good service?

    Tuesday, August 11, 2015

    What's In Your House and On Your Mind?

    All Photos--Michael Manning
    Whenever I am in doubt about a subject to write about, I start opening up kitchen cabinets, and generally look around the house for some inspiring subject. Someone stole my Canon camera, the one that I bought after consulting my friend Hilary over at her blog site "The Smitten Image". Hilary is a great photographer, and she provided me with some good pointers. But my camera still ended up being stolen, thus, forcing me to use my Smartphone for most (but not all) of this post. 

    A credit card issuer has an ad campaign on television that asks, "What's in your wallet?" Borrowing from this theme, this post started out with the title, "What's On Your Desktop?" This quickly appeared boring as I surveyed my desktop, so the new theme evolved to "What's In Your House and On Your Mind?"  

    What about aviation? Well, for over 20 years I've covered the commercial aviation industry as a journalist. As the photo above illustrates, I did take flying lessons for awhile, and amusingly enough, my instructor was a guy named Jan Carlzon--by sheer coincidence the same name of the former CEO of Scandinavian Air System! My first flight was in a Cessna 152, and I over-rotated on take off (pulled back too hard on the yoke for a steep climb). This can be dangerous. My flight instructor reminded me that I wasn't Tom Cruise from the movie "Top Gun". That problem never materialized again. Flight lessons back then cost $3,000 to earn your flight certificate. I thought that was an outrageous amount of money until two years ago. A friend of mine was paying off his $13,000 loan for the same certificate! I went "on hiatus", but truthfully, I enjoyed flying. The school wanted more money, and I told them I wasn't Howard Hughes. That was the beginning of my hiatus.   

    What does a Delta 767-300 model have to do with my college graduation photo? Plenty. I may just be the first Psychology major to have written his senior thesis on "The History of Delta Air Lines and a T-Test on Leadership 7.5." Sound exciting? Well, for those of you who may be unfamiliar (or bored stiff), I graduated in 1999. "Leadership 7.5" is a reference to a program that former Delta CEO Ron Allen announced on April 28, 1994. Delta cut $2 billion, about 16 percent, from its annual operating costs and eliminated up to 15,000 jobs. The goal was to reduce seat mile costs from 9.26 cents (to fly one passenger one mile), to 7.5 cents. I'll save you time so that you don't have to read my lengthy thesis; the program failed. Employees were unhappy, baggage was lost and the airline's on-time performance suffered. Today, Delta is a far different company with a brighter future. I just wish they didn't de-hub Cincinnati. My routing to make visits back home are now reminiscent of Magellan! 

    And now a word about hobbies. 

    I've had a lot of fun meeting some great people in this industry. I once had a collection of "executive desktop models" that numbered over 100. I sold all but three, and joke with friends that I have options for one more--some slang from the fleet planning side of the business--"options". 

    The same was true of airline mugs. I had three times as many as I do now. So, I sold some and kept others. Like the model aircraft, it's still a hobby. I just wish Airline Collectible Shows would return to the West Coast. 

    This was my last day as an NBC Television Helicopter Reporter. See that $250,000.00 camera mounted beneath the nose? My pilot and I had the privilege of helping the Cincinnati Police apprehend an armed robbery suspect. We were coming in for a landing at the end of the day. Police officers had responded to two gunmen firing weapons near a Cincinnati Metro bus. One suspect was apprehended, while a second man escaped. Police had a building surrounded and asked us for aerial surveillance. We flew over the building site for 25 minutes until I managed to zoom the camera lens in on the second armed suspect, who was laying under a bush in the early Spring season. The suspect was taken into custody without incident. Those daily 88.5 mile commutes working split-shifts were worth it. I had the best pilot in the world and think back often to those days that began at 4:30 A.M.

    This photo is the earliest evidence that I have from my family archives of my love affair with automobiles. My favorite years are 1940 - 1970. 

    My die cast automobile model collection was also downsized from 159 to 13. I do lament that Danbury Mint no longer manufactures 1/16 scale models as seen in the foreground. Their factory closed suddenly in China. Of course, I wish they'd build the product in the United States. But I digress. 

    When the Dustin Hoffman-Tom Cruise movie "Rainman" was filmed in my hometown of Cincinnati, one of my mother's neighbors was just finishing restoring a 1948 Buick Roadmaster in his garage. The producers tracked him down and in the spirit of author Mario Gianluigi Puzo, they "made him an offer he couldn't refuse" for the hood, fenders and front grill for the movie car (which was painted in this color).    

    The father of a good friend of mine in Scottsdale, Arizona worked on the ad campaign for Packard automobiles. My Dad owned a 1951 Mayfair four door sedan, roughly the same color and look of this framed ad that hangs on my wall. The Mayfair wasn't the top of the line, but it was nice, from what I'm told. I wasn't around back then. But the tag line was good: "Ask The Man Who Owns One". 

    Far from being a Packard, I restored this 1980 Chevrolet El Camino. It had a custom bed liner, a new suspension and I had plans to replace the V-6 with a V-8 engine. My plans were scuttled when a delivery van driver looking down and reading traffic directions instead of watching where he was driving slammed into my El Camino in stopped traffic. Obviously, I survived. But the El Camino was totaled. However, as Jay Leno will tell you, these cars can be purchased reasonably, and restored. Just the same, this hobby too is "on hiatus".  

    A corner table with  small collection of Arabian horse figures serves to remind me of my late cousin, who took me riding as a 10 year-old kid. She was quite a competitive horsewoman. 

    In 2009, a great friend of mine who manages a farm, invited me to spend the summer riding Arabian horses. It was the most fun I've had since relocating to Arizona. Originally intended as a show horse, this Arabian was the most easy going, friendly horse I ever knew. For the record, I no longer own this sweaty T-shirt. Let's move on to the subject of glass...

    This thick blue glass piece was made in Turkey. If you look close enough, you'll see evidence of needles and thread. Thank God for the entrepreneurial spirit I have to sew on my own buttons. Just don't ask me how long it takes! 

    I love to collect most anything Mid-Century. A friend of mine taught me to scour antique shops that "don't know what they have". This has proven to be great advice! 

    Before I sign off, here are some Southwestern-inspired goblets. And now the final item...

    Recently, I swapped a leaded glass window for this one after some negotiation. Believe me, I got the better end of this deal. It's in my kitchen window. About all I can tell you is that it's old. 

    Earlier, I asked what's in your house and on your mind. Do tell!