Best Thanksgiving present ever!

“Can I put a picture of your father and I in his casket?” my dad’s cousin Mike D’Amico asked me in 1989.  They were more like brothers than cousins.  He placed the picture on my dad’s heart.

Last night, twenty one years later, I received a link to video footage to my dad’s 2nd birthday and other  footage of my ancestors from the 1930’s!

I guess my Uncle Mike was right about one of his first toys as a two year old– a baseball glove.

Now my Thanksgiving is made. And no, I don’t expect you to sit through our family footage.

May your Thankgiving be with the one’s that you love the most. For some of you this Thanksgiving is going to be your toughest one yet. Maybe this is your first Thanksgiving without a loved one. My first one without my dad wasn’t easy. Same with the first Hanukah, Christmas, New Year’s, their birthday your birthday. And on and on.

But I promise, it will get better. Set a place at the table for them. Celebrate what you had with them.  Share stories. Laugh. Cry. Yes there is forever a hole without them, but only you can fill it. Maybe in 20 years some great family footage will show up in your inbox!

A Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Growing up a food photographer’s son

Thanksgiving at our house was different I suppose.

Some years there were two Thanksgiving dinners. One was for the camera for a magazine. And one we could actually eat.

The first table setting looked great.  But there was shellac brushed on the turkey so it glistened. The first turkey wasn’t fully cooked, but a blowtorch was used to brown the edges and make the bumps on the turkey shrink. A syringe would pump mashed potatoes under the turkey skin so it would look plumper. They sprayed something on the vegetables and certain other foods to keep it looking fresh. Small wood blocks would sit under a casserole so it appeared to be higher in the dish. Thin fishice 2ing line would hold up certain items. Acrylic ice cubes were in in the water pitcher than ran about 85 bucks for each cube.

Fabric protector was sprayed on top of the yams so the butter wouldn’t sink in. Hot wet cotton balls were on the other side of the hot food so they gave off more steam. Other items on hand: tweezers to adjust this and that. Hemoststats to pick up and move little crumbs and stuff. Toothpicks made certain things face the camera. A few exposures later they took it all away and it was time to eat the real Thanksgiving dinner. I guess these days they just Photoshop everything…

Below is one of my dad’s photographs for Chivas Regal.  By the way, the acrylic slipper was made by a model maker just for this shot and someone stole it along the way.

Of course by the time the real meal came around we were all starving. It looked just about the same to us kids.  But we didn’t eat until it was checked and double checked that this was the real dinner. And trust me we listened.

Take it from a guy that has eaten cereal with glue in the milk and brushed his teeth with Brylcreem that came out of a tube of toothpaste.

I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. Don’t forget to say a prayer for those loved one’s who are no longer with us. Everyone enjoy.


Are you a bad sports parent?

The following post contains graphic and objectionable language. If you are easily offended by language of this nature, I suggest you move on to the next blog now.

“Swing the bat you little puta,” a parent yelled at his 8 year old son.  I never knew what this meant until I asked one of my Spanish speaking friends. For those of you who didn’t know, he was saying, “Swing you little bitch!” Now I know why the kid wouldn’t swing. I guess little bitches don’t swing.

That’s just one of the things I’ve seen as sports parent of a 9 year old boy. I don’t know if it gets worse than that, but there’s more.

I’ve seen a parent yell at an umpire: “You better run to your car mother fucker!” The umpire made a call that changed the outcome of a 10 and under baseball game.

I’ve seen a coach of a 12 year old baseball team throwing bats and yes, the Gatorade cooler on the field. Who does he think he is, Billy Martin? Bobby Cox? Lou Pinella?

I asked someone next to me what was wrong with the Gatorade throwing coach and I got an even scarier answer. ” Oh that’s just the way “Greg” is. Besides, he’s just yelling at his son,” they guy said. Almost fell out of my chair.

I recently saw a parent barking orders at his son at a basketball practice.  “Stop fucking double dribbling!” he yelled. Worse yet, his wife yelled something to their son and he told her to “shut the fuck up.”

I’ve seen lesser players taken out of a baseball game so a better player could participate.  The reason?  They were misbehaving.  Odd how the same kid misbehaved two different times in two different games right before it was his turn to bat.

So I’ve been around sports with my son for about 4 years now.  I must say that I have seen the gigantic majority of parents and coaches to be supportive of the officials and the kids. But this stuff just sticks out to me.

Help me out here. What do you think is wrong with these bad sports parents? Did they have a subpar athletic background themselves?  Are they trying to live vicariously through their 8,9 or 10 year old? Do they really think that their child is going to land one of the 480 NBA player jobs?  These are our cherubs we’re talking about. Please let me know what you think.


Clean. Press. Rinse. Repeat.

It was pretty insane.

Today about 150 CrossFit athletes, 400 spectators, event officials and families from all around South Florida gathered at Flamingo Park on South Beach and jumped, ran, lifted and sweat for a great cause: SeeFit benefiting The Vision For Tomorrow Foundation.

The morning started out like most mornings for me…with an AMRAP competition (as many reps as possible). Competitors did clean and presses and kettlebell swings for 6 minutes.

But the event, sponsored by CrossFit 305, was just getting started. Next up was an 800 meter time trial Crossfit style. The men did the first 400 meters carrying a 60 pound sandbag and the women carried 40 pounders.

Then it was a sprint for the finish.

Even if you lost a shoe as my friend Jarret Streiner did.

Now that everyone was nice and limber, it was time for event #3: 10 Thrusters,  10 Burpee box jumpers (a favorite in my house).

Don’t forget 25 one shoe untied lateral jumps…

And 10 pullups. Repeat 3 rounds as fast as you can.

The kids had fun.

“It was great to compete for something that’s going to help someone. It makes you push harder,” said Streiner who took home the silver medal on the day.

Fun. Games. Fitness. Friendly competition. The end.


At last, the 25 hour day

“There are not enough hours in the day,” the saying goes.

Well for many of us in the United States, we’ll get that extra hour when we turn the clocks back this weekend. I asked 100 people what they would do that extra hour. Here are the top line responses:

1) Sleep. By far this was the #1 answer. According to HealthGuidance, 11.1 percent of you did not get enough sleep in the last 30 days. Think it’s no big deal? Fatigue has been cited as contributing to the Exxon Valdez crash, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the nuclear accident at Chernobyl and the nuclear accident at the Three Mile Island. So get some sleep.  The BP oil spill? That was just plain greed.

2) Exercise. You can never be too rich or too thin.  I guess thin won because exercising came in at #2. It’s currently estimated that 97 million adults are overweight or obese in this country alone. Since the United States is the undisputed “leader” in obesity, exercising would be a good idea.  I always see tons of new faces at the gym each January, but they pull the disappearing act by February. Then they return for a week or two right before summer and then they’re gone again. You know who you are!  I hope the people who said “exercise” can do it and keep it up.

3) Spend time with family. In my highly non-scientific survey, this rang in at #3 and no wonder. I look around and see people who are over scheduled, stressed and stretched out to the max. So I was glad to see people assigning their extra hour to this. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all get back to a regular kitchen table lifestyle? Remember when Saturdays were days off? Life was good then. Except when we got dragged antiquing.

4) Write a blog post.  Actually, that was my answer and I was the only one with that response. This took me about an hour to write.  So why not put up a post?  Since I’ve already used up my hour, it’s your turn.

What are you going to do with your extra hour?