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You haven’t seen me post much recently. Regrouping, working on a whole new start. I’m planning a series of video interviews in June 2019 with the candidates running for Mayor of Mount Vernon, NY. Better content, more research, no more lasagna videos, although that one actually cooked (I know, corny).

In the meantime, I recorded this sped-up 5 minute drive-through video, where I start in Pelham, go east to west on Third St., winding through Mt. Vernon, and I end up on Bronx River Road in Yonkers.

I intend to use a segment of this as background for the intro to the above mentioned candidate interviews. But in the meantime, it’s an interesting journey, and I decided to make it a quick, standalone clip.

Pelham Schools Survey: Somewhat Disagree

Join me as I take the Pelham Public Schools survey. Pelham, New York is a suburb just north of New York City. The Board of Education and the District Strategic Planning Committee would like input to inform a new strategic plan. The survey is wide open to all, and you can take it as many times as you would like.

The instructions say, “…please feel free to take as many of these surveys that apply to you or take them multiple times for each child. “

While the survey is a genuine gesture toward community engagement, the method and the questions themselves make me wonder if the results will be, well, worthless.

Clearly, some people worked very hard on this, and I’ll assume goodwill. What’s most troubling is the consumerization of a public resource. The questions are framed as if public school is a product, and the deliverable is customer satisfaction. As if a district strategic plan is like a software feature release.

Public education has many purposes – preparing people to participate in society, preserving class structure, and you can fill a library with more objectives. In any event, the verdict on whether it’s working is impossible to capture on a Likert scale, and the jury should not comprise all people with a keyboard, regardless.

For those of you in the “Well, what is your suggestion?” crowd, I have a few:
1/ A single survey, not 9 surveys.
2/ Require authentication, and select a random sample.
3/ Max 7 to 10 questions, not 58.

Podcast | Kamala Harris: President, Prosecutor, Progressive

Here’s the podcast link, in case the player doesn’t work right.
Also on YouTube, if you prefer.
Who is Senator Harris? Prosecutor, progressive or vapid ’90’s political hack? We’re about to find out.

US Senator Kamala Harris (D) of California announced this week she will run for President.  In this podcast I share a few clips and quotes to suggest this is a serious candidate, with experience and depth, worthy of public trust.  She will need to bridge her credentials as California’s top cop with her positioning as a political progressive. Harris has a controversial criminal justice record, but that will make perfect sense if she can avoid vapid campaign dribble.


VOX Article by German Lopez
Kamala Harris’s controversial record on criminal justice, explained

Senator Kamala Harris On Education, Criminal Justice Reform & Why Debating Is Important
Interview from The Breakfast Club, With DJ Envy, Angela Yee And Charlamagne Tha God!

Podcast | First Family, featuring Vaughan Meader

Podcast link, in case the embedded player isn’t working for you.

The First Family featuring Vaughan Meader was a blockbuster album from 1962 that was a parody of the Kennedy family.  
Amazon has it:

Mo Rocca is a correspondent for CBS This Morning.  He has a new podcast called MOBITUARIES, the very first episode really caught my attention.  He talks about a very famous comedy album from 1962 called The First Family, and I have a personal connection to that record.  Check out

Before I explain all that, let me just say, as a vlogger and podcaster, I really look up to the Mo Rocca’s of the world.  His work is polished and beautifully written and produced. There’s a team of pros involved, and he leverages everything CBS News has to offer.  It’s first class, and I recommend you check it out at, and on every podcast platform you could possibly have.

Now, about The First Family.  I have no firsthand recollection of John F. Kennedy.  I wasn’t born until two years after he was assassinated.  But I was the youngest of 4 children, and my nearest sibling is 8 years older than me, so I missed an experience they all had.  I had my own record player and a small collection of records that I was allowed to play myself, as opposed to the grownup collection that contained my father’s Broadway show soundtracks, and my mother’s collection of classical music in which I had no interest.  There was a whole separate collection for my brothers containing contemporary artists, but it was off limits to me.

So my child safe collection consisted of relics from earlier childhoods –  a Mickey Mouse Club album, a kids album by Groucho Marx, a Peter and the Wolf album, and in 1970 I got my first new record that was mine alone – The Sesame Street Album.  I played them over and over and over. Playing these records was something I could do myself, and it was tons of fun.

There was one album in the kid collection, “The First Family”.  I never question why it was in the kid collection, I just played it over and over like all the others.  It was a political parody of President Kennedy and the First Family. I liked it because the cover had a picture of a family including the kids, and balloons, so it seemed like it was for kids, and there were kids in the album too.

The question is “Why was The First Family” even a part of my playlist as a kid?  I have no idea. I learned from the Mo Rocca podcast that this album was a blow out success in 1962 – It won Album of the Year, it was one of the best selling albums in history.  Why wasn’t it protected in one of the grownup collections? Did my parents not like Kennedy? Why did they buy it in the first place? Who knows?

Then, watching Rocca made me think about my own direct connection to the album?  Why did I love it so much? The jokes were over my head. I had no idea who Barry Goldwater was, or Albert Schweitzer.  To this day I don’t get a lot of the political references. So what was it that made me love it so much?

The answer is that it was funny, AND because if you listen to it carefully, Vaughan Meader, the guy who plays Kennedy, gets applause and adoration at the end of every cut.  And as a kid all I wanted was attention like that. And third, because The First Family on that album seemed like a fun family, one that spends time together and has fun. Listen to this:

So I ran around my house at the age of 5, 6 and 7 talking like Jack Kennedy, with a kid’s ear version of a New England accent, saying “Ask not what your country can do for you…”   But what I was really doing was imitating Vaughan Meader impersonating Jack Kennedy. It didn’t matter. I killed it, and the grownups loved it. It never failed to get a laugh from relatives and friends that came over.  I didn’t know what I was doing, or why they were so amused by it.

Coincidentally, I found The First Family album in my basement a few week ago.  I don’t even have a record player to play it on now. I was inbetween my Sesame Street album and the Mickey Mouse Club album.  I still have them, but now I would have to play it back on Spotify if I want to hear it.

The Mo Rocca podcast, Mobituaries looks like it’s going to be a winner.  I strongly recommend this first episode. He has interviews with Vaughan Meader’s wife, one of the producers of the album, and clips from a 1998 interview that CBS did with Vaughan Meader.  A lot of the podcast is about how Meader’s career basically ended with the assassination, and how Meader himself never fully recovered from the trajedy. But there’s a jawdropping surprise ending.  It’s very hard for a podcast to pull off a stunt like that, but Mo managed to do it. I listened to the entire 52 minutes and you should too.

RedBlueTalk is all about how politics and government impact peoples lives. I would be tickled if you would subscribe to the channel on whatever platform you prefer.


Podcast | Citizen Journalism in a Small City

A’tif Khalil is a citizen journalist focused on Mount Vernon, New York.  In this episode we discuss the challenges of covering stories about City Hall when you know the people inside, personally.    We also discuss a recent incident involving Mount Vernon’s Mayor along with Internet celebrity Fatboy SSE.  The two visited the local high school on Friday, January 12, unannounced, resulting in a disruption of the school day and suspensions. Khalil publishes local news stories in Black Westchester Magazine and on WBAI radio.

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