Monday, August 25, 2014
Looking back, one weekend in June was a couch potato sports fan's paradise. Television covered the Belmont Stakes – third leg of racing's Triple Crown – as well as the Men's Singles championship of the French Open.
At the historic racetrack in Belmont, New York, (just outside Manhattan on Long Island) California Chrome was picked to be the first Triple Crown winner for decades. However, Belmont is a notorious swamp for favorites and this year did not disappoint. Chrome's failure was no fault of her own, she was just worn out from repeated high stress competition in a relatively short span. One good thing came out of this race however. That was the opportunity see and hear the great Bob Costas in action. Costas stands firmly at the top of the Communicators Hall of Fame. He never misses a beat. His delivery is flawless. His is delivery without error or mispronunciation, and certainly no “fillers” like “y'know” and other verbal garbage. He is at the blessed end of a spectrum where ex-jock Phil Simms routinely tortures listeners, one and all. Which moves us to his on-air partner Jim Nance who consistently narrates the action with style and grace. Nance is a competent and genial life preserver for Simms who would have certainly gone down for the third time without him. Simms is not the only jock who stumbled in the broadcasting booth. Football legend Red Grange never could get the name of his own announcing partner Lindsey Nelson right – calling him “Lisley” throughout.
The day after The Belmont coverage television sports panned over the seas to Paris and the French Open tennis championship where the fearsome duo of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were battling for the Singles title yet one more time. It was arguably one of the best tennis finals ever. Covering play in the announcing booth were John McEnroe, Mary Carillo and Ted Robinson. This trio have been there and done that before. The three of them know the sport very well (and McEnroe and Carillo have championship titles to prove it.) But Robinson gushes like he is watching a May pole dance. Carillo, who rarely shuts up, gets mixed up in her delivery reminding me of the sign-off on the old Bugs Bunny cartoons “Th..the..tha...that's all Folks! Where are Costas and Nance when we need them?
The fault lies less with the men and women calling the match than it does with the American Way of doing it. The Brits have it right- let the play on the courts speak for itself. Their on-air people make comment only when they have to. This gives their words extra value and enriches the viewers/listeners appreciation of the game. Here in the good old USA where broadcasting is drenched with advertising commercials ad nauseum, such seconds of silence would be especially appreciated.
Friday, August 8, 2014
Praise for a lawyer is rare enough these days. I understand that. There is so much litigation in our world, we are sick of lawsuits and yes, many a lawyer him/herself. But like pedophile priests, the black brush of infamy from the few touches the many good. There are plenty of exceptions to this universal disdain of lawyers.
I have honorable lawyer nieces and a nephew whose professional competence and personal ethics are noteworthy. I am relatively sure that you too can point to model counselors in your own circle of friends and acquaintances. For now let's forget about the bums and bounders and highlight a positive member of the bar. His name was Paul Derounian and he left us last night.
Paul was my lawyer and far more than that. He was at my side when I was facing big professional and personal challenges. His steadiness and counsel were invaluable. Most of all I valued his belief in the goodness of others while he searched for win-win solutions. His “contact list” ranged from waiters and doormen to the high and mighty. His law practice included executives, blue chip corporations and more than a handful of major celebrities. They admired his legal know-how and trusted him, as I did.
Second marriages are fraught with challenges. Good people get hurt. Where children are involved the stakes are even higher. When I hear someone say “I had a good divorce” it comes from the mouth of a fool. There are no good divorces, only those that are less painful than some others. Paul was my best man when Joan and I married. That should give you another sense of why I held him in such high esteem. At any rate, I always called him “the best man.”
Paul was no stranger to limos, the Hamptons, Hollywood and Vegas in addition to the corporate boardrooms of Manhattan and elsewhere. But he took everything in stride just as he did in relating to the doormen and waiters I mentioned earlier. Impeccable manners, respect for others, always. People instinctively knew that he valued them individually.
Paul was married to Liz, a strikingly attractive lady of intelligence and warmth in addition to her outward beauty, which once led to a memorable moment in Atlantic City. The Derounians had invited us to a casino for the opening night of one of his show business clients. As Liz and Joan, who is attractive in her own right, were walking to our table all eyes in the room were on Mrs. Derounian. Joan turned to Liz and whispered “I just hate it when all these men stare at me!”
As is always the case, we grieve for ourselves when we lose a dear friend. It is certainly true with me. My consolation comes from recalling the 1001 good memories I have of Paul Derounian.
He was truly The Best Man.