Bye, Polar!


I no longer smoke tobacco. After two and a-half packs a day for forty years, I stopped while living in Youngstown when I almost stopped living in Youngstown. It was a Saturday night. Something felt catchy in the middle of my chest.

I had an Irish anesthesiologist. I thoroughly enjoyed the quadruple bypass, but recovery was a bitch.

Please allow me to introduce my wife.

Eileen and I have been an item for fifty years.

We had moved to Youngstown in early 1998, right after we helped the Toledo Irish-American Club join with the Lucas County Ancient Order of Hibernians to bring in The Wolftones – Ireland’s biggest rebel group. It was wall to wall.

Youngstown is Flint without the glamor, sparkle or je nais se twat.

Niagara without Falls.

World without end.

Youngstown pumps water from Meander Reservoir. Locally it’s often said that’s where old gangsters dumped their dead. While we were there, the water was a peculiar, dusky color and tasted like watermelon. City fathers swore it was algae.

There’s little consolation in consolidation. It was the early days. Gocom
Communications had purchased WKBN-TV, the big CBS Television affiliate, and
wanted to add five radio stations to Youngstown holdings. Their bank made a multi- million dollar loan conditioned on my involvement as Vice President/General Manager. Necessitated by circumstance, I ran WBBG/WRTK/WICT/WWSY/WPAO through the end of the year, faithfully executing dozens more upon the altar of corporate efficiency. Thinning the herd.

But financial fantasies failed for the television group. Bankers bailed. I was ballast – terminated for Christmas. A blessing.

Eileen and I headed back to the scene of many original crimes.

Clarkston is between Flint and Detroit on I-75. Crossing north from Oakland to Genesee County transposes worlds. Per capita, Oakland was one of the wealthiest counties in the country – an enormous whitecap on the wave of fugitive flight from black Detroit. 13.1% of Genesee County residents lived below the poverty line, more than double that of Oakland, where folks earned more than half again as much as their northern neighbors. Of course, things are much, much, much worse now.

Comcast Communications, the most powerful cable company in the world, established its first large system in Genesee County – in the City of Flint. Brian Roberts, Comcast President, Chairman of the Board and Son of the Father (as was Jesus), spent his apprenticeship In Flint chasing goals, digging holes and climbing poles. Brian was born June 28, 1959, the day I finished High School. His dad, Ralph, was Comcast’s Founder.

After I joined the company as Advertising Sales Manager in Flint, I was in Philadelphia for a meeting with Ralph in early 2001. At 81, he spoke for almost an hour. He was terrific. When he asked for questions, I inquired as to what single characteristic he’d identified as being held in common among the most successful people he’d encountered on his climb to the heights. There was no hesitation. “Enthusiasm!”, he proclaimed. “Do you agree?” “Undoubtedly! Absolutely! Positively!”, I trilled. Everyone chuckled.

AAF District Governor Chris Frye and MC Peter "Flipper"  C.--2001 Flint Addy Awards

AAF District Governor Chris Frye and MC Peter "Flipper" C. Cavanaugh--2002 Flint Addy Awards

So I was enthusiastic in driving total Flint Revenues up 42% from 2001 to 2002, adding over a million bucks to the bottom line and watching our office dominate the Midwest. I was even more enthusiastic suing the company for millions of dollars after my compensation was cut in half without prior warning or notice. With mid-management mired in mediocrity, Age has no place at Comcast unless your boy is the boss. Comcast treats seniority as Eskimos once did their elders, leaving them on ice for the polar bears.

Never mind fabricated evidence, persistent perjury and amiable amnesia. The HR lady chewed gum during her entire deposition. Accountants are in charge – prediction taking precedence over production. Dreary drones enjoy unlimited resources. This virtually guarantees turning Comcast into a union organized, government regulated
public utility within a decade. Such will cut your monthly cable bill in half. If that even matters by then.

Lately I’ve been dozing more than three cats combined.

Whirlpool deep, star field steep, endless sleep.

Orgasmically magnetic.

Peacefully poetic.

Casually kinetic.

Manic on ice.

Sixteen hours a day have been slipping away – rage morphing and
masking as somnolence and slumber.

At the very gates of the Emerald City.

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