Thursday, September 30, 2010

Yes, Really...

This is an actual, honest-to-goodness family portrait (circa 1970s) sent in by a reader of The LG Report.  Truth be told, she didn't submit it for publication (although she admits to knowing that the risk existed), but, rather, she offered it up as proof of some point or other.  LG can't remember the exact issue at the moment.  Looking at this photo tends to wipe out all other thoughts in one's mind.   She may have been trying to prove that a man could pose for a photo with a gunshot wound through his suit while wearing eyeglasses purchased from the Estate of Buddy Holly and still maintain a smile.  No, wait, that wasn't it.  

LG was taught as a child that if he has nothing good to say about someone, he shouldn't say anything at all.   In keeping with that principle of life, we'll end the post here.  See you back again soon!

PS Print this photo and keep it around to remind yourself, on bad hair days, that it could be worse!  

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

4 Ugly Truths About Air Travel in 2010

LG just returned to NYC on a cross-country flight from San Francisco.  Here are five ugly (and we mean Rosie O'Donnell Ugly) truths about air travel in 2010. 

You may already know them, but, nonetheless, a reminder is always helpful:

No. 1 - That weirdo who you've taken particular note of two or three times in the terminal (at the newsstand, in the rest room, etc.) will, without a doubt, be sitting next to you on the plane.  That's him on the right.  He doesn't shower, as you'd guess, but he spits a lot.  Into a cup.  Which he holds on his lap and is always in danger of spilling on you.   

No. 2 - You will be paying additional fees.  In fact, you will soon be paying an "Additional Fee Fee" which will be assessed on top of any additional fee that you're charged for other stuff.  This will cover the cost of actually charging and collecting the original additional fee.  The good news:  The "Additional Fee Fee Fee" won't come about until Congress approves it in a few years.  That's your money flying away from you on the right.  At least it always departs on time, unlike you.  
No. 3The flight attendant is always having a bad day and hates you for a variety of reasons.  You lack exact change for the headset.  Your big elbow is in the aisle. You requested a beverage which isn't on the cart but, rather, way in the back of the plane, behind that fat woman waiting to shoe-horn herself into the bathroom. You don't pass your used service items to the end of the row when requested.  You don't put down your reading material and face front, as ordered, when the oxygen mask presentation is made. You are a bad person and a bad traveler but you'll get yours:  When the plane hits Six Flags-style turbulence and your oxygen mask drops down in front of your contorted and gasping face, you'll see this sign:  "Please swipe credit card before attempting to use oxygen mask.  First 30 seconds of oxygen are free, $5 for each additional minute.

You'll pass out trying to enter the card's security code and the flight attendant will have to reach over your limp body to get your used service items into her garbage bag.    

This is how far away from your face the flight attendant will hold the oxygen mask until you pay the oxygen fee.

No. 4 - The TSA people are always having a bad day and hate you for a variety of reasons.  You don't hand over your boarding pass properly.  Your license is facing the wrong way.  You forgot to take off your belt.  You took off your shoes too soon and smelled up the joint.   You say your bag doesn't contain a laptop but they don't believe you.  You're preventing them from going on break.  You should just stay home and mail your money into the airlines so that the TSA people could still be paid. 

The odor of your feet as depicted visually

So there you have it folks.  Until next time, keep your feet on the ground and keeping reaching for the remote...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Only in California...

LG is in Lake Tahoe this weekend for The Event Formerly Known as a Bachelor Party (that is, until the bride called off the wedding a few weeks ago... don't get me started...)  Nonetheless, all the invitees agreed to soldier on to support our good friend, so we're all here as planned.  Yes, we're good friends, agreeing to come here to golf, hit the casinos, etc., no need to say it. 

LG encountered this sign while in San Francisco yesterday, and it falls squarely under the heading "Only in California:"

We'd ask that everyone also visualize laughing at The LG Report today.

LG wants to give a special shout out to all of his high school classmates who checked in on The LG Report and left very nice comments.  It was great to see everyone.  These comments are further proof that you should attend your reunions.  Yeah, you, come on, don't be a slouch, get off the couch!

We'd like to ask everyone to visualize themselves enjoying the weekend.  See you back here again soon!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The 50-State Interview Series Continues with Dannie from PA!

Before anyone tries to bust out The LG Report, we'll come clean: Dannie lives in New York City

And, yes, he was already the New York interviewee in this series. 

But let's think outside the box and bun folks; Dannie did a great job with New York, but he was born and raised in Pennsylvania.  He goes back to PA all the time, and is a die-hard Steelers fan.  His parents live there. His siblings live there.  To paraphrase Tony Bennett, Dannie left his heart in Pittsburgh.  So we thought it was only right to allow him to represent the Keystone State.  Here we go:   

The LG Report:  Why are you representing Pennsylvania when, in fact, you live in New York? Isn't there anyone living in PA who is capable of conducting this interview?

Dannie: Penn(is) envy?

Sure, there are many capable Pennsylvanians who would do a much better job than I. But we're a very humble, understated folk who don't believe in boasting - including about how great our state is. My living in NYC for nearly 25 years has made me just uppity enough to take part in this interview.

A Pittsburgh Landmark
LGR:  What is the single best thing about PA?  

Dannie: Demographically it's been said that PA has a Midwestern city on one side (Pittsburgh), a northeastern city on the other (Philadelphia), and "Alabama" in between. So you can essentially visit about 2/3rds of the US in a long weekend. Throw in some shoofly pie and scrapple and you've got a good chunk of northern Europe covered as well.

LGR: If you were stuck in a caved-in mine in the greater Scranton area and could only have one PA food to live on for a week, would it be cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, funnel cake or Yuengling beer? 

Dannie: I thought this was an interview about PA and not just the eastern half?? How about some representative foods from west of the Susquehanna (where I grew up): pierogies, kielbasa, halupkies, Iron City Beer? Based on the list you've given me I'd have to say, hands-down, the cheesesteak "whiz, wit-out" (hold the Swiss - see John Kerry 2008 Presidential campaign).

Geo 45 Years Ago
LGR: If you were to murder Geo at a historic landmark in PA, which one would it be and how would you do it?

Dannie:  It's hard to commit a murder (and get away with it) at an historic landmark. But.....why would we want to kill Geo? You'd lose an ongoing source of material for the blog. If I had to take him out, though, I'd probably do it at Old West on the campus of his beloved alma mater Dickinson College.  

LGR: What's the single biggest difference between people from Pittsburgh and people from Philadelphia?

Dannie:  Six Super Bowls (PIT 6 - PHI 0), Three World Series (PIT 5 - PHI 2), and One Stanley Cup (PIT 3 - PHI 2). Other than that, we're pretty similar and both of us have funny / grating accents.

LGR:  Are you aware that there's an NFL team in Pittsburgh known as the Steelers? Any interest in following them?

Dannie:  Yes, see above. Are you aware that the Washington Redskins franchise started as the Pottsville (PA) Maroons and this is why the Redskins team colors are maroon?  [Editor's Note: I did not know that.]

LGR:  Who is your most admired Pennsylvania native other than yourself (don't be an egotist, LG has that cornered) or any of your family members?

Dannie: Andrew Carnegie. See previous interview on NY / favorite NYC landmark.

LGR:  What's your personal favorite tourist attraction in PA and why?

Dannie:  There are so many to choose from.......but I'd say it's a tie......  

The Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville PA is a lot of fun. As American's oldest continually operating brewery (est. 1829) a visit to their in-house bar (called the "Rathskeller) is pretty interesting - not to mention sampling some excellent beer straight from the barrel (recommend the Chesterfield Ale). Adjoining the brewery is a Catholic grade school (which my parents attended) and a catholic church (where my parents were married). Locals will tell you that it's the only place in the world where you can have education, damnation, and salvation on the same block.

Also, the Big Mac Museum in North Huntingdon, PA. I've never actually been there but since my Pee-Wee Football coach was the inventor of the Big Mac (see picture of bronze bust of him from museum below), I figured I would shamelessly put in a plug for the museum (think McD's will start advertising on your blog now??).

LGR:  Would you rather see the Steelers win the Super Bowl or all wars worldwide cease immediately and hunger and disease wiped off the face of the Earth for good? PS They would be playing Dallas in the Super Bowl.

Dannie: I thought Obama had all that other stuff taken care of (wasn't he going to lower the earth's rising tides too????) - so I'll take the Steelers over the 'Boys for the third time.

LGR:  Legally, are you allowed to move back to PA?

Dannie:  No, but the borders between NJ and PA are about as well protected as between Mexico and AZ so I'm thinking a late night swim across the Delaware River shouldn't be a problem.

LGR:  Can you explain the concept of "Pennsyltucky?"

Dannie:  Sounded better than "Kenvania"? See answer number 2.) above with reference to the "Alabama" portion of the state.

LGR:  If William Penn and Ben Franklin had a UFC-style cage match to the death, who would win and why?

Dannie: Hmmm.....I see you've saved the toughest question for last but a good one. Penn was a Quaker who believe in pacifism, social equality, integrity, and simplicity, which I think (in vary degrees) sums up the  values of us Pennsylvanians. However, Penn was a loyal subject of the King of England. Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers (pretty ballsy). Need I say more? So it would be Franklin in a late-round submission with a Korean Chest Implosion.

As always Dannie, thanks for your wonderful insights, much appreciated.  Please move to another state now so that we can interview you again down the road. 

And thanks for clicking in folks, we hope to see you back here again soon (and don't forget to click on the icon to the right to become a "follower" if you'd like to become eligible to receive 30% of a sizeable fortune being shipped over from an African bank!)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Top Five Reasons To Go To Your High School Reunion

I didn't want to go to my high school in the first place, so why should I want to go to the 30th reunion? 

I went to a public elementary school and assumed that I'd join my friends in the local public high school after graduating 8th grade.

But my mother had other ideas. 

She wanted me to attend Red Bank Catholic (that's it on the right), ten miles from our house.  I'd have to take a bus.  With kids I didn't know.  To a town I wasn't familiar with.  And be taught by women dressed liked penguins.

I said "No!

My mother said "Yes!

Ultimately, we signed a contract -- yes, an actual written contract -- that required me to attend RBC for one year, after which I'd be free to transfer to Neptune, the local public high school. 

Of course, when freshman year concluded, after I had made friends and had become comfortable with the lay of the land at RBC, I decided to stay.  My mother, a master, albeit amateur, psychologist, knew this would happen.  If she were still alive, she'd have us out of Iraq and Afghanistan and there'd be peace in the Middle East.  Of course, someone would have to sign a contract, but they wouldn't realize the ramifications until it was too late.

Anyway, I stayed at RBC and I loved it.  Great school, great people; I couldn't have been happier.  But still, reunions?  Most people hear "reunion" and think "Loserville."  But most people are WRONG; reunions are actually pretty cool.  Here are your top five reasons to attend:

#5 - It Will Tie Up A  Lot Of Loose Ends In Your Head: Everyone thinks back occasionally to their high school years and wonders what happened to a specific person or persons.  By attending, you'll get the straight scoop, either from the person you're curious about or, if they're not there, someone who knows them.  Just be prepared for the worst; you may learn that the class geek was a Yahoo! founder and is now married to Ms. Oregon.  I hate when that happens. 

#4 - Mr. Cioffi:  Senior year, LG had Mr. Cioffi for Advanced Placement English.  That should come as no surprise; just from reading this blog you know that LG is an AP English-type of guy.   He writes goodly.  Or goodliest, whichever is correctest.  Anyway, Mr. Cioffi required everyone to read the Sunday New York Times Arts and Leisure section cover-to-cover every week.  He'd quiz us on it.  He also took us to Broadway shows.  For years afterwards, I continued to reap the benefit of looking cultured and classy because I had devoured the Arts and Leisure section regularly as a senior.  Mr. Cioffi was very professional and straight-laced and took no guff.  I was almost a professional guff-giver at the time (some things never change.)  Surprisingly, he was very good at giving it back.  He had a sharp wit when he wanted to wield it.  Of all the teachers I had in high school, he was the one I would've liked to have seen at the reunion.  And, it turned out, he was the only one there.  One of the organizers had invited him.  It was very cool.

#3 - The Jerks Won't Be There...:  I don't know about your high school, but we really didn't have many jerks in our class.  And those who were/are jerky, aren't the type to socialize, especially ten or more years after high school.  So you really get only good people looking to catch up and rekindle old friendships.  No more cliques, intimidation or ridicule.  It's not high school 30 years later, it's mature people out for an enjoyable evening 30 years later.  There wasn't a jerk in sight.

#2 - ...But  Mary Might Be:  Ok, so I had a secret high school crush on Mary, who was in my home room.  She was cute, wholesome and just and very nice girl.  Still is.  Of course, I was not the ladies man in high school that I would later evolve to be (pause while LG blows on his knuckles and rubs them on his "Property of Ritz Carlton" bathrobe/smoking jacket), so I never told her how I felt.  After a mere 30 years of getting my courage up, I informed Mary of my secret at the reunion.  She seemed to remember me, after squinting a bit and looking at the graduation photo on my name tag, but I'm not 100% sure.  Despite the fact that she's happily married with two sons and a great career in another part of the country, and the fact that I was accompanied to the reunion by the absolute love of my life, it was still good to get my secret off my chest.  You'll feel that way too.

And the : #1 Reason To Attend Your High School Reunion:

Some of your classmates will be bankrupt, divorced, driving a jalopy and/or dressed like a hobo, which will, of course, make you feel better about yourself, human nature being what it is.  So stop paying a therapist to deal with your self-image issues, just go to your reunion and be happy!

Thanks, as always, for clicking in to The LG Report, we hope to see you back here again soon. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Five Reasons Why You Don't Live in New York City

We notice that a lot of blog postings these days, and news articles in general, with the theme of "The Top Ten Reasons Why...," or "The Top Five Cities For..." or something along those lines.  They like making you to click onto the article itself first, then force you to click separately to see each of the component parts (websites charge advertisers by the click, we believe...) 

This is The LG Report's first foray into the numbered-list genre, but we won't make you do multiple clicks; it's all right here in one shot.  We may try this again, or not, we'll see.  Maybe someone will leave a comment with their "Top Five Reasons Why This Post Was Crap (or Worthwhile)."  Your call.     

If you live in New York City, this post doesn't really apply to you, but, then again, nothing on The LG Report really applies to anyone, so why not keep reading anyway... 

If you don't live in NYC, here are the Top Five Reasons Why You Don't, even if, in reality, you don't want to live here anyway.  Just humor us (and you know it's only me, so even by letting the "us" reference go unchallenged, you're already humoring me/us.)  

Here we go:

Number Five: People like this live right next door to you, which, in NYC, means down the hall. Seriously, I took this picture while I was walking to the elevator and his door was open.  I thought I heard a woman's muffled cries, but it's none of my business.

Number Four:  In your suburban town, you don't have to worry about pickpockets while walking down the street.

Number Three: If someone gives you a toaster as a present, you can put it in the garage or basement.  In NYC, it's a major problem because you have no place to store or hide it.  Counter space is at a premium and when people come over they know instantly what you did with their present.  Screw them!

Number Two: When you go #2, everyone in the apartment can hear you since it's such a small space...

And the Number One reason that you don't live in New York City:

How the heck should we know?  Only you know you that.  Post a comment with your #1 reason.  We promise not to pick your pocket, give you a toaster or reveal if there was a courtesy flush.  It's all good.  I have to go now, that woman's muffled screams are getting louder and I have to pound on the wall. 

Thanks, as always, for tuning in.  We're pretending this is a TV show, and you're tuning in.  Humor us.  See you back here soon!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Video Interview With Patty From Montana

Finally, the website has allowed LG to post videos again (we're sure it was their fault and not ours...)  Here's a short video interview with Patty from Montana, whose original interview in written form can be seen here.

Now that's what we call good video!

Until next time folks, thanks for checking in....

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Ship Comes In (Again....)

Most readers of The LG Report know that I am an internationally-renown honorable man.  But just in case some still have some doubts, please allow me to show you an e-mail that I recently received (my commentary is in brackets for your edification).

FROM MR GEORGE PADMORE. [Coincidentally, I know many people in the business world who, before submitting expense reports, pad more]


I KNOW THIS WILL COME TO YOU AS A SURPRISE BECAUSE YOU DO NOT KNOW ME. I AM MR GEORGE PADMORE, I WORK IN HSBC BANK LONDON, PACKAGING AND COURIER DEPARTMENT. [HSBC is a real bank, logo at right, so this must be legitimate, although usually the CEO contacts me, not people in the "Packaging and Courier Department."] 

I GOT YOUR CONTACT FROM FROM MY PERSONAL SEARCH [Curiously, I thought my contact info would only be visible to "Females Seeking Males" on the personal search] AND WAS INSPIRED TO SEEK YOUR CO-OPERATION I WANT YOU TO HELP ME CLEAR THIS PACKAGE THAT IS ALREADY IN AMERICA WHICH I SHIPPED THROUGH OUR HSBC ACCREDITED COURIER AGENT BUT THE CONTENTS OF THE PACKAGE IS $20,000,000.00 ALL IN $100.00 BILLS [I'm glad it's not in pennies], BUT THE COURIER COMPANY DOES NOT KNOW THAT IT IS MONEY THAT I HAVE IN THE PACKAGE. [ 1.  I'm sure no courier company would suspect that a bank was sending money in a package; and 2. Wow, Mr. Padmore must've been in a hurry, he wrote a run-on sentence lacking almost all punctuation marks, this man means business!

ALL I WANT YOU TO DO FOR ME NOW IS THIS, FILL THIS AND GET BACK TO ME, AND I HOPE THAT AT THE END OF THE DAY, YOU WILL HAVE 30% AND 70% WILL BE FOR ME [You only "hope" that?  I guess I'm free to rip you off and only give you 65% or less of the loot.  What a trusting guy!]

[1] Full Names:

[2] Contact address:

[3] Direct Teleph

[4] Date of birth:

[5] Occupation:

IF THIS ARRANGEMENT IS OKAY BY YOU [Sorry, I'll need more than $6 million to open boxes and send you the money, otherwise it's not worth it to me], YOU CAN CALL OR E-MAIL ME, FOR SECURITY REASONS OTHER MODALITIES [Nice word, seldom used] WILL BE DISCUSSED AS SOON AS YOU GET BACK TO ME INCLUDING SENDING OF THE KEYS TO THE BOXES TO YOU [I'm sure that I can spend some of the $20 million to get the boxes opened without the keys, but thanks.]

NOTE: COMMUNICATION SHOULD BE STRICTLY THROUGH MY PRIVATE E-MAIL AND PHONE FOR SECURITY REASONS + 44 704 575 3662. [Using the  +  sign tells me that you really are European and this is for real, now I'm starting to spend my $6 million.]

PLEASE SEND ALL REPLY [That should be "replies," in the plural; I can't believe such an ignorant guy is about to earn $14 million] TO MY PRIVATE EMAIL ADDRESS FOR MORE SECURITY REASONS :

YOURS FAITHFULLY [We haven't even met and you're faithful to me already, this is a good relationship!],

Mr George Padmore.

+ 44 704 575 3662.
PLEASE NOTE: After I sent Mr. Padmore all of the requested information (I'm not dumb enough to post it on this blog for all of you readers to see),  I sat back and cracked open a bottle of my favorite spring water, all the while contemplating my fortune-to-be....

Friday, September 10, 2010

September 11, 2001 - A Remembrance

It's hard to believe that nine years have passed since that horrific day in September of 2001. Nine years. In a way, it seems like it occurred a lifetime ago, but in another way, it feels like it was much more recent.

As many of you know, I was in my office in downtown Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001, about five blocks away from the World Trade Center.  Shortly before the first anniversary, I sat at my computer and wrote 21 pages of stories about things that occurred on that day and in the year that followed. I had passed on all offers of grief counseling, preferring instead to cry by myself periodically, usually while in the shower. My stubbornness may have been a mistake at the time, but I'm the son of a native Greek father who only went to the doctor when he had an appendage to present for re-attachment. Actually, not even then. So writing about what I'd experienced was, I believe, my catharsis.

I had a feeling, as I was memorializing those stories, that one day they'd appear in a book. Six years later, I published a volume on the professional lines insurance industry, and those stories comprised the bulk of the chapter on September 11th.

A large number of people employed in the commercial insurance industry perished on that day, including former colleagues of mine.

There are many memories that I didn't record in those 21 pages; maybe someday I'll reduce those to writing as well. It was a very surreal time in the lives of most Americans.

The first event which made me realize how screwed up things had become was when, on September 12th, I saw a Michigan State Police car cruising along Third Avenue in Gramercy Park, not far from where I live. Did New York City really need help from that far away? I'll also never forget emerging from my normal downtown subway stop on the way to work in the weeks after 9-11 and seeing the remaining shell of the World Trade Center Towers smoldering. The entire Ground Zero site emitted an odor of burnt wire and rubber. During the first couple of days, I had to show my business card to National Guard troops in order to be allowed into the area where my office was.

One of the more emotional moments, at a time when such were plentiful, engulfed me as I was on the phone with a woman at Hertz trying to rent a car. It was a couple of days after September 11th and I wanted to drive from Manhattan to my sister's house at the Jersey Shore. When the rental agent, who, I believe, was in Oklahoma, realized that I was calling from Manhattan and had been living through the event and its aftermath, she suddenly dropped her businesslike tone.

"What's it like up there? Are you OK? Can we do anything else to help you?"

Her genuine concern and kindness struck a chord deep within me. It was at that moment that I took a break from thinking about the craziness around me to realize that September 11th was not a New York catastrophe, or a Pennsylvania or Pentagon catastrophe, but truly a national catastrophe that affected every single American in a profound way. Those who were close to the events of that terrible day have no special ownership of its tragedy or an enhanced right to receive sympathy. All of our lives were changed immeasurably on September 11th. Some of us, I believe, have a duty to report what we experienced so that other Americans, current and future, may have a better idea of what transpired on that fateful day.

With that in mind, below is a brief excerpt from the September 11th chapter of my book. If you would like to read the entire chapter, please e-mail me at and I will send it to you, free of charge, in a Word document. Your e-mail address will be used for no other purpose (The LG Report does not send junk e-mails; we save all our junk for our postings.)

This will be one of the few times, if not the only one, when The LG Report does not attempt to provide a humorous posting.

[Excerpted from "Claims Made and Reported: A Journey Through D&O, E&O and Other Professional Lines of Insurance," Soho Publishing November 2008; All Rights Reserved ( Click Here For Book's Webpage)

May your strength give us strength
May your faith give us faith
May your hope give us hope
May your love give us love

– Bruce Springsteen “Into the Fire

“Into the Fire” by Bruce Springsteen. Copyright © 2002 Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP.) Reprinted by permission. International copyright secured. All rights reserved.

VIII. September 11, 2001

[Note: This chapter is a revision of a piece that I wrote just prior to the first anniversary of September 11, 2001, well before I knew that I would be writing this book. I attempted to memorialize many of the events that I had seen and heard about on September 11th and during the year following that unfathomable tragedy. Given that so many commercial insurance people died on that dreadful day, I thought it appropriate to include those writings in this book. One-quarter of this book’s net proceeds will be donated to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.]

The morning of September 11, 2001 began like most other mornings for me at the time. I woke at 6:30 am and spent 32 minutes riding my exercise bicycle in my living room on East 18th Street in Manhattan while watching TV. I then showered and got ready for work at AIG’s downtown offices. Every morning, just before leaving my apartment, I’d rip a page off my horoscope-of-the-day calendar to see what the stars were predicting for me. This routine was attributable to my mother, who passed away in 1993. She used to put a horoscope-of-the-day calendar into my Christmas stocking every year starting in about 1980. After my mother died, my sister Maria continued the tradition. My guess is that I had read my daily horoscope almost every morning for 21 consecutive years.

That day, something very strange happened even before I left my apartment. I was about to rip off September 10th’s page to read the new day’s prediction when I said to myself, for no discernible reason, “The world is different now, I’m not going to read horoscopes anymore, I don’t believe in them.” With that thought, I unceremoniously threw the entire calendar into the garbage. This was the first time in 21 years that I knowingly refused to read my daily horoscope.

Outside on Third Avenue I flagged a cab and headed south to my office at AIG in the financial district, in keeping with my routine. I want to emphasize here that I don’t claim to have ESP or any special ability to see the future, but there was an unusual aspect to my commute. Riding down Third Avenue (which turns into Bowery Street in lower Manhattan), there was a point in Chinatown, called Chatham Square, where the Twin Towers would become visible from the cab after being obscured earlier by buildings. In my mind’s eye, I would regularly imagine the Towers exploding from a high floor just as I entered Chatham Square. I didn’t know what would cause an explosion and I certainly never thought that a plane would be responsible. Nonetheless, I was envisioning a large eruption of gray and black smoke. This vision was the only reason that I knew the name of Chatham Square (whose sign was rather obscured): I felt strongly that someday it would be an important detail and I took special note of it. Over the previous three years, whenever I’d arrive in Chatham Square to see the Towers unharmed I would literally breathe a sigh of relief. Even on September 11, 2001 I had that (false) sense of security upon seeing them intact.

My next significant memory of that morning occurred shortly before 9 am. My home phone service had inexplicably been malfunctioning for a few days and I finally got around to calling Verizon. I was dialing customer service when a colleague, Jason Brown, entered my office to tell me that he heard on the radio that a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center Towers. I looked out my office window and saw dense clouds of paper fluttering high across the sky towards Brooklyn. It reminded me of the many ticker tape parades that I had seen along lower Broadway after a championship season or during a world dignitary’s visit. But I knew there was no parade that day. Something was wrong.

A bunch of us went downstairs to get a better look. Standing on the sidewalk in front of 175 Water Street with an ever-growing crowd of upward-looking gawkers (much like the throngs in a 1950s science fiction film watching descending UFOs on a city street), I remember thinking, or perhaps hoping, that helicopters with fire hoses would show up…of course, they didn’t.

Mesmerized, a colleague, John Feniello, shook his head and said, “That fire is going to burn for days.” Of course, he had no idea, nor did I, that the fire would burn not for mere days but for months – but not high in the sky, rather much lower, among the ruins of the Towers. But it seemed logical at the time; it was the only thing that we could believe.

When the second plane hit the South Tower, any doubts I had that this was a terrorist attack were immediately erased. We knew the country was under attack. Shrill screams could be heard and genuine panic started to set in, even though the worst was yet to come. Security guards announced that our building was closing for the day and told everyone to leave the area immediately. Much of the crowd started heading toward the ferries that were gathering at the foot of Wall Street. Others started walking uptown toward subways or buses that might, or might not, be in service. People also began walking across several bridges to escape the city.

It was a horror movie coming to life.

But I couldn’t leave, not at first anyway. I wanted to watch the firefighters battling the blazes. There’s no rational explanation, but I didn’t want to move until I knew that the situation was under control.

After a while of just staring up at the Towers, I heard a deep rumbling, like gigantic concrete bowling pins colliding. The noise didn’t last long, maybe five seconds at most. Before I knew what was happening, the South Tower slipped down out of my sight. It just disappeared…like a high-rise house of cards, its base kicked out from under it by an angry child. Moments later, the three-story building in front of us stood taller than the 110-story tower in the distance that had just been compressed back into its foundation. It was the sickest feeling, one that I don’t think I can quite explain. I saw it and I heard it and I felt it but I still can’t believe it. The Twin Towers seemed like the 100-year-old oak trees in your front yard: they couldn’t be moved or bent. If anything, they held up the sky. They anchored lower Manhattan and provided a sense of direction for every New Yorker who’d ever lost his bearings.

The collapse and disintegration of the South Tower seared my brain. I sincerely hope that I never see anything as stomach-churning again. People around me started screaming and crying. Everyone on the sidewalk knew someone who was in the Towers – a relative, a friend or a business acquaintance. Some people threw down briefcases and started running. I kept staring in shock. At that instant, I think everyone on the sidewalk knew that we had just witnessed the death of an unimaginable number of people. It occurred to me almost instantly that even the most battle-hardened soldiers never see so many people killed in a single instant. The aircrews who dropped the atomic bombs in World War II were not five blocks away at ground level when their payloads did their dirty work. And five blocks was relatively far in a sense; hundreds of firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and other heroes were right on site. One firefighter later described the scene in this way: “Everything was on fire, everything you saw was burning. It was what I imagine Hell to be like.”

Quickly, certainly more quickly than I’d have imagined, a thick white cloud of smoke came rolling at us. It was a five-story-tall fog and it was moving fast. For a few seconds I froze. The bright September sky was being obscured. Then a guy not ten feet away from me breathlessly shouted “Run…ground smoke…it could kill us!”

I suddenly realized that there might have been deadly chemicals in the plane. There was no rational basis for this belief; but then again, nobody knew anything for sure at that point. The frenzy spread instantly: people dropped briefcases and bags and started running, screaming, just trying to get away from the smoke as quickly as possible. I remember thinking, “Those bastards, they might get me too, this could be how I die…” The fear of death was real and it was everywhere.

About two or three hundred of us ran straight toward the East River, only a block away, and then north past the South Street Seaport. I’ve since heard that some people actually jumped into the river to avoid the smoke but I didn’t see that. As we ran up the closed FDR Expressway the dense white fallout followed us. We formed a seemingly endless herd of stampeding business suits. Burning smells and the piercing screams of emergency vehicles joined to assault our senses. It was a war zone, although until that moment I don’t think that I had ever actually thought to imagine one. The word that describes it best and one which I’ve never truly experienced before: Bedlam.

I was alternately running and walking with four coworkers as we headed to my apartment about two miles away on 18th Street. A friend from San Francisco who was in town on business, in the lobby of the North Tower when the first plane hit, had – by some unbelievable stroke of good luck – noticed me amidst all the confusion and joined our group. When we were about halfway up the FDR, a guy who had been listening to a hand-held radio via earphone yelled out “The second tower just fell.” People gasped but we all just kept running. A few looked back.

When we got to my apartment, I wanted to tell the outside world the names of those who were safe. However, I still had a dead home phone and cell phone service was, at best, sporadic. Fortunately, my computer’s internet connection was working so I sat down and composed a message to everyone in my e-mail address book. To this day, many years later, I have not re-read that e-mail because I know that it will bring back many painful memories. But, I later learned, it was forwarded around the globe to those interested in first-hand accounts of the events in New York City on that dark day. My friend’s wife, who is an elementary school teacher, said that she used it in her classes as an example of a first-person account of September 11th. Here is that note:


Sent: Tuesday, September 11, 2001 12:58 PM
Bcc: Everyone in my address book
Subject: The Surreal Events of Today

I am shaking like a leaf in a windstorm as I type this. I cannot believe the events of today, as I'm sure you can't. I was in my office at 8:50 this morning when a colleague came in and said

that a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center and papers were flying everywhere. I looked out the window of my office and saw a ticker-tape-parade type stream of papers flittering across the sky. After a few short minutes and various reports, some erroneous, a group of us descended in the elevator to the ground floor of our building, where we exited and looked to the left a bit where we saw Two World Trade Center, five blocks away, ablaze from the top third of the building. It was unreal. The black smoke and red flames framed against a clear blue sky.

The crowd on the sidewalk grew exponentially until we were standing shoulder-to-shoulder, at least 300 people staring upwards. One of my colleagues had just been in the lobby of One World Trade when the plane hit. He said smoke immediately came shooting down the elevator shafts and filled the lobby as people exited in terror. Pandemonium. He ran back to our

building, covered with soot, where he stood with us to watch in horror. We all stood around gaping at the flames, not aware of any possible danger to us. I sat and thought about how many people I know in those two towers who have no doubt perished. I'm aware of at least seven people from my subsidiary of AIG who were in one tower on a high floor. We do a lot of

business with Aon, an insurance broker on the top three or four floors of Two World Trade Center. As I type this, emergency vehicles are swirling by on the street outside my apartment on 18th Street. The massive cloud where the WTC used to stand is visible out my living room window.

As we watched the flames, after about twenty minutes, all of a sudden World Trade Center Tower One, which we could only see above the 40th floor or so ,collapsed before our eyes. It was the sickest, most surreal, most stomach-churning thing that I have ever seen in my life. My nerves became electrified, in a bad way, and I felt almost like I would collapse as well. Other people did. People started crying and getting hysterical, obviously because they knew people in WTC One and/or know any of the many, many police and firemen and rescue workers who were in and around the building trying to extinguish the fire and save lives. I just heard the mayor on the radio and he said he can't even get a rough estimate of how many firemen and police and EMTs died in the two WTC Tower collapses, he just said the number would be very large, staggering.

This whole day is unfathomable.

As I type this I continue to shake. I think about all the people who I know in those two towers and I can feel tears well up. There will be far too many funerals to attend. Many bodies, I'm sure, will never be identified. It is unbelievable. At least 50 to 100 people I know died today. Can you imagine that? Unless you're in a war, which I think we will be soon, that doesn't

happen. Many of you too, if not all, are in a similar situation, maybe you know even more who passed. Hopefully many of our friends and acquaintances were away on business or vacation, or running late. Our lives are changed forever and I don't think I'm being dramatic in saying that.

A few seconds after WTC One collapsed, a large, probably five-story high plume of white smoke erupted, far denser than any fog I'd seen living in San Francisco. All of a sudden, someone yelled "ground smoke, run, it can kill us!" and people began panicking, although, I must say it was a controlled panic if there can be such a thing. Hundreds of people began running, although not trampling each other, actually helping each other to some extent. Although one friend of mine asked a car service to give him a ride to Westchester (the car was empty but for the driver) and he said, "Sure, $2,000." I'll let that statement stand as its own condemnation of mankind, or at least one (hopefully small) segment of mankind.

As we walked/ran up the East Side under the FDR, past the South Street Seaport, the white cloud of deep dust/soot/whatever, followed us intently. It was moving at a good pace and, I must say, I feared for my life briefly, either from dying of smoke inhalation or being trampled. I don't think I was

alone in that feeling, it was very, very scary, and my words don't do it justice. We continued running and walking up the East Side, myself and four co-workers. All of a sudden I heard someone say "Larry Goanos!" I looked and it was Fran Higgins, a friend from San Francisco who's brother-in-law, John Doyle, works with me at AIG. He was scheduled to be in a meeting at Two WTC at 9 am and was running late, it took him an extra hour to get in from his sister's house in Westchester and he was in the lobby when the first plane hit. He ran outside and saw debris falling and three people actually jumping off high floors in order to kill themselves via the impact rather than await being burned by the intense flames. Reports are that many other people jumped as well. Fran didn't know where to go so I invited him to join me in the trek to my apartment about two miles north. He had two heavy bags but lumbered on. His father narrowly missed the bombing at WTC in 1992. Two bullets dodged by his family at the WTC.

Cell phones weren't working. People were screaming out names. It was sick (to re-use a phrase again and again; it is, sadly, the most appropriate.) The FDR expressway was closed. People were running everywhere, keeping an eye on the large cloud following us. Some were ready to jump into the East River to escape the smoke if need be. As we got about six or eight blocks up the FDR someone who had an earphone of a radio in their ear reported that WTC 2 had just collapsed as well. The whole thing was the sickest, most twisted, surreal, screwed up thing that I had ever heard or imagined.

Eventually we made our way to my friend Jim Riely's place on East 22nd Street. As fate would have it, my phone had gone out of service last night and I was going to call Verizon to fix it this morning. My cell was working only in spots because of the great strain on the system. At Jim's we found Jim, Dan O'Connell, Colleen Dempsey (Doreen, Jim's wife, works uptown and ,I'm sure, is safe) and Chris Doyle, Jim's partner. Because a lot of you know a lot of these people, here are the names of people who I know are safe beside those above (a lot of phones are down but my internet cable connection is working, at least for now): Dennis Gustafson, Rose Mosca, Peter Wessel, John Feniello, Sandy Nalewajk, Kirk Raslowsky and Jennifer Raslowsky and their young daughter Alexandra (who they were just about to drop off in day care at the WTC when the first plane hit; they made it our office in tears, clothes askew, Kirk had just thrown down his briefcase, grabbed his wife and daughter, and ran) John Iannotti, Ray DeCarlo, Greg Flood, Mike
Mitrovic, Kris Moor, John Doyle, Susan Eagan, Gail Mazarolle, Dawn Paolino.

If you know any of their families and don't know if they've been contacted, please call them if your phone works.

Many more are safe, I'm sure, it was just hard to get a gauge with all the smoke and pandemonium. There are now six of us in my apartment watching CNN.

I stopped and picked up more bottled water on the way here because people were saying there are rumors of chemical warfare and possible contamination in the water (probably not true but why take a chance.) Things seem to be calming down a bit now (I've been taking a break between typing to let others send e-mails) but I'm sure our lives will never be the same. The tranquility of life in America has been shattered, we have been dragged into the trenches with the rest of the world. Our soil is no longer sacred, protected ground. Anyway, the people who I've mentioned are all safe, as am I. God bless America and God bless us all.

My friend Dennis and I met twenty five years ago, when we were both in college. He came to live for a summer with the Campaniles, close family friends of ours who live down the block from my childhood home at the Jersey Shore. A Virginia native, Dennis was interning for the summer with Kidder, Peabody on Wall Street. He is now Father Dennis, a Catholic priest in the New York Archdiocese. One of Father Dennis’s good friends, Father George, was an auxiliary chaplain with the New York City Fire Department in September of 2001. He was summoned to the World Trade Center shortly after the first plane hit on the morning of September 11th. That day, I was told, marked the first time in the history of the New York City Fire Department that all 30 auxiliary chaplains were summoned to a single fire. They gathered at St. Peter’s Church on Barclay Street, about two blocks north of the burning towers.

Father George said that virtually every fire truck racing to the World Trade Center stopped at St. Peter’s so that the crews could confess their sins (the majority of NYC firefighters are Roman Catholic) before charging into the flaming buildings. The commanders admonished their subordinates to skip confession because of the magnitude and urgency of the situation, but the rank-and-file firefighters paid no heed. These men forced almost every truck to stop at the St. Peter’s on what would be the final fire call for most of them. Father George sensed that these brave men did not necessarily foresee the Twin Towers collapsing, but they knew that they would very likely lose their lives saving others and they wanted to square up with God first. So many firefighters stopped for this final holy sacrament – despite the unprecedented importance of their mission – that the priests had to absolve them of their sins en masse as they jumped off the trucks. There was no time for individual confessions. These courageous public servants knew that they were going to die, and yet they pressed onward to discharge their duties. In the face of the fiercest fires anyone had ever seen, they had no thoughts of their own safety, only of saving others. Ironically, St. Peter is believed to usher the deceased through the Gates of Heaven. Perhaps on September 11, 2001 his work began for 343 firefighters at a church bearing his name.

I have not seen the story above – every word of which I believe true – anywhere in the media. Despite that, I think it’s an important account to record. The same holds true for most of the other entries in this chapter, collected during that fateful day and in the year that limped along behind it. In most cases I have not changed the temporal references so that it’s clear these were the thoughts of someone writing just a year after September 11, 2001. Every New Yorker, and every American, has vivid recollections of personal experiences connected to those attacks on our nation. As we all know, it was not merely a New York tragedy or a Washington, DC tragedy or a Pennsylvania tragedy; it was an American tragedy which left no citizen untouched. This chapter is one New Yorker’s attempt at documenting some of the events of that horrific day and its aftermath in the following year.

The Call

My friend John works at Marsh’s world headquarters in midtown at Sixth Avenue and 45th Street. On the morning of September 11th he and his colleagues heard the reports of a plane crash and looked out their midtown windows to see the flames and smoke consuming the WTC North Tower that housed additional Marsh offices. Frantic calls to coworkers in the World Trade Center went unanswered.

By early afternoon Marsh management decided to survey their World Trade Center employees’ families to determine who was accounted for and who wasn’t. They asked for volunteers to call employees’ homes to see if they had checked in with their families. John, wanting to help out in some way, volunteered. He was given a list of names and phone numbers. He called the first few numbers and got only answering machines. Then a woman finally answered at one residence. “Hi, this is John, I work for Marsh,” he began, “I’m calling to see if your husband has contacted you to say he’s OK.”

The woman who answered the phone began crying. “I thought you were him,” she said through her tears. She hadn’t yet heard from her husband. John gave the woman two Marsh hotline numbers. His stomach twisted into a knot as he hung up the phone. John dialed another couple of numbers but then turned in his list, unable to make any more calls.

Michael Cahill

Mike was the one I knew the best out of the three Marsh FINPRO victims whose memorials I attended. When I worked at Marsh for two years in the mid-1990s I had called Mike often for his advice on fidelity insurance matters (about which I knew nothing and he was an expert.) When I returned to working for AIG, I dealt with Mike from the other side of the table. The universal opinion on Mike was that he was a great guy who was always willing to help out and had as much integrity as anyone in the business. He was the kind of guy who you knew would be an exemplary brother or teammate; Mike was always there for you when you needed him.

Mike’s memorial service was held at St. Aidan’s Church in East Williston, New York (Long Island) on a morning in early October of 2001. The place was already jammed 20 minutes before the start. In retrospect I recall a rainy and gloomy day but I’m not sure if my memory is accurate or simply clouded by the general nature of the proceedings. Like hundreds of others in the packed church, I filed in quietly and found a seat. What transpired over the next hour I won’t recount in detail, although I can tell you that the first three to speak at the ceremony (Mike’s parish priest, his brother and his boss at Marsh, Tom Vietor) all rose to the occasion and did an admirable job under staggeringly sad conditions. The last eulogist however, Mike’s wife Colleen, left to rear their two beautiful young children herself, took it to another level. She spoke with unparalleled eloquence, passion and composure.

I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand from where Colleen drew her strength (the inspiring memories of Mike, no doubt, had much to do with it), but I have never witnessed such a display of courage and composure in the face of a tragedy of this magnitude.

Her eulogy was funny, endearing and engaging. It was simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking. It captured the essence of Mike perfectly, at least as I knew him, which only magnified our sense of loss. She recounted, among other things, that the story of who-pursued-who in the relationship differed depending upon whose version you heard, Mike’s or Colleen’s. They had met as summer-share housemates in the Hamptons. According to Mike’s version, Colleen sat by the pool reading a paperback with eyeholes cut right through the book so that she could follow his every move.

Colleen’s eyes, amazingly, remained dry throughout the eulogy. Both her words and their deliverance were truly inspirational. The final piece to Colleen’s tribute was an REM song, one of Mike’s favorites. St. Aidan’s graciously allowed the family to play the recording over the church’s loudspeakers as the memorial concluded and people filed out even though, strictly speaking, it was against church policy. I don’t recall the title, but it was about a guy who, smitten with a woman, calls to ask her out but gets her answering machine. It mirrored in a way Mike’s own courting of Colleen. As the song played my eyes were drawn to the couple’s innocent children fidgeting in the front pew of the church. It was a sledgehammer of sadness and it found its mark in most of us. As Colleen walked up the center aisle to exit, the previously-muted sobs of the crowd began to rise in unison, unabated. All but those few souls who had already cried themselves out were in tears as the church emptied.

Again, for a copy of the entire chapter, please e-mail  

For information on the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, please go to

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Sign You'll Never See at Tiffany's...

...because they allow people to smoke right next to the doorway at the main store in New York City!

LG snapped this picture at an Army/Navy store (why are they never called "Navy/Army" stores?) in Bradley Beach, NJ.  As a friend of LG's says, "You can't polish a turd."

Below is a photo of A.J. about to launch a helium balloon with a note attached telling anyone who finds it to e-mail the date and location of its finding to  We released four such balloons over the Labor Day Weekend.  Two headed due east, directly over the Atlantic Ocean, while the other two, a day later, sailed west. 

If we receive any responses, they will be posted on The LG Report.  Also, just for fun, if any readers want to e-mail us a phony, but funny, note telling us that the balloon was found, we'll publish it -- as long as it meets our sophisticated standards (no vomiting in the doorway or on the e-mail...)

We're still unable to post video clips due to technical difficulties ('s, we think, not ours...) but we'll get some up as soon as possible.  We know you crave the video clip even more than the Taco Bell. 

Go forth in peace.  But come back soon. [And please don't forget about our special September 11th remembrance posting that will be up on Saturday...]

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Yappy Hour!

My sister, who shall go by the designation of MIG for our purposes, has two dogs: Jake, a 9-year old German Shepherd mix who was  rescued from a kennel, and Sophie, a one-year old purebred German Shepherd with 50% Satanic blood. Or maybe 40% Satan's blood and 10% liquid LSD in her system, it's hard to tell. 

Here's a thumbnail description of the sitch:  If MIG's house were on fire while I was visiting, she'd save the dogs first, their toys and treats second, and me third.  Actually,  I might come in fourth behind her Coca Cola memorabilia collection, depending on her mood.

Last Thursday, MIG decided to take Jake, the more socially adept of the two, to "Yappy Hour" at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park (NJ).  It has an outdoor space where dogs can run free whilst their owners belly up to enjoy various libations.

Jake was the first dog to arrive.  He was calm, but only until the other dogs started trickling in.  Then he began barking, running around wildly, and causing a great commotion.  In other words, he became the Yappy Hour's canine version of Lindsey Lohan.  He even bared his teeth at one point, a very rare occurrence.

Here's a photo of Jake "in action" by his normal standards:

Anyway, suffice it to say that the Jake-ster had to go home early because of his behavior.  Here's an overview of doggy networking at the Yappy Hour.  TIP:  A good butt sniff can tell you a lot more than any Facebook page, you should try it!:

And, finally, here's a portrait of Luke, a 155-pound Great Dane who took it upon himself to assist the bartender with her duties:

Knowing that you're all addicted to the sweet nectar of the video clip, as is ole LG, here's a brief look at the Yappy Hour from the standpoint of a participant:

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Due to continuing technical difficulties at the site, we cannot post any video clips until further notice.  Once this glitch is repaired, we'll have some good ones (by our standards anyway...) for you, so stay tuned!

And, as always, thanks for checking in.  We hope to see you back here again very soon.

September 11, 2001

LG tried to post a humorous piece tonight, honestly, but technical difficulties -- either from the site or LG's computer, not sure which -- prevented it.  No pictures or videos would post, but hopefully the problem will be resolved soon.

In the meantime, LG will put you on alert.  The LG Report is normally a light-hearted blog, but on Saturday, September 11th, we'll post a few stories from the chapter in LG's book (linked here) about that fateful day.  As many of you know, LG was in downtown Manhattan on 9-11-01 and he wrote about that experience, as well as some of the things that happened in NYC during the following year.

If, after reading those excerpts, you'd like a free copy of the book's entire September 11th chapter, we'll supply an e-mail address to which you can send your request and we'll get it to you shortly thereafter.

Hopefully our technical difficulties will be resolved tomorrow. 

As always, thanks for checking in.   

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Thursday's Thoughts

The LG Report is going to offer up a variety of unrelated thoughts today, the Thursday leading into the Labor Day weekend , so sit back and enjoy.  Or hunch up close to the screen, if your eyesight is going.  Either way, we want you to enjoy.  

Last Saturday, LG had occasion to drop off a student for freshman year of college.  Don't ask why, it's none of your business.  As LG's mother used to say, "Whaddaya writing a book?" (long before LG actually did write a book, but the book isn't about whatever LG was asking her at the time.)  She'd always follow it with "Leave that chapter out."  

Anyway, walking past a fraternity house on the main drag where parents drive their kids onto campus, LG encountered the fellow pictured above; a slimmer, younger version of John Belushi (he doesn't really look like Belushi, but you get the idea.)  His sign said "Thank you fathers for your daughters."  At least it was spelled correctly and he was polite enough to say "Thank you."  The girl on the left offered LG a cup of beer and said "I didn't put a roofie in it."  That was very considerate of her.  Our American educational system is churning out the winners alright!  P.S. Notice the budding Roger Ebert on the right, signifying his approval of the sign's wording.  I think he was wearing 3D glasses.

This is Paulie and Mike.  They are barkeeps at Pete and Elda's, one of the best Italian restaurants you'll ever encounter (it's in Neptune City, NJ.)  Pete and Elda's is world-renown for its thin-crust pizza.  Go to Egypt, Nepal, Switzerland, South Africa and Australia and ask anyone who they think makes the best thin-crust pizza.  If you come back to me and say, "Nobody there has ever heard of Pete and Elda's," LG will say to you "Well, at least you got to visit some nice countries." 

Paulie and Mike are among the best barkeeps ever.  Is LG angling for a free drink?  Whaddaya writing a book?  Leave that chapter out.

People approach LG all the time -- on the red carpet, backstage, in First Class and while his Bentley is stuck at a light and say "Oh LG, you are so funny.  How did you get to such a good sense of humor, what do you eat to fuel your comedy?" LG finally decided to reveal his secret.  This is what LG consumes for breakfast almost every day:

So now you know.

Did you hear that The Discovery Channel debuted a new reality show today?  It's called "The Deadliest Hostage Stand-Off."  LG just made that one up.  Too soon?  Or just not funny enough?

That's it for today folks, click back in soon (like every few hours or thereabouts...)   Thanks!