My brother got hitched! A California wedding album

Well kids, they did it! My brother tied the knot last weekend.

It was the most unconventional wedding I’ve ever attended, in all the best ways. I’ll break it down for you in photos….

To review, my 46-year-old brother, Adam, had dated a lot over the last 20 years, but had never been married. You can read more about him, how he met his lovely wife, Heather, and their adorable proposal in a previous post here.

They decided on a destination wedding so all their family and friends could gather for the weekend to party like rock stars. They live in LA but the wedding was in La Jolla, outside San Diego.

The night before we gathered at an outdoor venue for the rehearsal dinner– sitting at long tables under twinkling lights to toast the happy couple.

It was great to see so many old friends of our family– many who hold a special place because they knew my father, who died when I was 25.

It was also a mini reunion of high school and Chicago friends whom I hadn’t seen in forever. It’s always great to bring people together to celebrate love, and these two are truly gaga for each other.

Several people made toasts. I decided to write a poem that was part biography, part roast, part advice offering. Eli helped me feel less nervous when I read it.

The next afternoon, the wedding party met on a cliff overlooking the ocean on a clear, hot sunny southern California day to take photos before the ceremony.

The location and views were spectacular, and although it was no small feat to walk in high heels and a long dress along the sandy rocks, the photos were well worth it.
Heather looked stunning in a gorgeous lace gown and a sparkly tiara.

Despite the blazing sun, she never looked hot or sweaty and her hair never frizzed– it was like the wedding gods were shining on her all day and night.

She seemed unflappable, calm and happy the whole weekend with a perma-grin from ear to ear.

Adam had a few Groomzilla moments of stress but kept it mostly together and really enjoyed being the center of attention. He paired his sleek suit with leather Pumas, and complained his cheeks hurt from too much smiling during the pictures.

 

The ceremony was terrific. They had an ordained friend marry them and his words were uniquely personal, funny, and meaningful. He kept it short and sweet but hit all the important points.

There was no religious aspect of the ceremony but Adam decided he wanted to break a glass at the end — a Jewish wedding tradition. The only snag was that someone tried to use an industrial new energy-efficient light bulb, instead of a camera bulb or old school bulb and since Adam was wearing sneakers he couldn’t break the glass!

It turned into a funny moment and then he finally gave up and we all shouted “Mazel tov!” and the bride and groom kissed and shimmied down the aisle to Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long.”

The cocktail hour was fun and the venue was a cool space with wood floors and strings of lights and lanterns.

Heather is quite the planner/organizer and her personal touches were evident everywhere. There was a tree of cupcakes baked by a friend, a tub of handmade lip balms with the wedding logo, and a special groom’s cake at their sweetheart table that had Han Solo and Princess Leia on top– since Adam is a huge “Star Wars” fan, and they once dressed up as the rebel couple for Halloween.

There was a slide show projecting pix of friends and family on one wall and after the wedding party was announced, they broke into a flash mob and then grabbed all the wedding guests to get them out on the floor to start off the party.

No one had more fun in the photo booth than Eli, who clearly likes to see himself on film….

The best man and matron of honor made wonderful, heartfelt speeches that explained the essence of Adam and Heather and why their coupling is so special.

Adam’s friend Chris wrote a song and sang it with his guitar, which was sweet and absolutely hilarious.

Adam got emotional during his speech, especially when he got to declaring his love for Heather and how she has changed him and made him a better man. He said she sees him and he is his best self with her. You can’t ask for more than that from a groom.

My brother has been a Dead-head and Phish-head for years and he and Heather originally bonded over their love of live music. They often plan their vacations around when Phish is touring. When making wedding plans, Heather created an Excel spread sheet to establish when the best date for the wedding would be that would not interfere with the Phish tour. And yet, Phish happened to open the tour on the night of the wedding in our hometown of Chicago.

The irony was rich.

You may know that if you follow Phish, the set list for shows is an obsession for fans. So at one point in the evening, one of Adam’s fellow Phish heads wrote down the set list on a chalk board and delivered it to Adam after his speech. He then proceeded to go through every song, analyzing the show in front of all the guests. It was hilarious and also the oddest moment I’ve ever witnessed at a wedding. But so, so my brother.
Guests boogied on the dance floor until the last song and then many of us went to the after party and the after-after party. The die-hard crew lasted til 4am in the bridal suite (Wilson and I did not stay up that late.)

The rest of the weekend was filled with more drinking, eating and laughter. Adam was hoarse by Saturday from talking so much and shouting over loud music.

Mr. and Mrs. Schon will be jetting off to Hawaii in a few weeks for their honeymoon and then it’s back to reality.

I was worried that my boys would be bored over the weekend but they learned lot about Uncle Adam and were total troopers, enjoying every event and socializing with everyone. Eli was extremely excited to officially be able to call her Aunt Heather.

I’ll leave you with the last stanza of a poem I read at the rehearsal dinner:

So here we are in southern Californ–I-A
About to hear words some thought he’d never say
We are so happy to be here for you both
To witness your special day of betroth
Good luck in the future, hold each other tight
Never argue in bed, sleep well through the night
Keep romance alive, don’t forget to call
Honesty and laughter are the keys to it all.
We’re thrilled that true love is finally found
Congratulations to the grooviest couple around

We love you guys!

Have I mentioned I’m not good with change? The week of moving on

This past week was a lot.

For any parent it might have been a lot, but for a weepy, sentimental lady who doesn’t like change or getting old, it was a bit much.

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On Tuesday, my sweet little baby boy Eli “moved on” from 5th grade to middle school, and more significantly, said goodbye to Jefferson School for the last time.

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I’ve had a kid at Jefferson every first day of school, Halloween parade, and field day for the last nine years. I like tradition. I like continuity.

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It was a touching ceremony where they sang Andra Day’s “Rise Up” and Imagine Dragons’ “On Top of the World,” and named all their favorite parts of their years in grammar school– from class trips to funny teachers to making friends. I tried to bite my lip so I wouldn’t go from tearing to sobbing and make a scene.

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On the last day of school at Jefferson, the whole school and parents gather on the lawn in the warm sunshine and clap out the 5th graders as they make their last exit.

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Eli and his pals were giddy — school is over after all and they can taste the freedom of summer.

IMG_6113I held it together to take some pictures but then when I went to say goodbye to the principal I couldn’t finish my sentence through my splashy tears. She cocked her head to one side and touched my arm and in her most endearing grammar school teacher voice told me we have to let the kids grow up and move on because that’s what they’re supposed to do.

 

It was embarrassing and comforting all at once.

Three grandparents and a cousin came into town for all the festivities. The next day, we crammed into the steamy middle school gym to watch Aden graduate from eighth grade. He is not a fan of school so he couldn’t wait to be done.

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I’m less attached to the middle school, and Aden doesn’t talk to us much in his typical teen way, so I was not as emotional as pensive about how fast it’s all going.

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Three years ago we were there for Jacob and now he’s going to be a senior in high school next year. And I can’t do anything about it! If I think about it for too long and start imagining the future: prom, college, one gone, two gone, an empty nest– I get a little woozy.

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The week was filled with kids parties, which gave me an excuse to drink a lot of wine, which may have been the best antidote to the moving on blues.

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Then to top it off– and just to mess with me–  Jacob took his driving test and got his license on Friday.

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See? Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

But I know these are all wonderful milestones and I am happy for and proud of my kids. A friend reminded me that I wrote a similar blog three years ago during this same week.  I didn’t read it until after I wrote this one and I admit, they have some strong similarities. Well, at least I’m consistent!

In one of the many speeches I heard this week, someone quoted Dr. Suess: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Oh the places they’ll go. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

 

The very starry Met Gala

The Oscars were fab but people,  the Met Gala!!

Stars of fashion, movies, TV, and music hit the carpeted steps of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art each year on the first Monday in May to celebrate the latest costume exhibit at the museum. 


The evening host Anna Wintour. 


This year was unusual –instead of a theme, it was dedicated to one living designer, Rei Kawakubo, whose label Commes des Garcons is known for highly conceptual designs like this:


Yeah she had no arms outside that er, dress. 

This one on Tracy Ellis Ross had arm holes but lots of structure and bright color. 


Rihanna took Rei’s fabric circles to heart. 


Carolyn Kennedy might have taken it a step too far. 


The Met Gala is where stars dare to go different like Katy Perry’s red masked showstopper. 


Few stars talked on the carpet but that didn’t stop me from shouting “who are you wearing?!” like an old pro. 


The guest list was insane. So many huge stars! MAdonna– two feet away!


Claire Danes feeling the Rei vibe.  

JLo and ARod! 

Julianne Moore in Calvin Klein. 

An interesting view of Kendall Jenner’s revealing gown. 


It’s very common for stars to come with the designers they’re wearing. Naomi Watts and Kate Hudson were both in Stella McCartney. 

I caught Nicki Manaj chatting with Kim Kardashian. Tbe Met had PR reps up and down the carpet, whose sole jobs for 4 hours were to carry handbags and heavy dress trains. 


There were some extraordinary looks like Donatella Versace: 

Cara de Lavigne shaved her head and painted it white. She also rocked a sparkly pantsuit. 


But my favs were Blake Lively 


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And Pryanka Chopra in an extremely oversized trench coat by Ralph Lauren: 


Favorite moments? 

Talking to Reese Witherspoon about “Big Little Lies” and the importance of creating stories about women…


And when I told Diane Von Furstenberg that I was wearing a blouse designed by her and she smiled and squeezed my arm in approval. 


The hardest working crew in late night fashion edits…


If you want more, you can read my story here

That one time I covered the Oscars

My feet are mangled and numb from standing in 4-inch heels for hours, and the bags under my eyes seem to be holding extra cargo after not sleeping more than 5 hours a night for weeks. Small prices to pay for living a dream.

Last night I covered the Oscars and it was glorious.

My colleagues had warned me that awards season– as it’s known in the entertainment biz– is a killer. It snuck up on me right after the lull of the holidays. All at once, there was the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild, Producers Guild, Directors Guild, People’s Choice, and Independent Spirit Awards… leading up to the mother of all shows: the Oscars.

This was my first year in the job, and the AP does things very differently than my past workplaces, so everything from set up to staffing to production was new. I spent hours on conference calls, making complicated schedules and coverage plans, and negotiating restrictions. I worked too many late nights, and woke up often before dawn in a panic that I’d forgotten to book a fiber line connection or apply for enough credentials.

It was a stressful, exhausting few months learning the ropes and planning for awards shows I’d never attended. But I knew that the beacon at the end of the long journey was that I’d be on the Academy Awards red carpet.

I dutifully saw most of the movies nominated. I picked a dress, made an appointment at Dry Bar that Sunday morning and headed for Hollywood.

Let me just tell you people– it was a career highlight for sure and one of the most memorable nights of my life.

Seeing so many huge stars all in one place, all glammed up and mingling was the insider view I’d always dreamed about. After years of blogging about red carpets by religiously watching E!, I was living it!

The best way to share my experience is to show you the many photos I took throughout the weekend so you can get a little glimpse.

Oscars red carpet prep

Testing out the carpet– behind me are empty fan bleachers

I went to pick up my credentials and see our spot on the carpet — prime real estate right near the entrance where they take the fashion shots– between Ryan Seacrest and the E! crew and the ABC live show.

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The carpet was under plastic wrap to keep it clean before the big day. The whole carpet is tented and looks like a giant set with lights and press risers on one side and fan bleachers on the other.

Oscars red carpet preps 2017

There are VERY strict rules against photographing credentials so you won’t see that.

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When we arrived on the carpet everyone lined up to take the obligatory photo with Oscar. How can you not?

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Here was the amazing AP Entertainment crew getting ready for the big rush of celebs. We had two producers asking questions and two cameramen for interviews and broll.

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Producer Nicole did research for days to develop smart, varied and personal questions for each star. She had color coded cards with subject tabs to refer to when she knew a nominee was coming up. We try to get unique, thoughtful answers by asking the right questions.

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At first, just a few stars came in through a grand entrance flanked by red velvet curtains. They pose in front of the fashion cameras and then either walk down the press line, or duck behind the crowds and enter discreetly.

There are always stars who just won’t walk the carpet– Meryl Streep is one. Other nominees like Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling snuck in without doing the press line. But we had plenty other nominees and presenters to interview.

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Ryan Seacrest showed up just minutes before the big stars came and had several producers and groomers surrounding him. It was common to see stars lining up to talk to him. See the cards a producer is holding to the right? That’s how he gets info for his interviews.

One of my takeaways was how beautiful many of these actors are in person. Best Actress nominee Ruth Negga was gorgeous and lovely.

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Negga would be on my best dressed list, along with Halle Berry, Haley Steinfeld, Jessica Biel and Taraji P Henson.

Janelle Monae oscars red carpet 2017

Janelle Monae who was there as a presenter to support both “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures” had flawless skinn and makeup… and that dress. Many of the embellished dresses that I normally would not like on TV, look so much better in person when you see the textures and detail and how they wear the dress.

Scarlett Johansson red carpet Oscars 2017

Check out Les Moonves and Julie Chen to the left

Scarlett Johanssen was another one who was luminous in person and a smart interview.

We spoke to some of my favorites like Dev Patel from “Lion”….

Dev Patel red carpet Oscars 2017

…and his co-star Sunny who doesn’t speak much English but man is he cute in a tux!

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I was excited to be near Best Song nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda, who brought his proud mom.

LIn-Manuel Miranda Oscars red carpet 2017

Sting!

Sting red carpet Oscars 2017

Andrew Garfield who is charming, and not just because of his British accent.

Andrew Garfield Oscars red carpet 2017

I love director Ava Duvernay. She is so talented and speaks so beautifully and passionately about film and the need for more people of color and more females telling stories.

Ava Duvernay Oscars red carpet 2017

Nicole Kidman did not stop to talk but I watched her walk past us and her skin is like allibaster. Loved her look. She and Keith Urban seemed very connected.

Nicole Kidman Keith Urban Oscars red carpet 2017

And for more adorable couples…..um hello JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE and Jessica Biel!

Justin Timberlake Jessica Biel red carpet Oscars 2017

They don’t do many interviews so we were psyched they stopped for us. Justin was everything you’d want him to be: easy, funny, smart and playful. When they were waiting to talk to Ryan, I watched them on the carpet and they were flirty and laughing.

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I interviewed my favorite celebrity couple Leslie Mann and Judd Apatow and they did not disappoint. My impression before we met was funny, smart and unaffected… and they were!

We went into our production trailer to watch the show and eat dinner. I thought Kimmel was fantastic. I laughed out loud many times. The show was long but didn’t feel it to me …and who could believe that surprise ending!

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With AP producer and Oscars expert Mike Cidoni

I was part of the Governor’s Ball red carpet press which was only a handful of crews, including Natalie Morales (whom I love) from Access Hollywood.

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The carpet is right at the entrance to the giant ballroom where Wolfgang Puck creates culinary delights and fancy champagne flows. It’s a gorgeous party with a live band, a dance floor and more roses than Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

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We interviewed Barry Jenkins and the boys who play the lead character in “Moonlight” about their big surprising win.

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Jenkins was gracious and thoughtful and I wanted to give him a hug. (I didn’t.)

Viola Davis Governors Ball Oscars 2017

We also congratulated Viola on her win. She never disappoints with a sound bite. And what a speech.

And then– after a 13 hour marathon day fueled by adrenalin and nerves– it was over.

Awards season is full of work and stress but completely worth it. Remind me of that come December 2017!

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Shout out to my LA girls who put me up and kept me sane.

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Remembering Mary

In my current job as an entertainment news producer I report on many celebrity deaths. Mourning becomes a casualty to getting the news out quickly and getting reaction from family and fans. But when I heard Mary Tyler Moore died Wednesday, I took a moment to grieve.

I was too young to watch “The Dick Van Dyke Show” when it was in its original run, but I watched reruns and always liked Mary’s spunk. Then she became a feminist icon starring in the very originally-titled “Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

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Mary Richards was one of the reasons I wanted to become a journalist, and more specifically, a TV news producer. I’m sure I’m not the only one of my sister colleagues who was inspired by her moxy and independence….her work ethic and heart.

And how about that cool apartment and enviable wardrobe? She was the first to have a giant letter “M” on the wall, and no one ever looked better in a suede vest.

She knew how to deliver a punch line with a quiet power, and how to stand back and let her quirky co-stars have their moments. She and Rhoda created a road map for female friendships, while proving you could have a successful, happy life without needing a man.

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Thanks for that Mary.

I met Mary once, while covering the red carpet of the Tony Awards in New York in 2002. I jumped at the chance to talk to her.

She was taller than I thought she’d be and impeccably dressed in a classic black suit that was sophisticated, and age appropriate yet sexy. I asked her a bunch of questions which she answered dutifully.

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As we wrapped up we had an exchange that I will never forget. I asked her if she enjoyed getting dressed up for big events like the Tonys and she looked me straight in the eye and said “No, I hate it!”

I was so surprised, as she seemed so in her element. But she said she’d rather be home with her dogs. Then I said ” But you look fabulous!” and she cocked her head to the side and smiled and said, ” Well, there’s that.” And then she glided away.

That dame knew how to take a compliment!

I’ll miss Mary, and what she represented to young girls like me: Someone who was smart and capable, glamorous and self-reliant. She made many of us believe we’re gonna make it after all.

 

 

 

Holiday weekend in NY

I’m a sucker for tradition and one of my favorite parts of living where we do is being able to stumble into Manhattan and see the magic that happens every holiday season. There’s an energy and a classic holiday feeling that gets me every time.

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Eli poses before seeing the Spectacular

You may know I love the department store windows and gaping at the Rockefeller Tree, despite the maddening crowds and the risk I’ll be mistaken for a cheesy tourist.

Christmas Spectacular Santa fest

Christmas Spectacular Santa fest

This year, I upped the holiday spirit by scoring tickets to the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City. Of course, Wilson, Jacob and Aden wanted no part in seeing the show, and had less enthusiasm for seeing the tree and windows.

Shake shack Penn Station

First holiday gift of the season? Shake shack has opened in Penn Station. 

But then there’s Eli.

Not only did he insist on getting a green and red mani Friday, he persuaded me to buy and fill Christmas stockings to open on Sunday.

New tradition? I’m in.

So my little guy and I hopped the train to NYC and drank in the spectacle that is the Christmas Spectacular.

Radio Vity Rockettes making their leggy entrance

Radio City Rockettes making their leggy entrance

Three-D rides on Santa’s sleigh, a Nutcracker ballet, skaters doing tricks on a simulated Central Park ice rink… and the fabulous Rockettes.

Radio City Rockettes doing the soldier domino drop

Radio City Rockettes doing the soldier domino drop

If I had a Christmas itch, this show scratched it.

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From there we walked past the tree on our way to Fifth Avenue– with sidewalks packed with slow moving people.

Fifth Ave and 50th NYC, Christmas Eve 2016

Fifth Ave and 50th NYC, Christmas Eve 2016

We checked out the Nutcracker themed dream sequence in the Saks windows….

Sals Fifth Ave holiday windows 2016

Saks Fifth Ave holiday windows 2016

And the twinkling lights at Tiffany’s.

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Eli wanted to see Trump Tower after hearing about it in the news.  You can’t get close anymore– there are cops everywhere within a two block radius and you have to convince them you’re going to a store on the block to get through the lines of big guns protecting the street.

We headed to Bergdorf Goodman, which usually blows me away with detail and creativity.

Each window had a different theme. Check out the textures and styling of this symphony in green.

Bergdorf Goodman holiday windows 2016

But my prize goes to Barneys, which had three wacky avant-garde windows that made you stop and look, and think.

The most accessible one was a recreation of the cast of animated characters of “South Park,” making fun of gift giving and the retail business with funny, pointed dialog on an audio loop.

We met up withe the rest of the Scrooges in my family and drove to my brother-in-law, Jon’s East side apartment. My 7-month-old nephew Cooper may be the cutest baby on the planet.

Like good Jews, we lit the Hanukkah candles and headed out for sushi and frozen yogurt.

Sunday we took the train to MSG to see the Knicks game. Each kid got to bring a friend (Jon scored us the tickets.) Good game with an exciting ending but Santa gave the Celtics the win.

We lit candles again at home still showing Knicks pride.

And then headed over to our friends’ house down the street for an annual post-Christmas dinner drink by the cozy fire. Thanks Knutsens! 

Not exactly traditional, yet true to our  traditions. We like a little bit of Hanukkah and a little bit of Christmas. Just like the Empire State Building.

Hope yours was merry and bright too. Happy holidays to all….and to all a good night!

Remembering 9/11– where I was that day

Thought this was worth sharing again….the pain still raw after all these years.

I knew today was September 11th, but hearing the victims’ relatives reading the names on TV of those they lost that horrific day 11 years ago always makes me cry.

Even for the fifteenth time, hearing the names breaks my heart and brings me right back to that Manhattan day. It was a gorgeous, crisp autumn morning and the sky was remarkably clear and blue, before it exploded into fire and smoke and misery.

No one will ever forget where they were that day when the world was forever changed.

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I was living in Manhattan, working at Fox News, and Jacob was a year old. I was so grateful that Wilson was working uptown. He had walked down many stairs from his office to escape the chaos after the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.

In 2001, his office shut down and he eventually walked home with the throngs of confused, frightened people crowding the streets. I didn’t see him much that week and when I finally got home, I was obsessed with watching the news coverage, trying (in vain) to make sense of what happened…trying to feel the pain I had forced myself to numb while at work.

After the towers fell, I basically lived at my desk for a week as we tried to tell the most shocking, tragic, and intense story of our lives.

One memory seared in my mind is when we lost contact with our reporter– Rick Leventhal– and his cameraman and sat truck operator after the first tower collapsed. In standard operating procedure, we had sent them downtown to cover the story as soon as the planes hit the towers.

But when the tower collapsed, all we saw was a huge plume of brown smoke envelop Rick as he was getting ready to report live. We could hear screaming and then the cameraman dropped the camera on the ground but eerily left it recording on the live feed to the newsroom (not on air.)

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We stared in horror as we saw the sidewalk view of a street filled with smoke and ash, and then the feed went to black and we lost contact with the crew.

I don’t remember how long it was before we heard from the crew, and there was a lot of silent guilt for sending them into unspeakable danger and uncertainty. After what seemed like agonizing hours, we found out they were safe after hunkering down in a nearby building.

It was the most relief I remember feeling covering any news story.

When I was able to get out of the office to catch a few hours of sleep, I could smell the ash and smoke in the air and saw the glazed, damaged looks of my fellow New Yorkers.

I remember seeing the “missing” flyers posted all over the city, and making trips to CVS to get contact lens solution, wipes, rubber gloves to bring to our local fire house to feel like we were doing something to help.

There are so many stories about the thousands of people touched by the attack. For the 10th anniversary, I wrote a series of articles for AOL’s Patch.com. I interviewed a New Jersey man who lost his brother-in-law and was so moved by the experience that when he retired a few years later, he started a fund to support people in crisis in his local community and support cultural events that bring people together.

TJ hargrave on carpoolcandy.com

T.J was a child actor. He had a regular part of he Guiding Light in the early 198’s and Kevin Bacon took over the role after he left. He was also in several TV movies and commercials.

T.J. was a child actor who had a regular part on “Guiding Light” in the early 80’s. Kevin Bacon took over the role after he left. He was also in several TV movies and ads.
You can read about TJ Hargrave– who was at his office at Cantor Fitzgerald when he died– and his brother-in-law’s inspiring story here. One of TJ’s daughters read his name this morning at the World Trade Center Memorial. I’m sure he would be so proud of her courage.

I also had the opportunity to interview several South Orange, New Jersey firefighters last year — some of whom filled in at a Brooklyn fire house in the days following the attack. They tell a compelling tale with some chilling details about their experience in New York and what it’s like for them and their families to face risk every day. That story is here.

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I always feel helpless when watching the families of 9/11 victims grieving. But reading these stories is a way to keep the memories of those we lost– and those who risked their lives to help– alive.

One thing we can do is never forget.