Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Good news for John Dunphy

Former Beacon Journal reporter John Dunphy has been successfully battling esophageal cancer since 2012.
So you can imagine the uneasiness when he had an endoscopy today because his PET scan showed a little thickening in what is left of his esophagus.
Reports wife Rebecca Allen:
“The doc says he found no cancer, just a bit of inflammation. He did a couple of biopsies but isn't concerned. So we have a lot to be thankful for tomorrow. Gobble, gobble!”

John is contributing editor at Southland Golf and a former reporter for the Orange County Register in California. John is a Cincinnati Xavier University graduate from New York City.

Rebecca is deputy Features Editor at the OC Register. They live in Lakewood, California.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Bob Carpenter, wife Kaye on Caribbean cruise 

This ship needed a Carpenter
Kent State graduate and former WKNT news director Bob Carpenter and wife Kaye are back in Punta Gorda, Florida, he reports, after a wonderful relaxing 7-day cruise on the Emerald Princess Nov. 14-21. Our stops were at Georgetown, Grand Cayman Islands; Roatan, Honduras; Cozumel, Mexico; and Princess Cays on Eleuthera Island, Bahamas.”
The photo was taken during the Honduras stop.
Paula and I see Bob, who worked with Paula’s late husband, Jeff Tucker, as KSU broadcasting students at WKSU and Kent’s WKNT, and Kaye during our Florida winterizing.  

We sunshined in The Villages for the past few years. This will be my 20th Florida winter, mostly on Siesta Key off Sarasota, in an area once trodded by BJ employees at Poor Bill’s Place run by the late BJ printer Bill Gorrell.

I drive down to Sarasota to visit former Monongah High School (in West Virginia) classmates. About a dozen of us get together.

That makes it convenient for Paula and I to have another reunion with Bob and Kaye. They drive north from Punta Gorda. We drive south from The Villages. And meet midway.

Carpenter is former executive director of the Punta Gorda Business Alliance and an award-winning public information officer with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.
Bob & Kaye Carpenter, Paula Tucker, John Olesky in Sarasota

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Barbara Griffin dies in Michigan

Joan Rice, retired BJ Features Dept. editor, passed along the sad news.


Barbara Griffin has passed away. See obit at  

May she rest in peace.


 Barbara Griffin, former BJ Features Department chief, passed away November 2 in Michigan.

I had a long list of Features Editors who technically were my bosses at Ol’ Blue Walls, but Barb was one of the more enjoyable sparring partners.
Not that Doug Oplinger, current BJ managing editor; Mike Needs, current Mr. Ranger, Sir out West; Jim Nolan, who never used vowels in his memos and gave me enough overtime to pay for The Pool That Channels Built; Ann Sheldon Mezger, Roger’s wife; and Colleen Murphy Tigelman, tech chief Bob Tigelman’s wife, didn’t make life interesting for me, too.
PD and former BJ entertainment critic Mark Dawidziak, a craftsman with words if ever there was one, wrote:

“Genuinely caring person, and one of the best surgical editors I've ever encountered, especially with complex long-form stories. She'd mark up a print-out of a story, and every suggestion improved the story.”
Retired BJ reporter and sometimes radio show sub Jim Carney wrote:

“Oh, no. She saved my butt at the paper by taking me into Features. A great editor. I'm so sorry to hear this."

Barb’s obituary and stories about her demise have appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oakland (Michigan) Press, the Arizona Daily Star and the Detroit News, among the stops in her newspaper career.

Let’s start with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article that Joan spotted:

Barbara J. Griffin / Longtime journalist described as ‘Renaissance woman’

Oct. 8, 1943 to Nov. 2, 2015

By Madasyn Czebiniak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editor, described by one of her bosses as a “Renaissance woman in journalism,” died Monday in Michigan.

Barbara J. Griffin of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., died at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak after going into cardiac arrest, according to her friend and former colleague Charlotte Craig. She was 72 and had been experiencing health problems, Ms. Craig said.

Before she retired in 2001, Ms. Griffin’s journalism career spanned more than three decades at newspapers including The Detroit News, the Arizona Daily Star and the Akron Beacon Journal. In Pittsburgh, she was assistant managing editor for features at the Pittsburgh Press, and assistant managing editor for news at the Post-Gazette.

Ms. Griffin graduated from the University of Michigan in 1965. In 1969, she became a writer for The Detroit News, eventually rising to editor of the Accent section.

“She was able to give good advice and strong guidance without it sounding insulting or condescending,” said Ms. Craig, a former features writer at The Detroit News who worked for Ms. Griffin. “She could understand where her employees were coming from in terms of what they were trying to do, and acknowledge that, and still point out how their work could be better without making them feel small.”

While at the News, Ms. Griffin married reporter Clark Hallas, and they moved around the country, working at the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson and at separate newspapers in Ohio before coming to the Press in 1987, she in features and he as a reporter. Mr. Hallas died in 1992.

When the Post-Gazette bought the Press in 1993, Ms. Griffin became assistant managing editor for news.

“Barb had amazing range and mastery, combined with great passion for her profession and her city,” said David M. Shribman, who worked with Ms. Griffin during his first years as executive editor of the Post-Gazette.

Madelyn Ross, the former managing editor of both the Press and the Post-Gazette, was the editor who described her as a “Renaissance woman.”

She mastered “all areas of a features department as well as hard news, special projects and our newsroom’s nascent attempt to tease our stories on television,” Ms. Ross said. “The common threads through all of these permutations were journalistic integrity and great, loving humanity.”

In her last assignment at the Post-Gazette, Ms. Griffin was the newspaper’s liaison with TV news partner KDKA.

KDKA news director Anne Linaberger said she met Ms. Griffin in 1998, about the time the newspaper and TV station forged their partnership, which continues.

“As in every new partnership, there was a lot of trust to build, especially between the two newsrooms of competing journalists who didn’t want to share their scoops with someone else. Barb’s guidance in that process helped to form the basis for a partnership between the station and the newspaper that is stronger today than it’s ever been,” Ms. Linaberger said.

“Personally, I appreciated how Barb always spoke her mind, but in a constructive way. I think it came from the fact that as a woman, she had to work her way up through the ranks in a day and time where leaders at newspapers were mostly men. She knew how to pick her battles, assert herself when needed and do it the right way, which is an art.”

Ms. Griffin is survived by stepchildren Kelly and Michael Hallas, both of Lansing, Mich.; a sister, Pamela Mincher of Plymouth, Mich.; and a brother, Tom Griffin, of Lake Orion, Mich.

A memorial service will be held next Wednesday at Sparks-Griffin Funeral Home in Pontiac, Mich. Memorial contributions can be made to the Michigan Humane Society, 30300 Telegraph Road, Suite 220, Bingham Farms, MI 48025-4507.

Then there was the writeup by the Arizona Daily Star:

Barbara Joy Griffin, a former entertainment editor at the Arizona Daily Star, died of cardiac arrest on Nov. 2. She was 72.

Griffin was a resident of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, when she died. Her husband was the late Clark Hallas, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the Star in 1981.

Griffin grew up in Pontiac, Michigan, where her family still operates the Sparks-Griffin Funeral Home.

After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1965, she taught for two years, then worked two years at the Ypsilanti Press. She landed a job at The Detroit News in 1969 as a writer for the Accent section at a time when it was being transformed from an old-style “women’s section” into a contemporary lifestyle and feature section. She was quickly named assistant features editor and ultimately Accent editor.

While at The News, Griffin married fellow News reporter Clark Hallas. In 1978 the couple joined the Arizona Daily Star, where Griffin worked as entertainment editor and Hallas won the Pulitzer Prize for an investigative series he wrote with colleague Robert Lowe about misuse of funds in the University of Arizona athletics department.

Griffin and Hallas left Tucson in 1983 for Ohio, where Hallas went to work for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Griffin served as features editor for the Akron Beacon Journal. In 1987 they both accepted positions at the Pittsburgh Press — he as a reporter and she as assistant managing editor for features.

Hallas died in 1992. That same year, the Pittsburgh Press ceased publication after a long and bitter strike. The paper was absorbed by the competing Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, where Griffin became assistant managing editor for news, supervising more than 70 reporters covering regional, state, city and suburban news, as well as specialty writers covering health care and food.

She retired from the Post-Gazette in 2001 and a few years later moved back to her native Michigan.

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“Barb was a Renaissance woman in journalism, mastering all areas of a features department as well as hard news, special projects and our newsroom’s nascent attempt to tease our stories on television,” said Madelyn Ross, retired managing editor of the Post-Gazette and Griffin’s former boss. “The common threads through all of these permutations were journalistic integrity and great, loving, humanity.”

Griffin had suffered a variety of serious health problems in recent years. But she still enjoyed gardening, traveling and listening to country music.

In addition to Hallas, she was preceded in death by her parents and a sister, Christine Bommarito, of Pontiac, Michigan.

She is survived by stepdaughter Kelly Hallas and stepson Michael Hallas, both of Lansing, Michigan; a sister, Pamela Mincher, of Plymouth, Michigan; a brother, Tom Griffin, of Lake Orion, Michigan; brother-in-law Bob Bommarito, of Pontiac; and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held Nov. 11 in Pontiac. Memorial donations can be sent to the Michigan Humane Society or to a charity of the donor’s choice.

The Oakland (Michigan) Press came up with this:

Griffin, Barbara J.; of Bloomfield Hills; November 2, 2015; age 72. Barb was the beloved wife of the late Clark Hallas. She is survived by step-children, Kelly and Michael Hallas of Lansing; siblings, Pamela (Michael) Mincher of Plymouth and Tom Griffin of Lake Orion; brother-in-law, Bob Bommarito of Pontiac; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Glenn and Doris Griffin; and sister, Christine Bommarito. Barb grew up in Pontiac where her family still owns and operates Sparks-Griffin Funeral Home. After graduating from the University of Michigan in 1965, Barb worked as an Editor for the Ypsilanti Press, Detroit News, Arizona Daily Star, Akron Beacon Journal and Pittsburgh Press before retiring in 2001 from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as the Assistant Managing Editor. Barb enjoyed gardening, traveling, watching Lake Michigan sunsets, listening to country music, watching U of M Football and playing mom to her white West Highland Terrier. Funeral Services will be held on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 1 p.m. at SPARKS-GRIFFIN FUNERAL HOME, Pontiac. The family will receive friends from 11:30 a.m. until the time of service. Memorial donations may be made to the Michigan Humane Society or to a charity of donor’s choice. Reflections may be shared at

Published in The Oakland Press on Nov. 8, 2015

A check of the BJ obituaries failed to turn up anything about Barbara. Too bad. She was one of the good editors.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Video tributes to Dawidziak, Dyer

Even though the Cleveland Press Club Hall of Fame induction for current PD and former BJ entertainment critic and BJ columnist Bob Dyer, perennial Columnist of the Year in Ohio, happened Friday, November 13, it has taken me this long to get BOTH pre-induction videos for the two guys that I taught everything they know as their editor.

Yeah, right.

I found BJ Managing Editor Doug Oplinger’s story about Bob giving him hell for removing ONE comma from his story familiar.

I moved or changed one word in one of his columnists just to enjoy Bob’s reaction. Sure enough, Bob came over and wanted to know why I had the audacity to change a word of his work. It was equivalent to Moses re-writing the tablet that God gave him on Mount Sinai.

I later figured out how Bob kept track of ANY change of his writings. If Bob overlaid his original work with the edited product on the BJ computer at that time, there’s a key you could hit that would flip back and forth rapidly between the two versions.

If it wasn’t a dead match, it showed up as an overlay that any idiot could spot immediately. That was the signal for Bob to take on his editor.

Since we had lunch in the Blue Room together for two decades, obviously we got along. We did have a defining moment. One day Bob realized I was pissed at him. I don't hide my emotions very well, nor do I try.

He called me aside and said: “Do we have a problem?”

My reply: “Look, I don’t take crap from Gov.
Rhodes or all the management people that have wandered through the building over the years, and I’m not taking it from you either. You can do that to the other editors, but not to me.”

We understood each other. End of crap.

The greatest columnist in BJ history and the greatest editor in BJ history got along famously after that.

Now, click on the videos of Mark and Bob, and enjoy them as much as I did. Their personalities may be as different as the Dalai Lama and Ghenghis Khan, but their talents both conquer literary mountains.

Mark Dawidziak Hall of Fame pre-induction video


Bob Dyer Hall of Fame pre-induction video



Ott’s Hott Throwback Thursday

Former BJ photographer Ott Gangl, known during the day for his self-described “Sunday sin-ins” of photographing scantily-clad (at most) females in the BJ photo studio, revisits the beginning of Larry Flint’s Hustler Magazine.

The first cover featured, appropriately, "Charlie Hustle," Cincinnati Reds second baseman Pete Rose. And, of course, on the inside, a naked woman.

eBay wouldn’t let Ott sell the first Hustler issue on its site even though Ott (and I agree) consider it a collectible. By today’s standards, Ott says, it is pretty tame.

Larry Claxton Flynt, Jr. was born in Salyersville, Kentucky and grew up in Magoffin County’s Lakeville, which is 70 miles west of Williamson, West Virginia, my first stop after my graduation from West Virginia University School of Journalism.

Flynt's sister, Judy, died from leukemia at age 5. Larry’s parents split up when he was 10. He moved to Hamlet, Indiana with his mom and brother Jimmy.

When he was 16, Larry ran away from home and enlisted in the Army. That lasted a year. Living in Dayton by now, he enlisted again – in the Navy in 1960.

In 1964, civilian Larry married and opened a bar in Dayton and sold moonshine whiskey. Then he opened another bar.

Then Flynt struck gold: The Hustler Club in 1968, a strip joint. By 1971 he had Hustler clubs in Dayton, Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Cincinnati and Akron.

He fathered children by at least three strippers.

While the Pete Rose Hustler came out in 1973, the official start of Hustler is listed as July 1974.
The string of nudes included former First Lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

In 1978 Flynt was shot by neo-Nazi white supremacist Joseph Paul Franklin outside a Lawrenceville, Georgia courthouse, leaving Larry paralyzed from the waist down.

Flynt moved his publishing company from Ohio to Los Angeles, living in a huge mansion in Bel Air with Althea Leasure, his wife since 1976. 

Flynt's marriage to Althea deteriorated when she was diagnosed with AIDS in 1983.  She drowned in her bathtub in 1987 after a heroin overdose.

Flynt still runs Flynt Publications out of Los Angeles.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sunshine & baseball again for BJ expats Tom, Mike & Tom

 BJ newsroom retiree Tom Moore and advertising makeup retiree Mike Williams are enjoying Florida sunshine and watching old guys play baseball in former BJ sports editor Tom Giffen’s 27th annual Roy Hobbs World Baseball Series in Fort Myers, Florida.
Tom Moore, Mike Williams
back up Tom Giffen

Richmond, Virginia native Tom, who came to the BJ from John Knight’s birthplace, Bluefield, West Virginia, has been Giffen’s right-hand man at the Roy Hobbs World Series in Fort Myers, Florida for 12 years. This is Mike’s second year of helping with the daily newsletter that has player interviews and reports on the games.

The series is divided into age divisions ---youngest group is 28-plus and oldest is 70-plus.

Giffen in 1990 formed a four-team league of adult men playing out of Akron. The next year the league grew to 11 teams and joined Roy Hobbs Baseball, which was owned by Ron Monks of California. In 1992 Monks sold Roy Hobbs Baseball to Giffen and his wife, Ellen.

For several years, Giffen ran Roy Hobbs Baseball out of his basement and continued to work at the Beacon Journal. In the mid-1990s, as the organization brought in more and more teams, Giffen resigned from the BJ to work full-time at his business.

Roy Hobbs is the fictional hero of Bernard Malamud's novel, “The Natural,” and the movie starring Robert Redford as Hobbs.

For Tom Moore and Mike Williams, the fun will end Monday night when they fly back to Ohio.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Habyan heading Southwest before the annual freeze

BJ Maintenance retiree Ray Habyan (1975-1996), is getting out before Northeast Ohio’s winter turns nasty and freezing.

Ray Habyan
Writes Ray:

“Within the next few days my wife and I will be leaving for Arizona, in our motor home, to spend the winter months.”

Ray and his wife are no strangers to Arizona. Ray worked on computers and flew small planes for 17 years out of Sedona. They returned to Wooster to spend more time with Ray’s parents and his wife’s mother, who live in Northeast Ohio.

This won’t stop Ray from continuing to do free U.S. Fallen Heroes Portraits of America’s war dead for their relatives. Ray is a Navy veteran of a destroyer fleet.

Ray has survived a plethora of health problems that would have leveled most people: 7 collapsed discs that were fused in June, a Pacemaker implanted in 2012, four operations on his right shoulder, the crushed bone sawed off next to his rotator cuff, a torn bicep muscle and a 2½-inch skull fracture that brought on seizures.

For those who forgot, his name is pronounced hay-bee-un, NOT hah-bee-en.
Thrity Umrigar and conductor Zubin Mehta

Former BJ reporter and nationally known author Thrity Umrigar, who grew up in India, met Parsi conductor Zubin Mehta on Sunday night after his performance at Severance Hall with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
Bubbles Thrity:
“Ever since I was a little girl, we idolized the Parsi conductor Zubin Mehta. Tonight, he played at Severance Hall with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. I got a chance to meet him backstage and he was warm and charming despite having conducted for over two hours. So nice when your childhood heroes live up to their billing.
“And needless to say, I told him that if he came to our house tonight we'd make him a Parsi meal and. honestly, the poor man looked so tempted for a second there I thought he was going to say yes. I wish I could take him a Parsi omelet for breakfast tomorrow morning.”
Mehta is the Music Director for Life of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Main Conductor for Valencia's opera house. Mehta is also the chief conductor of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino festival.

Mehta was born into a Parsi family in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, the son of Mehli and Tehmina Mehta. His father was a violinist and founding conductor of the Bombay Symphony Orchestra, and also conducted the American Youth Symphony upon moving to Los Angeles.

Mehta's first marriage was to Canadian soprano Carmen Lasky in 1958. They have a son, Mervon, and a daughter, Zarina. In 1964, they divorced. Two years later, Carmen married Mehta's brother, Zarin Mehta, formerly the Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic.

In 1969, Mehta married Nancy Kovack, an American former film and television actress. Mehta, a permanent resident of the United States, retains his Indian citizenship.

Thrity has been teaching creative writing at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland since 2002. Her novels, set in her native India, total seven or eight or nine (I've lost track).

Monday, November 16, 2015

Connie Bloom at Bernie Sanders rally

Bernie & Connie show

Former BJ Features editor/pet columnist Connie Bloom, Ohio’s fabric art (quilt) guru since leaving Ol’ Blue Walls, is among the Monday night crowd in Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center for the appearance of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

“Feel the Bern” describes Connie’s feelings about the democratic socialist for months.

Ohio Democratic Party official Nina Turner introduced Sanders.

This is NOT a political endorsement, just a photo of a former BJ editor/reporter following her passion.

Three Boston Globe reporters who exposed – that is exactly the right word in this case – 200 Boston Archdiocese and 7,000 priests nationally for sexually abusing children talk about their experiences of being portrayed in the “Spotlight” movie by actors like Michael Keaton.

The real-life Globe journalists are reporters Sacha Pfeiffer and Michael Rezendes and editor Walter Robinson.

Keaton plays Robinson in the film, which will be released early next year.

Mark Ruffalo plays Michael Rezendes.

Rachel McAdams played Sacha Pfeiffer.

The lengths that the actors go to capture every nuance of the reporters is astounding. These folks don’t just show up for work on the set. They do their homework.
To read the remarkable story, click on

Actor Charlie Sheen, who once bragged that he had sex with more than 5,000 partners, will announce on Tuesday’s NBC “Today” show that he is HIV-positive.

Apparently his role on the “Two and a Half Men” sitcom was typecasting to real life.

Sheen's personal life has made headlines, including reports of alcohol and drug abuse and marital problems, as well as allegations of domestic violence. And his feud with “Two and a Half Men” producers went viral in 2011.

Former partners who threatened lawsuits seem to be prodding Sheen – born Carlos Irwin Estevez – into the public announcement. If Charlie’s 5,000 claim is anywhere near the truth, they are going to need a much bigger courtroom.

Besides being Michael J. Fox’s replacement in the “Spin City” sitcom, Sheen was in such movies as “Major League” (1989) and “Eight Men Out” (1988).

Sheen is the youngest son of actor Martin Sheen, who was born Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estevez, and artist Janet Templeton. His paternal grandparents were immigrants from Galicia, on the Iberian Peninsula with Spain and Portugal, and Ireland.

Charlie’s brothers, Emilio and Ramon, and sister, Renée, also are actors.

After his parents moved to Malibu, California, the setting for “Two and a Half Men,” Charlie was a pitcher/shortstop for the Santa Monica High School baseball team.