Goodbye 333 Dexter Ave North


The demolition of the old KING Broadcasting building at 333 Dexter Avenue North in Seattle adds another chapter to the destruction of edifices that have had an influence on my life and career. The farmhouse where I spent my early years, as well as my first elementary school, East Frederick – both in the town of Frederick, Maryland – are no more, the latter replaced by some sort of convenience store.

East Frederick farm

Built on farmland, East Frederick Elementary is no longer around.

My middle school, Williamsport Middle School, in Williamsport, Maryland – antiquated even back when I attended – is long gone and you’ll struggle to even find a picture of it online. Williamsport Middle was where I spent my 7th and 8th grade years, quite formative in many ways, as I made friendships, started figuring out what the mysterious creatures called ‘girls’ were all about, honed my basketball skills and even got into the occasionally fistfight.

Ed Float with arrow

7th grader Eddie Wyatt preparing a parade float. A career I did not pursue.


Here in Melbourne, the house to which our son Sam came home from the hospital, an old rambling joint on Winmalee Road in the suburb of Balwyn, was knocked down a couple of years ago to make way for two generic townhouses. That’s become de rigeur in a city growing by leaps and bounds.

generic townhouse

Modern cookie cutter on the site of our old house.

But the KING building might be the most emotional of all.

I haven’t worked in it since the mid-90’s…hell, I haven’t actually been in it since the early 2000’s. But it was where my life diverted onto a different path from the one I’d figured I’d follow. The old ‘want to make God laugh, tell him your plans in life’ adage hitting close to home.

My first job out of college was teaching 9th and 10th graders at Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma. It was one of the great experiences of my life, and I could have easily settled into 20 years or so of teaching English, coaching basketball and living by the water.

But a twist of fate sent me to KING TV as part of the Almost Live! comedy show.

Starting as a freelancer, with low pay, no benefits and a ‘feed-the-meter-every-two-hours’ parking arrangement, I eventually became an employee, was gifted some stock by the benevolent owners and even got a subterranean parking spot right next to the suit-wearing sales guys.

And why not, with a show that dominated ratings for years and made plenty of money for the company. In fact, they still air re-runs to this day. We were on at 11:30 pm every Saturday night, with NBC’s mainstay Saturday Night Live pushed back to midnight because they knew we’d deliver them bigger ratings.

Almost Live! was an outlier, a once-in-a-lifetime, Paris in the 1920’s scenario.

AL cast

Cast minus Bill Nye & pre-Joel McHale. Me with Noel Gallagher look.

In that building at 333 Dexter Avenue North, we created jokes, sketches and videos, some funny, some not. We came up with the notorious ‘Space Needle Has Fallen’ April Fool’s joke that backfired big time.

We created well-loved comedy pieces like ‘Speedwalker,’ ‘The Hi-Fivn White Guys,’ and ‘Billy Kwan.’ Bob Nelson, a comic genius who went on to write the movie Nebraska, came up with masterpiece after masterpiece, some probably concocted while we played games of ‘HORSE’ in the makeshift basketball court down by the loading dock.

We won more than a hundred Emmy awards and we walked around the building like the cool kids in school – not the jocks mind you – but the quirky cool kids who knew they could do almost anything (other than say the Space Needle had fallen) and get away with it.

We ambushed celebs who came into the building and made them say silly things. I recall Henry Winkler (‘The Fonz’) and supermodel Paulina Porizkova among others. At the height of the show’s popularity, Dave Grohl came on and did a couple of live sketches and Michael Jordan (we were told he was a fan) did a mock testimonial.

Eventually, it was time to move on. I mean, how many redneck South King County jokes can a man make? That’s my less poetic version of how many yachts can you water ski behind…

I moved to Portland, then LA and eventually to Melbourne. I’ve done plenty of live television, including hosting the Super Bowl broadcast here in Australia for seven years.

But I made my first-ever live television appearance in the KING building on the set of Almost Live! I was quite nervous as you’d expect and in the Green Room beforehand, I mentioned that to one of the night’s guests. He said, “Ah, don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”

It was Jerry Seinfeld. That’s a pretty good memory.


YouTube quality shot of Jerry Seinfeld on Almost Live!

RIP 333 Dexter Avenue North, I will always think of you fondly. Especially the hookers out back on Aurora Avenue.


BC Bud & Barenaked Ladies

Let’s get the Nickelback jokes out of the way right now. Same with the gags about Loverboy and Anne Murray.

I love Canada, particularly British Columbia, where I spent most of my time on Canadian soil. My father did nearly move us to Montreal in the mid-70’s at the behest of Marv Levy, who would later coach the Buffalo Bills to four unsuccessful Super Bowls, but we eventually ended up in Portland, so I ate Voodoo Donuts rather than Tim Horton’s.

In the mid-80’s I lived in Seattle, which is not that far from Canada. By not that far, I mean three hours by car, give or take a few minutes depending on whether or not you’re smuggling anything illicit across the border.  My Canadian crossings, however, were precipitated by a desire to drink better beer and watch Wayne Gretzky play hockey, not bring back the potent weed known as “BC Bud.”

July 1 is Canada Day, a celebration of the formation of the country in 1867 when separate colonies became one country. In honour of Canada, I thought I’d mention a few things I love about the Great White North. I decided to keep it sports-related, so that leaves out Neil Young, John Candy, Rachel McAdams, Kokanee Beer and Barenaked Ladies, both the band and Vancouver’s notorious strip clubs.

The National Anthem

Canada has a far better national anthem than the United States. It’s not even close. “Oh Canada” is stirring, it has lyrics in English and French and it’s shorter, which means a succession of American Idol runners-up cannot milk it for seven or eight minutes.

Ice hockey

As a little kid, I grew up skating on frozen ponds in Maryland and went to bed reading books like Headline Hockey and The Stan Mikita Story. Although my pro career on the ice never eventuated (there’s that thing about not skating backwards very well), I’ve always maintained a love of the game. My Dad used to take me to watch the minor league Baltimore Clippers and Hershey Bears, with an occasional foray to Washington DC to watch the then-horrible Capitals. Later, when I was living in Seattle, the border-crossing rituals to watch Gretzky, Messier, Kurri and Co. began. One of the greatest days in my so-called media career occurred outside the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver in 1993 during the Canucks-Maple Leafs series. I sat in a Winnebago doing a radio remote with my good friend Mike Gastineau of KJR radio in Seattle, and we were joined by the great Don Cherry, the bigger-than-life commentator from Hockey Night In Canada known for his garish suits and outrageous opinions. He didn’t disappoint.

Canadian Football

How can you not like a sport that has three downs instead of four, a bigger end zone and a one-point scoring option called a rouge? That’s the Canadian Football League (CFL), which has been in existence since 1958. The league has had its ups and downs, even admitting American members (Sacramento Gold Miners, anyone?) in the 90’s. But the CFL reverted to its roots and is now content with teams like the Edmonton Eskimos, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Montreal Alouettes. At one point there were even two teams with the same name (though spelled differently) the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the now-defunct Ottawa Rough Riders. The CFL has provided the NFL with a number of notable players and coaches, including legendary Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant and star quarterbacks Joe Theismann, Doug Flutie and Warren Moon. One of my great memories is sitting with my Dad in the stands at the old Empire Stadium, watching the BC Lions play the Toronto Argonauts. The stadium, which was torn down in 1990, was the site of the “Miracle Mile” at the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in 1954, where John Landy and Roger Bannister both ran sub-four minute miles.

Steve Nash

Prior to Nash coming on the scene in 1996, Canadian basketball players were mostly forgettable big guys like Mike Smrek and Bill Wennington (who in fairness won three NBA titles with the Bulls). Nash, who hailed from the not-so-mean streets of Victoria, BC, was a superb talent in high school and at Santa Clara University in California before the Phoenix Suns made him their number one pick in 1996. Against all odds, the 6’3” Nash won back-to-back Most Valuable Player awards in ’05 and ’06 and is one of the best NBA point guards of the modern era. I

Quebec Nordiques

The Nordiques – the name has no real English equivalent, but essentially means “Northerners” – started out in the World Hockey Association before being accepted into the NHL in 1979. The team had very little success and financial difficulties and eventually moved to Denver. The Nordiques are also remembered for the infamous drafting of Eric Lindros, a superb talent who made it clear he wouldn’t play in Quebec if picked. Lindros was worried about the limited marketing opportunities in the NHL’s smallest city and the fact that he did not speak French. The Nordiques drafted Lindros anyway, and after a painful period of time, traded him to Philadelphia. In return, Quebec got superstar Peter Forsberg as well as draft picks, and was able to build a powerful squad. Unfortunately, by the time the team was good enough to win the Stanley Cup in 1996, they were known as the Colorado Avalanche. The bad luck continues to this day, where despite having a brand new arena, Quebec has been overlooked by the NHL expansion committee in favour of the hockey hotbed called Las Vegas.


Ben Simmons, circa 2012

Given today’s NBA Draft, I thought it would it be interesting to go back and see what I’d first written about Ben Simmons. This was originally published in 2012 for the now-defunct website 

Basketball recruiters look far and wide for the next big things. They scour the playgrounds, the high schools, even the middle schools for burgeoning talent. They look at Europe, Africa, Asia, and of course, Oceania, where Australians and Kiwis have made their mark in NCAA basketball and even the NBA.

So maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that a young Aussie player was the talk of one of the United States’ most prestigious basketball camps, Pangos All American Camp, held two weeks ago in Long Beach, California.

It’s what they’re saying about him, however, that’s intriguing.

Ben Simmons, a 16-year old from Melbourne was described on’s high school basketball blog as “the player who created the biggest buzz,” while called him “arguably the best prospect at the event.”

That’s high praise for anyone, much less a kid from half a world away who many American coaches and recruiters would have seen in person for the first time.

It’s a big step for someone so young.

“Going over there, he didn’t know what to expect. He’d played against older kids but this was different,” said his coach Kevin Goorjian. “There are a hundred kids there, you have to be invited, and by the end of the three days they pick the top 30 kids. Ben was one of the youngest in the top 30.”

Goorjian, brother of high-profile former Boomers, Sydney Kings and South Dragons boss Brian, coaches Simmons at Box Hill Secondary College. The school has seen its share of players go on to US universities: Luke Kendall played at Metro State before forging a career in the NBL, Luke Spencer-Gardner was the all-time assists leader at Oral Roberts, and Jordan Vandenberg is currently at NC State.

But reading the rave reviews from the US scouting services, it’s impossible not to get excited about the potential of Simmons.

“He’s a great six foot eight athlete who’s special,” Goorjian admits. “Right now he’s going to get his schoolwork done, work hard on his game and the sky’s the limit.”

Simmons is part of a new generation of Australian basketball players whose fathers played professionally in Australia. Dave Simmons went to Oklahoma City University and came over here to play for the Melbourne Tigers. When his playing days ended, Simmons senior decided to make Australia his home.

It’s a similar story to that of Dante Exum, son of former Geelong Supercat Cecil, who played his college ball with Michael Jordan at the University of North Carolina. Last year, Dante Exum at age 15 was part of the Boomers training squad, the youngest call-up in Australian basketball history.

It’s also somewhat reminiscent of Kyrie Irving, the Melbourne-born point guard who starred at Duke and was the number one draft pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers. But Irving, despite his dual citizenship, didn’t grow up or go to high school here.

In the meantime, it’s all but certain that Simmons will be highly recruited by big-time NCAA schools. There are whispers of interest from North Carolina and Duke, which certainly makes sense based on what he displayed in Long Beach. In fact, the CBS website said Simmons “would likely be the number one player in the class of 2015 if he attended high school in the United States.”

If an Australian youngster ends up at one of the NCAA’s powerhouse programs – and no disrespect at all to Andrew Bogut and the University of Utah – it would not only be a remarkable personal achievement, but it would elevate Australian junior basketball to an entirely different level.

Goorjian adds, “For someone who isn’t seven feet tall, to go to a high Division One school, you have to be an unbelievable talent, because they get to pick from the best. And for somebody from Australia to go to a top ten or top twenty school is really something special.”

Maybe someone should alert Australian Customs to be on the lookout for an influx of slick-haired American guys in suits, carrying clipboards.



Thunder Theories

With the Thunder taking a 3-1 lead on the Warriors, there are all sorts of theories abounding about why the defending champions – and the team with the best regular season record in history – is on the brink of elimination.

The ‘Steph Curry has to be injured’ theory: Definitely has some merit, especially with Curry looking like a shadow of himself for the past two games. Let’s see what happens in Game Five. If he comes out, lights it up and leads the Warriors to a big win, we can consign this one to the bin with the ‘Bob Marley was murdered during the fake moon landing’ theories.

The ‘Westbrook & Durant MVP snub’ theory: Hard to say. Perhaps this provides some internal motivation – and I can see it working for Westbrook – but I can’t see the two of them getting together and deciding to lead the Thunder to a win just to show the world that Steph shouldn’t have been a unanimous MVP.

The ‘Shouldn’t have gone for the regular season record’ theory: This one makes more sense than most, given the physical and mental toll the race to 73 wins must have taken on the Warriors.

The ‘Thunder are a better team’ theory: Sounds ludicrous, but when you break it down, an argument can be made that OKC has better personnel. If I offered you Durant and Westbrook for any two Warriors’ players, would you make the trade? Sure Steph would be in there, but who else? I also think the emergence of Stephen Adams has been a huge factor, as has Dion Waiters.

The ‘Kerr should play Andrew Bogut more’ theory: An obscure Australian theory that doesn’t carry too much weight.

bogut car

Andrew Bogut may be cruising in Australia sooner rather than later.

Oh Canada, What’s Going On?

We live in strange times.

Leicester City has won the English Premier League title. A megalomaniacal billionaire known more for his TV catchphrase than his political nous may become President of the United States.

And while no Canadian hockey team even made the NHL playoffs, there’s a possibility that a Canadian basketball team could make the NBA Finals.

That’s not earth-shattering news, since Canadian teams have been part of the NHL, NBA, MLB and MLS for years. But if you’re looking for a rise in national television ratings, the Raptors eliminating LeBron James and the Cavs isn’t going to help.

The series is tied 2-2 so it has a long way to go. But imagine the New York or Los Angeles based television execs faced with the prospect of Toronto against Oklahoma City.

Yes, you’d have Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the former one of the NBA’s most talented players and the latter it’s most ferocious and unpredictable.

But no LeBron. No Steph. No Kyrie. No Draymond.

And no viewers.

Now this is nothing against Canada. I spent some of the best nights of my life in sleazy Vancouver bars, sucking down Labatt’s, Molson and Kokanee and hoping to pick up a chick from BC who somehow thought my American accent was cool. (Editor’s note: it didn’t work)

hi fivn canada

Early 90’s: embarrassing myself taping a sketch on the streets of Vancouver.

But the NBA has always been a superstar driven league. Magic, Bird, Jordan, Shaq, Kobe. The Spurs were considered “boring” because they had no brash standout star.

As much as I love what the Raptors are doing, I’m not convinced that Kyle Lowry is a big name or that Bismack Biyombo is the next Dennis Rodman.

Meanwhile, older French-Canadians named Jean and Jacques must be crying in their poutine at the thought of a Stanley Cup final between the San Jose Sharks and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The sport that Canadians love more than any other – and that includes box lacrosse and curling – is about to be hijacked by a couple of Sun Belt interlopers.

To be fair, the Lightning did win it all in 2004 – John Tortorella anyone? – but the franchise has only been around since 1992 and still uses a logo that looks like a high school design class came up with it on a Thursday afternoon.


Logo designed by Mr.Scott’s class, South Tampa HS.

And just to make things worse for those weaned on Hockey Night In Canada, should Tampa Bay close out Pittsburgh, their likely opponents are the San Jose Sharks, the teal-clad team from Silicon Valley who are only one year older than the Lightning.

This may end up being the post of an alarmist, akin to a bearded survivalist wiping out the shelves of a north Idaho grocery store to stock his underground bunker before the impending apocalypse.

But it may also be a warning to you fans of tradition. Like a good survivalist it’s best to be prepared, for these are indeed strange times.