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What Does Hurricane Sandy Mean To the Readers of the Village Voice of Ottawa Hills?

Friday, December 14th, 2012

As submitted to the Village Voice of Ottawa Hills. A similar version was Printed in the December 2012 Edition..

I was invited to write for the Village Voice about my experience volunteering to help in the recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy in Rockaway, NY. While there’s certainly a lot of devastation from the storm, one thing’s for certain, the area will rebuild and most of the people, who lived here before the storm, will do so again.

The same can’t be said our hometown of Toledo, OH-which cannot be divorced from the Village of Ottawa Hills which leads it and the seemingly larger disaster that’s happened here over the last 30 years– one that has caused a mass migration of almost an entire generation.

This exodus didn’t happen overnight. It wasn’t a hurricane, earthquake or even terrorism, but the implications its had on the demographics our community are more profound than any of those other disasters we often hear about, combined. It threatens an entire way of life that we were all raised in-almost an entire generation that largely will not return.

I was in the class of ’98 and from my grade, I can count talented scientists, lawyers, doctors, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, marketers, investment bankers, casting agents—enough had all they stayed they would have made Toledo a really interesting place. These are your children–other communities are now largely enjoying the work Ottawa Hills put into raising this generation. What happened to where we grew up?

There’s been a lot of explanations for the ‘brain drain’ or demographic crisis in Toledo. It’s certainly about the economy and jobs! It’s too cold in Toledo! It’s the unions! Our kids weren’t trained to work in factories! All of these explanations fail to explain why all of you live in Toledo right now, many the proud owners or descendants of prosperous businesses.

I would like to offer up a different explanation. The mass migration of my generation from my hometown was simply caused by bad ideas. To put the issue more clearly, people of my generation, no matter what their political beliefs, are not flocking to intolerant places that are stubborn in their ways anymore, they are running away from them.


Back to the task at hand-I was invited to write about my service work in the hurricane recovery. Its been said it takes a village to raise a child—I now 32 years old was a child of Ottawa Hills. Working for free and helping other people makes me feel good in ways that drugs, sunny days and making piles of money simply can’t top. I didn’t discover this from any overt attempts from our teachers at Ottawa Hills, but they certainly played a role.

You see, in the pre internet 90s at OHHS, no matter who you were, you were given a caste and no matter what you did, as long as you attended our school system-arguably the best in the area, there was nothing you could do to change it. While this is somewhat common in, well life… this caste was reinforced by yes our fellow peers-that’s to be expected. But what surprises most people who didn’t grow up in the village is when I tell them our caste system was enforced 360 degrees by almost every single one of our teachers, parents & community leaders for as far as the eye could see.

Whether you were cool or whether you were a loser, there was simply no escaping it unless you escaped the village entirely. What does this have to do with Hurricane Sandy or anything else? Living through Ottawa Hills schools, despite the fact that I came from privilege financially, I was able to identify with disadvantaged people and minority groups because whether I was the oppressor or the one being oppressed, there’s not a student who went through our school system that doesn’t understand that arrangement first hand.

My classmates who were coddled & celebrated at OH, were not prepared for the world that faced them out there and that’s unfortunate. Others who were devastated by some of our vindictive parents, conspiring teachers (who can forget the bully that carried the hockey stick & called himself a math teacher), and well the way we treated each other, became the people they are today largely based on these impressions, for better or worse.

Those who were in between, as I like to think I was, saw it all—either contributing to the oppression or fearing when these weapons would be thrust upon you. There’s not enough room to get into the cut-throat competition, overt racism, athletic idolism, rampant cheating & vapid materialism that colored my childhood—again, not just from my friends and classmates, but from their parents and those they hired to teach and watch us in their schools.

I would not have accomplished everything I have today without Ottawa Hills, but at the same time, I would never send my children there, nor subject them to what you all describe as a community.


I find it fitting that I was invited by Yarko Kuk to write about my community service experience involved Hurricane Sandy. It was in fact, riding around with Yarko while shadowing him as an Ottawa Hills Police officer, that showed me how serving the community can actually feel good. But its beyond Officer Kuk—its truly a person’s upbringing that truly sets the stage for future service to the community.

When my parents moved to Hasty Hills in 1980 from out of state, there was actually a housing shortage in Toledo at the time—now despite their huge investments over the last thirty years, I hope they will be able to find someone to sell it to, so they can move on. My point here is, and yes, maybe it could help their property values, is that there is a tremendous amount of community service that needs to be done in Toledo.

I’m not talking about writing checks, or posing for more pictures on the pages of the Village Voice, I’m talking about genuine community building where the people of Ottawa Hills, as leaders in the Toledo area, actually organize around the notion, that if you make the area a more welcoming place, it may not only personally make you feel good, but it also could save your retirements and your property values from plummeting further into the gutter.

It all starts at Ottawa Hills Schools. It’s still our biggest asset and it’s the place where we all come together to build the next generation. Keep in mind, to send three children to private school in some major cities FOR ONE YEAR could almost pay for a reasonable house in Ottawa Hills now—but in order to attract that type of student, instead of threatening to cut Chinese language for more faded glory on the Football field, give your students a reason to learn Chinese by establishing a legitimate cultural exchange progamme.

The disaster that our community is enduring did not happen overnight and it will take a tremendous amount of will and determination to turn the tide. While those suffering from Sandy do genuinely need your financial assistance, they fortunately have something we all could learn from here—a strong, generational connection to their land and to a way of life that says no matter what happens, they will rebuild and be here for the next generation to want to come home to.

For more go to The Village Voice of Ottawa Hills

ART as LIFE Project takes Schmooru to #4 on ComScore

Monday, November 28th, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — [PRNewsire] In its first month, Schmooru’s ‘Art as Life’ video project propelled the Schmooru Network to the #4 of YouTube partner channels by unique viewers according to Comscore.

While retaining the project’s purpose of bringing art to the masses, the ‘Art as Life’ videos have been viewed over 30 million times on Schmooru’s online video platform partners.

“Our purpose was to spread experimental art far and wide, and disrupt everyday people in everyday circumstances” said Dan Beckmann co-founder IB5k. “We aim to use the preeminent distribution platform of our era – the whole internet – to bring some humanity to the constant stream of ads that the world has to sit through on a daily basis.”

Schmooru has received several dozen submissions to the project from its closed network of professional film-makers, graphic designers, painters and artists – a community of creatives that counts in the thousands and hails from around the globe.

“Our community was just tired of having every creative idea ruined by committee,” said Beckmann, “so we let them have free reign of our network and pushed out whatever their minds could come up with.”

The ‘Art as Life’ project is ongoing, with new releases set to occur several times a week on a rolling basis through early 2012.

If you are interested in submitting to the ‘Art as Life’ project, please check out:
To see all of our contributions go here: is an independent video destination backed by a community of creatives spanning the globe. Schmooru is wholly-owned by IB5k, a civically-minded, creative development firm born out of Obama’s 2008 New Media campaign.

For Press Inquires please contact:
Dan Beckmann, Co-Founder IB5k

WE Like Andy Rooney & Facial Hair

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

There have been many copies, derivatives, inspirations over the years, but Andy Rooney they also say is a true Original.

YET, even the name ROONEY, was taken and used for another grump in Ferris Buehler’s day off.

Ferris Buehler’s day off was fak’d ‘By the Bell

Three men and a baby was faked by Full House.

Good Morning America thought they’d fool you into thinking these two JOLLY weather guys were the SAME. They were not!

And the list goes on and on. At least these things were considered ‘derivative’ not complete copies.

Which brings us back to a few words with Andy Rooney.  Its hard to believe Andy is not going to be on television regularly anymore. You know, I remember as a little kid, even when I couldn’t understand any of the other stories on 60 Minutes and Mike Wallace just made sounds and funny faces, I knew what Andy Rooney was talking about with that extra cotton in the Tums container.

Oh and by the way, there’s a new “I like, I Don’t like” out this week. F. Nick Michaels Likes Facial hair and I must tell you its his best effort yet.



Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

There’s been much SNEEZE acho’d about the future of news–the proverbial piano that’s DROPPED on the ‘old way’ of doing things. As the clean-up of the ivories endures– we thought it might be nice to put Tony the Tiger, epic spoke’s cat for the legendary Frosted Flakes cereal IN the ANCHOR CHAIR!

BEHOLD– the “Confessions” series from the newsies down @Schmooru. The concept here is our team goes in, interviews the heck out of people who work in real places to get to the truth, without revealing their identities. We protect the sources, you get the goods.

Our first series OUTS a DirectTV Call Center. We all have had to call these places, but what’s it like on the other side of the line? If you think its bad navigating the dial trees, imagine what its like eating shit from people with problems you’re not allowed to solve for 10 hours a day? In call centers– there’s only one rule, no matter what they say to you, you can never hang up.

IN this NEVER BEFORE done expression of journalistic integrity–the only thing you’ll be left saying at the end of Call Center Confessions is “Its’ G-R-r-r-r-r-r-eat!!”

NEW SERIES: ‘Mike’ Bloomberg Hangs Ten!

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

As I spend about half my time in New York City–I often think of our dear Mayor, Michael “Mike” Bloomberg and how he would react to whatever I’m looking at in the various corners and crevices of this massive city under his rule.  Has he been to the rooms full of garbage in Greenpoint?   Did he grease palms in the Target parking lot in Maspeth?  How about the Pee on the Franklin Avenue shuttle–did he smell it?     Has he ever been to Staten Island– he’s the mayor of that place too–right?

With the recent hurricane and the evacuations–I imagine that “Mike” was reminded about a place called the Far Far away called the Far Rockaways.  This beach front property, takes at least an hour to get there by the A train from the tip of manhattan– and that’s if you don’t take the Lefferts line by mistake.   This island that costs about $3.50 just to get over the bridge and about $2.25 to leave by train is filled with projects–GOODTIMES STYLE.

Why would anyone put projects on the beach?  Well lets just say–its REALLY HARD to be there in the winter time.   It doesn’t smell all that good in the summer time– and the places to make money are in a land you can sometimes see on a clear day, but in reality is far far away.

That’s where our newest series 36 Degrees takes place.   Filmmaker and Santa Cruz native Annie Woods, has been embedded in the quiet surf scene that actually exists in New York City.  Although in recent years it has gained more attention (I’m told they did just have the Quicksilver Pro Tour out in Long Beach) the east coast surf scene still remains a vague mystery to most.   36 Degrees goes where Bloomberg doesn’t–to the end of the A train to find out what it means to live in the biggest cosmopolitan city and be a surfer.


RATED: Who the F*ck is This Guy?

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

There’s a lot of provocative stuff going on the airwaves right now but it doesn’t mean our times are any more provocative(even if they are).  As Broadcast News gasps its final breaths, its going to take the kitchen sink, counter, walls–heck the entire neighborhood down with it as it tried to hang onto what’s left of its dwindling audiences. Mass media requires mass audiences to survive–like vampires need blood. And as it creeks its LOUD, slow death, it will become even more suckered with hyped-out, deadlined horror stories like national debt defaults, Charlie Sheen explosions, bad things that happen to cute blond chicks and terror scares on September 11th–its just unavoidable, its like rigor mortise.

The next couple of years will feel like the worst part of the worst Star Trek episode on repeat at ear shattering volume.  DAMN IT JIM!–who’s left to simply cut through the crap, make any sense of it all? You won’t find that here. “Making any sense of it all” is OVER RATED and I certainly wouldn’t trust anyone who claims to sell you that story–in the meantime, we offer RATED. Its a new short format show from Schmooru.

In each episode K. W. Rockefeller is presented with some of the toughest issues of our time. Without hesitation or prior preparation, he concludes whether something is Under/Over or just plain RATED.

A Truth From Inside the Obama’s 08 Campaign

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Did I ever mention, in 2006 I was threatened on an hourly basis based on my ability to write hit getting headlines?   This is a REAL, honest to gosh, truth from inside the Obama Campaign!   Its also the story behind Schmooru‘s most popular series The Narrow Show which launches our ALL NEW FALL SEASON!

2008 was an inspirational time to pretty much anyone.  Down at Obama’s New Media heaquarters in Chicago, it was an epicenter of CHANGE & HOPE.   We worked so hard there, we really didn’t have much time for anything else.   So, when I used to sneak out every week for an hour or three to go down to Chicago’s NPR station WBEZ and hijack an empty studio with my friend “Mike” to record a few conversations, I was really just trying to get a break from it all and do something…anything.. NON HOPEFUL.

Its true that IRA GLASS once spit on one of those mics we used, but he unfortunately had little to do with this extremely precious story about two college educated white boys who met at a university.  Despite Obama’s direct and divine influence on their creation, almost none of the recordings from these ‘campaign sessions’ have ever been released under “The Narrow Show” nomer.   In fact, Mike & I continued to record real conversations together despite very long distances and we’ve found that to work out much better.   It was over a year after the campaign was over, when we needed to start building a library for Schmooru, that we decided to take things to the ‘next level’ (please wait 30 years for the Narrow Show Anthology for these precious audio wonders to be released & they are good).

I sent Mike this show above as a method of putting still images to illustrate our words.  Its from this PBS show called Gather ‘Round(the guy in it was hip, before sters were born)– it was something they played for us during “Plan B” during elementary school growing up in Ohio.   “Plan B” meant that somehow the weather was too bad for even us rusted Northern Ohioans to go out and play–that we had to stay inside.   Accordingly, they still had to torture us while INSIDE, by playing VHS copies of alternating episodes of these BORING stories and the Freaky Friday with Jodie Foster, in 20 minute intervals.   While to this day, I’ve never seen any of these things all the way through — in the end, I guess it inspired this form that has brought joy, or maybe fascination is a better word, to 10s of thousands of schmoo viewers.

Despite many amazing things I’ve been a part of with great teams of people– The Narrow Show is the most cultural relevant things I’ve ever worked on that truly reflects the closest thing to my own personal vision.   We do not script– and it all just comes out.   From the personality that has driven away throngs of women(and many men too), is now the most successful thing we’ve got going right now.

Without further delay–the new as a brand spankin’ new baby’s forehead–> episode 110, The Cranials.

New Fall Season Starts Wednesday!

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Man… it sucks to be back at work–doesn’t it? Fortunately, we’ve been hard at work at Schmooru making more things to distract you from actually doing anything productive. We’re about to launch our biggest season yet, with TONS of new shows and the return of some of your favourites!

Coming this Wednesday, our NEW FALL SEASON premieres with an ALL NEW NARROW SHOW!

San José Guadalupe Otzacatipan The Narrow Show Episode #5 – The Cranials – We introduce you to a group of folks who’ve got the ways and means to just not let you be.

Guaratinguetá 36 Degrees TRAILER: Full disclosure, we combined going to the beach with our work.  Meet 36 Degrees.   Filmmaker Annie Woods spent the summer documenting one of the dedicated surf cultures in the greatest city in the world– New York’s Rockaway Beach.   Navigating crowded subway trains with longboards, the surfing community in NYC gives new cred to the word ‘gnarly’.

Al Gore Time Machine – The tragic tales of a man who touches history with the best of intentions, but no matter what he does, can’t seem to get it right!

A Friend of Mine – Hillary Clinton once said it took ‘a village to raise a child…”, in the case of “A Friend of Mine” it takes the over 3,000 creative members of to raise this series!   Based on true recorded stories of sexual folly, mistaken identity, drunken deviance, and abject shame–a different group of schmoorus will illustrate the stories in each episode.  Directed by Adam Vine & Carl MacLaren.

Call Center Confessions- In Schmooru’s first step into the waters of innovative journalism, we coax the confessions of the real truths on the other side of the line at a satellite cable TV call center.  If you think your life sucks, you’ve probably never worked in a call center.   By filmmaker Michael Solsky.

Ten Danmandments – Raising a dozen catholic kids in Omaha, Nebraska teaches you a thing or two about life.  IN the case of Ten Danmandments, in his own no bullshit style, he’ll not only reveal his rules to live by, he’ll obliterate any questions.   From the makers of Immigrants.

Rated – Whether its Lady Gaga vs. Madonna or Incadescent lightbulbs, Kevin Gask tells it like it is.   What’s Over hyped, under appreciated, and well.. just plain Rated.  By Filmmaker Daniel De Bonis.

Singles Night with Jack Curtin – You may not know Jack Curtin yet, but after you spend a night with him Boston, you’ll either want to go home with him, or send your sisters running for the hills.  Either way, Jack Curtin always knows how to keep things rolling, keep things easy.. keep things real.

Also Returning this season with ALL NEW EPISODES:

I Like, I Don’t Like

Ask Dr. Esther

Mike Nugent’s Montana

Food with Sam


Every Wednesday.   Obliterate some time with something new from the creative minds of Schmooru. 

Why Schmooru is a California Based concern

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

I still like the CRAZY days
I always will
thats why SF is home )
Liz: why is SF home?
me: I can have the crazy days without judgment my whole life through

I need the crazy days

Liz: ha
me: not so much at once
as HARRISON and etx did in the day
but I need crazy to be possible
there’s an unwink to people on the streets there, (she’s one who gets it and wants them too)

In NYC they seemingly want to write something or be told something about crazy days
then act them out. That’s all they have time & space for.

In DC they do this too, but they despise the crazy days

In SF, we’re just a bunch of little kids out there.
Liz: is there a heroin scene in brooklyn?
Liz: I got that distinct impression last time I visited
me: it wouldnt surprise me
thats not what Im looking for
Liz: I really tried to change the subject
no way man

me: crazy is the freedom to not ‘make CENTS’

california-as a direct democracy doesnt make CENTS
they have laws that disagree
the place is ungovernable

like trying to make sense to a little kid
Liz: ha
me: I love that shit
theres so much opportunity in that

me: sometimes that leads to a BUMMER
but there’s more a chance to allow for STOKED
in california you only have those two choices. Launches!

Monday, February 21st, 2011


Welcome to For those of you waiting since May 2009 — you no longer have to get your schmoo on alone! Every video you see here was made by a member of our community. While thoroughly checked before admitted — each was given the creative freedom and a modest budget to complete their work. They were not conceived in a conference table by a committee of people related to each other, NOR was any focus group or ratings paper consulted — each one of our creators had a vision and was able to go with it. (more…)