SuperHeroes for Hayley event – 10/1/2011

Hey it’s almost time for another round of WIDOMW (What I Did On My Vacation) posts.  Last year was a flurry of events including events promoting my new book (at the time) – Lost Boys of the Bronx– The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang.  ( c’mon you knew I had to  advertise it at least once LOL),  NY Comic Con, an Irish-American Writers party with some big names, a Halloween Parade, and a few charity events – where one sparked one of the greatest nicknames ever – the Peeping Princess…  Click the WIDOMV category over there on the right to read some of those adventures…

Starting Friday (10/7), I’m starting another 2-week October vacation.   Now if you’re from my regular day-job, I will be in Cuba without phone or email and please stop reading right now however.

Ok, good it’s just my friends now, so I can be honest – I’ve got a few events lined up – NY Comic Con,  the annual Irish-American Writers & Artists Awards party, my best friend Jeff’s show down at the Brighton Bar, and God knows what else…  Check my Facebook or Twitter page to see where I’ll be, and check back here after the fact and I’m sure I’ll have a report of what happened…

But my biggest plans for the next two weeks may not sound thrilling to some, but to me it’s heaven.  For the next two weeks, I’ll be splitting my time between my home-office and the local Scotch Plains library working on taking a big chunk out of my new book.

“What new book?” Well, you may want to check out this link for a little better background on me and my project.  But, the short version is that for the last few months I have been interviewing some really cool & interesting people who get dressed up in costumes for various reasons and finding out what makes them tick.   The reasons people put on a costume are a lot deeper than you would think.

Well anyway, speaking of really cool costumers, I attended a really cool costuming event yesterday (10/1/2011) down in Flemington, NJ called SuperHeroes for Hayley.  It was a charity event set up by HomeTown Club in Somerset, NJ to benefit the family of a 12 year old girl with brain cancer.   The Star Wars costuming group I belong to called the 501st Legion – NorthEast Remnant Garrison was requested by the fabulous Amber Love and we showed up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Saturday morning.

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What I learned about Human Nature from Hurricane Irene (and the small earthquake a few days earlier)

Well we’re finally out of the woods on Hurricane Irene…  The last few days have been pretty intense with the buildup the media has been giving – And while Jackie & I survived it pretty much intact, not everyone was so lucky.   There was a river running down the main street of our town (and we aren’t close to any regular rivers), and the reports and pictures from Facebook show that people in other parts of town had some real damage.

My good friend Anna Zelikman took a bunch of pictures of Scotch Plains-Fanwood showing the damage that Hurricane Irene did to our town.

Here is the link to those pictures…
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.243539165685094&type=1

As you can see, it was no joke – Yes, that is a picture of a tree that split down the middle and crashed into the street AND landed on the side of some poor bastards house in there.

Now Jackie & I did the smart thing and stayed indoors throughout the hurricane so we can’t really comment on the actual devastation out there outside of Anna’s pictures, but we did watch a LOT of TV and see a lot of my Facebook friends postings about what happened…  And that dear reader, is the theme of this blog.

What I learned about Human Nature from Hurricane Irene (and the earthquake a few days earlier).

First, pre-hurricane, people were already skittish about ol’ Mother Nature.  A couple of days earlier there was an earthquake in Virginia that was felt all the way up to Maine.  Here in NJ we felt it as well, but it was very small and lasted maybe 30 seconds tops.   But it was very telling about human nature and that leads us up to my first Human Nature insight:

1.  People want to know EVERYTHING about something before they react.

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Tribute to a friend who passed: Mary McDonald

My friend, co-worker, artistic supporter, and mentor passed away about 3 and a half weeks ago. I started writing this about 2 weeks ago, but I was hoping to have more info on what happened by now. But, nobody (who I know anyway) has any new information other than that there will be a “Celebration of her Life” in two months. So figured I’d just go with this post instead of waiting anymore.

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Last Thursday (7/7/2011), I got an email from a friend informing me that my old boss passed away. Most of you who will read this won’t know her, but her name was Mary McDonald. The story of the moment (7/11/2011) is that she came home from yoga on Friday 7/1/2011 and had either a stroke or a heart attack. Her apartment is under police seal pending an autopsy/investigation, so who knows what that will uncover. But until that, I’m not going to speculate on how she died, but rather how she lived.

I met Mary back in March 2000. I had interviewed with her for a consulting job at PaineWebber. After burning out on a previous job, I had taken a 3-month sabbatical between consulting jobs to try and make a go of Lantern Media Web Design. But that didn’t go over so well (a blog entry for another time perhaps), and after much prodding from a particular recruiter who thought I would be a perfect fit for this job, I decided to give it a shot.

Mary gave me a phone interview that went well, and I went in for a face-to-face interview with Mary, and three other interviewers. Other than one interviewer (who I found out over the years has an industry-wide reputation for not-liking any candidates), I had a GREAT set of interviews. I had such good connections with 3 of the 4 interviewers that I almost felt like I was goofing off there since each of the interviews were more friendly than business-like (FYI until this interview, I had never met any of them). That recruiter was right on the money about me fitting in there – I was pretty much told I had the job before I walked out the door.

So now I was working for Mary and some other cool people in an organization that people liked (at the time anyway). Work life was good again, and slowly I started to enjoy coming to work again. All the work got done in an efficient manner, but there was a friendly environment that I had missed in the prior few jobs. Mary actually supported my film-making aspirations, and gave me a lot of freedom to work on my Richard & the Young Lions documentary (as long as my work got done – which it did) – Mary was thanked in the credits of that movie.

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Star Wars at the Cradle of Aviation Museum 6/18/2011

The 501st Legion visits a really cool museum in Garden City, Long Island called the Cradle of Aviation.

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

If you’ve been following me at all, you probably know that I’m a Star Wars geek, and that I go to local events dressed in a Star Wars costume.  Just check my photo albums here or on Facebook to see visual proof.  You could also read any of my numerous blogs by clicking 501st” or “Star Wars”  over there on the right under Categories=====>

The short version (for me anyway) to get you up to speed, is that I am a member of a group called the 501st Legion.  The 501st is a group of geeks like myself who like Star Wars to the point of spending the time and money of creating professional quality costumes of the “bad guy” characters in the movie.  (I also belong to the Rebel Legion which covers the costumes of the “good guys”.  This particular event, I was a TIE Pilot “bad guy”, so I’ll focus on the 501st angle).

I realize there is a tendency to think of people who costume as loner freaks, but most of the people I’ve met doing this are sane and  productive members of society – We have moms, dads, cops, firemen, lawyers, teachers, programmers, musicians, writers, artists, etc within our ranks.  If we weren’t wearing a Star Wars t-shirt, you probably wouldn’t be able to pick us out of a crowd.  LOL

One of my favorite quotes lately is “Just because my hobby is different than yours, doesn’t mean my hobby is any dumber than your hobby.”  Plus our hobby has an outlet that helps make the world a better place.  A large portion of the events we attend are charity events, and our costumed groups have helped raise well into the millions of dollars for various charities.   And we bring LOTS of smiles to the kids who come out to our events and see characters magically come off the screen into their world.  It’s a really cool feeling being part of this.

One thing that I should mention here is that it isn’t just Star Wars costuming groups that enjoy these benefits, but most costumers, be it Star Trek, Superheroes, Disney princesses, etc.  (People who know my “wannabe marketing genius” mind are laughing right now because they know what’s coming next)

I am currently working on a new book that will hopefully be finished in early 2012.  It will be all about the various costumers out there –  How they got into it, Why they do it How they got their cool costumes,What their families and friends think, Cool stories while costumed, and everything in between. So basically I am looking to hear from any costumers who are willing to tell their story for inclusion in the book.   So if you are a costumer, and have a cool story, email me at jameshannon@lantern-media.com and let me know. You can be any type of costumer (including anime, re-enactors, mascots, gorilla-grams, etc) – the only exclusion is that the book will be relatively family-friendly, so I probably won’t be using any adult-themed stories.  Nothing against it personally, but as wise costumer Amber Love wrote in her Amber Unmasked blog, “there’s a time and place for everything.”   🙂

Ok, sorry for that tangent, back on target about the Cradle of Aviation event.

The Cradle of Aviation is a really cool museum on Museum Row in Garden City, Long Island.  They’ve got a whole lotta exhibits on the history of flight – with a slant towards Long Island’s involvement in it.  Grumman Corporation was a HUGE contributor of exhibits to the museum and there is some really cool stuff there like flight simulators, lunar landers, space suits, planes of all types, etc.  It even has a Fire Dept museum and historic carousel on the property – See the pics below for a taste of it..   HIGHLY recommended by your pal James…

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Green Lantern movie – A lifetime waiting to review!

Don’t worry, I’ll let you know in big bold letters when to stop reading if you don’t want any spoilers

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Well, after waiting my entire life for this, FINALLY a Green Lantern movie came out. In case you didn’t know, your old pal James (whose company is called LANTERN-media.com by the way) has been a HUGE Green Lantern fan since he was a kid.

Sure Superman and Spiderman were cool, but there was just something about having a ring that can construct kick-ass weapons based on the wearers imagination really appealed to this Irish kid from the Bronx – And the fact that he was “green” didn’t hurt LOL And every summer, I’ve watched as a bunch of less-deserving superheroes get their moment on the big screen.

Well not this Summer… Finally Green Lantern hit the theaters today!

I’ll be honest, I was pretty worried about this movie… Waiting an entire lifetime for something only to have it suck was a real concern. I really tried to keep my emotions in check about it – and by its release, I was fully expecting it to be more disappointing than the Green Hornet movie with Seth Rogan last year.

Which was a really good strategy on my part. Having low expectations meant that as long as Jack Black didn’t star as Hal Jordan (an actual possibility from a past script that still frightens me), it was probably NOT going to be a disappointing movie.

So we found a local theater and went to the matinee. Jackie wouldn’t have stayed awake for the car ride to the theater, let alone the whole movie, if we had went to the midnight showing, so we went to the first showing of the next day. We also decided to watch the Non-3D version since it was earlier
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Richard and the Young Lions – 7 years later

Today is June 17th, 2011 – which is the 7 year anniversary of the passing of Howard “Richard” Tepp – The lead singer of Richard and the Young Lions (also known as RYL).  I wasn’t thinking about that milestone intentionally today, but it kinda jumped out at me accidentally, so it seems like the universe really wanted me to make a note out of it.  and what better way than a blog?  🙂

Other than today being the release of the new Green Lantern movie (just remember, my company name is LANTERN Media Productions), it wasn’t supposed to be an extra-ordinary day.   I was just working from home, trying to decide which showing of the movie I will see.

I was Twittering back and forth with my friend Jedi-J (aka Jason Antonelli) about my Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang book and my Out of Our Dens: The Richard and the Young Lions Story documentary I did back in 2004.  I had recently sent both to him, and he had just finished them and was giving me his review on both.

Side Note:  Jedi-J (his preferred name, don’t ask LOL) is one of my interview subjects for my new book about costumers, and we’ve become friends over the last few months.  He does a killer Obi-Wan Kenobi (the Ewan McGregor one), and has a really interesting story that will come out partially in my new book, but really deserves his own book – If nobody else grabs him by the time I’m done with this book, I’m seriously going to consider writing it myself)

So, I was talking with Jedi-J about my RYL documentary and he asked how the band was doing nowadays, and I told him that Richard Tepp had died back in June 2004 – I forgot the date, but it was 4 days after I had completely finished my documentary on him and the band.    And Jedi-J was really shocked that he had died, and started asking questions about the days leading up to his passing, and how he felt the documentary became a lot more poignant knowing that.

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Casualty at the Saint, Asbury Park, NJ – 6/10/2011

Its been a crazy two weeks, so I’m trying to keep up with the individual blogs before I forget to…   They’ll be shorter than my longer-winded ones 🙂

Casualty at the Saint, Asbury Park, NJ – Friday, June 10th, 2011

I drove down to Asbury Park to see one of my best friends Jeff Hornlien play his first show with his new band “Casualty”.

If you haven’t heard by now, Jeff’s old band “The RiffSurfers” (that I managed – against my will LOL), are no more.  <insert huge sad face here>   No dramatic fight between the 5 J’s (Jeff Hornlien, Jimmy Diamonde, Jenna D’Onofrio, John Kraemer & James Hannon (umm, that’s me),  but things weren’t happening, and we all eventually went different directions.  I went on to promote my book “Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang“;  John became Johnny Rox and joined the band “Tasting Grace” (see my review of their shows here and here);  Jenna joined the successful cover band Decades Invasion and is probably playing somewhere near you this weekend (and next weekend, and the weekend after that);  Jimmy became James Giunta, Certified Hypno-Therapist and currently has a thriving practice in Red Bank, NJ.   And Jeff started up this new band called “Casualty” with old RiffSurfer drummer Sean O’Connor and bass player Nicky Vitucci.   So now that you’re all caught up with the history of the band, lets move on to their first show.

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Band Review: Black 47 at the Stone Pony, Memorial Day 2011

Band Review: Black 47 at the Stone Pony, Memorial Day 2011

As biased as my previous review was, this one will be also.  But, unlike the previous review, I became biased towards Black 47, not because of friendships (which came later), but because I was just a super fan going back to their early days (1989-1991) when they were playing in the Norwood/Bainbridge section of the Bronx – which just happened to be my old neighborhood.

I’m kinda embarrassed to admit this, but I never did see the band live when they were playing back in my old neighborhood.  They had played in the local Irish bars, and by this time I had already given up drinking at the ripe old age of 16 (more common in my Irish-American neighborhood than you would expect)

I don’t remember who exactly, but “someone” recommended Black 47, and I picked up their CD – probably at Crazy Eddie’s on Fordham Road. I was really surprised that I liked their music.   I DID NOT like Irish music at all at that time tho – too many parentally-forced listenings of “Wild Colonial Boy” and “The Unicorn” on WFUV’s Sunday radio program will do that to you.

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Band Review: ANOTHER biased review for Tasting Grace

ANOTHER biased review for Tasting Grace
This time at the Downtown in Red Bank, NJ – May 25th, 2011

Ok, as the title would suggest, I’ve reviewed the band Tasting Grace before. See here for that review.

And like before, it is still going to be partially biased since drummer Johnny Rox and I are good friends, former bandmates (I was the manager of the now-defunct RiffSurfers) and brothers in the charitable Star Wars costuming group the 501st Legion – But I’ll try to keep it as unbiased as I can..

Last night’s show was at the Downtown bar in Red Bank, NJ – They have an upstairs room for shows – I had done a book signing there at another friend’s hypnosis event there back in January 2011. It’s a pretty big place with a good vibe to it.

As mentioned, I’ve been to a Tasting Grace show before back in November, 2010 at the Asbury Park Convention Hall, and they were great back then, albeit with a few lighting problems that made it difficult to see the band on stage (really, read my previous review). But this time, there were no technical problems (at least to me) and I saw the show as the band wanted me to.

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Book Review: This is Your Brain on Shamrocks

Mike Farragher is a fellow Irish-American writer who I met thru Larry Kirwan of Black 47 – He just came out with a book called “This Is Your Brain on Shamrocks” and I just finished reading it…   And heres the review:

“This is your Brain on Shamrocks” is an entertaining book.   It is a collection of humorous short essays from Mike Farragher about how “growing up Irish” influenced (and still influences) his daily life.

I’ve met Mike twice in person, and oddly enough they were both in pubs. First was at an Irish-American Writers & Artists event, and secondly was at his book signing in a local New Jersey pub.  Both times he was one of the nicest & most social people.  In reading his book however, I got a scary look into his psyche, and realized that while we were completely different people, we have a lot of the same memories and ideas about things thanks to our similar backgrounds during the same time period on opposite sides of the Hudson River.

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You’re only as relevant as your next project…

Ok, so its been a few months since Lost Boys of the Bronx – The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang was published, and the marketing blitz has died down a little bit.   There’s still a few outstanding things there that might catch fire again, but the craziness of a book release is over and I can think straight again…  Or as much as I could do before the craziness anyway… 🙂

Instead of sitting back and enjoying the free time that I’ve been looking forward to, what does your friendly neighborhood author decide to do?   Get started on another project of course!!!

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Aircraft Carriers, Star Wars, friends and turkey sandwiches.

FYI:  I saw some Senator taking crap this morning on the news for sharing an innocent Halloween costume with his staffers, which kinda inspired the mini-rant at the beginning of this.  I’m sure they had something else on him, but I didn’t listen long enough to find out.   Before I saw that clip, I was just going to post a simple summary of yesterdays events on the USS Intrepid… Indulge me for a few paragraphs, and I’ll get right into that.

Outside of my home and work life, there are a couple of aspects to my life lately that people who don’t know me well are surprised by:

The biggest thing right now of course is that I’m the author of “Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Bronx“.  Other things that I do/have done are that I have an MBA (but who cares right?); I’m also a filmmaker who wrote, shot & directed the documentary “Out of Our Dens: The Richard and the Young Lions Story”; and I’ve done music videos for artists such as The Grip Weeds, The RiffSurfers, and Shelly Riff.  If you scroll thru my blog and/or Facebook page, you will find lots of references to those aspects of my life.

But what people who only know me from the aspects of my life above REALLY get shocked about is the aspect that this blog entry will cover.

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Where can you buy Lost Boys of the Bronx / Ducky Boys Story?

It has come to my attention that I am not as obvious as I thought I was about where to buy Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang. So let me fix that right now.

First, you can buy a personalized copy of the book at: http://Lantern-Media.com/signedbooks It may even cost less than the online bookstores too since their prices fluctuate based on the market.   Paperback costs $15, while the hardcover costs $20.

Most, if not all the online bookstores carry it:
Amazon.com
carries the paperback, hardcover, and Kindle versions
Barnes and Noble Online
also carries the paperback, hardcover and Nook versions
Borders
carries the paperback and hardcover versions
Authorhouse
(my publisher) carries the paperback, hardcover, and e-book version

I am also finding that more and more physical Barnes and Noble bookstores are carrying versions of the book. The next time you go into one, please ask your local B&N to carry Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang (ISBN: 9781452020549 for the paperback which is more likely to be carried)

Current Barnes and Nobles who have carried Lost Boys of the Bronx are:
call before going to check current availability

Barnes & Noble – Central Plaza (paperback)
2614 Central Park Avenue,Yonkers, NY 10710,914-771-6400

Barnes & Noble – Danbury Square (paperback)
15 Backus Ave, Danbury, CT 06810, 203-730-2733

Barnes & Noble – 86th & Lexington (paperback)
150 East 86th Street, New York, NY 10028, 212-369-2180

Barnes & Noble – Union Square (paperback)
33 East 17th Street, New York, NY 10003, 212-253-0810

Barnes & Noble – Bay Plaza / Co-op City (hardcover)
290 Baychester Ave, Bronx, NY 10475, 718-862-3945

Tribute to the Wanderers – Originally published Winter 2006 issue of Back in the Bronx

Note: This article was written for Back in the Bronx magazine in Winter 2006. New information came in and some of the details in the story have changed in the years between this article and the publishing of Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang. I chose to leave it the way it was originally published.


A Bronx Tribute to “The Wanderers”

By James Hannon of Lantern-Media.com

A native Bronxite’s tale of how Hollywood came to the Bronx, and how the resulting movie influenced his life.

Published in Back in the Bronx Magazine, Winter 2006 issue, Vol XIV, Issue L1

Click here to see the original published article



In 1979, a movie by the name of The Wanderers came out. It was based off the book by Richard Price and starred a then-unknown actor named Ken Wahl. It also had a tremendous supporting cast that is too big to list here.

My sister’s boyfriend Louie really sold me on this movie a year or so earlier by telling me they were filming it near the Dollar Savings Bank on the Grand Concourse & Fordham Road, and that they had a bunch of old cars lining the surrounding streets and they were filming. This was a big deal to me, so I was definitely looking forward to it coming out.So, when it finally came out, I was horrified to find out that it had a rating of “R”. I was only 12 years old and five long years away from being eligible to see this movie. Ratings actually meant something back then, and I couldn’t imagine any kid’s parents letting them see “R” movies. I was crushed that I couldn’t see it.

My 19 yr old sister and Louie went to see it and told me that it was great, and that it opened with a shot of the RKO Fordham movie theatre and Alexander’s Department Store, and had aLOT of other Bronx locations! I thought my neighborhood was about as far from Hollywood as you could get, but this movie was filmed in my neighborhood — And I couldn’t see it!

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Christmas Blizzard 2010 / Irish Voice review

Originally this was going to be a blog entry on this cool review I got on the Irish Voice newspaper website today, but I realized that the Scotch Plains Christmas Blizzard of 2010 is just as worthy to talk about…

I’ll talk about the book stuff first since I think its pretty major – AND it will let me end the blog with the blizzard videos and pictures… So here goes…

After shoveling out from the Christmas Blizzard (see later on), I sat down to surf the net a bit, and I got a Google Alert email telling me that
James Hannon” and “Lost Boys of the Bronx” was mentioned in a news story entitled “Don’t Bet Against Spider man“.. Didn’t know what connection I had to Spiderman, but news is news right?

Popping the article up on my screen, I realized it was from the Irish Voice newspaper and was written by “Off the Record” columnist Mike Farragher – Now things made sense….   A few weeks ago, I had went to the Irish-Mexican Alliance benefit (see my blog from then for what that was all about) and I met Mike in person there.  We’ve been “virtual” colleagues for a while since both of us were part of the Irish-American Writers & Artists group and had a lot of the same friends (most notably god-amongst-men Larry Kirwan – who somehow is getting mentioned in every blog lately LOL) – We finally met in person, and I passed my book to him hoping he would find the time to check it out…

Well, he did and he wrote a wonderful review of it…  Check it out at:

http://www.irishcentral.com/story/ent/off_the_record/dont-bet-against-spider-man-112497839.html
I know Mike has both an online edition of his column and a “physical newspaper” edition.   I’ll find out Wednesday if I made it to the paper version…

Now  onto the Christmas Blizzard!

Everyone knew this was coming – kinda… In the days prior, there were reports of it being anywhere from a dusting to 2 feet of snow…  Would it come on Christmas Day or the day after – or not at all???  Details were sketchy, but “something” was gonna happen…  Eventually reports started remaining consistent and we were gonna have a Nor’Easter the day after Christmas…

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