Susan Cronin’s Unforgettable Life

Susan Cronin

Several months ago, my late, great friend Dr. M Susan Cronin asked me if I’d write about her after she was gone.

“I don’t want to be forgotten,” she said.

Susan was so wise about so many things, it’s hard to imagine that she didn’t have a better sense of how unforgettable she truly was. Who else, for example, has ever witnessed a llama fend off an eagle, which tried to fly off with a prized rooster? The eagle initially grabbed up a hen, but dropped it when the rooster attacked, then was snatched instead. As the eagle started to flap away, Coco the llama hacked up a massive spitball, hit it and forced it to abandon the rooster and fly away.

Born Jan. 29, 1942, in New York, Susan lived 70 relentless years filled with such wonders. During her lifetime, she fought off Hodgkin’s lymphoma, two open-heart surgeries and breast cancer. A rare form of leukemia finally claimed her on April 12, 2012, but Susan got her licks in against that, too.
[Read more…]

Carl Ervin and a Point Guard’s Vision

Carl Ervin once wrote in my Cleveland High School yearbook, “Thanks for making me famous.”

The late Carl Ervin, with his daughter Karlee and wife Penny, at his Seattle U. Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Over the years, I tried to argue with Erv that it was quite the other way around. But he loved to debate, and I figured that one day we’d be rocking on a porch having the same discussion over and over again.

But that’s not happening. Erv, one of the greatest high-school basketball players I’ve ever seen, lost a battle on Saturday with pancreatic cancer that I didn’t even know he was waging. Which is funny to say because we talked on the phone. And even at the beginning of the year he was lobbying me to attend the banner-hanging and jersey retirement ceremony at our alma mater.

I couldn’t attend because of personal matters and work obligations that now seem so trivial. Erv was relentless, but not once did he say, “Dude, I’m sick, you need to come.” Instead, Erv, the master facilitator and leader, said, “Man, you were as big a part of this as anyone.”
[Read more…]

‘When You’re a Freak, Freaky Things Happen to You’


The headline to this post is one of the greatest lines ever uttered to me during an interview. You probably don’t even have to guess from whom it came.


Shaq: "When you're a freak, freaky things happen."

I could go on a Shaqilicious rampage here, but I had my time and so did Shaquille O’Neal. Since he announced his retirement from pro ball, appropriately enough on Twitter, there already has been much written about his place in NBA history and his abundant nicknames. I just wanted to drop a few personal memories and acknowledge that it required Shaq’s retirement to prod me out of my mini-retirement from the blogosphere.

Way back when I was still a newspaper writer, I wrote a large piece about Shaq as an emerging crossover star (see Welcome to ShaqWorld). He hadn’t even won his first NBA title, though he’d dropped his first recorded verse and filmed an ill-fated movie. This was during a time when a writer could earn big-time access to superstars, and I hung around him for a few days in El-Lay.
[Read more…]