TV Made Me: It’s not the same anymore…

“Television is bad for you. It makes you dumb.” These are the things we hear quite often these days. In my opinion television may have saved my life and for better or worse, I can proudly say it made me who I am.

Unfortunately, growing up alone in a house of 6 is something you may understand.  There was love in the house, but in my family’s own special way. The bills always got paid and there was always food on the table and as we got older the birthday and Christmas gifts got better.

I had friends in the neighborhood and in school, and though I wasn’t one of the popular kids, I was definitely in the “it” circle. As far back as I can remember I was never affected by what people thought of me and I was always the comic that could lighten up any mood. I’d  also give the shirt off my back if needed and I say these things in the most humble way possible. I wish I could say my parents and siblings had something to do with any of that, and maybe they did, but it might have been indirectly, like doing the opposite of what my environment was doing.


As I reflect on my life I can clearly recall the first moment when I can say TV had altered my life.  As the assistant principal waited for me to explain my actions -I simply answered . . .

“I don’t recall.” She then asked, “do you know what that means?”

I said, “what”?

“The word recall,” she said.

I said, “yes, I mean, like…, to remember?.”

She asked where I had learned such a big word.

“Isn’t recall smaller than remember?” I asked.

“Well, yes but a word like that isn’t typically used by a second grader” she said.

I guess she expected to hear that my teacher, my parents or even my siblings may have taught me such a word and for some reason I didn’t want to admit I had picked it up from watching Mr. Belvedere. I mean you could only be taught from a teacher or by someone sitting you down and teaching you what words mean, right? What if my context clues skills were not as accurate as I thought. Needless to say I just shied away.


Growing up there were many family sitcoms that had positive messages and more importantly they showed me love and compassion for others that my environment seemed to dismiss. Programs like Mr Belvedere, Growing Pains, Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Little House on the Prairie and of course Good Times all found a special place in my heart and helped me view the world in a different way. I found myself engulfed in the antics and complications of a scripted life, and was always satisfied with the way everything came together at the end of every episode.

This may sound ridiculous but some of the valuable lessons that I adapted into my life came from watching TV such as:  honesty is always the best route because at the end of every episode the truth always comes out, to take responsibility for your actions, and be ready to pay the price because every action has a reaction.  I also learned to always apologize to someone if you have hurt them because at the end of the day we are all in this together, as well as defending yourself in a tactical manner because life is not linear and you never know what life is going to throw at you after each commercial break.


The most evident thing that I have kept in my life is the one liner approach to life… (thanks Cheers and Night Court) I sometimes surprise myself with my quick wit and one liners and it sometimes feels like I’m on a show… I’m sure you know what I mean. We all have that moment when that perfect joke lands. (Except for me it’s all the time, yeah I’m funnier than you.) This may not all be tied directly to TV and I’m sure my environment gave me no choice but to look at the brighter side of things. What I can give credit to TV for is teaching me the timing to a joke and the ability to take the blunt end of a joke for the sake of a good time.

There are so many things and so many shows that are not on this list that were and are fantastic that can be very useful. I know they should be listed on here, like Herman’s Head… I know you don’t know what I’m talking about so take a break and google it. Herman’s Head was awesome and ahead of it’s time, the idea and concept was used for the animated movie Inside Out.


I understand TV is what you make of it but unfortunately this generation and my kid’s generation will not have the privilege to know what I am talking about. How there were more positive messages on every channel and the “bad” shows were limited. Television these days is focused on the wrong things and is being used to project the wrong messages. (Yeah I know I sound old but your mom likes it…) I understand that TV works off ratings and if the junk shows are what people are watching then that’s what’s going to be on the majority of the menu.


I say all this to say, thank you 80s and early 90s TV sitcoms for making me the person I am today. You taught me many lessons while my brothers were too busy with their lives and while dad and mom worked so hard to keep the little we had. Thank you for not being full of crap, and for allowing me to escape for a brief moment and walk out the other side a “wiser” kid. Yes, thank you for Alf and Pee-Wees Playhouse as well, I took the good with the bad you dished out…. I was able to see what kind of family I’d like to have when I got older. I was able to envision what kind of career and environment I’d like my children to grow up in. Don’t get me wrong I still have many flaws which my environment and TV are not the blame for. If you’d like a list, I’m sure my wife would be glad to forward to you.


I encourage you today to reflect on that one source that you may have over looked and say thank you. It may have been tv, comic books, that one teacher, the weird uncle or that aunt that always seemed to understand you and make you feel like everything was ok with that warm smile. Take those positive values and share them with the world.

So once again, TV, Thank You and know that I will share all the positive things you have taught me with my family and friends. As in all great sitcom . . . fashion, hugs and fade scene – roll credits.

Shout out to:

Mr Belvedere, Growing Pains, Full House, Who’s the Boss?, Married… With Children, Mork & Mindy, Happy Days, Diff’rent Strokes, Little House on the Prairie, The Facts of Life, Family Ties, Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, The Jeffersons, Taxi, MAS*H ,The Cosby Show, Cheers ,Herman’s Head, Boy Meets world, Saved by the bell, Fresh prince of bel-aire, Sledge Hammer!, Knight Rider, Sledge Hammer!, Three’s Company, ALF, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Tracy Ullman Show, Miami Vice, Fraggle Rock, The Love Boat, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, MacGyver, The Dukes of Hazzard, The A-Team, Quantam Leap, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, The Wonder Years, Magnum, P.I., Night Court, At the Movies, Martin, In living color and many many more ….. especially all the cartoons.

– Steve Martinez:  Guest Blogger


It’s Valentines Day and if you’re not already eating some chocolate that a special someone gave to you then you’re chilling at home watching the Notebook or Dear John, back to back, because that’s all they’re playing on cable for all you love birds, over and over and over.  Vday is definitely that one day that causes us all to pause and think about love, relationships, and yes, chocolate, lots of it.  Whatever you’re doing this beautiful day I wanted to share something about love that I hope you find helpful, especially if you’re in a relationship.


I hear the term “ride or die” regularly as a description for someone’s girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife.  It’s the ultimate term of endearment and if your significant other feels this way about you then you’re doing something right.  It describes someone that will stand by your side no matter what, someone who will ride with you through any storm or challenge in life until death.  It’s someone that will protect you, guard your heart, and never give up on you.  This is the kind of love and commitment that we all desire and if you have a ride or die in your life, cherish that person, because they’re hard to come by.

On Instagram I follow MMA fighter Conor McGregor and this week someone shared a post of his that clearly described a ride or die woman in his life.  Conor’s words about his partner were as follows:

“We’ve been together for more than eight years.  We lived in Ireland , 30 km from Dublin, in a rented apartment on the 188 euro unemployment benefit.  I had no job because I spent all my time at the gym.  I believed that I would be the champion, and she always did too.  She believed in me.  Despite the lack of money, Dee Devlin tried to get me to eat right and always keep my daily regimen.  She dedicated herself to it.  Coming home after an exhausting training session, she always said, ‘Conor, it’s okay, you can do it!”

Conor is now one of the most successful MMA fighters in the world and Dee is reaping the benefits of sticking by his side when he had nothing.  From what I’ve read and understand, these two are madly in love and she’s there in his corner, whether in the ring or out.


I’ve always been curious as to how a couple can be together or married for 40 plus years.  That type of commitment is slowly becoming extinct and being with someone that long is either a true testament to love or two people who got stuck.  I’d like to think that it’s love in most cases.

I know a couple who’s been married for 30+ years and one day I asked what the secret was to keeping it together.  The first response was of course “love”, lots and lots of love.  You can’t be with someone that long unless the two of you truly love each other and in this case the couple was still very much in love.  But it was secret number two that interested me the most and I feel that it’s the key to longevity in any relationship.  My married friend looked at me with all seriousness and said “Hector, the real secret however is forgiveness, an enormous amount of it.  Each person is going to fuck up, guaranteed, and those fuck ups will be plenty, and you’re going to each have to forgive one another over and over and over.”

I’ve had my share of fuck ups in past relationships and needed forgiveness, but I’ve also had to give it many times as well.  I’m a ride or die type of person and the past two serious relationships are ones that I never wanted to give up on.  My marriage only lasted as long as it did because I fought for it and I wasn’t going to give up on her.  My last relationship was full of love and required lots of forgiveness from both sides, but apparently wasn’t enough.

As you ride through life with your partner in crime, I’m sure you’re already learning this big secret to longevity and I’d like to say that you’ll master it one day but I doubt anyone ever does.  There’s no “one size fits all” manual out there for relationships but if you love that person next to you with all of your heart, don’t ever give up on one another and learn to forgive each other even in the worst of times.


If you’ve ever ridden on the back of a motorcycle with someone, the safest way to ride as a passenger is by wrapping your arms around the driver and holding on tight.  You realize how important this is when making turns or when the motorcycle accelerates.  If you’re not holding on tight you’ll fall off that bike so fast and either die or experience lots of pain and no one likes pain.  Hold on tight as you two ride through life and don’t let go.  Life will have so many twists and turns and you simply need to lean into those turns together.  As life speeds up or even slows down, hold on tight and have fun.  Be each other’s best friend and when the other person “fuck’s up”, show them how much you love them by giving them the best and most powerful gift you can give, forgiveness.

Love is powerful and it’s best friend is forgiveness.  Walk with these two daily and hopefully you can look back 20 or 30 years from now and say “Thank you so and so, for never giving up on me and being my ride or die”.

Ride or die.  Happy Valentines Day.



It was 1998 and I had just started riding Flatland again after having been out of the sport for almost 8 years.  After graduating High School in 1990 and entering college my dedication and interest in riding around in circles in a parking lot decreased, altogether letting it go once my GT Pro Performer was stolen out of my back yard.  Those off years were full of other cycling, mountain biking and a few years stent of aggressive inline skating (yes, go ahead and laugh).  I can’t recall what brought me back in but I jumped in head first, and doing it all on a bright red Hoffman EP frame which took a beating and lots of throws while relearning all of the tricks that I loved doing as a teenager.

One of the first things that I had to do was catch up with the sport and that involved lots of BMX videos being sent to my house from Dan’s Comp, or borrowing them from new rider friends.  No flatland homework was complete without watching any or all of the Dorkin in York videos produced by Mark Eaton, and it was in Dorkin 5, I believe, that we were all introduced to this little tiny kid doing multiple whiplashes on a bike that looked a little too big for him.  I was like “Damn! This kid is going to blow up.”, and sure enough he did and became one of the most recognized and accomplished BMX athletes in the world.  His name was Dave Mirra.

This week the world was shocked as news circulated the web that Dave Mirra had passed away in an apparent suicide.  As this news became viral, my feed became full of love for this man and many many shares of his story.  With the love were also expressions of anger and confusion from riders and friends who couldn’t understand why someone as accomplished as Dave could take his own life, especially in that two beautiful daughters and a wife were left behind.  I stand with everyone who is left confused and I have something to share with you that I hope will help.


I doubt that anyone wakes up in the morning and says “Later today I’m going to kill myself” and from the reports from Dave’s friends and family who spent time with him that day, I’m sure that wasn’t on his agenda.  Suicide sucks and many people feel and wish that those that have taken their life should have called them or reached out for help.  There’s even suicide hot lines that serve for this purpose and I’m sure they have helped many who have walked on that ledge, but for the most part, it’s not this easy for those suffering from depression or a mental disorder.  There are reports that Dave was suffering from depression to some extent, but there still isn’t enough information about his state so all we can do is speculate.

I was with someone for approximately 5 years who battled bipolar depression on a daily basis and everything that I have to share on this topic comes from personal experience.  Know that no one could have stopped Dave from taking his life.  The same way no one could have stopped Robin Williams or any other celebrity from doing the same, the thought or action of taking one’s life is something that can come instantly, with no warning and with no time to “call a friend” to come to the rescue.

A few year’s ago I found myself racing down the freeway at 100 mph hoping to get to my girlfriend’s apt in time.  She went from laughing and lots of love in the parking lot of the restaurant to hurting herself in minutes.  Situations like this and many years of being with someone with a mental illness is what has taught me so much about the mind, mental disorders, and suicide, and it helps reduce the confusion of why someone like Mirra would take his own life.


Many of your friends and family could be suffering in silence and you would never even know.  For this reason we can’t be too hard on ourselves when someone close to us attempts or commits suicide.  No one would have ever suspected that my ex was suffering in silence because on the outside she was a very happy bubbly person with an outgoing personality, which she genuinely was.  However when depression would take over, it was something that she had no control over and even she was left confused as to where it came from.  This is the case with a few other friends that suffer from depression as well.

When this would happen I would comfort her as best as I could and she would try to push through as much as possible and not let it steal her day away.  Only time was the savior and she was a victim until that mood “went away” on its own, with no amount of hugs and kisses being able to help.  It was all new to me and I wasn’t always great at dealing or understanding, but I did the best I could. There is no manual for mental illness or being with someone suffering from depression, and all we can do is love, care, and be super supportive when these moods show their ugly head.

The mind is powerful and we will never understand how someone can take their own life like Mirra did.  It’s easy to become angry or confused and even accuse these people of being “cowards” and taking the easy way out, but please know that it’s bigger than that.  I firmly believe that Dave Mirra loved his life, his kids, his wife, and his many friends and fans and he didn’t want to leave this earth yet.  Something else took his life that day and it’s bigger than me, you, and a BMX bike.


If the root of this tragedy was depression and mental illness then all we can do is gain some understanding and then share that with others.  Mental illness is as real as cancer and heart disease and it deserves so much more attention than what it currently receives.  Learn what you can about this and be sensitive to those around you that might show signs of depression or something similar.  One of the best things that mental illness can use is a good support system, but even then we can only do so much.  The mind will do what it wants at any time and we won’t always be ready for it.

Much love to Dave Mirra’s children, wife, and family.  Their life is forever changed and I pray for peace and love to surround them for the rest of their days.

Note:  One of the first books that I read that helped me in my search for understanding mental illness was one called Detour:  My Bipolar Road Trip.  It’s a memoir and I couldn’t put the book down.  It opened my eyes to a lot and I hope it does the same for others.  You can order it on Amazon:




If you’re keeping up with the news and this year’s Academy Awards then you’ve heard that actors Jada Pinkett Smith and actor / director Spike Lee have have both decided to boycott the awards because of their distaste for the “all-white” list of nominees.  These two are very passionate about this and it’s evident through their Twitter accounts and other social media posts and videos.

There are zero black nominees in this year’s Oscars and I can see where suspicions can be raised and why the black community would be upset.  I need to check the list to see if any Latinos were on the list, though Sylvestor Stallone’s Italian roots might qualify and nullify any reason for me to be upset.  Regardless, I do have a message for Jada and Spike and by some off chance I hope that they get this very important message because I feel that they can be a lot more effective by doing something other than boycotting and choosing not to “watch” the Oscars.


This is a different generation with different priorities and the attention span of a squirrel trying to cross the street.  We’re not in the 50’s or 60’s and boycotting is no longer an effective option.  I’m sorry but no one will miss you at the Oscars or be sad that you’re not there.  This would be the case with many other actors who might choose to skip out on the biggest entertainment awards event in the world and I feel that you two are wasting your time with your choice of strategy.

Your voices have been heard and this story is picking up traction by the minute.  Just this morning it was being covered on all of the morning shows and many radio talk shows are discussing the issue.  You’ve shed light on the Oscars and I’m 100% certain that you’ve already attracted more viewers than any other year with your message.  The last I checked, Chris Rock is Black and being that he’s the host for the Oscars this year will only cause people to want to watch even more just to see what he might have to say about this.


At some point, with or without seeing this message, I hope that you would come to realize how ineffective a boycott will be and you’ll come up with a better strategy.  In fact, I’ll give you a list of things that you should probably do and if you do any or all of these your impact will be much stronger and will surpass you and Spike watching Netflix Sunday night rather than tuning into the Oscars.

  1.  Retract your boycott and confirm your attendance to the Oscars.  This will require you to both put your pride down, but if you don’t you will both kick yourselves in the ass the Monday morning following the awards, as you realize that you could have handled this differently.  By doing this all eyes will be on you and Spike, mainly you though because I’m sure many designers will gladly give you an amazing dress to wear, knowing that cameras will be snapping away once you hit that red carpet.
  2. Refine your message and put a solid plan/campaign together.  Brand your message and contact me so that I can help make this happen.  Your desire to gather an army of supporters will be much greater by doing this and since everyone is going to be watching the Oscars anyway you can help lead your “army” from the television screen.
  3. Blast your message to the world in the most effective way possible.  With a solid plan and branded campaign you can gather much more support and never think of boycotting again.  Boycotting died a long time ago and there are a lot more effective ways to gather support for a cause.  I would have never even noticed the lack of Black nominees this year so your voice is already being heard.  Be strategic and smarter about the way you deliver your message and the world will listen.


I always forget about the Oscars until it’s been on for about an hour and then catch the tail end of the show.  Yes, it’s a very long and boring show but I think I’ll watch it this year from beginning to end while folding laundry or watching some paint dry.  If Chris Rock doesn’t joke about this issue I’m going to kick his ass and write him a letter as well.

Jada, Spike, get your asses to the Oscars and be effective.  You can do a lot more “damage” by choosing to be present rather than being absent.  I’d love to help be your PR person as you figure this out so contact me and let’s do this.  I wear a 42M tux jacket, a 34 waist, and 10.5 in fancy shoes in case your designers ask for my size and measurements.

Good luck with everything.  Please tell Will Smith I said hello and that he should do a Fresh Prince reunion.  See you at the Oscars.




(Original post in December 2014)

A few years ago during one of the most polarizing presidential elections of our time, I stood firm against a man that many were rallying behind with sheep like tendency.  He came out of no where and was promising the world, change, and many very misguided people worshipped him as if he were Jesus reincarnated.  I saw right through that man and was very vocal about my distaste for what I already knew were empty promises and politics in their purest form.  To date I’ve been proven right by my suspicions, with no real “change” taking place in this country.

With 2 more years left in Obama’s administration we’re experiencing a division in this country that we haven’t seen since the Rodney King situation in 1992.  Tensions are hot and heavy and the distance between each situation is becoming shorter and shorter.  Not too long ago people were protesting the Trevon Martin case, and just a few months later the protesting continues with two or three “similar” situations back to back, a black person being killed by a white one.  The latest is the questionable death of Michael Brown, a young man who was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer after having been attacked by Brown and resisting arrest, followed by the death of Eric Garner, a man who resisted arrest and was choked out by a police officer, resulting in his death.  Both are situations that have been hyped by the media and race baiters as racially driven killings.

Obama has provided “speeches” in regards to a couple of these situations but as with anything that he does, there is no power in his words and it’s very evident.  He has lost his luster and no one is paying attention.  As America’s first “black” president his own people don’t even care what he has to say and they’re angry.  If you pay attention and watch closely, the protests and rioting is not only a race of people that is angry with the system, but it’s a cry for real CHANGE, something this president never gave us.


With every riot and protest, I ask the same question in my various social media platforms, and that is “Where are the real leaders?”.  And to be more specific, my question is in regards to Black leaders.  Where are they?  The black community has to settle for poor excuses for leadership such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and in Houston we have the ridiculous and very angry Quannel X.  But where are the true leaders who can speak for the black community and give some direction and leadership to a people that are crying for change.

Why am I calling for Black leadership only?  It’s because the situations at hand have become about race, and the Black community won’t listen to anyone else.  They want answers and they want to be led, whether they know it or not, however there is no one leading.

There’s a young black man that I follow on Facebook who goes by the name Prince EA.  This person is very eloquent and very well spoken, sharing some very deep wisdom on a weekly basis.  When I first came across one of his videos I immediately felt inspired and I was like “this is the voice and message that we need.  We need leaders to speak truth the way this young man does.” His message is powerful and it appears as though his heart is in the right place, with every message communicating a very sincere love for people and the world around him.  It’s a voice like his that I feel could help produce real change and I can only assume that this is a voice that the Black community wants to hear.  But what do i know, right?  I’m just another minority wanting something better than what I see in front of me.  You can follow Prince EA on Facebook.


I will never pretend or assume that I understand the struggles of the Black community.  Even as a latin man and minority, I will never experience the racism or discrimination that Blacks have to endure or have endured since the early 1600’s here in America.  What I do know however is what I see in front of me, and that is a country that is bleeding and hurting and crying out for direction and leadership.  I see a community, a race, that wants justice, a race that needs real leadership to rise up from within and guide them.

Where are the Prince EA’s?  Where are the Martin Luther King Jrs?  If you’re out there, please stand up.  Speak up.  Your people need you.  They want you.  This country needs you.  Please stand up.