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May 5, 2022

Frank Cerabino - Columnist for the Palm Beach Post

Frank Cerabino - Columnist for the Palm Beach Post
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Frank and I talk about being a columnist, Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis and Pickleball.

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Disclaimer: Unedited AI Transcription

Larry (00:06):

I'm Larry Barsh. And you are listening to specifically for seniors, the podcast for those of us in the remember when generation Our guest today on specifically for seniors is Frank Chairo. After five years of working as a news reporter for the Miami Herald, Frank became a general assignment reporter for the Palm beach post two years later, he began is the newspaper's local news columnist. He has been a local news columnist for the Palm beach post for the past 30 plus years, and is a proud union member of the Palm beach news Guild. Welcome to specifically for seniors, Frank.

Frank Cerabino (01:00):

Hey, it's a pleasure to be here, Larry. Thank

Larry (01:03):

I understand your writing career got started in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

Frank Cerabino (01:09):

Yes, it did. I I went to the Naval academy and like most people who go to the Naval academy, you, you sort of you get a major in engineering and and so I, I was assigned to an aircraft, a carrier, and immediately within 30 days after being assigned to it, it went on a nine month deployment to the Pacific and Indian oceans. And I made in the course of about four years on the ship, I made three of those long deployments. And this was at a time when we didn't have all the gadgets we have today to amuse ourselves, you know, the cell phones and the video games and things like that. So when you went to see for long stretches of time and we'd go for weeks at a time, one, one cruise, we went 120 days straight at sea.

Frank Cerabino (01:56):

You had to amuse yourself. I mean, you'd stand, watch, you'd do your job or whatever. And and so you, you either could read or play call cards and I really never read for pleasure. So I did a lot of playing cards and then I got tired of playing cards and I started reading almost as a last resort, just reading novels. And I just really just kind of loved, you know, just sort of discovered reading for reading's sake. And I mean, the ship would get important and they'd go out to the bar and I'd go to the sh the base library to see what books were there that I wanted to read. So, and, and reading led to writing, you know, you read and, and I'm like one of those people after a while, it's like, well, I had to try doing this stuff.

Frank Cerabino (02:37):

It was, and it was kind of a revelation I really enjoyed writing. I would just kind of do it for myself and state room. And and I'd send, I'd write these short stories and send 'em off to my girlfriend who now is my wife for 42 years. And and she would encourage me. And later somebody told me how this works. It's like writing is like prostitution. You know, you start off doing it for yourself. Then you share it with a few close friends. And pretty soon you think strangers should be paying you money for it. And and so that's, that's the way it went with me. So by the time I got out of the Navy, I really knew I wanted to be a writer somehow. And I thought maybe I'd write novels. And my wife would support us. And she, he said, how about getting a job?

Frank Cerabino (03:20):

And that has health insurance. And, and so newspapers became kind of a thing. And in the course of doing all this reading, I, I was a, I grew up as a New York Mets fan. I grew up in long island and I, I wanted to read Jimmy Breslin's book on the 1962 New York Mets. Can anybody here play this game? And I read Breslin's book and I loved it so much that I started reading anything I could get by Jimmy Breslin. And I came upon a, a collection of his columns and I read Jimmy Breslin's columns. And I thought, boy, that would be great to be a columnist someday. So that was the initial bug. Being a column writer is not sort of an entry level job. You, you sort of, you start off covering events and then of eventually you, you get to the point where you can either go one way and become an editor and sort of edit other people's stories. Or you can say, I want to be a columnist. And so when that time came from me, I had done about seven years of writing or eight years of writing stories you know, covering news events and covering courtroom trials and police you, and, and school board meetings and things like that. I got a chance to be a columnist and that was 31 years ago. So I've been writing this column now for 31 years, I write for a week now that was a long answer, by the way.

Larry (04:37):

That was a good answer though. I'm still working on the part about prostitution, but <laugh> yeah,

Frank Cerabino (04:44):

Well, it's one of the true things. The other true thing that somebody told me when I first started writing the column, they said, ah, you might think it's good. Now. He said, but you know, writing a column is like being married to an inform maniac. It's only fun for the first couple weeks. And and I kind of figured out what they were saying is that, you know, you have the, this great thing. I could say whatever I want, and I can do this, you know, I can, I can write and have my opinion. And then after two weeks, it's like, oh my God, you want another opinion from me? I mean, I just gave you a good one a day ago, you know, and leave me alone. Let me rest for a little, but no, you have to keep the it's relentless. And it still goes on. I mean, I still, after 31 years, I go, oh my God, I gotta write four columns this week. What am I gonna do? You know, how am I gonna possibly write four columns?

Larry (05:27):

Well, I think Florida gives you a lot of opportunity.

Frank Cerabino (05:31):

I am blessed being in Florida if I was in Iowa or someplace, I really think I'd be outta luck. I'd be writing about the corn so many times. I think it would drive me crazy.

Larry (05:40):

What would you advise kids who want to go into the field of journalism today?

Frank Cerabino (05:45):

You gotta really love it. It used to be a lot more accessible career path. When, when I started out when I started out, there were multiple newspapers that were, that were making loads of money and they were competing against each other overlapping circulations, and there was a big push to hire reporters. And, and, and unfortunately technology has sort of conspired against the news business. We've with the advent of the internet the, the, the local newspaper is sort of under attack. You know, financially, I mean, there's no more classified ads. A lot of the advertising is moved online and people are getting their news through their phones and other things like that. And and sort of delivering the paper, the good old fat, you know, you're going through a printing press and having a truck drive it out and dropping it in your driveway.

Frank Cerabino (06:43):

It, it kind of worked when everybody in your block got the newspaper, but when only one person on your block gets the newspaper, suddenly the economic model is is not as, as tenable as it used to be. So if you're going into the business, if you're going into wanting to be a news reporter, I mean, there's plenty of outlets. I mean, there's plenty of places where, I mean, people are, are there's, there's not a shortage of appetite for news of, of any kind. And you can always find a way to, to write something. And there's plenty of to write about, and you can get it published somewhere, but whether or not you can make a career out of it, as opposed to just doing peace work for people. So, you know, some it's is a big difference being hired as a staffer and, and having, you know, benefits and having a pension plan to writing a hundred dollars a story, you know, for somebody and, and as a freelancer one is a career. And the other one kind of a job in that career path is, is, is sort of dried up that being said, I mean, there are still young people that go through and and and do wonderful things and, and and are true believers and, and you know, and journalism and, and for them, I say, good for you.

Larry (07:58):

Well, fortunately leaf for papers like the Palm beach post, a lot of us down here have grown up with newspapers and still find it comfortable to get the paper in the morning to read this coffee.

Frank Cerabino (08:11):

You know what I feel, I feel I'm almost, I almost start advising people to that. They're gonna have to grow outta that habit because I get a lot of people who complain that you know, they're having trouble with their delivery. And and, and a part of that is the fact that we have a hard time delivering the papers now, because there are few and far between and it makes it makes it difficult you know, to, to provide the, the product in the print edition. And, and, and when people are frustrated by not getting their paper every day, I mean, they should be really considering going online. And I know it's a, you know, it, you get used to something you have that familiarity. You like to have the paper with the morning cup of coffee. You like to take the paper in the bathroom with you, you know, but, but you can also, you know, learn to, to appreciate the the online edition.

Frank Cerabino (09:05):

And I think it's important to do that. I'll give you an example. My, my wife's mom is 88 years old was one of those newspaper readers, traditional N readers every day, her day started with the newspaper and a cup of coffee, and she would clip out the horoscope and send it to my wife and, you know, that kind of newspaper reader. And she is now strictly on the tablet on the online, and she loves it. And she started doing that when she was 86 years old. So there's no, there's no, I, I'm not too sympathetic to be people saying, well, I've always gotten my newspaper this way. This is the way I have to get it. I think, I think we all have to change in some way, and this is one way that we can in a way that, that helps us continue to get the news.

Frank Cerabino (09:47):

And also in a way that, that it's actually kind of better in a way. I mean, if you look at what we can do online, as opposed to what we can do and print it significantly more, I mean, we can show you videos. We can do graphics, interactive graphics, where you can, you know, go from one place to another based on what you wanna see. You can do archives. So, so people say, oh, I missed your column the other day. Well, you know, it used to be, you had to go to the library to find the newspaper, you know, know, and, and then go back and read it. But now, you know, online, if you have an online subscription, you can, you can access any column that I've written, you know? And you can go back for months. If you missed it, you can find it in a, in a, in a second.

Larry (10:30):

I do have to admit that the phone is a lot more convenient in the bathroom yeah. In the newspaper. Well,

Frank Cerabino (10:37):

Yeah, but here's the deal. If you drop the newspaper in the toilet, it's not a big loss.

Larry (10:43):

Well, there's always rice <laugh>

Frank Cerabino (10:46):

I don't know. I don't know. It depends.

Larry (10:49):


Frank Cerabino (10:49):

I've never seen, you know, what, I've never seen the rice work. I know people do that all the time and I, and within like a day or so, they're getting a new phone.

Larry (10:58):

Let's get serious a minute. Let's talk about our governor, Ron DeSantis. We have

Frank Cerabino (11:03):


Larry (11:05):

I guess we should. Yeah.

Frank Cerabino (11:06):

<Laugh> he,

Larry (11:08):

He's been waging a culture war here in Florida. Do you really, do you really think he believes what he's saying? Or is it just political red meat for his base?

Frank Cerabino (11:21):

Well, I don't really know what's in his heart. I will say that that as a tactic, it has worked for him so far. So remember he was a Congressman from north Florida who really, nobody was a very unremarkable sort of back venture. He wasn't on the front of anybody's mob when they talk about, you know, bright lights in the future. And he basically caught his way into into everybody's consciousness by appearing on Fox news and praising Donald Trump you know, obsessively and, and effusively at any, any instance. And, and he became one of those people who were fortunately either through, you know, good luck or, or, or, you know, good design had managed to jump on the Trump train at the time when it was really sort of advantageous to do that. And so when Trump, you know, became president DeSantis got paid back for his loyalty by getting the Trump, you know, sort of the Trump endorsement and he got by extension, he got all of those Trump people to vote for him. What has changed now is that they both apparently you know, are looking at 20, 24 in the same way. And and as we've seen in other cases with Trump is that his loyalty only lasts in your direction as long as you're willing to do what he wants you to do. And so DeSantis running for president would not be would not be something that would would please Trump. So I think they're heading for a collision.

Larry (12:58):

Who do you think will win the collision?

Frank Cerabino (13:00):

Oh, I don't know. I hope neither of 'em, but I hope they both take each other out <laugh> I don't, I don't know, you know, it's like, who is worse, you know, Donald Trump or a more competent Donald Trump, you know I don't know, you know, there's an argument that Donald Trump would be better than DeSantis because Donald Trump is too much of a, a bundler and a, and a, a, a guy who disregards the fine print to get a lot of things done where DeSantis seems to be hellbent on getting stuff done one way or another, no matter what. So in the sense you know, DeSantis might be able to do more damage, but, but here's the deal. I don't know. I don't know if, if DeSantis can, can, can persuade those Trump people to, to not vote for Trump and vote for him.

Frank Cerabino (13:49):

I, I don't know. And I think Trump just like he did with Ruby, I remember, I don't know if you remember, but Marco Rubio 2015 was seen as the bright light in the Republican party. And there is nobody saying Marco Rubio is gonna be the next president of the United States. I mean, even Marco, Rubio's not saying that. I mean, he got beat so badly by Trump. I mean, I, I didn't realize it at the time until I just heard Marco Caputo. Who's a great reporter in Florida. Talk about it the other day that Trump beat Rubio in 60 of the 67 counties in Florida for the Florida primary. I mean, Rubio couldn't beat Trump in anything, but, but one county in Florida when they, when he ran against them. So, you know, Rubio is, is, is, is out of it. And so you look at, so the Santa now is kind of filling in that spot of the credible challenger from Florida against Trump.

Frank Cerabino (14:37):

And you kind of wonder if he's going to end up the same way Rubio does now. I don't know, DeSantis seems to be a little bit more driven and a little bit more strategic, but, but ultimately you're gonna have to get all those people that stand on the street corner with the Trump signs and those guys with the pickup trucks, with the flags, they're somehow gonna have to transfer that, that sort of zeal and loyalty to Ron DeSantis who let's face. It is a short whiny guy. Who's nothing not like, not like Trump's a man's man, but I mean, but DeSantis is nothing but a big ball of grievance over everything. And, and I don't know, is that, is that magnetic enough to, to, to get people to, to vote for him? I mean, it doesn't work for me and maybe not for you, but maybe it works for other people. We'll see

Larry (15:22):

It doesn't work for me at all. <Laugh> he speaks,

Frank Cerabino (15:26):

I mean, tell me Larry. I mean, he just seems he's windy about everything. I mean, look at this correspondence dinner, which is a perfect example. So the correspondence dinner, anybody that's seen a Fryer's roast knows that the guy that gets up there and speaks, so the woman who gets up and speaks, they make fun of everybody. I mean, if you saw the thing, you would see that Joe Biden, the first thing Joe Biden did was make fun of himself. And then he went around and made fun of everybody else. And then Trevor Noah does this same thing. Well, Desant this treats it as a big attack against him. And it's just like, you know, it's like, it's not all about you. You know, it's not, it's not really about you. It's, it's the, it's the function of the event. And if you can't take a joke, well, then that's fine. You know,

Larry (16:07):

I remember when the correspondence dinner, if you didn't get roasted, that was the end.

Frank Cerabino (16:12):

And it basically said that you weren't important. Well, I'm sure in, in, probably in, in deep, in, in, you know, in the consciousness of, of, you know, campaign, they're probably happy that he got singled out because it, like you said, it, it confers a, a, a level of importance to him.

Larry (16:29):

Let's talk about some of his wines. Oh, bring briefly critical race theory.

Frank Cerabino (16:36):

Well, first of all, critical race theory, isn't taught in public schools K through 12. So it's a non it's a non-issue, it's clearly a campaign issue just like Antifa is just like L G B T Q bathroom etiquette, you know, and all this other stuff. It's just red meat for a certain class of people that I just think of as narrowminded and, you know, bigoted, maybe not consciously bigoted, but certainly narrow minded to the point where they think it's a shame that we can't just make sure that gay people have nothing to say, just go back in the closet. Like they were during a good all Harriet, you know, Ozzie and Harriet days and shut up and black people were just more respectful and said, yes, sir. And yes, ma'am, and, and those days are gone and they pine for them. And, and this appeals to that group.

Frank Cerabino (17:27):

So even the word critical race theory has the word critical in it, you know? So it's like, you're, you're hating America. That's the way it's, it's it's and it's deceptive. It's really American history. It's merely acknowledging a part of American history that has been undertold, which is that, you know, they say history is, is, is written by the winners. Well, we have a whole history in our country that has not been told sufficiently about, about black Americans and what they've faced. I, I, I, I doubt that most of the people that even, you know, are so against critical race theory, even know, like have read the 16, 19 project or watched any of the videos or, or understand what critical race theory is all about for DeSantis, it becomes a, a, a area of grievance, you know, white grievance, you know, you know, most of the voters that, that show up on election day are white people.

Frank Cerabino (18:18):

And he's banking on the fact that if you can get most of the white people to vote for you and let's face it in Florida, they're, they're not they're, they're, it's, it's much closer to Alabama and Georgia than it is to, to, to you know, New York <laugh>. And so you, you, he's appealing to sort of institutionalized, you know narrow mindedness that's already there. And it's really kind of a shame because you know, Florida's 14% of Florida or, or black and, and everybody deserves to have the history toll. It doesn't mean that you hate America, that you find out that you know, that red lining is what it's cost of black Americans as far as home ownership and things like that. I mean, it's, it's it actually, there's a part of it. I mean, I, there's a, I listen to the, all the segments of the, there there's a, there's a, a, an audio version of the 16, 19 project.

Frank Cerabino (19:12):

And I, and I listened to it and it didn't make me hate America anymore. It made me realize that there are a lot of black people who have, have with, with stood a lot of prejudice in this country, and yet still believe in America very much, and still are fighting to be American citizens on an equal footing of, of their, their white neighbors. And to me, that's a story of, of success of our democracy, not of failure, you know, like Martin Luther got to Martin Luther king said right about, you know, that the, the arc of justice is, is, is, or the arc of history is, is long, but it bends towards justice. I think if we can kind of keep that in mind and see our history as a, as a that's kind of a learning experience, I think that's much more uplifting than saying we have to make sure that kids don't feel bad about being white, you know, come on. Ridiculous.

Larry (20:03):

Do you think a lot of this is based on his fear of losing white male, great supremacy?

Frank Cerabino (20:15):

Well, I think, yeah, I think there's a calculation that when he does this, he picks up support in an area where there are a lot of voters, you know there are a lot of let's face it, you know, there Florida, there are a lot of older white voters and older white voters. That's a message that resonates, you know, more, I mean, if this, if this state was dominated by multicultural young voters under 30, you wouldn't be able to make that argument as a, as a political winner, but he, he clearly thinks he, you know, he can do that. I will say, you know, he didn't win very, by a very big margin in 2018, he won by 33,000 votes in a state where there are, there are you know, millions of of votes cast. So you know, it's, Florida's got very tight margins. And so you don't make these arguments unless you think you're picking up, you're helping your, your margin. You're helping your, your chances next time. I mean, he's, he wouldn't be going out of his way, making a big issue of critical race theory. If he thought he was losing votes,

Larry (21:25):

Next line re district Dean.

Frank Cerabino (21:28):

Well, this is just, this is just the, I mean, you could look at redistricting as a, as a bipartisan outrage. I mean, we shouldn't allow Democrats or Republicans to, to draw the, the districts after they win. I mean, it's like, it's, it's just not, it's not fair. You know, we, we elect people and then we say, okay, the people who won, we're gonna let you draw the lines. And so what happens is that voters don't pick their politic, their elected officials, elected officials pick their voters. So if you're in a state like Maryland, which is a democratic controlled state, you know, the democratic law S get get in there and they say, how come we give ourselves the most amount of congressional districts, if you're in North Carolina or Florida, any of the red states, it's the opposite thing is. And so if you look at the real unfairness in Florida is, and this is another example of DeSantis, just sort of like big footing, his way into someplace that, that no other governor had ever been, you know bold or Bowl's not the right word.

Frank Cerabino (22:30):

Well, it didn't have the, the amount of Hupa that he has to, to do this. I mean, the legislature picks the, does the redistricting every 10 years and DeSantis veto. I mean, it was his own legislature that came up with a, with a map that, that is still very favorable to Republicans. So, so, okay. This 28 congressional in Florida, the population of Florida by voter registration is almost 50 50. The Republicans now have a slight advantage, like, like a percentage, like a decimal point advantage, or it's basically 50.5 to 49.5. It's even closer Republicans that Democrat. So theoretically you have 28 seats. It should be around 14 democratic seats, 14 Republican leaning seats, you know, or maybe if they're gonna cook it up, maybe they'd give themselves 15 seats and, and give the Democrats 13. That would be kind of fair in a state that's essentially 50, 50.

Frank Cerabino (23:23):

Well, the legislation comes up with a map. That's got 18 Republicans state districts, and in eight democratic districts, I mean, 10 democratic districts. So 18 and 10. So that's already really skewed gerrymandered towards Republicans and the Santas vetos that to draw districts that would make it 20 Republican leaning districts to eight democratics. So in a state that's 50, 50 Republicans have a better chance of winning 20 of the 28 districts, which is just, it's just not fair. I, you know, and so what's the solution. Well, you know, the, some states have a commission. Part of the commission's problem is that who gets to pick the people on the commission? Well, the, the law makers do, but you can pick, you can say, all right, we're gonna have 10 people, you know that are picked by the Democrats 10 picked by Republicans. And then those 10 people can pick one person or something or those 20 people can pick one person.

Frank Cerabino (24:16):

And we'll say, we'll have a 21 member thing, and they'll, they'll draw the districts. That would be more fair than allowing the Republicans to go behind closed doors and just, or their Democrats pick their own district. There's another model I like, and I've seen it done. It's a mathematical model. You can, you can, you can use math to draw up the lines. You know, you know where everybody lives, you, you draw this, you get by population and you cut the state in half, one way with, with, you know, 14 million people on this side and 14 million P on that side of the line. And then you keep subdividing it until you create districts and it's all done by the computer. And so, and, and, and that's it. And then you would have the, the, the state divided up in a, in a very completely hands off way.

Frank Cerabino (25:01):

And I think we'd be better off. And now they say, well, the problem with that is you're, you're not creating minority districts. Well, the Sanders has already basically got rid of minority districts just by Fiat this time too basically said, I, I think minority districts are unconstitutional. So I'm not even gonna try to create a minority district. So that's already out. And the other thing you say, well, it kind of divides communities. You might have a line that goes through a community where people, you know, a mile away or in one district. And well, I don't know, I'd rather have that than have a 50, 50 state with 20 seats going to one party ain't going to the other.

Larry (25:35):

And he gives it a fancy name, trying to justify it in the name of racial equality. Well,

Frank Cerabino (25:41):

Well, that's, you know, that there's a, there's a, or well inequality, any nothing, no group call save. The children has ever really been good for children.

Larry (25:50):


Frank Cerabino (25:52):

I think, I think you can, you can count on whatever lawmakers come up with for a name, for something it's trying, it's, it's basically aimed at achieving the opposite.

Larry (26:03):

How do you explain the trend in this state toward concealed carry, without permit? Ultimately, we know it's gonna be open carry in a state that has had so much gun violence and so much tragedy.

Frank Cerabino (26:20):

Yeah, well, it's, you know, that's America's problem in, in Florida is certainly not leading in a, in a positive way. A you know, there are, there are already 25 states that have open carry, which is, which basically means you can walk down the street, you know, Marshall Dylan's style with your, with your handgun on your belt. And I don't know, you know, we have, we have more guns now than, than people in, in the United States. We have something like, you know, over 300 million firearms and it doesn't make us safer. I've had conversations with this guy, Senator Baxley, who's the the guy that wrote the stand, your ground law, you know, and he's care. He is a gun. And he says, well, my son says, it's good for me cuz I'm out late at night, sometimes driving around and I could be, people could attack me and I'll have my gun and stuff.

Frank Cerabino (27:10):

And it's like, don't you realize that you're putting your family at risk. People who have a gun are much more likely to use it against a family member or to have a family member use it against you or to have somebody in your house commit suicide with it. I mean, they're the, the, the, the statistics are overwhelming that guns don't make us safer. You come up with an anecdote about somebody, you know shooting an a, a, an intruder who broke into their house. But for every one of those, you can have a hundred of, of just horrible instances of, of people either through negligence or through accident or something, or through willfulness, you know, killing members of their family, their loved ones. I mean, the people who are most at risk with a gunner is the, the loved ones of the gun owner.

Frank Cerabino (28:00):

So it doesn't really make anybody safe it's and as a political issue, it doesn't seem like, you know, most people are for sensible gun regulations. I mean, if you look at most people wanna ban AR 15 sales or bump stocks or all these things, you know, are they pull like, you know, 70, 80% of Americans want it, but, but it becomes a non-starter. I mean, first of all, they use this ridiculous, you know, sort of very nebulously worded second amendment to, to mean that we are, we are sort of the regulated militia, which is like, kind of ridiculous. And and then, and then they you know, the, the NRA is able a small group really with only, I think, 4 million people that are, that are nationwide that are members and they have, they exert an influence over the Republican party that is just and even the Democrats, Democrats have been you know, they've, they've been unwilling to, to to, to keep pushing it because it, I think Sandy hook was a very demoralizing thing when we, when we had that incident in Sandy hook and all those first graders got killed.

Frank Cerabino (29:07):

And, and yet we couldn't come up with a, you know, a, a ban on assault weapons after that. I think that was seen as, as sort of a end of the road for, for the Democrats trying to, you know, create some sort of you know, push for, for gun regulations.

Larry (29:26):

Well open carry would certainly solve the problem of whether we have daylight savings or not because all clocks would be stuck at high noon.

Frank Cerabino (29:37):

Yeah. <Laugh> think you're right. I tell you what, you know, they say, they say an arm society is a polite society. I don't know if I wanna go in Publix, if half the people there looking for that last container at cottage cheese, are we got guns strapped on their thing? I mean, I, I, it's kind of ridiculous. You know, there there's already so much anger out there. I, I, I, I try to stay off of I 95 as much as I can, but I was on it today and there's a guy like it's just like, it's just sort of amazing you know, the, the, the, the lack of civility that's already exists to introduce sort of like a ready, a ready at your ready firearm to address your, your grievance of the minute is just that's a recipe for disaster.

Larry (30:23):

I don't even wanna blow my horn when I get cut off in traffic.

Frank Cerabino (30:27):

No, you never know. No, I, same thing. I, I, one of my pet peeves is, is, and, and I'm I, how to do it myself, but are the people who text at a stoplight. So there there's a left turn signal, a left lane you're in the left lane and you, and you take, got your phone and you start texting. Well, that left arrow only lasts for like, you know, six cars or seven cars. And you're the eighth car. You're the sixth car, you're the seven cars, but there's somebody, who's two cars ahead of you who is texting and, and everybody's going, and he's holding everybody up. And invariably, he's the last guy that makes it through before the light turns, right? Everybody's beeping the horn at him and everything, but now it's like, oh, maybe we shouldn't beat the horn at that guy. Cuz he might be, you know, this might be his date.

Larry (31:08):

I'm not blowing the horn.

Frank Cerabino (31:10):


Larry (31:12):

Let's let's let's change the subject. You've written shady Palm series. You've written Pelican park series. But I want to talk to you about the book you wrote about your addiction.

Frank Cerabino (31:29):

Yes. Pickle ball, pickle ball had no idea. I, my wife and I, the beginning of the pandemic we're walking because that was basically all you could do. You had to go out for a walk. So with all these people going out, walking and we used to belong to the gym where was like, well, we can't go to the gym anymore. So we'll just walk. And we were walking by this park and we just noticed for the first time they just built fourt pickle ball courts there. And it was like, oh, pickle ball. That was something I, you know, I, I once did a column about it and let's go get, you know, we'll order some pickle ball paddles and <affirmative> and kind of, we became addicted to it and we play, we play all the time. Now we play usually weeknights from seven to eight 30. We both played enough where we both have like lingering of leg injuries from it and we have kinda lay off. We've been playing too often. I was, I was playing for a while there I was playing twice a day. I'd get in the morning, I'd in a session. And then I do one at night.

Frank Cerabino (32:27):

So, and I started writing for the Pickler here, which is a, a pickle ball website. Just writing some pickle ball things. I, I just, I just, I was surprised. I mean, I've never been, I've always been kind of like athletic, but not like, not like super, you know you know, athletic and, and I had, I played in adult soccer league when I was younger and, and I used to play tennis when I was in my twenties, but I dunno, just picking up this thing in paddle and playing again has just been really fun and it's a revelation and it's something older people can do because you don't have to unlike tennis you don't like tennis court now seems like a vast Prairie. I mean, I look at a tennis court and I think, wow, that's way too big, cuz my mind is now all shrunk to the size of a pickle ball court and you're always playing doubles.

Frank Cerabino (33:15):

So you not have to go more than two or three steps to get to the ball, which it makes it nice. And it's a very social game. And it's a game where women can play is, is is, is is competitively as men. I've been beaten by more women playing pickle ball than, than you can imagine. And so it is, it is a great sport, like, so my wife and I, you know, you gotta play four people. So my wife and I, we're always looking for another couple to play. And so we have all these people in our phone that are just listed under pickle ball. So, you know, I just hit pickle ball and 30 names come up and I go find, you know, all right, we got a court reserve from seven to eight 30 tomorrow night. Let's call up these people and you wanna play with us. Okay. Yes. And, and so we have our whole social life is sort of around pickle ball.

Larry (34:00):

It also seems to be the subject of most interest in HOA conversations.

Frank Cerabino (34:07):

Well, you know, there's a noise element to pickle ball that that is constantly creeping up. And that is so tennis. For some reason, people don't mind the sound of a, of a fuzzy tennis ball wishing against a, a, a rat, you know, the strings of a racket, but that loud click of the, of the plastic pickle ball, which is like a wiffle ball hitting against a solid paddle. It makes kind of a percussive. It's not a long sound, but it's a, it's a sharp sound and people who live near the courts, especially if there were tennis courts converted to pickleball courts, the people there notice an up to in the ambient noise and they complain and it's resulted in lawsuits. It's resulted in community spending lots of money to build these sound dampers around the courts. I just wrote something about this woman that claims she's tortured by pickle ball. Because even when they're not, it's not being played, she hears the balls in her head being hit. So I, I don't know <laugh>

Larry (35:05):

Well, my, my community, the community I live in is, oh, they're getting an indoor pickle ball court. Yes. Why can't we have one?

Frank Cerabino (35:13):

I know there's a place. I think it's Valencia grand. Somebody told me they're getting eight indoor courts. Yeah. They're gonna be the, the envy of a lot of people see the, so, so the deal with me is like, so if you play outside, it takes the star outta, especially in the summertime or in the, in the, you know, other than the, the winter months you play a little bit outside and it's, you know, your heartbeat is more elevated. You're getting all that sun and everything. If you could play indoors, you can get a little bit more pickable in a day. So that's why I'll go play indoors during the morning. So I avoid the sun and then at night I play outside and it's like, so you can get, you can stretch it out so you can see why in these, some of these communities getting indoor courts or covered courts is a good thing. And also the rain too, the rain, you know, rain's almost every day in the summertime. So you're always squeegeeing the quarts and then they're never quite dry enough. And then you're worried about slipping and

Larry (36:08):

I don't play pickle ball so well,

Frank Cerabino (36:10):

I'm gonna have to get you out there, Larry.

Larry (36:13):

I'm gonna be 86.

Frank Cerabino (36:17):

I lost against the 90 year old once. That's a God's honest truth.

Larry (36:21):

I, I lost very badly playing tennis when I was younger against the 90 year old. So yeah.

Frank Cerabino (36:29):

I swear the there's a guy. I interviewed this guy. I believe he's in the villages. He's the, he's the pickle ball coach there. He basically teaches anybody to play every Monday. He goes out. And if you wanna learn to play pickle ball in the village, they have like a hundred quarts. He'll teach you how to play. And he's taught like more people than anybody in the United States. This guy is they call him coach Moe. I forget his, his esent is his last name. So they call him coach Moe. And he's 85, I believe. And he tell me he could beat just about anybody as long as he doubles, as long as he has a partner who can chase down the LOBs, which is another tick, a ball ethics question. So when you're playing an older person who has limited mobility, do you lob the ball? You know, like in tennis where you lo it's a way to get out of trouble. Sometimes you lo the ball to the, the a is the, your baseline to drive the person back. But in pickle ball, you're playing against somebody who's got limited mobility. It could be seen as unethical to lo. So this guy says, well, I can beat anybody. As long as I can partner with a guy who's gonna chase all the lo I'm supposed to get. So <laugh>,

Larry (37:37):

What do most people know know about you?

Frank Cerabino (37:43):

Well here, I, well, I don't know. I get accused a lot by people who don't agree with my politics. I get accused a lot of being angry of, of, of like, for example of hating Trump or hating the Santas. And, and I don't really, I don't really hate the people I write about disparagingly in in fact, if you really get into it, they actually help me. I mean, as I explain, Trump is bad for the country, but he's actually good for me. I've written more things about Trump. Yeah. I probably owe him a part of my salary, you know, and the same thing with the Santa. I mean, they provide so much material. So the fact that I think that they're terrible politically or that their, that their ideas are terrible is not, is not hating. It's not, it's not really hating. So yeah, but I, as far as me personally what would people be surprised?

Frank Cerabino (38:43):

I don't know. I, some people think I'm just like I'm a real wise, well, I am a wise and hier, but I'm kind of a big softie as I get, as I get older too, I, myself I find myself becoming a big mush about a lot of things. I <laugh>, I, I, I, I, I just I, I don't know. I, I, I feel, you know, I, a lot of people say to me, well, you're always critical about Florida. Why don't you leave Florida? Why don't you go back to New York? Well, I don't wanna go back in New York. I, I kind of like it here and I, and I'd like to stay here. I would just like you to smarten up a little bit. Everybody else needs to just like, you know, pay more attention. That's all.

Larry (39:26):

<Laugh>, I, I was thinking more along the lines of your playing accord and in saxophone.

Frank Cerabino (39:31):

<Laugh> well, yeah. Well, see, I, well, musically, I'll go a lot of people now I've seen me play because I've been playing around for a while, but, but I, I was, I grew up, my grandfather owned a music store, this kind of music in my, in my in my blood. And, and so I grew up in playing music and I still, I mean, I love music. Music's my first, my first love. And, and I love to sing and I love to play. And, and so I, I, I learned as a kid, I learned to play accordion, cuz my grandfather sold accordions. And and and I hated it really. It was during the Beatles and everything. And my brother got to play the guitar, you know, my younger brother. So I picked up the guitar and I was desperate to do anything, to play the accordion, which is why once I got into high school, like joined the band and played sax, you know, and I loved the saxophone cuz I loved jazz you music and everything.

Frank Cerabino (40:17):

But I picked up the accordion in, in, later on in life because I heard somebody playing on the busking on the street, corn, it sounded beautiful. And I thought I could play the accordion. And it turns out the accordion is like a wonderful instrument to play because there's so few people who play it. And a lot of the people who are really good at it, people who are better than me at it have bad backs because they're a little older and so they don't like to stroll. And so when people high over accordion players, it's like one of the few instruments they say, can you walk around? You know, it's like nobody asks a cello player to walk around or a piano player, but an accordion player, they expect you gotta be mobile, you know, and walk around. So there are a lot of people who are better than me at it, but they there spines aren't as good.

Frank Cerabino (40:55):

So I get to I get a lot of eggs play in the accordion <laugh> and and, and I, and I like it. I think it's, I really, I really wish my, my dad and my grandfather were around. I never did get to meet my grandfather. He was a chain smoker who died at 47, but I think he had something like who told it up on 60 something grandchildren. And I'm the only one that played the accordion of everybody. And I think he would, they've gotten a kick outta the fact that one of his grandkids was playing the accordion. But same with my dad when my dad knew my dad paid back in the day, my dad, my dad was not a, my dad worked for Enman, you know, was a drive for Enman before that worked at Hills supermarkets and stuff. And they always kind of like, we had a, you know, a good middle class upbringing, but we certainly didn't have money to burn, but my father loved, loved music was tone.

Frank Cerabino (41:45):

Deaf, didn't play anything himself. But insisted that my brother and I take music lessons and we paid thinking back on it, we paid, we used to go to this little place in west ice called a motto's music. We paid $6 for a lesson, or he paid $6 for a lesson for each of us. And this is back in the sixties, which $6 is, it doesn't sound like a lot now, but $6 in 1965 or something that was a lot of money. And, and to think back on it, I used to hate, hate playing. And I used to, and my, my father said, did you practice this week? Eh, let them come on, go, you know, go for the lesson. And, and I would always try to say maybe I could skip the lesson, go for the lesson. And so he paid all those, you know, those for those lessons, but died too young to see the fruits of it, to see that I actually now have repaid, you know repaid all that, all that money that he spent and, and then some, and actually can make money playing the accordion, which is, I think he would've loved.

Larry (42:45):

This has been terrific, Frank. I really appreciate you coming on. It's been fun.

Frank Cerabino (42:50):

Well, thank you, Larry. I I've enjoyed it. I'm glad you're here. We need smart. We need smart people around here and I'm glad you're doing this podcast too. It's great. If it sheds a little light, you know, that's, that's terrific.

Larry (43:04):

It's just a way to talk to fun people. Interesting people,

Frank Cerabino (43:08):

You know, podcasts have really regenerated the whole idea of the spoken word. I mean, nobody, you know, when some of these guys like mark Marin and Joe Rogan and stuff like launched, these comedians launched these podcasts. People thought they were just kind of fooling around, but it turns out everybody everybody's got a podcast now, you know you know, Hillary, Clinton's got a podcast, you know, it's just like, everybody's figured out that it's really a format that people like, because it's portable. You can go for a can put it in your ear. You can, you know, you last night I got in bed early. I wasn't, wasn't ready to go to sleep. I just listened to a podcast. I put, I put you know, my, my wireless earbuds in my ear and I lay down and I listen to a podcast, you know? So it's like a wonderful thing.

Larry (43:50):

And I'm amazed that not everybody answers me when I ask if they'll be on the podcast. But the people that do are so gracious and so much fun to talk to. This has been a lot of fun, Frank. Thanks. I love the two. Thanks for coming on.

Frank Cerabino (44:10):

I appreciate it. If I have any, if I have any dental issues, I'll give you a ring.

Larry (44:14):

Ah, that was a long time I ago. <Laugh>

Frank Cerabino (44:17):


Larry (44:18):

If you found this podcast interesting, fun or helpful, we'd appreciate it. If you tell your friends and family and click on the follow or subscribe button, wherever you listen to podcasts until next time, I'm Larry bar and you've been listening to specifically for seniors.

Frank CerabinoProfile Photo

Frank Cerabino

Frank Cerabino (pronounced chair–a–BEE–no) grew up on Long Island, NY, and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD, in 1977. He spent five years in the Navy, reaching the rank of lieutenant and serving as a public affairs officer aboard an aircraft carrier.

After leaving the Navy, he received a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. He worked at the City News Bureau of Chicago before leaving the wire service to take a job with the Miami Herald in 1984. For the next five years, Cerabino covered the police, government, legal and education beats for the Herald. He eventually became the newspaper’s federal court reporter in Miami. Cerabino joined the Palm Beach Post in 1989. He started writing columns for the newspaper during the William Kennedy Smith trial. In 1992 he became a full-time local news columnist and now writes four columns a week. He lives in Boca Raton with his wife and three children.

In 2018, Cerabino won a national Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists for column writing.