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I love how the weekend after I visited Toronto, Drake just drops two songs out of nowhere!

Anyways, I was listening to his album “More Life” as my plane made the descent in to Pearson International Airport. After a quick trip through Customs and to the Uber pick-up area, I hopped in an “Uber Select” (nicer than X but not as nice as Black) and headed 20 minutes towards downtown.

I was in Toronto last weekend because of my cousin Shawn. He’s a shooting guard on amateur basketball team called Healthy Buffalo and a couple times throughout the season they play on a NBA court, typically Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland or Air Canada Centre in Toronto. When I was home for Thanksgiving, Shawn and his older brother Chris told me about the Canada date and asked if I was interested in attending. I booked my flight a few weeks later.

Thanks to my plane taxiing on the runway for an hour, Chris (along with his wife, sister-and-law and two kids) and Shawn beat me to the hotel. I met them there, dropped off my bags and we left for the ACC. It was certainly different watching basketball in a nearly-empty, half-lit arena, not to mention it was my first time in this particular venue. Still, it was awesome to see Shawn ballin’ on the same court where later in the evening the Raptors would be taking on Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and the Warriors.

Shawn played great and his team won the round-robin tournament.

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After a late lunch and a quick nap, the three men headed back to the arena for the game. Chris and Shawn had 100 level seats; I was late to the party so I ended up with a seat in 317 that I sat in for player introductions and the first quarter. I spent the rest of the evening in an area called the Draught Deck – full bar, tons of seating and multiple TVs to watch both the game on the court and other sports (Patriots/Titans were on as well).

Oh, then there was the Coors Light virtual reality game that I figured it was necessary to partake in.

Golden State edged out Toronto, I almost drank the arena out of Crown and the three of us headed across the street to this fantastic sports bar called Real Sports. More Crown (for me at least), some appetizers and a check later and we retired to the hotel room.

Rather, Chris and Shawn retired. I had made arrangements to check out Soho House Toronto and I didn’t want to flake on that. Obviously what happens there isn’t for public consumption but I had a great time. The nightcap to the nightcap took place at Cactus Club Café before I wrapped the night in the fashion that every great Canadian night should end.

Poutine, of course.

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Sunday I drove with my family home to see the parents, get one last taste of my Mom’s homecooking and grab a few things I left over the holidays. I flew back early Monday morning, knowingly dreaming of that poutine and unknowingly awaiting new music from Drake.

When I first started at 95.5 PLJ in October of 2012, I was the new kid on a block of people who mostly had resided in the neighborhood for quite some time. You factor in the heritage of this legendary radio station with moving to a new city with a new job in a new living situation and yes, at times it was overwhelming.

Thankfully, I’m surrounded by a lot of great colleagues and coworkers. Plus, I’m living in the greatest city in the world. So it’s all gravy.

That said, when I was first starting out here, I would find myself asking at least one question every evening: “What’s for dinner?” And usually, there was only one person at the station when I asked it: our Creative Services Director, Dan Kelly, who works a similar schedule to mine.

Nightly, we’d order takeout from Seamless (which I introduced him to five years ago) or one of his other go-to spots. Dan has been at the station for well over 10 years now so naturally, he has a go-to taco and Chinese spot.

But then in the spring of 2014, I started eating much healthier: more salads, cold-pressed juices and a lot of greenery. By that summer, I experimented with veganism, trying it out for a month and a half. It was a life-changing experience; I saw what meat, fish and especially dairy were doing to the appearance of my body, specifically the complexion of my skin.

While I’m not a vegan, I do eat vegan cuisine quite a bit (usually breaking from it on special occasions/holidays and/or the weekend). And for my dinner partner, he is not only the exact opposite of vegan but will usually scoff at the mere notion of trying something classified as such.

Last week, a light-bulb went off: this could make for a perfect Facebook Live experiment.

I hopped on Seamless and ordered from a local vegan fast-food joint, Blossom du Jour. On our “tour de vegan” were three dishes: a “bacon, egg and cheese” sandwich, “mac and cheese” and Buffalo cauliflower.

What did Dan think? Check his reactions below.

Many people have asked me since seeing the Instagram I posted on Tuesday and the answer is: she is everything you want her to be and more; a very pleasant and gracious human being.

In a departure from interviewing music artists, I sat across from actress Sarah Jessica Parker in HBO’s New York headquarters for a junket-style interview. She was promoting the second season of her series, “Divorce.” Our chat was filmed for DISH Studio on DISH Network and will air at a later date.

SJP is without question one of the more prominent actors I’ve interviewed and this was certainly something on my mind as I prepared (mostly by binging season one; by the way, the show is really good and surprisingly laugh-out-loud funny at times). I ultimately always remind myself that I’m not a rookie, that we all put our pants on the same way and that I’ll rise to the occasion.

Any trepidation that lingered after the pep talk immediately melted away after watching Parker enter our room. The Emmy winner was a sphere of energy, smiling and shaking hands with employees of HBO and the production company handling the junket, regardless of if she had previously met them or not.

I asked her about this to start our interview; I mean, just Sunday SJP was in Los Angeles for the Golden Globes. She flies back to snowy and cold New York, she has a family to take care of and she has to return to HBO for a press run about this series. I asked if it was OK to assume that she clearly must love the show.

While she obliged, Parker also noted that it is a little more than just a passion project: any time she comes back to HBO headquarters, it feels like home. She has so much history here, so many good memories, many of which come flooding back.

Parker looked and sounded genuinely grateful. She wasn’t bitter about her travel schedule, her obligations or any notion that her past should be shunned (some entertainers shy away from talking about previous work that was successful for fear that they’ll never be able to move past it).

But not SJP; she was thankful for her past and happy with her present. I myself felt fortunate to witness it because her gratitude was infectious; a nice lesson as we begin the year anew.

So it took a rather ambitious travel schedule over the first weekend of 2018 for me to finally realize what my New Year’s Resolution should be.

Here’s a recap of my Saturday and Sunday: I took a 9 am train to Kingston, Rhode Island. From there, I Uber’d 20 minutes over to Newport. A coffee and four mile run later, I met some co-workers at an Irish pub around the corner from our hotel. After drinking two Bloody Marys and watching a horrendous Syracuse basketball loss to Notre Dame, I returned to my room and showered before pre-gaming and heading downstairs to our holiday party.

I hadn’t slept much on Thursday or Friday night and this combined with my early wake-up call on Sunday prompted me to retire from the festivities before midnight. But I was up at 6:30 am the following morning to pack, change and hail another Uber en route to the train station. This Amtrak left at 7:40 am and was supposed to arrive in Philadelphia at 12:30.

The train ran 50 minutes late; by the time I checked my bags at the station, called another Uber and arrived at Wells Fargo Center it was the first intermission. My colleague Dan and his son Justin are diehard Flyers fans and I had never been to a game in Philly. The Sabres were in town and it was a Sunday so we figured this was the perfect opportunity. Dan bought seats three rows from the ice; easily the closest I’ve ever sat for a NHL game. The vantage point definitely gives you a new appreciation for the sport. And the atmosphere in the arena along with the amenities of the venue really made for a cool experience. That said, I would probably only return on one condition.

See, I was rooting for the visiting team and of course I was dressed in full Buffalo gear: my Bills sideline knit hat (don’t get me started) and my Jack Eichel Sabres sweater. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that every single person, starting with the security at the entrance, busted my stones. There were bartenders who half-jokingly refused to serve me, dirty looks from fans and even one guy who went as far as to run in to me while I was walking along the concourse, knocking my Bloody Mary on to the floor in the process.

The game didn’t go much better; the Sabres took an early 1-0 lead but eventually lost 4-1. We returned to Dan’s car with enough time to listen to the end of the Bills playoff game (surprise, another loss!) and then drove to South Street. It was there that I ate my sorrows away with a Jim’s peppersteak while also taking a trip down memory lane, fondly recalling all of the shows I covered at TLA.

I was back in my apartment by around 8 pm and I have to say, despite all of the terrible outcomes with my sports teams, I was in a great mood. I saw the beautiful coastline in Newport and the skyline of Philadelphia and New York, not to mention the spectacular sunrise and sunset witnessed in Southern New England. I ate lobster rolls in Rhode Island and cheesesteaks in Philly. I was surrounded by awesome friends the entire weekend.

I need more weekends like that. The goal for 2018, on a personal level, is to worry less about possessions and focus more on experiences. I truly believe if I can surround myself with great people and eat some fantastic food along the way, I’m in store for an unforgettable year.

And yunno what? If a Bloody Mary or two gets spilled along the way, so be it.

Congratulations to Hoda Kotb on her new gig as the permanent co-host of “Today,” alongside Savannah Guthrie. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Hoda on a couple of occasions and I must say, in-person she is exactly who you think she is: warm, inclusive, inviting and of course usually down for a good laugh.

Of course, Hoda also kicks off my show every evening with her repetition of, “Ralphie, Ralphie, Ralphie.” The whole thing actually started in 2015 when I first met Hoda at Radio City Music Hall; she was mentoring kids for the Garden Of Dreams Foundation Talent Show. When Kotb was introduced to me she exclaimed, “Ralphie’s here!” and that clip served as my open for about a year. Then in 2016 I saw Hoda again at the same event and informed her that she started my show every evening. Kotb laughed and then insisted she record the new, current version.

All kidding aside, I’ll never forget the first time I interviewed the “Today” co-host and not exclusively because she unknowingly gave me a fun way to kick off my radio show. For me, the most memorable part of our conversation was when we were talking about advice she would pass on to participants of the talent show.

“I don’t think successful people are necessarily the most talented or the most educated,” she explained. “I wasn’t either. I think it’s really the kids who don’t stop. You’re here for a reason. I think for any kid who has ever wanted to do something, if you have a will and you love it, I think that’s three-fourths of it.

“Talent doesn’t win. Persistence wins. Perseverance wins.”

Ultimately, Kotb’s advice was to never give up. She embodies the message and serves as proof that yes, good things do happen to good people.

I’ll never forget one particular time when I was walking up an emergency path in Times Square towards 47th Street. I saw two bottles, a regular water and a Vitamin Water, at the feet of a reveler. I asked if they were his and he nodded. I then looked closer and realized that they were both frozen solid – that was a first.

It was my fourth consecutive time ringing in the New Year while standing in the Crossroads of the World and there were a couple of firsts throughout the evening. In addition to the frozen beverages, I finally interviewed a bystander who at least said that he wore diapers to the ball drop in case he had to go to the bathroom; I had heard for years that people did this but no one ever admitted it to me.

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The reveler took it a step further and offered to show me; I took him for his word.

This was also the first year I ended up inside a bar on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. A big thanks to O’Donoghues Pub on 44th, right next to the ABC studios, for allowing me to pop-in during the final hour of our broadcast for a bit and interview some of the patrons on the air.

Most important, thanks to Vic on site, Scotty Bones back in the studio, dick clark productions for providing us with access to and space in the aforementioned ABC studios and the great folks at Times Square Alliance for credentialing us to be there.

I tell people all the time – my job is comprised of many “once-in-a-lifetime” events that I have the chance to experience on an annual basis, and this is one of them. I hope you get the chance to do the same one year. Have a safe and successful 2018 and check out my chats with Nick Jonas, Andy Grammer and some of those revelers below.

The holidays went well, thanks, but they were different. For the first time in a few years, I decided to spend an entire week at home around Christmas. This wasn’t my first option but it ended up as the most practical for a couple of reasons.

First off, I was heading in to the first of the year with a bunch of vacation days. Use ‘em or lose ‘em! I didn’t want to lose them so regardless of where I was going to spend the week, it definitely wasn’t going to be in the studio.

Second, the weather this time of year can be dicey-at-best in the northeast, and so the idea of flying to multiple locations can not only become pricey, but simply impossible thanks to Mother Nature.

And that leads me to point number three: I needed to be home for not only Christmas but the following Saturday, when my cousin Anthony would be sworn in as Town Justice for the Town of Niagara. Anthony is my best friend and he won in such convincing fashion during the primary that by the general election, he was the only candidate on the ballot. I’m extremely proud of him and wouldn’t have missed the day for anything.

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The idea of flying back-and-forth twice between Buffalo and New York around the two weekends crossed my mind. I eventually decided against it due to reason number two and it worked out because it afforded me a chance mid-week to return to my alma mater and see family there as well (in addition to watching my Syracuse Orange win against Eastern Michigan).

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That was the other nice part of staying back in Western New York for an entire week – I had the opportunity to visit with a lot of family and friends while still taking a few days to do absolutely nothing. I needed it more than I knew.

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Do I wish I wouldn’t have packed on a few extra pounds and would’ve been able to run outside a little more? Of course, but my Mom’s home-cooked meals were worth it.

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I’m writing about this a little later than I wanted to but it needed to be stated, for at least my own sake. A few weeks ago something happened in my life that on the outset seems insignificant but to me is a rather major moment in both my personal life and career.

I appeared on television, in a professional studio and on an actual TV station shooting in high definition, without makeup.

My skin is terrible. It started like it does for most people, in high school, and simply continued to progress during college and the early stages of my professional life. At times it became so worrisome that I wondered if an on-camera career was even possible.

Yes, most people (men and women) you see on camera are wearing makeup, and I had received a few small tutorials on how to apply it. But I was far from a professional and especially if I was having a bad skin day, it didn’t make much of a difference. I even went through a rather long phase of tanning, telling myself that by darkening and evening out the color of my skin, you wouldn’t be able to notice the blemishes as much. Of course, this is fake news; tanning actually makes everything worse.

So what changed over the past 15 years or so that I’ve been pursuing on-camera work? In short, my diet.

A few years ago I tried out this whole “30-day vegan challenge” that a lot of celebrities were partaking in. The results have stuck with me ever since. I learned just how bad my body handles dairy and more importantly, I started to pay attention to not just what I was eating, but the ingredients that comprised the food I was consuming.

Personally, the results have been life-changing. I have made other alterations in my workout regimen, supplement intake and alcohol consumption. But just switching up my diet has minimized breakouts, improved the appearance of scars and boosted the confidence I have on-camera.

It also has saved me a few dollars – after all, I don’t have to pay for those pricey tanning sessions anymore.

Are you looking for photos from my trip to the Domincan Republic? Here’s the only one you’ll find. I’m actually supposed to be there right now. But to say that I’m relieved to be safe, home and on the radio tonight would be an understatement.

Let me explain.

Yesterday I boarded a Delta flight headed from JFK Airport to Santo Domingo in the DR. There, I was set to cover this weekend’s David Ortiz Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament.

I want to stop here for a second and thank the foundation for inviting me down to cover the event, in addition to all it is doing for kids throughout both New England and the Dominican. I hope the benefit goes off without a hitch and of course, nothing I’m about to state is reflective on them.

As the airplane began its descent in to Santo Domingo, attendants began handing out the necessary forms for Customs. I slept most of the flight but awoke to receive my paper work and fill it out.

I got to “Passport No.” and obviously didn’t have it memorized, so I reached to grab it out of my pocket.

It wasn’t there.

Maybe it dropped on the floor? Perhaps I put it in the front seat pocket? Did I stuff it in my bookbag? Is it under the seat or stuck in a crevice?

I spent the next 20 minutes along with the entire de-boarding process unsuccessfully attempting to answer the most-pressing question: Where the heck is my passport? Obviously you must show it to board an international flight, so obviously I brought it with me on to the plane.

Eventually everyone exited and the flight attendants assisted me in the search, to no avail. I was then told that I too must exit, but that the cleaning crew would go through the plane and probably find my passport. They didn’t.

I stood on the end of the jet bridge speaking with the one English-speaking Delta employee at the gate. Welcoming, warm and pleasant she was not. Concerned that I had just landed and couldn’t find my passport? She certainly didn’t seem it. Instead, she insisted that I search my bookbag and luggage, all while hovering over me. I obliged and for about the sixth time in the past 45 minutes, dumped my bookbag out only to not find it.

Was there a chance I could call the U.S. Embassy (it was during normal business hours) or was there anything Customs in the Dominican Republic could do? Apparently not, and if there was, she wasn’t interested in finding out. As soon as she saw that I couldn’t produce a passport, the Delta employee returned to the gate, printed me a new ticket and instructed me to re-board the plane I had just exited. The aircraft was heading back to JFK.

My experience was disturbing, disheartening and humbling. I don’t travel internationally often and certainly was never in a situation prior to yesterday where I was in a foreign country, unable to speak their native language and without proper documentation.

I returned to New York and after navigating through more confusion from Delta and Immigration employees, ended up speaking with a U.S. Customs Officer. The Customs Officers and the Port Authority Police were fantastic. They quickly assisted me in entering the U.S. and filing a report for my stolen passport. The previous document is now invalid and at some point, I will have to reapply as a new passport holder.

But even the Port Authority Police Officers wondered why no one in Santo Domingo offered to put me in touch with the U.S. Embassy, or at the very least, direct me to contact them?

Following an Uber ride back to my apartment, I asked that very question along with a number of others to a supervisor on Delta’s elite member customer service line. According to the person on the phone, the Delta Employee in Santo Domingo didn’t have to help me because “that’s not her job.” As for her callousness, that was explained away as simply, “cultural differences.”

I guess even though Delta operates internationally, the same standard of customer service doesn’t apply to their employees everywhere.

Overall, I was told the incident was my fault and mine alone, so Delta was not responsible for anything – from the missed opportunity to the missing (stolen) passport to ticket price to the overall wonderful experience that was my Thursday.

Now for the record, I’m a Gold Medallion member with the airline but frankly, that shouldn’t matter; every customer should be treated with respect.

And frankly, my “status” didn’t matter. It left me wondering: Is every customer treated with such little compassion?

I hope that you never have to find out.

Heading to the Dominican Republic for my first time ever in a few days! Why?

The David Ortiz Children’s Fund Celebrity Golf Classic. No, I’m not kidding. Let me explain…

Now yes, I’ve rooted vehemently (understatement) against Big Papi on the field. Away from it – different story. I never told anyone this but about six years ago, he and his team sent me a signed photo, personalized to a big fan who at the time was battling cancer. It meant a lot to the boy’s family and I appreciated that they accommodated the request so easily.

It makes sense Ortiz was quick to oblige; his foundation helps children in both New England and the Dominican Republic who do not have access to the critical pediatric services they need.
So when I was offered the chance to cover this event in the DR, I didn’t have to think twice about it. I met Ortiz last fall at Mohegan Sun and I’m looking forward to seeing him again this weekend.

The fact that some other current and former Yankees will be there (Johnny Damon, Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Robinson Cano and Gary Sheffield) doesn’t hurt either.

Oh, and if you’d like to help the Foundation now (and maybe cross some people off your gift list), check out the Fund’s auction which just went live.

Catch ya from the DR in a few days where in the words of the great philosopher Drake, “I’ll be in the Dominican… Big Papi Ortiz!”