Tony Zeoli is a digital media strategist, innovator and entrepreneur. He founded Netmix.com, in 1995, which was considered by Billboard Magazine to be the "innovation and advancement of dance music online." He has innovated as a product manager and information architect in online music, news and fashion. Tony is also founding partner of Digital Strategy Works (netmix-co.netmix.co), a digital strategy and interactive development agency focused on building web, mobile and social products.
15-years after my stint as Senior Producer at MetroTV in New York City, I’ve finally uploaded and posted my old reel, which features Rachel Perry, a popular TV host who started her early career at MetroTV and went on to work for many major entertainment networks. In this video, you’ll see an interview with Meres, the curator of 5ptz, a graffiti art space in Long Island City, Queens. Rachel also hosts The New York Music Rundown from the original Halcyon space on Smith Street in Brooklyn. There are also interviews with Nas, Brian McKnight, and the Roots and appearances by Groove Armada, Paul Van Dyk, Boy George, and Deep Dish. My good friend, DJ Madsol Desar was on the wheels, as well.
I really enjoyed my early stint producing television programming and probably should have stuck with it. After my layoff from MetroTV due to reduction in staff at Cablevision after 9/11, it was difficult to find a job in New York City. I ended up focusing on streaming media and worked for two big banks and MLB Advanced Media, before landing a gig developing a contextual commerce music platform for StarStyle.
This video is really a throwback and reminds me of one the best jobs I ever had in New York City. I enjoyed using my music connections to book artists on The Daily Beat or feature my friends, like DJ Madsol Desar, on one of the show. The New York Music Rundown ended up winning a Communicator Award for Best New Cable Product.
Let me know what you think of this video by leaving a comment below.
On February 8, the new Asheville House Music Society Radio show launched on Asheville, NC community radio station, AshevilleFM.org. The shows airs at Midnight each Saturday and into Sunday morning until 2 am. Listen live on 103.3 LP-FM on the radio dial or tune-in live on AshevilleFM.org or via the TuneIn app for iOS and Android devices.
On this Christmas Day 2014, I am a father at 48-years of age.
My wife and I started trying to have kids in 2007, but we were unsuccessful. We kept at it, even trying the science route of fertility treatments for a while. The toxins in the treatments hit Missy hard. She has a hard time dealing with toxins in medication as a result of a condition related to a prior mold exposure. We decided it was time to look into adoption and sought out an agency in Raleigh, NC to help us start our search.
Since we began our search, we’ve moved a few times. In the world of adoption, with every move comes the necessity of a new home study and updated criminal background checks–county, state, and federal. The adoption process is extremely thorough and meant to weed out couples that may have colorful pasts.
After spending two months in Ecuador over the winter, we settled into our new apartment in Asheville, NC. We thought it was important to start marketing ourselves locally, so we printed out postcard size flyers and tacked them up in coffee shops and cafés around the city. We also re-engaged on the web, updating our Facebook Open Adoption page, our MissyandTony.com website, and our agency adoption page. Those efforts paid off when we were discovered by a local adoption attorney here in Asheville, Christopher Craig (of Craig Associates). Fortuitously, Chris connected with a local birth mother who was almost to term at 8-months at an adoption workshop held at the Pack Library in the city center.
Chris set up a meeting with the birth mom and she selected us! It was then 3 short weeks attending ultrasounds and quickly getting to know her and her own parents, who were super supportive of her on this journey. On December 7 at 2:42 am, Missy was with the birth mother in the delivery room and witnessed the birth of our son. Just like that, we became parents almost overnight.
It was definitely not as simple as it sounds. There were some legal hurdles we needed to clear up between birth mom and a prior relationship, as well as an issue the hospital’s risk management department wanted us to resolve. The week of the 7th was a busy time getting those details taken care of from our tiny overnight room in the NICU at Mission Hospital, also here in Asheville. Little Hudson David Antonio Zeoli needed just a bit of extra care, because he wasn’t feeling well after the delivery. It was nothing serious. The hospital was just being cautious. That day, our lives changed forever.
It’s an odd feeling going through the adoption process. I think adoption, while common, is not necessarily top of mind for most people who can conceive. It’s a different kind of waiting. When you’re in a search for an adoptive child, it can get monotonous and it can become a seemingly never-ending journey. There’s all the calls with the agency for guidance, education, and support. Then there’s the marketing of yourselves and your story to prospective birth moms. Of course, there’s the hours of filling out paperwork and more paperwork to go through the red tape that is there for the child’s safety, but sometimes seems so redundant. Lastly, there’s the waiting for something…anything to happen. It’s hit or miss. You might connect with a birth mother who isn’t ready. Or, in some cases, you are contacted by people trying to sell babies illegally and women who aren’t pregnant with mental health issues that can’t control their behavior. You have to be able to read between the lines. If you’ve never gone through the adoption process, it is a challenge to recognize when something is real or when it’s not.
I never, ever would have thought I would be here adopting a child at this point in my life. But somehow, this is where I am. I’m doing something I never, ever thought I’d do. I’m not going to say that I was 100% on board with adoption in the first place. I wasn’t totally sold on the idea, but I went along with it, because it was important to Missy and we really did need to start our family. I’d been building a business and knew how important it was to stay engaged in and relevant in my field. Looking for a child seemed like a distant possibility. Really? Someone is going to give us their child? Just like that? OK.
It’s like waiting for that trip to Disney World your parents had promised you after they’d postponed it a few years in a row. Sure, Disney World seemed like a great place, but with each passing year it felt so far away–like it was never going to happen. And to get there, you couldn’t go on your own. You needed someone to help you. As the waiting game commenced, there were times it just seemed like the Disney trip might never come. You began to treat waiting like it was something you wanted to look forward to, but without firm plans, you shift it back of mind, hoping for the day, but never fully investing in the idea.
Fortunately, we finally made it to the proverbial Disney World! Like all adoptions, it took some time. Weeks into months and months into years. But, now we are adoptive parents to this little amazing young man who we call, Hudson.
He’s here. After all the waiting and wishing, Missy and I finally get to realize what comes a little easier to so many people I’ve known over the years who were able to have kids. Many of my friends have kids graduating from college or in the workforce. Time went by. Not so fast, but just as fast as time goes by. Tick-tock, tick-tock, and the calendar flips to the next day after the last. Another year goes by and you wonder, “where did the time go?” You can’t really grasp what you’re not experiencing, because it’s hard to know what parenting is like unless you’re a parent.
BOOM! Now, we’re parents. Whoa! The whole world just stopped on a dime when someone said, “here you go…here’s your son.” We’ve arrived and are embracing this little man with all the love we have to give. With our hearts, minds, and spirit. We know that everyday he’s with us is a gift of immeasurable proportions. For this gift, we are incredibly grateful. It seems so surreal. We know adoptions happen everyday, but when they happen to you, it’s an experience one cannot really explain. Someone has made a plan for you to adopt their child and you begin a new journey without that same 9-months others have to plan. I’m now on my first ride at Disney World aka the “Interstellar Galactic World of the Marvelous (and Gassy) Hudson David Antonio Zeoli.” It’s just as fun now as it was back then.
I don’t much believe in Christmas miracles. I’m a pragmatist. I know Christmas is a man-made holiday that has become the most commercial holiday of them all. We make up these things to make sense of the world and create days to stop and celebrate for celebration’s sake. I know we had done the work to put ourselves in a place where we would be found, and we were. Yes, lightning does strike and people say magic does happen. I’m going to say that the universe felt the energy from our hearts and found a way for all that love to bring Hudson to us. The spirit of many warm and kind people looking out for us – all aligned for the same common purpose – to give Hudson an opportunity he might not have otherwise had out of the gate, most likely contributed to our celebration today.
On this Christmas Day, I am so grateful for my wife and so grateful for my son. I now have a family to call my own. Something many men aspire to have, because it’s innate in all of us to procreate, sustain and propel human existence. While it did not happen naturally, it happened the way it was meant to. We were given the gift of caring for a child who did not come from us, but is now with us forever. He is us and we are him, brought together as one family unit through the love, support, and recognition of others.
While I have faith there is a higher power, I find that power one of energy connecting everyone’s worlds. If that is God in some people’s minds, then God is the one to thank for providing the energy and connective tissue to bring this story to a wonderful close.
Thank you for reading. Good night and Merry Christmas.
Here’s a follow-up Facebook comment I made to my Tim Cook post in October.
Today I made a comment about my wonderful gay friends, which was inspired by Tim Cook’s coming out post. While many in Cook’s circles knew that he is openly gay, it seems as if it was important to let America know. I just want to make sure that no one misunderstands me and thinks my post is directed at them and their views. I mention “gay marriage,” simply because it’s now overturned in North Carolina and Tim Cook’s recent post.
However, just as much as I support the right for gay (LGBT) people to marry, I also wholeheartedly support the right for anyone who disagrees with gay (LGBT) marriage to have their position and their opinion, as long as it is not Federal Law. If your religious beliefs dictate to you that marriage is between a man and a woman, then you have every right to that belief. I cannot say that my belief is any different than yours. We agree to believe different views, and that’s okay.
While we may disagree on the precept that “gay marriage” is legal and that gay’s (LGBT) have the right to marry, we will do so as friends who understand that not everyone agrees on everything. I can have my beliefs and you can have yours. I welcome the opportunity to discuss those beliefs and tell you why I feel the way I do, just as much as I would expect you to tell me why you believe marriage should be between a man and a woman.
We are all on this planet together. Not everyone is going to agree. But we can work together to understand why we believe the things we do and peacefully coexist, because as brothers and sisters on this planet, when push comes to shove, we need each others help regardless of who is married and who is not. Who is this religion or that religion. Or, who is this color or that color.
When put in a room together like those kidnapped by ISIS in Syria, it all becomes meaningless. The only thing that then matters is cooperation and survival.
This post is from my original Facebook post in October on Tim Cook’s announcement that he is gay. I corrected a couple of spelling errors and changed a few sentences, but for the most part, it’s the original post.
I’m happy that Tim Cook is letting the world know who is, but I’m looking forward to a day when the next Tim Cook never has to explain it.
You don’t see me being interviewed by CNN to ask me when I’m going to announce that I’m straight, do you? So, why gay people have this pressure to come out when really, why do we care?
I don’t want to go to a “gay” wedding. I want to go to a wedding that happens to have gay people in it, and I really don’t care if I know it or not.
I don’t want to go to a “gay” bar. I want to go to a bar where there happen to be gay people who I will hug and have a beer, share some wine, and have a conversation with.
I don’t want to fly a “gay” flag. I want to fly the United States flag, where all people, gay, straight and of all races, creeds and colors live underneath it. And, that flag protects each and every one of our rights as human beings and citizens of this country.
I don’t want to have to explain to kids in my volunteer program that no one should be bullied because they are gay. I want to make sure if any of those kids are LGBT, that they never have to hide their evolutionary and biological DNA from others.
If you’re LGBT, you’re LGBT. If you’re straight, you’re straight. If some people are not comfortable with that by now – in 2014 – let them be forever fearful of the boogeyman, the ghosts, or the day they profess the world will end. That day has come and gone a number of times!
I certainly respect the belief from some of my friends that marriage should be between a man and a woman. If that is their belief, they have every right to believe that for themselves and the community they participate in. And, if they want to guide their children in that belief, they have every right to do so. It’s part of their faith. In that, they can pursue that faith any way they want to. I just want to make sure that if they truly believe what they do, they don’t hate on someone for not living a similar world view.
A person who is black cannot change their blackness. A person who is white cannot change their whiteness. A person who is Chinese cannot change their Asian skin. We are born who we are and I believe LGBT people are born LGBT. That it is not a “choice.” It is part of their structural make-up. Some may be confused about this, because many LGBT people stay in the closet, then come out because after being pressured for so long to conform. Some people may view this as “choice.” But, it’s not choice. It’s breaking from the structure of societies predominantly straight culture.
There are people born without limbs. There are people born with autism. There are people born as geniuses. There are people born who can’t think their way out of a paper bag. There a people born who are CEOs of companies, many of whom are gay, yet we use their products everyday. They may be our teachers. They may be our hair stylists. They may be our realtors or farmers. But, because they are gay, their product or service didn’t turn you gay. You still use it. They are still incredible at what they do. You may have a friend who is gay and that friend has made a pass at you, but all you have to do is politely say that you’re not available, just like you would a straight person who is not right for you. Feelings are intense, but that doesn’t mean they are any different coming from an LGBT person or a straight person.
LGBT people are HUMAN beings. They have hearts, souls, and minds just like we all do. All they want to do is love and be loved back. All they want to do is walk this earth and celebrate their special moments with their families, their partners, their friends, and their colleagues.
We, as a society, are hurting Gay people deeply by telling them they are not allowed to be married to each other. Fortunately, this is now ending state by state because of the change in Federal law. Marriage is a social construct created by man and governments centuries ago to achieve social order. While some would say the Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman, we all must remember that the Bible was written by many individuals, each with his (or her – but not sure how many women actually wrote passages in the Bible) own idea of right and wrong. Each with a desire to shape society to their will, by writing about hearsay from centuries of chatter that was construed verbally across generations.
Let’s remember, back in biblical times, people didn’t write – they talked. They shared stories forward from person to person through discourse. Writing and books were for the elite, well before Gutenberg make publishing mainstream. Stories can change over time as they are shared forward, each time colored with that person adding their view of the world. Mouth to ear. All along this pathway the story changed and any real evidence was centuries old – left to interpretation by scholars with their own views of what a sentence might mean well after it was originally written.
The Bible was created and updated over many centuries – addendum to addendum. It was not written in one sitting, where everyone decided this is the way life should be. The bible was constructed by man as a guide, a tool, and a pathway for life lived. Each one with a different views and beliefs of what transpired before their time. In some cases, hundreds of years before, with no one to interview to correct the record.
It is a wonderful book, but it is full of references that even popes are challenging. For example, the one that says God waved his hand one day and there was the earth and then Adam and Eve. There is no more fantastical story than the story of God creating the earth in 7 days. If people believe that is actually true, then I can’t help you with that. I believe in evolution. Our world was created in space over a span of time and there is no proof that a God waved his hand and said, “Let there be light.” The power and energy of the Universe is God and God is a construct of man, because man needs to believe and follow in a higher power to make sense of the Universe.
My idea of God is an energy that somehow created a system. A galaxy of sorts. Through evolution, we are now here today. Each generation leaves us and a new generation arrives to start anew. Because whatever God is, is different to each one of us. God is different to Muslims, to Jews, to Christians, to Baptists, and to Buddhists. Everyone has a different take, so the confusion sets in as to who is right and that’s where religion fails us, as we now see with ISIS in Syria or in other fanatical, right-wing interpretations of God’s word and how people should live and behave. The Bible, the Torah, the Koran, and other scriptures are all written by man and inspired by faith. They are meant as a guide and not an absolute, but some take them as such. It’s their right to do so – to live by the book, so to speak. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have my view either.
Remember, your child can look at you one day and say, “Mom. Dad. I need to tell you something…I’m gay.” And, if your child looks at you and says that, what I hope you do is turn around and say, “Really? Great…now get back to your school work, because that’s far more important than announcing something that’s no big deal (meaning: not an issue in this household).”
In my response to someone who posted their disapproval of Apple's pending acquisition of Beats By Dre and Beats Music on the New York Tech Meetup list, I reference the fact that not only is this a good move for Apple to one-up Spotify, it's also a great move for diversity and an inspiration to kids across the country who will be inspired by Apple helping to make Hip Hop's first billionaire in Dr. Dre.