Dedicated to God.
From a town known as Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Walked a man with a cell phone in his hand
A writer with free time
Became a legend in cyber-crime
North and South of the Mason-Dixon line
Scalping Jew resided on the cusp of the city. He lived with his girlfriend Mason in a modest 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath house. A comfortable but slightly cramped 1,050 square feet. Regardless, Reserve Township was his homeland. But he was a man of scant reservations. Loved by some. Despised by many. Personally known by few. He was the closest approximation to a real-world freedom fighter. Challenging government and private industry on a daily basis. Always testing the boundaries and limits of free speech. Decimating conventional norms. Yet, at the same time, living a relatively humdrum existence. His life was a palatial paradox.
A single letter came in the mail that morning. Hand delivered by escaped prisoner, former U.S. postal worker David Berkowitz. For those unfamiliar, our unassuming mailman was the New York City serial murderer of the late 1970's. He was one in the same. You'd likely remember him as Son of Sam.
Berkowitz stared into the eyes of Scalping Jew. "Let's be honest here, my disco killing spree was small "tah-poo-ahk ah-dah-mah" (that's Netanyahu for potatoes).
"Alas, my days of murder are long gone. The time has come for me to pass the torch."
"Scalping Jew, it is you. You will be the one who ushers in this new age of terror. One that changes the way of things. You will solve the most evil riddle ever conceived --- How does one simultaneously kill a thousand innocent civilians, in numerous major cities... without conventional weapons?"
He continued, "But first, there are questions which must be answered."
Scalping Jew interrupted, "I already know the questions. And I already have the answers."
Who am I: Scalping Jew
When will the horror be executed: September 10, 2017
What will be the tally of the guilty: 4
What will be the tally of the innocent: 1,000 dead, unknown number of seriously injured
Where will the carnage unfold: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Landover, Nashville
Why must this happen: Because it can. Because there's a discernible inevitability in the realm of generational warfare.
How will it unfold: Continue reading.
"I've said enough. Now may I view the letter."
The correspondence originated from the Pittsburgh office of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney.
The mighty Pittsburgh Steelers had sicked their attorneys on Scalping Jew. This really didn't come as much of a shock. But they didn't have the courage to use their own legal team. The terrible twosome of Bordas & Bordas headquartered in neighboring Wheeling, West Virginia. Instead, they had relegated their impotent frustrations to the municipal parking authority.
Of all the god-damn chutzpah! Those cowards!
The content of the letter left Scalping Jew incensed. Overcome by a venomous rage, he began to shake uncontrollably. He was experiencing a seizure of aggression, a lust for vengeance. Of the seven deadly sins, susceptibility to wrath was his most spine-chilling vulnerability.
You see, six years ago in 2011, world renowned neurologist "Big Gunned" Droid diagnosed Scalping Jew with a rare disease known as "psychopathic schizophrenia." Dr. Droid had managed to unravel and identify a total of 40 unique personalities. Such a psychiatric analysis was unprecedented.
Droid discovered a bizarre correlation. Scalping Jew's behavior was directly attributed to the lifetime of nicknames he had been given.
Saf, Saffy, Slaffy, Sonofsaf, Staph, Staph Infection, Safershit, Stein, Steen, Saffa Sucka Dick, Waferbean, Papa Saffy, Rick, Ricky, Ricky Ticky Taffy, E-Rock, Easy-E, Jeff Goldblum, Sketch, Metal, Justice, Jew Boy, Jew Fuck, Jew Bastard, Jew Hovah, Hebe, Lovee, Island Rat, Hippie, Reuben Boone, Magistrate, Dad, Daddy, MLife, Damone, Three Putz, Schnooks, Manifesto Fucktard and God.
His actions were directly linked to just the mere thought or mention of an epithet. He was cognitively unstable. Nobody had a clue what this man was capable of. One minute, he'd be loving and pleasant. Thoughtful and considerate. Seconds later, consumed with hatred. His motivation exclusively dominated by themes of retaliatory vengeance. Scalping Jew's emotions would literally turn on a dime.
Cyclonic voices swirled in his head.
They have everything to fear, including fear itself.
September 10, 2017 would later become known as Judgement Day. An infamous day of unparalleled reckoning. Such a cruel irony that America's next 9/11, would literally commence, the day before 9/11.
Be forewarned! For the duration of this book, you'll be witnessing the marked transitions of Scalping Jew. His multiple personalities will leave you sweating and squirming. His shifting sadistic dementia will leave you gasping for oxygen. So go ahead. Take your last breath.
Scalping Jew methodically picked out his clothing. Anticipating a flood of blood, he figured that red garb would serve as the ideal camouflage. The lone exception, a Sopranos Cleaver ball cap. The only chapeau he wore consistently backwards.
A t-shirt bestowed upon him by Amanda Johnson of Bloomfield, Iowa.
His crimson shorts bore the emblem of Liverpool. He knew one thing for certain. His destiny was predetermined. From this day forth, Scalping Jew would always walk alone.
He filled his distinctive parfleche with an assortment of deceptively rudimentary weapons, some miscellaneous artifacts, a notarized letter from daytime talk show host Maury Povich and a fresh change of clothes.
Scalping Jew jumped in his Jewbaru and exited the driveway. Speeding off, he was overcome with intense despair. The prospect of a return home was nonexistent. He would be forever misplaced. Although eventually labeled a "missing person," he would soon morph into a wandering Jew. But only in his mind. His tangible reality likely a distant black site. A cold, dark prison. His mental state, eternally fragmented, forcibly disjointed.
In less than five minutes, he'd be entering the narrow salvation of Canal Street (pronounced cane-ill).
The most coveted parking spot in the entire city was available. Curbed enthusiasm at its finest. It was the "island in the sun."
(Yeah, I know it's not my car. Someone stole my spot. Cut me a little slack)
Seen by everyone. Availed by no one. Entirely free and conveniently located next to everything of downtown significance. The perfect location for a killing spree kickoff.
Scalping Jew looked up and saw a sign. He felt a calm sense of reassurance.
He was a reformer. Albeit, unorthodox and liberal. A godless visionary. He was even a card carrying, card distributing, lifetime member of AGSAF (the Artificially Generated Stampede Awareness Foundation).
The eternal water fountain was just a few paces forward, well within the trajectory of his tactical path.
Critically serendipitous he presumed. With the proliferation of targeted savagery lying ahead, it was the perfect opportunity to quench and quaff.
Scalping Jew strolled down to North Shore Drive. He took up a position across the street. Facing the executive office entrance of Heinz Field. Shielded behind a massive, formidable arrowhead, he assumed the position of Crouching Miser, Hidden Jew Boy.
A Cadillac driven by Art Rooney II pulled into the private satellite lot. Sonofsaf's blood began to boil. It was the same parking lot referenced in the letter. As Rooney exited his car, the wind from the river shifted direction. The faint scent of ketchup worked its way into his blood. His heart heavily pounding. This is the moment where life and death would meet. This is what he was. A warrior.
Fire streaks the heavens. Battle has begun.
He flung his arrowheads in rapid fire succession.
A total of 54 in all. He threw them with the master precision of a dart player, or if you will, dartist. One of them sliced off a generous chunk of Rooney's left ear. Another sunk deep into his knee bone. Another pierced through his trousers and severed off a trapezoid-tipped hunk of penis. The flurry of arrowheads continued. Blood was leaking, in some cases spewing, from the plethora of wounds. Rooney was writhing in agony.
But Sonofsaf wanted to see him truly suffer. Not just bleed out on the concrete sidewalk. He grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and seized an official NFL game day, 6"12"6" clear plastic bag. The exorbitant $5.00 price tag would turn out to be one helluva bargain. Probably the best he ever had.
Sonofsaf sang two separate refrains with childish enthusiasm. A contemporary dreidel spin-off which segued effortlessly into a "twosies-twosies" parody inspired by the genesis of God's genocidal punishment.
Rooney, Rooney, Rooney, I told you what to say.
Rooney, Rooney, Rooney, you told them I was cray.
Rooney, Rooney, Rooney, you told me stay away.
Rooney, Rooney, Rooney, the shit goes down today.
The lord said to Rooney, there's gonna be a bloody, bloody.
Lord said to Rooney, there's gonna be a bloody, bloody.
Heinz Field surface, is too muddy, muddy.
Put points, on the board.
The lord said to Rooney, you're full of Mularkey, arky.
Lord said to Rooney, you're full of Mularkey, arky.
Let's do shots of, Cutty Sarky Sarky.
Put points, on the board.
Sonofsaf whispered softly, "You stole my faith in the NFL, and even worse, humanity. The asphyxiation you shalt receive is an omen of national misery."
With that said, Sonofsaf wrapped the translucent bag around the owner's head. On each occasion, as Art was just about to succumb, Sonofsaf would relinquish his vice-like grip. Tightening the bag, then loosening it. But the seventh time, he maintained his clench. Rooney teetered on the brink of suffocation. As Art prepared to meet his Catholic carpenter, Sonofsaf again whispered, "The time has come for you to join your father... on the stairway to seven."
Art lay motionless. It was Sonofsaf's first executive execution. And ahh, his first scalping victim. Having been repeatedly targeted by the barrage of arrowheads, the "pelt of Art" was easily removed. He tossed the ruined brain skin in his satchel and swiftly left the scene of the crime.
With the agility of a Yiddish orangutan, he swung by the Peoples gate.
Scalping Jew was a man of the people. Some labeled him an unpopular populist. He took a moment to gather his thoughts. He decided the time was right to unseal the coveted Maury Povich DNA heritage test. The results were in:
25% Elizabeth, NJ
25% Detroit, MI
50% Wheeling, WV
The numerical accuracy of the results was unmistakable. The geographic purity, incontrovertible. His unique origins... utterly original. Scalping Jew had successfully commandeered his own chromosomes. A crisp, genetic achievement of unforeseen consequence.
Scalping Jew summoned the image of a Guyasuta, a Seneca warrior skilled in the art of diplomacy.
Invoking visions of other Indian warriors. CrazyHorse, Geronimo, Sitting Bull. And the modern day heroes of Standing Rock. He thought about the retro-progression of his country. How some leaders embrace the past. They promote bigotry and condone intolerance in order to further their agenda. Hey, hate sells. Very soon, Scalping Jew would magnify his personal hatred in a manner deemed inconceivable by common mortal standards.
The warpath resumed unabated.
Scalping Jew cut back across the road, toward the statue of Fred Rogers. But the bronze monument was inexplicably missing. Apparently part of an ongoing restoration effort. Such a gentle, humble individual. Scalping Jew felt betrayed. He had literally grown up in Fred's neighborhood. And now, when the opportunity for guidance and temperament was needed the most, Mr. Rogers was nowhere to be found. So he knelt down and double knotted his shoes. There was plenty more murder to commit and those laces needed to be tight. He envisioned his next soon-to-be victim. A distinguished resident of Wheeling, a town he knew so very well.
Scalping Jew observed a monument, a tribute to our boys in blue. Technically speaking, it was a memorial for the Allegheny County police. But for the sake of personal literary license, we'll just use the PPD. The Pittsburgh Police Department.
He recalled the many occasions, the numerous times he had been mocked and ridiculed by the local police force. Some would ignore him. Some were hostile and threatening. Others accused him of naivete and paranoia, dismissing his concerns as ludicrous. Their behavior was predictable, pathetic and damnable. After all, they were the PPD.
Law enforcement would soon experience the blame vicariously. Not just the local cops. But all cops across this great nation. They would collectively bear false witness when exposed to an infinite form of brutality.
Scalping Jew continued along the Allegheny River. He admired the Vietnam Memorial.
The domino theory appealed to his instinctual nature. If one country in East Asia succumbed to communism, others would fall... much like dominoes. Scalping Jew speculated, could a "dominipede" (pronounced duh-mihn-ih-peed), a word that does not currently exist, become reality? Take away the monetary funding and institutions will fail. Hospitals and airports will disintegrate and degrade. Buildings will collapse and bridges will crumble.
But what if you purge the level of implicit trust from within the social compact. What if you repealed truth and replaced it with time-sensitive lies? Could it render a result worse than fake news? And could that fake news instantaneously mutate into a random killing vortex?
The World War II Memorial reminded Scalping Jew of the awesome power of the blitzkrieg.
Lightning warfare. Harnessing elements of execution, speed and delivery... in combination with precision firepower. But could the blitzkrieg be replicated as a sudden barrage of decentralized, viral information? Ancient tribes used sticks and stones, but what if... words could actually hurt you? What if words could topple and crush you? It seemed like we, as a technological function of humanity, were trending in that direction. Duty, honor and country would be rendered irrelevant.
To this day, the Korean Memorial illustrates the most dangerous and memorable line of de facto demarcation (the 38th parallel).
The justification for boundaries. Geometric lines. Trekking up mountains and shifting around lakes. Sometimes, borders define the middle of nowhere. Occasionally regions of zero significance. Whether they're straight or jagged or exhibit curvature. Society clings to these outdated notions.
In a world of information sharing and hyper-communication, tangible borders are breaking all around us. Naturally, there's institutional resistance. The powers that be rebel. And they place an even greater emphasis on explicit latitude and longitude. They fail to comprehend that information is now a weapon. It can be dispensed in a millisecond and have real-world consequences. It could even be delivered from a lone individual, sitting on a Pittsburgh toilet, carrying out his business, in a dank yinzer basement.
Sonofsaf spotted a luxury sedan with a West Virginia license plate, zipping toward the private PNC Park garage. It was Bob Nutting, the fiscally esteemed owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Sonofsaf flagged him down. Hillbilly Bob immediately recognized his West Virginia buddy. They weren't terribly close but they did have several mutual acquaintances.
Sonofsaf had a monetary based strategy. Pure and simple, an appeal to greed. He produced an original Honus Wagner trading card valued at 3.2 million. It was the most prized bubble gum memento in all of baseball. Bob lurched forward to take a closer look.
Mr. Nutting: "How much you asking?"
Sonofsaf: "Well, I know it's worth a lot but I'm a recovering opioid addict in need of a quick fix."
Quick to seize upon the opposition's pangs of desperation and lack of financial proficiency, Mr. Nutting quickly did the math. He was a bean counting genius. "I'll reluctantly offer you $320 in cold, hard cash. That's a fair, street market offer of 1/10,000 the going rate."
Sonofsaf nodded in agreement. Any sentence with the word ten thousand in it sounded good.
Bob methodically sifted through the broccoli wad of bills.
But Sonofsaf kissed him upside the cranium with an aluminum baseball bat. Nutting collapsed to the pavement. Sonofsaf snarled, "My name is Saf. Ssss, Ssss, Ssss, Ssss, Ssss, Saf!"
"And you just got the Stargell Special. How's it feel gittin' popped in the noggin? How's it feel, pops?"
Nutting had taken the bait. Hook, line and sinker. Silly owner, the Honus Wagner card was a fugazi regardless.
Sonofsaf grabbed Nutting by the belt buckle and heaved him over to the PNC Water Steps. The multi-tiered, cascading pools of water were filled with children and parents. The kiddos shrieked in horror while the adults scrambled for their belongings. Sonofsaf kicked him down each level. That's nine levels. He got kicked nine times. Bruised, battered and beaten.
Sonofsaf snarked, "It may have taken 25 years, but I think we finally found our 4th Killer Bee. Bonds, Bonilla, Bell... and now, Bob!
Truth be told, Sonofsaf had previously lobbied Bucco's management for a "Bob Bobblehead" night. But they countered with a spritely Bob Nutting Garden Gnome giveaway instead. You promotional bastards!
Nutting was teetering on the brink of unconsciousness. Sonofsaf took out two hardened Jew-G fruits and shoved one in each nostril. Bob gasped, "Can't breathe! Can't breathe!"
Sonofsaf produced his Izmel MicroTech knife.
Nutting shrieked, "Holy Mohel, Safman!"
He had bought it a few years back during a trip to Bradford, PA. This knife was the envy of mohels everywhere, both stateside and abroad. It was an exclusive golden Mini Jagged Kommando.
Sonofsaf pantzed Mr. Nutting and brazenly shouted, "It's kommando time, you fuckin' jag-off! Mr. Baseball, let's see deez nuts. Show me 'dem balls."
The thought of a non-kosher member enraged Sonofsaf. He lashed out, "You will now answer to a higher authority! Do you care to know what time it is?"
Nutting was at the brink of death.
"It's castration time."
He carved off both of his testicles with the precision of a kosher butcher. But instead of sucking on the bloody groin, as any honorable mohel would do, he popped Nutting's nuts into his mouth. One for each side, like a heaping helping of dip. He was anticipating a salty savory flavor. But they had more of a sweet tang. Much like the frozen Swedish meatballs from Ikea.
The irony of it all? Sonofsaf actually liked Bob Nutting. It never had to be this way. He didn't have to die like this. Breathless and sackless.
Sonofsaf sliced off the top of Nutting's skull and pitched it in his bag.
Another Wheeling native celebrated the demise of Nutting. Bill Mazeroski appeared jubilant. Not just frolicking, he was galloping.
Scalping Jew reflected on a conversation from years ago. How he chided Maz for wrapping his identity around such a pathetic golf course. Adjacent waterlogged fairways that ran dangerously parallel. As if all the divine statues and heavenly shaped bunkers weren't bad enough! So many human beings have died in the name of religion. Shouldn't a golf course serve as a recreational safe space? Mazeroski dryly confided, "I sold my stake in Riverview years ago."
The outfield gate to PNC Park was open. SJ sauntered about the visually stunning river walkway. The stands were desolate. So much killing awaited. But not here. Not now. Not yet. Pittsburgh fans would be spared. By the end of the day, they would have suffered enough. Make no mistake, this was an intentional act of mercy.
Scalping Jew continued onward to the Andy Warhol bridge. He had always felt a kinship with the late pop artist icon. No, not the neurotic Catholic homosexual part. He shared a desire to alter the status quo. To embrace nonconformity and bohemian recalcitrance.
But the bridge was closed for construction.
Four signs said "Bridge Closed." One said "Danger, Keep Out." Scalping Jew appreciated the city's commitment to posting helpful information about public safety.
But he would have to reroute. So he backtracked and seconds later noticed another sign.
At this that precise moment, he knew he had made a most logical decision.
Crossing the Roberto Clemente bridge, there was an abundance of locks. Locks of love, perhaps. But this wasn't Paris. It was Pixburgh. The locks echoed human characteristics. Every lock was different. Big or short, wide or slender. Some locks were faded and rusty. Some people are jaded and crusty. Some locks were the color purple. Some people experience bigotry and abuse. Some had combinations, others required keys. Various markings and inscriptions. Many engraved with wedding anniversaries, graduation dates, birthdays. Each one told a story. These locks represented living, loving and mortality.
But the only emotion Scalping Jew felt was malevolence. He quickly counted all the locks.
124 individual sections between two stone pillars. A total of 4,106 locks. +/- 50 locks (margin of error). Hey, nobody's perfect. And Scalping Jew was under some rigorous time constraints.
2,978 was the number of Americans who perished on 9/11. Well, Scalping Jew couldn't kill that many innocent civilians. But at least he'd give it a shot. 1,000 fatalities was his target number.
His would be the next 9/11. Fewer fatalities, but a great number of injuries. Oh well, he thought. Beggars can't be choosers. 4,106 would represent the number of seriously maimed. Scalping Jew was quickly fulfilling his destiny as the finest metaphorical locksmith in the history of mankind.
Scalping Jew crossed the Allegheny with a newfound sense of purpose. Indiscriminate mutilation.
Onward to the point. At the intersection of rivers was a magnificent, volcanic fountain. Water spewed toward the heavens.
Scalping Jew performed a sacred, circular dance around the fountain. He had tremendous respect for water. He knew the fluid well. Thirst was a weapon of deliberate deprivation. As was dousing and drenching in the form of boarding and cannons. As merciless as Scalping Jew was, he still understood the warped significance of water-boarding. How torture was an ultimately ineffective and self-defeating weapon of war.
Just as despicable, was how Americans "used" water as a source of entertainment and amusement. His ancestors had to travel great distances to secure fresh water. Their lives, their very existence depended on it.
Scalping Jew reflected upon the future of warfare spawned by the pace of technology. The circular confluence of conflict and renewal... and confluence itself. For him, this was the pointed cradle of civilization. The Point. It symbolized the convergence of OAM. Not ohm. It represented the odium, the animus and the mendacity. A triangulated crossfire signaling a moment in time when conspiracy became reality.
Scalping Jew ventured through Point State Park and came upon a cannon outside the Fort Pitt Museum. He stuck a banana in the narrow firing tube (a la Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop). His people would never again be fired upon from cowardly distances.
Oh, the bravery of soldiers who drop bombs from the sky above. Oh, the fearlessness of sailors who unleash missiles from remote ships offshore. Scalping Jew preferred hand to hand combat, with one critical exception. The final curtain call where he'd take his last bow to the Republic.
He walked through a tunnel. On both sides were reflecting pools. He witnessed the ripples in still water and thought about the dead, those who had made the ultimate sacrifice in wars past.
You, who choose to lead, must follow
But if you fall, you fall alone.
If you should stand, then who's to guide you?
If I knew the way, I would take you home.
Scalping Jew let out a merciless cry. Glancing off glass. Bouncing off brick. Smashing into the steel. Colliding with the concrete. The shofaric, sephardic scream echoed through all of downtown Pittsburgh.
Scalping Jew was a student of history, a scholar of generational warfare. He knew the ugly secret of mankind. That humanity plows forward by achievements in killing. Human beings advance themselves through organizational extermination. Not through scientific discovery or the humanities. From the dawn of time, everything has revolved around one three letter raw palindrome. WAR.
Scalping Jew approached the Boulevard of the Allies. The notion of world war intrigued him, particularly the formation of alliances. Germany was once our enemy. Now she's our ally. Same with Japan. Russia was our "associate" in the first war, friend in the second. Then, we engaged the defunct Soviet Union in a proxy war in Afghanistan. Their defeat was our victory. Next up, a decade long cold war, a nuclear arms race and the balanced notion of mutually assured destruction. We vanquished the evil empire. But then, 9/11 stirred up a hornet's nest and launched a perpetually crafted war on terror. Ironic how the wealthiest nation is mired in an unwinnable battle with the poorest, fragmented country on the planet. Or is it? Maybe there's a reason "unwinnable" is deemed slang. Perhaps the time has come to revamp our basic assumptions regarding winning and losing. Perhaps the importance of words has diminished. Perhaps the world isn't so black and white after all.
Every country transitions. Every government is in a perpetual state of flux. Americans, in particular, are a fickle bunch. If humanity could learn just one lesson, maybe they should grasp how the planet is not stagnant. Things change. People change. After all, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. One person's castle is another person's homeless shelter. Que Sera Sera. Oh, if only Scalping Jew spoke French. He'd open a food kitchen at the base of the Statue of Liberty and teach people how to put the "free" in "freedom fries."
Give me your scared, your fearful
Your befuddled masses yearning to breathe
Scalping Jew often wondered what would constitute World War III. Would his actions be regarded as an isolated act of chaos? Or would it quickly morph into a false flag, a trigger for planetary devastation? Not to sound arrogant, but Scalping Jew was hungrily preparing a "classy belly" of his own. One that would redefine preconceived notions underlying the cost of defense and the elasticity of terrorism. One that would alter the expectations of what constitutes friend or foe. Life or death. War and peace.
Sonofsaf checked in to the city county building. Welcome to the fifth floor. Room 512.
He cornered Bill Peduto in his office. "Mr. Mayor, if only you had granted my single wish. If only you would have challenged the National Football League or Major League Baseball. If only you had confronted Rooney or Nutting. Now they're both dead. If only you had faced off against Lemieux. But it's just too late. He's my next victim. Immediately following your strangulation."
With each word, Peduto progressively grew more terrified. His eyes quivered. His pupils dilated. His testicles retracted.
Sonofsaf continued in a stoic, monotone voice, "If only you would have stood up, it would have been enough. In my mind, it would have sufficed. I would've passed you over. You didn't have to die."
He broke out in subdued Jewish song.
Die Peduto, Die Peduto, Die Peduto, Dayanu, Dayanu, Dayanu.
The same verse again, but with increased vigor.
Suddenly, he super-punched the mayor in his carb-leavened midsection. Oh no! It was his signature move... the "breaking bread basket." Peduto got the wind knocked out of him and was down for the count. He slumped to the floor and emitted a guttural grunt, a horrible pig-like sounding noise. The "anguished oink" of Peduto echoed throughout the shallowed walls of government.
Sonofsaf produced a beloved cotton cloth, a dark terrible towel.
To rely on a standard yellow towel would have seemed a tad blase. He wrapped it around Peduto's throat. After all, this was a premeditated act of mayoral-icide. In this case, revenge was a dish best served... with mayo on the side. Sonofsaf strengthened his grip.
The irony of it all? He actually was a big fan of Peduto. But business is business. And killing was his business. And just like the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL says, business is boomin'. Bidnith is good!
Sonofsaf gazed at the mayor's corpse. "Off with his head" was more than just a make-believe slogan. It was reality.
Onward to PPG Paints Arena. His next prey, a back to back Stanley Cup winner. As a player. As an owner. #66.
Super Mario cordially greeted him at the Centre Avenue entrance. Sonofsaf had wonderful news. "Mr. Lemieux, I've come to give you the NHL!"
Mario responded, "That's a very kind sentiment. But I think Gary Bettman is doing an outstanding job as NHL commissioner. And I've got my hands full with the team and the foundation. While I'm truly flattered, I must respectfully decline your most generous offer."
Sonofsaf snapped back, "I think you misunderstand. You'll be receiving the NHL, whether you like it or not. You've already survived Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Now your time has come for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma."
Lemieux terrifyingly flashbacked to a sold-out Paul McCartney concert. August 18, 2010. The grand opening of Consol Energy Center.
Dear god! It was that same person from the empty concourse, two hours before Macca took the stage. The same individual who gave him that unforgettable, nefariously rapscallion stare. Lemieux trembled.
Sonofsaf produced a large syringe filled with non-kosher cancerous agents.
But Mario had a burst of adrenalin and tried to scramble away. Attempting to elude Sonofsaf, he jolted forward and became ensnared in his own statue. Awkwardly entangled in a triage of legs, sticks and skates. Lemieux was in a helplessly prone position.
Sonofsaf brandished a Cherokee Tomahawk. A replica of the one used by Mel Gibson in his patriotic portrayal of Captain Benjamin Martin.
"Don't be scared. I'm not going to scratch your back with a hacksaw. I'm going to hack your back with a hacksaw!"
So let's get a party going, let's get a party going
Now it's time to party and we'll party hard, party hard
When it's time to party we will always party hard, party hard
Lemieux screamed in agony as Sonofsaf administered a flurry of strikes. Slash upon slash. Hack... after hack... after hack.
With unimaginable strength, Sonofsaf ripped a hockey stick from the iconic sculpture. He inserted the blade into Mario's mouth, and with bell-ringing fury, banged Mario's head off the base of his very own tribute. Back, and to the left. Back, and to the left. Again and again.
Sonofsaf rhetorically opined, "Sorry for the low stick, sir. But you need to stop roughing yourself!"
Thoroughly concussed, drenched in blood and oscillating on the brink of death, Mario mentally escaped the hockey fight. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he heard 30 distinct sounds. The final horns resonated like tympanic bagpipes at a French Canadian funeral. Much like the 30 pieces of silver Judas received for betraying Christ. The 31st horn could be faintly heard, from over 2,000 miles away, in the desert of Nevada.
Once again, Sonofsaf produced the syringe. Injecting Mario in the jugular.
"As for your untimely murder, try not to take it personally. It'll be our little deadly secret. Just like your beloved Penguins. What happens in Pittsburgh, stays in Pittsburgh."
Sonofsaf sliced off a chunk of Lemiuex's head and stuck it in his stately travel bag.
Scalping Jew was headed straight for the Smithfield Street Bridge. He couldn't help but observe the Mellon Bank industrial complex with its monumental financial tower. Those greedy Irish bastards! Show me the money! Hey, it's all about money, right? Except this time. It would all be free. Pulling off the original 9/11 cost about $250,000. This one wouldn't cost a dime. No need to borrow Celtic cash from a criminal lending institution.
His hatred even extended to the Fighting Irish. The mere thought of the University of Notre Dame with its cramped stadium and Touchdown Jesus mural. And what of that confrontational ginger leprechaun? A quarrelsome, whimsical mascot who encourages fans to pray for victory. Could such nonsensical behavior really impact the outcome of a silly football game?
Oh the absurdity of it all! How football fans liken an athletic contest with "going to war." How an army achieved victory... because their God was on their side. Why does God always fail the vanquished? I beseech thee, what greater evidence do you need? That nothing fails like prayer.
Crossing the Monongahela, Scalping Jew felt a sense of accomplishment. The hand-to-hand combat phase had reached its conclusion. Or so he thought. There was a man in the distance, standing next to the entrance of the Riverhounds soccer stadium. It was their charming owner, Terrance "Tuffy" Shallenberger.
Sonofsaf: "Mr. Shallenberger, I was curious as to how you got your nickname."
Shallenberger was about to speak but Sonofsaf rudely interrupted. "The real Tuffy lives on a farm in West Virginia. When he was a wee lad, a horse stepped on his head. But the stomping had no effect. At that moment, family and friends made a determination that he sure was tough. One tough son of a gun. Hence, the name Tuffy was assigned. And a rural legend was born."
Sonofsaf continued: "Sir, I've partied with Tuffy. I know Tuffy. Tuffy is a friend of mine. Mr. Shallenberger, you're no Tuffy."
Sonofsaf exploded in a caustic song of Caucasian triumph.
"Cause he's TFE. He's dyn-o-mite! TFE, he's bald and white!"
Sonofsaf flashed his favorite gang sign. The infamous rock'n'roll devil horn. "Let me see your cigarette lighter."
A distracted Shallenberger fumbled through his pockets. Sonofsaf viciously and repeatedly jabbed his eyes. Shallenberger's eyeballs were digitally carved from his face. In a Station Square minute, he was blind.
Sonofsaf scoffed, "A man can't see, he can't fight. He then whooped, "Hokahey! Today is a good day to die!"
Sonofsaf pulled Phony Tuffy over to the nearby train tracks. He braced his neck against the hot steel rail and placed his foot squarely in the small of his back. Face down and frozen, Shallenberger bellowed, "Let me go! Let me go!"
Sonofsaf replied, "But there's a slow, there's a slow, slow train comin."
Moments later, Shallenberger's head was cleanly severed from his body. Henry VIII would've approved of this extemporaneous guillotine. A king who beheaded his wives for their inability to produce a male heir to the throne. Little did he know that his sperm were the true culprit. XX... why? XY... that's why.
So Sonofsaf picked up the noggin, carved off a chunk of dome, and chucked the remainder in the Mon.
Scalping Jew felt a strange inclination. Some unknown force was propelling him toward The Duquesne Incline. He paid the $5.00 round trip fee and climbed aboard.
Scalping Jew slowly ascended to the top of Mount Washington. Dry lightning filled the Pittsburgh skyline. Menacing clouds and rumbling thunder. But there was no downpour. As Scalping Jew exited the ride, there was nary a raindrop in sight.
Suddenly, the Lord appeared. But this was no ordinary God. This was a Pixburgh deity who went by the name Gad. Sporting a yellow sweatband, his unkempt feathered hair sported both mullet and mustache. Magnificent plumage. Long white tube socks and sneaks. Cut off Levi's jean shorts (correctly referred to as Huck Finns) and an armpit-stained "We are Family" t-shirt.
Scalping Jew declared, "Hear, O Pittsburgh: The Lord is our God, The Lord is One."
Gad replied, "Thanks dude. Have you heard the good news?"
Gad continued, "It is you, Scalping Jew. You are the chosen one. You will lead thy faithful to the land of Iron City and pierogies."
Gad made a request. "Hand me your spear."
Keep in mind, while seated on the Incline, Scalping Jew had decorated his ceremonial weapon. The spear was now adorned with the scalps of Rooney, Nutting, Peduto, Lemieux and Shallenberger.
The scalps suddenly disappeared from the spear. All five of the previously murdered, instantly materialized... much like they were beamed up in a Star Trek episode. Everyone was clean and spiffy, fit as a fiddle. Gad had brought them back to life.
The five knelt before Scalping Jew and spoke in unison.
"Hear, O Pittsburgh, Scalping Jew is our God. Scalping Jew is one. Blessed be the name of his Burgh, for ever and ever."
You shall love the Scalping Jew with all yinz mind, with all yinz strength, with all yinz being.
Set these words, which I command yinz this day, upon your aorter. Teach them faithfully to yinz little'uns; speak of them in yinz home and on yinz way, when yinz crashes out and when yinz wakes the fuck up.
Bind them as a sign upon yinz hand; let them be a symbol before yinz eyes; inscribe them on the doorposts of yinz house, and on yinz gates.
Be mindful of all my shit, and do it: so shall yinz consecrate yinzselves to yinz God. I, Scalping Jew, am yinz God who led you out of dahn-tahn to be yinz God; I Scalping Jew, am yinz God.
Scalping Jew was now God. Not a god. The god.
Even though God is technically everywhere, he still didn't like the idea of wasting the $2.50 Incline fare. Accompanied by his five new BFFs, they returned to the base of Mount Washington.
God bestowed upon his people the 10 Commandments. His detractors refer to them as the 10 Anti-Mitzvahs.
I. Thou shalt not pay.
II. Thou shalt make signs.
III. Thou shalt eat.
IV. Thou shalt drink.
V. Thou shalt lie.
VI. Thou shalt steal.
VII. Thou shalt listen then speak.
VIII. Thou shalt think then act.
IX. Thou shalt be different.
X. Thou shalt kill.
At this point, I'm going to make an unusual request. Please consider skipping chapters 1 through 10. Go directly to the epilogue. This will not offend me. In fact, it'll make for a superior reading experience and resolution. I even considered decreasing the size of the font in the ten commandments section... to function as a disincentive.
Seriously, the core of this book is about as meaningless as the holy bible. So yeah, if you wish to take an old testament, fire and brimstone, strict constructionist approach... then yeah, read all the crap in its traditional progression.
However, if you wish to unlock the history of the future, then skip ahead. Just scroll down. Hey, you can always go back. Considering I published this thing on 9-9-17, you really ain't got that much time left. That being said, you can always read about the future... after it happens.
The First Commandment --- Thou shalt not pay
Why do so many people have this overwhelming compulsion to give their hard earned money to multi-millionaires? Musicians and concerts. Yeah, I kinda understand that. But the multi-billionaire NFL football owners? Games and merchandise? With their personal seat licenses, exorbitant parking passes and autographed silliness? C'mon Man!
Jews don't like to pay for shit. Get used to it.
I. Poison, along with the hair-brained smorgasbord of Cinderella, Dokken & Slaughter. Post Gazette Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA. July 1, 2000.
At the time, my girlfriend worked nights. So I befriended her younger underage sister. Amandasar was best described as a "vixen firecracker." She had an unmatched spark and willingness to engage anyone and everyone. Maybe she couldn't get served at every bar in town, but the amphitheater parking lot sure as hell couldn't turn her away. Amandasar gradually became my scalping protege. I taught her the tricks of the trade.
For any who witnessed this one experience, it will be forever etched in their heart and soul.
A long-haired skinny dude was in the process of being handcuffed and taken away. Multiple streams of blood were running down his face. Amandasar approached the two officers and inquired, "Sir, is he going to the concert?" The one cop fired back, "Uh, NO. He's going to jail!"
She pried further, with steady, unflinching curiosity. "Well, can I have his ticket?" The cop shrugged, "Well, that would be up to him."
The unabashed Amandasar sized up the shirtless 80's rocker. With the slightest hint of flirtation, "Well, can I have it?"
His reply, "Yeah, I guess so. Hate to see it go to waste. But it's in my back pocket. I can't get to it. My hands are cuffed."
Amandasar reached into his jeans pocket, swiftly snatching up the golden ticket. She actually squeaked out a single word in the process... "Yoink!"
She looked my way, "Saffy, I got a free one. Is this good? Did I do good?"
Yes, Amandasar. Yes. You did good.
Proof that we're always capable of absorbing new strategies and tactics. Hey, even the best teachers can learn a thing or two. Right?
Bloody well right!
II. Paul McCartney, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA. August 18, 2010.
Liverpool's favorite Beetle opened up the brand new arena with back to back, sold-out shows. Doesn't get much better that that.
Mason and I headed down, ticketless as usual. The line to get inside snaked around the entire arena. Also, it was hotter than hell. Humid as fuck. The mostly older crowd was literally sweatin' to the oldies.
If you really know us, you know one thing to be certain. We. Don't. Pay. The few scalpers on site were asking well into the hundreds. Obviously, that didn't bode well for a couple freebie seekers.
I reminded Mason of our primary objective. We need to find a way inside that building. Hell, it's Paul McCartney! This ain't some Creed crap or Scorps shit.
I witnessed a passenger van pull up to the sidewalk. Over a dozen people emerged. Men in suits and ties. Women in sundresses. They're making their way to the club entrance. I looked at Mason. "Let's just follow them. They seem to know what they're doing, where they're going."
She nervously complies. We join them as an employee holds the door open. Mason pretends to keep busy with her face down in her flip phone. I just make pleasant, subdued eye contact. Even though we were obviously out of place, nobody in the group seemed phased.
We walk through the designated entrance. A man hands the lady ticket taker a stack of tix. She individually scans each one, but neglects to do a head count. All of a sudden, we find ourselves on the elevator, heading to a private box on the suite level.
We separated from the crew and explored the concourses. Later, we learned they were a contingency of faculty and administration from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Mario Lemiuex walked right by us and smiled. Downright giddy, we just chuckled and laughed. And laughed some more. Not only had we sneaked in for opening night, but we also had brazenly smuggled in our water bottles filled with red wine.
Accordingly, Mason named our experience "Red Red Wine." But I called it... "Hey Jew."
III. Paul McCartney, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA. July 7, 2014.
Four years later, McCartney made a return trek to Consol on the "Out There" tour. Once again, we headed down there, trying to get in there. Ticketless but with high hopes.
This night wouldn't go as planned.
We scoured the periphery of the arena for two hours, but to no avail. Nothing was out there.
Two cops who routinely work security, one male and female, scolded us for trying to acquire free tickets. They told us to lose our signs. We complied and threw them in the trash. Apparently, it's okay to panhandle for money, but not tickets. According to the male cop, we were harassing legitimate concertgoers. The real truth --- nothing could be further from the truth. When it comes to our panhandling style, we're always polite and courteous. To this day, Mason, who has an excellent rapport with the local police, refers to these two as "Tweedle-Dee" and "Tweedle-Dum." She does not care for them. I call them "Shitface 1" and "Shitface 2." But not to their face.
Anyway, the show started. We could overhear the soft rumbling. The area outside the arena had turned into a ghost town. About 4 songs in, we decided to call it quits. On our way back to the car, a young guy walks by with 4 print outs. "Do you guys want tickets? I've got extra."
"Yes!" It was a Macca Miracle! And all of a sudden, we were in there for the Out There tour.
We jubilantly present our tickets and head in. Just as I exit the escalator onto the first level, Shitface 2 sees me. Completely enraged, he rushes over and forcibly handcuffs me. The metal cuffs were on ridiculously tight, to the point of impacting my circulation. But I do not resist whatsoever. Meanwhile, Mason is in tears. "Why are you doing this? We didn't do anything?"
They took us to a secure, non-camera location. Shitface 2 gave me two options. Go to jail or forfeit our tickets and go home. Needless to say, we chose the latter.
Mason was really infuriated. And so was I. The following day I actually filed formal written complaints with arena management and the Police Citizens Review Board. But nothing ever came of it. Two takeaways from this incident.
1. Shitface 2 came directly after me, but didn't go after my woman. Interesting decision. Shitface 1 was more subservient to her male counterpart. She gave Mason a "we don't take shit from nobody" explanation.
2. Isn't it illegal for cops to commit brazen acts of theft? Even if it's just concert tickets.
Oh well, when you do things differently, sometimes you have to pay your dues. But don't think I've forgotten. I never forget.
IV. Grateful Dead, Deer Creek Music Center, Noblesville, IN. July 2, 1995
Most of the memories from my 46 Grateful Dead shows are... well, memorable. But few stand out like '95 Deer Creek.
Gatecrashers Suck! That was the consensus opinion after a rare Dead concert cancellation. All because a swarm of lawless hippies charged the Deer Creek Music Center and tore that old building down.
Gatecrashers are assholes. I should know. Because I have a hole in my ass.
My friends and I had purchased mail order tickets for the second night. Our intention was to just hang outside by the lake and listen to the first night. Six songs into a mellow, somewhat tinny sounding first set, it happened. A random assortment of fans from the northerly side went charging up the hillside. When people saw what was happening, it led to this spontaneous real-world domino effect. Everyone just joined the herd.
Much like a battle reenactment scene out of Braveheart. Fending off canisters of tear gas, there was a symphony of war cries as disgruntled Deadheads savagely ripped through the wooden fence. Additional police cruisers and helicopters were deployed to maintain order. But by then, the damage was done.
The lawn was insanely cramped due to the influx of illegals. Ah, if only they had built a greater wall. Due to the lingering tear gas, many fans were experiencing a salty facial discharge. I tried to placate them. It'll be alright. Lookie here! I managed to smuggle in this 6 pack of Keystone Light.
"Can I have one?" a friend inquired.
"Because it tastes like bottled beer in a can!"
V. Slayer, Rostraver Ice Garden Arena, Belle Vernon, PA. October 26, 2003.
I am... back door man. One cold evening I took a cue from the late Jim Morrison.
Metal Male, Vomitous and myself made the trek out to Belle Vernon on the cusp of Fayette County. Locals refer to this area as Fayette-Nam. And for good reason. Approaching Uniontown (locals call it Oniontown), things can get a little dicey in the Burgh backwoods.
I'd never been to this venue. An old ice skating rink with a capacity of a few thousand. As my friends headed toward the ticket window, I flashed them a look of disgust. "What the fuck you doin?"
They replied in unison, "We're late. It's freezing out. We wanna get inside."
"Fuck that. Follow me. Let's see where this door goes."
I opened the door to find a group of five elderly woman gathered in a kitchen. Pots were boilin'. Gas ovens were cookin'. My glasses immediately fogged up. A woman whose name I expect was either Zelda or Mabel, Edith or Franny asked if I knew where I was. I couldn't see but replied, "Oh yeah, Slayer baby!" I held the door open and told my friends. "Ooh, get on in here! Man, it's freezing outside!"
VI. Rush, Starlake Amphitheater, Burgettstown, PA. August 13, 1997.
Most of the time you encounter ticket scalpers, there's a constant theme. Not to play the race card, but most are black. Or African American if you prefer. Which is fine. But aside from the color of their skin, they all seem to have one thing in common. They're continually yelling at everyone. "You buying? Need tickets! You selling? Got tickets!" It's this constant, schizophrenic back and forth. Hey, I understand. Scalping is a numbers game. The more you speak, the more money you make. Trust me, I get it.
But I prefer a more distinguished path. Rather than indiscriminately hitting up everyone in sight, I try to take a more calculated approach. I'm hardly the greatest ticket scalper of 'em all, but I do have a knack for gauging expressions in the crowd. The way they shift. The way they walk. Their general mannerisms often serve as clues.
To my point. I was at a Rush concert, tailgating, minding my own business. When I saw an impeccably dressed man and wife, both in sharp business attire. They were accompanied by a five year old child, also well dressed. I wondered to myself, this family doesn't really seem to fit the general vibe. I doubted their interest in the band.
I asked the man, "Just curious, do you guys have any extra tickets?"
He responded, "What makes you think I have any tickets?"
I countered, "Well, you guys just don't seem like you're here for a rock concert."
He replied, "Well, you're actually right. I'm just here to pick up some paperwork."
"I had a hunch. So whaddya think? Got any extras?"
He casually eyed me up, "Yes, I have 20."
I was on him like white on rice. "Here's twenty bucks. I'll take 'em all."
He smiled and laughed, "Twenty bucks? That's a dollar a ticket."
"Alright, I hear ya. Here's forty." I physically placed two twenties in the handkerchief pocket of his suit.
Again he smiled, "You drive a hard bargain. Here. Take 'em."
He then handed over the stack of 20 tix.
Of course, I knew they'd all be comps, but it didn't matter to me.
I saved a spare ticket and quickly sold off the rest. Probably took me about 20 minutes. A bargain at $20 per ticket resulting in a speedy net profit of $340.00.
While this wasn't the scalping story of the decade, it does go to my overriding point. If someone appears out of place or you witness something out of context, make an inquiry. Because inquiring minds want to know.
It never hurts to speak up. Hey, it worked for E.F. Hutton. Because these days, when E.A. Saffy speaks, people listen.
VII. Motley Crue & Kiss, KeyBank Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA. September 2, 2012.
Two observations: There was an enormous walk-up crowd and tickets were unusually pricey. Mostly because the show featured two headliner acts. If you bought 'em straight outta box office, the general admission lawn tickets, after a hefty service charge, ended up around $69 a piece. Ouch! Well, there's no way we were going to fork over $70 a ticket. Not for that fat ass Vince Neil nonsense. $20 maybe. $70? No fucking way.
So it was 3M, the three of us (Mason, Metal Male and myself). Not the other 3M --- Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing. Surveying the lot, there just wasn't any action whatsoever. Too much demand, not enough supply.
I suggested we hit up the VIP lot. Maybe we could weasel our way inside. Maybe scoot past security or make a play with a lot attendant, find an unmanned gate, whatever. But nothing was working. The poser metal gods just weren't on our side.
Motley Crue opened the show. A few songs in, I snuck behind a bus to take a piss. All of a sudden golf carts were everywhere. Peeling out, zooming all over the place. Fuck! What if someone radioed me in for public urination? What the fucking walkie talkie fuck! So I quickly zipped up and headed back to my crew.
The security guys swung by and asked if we had seen anything suspicious. I'm like, you gotta be kidding me. All this commotion for a guy taking a piss?
"We're looking for some guy who assaulted his girlfriend."
Ahh, a sigh of relief. Mason casually mentions that some weirdo in the next row is under a van, maybe changing the oil or something. Well, the authorities quickly converged and told him to come out with his hands up. But this dumb ass wasn't budging. Taking into account the random chunks of gravel and broken glass, this guy wasn't too bright. A cop grabbed him by the feet and dragged him out from underneath. All the while, he was blubbering like a baby.
One of the lot guys praised us for assisting local law enforcement. I quickly fired back, "Well, if you really wanna show us some appreciation, how about letting us into the concert? We don't have any money." Obviously a lie, but why would I care? He sized me up and told us to follow him. "Alright, just do me a favor. Don't try and get into the pavilion. Just stay on the lawn. That's all I ask." We all nodded in complete compliance. "Thank you, thank you so very much."
About one minute after they wanded us, we ventured down the left side of the amphitheater, pushed aside the metal fencing and went straight for the stage. We basically ended up in the first 10 rows. When a harnessed Paul Stanley went sailing over the audience, Metal Male tried to grab his foot. He managed to touch it, but couldn't get a firm grip. Post concert, I've always thought to myself, wouldn't it have been crazy if he had managed to hang on and go flying with the lead singer? Or even better, twisted his ankle. Either way, it was a crazy, crazy night.
VIII. Festival wristbands
You know about those 3-day weekend hippie festivals? Round here we got Lockn', a seemingly infinite run of Hookahvilles and the long defunct Mystic Valley. The best kept secret is easily Nelson Ledges. Like the beatniks used to say, drop acid not bombs. Haven't heard that one in a while, eh? Well, if you want to get a little taste of dropping in, just so you can drop out. If you yearn to smell the scented, freaky fragrance of the flower children. If you truly wish to embrace your free spirit, and do it for free, or at the very least, an impressive discount. Well, here's the optimum strategy.
Hang out at the nearest gas station or convenience store. There will always be someone who has to exit the festival. Could be a death in the family. Could be an emergency of some sort. It might even be work related. Gasp! Whatever the case, you'll invariably find someone who needs to bolt. Now they obviously won't be needing that $100 - $150 synthetic wrist band. So offer them something. Maybe fill up their gas tank. Maybe buy them a stick of vegan beef jerky. How about a little friendly advice? "Dude, you could sure use a bath. You stink." That one in particular, sets a pleasant transactional tone.
Cut the wristband where there's covered overlap. Use a pair of scissors. Make it a clean cut, X-ACTO knife style. Just don't slit their wrist. There's nothing worse than a dirty hippie bleeding out at the Piggly Wiggly. Reapply said wristband with several loops of carton packing tape. Next, smoke a doobie and relax. Welcome to the festival, festie! This works every time. You're free to come and go as you please. Exit and enter. In and out. That's right, think of it as horizontal refreshment (intercourse).
Now go buy that Terrapin Hopsecutioner. Or that ganga goo ball. Eat a goo ball, you fuck! Even better, a garlic-basil tomato grilled cheese. I once met Jay... of Jay and Silent Bob fame at Marvin's MountainTop Campground, just outside Masontown, West Virgina. He was slinging cheap grilled cheese sandwiches. How cool is that?
Festivals used to be a helluva lot cooler. These days, they tend to throw in misc. filler bands (rock, rap and even country). I'm not talking about the cool shit --- Cypress Hill, Primus or Zac Brown Band. I'm talking lame shit like Ted Nugent, Wigger House Party and Scooter Jennings. They're trying to broaden their appeal. I get it. Sell as many general admission bands as possible. I've seen this happen through the years. I call it the "diminishing law of marginal fest." It's gotten particularly bad at Jamboree in the Hills in Morristown, Ohio. The alleged Super Bowl of country music. This redneck extravaganza is billed as the vacation destination of Belmont County... for residents of Belmont County. Hot damn! I once saw Weird Al Yankovic actually get booed at the 2004 Jambo. Crazy how fans viewed the most brilliant performer with such contempt. Or is it? 25% of the country think Trump's a genius. 75% of Jambo thinks Trump's a genius. You do the math.
The only reservation you should have about a late hippie fest arrival is, yep you guessed it... cleanliness. By the time Sunday morning rolls around, there's been a lot of "dirty." Not dirty sex. Not dirty talk. I'm talkin' port-a-jons filled to the brim with beer bottles, book bags, sleeping bags, whatever. There's a distinct possibility your ass cheek will brush up against used toilet paper or withdrawn tampon. And if it rained and there's mud, faghettaboutit. It's gonna be a bad trip.
IX. Dead & Company, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH. November, 13, 2015.
Just ask. Every once in a cobalt crescent, after things have died down, I just go up to the ticket scanning person. I delicately probe them. "Hey man, I don't have a ticket. And I don't have any money on me but I really want to see the show." Older men are generally the most receptive. Because they tend not to give a shit. If you flash them a look of sympathetic hope, it should help your odds.
I. Discreetly join the outdoor smoking crowd, usually a patio or inadequately roped off area.
Widespread Panic, WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, WV. September 17, 2010
II. Hold the emergency exit door open as the Anheuser-Busch employee wheels in the keg. Works well at college auditoriums and convention halls.
Phil Lesh & Friends, AJ Palumbo Center, Pittsburgh, PA. November 29, 2005
III. Wait for a fan to unexpectedly prop open an unguarded side door. This one requires a little patience or plain dumb luck.
An aside: I've grown increasingly intolerant of these extended venue naming rights, i.e., Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Post Gazette Pavilion at Starlake Amphitheater, etc.
The Who, Value City Arena at the Schottenstein Center, Columbus, OH. December 11, 2006
IV. Ask the promotional people, the radio station people, the lot attendants. Anyone affiliated with the band. Anyone with a security or event staff laminate around their neck. Anyone on a golf cart. Anyone who's actually working. The hotel front desk employees (especially at casinos), concierge, even waiters and waitresses from nearby restaurants. You'd be amazed with how many comp tickets just magically appear.
Tool, Peterson Events Center, Pittsburgh, PA. June 4, 2017
V. Ask the people waiting in line. The concert goers who desperately need to get inside the venue 90 minutes before the opening act. There's always these fans who willingly eat tickets. Why they love the taste of cardboardish paper so much, I have no idea. I've succeeded with this strategy over a hundred times. No joke.
Rolling Stones, Indy Motor Speedway, Indianapolis, IN. July 4, 2015
VI. Wait for an attendant to leave their post. This works well with oversized gates at old college football stadiums.
Pink Floyd, The Horseshoe, Columbus, Ohio. May 29, 1994
VII. Walk in the back door. I just wanted everyone to know that I saw my favorite 80's hair band Ratt perform at a former Hare Krishna school, just past the CRRC (Crick Ranch Recreational Compound).
Ratt, a few miles out Big Wheeling Creek, The Crossroads. June 21, 2001
VIII. Ask a cop. People were lined up since early in the morning. While visiting NYC, we had zero interest in standing around for hours. So we asked a cop to let us in. We explained how we took a Megabus all the way form Pittsburgh, but didn't have any tickets. He inquired, "Are you Steelers fans?" To which we replied, "Hell yeah!"
"Steelers suck. Sorry I can't help you. (extended pause) Just kidding."
Global Citizen Festival, The Great Lawn in Central Park, New York City, NY. September 26, 2015
IX. Find it on the ground.
Works especially well for country music stadium shows. When an underage drunk girl grabs her cell phone from her back pocket... those mom jean shorts or tight daisy duke cut-offs can be pretty unforgiving. Unbeknownst to them, tickets and money go airborne. Always keep your eyes peeled on the ground. Happy birthday to the ground!
X. Pearl Jam, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA. April 29, 2106. (TEN)
Push the restaurant barricade aside. Connected to the restaurant, connected to the arena.
The Second Commandment --- Thou shalt make signs
Signs. We see them everywhere. Some are helpful. Stop, yield, do not enter and so on. They encapsulate movement and public safety. Some signs are hateful. White and colored drinking fountains come to mind. Multiple faucets makes sense if it's based on an individual's height. But skin pigment? Politicians plant yard signs. I had some made when I ran for political office. The voters wisely rejected me. Some signs offer deals and discounts. Clearance sale: 50% off. Everything must go. Religious leaders often gets signs, or intangible signals, from God. Bless their heart.
Signs are the simplest form of propaganda. And boy do I love me some propaganda.
I. IF YOU GIVE ME A FREE TICKET, I PROMISE I WON'T SIT NEXT TO YOU
This sign is the gold standard. The underlying premise: sometimes a person would rather eat a ticket as opposed to selling it. Why? Well, it could be a variety of reasons. Maybe someone bailed at the last minute and they don't wish to sit next to a complete stranger. Maybe they desire complete autonomy over the neighboring arm rest. Maybe it's a leg room issue. Perhaps they're entertaining a business associate and don't want some random drunken asshat in their midst. What if you're spending quality time with the kids and the slob next to you is cursing up a storm? What if he/she has unrelenting body odor or bad breath, unsightly gock or gunt?
But you have to sit in your assigned seat! After all, those are the rules. Newsflash: who cares.
But we paid good money for that ticket! We're just looking to recoup our losses. Newsflash: nobody cares.
The overriding point is clear. If you can convince someone that a ticket kickdown will not infringe upon their privacy, they'll be more likely to kick it down.
II. NEED MONEY FOR STRAP ON DILDO... TO FUCK DONALD TRUMP (IN THE ASS). GOD BLESS.
This sign is exclusively designed for homeless women. It. Will. Work. I've given serious consideration to making a stack and distributing them throughout downtown Pittsburgh. The only thing that holds me back is the possibility of some female, who's already way down on her luck, becoming a victim of random violence. After all, the content is rather provocative. But hey, that's the allure. That's what makes it so effective for reeling in the bucks.
In all honesty, I almost never give money to the homeless. Although I do occasionally give them packs of "Excitemint Sours." I buy them in quantity from Aldi's and hand 'em out, here and there. They cost a buck a piece. They're sugar free and bursting with tarty fresh flavor. Seems like a welcome gesture as they're usually well-received.
If I saw this sign, I'd be heavily inclined to offer some cash. Strap-ons don't come cheap. Most fall in the $30 - $50 range. So it kind of implies that you're looking for a $5 or $10 donation. A single dollar or some loose change ain't going to get the job done.
The trick is to divert attention from the "homeless discomfort" aspect. Make it about hatefulness, not helpfulness. Capitalize on that anti-Trump sentiment. Gotta love the "god bless" closer.
In a semi-related matter, I'm making a concerted effort to push an anti-Trump telemarketing agenda. It's basically an unhinged Trump tirade. I call it "teletrumpeting." Anytime you get one of those annoying calls. A vacation offer, student loans, reverse mortgage, doesn't matter. Just totally go off on the telemarketer. "Did you know the president is a pile of orange fucking shit? The guy's a cock-sucking asshole, right? Repeat after me, fuck Trump, fuck Trump, fuck Trump!" If everyone did it, this would have tremendous potential. At a minimum, it would create quite the buzz in tele-commerce offices around the country and abroad.
III. LOOKING FOR A DOOBIE. NEED A FREE DOOBIE.
There's a guy who hangs out near Market Square. He has a Nike "swoosh" tattoo on his neck. Underneath it reads, JUST DOOB IT!
Metal Male and I scribbled this ghetto sign for a 3-24-14 Doobie Brothers concert in Wheeling, WV. Had a nice ring to it. Plus, I always appreciate the obvious dual inference. My country song "Git The Skids" also employs double entendre.
When you hit the skids
You gotta git the skids
When your truck blows a tire and you ain't got a jack
When the bud runs dry but the Jack comes back
You see, jack and bud have dual meanings.
IV. IF YOU GIVE ME A PRE-SEASON TICKET, I WILL PRE-MATURELY CUM ON YOUR FACE
Is anyone else disgusted by the NFL season ticket holders who feel that attending preseason games is beneath them? Their common excuse? It's preseason. Not worth my time. The games don't matter. Well, I say your existence doesn't matter. The least you could have done was give your tickets away. Maybe some underprivileged kids would have appreciated them. Maybe a struggling lower class couple would like to experience the amenities of the club level. Hell, give 'em to a church group for Christ sake.
And if you're on your way inside and have a few extras, how about the homeless? The indigent. The unwanted. I cherish the prospect of filling up an NFL stadium with prostitutes, vagrants, the mentally ill, the crusted filth. I fantasize about how this would play out on live television. When they pan the crowd. Oh, that poor gal. Hasn't she already been punished enough? Having to exchange her $500 gucci handbag for a $5 clear plastic bag. Poor thing. Maybe she could have discovered a sense of camaraderie with all the bums and their corresponding plastic grocery bags.
V. IF YOU GIVE ME A FREE ELTON JOHN TICKET, I'LL LET YOU SUCK MY DICK
March 23, 2011. Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center. He's flamboyant. He's prolific. He's Elton. And he's no sell out. However, the show was... sold out.
So did the sign work? Well, we did score freebies. Some of the worst seats in the house though. Last row, dead center, in the upper 200 level. But then it happened. Two songs in, these older ladies wandered into our section and asked the usher if anyone would be willing to exchange seats. They claimed they were down on the floor and it was much too loud. This was an Elton John miracle! Only narrowly surpassed by a Festivus miracle. Well, Mason and I jumped all over the offer. Thanked them accordingly and hit the elevator. On our way down, I asked her where our seats were located. She's like, you gotta be kidding me! Section 2 Row A. Front row, dead center. Unbelievable! We went from the absolute worst seats to the absolute best seats. Not that we really cared. Just an amusing anecdote.
But more importantly, did I receive anonymous fellatio? Something akin to a glory hole? Was my cock deep throated in choking, slobbering fashion? Lamentably, the answer was no. And since we're being totally honest, I never used the sign. I did take it with me. I just couldn't muster the requisite effrontery.
VI. I KNOW BON JOVI'S AUNT... ANCHOVY
Not all signs need to have a purpose. Wouldn't it be cool if people tried to show off their sense of humor, or lack thereof? BIG BEN, MARRY ME! Hmm, considering his kids and marital status, I suppose an abrupt, high profile divorce would be slightly amusing. Or what about... I LOVE JON. Personally, I'd prefer I LOVE (PORT-A) JON.
I heart symbol this. I heart symbol that. Now I can only speak for myself, but I'd prefer to learn about who you hate. Who do you hate? And why do you hate them? But that's just me.
Why not focus on the athletes you despise? In 2002, I witnessed the burning of a Kordell Stewart QB jersey in the north parking lot off Ridge Avenue. Another fan was about to throw his Stewart jersey into the smoldering pile of cloth. I convinced him to give it to me. I bought a Home Depot patch and voila... the first ever Steelers/NASCAR tribute to my favorite driver... Tony Stewart.
Seriously, would it kill people to try and think outside the box or utilize the neocortex section of their brains? Is this asking too much in our increasingly homogenous, zombified society?
Yes, I believe it is.
VII. GIMME SHELTER... AND A FREE TICKET. BITCH!
When the Rolling Stones come to town, you go. Even if it's a torrential downpour, you go. Even if it coincides with Huey Lewis & The News at the Meadowlands Casino, you go. Even if Mick Jagger's geriatric, theatrical rooster strut has grown old, you go. Even if their drummer Charlie Watts resembles a cross between the dead guy from Weekend at Bernie's and the skeleton drummer from the fictitious Dregs of Humanity band in the under-appreciated mid-80's sitcom "It's Your Move."
When the Stones roll into town, you go.
Well, we went. Trekked down to Heinz Field for the 6-20-15 concert. Easily the weakest, most uninspired Stones performance I've ever seen. But still, we went. Moral of the story: you can't always want what you get.
Nonetheless, I'd like to see more signs utilize song titles, especially if the band has an extensive catalog. These days, creativity is a hot commodity. Hence the utter lack of imagination and originality emanating from the masses.
VIII. WVU FAN SAYS: NOTRE DAME FAN EATS PITT'S SHIT
How about a third party perspective? Many of us prefer alternative frames of reference. Why must football rivalries solely offer a binary choice?
Mason and I once hit two nationally televised NCAA Division I games in the same day. It's a feat I expect few have accomplished. One that few would dare to attempt. One that few would care to attempt. The proximity of Pittsburgh and Morgantown made the logistics feasible.
9-24-11, Pitt vs. Notre Dame, and later that night, LSU vs. WVU.
As a Mountaineer fan, I naturally possess some ill will toward the Panthers. But it's my hatred of Notre Dame that supersedes everything. Trump, ISIS, North Korea, et al.
IX. THIS BAND SUCKS! BUT I STILL WANT A FREE TICKET
If you're incapable of understanding the rationale for this sign, that's okay. It can only apply to a Primus concert. I doubt the world would be a better place, if a greater number of its inhabitants appreciated the genius of Les Claypool. Surely Colonel Claypool would agree.
Long Road --- A dual reference to our 2016 Pittsburgh > Philadelphia excursion. Both the PA turnpike and my song prediction for the opener. Display it in your vehicle.
Score predictions --- Why not offer up the final score... BEFORE the game starts? If you nail it, you'll be regarded as an idiot savant. So if you're not mentally handicapped, it's a win-win.
Alterations --- Rearrange the lettering on signs outside churches, bars, restaurants, etc. The trick is to convey the exact opposite message. If that's too challenging, just go with straight profanity.
Phony garage sale --- The perfect revenge for those you dislike. Post signs everywhere. Schedule it for early Sunday morning. Early birds welcome. Prestigious neighborhood. Everything must go!
I'd rather be at... --- Not everyone wishes to be in attendance for those 90's band reunion tours. Smash Mouth, Collective Soul, Gin Blossoms, and so on.
DINOSUARS ARE 4,000 YEARS OLD --- Take this sign to any Sarah Palin book signing, Southern Baptist convention or maybe even the creationist museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. Note the deliberate misspelling. Piss them off!
Hidden lift up --- Signs with alternating viewpoints. First, it's fun and favorable. Then, it's cunting and contemptible. See NegativeFeedbackLoop.com
The Scarlet Reefer --- Draw a picture of a marijuana leaf. No words necessary. A subliminal signal to all that you'd be willing to partake. Pass the grass, please.
LOSER --- One of the best first set Dead tunes. These days, self-deprecation is a quality that's sorely lacking. Few will understand that you are anything but a loser.
Food and beverage --- Let people know what you're eating and drinking. What's on the menu for the father-son gay pride parade? Hot dogs and Zima. Go figure!
The Third Commandment --- Thou shalt eat
Much has been written about what we eat. By comparison, little has been written about how we eat. It was the words of 500 lb. telemarketing guru Anna Ashby. "Leave me alone, I'm eatin'." Words that resonate in our hearts and minds, and to a greater extent, the collective gunt of a nation.
I. Allman Brothers, Starlake Amphitheater, Burgettstown, PA. August 21, 1994
While grilling out in the parking lot, Withered Wife Beater suddenly became frantic. "Saf, you seen my dogs?"
"Huh?," I replied?
"My dogs!" he howled. "You seen my dogs?"
He dug through the cooler and retrieved a small plastic zip lock bag. Inside were two wieners. Written in black sharpie, it was clearly marked "Ken's Dogs."
"Never mind. I found 'em."
Keep in mind, this was nearly 5 years before one-hit wonders, The Baha Men stormed the Maury Povich set with a funkified version of "Who Let the Dogs Out." Much to the delight of squeaky, bald child with rapid aging syndrome.
I got home late that night. Removed my socks and sneakers. Whew! My dogs were barkin'.
II. Phish, Starlake Amphitheatre, Burgettstown, PA. August 13, 1997
The night before the concert, I prepped a battalion of chicken shish kabobs. Plump Perdue poultry skewered alongside an array of multi-colored peppers. Red, yellow, orange and green. White button mushrooms. Intertwined with cherry tomatoes and purple onion. All the colors of the rainbow. These were more than kabobs. They were the appetizer equivalent of a Mardi Gras gay pride parade.
A random passer-byer even inquired, "How much?" I replied, "Oh, I slaved all yesterday in the kitchen. These bobs ain't for sale."
Enter a woman named Jody. For some odd reason, I've encountered many Jodies. So many, that they each required a distinctive nickname. What started as Jebediah Jody, a tribute to Jebediah Springfield who once tamed a vicious land cow, quickly descended into Primary Jody, Secondary Jody, Tertiary Jody and so on. But this was the original Jebediah Jody. Pale and lean, with black curls and bold glasses.
While distracted by meaningless banter, she grabbed the cajun seasoning. Unbeknownst to me, she commandeered the grill and proceeded to saturate the innocent kabobs with a torrential sprinkling of salted flavoring. She expended the whole fucking container.
In one fell swoop, she decimated our entire tailgating experience. My kabobs were destroyed. Entirely inedible. To this day, I equate the experience with an episode of Cheers. One where a woman resembling the Morton Salt Girl fell in love with Norm. She even serenaded him with a determined version of Seasons in the Sun. We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.
On that fateful day, Jody lost her heralded status of Jebediah Jody. She became the Anti-Morton Salt Girl.
III. If you eat, you will shit.
Having been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I've had to deal with intestinal flare ups from time to time. I can personally vouch for the moments when one's bowels seem to take on a life of their own. To all those people who proclaim, "Get yer head outta yer ass!" To them I say, "If only I could. I would stick my head in my ass. And try to reason with it." But sometimes, there is no rational explanation. Hey, if you gotta take a shit, you gotta take a shit.
But at a rock concert? No fucking way. At least, not a conventional dump. For I require certain things. First and foremost, port-a-jons are not a viable option. I'm the one who's taking a shit. I don't wish to have visual contact with the shit of others. Second, I prefer a certain degree of privacy. No weirdos jangling the door. I refuse to be surrounded by others engaged in their personal potty rituals. Listening to the incrementally excremental sounds of their bowelish drama.
Solution. At every concert venue, there's a medical treatment area. It usually doubles as a temporary police holding cell, for the drunken, injured and arrested. Go to this location. Ask them for a rolaid or ibuprofen. Their response is wholly irrelevant. Politely thank them. Do not ask for permission to use said restroom. I don't care if the thing is labeled unisex, handicapped, transgendered, whatever. Just go and shit your brains out. Once inside, there's nothing they can do.
IV. Judas Priest, Post Gazette Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA. August 16, 2008
Fortunately I'm not a diabetic. However, I am sympathetic to those afflicted by the disease. The insulin and seizures. The finger pricks and needles. Ugh.
One way to stabilize low blood sugar is through food and beverage. Welcome to the boxed lunch. Most venues offer a prepared meal for those experiencing diabetic complications. I believe it's mandated by state law. On this occasion, there was a stack of boxed lunches. Each one had a roast turkey and cheese sandwich, an apple and miniature bag of chips. Accompanied by your choice of orange juice, bottle of water or soda. Most important, these lunches were free.
So Metal Male and I snagged the entire stack. We briskly exited the medical tent and set up shop by the food vendors. "We got your boxed lunch! Two dollars! Boxed lunch here! Just two bucks!" Hmm, no takers. No sales. After a few minutes, we conceded defeat and headed back into the lawn for some hot rockin'.
I'm reminded of my third grade class at Parkview Elementary. At the beginning of every school day, our teacher Mrs. Ellison would individually ask each child about their lunch plans. It was the same 20 kids every day. There were 4 possible responses.
"Own" --- This meant you brought your own sack lunch.
"Home" --- This meant you were going home for lunch.
"Paid" --- This meant you had 50 cents and were going to pay the cashier for the lunch provided in the school cafeteria.
"Free" --- This meant the government was paying for your lunch.
Each day, it was the same 8 year old girl who mumbled the word "free." She was the only one. Her name was Kim. That's how she approached every school day. Kicking it off with a dose of mindful, forced humiliation.
I'm admittedly not a constitutional scholar. At least, not to the extent of a rifled Sarah Palin, a militant Nugent or a draft dodging Trump dipshit. Yet I do have an appreciation for the Constitution. Particularly the separation of powers. Legislative, executive and judicial. One branch makes the law, another enforces it, and the other interprets it. We can learn a great deal from our founding fathers... as it relates to tailgating as well.
We must separate the food and beverages. That's correct. Separate coolers. One for sustenance. One for alcoholic beverages. And another for non-alcoholic beverages. To refuse compliance here is ultimately self-defeating. Because it's that moment in time, when you crave an ice cold beer and accidentally crack a diet Pepsi. A tragic waste of our precious liquid resources.
VI. Dave Matthews Band, First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA. July 9, 2016
Rarely do we eat inside the venue. Hot dog --- $5.00. Slice of pepperoni pizza --- $5.00. Box of popcorn --- $5.00. What a rip-off. We just don't like the idea of being orally exploited. However, Mason was starving tonight. So she bought four over-sized chicken tenders w/ buffalo dipping sauce for $8.50. She quickly scarfed down two of them.
On her way back to the seats, some college hippie, dancing nancy knocked the box from her hand. The remaining tender vittles fell to the dirty concrete. Mason was dejected but determined. She returned to the food counter and reenacted the tragedy in vivid detail. An older man behind the counter gave her a nonchalant grunt. And proceeded to load her up with a brand new box, doubling the quantity of steroided chicken. That's right. Double the pleasure. Double the fun.
What once was four deep fried, boneless hunks of chicken grew exponentially to eight. So why the unexpectedly generous onslaught of nugs? Likely because they were preparing to close up shop for the night.
There's a lesson to be learned here. If you hit up the food vendors in the waning moments of the night, there's a distinct possibility they'll totally set you up. The alternative option is to throw everything in the trash. Now if you're a George Costanza devotee who routinely eats garbage, say an eclair from the receptacle, it's really not a big deal. But most of us do not wish to cross the line that divides man and bum. Or in Mason's case, woman and bummette.
VII. Annual Wheeling Italian Festival, Wheeling, WV. 1990
One of the biggest yearly events in Wheeltown is the annual Italian Festival. Plenty of freaks and weirdos. A strong contingency of stretch marks, stained shirts and miscellaneous fried stench. Lots of mafia wannabes and carny game swindlers. Tepid Bud Light draft in plastic mugs and Kiss Me, I'm Italian t-shirts. I, for one, bring my own beer and wine. And I, for one, would not advertise a willingness to lock lips at this thing. Let's just say the festival is a bizarre bazaar.
The most popular food item is the famous Sons of Italy sausage on a bun. I've eaten it on a few occasions. It's not that good. However, the meat links are grinded in Bell-Dirty. Take that however you must. Just know that the sausage's origin is a metaphor for the streets of Wheeling. The pavement at the wop hop is disgusting. Piss, cigarette ashes, vomit, cum and liquid excrement. The asphalt is pure, unadulterated filth.
Like any street fair offering street fare, there's always a Chinese stand. Egg rolls, vegetable lo mein and the much revered, chicken-on-a-stick. It's just something about that neon colored glaze. If you're in the mood for cheapo boneless, flavorful chicken, it's easily the best option. No mess and it's easy to walk and talk.
I purchased one. Seconds later, it fell out of my hand. Onto the ground. I hadn't even taken a bite. Some wiseguy saw me drop it. In an artificially generated Chinese voice, he smirked, "No refund!" He even laughed like they do on U.S.A. Network's Kung Fu Theater.
But I had a bigger decision to make. What do I do? I knelt down. For some reason, I pretended to consider tying my shoe. Then, in a swift and sudden motion, I grabbed the chicken stick, bolted upright and briskly walked off. I overheard this girl in the background yell, "Oh no, gross! He's gonna eat it!"
VIII. Shameless Plug
My buddy Phil Jack and his wife own a restaurant. Best grub in town. Avenue Eats, 1201 Valley View Avenue, Wheeling, WV
IX. Halloween Candy, late 70's > early 80's.
As a child, I used to go trick or treating. It was a pretty safe neighborhood. Sometimes an adult would tag along. Other times, we'd run amok.
There was a little old lady who'd hand out a mix of circus peanuts and candy corn. She'd reach into this bucket featuring a picture of Conde Contar with the inscription "I vant to suck your blood." Of course there was no wrapping whatsoever. Just a generous handful scooping of the crappiest candy known to man. It would quickly filter to the bottom of the bag. Sometimes it would stick together. We referred to this as "clumpy."
I'm certain she's dead, but to this very day, candy woman angers me. Even more so than dime woman, popcorn ball woman and religious pamphlet woman.
X. Fast food
I thought I'd share my Top 5 fast food restaurants. Places you can go and eat lunch for less than five bucks. In no particular order.
Steak'n'Shake --- I often tell random people that Steak 'n Shake is headquartered in Danville, Illinois. Even though I know for certain their corporate headquarters is located in Indianapolis, Indiana. I know it's an irrelevant lie. But what's the compulsion? Why must I continue to spread this one specific lie? I have absolutely no idea. Might consider counseling.
Popeye's --- Whenever I'm asked my thoughts on Popeye's, I tell people verbatim "it's definitely one of the better fast food chains. Really strong fried chicken." This is a total fabrication. Another lie. I've never set foot in a Popeye's restaurant. Although I have a strong hunch I'd like it.
Taco Bell --- My friend Tan wrestler would hit the register and order something for carryout. He'd get the bag, walk over to the condiment station and dump all of the hot sauce into the to-go bag. Not 2 or 3 packets, I'm talkin' a hundred packets of hot sauce. When he was trying to make weight, he'd suck on multiple packets of Taco Bell hot sauce. It was the only thing he ate.
Wendy's --- My ex girlfriend, Can I Get A Witness, consistently orders a baked potato and small chili. She claims it's the cheapest, healthiest option in the entire fast food industry. I have no reason to doubt her wisdom.
Arby's --- When Saffy says, "Feels like an Arby's night," the correct response is, "Yeah, that's right. High five!"
The Fourth Commandment --- Thou shalt drink
I. My friend and former classmate Olga Watkins is a multi-talented character and personality. And much like myself, has made the transition from Wheeling to Pittsburgh. That's West Virginia to Pennsylvania. Some call it the hillbilly to townie border transformation. Others reference it as the cornhole to beanbag toss.
Olga created one of the newer Pittsburgh fight songs --- Drink Up Yinz Bitches. It has this soulfully Irish, enduring quality. I'd rank it somewhere ahead of the Wiz Khalifa redundant "Black and Yellow" and somewhere behind the 70's Steelers polka anthem. By the way, the most overlooked, underrated Steelers song is the hastily concocted, Myron Cope fortified, Macarena spin-off.
Jerome Bettis, Jerome Bettis
He is surely the real thing
He ain't no head of lettuce
Pee Wee Pegram, Pee Wee Pegram
Give the ball to Pee Wee
Opponents hide in tee pee.
Give the ball to Pee Wee
Opponents gonna wee wee.
Yoi, Steeler Mania.
II. During many of our trips to Heinz Field, we stash a small cooler directly behind The Immaculate Reception monument on West General Robinson Street. For many, this represents hallowed ground. For us, the surrounding shrubs provide excellent coverage. I always wonder about the day some moron calls in a suspicious, hidden package alert. And the overzealous Pittsburgh bomb squad rolls out the explosive ordinance disposal robot. Kaboom! Removal of Confederate military statues is all the rage these days. But how about professional athletes who used steroids? Or multi-billionaire owners guilty of racketeering and tax evasion? Just take a look around. There's plenty of sporty statues in the public domain.
So take a gander behind Franco. On game day, you'll discover a wide variety of goodies. Kind of like a crappy yinzer, fixed point scavenger hunt. How about a 6 pack of Mango I.C. Light bottles? Sickening. Maybe a discarded terrible towel utilized for a discreet Gold Lot ass wiping? Unsettling, but effective. Hey, you might even find a half drunken bottle of Jagermeister. I'll gladly take a swig. Rest assured, there's always something of nominal interest.
One time, we spotted a soft sided cooler. Similar to our own. We peered inside and saw 4 Coors Lights. Well, our cooler had 4 Miller Lights. Oddly enough, we prefer Nazi beer to Nascar beer. So we made the switch. I've always wondered about the looks of bewilderment when they went to retrieve their cooler. Moral of the story: if the opportunity ever presents itself for an "even Steven" beer trade off, just do it. What the hell, the Nike Board of Directors would be oh so proud.
III. May I make a tailgating suggestion? Please don't start whining. Hear me out.
Prepare your wine beforehand. Uncork it. Uncap it. Debox it. Whatever the case, pour your fermented grape juice into a plastic water bottle. I recommend Aquafina.
As far as the traditional cheapo wines go, I prefer Rex Goliath Free Range Red or 19 Crimes Red Blend. Ninety percent of all wine sold hovers around the ten buck range. So why buck the trend?
No more spillage. No more hoity-toity wine glasses. This new and improved wine tote is indestructable. It functions perfectly and proactively. Amidst vomitoriums and drunken frat parties. Battle royals, active war zones, and yes, human stampedes.
I learned the harsh reality of "wine fallout" from a fellow limo driver. His crew was a prestigious law firm. They were celebrating a West Virginian, class action asbestos triumph. On their way to Morton's Steakhouse in Pittsburgh for some upscale prime rib. Now everyone knows the downhill portion of the parkway from the top of Green Tree hill. It was the slightest stop, resulting in the slightest slide. Wine spilled everywhere. On their suits, on their shirts and blouses, and in their laps.
Now would Mr. Wonderful's secret society of wine snobs, the Chevaliers du Tastevin, be willing to comply with my synthetic directive? I'm not so sure. They seem dependent on those forbidden chalices. As if they were drinking the blood of their first born. Perhaps I'll engage the Confrerie.
IV. In 2004, I purchased my first home. Naturally, I threw a house warming party. Even though I stock a full bar, I don't care for the notion of playing bartender all night long. Especially when the partygoers are finicky about cocktail brands and such. Such behavior bothers me. I prefer the Shawshank equivalent. You drink what I say you drink. You eat when I say you eat. You piss when I say you piss. And shit, and so on.
However, I do like the concept of a house beverage. Preferably dispensed from a large glass pitcher.
So I created my own unique beverage and termed it "The Drink of Excitement." Rest assured, it'll get you plenty fucked up. Some might wig out. In actuality, it's a fag hag, girlie drink. Kind of a carbonated champagne coolie on steroids. Never use expensive vodka like Goose. It's just a waste of money as the mixers tend to overpower any premium liquor. I usually recommend Smirnoff. If you're feeling a tad more adventuresome, Stolichnaya. We call it Holy Stoly. Hey, Russians know a thing or two about vodka. Under no circumstance whatsoever should you buy any of the nonsensical, pre-flavored vodkas. Not only do I hate them, I hate the people who purchase them. I hate how they've overtaken valuable shelf-space. I deplore the celebratory flavors, like whipped cream and birthday cake. I despise the juicy flavors, like raspberry and grape. I loathe the caramel, coconut and marshmallow. I just want these sorority girls to die. Nothing overly cruel or excessive. Sliding down a razor banister would suffice.
Oh yeah, the ingredients.
1 part vodka
1 part Verdi Spumante (a sweet, sparkling white wine/champale-oriented substitute)
1 part Pomengranate Izze
1 part Grapefruit Izze
optional --- 1 small 6 oz. can of Dole pineapple juice.
fresh lime juice to taste
Note: This drink produces feelings of euphoria and can have significant hormonal consequence, potentially resulting in unprotected sex... and occasionally fertilization. It also mixes well with MDMA, more commonly referred to as the street drug ecstasy. It is the Uncle Dunkle equivalent of Swampwater.
V. Dunkle and I hit up the 2000 Pearl Jam show at Starlake. We acquired our traditional parking spot next to the main gate. I call it park and re-park. A variation on the fake exit.
A contingency of brand ambassadors or promo fucks were stationed nearby. Is it just me, or has everyone fallen in love with these new employment designations? Wellness coordinator, benevolent administrator, and so on. It never ends. Whatever you call them, these kids had a giant, dumpster sized bin of ice cold Citra. For those unfamiliar, Citra was a discontinued Coca Cola beverage. It achieved limited popularity in the late 90's. Citra was refreshingly similar to Fresca, with a little more emphasis on the lemon and lime twist, a little less on the grapefruit angle.
Much like Sidra's breasts in a 1993 Seinfeld episode, I can assure you, this Citra story is real. And it's spectacular.
Over the course of the next two hours, we thieved roughly 250 individual cans of Citra. The Citra flowed from their mega-dumpster contraption to the trunk of my '88 Maxima. At the end of the night, exiting the lot, the car was notably weighed down. The excess pop did some minor damage to my car's suspension. But was it worth it? Uh, that's an affirmative.
So what did I do with all that Citra? Well, I gave it away. A six pack at a time. Despite conventional wisdom, a bottle of wine does not make a superior hostess gift. But with two critical exceptions: a bordeaux. Robust, bold, very dry. Or a beaujolais, which is richer and fruitier.
You telling me that wine is better than Citra? Huh (snort), no way wine is better than Citra.
Upon reflection, maybe this Citra story wasn't as spectacular as I originally led you to believe.
VI. Some things just don't mix. Among them, milk and meat. I have exceptionally strong views about this guiding kosher principle. And if people have the chutzpah to question my steadfast adherence, I will indubitably reply, "Fuck you, I'm devout as all get out."
Thou shalt not boil a goat in its mother's milk. Do you really need to ask why? Because it would be baaad. This is consistent with strict Jewish dietary laws. The same principle extends to pig and pork, cow and cud, sheep, mutt and mutton.
In keeping with this tenet, I believe it imprudent to place food and beverages in the same cooler. It just never works. Someone's zip-locked Italian hoagie always gets filled with water. That dollar store potato chip clip proves woefully ineffective. The Cheetos, soggified. The Funyons? Not as much fun, eh? I call this doctrine separate but equal. Different shit requires different coolers. This way, all your drinks and foodstuffs are guaranteed equal protection under the tailgater's guide to the galaxy.
VII. There exists a secret cure for heartburn. Flick a little bit of cigarette ash in your beer and take a swig. Never tried it with pot ash, not potash. I know this sounds crazy, but it works instantly. I don't know if it's the potassium or phosphates, sodium or sulphates, calcium, chlorine or magnesium. I just know it works. It's the ideal answer for when you're camping or tailgating and nary a single Rolaid is available.
I wouldn't recommend this over traditional antacids. For example, Tums is decent. Just an aside, if the sharp pain originates from your heart, why not call the product Hearts? Heartburn hits you in the chest and sternum. Not in the tum.
VIII. The Eagles, Starlake Amphitheater, Burgettstown, PA. August 16, 1994
I stared emptily at my over-priced Miller Light draft and thought to myself... there has to be a better way. So I took matters into my own hands. I approached the young, freckled ginger kid behind the stand-alone beer kiosk.
"Hey man, I just bought a full beer. I was minding my own business when this cop came flying outta nowhere. Knocked me over. My beer went flying. I think he was chasing after some kid smoking a joint."
I was confident but exasperated. Convincing but deferential. As I elevated the empty cup toward his tap, "Anyway, whaddya say?"
Nerdlinger replied, "Well, you'll have to get the cop to come here and vouch for what happened. I can't just give away free beer."
I shrugged a look of disapproval, rolled my eyes and walked away. How could that not have worked? I mean, my delivery was spot-on.
So I tried it again... at a different beer concession stand. But this time it worked! Flawlessly. With each sip of crappy beer, my confidence grew. After the initial setback, I would succeed on five distinct occasions. On the last trip, I didn't feel like going through the motions. I looked at the young lady behind the counter, "I can't believe this. I just lost my money clip." She didn't say a word. She just grabbed the cup and filled it up.
On the drive home, I regaled everyone with this epic tale of alcoholic lore. I stammered, "This beer drinking strategy really deserves a name of its own." Alex the Great methodically replied, "I can name that tune in 2 words --- Beer Me."
IX. Back in 1990, my buddy Quark's father bought a bar in South Wheeling. The old PeePek's. As if that name wasn't bad enough, they opted for a relaunch and christened it "Crummy's." A spin-off of "Crumrine," his financial partner's last name. Well, the name turned out to be a harbinger of things to come. While the building itself was pretty impressive, the clientele left a lot to be desired.
Many of its patrons came from the neighboring businesses. Let's see, there was a USA Video, a Rent-a-Center, a gas station and some random Hill's department store employees.
But the regulars mostly consisted of the Wendy's crew from across the street. Gripping tales would follow. Some kid spilled his Frosty. This weirdo keeps picking his nose in the drive-thru. It's the same guy who complains that his french fries are cold. You always give him more fries. Well, I've had it with his lying bullshit!
A gaunt employee nicknamed "Birdie" would demonstrate her inebriated belligerence and emotional frustration by... yep, you guessed it... dancing on tables. The crowd would beg for her to come down but she'd remain defiant. This was a recurring theme. "Uh oh, Birdie's at it again! Birdie, please come down. Please!" Others would object, "She just wants attention. Leave her alone. She'll get tired and come down on her own."
A female prostitute, half hag, half barfly, would frequently eye me up. "Eric, you look pretty sexy in those cut-off jean shorts." Trust me, I was not sexy and the shorts were not a good look. Her moustached, bisexual pimp resembled a blond Ron Swanson from the NBC Parks and Rec sitcom. The two of them, as a functioning duo, really irked me.
A recycled song on the jukebox would play. Constantly. Over and over. Faith No More's ironically named "Epic." What is it? It's it. What is it?
I'll never forget this one night. Closing time. One last call for alcohol. But this bearded old scumbag wouldn't leave the bar. He kept insisting on one final drink. Quark refused to serve him. They countered back and forth, again and again. The disheveled greaseball finally managed to strike a deal. "If I eat this rocks glass, will you gimme me a shot of Jack." I was slightly afraid. Quark was slightly amused. "Okay, it's a deal." Greaser picked up the glass and took a bite. The flimsy glass somehow cracked as this idiot chomped away. Repeatedly grinding his teeth into the silicon chunks. I'll never forget the sound. No visible bleeding, but when I saw him actually swallow, it left me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
Well, he didn't eat the entire glass. He took 3 bites. Maybe about 20% or so. Fortunately, that was enough for Quark. He poured up a shot of whiskey, on the house. The freak washed down the remainder of residual glass bits, calmly got up, and without saying a word, exited the bar.
X. Drinking games
I'll confess, I used to play drinking games. Beer pong and beer bongs. Quarters and shotguns. Been there, done that.
At age 47, approaching the half century mark, I've simmered down a bit. These days, when people ask me, "Saf, you wanna play a drinking game?" My verbatim response, "No. Because when I drink, it's not a game."
The Fifth Commandment --- Thou shalt lie
If I'm going to have any credibility whatsoever, it would seem wise to confront some of my inner demons.
I. My first memorable experience with lying happened when I was 7 or 8. It was a little white lie, from a childish perspective.
Just before I went to bed, my father asked me if I had brushed my teeth. I replied, "yeah" or something to that effect.
Well, dad was a bit of a cynic. He replied, "Are you sure you brushed your teeth?" Again, I responded in the affirmative.
So dad went to the bathroom and retrieved my toothbrush. He turned on the bedroom light and showed it to me. "This is your toothbrush, right?"
He inquired with sneering disapproval, "Well, why isn't the toothbrush wet? Did you dry it off? Also, why was the sink totally dry?"
Long story short, I got out of bed and brushed my teeth.
But I had been caught red-handed in a lie. Hardly WMD or Christopher Columbus "discovering" America, but still, I learned an important lesson. Words have consequences. I still feel a hint of shame. For being orally unclean. Still, better than anally unclean, I suppose.
II. In fourth grade at Woodsdale Elementary, we walked in linear formation, heading for the lunch cafeteria. I spotted a quarter rolling down the thinly carpeted hallway. Naturally, I stepped on it, snatched it up and quickly threw it in my pocket.
The boy who'd lost the quarter? He broke from the line and started interrogating everyone in sight. E-gad, the coinage belonged to my grade school arch nemesis, Herman Clements.
A girl named Heidi, whom I referred to as Heidi Go Seek Land, reluctantly confessed to a teacher. She saw me pick up "something" off the floor. I was totally busted. Two teachers escorted both Herman and me to the principal's office. The shit was about to go down.
Our principal Mrs. Sherrick was a bouffant, red-headed disciplinarian. She kinda resembled Mrs. Garrett from the Facts of Life sitcom. And later on, Edna's Edibles. Anyway, Charlotte Rae told me to empty my pockets and see if there was a quarter. She pointed to a wooden paddle on the wall and subtly implied that I might be a future recipient.
I needed to figure out a solution, a game plan... and fast.
I complied with her demand, but as I produced the 25 cent denomination, I flashed everyone this mesmerized look of confusion and dismay.
"Oh wow, I thought it was a nickel."
I then cleverly added, "Didn't we just have an assembly where you specifically told everyone NOT to bring money to school?"
I thought I had exposed her hypocrisy. Needless to say, she didn't appreciate the fiscal, observational inconsistency.
So how did it all unfold? Well, I hate to end on an anti-climactic note. But I simply apologized, handed him the quarter and they made us shake hands. We begrudgingly complied.
I haven't seen him in decades. Not to sound cheezy... but to this day, I still don't like Herman Munster.
III. Still in fourth grade, I was capitvated by televangelists. Watching them heal the masses was utterly mind-blowing. This person was totally deaf since birth and now he's identifying Jesus, "Bay-bay, bay-bay, bay-bee... baby." Random strangers, totally cured from blindness. Now they could see the light!
Their antics physically blew me away. I was enthralled but a little suspicious. I vaguely remember telling my father, a dermatologist, that he should consider hiring one of these faith healers to assist patients with psoriasis and eczema. I didn't know how to spell these skin ailments, but I knew what they were about, occasionally having leafed through some really disgusting medical magazines lying around the house (JAMA, Cutis, etc.). Mostly looking for pictures of afflicted female genitalia.
Dad let me know, in no uncertain terms, that these larger than life tv personalities were complete frauds, scam artists. Pure scum who play on the deepest fears of naive imbeciles. "Rick, they do it solely for money. It's a shame the government doesn't throw them all in jail. It's really where they belong."
I thought to myself, what if I turned the tables on 'em? What if I could beat them at their own game?
So I devised a sinister plan. I initiated my first letter-writing campaign. I explained how I was very ill and in desperate need of a kidney transplant. But the hospital was demanding $1,000. If they would be so kind as to front me the money, I would pay them back 10x the amount. They would be the ones receiving a 10 fold "seed blessing." Also, I needed extra money to help mom and dad pay the bills. For some odd reason, I felt compelled to throw that in. Likely after hearing my father complain about a steep winter gas bill.
All of a sudden, I was the one getting mail. I was ecstatic. In our family of five, nobody ever sent me shit. And now, I was getting stacks, well not stacks, but certainly a few letters per week. Peter Popoff, Ernest Angley, Morris Cerullo --- these were my new heroes. Hard to believe these guys are still among the living. A year later, they'd be displaced by an array of professional wrestlers.
Well, none of them ever sent me any money. But they did send me all kinds of knickknacks. I'd savor the opening of every envelope because I knew there'd be a prize or some trinket. A packet of Hardee's iodized salt, straight from the Dead Sea. A squeezie thing of honey, symbolizing the sweetness of life and the glory of God. Crosses, prayer flags, and of course, my most prized possession to this day, a miniature plastic vial of holy water.
I've always thought the MC Hammer song "You've Got to Pray Just to Make it Today" was totally underrated.
IV. I can't recall any significant lies until I was in high school. My part-time job at Wheeling Park (cleaning, setting up tables and chairs, etc.) eventually morphed into me being a dee-jay for the weekly park dances. I would spin records downstairs, while the local WOMP personality would play tunes in the much larger, upstairs ballroom. Still, it was a position of tremendous authority and influence. Whenever I spun records, I could alter the mood and tempo of the crowd. Of my most memorable transitions, Prince's "Kiss" into Banarama's "Venus," eliciting shrieks of delight from the dance floor. There was also a pretty bad ass lighting display at my disposal. Not to mention, a disco ball for the illicit couples dance at the end of the night (my patented choice --- Motley Crue's Home Sweet Home). The teenagers, with their raging hormones, teased hair, indoor leg-warming mid-80's garb. I had them all in the palm of my hand.
One day, I noticed a discarded envelope. I can't recall its content, but it had the official WOMP-FM stationary with the radio station logo, letterhead, mailing address, etc.
All of a sudden, an idea popped in my head. What if I impersonated their program director, a guy whose name I distinctly remember as Bob Forester? I could use the Xerox machine in my father's office to mass produce a form letter. At the downtown Ohio Public Library, I compiled a list of every record company straight outta Billboard magazine. I even purchased a P.O. Box from the Elm Grove postal branch within easy walking distance from my home. After all, if I had the records sent to my house, it could arouse suspicion.
So I wrote an impassioned request for promotional records, intended to be "giveaways" at the weekly park dances. A week or so passed. And the records began to arrive. My 1980's phishing scam was producing tangible results.
But soon after, the radio station was notified of suspicious activity. Then, my parents got a call from the Wheeling Police Department. They were investigating allegations of mail fraud. "State of Shock," the popular collaboration of Michael Jackson and Mick Jagger, was an apt description. My mother was horrified. My father, totally disgusted. In retrospect, can't say I blame 'em.
Considering that no real damage had been done, I was ordered to write letters of apology. Ironically, it would necessitate another trip to my dad's office. Oh well, back to the Xerox machine. I distinctly remember a response letter from a California record label. The owner had taken the time to write me back. This time, it would be him doing the labeling. He referred to me as a "piece of shit" and a "detriment to the music industry, as well as the human race." Can't say I blame him. After all, identity theft is both a lie and a crime.
V. Reflecting back, I think my popularity peaked in 4th and 5th grade. Back then, I led the way. I was a leader. A superstar. But after that, things pretty much went downhill. I didn't fare particularly well in high school. Over-bullied and under-sexed. In retrospect, I was spirited and engaging, but at the same time, neurotically annoying. Short sighted, near sighted, but still to some degree, a visionary. This paradoxical behavior resulted in me lashing out. In ways most unconventional, i.e., stealing automobiles. Yep, 2 counts of grand larceny which eventually got pled down to 2 counts of "extended joyriding," 60 hours of community service and probation 'til I turned 18. Very fortunate to get off with just a slap on the wrist. In the words of anti-Kip Winger, "He's only seventeen."
I'll start from the beginning. One evening, a car load of five high school idiots were out on the prowl. In those days, we'd pretty much just drive around, in search of who knows what. Driving a 5 mile loop, back and forth on National Road and I-70. Hitting up DiCarlo's Pizza, Hardees and the occasional cemetery where we'd split a lukewarm 6 pack of cheap beer and a fifth of Southern Comfort.
A buddy of mine wanted to show us the brand new Volkswagen Fox. His father was buying him a car. So we went to the local dealership near Triadelphia. It was dark and cold, close to 10 o'clock. For some reason, my friend tested the door handle... and the car door opened. Even more unbelievable, there was a dinging noise. The key was in the ignition! You gotta be kidding me.
After zero deliberation, we all jumped in the car. He pressed the clutch, turned the key and the engine rumbled. Hoopin' and a hollerin', we tested all the amenities. Honking the horn, flashing the brights, spraying windshield wiper fluid, the works. Minutes later, we were on a joyride out Dement Road. Seemed like the place to be. As the whole experience was downright demented.
My buddy followed us in his car. After about 10 minutes or so, we pulled over and left the car on the side of a country road. Laughing and basking in the glow of our collective victory, we took a solemn oath. To keep what transpired that night a secret.
But the following day we ventured back. And there was a police man standing next to the car. So we just put our heads down and kept on driving.
But it didn't end there. My buddy and I started sneaking out in the middle of the night. Our mission: find more dealership cars with keys in them. And over the next couple weeks, we succeeded. Twice. Both brand new, too. Another Volkswagen from the same dealership and a 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais from the Bob Robinson dealership at the bottom of Oglebay hill. So we had possession of two vehicles but didn't know where to stash them. We settled on the outdoor Wheeling Hospital parking lot. Seemed like a wise place, as it was free, with constant cars coming and going.
We'd occasionally drive by to check on them. Totally covered in snow, both cars would stick out like sore thumbs. But what if they were under surveillance? We decided the best course of action would be to just let them sit there indefinitely.
A month later, we made the mistake of entrusting an older classmate. He ratted us out faster than a breeding mullet.
VI. In 1996, at the age of 26, I decided to run for political office. The position of magistrate in Ohio County, WV was the equivalent of a lower level court judge. If elected, my solemn job would be to pronounce verdicts for misdemeanor crimes like shoplifting, domestic violence, DUI's, etc.
In the state of West Virginia, the requirements for magistrate weren't particularly stringent. 18 years of age. Check. Reside in the county. Check. High School diploma. As a matter of fact, yes. I was a proud graduate of Wheeling Park High School. After having completed a "Basic English" summer school class. Don't ask, but yeah, check.
However, I needed to bolster my qualifications. So I constructed a letter to the public, outlining my qualifications and explaining the rationale for my desire to serve the public. As you might expect, for the most part, it was sheer political dribble. Oh the yearning, oh the passion that filled the corner of my left ventricle. It was difficult to put into words. I ached to serve the community and bring the guilty to justice. Dispensing punishment to the amalgamation of dirtheads and shitbags who routinely visit magistrate court.
Believe it or not, none of the four current magistrates had a law degree. I, on the other hand, had a Business/Marketing degree from West Liberty State College. Not a huge deal, but it was a start. Still, I needed something more. So I described how I had attended roughly 100 sessions of magistrate court. This was an outright falsehood. Truth be told, I went to 3 or 4. Reflecting back, if I were an impartial voter and I had read that line, I would have probably thought... who the fuck is this dumb ass loser hanging out around the court room all day? What is he? Some kind of aspiring magisterial groupie? Doesn't he have anything better to do?
A slightly amusing anecdote. One of the magistrates was a crusty old man named Jack Rothbart. He lived a couple blocks away, in a cement home, adjacent to the Wheeling Park golf course. This one time, my dog Tippy was taking a dump on his lawn. He saw me through his kitchen window and started banging on the glass. He didn't open the window or step out onto his porch. He didn't yell at me. Just repeatedly slapped the glass. I admired his rage, and at the same time, his restraint. In reality, these were the actions and behavior of a true judge.
Surely you're wondering if the good citizens elected me. Did I achieve the rank of nobility? Uh, that's a negative. Nine people ran and I needed to place in the top four. I came in a close sixth. And my political career fizzled like a punctured can of Jolt Cola, or as we say, pop.
VII. In 2005, I became enamored with calling the 800 numbers of various customer relations departments. I'd usually target expensive grocery items and register a complaint. It's hard to fathom some of the stuff I'd come up with. The toilet paper - it's just not as soft as it used to be. There's a spider in my Raisin Bran, damn-it! The companies responded with freebies, rebates, even checks. I remember one time complaining about a case of "dented" beer. The next day, a case of Budweiser cans, was sitting on my doorstep. Obviously, Anheuser Busch reps had called the local distributor and informed them of a dissatisfied drunkard. Hmm, free case of beer! Not bad. I knew I was onto something.
My discount journey came to an abrupt end when a Claussen representative showed up at my door. He wanted to inspect a jar of pickles which had a "rusty nail in it." Needless to say, I shouted, "leave me alone" and went upstairs, turned off the lights and closed the blinds. He knocked a few more times but eventually gave up.
I peaked out the window as he left. Hmm, Illinois plates. Poor bastard must have drove all the way from their corporate headquarters in Chicago. Eight hours southeast, eight hours northwest.
The Seventh Commandment --- Thou shalt listen then speak
I think jury duty gets a bad wrap. Seriously, sometimes peoples lives hang in the balance. You really can't get much more dramatic than that. Maybe Maury Povich paternity testing. Especially when the woman's on the cusp of an eighth or ninth visit. Let's be honest. I know there are a lot of fuck monsters out there. But how can any women let 20 different dicks inside of her in less than a couple weeks? That's just getting plain weird. Maybe if you're a porn star or prostitute. I digress.
In 2005, I was summoned for jury duty. The charges filed were breaking and entering and first degree burglary. A man's freedom was at stake.
Vercelotti's Trading Post in Dallas Pike was the victim. Nowadays, it's called the Cherokee Trading Post. If you're some random traveler on I-70, the new name makes a little more sense. This place sells all the usual trinkets and souvenirs. Mountaintop removal mining snow globes. Scratch off lottery tickets as far as the eye can see. And roughly a hundred different brands of sensual beef jerky and miscellaneous, salted, cured meats.
I won't bother with an extensive recanting of the case. Basically, the cops responded to an alarm and found this guy hiding in the corner of the store. However, during the trial, new details emerged of how there were two additional culprits apprehended. They had chosen to be tried separately.
Our jury was comprised of twelve individuals. I can't recall the exact makeup but it seemed like a fair representation of Ohio County, West Virginia.
I'll cut to the chase. When we went to convene, the vote total was 11 in favor of conviction and 1 opposed. As you may have expected, I was the minority vote.
During our deliberation, the lead juror plainly asked, "What more evidence do you need? They found him inside the store at 4 am. He's guilty!" Everyone concurred.
I countered, "Absolutely. I agree. He's guilty of something. But the prosecutor charged him with the wrong crime! He charged the guy with breaking... AND entering. How can we be certain if he did the actual "breaking" part? There were two other thieves. During the trial, no evidence was presented that he was guilty of the "breaking." You cannot convict him for a crime he may have not committed. This might sound like an exaggeration, but if someone commits murder you can't just willy nilly throw in a charge of tax evasion.
I surveyed all the expressions. They were coming around.
A minute later, we took another vote. 12-0 in favor of a unanimous acquittal.
I had listened to the arguments and weighed the evidence. Then, I presented my case. This is what democracy looks like. This is how things are supposed to work.
As I drove home, I saw the defendant hitchhiking next to a downtown interstate on-ramp. Evidence that he was indeed a free man. I declined the opportunity to pick him up. When I glanced in my rear view mirror, he turned and gave me this "why didn't you give me a ride look of utter disgust." In truth, I was hoping he'd flip me off. It would have made this story so much more compelling.
Eighth Commandment --- Thou shalt think then act
The Ninth Commandment --- Thou shalt be different
Breaking News: Anyone can look different. Anyone can dye their hair blue or braid a goatee. Mutton chops and afros are especially bold. Or is a miniaturized mohawk to your liking? Personally, I prefer the male bowl cut. Not on me necessarily. It's really about the uniformity aspect. I figure the greater number of people who resemble a complete stooge, the more it makes me look better.
I often remind people how it's always a numbers game. Rankings and percentages are the sum and substance... of everything.
What about those mega ear-lobe discs? This entire gauge industry really bothers me. It's even worse when they've been removed and you get these dual saggy hanging vaginal replicas. People just aren't normal anymore. Everyone has to be different at all costs. Why? Because they all need to feel special. And the easiest way to achieve that? Clip a pair of dangling hemostats from your loop nose ring. The endless juggernaut of neck tattoos is ample cause for concern. And oh yeah, implant a couple horn nubs in your skull. That speaks volumes. Trending lizard is all the rage.
I think tattoos in general should have a greater purpose.
I propose a self-determined ranking of your own personal qualities. A series of 7 visible numbers, displayed on your inner forearm. On a scale of 1-9. Because if it was a scale of 1-10, people would ink the following binary feeble-mindedness. 10-10-10-10-10-10-10.
Seriously, I think the concept has merit. It would require tremendous introspective courage.
So how about it? How about a tattoo that truly means something? I'm thinking the opposite of the seven deadly sins. They're often referred to as heavenly virtues or theological virtues.
1. Chastity --- That's right. You start off with a bang. Sexual conduct and promiscuity. Boom! This one's an eye grabber. Because if you're a 9, people will automatically assume you're either a slut-infused cum dumpster or a barbed wire bicepped, venereal gigolo. That's what reels 'em in. There's your hook.
2. Temperance --- Moderation, the ability to practice self control
3. Charity --- Generosity, self-sacrifice
4. Diligence --- Work ethic
5. Patience --- Forgiveness, mercy, etc.
6. Kindness --- Compassion, empathy, etc.
7. Humility --- Modesty and humbleness
I've given this some thought. My tattoo: 4-5-5-2-4-6-7
January 26, 2002: On a trip to Snowshoe (a high end ski resort buried atop central West Virginia), what began as a spirited dialogue about the motivation of the 9/11 perpetrators, gradually descended into a personal abyss.
So what were the factors that compelled human beings to hijack planes and commit acts of martyrdom? What was their motivation? That was the crux of the discussion. Well, the conversation came my way and I went off, "The problem is that people aren't normal anymore. Even in this room, there are people who just... aren't... normal.
Well, that got everyone's drunken attention.
They all chimed in:
"Saffy, am I normal?"
"What about me, Saf? I need to know so I can report back to my immediate family. They deserve as much."
"Eric, if someone as nonjudgmental as you thinks I'm abnormal... well, then what possible reason could there be for me, not to do the world a huge favor, and just kill myself?"
"Saf, how can I effectively raise my daughter if she thinks I'm a weirdo fuck? If I stay on the current trajectory, then my daughter will be a weirdo fuck, and her kids will be freaks, and so on. We'll all be a giant family of fucking freaks! Saf, I need your help! Help me Saffy. Help, Help me Saffy (to the tune of Help Me, Rhonda)."
I don't know if it was the uppity gin or the dope, but I felt compelled to push the issue. "Listen, I'm not saying you guys are abnormal. I'm just saying there's a scale of normalcy. Some people are just more well-adjusted than others."
Someone piped up, "Saf, where do I rank on your normal scale?"
Keep in mind, this was a pretty big crowd. Maybe 20 or so. But at the time, there were only 8 of us sitting around a kitchen table. Late night. "Well, you're about a 4." His wife inquired, then where am I? I abruptly replied, "You'd be #5. (reassuringly) Yeah, yer uh, #5." I then proactively went around the table and assigned everyone their actual ranking. This didn't set a good tone. If memory serves me correct, I was #2. This girl Rocker was #1. Her husband #3. Another couple, 6 and 7. Sensing I needed a way out of this converation, I ranked my girlfriend last. Not the wisest move. She was normal enough. I just needed cover for the mess I had accidentally inflicted upon myself. For the remainder of the ski trip (and still to this very day), everyone referred to each other as "number this" or "number that."
"Number two, you're lookin' pretty rough. Did you get any sleep last night?"
"Hey, number five, did you try the habanero ham?"
And so on.
Anyway, here's the nuts and bolts. The meat and potatoes. This is what it's all about. The name of the game.
Hey, you only get one life to live. So live it.
In my book, blind conformity just ain't normal. It's the worst character trait of them all. Fortunately, for your textual pleasure, Scalping Jew has compiled a convenient list of ways to be different. Embrace them accordingly.
I. Black Sharpie
Always carry a black Sharpie. In your glove box, in your pocket. I clip mine to my belt.
Aside from the instant ability to make a sign, there are additional applications. My personal favorite is a game called Cum Dumpster. Write the word "CUM" on any large green dumpster, preferably at a concert or sporting event. As fans walk by, someone will invariably make this exact comment verbatim --- "Look, it's the cum dumpster!"
Now it's time to place your bets on the duration. How long will it take for a passer-byer to utter those precise words? Agree on a mutual over/under (in seconds). Whip out that smart phone stopwatch app and let the games cummence.
II. Milk crate
Gotta love a good milk crate. They're basically indestructible. Eons after the human scourge has exited the planet earth, our beloved milk crates will remain. If you wish to bring joy and spontaneous laughter to the masses, wear one on your head. If you need to transport your socks and underoos, pack it up. If you have miscellaneous rolls of coax cable, patch cords and speaker wire, do I even need to ask?
Milk crates can be used to elevate the conversation...literally. When you have an important message that requires mass dissemination, stand on milk crate. It will elevate your physical presence by 11 inches. That's almost an entire foot. Note: the consensus average height for an American male is 5 feet, 10 inches. So if you step up your game, you're instantly approaching the 7 foot range.
I suggest strapping milk crates to your feet. Duck tape works well, as do bungee cords. It's pretty much the male equivalent of platform shoes. A tad clunkier perhaps.
Vince McMahon, the billionaire godfather of pro wrestling, was the founding father of "milk crate theory." I recall an interview with 7 foot, 4 inch Andre the Giant. Now Vince measures in at 6 foot 2 inches. He's a formidable presence. But his arm grew tired from having to thrust the microphone so high in the air. But alas, there was something the studio camera didn't show. As you may have surmised, Andre was standing on milk crates.
"I have balls the size of grapefruits, and come this Sunday, you'll be spitting out the seeds." --- Vince McMahon
III. Makeshift restroom
On December 8, 1996, Withered Wife Beater and I hit up the Steelers/Chargers game at Three Rivers Stadium. It was sunny but cold. As the afternoon played itself out, the weather quickly descended into a frigid, swirling snow storm. Inspired by the salt-n-pepper linebacking duo of Kevin Greene and Greg Lloyd, our boys broke the game open in the fourth quarter and cruised to a 16-3 victory. Rejoice!
However, it was the pre-game tailgating festivities which provided a darker degree of jubilation. We became witness to something known as the "giant box of piss." A group of guys from WWB's hometown, Johnstown, PA were a few spots over. Next to their car was a monster refrigerator cardboard box. But the stainless steel frig was missing. I inquired, "What's with the box?"
One guy replied, "Oh yeah, Birdman brought that. His family owns an appliance company. We use it to piss in."
Sure enough, there was a slit down the side, which functioned as a rudimentary swinging door. Now you couldn't stand completely upright, but it was pretty damn near close. Absolute genius! You just walk inside and piss in the box.
I reflected on a 1990 Grateful Dead concert at Three Rivers Stadium. Deadheads were, for the most part, an environmentally conscious bunch. They used to have a saying... leave nothing but footprints. Keep the scene clean. Six years later, we left nothing but urine and it's corresponding stench. And oh yeah, a mammoth box in the middle of the lot. There's a lesson to be learned. While it's great to think outside the box, sometimes it's best to piss inside a box.
IV. Paper tickets
All phases of the music industry are actively working in concert to do away with physical tickets. This frightens Scalping Jew. They're trying to destroy my livelihood and heritage. Akin to reservations and concentration camps.
You'll need to produce a driver's license or some form of identification. It's called show me your papers. No need to see that ticket. Just let me scan your iPhone.
I don't like the way society is trending here. Away from cold hard cash. After all, even if you don't have the skills, you still must pay the bills. So here's a tip from the king of Indian-American Jews. After a lengthy haggle, don't agree on $30 and hand the person two twenties. And then ask them for change. Do not be that person.
When you go to scalp, arrange your currency accordingly. One dollar bills are of least importance. They go in the back left pocket. Sometimes they come into play for really low priority events, Pirates games and such. You can also use them to "purchase" a beer from random tailgaters. The dollar offer is just a gimmick. Smoke and mirrors. Almost everyone you approach will just hand over a cold beer, unless they're running low or it's a high end import. Fives in the left front, tens in the right front. These are your go-to denominations. Ideally suited for the Sunday Sabbath, toss the salad dressing, coupon clippers. Hey, why not take a minute, go the extra mile, and prep for some real savings?
Twenty dollar bills fit in your back right pocket. Twenties are the last resort of the Mohican's, if you will. The last stand ye shall muster.
V. Bunk tickets
I have a sticker on my Super Chexx II dome hockey table (quite possibly the greatest arcade game that everyone knows about, but no one ever learns how to play). The sticker reads WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER. Which gradually transformed into GWAR IS NOT THE ANSWER, which eventually became G MO IS THE ANSWER.
Now the question you're probably asking, "What's a G MO?" Well, it's not a genetically modified organism. Although sometimes I wonder.
I'm here to tell you point blank that G Mo is NOT the answer.
At the all day, all night 2003 Burgettstown Lollapalooza, G Mo was out front and center, buying and selling tickets. He was on the prowl, taking the initiative. But the rest of us were having difficulty. We couldn't seem to find any extra tix. Still, G Mo seemed to be acquiring them left and right, with no problem whatsoever. And he was getting great deals too. How was he snagging these $50 tickets for five or ten bucks? Something seemed a tad askew.
Suddenly, these two guys approach him, seeking vengeance. They had bought a couple tickets from the Mo, but their scans had failed and they had been denied entrance. Immediately I realized what was happening. The drunken Mo was buying up tickets from people who were exiting the festival. No wonder he was getting such absurd bargains!
Now these two guys were pissed off. They told him if he didn't fork over a refund, they were going to kill him. Hyperbole perhaps, but a physical confrontation seemed unavoidable. I got in the middle and explained what had happened. Much to my chagrin, the Mo yelled, "You sold 'em the tickets Saf!"
This angered me but I managed to keep my composure and give them a refund. With my own money, no less. Though here's what stole the show. When I tried to explain everything to the belligerent Mo, he began to mock me. "Saf, you suck at scalping. You're just not the ticket scalper you think you are." Naturally, I was overcome with a sense of seething bewilderment.
Everyone eventually went into the concert. Later that night, I had trouble enjoying one of my all-time favorite bands, the headliner, Jane's Addiction. I couldn't help but feel a sense of extreme irritability and frustration.
A command decision was made. G Mo would not be welcome in my car for the ride home. I also decided he wasn't worthy of being informed. So I gathered up the remainder of the crew and left him in the dust. "No one left behind" might be the Marines motto. However, "G Mo left behind" would become my assigned slogan. For the next decade or so, mutual friends routinely chided me for leaving him at the venue.
Here's the point I'm trying to convey. It's okay to be different. But ticket scalping, like many other things, is an art form. Anyone can sell a ticket, but not everyone should. So before you mindlessly charge into battle, be aware of your surroundings and mindful of your limitations. It's called situational awareness.
VI. Comp Tickets
Just because someone knows what they're charging at the box office, doesn't necessarily mean they paid that amount. In fact, if the price on the ticket says $0.00, they assuredly got them for free. They didn't pay for them. Trust me. I know whereof I speak.
The gifting of comps has diminished in recent years. After reaching absurd levels in the mid 90's, many bands realized they were getting ripped off. That the venue ownership was saturating the local market with freebies, so people would come, pay to park and buy concessions. Oh, how I miss the comp days. They brought new meaning to the word complimentary.
VII. Zen Ticketing
I'm not sure I'd recommend "Zen" ticketing acquisition for anyone. Maybe the Dalai Lama could pull it off. Or those monks in the Next Karate Kid. One of them was bowling, threw a gutter ball, engaged in some kind of Buddhist rope-a-dope... and the ball miraculously defied the laws of gravity, reentered the lane, and of course nailed the pins for a strike. Like I was saying, few can pull this off. So spare me the indignation when I say, that if you try, you'll fail miserably.
What is "Zen" ticketing? It's the art of nonverbally acquiring a free ticket. It's a tremendous challenge. Up there with Everest and K-2. But how do you convince someone to hand over a freebie without physically speaking? No signs either. It's about motion and rhythm. I try to engage in modified pantomime. A right index finger in the air is permissible. And sometimes I silently mouth the words "need one." All the while, gesticulating back and forth with my head. Eye contact is key. That's what seals the deal. You must portray a sense of need, but not desperation. If you go overboard, you tend to look alarmist, and on the whole, that's a turnoff. The majority of fans don't wanna deal with a selective mute or someone who behaves frantically.
You're likely wondering if this has ever worked? Has this ticket doctrine of enlightenment ever succeeded. Obviously, the answer is yes. Yo, why would I be delivering a sub-chapter explanation? Frankly, there are a few times I've pulled it off. Mostly Pirates games. Fitting... because sailors tell stories but pirates make legends.
VIII. Print outs
Don't be a fool. Even if you're desperate to see a concert, avoid purchasing 8.5 x 11" print outs. If you do, never buy them without looking to see if the seats are identical. Some sellers are actually that reckless. If you're unfamiliar with the ongoing heroin epidemic, allow me to clarify. Junkie goes to the nearby Staples and makes 10 xeroxed copies for a buck. Then, tries to sell each print out for $50 a piece. Hey, it's a lot easier than busting your ass or jangling a cup on the corner.
Every year, local news stations relay stories about fans who get bunked. It's an unspoken epidemic. Most people think it rarely happens. The truth though, it happens all the time. Seriously, what's the local news supposed to do? Relentlessly tell the public how their local venues don't really care if people are getting repeatedly fucked, over and over? Cyclically sodomized?
IX. Make money
Let's take a cue from Snoop. Makes me wanna Snoop Snoop Snoop. Oops, wrong band. Wrong song. My bad, I was thinking Shoop.
Make money money, make money money money. Much better. That's some Original Gangsta Old School Snoop D.O. Double G.
Nothing annoys me more than the people who skip an event... because they don't have the money. I ask them, "Well, do you have the gas money and a vehicle to travel to and from the venue?"
"Do you have the free time? Are there any work or family conflicts?"
"No, we're both off that night"
"Well, since parking is free and it's outdoors, why not just go to the amphitheater and see what happens? Worst case scenario, you'll listen to it from the outside."
"Oh Saf, we're not all like you. My girlfriend couldn't bear the thought of going to see Brad Paisley and getting shut out. She'd never forgive me."
Here's my general solution to this quandary. Attempt to leave the concert with more money than you brought.
Maybe try to hustle a little bit. Okay, so maybe buying and selling tickets ain't your thang. How about grilling hot dogs? Easy enough. Maybe bring some discarded junk. It's called a yard sale. Could be anything... tools, books, dishes, tupperware, Boggle, whatever. You're sitting there tailgating anyway. Why not try and turn a profit? What about jewelry? Anklets or necklaces, arts and crafts. People are suckers for that impulse crap. And if the act of sucking isn't to your liking, maybe offer hand jobs in the back seat. Trust me, nobody cares anymore. Anything to make a buck.
X. Bald spot
I've been around 47 years. Through my near half century, I've noticed many different styles of head gear.
Women wear veils on their wedding day. Turban this, hijab that. Urban sombrero, Oklahoma kid yahoo mother fucker cowboy hat. Amish hats are under-rated. My brother Tolkien has one. I'd like to see an uptick in the conical, i.e., Asian rice picking hat. More so in urban settings, perhaps in tandem with a surgical mask.
Behold, I have become one of them. A mad hatter of sorts. I now wear a yarmulke. But only at weddings. When people ask me about my Jewish faith, I solemnly reply, "I don't believe in shit. I use it to cover my bald spot."
The Tenth Commandment --- Thou shalt kill
So much has been written about the costs of war. Particularly, the loss of life. Skirmishes, terrorism, genocide, civil war, world war...
Few realize that a great number of people cease to exist as a result of inaction.
In retrospect, I could have inflicted an even more deranged agenda. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. The list below is a dozen events spared by Scalping Jew.
I. The 2016 Republican National Convention, Cleveland, OH. July 21, 2016
Quicken Loans Arena. The Q is a pretty kitchy nickname. It was pretty empty compared to its DNC counterpart, Philly's Wells Fargo Arena. In the building formerly known as Gunt Arena, I could have reeked havoc. After all, I was in attendance every day. As a protester, not an attendee. On the outskirts, not inside. But in a world of wireless hyper-connectivity, physical location is becoming less and less significant. A message to the Republican elite: consider yourselves fortunate.
II. Lakewood Mega-Church, Houston, TX. 16,800 Christian warriors, Any given Sunday
When it comes to human stampedes, nothing leads the way like religious festivals and pilgrimages. All the way! Indeed, the lord works in mysterious ways. Ahh the power of prayer. Well, I say the time for religious fatalism has come to America. We must take the lessons of Asia and Africa and apply them to the good 'ol U.S.A. And I can think of no better place to preach this specific gospel than to a monster home of Christian faithful. With Joel Osteen serving as the senior pastor, there's no finer location than a former sports arena. What will be, will be.
III. Any future Neo-Nazi or KKK rally.
In light of the 8-12-17 deadly clashes in Charlottesville, VA, let's throw in the white nationalists and ultra-right fanatics. Alt under the guise of freedom, patriotism and liberty. Under a Trump administration, we'll likely see a rise in the number of hate rallies. I can think of no better venue to inflict pain and suffering. Oh, the khaki's and polo shirts. I say bring back the isosceles dunce caps and flowing white robes. These articles of clothing seem better suited for visual impairment and mass suffocation.
IV. Vent Haven Ventriloquist Convention, Hebron, KY. July 12-15, 2017
Forgive me for venting, but the notion of a throng of dummies panicking, or even better, all of them simultaneously engaging their petrified human over-lords, leaves me basking in awkward amusement.
V. A War of the Worlds dramatic reading at the Way Way Off-Broadway Theatre Company on the prestigious stomping grounds of Eastern New Mexico University. June 29, 2017
Roswell, New Mexico is often termed the U.F.O. capital of the world. Just for the record, "unidentified flying object" is a pretty vague term. The friendly skies are becoming more crowded terrain. With the proliferation of drones, I expect this trend to continue.
When people have encounters with the unknown, it often evokes emotions of terror. In 1938, the famous radio play, narrated by Orson Welles, debuted to confused listeners. Many mistook his vivid interpretation for a legitimate extra-terrestrial invasion. Terrified civilians panicked and fled. But exactly where were they going? It's hard to say. But one thing's for certain. Whether it's Orson or Orwell, herding instincts and fear go hand in hand... and often foot by foot.
VI. A book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Cranberry, PA. March 4, 2017
Richard Blair, the son of the late George Orwell, shared his thoughts about his father's literary achievements. He offered them from the unique perspective of a 5 year old, living in the English countryside. His father dying from tuberculosis as World War II came to a conclusion.
I was there for an illuminating discussion, most of it centering around Orwell's 1984 novel. A fictional, yet increasingly accurate work that focuses on themes of intrusive government surveillance and mind tampering. It makes you wonder what the late George Orwell would say about the renewed interest in his works. Especially, with the current technological and political dynamic in play on the world stage.
Mr. Blair reminded us of his father's great mantra, "If liberty means anything, it is the right to say something that other people do not want to hear."
Go figure! This has been the existential motto for the last 6 years.
VII. Blob Fest: The Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA. July 14, 2017
The Blob was a 1958 cult classic. An alien life-form, resembling a gelatinous glob of gobbledygook attacks everything in its path. It crawls, it creeps, it eats you alive!
"There's no stopping the blob. As it spreads from town to town. It's indestructable. It's indescribable. Nothing can stop it. Mob hysteria sweeps one city, before long the nation, and then the world could fall..."
Every Blob Fest kicks off with a showing of the original movie. Then, there's a live reenactment of a scene from the movie. Where terrified theater goers, fearful of being attacked by the blob, exit the theater and run for their lives.
If there was ever a golden ticket opportunity to shout FIRE in a crowded theater, this is it! As much as I'd like to incite a localized "Orson Welles War of the Worlds" vibe, I just don't have the heart.
VIII. Widespread Panic, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA. June 21, 2015
The concept of fomenting widespread panic at a Widespread Panic concert is a titillating one indeed. No explanation required.
IX. Any Elvis Presley festival.
I despise Elvis impersonators. I loathe them all in perpetuity.
The hipster hound dog Elvii and their gyrating hips.
And the elderly Elvii, too. Experiencing the latter stages of cirrhosis and hepatitis.
X. Anthrocon, Pittsburgh, PA. July 2, 2017
The city of Pittsburgh loves the furries. And the furries love the Burgh. Every year, a collection of foxes, cats, dogs, wolves, and the occasional springbok or duck-billed platypus descend upon the David Lawrence Convention Center.
I've seen it many times before. But this time I decided to engage a few members of the herd. I asked them a series of pretty straightforward questions. Who's your leader? Is there a President? Someone who runs the show? They explained how they function much like other organizations. There's a distinguished board of directors, but pretty much everything is run by Dr. Samuel Montgomery. A guy who goes by the twitter handle Uncle Kage (pronounced Kah-gay).
I asked, "What's his costume? What's his demeanor?"
They explained how he's the only furry who takes on the persona of a cockroach. Hmm, that seemed counterintuitive to the notion of "all that is fur."
As our conversation continued, a diminutive bald man with glasses in a clinician's lab coat, went scurrying by. It was Dr. Montgomery, the furry leader, or fuhrer if you will. I took the opportunity to engage him.
"Dr. Montgomery, may I have a moment? I fear for the collective safety of your furry following. I'm worried about the possibility of someone launching an unscheduled cellular evacuation of Anthrocon, potentially resulting in a mass panic. What if the furries fell victim to a stampede, similar to the wildebeest of the Serengeti?"
His reaction and mannerisms resembled the behavior of an actual cockroach. He spoke in short blips. "Yes, I see. That would be unfortunate. I'll review your concerns. And take this matter under advisement. Thank you for bringing the matter to my attention." And with that, he scampered off into the dark tunnel leading into the convention center.
XI. The Indy 500. May 28, 2017
Indianapolis Motor Speedway has always struck me as an area of concern. Two distinct worlds collide. It's the most heavily attended one-day sporting event in the country. One with an annual attendance in excess of 250,000. Racing fans come from all over to watch drivers expend premium fuel by the mega-gallons. Whether you call it gasoline or oil, one fact cannot be disputed. The United States is the biggest fossil fuel consuming nation on the planet earth.
If someone wished to send a message to the U.S. government... that their oil consumption is excessive. Well, how about inflicting chaos and mayhem at the Indy 500? An event where oil is purely used for amusement and recreational purposes. While the fans are cheering. While the Indy drivers are make those repeated left turns. Plenty of soldiers and civilians are simultaneously dying on oil's behalf. Whether it's Kuwait or Iraq. Or the future hot spots of oil-infused carnage, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. Did you know that Mexico is the fourth largest producer of oil in the Western hemisphere? Right behind the U.S., Canada and Venezuela. What if the chicken-hawks finally come home to roost (Mexico and the United States)?
XII. The 34th Annual AVN (Adult Video News) Awards, The Joint, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Paradise, NV. January 21, 2017
The AVN awards provides the largest concentration of FTC (fake tits per capita) in the continental United States. It's reminiscent of the boob scene in Airplane. When chaos on the plane breaks out and a random woman's boobs commence juggling in the aisle.
At age 11, we watched that scene repeatedly on Showtime. Pausing it and occasionally using the slow motion feature for maximum Betamax effect.
Female porn stars are a pretty buxom bunch. Massive asses and big titties. Confident and bold. Hey, it takes a special kind of actress willing to embrace a 10 on 1 anal gang bang. Not much in the way of shyness or introversion there. Perversion perhaps, but not introversion. The thought of every porn star in the industry, suddenly shaking and baking, toward the emergency ballroom exit. Let's just say it would be one helluva climax.
God put on a new ball cap.
And his patriotic t-shirt.
God desperately needed to get to the 9/11 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Eighty miles away. Google Maps said it would take an hour and 20 minutes. He checked the date and time. 9-10-17. 12:30pm.
So he dialed up an Uber. A Porsche 911 GT2 RS arrived immediately. That's a turbocharged 700-horsepower, 3.8 liter six-cylinder engine. A seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. Zero to 60 in just 2.7 seconds. With a top speed of 211 mph, it was the fastest road-legal car the company had ever produced.
"Step on it sonny! Take it to the turnpike!"
God got dropped off at the 12:59pm. Just. In. Time.
He paused for a moment of silence and reflection.
What exactly happened on 9/11? God's children learned about the elements of asymmetric warfare. Our enemies, emboldened by religious extremism and geo-political rage, exploited our arrogance and naivete. They milked the bones of our bureaucracy. They exposed the essence of our collective ego. They took advantage of our superpower status and super-empowered themselves. They hit us where it hurts. In the hubris.
Afghanistan? God's children learned the folly of that which is unachievable. How many times, since the beginning of civilization, has the invasion of Afghanistan been termed a fool's errand? Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. #MAGA (Make Afghanistan Great Again).
Iraq? God's children learned the value of propaganda. Declare war, invade and occupy. When the locals resist, label them evildoers, infidels and terrorists. Better yet, create a civil war and arm both sides. Even better, create a state of endless war. And arm everyone.
The date: 9-10-17
The time: 1pm
God grabbed his iphone and placed the call. Operation Dominipede was initiated. There was no going back. Every person, every child of the lord, every soul... would remember the singular moment in time... when humankind lost its soul.
It was the computer program that spawned the 5th generation of warfare. Mass, indiscriminate killing in the absence of conventional weaponry.
The cell phones of 6 individuals were targeted with a blitzkrieg of information. Melania, Ivanka, Jared, Eric, Donald Jr. and Barron. The only six people on the planet whom Donald implicitly trusted.
God unleashed a targeted barrage of fake news. It came in sweeping fashion: text messages, emergency alerts, robo-calls, social media posts, emails and attachments, phishing scams, pics and memes. Carefully attenuated to destroy their hopes and dreams.
Now granted, God is all knowing. But those private Trump family cell phone numbers are hard to come by. So how did God acquire them?
Well, Scalping Jew had a secret operative that worked for the Pittsburgh NBC affiliate. She was a producer. Her deep cover code name: El Al. On the final night of the 2016 Republican National Convention, she encountered Eric Trump. Childhood friends, they had both attended the prestigious Trinity School on Manhattan's West Side. El Al told Eric that she desperately needed to contact the station. But her phone was dead. She asked if she could borrow his. Eric was more than happy to assist. He handed her his iPhone.
El-Al discreetly plugged in an iPhone Recovery Stick. As she feigned a conversation with her boss, all of Eric Trump's contact info was quickly downloaded.
Scalping Jew acquired the information from El-Al the following morning at a Double Tree Hotel in Westlake, Ohio.
Now God could have sent a blitzkrieg directly to The Donald's phone. But an opportunity like this comes only once in a lifetime. And this god had the mentality of a riverboat gambler. He wanted the experience to be as authentically egregious as possible. And it worked.
Melania was the first to call. "Donald, you're the world's greatest husband. Especially in the bedroom. There has got to be a solution to this mess. But you need to act quickly!"
Ivanka chimed in too. "Daddy, this is your moment! The country will fall in love with you all over again. Just like they did when you beat Hillary."
Jared added, "I completely concur with your daughter. Your electoral victory was unprecedented. I remember exactly where I was standing when the swing states fell like dominoes and that beautiful map of our great country turned bright red. Well, except for Illinois. Because fake president Obama's from Chicago, the murder capital of the United States."
All the ego-stroking, all the excessive praise and nonsensical hyperbole. It was working. Just as God had theorized.
The others didn't call him. They texted him.
Eric texted: Dad, I'm not sure what to do. I can't believe this is happening! I can't believe your generals would betray you like this! You don't deserve this! You're the greatest president, since Reagan... err uh, I meant Lincoln.
Donald Jr. texted --- If only there was a way you could instantly warn people. Those people are in danger! You need to help them!
Barron texted --- You've gotta protect those people! Dad, you need to tweet! NOW!
President Trump was busy golfing at the time. But he immediately sensed that something was wrong. He needed to take swift, decisive action.
(Yeah, I realize the dates don't match. Cut me a little slack, will ya.)
The death toll from the stampedes was unforgiving and brisk. The numbers quickly piled up. God laughed internally. Amusing how the National Football League thought CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) was a major crisis. Now it was the fans who were experiencing head injuries. The NFL had expended significant political capital in demonizing marijuana use. But they never planned for someone like God. Someone who got high off killing. Roger Goodell and his mutli-billionaire crony owners... they all thought Colin Kaepernick was the devil. They never anticipated the godly wrath of God.
Concussions, snapped limbs and a future of mass intubation. An ironic precursor to mass ventilation, as hundreds would experience severe asphyxiation.
Some were crushed in stairwells. Many trampled. Scores of human collisions and blunt head trauma. Some were forcibly ejected off the escalators. A few plummeted from the upper tiers of the outdoor spiral rotunda. Scenes evoking memories of people jumping from the twin towers.
Many victims would end up on respirators. Requiring machines to supplement their brain dead, de-oxygenated bodies. Vegetables.
As hundreds of people were physicaly killing themselves, the term "live broadcast" took on an entirely new meaning. "Security" cameras filmed horrific images. "Footage" was captured on thousands of cell phones. Streaming facetime video relayed the incomprehensible. Everything was happening in real-time. Everything was live. Everyone wanted out.
Yep, bad things never happen... until they happen.
Buffalo, NY. New Era Stadium --- 53 dead, 204 injured
Chicago, IL. Soldier Field --- 129 dead, 512 injured
Cincinnati, OH. Paul Brown Stadium --- 72 dead, 222 injured
Cleveland, OH. FirstEnergy Stadium --- 94 dead, 391 injured
Detroit, MI. Ford Field --- 83 dead, 348 injured
Houston, TX. NRG Stadium --- 78 dead, 247 injured
Landover, MD. FedEx Field --- 62 dead, 236 injured
Miami, FL. Hard Rock Stadium --- 0 dead, 0 injured (Oh the irony! Lives spared by Hurricane Irma)
Nashville, TN. Nissan Stadium --- 95 dead, 340 injured
The total ---666 dead, 2500 injured
But God wanted more. The NFL stadium tolls were impressive, but insufficient. The killing needed to hit the 1,000 mark. He required crowd cleansing and more gore.
Well if Donald Trump knew one thing... it was how to tweet. He had previously tweeted 35,700 times in 8 years. An average of 13 tweets per day. God sure liked those odds. A lot of people don't know this, but God actually earned his stripes in the gambling industry. He was the O.G.B.B. (Original Gangsta Biblical Bookie). Taking bets on who begat whom. Talk about the original fix!
Knowing full well that Trump's cognitive capabilities originated from deep within his ass, another transmission seemed warranted. So God initiated the first ever brainal to anal telepathic mind meld. And it worked.
Toronto, Canada. Rogers Centre --- 4 dead, 41 injured
Boston, MA. Fenway Park --- 116 dead, 418 injured
Atlanta, GA. SunTrust Park --- 18 dead, 58 injured
New York City, NY. Citi Field --- 32 dead, 224 injured
Washington, D.C. Nationals Park --- 79 dead, 318 injured
Chicago, IL. Wrigley Field --- 42 dead, 200 injured
Chicago, IL. Guaranteed Rate Field --- 23 dead, 188 injured
St. Louis, MO. Busch Stadium --- 8 dead, 64 injured
Kansas City, MO. Kauffman Stadium --- 2 dead, 13 injured
Arlington, TX. Globe Life Park --- 0 dead, 3 injured
Major League Soccer stadiums were not immune.
Kansas City, MO. Children's Mercy Park --- 10 dead, 76 injured
Frisco, TX. Toyota Stadium ---- 0 dead, 3 injured
Imagine if a NASCAR night race scheduled for September 9, 2017 in Richmond, VA had been rained out... and rescheduled for the afternoon of September 10.
Richmond, VA. Richmond International Speedway --- 0 dead, 0 injured... instead of 117 dead, 438 injured.
The additional tally. 334 dead, 1606 seriously injured
The final tally. 1000 dead, 4106 seriously injured
Trump, sensing that something had gone terribly awry, deleted the 4 previous tweets and posted 3 new ones.
Just before Twitter was able to suspend Trump's account, he sent out one last tweet.
That's 1000 dead.
That's 4106 seriously wounded.
Lots of things happened after the dominipede. Nothing that was great or incredible or fantastic or amazing or spectacular. Nothing that was wonderful or extraordinary or unbelievable or magnificent or phenomenal. But things did happen. As luck would have it, exactly 10 major things happened.
On Monday, September 11, 2017, the majority of newspapers across the country ran a single word headline: Dominipede! But the real headline was also a single word: Conspiracy.
A massive blame game ensued. The DHS blamed the NSA. The FCC blamed the DHS. The DOD blamed USCYBERCOM. And of course, the NFL and MLB blamed the federal government. It evolved into a war acronyms. Anyone blamed everyone. The American people placed the blame on everyone but themselves. Only one person was willing to accept the blame. His name... Eric Saferstein.
Religious leaders seized upon the tragedy, claiming the end was near. How the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse was an apocalyptic signal. Followed by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. They alleged that God was disappointed in Americans, like never before. And had unleashed a biblical plague of sorts. A series of stampedes. A dominipede.
Humanity became acquainted with the unsettling paradox of the artificially generated stampede. People dissected the catch-22 and learned the real reasons why nobody was able to address this obscenely generic cyber-threat (plausible deniability, hypothetical litigation, the lose-lose proposition, complex social mores, and so on).
Trust in business evaporated faster than a glass of Crystal Pepsi. Trust in government dissolved faster than relations with North Korea.
II. North Korea
Trump blamed North Korea for the hack of his twitter account. He ordered a tactical nuclear strike on two of its cities. The City of Iron, Chongjin and the smaller city of Kimchaek. Both cities were far removed from the South Korean and China borders. Roughly 200,000 North Korean citizens were incinerated. Trump publicly justified the devastation, claiming a historic parallel to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This would immediately be referred to as the Trump doctrine, the notion that nuclear retaliation is an acceptable response to acts of war in the realm of cyber-terrorism.
A conventional ground war between the North and the South ensued. Casualties in the month of September approached 5 million. Seoul, for the most part, was decimated.
Many historians regard the dominipede as the "false flag" for World War III.
III. Trump resignation
Hours after the dominipede, Trump and his immediate family went into hiding. The Secret Service issued a cryptic statement: "The Trump family will remain safe in various, secure locations. Their whereabouts must remain undisclosed until future notice." Donald Trump resigned and invoked his Fifth Amendment rights. Choosing to remain silent and avoid the prospect of self-incrimination. A cruel irony considering his past behavior.
Vice President Mike Pence assumed the role of POTUS and immediately pardoned Trump. Also, Pence publicly declared that he would not seek reelection in 2020. A preemptive gesture intended to neutralize political acrimony and divisiveness. A quote from Pence's first address to the nation... "Now is not the time to cast aspersions and blame. Now is a time for mourning and prayer. We must join together and heal as one nation, under God."
IV. Protests and backlash
Say goodbye to military flyovers.
Protests at the stadiums and ballparks became fairly routine. Some grew violent. Citizens unleashed their aggression on the venues where friends and family had perished. Attendance for the actual games dropped off precipitously. Many were scared away by the mob. Others feared their cars would be vandalized. Cities bolstered the level of game day security. In many cases, the National Guard was called in to supplement local law enforcement.
V. Supreme Court
The case of United States of America v. Eric Saferstein was fast-tracked to the Supreme Court. The justices issued a unanimous 9-0 ruling in favor of the defendant and upheld the underlying principles of dangerous speech. The decision also called for "blanket immunity" to anyone who "possessed knowledge of the ability to use wireless communication platforms to foment real-world panic." Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion stating that "no rational person could have conceived of speculative events so extraordinary and unprecedented. Therefore, no individual, business entity or government agency could be held liable."
VI. Awareness Campaigns
American reaction to the dominipede bore a striking similarity to that of 9/11. First, they cried. Then, they prayed. And soon after, they addressed the problem.
The federal government launched the largest "awareness campaign" in the history of the country. Similar to forest fire prevention. The bipartisan Office of Wireless Conduct and Cellular Responsibility was created. It functioned autonomously, apart from the United States government. Every so often it would submit its findings and recommendations to the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Communications Commission. On September 10, 2018, exactly one year to the date, the Office Chairwoman went before Congress. This government hearing received the highest market share percentage in the history of television.
Under constant seige, the Department of Homeland Security's "See Something, Say Something" campaign was terminated. It became woefully apparent that even if you see something, and even if you say something... regardless of the potentially severity of its consequences, the government simply might not give a shit.
VII. Social media
Freedom of expression took a really big hit. September 11, 2017 witnessed a tremendous surge in the elimination of wireless information. Tweets and facebook posts were removed en masse. Social media accounts were deleted in droves. Websites taken down. Material deemed controversial or potentially dangerous, just seemingly disappeared from the world wide web. Information vanished.
Youtube established a moratorium on footage from the stampedes.
VIII. The Political Litmus Test
The dominipede became a key litmus test. Abortion, gun rights, illegal immigration, none of it mattered anymore. The only thing reporters wanted to ask in the 2018 mid-terms... what did you know and when did you know it? And if you knew about it, why didn't you do anything? The vast majority of politicians claimed ignorance. Asserting that what transpired was well beyond a reasonable level of comprehension. But the voters knew different. They were fed up with the political doublespeak. This led to historic levels of turnover in Congress. Incumbency was viewed as a detriment. Voters abandoned the Democratic and Republican parties in droves. Independent registration surged.
IX. The Dark Ages
Historians viewed the dominipede as the precursor to something deemed the "Technological Dark Ages." The next decade marked the age of fear. Tension ruled the day. Suspicion, the hour. Fear by the minute. Paranoia by the second.
In the aftermath of the dominipede, Americans grew increasingly despondent. They turned sullen and inward. More and more people avoided big crowds. Preferring the solitude of their homes as opposed to the cruel outside world. They remained bitter yet still clung to their electronic devices.
The citizens of the United States responded in a way most predictable. More drugs. They demanded medication for their collective disillusionment. Any emotional issues related to large, confined crowds. A new array of anti-agoraphobic drugs quickly gained FDA approval and hit the market. A new breed of psychiatrists emerged, specializing in anxiety as it relates to stadiums, amphitheaters, ballparks, arenas, motor speedways and convention centers. Even smaller venues like retail outlets, restaurants and night clubs.
X. Scalping Jew?
Despite his asymmetric killing spree, Scalping Jew was a true patriot. Sometimes it's difficult to comprehend the motivation of those who fervently believe in a cause or mission. Especially when it deals with uncharted territory and aspects of the human condition which have yet to be adequately explored.
So what became of the trinity? Scalping Jew, Sonofsaf and God?
Scalping Jew continued to work the games. But it wasn't so much the contests and concerts. It was the people. The faces inspired him.
Sonofsaf forged ahead with his sixth book, a solution for improving the state of American democracy through a "wildcard" adjustment in how people vote.
And what of God? This might come as a shock, but God was actually an atheist. So his existence canceled out. It was rendered spaciously null and infinitely void.
So it turns out that God betrayed his own people. Wow! Quite the paradox, eh?
If this story is ever turned into a movie, which I believe to be a distinct possibility... I'd prefer it be in the form of a cartoon. Why a cartoon? Well, you be the judge.
From a town known as Wheeling, West Virginia
Drove a man with a smart phone in his hand
A traitor in his prime
Pulled off a black swan in real-time
East and West of the Mason-Dixon line
* since the last book
Pittsburgh Panthers vs.
Youngstown State University Penguins, 9-2-17, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Penguins vs.
Ottawa Senators, 5-25-17, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Pirates vs.
Cincinnati Reds, 4-10-17, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Chicago Cubs, 4-26-17, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Milwaukee Brewers, 5-7-17, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Washington Nationals, 5-16-17, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Colorado Rockies, 6-14-17, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs.
Louisville City FC, 5-20-17, Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA
Charlotte Independence, 7-4-17, Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA
Charleston Battery, 7-26-17, Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Steelers vs.
Atlanta Falcons, 8-20-17, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Indianapolis Colts, 8-26-17, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Tool, 6-5-17, Peterson Events Center, Pittsburgh, PA
U2, 6-7-17, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Wilco, 6-8-17, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Hall & Oates, 6-13-17, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Dead & Company, 6-15-17, KeyBank Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Dead & Company, 6-28-17, Blossom Music Center, Cleveland, OH
New Kids on the Block, 7-1-17, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Echo & The Bunnymen, Violent Femmes, 7-17-17, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
My Morning Jacket, 7-8-17, Metro Amphitheater, Charlotte, NC
My Morning Jacket, 7-9-17, Red Hat Amphitheater, Raleigh, NC
Phish, 7-19-17, Peterson Events Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Primus, 7-30-17, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Dark Star Orchestra, 8-10-17, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Government Mule, 8-13-17, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Chris Robinson Brotherhood, 8-22-17, Mr. Smalls Theatre, Millvale, PA
Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, 9-1-17, KeyBank Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Slaid Boone's First Annual Wheeling Bluegrass Festival Pre-Kickoff Party featuring Two Bridges, 9-8-17, Camp Russell, Oglebay Park, Wheeling, WV