Saturday, January 04, 2020
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Donald Trump formulated his 2020 campaign slogan long ago. Keep America Great a/k/a #KAG. It’s a clever spin off of Make America Great Again. You see, first we have to make the country great. And then, we’ve got to keep it great! Absolutely brilliant. No doubt.
As often as Trump reiterates the same message, I’m kinda surprised that nobody ever mentions he blatantly plagiarized the damn thing. Adding to the irony, he stole it from the Great Communicator. Yep, you guessed it. “Let’s Make America Great Again” was Ronald Reagan’s slogan in 1980 when he steamrolled Jimmy Carter in an electoral blowout. All Trump did was omit the “let us” part… which he probably thinks is spelled “lettuce.”
Though it got me to thinking. The Democrats, regardless of their candidate, desperately need a strong campaign slogan. Here’s a current list of ‘em for the 2020 Democratic primary.
* "For Everyone" – used by Joe Biden's campaign
* "Win With Warren" – used by Elizabeth Warren's campaign
* "One Nation. One Destiny." – used by Julian Castro's campaign
* "Focus on the Future" – used by John Delaney's campaign
* "Lead with Love" – used by Tulsi Gabbard's campaign
* "For The People" – used by Kamala Harris's campaign
* "We Rise" – used by Cory Booker's campaign
* "Not me. Us." – used by Bernie Sanders' campaign
* "We're all in this together." – used by Beto O'Rourke's campaign
* "Brave Wins" – used by Kirsten Gillibrand's campaign
* "Our Moment" – used by Jay Inslee's campaign
* "Humanity First" – used by Andrew Yang's campaign
* "Not left. Not right. Forward." – used by Andrew Yang's campaign
* "Join the Evolution!" – used by Marianne Williamson's campaign
* "A Fresh Start for America" – used by Pete Buttigieg's campaign
* "Our Future Is Now" – used by Tim Ryan's campaign
* "Building Opportunity Together" – used by Michael Bennet's campaign
* "Go Big. Be Bold. Do Good." – used by Eric Swalwell's campaign
* "Working People First" – used by Bill de Blasio's campaign
* "Stand Tall" – used by John Hickenlooper's campaign
* "End the American Empire" – used by Mike Gravel's campaign
They all have one thing in common. They’re generally uninspired. And they suck. Well, that’s actually two things.
“Win with Warren” strikes me as the worst. I recall a Cheers episode where Diane lent her support to Boston city council candidate Jim Fleener.
Diane casually mentioned how she’s the one who came up with his campaign motto…
WIM WITH JIM
“I thought it up. It’s very Joycean (a reference to the writings of James Joyce which often utilize rhymes and clever word play).”
Carla brashly responded, “Joycean? If that means stupid, I agree.”
Incorporating your name isn’t necessarily a bad primary strategy. Hey, if your name’s eventually headed for the ballot, why not familiarize people with it beforehand? Think in terms of Amy Klobuchar’s "Amy for America" or Pete Buttigieg’s "Mayor Pete". Showing off your name can’t hurt. I suspect it’s why Donald used to fly around in a red, white and blue airplane emblazoned with the Trump moniker.
I also suspect it’s why Donald Trump spends the vast majority of his time experimenting with derogatory nicknames — Sleepy Joe Biden, Crazy Bernie, Pocahontas, etc. Even the lowest form of juvenile ridicule has some degree of branding success.
But a general election slogan usually requires something a little less egocentric. Why? Because it’s about appealing to the voters and love of country, not love of self. Still, there are exceptions.
In the 1940’s, Thomas Dewey fared poorly against Franklin Roosevelt (Dewey or Don’t We) and failed to get the hint when he later ran against Harry Truman (Dew it with Dewey). This was pre-Mountain Dew but post-Nike. If the Dooster was still alive, I’m quite certain his catchphrase would be “Just Do It Dewey Style.” Yo Snoop Dogg, eat your heart out!
Though sometimes it does work. In 1928, Herbert Hoover rolled out “Who but Hoover?” His opponent Al Smith tried a similar tactic but lost with the admittedly superior… “All for ‘Al’ and ‘Al’ for All.” Hoover’s other slogan “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” is a bit lengthy but definitely struck a chord.
Barack Obama fared well with short slogans, although it was widely rumored he didn’t care much for them. “Yes We Can”, “Hope and Change”, and during his 2012 reelection campaign, the simple message of “Forward.” Straightforward and effective.
“I Like Ike” and “I Still Like Ike” won General Ike Eisenhower two consecutive terms in the 1950’s. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when his talented advisors conceived of those two gems!
Sometimes it’s a blatant attack. "Ma, Ma, Where's my Pa?" – used by James Blaine supporters against Grover Cleveland in 1884. A reference to the allegation that Cleveland had fathered an illegitimate child. But when Cleveland got elected, he had the last laugh. His supporters added “gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha!" Clever.
Sometimes it’s an unofficial line that just picks up steam. Walter Mondale’s “Where’s the Beef” was a reference to the lack of substance in Gary Hart’s policy proposals. At the time, Wendy’s restaurants used the same line in non-stop commercials to expose the lack of meat in their competition’s hamburgers. Not a bad strategy in the era of televised, showbiz leadership.
James Carville’s off-the-cuff comment worked well for Bill Clinton. “It’s the economy stupid.” But what worked for the Green Bay Packers in 1997 (Go Pack Go) didn’t pan out too well for Pat Buchanan in 1996 (Go Pat Go).
Barry Goldwater’s 1964 slogan was heartfelt … “In Your Heart, You Know He’s Right.” But Lyndon Johnson had a snappy comeback for the Arizona Senator… “In Your Guts, You Know He’s Nuts.”
The foremost concern for any slogan is making sure the phrasing isn’t easily mockable or prone to mischaracterization/misinterpretation.
Richard Nixon supporters would chant, “Don’t change dicks in the midst of a screw, vote for Nixon in ’72”. A tad vulgar perhaps. Then again, Trump almost seemed emboldened with the infamous “grab ‘em by the pussy” comment. That might be the only thing he’s ever apologized for, although truth be told, there wasn’t a whole lotta sincerity. I know. What a shocker.
Trump threw a conniption fit when he learned about the most pressing flaw with his choice for Veep… Mike Pence. Turns out it was their collective initials.
You’d think he’d be above the petty scrutiny. Guess again. In the name sobriety... drain the swamp? Trump's the spirited creature from the orange liqueur lagoon.
My point with all these word games: in a hotly contested race, it's critical to have a solid, unwavering campaign slogan. So without further adieu, may I present the Democratic answer, the rebuttal, the retaliatory counter strike to “Keep America Great.” Drum roll please...
Regrettably, my photoshop skills are nonexistent. But here’s the gist of it. I mean, seriously, what true patriot doesn’t love the outline of ‘Merica?
Granted, it needs a little fine tuning. Either way, try to think conceptually, not graphically.
Alright, let’s do the pros and cons. We’ll start with the pros.
PROS (in no particular order):
1. The design itself makes for a decent t-shirt. Your home state on the front, map of the United States on the back. U.S.A. ! U.S.A. ! U.S.A. ! (never heard that one before, eh?) From an optics perspective, the Dems could stand to benefit from the nonsensical U.S.A. chant. Makes for convincing television as it appeals to easily manipulated humans, low information voters and the uber patriots. Every presidential election has one thing in common. It's time to wave the flag and shake those red, white and blue pom poms. Makes for a visually interesting sign and bumper sticker as well.
2. "No State Left Behind" is reminiscent of other similar slogans, specifically “No Child Left Behind” and “No Man Left Behind.” If a Republican brings up the former, you simply reply with, “Yeah, Democrats support educating our children. Trump puts 'em in cages, separates infants from their mothers, and secretly hopes they die while in detention.” If a Republican brings up the latter, you respond with, “Democrats appreciate the sacrifice of our people in uniform. Trump's a recidivist, 5 time draft dodger with fake bone spurs.” Most important, Trump will be afraid to mock the slogan because if he decides to 'go there' and utters the words “no state left behind,” it’s a glaring conceptual reminder of real heroism (nobody gets left behind). Totally inconsistent coming from Trump who's guided entirely by unabashed selfishness and ego-maniacal narcissism. Not to mention ample evidence of cowardice.
3. "No State Left Behind" provides an opposing narrative to Trump’s “Keep America Great.” Hell, it’s our country too. Trump’s entire pitch is based on this contrived patriotism and manufactured love of country. This slogan visibly demonstrates that Democrats are up to the task and willing to counter-punch. And it flies in the face of the long held assumption that Republicans are exclusively the party of states’ rights. With a character as divisive as Trump in the Oval Office, Democrats need to embrace a 50 state strategy, or at a bare minimum, offer that perception.
4. The hash tag (#NSLB) isn’t easily mimicked. It looks a little like the word nosebleed, but that’s a bit of a stretch. There are a couple of acronyms (NATO Standardization Labor Board & National Security Law Brief). But they’re not particularly amusing or easily committed to memory. Keep in mind, almost every presidential campaign slogan is regurgitated to some degree. No State Left Behind has NEVER been used before. So it's unique, fresh and out of the ordinary. Democrats will need to avoid reliance on stale, traditional themes. They'll likely require something a tad different in order to effectively combat the unorthodox approach of bizarro Trump. It's time to dismiss conventional norms and throw out the old playbook.
5. Country First! Outside of an unanticipated war or terrorist attack, the state of the economy is almost always the #1 issue (jobs, wages, trade, taxes, inflation, etc). Current advantage Trump. Assuming the stock market is doing well and the economy is still humming, Democrats would be wise to avoid using a slogan that deliberately raises the number one issue, the U.S. economy. Never wage war from a defensive posture.
6. "No State Left Behind" directly implies that Democrats will fight for your vote in every state, not just the swing states. Regardless of your opinion of Donald Trump, he’s done a good job of aggressively campaigning from day one (he filed for reelection on the day of his inauguration) — staging constant MAGA rallies, visiting contested states, and raising vast sums of money. He’s shown no sign of letting up. Democrats cannot concede the narrative regarding who’s the more vibrant, robust campaigner. Trump quickly disposed of "low energy" Jeb in the 2015 primary. He'll try it again, because tactically speaking, it was a resounding success.
7. The “O” configuration for the state of Hawaii might remind voters of a time when the office of the President carried a certain amount of dignity and respect. And it’s also a subtle reminder of the Trump birther lies. The "A" in state? Well, I dunno. Could conceivably appeal to a dyslexic hockey mom or disenchanted mama grizzly.
8. "No State Left Behind" represents a unifying, come together approach. From the liberal leaning Hawaii to the conservative bent of Alaska… and every state in between. This whole Uniter-in-Chief vs. Divider-in-Chief argument will inevitably play itself out.
9. The slogan could have a trickle down effect for Governors and members of the House. No state left behind, no city left behind, no county left behind., no community, no region, etc. No child with autism left behind. No homeless veteran left behind. This makes for an easily replicated talking point during campaign rallies. Anyone can adopt it. Hillary lost Pennsylvania because she only campaigned in Pittsburgh and Philly. Much to her own peril, she never showed up in places like Erie or Harrisburg or Scranton. And she withdrew from Wisconsin entirely. How’d that work out? The 2016 red vs. blue map is a strikingly effective visual.
Gotta reclaim rural America.
10. The slogan helps dispel the notion that Democrats are wholly reliant on New York and California. That they’re dismissive of red state America, the midwest and the deep South. Fly-over country will be critical. Regardless of the candidate, the Democrats need to win back the rust belt swing states and make a concerted effort in traditional Republican strongholds like Georgia and Texas. Reps aren't clinging to Trump's coattails. They're literally hanging from his long red tie. Trump's villain-like, contemptuous status gives the Dems a golden opportunity to crush the entire Republican party. A political opportunity like this comes along only once-in-a-Melania, er uh, millennia.
11. The slogan transitions well with traditional Democratic messaging. We will fight for the children of all 50 states! We will fight for their education. We will fight for their health care. We will fight for your infrastructure, roads, tunnels, and bridges. And so on and so forth.
12. The slogan's an attempt to counter the America First pitch. Trump will spend the entire 2020 campaign posing a ridiculous question, "Why do the Democrats hate our country so much? Why do they hate our talented military, our brave law enforcement, et al?" No normal politician, or human being for that matter, would ever even consider making such statements. But for a man with zero empathy and no shame whatsoever, it's essentially an autonomic exercise, much like swallowing or breathing. One of Trump's better lines during his first term, "I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris." I'd hit back with, "Donald Trump isn't a man of the people. He's a con man for the people."
Democrats will need to directly confront the accusations of globalism. The entire Brexit issue will still be around in 2020. It ain't going away. The Democratic party better have their talking points aligned on the issues of foreign military intervention and global humanitarian assistance. Trump's sweet spot is when he spews out, "Our country has been getting screwed for decades! Everyone is laughing at us! We're not going to be suckers anymore! Not on my watch!"
Alright, I'm starting to digress away from the NO STATE LEFT BEHIND slogan. Let's venture into the cons.
1. It has the word “Left” in the slogan, which generally has negative connotations as it implies liberal policies and a socialist agenda. But I don’t think that’s a deal breaker. If someone raises it, just reply with “well, what about Keep America Great?” The last time a slogan started with the word ‘Keep’ was during the roaring 20’s. “Keep Cool with Calvin Coolidge”. How’d that work out? Oh yeah, it ended with a juiced stock market bubble, bankers jumping out of windows, and the Great Depression. Nice job. Sound familiar?
2. The slogan's a tiny bit wordy, but then again, so was “Make America Great Again.”
3. Numbskulls will proudly make the imbecilic argument that Hawaii and Alaska are NOT inside the continental United States. Counter with, “Yeah, as if Trump’s an expert on geography... he knows more about maps than the best cartographers!”
4. The argument that it’s “too busy.” What?! The USA too busy? Get a fucking reality check! I always have time to defend my country. Its shape, its distinctive borders, its glorious history, its blah. Cue the Lee Greenwood.
5. In practice, use of the word "behind" could be a negative. Based on the 2016 RNC t-shirt (Monica Sucks, Hillary Swallows), I have little doubt that someone would shoot for the obvious. For example, Biden Takes it in the Behind. But that just strikes me as an "exceedingly fringe" Trumpian insult. I honestly don't think it would have much appeal. Unless the nominee is Buttigieg. "No Butt Left Behind" would be absolutely devastating.
Ideally, the NO STATE LEFT BEHIND slogan will look more professional and explicitly show off the Midwest state outlines. Not cover them up. It just needs a little TLC. Take one last look.
So there's your positive unifying campaign message. Of course, you'll need a negative campaign message as well. I’d go with an onslaught of vicious attacks ad entitled “No More Lies” and "Dump Trump." Emolument violations, porn star pay offs, charity rip offs, Trump University, jail terms for the ever growing list of administration/campaign officials, voter suppression, racism and bigotry, anything Jared Kushner related, the works.
Throughout the summer and into the fall of 2020, I'd have the DNC put out a series of 30-45 second animated cartoons spots entitled "Donald Trump." A spin off of the similar sounding and universally familiar "Forrest Gump." Forrest briefly explains his situation. Then, Trump weighs in. In one segment, contrast their military service and experience (Purple Heart/bravery vs. bone spurs, draft deferments, cowardice). In another segment, focus on their love and sexuality (Jenny vs. Stormy). In another segment, compare their business acumen (poor/self-made vs. silver spoon/bankruptcies). Humble generosity vs. greedy narcissism, plain attire vs. pretentious gaudiness, etc. The subplots literally write themselves. And I can assure you, everyone who voted for Trump has seen the movie. Most of them, more than once. Heartland America identifies with the beloved Gump character. It would resonate. Trump's hardcore support is very cultist. If the Donald diehards absorb Trumpian behavior from an easily digestible, cartoonish perspective, not from the antagonistic commentators of MSNBC/CNN fake news, his base should fade accordingly.
Whatever you do, don't create commercials comparing and contrasting Trump w/ Biden, Warren, Klobuchar, whoever. Trump has the advantage because he operates from an unfair tactical perspective, the freedom to lash out and insult his opponents at-will. That's what makes the cartoon concept so effective. There's no way to retaliate against an animated caricature. He'd just have to "sit and take it." History has demonstrated, time and time again, that Donald Trump would be unable to emotionally handle something like this. Because there's no retaliatory, specific human being to demonize. The notion of Trump brawling with an animated Gump dullard takes preposterous absurdity to unforeseen heights.
This could be a wildcard dagger as the entire series would be rolled out in a timely fashion and specifically designed to humiliate, mock and denigrate Trump. Nothing more, nothing less. All he would respond with is commercials of his own (which will be very predictable - adoring fans, rally footage, Air Force One backdrop, stock market chart, etc). When it's all said and done, Trump is essentially a cartoon character. Don't let such a golden opportunity go to waste.
Anyway, if you’ve got a better idea for the 2020 Democratic slogan, feel free to weigh in. You’re all queers! Oops, meant to say… I’m all ears. How embarrassing. Verifiable evidence that I am a “Jag-Off Dotard.”
One last thing. If you think my slogan is weak, let's take a look at the current DLCC (Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee) options. They're running a contest where you get to vote for your favorite! Sounds like fun. Just hit submit and they'll keep you updated on the results. And of course pester you with 365 daily requests for a donation. All hail the efficiency of spam!
Hmm, three different colors, three different options here. Vote for ass, election date reminder (in case everyone forgets the big day), and quite possibly, the least interesting suggestion in the history of politics. This is what I'm up against.
Monday, August 19, 2019
Table of Contents:
I. Franco Harris
II. Donald Trump
III. Brad Paisley
IV. David Corn
V. Erik Estrada
VI. Jesus Christ
VII. Thomas Tull
VIII. Mark Madden
IX. Brad Mayne
X. Bob Nutting
XI. Uncle Kage
XII. Donnie Wahlberg
XIII. Homeless and Boneless
XIV. Steven Tyler
XV. Conor Lamb
XVI. Nick Lendl
XVIII. Eddie Vedder
XIX. Mark Cuban
XX. Gordon Gee
XXI. George Takei
Dedicated to the billions of people who will ask the following question. Why did this happen?
I have a proposition. A proposal if you will. It’s one of considerable magnitude.
Mason, I love you. Will you marry me?
My hunch is that you’ll say “yes” even though you’d be agreeing to tie the knot with the world’s most notorious serial killer in the history of mankind.
Whoa! Say what?! Woe is us! Rest assured, I haven’t killed anyone… yet.
More on that later.
When most men pop the question, they stick to conventional norms. But this is me we’re talking about. No bended knee. No premeditated overture on Maury Povich. No blood diamond ring (although if you want a ring, we’ll go snag ya one). None of the traditional rigamarole. Instead of those predictably blissful 5 seconds of joy that come with a marriage proposal, you get an arduous afternoon of reading. For the love of literacy! Ugh.
As we both approach the half century mark, I think it’s time. We’ve been in a committed relationship for the past decade. Living in sin and relative debauchery. I simply can’t think of anyone I’d rather spend the rest of my life with. Now there’s an exclamatory sentence you can end a preposition with!
Babe, you are my soulmate.
It certainly helps that you’re able to tolerate my reckless ambition. My thirst for super-empowerment. Only you could handle the endless shenanigans. The phone calls from the FBI. The badgering by the Department of Homeland Security. The visits from the Secret Service. The harassment from the local cops. Not to mention the scorn of our elected politicians. The sneers of conspiracy and snarls of being labeled a traitor. The mean looks from virtually everyone. It has driven me into a state of permanent psychosis, or PTSD (Psychotic Trumpatic Shock Derangement).
So how did it all come to this?
Well, I think it all stems from a bullying incident in high school, some 30 years ago.
I remember my teenage years. I remember them well. In 1986. In 10th grade, 15 years old. Linsly Institute was a faux-military, all-male prep school in Wheeling, West Virginia.
I was walking down the empty basement corridor of Banes Hall. Suddenly, there was no way out. If I turned around and walked in the opposite direction, they would have hunted me down. My nerves trembled. I was petrified but knew there was no alternative. My only option was to walk straight down the middle of the hallway and separate the pack. If I veered to the right or left, I would have almost certainly gotten slammed into the concrete wall. The school canteen was on my right. But it was closed and the door was locked.
It was the moment of truth. Three of them encircled me with the ringleader lagging slightly behind. They started pushing me around like a Downy Ball in a washing machine. More like a dryer ball in a Whirlpool. I just had to just keep moving. Let them get their shots in. Meanwhile, pretending that it was all just boys will be boys, rowdy, innocent horseplay. They were pushing me hard, but they weren’t throwing punches. If I could just maintain the status quo. If I could just make it through them, maybe there’d be a way out. Take one final elbow or even a punch from Nazi. He was much bigger, taller, a football player on the offensive line. I was scrawnier, shorter, a cross country runner on the varsity reserve team. However, I was quick on my feet. Maybe I could pull off some kind of shake’n’bake, jukespin move. But then it happened. Our eyes met for a split second. I cowardly deflected, tilting my head to the side. Our heads were about 6 inches apart, less than the length of a number 2 pencil. His pale face was blotched red.
"YOU FUCKING JEW!"
In the same motion, he made a guttural, hocking sound and spat directly in the side of my face. I was shellshocked but had to keep moving. I made it through. It was over. Using the left forearm of my blazer, I wiped the spit out of my ear and mopped up my cheek and eye. Their collective laughter bounced off the walls.
Yep, high school was cruel. I was a frail nerd. In some misguided attempt at vanity, I rarely wore my glasses, preferring to squint and just listen. I wasn’t particularly athletic. When it came time for dodgeball, a/k/a smear the queer, I was usually picked near the end. I also had little success with the ladies, skipping my prom altogether. I often ate lunch alone, sometimes pretending to study, as if I was doing some last minute cramming for an exam. My face buried in a text book. An exceptional strategy for avoiding unnecessary eye contact.
My only refuge was heavy metal.
The bands were larger than life. It was pure, unadulterated escapism. A seemingly lysergic journey that circumvented my daily troubles. Most boys my age had centerfolds of Farah Fawcett and Cheryl Tiegs. Contrarily, I plastered pictures from Hit Parader and Circus magazines all over my bedroom wall. My extracurricular time consisted of taking solace in the music, shutting the door and flailing away on my air guitar. This might sound melodramatic, but the music probably saved my life. Although I wouldn’t have classified myself as suicidal, back then I lived in a constant state of trepidation. Heavy metal served as a counterweight to my personal fears. It kept me balanced.
Rock’n’roll kept me sane. But it will soon reemerge as one of the underlying elements in a future act of cyber-terrorism. A black swan to rival 9/11. Turns out the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Center) was right. Heavy metal is, and was, a potentially deadly commodity. Whoever said that heavy metal isn’t dangerous is wrong. Dead wrong. I originally dismissed the claims of Tipper Gore. But nowadays, I’m a lot older and a little bit wiser. "X" for sexually explicit lyrics, "O" for occult references, "D/A" for lyrics about drugs and alcohol and "V" for violent content. Alas they omitted the most important content rating of ‘em all. In 2019, “T” will stand for terrorism. Although you could make a reasonable assertion that very few will be left standing.
Memories are resurfacing. It was always better to stand on the outside of the pit. Occasionally getting bumped around, here and there, but not manhandled and sweated upon by shirtless skinhead. What bore the inspiration for the “666 Mutha Fucka” tattoo on his forehead? We do not know. However, I do know this. Not everyone moshing and slamming played by the same rules. I was once deliberately targeted. And ended up at the bottom of a jam pile. It was a physically breathtaking experience.
So now, three decades later, I’m the bully. Plotting my revenge. I’ve bided my time and paid my dues. Life has had its ups and downs. But I say carpe diem. I’m going to literally seize the day. Specifically, a day (9-15-19). Islamic terrorists have been rewarded with an entire 24 hour-long tribute for their acts of martyrdom. That’s 1440 minutes. I just want a fraction of those minutes. In total, about a half hour. Seriously, is that asking too much?
Once again, I’m getting ahead of myself. Putting the cart before the horse. Or in this case, the amps in front of the guitars.
Mason and I had a conversation shortly after Donald Trump was elected in 2016.
“Mason, if I could grant you just one wish, any wish, what would it be?”
Mason: I want Trump to go away. Completely vanish. Is there any way you could magically disappear him? For me?
Me: Well, let me ask you something? What if I created a situation, a scenario where Trump was marginalized and humiliated, to such a degree, that he resigned the presidency? And he refused to engage the media in perpetuity, choosing to live the remainder of his life in extreme seclusion. Most important, I promise you, he’ll never tweet again.
Mason: Yeah! Yes! That way I’d never have to see his fat fucking ugly face! (brief pause) Eric, I know that smirk. You’re having one of those internal deliberations. What are you thinking? What are you going to do?
Me: Well Mason, let’s just say I’m going to open up a jar of whoop ass. Not only will I get rid of the POSUS (Piece of Shit of the United States), my operation will irreversibly destroy the entire Republican Party as well. Solely by their connection to Trump. In 2020, the Senate will shift blue. And the House? It’s transformation will resemble the internal goo of a blueberry pop tart… with frosting. In the Navy!
On September fifteenth, two thousand nineteen, at three Post Meridiem, 666 hours from now, 27.75 days from the point of internet publication (9 pm on Monday, August 19), the world will change. Humankind will witness a seminal moment in time. A pivotal event. One so horrific, so inconceivable, that it boggles the imagination and defies reality.
Come mid-Sunday, mid-afternoon, in early fall of 2019 , the following tweetstorm will surface on the internet in the form of a sophisticated viral hoax.
Few will verify the date. April Fools, eh? Well, not quite.
Everything will backfire.
Call, text and cell phone. Lock, stock and barrel. People, particularly those you love the most, will be the first to betray you. Urging you to exit. Begging you to flee. Your fate will be sealed by those you implicitly trust. It will be the ultimate, intimate con. The victims will be forever labeled as schmuckers: half schmucks, half suckers.
Welcome to the “cyber dark ages.” Come on in, the wireless water is warm. Within a matter of seconds, the malicious hoax will spread. Military theorists and warfare historians will refer to this phenomenon as a “viral blitzkrieg.” A communications bombardment. As the decentralization kicks in, society will be unable to cope with the sudden, precarious techno-onslaught. The crowds will collectively run for their lives, much like herds of wild animals. Their animality will be channeled into absolute anarchy… in the form of human stampedes.
People often ask me why I attend the games and concerts with such unrelenting frequency. They don't know the real me. Wins and losses no longer pique my interest. And for the most part, the music has become stale and relatively predictable. I go to see the faces and hear the voices. I go for the reactions. I vicariously feed off the ecstasy. In the arena, when the lights go out for the opener. Or at the amphitheater, as darkness descends when the band hits the stage. That last second field goal, whether it gets blocked, or misses wide right, or doinks off the left upright and falls through. I go to witness others, as they experience the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat.
I watch the people, not the celebrities. Imagine the honor of knowing one of my future victims. Maybe we had a blip conversation. Probably about something trivial, like the weather. Bobbleheads, t-shirts or fireworks. Complaining about exorbitant parking fees. Or about the heavy traffic coming in or getting out. About the gossip and controversies. Regardless of the exchange, it's the people. Because I am inherently a man of the people. A populist of zero popularity. One who yearns for closure from the approaching cyber-apocalypse.
I demand it. And I will have it. My mission statement is narrowly defined. A doctrine constructed upon a critical path of destruction. My sole purpose, to seek and destroy.
Why would I write this? After all, the vast majority of serial killers value their privacy. They commit atrocities in guarded secrecy. Then, on the other hand, there's me. I’ll willingly divulge my tactics. When all is said and done, there’s really nothing to hide. In all candor, any reasonably intelligent 5th grader could pull this thing off. It’s just a matter of being patient and meticulously securing the relevant information.
The spam bots are in standby mode. Mostly targeting the social media accounts of NFL & MLB teams, fan pages, athletes, sports journalists, and various big city news outlets. The initial delivery phase will be executed in sweeping and systematic fashion. At the same time, you'll witness additional attack vectors. The emergency notification robocalls are currently in a state of wireless hibernation. Awaiting their awakening. The phishing schemes are preparing to jell, and inevitably jam. Deep fakes will transmit as shallow truths. Stingray technology combined with mass trilateration and bulk text messaging will be a spectacle to behold. I even created a real-world, Artificial Intelligence troll farm. Automated, synthetic, terror inducing responses, in the form of relatively coherent, albeit occasionally choppy, words and phrases and clauses. Ransomware, spyware, malware? If you're searching for something randomly spectacular, I'll give you something maliciously delicious. And wait til you see the phony Presidential terror alerts. As if the fake tweets weren't bad enough. Hey, if you're gonna let Trump zap me at three in the morning, the absolute least you can do, is explain the circumstances as to why he might break down my bedroom door. Until then, for the love of Gutenberg, it's all just fake news. Bad press!
When most people envision the wireless equivalent of shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, they conjure up images of cellular emergency alerts or perhaps a mobile carrier hack. But it’s so much more than that. There will be no concerted hack. Plenty of bashing and smashing, but zero hacking. The only thing to be weaponized are the minds of the general public. The dominipede (domino stampede) feeds off cellular addiction and asymmetric terror. It preys upon undiscussability, unfamiliarity and naivete. Those impacted will eagerly welcome the electronic abuse. Much like when survivors of domestic violence are eventually murdered. It’s an “X” event. Part of a long, drawn out process. Moreover, Americans have been unwittingly grooming themselves since the late 90’s. Two decades have passed since those silly, mischievous cell phones made their worldwide debut. Finally the time has arrived. Society will receive its comeuppance.
There’s only one person capable of executing the “flash override” and putting a stop to this senseless massacre. That would be me. However, there are also 21 well known individuals who’ve been informed about this cyber-abomination. They know of the consequences. How did they find out? That’s easy. I told them. They’re from various walks of life. Wealthy and poor, famous and obscure. In theory, the destiny of mankind is in their grasp. Think of me in terms of a shoe, administering cards in a game of blackjack. I’m asking any of them to hit me. Acknowledge me. Divulge my concerns. For each one of my chapters represents a recipe. Each participant, a master chef. A player in the game. If any one of them, is willing to proactively step up and plug my human rights website, I’ll call the whole thing off. All it would require is a single post of less than 10 characters. Nine individual keystrokes to be precise (agsaf.org). That acronym stands for Artificially Generated Stampede Awareness Foundation.
Incidentally, I’ll toss in one additional wildcard. A caveat… just for kicks. If anyone can convince Donald Trump to personally apologize for the Obama birther claims, I’ll cease my recreational ambush. Trump’s leadership style is morally repugnant. The racial identity politics. The casually malignant, unforgivable baiting. The birtherism gimmick sickens me. Nothing but venomous poison. His smug bullshit is just something that’s always stuck in my craw. So here’s the deal. Cadet Bone Spurs can put a stop to this irrevocable insanity. What must he do? Just offer a simple apology. Plainly say two words. “I’m sorry.” He can prevent a wave of human tsunamis with the most commonly uttered expression of regret. That’s all it would take. One trivial, meaningless dose of humility from the narcissistic egomaniac. Seriously though, the joke’s on the citizens of the United States. Even if the clownish buffoon was able to recognize the conceptual gravity of my offer, he would never apologize for his ethnic intimidation. Even if he was able to comprehend the stakes, nothing could compel him. It’s just not part of his remedial playbook. Like I said, the joke’s on America.
Final warning: You’ve got less than one month. Time is of the essence. Can’t you hear me tickin’? On your wristwatch. Can’t you hear me tockin’? On your cell phone?
You wanna know something? Us serial killers are a strange breed. Severe, unchecked mental illness is the tie that binds our ilk. Most are obsessed with themes of power and control, torture and mutilation. Many have voices swirling in their heads. Some communicate directly with God or Satan. We’re often scarred by rejection, having been denied love and affection. Hence, the desire to kill prostitutes and rape those who peddle sex for survival. Some have aberrant ideologies. They believe their decision to murder is somehow related to a political agenda, whether it be a hot button issue like abortion, or even the perceived survival of their homeland.
We super killers take our profession seriously. It’s critical to stock up on bleach and miscellaneous cleaning products. A quality mop too. Just in case the bleeding gets out of hand. Dollar store sponges will not suffice. A state of the art vacuum is also advisable. You know what they say about the follicly challenged? Hair today, gone tomorrow.
We prefer cash instead of credit. The less of a paper trail, the better. Those same rules apply to the internet. Search the streets, not the web. In the age of the internet, most prolific murderers avoid any extensive online research. As they obviously don’t want their cyber-activity to be tracked and monitored. On the other hand (preferably severed), there’s me. I’ve been incessantly posting, spamming about my future killing spree for nearly a decade. Oh, the irony.
I’m admittedly a little different. My sole purpose is to make serial killing great again. My objective is to be the best in my field. This can only be achieved with the highest death count in the shortest span of time. That, is the standard. There’s no quantifiable way to measure sadism or barbarism. As for cannibalism, I just can’t go there. Especially with the surprising plethora of fine dining options in the Pittsburgh region.
For me, this whole human hunting thing is largely a sporting endeavor. I don’t require a personal connection. No need for a collection of fingers and toes. I don’t need to chop out someone’s liver and serve it up with fava beans and a nice chianti. Some spicy Thai takeout and a plastic water bottle filled with cheap red wine is sufficient. Although my mission involves creating mass hysteria, it’s not necessary for me to witness the terror on a personal level. My satisfaction will be derived from a more omniscient perspective. Something along the lines of the Manhattan Project. Maybe we’ll call it the Pittsburgh Program. Hmm, Pittsburgh Pogrom. Think of all the security cam footage, the network highlights, the youtube postings, the cell phone videos. My visibly pernicious stunt will be the gift that keeps on giving… for eternity.
Make no mistake, this is simply a numbers game in accordance with the final tally of fatalities. Injuries as well. It’s about proficiency, pure and simple. Nothing more, nothing less. The benchmark number I’m shooting for is 1,000 dead. 10,000+ injured. All at the same time. All at once.
Oops, I nearly forgot. What about my marriage proposal? In all of this hullabaloo, assuming Mason says yes, there will be a wedding to plan. I’d prefer something very low key. Hopefully, just head down to the Pittsburgh City-County building and get hitched. Maybe even get the Lt. Governor to marry us. Before cyber-armageddon of course.
Notwithstanding, the reception is where it’s at. It is open to the general public. And everyone’s invited.
Come celebrate our love.
You’ve probably seen the Game of Thrones “red wedding” episode. Now prepare yourself for the black and blue reception. Less slit throats and spilt blood. More concussions and compressive asphyxiation.
What: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks
When: September 15, 2019. 3 p.m. sharp.
Where: Heinz Field, 500 level, on the concourse, next to the Southeast rotunda, overlooking the triangulated confluence of the three rivers and glorious dahntahn Pixburgh.
Casual attire recommended.
No gifts allowed. We prefer your presence, as opposed to your presents.
As far as the musical entertainment goes, I suspect you’ll hear the usual suspects over the public address. It’s the same stuff they use to fire up the crowd. Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” will kick things off. Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is a mainstay. And of course, plenty of AC/DC - Thunderstruck, Dirty Deeds, and Hells Bells. So yeah, it’ll be a rocker wedding. If you wish to head bang or fist pump accordingly, that is your prerogative. The mosh pits will surface spontaneously, as human beings fight for their very survival. Their final thought: God, please help me, I don’t wanna die.
I’ve often been quoted…
"In the days of the Colosseum, the games were held below. I crave the moment in time when the games are held above, when the fans become the players, when the spectators become the combatants."
Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be on a first come, self serve basis. Hunt me down during halftime. Between 2:30 pm and 3:00 pm. Simply ask for your $20 Tubman stipend. It’ll be just enough to purchase a tepid draft beer and a Primanti’s cheese steak. Anything above and beyond the twenty buck limit, you’re on your own.
Let’s be honest here. Something goes wrong at just about every wedding reception. Ours will be no exception. Hey, there are always unanticipated variables. Maybe the maid of honor passed out from heat exhaustion. Maybe the bartenders ran out of ice. Maybe the toe-tapping deejay misplaced his Electric Slide cd. Boogie woogie woogie.
Here’s our predicament. Mason and I almost never purchase Steelers tickets. Instead, we panhandle for freebies. Usually outside Gate A. However, considering the colossal ramifications of the day, I’d be willing to forfeit my principles and spend a maximum sum of $20 per ticket. That seems like a reasonable amount for a Stillers home opener. Another thing, Mason will likely be working that morning and doesn’t get off until 1:30 pm. So I’ll have to find her a ticket and hide it along the stadium perimeter. Note: if I cannot secure the requisite number of tickets, our reception will be held indoors/outdoors at neighboring Stage AE. But what happens if I can only scrounge up a single? Your guess is as good as mine. I guess we’ll cross that PennDOT pothole when we run over it.
One last minor detail. Assuming the reception finds its way to the 500 level, I will be committing suicide. Hey, wait one cotton pickin’ minute! That’s not pc! Political correctness requires saying death "by" suicide. Nevertheless, this is one case where the term “commit” is refreshingly accurate. For I am about to commit the most heinous crime ever perpetrated. My punishment will effectively be my suicide. At 3:04 pm, in a tribute to my West Virginia roots, my area code’s stomping grounds, as the momentum from the stampede grows, I will be forcibly ejected from the upper level of Heinz Field. And plummet to my death. Reminiscent of those who jumped from the twin towers.
Other than myself, I wonder who else will take the fall. Mason? Donald Trump? NFL security? Major League Baseball? Facebook? Twitter? The FCC? The FBI? Any of the 21 individuals? Plenty of blame to go around I say. But as the world’s foremost, aspiring, future serial killer, I paradoxically place all of the blame squarely upon you.
You the people.
You sealed your fate long ago. You’ll soon find out. It was all of you. I didn’t kill you. You killed you.
So, shall we attempt ketosis together? Let’s book this journey and cook up a heavy metal conspiracy. A condition where fat replaces sugar and metallic veers psychotic. Though beware, one accidental slip-up and you’ll end up like me. In a permanent state of psychosis.
I. Franco Harris' Toxic Schmaltz
Franco, the story of Exodus mirrors your personal journey. A story based on legend and mystery.
Exodus, the second book of the Old Testament, recounts the departure of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery via the parting of the Red Sea. An outgrowth of the ten plagues. From the seemingly benign: flies and frogs. To the physically troublesome: lice and boils. All the way up to the killing of the first born. God damn! That escalated pretty quickly. Just goes to show you how quickly things can spiral out of control.
Biblical stories like these all share a common thread. They are nonsensical poison. Allegorical rubbish. Literary gobbledygook. Toxic schmaltz.
But I have stories of my own. They are genuine accounts. Authentic narratives.
Franco, we’ve had a few run-ins. Charity events, political rallies, the arena, the stadium, and so on. You’re always friendly and polite. But in all honesty, you simply don’t care. I tried to connect. But you chose to reject. That’s fine. It is your prerogative. Your reaction is understandable. After all, I’m the most hated Steelers fan in all the boroughs of the Burgh. Art Rooney II refers to me as “the idiot who wants to blow up the stadium.” He continues, “if any employee engages with this moron, it’s grounds for immediate termination.” Half the NFL has taken a similar approach. They won’t tackle my concerns. But they will block me. (Bengals, Bills, Broncos, Browns, Cardinals, Eagles, Jaguars, Panthers, Patriots, Raiders, Rams, Ravens, Seahawks, Texans, Titans).
However, your son has a different outlook. Like father, like son? I think not. Although you two are bonded by blood, your son Doc is willing to share his opinions and perspectives. He even shared his wine with us at a Billy Joel concert (2-21-14). Yep, you guessed it. A bottle of red and a bottle of white. Doc, what can I say? You’re a crip off the ‘ol blood. So whaddya say we take gang violence to an unforeseen level? Aye Aye, Captain Harris!
Franco, I tried to join the Italian army. We went to your restaurant at Heinz Field. We tried the Pep-Rooney and The Immaculate. Menus with limited options are generally my preference. But seriously, only 3 pizzas and 2 calzones? Is that a subliminal hint regarding your jersey number? If not, you might consider adding some additional choices. May I recommend the anti-JuJu. It consists of pepperoni, capicola, bacon and sausage. Or how about a cold Keisel? That’s one big beered beer. Let’s just say I have some marketing ideas to help bolster foot traffic.
Everyday, weather permitting, my daily 5 mile exercise routine takes me for a lap around Heinz Field. The jaunt inevitably leads me by your statue, er uh, oversized plaque. It’s where I leave my daily propaganda. Kind of amusing how it disappears every time. But nobody knows where it goes. Lord, it’s a miracle! Card up and vanished like a fart in the wind! Steelers redemption, I suppose.
There’s a brand new cooking craze
That’s sweeping the nation
It’s called the toxic schmaltz
And it’s causing devastation
But it’s a diet predicated on physical violence, for our friends at Heinz Field, our enemies at M&T Bank Stadium, and beyond.
Everybody's doing the toxic schmaltz
Kick your friend in the head and have a ball
Come on and do the toxic schmaltz
and slam your partner against the wall
everybody's doing the toxic schmaltz
good friendly violent fun in store for all
get up off your ass and toxic schmaltz
if you hit the floor you can always crawl!
So let’s melt down some chicken fat. In a medium saucepan, combine chicken fat, scraps and skin, with just enough water to barely cover. Simmer and stir until the fat has mostly rendered, water has cooked off, and chicken skin and fat pieces are small, browned, and starting to crisp. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently until lightly browned.
Set it and forget it? Uh, no. More like, strain it and contain it.
II. Donald Trump's McTrump
Fair warning to all you Trumpian Magaholics: One day you will reap what you sow. Get what you deserve. I doubt it will arrive in the form of a mushroom cloud. Not as scorched earth, but more likely, fried internet. Cellular contamination and wireless waste. Based on president and precedent, of course.
Once a year I make a pilgrimage to McDonald’s. In search of two things: a large fry and inner peace. I acquire one. The other, uh… not so much. This specific journey requires eschewing any sense of dignity. The fast food behemoth demands as much.
So yeah, I was at this McDonald’s near McDonald, PA on Route 22. My order was a lone freedom fry. Ever wonder what makes their fries taste so good? The salt? The dimethylpolysiloxane? Voila, it’s a magical combination of the two. Gotta give credit where credit’s due. They’re Grrreat!
I approached the counter. The time had come to embrace liberty, capitalism and processed foodstuff. It was the moment of truth. Or shall I say dare? Hell, I was starving. Needing something more, the Filet o’ Fish caught my eye. Hook, line and sinker.
A quick tangent. You know how every once in a crescent moon, someone sees the wondrous face of Jesus Christ in their morning toast? Well big whoop! As far as sacred covenants go, I once consumed the tiny, bent, circumcised prick of Isaac, son of Abraham. Not terribly relevant I suppose. Days later, I dislodged a caraway seed from a secondary molar. It’s true origin? The artisan formerly known as Jew rye.
So anyhoo, I’m staring into the very soul of this Filet o’Fish. Preparing to grab it by the buns. Then, all of a sudden, it hits me like a ton of McNickelodeon pink slime. For god’s sake, it’s the face of Donald J. Trump! The unmistakable expression of forty five. He’s super-sizing me up. Weighing his options. Plotting his revenge.
McDonald’s has always yearned for a signature sandwich called a McDonald. And now, in the year 2019, they have the next best thing. Forever more, this deviant square of fish shalt be known as the “McTrump.”
This sandwich not only resembles Trump, it’s his caloric doppleganger. Our president gleefully admits to ordering the same bi-weekly meal for the past 50+ years. It’s part of his go-to lunch. That’s two Big Macs, two Filet o’ Fish, and a large chocolate shake. Not joking here. As this obviously lies somewhere between deeply ludicrous and patently disgusting.
563 calories in each Big Mac.
379 calories in each Filet o’Fish.
1160 calories in a large chocolate shake.
1126 + 758 + 1160 = 3044 total calories.
Your average 73 year old, 243 lb. man is supposed to consume between 2000 - 2200 calories per day. Trump crushes that daily total with lunch alone. Hallelujah! Carry out my wayward son! Perfect for when he resolutely dines behind that magnificent Oval Office desk.
Now they say “you are what you eat.” If this is true, it’s my contention, that Trump MUST be impeached. Not for colluding with Russia, not for emoluments violations, not for paying off porn stars. Not for the lies or blatant criminality. It goes way deeper than that.
Breaking News Alert: cannibalism is a high crime. And Donald Trump, is, by definition, a cannibal. But not in the traditional cannibalistic sense. If you haven’t noticed, he’s literally and physically consuming his own mortality. It’s the only rational explanation for his inexplicable narcissism. Trump has spiritually consumed himself by devouring 3,000 McDonald’s Filet o’ Fishes. Over and over and over again. Leaving his “raison d’être” totally depleted. His soul ventured into negative, uncharted territory long, long ago. It’s inverted, not perverted.
The math is incontrovertible. Over 2,700 weeks have elapsed since Trump turned 18. Now during that span, Trump has engaged in this whimsical pattern of asymmetric, auto-erotic nourishment directed at thousands of defenseless fish sands. And from what I understand, many were garnished with extra tartar. It’s not a terribly sophisticated mathematical equation. No yield curve. No discussion of quantitative easing. The sum quantity of chum effortlessly eases down his presidential throat. Then settles in his gut, intermittently contributing to his health and well-being. Only to be eliminated through his flabby, stout, wrinkled, milky orange buttocks.
Yeah, I know, I’m not being fair. I know, I know. But the similarities are amazing. Judge for yourself.
Hey, this is not the same ‘ol situation. Not for nothing, but I’ve often wondered how this cannibal angle never broke into the mainstream news cycle. It’s truly disgusting. Don’t believe me? Well, try a McTrump for yourself. It will make you salivate. Like a fucking Huckabeean dog (pronounced Huh-Kuh-Be-An).
Order a Filet o’ Fish sandwich. Carve a relatively thick line on the center far right, exposing the enriched bun. Add a little bit of tartar to enhance the tidal wave, surfin’ safari line of follicle demarcation. Spicy buffalo sauce for the eyebrows. Trump’s eyes are technically blue. But I think the Tangy Barbecue better matches the color of his eyes and nostrils. The point of diamond cod-figuration represents his nose. Another tiny dab of spicy buffalo sauce will enhance the chin. And OMG, the lips. American cheese exemplifies all that is frowny face. Totally obsessed with accuracy? Remove a minuscule chunk of the right and left corner breading. This will accentuate the ears, which happen to be a milder degree l’orange. As opposed to the rest of his fat fucking face.
My McTrump is a bit more abstract. It echoes the lack of soul. Stare into the eyes of the commander-in-chief and all you’ll see is emptiness. Listen to his words as they ring hollow. Taste his shriveled lips. Inhale his scent. There’s really no need for the decorative condiment enhancements as my interpretation trends infinitely vacant.
Many people, in particular Mason, refuse to patronize McDonald’s. So here’s a quid pro quo substitute. The Trump Golf Garden Gnome a/k/a McTrumpy. In deep red states, it’s often referred to as “Gnome Sweet Gnome.” He’s got the looks that kill.
1 bottle of Wigle Whiskey. His truculent torso.
1 cracked orange Titleist. His glow-in-the-dark head.
Excess hot glue. His neck vag, or shall we say, jugular meat curtains.
1 long red tee. His phallic tie.
Brushed orange cat hair, compliments of Cooper and Tyson. His waspish wig.
Assemble with a hot glue gun. Proudly display in any setting. I took a McTrumpy into the workplace, strictly for inspirational and motivational purposes. By and large, it was poorly received by the employees of Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance.
Missing ticket stub: September 2, 2012, First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
III. Brad Paisley's Country Spam
Brad, do you remember me? Of course you do. I went to Linsly High School, just like you. Of course, I was a couple grades ahead. Then I went to West Liberty State College, just like you. Funny how time flies.
Our lives took divergent paths. I drank an entire 5th of Southern Comfort at a Linsly Extravaganza rehearsal. Checkers was supposed to help me slug it. But he wussed out after 2 swigs and left the rest to me. Had he held his own, history would have unfolded differently. But hindsight is 20/20 and my vision just plain sucks.
My first ever blackout. I passed out and threw up in Mr. Wilson’s office. My parents came to get me. They were mortified. Particularly my mother who considered taking me to the hospital and having my “stomach pumped”… whatever that means. This regrettable incident led to my expulsion.
I was forced to finish up my senior year at Wheeling Park. Whereas you voluntarily switched to John Marshall. You were a member of the honor roll. Honored. I was required to attend summer school. Humiliated. We both reconnected at West Lib a few years later, hangin’ in the Union. Funny how the world is such a small place.
Do you recall a very specific discussion we had about your career? You know, before you had a career? We spoke one day, just outside the Douchebag Dlesk Center. That’s a knock on his son Randy. Not the father, Dick.
Me: Hey Brad, you sound great. The musicianship, the voice, everyone loves your cover of “Bye Bye Miss American Pie, drove my Chevy to the levy, drinking whiskey and rye.” But you really need to start playing originals.
Brad Paisley: Eric, you know, I’ve been waiting for someone to tell me this (other than family). I made a personal vow about a year ago. That the day it happened, would be the day I start concentrating on writing original music. And I’d be forever indebted to the individual who brought it up.
Me: (35 years later) Well, guess what? Brad, I’m calling on that debt. I just googled your net worth and it comes in at 100 million. Not too shabby. And you get to hang out with Peyton Manning too? That’s pretty hard to beat. Well, unless it was maybe Ben Roethlisberger. You’re still a Stillers fan right? Or have you betrayed them too? Much like when I saw you with that gnarly catfish during the Penguins/Predators game 6. Forgive me, I digress.
The only reason I mention it. A bunch of NHL teams banned me from their official facebook pages. Nashville Predators, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Winnipeg Jets, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins, Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings and our beloved Pittsburgh Penguins. These organizations just don’t give a damn about fan safety. It’s truly vexing.
Five years ago, your father Doug and I had an extensive chat about venue cyber-security. And we both know one thing for certain. That, he did indeed, relay my concerns. Not only to you, but to a slew of amphitheater and arena managers. So whatever happened? I thought we were making progress.
Getting back to business, if you choose to honor your original commitment, I’m asking for a minuscule 1% of your net worth. That makes me an overnight millionaire! Yippee! I’m rich!
This monetary infusion will help buoy my spirits. You see, everywhere I go, I’m treated with scowls and derision. Whereas, everywhere you go, you’re admired and adored.
I see that your extensive tour offers a 3 week break in September, just in time for the NFL regular season kickoff. I imagine you’ll be relieved to get back to the ranch in good ol’ Franklin. And be reunited with the wife and kids. Granted, your father travels with you on the road, but that’s no substitute for Kimmie, Huck, and Jasper.
Rumor has it you’ll be playing guitar for the home opener against the Colts. While Peyton Manning sings the national anthem. An absolutely brilliant, patriotic, marketing ploy. Sorry to play the role of spoiler. How did I know? Let’s just say a little birdie told me. One by the name of Amy Adams Strunk. She has quite the crush on you. Crushin’ it!
Anyway, when the stampedes commence, make sure you stay put in the owner’s box. This whole “planes crashing into Nissan Stadium” is a hoax. And I wouldn’t want to see you or Peyton get hurt. I’ve tried to warn everybody on social media, but they all think it’s just spam.
What more can be said about Spam, that hasn’t already been said? It ain’t just another piece of meat. It’s Spam! Say it like you mean it. Like Monte Python told you. Spam x8. Spam, spam, spam, spam… spam, spam, spam, spam.
My best advice is to chop it into slices and pan fry it.
I can live without ranch, but I can’t live without blue. Serve with a side of “Still Loving Blue” dipping sauce.
IV. David Corn's Freak on a Quiche
Ladies and gentleman, children of all ages. Welcome to the greatest show in terrorism. An innovation in the department of macabre communications. It’s called kill speech.
Surely you’ve heard of hate speech. It’s all the rage. Even more popular these days, with the internets and the tweeters and the what nots. The dialogue is so predictable, it borders on the passe. I can’t believe she dropped an F-Bomb on live television! Did you know that Huck Finn’s buddy was Nigger Jim? Four out of five literary historians believe his name should be changed to N-Word Jim. Turns out that Adolf Hitler wanted to eliminate the Jewish rats. An inferior race requiring the Endlosung (final solution). The Tutsis were slaughtered by their fellow countrymen, the Hutus. Demonization followed by slicing and dicing. Dead bodies everywhere. All signaled by a single word. Cockroach. Yeah, that’s hate speech for ya.
Now say hello to kill speech. The unexplored terrain where freedom of speech combines with exponentially decentralized wireless disinformation. Add a dash of malicious intent and the possibilities are endless. Widespread looting, mass riots, civil unrest, and yes, a black swan. Coming to a stadium and/or ballpark near you!
Remember founding father James Madison in Philly? How about Hustler publisher Larry Flynt in Cincy? Freedom of speech is being challenged like never before. Why? Because volume and repetition are the new objectives. Content and substance are trending less relevant. Make no mistake about it, speech is a big deal.
The dominipede will be a horrific outcome. That moment in time where First Amendment speech, our most precious and cherished commodity, backfires. A harsh learning curve born out of generic variables. The required elements being a perpetual state of cyber-vulnerability, man’s desire to kill, and a flurry of cellular freedom.
My concerns are of an extreme nature. So I took them directly to the media. But oh those journalists, they’re a quirky crew. Some venture into active war zones, putting their lives at risk. Others hide behind the scenes, preferring to operate in the shadows of think tanks. Many are driven by themes of integrity and justice. Still, others are consumed with accelerating talking points and spewing venom. Some are motivated by salary and fame. They compose posts and expel tweets. They give interviews and write articles. And then there’s me.
My murderous manifesto is a non-edible, cannibal cookbook. And time is quickly running out. Soon, the human hunt, will commence.
As referenced earlier, I tried to warn the journalists. Reactions were mixed.
Condiment Bizarro, I trusted you. I told you. But you looked away. Deep into your cell phone and scrolled. Gordonathon, I believed in you. But you ran. You ran so far away. And your lovely wife? I hearted her post on social media. And still, nothing. How about the MSNBC gang? Joy Reid, I’m a huge fan. This, coming from a white, middle aged, atheist Jew from West Virginia. Probably not your target audience. You were receptive and jovial, but of course, indifferent. Howard Fineman, you were annoyed. Tom Brokaw, you seemed distracted and coarse. I was told that you’re battling cancer. Katie Tur, how about all of those brief Trump rally run-ins? If that hastily assembled security perimeter can’t keep me out, what about those drooling, seething MAGA supporters? Chris Matthews, as the evening grew late, you were left flabbergasted. “You want to engage in a discussion about the vulnerable state of emergency evacuation protocol? Do you have any idea what time it is?” “Of course,” I replied, checking my phone. “It’s a little after 1 am.”
April Ryan, we caught up at the August Wilson African Cultural Center. Hey, what better a location to engage in a discussion about freedom? Juan Williams, you claimed familiarity with my controversial subject matter. Sometimes that degree of honesty takes me aback. Lester Holt, I told all of your fellow co-workers along the Allegheny River. Did they share my message? Alex Jones, you are the chief conspirator of my lifetime. You thought Hillary was running a child sex ring out of a beltway pizza parlor. You thought Sandy Hook was staged and used crisis actors. You believed 9/11 to be an inside job. When I pull off the next 9/11, what will they say about me? What will you say about me?
Right now, it would appear that I have a lot on my plate. But there’s always room for a slice of freak on a quiche.
The crust is key. Mix together 2 cups of almond meal, 1 egg, 2 ounces of butter, a pinch of salt, and a generous dash of white pepper. Bake at 350F for 12 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Saute 4 slices of diced bacon along with a quarter chopped onion. Spread the mixture over the crust and top with 5 ounces of grated Gruyere cheese.
In a separate bowl, whisk 3 eggs, 1 1/2 cups of light whipping cream, a teaspoon of Dijon, salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the existing concoction and bake for 30 minutes or until the quiche no longer jiggles.
It’s often been said that real men don’t eat quiche. I must be the exception. After all, in the context of warfare, masculinity is defined by the number of kills. And my kill speech rules. Yet again, dead bodies everywhere. Silly military, guns are for kids!
V. Erik Estrada's Strata
Houston Texas is home to the largest mega-church in the United States. Lakewood Church is actually the former Compaq Center where the Rockets used to play. Now it’s Joel Olsteen’s playground. Totally sold-out every Sunday morning. From what I hear, they even serve breakfast. Cracking and whipping eggs. Pounding garlic. Chernobylizing hot sausage. Concessionaires flagellate these ingredients with reckless abandon. For this is a hands on recipe. Because the nourishment ye are about to receive is commensurate with the Eucharist. The body of Christ.
Here’s a low carb noodle scratcher for ya. Is there an earthly, human equivalent of God? In the here and now? Most would say no. However, I believe there to be a trinity consisting of: Donald Trump, evangelical twins - the Chrisagis brothers of Eastern Ohio, and Erik Estrada.
Bare with me, as we sift through this holy quagmire.
Trinity: Part 1. When I think of what it means to be “Christ-like,” I think of Trump. He’s the essence of bravery, humility, sincerity. But I do have a minor bone to pick. Yep, it’s the bone spurs. His diagnosis struck me as a bit spurious (how come nobody ever uses that line?). This medical condition repeatedly hampered his ability to serve in Vietnam. When the war rolled around, he was a dashing, vibrant ginger. But unlike most ailments that progressively get worse, his condition, with the passage of time, improved markedly. A tribute to his well-being. Health, both mental and physical, run hand-in-hand. And if there’s one thing we should admire about Trump, it’s his beautiful hands. They’re just so soft and milky orange. You know whose hands they remind me of? Ray McKigney. In stark contrast with the hands of Jesus, punctured and streaming red. Disgusting. Such a disgrace.
Mr. President, I've attended plenty of your MAGA rallies in our tri-state region. Nine of them to be precise. In Ohio (St. Clairsville, Youngstown, etc.). In Pennsylvania (throughout the Pittsburgh region, the convention center, and that god forsaken airport hangar on the Moon). Even in my hometown of Wheeling, West Virginia. My objective was to establish direct in-person visual contact with you on 10 separate occasions. This was necessary to achieve the infamous “digital abracadabra.” Unfamiliar with this particular voodoo hex? Well, that’s understandable. It’s unprecedented and kinda Games of Throny. Oh, me so throny. Me love Trump long time.
When successful, I will be able to mentally commandeer your fingers and make you tweet anything I want. The digital ab functions properly when you’re alone and isolated. At your most vulnerable. The location I’m referring to? Affirmative, it’s the presidential commode.
Our tenth encounter is virtually inevitable as I’m quite certain you’ll be returning to the area. If you wish to prevent this evil eye sorcery, I’d strongly suggest steering clear of a 2 hour/120 mile radius of my house. As I explained to the 3 Secret Service agents who recently visited the home for a friendly chat, this is not a threat. It’s simply sound advice. I do not to harm specific individuals. I threaten humanity in the random construct of mankind.
Trinity: Part 2. When someone speaks of Christian virtue, I think of the missionary duo of Brian and Shawn Chrisagis. These flamboyant, goofy twins truly speak the gospel with a single voice. Thus I have concluded they are a single entity. Big hair Brian and short hair Shawn - you are the Chrisagii.
Have you two bungling, devout bozos ever wondered who hacked your social media accounts and removed all of your silly dogma? All that dedication and devotion… down the drain. Too bad, so sad.
I originally came to you as an honest broker, a friendly neighborhood atheist. I tried to get you to do my bidding. But you only followed the path of the lord. Ironically, the voices in your head, were mine all along. I summoned your passwords, and much to my unease, your safe words. I infiltrated your minds, your mission, even your Yorkville headquarters. Now, you will submit to my dominance.
This brings me to the man I’ve termed the Titanic Hispanic, Erik Estrada.
Trinity: Part 3. Mr. Estrada, we met for the first and only time on Saturday, November 10, 2012. But in my mind, it seems like just yesterday. You were a cop. At least you played one on TV. Your purpose: to protect and serve. What better a candidate to prevent public safety nightmares in the form of day terrors? But you neglected to uphold your solemn oath.
Legally and morally, you will be held accountable. Even in your declining years, in the nursing home bed, as death prepares its warmest meet’n’greet, you’ll never be able to escape the stampede stigma. Though, in the meantime, it ain’t all that bad. At least you’ll awake to this delicious breakfast strata!
To hell with the deviled eggs, you mayo sicko! I’m calling on you to sample this cheap and easy recipe. Honestly though, it does come with a cost. Why? Because sustenance ain’t free. Now let’s go put the stamp… in food stamp!
The trick to a good strata is pan frying the ingredients before dumping them into a casserole dish. Any variety of non-kosher pig will do. Personally, I prefer hot sausage. But if you have a revelation for bacon or wish to ham it up, that decision is yours to make. I believe in you. A word of advice pertaining to the the thigh of any previously dignified hog. The state of ham is consequential. I prefer Virginia baked as opposed to Isaly’s chipped chopped. Set the meat aside. Briefly steam a head of chopped broccoli. Frizzle some smashed garlic.
Combine the meat, garlic, broccoli and add a bag of cheese. I prefer shredded cheddar for the Estrada strata. Mix it all up. Because this ain’t no Estrada tostada dietary conformity fiesta siesta.
Beat those eggs with unfettered aggression. If you don’t love my eggs, you’re a sick fuck. Sour cream is the secret ingredient. Slowly drizzle the egg mixture, up and down, side to side. Store overnight in the frig. Wake up and bake up. Toast? Absolutely not. Like I said, what sick fuck?
If you’re truly dying for a slice of bread, compensate with a limited number of durable tortilla chips. Also, don’t serve breakfast in an early outdoors rainstorm. As this would require a nacho poncho of some sort.
VI. Jesus Christ's Body of Christ
A quote from First Corinthians. Or as I like to call it, One Corinthians.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
I wonder. Are any of the NFL stadiums considered sacred? I mean, we all know that Goodelliness is next to godliness. Yet, be that as it may, I rarely think of billion dollar stadiums in terms of holiness. Lambeau Field would be the exception. Believe me, after all this time, if Christ reappears and it happens up north, he ain’t gonna be showin’ up at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The frozen tundra, the hallowed ground is the ideal location for a resurrection. Hands down. Or extended, as the case may be.
There’s always plenty of eating and drinking at Lambeau. It’s a proverbial tailgater’s dream. Look at that shirtless tub of lard chugging a Michelob Ultra. What about Sir Cheesehead over there stirring that mammoth pot of jalapeño, no bean chili? What time is it? Time to grill the bratwurst! That last Maundy Sunday supper had better be keto-friendly. Lest ye be crucified.
When you describe the prototype Packers fan, the word loyalty comes to mind. That same commitment extends to the venue itself. In an era of flashy new stadiums, Lambeau Field defies conventional wisdom. It’s old school with limited amenities. The vast majority of fans sit on primitive cold bleachers. This might actually be Green Bay’s saving grace. Because when the spontaneous panics ensue, there'll be a desperate attempt to avoid the congested aisles. Many will be jumping over seats. So when the dominipede strikes, fewer Packer fans will get entangled in all of those unmovable, bolted-down plastic chairs. Granted, plenty of injuries. But I predict the number of fatalities, as a percentage of total attendance, will be considerably less than the other killing fields.
Still, the scope and magnitude of terror will be unfathomable. The five senses will take on a life of their own.
Sight - Eyes of the insane. Bearing visual witness to the hysteria and technological instability, resulting from a sudden collapse of the social compact.
Sound - Silent screams. The breathless cries for help.
Touch - Here comes the pain. The smothering compression and inadvertent ground and pound.
Smell - Chemical warfare. Prohibited by the Geneva Conventions, the stench of mustard gas replaced by the metallic scent of switches and semiconductors.
Taste - Bitter peace. Will they have enough time to make their peace with God?
What will happen when I make my peace? Will the fans be thinking of me? Probably not. But will their loved ones think of me postmortem. You bet. 24/7. As it should be. My purpose exposed. To infinitely haunt mankind. Moment to moment. Piece by Piece. Like a memory of elephants, crushing the skulls of the innocent. Stomping the lifeless, priceless remains of their indented, indentured bodies. It’d be preferable to die by the sword.
My suicide wasn’t optional. It was mandatory. I never had a choice. Where will I end up? Your guess is as good as mine. Probably somewhere south of heaven. And for one simple reason. You cannot form the sign of the cross when your arms have fallen prey to immobilization. There is no time to issue the last rites. No time for communion.
On Orthodox Easter, at a warm and convivial home in Hermitage, PA, we sang a melodic rendition of Christ is Risen.
Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Reality is that I’ve never spoken with Jesus Christ. I’ve uttered his name thousands of times. Mostly in shock and frustration. But never in reverence. Until now. The instant when I consume the body of Christ, in the form of a holy wafer. The moment in time, when I break bread with humanity.
Accordingly, I made an appeal to the Jewish carpenter. I asked for his forgiveness. I figured if anyone could put a stop to the stampedes, naturally, it would be Jesus.
.5 grams sugar, .5 grams protein, .5 grams carbohydrate
.0 compassion, .0 empathy, .0 humility
I was mistaken. It was neither filling or fulfilling. Turns out the bread of life… bore death.
Just for the record, when people say my cookbook is scary and menacing, I respond with an exasperated “gimme a break!” Ketosis Psychosis is far less dangerous than the King James Bible. Imagine a book that inspires the slaying of the first born. Or uses darkness as a weapon of torment. Or even worse, weaponizes frogs. Ribbiting their collective brains out in an attempt to furnish mass sleep deprivation. Now that, is twisted. I’m just trying to whip people into shape. Get their butts movin’.
Missing ticket stubs:
October 26, 2003, Rostraver Ice Garden, Belle Vernon, PA
August 24, 2004, Post-Gazette Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
VII. Thomas Tull's Broccoli Rabe
During the monotonous doldrums of the workday, I was engaged in multiple conversations. One about vegetable distribution logistics. The other about the vegan proclivity for ruining your average dinner party. As you may have surmised, it was time to change the subject.
Me: Hey B-Pro, I’m gonna go bully a billionaire on Thursday.
B-Pro: Oh Eric, what are you talking about? Where? Who? Who is it this time?
Me: It’s Thomas Tull. He’s a minority Steelers owner slash movie producer. He’s worth a little over a billion. I’m just going to swing by and say hi.
B-Pro: Just say hi? His security will take you to the ground. And then you’ll get arrested.
Me: Oh, I’ll be alright. He won’t have any security for his warm-up gig in Warrendale. He plays guitar in this band Ghost Hounds. Believe it or not, they’re opening for the Rolling Stones next month at FedEx Field just outside Washington, DC. You know, where the Redskins play. How crazy is that? He’s gonna wing on over to Washington and jam with the Stones. Err, uhh, jam before them.
B-Pro: Whatever! Just promise me you won’t get arrested.
Eric: I cannot make that guarantee.
You’re probably wondering… WTF is going on? And that’s a fair question. You see, I have this strange fetish for picking on billionaires. No kink. It’s nothing remotely sexual. I just wanna browbeat ‘em. In short, in matters millionaire, billionaire and zillionaire. I am the very model of a billionairy bullier.
But how do I get so close to them? Good question. Well, you just gotta find out where they’ll be ahead of time. And then show up in advance. It ain’t rocket science.
I’m particularly fond of multi-billionaire NFL owners. They’re my faves. As opposed to some obscure hedge fund manager. Now in the case of Carolina Panthers David Tepper, I got a twofer. He was the keynote speaker at Carnegie Mellon University’s graduation. Antagonized him up and down, left and right, knocked down, dragged out. Then there was this other time I hooked up with Bob Kraft. He’s the man with the rings (minus the stolen one). We had a friendly chat about hate speech in the temporary Tree of Life synagogue (post massacre). Another time, outside Dan Rooney’s funeral, I miraculously managed to “shake” the botoxed hand of Jerry Jones. When I say shake, that means dexterously slip him my “bidnith” card. Hey, if you ask me, adroitness is underrated.
These guys! Tepper? Kraft? Jones? They’re some major players. 12 bil, 7 bil, and another 7 bil accordingly. Granted, I’m rounding up.
The funny thing is, nowadays, I don’t even bother leaving town. They just seemingly come to me. Maybe they flippin’ love me. Then again, maybe they fucking hate me. Yet still have no idea who the hell I am. They just know about the "Appalachian asshole."
But then, there’s that panic stricken moment of truth. When they see the real me.
So what exactly happened with Tully? Well, I showed up early for the soundcheck. “My girlfriend is a big fan of your band.” He asked if I wanted a picture or an autograph. I declined but then introduced myself. Of course, when he heard my name, Eric Saferstein, it happened. His reaction? Uh, have you ever seen the face of a ghost? The soul of a spirit? It was the palest, emptiest expression throughout the heavens. All of a sudden, he didn’t seem like much of a rock star. More like an albino deer in headlights. When he realized, oh, for the love of Son of Sam, this is the guy who hassles my Rivendale Farms operation, just a stones throw from Burgettstown.
You’d think I committed the crime of the century. In his defense, I did inform him that I was going to deliver the next 9/11. But hey, he could do something to prevent it. He, and he alone, could get me to call the whole thing off. As a matter of fact, I offered him $1,000 for the successful completion of a simple business transaction. I’d pay him a thousand dollars if he tweeted the link to my human rights website. Or even better, when he’s up on stage opening for Mick Jagoff, explicitly mention that official stadium evac orders are NEVER issued via cell phone. Just as you get on get off get out. Takes about 2-3 seconds, you know?
You know? You know?
No, I don’t know.
Well hey, the more you know.
Thomas Tull? Looks like he’ll be doing neither nor. No the no, anyway.
So not only was I offering this uber wealthy mega-stud a grand of my own money. (Newsflash side alert: it’s tough to make ends meet in the veggie industry). But we’d also be working together to thwart a domestic terrorist attack. One that would make 9/11 look like a kindergarten bake sale.
Alright, we get it. It's a shame that boy couldn't be more copacetic. But what did Tull say? Another good question.
His response, “If you keep talking, I will call the FBI!” Emphasis on the words "if" and "will."
I sized up his jet black Nike golf shirt. "If ??? Why not just do it?" Hell, does this guy have any clue the number of times I’ve gone to the FBI? I laughed, "Listen, they’re not going to do shit. Do you really think the FBI wants to have an on-the-record discussion about how someone could hypothetically commit mass murder in dozens of locations, all over the United States? All at the same time? With no accomplices and no weapons?"
"Well, it sounds a lot like you’re trying to blackmail me!"
Me: "Not at all. As you can see for yourself, I’m obviously a white male. So it’s actually more a case of whitemail," I condescendingly guffawed.
Him: "Well, I want you to get the hell outta here! NOW!!!"
I joked, "But Tully, this is your big chance to be like Sully!"
Tull yelled, "We need a bouncer over here! NOW!!!"
I smiled. "No need, I’ll be leaving. I can’t spend any more time on you. Muahhh, ah, ah, ah."
So yeah, I didn’t get an autograph. I didn’t even get a picture. And I definitely didn’t make a great deal. All I have is a bittersweet memory. And a receipt for this non-keto Jergel burger, dag-nammit.
Regardless, I still need an obligatory recipe. Mind you, the Tull chapter was originally going to be about John Robb. He’s a distinguished former Air Force pilot who writes about the future of asymmetric warfare. He also shares one of those, one syllable, 4 letter last names. So Tull… guess what? You get John Robb’s Broccoli Rabe! Winner winner brocco dinner!
Drop the broccoli rabe into a large pot of salted, boiling water. Cook for 1 minute. Remove the cruciferous rapini and submerge it in a chilly ice bath. Pat dry and set aside. In a large pan, sauté a desired amount of garlic. Add the vegetation, along with a sprinkling of crushed red pepper. Do not overcook. Serve hot.
Note the matching wristbands.
Missing ticket stubs:
vs. Houston Oilers, 10-2-83, Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA
vs. Minnesota Vikings, 12-20-92, Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA
VIII. Mark Madden's Big Sexy Wings
Five years ago, I stopped by your radio show at the Carson City Saloon on the Southside. It was our first face-to-face meeting. “Mr. Madden, I’m worried about a hypothetical cyber-attack that could leave fans at Heinz Field feeling dazed and confused. Wouldn’t it be a heartbreaker if innocent people were trampled under foot? An unsettling “X” event where Steelers fans are effectively given no quarter.
You replied, “I’m just not interested. No thanks.”
For someone with a tested IQ of 166, my hunch is that you quickly realized something. Indiscriminate mass murder without conventional weapons really isn't a suitable conversation for parkway rush hour traffic. That it might be advisable to stay off the FBI’s radar (as I, am on it). That it would likely pose a risk to your brand, not to mention, fame and fortune. I hate to sound petty (Tom Petty), but for someone who incessantly brags about kicking everyone’s ass while simultaneously boning their twin daughters, maybe, just maybe, you aren’t a brave as you claim to be. The discrepancy is literally quite maddening.
To tell the truth, if I had a dime for every time I’ve seen you in person, I’d probably have about 3 or 4 bucks. Just enough to purchase an unhappy meal. Much like you, I go to plenty of concerts and sporting events, even an occasional rasslin’ show. Now I’m definitely not interested in driving 7 hours for a Schenectady Whitesnake, but then again, to each their own.
Still, I wasn’t prepared to give up. So I tried a sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll strategy.
“Big Sexy, that’s a really colorful Hawaiian shirt. Is it cashmere?”
“Yo Marky Mark! Wanna hit this?”
“Do you remember that big, beautiful envelope I gave you at the Greta Van Fleet concert (Stage AE, 7-18-18)? It was like the letter Kim Jong-Un sent to Donald Trump. You accused me of being a psycho stalker. Psychotic? Maybe. Stalker? Hardly. Just taking you for a little amusement ride. My slick remedy for your being unable to squeeze into the coasters of Kennywood and Conneaut.
Over time you became bitter and resentful. Please know this, I honestly wasn’t mocking you. Trolling perhaps. But I could never patronize anyone who has given me so much gifted insight and free entertainment, in the realm of, well… everything. You might not be a fan of mine. But I am definitely a fan of yours.
I even tried to engage you with food, sports and intellectualism.
I once offered you a hot dog at Buc Night. “Listen, if you’re gonna try and buy my adoration, how about something a little more substantial, like caviar nachos? Or grab me a slice, from Slice on Broadway.”
I once shared an esoteric, old school pro wrestling story. About how my father accidentally received Bruno Sammartino’s Paine Webber statement. This was back in the day when they used to hand-stuff the monthly statements. Not surprisingly, the name right before Sammartino is Saferstein. You didn’t care.
My favorite part of your radio show is Ask Mark Anything. The quick-witted extemporaneous commentary, the simulated frustration and vicious, ad hominem attacks, and yes, the sparse praise. It’s that unwavering commitment to balanced unpredictability. For you, are a super genius.
I’ve always wanted to ask, “If you could be any type of dinosaur, which one would you be?" Naturally, you’d respond with the most feared and dreaded, a Tyrannosaurus rex. To which I’d reply, “Thank you, T-Rexy.”
On Monday, September 16, 2019, assuming I’m alive, I’ll make my first ever call to your radio show. You’ll be asked the most difficult question throughout your entire career in sports journalism.
You: On the line is, uh, Scalping Jew from my original stomping grounds, Reserve Township. (Hebrew Hammer eat your heart out! Yak Shamash). Scalping Jew, what’s up?”
Me: “Mr. Madden, I said bad day.”
You: “I said bad day.”
Me: “Mr. Madden, you obviously knew about the dominipede. Why didn’t you try to stop it? I’ll just hang up and listen.”
Mark Madden, you may not realize this. But we share an unbreakable bond. One forged in the colors of blood, both dark and bright. The Reds.
In nineteen eighty nine, 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives. It was a senseless tragedy. At the conclusion of every single show, we embrace that memory with a unifying rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” So naturally, I figured you’d be interested in what I had to say. That you might listen. I was wrong. Dead wrong. I thought you’d be the perfect candidate. But you wouldn’t hear me. All you did was chuckle. And then you got angry. Now, whenever we make eye contact, you become instantly enraged with this contrived, scripted bluster.
As a consequence, humanity will continue trending toward eternal relegation.
The final outcome: a trail of dead bodies and a seismic shift in the psychological future of mankind.
The night Philly won the Super Bowl, Mason and I went to our friend’s house, way atop a steep hill, in Wheeling. He’s a diehard Eagles fan from Yardley. I told his wife Rocker that I’d snag some wings. So based on your overwhelming endorsement, we hit up the Big Shot Bob’s in Carnegie. We ate ‘em and ranked ‘em. Here were the results, admittedly unofficial, in order of best to worst.
1. Talk of Beaver Falls (Hot and tangy)
2. Cajun (dry)
3. Hot garlic (dry)
4. Mean Joe Greene (Black and gold with green jalapeño sauce)
5. Big Sexy (high tech buffalo parm)
Damn! Once again, you let me down. Your signature flavor totally sucked!
Just for the record, if you buy a significant quantity of wings, do yourself a favor, and only get the wings. Purchase the vegetables and dip separately. My recommendation is chopped celery hearts. I prefer the tender inner ribs, as opposed to the bitter, outer stalks. This same theory applies to ranch or blue. The only credible options are Marzetti Ultimate Blue Cheese and Hidden Valley Ranch. Throw in a jar of Tuscan Garden pepperoncinis.
No recipe this time. Strictly takeout.
One last thought. As a fellow writer, my books are labeled and patterned after your heroes. Book, Book II, Book III, Book IV. Ironic how Book I was a Saffy snafu. Entitled by a word you know all too well. Dominipede.
IX. Brad Mayne's Main Course
Hear ye! Hear ye! Here’s the deal. The court of public opinion is open and now in session. Brad Mayne, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Wait a minute. Who the hell is Brad Mayne? Well, lemme tell ya. He’s the main man. The man with the plan. He was the former President and CEO of MetLife Stadium (2012-2016). That position is kind of a big deal because most stadiums don’t require such a hierarchy of extended leadership. A general manager or operations manager is usually sufficient. But MetLife Stadium is the go-to venue for all major events in the New York City/New Jersey metro area. Not one, but two NFL franchises. The only cold weather stadium to host an outdoor Super Bowl. Not to mention all the mega-concerts, international soccer games, even RassleMania.
So when I heard that Mr. Mayne would be the keynote speaker at my old stomping grounds in Oglebay Park, I zipped up to Wilson Lodge. I missed the morning breakfast but noticed he was on the early afternoon golf schedule. So I grabbed my putter and a couple Slazengers. Maybe I’ll surprise him. Ambush him on the Speidel practice putting green. Long story short. We had a friendly chat about an uncomfortable subject. Outdated emergency evacuation protocol. He was pretty tied up with the golf outing. As a result, he promised to call me later in the day and finish the conversation. Much to my surprise, he graciously phoned. And we spoke some more. Brad’s a sharp guy. He’s not supposed to get it, but trust me, he got it.
Welcome to MetLife Stadium. Or should I say, welcome to the bunghole. The concrete jungle of the Meadowlands complex in glorious East Rutherford, NJ (population 8,913). On game day, it’s nearly 10x that number as the tiny town swells into a sardine-packed, warehouse-like city.
I once considered writing a book called Evac Protocol for Dummies. Thus it would be necessary to keep things as simple as possible. Enter 1990’s inspirational and motivational characters Beavis and Butthead. They once encountered a similarly irreconcilable dilemma when a rat stole their dinner.
Beavis: That son of a bitch ate our nachos!
Butthead: That’s right Beavis. And that is a crime for which it must be punished.
Beavis: Yeah. Huh huh. Yeah. TO DEATH! Hm hm hm heh.
Butthead: This is gonna be cool.
In my humble opinion, death is not cool. Particularly 9/11. We all remember the billowing smoke from the towers. But not everyone recollects the duration of its aftermath. Ground zero smoldered for roughly 3 months. You could witness it from across the river while the Jets played in Giants Stadium. Fast forward a decade, the venue was razed. And in its place, a glorious brand new stadium was erected, symbolic of life itself. MetLife, that is.
I’m not sure whatever happened to Beavis and Butthead, but Brad moved on. He’s currently the President and CEO of the IAVM. The International Association of Venue Managers based outside Dallas, Texas. This organization provides superlative leadership, cutting-edge innovation, advanced education & supportive advocacy. They are the preeminent source for all public assembly related research, information services and life-safety issues worldwide. How quaint.
Brad, just like that rat stole their nachos, you stole my hopes and dreams. You shattered my aspirations. So how about we flip the script?
Beavis: Bradhead, your evac protocol totally sucks! Everyone has a cell phone. What if the cell phones tell everyone to kick everyone’s ass?
Bradhead: Yeah, uh, that would be great. Kick ass!
Beavis: People would get hurt. Hm hm hm heh. LOL.
Bradhead: That would be funny. LOL! LOL! (chant)
Bradhead & Beavis together: U.S.A.! U.S.A.! (chant)
Yikes, I nearly forgot about Brad Mayne’s Main course. To be frank, it’s more of a shared appetizer. Keto nachos!
When preparing keto chips, the key is consistency. Thin and crisp. You’ll require the following ingredients.
2 cups pre-shredded mozzarella
3/4 cup almond flour
2 tsp psyllium husk powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
Pinch of salt
This recipe… it’s so cheesy. Melt the mozzarella and combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Knead until you have a smooth dough. Separate the dough into 2 balls and roll out on parchment paper. Roll out as thinly as possible. Remember, the thinner your roll, the crispier your tortilla chips. Cut the dough into triangles. Equilateral or isosceles are acceptable. I strongly advise against scalene.
Bake for 7 minutes at 350 degrees.
Now it’s load-in time. Spicy ground beef, cheddar cheese, sliced jalapeños, black olives, fresh cilantro, guacamole and a little diced tomato.
Brad Mayne’s main course is the perfect game day snack. The recipe is one in a million and requires zero patience. These keto nachos will leave you in a coma, knockin’ on heaven’s door. Because if you don’t like nachos, you’re crazy. I repeat. You’re fucking crazy!
Missing ticket stub:
July 20, 1988, Wheeling Civic Center, Wheeling, WV
X. Bob Nutting's Groupon Grouper
Pittsburgh Pirates Owner and Chairman of the Board Bob Nutting:
Do you know what time it is? Lemme give you a hint. It’s go time.
Yep, it’s me Saffy. Your old buddy from Wheeling. And I’m worried about the evil that men do. So I offered you a check for $1,000 in the form of a donation to Pirates Charities. All I asked of you was to tell fans that “official PNC Park evacuation orders are not issued via their personal cell phones.” But you couldn’t see past the plausible deniability and hypothetical litigation. After all, it’s a voluntary admission that circumstances exist which could conceivably render your beloved ballpark unsafe. Others would say it’s linked to your being a tight ass. I totally disagree. This matter has absolutely nothing to do with your firm, proud buttocks.
Listen up Hillbilly Bob. Back in the day, you’d probably remember me from the Wheeling Intelligencer office. I’d go there to pick up my bestie Shrill. We ate lunch together, once or twice a week. For well over a decade. That’s a lotta lunches. By my count, over a thousand. Of course, your office is on the 4th floor. So we only saw each other a handful of times. I never had the routine privilege of bumping into you at the water cooler, as does your dutiful assemblage of paper pulps.
Though sometimes I’d see you at Golden Chopsticks on the Island. Or Figaretti’s in Clator. Or how about the joint with the best damn grub in town? Avenue Eats on Wash Ave. We’d lock eyes across a crowded room. But then you’d look away. Hey, Wheeling’s a small town. Can’t say I blame ya.
Dear God! Do you remember that one time? When I encouraged you to read Scalping Jew? You asked me what it was about. So I told you. “Well, I don’t want to play the role of spoiler, but there is a scene where I brutally murder you and consume your manhood.” You responded with this uncomfortably polite laughter. Again, hard to say I blame ya.
But then it kept happening. We kept on seeing each other. Even after I moved to Pittsburgh in 2015. Lunchtimez again! But this time, it was you who picked up the slack. Right outside the ballpark. Steel Cactus, Atria’s, even SoHo across the street. Oh, how you and your guests would cringe when I stopped by to chat. If anything, that makes me cringeworthy I suppose.
Nutter Butter, lemme give you a heads up here. Our seemingly random encounters aren’t a matter of coincidence. Admittedly, back in the day, it was fate. But in the here and now, it’s destiny. Domestic abuse survivors even have a name for it. Stalking. Yes, as you may have begun to expect, our most recent encounters were premeditated. Oops, that has murderous implications. Let’s try “orchestrated” instead.
Next spring, how about we continue our bromance down in Bradenton? Home to Buccos spring training (and in relative proximity to Del Boca Vista). Now wouldn’t that be special? Well, maybe not special. Pointless perhaps. But not special. You see, I’ve tried to convey my ballpark security concerns so many times. For you really don’t care. If only you cared.
It just gets frustrating. Time after time after time.
I’m fully aware the material makes you squeamish. Yo, that’s understandable. It’s what puts the stamp in stampede. The domino in dominipede. But mind you, it’s also what puts the safety in Saferstein.
Saferstein! Saferstein! Saferstein! (spoken like Izzy Mandelbaum)
But you still won’t do shit. It just doesn’t make any sense. Making matters even worse, you’re the #1 owner. Owner to the greatest ballpark in Major League Baseball. Despite the fact that it’s usually deserted. Hobnob Bob, you need to listen. Listen. True greatness isn’t measured by crowd size. Right? It’s measured by courage. Don’t you git it?
Well, I don’t get it. I just don’t get it. Maybe, uh… you think you’re better than me?!
Ugh, for the love of Uggs. If only you could step into my shoes and walk the Pittsburgh marathon (from finish to start). These choppy rants do grow sooo tiresome.
Regardless, while in Southwest Florida, nothing reflects Floridian fare like the grouper. It’s what puts the double F in fresh fish. It’s even where my ex-neighbor Fuckface currently resides (technically Naples). So without further adieu…
We’re gonna do a recipe outta the Ketosis Psychosis cookbook. This recipe is called… The Grouper!
Ingredients: Grouper, sauté in butter and olive oil, toss in garlic, capers, fresh chopped parsley, diced red onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
For a simply stunning garnish, I prefer the contrast of a raw root vegetable. The color purple comes to mind. Presentation is of your own discretion. Sliced, diced, stripped, balled? It begs the question, can I play with radish?
Now it’s possible that a light fish dinner will leave you feeling a bit empty. Sometimes they’ll even purposely decrease the portion size. A foreseeable consequence of using that Groupon. You know what I sayin’ Bob? Trust me, us Jews know a thing or two about pinching pennies. Not to the extent of a non-townie MLB owner like yourself. But you get my drift.
Anyway, if those hunger pains leave you yearning for a late night snack, try my Nutting Nut Balls. These peanut butter balls put the pee in piss. The nut in Nutting. The butt in ass. And the er in Erithrytol. Simply stated, this recipe has balls.
The trick is to swap the powdered sugar for sugar free sweetener and use chopped salted peanuts instead of rice crispy puffs. If you’re really feeling cuckoo, or coo coo, or whatever, stir in some unsweetened, toasted coconut flakes.
1 cup salted peanuts, 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup powdered sweetener, 8 oz. of sugar free chocolate chips.
Mix the peanuts, peanut butter and sweetener. Divide the dough into 18 pieces on a wax paper lined baking sheet. Now shape those balls. If necessary, fondle and Sanduskize them. Melt the chocolate chips separately and dip each ball in chocolate. If you experience a sudden loss of interest or believe you cannot finish the task at hand, it helps to remember Louie from MTV’s defunct show, The State.
P.S. Bob, your behavior really ain’t no shock. Several other MLB teams have prudently followed in your footsteps. They blocked me on social media as well. And now, they will inevitably suffer the consequences of their actions, their inactions.
Chicago White Sox
Cincinnati Reds *
Detroit Tigers *
Los Angeles Angels
Minnesota Twins *
Tampa Bay Rays
* - venue will fall prey to the dominipede
Missing ticket stub:
January 9, 1987, Civic Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
XI. Uncle Kage's Philly Cheesesteak
Pittsburgh welcomes the annual 2017 Anthrocon Festival.
Oh great, look what the cat dragged in. And I mean that literally. It’s all these silly, funny furries scampering around the David Laurence Convention Center. They’re everywhere! Lookie here, a white rhino’s sitting up against a vomit-splattered dumpster. Hey, that fox aggressively yanked on her tail! That is NOT how furries flirt! I even stumbled upon a furry conga line doing tequila. It felt like I was magically transported to Rio.
My impromptu meeting with Dr. Samuel Conway a/k/a “Uncle Kage” (pronunciation rhymes with “ah gay”) happened on the final day of the 2017 summer convention. I spotted him exiting the Westin along 10th Street. It was around, oh, lemme think, 10:18 am. He was easy to identify. The only furry wearing a pure white clinician’s lab coat.
So I hunted him down and unleashed.
“Dr. Conway, I want action. You need to tell your furry friends that something bad could happen. You see, I’m worried that a big bad wolf is planning to kill them. He’ll hack, and he’ll yak, and he’ll wirelessly blow your Anthrocon down. We’ve got to stop him! It’s up to us.”
Dr. Conway flashed a lawyerly expression of skeptical bewilderment. “Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. I’ll take it under advisement.”
As he walked on, I tilted my head around and extolled, “Dr. Kage, you’ve given me something to believe in.” Three seconds passed. The chronological gap for my final farewell. “I won’t forget you” echoed throughout the cement-tunneled entrance.
Uncle Kage and I actually have something in common. We both aspire to rule a cult. Him being successful. Me, eh, not so much. Though I do get plenty of positive feedback on the internet.
Each person I met through SAF has been so kind and motivated – people you want to be around. All I have left to say to SAF is THANK YOU! — Brittany Broome
I’m thankful to SAF for allowing me to develop the skills to become an activist. Because once a SAFista, always a SAFista. — Elizabeth Cieza
You don’t realize how much information you’re absorbing while with SAF. Gracias! — Lina Palancares
My experience with SAF was great. — Jose Sandoval
I’m very thankful for SAF. — Jackie Leyva
SAF is truly unique. — Dan German
I went to the SAF website. — Heide Hernandez (pronounced HEY-DEE)
SAF taught us by example what it means to work together, to practice what you preach. — Daisy Almonte
From Cali to New York. From West Coast to East Coast. We’re somehow united through SAF — Fernando Zamora-Jimenez
SAF stands for: building relationships with people so that there is no “other” that can be looked past, silenced, or taken advantage of. — Katelyn Smith
Alright, enough with the self-adulation. Truth be told, I’m pretty sure those testimonials were intended for a different SAF (Student Action with Farmworkers). However, I could easily envision a future Top 10 Reasons I Love Saf t-shirt.
Still, my dear uncle, it appears we have a similar trait. The desire to be a cult leader. Think in terms of David Koresh of Waco fame. Except my stuff is way more wacky. Or how about Charles Manson? He grew up right down the road in McMechon. And right up the hill are the Marshall County Krishnas of New Vrindaban. Behold, the Palace of Gold. I thought about waging a hostile takeover of their vegan plantation in the late 90’s, but my heart just wasn’t in it. Too muddy! Plus, at the time, their image had been irrevocably sullied by the stain of Swami Bhaktipada. It wasn’t so much the bankruptcy or racketeering charges. It was more about the filth-laden conditions and cultivated acceptance of pedophilia.
Alright, enough’s enough.
Finding the perfect cheesesteak in Philly is a borderline religious experience. And speaking to that which is holy, let me tell you something about this Moses character. When Pharaoh was chasing the Israelites through the desert, they didn’t have time for dessert. No time to schmooze with cigars and brandy. Those Jews had to get a move on. Hell, they were in such a hurry, there wasn’t even enough time for the bread to rise. Now why did I suddenly get all biblical up in your grill? Twas’ necessary. Because the key to any decent cheese steak isn’t really the steak. Um, it’s the bread. Now if you’re willing to pay for the finest Kobe beef, extracted from the wisest Wagyu cattle, the ones that get drunk on Sapporo and massaged with sake for God’s sake, well you’re probably not hangin’ in Philly.
My uncle, didn’t you grow up in nearby Bryn Mawr? It’s a city I’m sure you know well. Me too.
Oh yeah, the bread. You should be uttering a sigh of relief. Because I’m not going to yammer on about the perfect keto wrap recipe. Consisting of flax seed and fucking Xanthum gum. And I refuse to succumb to the almond flour or coconut flour debate. Personally, I’d rather speak ad nauseum about Ford vs. Chevy. Any of the low carb wraps at the grocery store should be adequate. Unless you’re one of these weirdos who has this strange proclivity for making a massive batch of wraps, and storing them in a freezer, each one separated by a layer of wax paper. Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off. Hey, Kage rhymes with the incorrect pronunciation of Miyagi.
Narrow strips of rib eye steak (rare to medium rare), melted provolone, fire roasted Christmas peppers (red and green), thinly sliced white button mushrooms. Garnish with French’s French Fried Onions and Frank's Red Hot. No mustard. No ketchup. And no fucking cheese whiz.
XII. Donnie Wahlberg's Build the Wall Burger
Well, you know what they say…
The bigger the burger, the sweeter the fervor.
The looser the morals, the deeper the orals.
I went up. Upper Polish Hill, Pittsburgh to a rock club called the Electric Banana. Don’t look for it. It’s not there anymore. Still on Bigelow, it’s now an Italian restaurant called Zarra’s. I ordered the Polenta Calabrese which sounds a helluva lot better than the placenta with extra cheesy. But yeah, for the sake of literary license, let’s just say they fixed me up a Big Bottom Burger (not on the menu).
Nothing symbolizes America like a grilled burger. It’s a rock and roll creation. A tailgating staple. The expendable grill, the black charcoal turned grey, the wafting smoke, and of course, the savory whiff of cheap ground round. Now from a theatrical/cinematic perspective, I’d prefer a Big Kahuna burger. I hear they’re juicy and tasty. Regrettably, the BK Burger is all hog wash. Hoax meat. Fictional flesh. However, if you want the real deal, options do exist. For example, there’s a Wahlburgers restaurant at 46 Blue Jays Way in Toronto Canada. But that’s a five hour haul. Far more preferable is the 5 minute zip up McKnight.
As with many aspects in life, it was necessary to find a compromise. I craved a taste of Hawaii… but settled for the “Dorchestah derivative.” Maybe someday Wahlburgers will feature a “Build the Wall Burger.” Seems like it would be a hit in Ross Township.
Anyway, my O.F.D. (originally from Worcester) arrived: a 1/2 lb. proprietary blend of brisket, short rib & chuck, Swiss cheese, bacon, sautéed mushrooms w/ housemade tomato jam on the side. On a scale of 1-10, it was an 11. That first bite put me in a state of keto shock. Similar to toxic shock but without the life threatening consequences. Instead of succumbing to a rare bacterial infection, it gave me a flashback.
It was a sunny afternoon in early June of 2018. Downtown Pittsburgh, Market Square. Is that who I think it is? Yep, it was Mark Wahlberg’s older brother.
“Mr. Wahlberg, I have a website about human rights. If I could prevail upon you to give my business card to your brother Mark, it would be immensely appreciated."
Donnie: Why him? Am I not good enough?
Me: Well, he’s a little more high profile. And he might know someone “top tier” who’s willing to take an interest in my cause.
Mr. Wahlberg tilted his head down and carefully read the card, flipped it, and continued with the other side. He gave me an unusual look, suspicious but curious.
Donnie: That’s some crazy shit. Whaddya want me to do about it?
Me: Well, if you wanna do something about it, that’s easy. Just tell fans at your concerts that arena evacuation orders would never come from their personal cell phones. You could do it while you’re onstage.
Donnie: Listen, I gotta tell ya man. You sound like a smart guy, but that’s gotta be the dumbest request I’ve ever heard.
Me: Well it’s not about song and dance. It’s a request based on ethics and grounded in morality. That’s why I wanted you to share it with Marky Mark. It’s my understanding that he thinks on a different level.
Donnie: Fuck you man. (each word spoken in rapid succession)
I’m hardly an expert on social interaction but I knew the conversation was over. It was as if I brought up the gallon of sperm, stomach pumping incident. We went our separate ways.
Donnie Wahlberg’s big decision: reject me or embrace me? Well, it’s pretty consistent with my own narrative. The day before I wrote this chapter, I was faced with the exact same predicament. Go see NKOTB at PPG, in a futile, but theoretically conceivable attempt to remind Mr. Wahlberg that he has a moral responsibility to do what’s right. Or… hit a free show at the Roxian Theatre in McKees Rocks. A rehabilitated venue I’ve never seen. Faced with the decision of venturing to see the New Kids and a variety of one hit wonders (Salt’n’Pepa, Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, Naughty by Nature) vs. Terrapin Flyer (a Grateful Dead cover band I really relish), I chose to compromise and hit up the Wahlburgers on McKnight.
My point. Every single day, Americans deal with challenging decisions, i.e., what to buy, where to eat. But the vastly more important choices are what we do, what we say. Our actions, our speech. Life, on the whole, may often resemble satire, but the real-world choices we make are not forged in comedy. We do not rely on fictional portrayals and fabrications. We rely on facts and the truth.
So when I choose to deliberately kill a thousand men, women and children, it’s a profound decision. Not one I take lightly. It’s a heavy duty that brings out the duty in my soul.
XIII. Homeless and Boneless
One day, I mentioned how I was writing a book about the next possible 9/11. “One of the chapters will be devoted to poverty and starvation. Would you be willing to star as its poster child?” His original answer, “we’ll see” eventually transitioned into an explicit “no.” I can accept that. No tacit permission, no picture of Ron and/or Baby. It’s peculiar how I’d afford a greater degree of dignity, to a homeless man and his mutt, as opposed to a distinguished member of the community. But so be it. Comes with the territory.
Detroit, Michigan doesn’t have the highest rate of hunger or homelessness, but as a major American city, it’s definitely the poorest per capita. If you recall those pesky SAT analogies:
This has me reflecting on the mid 80’s. Everyone loved Live Aid. Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson. How could you not fall in love? The gloved one had this creeper thing goin’ on, but hey, “We are the World” was still the feel good hit of 1985. It convinced everyone to get on board. In the form of reaching out, lending a hand, and giving… money.
Naturally, the heavy metal community bonded together as well. “Stars” was released by Hear ’n Aid. A catchy play on words if I don’t say so myself. The transitioning vocals totally made that song. Ronnie James, Rob Halford, Geoff Tate, Don Dokken, good stuff. The endless guitar solo though? Uh, not so much.
We never really conquered mass starvation in Africa. The population’s currently a little over a billion. Roughly 250 million human beings are currently mired in famine and strife. They are physically starving to death. Hence there will be no recipe. Starvation and dehydration are the simplest forms of torture. Simply deny food and water. It makes my contrasting stampedes resemble a nutritional blip on the culinary radar. Nonetheless, allow me to present the stars of Hear ’n Aid. In no particular order.
Judas Priest - Making the Slaw. For every cookout, there’s an elderly grandma who makes a tub of homemade coleslaw. Go up to her and scream, in your best B&B (Beavis and Butthead), “making the slaw, making the slaw!” Follow it up with the etymology of “picnic.”
Iron Maiden - Run to the Dills. The perfect background song for all future pickling endeavors.
Ted Nugent - Fatback Fever. Well, if it isn’t little mister dangerous. Hey Motor City Madman, your puny, tiny guns are a joke. I can exterminate 100x more people with cell phones and a dollop of trickery and a pinch of asymmetry. #NoBulletsRequired
Yngwie Malmström - Potato Blight Tonight. In all the cosmos, it was a sign from the fields. Water mold Phytophthora infestans. Sweden Yngwie, Sweee-den.
Dokken - Tooth and Kale. You’re in for a real treat with this bitter, leafy vegetable. You just got ducky!
Dio - Stand up and Kraut. I’ve always wanted an RJD garden gnome. One day.
Motley Crue - Kraut at the Devil. Can Vince Neil shout “kraut” 3 times in rapid succession? Before succumbing to total and utter exhaustion?
Queensyrche - Violent acidity. My heart, it burns. My stomach, it churns. As the world turns.
Giuffra - Call to your Fart. Behold the gastrointestinal ramifications of a keto-heavy diet.
WASP - K.E., T.O. All I need’s my love cuisine. K.E., T.O.
Quiet Riot - Listen up bro. Never meddle with a carry-out. As an elite member of the grocery bagging team of late 80’s Riesbeck’s, along with Edward J. Perry III who’d individually inspect each single egg, I learned not to smash, or as they say in West Virginia hillbilly speak… bang your bread!
Y&T - I get my summertime pearls from the Original Oyster House in Market Square. Their oysters are slightly fried and lightly breaded. My stampedes? Many will die and they’re heavily dreaded.
Vanilla Fudge - If you haven’t figured out what’s going on. If you can’t get it through that thick skull of yours… well, you must be pretty dense.
Rough Cutt - Oh yeah, the easily forgotten band that epitomizes smokeless tobacco (which does contain small quantities of sugar). As if anyone needs a legit reason to refrain from abusing something termed dip, chew, chaw, snuff, and/or cud.
Journey - Don’t Stop… The Cleavin’. Diehard Sopranos fans will recall the movie Cleaver. Christopher Moltisanti’s mob boss was originally cast as “The Butcher.” Had it not been for a certain butcher out of A.C.
Jethro Tull - How many people think the song “Aqualung” is actually entitled “snot is running down his nose?” So if you’re running low on food, just pick your nose, and eat it. Like the kid in Caddyshack.
Night Ranger - Saf likes his Kung Pao spicy. But the term Chinatown is no longer p.c. So when Papa Saffy has a craving for MSG, he’s walkin’ out on Oriental Street.
Twisted Sister - We’re Not Gonna Make It. Defiantly declare when you won’t eat in. Triumphantly declare when you dine out.
Future victims of starvation will share a special bond with those who perished in the stampedes. The vast majority will be rendered nameless and faceless. They will have died in vain. Victims of tragic circumstance but invariably considered numbers and statistics.
I used to hand out these cards.
It was a necessary aspect of my re-education camp efforts. Steelers games, Pens & Bucs, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Trump rally, random parking garage, church parking lot, etc. Just like Sonofsaf said in his farewell address to humanity: the card, the card, the card. Those who came into contact with them all had one thing in common. The unsuspecting readers learned of the potential for terrorism. And did nothing. Some received them in self-addressed prepaid envelopes. The ACLU was my favorite. Sorry you didn’t receive the obligatory donation. But I’d be just as likely to mail a card to Carnegie Mellon University, Mellon Bank, or Duquesne Light. And what about all of those windshield wipers? At all of those events. I preferred cars that made a statement: politics, religion, an elevated sticker price, nice rims. Any deliberate plea for attention. The whackier the number of pro-life stickers, the more receptive I was to sharing my propaganda. For I am pro-death. Although I prefer my victims to be of walking age, I have zero qualms about forcing a miscarriage or bashing in the brains of a paraplegic. Or smashing the twisted limbs of an Iraq veteran, tethered to a wheelchair for the duration. My favorite combo — women and children. Yes, women and children first. The more, the merrier.
It’s going to happen. But it won’t be that empty feeling in your tummy. It’ll be the breathless feeling in your lungs. One is excruciatingly painful and takes place over a period of weeks and months. The other is diabolically sinister and transpires in a matter of seconds and minutes.
For that has been the cruel, ironic beauty of this journey. Many shared my concerns, but never took them seriously. Now, in the present, they’re physically consuming these words. From a source of pure evil. Possibly the most despised individual on the planet. The morphing of a modern day Benedict Arnold, with the deceased terrorist of the century, Osama Bin Laden. It makes me wanna cry. Think about it. The eccentric philanthropist whose concerns were repeatedly discarded. So he took “killing for sport,” or shall we say “human hunting,” to an unparalleled level. And nobody, and I mean nobody, had the requisite courage to stop him. Why? Because they didn’t care.
And if humanity doesn’t care, why should I?
XIV. Steven Tyler's Cream On
If you watch the MSNBC coverage from the Fox News Republican debate in Cleveland (8-6-15), you’ll occasionally see the back of my head. I didn’t have a ticket, so I hunkered down by their outdoor set for most of the evening.
Right before its conclusion, I was walking outside the Q. And there you were, the God of Screams.
You had a limited posse of sorts. Two men and two women. Naturally, I asked if I could have a word.
“Steven Tyler, nice to meet you. I was hoping to speak with you about national security. It’ll just take a second.”
One of your buddies tried to brush me off, but you came to my defense. “Walk this way.”
Alright, you didn’t really use those specific words. But you did say, “Let the man speak. Walk with us.” We briskly strolled down Prospect.
Hot damn, this Aerosmith frontman was the ideal spokesman for my cause. A diminutive, charismatic gypsy. A recognizable presence with that singalong tv show. A worldwide staple in arenas and amphitheaters all over the planet. Who better to explain the dangers of wireless disinformation?
But he just couldn’t grasp the concept. He just didn’t get it. No matter how many times I explained the rationale.
His final words, “So you want everyone to get the evacuation orders from their cell phones?”
For the love of God, I screamed. ”Noooo!” And that was that.
Your fans might call you the Demon of Screamin’, but as far as I’m concerned, that night in Cleveland, you were better termed the Moron on Huron or the Putrid on Euclid.
When people find out you did nothing, due to a combination of limited comprehension skills and hazy stupidity, they’ll likely be upset. I’d suggest limiting future concerts to Vegas, the West Coast and the following major cities: Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Jacksonville, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Boston, Charlotte, Buffalo and Indianapolis. The ones that fortuitously avoided the prescheduled carnage. Don’t sweat it though. In the court of public opinion, you’ll likely get off scot-free. It’s my word against yours.
But how will history judge me? After all, there’s plenty of room for conflicting opinion. When it’s all said and done, I think it’ll inevitably descend along political lines. Probably the defining issue of our time. Donald Trump will label me a homegrown, domestic terrorist. One, the likes of which, the world has never seen. The slander will be unparalleled. Way beyond his routine characterizations of “disgusting” and “disgraceful.” He’ll call me the cell phone serial killer. He’ll label me a cyber-savage. The techno-exterminator. Someone who must be put to death immediately.
No deliberation. No trial. No jail term. Time for summary execution a la Orange Julius and Cold Ethyl.
On the other hand, even though the issue is apolitical, I imagine the Democrats would try to educate the general public. Hoping people would reflect on the catch-22 and grasp the paradox. Urging their fellow Americans to read the books, examine the website, explore the evidence. Pushing the human rights and situational awareness angle. Simply put, making an effort to provide a reasonable, rational explanation.
You know, there’s a fine line between musical genres. Blues and jazz, metal and thrash, pop country and dumbshittedness. Aerosmith isn’t really metal. They fall somewhere between classic and hard rock. There’s also a narrow balance between acts of terrorism and acts of war. After all, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. History is written by the victors. The conquered, the vanquished, the losers? They rarely get a say.
But I’m here! I’ve got something to say… about asparagus.
It’s too bad Duran Duran wasn’t a metal band. Uh, uh. Asparagus, asparagus! (say it until you get the proper inflection). This unusual vegetable isn’t keto-optional, it’s keto-required. An aphrodisiac as well. Rich in vitamin E which stimulates sex hormones in both men and women. Loaded with vitamin B6 which can boost arousal and orgasm. Whoopee, the sweet devotion. Cream on!
When I think about eroticism in the realm of heavy cream, it invariably leads me to Seth Rogen. The quintessential Monroever unloads in one of my favorite provincial movies, “Zack and Miri Make a Porno.” A few random excerpts…
Hi. I'm a delivery man and I have some cream for you.
So do you want me to give you your cream now?
I spilled my cream. Do you mind?
I can't believe this. I was delivering cream, and look what's happening.
Fucking cream is coming.
However, if you really wanna see what’s coming, it’s the roasted garlic and asparagus soup.
Arrange a couple bunches of pencil thin asparagus on a baking sheet with a bulb’s worth of garlic. Add a tiny bit of kosher salt and and fresh ground pepper. Drizzle and toss with olive oil. Roast for about 10 minutes and throw everything in a blender.
Ladies and gentleman, iiiiit’s time. Time to get your cream on. Add 1 cup of heavy cream and 3 cups of low sodium vegetable broth. Churn away. When you hit the appropriate setting, whether it be whip or mix, or pulse and puree, it helps to think of the stampedes. The gushing blend of innocent human beings. Helpless. Profusely and vigorously swirling.
After the churning has been deemed sufficient, transfer to a suitable soup pot.
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and cheddar cheese. No croutons allowed, you rabid, anti-breaded bastard! Well, only if your name is Janie. Rumor has it that she’s got a bun.
So you’re probably wondering. What’s the downside with asparagus? Well, it makes your urine, ejaculate, nocturnal emission, whatever… absolutely stink. It smells like pungent, scrambled sulfur. It totally stinks. Much like the Aerosmith discography of the early 1990’s and the dwindling career of their esteemed mouthpiece, Steven Tyler.
XV. Conor Lamb's Wham Bam Thank You Lamb
Here you go, Here I am
Thank you ma’am
This’ll be a treat
Here I am
While you eat
Mint jelly. It’s hard to fathom a more offensive gelatinous substance. You might as well be slathering that innocent lamb with green jello. Jello? Yes, hello. Lionel Richie, you are not who I’m looking for. The foundation for this cookbook was forged in heavy metal, not adult contemporary fodder. But seriously, mint jelly? Why not put ketchup on a steak? Well done! Why not infuse a premium baked ham with cloves? Oh what a feeling. To be dancing on the mealing.
Lamb is meant for grilling. Medium rare. Cut the meat into large pieces, or if you will, renegades of chunks. For the marinade: olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper.
Eat the lamb chunks by hand, directly from the grill. It’s a fistful of meal. These lamb morsels, these lil’ gamey medallions are the bomb crack. They will exceed your wildest expectations. Beyond the dreams of any I.E.D. disposal technician or methadone rehab client. Just be sure to adequately distance yourself from the juicy meat, as you would a roadside bomb or discarded junkie needle. We don’t wanna stain that expired Bryce Harper Washington Nationalists jersey with the blood of the lamb, now do we?
A side of mushrooms provides a nice contrast. Slice the Morello morels lengthwise and saute them in olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
Oh, Connor Lamb, how many times have I met thee? Let me count the times. Probably about a half dozen or so. At a Second Amendment town hall in Millvale? At your old campaign headquarters in Lil’ Washington’s 18th district? An auditorium in Moon? How about a random encounter outside the City-County building? For you are my representative. So naturally, I desire to be represented.
They say that great politicians are good listeners. So I explained… and you listened. At least, the first time.
This is my cell phone. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My cell phone is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
Without me, my cell phone is useless. Without my cell phone, I am useless. I must use my cell phone true. I must dial before my enemy answers. I must call him before he calls me. I will...
But Conor, you didn’t listen. You wouldn’t rifle with my credibility. You quickly ascertained it was in your best interest NOT to hear me. How typical of a politician. Just like all the others. Immersed in a congressional echo chamber of jibber jabber. So pathetic. Evidence that you are indeed a sham.
However, I must say, your qualifications are stellar. Let’s break it down.
People who serve in the military often find my concerns to be of interest. They appreciate the generational warfare breaking point. Mark my words, indiscriminate killing without conventional weapons is some real-world, slime ball shit.
You observe. You orient. You decide. You act. But I can eviscerate your precious O.O.D.A. loops. I can render them irrelevant. How? Effortlessly. Why? Why not. Because cell phones are vastly more dangerous than your steel guns. Asymmetric cyber-terrorism is here to stay. It is our future. Our collective destiny. The new order is here. But there will be no order, only chaos.
viral blitzkrieg + precision timing + specific locations
Number of fatalities & injuries = -----------------------------------------------------------------
Federal prosecutor? Check.
Critical thinking and measured analysis. Judgement and discretion. These are the actions and characteristics of a talented litigator. But how can you exact justice when you’re unwilling to acknowledge a potential crime? A hypothetical, undiscussable act of pure evil .
Regardless, now is not the time. Because the year in which we reside is one of ad hominem attacks and simplistic assessments. Everyone is either smart or dumb. Everything is either good or bad. Complexity and nuance have no place here.
On 9/11, you were 17. A senior in high school. Now, 18 years later, you’re 35. You’ve come a long way in a short time. You’re a conservative Democrat in a Republican stronghold. You leave me feeling blue as my face grows increasingly red.
Congressman Lamb, I voted for you. And you betrayed me. Still, I’ll probably vote for you again. And you’ll betray me again. For you are my representative.
Conor, you’re not the only one I’ve pestered in person. Some of you politicos I truly admire. Erikka Storch (WV House of Representatives), Bill Peduto (Mayor of Pittsburgh), John and Giselle Fetterman (Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania & his absolutely stunning SLOP).
Others I view with suspicion and disdain. David McKinley (WV Congressional Representative), Keith Rothfus (former PA Congressman). I’m neutral on Joe Manchin (West Virginia U.S. Senator). But this list could not be complete without referencing the 2016 Republican contenders who had me blocked from their official facebook accounts (Rick Santorum, John Kasich, Marco Rubio, George Pataki, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee). Exile, purge, ban, remove, eliminate, abolish, squelch, axe. Imagine my disdain when I offered them the maximum $2,700 campaign donation if they were willing to share my concerns about cybersecurity. Maybe they thought it was a bizarre bribe. A targeted trap of some sort? Still, others didn’t succumb. They sided on behalf of free speech. Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, even Trump. I often wonder why some cared but others didn’t. I often wonder who made that final decision. I suppose we’ll never really know. Well, unless we do the unthinkable… and ask them.
XVI. Nick Lendl's Next Door Garden
It’s been said that you can pick your nose. And you can pick your friends. But you can’t pick your friend’s nose. The same colloquialism exists for neighbors. In the grand scheme of things, when it comes to the next door lottery, I lucked out. No loud parties. No drama. No Hatfields or McKoys. There’s a Nick to the left of me and a Nick to the right of me. And I’m stuck in the middle with Mason and the cats.
My neighbor is a somewhat high profile character. He’s an announcer for Ring of Honor, a rapidly expanding nationally televised professional wrestling production. He’s probably unaware, but I routinely follow him on twitter. This is unusual because I only follow 3 accounts. His, Mason’s and Donald Trump’s. Other than those three, I have moral reservations about twitter. It’s a long story.
A couple years ago, Nick retweeted something a little out of the ordinary. It caught my eye.
Hey wrestling fans… let's quit using "faggot" as an insult. Sincerely, all decent people in wrestling.
As someone whose everyday thoughts revolve around the most extreme elements of hate speech, I wholeheartedly concur with this assessment. Of course, my material is about weaponization, not mere demonization. Still, the pronouncement resonated. In the age of Trump and widespread internet incivility, now more than ever, it’s vital to take a vocal stand against homophobia, white nationalism, religious extremism, and so on.
Naturally, I thought you’d be the perfect candidate to disseminate my propaganda. Simply work a sentence into your routine. Do you remember how The Price is Right’s Bob Barker ended every episode with an appeal to help control the pet population? This had nothing to do with a yodeling mountain climber or a brand new car or anything from the previous 60 minutes. It was a moral calculus. An ethical declaration. It was important. It was right. So he stepped up and laid claim to a credo. Have your pets spayed or neutered.
Please be aware, it’s not our policy to issue venue evacuation orders via your personal cell phone.
I even created a schtick. One where your fellow co-workers or fans could play the role of antagonist. I call it the Lendl extrapolation, corollary, theory, in a word, Big Bangy solution. They could refer to you as “Barky.” At the mere sight of your suit or sound of your voice, they could bark and howl. Much like the Cleveland Browns Dawg Pound “woof woof” routine. I thought it might catch on. As you often find yourself in the Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York region. States where excessive howling seems more socially acceptable.
Nick, I know you understand the underlying rationale. Though in retrospect, I think it may have been asking a bit much. Maybe I should have suggested this branding exercise for one of your crew’s villains. Consider its application. You gotta love the notion of a heel, who preaches about the importance of public safety and situational awareness. Then, suddenly goes off course and sneak attacks his opponent, beating the hell out of him.
As you can tell, I’ve got some ideas. It’s called being an idea man.
At first glance, everyone has neighbors that appear eccentric. Maybe they own a grotesque, inflatable Walmart Santa. Or a smaller, curious pink lawn flamingo. My favorite is the concrete goose statue. We ground scored a freebie, one whose head had broken off. So we painted a stream of trickling red blood down the neck stump. Lawn ornaments are a dead giveaway.
There’s my WVU bird feeder. The blue and yellow draws ‘em in. We get plenty of finches, boychickadees, and yes, cardinals. All those birds draw the attention of groundhogs, chipmunks and rabbits, who mercilessly ravage Mason’s garden. It’s a never ending battle. Quite the quandary.
You probably chuckle when I back down the driveway. You guys pull in front ways. Hell, so does Mason. I just think it makes for a better driving experience. And there’s less of a tendency for me to scrape, where the asphalt meets the concrete, at the humped intersection of discomfort and pointlessness.
You probably think I’m obsessed with mowing my lawn. I mainly do it for the exercise. Gettin’ a good sweat here - great sweat - good beads - nice beads. Plus our electric mower isn’t particularly well suited for the expansive backyard. But I gotta stay focused on the mundane. Gotta keep up appearances. While I plot and synchronize the murder of a thousand. Rest assured, you and your family are in no danger whatsoever. Although my best advice is to avoid the Heinz Field opener. If you decide otherwise, swing by the 500 level and say hi. Just be forewarned. Things could get ugly.
Regardless, my neighbor, I’m not trying to find fault or pronounce judgment. This one’s a toughy. With a lot of damaging downside. Believe me, I know whereof I speak. You probably never realized that the world’s leading serial killer was stationed right next door. Like Bundy (not King Kong). Like Berkowitz (that son of a bitch). Don’t be too hard on yourself. I doubt others would’ve seen it coming. Even though I literally requested your assistance and told you all about it.
Alright, enough with the toxicity. We need a recipe that will leave you droolin’. Bringin’ on the cheesecake? Watermelon it? On second thought, screw that! Why not just pour the sugar directly on me? As if I were an animal. Basking in its refined, granulated opulence.
Best to look to Mason’s garden for sustenance. All kinds of keto-approved fresh vegetables and spices. Swiss chard, cilantro, dill, kohlrabi, purple broccoli, brussel sprouts (singular round deez parts), cukes and zukes, dullard “yella” beans, pink Brandywine tomatoes, pea pods (All you saved was the pea pods?!).
Aye, it’s all about free speech, thought and expression. If only my concerns were about something physically curable, like listeria. As opposed to widespread suffocation.
Missing ticket stub:
August 24, 2014, First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
XVII. Killer's Killer Kisses
When I think of royalty, a spirited Kansas City pig pickin’ barbecue isn’t what comes to mind. Instead, I envision nobility and splendor. As in the royals. As in Princess Di. As in Die. Dead. Mort. Burnt ends. Turns out the closed casket was a wise move. Shards of bullet proof glass and bent steel can be particularly unforgiving.
The closest I’ve ever come to royalty is my flamboyant ex-boss, nickname Killer. Did he ever kill anyone? I once asked him. He fired back, “Nope, it’s just a nickname that stuck from when I was a kid.” So… to the best of my knowledge, he is not an aspiring serial killer (as am I). Because if need be, I’ll gladly pick up the slack and rip a living chunk out of Kauffman Stadium. Hmm, on second thought, maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself.
I worked for Killer’s wholesale tire company/ limousine service for about a decade (2004 - 2012). My overriding function was to serve him in the capacity of Double D. Designated driver. He owned this obnoxious black stretch limo, which incidentally, seemed to break down every time he popped a Viagra. Likely the reason it was “not for hire.” Steelers, Pirates, Star Lake concerts and an unstoppable, unquenchable thirst for local barhopping. After every saga, he’d look at me and belch, “well, that’s another one in the books.”
A few years into my tour of duty, something magical happened. Killer fell in love. Oh, what a trio we were. Me in the front. Them in the back. Rambunctiously traipsing through the obligatory pomp and circumstance of east central Ohio. Mostly Bellaire. Locals affectionately refer to it as Bell-Dirty. Certainly not to be confused with the other Bellaire (Bel Air, CA).
It was like a journey through time. Him in his late 60’s. Me in my mid 30’s. And her in her early 20’s. But the clique had questions. Who’s this gold digger? “Oh, Boob Job? Uh, she’s alright.” But when asked about the age discrepancy, I was less diplomatic. “Well, if I were to employ a similar dating strategy… my squeeze would be -3. That’s minus three. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find young love at the impressionable age of negative three. Whimsical and carefree, unrestricted by the daily burden of chores and taxation, and for that matter, existence. Damn you integers!
Killer was quite the gregarious philanthropist. Always telling stories and buying rounds of drinks. Adored by the tattooed, unwashed, multi-pierced barflies of his favorite tavern. A quasi-religious, 1970’s Doobie Brothers themed, rockin’ coke bar named the Blue Angel. On one occasion he regaled us with a fairy tale of inter-generational devotion. Apparently, after a heavy night of binge drinking, Killer and his significant other fell asleep in the nude. “I used her butt as a pillow. Best night’s sleep I ever had.” The following morning, they awoke, parched and hazy… and exchanged I love youz. Akin to Romeo and Juliet? Meh.
From what I understand, when romantic historians critique the meaning of true love, it invariably leads them to 1981. Charles and Di. You could see it in their eyes. Do you remember that train? Arr, that thang was longer than Long Dong Silver. Twas’ the wedding of the century. And the consummation of the millennia.
Well I got news for ya! A similar union took place between my ex-boss and his fanciful wife. John and Dawn. A holy union forged upon Grey Goose and two plastic bags. One of lemons, the other of ice. Congratulations.
When I envision those two, I can literally taste the unbridled passion. I often wonder if Killer was a good kisser. Cuz nothing epitomized the 80’s like the word “killer.” Her body is killer. This acid is killer. You wanted the best. You got the best. The hottest band in the world, Kiss! Kiss is killer!
So hey, if you’re gonna get kissed, killed, or whatever, ya might as well die while savoring a dark chocolate Hershey’s Kiss at the ballpark. A single Kiss ain’t gonna kill you. Whereas, an army of kisses… well that could spell trouble at Kauffman Stadium. K-gold double f man. Others call it “The K.” As in the kiss of death. Oh, you poor, silly Royals fans. You never knew my lineage. I’m half Kaufman. (Minus the f)
Therefore, in keeping with themes of dietary moderation, here’s the deal. Keto adherents, you need to repeat after me. I hate Juice! I love Deuce! I love Butter. I hate Strutter!
So enjoy your kisses. Like I said, one per day ain’t gonna kill ya. Unless it’s from me, of course. The kiss of death.
Missing ticket stub:
March 27, 1997, Wheeling Civic Center, Wheeling, WV
XVIII. Eddie Vedder's Garden Dog on a Leash
Once, upon a time, I met this guy named Eddie Vedder. I’m not one to pester celebrities and beg for autographs or photos. I rarely get starstruck. This time would prove a rare exception as I was positively giddy.
October 7, 2015 was the big day. An extremely rare Pirates home playoff game. Around here, they call it win and yinz in. Lose and yerrr out! The Cubs, led by Jake Arietta, pitched a 4-0 shutout. The Buccos got slayed. Hence, we were eliminated. Better luck next year I suppose. Hey, for Mr. Vedder, that pipe dream would become reality as Chicago defeated Cleveland in dramatic fashion the following year. Nothing beats a game 7, eh? I should know. I was there. We never made it into the game. However, we did make it back to Pittsburgh long before the game ended. True story.
But this is about you and me. Crazy Eric and crazy Eddie. We had our chance encounter directly below the Roberto Clemente Bridge. What a fitting location to discuss human rights.
Eduardo, you remember me, don’t you? You were in the company of Sean Casey (at least I think it was him). He didn’t say anything. We did all the talking. Regardless, he was kind enough to take our picture.
Over the next 5 minutes, you became the recipient of my evacuation pitch regarding ballpark safety. I thought you’d be a team player. The perfect fit. First and foremost, you’re a baseball enthusiast. Second and otherwise, you performed home and away, MLB inspired concerts just last summer. Safeco Field in Seattle, the Green Monster in Boston, and of course, Wrigley Field in Shy Town. Brings new meaning to the term doubleheader. Third, you already know a thing or two about stampedes. Hint: Roskilde. Like I was saying, you were the ideal candidate with whom to share sensitive subject matter. Not some shit headed yahoo. Not some bushleaguer.
I explained my concerns about outdated evac protocol. How it’s inconsistent with real-world conditions. How every venue is continually exposed. Left vulnerable to a wide-open cyber attack. In conclusion, I offered my wishlist. It contained but a single desire — for someone, both famous and respected, to step up to the plate and tell people the truth.
You nodded and explained how you already do charitable work for children with EB (Epidermolysis bullosa). A horrific condition, highlighted by severe blistering of the skin. There is no cure. I silently reflected, how can you have skin in the game, if your skin is physically falling off your body? I praised you for your dedication and countered. “Well, this would be free. You don’t need to raise any money. All you need to do is speak and raise awareness. And you have the ideal platform to achieve the stated objective. All those future arenas, ballparks, stadiums and festivals. You’re the perfect fit.”
You shrugged with indifference.
It was all for naught. People will die. And you did nothing. Eddie Vedder, you are not a betterman. You are a nothingman.
Not withstanding, there are far more important future decisions to make. For example, what’s your favorite hot dog brand? Eckrich? Nathan’s? Oscar Myer?
What’s your favorite hot dog restaurant? Franktuary? Franks-A-Lot? The Wiener’s Circle? I Dream of Weenie?
I guess there’s a time and place for everything. Including hot dogs.
Sometimes, when I attend a Pirates game, they’ll shoot hot dogs into the stands out of an air cannon. The intro song on the Jumbotron leaves me nearly comatose. In a fundamentally entrenched and catatonic state. Can you imagine if someone’s daughter fell to their death from the upper level railing, all in a desperate quest to obtain a composite mixture of discarded meat trimmings on a non-keto approved bun? Splat. I can’t help but keep my true emotions in check. Just the mere possibility of such an unstable tragedy makes me feel alive. One day it will eventually happen. And for that, I am faithful.
The “Garden Dog on a Leash” is a ketogenic tribute to that valiant 7 year old who lost her life. She fell on a mixture of empty seats and concrete alongside the first base line. Who’s on first you ask? Fallon (pronounced fallen).
The most important ingredient to any great hot dog is a good bun. But the only thing you’re gonna git is Boston Bibb Lettuce. This ain’t no grindah for suppah!
As for the brand of hot dog, may I recommend Hebrew National. Reason being, they answer to a higher authority. That authority having been Adolf Hitler.
Dress up that damn Jew dog with the following heat: jalapeños, peppins (pepperoncinis), diced onion, a dash of celery salt and a line of yellow mustard w/ tiny dots of Heinz ketchup. The random red dots symbolize the ruptured skin of those afflicted by EB.
Serve with half an avocado. Pit included.
Search for the ten Pearl Jam songs in this chapter. Find the bonus word… and you could win a prize. Ooooh, it’s the gift of undiscussable knowledge.
Missing ticket stub:
September 28, 2005, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
XIX. Mark Cuban's Cube of Sugar
Mark, it’s my understanding that you don’t care for the nickname Cubes. Why the disdain?
How about “Cubic Chair?” After all, you’re the Chairman of the Board. Right?
Cubans remind me of expensive cigars. But sugar-milling has long been Cuba’s biggest industry. It’s likely where the term “cube of sugar” originated. My apologies. That’s not the most mavericky of puns. Probably a consequence of the sugar withdrawal. Cuz I’m keto proud. So go to hell. And take your sugar, and your sweetness, and stay the fuck outta Pittsburgh.
Cubes, you and me go back a long way. Though technically, it’s not me. Do you remember my older brother Tie Guy? It was around the time Ronald Reagan crushed Jimmy Carter in a landslide. A metaphor if you will. Because you basically speak for the entire country. In the arena, in the board room, in the tank, and so on. On the other hand, my brother represented the tiny state of West Virginia. For what it’s worth, you two shared a common bond. Basketball. You used to play Jewball for South Hills AZA (Aleph Zadik Aleph). He played for Wheeling B.B.Y.O. (B’nai B’rith Youth Organization). Your team routinely slaughtered them by disturbing margins. In a word… domination. On one occasion, you knocked my brother to the gymnasium floor. You charged the lane. He tried to block and got called for the foul. You were exonerated. He was concussed and required help getting back to the bench. You calmly sunk both free throws and gloated accordingly. You probably forgot about this long ago. But I know what happened. I don’t forget. I never forget. That was then. This is now. Here we are, 40 years later. Everything comes full circle, much like a basketball, eh?
The charging/blocking call is as old as time itself. It’s a binary decision, for or against. Much like war and peace. Who gets to live and who gets to die. Individuals of tremendous power make decisions which impact the globe. Suicide bombers function similarly at the micro level. How many containers of nails will I strap to my body before self-detonation. How many ziplock bags of rat poison. Who will I target? Children on a school bus? The elderly in a church service? These are the choices that try men’s souls.
This conversation is growing increasingly morbid. Best we pivot back to sports and leisure.
Basketball’s different from other sports. It thrives on sweaty physicality. The physical movement of hands and feet. The bumping of bodies. Now I admittedly suck at basketball. However, I have mastered the art of physical contact. Without even stepping into the arena. My ultimate failure will likely be intentionally fouling out in the hardwood court of public opinion.
But you already know all this. I sent you my Shark Tank proposal years ago.
March 30, 2015
Shark Tank Overlords,
I have a deal for the Sharks. It is unprecedented, both in the realm of humanity and private business.
I have written 3 books. Each deals with an undiscussable national security threat known as a "dominipede” (multiple, simultaneous human stampedes likely impacting the NFL 1pm slate of games). How could this happen? Well, it's actually pretty simple. Think in terms of the wireless equivalent of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater. Hint: Everyone has a cell phone. If you wish to explore the issue, feel free to peruse the AGSAF website.
My offer to the sharks --- 100% of any future revenue, from all of the books I've written… in exchange for a 0% stake. That's right. You heard me correctly. Assuming something like what I've described were to occur, these books would obviously have some degree of monetary value. My asking price is NOTHING. I'm not in it for the money.
I'll have achieved my objective by virtue of going on Shark Tank to help spread awareness and educate the general public (LEGITIMATE venue evacuation orders are not issued via your personal cell phone). I'll have been successful and can move onto the next phase of my life.
Sounds to me like a win-win. For everyone. So would you like to make this asymmetric national security issue available for public consumption? What say you?
P.S. As an NBA team owner, I'm quite certain that Mark Cuban is aware of this specific cyber-security threat. I informed his entire Dallas Mavericks staff of the matter in 2014.*
Artificially Generated Stampede Awareness Foundation
Sonofsaf: Odd, Oh Biography (disturbing autobiography)
Dominipede: Book of Fear (the next 9/11)
The Immaculate Rejection: (The disheartening tale of a Pittsburgh 5th grader as he attempts to assist Heinz Field security)
* I’m declining to provide the 2014 email. Perhaps someone from the Mavericks front office could search their inbox.
Cubes, after all of that, it might surprise you to know that we’re already on speaking terms. We met face to face in the Great Hall of Heinz Field, at a Hillary Clinton rally in late July of 2016.
Me: Hey Mark, I gotta agree with ya. Trump is indeed the quintessential jag-off.
Cubes: Are you talking to me? Oh hey, you know what they say. If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck… he’s a jag-off.
Me: Let’s go Bucks.
Cubes: Yeah, let’s go Bucs.
Me: You know I’m talking about the Milwaukee Bucks, right?
Cuban: Milwaukee? Really?
Me: Oh yeah, Alton Lister, Sidney Moncrief. When I was a little kid, I worshipped those guys. Not entirely sure why.
You just nodded and grinned. But you never knew it was me.
Mr. Cuban, I’ll leave you with one final thought. You can fix this whole mess. Hell, you even donated 5 million dollars to Indiana University. Establishling the "Mark Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology.” Talk about a coincidence. More importantly, you have three children. My brother Tie Guy has a daughter. I, on the other hand, will never have a child. As my legacy would prove too great a burden. They would almost certainly take their own life. A suicide note would be of little comfort.
XX. Gordon Gee's Ghee
Gordon Gee, peek a boo. It’s me. Your old pen pal. As a secret agent man, my top priority was safeguarding America’s health and well being. And boy did I try. But you know the truth. Somewhere along the line, I became a double agent. And I know that you know. So if I’m going to successfully commit the next 9/11, well, you know… someone’s gotta go. It seems the time has finally come to put aside the tradecraft and embrace the truth. We’re on the record here. My desire to kill you isn’t about a sense of duty. It’s much more than that. It’s an uncontrollable urge.
That being said, I’ve been a longtime admirer of your storied career.
West Virginia University - President (1981-1985)
University of Colorado - President (1985-1990)
Brown University - President (1998-2000)
Vanderbilt University - Chancellor (2000-2007)
Ohio State University - President (2007-2013)
West Virginia University - President (2014-2019)
You are indeed an advocate for higher learning. On the other hand, there’s me. I did my best to educate the students, the faculties, the administrations. But their marketing infidels took demonstrable action. They silenced me and rendered my concerns irrelevant. May I present a list for your perusal? In no particular order.
Southern Mississippi, Baylor, South Carolina, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Western Michigan, Tennessee, Boston College, Arizona, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Kansas, Florida International, Western Kentucky, Louisville, Southern Methodist, Idaho, Ball State, East Carolina, Akron, Buffalo, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, Toledo, Georgia Southern, South Alabama, Hawaii, Central Florida, Louisiana Lafayette, San Jose State, Wake Forest, Tulsa, Connecticut, Eastern Michigan, Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Colorado State, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Notre Dame.
And of course, your very own West Virginia University.
Oh, those pesky, not so little lists. Mankind should label me Son of Schindler.
I guess what happens at WVU, stays at WVU. You’re right back where you started. And I must thank you for returning to your administrative stomping grounds. It’ll make my mission that much easier. I had little desire to venture all the way to Colorado. Because of the thin air. Can’t breathe. Can’t breathe.
Our eyes once locked at Milan Puskar Stadium. From a distance. Personally, I prefer the name Mountaineer Field. But you, you have this “Milan Puskar” look about you. Probably that signature, Orville Redenbacher bow tie. The same one I will utilize for the strangulation.
My best advice is to watch your back. As I’ll be returning to Motown in the very near future. Just hanging out. Outside your Blaney House. And as you die, I will emit the distinct sound of machine gun laughter. It’ll be in keeping with the tradition of the true Blaney. Lisa Blaney. But Lisa’s a woman and we are men. Are we not men?
I will douse your body in your own ghee and set you ablaze. A hit of clarified butter will get the fire burning.
Melt 1 lb. of butter in a large skillet over low heat.
After 10 minutes, the butter will start to foam and boil.
Skim the foam to the side, without stirring, to see if the butter is clear and golden.
Remove skillet from heat and add a pinch of salt. Allow it to cool for a few minutes.
Pour butter through a fine-mesh strainer to remove foam and unnecessary particles.
Ghee will thicken and turn slightly translucent. Store in refrigerator.
XXI. George Takei's Ginger Dressing
In the spring of 2015, Pittsburgh needed someone to headline their inaugural Humanities Festival. And who better than George Takei? One of the most prominent influencers on social media. A forward thinking civil rights advocate. He seemed like the ideal person with whom to share common sense, generic public safety information in the domain of fundamental human rights. But it didn’t go quite like I expected.
Our encounter took place outside the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh’s cultural district. You approached with another man. Was he your manager? Your publicist? Your husband? I do not know. He looked similar to Food Network Star Alton Brown. I overheard you glibly confide, “Some days you just don’t feel like waking up.”
I introduced myself and extended my deepest sympathy regarding the recent passing of your friend Leonard Nimoy. “Sir, I have a website that deals with a futuristic human rights issue. It takes a while to explain and I don’t wish to be a nuisance. So I wrote you a letter that pretty much covers everything.
If you might find the time to...
Your associate snatched the envelope and hastily blurted. “Thank you. Thank you very much.”
It was a stilted encounter. My only desire, to physically place that letter in the hands Sulu. Instead, I was greeted with a contemptuous scoff. Meanwhile, your expression was one of blank disregard.
But hey, at least I gave it a shot. After all, pioneering is never done in front of cheerleaders urging on a roaring grandstand of popular approval.
It was apparent you had zero desire to engage me. If only I had conformed to conventional norms and paid the extra fee for the privilege of your company. Maybe you would have listened. Maybe history would have unfolded differently. Maybe you would have taken up the cause and posted a few sentences on social media, theoretically altering the trajectory of mankind. Instead, roughly 5 years later, our country will fall prey to an act of senseless terror.
Mr. Takei, you had every right to view me with suspicion. My caucasian brethren have always been leery of your people. It’s why we had to nuke your native land. As a 4 year old boy during World War II, you were transitioned into an internment camp. This was necessary to keep Americans safe. The barbed wire, the guard towers, the machine guns. Under the circumstances, it was wholly appropriate.
You could have leveraged that vitriol and prevented the most heinous act of universal mind rape. An act of serial slaughter committed via a veil of deception. For many, it will be the final death. New York City is home to the largest Asian American population in the United States. So what better a target than Citi Field Ballpark in the heart of Queens? This will likely signal your fall from grace. Their blood is on your hands. The hands Sulu. Kill as one.
To counterbalance all that negativity, we must explore culinary options deemed refreshing. Trust me, this nifty dip gives new meaning to the word zing.
root of ginger
half bulb of garlic
stalk of celery
1 medium size yellow onion
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 cup peanut oil
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 packets of ketchup
1 packet of soy
fresh squeezed lemon
dash of pepper
When it comes to the garlic and ginger, do not chintz. Mince. Chop the onion and dice the celery. Throw all ingredients into a blender and churn until the cats have fled the kitchen.
Serve room temperature on a wedge salad. Or let it chill in the refrigerator and display with the usual suspects: a colorful line up consisting of celery, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.
Note: Major League Baseball flexed the Mets vs. Dodgers game to later in the evening (7:08 pm). Safe!
Where to begin. Let’s start with an open admission.
One of the preceding 21 chapters was a complete fake. That’s right, fraudulent. A total fugazi. If you can determine which one it is, send me a postcard with your name and address along with the chapter number. Get it right and I’ll send you a free "Top 10 Reasons I Love Saf" t-shirt (XL only).
Mail to: Eric Saferstein, Eight Two Two Geyer Road, Pittsburgh, PA One Five Two One Two
I won’t be expecting a deluge of correspondence anytime soon. Someday perhaps. Any given someday.
Most competent writers let their work speak for itself. However, this book's a little different. I desperately need the reader to be aware of one thing, and one thing only. The purpose of this whole exercise has been to walk a very fine, thin red line. I want fifty percent to come away thinking that the book's just one big sick joke. The other half, an even sicker joke. My intention is to split 'em all right down the middle. Have I been successful? I dunno, you tell me. In my playbook, the divide and conquer strategy has always been underrated. Hey, if you write a textbook, it's supposed to be educational. If you write a romance novel, it should be salacious. Shouldn't a book about the next 9/11 serve up a Molotov cocktail of unprecedented fear and terror? If you got a better idea for creating staggered panic across multiple time zones, gimme a ring. Better yet, drop me a line.
Now if you actually read Ketosis Psychosis from cover to cover, or as is the case, scrolled from top to bottom, I would expect most rational people would wonder… could all of this really be true? After all, the book is incredibly specific. Paranoid, demented ramblings tend to be in the form of vague grievances. I hate the govmint! Why are people following me? What are you looking at? And so on and so forth. Very rarely do people compile tedious lists with corresponding evidence. Throughout an entire decade no less. Unless they're psychotic I suppose.
If you’re concerned the material isn’t true, I’d encourage you to test that hypothesis. How? Well the answer is absurdly obvious. Ask them. Just ask any of the twenty one characters from the table of contents. Have you ever met "stampede guy?" Have you ever heard of an "artificially generated stampede?" Those would seem like decent questions. If you aren’t personally acquainted with any of the 21 individuals, I’d suggest reading my blog or checking the website. I imagine you’ll find the level of documentation to be excruciatingly exhaustive. Unusual but thorough. Hopefully a little more entertaining than the Mueller report.
Then again, maybe I made everything up. When it comes to verifiable truth and statements of absolute fact, I’ve often found there to be a middle ground. Much like beauty, truth lies in the ears of the beholder.
Here's a question that comes to mind. In the "say anything, tweet anything, behavior has zero consequences" epoch of Trump, are people actually allowed to write stuff like this and recklessly throw it up on the internet? Indeed, the undiscussability challenge is a fascinating paradox. However, the more critical question is… "what should you do?"
Should you call the cops? Talk to a trusted confidante? Write a sternly worded letter to the local newspaper? Phone the Department of Homeland Security? Because when you see something, you’re supposed to say something. Right? Well here’s what I say. Go for it! And lemme know how it goes. I’d like to be kept in the (OODA) loop. My hunch — if the issue ever surfaced before a federal magistrate, regardless of their political ideology, whether it be conservative or liberal, they’d quickly ascertain that "killing without weapons" or "kill speech" isn’t something they’d feel comfortable presiding over, let alone rendering judgement upon. Most didn't volunteer for dispensing divine proclamations on generational warfare precedents. And even if they did sign up, it's still way out of their league. You, don't get to decide who, is allowed to indiscriminately commit acts of mass murder, without conventional weapons. Only God is allowed to make that decision. Need I remind you who will finish the job?
Let's give a rousing Uncle Leo "hello" to your friendly neighborhood infidel.
Here’s something we’ll call the "perpetual promise." If the events of 9/15 actually transpire, I will NEVER admit my guilt or innocence. Psst, why even bother? What would be the point? Even though words definitely matter and the story is readily available, the overwhelming majority of people will make their final determinations based solely on the opinions of others. They'll be spoonfed answers as if they were unwitting particpants in a Gerber baby shower challenge.
Enter the billion dollar question. What if I put an idea in someone’s head? And therein lies the catch-21 conundrum. Nobody will know for certain. Because when the viral blitzkrieg ensues (decentralized infobomb explodes), anyone becomes theoretically guilty and everything immediately descends into conspiratorial gibberish. At this juncture, I gotta be honest. I don’t even know if I did it. Such a confession would seem consistent with themes of frustration and futility.
If, during the time frame of 8-19-19 through 9-15-19, I am confronted by city, state, and/or federal law enforcement, they'll likely ask about my "intentions." I will specifically concede three things. And only three things. That I wrote the book, secured the domain name, and posted the material on the internet. That's it. Those are the parameters for any such verbal contact. Yet, I would be willing to take it a step further. If anyone claims the information is dangerous or offensive, I would encourage them to "follow up" and make a legitimate effort to have the material "taken down." The obvious course of action would be to register a complaint with the relevant social media outlets, search engines, internet service providers, and so on. I would also implore them to kick this frosty can up their chain of command. It strikes me as a golden opportunity to actually do something. How about a live press conference starring FBI Director Christopher Wray, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred?
Out of an abundance of caution, the three of them could issue a joint statement, divulging the nature of their concerns. Persuading fans to stay composed if their cell phones start "acting up." Encouraging fans to exercise a heightened degree of vigilance and situational awareness. Literally be on the lookout. Heads up, not down.
There exists a trajectory to communicative history. In the 1700's, French scientist Pierre Gassendi measured the speed of sound. Rumor has it he was a fast talker. In the late 1800's, Scottish born Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. Although, thanks to Tony Soprano, everyone knows it was actually an Italian, Antonio Meucci. And he got robbed! Then, along came Tennesseean Al Gore who invented the internet. See where I'm heading with this? When the stakes are highest, during times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act. It's all about the truth. Or well, nothing matters.
Now is the time to bridge the gap between government and private industry. It's time to explore some unsettling aspects of human nature. Specifically, wireless susceptibility and herding instincts. Why? Because everything will be infinitely manipulated from here on out. Shallow fakes, deep fakes. Fake polls, fake news, even fake orgasms. The truth, the veracity. The lies, the mendacity. Elaine Benes said it best. Fake fake, fake fake!
We live in an era of hyperconnectivity and it applies to just about every conceivable location. Arenas, amphitheaters, motor speedways, convention centers, shopping malls, casinos, etc. Because all you see is the sheeple, mentally and physically tethered to their cell phones. And then you turn on the news and everyone is running for their collective lives. As time passes and the population grows, these trends will continue. Consider the WMG press conference to be a starting point for a technological marathon. An OMG communications race for the long haul. Wray, Manfred, Goodell? Hey man, it's all good. They have plenty of lawyers at their disposal. Whaddya say we put 'em to use?
If access to my human rights website is throttled (deliberately slowed), or if any of the corresponding material is removed from the internet, or if I am served with a search warrant and my property is seized (computer, cell phone, vehicle, bank account, ticket stubs, etc.), or if I'm straight up placed under arrest. Well, any of those occurrences are way beyond my control. With my admittedly limited resources, there's not much I could do to launch a counteroffensive. Just the same, I rarely speculate on hypothetical outcomes. Yeah, right!
A friend, who shall remain nickname-less, encouraged me to trademark the following terms: "artificially generated stampede," "viral blitzkrieg," and "dominipede." Or at the very least, file an Intent-to-Use application with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). Since we live in an ultra-capitalistic society, why not try to benefit financially? After all, these are my terms. I created them nearly a decade ago. They define my existence. They ensure and insure my brand. Taking this action would seem reasonable. But it's not. My overarching objetcive is to sow commerce with the seeds of death, not wealth.
It strikes me, that immediately following the initial dominipede, we'll see the traditional Hollywood push for a full length feature film. In the aftermath of 9/11, "Flight 93" surfaced five years later. Dominipede will debut much more quickly. Two years from now, the release date will be cathartically appropriate: September 15, 2021. My dream choice for director is an obvious one. Steven Speilberg. Who better to bring a wireless Auschwitz to the cellular masses? It makes me wonder if Speilberg is aware of our personal connection. In the entire Milky Way, surely he knows of the incident when Marvin Rapport introduced my parents to his mother Leah. Needless to say, they all had an excellent raport.
September 15, 2019 is a day that will live in artificially generated infamy. Again, my best advice would be to put on your journalistic thinking cap, read the material and ask investigative questions. And never forget.
Or you can behave like most of the planet. And not give a shit. The choice is yours.
Onto more important concerns: blame and reparations.
First off, you can blame me all you want. Assuming I don’t get killed in the dominipede, I imagine someone will execute me in its aftermath. Likely seeking fame or motivated by vengeance. However, if I somehow manage to survive all of this, there’ll likely be a show trial of some sort. My invoking the Fifth Amendment will be extremely problematic for society. Because mankind would require some degree of psychological closure. Sorry Charlie. I will plead neither guilty nor innocent. I’ve already said my peace. Piece by piece.
The safe bet is that I’ll be incarcerated for life. Presumably in a Florence, Colorado Supermax prison. Although I’m physically innocent of murder, I’d anticipate punishment along the lines of solitary confinement. Probably end up like Jeff Epstein. Strangled early on, while fulfilling the terms of my 81,226 year sentence. Death by virtue of suffocation. How's that for a coinkydink?
If nobody on the planet earth wants to kill the world's greatest serial killer, I guess I will live. Bazinga! However, and unfortunately, being banished from society will likely interfere with my golf game. But by then, I’ll surely have gone insane anyway. Assuming that's the case, it would appear the state of psychosis has come full circle. Hot dog!
If captivity isn't an issue, I'll do a series of interviews and focus my reminaing energy on founding the Dominipede Museum. Definitely in the city of Pittsburgh, preferably the North Side.
Still, Americans will require someone to foot the bill. You know what that means. Someone has to pay the piper. Regardless of the truth, my rowdy literary decisions have ended up costing the United States its happiness. Seeing that I'm no billionaire, I can’t just write a check. However, I have devised a plan for restitution that’s both fair and equitable.
9/15 Victims Compensation Plan:
The best template for determining monetary compensation for the victims’ families of the 9-15-19 dominipede is almost certainly its counterpart, 9-11-01.
Regrettably, money is the only realistic way to compensate those who lost family members. Intangibles, like "thoughts and prayers," rarely cut the bureaucratic Grey Poupon.
After the World Trade Center catastrophe, $1,800,000 per victim was the average payout from the federal government. Of course, this included a waiver where the families voluntarily agreed to not pursue legal action against the airlines or further litigation against the United States of America. Keep in mind, a significant percentage of the deceased were employed in the Manhattan financial district. Cantor Fitzgerald executives were not likely squeaking by, paycheck to paycheck. They were, by and large, quite wealthy. Thus, it was necessary to take into account future anticipated earnings over the course of their life expectancy.
On the whole, it’s reasonable to classify most NFL fans in the range of upper class. MLB fans, generally middle/upper middle class. However, determining their median income would be a tricky and tasteless path to navigate. So I’d suggest the generically obvious figure of $1,000,000 to the families of each victim killed.
One million per victim and 1,000 victims (based on historically severe, stadium stampede fatality models worldwide - approximately 50 deaths per stadium/ballpark) = a cool billion. I would recommend direct compensation in the form of a 75/25 split.
75% liability from the NFL and MLB owners = $750,000,000.
I realize some teams have multiple owners but let’s keep this simple. 32 NFL teams. 30 MLB teams. I’m not going to nitpick over the number of stadium vs. ballpark fatalities. However, the additional 2 NFL organizations does warrant consideration. The burden of liability should be split near equally, even though the death count will almost certainly be higher with regard to NFL stadiums, as a function of total attendance.
Ideally, every NFL and MLB organization should be held equally accountable. Because if the date shifted to a week earlier, or a week later, different venues/cities would have been impacted. As you can see, a dominipede doesn’t pick and choose. Or play favorites. And make no mistake. With regard to the future, I don't believe the dominipede to be a one off.
$375,000,000 from the NFL to be split among all 32 NFL teams (even though scheduling prevented 21 team stadiums from being directly impacted) = 11.72 million payout per NFL organization.
$375,000,000 from MLB to be split equally among all 30 MLB teams (even though scheduling prevented 19 ballparks from being directly impacted) = 12.5 million payout per MLB organization.
In 2018, the NFL raked in about 15 billion in revenue. In 2018, MLB’s revenue was estimated at 10.3 billion. As you can see, in the grand scheme of things, these hypothetical payouts would represent a mere pittance.
I believe, mostly as a symbolic gesture, the entire United States Congress, should be penalized as a whole for their failure to protect the American public. Consider how many knew about the problem, but deliberately chose a course of inaction.
100 Senators + 435 members of Congress = 535 individuals
This translates to a $467,290 bill for every member of Congress.
In relation to the coffers of the NFL & MLB, that figure might seem a bit steep. But I think it’s warranted. I’d suggest a minimal garnishment (in the realm of 1% to 2%), absorbed from their yearly salaries in perpetuity, until the entire $250,000,000 sum is recouped in full. This would apply to all future members of Congress as well. Until the entire 250 million is recovered. It would serve as a constant and effective reminder, that as duly elected government officials, entrusted with protecting the life and liberty of U.S. citizens, there exists a moral accountability and responsibility to address hypothetical threats. Not merely react in the aftermath of a preventable tragedy and retroactively compensate victims of terrorism.
Aside from broken limbs and blunt head trauma, some stampede victims will require extensive medical care and could potentially be hooked up to respirators for the duration of their lives. The extended cranial oxygen deprivation will leave many in a vegetative state. This will be a costly dagger, as I imagine the health insurance monolith would refuse to label a dominipede as an "act of God." Congress will inevitably discover that payouts for the deceased are the easy part of the equation. It’s those with lingering conditions who will be forced to fight for future compensation. Much like we’ve witnessed with the 9/11 victims fund (asbestos and all things cancer related). With 9/15, aside from the crushed sternums and snapped appendages, there’ll likely be tremendous psychological fallout and related claims of agoraphobia. Time will not necessarily heal all wounds.
However, rest assured, the bureaucracy of America will prevail. 9/11 gave us the trillion dollar Department of Homeland Security. In the wake of 9/15, the legislative branch will eagerly channel the pain and suffering of innocent civilians, summoning upon the inertia to create yet another federal agency. A new department will be fabricated, tasked with monitoring the darkest corners of the web in hopes of preventing the next viral catastrophe. Cyber-calamities, chemical weapons, mass shooters… basically anything terrorism-oriented that’s related to the internet. The DIA (Department of Internet Activity) isn’t available. It’s called the Defense Intelligence Agency. The Federal Department of Internet Control? Nope, the FDIC already exists. It’s the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Hmm, seems like were running out of acronyms. I’d suggest naming it the FDIR (Federal Department of Internet Regulation), which ironically mirrors a similar expression… Fault, Detection, Isolation and Recovery, a term widely used in engineering and Artificial Intelligence. Alright, that sounds about right. Bloody well right!
"Never let a good crisis go to waste" — Winston Churchill.
* - since the last book
Brian Jonestown Massacre, 5-8-18, Mr. Smalls Theater, Millvale, PA
Dave Matthews Band, 6-1-18, Keybank Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Primus, 6-8-18, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Darryl Hall & John Oates w/ Train, 6-9-18, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Dead & Company, 6-20-18, Blossom Music Center, Cleveland, OH
Foreigner, 6-27-18, Keybank Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Weezer & The Pixies, 7-10-18, Keybank Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Styx w/ Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, 7-14-18, Keybank Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Greta Van Fleet, 7-18-18, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Foo Fighters, 7-19-18, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Rob Zombie & Marilyn Manson, 7-25-18, Keybank Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Radiohead, 7-26-18, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Breaking Benjamin & Five Finger Death Punch, 8-14-18, Keybank Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Jeff Lynne’s ELO, 8-16-18, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Rod Stewart & Cyndi Lauper, 8-11-18, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Willie Nelson & The Outlaw Music Festival, 9-7-18, Keybank Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Paul Simon, 9-17-18, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Terrapin Flyer, 9-26-18, Rex Theater, Pittsburgh, PA
Elton John, 10-10-18, PPG Paints Arena, Burgettstown, PA
Metallica, 10-18-18, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Alice Cooper, 10-26-18, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Chris Robinson Brotherhood, 10-31-18, Mr. Smalls Theater, Millvale, PA
Fleetwood Mac, 11-1-18, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Steely Dan, 11-8-18, Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh, PA
Alan Parsons Project, 11-13-18, Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, Munhall, PA
Greensky Bluegrass, 2-7-19, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Gary Clark Jr. 3-20-19, Benedum Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Kiss, 3-30-19, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Overkill & Death Angel, 4-27-19, Rex Theater, Pittsburgh, PA
Garth Brooks, 5-18-19, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
The Who, 5-30-19, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Travis Tritt & The Charlie Daniels Band, 5-31-19, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Phish, 6-19-19, Blossom Music Center, Cleveland, OH
Terrapin Flyer, 6-23-19, Roxian Theatre, McKees Rocks, PA
Dead & Company, 7-5-19, Folsom Field, Boulder, CO
Dead & Company, 7-6-19, Folsom Field, Boulder, CO
Queen w/ Adam Lambert, 7-31-19, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Jeff Lynne’s ELO, 8-1-19, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
The Raconteurs, 8-13-19, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Iron Maiden, 8-18-19, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Bill Maher, 7-15-18, Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh, PA
David Cross, 7-31-18, Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, Munhall, PA
The Motown Experience Tour, 8-16-18, Motown Museum, Detroit, MI, (Aretha Franklin died)
Capitol Steps, 11-5-18, Byham Theater, Pittsburgh, PA
Groundhog Day - 133rd Anniversary, 2-2-19, Punxsutawney, PA
Arizona Ballet - The Firebird / La Sylphide, 2-14-19, Symphony Hall, Phoenix, AZ
WWE Monday Night Raw, 3-11-19, PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Pirates vs.
Colorado Rockies, 4-18-18, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Chicago White Sox, 5-16-18, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
San Diego Chargers, 5-18-18, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Philadelphia Phillies, 7-8-18, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Washington Nationals, 7-11-18, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
New York Mets, 7-28-18, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Chicago Cubs, 8-17-18, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Chicago Cubs, 8-19-18, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Atlanta Braves, 8-21-18, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Oakland Athletics, 5-5-19, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Texas Rangers, 5-7-19, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-24-19, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Milwaukee Brewers, 5-31-19, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Milwaukee Brewers, 6-2-19, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Detroit Tigers, 6-18-19, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Chicago Cubs, 7-2-19, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
St. Louis Cardinals, 7-26-19, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Steelers vs.
Tennessee Titans, 8-25-18, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Carolina Panthers, 8-30-18, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Kansas City Chiefs, 9-16-18, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Baltimore Ravens, 9-30-18, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Atlanta Falcons, 10-7-18, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Cleveland Browns, 10-28-18, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Carolina Panthers, 11-8-18, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
San Diego Chargers, 12-2-18, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Cincinnati Bengals, 12-30-18, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8-9-19, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Pitt Panthers vs.
Albany Great Danes, 9-1-18, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, 9-15-18, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Syracuse Orangemen, 10-6-18, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Duke Blue Devils, 10-27-18, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Virginia Tech Hokies, 11-10-18, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs.
Bethlehem Steel, 10-20-18, Highmark Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA