Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Back when I was 19 years old, I used to hitchhike for a few weeks. Mostly due to the fact that i was carless. Not careless, just carless.
I had an excellent strategy too. I didn't just casually stick my thumb in the air. I would literally clasp my hands in prayer and act exceedingly desperate. I'd even move off the sidewalk and mouth the words, "I need a ride" or "please help me." Worked every time. If you really want to get somewhere, try swallowing your dignity. Works wonders.
My best advice is to have a sign which tells your destination. And be specific. Not just Zanesville... but "Olive Garden in Zanesville, Ohio." This seems far less threatening. Ohh - that dude probably just wants the endless soup and salad for $5.99. Their Italian dressing is a bit heavy, but right on... I can dig it. I should pick him up. When he gets in my car, he's family (despite the bad breath).
I always think it's peculiar when you pass a hitchhiker, particularly at an on ramp. You glance in your mirror and the person has physically turned their head, giving you that glaring stare of pissed off admonishment. It's like, "Hey asshole, you had a ton of room. You don't know me! Judgmental jerk probably thinks I'm a murderer or something?"
I'll willingly concede --- I generally do not pick up hitchhikers these days. The last time I can remember was probably about 6 years ago. I saw this woman crying at the Elm Grove I-70 ramp. I pull over and she starts hyperventilating, crying up a storm about how she needs to get to Canton, Ohio. I finally get her to calm down and explain the best option would be for me to zip her up to the Dallas Pike truck stop. Truckers are always the best interstate option. I also advised her that she was trying to hitch a ride going eastward, when the objective was to head in a northwesterly direction. She didn't seem particularly interested in my thoughts on destination strategy.
She was a bit haggard, but not really that offensive. Sure enough, when I pulled into the lot she asked for some money for food. I gave her a $20. I normally don't do handouts, but I had some extra cash on me and she just seemed to "need an emotional lift." She blathered about 4 "god bless yous" and likely walked off to buy some Marlboro reds.
Anyway, here's my idea. These days, everything on the news is about random murders, stabbings, rapes, child abductions, the knock-out game, etc. The media (especially Fox) would have you believe that everyone you see on the street wants to rob you blind and then stab you with an HIV infected needle... just for kicks.
Wouldn't it be a fascinating sociological experiment if an exceedingly wealthy individual decided to hitchhike from the East coast to the West coast? But here's the twist. Start with a $1.00 tip for each driver that picks you up. The next driver --- you double the amount. $2.00, $4.00, $8.00, $16.00 and so on. Maybe set the maximum limit at 100K or something. Or you could just give everyone a flat grand. My hunch is that word would quickly spread. The concept has greater viral exposure potential than a chlamydia outbreak at the local strip club.
Maybe you could document the experience on twitter. As the social media explosion begins to cement itself, routine drivers who never dreamed of picking up hitchhikers would give their automatic dismissal a second thought. Hey, that might be "traveling benefactor dude or "hitchy chick sugarmomma." Americans all over the country would be forced to reconsider their "human expectations" and "routine social judgements." Of course, you're just appealing to ol' fashioned greed. But so fuckin' what!
You always see these "mystery Santa weirdos" and "anonymous big restaurant tippers." Instead of going the boring, traditional route, how about altering the "way of things?" Changing perceptions and de-terrifying the population at-large. You could permanently alter the way people think... their entire thought process.
Downside --- you pick up someone who rambles incessantly about the inevitability of artificially generated stampedes. Or even worse, starts singing that crappy 4 Non Blondes song. "And I said Heeyyyyyy, aaaaaa, aaaaa, Heyyyyy, aaaa aaaa, What's going on?"
Monday, July 28, 2014
Gigi and I zipped down to Heinz Field yesterday for the Champions League match. We desperately needed a rebound coming off the heels of the Paul McCartney fiasco.
The crowd was exceptionally colorful. Plenty of soccer jerseys. Nice change of pace from the steadfast diet of regurgitated black and yellow. Tickets were surprisingly sparse. Not a lot of extras. We made a sign, but never bothered to use it.
Near the start of the game, this guy overheard me yapping and dug 2 comp tickets out of his wife's purse. Club level seats (Section 212). Not too shabby.
Just before the half, some rumbling thunder could be heard. There were about 4-5 major lightning strikes in the distance. The ref let it go til the 45th minute and immediately blew the whistle (no extra time). Sure enough, this ominous message appeared on all the widescreens.
Not really that scary, but most people aren't familiar with obsolete issues regarding emergency evacuation protocol and the potential for "artificially generated stampedes."
We ended up running into our benefactor in the lounge. Turns out he's an agent for one of the Man City players (Alvaro Negredo). Of course I took the opportunity to strike up a stampede conversation. He had some fascinating insight and even mentioned the infamous 2010 Bangalore, India cricket match. This completely blew my mind. For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, there was an incident where stadium attendees started receiving "panic-inducing" information from their cell phones while the match was in progress. The crowd "herded" toward an exit where 2 low-yield car bombs were detonated. I forget the death tally. I think it was about a dozen. It literally blew my mind that he knew about this obscure event.
Heinz Field attendance was listed at 34,347. A pretty good improvement from the 25,000 the last time there was an international game (Chelsea vs. Roma) in 2004. The game itself was highly entertaining. Great end-to-end action for what was basically more of a hyped-up exhibition game. Man City scored 4 quick goals. and ended up winning 5-1.
In the 89th minute, two raggedy-haired kids jumped onto the field from the Northeast corner. These Milan fans ran straight toward the midfield. A larger security dude jogged after them, but they were way too fast. Anyway, these two made a beeline toward striker Mario Balotelli. Balotelli was completely unfazed. Much like his unresponsive, statue-like goal celebrations. Complete bad ass.
Anyway, the two kids snapped a quick selfie and posted it. Fascinating how you can make shit go viral in real-time. Even though they probably got arrested and maybe had their phones confiscated. Hmmm. Makes you wonder if there could be severe consequences for more extreme activity... like say I dunno... bomb threats or deliberately false emergency evac orders. Just stating the absurdly obvious that nobody (except myself) is willing to acknowledge.
Fun stuff. The crowd erupted. Far be it from me to endorse this brand of yinzer hooliganism. I'll just say "Salut." So here's a killer 1st season Sopranos scene that encapsulates my appreciation for these two Italians that made the trip dahn-tahn.
So we hung out for awhile after the game ended.
Now, onto Jack White. The crowd was lined up around the entire Stage AE building. We milled around for an hour and a half but couldn't seem to find any extras. The show was completely sold-out. It was a little after 8pm and we were starting to think we might get shut out. Not a huge deal as we could have listened to it from outside, but seriously how often do you get a chance to see Jack White. I dunno --- maybe about as often as Paul McCartney. Some eerie parallels were beginning to surface. Earlier we ran into our scalper buddy Tim. We told him about the McCartney incident and he mentioned that it was the exact same asshole cop who cuffed him as well. He even mentioned how the cop purposely puts the cuffs on sideways to cause maximum discomfort. And then he goes into his patented screaming tirade/bullying session.
Not to harp on the Consol incident, but this bowl-cutted mall cop's days are numbered. We're pretty sure we've got verification of his name. I rarely make accusations, but this "juvenile pig wannabe will someday be exposed for what he really is --- an authoritarian, power-hungry, douchebag. Kind of a Pittsburgh version of Kim-Jong Dick Head.
Alright, enough of that tangent. Onto more important things. Ticket acquisition. Just as things were looking pretty grim, Gigi scored a ticket. BLAM. About 1 minute later, this guy hands me a ticket. SHAZAM.
With tickets in hand we headed in. I'd classify most of the crowd as energized, but respectful. Seasoned concert goers but still very enthusiastic. Jack White totally rocked it out. No concert review necessary. Everything can be summed up with one word --- SICK. The rain really poured during the encore. This was the song I most wanted to hear, but Jack never played it. But I'm hardly one to bitch.
Here's what's funny. I went up to the sound guys and asked for a setlist. A woman behind the soundboard looked at me and giggled, "Oh, don't be silly. Jack never has a setlist!" Honestly, I had no idea. But then I began to reflect on what we had just witnessed. Seriously, what the fuck was I thinking? I'm almost as lame as that fake-copper! He probably thought this was the person on stage.
If we could go back in time, he would have made a fine "honky" addition to the cast of 227. Alright, enough internet bashing. I've got other things to do. I'm zipping G to the airport. She's going to visit her Sacramento friend for a couple days. And she will arrive on the West Coast bearing a gift from her garden. T.S.A. --- be on the lookout for a woman with a peculiar tomato that strangely resembles said cop's genitalia.
Saturday, July 26, 2014
Many people stop me on the street and ask, "Hey Saf, what's the new rage?" I pretend to know who they are and respond accordingly, "Well... selfies and that hashtag crap are quickly becoming passe but the photobomb is here to stay. (medium pause) "F'in A."
As far as I'm concerned, the origins of the photobomb can be traced back to the late 90's.
Yep. It was a shirtless Costanza at the Jersey shore. All other attempts are trivial and pale in comparison. Still, humanity forges onward, looking for that epic moment when grandpa's in the background conspicuously scratching his nuts. Grandpappy don't give a shit. And I don't blame him. He's still pissed off that the local Montgomery Ward shut its doors. "This country's been goin' downhill ever since Monkey Ward went bankrupt!"
For some unknown reason, the art of photobombing completely disappeared during the Bush administration. Probably because 9/11 left everyone a bit cynical and jaded. A decade later, it came back with a vengeance. Nowadays, everyone's getting in on the act.
Obviously, the star of this pic is the old lady giving the peace sign. Even the bottle of ketchup is more interesting than these two "cool for school", hipster Intellivision, thug wannabes.
I'm don't really know what to make of Angry Ginger. I admire his nasal perseverance but he probably should have stayed home and made smores instead of going to the Renaissance Fair. However, it is nice to see Paul Ryan's (R-WI) son back out on the campaign trail.
Call me a skeptic, but this one seems staged. Don't get me wrong... I'm still supportive. Just a little bit leery about the "spontaneity" factor.
Now if you want the real thing...
For the love of Palin, that looks more like a young black bear doin' the humpty hump. How's that "bestie, beastie" treatin' ya? My take on her "hopey, changey."
These beach scenes are setting the stage for something bigger. Something new. Something different. No... not the introduction of the fruit syrups sold to countless trustworthy morons by the West Virginia Troopers Association Bears Against Drugs Program.
Trust me. What I'm about to describe will markedly alter the trajectory of society. Everything will change.
A young girl named May approached me last week and greeted me with a "Hey Saf!" That's right. She calls me Saf. Anyway, she said, "Hey Saf... you sure like to invent new words." I replied, "Damn straight, May! I've coined a few new words in my time. Among them is "dominipede" which is a reference to multiple, simultaneous human stampedes. And I have some phrases too. Let's see --- There's "artificially generated stampede." And lemme tell ya something, the term "viral blitzkrieg" appears to be gaining some new found momentum.
Cue the drum roll please.......................................
GUNTBOMB and GOCKBOMB
These are the words that will define the next generation. They're already here. The masses are just oblivious (as usual).
Okay. Now here we have something called springbreakin' two, electric gunt-a-loo. Notice how this woman is going for the traditional "bunny ears" photobomb. But what really steals the spotlight is her formidable gunt. It's an unintentional guntbomb. I'm sure she's having the time of her life but the rabbit ears are not her raison d'etre. Her purpose is strictly gunting in nature. I call this "goodwill gunting."
Now here we have a classic gockbomb. Was there just a smidgeon of malicious intent? Hard to say. I'd have to do some lengthy interviews. Maybe Ralph Barbieri from the Maury Povich show could lend a hand. "John (for some reason he looks like a John)... when their friend snapped the picture, did you intentionally try to gockbomb these college chicks. You said no. The lie detector determined... you are telling the truth."
As I was saying, it's all about the intent. Now would I be supportive of this?
Not really. But it's close. Ideally speaking, the kid in the background would weigh somewhere in the 300 pound range. We could call it "talk to the gock." A credible gockbomb would necessitate him "surreptitiously" lifting up his shirt. That is correct. A casual yet impudent exposure of the midriff.
I've been searching for the perfect adjective to properly define a guntbomb/gockbomb. And that word is "surreptitious."
sur·rep·ti·tiousadjective \ˌsər-əp-ˈti-shəs, ˌsə-rəp-, sə-ˌrep-\
Full Definition of SURREPTITIOUS
: done, made, or acquired by stealth : clandestine
: acting or doing something clandestinely : stealthy <a surreptitious glance>
Covert, sneaky, underhanded... this is the essence of a true photobomb.
So Saffy, in your mind, what constitutes the ultimate guntbomb? It's impossible to fathom, but I'd be searching for that historical moment when multiple, corpulent Saudi women form a line of protest against the morality police. A full-on Burkabomb w/ gunting overtones.
Whether or not they have undergarments on is totally irrelevant. In fact, some Islamic-tempered granny panties would be ideal. It's not about the nudity. Never was and never will be. It's all about the gunt.
Now this Jew (me) has no desire to visit the holy land. I have no interest in going to Israel. And that has nothing to do with the recent ban on U.S. flights into Tel Aviv. Seriously, why the fuck would anyone wish to voluntarily visit the Middle East? What the fuck is wrong with people? Qatar - I'm speaking directly to you. If your 2022 World Cup isn't overturned, I'll just have to take matters into my own hands.
Now since I refuse to travel to the cradle of civilization, I'll have to settle for the U.S. equivalent guntbomb. After considerable reflection, I have found the perfect lineup of female candidates.
Honorable Mention: Helen Roper from the tv sitcom "Three's Company." Those house dresses make her a delectable candidate.
Call me anything you want. Just don't call me a misogynist. Here's the fellas...
Honorable mention: Newt Gingrich
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
Many people will ask me, "Saf, did you get to see your Liverpool hero, Paul McCartney, on the "Out There" tour in Pittsburgh last night?" In what might be the strangest, smuggest, honestly bizarre answer in the history of rock concert-going attendance...
Yes, Yes and a resounding NO.
I'll start from the beginning (as I always do).
G got off work at 4pm and we ate a light vegan inspired dinner of pesto and salad. Why do we eat pesto? In the immortal words of George Costanza, "I don't know. Because it makes us feel important."
In a meager attempt to invoke that sixties "peace and love" spirit I spelled out the word Paul McCartney in Cheez-It Scrabble form on her kitchen counter.
Obviously, I couldn't find a "P"or an extra "C', so we were left with the Hispanic version. This made sense to me as my picks for the World Cup final are Brazil vs. Argentina. It would represent an eerie, ominous, foreboding lesson of what would eventually transpire on the cusp of Consolidated Beatlemania Energy Center. Alas, I would get stopped at the border by the immigration SWAT team.
So we booked on down to Consol on the early side. We snagged our usual parking spot at the Church of the Moops. Armed with plastic-infused water bottles of Naked Grape and Stone Cellar, we headed into the fray. It was a Cabernet cold-blooded kinda night. And it was going to to be a tough ticket. This show was totally sold-out. We needed to summon our A game.
Sir Macca had just returned from a viral illness that side-lined him for about a month and a half. Hey, that Beatle ain't no spring chicken. To be honest, neither am I. My ticket panhandling skills have been Burhgedly-diminished over the years.
Our sole weaponry: two ghetto signs and an arsenal of spirit.
Front and Back:
And this Maury Povich inspired one I scribbled while watching a paternity test gone wrong. As you may have guessed, Shameka's claims of fatherhood had gone awry. Turns out that T-Mount was not the baby McDaddy.
2 Yinzer CHiPPeR motorcycles zipped by us. The sirens and lights were blaring on Centre Avenue. Paul McCartney, accompanied by a police escort, stuck his arm out the window of a lone SUV. As it blew past us, he smiled and waved. A thin-haired woman resembling Alf's overly-curious neighbor hooted and hollered. G tried to take a phone pic but was a little too late as the drive by transpired in a matter of 3 seconds. This marked our first encounter with Sir Paul. Very kewl. I've always liked police escorts... except when I'm the one being escorted.
We made our way down to the staging area of Fifth Ave. and Washington. Like I said, it was going to be a difficult snag. The scalpers were out in full force but seemed to be having minimal success. Neither were we. There wasn't much in the way of extras floating around. Needless to say, it's inherently more difficult if you're trying to score a freebie. $100-$200 seemed to be the going rate.
A mighty crowd had gathered. For some reason, they were reluctant to open the doors at 7 pm. By 7:30pm the throng had thickened into a morass of Thanksgiving gravy.
But our spirits were high. Concert-goers embraced our signage. Many asked for pictures and pseudo-selfies. Even though I thought we were getting too much credit (the signs were lame), we were more than happy to oblige.
We briefly encountered our hometown accomplices --- Kelly Pizza and Funky Cold Adena. They seemed eager to fork over some cash and headed in the direction of the "scalper-shakedown-street" across the way. The regular scalpers seemed to know what was what. Perhaps we should have known better and stayed across the street as well. Oh well.
Crunch time (7:30pm) was rapidly approaching. Two of Pittsburgh's finest approached G and told her to get rid of the sign. They both resembled "distant cousins" of the Morton Salt Girl. Both were draped in militarized Kevlar, bullet proof vests. The female seemed eager for urban combat. She was physically dense and threw her weight around accordingly. Resembling a portly, crew-cutted, off-season penguin, he was also prepared to tame the Sewickley-Upper St. Clair rebellion.
Having been admonished, G courteously complied and threw it in the trash. Shortly thereafter, some guy handed her a print-out ticket. BINGO BANGO. One free ticket secured! In the words of Alice Cooper --- HELLO, HURRAY... let the show begin. G handed me the ticket and gandered into the upstairs lobby area, searching for that second McMiracle.
Suddenly, I was accosted by the female cop. At this point I wasn't even asking for a ticket. I was merely making conversation about human stampedes with a guy handing out vegetarian pamphlets. I thought that some of the content was a tad extreme. The literature invoked a pig having his scrotum and testicles forcibly ripped apart. The picture was brutal. You could really feel the anguished oink of pigman.
Although I wasn't panhandling at that particular moment, the salty feminine sodium cop told me to "get out of here." So I complied and headed to the upper entrance.
I figured I'd meet up with G in the lobby. I wandered up top and was quickly encountered by Morton-Man. He instantly grabbed me by the shoulder. Beads of sweat dripped off his forehead. Good sweat. Nice beads (Elaine Benes).
"YOU WERE WARNED!!!" I tried to explain that I had a legit ticket and was just going to connect with my woman but he didn't give a damn. He strong-armed me out the door. Very threatening. I ALREADY TOLD YOU ONCE!!! I'VE HAD ENOUGH OF YOU" I tried to explain, "I just want to go in. I have a ticket." He didn't care and physically manhandled me out the entrance.
So I relented. Seriously, what was I going to do. This cop was pissed off - probably taking out all his aggression on me for that one moment in time--- when his date stood him up at the Zelienople junior prom.
I spotted G in the distance. She gave me the "just lay low" wave. So I hung out by the Cambria Suites and made small talk with the parking garage attendants.
About 10 minutes had passed. I could here the slight rumbling of the concert from inside Consol. Bummer. I was beginning to lose hope. But we still had a single. I told G to head in and I would wait it out, maybe just hang at the hotel bar. Suddenly, out of nowhere, this dude appeared with 4 (YES... FOUR) extra tickets. He dished her off a freebie and headed inside. I guess he ate the other 3. Ticketmaster tix have a distinct polyurethane tinge... so it's not like fine dining at Meat and Potatoes. Still, it's hard to argue with a freebie.
G cried out like the kid in Charlie and Chocolate Factory. "That guy just gave me a free ticket!!!" She exclaimed to anyone in earshot. So once again... hello, hooray... let the show begin.
She snatched me up and we made our way to the parking garage entrance (it connects to the arena). For some strange reason, a Consol usher beckoned, "You can't get in that way!" Well... I should have known. I was already a bit hesitant, but this set off a red flag in my head. A. He was incorrect and B. Why would he care? So we went to the main entrance and they scanned our tickets. "Enjoy the concert," were the last words of pleasantry I would hear. Even though I couldn't see them, I could sense the salt cops. I could smell the swine sweat.
I knew something was askew so I grabbed G's hand and we darted toward the escalator, making a sharp left. Just as we reached the top, Morton Salt man-cop emerged out of nowhere. He was enraged. "WE TOLD YOU THREE TIMES, YOU STUPID SON OF A BITCH. NOW YER GOING TO JAIL! PUT YOUR HANDS BEHIND YOUR BACK!"
He heavy-handedly cuffed me and yelled, "YOU THINK YER GONNA MAKE A FOOL OUTTA ME?" I tried to explain that my ticket was legit and I just wanted to see Paul McCartney. He didn't give a shit. He was profusely dripping as he iron-fistedly pushed me into the elevator. I was completely deferential and utterly apologetic, but I quickly realized that he wasn't going to let it go. At this point, I quickly surmised my odds of going to jail were maybe about 20/80. Even though my only crime was asking for a freebie ticket. Technically, I hadn't even been successful. G scored both tix.
The ushers were mesmerized. I heard them murmur, "What did he do?" "Why is he under arrest?" WHERE'S YOUR WALLET? GIMME YOUR ID! Female militant salted cod pig emerged on the scene. They both hollered at me to stop resisting. Truthfully, I wasn't doing anything. I was being completely and utterly passive. Trust me, I know when to kiss ass and throw any smidgeon of self-dignity out the window. Oddly enough, the song "Let Me Roll It" was playing in the background. It's one of the few I don't care for.
So G shows up in tears. "Why are you doing this? We didn't do anything? We both have tickets to the concert." Female sodium chloride threatens to arrest her as well. To make a long a story short, they kick us both out the door and demand we hand over our tickets (smart move on their part... confiscate any evidence whatsoever). They give us a stark ultimatum. "If we see you on the property at anytime tonight, you will go to jail!" Sensing defeat (along the lines of the Palestinians), but in way, sensing a little relief (like Edward Snowden in a Moscow airport), he proceeded to uncuff me. But then for some bizarre reason, he started screaming at me to "PUT YOUR HANDS ON YOUR HEAD!" The plump-chunk-clump of mammary cop chimed in as well. "YEAH, GET YOUR HAND ON YOUR HEAD!" Believe me, I wasn't doing anything whatsoever. I think it was some kind of a menacing intimidation, a parting shot if you will... maybe so we wouldn't file a complaint. I mean technically speaking, these two cops robbed us. Seriously, what they did was pretty much a strong armed robbery. It just wasn't a typical "gimme all your money" stick-up job.
Transvaginal mesh cop glared at us both. She was silently fuming and for some reason, she stomped her boots on the pavement. I have absolutely no idea what that was about. Kind of like a Costanza "Koko the Monkey" routine minus the flailing arms.
On our way back to the car, we lamented and consoled each other. Like I was saying --- a little distraught, but a little relieved. G was more upset than me. My wrist was pretty sore. The cop had cuffed my wrist sideways. And it wasn't the only cuff a hurtin'. My shoulder/rotator cuff has been really bad the past week from a lawn mowing mishap. I slipped and fell on the hillside by my deck, but valiantly clung to Old Ironsides (Jenn and Justin's lawn mower).
So all in all, I guess we saw Paul McCartney twice in the same evening. First, he waved out his car window. Second, we heard him in the lobby. But there would be no third. Oh well, it's not like we didn't try. And at least we didn't pay. Of course, we DID pay. But in a different sense.
So if by any chance, you happen to read this blog and would like to pay it forward and give us the opportunity to see Paul McCartney's latest tour, we would be more than happy to oblige. In the interim, I will continue my efforts to improve humanity. I will continue to preach awareness regarding the most generically overlooked, hypothetical, asymmetric national disaster of our generation. The artificially generated stampede. Unlike the Zone 2 Hill (Street Blues) District Pittsburgh porkers, I'm actually trying to improve the world. However, the jury's still out.
All I ask is just a teeny, tiny bit of gratitude. All I wanted to hear was "Listen to What the Man Said." Is that really asking to much? In retrospect, I certainly had to "listen to the what the man
I also had to "listen to what the iodized cunt said," but that's neither here nor there. Live and let die, I suppose.
Paul McCartney, 1989, Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, OH (one of my all-time favorite concerts) *
Paul McCartney, 2002, Gund Arena, Cleveland, OH
Paul McCartney, 2010, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA *
Paul McCartney, 2014, 4 minutes in the lobby of Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA *
I doubt he'll be back.
He closes every show with "The End." Sounds a bit prophetic, ehh?
* Oddly enough, every show was a freebie except for the one at the Gunt. If memory serves me correct, me and G Mo (the artist formerly known as Shirtless Mo) each forked over $20 for some singles.