THE IMMACULATE REJECTION
Literature's hottest new sub-genre:
Not For Adults (because only a child would understand)
Dedicated to my father:
Yep. Another free book of immeasurable worth
Table of Contents:
1. the school janitor
2. the limo driver
3. the bum, the cop, the deejay, the scalper, the boyfriend, the attendant
4. the team mascot
5. the terrible twirler
6. the medical doctor
7. the concession worker
8. the holy priest
9. the who, the what, the when, the where, the why, the how
10. the billionaire owner
The National Football League fared well in 2014. It reaped record profits. With a $12 billion DirecTV deal and brand new taxpayer funded stadiums in Minnesota and Georgia on the horizon, the future looked promising. A Super Bowl in London? A team relocating to Los Angeles, the nation's second biggest television market? Someday perhaps. The NFL was expansive and invincible. Its fat-cat owners were content.
But at the same time, it had been a rough and tumble year. Commissioner Roger Goodell was continually under fire. Calls for his resignation were relentless. Displeasure with the concussion settlement, sporadic fan violence, weapons charges, drunk driving arrests, the DEA sting operations, the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal, the Adrian Peterson child abuse case... poor Roger just couldn't catch a break. All the negative publicity was taking its toll. Something needed to be done. The NFL needed to win back the hearts and minds of its fans. Because without the fans, the NFL would cease to exist. The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.
Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney knew one indisputable fact. That we're all in this together. So he came up with a plan. He decided to reach out to the community and sponsor a contest called "Help us get to the Superbowl." It would be open to any fifth grader living in the city of Pittsburgh. Just write a brief essay about how you're going to help the team achieve its ultimate goal --- the Stairway to Seven. The winner gets to hang out in the owner's box for the final home game against the Cincinnati Bengals on December 28, 2014.
And not only that, the winner would be accompanied by their favorite teacher and driven to the stadium in a stretch limo. Verifiable opulence. The victor would be spoiled. VIP treatment all the way.
This contest caught the eye of 10 year old Sidney, a young Jewish boy from Squirrel Hill Elementary. Sid knew one thing for sure. If he was going to submit the winning entry, he needed to think outside the box.
Sid was kind of a middle school celebrity. Known far and wide for his gimmicky trademark - the yinzer yarmulke.
Hmmm. Maybe there was a way to connect with our Muslim enemies. What about a new line of athletic apparel designed to broaden the fan base? The Black'n'Gold Burqa? The Terrible Turban? Oy vey, just a little too zany.
What about some new cuisine choices for the stadium? A steaming bowl of matzah ball soup might do the trick. Nixed because he didn't care for the idea of Pittsburgh Dad's excessive slurping noises. Maybe a decent corned beef sandwich. Nope, that would be direct competition for Primanti's. Sid had an affinity for Manischevitz but knew it wouldn't go over too well with the Yuengling yokels and the Arhn City guzzlers.
Sid reflected on the contest day and night. It consumed his every waking thought.
The following day, during a presentation on cyber-bullying, the fire alarm sounded. Sid's teacher Miss Priddy instructed the students to line up single file and calmly march to the designated safe zone which in this case was a gazebo next to the playground.
About 300 children had gathered. The older seventh graders were engaged in a heated discussion. Sid listened in. Obviously there hadn't been a fire. Apparently, the evacuation was the result of a bomb threat. Suspicion was running rampant. A big boy named Ben claimed that someone had scrawled the word "BOMB" in lipstick on a mirror in the girls locker room. Another boy named Troy with long scraggly hair said the threat was posted on Instagram. Brett vehemently disagreed, "I heard the principal got a text message." Brett was widely feared because he was the only child with a significant amount of facial hair.
When it was all said and done, the kids came to the realization that it was all just one big hoax. But even though it was a lie, they were probably better off safe than sorry.
Sid wondered what the truth really was. He was confused and wanted an explanation. But none of the adults were willing to talk about the incident. So where could he go? Who could he ask? Sid immediately thought of his hero, Chuck Noll. Noll was widely regarded as more than a legendary coach. He was a teacher. A student of the game. But he was also dead. So Sid googled "Chuck Noll quotes" on his smartphone and up came the following.
Never make a major decision based solely on money
Suddenly it dawned on him. The contest!
Sid knew his essay must be transformational. He had to change the way people think. Challenging the status quo wasn't an option. It was a downright necessity. Perceptions needed to be realigned.
But what if the adults weren't "ready" to hear his message? Could they handle the truth? Even when it was so blatantly obvious.
Later that evening, Sid wrote his essay and mailed it to the Steelers front office.
Heading to Heinz Field? Ask yourself the following question. What's the modern equivalent of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater?
Please take a moment and consider the proliferation of wireless technology. Decentralized social media platforms, bulk text messaging, mass alerts, instant notifications, calling, spoofing, hacking, the list goes on and on. Mobile devices are capable of transmitting and receiving false information (both unintentional and deliberate) in more ways than you can fathom. The delivery of such information could conceivably result in dangerous real-time, real-world situations.
People have a fundamental right to know...
that if they're in a large, confined crowd and receive an emergency evacuation notice and/or panic-inducing information from their cell phone or mobile device...
it's almost certainly a hoax designed to create an artificially generated stampede.
that if they're in a large, confined crowd and receive an emergency evacuation notice and/or panic-inducing information from their cell phone or mobile device...
it's almost certainly a hoax designed to create an artificially generated stampede.
In the unlikely event of a stadium emergency evacuation, the initial order would NEVER be delivered through your personal cell phone. Just ask any competent incident commander. They'll all tell you the same thing. You use the public address system in tandem with the video monitors because it's imperative to reach everyone in a clear, unified fashion. This is emergency evac protocol 101 and it extends well beyond football stadiums.
Now here's the bigger question. Why won't the government, team ownership and venue management address this common sense, public safety issue? Give it some thought and you'll start to unravel the catch-22. It's all about plausible deniability, potential litigation and the lose-lose proposition.
Let's make a commitment to share this information, spread the truth and help Pittsburgh win its 7th Vince Lombardi Trophy. Because we're all in this together.
Pittsburgh's goin' to the Super Bowl.
Sid, 5th grade
A few days later, Sid got a phone call from an ambassador of goodwill. Dan Rooney extended his most heartfelt congratulations. Not only had he won the contest, but the Steelers also released an official statement to the press:
Fan safety has always been our #1 concern. It is our highest priority that at a non-designated, yet to be determined, future point in time, the Steelers organization will consider the implementation of a new policy.
Sid done did it. Not only had he won the contest, he had changed the world. Or so he thought.
Chapter 1: the school janitor
The big day finally came. The final home game of the regular season. The sun shone brightly through the bitter cold. Sid was dressed to impress. He had splurged and purchased a monogrammed, officially licensed NFL jersey. It may have set him back $294.95 + shipping and handling of course. But it was well worth it. Because nobody would dare question its authenticity. It was the real deal.
As you can see, Sid wasn't very pious. Still, he was a snappy Jew, through and through.
Sid and his English teacher, Miss Priddy, had agreed to meet at the main entrance of the school. 10am sharp. He thought to himself. It happens today. Come hell or high water, Miss Priddy's going to fall head over heels for me. I'm gonna knock her socks off and make her mine.
Sid knocked on the metal door and the janitor, Mr. Sacco, let him inside. Sacco scowled with displeasure as Sid texted Miss Priddy to see if she was on the way.
Sid: "Mr. Sacco, are you upset about something?"
Sacco: "I just don't understand why you damn kids are always staring into those little cell phone screens. I'd rather look down into a toilet bowl and see piss and blood or a pile of shit and puke. Just last week I lost my daughter and 2 year-old grandson in a texting and driving accident."
The last text message sent from the defendant's i-phone was revealed.
OMG! We r gonna have so much fun tonight. XOXOXOXO
Had it not been for the final XO, their lives may have been spared. Instead, Sacco was left financially devastated by the impact of a dual closed casket ceremony. He pleaded with the judge to take away her cell phone. But the android-like Ivan Verizon ruled that such a decree would violate her civil rights. Judge Verizon even commented at the conclusion of the trial...
To knowingly or willfully deprive any U.S. citizen access to a functional cell phone constitutes an act which is both cruel and inhumane.
Fortunately, there was a silver lining to this tragedy. The defendant was severely punished. She had her license suspended for 6 months, received a year probation and was fined $149 plus court costs for negligent behavior resulting in two counts of vehicular homicide.
Chapter 2: the limo driver
A jet black stretch limousine lumbered through the parking lot. The vehicle came to a grinding halt. Out stepped a disheveled old man in a black suit. His hair was unkempt and greasy, as if it had been combed and sculpted with a pork chop.
"A little birdie told me you two were going to the Stillers game. Need a lift?"
A hearty grin exposed his discolored gums and rotted teeth.
"My name's Arnold. Arnold Slick from Turtle Crick and I'll be your driver today. Anything you need, just ask. I'll get yunz guyz to the stadium in no time. So are you ready for some football?"
The couple responded affirmatively and jumped in the back of the limo.
Sid decided to check out the traffic situation on his smartphone. He called up the PennDOT website. It showed lengthy delays in just about every direction.
Sid thought he'd better alert Mr. Slick. So he hit the button that lowered the partition and slid to the front. Sticking his head through the window, "Mr. Slick, it looks like the highway traffic near the stadium is all backed up. Maybe you could take the East Ohio exit and zip us down through the North Side."
Sid was completely unprepared for what happened next. The driver vindictively scolded him, "Listen up Sid the kid... you're skating on thin ice. Don't tell me how to do my job! There's a reason you 10 year olds don't have a license. It's because you don't know shit. Now sit down and shut the fuck up!" Sid trembled in disbelief. He felt completely emasculated.
Sure enough, the limo got stuck in traffic. Even the burm had a line of cars. Mr. Slick angrily tilted his head and yelled, "You better wipe that smirk off your face!" Even though they were at a standstill, he threatened them both, "If you keep barking instructions, I'll turn this limo back around."
Miss Priddy was in a state of toxic shock. Still, she summoned the courage to ask if he could drop them off in front of PNC Park so she could use the ATM. His response, "I can dump you there. But that MAC machine money you git better be for my tip!"
The limo pulled up next to the Lexus Clubhouse entrance. "There you go. Safe and sound na't. Just as promised. Now get the fuck out!"
Sid and Miss Priddy were confounded by the limo driver's seething outbursts. Regardless, they made a pact not to let his behavioral disorder ruin their entire day.
Chapter 3: the bum, the cop, the deejay, the scalper, the boyfriend, the attendant
At the corner of West General Robinson Street and Chuck Noll Way, a homeless man named Bill was sitting in a rusty wheelchair.
In an effort to curry favor with Miss Priddy, Sid dropped some change into his plastic, patriotically inscribed Nationwide Insurance cup.
Sid hummed the familiar refrain (nothing beats that new car smell, chicken parm you taste so good, Nationwide is on your side). He reflected on what a great day it was to be an American and be afforded the privilege to buy insurance.
Sid took a close look at Bill's sign.
Homeless and Hungry. Anything Helps. God Bless.
Hmmm. Maybe Bill would be willing to help. What if his sign featured relevant information about stadium safety? Sid boldly proposed a revamped message.
Mobile devices are capable of transmitting false information.
Please be aware that LEGITIMATE stadium emergency evacuation orders would NEVER be delivered via your personal cell phone.
Bill jumped from his confined position, cleared his throat and hocked up a wad. He spat directly at Miss Priddy. A loose projectile of snot and snuff landed on her nose and right cheek. She screamed, "I'm hit!" Then, the magic loogie ricocheted off her and hit Sid in the arm. Bill brandished a pocket knife and lunged into Sid, lacerating his skin and puncturing his spleen. Miss Priddy pleaded for help.
A nearby police officer named Ross was issuing an open container citation. He finished writing the ticket and demanded the underage girl sign it. Tears streaming down her face, she knew the punishment was going to be much worse than just a fine. Over the summer, her friend's license had been revoked. All because she was caught drinking a can of Bud Light just before a Brad Paisley Starlake Amphitheater concert in nearby Burgettsown, PA. Her license, her job... her world had come crashing down.
Having witnessed the earlier altercation, the cop could now turn his attention to the knife-wielding bum.
"What's going on? Is there a problem here?"
Sid calmly explained that he was trying to offer advice on game day safety when the homeless man attacked them. The cop glared at Sid.
"Sounds like you got a lot of questions. Now let me ask you a question. Do your parents smoke cigarettes?"
Sid sheepishly replied, "My mom does."
The cop interrogated further, "Well, do they smoke anything else?"
Sid countered, "I'm not sure."
"Well do you know what marijuana smells like?"
Sid was flustered but tried to explain, "I don't know."
The policeman heaved his chest and shouted directly in Sid's face. His breath reeked of cigarettes. "Are you trying to make a fool out of me? I asked you a question!"
Sid stood motionless, hunched over, clutching his midsection.
By now, the cop was very agitated and sweating profusely, "Now let me tell you something. If your parents smoke grass, I could make it so you never get to see either of them again. How would that feel? Not so good, huh? So maybe you'll think twice before you go around bothering people with stupid questions and unsubstantiated claims. If either one of you keeps wasting my time, you will both be arrested." He reached for his handcuffs.
Miss Priddy couldn't believe her ears. She asked if he was going to do anything about the assault.
"Listen up! Listen here! I don't have time for your make believe stories. Even if what you said was true, and it's not, I'm too busy protecting and serving the community. I don't have time for your bullshit. Understand? If I have to repeat myself, you will be choked out and taken dahntahn. Is that clear?"
Sid and Miss Priddy burst into tears. They didn't want to be arrested. They just wanted to get inside the stadium. The acrimonious vibe was beginning to take its toll. Whatever the case, they both thought it wise to steer clear of the enraged policeman.
Glancing over his left shoulder, Sid spotted a pear-shaped blob exiting Stage AE. It was 105.9 X radio personality Mark Madden. He approached him, "Mr. Madden, I listen to your show. I'm a big fan."
Madden: "As you should be. I offer gifted insight and unparalleled analysis."
Sid: "Could I speak with you for a moment about stadium evacuation protocol?"
Madden: "I will allot you 30 seconds to bask in my brilliance. Make it quick."
Sid: "Well, I'm worried that someone could try to launch a real-world evacuation, likely as part of a larger effort to create a panic and possibly spark a human stampede. Considering there are roughly 65,000 active cell phones inside Heinz Field, shouldn't stadium management explicitly warn people that LEGITIMATE emergency evacuation orders don't come from their personal cell phones? Standard procedure dictates using the public address system in tandem with the video monitors... to present a cohesive, all-encompassing directive."
Madden: "Kid, do you know I have an IQ of 166? It's been tested. If a genius like myself isn't concerned with this, then why are you?"
Sid: "Well, I just thought..."
Madden interrupted: "NO! That's the problem. Even if you could think, you wouldn't know how to think! You lack the cognitive ability to draw rational conclusions. You are an inferior human being that will gradually evolve into a parasitic slug and hopefully die a slow, agonizing death. I must go now. The game's about to start and there are people who will benefit from my calculated observations and stealth commentary. Good day." #superpenis
As they approached Gate A, a scalper was trying to unload a single ticket for a hundred dollars. He was haggling with an elderly Monroever. Sid discreetly listened to the back and forth. Even though they had tickets in hand, Sid had previously surveyed the major resale websites: Stubhub, Razorgator and the Official NFL Ticket Exchange. He wanted to get a better idea of what goes on in the black market.
Sid checked the ticket resale app on his phone. Yep, another game with scattered chunks of open yellow seats as far as the eye can see. The Steelers might have the world's best fans, but those same fans often have difficulty showing up for the games. Many even leave at halftime (a curious anomaly known exclusively to Western Pennsylvania). Some gotta beat the traffic. Some gotta git back to the bar. Some just wanna go home.
Sid piped up, "I don't think you need to spend a hundred. There are plenty of singles floating around."
The scalper glared at Sid. "Oh this is great. We're getting free financial advice from a fucking Jew. Who do you think you are? Goldman Sachs? Mind your own business you little kike bastard."
Sid: "But I just wanted to help."
The scalper rolled up his fist and glared menacingly. Assuming he was about to be the recipient of a knuckle sandwich, Sid cowered and cringed into a defensive posture.
Scalper: "Listen punk! Don't think I won't fuck you up. Cuz I will totally fuck you up. You try and take money from me. You takin' food from my baby momma and our kids. You see that statue of Art Rooney over there? Someday they gonna make a statue of me. I own this turf. You messin' with the wrong fuckin' nigga!"
Suddenly, a Bubby Brister-signed football came spiraling towards the unprotected face of Miss Priddy. Thrown with tremendous force from nearly 40 yards away, the pigskin's cone hit her directly in the nose. Marsha Brady's "football to the schnoz" incident may have been a scripted mishap. But this was no accident.
Rapidly approaching the scene was Miss Priddy's abusive boyfriend, Jack Hoff. He was wielding a Polock Spring water bottle 2/3 filled with Jack Daniels.
He caustically berated her, "How'd that double Jack attack feel? Your nose is the same color as my drink, you stupid bitch."
Sid knew the deep, dark secret behind why Miss Priddy had changed her name. The students would make a concerted effort to tell her how pretty she was. But they all knew the truth. The excessive makeup was purposely designed to hide all the cuts and bruises. One time, Jack punched her so hard, he broke her nose sideways. She covered the perpendicular disfigurement with a surgical mask, explaining to everyone that it was allergy season. Miss Priddy wore that same mask for 78 days. Her Highmark health insurance policy refused to cover the facial reconstructive surgery based on a failure to provide accurate documentation regarding a deviated septum in combination with olfactory inconsistencies.
Jack ripped her purse from her shoulder. "Gimme my money, you stupid cunt!" He scavenged through the pockets and found the clip of crisp $20 bills. Then he grabbed an orange glass dildo from her purse and taunted her with it.
"See, this is what you get when you root for the other team." He threw the purse to the ground, dropped trow and shockingly jammed the marital aid into his own rectum. "I'm gonna show you a different kind of ATM." Jack grabbed her shoulder length hair, violently wrenching her neck backwards. Then, he withdrew the dildo and slammed it down her throat, shattering her two front teeth while she repeatedly choked and gagged. Hoff freaked, "Swallow that! You fucking whore!" She could not help but ingest some of the tooth chips and shards of glass. He smacked her across the face, knocking her to the ground. Sid tried to intervene but Jack Hoff kicked him squarely in the nuts. Hoff exclaimed, "Welcome to Hofbrauhaus!"
People had been watching in a state of revulsion and disbelief, but nobody was willing to intervene.
The Hoff wandered off chanting "Here we go Steelers." He slammed his boot into a defenseless styrofoam cooler. This act of tailgating heroism emboldened the Gold Lot rubberneckers. Their collective horror immediately subsided. They erupted in jubilation, smattering back in unison with the traditional "Here we go!"
Sid is hunched over in agony as Miss Priddy retrieves her scattered belongings. They stagger to their feet, desperately trying to regain a tiny semblance of composure. Sid and Miss Priddy figure the best course of action is to enter the stadium and seek out medical attention. But they're stopped at the Gate A security checkpoint. As fans are being screened, Sid can't help but notice everyone hoisting their cell phones in the air. It looked just like the protests on television - "Hands Up, Don't Shoot." How could security be so oblivious to all those weapons entering the stadium?
A young man wearing a yellow Landmark Event Staff jacket mocks Miss Priddy's attempt to sneak contraband into Heinz Field. He roots through her purse and grabs the brightly colored dildo. Triumphantly waving it in the air, "Looks like we got ourselves a lesbo crack ho!" He ditches her purse in the adjacent dumpster, "You can't bring 'dat shizzy into this hizzy. What was you thinkin'?"
Miss Priddy: "I'm sorry. I didn't know."
Landmark Event Staff: "Don't sweat it ho. It's not yer fault youz a dumb ass cracker. You was born that way."
Sid and Miss Priddy approached the Gate A turnstyle and handed the attendant their tickets. The employee scanned the tickets but did a double-take.
"What the fuck? I can't believe you two disgusting schmucks are sitting in the owner's box. The private level isn't typically designated for the riffraff. Regardless, the tickets are real so it's my humble obligation to welcome you to Heinz Field. Enjoy the game."
Chapter 4: the team mascot
Sid was walking gingerly and his tiny green olive-sized balls were in considerable pain. Miss Priddy was a busted up filthy mess. Sid saw the infamous Steelers mascot posing for pictures. Cell phones raised in every direction as jostling fans tried to get their pictures taken with Steely McBeam.
A man in an "Ickey Shuffle" Bengals jersey grabbed the lightweight beam and yelled "Fuck you, Steely McFaggot!" He tried to run up the Southeast ramp. But didn't get too far. He was promptly tased by a private NFL security officer. The Cincy fan was face down writhing in agony. The plain-clothed cop continued to repeatedly tase him in the butthole, over and over. A little girl from Beaver County joined the fray and dumped her scalding hot chocolate on the man's face. The undercover pig let out a merciless scream, "How's it feel you Bungle fuck?"
Sid avoided the fracas, snagged the fallen beam and returned it to its rightful owner. He took the opportunity to ask Steely McBeam an important question. "I know you're not supposed to talk, but if you were notified on your cell phone about an emergency stadium evacuation, would you be allowed to tell people that it's a hoax designed to create a human stampede? If peoples lives are hanging in the balance, are you allowed to speak?"
McBeam just stood there, silently expressionless. His boss had warned him that if he were to ever verbally communicate, under any circumstance whatsoever, while in costume and on Heinz Field property, he would be immediately terminated. No ifs ands or buts. And not only that, but under the terms of his contract, he could face arrest and leave himself open to the prospect of civil litigation. Steelers management takes the "oath of make believe mascot silence" quite seriously. Sid reflected on the silent irony. He's hardly the only NFL character that routinely sacrifices their First Amendment rights. Commissioner Roger Goodell and Chief of Security Jeffrey Miller come to mind as well. But gross revenue trumps safety concerns. And profit always takes precedence over freedom of speech and common sense.
Chapter 5: the terrible twirler
Sid and Miss Priddy ventured deeper into the general admission standing area. Affectionately referred to as the Steel Pit, this is where the mongrel hoard tends to congregate. Comprised mostly of dimwitted societal outcasts, cigar chain smokers, obnoxious drunks and grimy escorts. The pit area is their salvation. But with its impending closure (fueled by the addition of 2,390 seats in the South end zone), 2014 would be its final year. The atmosphere would never be the same.
Out of nowhere, Miss Priddy felt a stinging sensation on her right buttock. A kid in a hoodie had snuck up behind her and snapped her with a beer-soaked terrible towel. But this was no ordinary towel. Twas a limited holiday edition, pink-colored breast cancer awareness towel. The juvenile, whose street name was Thug-Bug, yelled at her, "Next time I'm gonna smack you in the titties!"
T-Bug was a member of an unusually sadistic street gang hailing from Washington, Pennsylvania. They even had a name for themselves --- the Lil' Warshers. They'd use their towels to perpetrate unorthodox crimes throughout the stadium. Pittsburgh cops were absolutely terrified of these gang bangers. But even with all the stadium video surveillance, cell phone footage and eye witness accounts, they could never positively ID any of them. Truth be told, it was more a case of "hear no evil, see no evil."
The Lil' Warshers had another member dubbed Townie. The Pittsburgh elite were scared senseless by the mere mention of his name. Whenever the Steelers lost a game, Townie would prowl the wealthier neighborhoods. Sewickley and Mount Lebanon were his favorite targets. On the cusp of darkness, he'd prey upon individuals walking their dogs. He'd jump out of the bushes and strangle them to death with his patented "Townie Towel." Then, he'd set his sights on the canine and strangle it as well. His trademark? He'd strip the victim completely naked but delicately place the towel over the dog's body. Animals were to be revered. Human beings were to be reviled.
The Lil' Warshers even had a Smurfettish member. Her name was T-Ragout. She would strike when you least expected it. Her actions were as disgustingly crude as they were unforgivable. She would enter the women's restroom and publicly insert the towel into her female orifice. She'd scream, "I'm not menstruating, I'm marinating!" Then, she would pull it out and violently whip the "Terrible Twatrag" in an attempt to spread vaginal discharge into the open mouths of random victims. Talk about chutzpah! The Rooney family hired a crew of female bathroom operatives, but were never able to subdue her. As urban legend spread both virally and venereally, stories of T-Rag and her terrible tampax littered the internet for years to come.
Another gangbanger's name was Topstitch. He would actually sew illegal drugs into his towel and smuggle the contraband into the games. Oxycodone, marijuana doobies, sheets of acid... it didn't matter to him. He'd wander the concourses and aisles, much like the memorable Lemonade guy. But instead of the shrill-pitched scream of lemonade, T-stitch exhibited more discretion. He'd clandestinely target the younger fans with addiction problems. "Steeler scooby snacks, Pittsburgh pain pills, crick shroomz, doses, swampwater, molly..." Topstitch didn't give a shit about the Steelers. He had but one overriding goal. And that was to snakingly profit from the sale of his poison. At any cost. No matter what the price. Topstitch's motto? Drug Bank Nation (his take on CNBC's Shark Tank Nation).
Impossible to track was the gang's mysterious leader. A 44 year old man who referred to himself as the "Terrible Twirler." The Twirler got his street name by selling handmade Steelers merchandise without a proper vendor's license. Team ownership despised the Twirler. His renegade distribution of Steelers hemp key chains had left a detrimental impact on their bottom line. Despite record profits, they had no tolerance for this bootlegger. Something needed to be done. So Dan Rooney hired a mercenary force to help eliminate the counterfeiters and miscellaneous black market activity. But their number one priority was to neutralize the Twirler. A million dollar bounty was placed on his head. In response, the Twirler fought back. War had been unofficially declared.
At specific high-profile games (playoffs, Monday nights, season openers and finales), the Twirler would attach tiny razor blades and small metal hooks to his flogging device. He'd violently wave his torture gadget, intentionally targeting the faces of unsuspecting victims. Sometimes he'd focus on their backs. There were times he envisioned himself as a ruthless Confederate slave owner. His ultimate goal was to render someone unconscious with 39 whips and leave them dangling on death's doorstep. Just one more would kill the person. He wanted the world to know his true objective. Not to kill, but to inflict misery and prolonged suffering.
The Twirler eyed up Sid and flailed away. The first hit swiped the boychick's face ripping out tiny cheek fragments. Sid screamed in agony. The second downward blow targeted Sid's scalp. The Twirler thought to himself... this is the greatest thing since sliced bread. Just one more thrashing and it'll be time to move on. The day was young and there were others to flog. That final whip proved particularly devastating. Three of the blades sliced deep into Sid's cornea. His right eye was rendered into a functionless, bloody pulp. Sid would be left sightless in that eye. The Twirler could have easily inflicted the same wound on Sid's other eye, but wanted him to live in shame. The Twirler was a great man.
Chapter 6: the medical doctor
Sid and Miss Priddy staggered over to the First Aid room. They desperately needed medical assistance, but barely had the combined strength to open the door.
In unison they uttered, "We need help."
The doctor was perplexed, "What on earth happened to the two of you?"
They simultaneously rattled off a litany of their injuries.
Doc: "Well, let's try and get you both fixed up. Regrettably, from an operational standpoint, I'm not legally permitted to help either of you. But I am willing to make a referral."
Sid and Miss Priddy were dumbfounded.
Sid: "You mean to tell me that you're a doctor who's not allowed to practice medicine?"
Doc: "Technically speaking, that's correct. We can give you a band aid for that wound, but you'll have to apply it yourself. As for the bloody nose, we can offer your companion some premium brand Kleenex. But she'll have to blow it herself." He lightly punned, "It's just snot our problem."
Sid: "I still don't understand why you can't provide treatment. It sounds like you're a doctor in a perpetual state of time-out."
Doc: "Well, it gets a little complicated. You might not understand." He continued, "The NFL requires each team to have on site medical professionals."
Sid beckoned, "But why can't you help us? Isn't your refusal a direct violation of the Hippocratic Oath?"
Doc: "Ohh, that's fresh. You see... the ancient Greeks didn't have to contend with Obamacare."
Sid: "But what about when the players on the field get hurt? Every NFL team has a doctor on the sidelines and a group of EMTs that spring into action."
The physician laughed uncontrollably, "Well those players generate a lot of revenue. They're more important than you. You're just an arrogant, little circumcised prick and your friend's an insignificant piece of trash... white trash that is, with hints of red I suppose."
Doc: "Listen. I'm not trying to sound heartless. The National Football League, the Steelers organization and Heinz Field management have rules. We have to follow those rules. Simply stated, you're not covered under our insurance umbrella. However, I am able to refer you to UPMC. Some people call it "the monster." But don't be afraid. They're a venerable, non-profit institution. They'd be willing to sell you some ibuprofen and bandages, priced accordingly at 5 bucks per pill and 10 dollars per foot."
Sid: "That doesn't sound very affordable."
Doc: "Welcome to the real world. It's all about malpractice and litigation. Technically speaking, I'm not even supposed to verbally acknowledge your injuries. There's nothing much I can do here." He glibly added, "I'll need you to leave your contact information at the front desk."
Sid: "Why? You didn't do anything. I saw a documentary called Doctors Without Borders and..."
The doctor had had enough, "Listen to me you Easy-Bake nigger. It's not about you. It's about the team. I'm so sick of you Christ-killing cocksuckers. Now take your Jew-bag ass and get the fuck outta my office. And while you're at it, go look for some other schmuck to vig your 10 percent off! "
Chapter 7: the concession worker
Sid spotted a haggard concession worker cleaning off a stand-alone condiment station. Sid leaned in and asked, "I know this is going to sound like a strange question, but what if Primanti's tweeted...
Lifetime sandwich giveaway starts now. 1st person in the stadium to place an order and say "Steelers are #1, but I want the #2 best seller."
Concession woman: "Oh mi laundry, why would you ask such a thing? You must need some protein. I remember my parents used to make us start the day off right with a little chipped chopped ham."
She murmured the word remember. "We don't have any of that, but I could get you a yummy hot dog. They cost five dolla... holla!"
Sid: "We're not allowed to eat hot dogs unless they're kosher."
Concession woman: "Jimmeny Christmas! Don't fret none. They is Hebrew National brand hot dogs. Because we here answer to a higher authority."
Sid: "But what about my original question? If enough people heard about the Primanti's contest, do you think people might start running? Pushing and shoving in the same direction? What if people got knocked down? Could it trigger a stampede?"
Concession woman: "Yagottabekidden! You gonna keep talkin' like dat and we's gonna have to wash yer mouth out wit Red Hot. Stampede??? Let me tell you somethin' sweetie. This place is called Heinz Field and if I don't git this ketchup mess cleaned up, they is gonna stampede my fat ass. Seriously though, bless your heart. How about some limited edition black and yellow cotton candy? You could use a little sugar, sug."
Sid reflected on the sticky proposition. "Nah, I'm okay." Little did Sid know the grim reality of what was yet to come.
Chapter 8: the holy priest
Just as they were about to enter the owner's box, Sid noticed a priest. Father Anthony was walking toward them down the hallowed, plush corridor. This seemed like a golden opportunity to get some insight from an ordained professional.
Sid: "Father Anthony, I'd like your thoughts on the subject of evolutionarily ingrained herding instincts. During a stampede, do human beings have a predilection to gravitate towards the center mass? Like those scenes from the Masai Mara... when migrating wildebeests are trying to avoid a hungry lion. I'm worried that human beings are predisposed to the same 'fight or flight' instincts. If fans thought their lives were in imminent danger, many would instinctively join the herd even though it would be a move in the wrong direction."
Father Anthony: "Holy moly. To ask such an ungodly question. I fear you may be possessed by satan. Only the devil could be responsible for such an outlandish, nonsensical query. Please accompany me to a quiet area so that we can pray for your salvation. This could be a while. Take my hand."
Father Anthony led Sid into a nearby family restroom and locked the door. The clicking noise resonated in Sid's head. Father Anthony assured him, "Don't worry. That will help keep us safe in the eyes of the lord." Then, he asked Sid to take off his hedonistic Steelers jersey. Sid complied and placed it on the garbage can.
Father Anthony hungrily gazed into Sid's innocent eyes. "Maybe we could summon the spirit of Myron Cope. Having attended countless games over the past four decades, surely he'd have some input."
Father Anthony: "Lord, who art in heaven, please answer thine request. Bring us the ghost of Myron Cope."
Lo and behold, the face of Myron Cope emerged in the large bathroom mirror.
The ghost of Myron Cope: "Well what can I do ya for? What's on your cranium?"
Father Anthony: "We were hoping you could answer a question about evolution. Are humans being just as insignificant as other mammals?"
Ghost of Cope: "Yoi."
Father Anthony: "Are human beings better than sheep and goats?"
Ghost of Cope: "Double Yoi."
Father Anthony: "Is evolution real, or is it just a theory?"
Ghost of Cope: "Triple Yoi! Those are some really tough questions knockin' on your noggin! I gotta be honest. I don't have those kinda answers. I'd rather get back to the game and watch us kick the Bungle derrieres."
Father Anthony: "I completely understand. Thank you for your time."
Ghost of Cope: "Okle dokle."
Father Anthony turned to Sid, "Maybe we could summon the spirit of Joe Paterno. He's a keystone hero. He saw everything but didn't live to tell about it."
Sure enough, the ghost of JoePa appeared in the mirror. Father Anthony gripped Sid tightly around the waist.
Ghost of JoePa: "What a great day for a football game."
JoePa noticed the 'GODLESS 1' jersey draped over the trash receptacle.
Ghost of JoePa: "Let me tell ya something. It's the name on the front of the jersey that matters most, not the one on the back. That being said, how can I help ya?"
Father Anthony: "Coach, we were wondering if it's part of god's plan for grown men to love their children."
Ghost of JoePa: "Well... of course it is. Love is what makes the world go round. It's what makes us happy in the valley."
Father Anthony thanked the reflection in the mirror and the image gradually dissipated. He looked at Sid, "Just as I expected. I'm glad we got confirmation from such a distinguished role model. And you wanna know something? God gave us this moment together in this Heinz Field bathroom. Now I'm going to make the most of it. Because I deserve it."
Father Anthony kicked out Sid's knees from under him and positioned his twitchy body against the toilet. He briskly ripped down Sid's corduroy pants and began to dry hump Sid's tender buttocks. Sid's yarmulke fell off and hit the floor. Father Anthony purposely stomped on the beanie and extolled "l'chaim." The priest grabbed a handful of soap from the dispenser and lathered it in Sid's disproportionate crack. When Sid begged him to stop, he shoved his head into the squalid pool of toilet water and continued thrusting away.
Father Anthony aggressively came all over Sid's ass. He waved his hand back and forth across the paper towel motion sensor. A long ream of coarse paper towels emerged. The priest snagged a handful and mopped up the semen to the best of his ability. He then shoved the sticky cum-soaked evidence in his right front pants pocket.
"Now turn around and face me." A helpless Sid complied. Father Anthony knelt down, grasped Sid's little penis and inserted it into his mouth. Sid gradually experienced his first-ever erection. Suddenly, without warning, the priest clamped down with infallible fury. Sid screeched in agony. Father Anthony had orally castrated him. The holy father spat out the semi-flaccid member into his hand.
Father Anthony: "Sid, from the moment we met, I knew you were a very special boy. Now open up and say ahh. We're going to try something unprecedented in the history of holy communion. It's called a Jew-charist." Father Anthony crammed the mutilated genitalia into Sid's mouth. "Now be a good boy and chew... you Jew. Eat god damn-it, you're skin and bones. Nosh!!!" Over the next fifteen seconds, Sid achieved a rather ignominious distinction. He became the first person in the history of Heinz Field to successfully consume his own dick.
Father Anthony concluded, "I'm glad we got to pray together. God loves you. And just so you know, if you tell anybody what happened here, they won't believe you. If you say anything, you'll not only be disrespecting me, you'll be disrespecting God. Now wipe away those tears and get the hell outta my sight."
Sid could not make sense of what had just happened. He felt humiliated, utterly defeated and totally dead inside. He gathered up his belongings and wandered toward the owner's suite. A Rooney lackey opened the door for him. He sat down next to the owner and promptly burst into tears. Mr. Rooney asked him what was wrong. Sid couldn't bring himself to talk about the recent act of Sanduskification. Instead, he told Mr. Rooney he was upset about the Steelers' failure to acknowledge the issue of outdated emergency evacuation protocol. Sid sobbed, "If we're really all in this together, the fans need to know. They have rights. The right to possess knowledge. The right to be aware of their surroundings. The right to defend themselves. You need a contingency plan. Even if the artificially generated stampede isn't successful, don't you understand that it will eventually one day be attempted? In which case you'll have to come clean. I thought you were going to do something about this. You have to put what's good for humanity above what's good for the Steelers."
Just as Mr. Rooney was about to respond, something abnormally bizarre happened. Everyone in the owner's box. Their clothing began to expand. With the exception of Sid and Miss Priddy, everyone's attire was rapidly transforming into some kind of full-bodied inflatable life vest. Their button-down shirts popped apart. Their pants split open. Everyone around them was turning into the Incredible Hulk... and then morphing into the Michelin Man.
For the life of him, Sid couldn't figure what was happening. This was the most confounding thing he'd ever seen. It was like some kind of terrifying cartoon reality show. Then, he looked out into the crowd and saw it. The artificially generated stampede had begun.
Chapter 9: the who, the what, the when, the where, the how, the why
It can be a person: MLK, RFK, JFK
It can be a group: The Illuminati, Anonymous, Skull and Bones
It can be an issue: Sports gambling, electronic banking, global warming
It can be an object: TWA Flight 800, crop circles, a birth certificate
It can be a location: Oklahoma City, Pearl Harbor, the moon
It could even be a monster like Bigfoot, or my hometown hero, Batboy.
Sorry Moondog. You know I love ya.
Conspiracies can be medical, educational, religious, apocalyptic... the greater the financial and emotional fallout, the more likely a conspiratorial narrative will surface. The artificially generated stampede is no different. Just way more pernicious. Because it was all part of a monumental hoax that left a tangible trail of broken limbs, dead bodies and rampant speculation.
Who will be held responsible? Nobody? Everybody? Anybody?
Maybe it was someone wronged by the system. A deadhead incarcerated 20 years for marijuana possession under the draconian mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. Three strikes and you're out.
Maybe it was a prank. A technologically gifted high school kid who wanted to see if he/she could pull off their own real-world stadium evacuation. Just for the hell of it.
How about a disgruntled gambler who lost his life savings? He banked it all on Johnny "Money" Manziel in his rookie debut against the Bungles. At least Cleveland kept it close (30-0). Even Kicker Billy Cuntiff came up empty.
Maybe it was an accident. A Sunday afternoon celebrity tweet about "da bomb" that unexpectedly went viral. Turns out it was a 50 yard touchdown pass at the end of the first half.
What about a Christmas miracle? News of someone giving away hundred dollar bills near a stadium exit would quickly spread. An impromptu "cash-flash mob" that spun out of control.
Maybe it was someone who hated the Dallas Cowboys or despised their egomaniacal owner, billionaire Jerry Jones. After all, everything's bigger in Texas. Hold on there one cotton pickin' minute! Have you ever heard the phrase "the bigger they come, the harder they fall?"
Maybe it was someone seeking vengeance. A foreign terrorist with an unspeakable agenda. A Pakistani whose entire family was killed during a CIA drone strike at a wedding reception.
What about a rogue country often accused of state sponsored terrorism? A sworn, unpredictable enemy formerly labeled as part of the "axis of evil?" After the December 2014 Sony hacking debacle, North Korea released the following statement:
"The army and people of the DPRK are fully ready to stand in confrontation with the U.S. in all war spaces including cyber warfare space to blow up those citadels."
A "citadel" is the core fortified area of a city, comparable to a fortress or castle with deep, underlying economic interests. Is this a portent or merely a fluky translation?
Maybe it was someone seeking to shift the balance of power in Washington. Don't be silly. Power is an illusion.
Maybe someone sent out a mock Presidential Terror Alert. I've never received one. Have you? To the best of my knowledge, the system has never been utilized. Am I the only one who would have difficultly ascertaining its validity? Under what specific circumstances would the federal government use that particular medium? Fret not. I'm sure big brother knows best. When the time comes, they'll let us know.
What about the deliberate misuse of an opt-in notification. Last time I checked, those updates were prone to human error. What if someone tampered with the official Steelers text message alerts? Instead of receiving the routine message "At halftime Steelers lead Chiefs 10--6 at Heinz Field" what if it read something different? Oh, I dunno. How about...
Heinz Field management has temporarily suspended today's game.
Exit the stadium. Remain calm.
With no explanation given, how might people react? Inside the stadium? Outside the stadium? In Pittsburgh? In Cincinnati? In New York City? Don't worry so much. Nothing like that could ever happen. More people were probably concerned about the superfluous hyphen in the 10-6 scoreline. Whoops.
Maybe it was intentional misuse of the WEA (Wireless Emergency Alert) system. What if this message suddenly appeared?
***FCC FLASH OVERRIDE***
The FBI has ordered immediate evacuations for the following NFL Stadiums: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland. FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland. MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey.
As you can see, incendiary language regarding bombs, active shooters or improvised explosive devices isn't really necessary.
What if a malevolent someone got their hands on a list of season ticket holders' cell phone numbers? What if they set up a bulk text notification system of their own?
What about the epidemic of "civil emergency alerts" advising everyone to "take shelter." They always seem to fall under the classification of "unfortunate accidents." Apologies are issued but nobody's ever held accountable. Perhaps I should go hide under a school desk. Duck and cover.
What about Stingray technology and multi-lateration? The gathering of real-time location tracking data through active cell phone pings bouncing off cell towers. What about mass tri-lateration? If you ask me, it all sounds made up.
GPS? Oh yeah, Global Positioning Systems. I think that has something to do with satellites in space. Let me assure you; it's only used on extraterrestrials, rockets and such.
Reverse 911 platforms are an increasingly popular method for warning people about severe weather, imminent threats and regional emergencies. But what happens when a 911 system gets overloaded? From what I understand, the system goes down. This wouldn't bode well during a crisis when accurate information is at a premium.
Can I ask you something? Does it really need to be this complicated? How about just an old-fashioned phone call? If you believe a friend or loved one is facing imminent danger, whadda ya do? I dunno, uhh, maybe pick up the phone and give 'em a ring.
I haven't even touched on the most dangerous threat of them all --- the decentralization of social media. What happens when all those civilian journalists get sucked in by breaking news? Most of them dive fingers first into their phones and computers. Snopes is a distant afterthought. These days it's more about "being the news" as opposed to "reporting the news." Everyone wants their 15 seconds.
Think about your posts and news feeds. The stuff near the top is generally from family members and close friends. There's an implicit level of trust in the pecking order. Those whom you place the greatest faith in could be the same ones unknowingly spreading disinformation. Social media loves sharing bad weather forecasts and untimely celebrity deaths. Even when it's nice outside and nobody died.
Let's try a Pittsburgh scenario. For the sake of argument, let's say I'm an information technology specialist suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness. I was thrown out of a recent game because I held up a sign that read "Roger Goodell can go fuck himself." I've been robbed of my season tickets and stripped of my last ounce of dignity. There is no recourse.
So over time, I research and gather the cell phone numbers and email addresses of every employee at WTAE, WPXI and KDKA. In particular, the anchors and reporters have excellent local name recognition. Then, I take it a step further and assemble a similar list of individuals from 72 radio stations within earshot. Now let's throw in everyone from the Post-Gazette and the Trib. Might as well add salaried workers from 8 other daily Southwestern PA newspapers and another 14 weekly miscellaneous publications. Don't forget all those colleges and universities. Plenty of action there. Kids these days! Unless my eyes deceive me, they sure dig their social media and groovy smart phones.
Ka-Boom! I just sent them all a spoofed message from their respective bosses. It's carefully attenuated to produce a panicked response. Now they feel morally and vocationally obligated to post their concerns on social media, hoping to safeguard the lives of innocent civilians. Have they been lectured on the subtle nuances of evacuation protocol? I doubt it. Are they able to make critical distinctions between bomb threat conditions and bomb threat emergencies? Probably not. Do these considerations even matter? No. The buzzwords take precedence over the content. Finally, does information like this have the potential to spread virally? Yes. More likely exponentially.
Does anyone recall the Pitt bomb threat saga from 2012? Ten weeks consisting of 145 separate bomb threats. Fortunately, there was no significant disruption or inconvenience (intentional sarcasm). Did you know that all the consequentially dangerous material was filtered out by a top-secret NSA program? The remainder of the really bad stuff was discarded by omniscient cyber-deities stationed in the Cathedral of Learning. Only the medium, mid-level bomb threats reached their intended destinations. Yeah, that's the ticket (Jon Lovitz).
And just in case all the safeguards were to fail, there's a super-duper, last-resort, contingency plan that magically springs into action. It's a "protective sci-fi cellular cloaking shield" for every stadium, ballpark, motor speedway, arena, amphitheater, megachurch and convention hall. It renders all mobile devices completely inactive if it's determined that something bad is about to happen. Just ask any experienced incident commander. They'll gladly fill you in.
Ever seen all those fans in the stands with downward tilting head syndrome? Furiously texting, checking fantasy scores, posting selfies and surfing the internet? Well, all of that information goes through a rigorous screening process. The electronic content is held in abeyance by a covert team of thought police until it gets the go-ahead. Better safe than sorry. That's why those emails and text messages sometimes take a few extra seconds.
Now you're probably thinking... WTF, this guy's a rabble-rousing imbecile. He hasn't even explored cyberattacks and the hacking phenomenon. Wrong asshole! I just didn't feel like writing a separate chapter.
Here's the problem. I'll summarize. With wireless connectivity on the upswing and situational awareness on the downturn, standard emergency evacuation protocol conveniently ignores the fact that virtually everyone in any crowded venue has an active cell phone. At some future point, it's reasonable to conclude that an "unexpected variable" will be introduced into the equation. That variable is not a single bomb threat properly phoned in to the venue's main switchboard operator. They got that one covered. The variable I'm referring to is hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands of evacuation orders and panic-inducing threats coming from any source and every direction conceivable.
False information + inter-connectivity + decentralization + saturation + speed of transmission = a very negative outcome. There's even a name for it - VIRAL BLITZKRIEG.
Alright, let's take a deep breath. Breathe in. Breathe out.
Reading this chapter, your first thought is probably... this information cannot be made available to the general public. The guy who wrote this should be arrested and charged with terroristic threats, treason and crimes against humanity.
First off, I'm not the only person who knows about this. In the U.S. alone, probably about a half million people have varying degrees of concern. Next off. Good luck. If you honestly believe the United States government has the courage to argue whether its feasible to kill people without using weapons, you are sadly mistaken. They make the weapons. They sell the weapons. They do not entertain conceptual ideas about how to kill people without weapons.
There is only one comprehensive solution to the artificially generated stampede. Awareness. You cannot mitigate the damage from an event that occurs in real time. That's not how it works. You must prevent the tragedy from happening in the first place. It's a lot like forest fires. You accomplish your objective by making a stark admission --- voluntarily acknowledging how the rules of the game have changed. You acknowledge that every stadium has between 50,000 - 100,000 active cell phones. You acknowledge that mobile devices are capable of transmitting false information. You acknowledge that incident command and control has been irreparably compromised. And you acknowledge the fact that something bad could happen. This isn't the 500 lb. elephant in the room. It's the 15,000 lb. Tyrannosaurus Rex at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
The time has come to explicitly tell people the truth. I realize it's an extremely uncomfortable proposition --- informing the general population that information can kill people. But the fallout from an artificially generated stampede is clearly much worse.
It becomes necessary to weigh the real-world, hypothetical consequences of action versus the consequences of inaction.
The toughest questions invariably produce the easiest answers. In this case, it's necessary to open your mouth and speak. You physically begin telling people that legitimate emergency venue evacuation orders do not come from cell phones. There is no guaranteed solution. But it's a superior place to start the process. And there's no time like the present.
I'm sure the NFL's officially licensed merchandisers would agree.
"Just do it."
And it seems like a perfect opportunity to invoke the beloved Department of Homeland Security slogan:
"If you see something, say something"
If only it were that simple.
Chapter 10: the billionaire owner
As fans scrambled for the concourses and exits, utter chaos ruled the stadium. Yet a contemplative calm resonated in the owner's box.
Mr. Rooney: "Don't worry Sid. We're going to be okay. We've been expecting this. Even preparing for it. Our security consultants envisioned something like this happening as far back as 2006. That's why we're all wearing these silly inflatable 'steel curtain' undergarments. It was automated protection just in case any of us were sitting with the ordinary joes." Rooney continued, "The only people who will face injury or death are the Steeler peons. I don't know why you're so upset. You're safe here in the box. You're going to live!"
Sid: "But what about all the others running for their lives?"
Mr. Rooney: "Sid, you worry too much. Fans die all the time. It's not our fault if someone gets hit by a bus."
Sid: "But don't you feel responsible? You could have done something. All you had to do was tell fans that emergency evac orders don't come from cell phones."
Mr. Rooney: "You're a naive piece of shit. We DID do something. We hired legendary saxophonist Kenny G to play adult contemporary music. That will help calm everyone down."
Sid: "But, it's not working. Where's the music? All I can hear are the breathless screams of the crowd."
Rooney yells at his Hispanic assistant. "Where the hell is G? Where's that damn hooked-nose jazzy Jew? Where's the fucking music?"
Assistant: "Mr Rooney, uhh, Kenny G is in the restroom. He's either going #1 or doing a #2."
Mr. Rooney: "Well, if he's taking a shit then a lot of people are going to needlessly die. Sid's right. This ain't no time for Renegade. We need some soothing sounds. Get him and his borg vibrator off the damn commode! Por favor, you unassimilated martian spic!"
Mr. Rooney was incredulous. "Why didn't someone brief me on the urinary and excretory habits of Kenny G's schlong and anus?"
As fans throughout the stadium were getting their brains bashed in, Mr. Rooney clamored at his assistant. "I'm gonna need all of Kenny G's medical records. There will likely be hearings before Congress and I'm not going in empty-handed. This ain't all gonna fall on me. For god's sake, get on the horn with UPMC and schedule him a colonoscopy."
Rooney continued, "Praise the lord I have an excuse for this mess. Thank god it's not my fault. But at the same time, lemme tell you something. I do think we should show a little compassion here. It looks like the hour of death is upon us... err, well uhh, them. So let's all throw a Hail Mary. After all, hey, it's a football stadium for Christ sake. But before we do, lemme say something to Sid."
Rooney sized up Sid, "You might be a stupid Jew fuck. But you're the perfect candidate to die for the sins of the Steelers. Your day of reckoning is now upon us."
Sid had had enough. In a split second, he decided the world would be better off without him. He proclaimed his love for Miss Priddy and jumped out the box's open window.
Miraculously, Sid survived the fall. But he would've been better off dead. He was left to rot in a purgatorial coma... for eternity.
The following day every newspaper in the country had the same front page headline. One word.
Poor Sid. His graphic journey was difficult to fathom. Nevertheless, let there be no doubt. Sid died for your sins. Still, he never really died. Technically speaking, he was left in a vegetative state. He was, in essence, vegetablized for your sins. Akin to being spiritually hurled into the bottom of a societal blender. Whipped in denial. Churned with greed. Pureed by fear.
Sid reminds me a little of myself. Although considerably less observant, we both care deeply about the future of humanity. I too, could ramble on and on about the discernible inevitability of someone trying to weaponize a human stampede. I could blabber ad nauseam about the logical progression of malicious intent and why it was the NFL that probably got hit. I could yap about open-sourced, generational warfare and the notion of indiscriminate suffocation. I could talk about black swans --- all day, all night. And I have. For nearly 4 years.
If you found this book to be disgusting and revolting, well... that's kind of a good thing. If you found my style of writing to be unsettling and abhorrent, yep... that's a good thing too. It was an unfortunate by-product but an absolute necessity. There was a moral imperative and transformational obligation. To shed light on what will become history's most mind-numbingly obvious, generic conspiracy. If you can't get beyond the racism, flagrant antisemitism and hostile sexual content, you're probably missing the point. This book has nothing to do with me. It's about truth and justice in the aftermath of a dominipede. Still disturbed? Let me pose a direct question. Which is more offensive? Sid's fabricated excursion or a hypothetical, asymmetric national security disaster that claims roughly a thousand lives and injures 10x that number in the most emptily gruesome manner ever conceived?
NFL stadiums are modern-day billion dollar concrete strongholds. Teeming with legions of event staff, video cameras and state-of-the-art surveillance. Enhanced screening procedures, hand-held metal detectors and walk-through magnetometers. They offer the illusion of indomitable security. But at the heart of it all is the simple premise of entrance and egress. A lot of resources are expended on getting fans inside. A statistically insignificant fraction is allocated for getting them out.
However unlikely, scenarios do exist where nearly everyone would spontaneously and aggressively wish to exit a stadium. I know... I know... it's "never" happened. Tell me something I don't know. Why not warn fans about hovering drones dispensing sarin gas or a rogue individual lobbing a hand grenade? Over a decade later, why not warn them about an airplane being used as a 250,000 lb. cruise missile? What makes the artificially generated stampede so unique that it requires transparency and disclosure? I'm sorry but you might as well be asking what drives the stock market or why humanity craves exploration of the cosmos. There is no specific, jeopardized answer. Think in terms of an octopus. The layers of complexity are a microcosmic extension of its tentacles. Sensing. Shifting. Changing.
Consider a pre-9/11 scenario in which a mechanical engineer wanted to transform the airline industry by reinforcing and strengthening cockpit doors. His explanation that terrorists seeking martyrdom "could" violently commandeer multiple planes and use them as kamikaze-styled weapons probably wouldn't sit too well. That's pretty much where I'm coming from. Now you know how I feel.
But the concerns I'm fielding are far less complex. Instead of everyone wanting in, everyone wanted out. And everyone was unknowingly in on it. It's just another paradox. Nothing more, nothing less. A subtle variation on what goes up, must come down. Eventually someone tests the cracks in the system. There is no instant replay. You do not get a second chance.
On the afternoon of December 28, 2014, the United States of America will fall prey to an epic moment in time. Another date that will live in infamy. All the Christmas trees will be hastily dismantled. All the new year celebrations, canceled. Holiday cheer, terminally deflated. The slightest hint of revelry will immediately succumb to nihilistic despondency. This ain't Sid talkin'. It's me.
In chapter 3, you might recall a blip reference to Marsha Brady's broken nose. It may have seemed a little out of context. But if the future unfolds as I think it will, you won't be hearing the words "Oh my nose." You'll be hearing the words, "Oh my god."
Let's take a moment and talk about a different Brady. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, an NFL legend and iconic superhero.
September 7, 2008
It was midway through the first quarter when Kansas City Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard drilled Brady's knee. He was helped off the field as a Gillette Stadium capacity crowd of 68,756 was temporarily silenced. The Patriots went on to win that game 17-10. But what if there had been a different outcome? No, not a New England loss or tie. What if the game had been halted? No, not suspended due to inclement weather. What if, somehow, the game instantly became less of a priority? What if everyone suddenly realized that the game, was in fact, merely a game?
I was at the Heinz Field season opener when Brady tore his anterior cruciate ligament. Same time, different location. Attendance was 64,001. We defeated the Texans 38-17. But once again, what if the result had been different. Again, not a Houston win or tie. You're still thinking way too linearly. What if NFL officials abruptly determined that every game had no meaningful significance?
I was standing in the Steel Pit when news of Tom Brady's injury reached Heinz Field. A guy next to me yelled, "Brady's out with a broken leg! My fantasy team's fucked!" That snippet of information came flooding in from 570 miles up the road. But the physical distance was irrelevant. Because in a matter of seconds, everyone knew what had transpired. There was no "official" confirmation, but everyone watching any game knew that Brady's season was over.
That was 2008. Smart phones were barely on the map.
Fast forward 5 years to 2013. A lot can happen in almost 2,000 days. A lot has happened. A young black senator was elected President of the United States (twice), Michael Jackson died, Bin Laden was killed, a nuclear tsunami devastated Japan. There was even an incomprehensible attack on the Boston Marathon. Underestimating the randomness of mankind is a joker's junket, a fool's expedition.
But like I said, the year is now 2013. Consider the accelerated pace of information.
A spokesperson for the Boston highway safety authority (HSA) has confirmed that Tom Brady has broken both of his legs in a traffic altercation. He has been transported via ambulance to a local Boston hospital for treatment, and the full extent of his injuries are not known at this time, however, both of his legs were visibly broken and not life threatening according to sources.
The accident involved a 2012 BMW driven by Tom Brady and a 76 year old female driver in a 2010 Audi. The driver of the Audi was issued a citation for failing to stop at a red light before striking the vehicle driven by Tom Brady at a high rate of speed.
Team spokespersons could not be reached for comment at this time.
This time it was much worse. Not just one broken leg. Tommy suffered two broken legs. I imagine he was cursing up a storm. Hmmm. Eerily reminiscent of Sid's trials and tribulations. My deepest sympathies.
Gotcha! Turns out the traffic accident was merely a viral hoax. Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only person who knows that this here internet is a really good medium for relaying deliberately false information. Compounding the problem, we live in a society that's grounded in themes of immediate results and instant gratification. There's little incentive to view challenging issues over a long-term event horizon.
Now it's almost 2015. So what's in store for the steeple of sheeple? Will the hoaxes suddenly cease and desist? Will mass deception be rendered inconsequential? Will people stop lying?
Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The era of disinformation is over!
Let me explain something. There's a battle already underway. It started well before I was born.
technology vs. humanity
I'm envisioning an incoming collision. And it's approaching faster than an Orwellian speeding bullet. But it's not hijacked planes crashing into buildings. It's human beings crashing into each other. And just like 9/11, if it can happen at one stadium, it can happen at all stadiums. It's called a dominipede.
Normally the NFL schedules 7-10 games for its 1 o'clock Sunday slate. But on December 28, 2014, a season high thirteen games are scheduled for the 1 p.m. start.
Atlanta, Baltimore, Landover, Nashville, Green Bay, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, Minneapolis, Foxborough, East Rutherford, Pittsburgh and Tampa
Be that as it may, NFL execs will likely move several of the games to a later 4 p.m. start. This will be done for one reason --- logistical greed. They'll want to maximize ratings by strategically heightening suspense in the playoff race. It's ironic how the tactical repositioning of select games would spare countless lives. Of course that's assuming my temeritous predictions are accurate.
I'm going to sum this whole thing up as straightforwardly as is humanly possible. The government is not gonna act. Private industry is not gonna budge. Until people die. That's just the way it is. Because if you acknowledge the existence of the problem, you own it. And if something bad happens, you lose. This intransigent catch-22 has a mind of its own.
I thought I could change the 'way of things'. I was admittedly naive to think that the NFL, or anyone else for that matter, would make a voluntary admission that a circumstance exists which could render their stadiums unsafe. It turns out that all my efforts appeared to have been in vain. Everything was an exercise in universal futility.
Unless I find a courageous, real-world savior willing to help me tell people the truth.
Legitimate emergency venue evacuation orders do not come from your personal cell phone.
You'd think my concerns would be more egregious or complex.
It has been a callous experience. I've been mocked, ridiculed and demonized. The local police even refer to me as "manifesto fucktard." That's what happens when you try to transform the status quo and do something of tremendous consequence. It's no wonder people are reluctant to lend a hand. Ego is truly mankind's Achilles heel.
Time for a personal concession. My objective, my goals were probably not realistic. I raised the stakes pretty high and have been shattered accordingly. It's like having your fingernails emotionally ripped out, one by one. And then your toenails, one after another. Every single time. Reflecting and reconfiguring the same strategy. All the while, wondering how you became such a relative failure.
So I'll make this plain. I am not the only person who knows about this. And I can't accept the notion that I'm the only one who would care. Silence is not a moral option. You either tell people or you don't. People have a right to know or they don't. It's actually a futuristic civil rights issue that will eventually play itself out. Probably sooner rather than later. And since you're eventually gonna have to spill the beans, why not just summon the horsensical audacity and put it in the public domain?
People have a fundamental right to know...
that if they're in a large, confined crowd and receive an emergency evacuation order and/or panic-inducing information from their cell phone or mobile device...
it's almost certainly a hoax designed to create an artificially generated stampede.
This has never been about money. But if you want to help, I need about 3-5 million dollars and I'll fix it myself. Here's precisely how I would allocate the funds.
A. Hire an IT team to revamp the appearance, functionality and content of the agsaf website.
B. Devise a comprehensive social media strategy.
C. Assemble a group of communication specialists whose chief purpose would be to lobby professional sports ownership, NCAA leadership, team and venue management, politicians, musicians, athletes, celebrities, etc.
D. Place print advertisements outlining the agsaf mission statement and explaining its justification in every major newspaper represented by the cities of all 32 NFL teams.
E. Continue the search for a well-known, respected individual willing to participate in the creation of a public service announcement video and embrace the role of spokesperson.
you can do it yourself and take all of the credit and/or all of the blame.
you can do nothing. Just like everyone else.
One final thought. In this day and age, it's no longer necessary to blindly succumb to the moral inaction of government. Mindless adherence to corporate cowardice is not compulsory. The future is not predetermined or set in stone.
We live in an age of super-empowerment.
If your values and principles dictate change, please contact me.
Artificially Generated Stampede Awareness Foundation
"I'd rather define a black swan than go feed the ducks." - sonofsaf
* since the last book
Steel Panther, 5-28-14, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Bastille, 6-1-14, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Ray LaMontagne, 6-6-14, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Journey & Steve Miller Band, 6-27-14, First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Dave Matthews Band, 6-28-14, First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Yonder Mountain String Band & Railroad Earth, 7-9-14, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
311 & Sublime, 7-14-14, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Jack White, 7-27-14, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Dark Star Orchestra, 8-8-14, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Motley Crue, 8-13-14, First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Kiss & Def Leppard, 8-24-14, First Niagara Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Greensky Bluegrass, 9-23-14, Rex Theater, Pittsburgh, PA
Pearl Jam, 10-1-14, U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati, OH
Fleetwood Mac, 10-14-14, Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
King Diamond, 10-19-14, Stage AE, Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Steelers vs.
Carolina Panthers, 8-28-14, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Cleveland Browns, 9-7-14, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 9-28-14, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Houston Texans, 10-20-14, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Indianapolis Colts, 10-26-14, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Baltimore Ravens, 11-2-14, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
New Orleans Saints, 11-30-14, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
Pittsburgh Pirates vs.
Philadelphia Phillies, 7-6-14, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Florida Marlins, 8-7-14, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
West Virginia Mountaineers vs.
Towson Tigers, 9-6-14, Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV
Oklahoma Sooners, 9-20-14, Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV
AC Milan vs. Manchester City, 7-7-14, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA