Thursday, May 27, 2010

systempunkt definition

I've been using the term "systempunkt" frequently these days. I don't think I've offered a definition because I thought it was self-explanatory. Since it's not in the dictionary, here's what it means (compliments of the most brilliant, intriguing blogger - John Robb).

In global guerrilla warfare (a combination of open source innovation, bazaar transactions, and low tech weapons), the point of greatest emphasis is called a systempunkt. It is the point in a system (either an infrastructure or a market), always identified by autonomous groups within the bazaar, where a swarm of small insults will cause a cascade of collapse in the targeted system. Within infrastructure, this collapse takes the form of disrupted flows that result in immediate financial loss or ongoing supply shortages. Within a market, an attack on the systempunkt destabilizes the psychology of the market to induce severe inefficiencies and uncertainties. The ultimate objective of this activity, in aggregate, is the collapse of the target state and globalization.

Think in terms of a series of attempts at gaming the system which results in a great calamity. The greatest systempunkt of my generation is most certainly 9/11. If my Superbowl prediction were to come true, I think it could represent a close second. Especially considering the fragile mindset of the typical American. Here are some other examples on a smaller scale that come to mind...

The Tylenol fiasco back around 1980. Remember when some idiot poisoned bottles of Tylenol with cyanide in retail outlets around Chicago (I think it was Chicago). It resulted in all over-the-counter medication and a myriad of other products employing safety features (seals and advanced twist off techniques). I seriously doubt that this was his aim. He was probably just some demented moron.

The current home foreclosure crisis offers a prime example. There are a few people out there who have INTENTIONALLY defaulted on their mortgages. Some banks in certain geographic locations just can't keep up with the escalation in housing turnover. The end result, there's a bunch of people out there who opted out of their mortgage contracts and are not being penalized to the fullest extent of the law. This is a big one if you have a game plan and fully understand the consequences (both short and long term). I wouldn't recommend it though.

Here's a good idea for a systempunkt in Morgantown following a huge WVU victory. Organize massive couch burnings all over the campus. As the police and fire trucks are tending to the multiple emergencies, now's the time to loot and pillage. You're just taking advantage of a series of coordinated disruptions and maximizing its potential.

There are millions of examples in nature, business, warfare, etc. Read John Robb's blog if you wish to gain a better perspective.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

doritos systempunkt

A friend of mine recently forwarded me a printable attachment for a FREE bag of Doritos - any flavor, any size (up to a $5.00 retail value). Here's how I would encourage a youthful, enterprising bum or broke college kid to spend a Saturday afternoon. First, go to Wheeling Jesuit University and print out 100 sheets of coupons. That's 6 coupons per sheet - thus a grand total of 600 coupons. In fact, I say fuck it and print the damn things out til the printer loses all toner or runs out of paper, whichever happens first. Alright, now you're armed with the world's first low grade "couponic weapons."

Phase 2 - Hang out in the chip aisle of various retail establishments. I'm thinking first and foremost - WALMART and then hit some of the lesser trafficked stores (Kroger, Target, gas stations, CVS, Rite Aid, etc.). If you see anyone contemplating purchasing a bag of chips, tell them you'll sell them a coupon for $1.00. Almost every normal person carries a dollar bill on them. I would think most would succumb. Especially if you give them a brief (possibly fictitious) hard luck story. College kids can say they're doing it as some kind of frat/hazing stunt and they aren't allowed back to campus until they get $50 worth of coupons sold for this evenings kegger. That's a tremendous story line because it's fun, evokes a minor amount of sympathy and is less annoying then the straight up panhandling approach.

Alright, here's the hard, cold truth. Eventually, someone is going to spill the beans and the manager is going to kick your ass outta there. But in the meantime, I'm assuming you could make 20 sales or so if you're not a loud-talker and have a decent work ethic. Basically, once you get kicked out you're just off to the next retail establishment. The bigger the store, the better as you would trend less conspicuous.

I'm thinking after expenses (mainly time, gasoline and a little wear and tear on your vehicle), on a good afternoon you could make somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 bucks or so. Plus, you could probably convince a few people to use their kids and sell them multiple coupons. Hell, you could try to encourage the Doritos "variety is the spice of life closeout special" - you sell them 10 coupons for $5 bucks and let them get every flavor variety over time (this would necessitate multiple visits). And in the year 2010, I've never seen so many different flavors. 10 might be a bit high. 8 sounds more likely. Incidentally, my favorite is the mix bag with the Pizza Cravers/Ranch. And Doritos are slightly healthier than most other chips.

This reminds me of a tale from my high school years. Jepsonian and I would hang outside Listening Booth - a record/cassette store at the Ohio Valley Mall. They had this promotion all summer where you would get these certificates that filled out a larger redemption sheet for a free cassette. The more money you spent, the more coupons you got. So we'd approach these random strangers exiting the store and ask them if they were going to use their coupons. "Hey, can we have them? We're so close to getting a free cassette, we can taste it." In fact, on a busy day we'd often split up and run people down. Half the time, people would hand them over. The other half would not. This one afternoon we did some killer business. Over the course of a few hours, we managed to fill out 6 sheets. That meant a strong redemption of 6 brand new cassettes tapes. We were in heaven. In the day, that was about 60 or 70 bucks worth of heavy metal. Overkill, Nuclear Assault, Testament... etc. You get the mindset.

Anyway, this salesbitch from Merry-Go-Round eventually ratted us out. Why she would do this still I have no idea whatsoever? Jealousy, I suppose. She was probably angry we weren't using the coupon sheets for her favorite Stacy Q or the latest Jermaine Stewart cassette. We were pissed off! I do recall yelling mild obscenities into the store and trying to dissuade shoppers from entering that place.

Anyway, on the ride home from the mall, I popped in a brand new King Diamond tape called "Them." The song "Tea" evoked chills! Yes grandma, it's always time for tea. For some unknown reason, Jepsonian wanted to save the cassette cellophane wrapping. To do this day, I have no idea. When I asked him why (at the time), he mumbled, "Ahhh, you'd probably think it's stupid."

So I'd like to think we were pretty successful in the first ever known Listening Booth systempunkt. Soon after, their corporate headquarters ended the marketing promotion. It brings a tear to my eye to think it might have been a direct result of that fateful afternoon. 20+ years later, I'd like to see someone follow in our footsteps. Dare to dream.

Incidentally, I printed out a bunch of the coupons. If you see me, ask for a few. I'll have them in my car. Tell your friends.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

safe auto jingle

Has anyone seen this new Safe Auto insurance commercial? I find it bizarre. Apparently, the company had a nationwide (no pun intended) jingle contest and the winner would receive the highest honor of appearing in a new commercial. No wonder John Kerry threw away his Vietnam era Purple Heart. If he looked less like a hybrid Herman Munster/Frankenstein and sounded more like Justin Beiber, he could have written a jingle for Safe Auto or in his case, probably AIG.

Alright, now that you've been exposed to this nonsense - Just who is this corpulent black woman? I've seen plenty of commercials in my time, but I don't think I've ever seen a morbidly obese woman glorified in this manner. It must be part of some greater strategy. So I did some minimal research. I've seen other Safe Auto commercials and they seem to utilize the following themes:

* we provide the least amount of insurance required by law for low income citizens.
* if you don't have insurance, you'll be arrested and your life will be screwed.

Just an aside, I've also noticed their predisposition for repeatedly using interracial couples in their ads. I find that interesting because it tends to be rare. With the emergence of this new "Justin Case" ad, and his Michael Jackson-dance-hat-throw, it just made me wonder, "What the fuck is this?" And who the hell is this enormous, hip-hoppin-no-necked ebony goddess? Who is she? Well get this. It's the daughter of the marginally famous ReRun character from the 1970's sitcom What's Happening!* Apparently, her name is Lady ReRun! I read her bio and she's an aspiring actor/dancer/singer/rapper/song writer. Sounds about right.

Lady ReRun is a battle tested warrior as you surely can tell. She has overcome the societal disadvantage of her 4'11"/280lb frame and I suspect all the ensuing diabetic & circulation issues related to childhood obesity. If you click on the following link, you'll see a candid portrayal of her road to thespian fulfillment... Jingles.aspx?vid=122

Now seriously, what the fuck was that? She's like lounging poolside. I mean, like, ya know, I'm gonna enter this Safe Auto contest. Like, it'll be great if I win. And like, it'll be fun too. It's like, I got nuthin' to lose! For the sake of mother fucking God, this bullshit is on Safe Auto's corporate website. It's as if they're embracing this jibber jabber. Even Mr. T's more eloquent. And why does the clip subtly try to imply that it's a pool at her home? There's nobody else lounging around poolside. I'm guessing it was a Hampton Inn at 8am on the outskirts of Hotlanta.

It seems to me that Safe Auto is trying to secure the niche for one of the fastest growing segments of the population - low income, overweight, minority status & minimal education. Sorry if that sounds politically incorrect. Just calling it like I see it.

I also took a look at some geographical statistics. Here are the "fattest" regions of the United States in descending order...

East South Central > Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi & Tennessee
West South Central > Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma & Texas
East North Central > Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio & Wisconsin

Now here are the states where you can currently purchase insurance from Safe Auto (their corporate headquarters is based in Columbus, Ohio)...

Arizona Illinois Mississippi Oklahoma Tennessee
Georgia Kentucky Missouri Pennsylvania Texas
Indiana Louisiana Ohio South Carolina

See any overlap? Is this a mere coincidence? I doubt it. I think they're purposely trying to target the aforementioned segments of society. Now if you know me, you know I have this utter revulsion for insurance companies of any ilk. They really have become the scourge of society. This reminds me of the cigarette companies targeting young children. Lady Rerun is like, representin', like ya know, that Joe Camel guy. Seriously, she even has the extra humps or in this case... lumps.

* - ReRun also starred in the sitcom's brief, 3 week long revival "What's Happening NOW"

pro wrestling recollections

When I was 11-12 years old, I went through a phase. I was addicted to professional wrestling. Somewhere out there, there's an individual my age (39) who will appreciate this post. First off I'll tackle the age old question (real vs. fake) from the unique perspective of a 5th grader. At the time, I wasn't really sure either way. Of course my family would just chuckle and claim "that the blood is from ketchup packets." But I knew the blood was real and some of the story lines seemed very credible. Lots of angry foreigners (Ivan Koloff - The Russian Bear, The Iron Sheik, Boris Volkov, and countless others). You've got to realize that my naivete was shaped by my rudimentary understanding of the political landscape. The early days of the cold war, Ronald Reagan's assertion that the Soviet Union was an "evil empire", that bone-chilling movie where everyone gets nuked (I think it was called The Day After) and my vague recollections of the Iranian Hostage crisis from when I was 10 years old - All these things played a role in shaping my thought process. The good vs. evil refrain was something simple I could grasp.

I would go to the matches too. I think this would later fuel my obsession with arenas and stadiums. After endless requests, my parents finally broke down and took us to the Pittsburgh Civic Arena for a WWF event. And they even opened the roof that night. I thought the entire thing would open up but it still had a magical feeling. I still remember some of the matches. Ivan "The Polish Hammer" Putsky (probably the most boring wrestler of the time) defeated this guy (I think it was The Unpredictable Johnny Rodz) with a headlock that seemed to span the entire 15 minutes. Speaking of boring, how about the Intercontinental Champion Pedro Morales? I remember the tag team of Tony Gorea and Rick Martell winning. The main events were Don Muraco (my personal all-time favorite) vs. Rocky Johnson and Bob Backlund defeated George "The Animal" Steele in less than a minute. I felt robbed that the main event was over so quickly; nonetheless, I was hooked.

Pro wrestling touched my life personally. We had a brief run-in with the legendary Bruno Sammartino of Pittsburgh. Get this. My father accidentally received his Paine Webber brokerage statement in the mail sometime around 1980. This was back in the days when they hand-stuffed the envelopes. Think about it. The names Saferstein and Sammartino were obviously next to each other in the stack. I never understood the story until my brother recently mentioned it. For some reason, I thought it had to do with a luggage mix-up at the old Pittsburgh airport.

Anyway, I needed more. So I delved deeper into the various magazines (The Wrestler and Inside Wrestling). Then I discovered these independent newsletters. These things would detail the results of ALL the matches. Now I knew who was victorious in Rochester and Erie, who was defeated in Allentown and Syracuse. I was immersing myself in this shit. As I stated, I needed more so I began watching the Atlanta Superstation circuit. These characters seemed more uninhibited, crazed and reckless. The days of Dusty Rhodes, Paul Orndorff, Abdullah the Butcher, The Moondogs (Rex and Spot) and countless others. The beauty of WCW - they would come to Wheeling about 3 times a year. When they'd do the interviews and mention "Wheeling" or "Cambridge," my ears would light up.

The real vs. fake dilemma reached critical mass when I saw "Mad Dog" Buzz Sawyer and Tommy "Wildfire" Rich emerge from the 7/11 on Market Street with a case of beer. They were laughing and stumbling. What the fuck? These two were bitter enemies engaged in a huge, ongoing feud and now I witness them hooping it up? Could they have possibly settled their differences? I watched the following week with great concern, but much to my chagrin, they still hated each other. I had difficulty reconciling this mess.

During this time, I took up photography and converted the downstairs bathroom into a credible darkroom. I would shoot my own horribly distant pictures and develop them. All in all, it was a good learning experience. Take that glossy picture of Stan Hansen and carefully place it in the fixer and stop bath.

And I managed to get my review of the local matches nationally published! I submitted a review of the main event to "The Wrestler" - A Texas Strap Match between Captain Dick Murdoch and Buzz Sawyer. They altered some of the phrasing but maintained most of its integrity. Fortunately, the writer kept the words "bloody and brutal." And to see my real name "Eric Saferstein" next to the column... I was in heaven. Now I was famous.

Every so often, they'd broadcast the matches from Madison Square Garden on USA network. The entire event would last 2-3 hours. This was a huge deal. My buddy and I would mimic the performance. An occasional elbow drop or Chief Jay Strongbow Indian dance (hell, he was on the warpath - his opponent's punches are ineffective if he's on the warpath). I remember one night we looked through the tv guide and it said "USA - Wrestling 9pm." We knew what that meant. We were on pins and needles all week with giddy anticipation of the Friday night rasslin. So the time finally comes. We tune in and it was BOXING, not wrestling. We were so pissed off we thought about suing. We had a hard time dealing with the raw grief that night. Our Friday night was squashed. I vaguely remember talking about trying to hire a lawyer. We were going to sue TV Guide and USA Network for misrepresentation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. At the time, we just called it "lying" though. I remember asking my parents if they knew some good attorneys. Only in West Virginia could a 12 year old be so litigious.

My obsession with pro wrestling eventually subsided by 8th grade or so. I tried to recapture the energy in the late 1990's. I would secretly tape the WWF during Monday Night Football and skim through it when I got home late. We even made signs and hit some of the matches. My favorite "I'd Rather be on Air France" was confiscated in Wheeling. This was immediately following the deadly crash of one of their Concords. However, "Russell Nesbitt Proudly Welcomes WCW" made it on national tv.
At a WWF event in Pittsburgh I proudly displayed the sign "Gangbang Gangrel." Gangrel was an early day vampire before it became so trendy and fashionable. Poor Gangrel, his schtik came a decade too soon.
One time, Jenn and I went to a Pirates/Marlins game at Three Rivers. The Rock was doing a pre-game autograph session as well as throwing out the first pitch. We got there and the line seemed like it was a mile long. We cut line and dug in. It got a little ugly as there was some backlash from the crowd but we held our ground. I was going to meet The Rock come hell or high water. We had him sign our posters and I told him he should use the line, "with your hee hee'in and your haw haw'in" more often. That's a great line. He just chuckled and smiled.

I have absolutely no interest in pro wrestling these days. The characters are too ludicrous and obnoxious. The acting and story lines are so over-the-top. It just kills any attempt at credibility. You see, credibility was vital back in the day. It gave you this emotional, visceral reaction. I recall one time at the end of the matches at the Wheeling Civic Center. The villain won the main event. This skinny, long haired fan was so upset that he kicked open the glass exit door. It shattered everywhere and he bolted into the distance. I remember thinking, "wow, is that guy pissed. You know, he has every right to be pissed off."

In this generation, the slow and methodical development of grudge matches and feuds just isn't there. And some of the story lines... For the love of god, it has become way too sexual. All the "Suck Its" and relentless boob jobs. I can't fathom watching this stuff from the perspective of a pre-teen. Then again, I can't quite grasp how young kids comprehend the world of internet porn these days. In my day, you'd see a Playboy magazine and every once in a blue moon, you'd take a gander at a sleazier publication. That was a big deal. Nowadays, you just get flooded with the stuff. There's no build up and anticipation. That's the best part of being a kid. I miss the old high school metal days when you learned about upcoming concerts from a flier at the show. Testament at the City Limits, Crumbsuckers at the Electric Banana, Agnostic Front at some dive in Oakland. Now you just go plug in the name on Pollstar. It's all about instant gratification. And from what I've seen, the youth of today has definitely been affected. Everything is packaged like an American Idol show. There's no room for the lengthy self-exploration. No tolerance for an incubation period. Just youtube the shit.

Pro wrestling these days is crudely scripted entertainment. And it's really low-end amusement at that. But I will say one thing about Vince McMahon. Love him or hate him, he's probably the coolest billionaire on the planet. He leads by example. Whether it's having his head forcibly stuffed in a toilet or getting hosed by a mobile beer truck, there's only one Vince McMahon. I guess I just wish for the good ol days. When getting hit over the head with a chair was a big deal. When the Iron Sheik would "load his boot" by tapping his Arabian sandal (seriously, how could that possibly make a difference). When a wrestler got disqualified but kept the belt. When you had a beef, the commissioner (Jack Tunney) had to be called in. When a series of three drop kicks were enough to finish off an opponent.

I wonder... why were the champions of my era so dull? Babyface Bob Backlund, non-talker NWA champ Harley Race, AWA stalwart Nick Bockwinkle. These guys were intolerably dull. With the exception of Ric Flair, most of the other major stars bit it. Sucked. At least the villains of yester year had some attitude. Nowadays they all have attitudes, even me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

political endorsement systempunkt

It seems that whenever Dick Cheney endorses a political candidate, they lose. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R - Texas) lost a primary race to Rick Perry for governor. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) lost in the primary as well. And tomorrow there's a big race for Senate in Kentucky where the establishment candidate (Trey Greyson) is going to get pasted by Ron Paul's son, Rand Paul.

Surely, Dick Cheney must be aware of the negative impact of his endorsements. Perhaps he honestly believes he can help, but I doubt it. Cheney is far too measured and astute to be so naive regarding right-wing/centrist Republican politics. Seriously, Cheney's national approval rating is somewhere in the low teens. Is it possible he's using his endorsement as a weapon - a lethal kiss of death? I doubt it. Nonetheless, it got me to thinking.

What if you devised a national campaign where you linked your opponent to the scum of the earth? Think about it. What if serial murderer/cannibal Jeffery Dahmer had a Dukakis bumper sticker when they arrested him? I think the Jeff Dahmer shit happened in the late 80's. I might be wrong. But in this day of youtube, that's some high profile shit. Who the hell would want to be affiliated with a sodomizing cannibal?
Actually, Rush Limbaugh suggested that the recent U.S./Pakistani Times Square attempted car bomber had an Obama bumper sticker. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn't. I really don't know. Maybe the SUV's previous owner really did have an Obama bumper sticker.

Anyway, my point is that it's all fair game. What if you had video footage of a high profile pedophile priest from Minnesota getting into a car that had an Al Franken bumper sticker. The election is a hotly contested one and you spread the video virally and push it on the cable networks right at crunch time. There's no time to fight back. And to be honest, you really can't fight back. It's like asking the question, "How many times have you beaten your wife?" You lose every time.

Most voters want to believe that they picked the winner. Unless of course, you're so heavily principled that you voted for Pat Buchanan or Ralph Nader and screwed up the 2000 election. I'm talking about the majority of registered voters. More important than picking the winning candidate, the worst case scenario is being affiliated with the scumbag elements of society.

Right now I'd try to inflict misery through the use of British Petroleum, Goldman Sachs and maybe Ben Rothlisberger. Not many BP or Goldman Sachs bumper stickers out there, but what if you showed Arlen Specter getting into his vehicle and he had a BIG BEN #7 bumper sticker (that was discreetly stuck there by a political operative). It would demonstrate that Specter is nothing more than a Washington insider who's so completely mired in beltway politics that he's totally insulated himself. If he tried to deny his admiration of Rothlisberger, it just makes him look like an even bigger fool who's completely out of the loop.

That scenario is a bit absurd, but here's a real one. Let's say Rothlisberger suddenly decides the day before the election he's going to host an unofficial press conference. All the local stations go to interview him. He decides to give the interview in front of his mammoth Escalade in his massive driveway in front of his million dollar + home. Oddly enough, he has an Arlen Specter bumper sticker. Ka-Pow! Talk about an "accidental" political systempunkt! No time for damage control. You just sent Specter to an early retirement. Now he's affiliated with an arrogant, elitist athlete with a track record for abusing women and denigrating the common folk. We find out after the election that Sestak and Rothlisberger orchestrated the whole thing. I love these hypothetical high profile political scenarios.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Well, something just happened to me about 30 minutes ago. I was coming from Riesbeck's and decided at the last second to get a Double Stack and small fries from Wendy's. For those unfamiliar with the Elm Grove drive thru layout, the exit is really an expansive area. You can easily pull in. In fact, if you had a hitch or some kind of wagon device on the back of your car, it would probably be advisable. Anyway, there's a 4 door maroon sedan (I think it was a Sebring) slowly pulling around the drive thru. I make the decision to just zip in the exit rather than go all the way around. I'd say I made it in by about 2 1/2 car lengths.
Anyway, there's 2 cars in front of me. About a minute later, I reach the drive thru speaker and I roll down my window. It's raining out, but not a downpour. The girl's voice comes over the speaker and I place my order. All of a sudden, the woman in the Sebring behind me yells out, "And a Faggotburger!"
I'm wondering, what the hell is she talking about. I tilt my head and look at her, "What? What was that?" The woman gets a little louder, "And you want a Faggotburger too!"
I just laughed and said, "Ohh, you can't really be upset that I snuck in the drive thru in front of you?"
Keep in mind it's raining out and she's extending her head well outside the window. I just chuckled and smiled. When I went to pay the girl, I heard her yell "Faggot!" one last time. I explain my dilemma to the drive thru girl but I don't think she understood what I was talking about.
Keep in mind, this woman looked about 45, medium blond hair, an overly tan semi-non-repugnant MILF wannabee. What's funnier is that there was a teenage boy in the passenger seat. I'm assuming it was her son. And the fact that when I departed, I bolted out the entrance probably infuriated her. I thought the whole thing incident was amusing, but I'm willing to bet that she's checking herself into a mental institution as we speak.

Looking back on this whole incident. I should have turned off the ignition and claimed my car just broke down. That might have led to some inane commentary. I could have used the comic relief material because I have a strong hunch it's gonna be a tense Game 7 tonight against Montreal. GO PENCILS! If they lose, the playoff beard is coming off. Maybe I should keep the beard anyway. Faggots generally don't grow beards.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pearl Jammed-Out

Gig and I hit back to back Pearl Jam shows last week. I'm going to take a brief hiatus from discussing the end of civilization and focus on something a bit lighter. First up was the Columbus show at Nationwide Arena. We got there with plenty of time to spare. We parked a few blocks away and made our way to the arena district. This was my first ever excursion to the downtown arena. I couldn't help but notice the overall cleanliness. Seriously, you couldn't even find a discarded cigarette butt. Not that I'm complaining, but the crowd seemed incredibly tame and the backdrop was immaculate. The people watching was relatively uneventful. Some people think I enjoy chaos and disorder - and while that is indeed true, I like to observe my confusion from a close yet secure distance. Seriously, I've always thought there would be a good market for "riot chasers." You've already got those bozos in the Midwest who go tornado chasing. Riot chasing would be bad ass. Hey, it invokes the exact same sense of anticipation and coordination. Saf, what kind of riots would appeal to you? Well, the recent economic induced rioting in Greece was pretty impressive. In the past I've made my zest for soccer riots well known. Anything involving mass looting is fine. You've just got to stay out of the real war zones which is pretty easy if you reside in Wheeling.

As I said earlier, it seemed like the fans were attending a Bar Mitzvah. Tickets were an easy score. Face value of $68 across the board. I snagged a floor ticket for $20 and Gig got hers for $11. Amazingly, her ticket was a floor seat as well. While people watching, Gig saw a friend/fellow coworker of hers who had relocated from Sacramento. I forget his name. He was on a mini tour (Columbus, Indy, Cleveland & Buffalo).

We skipped the opening act and found some seats about 15 rows back - dead center. Almost immediately, the lights went out and the band took the stage. We got shuffled back to some other seats on the aisle about 18 rows back. Still fine with me. I was perpetually worried that we'd get bumped to the back of the floor, but we managed to stay put for the entire show.

Inside the arena, the fans were rocking out. A marked change from the previous behavior. They opened with Oceans - one of my favorite openers but I couldn't figure out what the song was until about halfway through. They ripped through some of the usual suspects. Early on they played my favorite tune "Faithful" - a definite highlight. I also liked the 1st encore opener Just Breathe (for sentimental reasons) and the second encore opener Come Back (I don't think I've ever heard it live). I'd probably rank this as my second favorite Pearl Jam show just behind the 2006 Mellon Arena show. We had killer seats and the band was definitely on. Truth be told, the band is always "on." As we heard the early notes of Yellow Ledbetter, I grabbed Gig and we bolted for the exit. I was unusually determined not to get stuck in traffic. She kindly reminded me of this during the ride home. It's not necessary to run 20 yards ahead. I think I get this instinct from my father. Maybe it's something in the DNA or at the very least, sociologically ingrained. Sometimes, I'm way to preoccupied with the quick exit. But hey, the drive back was 2 hours+.

A few days later, we'd hit the Cleveland show at the famed "Q" - Quicken Loans Arena. We stopped at her mom's house in West Middlesex for a pleasant Mother's Day dinner. I guess it wasn't really a non-circuit path considering our origin was Pittsburgh. After a brief visit, we hit I-80 & 77. About an hour and a half later we snagged a tight parking spot directly in front of the arena. I snagged a ticket for $20 and Gig outdid herself with a $7 ticket (face value $69). She offered some kid 5 bucks and then sheepishly added an additional two bones. To quote a famous Sato line from the waning moments of Karate Kid II - "Your student become my teacher." Hey, that fucking "bone dance" belonged there. The castle is where they used to have it... right?

I've always been suspect of Cleveland concerts. Formerly known as Gund Arena (I prefer to call it Gunt Arena), the "Q" is an annoying place to see a concert. The ushers and security must think their jobs depend on an absolute adherence to making every patron behave perfectly. Assuring total calm and non-enjoyment seemed a priority. Oddly enough both our tickets were in the upper tier section 224. But we had singles, so we looked for some open seats on the side. We found a few, but this bald, black usher seemed intent on exposing us. They opened with Wash and into Hail Hail. The usher guy flashed his light on my tennis shoe and told me to stay out of the non-trafficked 2 row aisle. I'm pretty sure I overheard these two women next to us complain that we were in the wrong seats. Maybe it was the paranoia kicking in. Sure enough, a minute later the guy beams his flashlight and aggressively tapped me on the shoulder, "Let me see your tickets." I'm like, oh well, let's move up to the less congested upper tier. So we headed up there and found some seats. The seats had this "I'm at the top of the Empire State Building feel." The crowd up top was mostly seated with a few pockets of enthusiasm. For the most part though, it seemed like a morgue. Gig did spot her Sacramento friend on the floor below - Front row railing absolute dead center. I tried to experience the concert vicariously through this guy but we were just too far in the distance.

So we decided to head to the other side and snagged some good seats on the opposite side of the stage. There was this large 30 row chunk of seats that were mostly vacant. I was very content with these seats for the duration. Just as I said, "I think we finally found our home," the same bald usher dude from the OTHER side of the arena shows up and starts flashing us again. Unbelievable! I think this guy must have had antisemitic feelings regarding West Virginia Jews and Pennsylvania Roman Orthodox. Honestly, he really had this Malcom X thing going. In any event, it felt like payback for a hundred years of white Jew economic oppression. At this point, I look at Gig and say "Alright let's seek out the absolute worst seats in the entire arena." So we head up all the way into the 3rd level rafters. We ended up on the railing though. Actually, these new seats provided a nice overview. But we had grown accustomed to snagging excellent spots in the past so it was a bit of a letdown.

Seriously though, why not just caution tape off the block of seats. Wouldn't that be easier and send a clear cut message to the attendees? It would take about 30 seconds and cost 1/5 of a cent. But that's probably way too easy for the Cleveland "beat yourself up" mindset. It's vastly better to bug the shit out of anyone and everyone. This is why the Ohio fans are lame. Through the decades, the arenas and stadiums have routinely and systematically tried to squash even the slightest attempts at enthusiasm and freedom of expression. Think about it - the Dawg Pound? Done away with the new stadium. They probably saw someone drinking whiskey out of an over-sized plastic decorative dog biscuit. Ohhh, they're trying to pull a fast one. Let's kick him the fuck out of the stadium and revoke his season ticket license. Hey, great move on the behalf of the most consistent 5-11 team in the NFL. Even the Bungles break .500 from time to time. And how about Cleveland's version of Starlake Ampitheatre - fucking Blossom Ampitheater. Every major outdoor ampitheatre has a corporate name these days, but even the banks and insurance companies are too cool to buy the naming rights to this fucking shithole. You emerge from the disgust of Akron and the construction of 8 North. All of a sudden, you venture through this beautiful state park. Mammoth trees line the stunning entrance. Then you get out of your car and pop the hatch. Within seconds, some pimply faced teenage fuck on a golf cart warns you that there's no tailgating and if you don't go inside the venue, you'll be arrested and shipped off to Gitmo. Despite the silence, you've been arrested for disturbing the peace and attempting to coordinate a riot. If you try and snag a cheap ticket, you'll be detained for racketeering and attempted conspiracy for trying to defraud the venue. And the sound is horrible because of this prodigious slab of birch mahogany that covers the pavilion. Then, you try and exit the place and it takes over an hour because it's single file and some moron's candy apple red Ford Mustang broke down. CLEVELAND - YOU SUCK! I hate pro basketball, but I'm hoping the Cavs lose a game 7 final to the Suns this year. That would be the dream scenario. Nothing against LeBron James though - he seems ok.

Honestly though, the show was another killer - great version of "Given to Fly" near the end. They closed with very rare songs - Smile and Indifference. And even though my energy level was low, towards the end of the show, everyone was up. I think we just got shuffled around too much. Plus, I was kind of Pearl Jammed-Out. But if we hadn't hit them both, I would have never forgiven myself. Back to the Burgh in another 2 hour+ late night haul. Incidentally, the repeated tolls on 80/76 Ohio/PA border are really annoying. 2 separate $3.00 tolls within a 10 mile span. Just another way that the state of Ohio tries to suck the lifeblood from everyone.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Phillies taser incident

A few days ago, this 17 year old high school kid ran out onto the field at a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park Field or whatever they call that place. Of course, the story line is all about whether the use of a taser constituted "excessive force." To be honest, I think the tasering was justified. I'm inclined to say - hey, if you're gonna blatantly break the law and disrupt a pro sporting event just for the youtube highlights then you should get manhandled. Here's a hypothetical - what if the dumbshit kid had a taser himself and was running toward one of those 8 million per year outfielders. It's easy to sneak shit into a ballgame. It's not like a Slayer concert where they make you go through pat downs and metal detectors.

So the kid got tasered and that's that. Well, not entirely. You see, yesterday another Phillies fan stormed the field. This guy was a bit older and they managed to subdue him the old fashioned way. He's being hailed as a "copycat."

Just an aside, I remember some guy charging onto the field during a pro football game and this linebacker literally CRUSHED him with an old school GORE. That's some weirdos pro wrestling football move - 3 point stance, charge and tackle.

Anyway, the whole incident got me to thinking about the randomness of charging onto the field. Could there be a way to inflict REAL damage or have a definitive impact on the outcome of the game? What if, just what if it was a highly coordinated group of individuals that charge the field. What if a wide swath of fans were notified via text message - CHARGE! Kind of a simple message, but think about it. All of a sudden, instead of 1 lone nutjob, there's 50 guys running onto the field. And what if this group had an understanding that a specific (and seriously despised) ball player is fair game. What if there was an "I Hate Rothlisberger" facebook website (I'm sure there are several). Anyway, you could use a specifically targeted facebook page to help spread your systempunkt message. Not sure how wise it would be to jump onto the field at an NFL game though.

This would probably be best suited for flash mob style assaults on pro baseball players, since many stand in isolated areas on the field. Also, European soccer games come to mind - specifically goal keepers when the action is on the opposite side of the pitch.

My point - just like my past looting predictions for when this country approaches the abrupt verge of devastation via long-term steady decay, all these silly pillow fight and song & dance flash mobs spontaneously notified through electronic messaging won't be the only game in town. If there's a true state of equilibrium for advents in technology (and rest assured, there is balance in everything - Saf's overriding golden rule), a randomly coordinated flash mob assault on a professional athlete is inevitable. I would think the best target would be a very religious/extremist outspoken Muslim soccer player from Egypt, coming off the heals of a devastating terror attack in London. Some of the lower tier English Premier League teams (Sunderland, Wigan, etc.) play in less secure conditions and older facilities. Yet, they inevitably host high profile stars. That's where you'd design your pro athlete systempunkt.

In retrospect, the Rothlisberger angle was a poor choice. Sexual abuse allegations and assholic behavior are not enough to incite a mob. You need an extraordinary political event (most likely a terrorist attack that kills plenty of innocents, the smaller the town or community, the more effective). Perhaps an area that has been impacted by ongoing riots and/or protests would certainly facilitate matters. It's all about timing and asymmetry. These are the weapons of the future as lone individuals and small focused groups challenge the authority of the state and seek to overthrow the status quo.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Fox News prediction

The immigration debate will continue for the foreseeable future. I predict that a story similar to the one I'm about to unveil will inevitably break on Fox News (the most balanced source for sensationalism). The producers are very adept at spoon feeding stories to the general public. Hey, when they needed to put a face on the dilemma of the oppressed white American male in his mid 40's who's having difficulty maintaining his 200K/year salary, Joe the Plumber stepped up. Now, they've got a new challenge but this one's far easier and way more obvious.

Here's what will happen in the near future. Somewhere in a wealthy Phoenix suburb (I'm thinking Scottsdale or maybe even Paradise Valley - go figure) the following scenario will unfold. A Hispanic man from Mexico (early 20's) will be romantically involved with a young, attractive American girl. This will not be a Paris Hilton type. However, she will have long blond hair and a very "girl-next door" look, trending shy and unassuming. The relationship will be a relatively turbulent one. I'm guessing at one point he was their pool-boy or worked on the landscaping. He's controlling and manipulative, resentful of her family and often tries to lay down the law. All kinds of rules and regulations (almost of a Maury Povich like consistency). Oh yeah, and he sponges off her. Let's even give him a name (perhaps something ethnic that sounds like Hey Zeus).

Anyway, one night when the Mexican National soccer team gets eliminated from the World Cup, Jesus goes into an absolute rage and there's a domestic altercation at her parent's home. It's a loud disturbance in a high profile, gated community. So the cops are called in. They come and settle things down. The police show a certain amount of discretion considering that it's a million dollar zone and they've never been to that address in the past. They never ask for identification and nobody is taken to jail for the night as it seems that things have settled down.

About an hour after the police exit, Jesus goes "wolfman bezerker" and beats the hell out of his girlfriend. When the parents and older sister try to intervene, he gets a gun and kills all of them. Or for even better shock value, gets a knife and stabs all of them to death. Regardless, this ends up being a very grisly crime scene.

Ordinarily, this story could be national news, but wait there's a new twist. Jesus was here ILLEGALLY. He's an illegal alien. Ohhh, if only the cops had asked for him to produce identification, they would have known of his status. He would have been arrested, deported and this entire tragedy would have been averted. I'll even predict that Jesus gets away and flees back to Mexico. And now, the search is on. More importantly, the story is on.

This is what I like to call Fox News Heaven. Everyday for months this will be your headline story. Fox will own this damn thing. Hour by hour updates. Where's Jesus? Have you seen Jesus? Keep on the look out. He's an illegal alien and he's armed and dangerous (with a knife). This is how you own the ratings on the illegal immigration debate. Hell, this is how you own the news cycle. You stoke absolute fear and terror into the trophy moms and hedge fund dads. Jesus will become the face of the entire immigration debate. He's not Joe the Plumber. He's Jesus the groundskeeper and you better protect yourself. Most important, you better protect your daughter.

Trust me, this story or something incredibly similar to this is INEVITABLE. Of course it's news, but the manner in which it will be relentlessly portrayed and vilified is the real news story. I suppose it could happen in Texas, California or New Mexico, but right now Phoenix, AZ is ground zero.

Anyhoo, I'm sitting here watching the failed NYC Times Square car bomb story. Wouldn't it be fascinating if the culprit was an illegal alien? I doubt it though - more likely a rural, white militia nutjob. I'm still adamant that the car bombs are coming. If you want the best scenario, read about my superbowl blog. I forget what the title is. Just search on Indianapolis or New Orleans. Remember, you heard it here first. I'm going to blog some of my other predictions. Next up - the specific details of the emerging "Cold War" with China. Hey, it's going to be mega news in late 2011/early 2012. Might as well stay ahead of the curve.