Thursday, September 30, 2010

weak toll booth in Wheeling?

I've witnessed most of the gradual disintegration of downtown Wheeling. When I was a teenager during the mid 1980's, I'd hardly say that downtown Wheeling was booming, but it did have a decent amount of foot traffic. Safe to say, that nowadays, it's a pit of grief and relative despair. There are a few exceptions:

1) A clean walking trail that runs adjacent to the wafting stench of the sewage treatment plant. The underutilized trail is pretty strong, but hardly a beacon for economic development.

2) Coleman's Fish Market & Jebbia's are exceptional establishments. Although I've found that the abrupt, barking voice over the intercom lends itself to confusion (Example - "My aunt Selma came in from Toledo last weekend. She said we got the best mango she ever had in her life. Josh, we need ya in the back. Yeah, best mangoes. They're GREAT!!!). The gruff attempt at a voice mimicking Tony the Tiger fails miserably as he begins to relentlessly cough and hacks up remnants of bile infused chewing tobacco.

3) I guess the Capitol Music Hall is back in action. After a taxpayer infusion of probably 1 million, and a steady flow of additional funding every year, the Linsly Extravaganza will be back stronger than ever. Ohhh, to hear those angelic teen voices spawned from the upper echelon of local attorneys. And what about that captivating reenactment of the "Who's on first base" Abbott & Costello routine. Or it might be Laurel and Hardy - I do not care.

My point - aside from a few reliable, surviving businesses, downtown Wheeling ain't gonna make some miraculous comeback. South Wheeling is archaic and drunken. North Wheeling is freakish and bizarre, and East Wheeling is "beyond methadone." I know the city council thinks that a B&O tax will solve the problem. Perhaps loosening some of the zoning restrictions. Maybe they could get a few more "antique" aka junk stores in Center Wheeling. Maybe not. It's my contention that few intelligent business people would look at downtown Wheeling and think, "Oh yeah, this is the place to start up my new venture. It will most certainly thrive in this business friendly environment."

OK. I think I've made my point. So how do you generate revenue in this valley of death? There's only one viable method I can envision and that would entail screwing the fuck out of everybody else. If you're guessing, he wants daily DUI checkpoints on every corner, you're getting warmer. Perhaps a tax on the obese crackhead hookers... How come we're the only city with strung-out prostitutes who somehow manage to defy the odds and gain 100 lbs. instead of losing one hundred? Again, you're getting warmer...

Here's my idea. We establish toll booths on I-70 right as you prepare to go through the Wheeling tunnel. Maybe something in the realm of $2.00 or $3.00. But here's the catch, we only charge you if you're license plates aren't Ohio, WV or PA. We also construct a similar toll booth at the top of I-470 in Bethlehem. The concept here is to screw everyone, but the regional residents. Both these interstates get an enormous amount of national traffic and we totally fail to take advantage of it. We've got this here gold mine - a little sliver of land in the panhandle of WV that nobody realizes can be EXPLOITED.

But hey, these are federal interstates. You can't just go putting up toll booths. Well, I think we're in a unique situation that might give us a leg up. Look at the geography of our state. All the money and power has always been driven to the center. The panhandle has always been left to basically fend for itself. The same is true with the geographical power of Ohio and Pennsylvania. East Ohio and Western PA have always been victimized like a prepubescent teenage boy in a Catholic church choir. The legislative power and funding works like some kind of anti-Hoover vacuum. Everything gets funneled in the opposite direction. And this is how you frame your argument for the "discriminatory toll booth."

If the Ohio county commissioners and the mayor of Wheeling presented a united front and pushed this issue, they just might be able to make it work. I thought it was interesting that Rahm Emmanuel is stepping down from his power position at the White House to launch a bid to become Chicago's next mayor. At first, you'd think this is a bigtime demotion, but I think Rahm might be on the right side of history. He sees the federal government gradually losing power. As this trend continues, it's logical to see a reemergence of local power like it was back in the days of prohibition. I believe this to be a reasonable assertion. Mayors, sheriffs, country commissioners, assessors, etc. should all become the logical beneficiaries. As the federal powers get slowly or suddenly usurped, something will have to fill the power void. My assumption would be that it trends back to the cities. Any of this sound familiar??? I'm talking about the inevitability of resilient communities.

Since Wheeling has virtually nothing to truly offer in the form of resilience, or goods and services for that matter, it's time to think outside the box a little. Your argument might sound something lie this - "Saf, well duh, why not just take the local roads around the tolls?" Well, it's more difficult and confusing than you might think. Plus, considering the unusual topography, it could be a major waste of time. Especially, if everyone is trying to save a few bucks. And hell, those that do make the effort to go around... our admittedly meager retail outlets could see some benefit. The trick is to make the amount of the toll annoying but not overbearing. A few bucks is hardly a big deal as the vast majority of drivers see it as "paying their dues." "Oh no, we're coming up on West Vagina. Hell, we gotta get through West Virginny! Those hillbillies are poor and last in the nation at everything." Trust me, they'll buck up.

Just make sure all proceeds go to development of downtown Wheeling. And yes, I know it doesn't really work like that. Fuck it, we need a identity for Wheeling - you know, the city with the weak toll booth. I prefer the term "meager toll booth." This would be a start in the right direction.

PS - I still like my idea for the fake boardwalk along the muddy banks of South Front Street that extends from the Casino to the Suspension Bridge. But that's not really a way to generate mass revenue. This one is.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bill Cowher will coach NY Giants

Top 10 Reasons Cowher will coach the NY Giants next year (not intended to be humorous)...

10) Assuming the Giants don't make the playoffs, Tom Coughlin will be gone. Players don't like his drill instructor routine. Ownership doesn't care for his disposition.

9) Cowher is tired of the broadcasting booth. Wants to be on the sideline. Wants an established winner as quarterback (Eli Manning).

8) A respectable amount of time has passed since the ordeal with his wife. Kids are grown. There's a reason he didn't jump on any of the several head coaching positions last year - it's because he was waiting for the NY Giants job.

7) Wants to be the highest paid coach (he'll probably get it, might have to settle for the average salary of the top 3 - Belichick, Shanahan, Carroll)

6) Wants the grandest stage - NYC. And gets a brand new bad-ass stadium.

5) Wants all those high profile games (Redskins, Eagles, Cowboys).

4) The Carolina coaching job is a ruse.

3) He's getting his buddy Jerome Bettis to leak his interest on air and feed the rumor mill.

2) Wants to be the first coach to get a Superbowl ring with an NFC & AFC team.

1) Giants ownership is a strong fit. Not arrogant, and for the most part, hands off the day-to-day football operations (like the Rooneys). Cowher will get to run the whole show.

Monday, September 27, 2010

5 additional #1 rankings...

I did a little google research and discovered 5 more ways where the USA is the undisputed champ. Please keep in mind, this is a number one ranking out of 195 contending countries.

1) Most lawyers. Yep, I believe it was Shakespeare who said, "First, let's kill all the lawyers." This would bode poorly for my brother Bennett who is about to argue or currently arguing a case before the Colorado Supreme Court. Some mega-land owner in northern Colorado, is being forced by an oil and gas company to relinquish his property rights via some kind of eminent domain procedure. Bennett thinks the guy has a good case. Anyway, in the United States there's 1 lawyer for every 265 people. We easily outdistance Brazil 1/322 and New Zealand comes in a surprising third at 1/391. I had no idea the citizens of New Zealand were so litigious. I wonder if West Virginia is the #1 state in lawyers per capita. I'd be surprised if it's not. We should change our state motto to "West Virgnia - Welcome to the Judicial Hell Hole." I like that better than "Open for Business" or "Wild, Wonderful." It just sounds cooler.

2) Most guns. Yes! Despite the notion that Obama is going to take away your guns, the Unites States has 90 guns (civilian ownership) for every 100 people. For the sake of god, that means nearly every citizen in our country has a gun. India comes in second with 4 guns per 100 people. And China has a paltry 3:100 ratio. I just find it interesting because of the huge disparity. So as of right now, there's about 270 million guns in the hands of citizens. So if you're truly worried about the administration overturning the 2nd Amendment, perhaps you need a simple reality check.

Incidentally, the anti-SAF bumper sticker on my car (it has the word SAF in an oval circle withe a red line through it - kind of like a ghostbusters bumper sticker) is actually from an anti-second amendment group. My theory goes something like this. Deer hunter in jacked up, thoroughly rusted 1982 Chevy pick-up truck with loud dual exhaust and Yosemite Sam mud flaps that say "BACK OFF" sees the anti-SAF logo. He thinks to himself, "Yeah, I hate that Saf guy too. He's an asshole. I need one of those stickers next to my McCain/Palin 2008 sticker." Possessing no knowledge of the internet search engine, he has 50 of them custom designed and gives them to all his friends he saw at the Toby Keith concert (It's the following morning at the mudbogs in Viola). They all unite and stick them on their trucks. Little do they know, they are condemning themselves in a gesture of "double reversal irony." They are accidentally disavowing their gun rights and condemning every inner fiber of their being. In keeping with this irony, let it be known that I have no problem with the right to bear arms or common sense gun laws.

3) Most Jews. The United States has the world's largest population of Jews. We have 5.8 million, whereas Israel has 4.8 million. France is a distant third with 600,000. Iraq was at the bottom of the list with 180. Not sure where they got that number from. Mohammed Al Schwartz and Jamir Abdullah Goldstein must have had many wives.

Could you possibly surmise that we have the greatest number of religious circumcision ceremonies? Quite possible. Yes, I realize it's a routine procedure unless you're a porn star with a foot long cock. I went to a Bris (Brit Milah) back in high school. What a fucking barbaric procedure to celebrate and embrace based on some bizarre biblical passage. I'll never forget the proud grandfather offering shots of rye. His face was welled up with tears. Oh, the pride he must have felt recalling Abraham, Isaac or whoever the fuck was promoting castration back in the day. And we find the genital mutilation practiced in Africa disgusting. Who are we to condemn? I suppose there are varying degrees of brutality. Seriously, why would any human, with the exception of a self-hating dyke, want to sew a vagina shut. Isn't that counter productive - especially in Africa where "volume reproduction" seems to be all the rage.

4) Most Miss Universe winners. The U.S. has 7. Venezuala has 6. As a friend of mine might say, "the fix was in." Isn't the damn thing always held in Vegas or Atlantic City? Isn't Donald Trump always one of the judges? Seriously, out of 195 countries... Well, let me readjust that to about 150. I doubt Yemen or Saudi Arabia sent a representative. Personally, I'd like to see an Afghan beauty pageant where all the contestants wore full blown burkas. I've often thought it would be an amusing sociological experiment to wear a Steelers black & gold burka to the game. Maybe I'll do it this Sunday at the Baltimore game. I could stand up with my sign. "Repressed Afghan seeks Miracle ticket." I'm sure someone would cough up a freebie.
Instead I'll probably go with the Billy Cundiff sign. He's my favorite NFL kicker. The "d" in Cundiff turns into a "t" when you flip up the cardboard. Very subtle.

5) And in typical American fashion, we have the most UFO sightings per capita. No other country even comes close. This seems reasonable considering we are the most medicated country. We love our god(s), scoff at science, yet embrace science fiction. We like airplanes but get skiddish at the thought of flying saucers. I've always liked the idea that aliens are little green people with huge heads and wide-open eyes. I wonder if there's any correlation with the Mr. Yuck creator.

Anyhoo, these are 5 distinct areas where the United States can claim absolute superiority without question. Lawyers, guns, Jews, Miss Universe winners and UFO sightings. So the next time Sarah Palin tugs at the heartstrings of her faithful with a resounding - "we are the greatest country in the world!!!" - and the fever pitched crowd offers up a thundering ovation... I implore you to just keep in mind these 5 unusual areas of greatness. Also, please recall the other 10 I invoked in my prior two blog entries. That's enough USA bashing for now. Seriously, I love it here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

last 2 #1 rankings

A U.S. Justice Department report released showed that a record 7 million people -- or one in every 32 American adults -- were behind bars, on probation or on parole at the end of last year. Of the total, 2.2 million were in prison or jail.

Seems like another #1 ranking for the USA. And this is from 2006. As the economy has worsened, I imagine the situation has gotten progressively worse. This is an interesting distinction because there currently isn't a domestic war in process. Well, perhaps we should reconfigure that assessment. There's ALWAYS a war going on in the U.S. When our political leaders have a problem with an issue, they like to declare war on it. War on drugs, war on illiteracy, war on AIDS, war on poverty... At least the Obama administration tends to tone down the rhetoric. Maybe they should ramp it up. Michelle Obama seems concerned about the childhood obesity epidemic. Why not declare war on overweight, sedentary children? Maybe she could team up with Maury Povich and send them all too some kind of "fat kids boot camp." His drill instructors (usually angry black men) could help whip Ethan and Toby into shape.

And by the way, here's a thought. One of the best public relations ideas that came out of the White House was the vegetable garden. Seems simple enough. Have the children plant a garden and harvest some vegetables. WHY ISN'T THIS A NATIONAL DIRECTIVE? Wouldn't it be a great idea to have every public elementary school grow fresh vegetables? How crazy is that? Why hasn't anyone ever suggested this? You could even set up a farmers market type situation and use the proceeds for the school. Maybe teach the children the market value of a cucumber or tomato. It would make for a simple math project - let's evaluate why that one red pepper at Kroger costs $6.99/lb. I know, it's out of season and I need "color" for my salad of field greens. Or the worst case scenario, donate the food to a local homeless shelter. Would it really be the crime of the century if young Holden or Trayvon had to eat a carrot? Seems like it would be a win-win scenario.

Regardless, out of the near 200 countries on the planet earth, we can proudly assert our #1 ranking in regard to how we incarcerate the highest percentage of our population. You would think that this runs counter-intuitive. If we're the greatest country on the planet, why would we be throwing the greatest percentage of our citizens in jail? Nonetheless, this is a statement of fact - we are the planetary leader in incarceration.

And since I wanted to complete my top 10 list of #1 rankings, here's a decent one. The United States is the most heavily medicated country in the world. We are the leading consumer of prescription drugs on a per capita basis! And guess which state is #1? Yep, you guess it - West, by god stand up say like you mean it, Virginia. It's true! I'm honored to conclude on this note since it's so close to home. Regrettably, I'm not presently "on" anything. Still I feel qualified to weigh in based on my observances. Seems like all my friends and acquaintances take some type of medication. I suppose I could too, if I applied myself. Of course, I don't have health insurance. I prefer a simple, more holistic approach. I once tried prayer, but that only works with things you can't see. One of my favorite websites is

Wouldn't a kind and noble god address the needs of a triple amputee child in Kabul before tending to Aunt Helen's high cholesterol? Just something to think about.

It boggles my mind how everyone goes running to the doctor for their "ailments." My favorite is back pain. Ohhh Saffy, my back hurts! I ask you, whose fucking back does not hurt? Ooooh Saffy, my arm is numb! I don't know, maybe you slept on it wrong. And it seems like there's a pill for everything conceivable. I like the breakdown of medications for obsessive compulsive emotional disorders. Agoraphobia (fear of crowds) - you need this specific type of downer so you can "get a grip" and "maintain composure" at the exhilarating Lady Gaga concert. Don't give into your fears and sell that ticket. What a conundrum - you must see the Gaga but you're afraid of the large crowd. How will you endure? What's a reasonable coping procedure? Fear of changing a diaper - If confronted with this dilemma, I think I'd need a cocktail of anything you got. I once saw an expose on some weirdo woman with OCD. She had one of those large area rugs with the little tassel, fringy things on both ends. She'd have to spend an hour every morning combing the damn extensions. Here's a thought - maybe get a rug without the fucking cilia hairlike shit, or better yet, throw the fucking thing in the dumpster. I recommend the one at the Washington Ave. Convenient or Triadelphia Middle School.

Again, it seems to run counter-intuitive. If we're the greatest country with the greatest people, why are we the most medicated? Wouldn't logic dictate that such an excellent population be less beholden to prescription drugs. Shouldn't we be the least medicated or maybe somewhere in the middle of the pack? But, lo and behold, we're #1. So there you have it. That rounds out some specific #1 rankings for Uncle Sam.

Friday, September 24, 2010

god and country rally - "USA! USA! USA!"

There's one of these god and country rallies tomorrow in Bethlehem Community Park. I might go. The Chrisagii are scheduled to perform from 2-2:30pm. And of course there will be a bunch of speakers, mostly pastors and "community activists." I suspect it will be an emphatically diminutive version of the recent Beck/Palin rally in DC. Incidentally, my deepest apologies if you find offensive the lowercase "g" when referencing the term "god." I just think "god" is essentially the same as "ghost" or "deity" - you wouldn't capitalize those words... would you?

Anyway, I have a strong hunch that if I attend tomorrow, I will continually hear the following comment - "The United States is the greatest country in the world. God Bless you and god bless America" This always seems to be a no-brainer, crowd-pleaser. Nothing livens up a throng of self described patriots than this never-ending refrain. But it got me to thinking just how many times you hear the following statement - "We are the greatest country in the world."

I'm silently thinking... what if we aren't the greatest country in the world? Kind of reminds me those square ballcaps that say "#1 Dad" or a t-shirt that reads "World's Greatest Grandma." These ratings just seem kind of subjective. Isn't there a posted article in the Woodsdale DeFelice Pizza shop that describes how they won a contest for "the greatest pizza in the world?" Just who officiates and monitors these contests? Anyway, I digress. But the question is an interesting one. Why do people feel this necessity to define the U.S. as the absolute best. Seriously... there are roughly 195 countries on the planet earth (depending on how you define the word country). Isn't it just a tad naive or perhaps arrogant to say we're the best? When's the last time you heard Scotland claiming superiority over Denmark or Nigeria asserting their greatness over Cameroon. I understand that the tea partiers like to engage in a lot of hyperbole and statements of grandiosity to convey their pre-programmed reference points, but seriously... It just got me to thinking about some unusual ways that the U.S. can indubitably claim superiority. And without further adieu, here they are...

1) We seem to excel at razing large stadiums and constructing new ones seemingly adjacent to where the old one was located. Many reasons are given. The old one didn't have enough luxury boxes or an insufficient number of restrooms. The sight lines were poor, the concession stands weren't plentiful enough. There aren't enough flat screens. There can never be enough flat screen tv's in a stadium. I came to the venue to see the live event take place, but I still need to see the broadcast as well. Hell, the damn stadium just isn't maximizing revenue. We desperately need to build a new one. The franchise is threatening to leave town if we don't capitulate. Anyway, my point - I think it's safe to say that we're #1 at tearing down perfectly functioning structures and building brand new ones in their place. Also something to note, some of these mammoth stadiums with price tags in the billion dollar range are only used about 10 times per year (about 3% of the year). That's 8 football games and a couple of country superstar mega-concerts. And what becomes of the old stadium? Time and time again you can sum it up with one word - parking.

2) Which leads me another area where the U.S. gets a #1 ranking. And that's parking revenue. No other country has such a disdain and contempt for public transportation. I realize that bigger cities use their buses, but have you ever seen more than 4 people on a Wheeling bus. Nobody rides the damn things. I was at the Pitt/Miami game last night and couldn't help but notice all the emphasis on parking. It's a viable option to park a few streets down on the North Side for free, but everyone seems to require their own personal spot. And these spots ranged from $20 to $40. And the passes on the gold lot are $50. It seems that we are world leader in willingness to pay "extreme parking fees." Why? Well, the answer is obvious. It's because we're the greatest. And here's a good trivia question > Which U.S. airport has the highest hourly rate for short term parking? The answer is Philadelphia International Airport at $38/hour. And that was about 10 years ago. It's probably some other airport these days. I do not know. I just found that kind of amusing.

3) How about pornography? I don't have the stats but I can say without even the slightest hint of doubt that we lead the world in the production, sale and distribution of pornography. And with the advent of high-def, as well as bizarre sexual niches and unusual proclivities, the world of porn has never seen so much room for innovation. Rest assured, the United States is #1 and will continue to top the list.

4) How about the sale of weapons? We are hands down the leading supplier of weapons worldwide. And we don't like other countries usurping our rightful place. Think about Saddam. He had the audacity to buy weapons from the French. Well France got what they deserved. Does anyone recall the emergence of "freedom fries" in 2002? Fuck the French! Those arrogant bastards. They don't support our liberation of Iraq. Nobody seemed to care that France lent us a hand in the revolutionary war. I always thought it was bizarre that everybody jumped on the "I hate France" public relations bandwagon back in the early Bush years. What's wrong with people asking the simple question, "Why would France want to actively participate in an invasion and prolonged occupation of Iraq?" It' like asking the question, why wouldn't Thailand be interested in conquering Syria? And what's really intriguing about our penchant for selling weapons - we always seem to arm both sides of a conflict. When arming them both is unrealistic, we sometimes choose to invade and occupy. This way we become the only arms dealer in town. Either way, the U.S. is numero uno when it comes to selling weapons.

5) We lead the world in consumption of water. China and India both have over a billion residents. The U.S. has about 300 million, but we totally dominate in the consumption of fresh water. And we use it in all kinds of ways - you gotta love those water driven amusement parks. Our nation also likes to spray each other with water, hence the emergence of the Super Soaker. If you don't want to consume the water, how about drenching someone with it? And it's critical that even during water shortages, we maintain the upkeep and presentation of golf courses in the dry desert climates of Nevada and Arizona. I watched a 60 Minutes clip about this man from Somalia who had immigrated to Atlanta, Georgia. He told the interviewer that he had a lot of trouble comprehending how we use water. "What do you mean?" inquired the host. "Well, in Somalia the women wake up before dawn and walk an hour each way to obtain the days supply of fresh water. Here in downtown Atlanta, you have this mammoth fountain that spews forth thousands of gallons of water for no reason whatsoever." I thought that was fascinating. Not only do we lead the world in water consumption, but we also seem to take delight in using it for exclusively aesthetic purposes. Once again, we blow all other countries "out of the water." Way to go.

6) I'm sad to say that we relinquished our #1 ranking in childhood obesity this year. We got knocked down a peg to the number 2 spot. Oddly enough, Australia is now #1. I wouldn't have thought that. Technically they might be #1, but I think we're still at the top when it comes to a phenomenon I like to refer to as "obese people that suffer from malnourishment." These people (mostly from the deep South) have plentiful access to nutritious food, fresh fruits and vegetables, but they voluntarily choose the family size bag of Cheetos and mega-size Cookie Crunch cereal every time.

7) We also lead the world in missionaries. The U.S. isn't content to just embrace freedom of religion. We seem desperate to promote it. These humans of lesser intelligence... these poor humans just don't know any better. We need to show them the way to eternal salvation through Jesus Christ (his is a personal name, so I'll reluctantly use caps). I'd think that most sane individuals would object to going deep into disease ravaged, war torn regions in central Africa to spread the gospel. That supposition would be incorrect. The U.S. will always be #1 in telling people how to pray. And why not? When it comes to specific religious dogma, the correct choice is so blatantly obvious. Isn't it?

8) How about junk mail? Another one where I don't have the stats, but I'd bet my life on it (well, maybe not my life... perhaps the life of my neighbor Fuckface - and this one I will capitalize). And guess what? Fuckface just put his house up for sale. Of course he wants an absurd amount of money, but if anyone wants to fulfill their lifelong dream of saying, "Someone or something called "sonofsaf" is my neighbor," feel free to look into it. Oddly enough, the listing agent is Gil White. I suspect it's some kind of "erotic payback" for his mom's car in the pool incident. Again I digress, but it's safe to say that the U.S. is tops in the junk mail biz.

Well, I was going to do 10, but my reserve battery warning just came on. Regardless, here's my point. You always hear that USA chant but you never hear much about the specific details. So I just wanted to offer up a few ways where the USA is, without a doubt, a superior country. And that's out of 200 or so countries on the planet. Just something to think about.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

wide (open) spread panic opener

Last night, Widepsread Panic opened their fall tour in of all places - Morgantown. They were set to play the Coliseum which struck me as odd because I thought the venue was too large. Regardless, I thought it was immensely cool that Panic decided to play there. All they've ever had there in the past are some mid-range country shows (Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Lee Ann Womack, maybe a Shooter Jennings come to mind).

Well, Jess went shopping and got caught up in major traffic in Little Washington, so I just decided to go solo. What are you gonna do? So I hit the road and it was one lane through the West Alex area which I got snagged in for about 10 minutes. No big deal. Made it to the Coliseum and hooked up with Gary and Greg and an wide array of tailgaters. You rarely get to see the WVU hippie population at a centralized location. And there was a shitload of nitrous. Kind of surprised they didn't crack down on any of it.

I saw my favorite scalping buddy Brian. I asked him, "What the fuck are doing all the way down here?" He shakes his head and lamentably responds, "Yeah... I didn't know this was a deadhead concert. I should have worked Rascal Flatts tonight. Eric, do you think any of these people got any money?" I reply, "Yeah right, look around. Are you fucking kidding me?" The irony - all the freshman WVU girls are superloaded hippettes from New Jersey and the DC beltway. This has always been an interesting sidenote/anomaly with WVU. They come here in droves. Always have, always will.

Tix were kind of pricey - $39 and for students, $29. There was now way in hell I was paying for this show. Of course, this has become a standard, monotonous refrain. So I walked around the side with the equipment rigs. It was loosely being guarded but still too risky. It was about 8:30pm and darkness had set in. The opening act was over and the lot was pretty much deserted. I had a crunched up $10 bill in my hand but didn't envision much luck with this one. So I proceeded to walk to the North side of the lot. As I approached the gates, there was a fenced in smoking area with about 200 hippies chaining their collective brains out. You could really smell the stench of low-grade tobacco. It was so overwhelming it kind of made you sick.

Regardless, I walk around and notice that the metal barrier on the corner has been pushed aside. I thought to myself, "For Christ sake, it's wide open." So I just slip in doing a move comparable to a "square dance Dosey-Do." Seriously, that was far too simple. In about 4 seconds I was in the door. Way too fucking easy - borderline comical.

Just as I walked in, the lights went out. Perfect timing. Panic opened with some upbeat stuff. Typically I know about 4 songs out of the 20 some songs they'll play. I always get a kick when some youthful bearded dufus reaches his hands to the sky and celebrates the intro to some song as if it's the song he has desperately been waiting to hear. Let me be blunt, skank-fucking-dank-ass-kid I'm talking to you, if I have no idea what that tune is, I seriously doubt that you know what it is.

Anyhoo, Panic played an unusually strong first set. Very upbeat tempo and they seemed in great form for the fall opener. I really like these guys. They're just a straight-up jam band without all the pretension and melodramatic nonsense. I like the old bongo player - he reminds me of a young Mr. Mayagi. Not so much from Karate Kid I & II, but surprisingly III and The Next KKK with Hillary Swank. I say this because his roles were more subliminal and he lad less impact in the later years. Still he could bring it. Like in the final edition where instead of honking the villain's nose, he exhales on him and "blows him to defeat." Who the fuck was that guy anyway? He was a ruthless ex-military thug/bully that lost the war and returned to unleash his venom on high school kids and an aspiring female karate student? What the fuck is that?
I also like the fat ass rhythm guitarist with the long black hair. He looks almost identical to the Soundgarden guitarist - just add a mere 150 lbs. I wish the lead singer had a more appealing voice but that raw southern twang does lend itself to their brand of music.

So during the second set, I ran into the indomitable Matt Ewing (always a pleasant surprise) and saw Kota and a few others roaming around. I fashioned a napkin into a fake white wrist band to gain floor access. That failed miserably when the female attendant asked to take a closer look. For some reason, I burst into laughter. "Yeah, this bullshit wrist band is pretty ghetto." I walked away secretly relieved. The floor was way too crowded and hot. The first level seats were far superior.

This show seemed to fucking drag on til about 11:45pm. Ridiculously too long. They started at fucking 8:45pm and played their usual 2 full sets. Then they brought out the opening act for some kind of celebratory "Blood-Panic" jam. Simply put, this was the concert that refused to die. I decided to exit and head back to the car. As I walked back I found a ticket stub lying on the ground for my bedroom wall. Sweet. Ironically, a floor ticket.

I hung out in the lot for about an hour after the show ended and ate a slice of pizza and a grilled cheese. I always feel some sympathy for the food, t-shirt and craft vendor hippies. They're laying it all on the line and meanwhile everyone's dishing out monster cash for balloons. And the balloons were in full force after the show. Back in the day, I would have succumbed. These days I'm a little leery about hippie crack. So I bolted the lot and got home just before 2am. Fun time, long ride home. Something about that extra 15 minutes on the Mo-town trip. Pittsburgh always seems so much easier. I think it has something to do with the hills. I'll be skipping the WVU- Maryland game at noon. Too bad, the weather is ideal.

Friday, September 17, 2010

the aftermath

So last night I zipped up to the University and saw his speech. I got there about a 1/2 hour early and made small talk with a mechanical engineer from Monroeville. Nice guy - I think his name was Scott). He had the day off and was there from the git-go. Not sure I could have handled 12 straight hours. He said some of the earlier speakers were good, some not so good. Another woman I chatted with had served in the military (Fallujah, Iraq). I'm pretty sure her name was Katie. It's remarkable how easily I forget peoples names. She was also pleasant. I'd estimate the entire crowd at about 203

So we ate the free dinner which was one hell of a spread. I should hit up these University functions more often. About 43 students were on hand and they had to amusingly wait, presumably to see if there would be enough food. And there was plenty, so all the Pitt students got to eat. And this wasn't no cafeteria fodder.

Anyway, John commenced speaking. As he flashed from one slide to another, he would basically offer up a bunch of anecdotes and observations. The speech itself was VERY broad-based so it seemed difficult to establish much continuity. Considering how brilliant and "ahead-of-his-time" I think the guy is, I was a bit surprised he wasn't a gifted orator. Then again, the speech was good, just not mind-blowing. I think my expectations may have been a bit out of whack. Truth be told, I think he'd be the first to admit that he hardly envisions himself behind a podium giving lectures at the University level. Simply stated, he's predominantly a leader-thinker-writer, not a speaker.

So he basically rehashed the past few years of his blog. Offering up an amusing tale of how he was invited to come to Nigeria by the leader of MEND (Emancipation Movement for the Niger Delta and a self-described fan of his global guerrillas blog), probably the most notorious "terrorist" group in Africa, he had a few humorous quips. The speech tended to meander a bit. Honestly, he had so much ground to cover, it would have been self-defeating to zero-in on a specific topic. All in all, a great speech, but I've been spoiled over the past two years by his blog. Nothing he said in his presentation came as a surprise.

Afterward, he took about 15 questions from the audience. Nothing terribly substantive. So the crowd politely applauded and I waited an additional 10 minutes or so while some students engaged him. This black kid in a painters ball-cap was asking him some nonsense about "whether a conspiracy can be considered conspiratorial if not all the actors are aware of the plot" or something to that affect. All that I'm thinking - I just want about 20 seconds so I can introduce myself and hand him my 9/11 style systempunkt blueprint. Aside from the annoying question the kid was yammering about, I hate it when men wear those painter caps. Seriously, it only works with girls in a sexy-crazy-weird kind of way. With guys, it's a straight up "Hi I'm Javier the fag who smiles excessively, and just wants to hear the sound of his own feminine voice while babbling 50mph."

So anyway, I got introduce myself and hand him a copy of my 4-5 page blog entry from February 2010. He sifted/fanned through it and politely responded, "Yeah, but you've got realize I'm not really in the movie script approval business." Slightly taken aback, it was not the response I expected. I did my best to assure him that I wrote it based on the sheer inevitability of it happening and my amazement that something similar already hasn't happened. He then thanked me for my interest and said he'd give it a read. I imagine he will. Hell, it's only a few pages.

But it did get me to thinking on the ride home. My "manifesto" would make for a killer Oliver Stone style movie. The sole dilemma - it's the one movie whose content is so inherently dangerous, it just could never be produced. Or could it? The damn thing has so many great angles. I've never considered myself a screenplay writer. Probably because of my intense hatred of anything fictional. However, this is as close to nonfiction as one could fathom. And then there's my overriding presumption that it will all go down regardless. That would make for an amusing situation when the FBI comes knocking at my door and I say, "Yeah, not only did I know it would happen, here's the fucking screenplay! Now get the hell out of here and harass my neighbor. His name is fuckface!"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

the big day (night)

Tonight - Thursday, September 16 will make for an interesting evening. I originally intended to go see Rush at Consol Energy Center. Fuck that. Instead, I will get to meet "my hero." Saf, I didn't you had a modern day hero. Who is it? Lionel Richie? You gonna dance on the ceiling? John Cougar? Check it out? Huh? Sarah Palin? You betcha! For the love of sucked.

Not really. I'm fascinated by the this guy John Robb (ex-military, well versed in matters of intelligence). He writes the global guerrillas blog which deals with the inevitable emergence of resilient communities, 4th generation warfare, and to put it bluntly, the inevitable breakdown of US and global society. Author of "Brave New World" and in the process of writing a sequel. Except, he's not the routine apocalyptic, doomsday imbecile. He comprehends what's forthcoming and truly gets "it."

He's the keynote speaker at a 2 day University of Pittsburgh seminar. So I'm zipping up for it and I plan on giving him a copy of my Superbowl manifesto. Obviously, I'm not going to try and corner the guy and yap his head off. But what exactly will I say... I don't want to come across as a psycho or delusional. I'll probably just say something like this -

Mr. Robb. It's truly an honor to meet you. I'm a huge follower of your blog for the past several years. I wanted you to have this. Perhaps you could read it on the flight home. It's a basically just a blueprint for the next big 9/11 style on the United States. It's a remarkably simple concept but I've never seen it discussed anywhere and I have a hunch that Google and other search engines might be purposely suppressing it. Anyway, I think you'll find it an interesting read.

If he inquires further, I'll engage him with additional details. Other than that, I'll let it go. Either way, I'll report back with a thorough description of what happens. I won't be distraught if I can't speak to him at length (as I'm sure he'll have his hands full), but I WILL hand him a copy of my "manifesto" or whatever you want to call the damn thing. And I'll leave him my phone # and email address on the thing as well.

To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if he's already thought of comparable 9/11-like asymmetric scenarios. After all, it is the world he lives in. And the guy does have a habit for pushing the limits of free speech (with regard to some of the more sensitive topics). Either way, I'm curious to see how this all pans out. In the next entry, I'll provide an entirely honest and forthright assessment of how it went.

Monday, September 13, 2010

the return of Westboro Baptist Church

It appears the Westboro Baptist Church is coming back to Wheeling on Monday, Oct. 4. They plan to protest at Wheeling Jesuit University from 1:15 - 1:45pm. They're also hitting up Trinity high school in Washington, PA later in the afternoon. While I was mildly satisfied with the press coverage of Super Soakapalooza, the actual event never really got off the ground. I had visions of college kids pummeling those morons with gallons of water.

It's the presence of the children which makes things troublesome. They use these kids aged 5-10 as a "shield" of sorts. Probably a wise move on their part as it keeps things from truly getting out of hand. While I do feel sympathy for the little kids, I still believe these morons need to be held accountable. And while I do support the extreme elements of the first amendment, you simply cannot have these people protesting military funerals without there being some form of consequence. There must be some kind of balance which applies to these situations. They can't be permitted free reign.

What to do... What to do...
Here's a thought. Last time they were here, they traveled from site to site in a large minivan. While they were outside at St. Michael's Church I noticed a couple of things. First, they had a pretty big stack of signs that leaned up against a pole. They would occasionally pick up and hoist different signs. They seemed very committed to mixing up the message. Second, there was an abundance of teenagers riding around on bicycles. Woodsdale being a very family oriented neighborhood, this was hardly a surprise. After all, kids want to see what the hell is going on. Third was the limited police presence. Only 2 cops were escorting them around and trying to keep things under control.

So here's the deal. I want one of their signs for my home. I'll probably display it in the library downstairs. I'm thinking either "God Hates Catholics" or the one with 2 male stick figures engaging in sodomy. Maybe I could persuade a teenager on a bicycle to snag one of the signs and meet up with me at an undisclosed location. If there are only 2 cops, chances are they wouldn't stand much of a chance on foot. The only problem is that I assume school would be in session. Last time they came on a Saturday.

Maybe I should just go for it. Seriously, what the fuck are they gonna do? Chase after me? Charge me with misdemeanor theft? All I would need is a little diversion. Wouldn't it be an amusing system disruption if you encouraged young kids to steal their signs and then sell them on ebay. Maybe donate a percentage of the proceeds toward a gay rights cause or something the Westboro fucks virulently oppose.
I want one of those signs. I'm very receptive to suggestions. I suppose I could tail their minivan. Maybe they'll stop at a rest stop on I-70 en route to Washington, PA. When they use the restroom, I move in for the blatant theft and make a hasty exit. Another option would be if they stop to grab a bite to eat (probably a fast food place). Then again, they'd probably just hit a drive thru since they're always on the go. I must have one of those signs.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Burn a Koran day

Well, the big day is almost upon us. I am completely fascinated, disgusted and amused by the pastor Terry Jones and his "Burn a Koran" day to commemorate the events of Sept. 11. Odd that anything could evoke this trio of emotions.

I'm fascinated that he has gotten so much publicity. After all, I've advocated the burning of religious texts for the past few years. With the exception of Stollar, nobody showed much interest. For the record, she was opposed. What I found more intriguing was the statement from General David Petraus. He claimed it could undermine the war effort in Afghanistan. And that does make sense. Of course, our invasion and occupation of the most xenophobic country on the planet earth for the past 9 years could also be a factor. Regardless, the Obama team must have realized that they don't need Barack wading into this one like he did with the ground zero mosque. So they had Petraus make a statement. At least they got that one right.

I'm disgusted by the awesome power and influence held by ministers and faith healers. No matter how many children these weirdos molest. No matter how many times they are discredited by scientists and others who pursue rational thought. No matter how many bizarro sex scandals they perpetrate or fall victim to. No matter how many people they defraud of their lifetime savings. There's always this endless segment of the population who need spoon fed their daily dose of spirituality. If they don't get that Sunday church in, they have these withdrawal pangs. Now with cigarettes and heroin, I get it. But Jesus or Mohammad??? I do not. Maybe if I were stuck in one of those infamous backstage Maury Povich green rooms with an atheist sexy decoy. Then. Then maybe I would succumb to the foul temptress aka organized religion.

Of course the whole thing is so ludicrous. The idea that people will riot, loot and be inspired to kill other humans based on the behavior of some imbecile in Gainesville, Florida. Of course who can forget the cartoonist in Denmark that drew a depiction of Allah and it set off mass riots in Pakistan. Just the notion that a consistent segment of the population could have their collective identity so intrinsically wrapped around all this religious silliness is a testament to the backwardness of mankind. Seriously, what fucking century is this? Doesn't this Koran burning stunt sound like the Salem witch trials revisited?

It made me wonder if I could evoke a similar response. What if Saf, the atheist Jew decides to burn a stack of bibles? Could that set off an angry mob of corpulent Southern Baptists in Duluth, Georgia. Maybe I could take credit for them looting and torching a Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop. That sounds like a reasonable analogy. If an angry Pakastani mob is willing to burn the U.S. embassy in Islamabad based on this Dove Outreach "Burn a Koran" day, I should be able to get a bunch of born-agains riled up. And I think the number of bibles I burn should be directly proportional to the amount of devastation that results.

Let's say I decide to burn 1 bible. This should result in someone taunting a Lady Gaga impersonator and/or your standard drag queen outside a gay bar.

Let's say I burn 100 bibles. I think this would be the equivalent of calling for the bombing of an abortion clinic.

Here comes the big one... I burn 1,000 bibles. Well according to Hammurabi's code (you know, the "eye for an eye" guy) and rooted in deep Judeo-Christian values, the only logical response would be to detonate a nuclear weapon over San Fransisco, California. You could take out Nancy Pelosi and all the Communist fags and freedom hating socialists in one fail swoop. That sounds reasonable to me. Just an aside, I've heard the term "Commie fags" before but I have no idea where. I might google it.

Kidding aside, I'm completely fascinated by what might transpire. I'm curious to see if the pastor Jones capitulates and calls it off. He has really backed himself into a corner with all these cable news interviews. If my 40 years have taught me anything, it is this - the more pious a person claims to be, the more obstinate he will be. I suspect he'll go through with it. I'm also curious to see what kind of bonfire we're talking about. Will it be a few tiny smoldering logs? I doubt it - I'm hoping for a boatload of skids. How his actions will be portrayed by Al-Jazeera flooded rural Pakistan, war-ravaged Iraq or by the Iranian cleric Ayatollah-Al-Sistanni are intriguing. Could this idiot, 2-bit pastor really have concocted a plan for creating simultaneous epic systemic disruptions and mass chaos across the Middle East? Doubtful. But could his Koran burning stunt result in some limited rioting and have the potential for casualties? Quite Possible. Especially with the week long build-up and significance of the burn day. I think it falls at the end of Ramadan. I might be wrong. Does it really matter? Every single god-damn day on this planet has some kind of religious significance. Hell, this Saturday probably marks the day when Abraham begat Ezekial. Good thing WVU plays Friday night. Stop up for the game. And feel free to bring the religious text or symbol of your choosing. Trust me - I'm an equal opportunist. Just nothing Chrisagii related. That would be blasphemous and I will not tolerate it.

Sunday, September 05, 2010


On the way back from Cedar Point, Gig and I decided to hit up an Alice Cooper concert at a newly constructed minor league ballpark in Eastlake, Ohio. Basically, the venue was about 10 miles north of Cleveland and home to the Cleveland Captains.

En route, we saw portions of an air show which was mildly impressive. I've always enjoyed the strange feeling of driving down the interstate while a plane buzzes directly over your car. This one time I was driving to the Columbus airport for my annual trek to Phoenix. I purposely scheduled my flight for 9-11-02, knowing full well that it was the first year anniversary of 9/11. I figured it would be a good day to fly since most people wouldn't want to travel on that date. I was correct. The direct flight which is always full had about half the occupants. Anyway, while driving on the 270N Columbus bypass I was listening to a repeat of the Howard Stern from 9-11-01. Robin and him are absolutely losing it, reacting to the planes flying into the World Trade Center. Very surreal as I started reliving my own 9-11 experience.
All of a sudden, a 747 flies directly overhead. By directly, I mean it was about as humanly close as possible to the highway. It scared the living fuck out of me to the point where I almost lost control of the vehicle. Just thought I'd throw that in since 9-11 is almost upon us again.

Anyway, we parked in this strip mall and decided to grab a bite to eat at a place called Wing Warehouse. This restaurant/bar had a very blank, vacant look. Truth be told, it looked like a warehouse. We ordered 12 wings - 6 Arizona Ranch and 6 Garlic Parmesan. Despite the alleged "Voted Best Wings in 2008/09 by Fox Channel 8," these wings were pretty bad. The sauce was decent but they just weren't cooked enough. I also had a lackluster side salad and Gig had an uninspired baked potato. She originally wanted soup, but alas, no soup for you/her. Despite the fact that it was on the menu made it even more of a disappointment. I had suggested we try the place next door called Five Guys Pizza, but was overruled. Much to her chagrin, when we later walked by, there was a big sign in the window - NOW FEATURING SOUP!

Before consuming the dunch gruel (late lunch/early dinner), I made a sign that read...


I thought it had a nice ring to it. Hell, I'd give away tickets to someone with a sign like that. I adorned it with 2 pictures from the local Scene magazine. One of them was a pic of Alice Cooper and another was a picture of 2 guys from Dewitt's Jewelry. Gig and I couldn't help but notice how much one the Dewitt brothers resembled Alice Cooper. Seriously, the likeness was mesmerizing. So we went to the box office area and the sign worked pretty much instantly. We scored 2 freebies and one of the women actually knew the Dewitt jeweler guy. She then explained to us that the look-a-like guy in the photo was indeed Alice Cooper. It quickly became apparent that the Dewitt dude had his picture taken with Alice Cooper and sensing that a concert was coming up, decided to run an jewelry ad with the old picture. We both suddenly realized that we are complete morons. Duhhh! How difficult would it have been to put it all together?

Anyway, we drank some wine and I scored another 4 free tickets which I dished off for $20 a pop. Nice. An old cop told me that I couldn't use my sign. I thought about asking him if it was okay just to ask people for tickets. If he had said no, I was going to ask him if I was allowed to greet people and welcome them to the concert. Seriously, talk about a violation of free speech rights. But I chose the sensible option and just stayed quiet and acquiesced to the demands of Cleveland Hussein. Honestly, he looked a like a cross between Dick Cheney and Walter Cronkite.

The opening band had started so we decided to head in. Buckcherry was supposed to open but canceled. Instead, we were given the Classic All-Stars band. What the fuck is that you might ask? Well, it's an eclectic combination of members from 4 separate bands playing their greatest hits. You had some guy from the band Sugarloaf (I have no idea what that is), another from Iron Butterfly and some dude from Rare Earth. I forget who the fourth contributor hailed from. If you're thinking Steppenwolf or early Foghat, you're on the right track, but the last band alludes me. Anyway, they played "Ride Captain Ride," an excruciatingly long version of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" and a few other crappy songs. When they finished, a sigh of relief overcame the crowd.

I originally predicted there would be about 1,500 people who would show up for this thing. The place seated about 6,000. Gig thought about 4,000. She was much closer. We did a rough count and came up with about 3,600. But what was absolutely crazy were the varying age brackets. There were some real old-timers who showed up. Considering Alice Cooper was probably around 28 years old in his hey-day (late 1970's), you've got to figure he's presently in his mid 60's. Some got decked out for this show. All kinds of canes and top hats. We loved this one guy's old school concert t-shirt that said on the back "1980 NORTH AMERICAN TOUR." Teenagers, moms, dads and grandparents would unite for this one night of revelry.

After a lengthy break, you could see the iconic images of Alice Cooper and his band emerging from the distant backdrop. Their silhouettes seemed to bask in the moonlight. He ripped into School's Out and Eighteen. All kinds of theatrics. Zombies, guillotines, simulated beatings, stabbings and buckets of blood (presumably fake blood). Basically, just never ending mayhem. This guys still got it. His mannerisms and behavior just blow you the fuck away. We saw an elderly man collapse along the fence line. After a five minute delay, four workers helped him to his feet and assisted him off the field. Another guy needed help as well. He was younger and looked crazy drunk as he did some kind of inverted stagger. He may have had scoliosis issues.

About 2/3 of the way through the show, a vicious downpour came out of nowhere. Half the crowd on the field made a hasty retreat up the steps as they ran for shelter. I looked at Gig - when you see tons of people running in one direction, it's usually best to the opposite. So we charged over seats and scrambled to the field. Gig snagged me a rain jacket which was tied to the fence. This will become my fall weather jacket. I absolutely love it. Ironically, it says "Red Cross Blood Donor" on it. Not the best karma there. The God of Rain surprisingly ceased his malicious ill will in about 4 minutes. Surely there were a few people that left the venue - lame.

So all of a sudden, we're about five rows back and the energy level is indescribable. Being this close was an absolute necessity. You got a way better perspective on the deranged and dedicated showmanship. Alice Cooper is a consummate professional. It was much easier to understand how he has endured through the years. I've seen just about every rock band in my time, with this one exception. It was worth the wait. The show began to wind down as the bass player got the crowd juiced up chanting "I love the Dead" and then ripped into my favorite song "Billion Dollar Babies." Gig snagged a lime green guitar pick w/ a picture of Alice Cooper and the lead guitarist's name. Score.

Anyway, we made it back to the car (free parking compliments of Wing Warehouse - probably the sole highlight from that shitty establishment) and bolted for Pittsburgh. Long 2+ hour drive. I dropped her off and headed back to Wheeling. Got home around 3am and was greeted by a happy Meowee. So this summer I got to cross off another 2 bands (Alice Cooper and Devo), both in new venues. And both for free of course.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

cedar point

Gig and I went to Cedar Point on Thursday. Well, actually I picked her up when she got off work Wednesday night. We rolled out of the Burgh around 11:45pm and showed up in Sandusky at around 3:30am. We got foolishly sidetracked for about 30 minutes near Oberlin, OH (my brother Bennett's old stomping grounds). Anyway, we made it to a horribly musty, albeit dirt cheap Motel 6 and crashed out. Gig "turned on" the AC which didn't offer too much comfort. I had a lot of trouble sleeping. When we woke up the next morning I quickly discovered why. She turned down the thermostat which was good. But she never clicked on the necessary "cold" lever... which was bad.

So we scarfed down some coffee and nearby McDonalds and headed toward the park. Even though we didn't get much sleep, it was definitely a good idea to get all the driving out of the way. Gig had managed to score an extra 4 general admission tix which I was very pleased to convert into $125. A nice bonus which would call for a hotel upgrade later that evening. And trust me, the extra $10 spent on the EconoLodge was well worth it - vastly more pleasant accommodations.

Regardless, we had a BLAST at Cedar Point. It's definitely the roller coaster capitol of the world! OMG, the rides were so fast and the cotton candy was soooo sticky! Even though I thought it was a bad idea, Gig had a yummy corn dog. Mmmmm. We had the best time ever! If you're ever thinking about going to Cedar Point, DO IT like Nike!

Okay. Relax. If you know me, you're well aware of the fact that I don't act or talk like this. Instead if you continue reading, you will receive a more accurate, thorough analysis of our day at the park. First off, the park was completely deserted. I've been there a total of 3 times. Once, when I was about 8 years old with the family. Then, once in high school with some guys. And Jenn and I went back in 2000 (very cold weather) and hit a DMB show in Cleveland. As I said, the park was virtually empty. You know how you see those signs that say "Wait time approx. 1 hour" and those labyrinths of aluminum bars with ethnically challenged park-goers? Well, none of that even remotely existed. We could hop on coasters basically at will. On a few occasions they asked if we wanted to stay on. There was ONE time we waited for about 20 minutes. We discussed why nobody was there and attributed it to 3 factors:

1) Timing - we went on a weekday, the Thursday immediately before Labor Day weekend. Who the hell plans an excursion on that day when almost everyone has already made extensive plans for the holiday weekend.

2) Almost all teenagers, high school and college kids have just started back to school and are getting acclimated to the new schedule.

3) I'd say the overall economic recession may have played a role. The $45 entrance fee is a pretty good deal but if you have a van of churchies from Troy, Ohio or rural Michigan, it's gonna add up.

The weather was hot but not unbearable. I'd say it was mostly about 90 and throw in some humidity. My whole point regarding planning a visit. If your sole purpose is cramming in as many rides as possible, you'd be an absolute fool to go there on the weekend or during the peak summer months.

I'll now provide a ride by ride description. I'll start with my favorites and proceed in declining order to the worst rides. This way, if you read my entire entry, you'll be left with a hostile, empty feeling at the end. Enjoy.

We ONLY rode the coasters. We could have done them all but for some reason, I had a weird vibe regarding the Mean Streak. These kids said it was really shaky and I still have my finger cast on. Kind of a bummer because my hand was sweaty and I feared it falling off. That's the only one we omitted.

Millenium Force - this was the greatest coaster ride of a lifetime. No kidding. Pure exhilaration and completely smooth. The initial drop is indescribable. I can see why it's ranked as one of the best on the planet. We rode it 3 times. Each wait was about 6 minutes. Honestly, I could have done this one a few more but we didn't want to get stuck in that corner of the park.

Raptor - we rode it twice. Also completely bad ass. Great feeling with your feet dangling in the air. Some really powerful twists and turns but very little head jostling, until the end where for some stupid reason they shake the hell out of you. Why they do this at the last possible second, I have no idea. Kind of ruins a killer ride. Wait time was a joke. It took more time to get through the maze of bars.

Iron Dragon - We rode this thing 4 times. No line. I liked it but strongly encourage you to sit in the front. When we were in the back, it was a little nauseating. Sure enough, on the last time someone puked all over the place so we had to wait about 10 minutes suspended at the exit, as they meticulously hosed out the carrier. I can't recall the last time I heard random children repeatedly say the word "barf" with such a joyful glee.

Top Thrill Dragster - This thing is a fucking rush! I think it goes 120mph and shoots you up, kind of sideways corkscrews you and then sends you down. Before send off, I was told to tuck my prescription sunglasses into my t-shirt. We shot up and then on the way down, they flew directly out of my midsection. Everyone else is screaming and all I could think was FUCK. This temporarily really fucked with me due to the fact that I'm completely fucking blind. Anyway, Gig walked me back to the car and we had a healthful bite to eat (non-amusement food) but so much better. Possibly the most satisfying can of coke I've ever drank.
Anyway, I was compelled to find my sunglasses which flew off who knows where. Long story short, I jumped the fence and started searching. We had a few other encounters with people who had lost shit on this ride. Apparently, it's a recurring problem. So someone ratted us out and the Cedar Point goon/pig squad showed up. He was pretty cool about me entering the restricted area and I was unusually cooperative. So he whips out this silly memo pad and needs to file a report. I give my name as Eric (Fuckface) Adel and offered his address, but the other stuff was mostly factual, except for my phone number. They ended up just sending us on our way and I eventually filled out a lost and found claim but have very little hope of ever getting them back. I'd assume they're destroyed but you never know. All in all, what's an amusement park journey without a standard encounter with "the law?" Kind of like being reprimanded for dancing "too close together" at a 5th grade Sadie Hawkins.

Gemini - We only rode it once. No wait. This is one of the old school coasters. Very smooth. I could have done it a few more times but it was later in the day and we were getting exhausted. Seriously, when you ride these things "at will" it gets a little fatiguing. You expend a lot of energy just hanging on.

Blue Streak - I lost my "Radiator Works" ballcap on this rickety coaster built probably in 1918. I thought it was going to basically be a kiddie ride but it did have a little umphhh. So I lost my sunglasses AND ballcap now - kind of disturbing because I could really use a haircut. Instead, I'd end up better blending in with the weirdo hair styles and earlobe disc freaks with schwastika tattoos on their foreheads. No big deal. Long overdue, I suppose.

Corkscrew - we did it twice. No wait. The second time, I think there was 6 of us on it. Smooth, fun ride.

Wildcat - This was the kiddie roller coaster and the first one we hit. Kind of jerky, a little bit lame/wuss-oriented. Wait time about a surprising 7 minutes.

Magnum XL-200 - This was a long 2+ minute ride. It would have been such a better ride if they incorporated a shoulder restraint. Instead you spend the whole ride trying to brace your midsection and groinal area from ramming into the iron lap bar. It's a great ride but completely ruined by the lack of an appropriate harness.

Maverick - This was the longest wait. Probably about 25 minutes. I was completely unprepared for this ride's antisemitic views toward atheist Jews. Very hostile ride. It even takes you through 2 pitch black tunnels and screams at you while emitting a vicious blast of heat. How the fuck is that fun? Seriously, it felt like I was having dinner with Jerry Falwell, Mahmoud Al Abbas, Osama Bin Laden and Benny Hinn. Gig liked it. I thought it was a punishing experience. And the whole time I thought my finger cast would fly off. Not even remotely fun. Probably had the best trinket/gift shop though.

Mantis - And my all-time least favorite coaster was the stand-up Mantis. Now I remember... it's the one Jenn called the crotch-rocket. No line whatsoever. This thing is an engineering marvel. A rare stand-up coaster that has probably ruptured the previously thought in-tact hymens of the 70 some virgins that any suicidal car bombing Muslim would expect to encounter when they meet up with Allah... This coaster SUCKS! You have to spend the entire time trying to keep your head still. The thing finally ends and you're overcome with feelings of rage and resentment. How the fuck could someone design and build this monstrosity and be so completely disinterested in the enjoyment factor. Really, it boggles my mind.

I think I got them all. I don't remember riding the Matterhorn. We might have skipped that one too. We did a few other silly things but our sole emphasis was coasters. No water rides although it might have been nice early on because of the heat.

All in all, a very enjoyable trip. A little exhausting and frustrating (with losing the glasses), but I need some new ones anyway. I've been putting it off for way too long. Oh yeah... and the next day we saw Alice Cooper at a minor league ballpark in Eastlake, Ohio on the way back home. This one will put the "worthy" in blogworthiness. As of now though, I'm all typed out.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Discovery building hostage situation

I'm always fascinated by live hostage situations that unfold on national tv. As I type, this, a guy named James Jay Lee is holding people hostage in the Discovery TV building in Silver Springs, Maryland. I just read his manifesto which I'm sure will be taken down at some point...

He sounds a bit deranged and disturbed with his tone, but his underlying premise for population control seems to make sense. He basically claims that humans are recklessly endangering the planet and they need to cease procreating. Good luck with that one. He wants the Discovery Channel to take a more active role in helping stop overpopulation, find solutions to global warming, end modern warfare, and just stop destroying the planet. Well, well, where to begin. The irony with this nutso is that most of his ramblings make sense. Human beings are definitely destroying the planet and the global population does need curtailed.

Here's what I think is interesting about all this. Lee's behavior is a fine representation of the future of decentralized warfare. He had a specific mission and a plan to use live media coverage for maximum exposure of his personal cause/website. Whatever you think about his illegal conduct, he had a purpose and will get far more than his fifteen minutes of fame. Hmmmm, does any of this sound familiar? It's the exact same methodology a small group of individuals could use to carry out the superbowl stunt I often speak of. Well, except with my idea, you get the highest rate of return on live media coverage ever fathomed. Certainly, since 9/11. Lee just made the entire media bend to his knees. CNN, Fox and MSNBC are collectively performing fellatio on his diminutive Asian member.

This makes me think back to the recent Joseph Stack attack on the IRS building in Austin, Texas. Of course, his motivation for flying a plane into building was entirely personal. And he was suicidal. But Lee, seems to have a vision... a loosely connected agenda he is desperate to promote. Right now as I type, the hostage situation is still unresolved. Whether or not he ends up killing innocents or himself for that matter isn't really the issue. Maybe he will, maybe he won't. The underlying point is the emphasis on MESSAGE in the latter stages of fourth generational warfare. It's my contention that incidents like this are going to continue and will increase exponentially. How could they possibly not?

Of course I'm not condoning any of this moron's actions, just merely stating the obvious. In the near future, I'd look for a similar incident to take place with regard to the imbecilic Obama birther controversy. Of course, with my idea you need 2 people at the very least. It's crazy the amount of live coverage James Jay Lee is getting. His situation will eventually resolve itself and be an incredibly minor footnote in the annuls of American history. But can you even begin to fathom or conceive of the massive precedent the superbowl stunt would invoke. And the idea I alluded to would alter future human behavior in ways that are currently unprecedented.

I did like the way he ends his manifesto - "These are the demands and sayings of Lee." Nothing spells out delusion like referring to yourself in the third person.

These are the sayings of sonfofsaf...