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For the past few weeks, all I've seen on facebook is friends encouraging everyone to vote for a dog park in Wheeling. We NEED this dog park so bad. You MUST go to the link a click it repeatedly. Now THAT is some forward thinking activism!
I guess there's a $100,000 on the line, so that should be sufficient to build the requisite fences and mow a few trails. Other than buying a few industrial trash cans for the impending loads of dog shit, I don't see why this would cost so much. Most of the cost would just be upkeep from the city.
So if we get enough people to click on the petsafe.com "bark for your park" contest, perhaps the day will come when Wheeling has its very own dog park. Personally, I think if you give the city administrators a hundred grand, they'll likely find a way to waste it on refurbishing the parking meters in Center Wheeling.
Just an aside, I've always been a proponent of bringing back old-school dog names. Names like "Tippy" and "Fido." I don't like it when people give their dogs human names (Alex, Cynthia, etc.). Or even worse, the hippie or band names (Sunshine, Elvis, Jim Morrison, etc.).
When I think of heroic dog names, my thoughts harken back to the early 80's.
That's right. The Moondogs! Rex and Spot Moondog were tag team champions on many of the regional circuits. These were some honorable dogs. They were even memorialized in doll-form... and rightly so. They were as rich in WWF tradition as they were in WCW.
So here's the current rankings in the never-ending quest for the ultimate dog park contest.
Hot damn! Wheeling is on the cusp of second place. Maybe they'll win (I doubt it).
Anyway, here's a solution if we fail to get the votes. I call it the "decentralized, resilient Wheeling Dog Park." Assuming we lose out, don't just throw away all this prior internet/facebook participation. Let's get an administrator to follow through with a "revolving" dog park. Compile a list of dog owners and set up one of those snazzy facebook groups - I'd call it either "Wheeling has Gone to the Dogs" or "My Dogs are Barkin." The latter being a reference to the Jewish moccasins I wear as a substitute for golf shoes. They currently stink.
Every month it would be some new location around town. All that's really required is an open space and a trash can or dumpster for the aforementioned dog shit. How about the Wheeling Jesuit University soccer field? How about the Oglebay Formal Gardens? How about that community park in Bethlehem? How about the parking lot behind Super Buffet? They just caution-taped off the parking lot and altered the sign - renamed it AC Buffet. Looks like some big changes are on the horizon for that dining establishment. Does AC really stand for air-conditioned? Seriously, what else could it mean? Atlantic City??? When asked where I ate lunch, I kinda like the idea of saying, "Listen asshole, we went to the air conditioned buffet."
Reminds me of a facebook complaint regarding the recent Kenny Chesney concert at Heinz Field. Fans were disgusted with the amount of post-concert trash left behind.
This one person commented how "she saw a young woman throw an entire bowl of potato salad at a moving vehicle for no apparent reason." To which I replied, "Not to play devil's advocate... but I kinda like it when a young woman throws an entire bowl of potato salad at a moving vehicle for no apparent reason."
So that's that. You just send out the update on where it will be every month, and bada bing bada boom... there's a storming of the mutts. The best part is that it's always changing. Makes things way more interesting if you ask me. And I think the dogs would agree. Dogs are like people. Even though it's the best and cheapest option, you don't always want to play the Crispin front 9.
One final thought, my least favorite canine-inspired wrestler was a dullard... Junkyard Dog. His routine was seriously lackluster.
Oh, look. He's on all-fours, barking at the crowd. Now he's tossing Purina milk bones to the crowd. If you want my opinion, he was a lame-ass, chintzy prop wrestler. I prefer the exhilarating tenacity of Jim Adler, a Texas-based Junkyard Dog ambulance chasing, insurance collaborator.
Anybody that has lived in the northern panhandle of West Virginia (particularly Ohio County) for the past 2 decades is aware of one, singular defining truth - the city of Wheeling is the DUI Checkpoint capitol of the world.
It all started in the early mid-1990's. Local law enforcement officials learned they could extract grant money from the federal govt. if they set up checkpoints. It started with about 2 per year. One over Memorial Day weekend and one over Labor Day weekend. Then, these geniuses realized that the nights before Thanksgiving and the Christmas are big party nights. Everyone who fled the area generally schedules a return to visit family and friends. Somehow, it dawned on the Wheeling police force that if people wanted to reconnect with old classmates, they would invariably hit up the local bar scene. So it was either Mac's on Washington Avenue, the Alpha or the Swing Club. Rest assured, even the socially challenged would head to TJ's for a pitiable dining experience and the opportunity to yell at multiple television screens.
However, there was some unintentional fallout. For the love of j-god, our police force was being mocked and humiliated. How could all these seemingly normal men and women exhibit such an open level of disdain directed straight at law enforcement? We need to clean the shit out of this town. These bastards are flouting the authority of the heroic Wheeling PD. They are arrogantly drinking and driving. And they're trying to conceal this unacceptable behavior during the dangerous evening hours... you know, when it's dark outside. Something must be done!
So more checkpoints started popping up. More and more. In the daylight, too. They even started assigning them names (800 block of National Road (Sheetz), 1200 block of National Road (St. Mike's), 2200 block of National Road (Silver Choppy Chop) and Zane Street in the center of Wheeling Island (for any out-of-townies visiting the Wheeling Island Casino - hey, what a great way to encourage tourism). For some reason which is not entirely difficult to fathom the cops focused all this newly found energy on the most dangerous 3 mile-section in the entire United States - National Road. Plenty of homegrown terrorists. I try to dodge them when I go running. This terrifying stretch of Rt. 40 includes about 3 gas stations, 5 churches, 10 old folk homes/assisted living facilities, and a few lamentable dining establishments (Long John's - home of the corpulent inbred, Hardees, and the aforementioned choice of the terminally pathetic, TJ's Sportsgarden).
Now here's a good question? Why wouldn't they set up checkpoints in higher crime areas through downtown (like East Wheeling and South Wheeling)? Hmmmm... well I dunno... just maybe because they're scared shitless of black guys with nicknames like "Boo Boo" and "T-Bone." So they go for the jugular instead. Hey, why exclusively target the drug dealing thugs when there's far more money to be extracted from the college kids who defiantly smoke reefer and drink Coors Light? The cops unwittingly figured out something which was blatantly obvious - that they could use the checkpoints as a pretext to intimidate and harass the predominantly whiter, upper income kids without fear of reprisal. Now that was in the mid 1990's.
Now it's approaching the mid-2010's. And guess what? There are around 50-75 checkpoints per year. They've even expanded it to include seat belt checkpoints and every once in a blue moon, a "drug" checkpoint. I'm sure they're salivating at the prospect of license, registration and/or proof of insurance checkpoints. Just give them time. How about emission and tire-wear checkpoints? Do not fret - they're probably on the way. And the best part is - if you choose to dodge the checkpoint, they're out there doing continuous concentric circles on the perimeter looking for the slightest violation (headlight out, loud exhaust, etc.) Hey, any excuse to zone in for the kill and shatter someone's life into a gazillion pieces. Gotta keep that revolving-door-a-swingin' at the northern regional jail.
So here's the million dollar question.
Under the guise of public safety, will the future amount of DUI checkpoints decrease, increase or stay roughly the same.
Well, if you think the frequency will magically decrease, you're a complete fucking idiot who lacks a fundamental understanding of government inertia and missed the class on societal intrusion/oppression. Will it somehow level off? I doubt it. If there's even the slightest potential for extracting federal grant money in a stagnant, depressed economy, the police force will march hand in hand. Plus, the cops are getting paid overtime for this shit. I can't even fathom the notion of a Wheeling police chief standing up for higher moral, constitutional principles - opposing the invasion of privacy and intentionally forgoing the easy monetary windfall. So if I had to place a bet, I'd expect the trajectory of local DUI checkpoints to increase even further. If they were to get "called on it," they'd likely just start assigning different names to the checkpoints (insurance verification zone, child car seat safety check, license plate light inspection station, etc.).
So what's your point Saf? Don't you usually suggest a course of action or offer some kind of related system disruption? Well... kiss my grits.
I actually do have an idea. Alright, let's start with the obvious.
So I'm at the checkpoint.
The Supreme Court has ruled that these stops are constitutional and justified in the name of public welfare and safety. I do get that aspect. So there's little use in fighting this from the "constitutionality" perspective.
However, I do believe you have a right to make a reasonable determination that everyone "is who they say they are." Especially in this day and age with so many cases of people misrepresenting themselves as law enforcement. Also, many of the "undercover" units are confiscated vehicles. Could be a dumbshit Durango or that Ford Mustang. Very confusing to know exactly who drives what these days. You always here these weird stories about people getting pulled over by rogue individuals. It's usually part of some warped intimidation power trip.
So as I was saying... I believe it's reasonable to ask everyone at the checkpoint to identify themselves IN WRITING.
Here's my idea - I would encourage everyone to drive around with multiple copies of a very brief questionnaire on a 1/2 sheet of paper. Stick them in the visor. It would look something like this.
Badge # ___________________________
How many months/years have you been employed as a police officer? __________
Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? _________
If yes, please explain _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The last question is where it becomes a little sketchy. Personally, I think it's important to know if the individual tasked with upholding the sanctity of the law has ever been an actual criminal in the eyes of the law. Don't I have the right to know who I'm dealing with? They are the ones who've arbitrarily decided to impede my movement. They've made a conscious decision to impose their will on me. What's even more interesting is if they decide to intentionally lie or purposely omit a past misdemeanor.
So I would hand out these forms and ask every officer (usually 4-6) at the checkpoint to fill them out to the best of their ability. After all, they've made a determination to detain me (the matter of duration is not at issue - it could be 5 minutes, it could be 5 seconds). If they ask me, "Hey buddy, what are you going to do with all this information," I would calmly explain how these forms will be submitted to their supervisor. If they don't wish to comply and fill out the form, that would be entirely up to them.
Important to note, their specific refusal to comply could become evident. If some agree and others don't, it establishes this instantaneous litmus test. My hunches tells me that about 20% of the cops would express an interest in filling out the form. But they'd be in the minority and bend to the will of the group. And it would be a pretty stern refusal to cooperate, likely followed by harsh sentiment and possibly threatening behavior. Hard to comprehend this happening in Wheeling. But alas, I'm a grim realist.
I think a police chief might find this to be a matter of interest. Who capitulates and who brazenly defies conventional wisdom. If someone in his department has something to hide. If some of his subordinates have a continual problem identifying themselves. That wouldn't bode well for the transparency of any police department. And it certainly doesn't embody their mission statement - "to protect and serve the public."
The whole gist of this idea is two-fold.
A. It reminds the police of something I think most care very little about. That they are NOT above the law. That there needs to be some system of checks and balances. If they are going to conduct random detentions, I believe it's completely reasonable to make sure that everyone is exactly who they claim to be. This does not seem unreasonable.
B. It's obviously a move designed to piss off the pigs. Of course, most of the Wheeling cops would take it as an affront to their authority. What gives him the effrontery, temerity, impudence, unmitigated audacity, etc.? Sorry, I'll put it in WPD terms - Who the fuck does this punk asshole think he is?
Now if you could convince EVERYONE to start doing this (keep a few questionnaires in their vehicles), there might finally be a little blowback. I don't think any of this unreasonable. Like I was saying, they stopped me. If you stop me, I have a RIGHT to know exactly who you are.
The only remaining question is, "Would the amount of time it takes to fill out the form interfere with an officer performing his/her duty?" This strikes me as a somewhat plausible argument. You'd likely hear the following...
Hey, we're out here putting our lives on the line. We don't have time to fill out your stupid, unnecessary forms.
I would counter with. How long does it actually take to provide written confirmation of the first 4 questions... maybe 5-10 seconds. I'm willing to wait until you have a spare moment. And in an ideal world, shouldn't the final question be answered with a "no."
Since I'm the only person on the planet to suggest this course of action, may I also offer some additional guidance? If you're going along with this, please print the forms out at Wheeling Jesuit University. They like it when outsiders use their computer lab and printers. Personally, nothing gives me more pleasure than seeing the following cue...
# of copies ___.
Oh... I don't know. How about 270?
Make that printer squeal like a pig. Tone the fuck outta that shit.
It was a rousing Thursday night. So we bought an overpriced steak hoagie from Frank's in Millvale and hit up the Tom Petty concert at Consol. We met up with the Wheeling crew (G Miniature, Fuzzekial, Kelly pizza guy and relative newcomer and Green Day stage crasher/singer/diver, Funky Cold Adena).
Accompanied by a 2/3 previously eaten bag of Wavy Lays, the steak sub was a pretty damn good choice. Gigi is very anti-steak-um. It must be something regarding finely pressed, manufactured and processed meats. They are hardly the most sensual of all the cured, smoked meats. I'm reminded of Costanza - uttering the words, "I flew to close to the sun on the wings of pastrami." Fortunately, this was a fine slab of meat adorned with peppers, onions and provolone.
Just an aside - whenever I go to the Bob Evans in Woodsdale, I always get this older female waitress. And during the ordering process, she'll inquire... "And your choice of breakfast meat?" She says it with this absurdly haunting voice. Hard to describe but I'll try. It's almost as if I'm being served by George Michael while he sings the classic "Careless Whisper." But kind of like we're entering a homo-erotic, haunted house.
So the weather was perfect, the crowd was mellow. All six of us were ticketless. So Gigi and I went to work. I managed to scrounge one off a woman from Wheeling who turned out to be a former patient of my father. Then the flood gates opened. 2 here and 2 there. With only a modicum of effort, we had already snagged 5 freebies. And Gig finally snagged the 6th off some dude. But with that last ticket came a "price." These self-described concert veteran pseudo-weirdos always want her to "go inside" with them. It takes a few rounds of explaining that we have no desire to hang with them. We just want the tickets, Nothing more, nothing less. He eventually succumbed after a thorough round of begging and light interrogation.
Bada-bing, bada-boom. All 6 tickets with a total face value of about $500. Who is it that said, "good things come to those who wait?" I'd like to modify that statement. "Free shit comes to those who ardently pester others."
We took our usual seats on the lower level, right side of the stage. But an usher I'd refer to as "old-man summer" told us to scram. So we hoofed it to the other side. We had plenty of room in our aisle, but the sound was kind of muffled and weak. There's usually a widescreen and speaker pointing in our direction. If there's no video, we're usually so close to the stage that it's not an issue. Not this time. The stage set-up was strictly geared for only those facing the stage. Boo. Sucked.
I wasn't really too hip on this show. The band was fine and Tom Petty seemed his usual self. But I think he's just passed his prime. If you want my opinion, Petty peaked in the early 90's and held it together until the cusp of the century mark. Last night, his sound just seemed a bit too rehearsed and overly manufactured (the musical equivalent of steak-um). Maybe I just wasn't feeling the southern rock vibe last night. I do not know.
I recall this one Tom Petty show at StarLake back around 1999. It was the only time I ever stood in the best seat in the house. Front row, center of the pit, directly in front of him. He smiled only at me and nobody else during "Runnin' Down a Dream." I suppose you could say that it was my defining "Liberace" moment at StarLake.
So here's the setlist. Kind of a yawner if you ask me. I don't care much for the overplayed songs 3, 6, 8, 14. Thank god he didn't play that extended version of "Breakdown." That's when I invariably choose to go piss for 10 minutes. His final closers (Refugee and Runnin' Down a Dream) were decent. And the encores were both acceptable and fairly predictable. But like I was saying, I just wasn't too enthused. I'd say the best part of last night was probably the steak sub.
But like I was saying, I just wasn't too energized. Oh... and the other highlight was NOT going inside for the opening act - The Smithereens. If I had been forced to endure 45 additional minutes of unidentifiable indie rock, I would have likely chosen to kill myself. Not the ordinary way either. I would have slid down a razor banister while simultaneously chewing on tin foil and shaving my head with a cheese grater (Sam Malone - Cheers).
NFL Commish Roger Goodish is moving toward enhanced TSA-style screening procedures at all 31 NFL stadiums. Nice! I was beginning to feel unsafe.
NFL fans arriving at stadiums for games in the 2013 season should leave their large bags at home. That's the big takeaway from the new NFL policy revealed Thursday,
which will limit the size and type of bags that are allowed into
stadiums starting in the preseason. In an effort to increase public
safety and expedite entry into the stadium, the NFL Committee on Stadium
Security in May unanimously recommended the implementation of the
Fans will have a few options for bringing smalls bags into
stadiums. They only will be allowed to bring in small clear plastic,
vinyl or PVC bags that do not exceed 12" x 6" x 12", according to a
press release from the league.
Other options include a one-gallon clear plastic freezer bag (like Ziploc) or a small "clutch bag," approximately the size of a hand. An
exception will be made for medically necessary items after they've been
properly inspected at a gate designated for this purpose.
"Prohibited items include, but are not limited to: purses larger
than a clutch bag, coolers, briefcases, backpacks, fanny packs, cinch
bags, seat cushions, luggage of any kind, computer bags and camera bags
or any bag larger than the permissible size," the statement reads.
Of course, this falls under the all-encompassing veil of providing a safe game-day environment (no guns). But don't they already cover this matter with the metal-detecting wands and intrusive pat downs? There have been a couple times where I received a light-hearted groin groping. And while I'm not overly hip to the concept of male-on-male fondling, I must ask the obvious question... is this really about weapons and safety?
Personally, I think it's about making sure people can't smuggle in concessions: particularly those tiny bottles of rum or whiskey (excellent for mixing with a $5.00 coke - it almost makes for a reasonably priced, DIY cocktail).
This new constraint is really going to evoke the ire of many women, especially the menstruating faction (with the notable exception of Tampon-Bay fans). From what I understand, the Buccaneers marketing team already sells officially licensed "Tampax gear."
Is it really necessary for them to use the old-school logo with the knife? If you ask me, it conjures up some disturbing imagery during the application process.
So of course I have devised an all-purpose, systemically disruptive solution designed to shed light upon the issue. Here is what I propose....
Everyone, both men and women, should take full advantage of the gallon size zip-lock bag allowance. You can cram a lot of shit in there. I would suggest poking two holes in the clear bag and threading through a functional strap of hemp. Wear that damn bag around your neck as you would a Flavor-Flav alarm clock!
And fill it with all kinds of sexually provocative goodies. Execute your own all-star, adult expo-mart throwback visitation policy. Anything goes. It's a veritable see-through bone-anza.
gimp - Slang a sexual fetishist who likes to be dominated and who dresses in a leather or rubber body suit with mask, zips, and chains
Hey, anything to enhance your game day enjoyment and turn it into a functional "living room" experience... right? Last time I checked, all these items are legal... correct? And it's the perfect way to demonstrate some team pride! Kind of like "tying a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree."
People always assume I'm joking when I make suggestions like this. But I assure you, I'm not. If everyone would participate in making a complete mockery of the policy, it turns the NFL into the butt of all jokes (pun intended). And would likely lead to it being rescinded.
This reminds me of my other idea - encouraging high school football players to openly piss on the field during the national anthem. You want to drug test our urine - no problem... come and get it!
By the way, next time you're at Heinz Field, check out some of the merchandise shops. They sell these mammoth Steelers officially licensed handbags. So do not fret. Technically, you can still carry them out. You just can't carry them in. Sounds about right.
Also, I'm sure that "no seat cushion" policy is going to encounter zero-resistance during those late January playoff games in the upper-tier Buffalo Bills bleacher seats of Ralph Wilson Stadium. But once again, do not fret. You can still purchase those seat cushions for a modest fee. Once you get inside, of course.
Don't worry. Buffalo ain't gonna be hosting any winter playoff games. Same goes for Cleveland. I believe "when pigs fly" is the traditional term. So let's close it on a Simpsons-pig related-Peter Frampton note. I like this non-kosher German version... or maybe it's Dutch. I do not know.
Gigi and I hit the DMB show at Starlake last night. As is often the case, we didn't have any tickets. And to top it off, I didn't even feel like making the traditional "I WANT A FREE TICKET" sign. I had the cardboard. I had the requisite sharpie. I just couldn't muster the effort. It being a Friday night w/ perfect weather, I just thought there would be too much competition. Too big of a walk-up crowd. And I personally don't enjoy challenging the pseudo-hipster, DMB-BMW driving, miracle seeking hippies.
We weren't having much luck near the main entrance. So we decided to hit up the corner VIP lot. Not really much action of any kind. There were a couple scalpers. But like I said, the scene was devoid of action.
We encountered a woman who looked like a "stumpier" version of this...
That's Dana Perino (George W. Bush's former press secretary). There are more flattering pictures of her on the net, but this one seemed to capture the essence of her attitude.
At first she seemed like she was going to just hand over the tickets. She looked at us and said, "Ohh, how many do you need? I have some tickets in the car. I'll go get 'em and be right back." We figured, "Hot Damn! That was easy enough." But when she came back she demanded $30 a ticket. Ouch.
Her husband tried to reason with her, "If we were just going to eat them, why not just give 'em away?" But the woman remained steadfast. She seemed like one of those Catholic school nuns. The husband seemed a bit taken aback. The couple actually started arguing about the pros and cons. I chimed in from the peanut gallery, "Think about the karma here. Think about how this seemingly trivial decision could impact future events. This is a moment in time. Everything is interconnected. Things are not always what they appear to be." I started getting a little preachy/philosophical. Gigi flashed me this weird glance of trepidation - "Oh no, please don't start yapping about stampedes."
Whatever the case, we were quickly knocked down to reality. No big deal. So we jumped in a golf cart and this guy dropped us off at the side entrance. We hopped out and ran into Chuck M. from Wheeling. He inquired, "Saf, where's your sign?" He knew what time it was. But there was no sign to be had. We were gonna just wing it.
So we ventured back to ground zero (top of the steps). Cop cars rolled in with flashing lights. They were escorting a woman out... and she was definitely resisting. They had to take her down on a couple of occasions. She looked like a super-haggard version of this...
Older and vastly more seasoned than this pic of roller girl from Boogie Nights. She may have been a prostitute, but likely hailed from the greater Weirton/Steubenville area. She was a belligerent ho. Her veins coursing with Citron, her arteries running rich with gazpacho. The phrase "ridden hard, put away wet" came to mind.
Gigi made a somewhat feeble attempt to secure her ticket from the police. I sensed that she was trying to replicate the Amandasar Overmars ticket acquisition method from a Poison concert about a decade ago. But this effort, although noble and steeped in Starlake tradition, simply failed to get off the ground.
In the meantime, I started talking to a guy who looked like this...
He mentioned that he had 2 extra lawn tix but was going to try and sell them. We made some general chit-chat (mostly about the woman getting arrested and how you've just got to know when it's time to call it quits). Gigi momentarily disappeared. The Jon Favreau look-a-like started walking down the steps. He looked back at me, just like Mean Joe Greene throwing that kid his towel in the famous Coca Cola Superbowl commercial.
He tilted his head back and said, "Hey man, you still need those tickets?"
I responded, "Fuck yeah!"
He handed me the tickets and said "Here you go. You guys have a good time."
I thanked him heartily.
Reflecting back on it, I probably should have said... "Thanks, Mean Joe!"
So we celebrated for a bit and then zipped back to the car.
We laughed about the unusual nature of securing the tickets and ate our dinner - grilled pork salad w/ radishes, cucumbers, olives, cauliflower, cheese, flax seed, carrots with a subtle hint of Good Seasons salad dressing. We also consumed a slew of fresh cherries.
We wound up heading into the show about 4 songs in. Dave Matthews is always a quality show, but it was a subdued performance. The set list was fairly unremarkable. I had higher expectations since it was a one-night stand as opposed to his usual back to back shows.
The amphitheater looked fairly packed. I'd say about 19,000 or so.
Highlights for me were a Warehouse, When the World Ends and Recently (second song in the encore). Gigi scrounged up some Section 3 tickets lying on the ground and we eventually made our way to the 20th row. It was a little too congested in the pit and I'm an old man (as my Penguins 2013 playoff beard will attest). Seriously, if Salt from Salt'n'Peppa was in the hizzouse for a thumpin' dinner party, she would have surely said, "Sup, biatch. Can you pass the beard?"
Speaking of the Penguins, we were at the Detroit Tigers game on Thursday night and saw Matt Cooke jump out of a Range Rover and pick up some tickets at will-call. He looked like this...
... except he had a full beard. Not to the extent of mine, but I won't hold it against him.
Pirates ended up winning in the bottom of the 11th. Who knows, maybe the Buccos will make the post-season this year. Then again, maybe the Obama administration will address the issue of artificially generated stampedes. I'd say the latter is less plausible. Sucked.