10-9-2005 I'd like to teach the world to sing...

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Oct 8, 2005 The death toll from a huge earthquake that struck Pakistan, India and Afghanistan went above 18,000 on Sunday, the Pakistani army spokesman said, as rescuers struggled to dig victims from destroyed apartment buildings, schools and mud-brick homes.--Associated Press, 10-9-2005

Interesting. When a hurricane destroyed a wide swath of this country, the 'peace-loving' Jihadists proclaimed that to be the work of a God delivering overdue justice to a nation beholding to Satan.

So how would they explain the same thing happening to their nations? Hmmm.

Thanks entirely to Vin Diesel and the good folks at a brewery nowhere near here, I crawled out of bed much later than I normally do. And I've got this gnawing pain right behind my eyes. I watched the depleted Braves get beat up on last night and immediately retreated to that secret sci-fi world of my own. Screaming, running and mutliated humans, plus copious amounts of agricultural amusements aides. As far as I can reckon, it doesn't get any better than that. Beats being locked in a cage with a raging bull of a local activist, don't it?

Anyway, I killed a few more brain cells, brewed some tea, settled into my 'puter seat and turned on WILK. You see, Sunday mornings are kinda safe being that Nancy & Kev get the weekends off. Yup, it's safe. I can turn on the imported radio without hearing about how George Bush inadvertantly caused the jetstream to veer hard right and destroy the lives of any women, children, minorities, or any of them commie-minded pantywaists. And I don't have to hear about how George Bush sent our kids off to die in some sand dune of a country only because some billionaire oil men told him to. I don't have to hear about the "non-existant" weapons of mass destruction that were obviously spirited away as the Tomahawk batteries were being charged. I don't have to hear about Dubya being responsible for every malaise that hasn't been invented yet. I don't have to hear about how Dubya is directly responsible for the demise of the Scooter Pie. And I don't have to hear about how Dubya killed the neighbor's drug-sniffing newts. To listen to those two tell the tale, if John Kerry was the prez, hurricane Katrina could have been diverted to a wind farm somewhere south of Grenada. But Sundays are safe. Well, they used to be.

So what did they have to go and broadcast this morning? Shadow Steele interviewing Carl Romanelli, a Luzerne Party Green Party honcho, on Outlook for NEPA. I know this dude from way, way back when. You know, back when attending the drudgery that high school is made suicide an attractive alternative to being "taught." I like Carl and I always did. He's smart, he's well-read, he's overly personable. Shoot, he's a freakin' Zappa fan, for chrissakes.

But...if you've listened to one Doper Party activist's plan for saving the entire world in less than 90 days, you've heard all fifty of them. Sorry, Carl, but listening to the social justice and social change spiel had me hankering for some of Nancy & Kevin's Bush-killed-my-mother-in-law's-puppy bile. This is a party stuck on a television commercial that ran back when Lost in Space was a hit series. I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony...

Like, f>cking give it up already!

Who among us is perfect? Huh? Who? Are your kids perfect? Should they be cloned and redistributed much like my income is? Is your credit record completely unblemished? Has everything you've ever endeavored to do turned out just as it was planned? Are our marriages perfect, the model for all others to proceed by? Have we never used a sick day even though we felt up to running a half-marathon? Never have we received a written or verbal warning at work? Sorry, stoners, but if you strive for perfection you are doomed to disappointment. The world is an imperfect place because human beings are imperfect. And no form of Americanized communism is ever going to change any of it.

And on a local note, most of what passes as referendum iniatives in this city belong right where they end up...on the receiving end of a puppy's dumper. We've got court fights, challenges to petitions and court appeals, all because a scant few continually seek to do some end-runs around the people that were rightfully elected. Rather than all the tumult and rancor, why not mount a very public campaign to oust the "bums?" If they suck, vote 'em out. And if you cannot vote 'em all out, try a little bit harder next time around.

Wilkes-Barre needs not social justice delivered in the form of iniative and referendum. What Wilkes-Barre needs is some responsible and informed voters. I'm so sick and tired of hearing people repeating what they heard on the rumor mill. Oh, well, Councilman X is a dirty rotten scoundrel and he used to cheat on his wife before his pecker stopped working. And Councilman Y drinks so much the CDC is going to use some obscure federal law to confiscate his liver for some exhaustive research. Councilman Z was caught some years ago spreading Miracle Whip all over two naked teenaged twin girls, but "The Machine" covered it up. And according to Uncle Jiggy, Councilwoman Q practices some sort of twisted witchcraft by which kidnapped nubile virgins are sacrificed on Satan's alter. The powers that be are all evil-doers, but the folks hoping and praying to replace them are as pure as the wind-driven culm?

Picture my dead ass at a televised League of Women Voters debate?

Q: Mr. Cour, is it true that you once participated in a strip volleyball tournament with drunken underaged girls?

A: I'd like to teach the world to sing...

Looky here, kiddies. You...that's you elected them. If they all suck so completely, vote them the f>ck out. Vote them out. Send them back to where they lurched forward from. The burning pits of fire are still around here somewhere. Cast them back. But, please don't come to me with anymore save-the-world petitions drawn up by wannabe rocket scientists. I think we've had enough tinkering with the system, most of which has amounted to nothing.

And what did all of that tinkering get us anyway? We've got a striped city, two less of those obviously much-coveted council seats, a city councilman stopping just short of declaring all-out war on the unknowing flatlanders, and...and, a city woman on the hook for an $11,000 bill she can least afford being saddled with. While some call all of that muckity-muck social justice and dedicated activism, I see it as inconsequential nonsense. Well, in a governmental sense it's been inconsequential, but I seriously doubt that the Carey's up on the hill would call it inconsequential. The way I see it, she got tagged by the judge because of the influence of a few republicans in activist's clothing.

How did a once noble effort to save a neighborhood firehouse get distorted to the point where we were being asked for signatures in an attempt to reinvent the entire freakin' wheel? Who's far less than bright idea was that? I have my suspicions, but I truly do not know. What I do know is that once that firehouse took to delivering water where electricity ought to be delivered from, the usual activist suspects sprinted towards that fading building faster than an Ethiopian would dart towards a half-eaten potato chip. So, again I ask, who's idea was it to hamstring our elected officials with the latest, greatest petition drive? Who's idea was it? Did Denise Carey think it up all by her lonesome, or did she get lots of help from the few folks that have lots of experience at gumming up the works with their petty and vindictive attempts at governing the folks that were elected to govern?

C'mon, somebody step up to the plate and answer me that one. Who's dim bulb of an idea was the latest petition claptrap? Which Trojan Horse of an activist set her up for a mighty and expensive fall?

So Carl was on WILK today calling for the City of Wilkes-Barre to ask the courts to vacate the decision to hold Carey accountable for the costs associated with challenging the recent attempts at teaching us all to sing in harmony. I will go on the record as saying that I did much the same thing. But unlike some professional, full-time activist doing it very publicly while trying to get himself and his sidekicks elected just once, I went through the proper channels. I picked up the cell phone and called my city administrator. I sought not any publicity, or notoriety. What I sought was simply to see the monetary judgement vacated. I made my best pitch.

She's got kids. She's got a mortgage. She's not related to Donald Trump. She probably got a ton of bad advice after deciding to fight city hall. I know, I know, the city did incur some costs during all of this. It looks bad, it smells bad and it's just more of the same black eyes delivered to the city by the folks professing to be saving it from the elected evil-doers. If we can waste countless federal dollars on a hovercraft too small to haul a couple of well-worn Tonka trucks, why can't we just bite this particular bullet?

I tried. I did. I made my best pitch. It did not fall on deaf ears, but it failed to deliver my desired result. Being one who does learn lessons, I realize that sometimes my best efforts will fail. I did not get the answer I wanted, so what should I do as a result? Should I call for an all-out Blitzkrieg on city hall? Should I get together with those veteran petitioneers and set forth an initiative by which I'll put that sumbitch of a power broker in his place? Should we go for reinventing the wheel...again? Is a short-sighted reaction to the original short-sighted action clearly called for in this case? I mean, we sure as hell can fight city hall and win big. We can. Ask the last mayor about all of that.

But if we take on city hall and lose big that should not be offered up as proof that the folks that work down there are somehow guilty as charged and in need of a further bombardment of useless gibberish. You win some and you lose some. But to react to losing by trying to turn the entire system on it's pointy little head is not a solution to any perceived problems. Rather, it's nothing more than childish payback. We showed them, didn't we? Pretty soon now, two of those sitting council members will be dispatched back to the burning pits, whether they like it or not. Now, who's f>cking bright idea was that? What did we win? Are we gonna be able to pay off our outstanding debts by saving less than $30,000? And how many more cops will we be able to hire after the fact? And what will voting by districts solve? Ten years from now, the next generation of activists will probably start a petition drive to vote at-large once again. If this is how we teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, I'd just assume we stick with some of the folks currently being accused of being tone-deaf.

If a meeting of the activist minds amounts to little more than one of their own being bitch-slapped with an $11,000 bill, why would we still be giving these people a precariously-constructed soap box from which to pontificate? I've asked this of y'all before, and I'll ask it once again: Do you really want to put these people in charge?

Yeah, you win some and you lose some. Go figure. In my denuded mind, the only loser in all of this upstart save-the-world mucky-muck is the persistent lady that spearheaded the failed effort to save a neighborhood firehouse from closing.

The usual activist suspects walked away from this political brouhaha totally unscathed, and they are ready and willing to teach us all how to sing in perfect harmony on yet another day. But Denise Carey was left holding the bill for their most recent mis-adventures in harmonizing. If I was left to foot that hefty bill, I'd be much less angered by the actions of the elected folks than I would be by the self-aggrandizing users that seek to replace them.

And as far as Carl's ever-flowing wisdom is concerned, I quote Frank Zappa:

Take your meditations and your preparations and ram 'em up your snout.

Would the following pass as workable legislation in even a parallel universe bombarded with gamma rays and positive ions?

I'd like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love,

Grow apple trees and honey bees, and snow white turtle doves.

I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,

I'd like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.

--The New Seekers

God knows, I love my Beatles, but this dude was really out there. He was a Green Party stoner (commie dunce) long before most of the Green Party stoners were even hatched. Sorry, but anybody that thinks snuggling up to Yoko Ono is somehow a good idea, I'm running away from faster than Walter Griffith Jr. can speed-dial The Sue Henry Show and bloviate away at great length.

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

--John Lennon

Needless to say, Paul McCartney is still my favorite Beatle.

Imagine there's no narcotics...it's horrible to even try.

The latest from Gort 42:

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Blogfather

I want to thank Mark for his generous comments about my site. I have been reading him for a few years and noticed he is the only one that covers local issues. He was my inspiration to start a blog about local politics. He pointed out just how bad things had gotten under the previous mayor and wasn't afraid to point it out. He knows his stuff and his sarcastic take on the state of affairs would crack me up. I made the mistake one morning of drinking my coffee when reading him and ended up choking on it and spitting it all over my monitor because I was laughing so hard. I try to stick to local issues and poke fun at our self absorbed local leaders, sometimes the stuff writes itself.

I'm happy he likes my description of him:

The "blogfather?" That's a freakin' new one. Somebody once called me the "Rush Limbaugh of Wilkes-Barre," which really isn't the case. Yet another called me the "Matt Drudge of Wilkes-Barre," which, while Tom McGroarty was the mayor, was probably completely accurate. But, the "blogfather?" I like that. Anyways, y'all should check out Gort 42. Add it to your faves and get a free Sony Playstation III for a limited time only.

I think someone also descibed him as the Jonathan Swift of Wilkes-Barre. I agree he is not the Rush of W-B. Unlike Rush he does his research. Sometimes when I listen to these talk radio clowns I'm reminded of the old saying "why let the facts get in the way of a good opinion."

Unfortunately I have run out of free Playstations. If you want one I suggest you contact the Blogfather at:

Wilkes-Barre Online

I'm sure he will make you an offer you can't refuse.

He was my inspiration to start a blog about local politics.

Sure...blame it all on me. Trust me, I've got enough people in this city peeking at the obits and being disappointed when they fail to come across my name. If I and one of my bikes get crushed flat in an obviously deliberate hit-and-run, I figure the cops would have a very long list from which to cull possible suspects. No biggie, though. No matter how I happen to I pass on, wifey will be set for life. She's a good kid and she deserves as much.

While McGroarty was still ruling the troubled roost, my efforts on the internet were probably insane by most standards. I didn't really care much at that time, but what I was doing was inviting some abuse and intimidation. And while I certainly received my fair share, I scoffed at those who took the trouble to try to deliver it. I'm not so much brave as I am freaking crazy, so don't give me too much credit in those respects. With Wilkes-Barre being what it was at the time, the way I figure it, somebody had to speak out.

His comments on prominent figures and their public doings are often sarcastic, but his fundamental love for his city and it's people is apparent.--The Crown, Kings College Student Newspaper, June 19, 2002

And there it is. Fitz nailed it way back when. I could live anywhere I want to, but I chose to follow my scattershot roots right here in good 'ole Nord End. And when it became obvious to me that this city of ours was falling into a state of disrepair practically everywhere I looked, I went berserk on the internet. Whatever. What's done is done, but I wouldn't suggest that approach to local politics unless you're willing to be put through a blender at times. Some say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Trust me, I am buying into that theory.

But, while those heady days may be long behind us, and this web locale of mine has been reduced to being a place where I spout off and nobody really cares too much, let it be known that I take much satisfaction from the fact that I stupidly fought the good fight whereas my city's future is concerned, and no one can ever take that away from me. In fact, my efforts would have probably dried-up and blown away had a Wilkes-Barre fireman not sent me an e-mail that was short and sweet, but on point:

Keep it up. You don't know how right you are.

And "keep it up" I did, and what I've taken away from all of this political tit-for-tat is that it is possible to fight city hall and win, even by unconventional means. If we pay really close attention to what our elected leaders are up to, it makes it harder and harder and harder for them to somehow hoodwink us into accepting far less than what we actually deserve. And in that respect, that's why I continue to view Denise Carey as a kindred spirit of sorts. Much like myself, she stuck her neck out and fought the good fight. Unfortunately, it worked out much differently for her. No matter what the future holds for her and her efforts, she deserves some serious, serious points for bothering to get involved in the first place.

But, make no mistake about it, my journey was not that of a martyr being shot at each and every day. There were some high points while stumbling along that very lonely road. Let's revisit a few.

I remember being approached from behind by a city firefighter and hearing, "Bikeabout?" while I took a sip of water out in front of fire headquarters on the now-deceased aging red Huffy. That was back in the days when nobody knew what I looked like, but I kept making references to bicycling all over the city on the aging Huffy. It's funny now, but after the fact, that very same fireman told me that I seemed very, very nervous during our first encounter. I told him that I didn't want anyone loyal to that administration to spot him talking to me. His terse response was something along the lines of, "F>ck them." In my mind, testicular matter doesn't grow on trees, yet some of us do manage to find some. I didn't know it at that time, but I had just met what would become a friend.

And there was that time when I was taking close-up pictures of our fire department fighting a raging fire here in Nord End, when one of the mayor's cronies decided to get into my face while hoping to scare the snot of me. Toe-to-toe? That's perfectly fine with me. While the city's infrastructure was crumbling around me, this fool pointed out that the, then, mayor had paved my street and I didn't appreciate it. His biggest mistake was thinking that what I wanted was some sort of political points, while all I really wanted was to see my city thrive. When he almost threatened me by informing me that the mayor was on his way to our location, I decided to hoof it out of there rather than invite an ugly incident.

And while I was approaching St. John's on foot, a Wilkes-Barre cop who was blocking the street with his cruiser jumped out of his car and rushed towards me. In an instant, I started wondering how and why the machine would arrest me for taking a few pictures. The dude with the gun shook my hand and said, "Keep up the good work. McG is on his way up here and I don't want to be seen with you. You understand, right?" He turned away and headed back to that cruiser blocking off N. Main Street. I was amazed, to say the least.

And I will never, ever forget the day when Tom Leighton officially declared that he was seeking the mayoralship at the Ramada Inn. I went to that event only so that I could take some cool pics and state afterwards that I was there. I kind of saw that day as a watershed event in Wilkes-Barre's eventual development. I didn't know any of the supremely important movers and shakers you would expect to attend such an event, but I wanted to at least say that I was there. As soon as I arrived, I felt as if I did not belong there. That place was a commercial waiting to happen for Tara Men's Clothing, and there I was wearing a pair of faded jeans and a Braves ballcap. Not that I really gave a flyin' farg. Sorry, but I'm too old to change my stubborn ways.

While many of the most recognizable folks stayed well clear of me, many of their immediate underlings could not help but to approach me and praise my insane efforts. Quite frankly stated, I was absolutely flabbergasted by the outpouring of support. It was amazing. And then the folks with some serious money invested in Wilkes-Barre found their way to me. I was shaking the hands of the recognizable people that own most of Wilkes-Barre's most important concerns, and I was at a loss to explain why someone as unimportant as myself could become such a readily-recognized commodity.

For a couple of hours, I was a celebrity in Wilkes-Barre. I enjoyed just a bit more than my promised fifteen minutes of fame. And that one day solidified my belief that I was doing the right thing. You see, in my swirling mind, this nation's struggling cities are not beyond all repair. To me, what they are is short of people who will step forward and demand better.

Your grandchildren will never frolic at the base of any bronze statue erected in my honor, but when Wilkes-Barre was obviously down-and-out, my voice rose loud and clear.

I'm good with all of that.

I'd like to teach the world to sing, but helping Wilkes-Barre to hum again would be just fine with me.

I gotta go.

Be cool