4-18-2004 Bike About

Assumption is the mother of all f**k-ups.--Name that author, why don'tcha?

Holy TANs, Batman! Check this trivia tidbit from the Braves telecast.

If you remember correctly, Cal Ripkin Jr. played 131,732 consecutive baseball games. The ultimate hard guy. In 1999, shock of shocks, it was determined that Iron Man himself would have to be put on the disabled list due to an injury. Ready? Who replaced him at shortstop?

Is this weather not freaking glorious or what? The amazing grandson, Gage Andrew, and I spent six hours on the Rock Stomper during the past two days. I got tons of sun and I almost broke a sweat. Almost. At the very least, my skin no longer looks as if I've been shielded from the sun since '79.

Yesterday, Gage and I wandered through the southern half of the city. This morning, we rolled northward. I gotta tell ya', while the city may still have a long way to go, it's becoming increasingly difficult to snap pictures that would be deemed to be embarrassing for the folks in charge of the entire program. That's a good thing. Real good.

While out and about yesterday, we grabbed some sugar wafers and some orange beverage that resembled orange juice and camped-out on that new bench on the Square. Believe it or not, our downtown was actually hummin' for a change. There were people comin' and goin' all over the place. Most of them were card-carrying certifiable freaks, but ya' got start somewhere. Heyna? Gage was amazed when some pre-teen decided to smash his bicycle directly into the side of a moving vehicle and he also got quite the kick out of the guy that was willing to sing us a Motown classic for a free cigarette. Four other less talented folks were denied a free cigarette. Who knew a lazy bike ride could turn into Halloween in April?

Then some guy planted himself on the bench and proceeded to explore the meaning of life and such with me without ever bothering to ask me if I was up for such a weighty undertaking. Despite his announced lack of gainful employment and his extremely limited vocabulary, he seemed to think that he had a full understanding of geopolitics and modern day strategic military tactics. His solution to the current Middle Eastern morass? "F**kin' nuke 'em all." As you know, I like simplicity, so I'll give him points for that, but if we nuke 'em all, who the hell is gonna buy our chief export? If we vaporize everyone that currently makes no sense at all, the sales of Happy Meals are sure to plummet.

He scooted closer and closer to me, and he kept touching my arm as he continued to expound upon why the world needs more mass death. I think he was a pederast, or something thereabouts. I think we wanted to invite me to his favorite clump of nearby trees. I think he wanted to explore parts of me that have never been explored. I've been a devoted fan of girls for well too long to even consider switching at this point, thank you very much. Luckily, the scanner chirped something about a MVA right around the corner, so Gage and I bid Mr. HIV a less than fond adieu. See ya' on the obit pages, creepy crawler.

We arrived at the accident scene, the intersection of Northampton and Penn Ave right quick. This unnecessary and usually painful trip was standard fare as motor vehicle accidents go in this city. Somebody ran a red light and pulverized somebody else. The driver of one of the cars involved, a young black dude, looked to be k.o.ed to some degree. The paramedics were tending to him as his horn wailed and wailed. The hose dudes whisked a cute little girl from the back seat of his car and took her to Medic-3. She didn't appear to be injured. I took some nifty pics, but I rarely post any pictures of folks that just got the smithereens crushed out of them. I'll rubberneck with the best of 'em. I'll throw an elbow or two and joust for a better view, but I have a problem with publishing other folks worst moments.

The curious thing was Gage's reaction to what we were spying from across the street. He was more or less hiding behind the Rock Stomper. I yanked him off of the flower bed he was crushing underfoot and asked him what was wrong. He muttered something about not wanting to go in an ambulance. Smart little guy. Now, if only we could manage to convince those stupid adults to stop running red lights. Wouldn't that be something? It amazes me by what happens to otherwise intelligent adults when they stick that key in the ignition. Common sense, civility, and any semblence of courtesy are immediately removed from the equation. Turn that key and engage the "aggressive" overdrive. I need to purchase a few pipe cleaners and some Elmer's glue, so get the hell out of my way!!!

There's no good paying jobs in Luzerne County? Based on what I see out there on our bumpy streets, there seems to be a growing demand for well-trained paramedics. If we'd all just slow down and use or heads for a change, cute little girls wouldn't be strapped into back seats wondering what just happened, or why their Daddy is muttering mostly incoherent babblings to the firemen surrounding what's left of Daddy's car. This sort of thing is so easily preventable, it still amazes me that it continues to happen on a daily basis. Oh well.

A while back, a chickie formerly employed by the city made the e-mail claim that the city had at one time taken receipt of enough of those reddish/brown pavers to redo Public Square's sidewalks and then some. She also wondered aloud, albeit electronically, as to what had become of them while our deteriorating downtown sidewalks were patched with concrete, crushed stone, and whatever else may have been laying around somewhere.

This morning, as Gage and I were rolling past the DPW complex, he wanted to get a closer look at all of the trucks. A hard right quickly followed his request. We wandered amongst the wreckage of eight years of mis-management, and I did chuckle when we came across the infamous "Proud to Be" banners which are now where they belonged all along. In a pile and completely out of view.

Proud to be garbage

I was annoyed to find that a headless and naked mannequin is firmly planted in the drivers seat of our historic and rotting tiller truck. Gee whiz! That was f**king clever. I wish that I had thought that up all by myself. There's nothing left to steal from it other than that Mack bulldog on the hood. Why not throw a few naked mannequins in the front seat? A blow-up doll would be a nice touch. F**k it. Scrap it. McG succeeded in seeing to it that it was completely destroyed. Why allow it to be further desecrated by dimwits? Give it a proper burial already.

Anywho, we've got approximately twenty pallets of those "lost" pavers languishing in the deepest depths of McG's private junkyard, far from public view. The question begs, why would we fill in the numerous voids in our downtown pedestrian thoroughfares with seemingly everything else, when these palletized pavers were readily available to us since 1975? Pick a mayor, any mayor. Pick a council, any sitting council. Why in the muck would we turn our downtown sidewalks into a mish-mash, a quilt of sorts, when continuity and an enhanced image was readily available to us in the form of spare pavers paid for and delivered with federal dollars? Has any elected official in this city elected after the flood 0f '72 done anything other than collect their salary? Asleep at the switch would aptly descibe the past thirty years for this challenged city. Pavers? Yeah, we've had them all along. But we never bothered to use them. Go figure.

Spare Pavers

My son dropped by yesterday to watch the Knicks/Nets NBA playoff game with me. It wasn't as much a game as it was the Nets totally mucking with a collection of amateurs posing as pros. If I was a diehard Knicks fan, I'd have my head in my oven right about now. Who cares? Maybe I'll start watching soccer. I'll get a lot more sleep if I so choose.

I asked the kiddo why he has recently taken to hanging out at Ashley's one and only basketball court rather than hanging closer to the adobe and the courts he grew up on. If nothing else, his response was lightning quick: "Because Wilkes-Barre's courts all suck." I, of course, wanted to know why he felt that way and he gave me a court by court rundown of why no one worth their weight in Nikes plays on any of the courts in this city. It can be summed up in one word: Neglect. Our basketball courts really do suck. Gage Andrew and I visited four of them this morning and while it's no longer necessary to pile on the former mayor who claimed that he rehabbed all of our playgrounds, it's obvious that nary a dollar was invested in any of the courts we visited.

Madison Street: The solid steel backboards are too heavy for the single poles meant to support their weight, and with every shot taken, or hand banged off of the backboard or rim, the backboard wobbles back and forth for the next few minutes. Say what you want about that, but the last time I checked, draining a jump shot did not include shooting at a moving target. Picky, heyna? Some tiny tots were doing battle with some guy with a beer belly the likes of which I've never seen.

Scouten Lee Park: The rims are rusted and one of them is broken at the bottom. The result is, everytime a ball makes contact with it, it pops upwards. So much for a quick put-back. If you get a rebound, you need to kick it out and wait for the rim to stop moving. I remember when Ebon used to launch some titanic bombs at the adjoining ballyard and that court was always a bustling place. Today, Gage and I were free to call it our domain.

Penn Avenue: The court has pronounced dimples, or pimples, or some sort of curiousity caused by collapsing Anthracite veins. If you can dribble a ball on that surface and maintain control, the Harlem Globetrotters await you and your massive skills. Again, Gage and I had free reign over this former B-ball hotspot.

Parsons Park: Same old, same old. Dimples, ancient rims just slightly unlevel. Just enough to make a "baller" flock straight to Kingston's awesome facilities, or some smallish borough that realizes that it's younger residents really do need a quality place on which to play. And lastly, Gage and I owned this court also.

When we arrived back here at the adobe, I called my son to tell him of what I thought of his complaints. I was told that we wasn't home. He had gone out to play some hoops. "Out" meaning out of Wilkes-Barre.

Of course, if we're grading basketball courts, that means we have to let the little ones run amok on the jungle gyms within close proximity. Gage did not vocalize a single complaint as far as the stuff to climb and fall from is concerned. As it turns out, he's one of those confused folks that disects his unsuspecting OREOs and scrapes the filling before eating the cookies. Goof!



I did learn something of great importance today. One of our hose dudes was leading his Little League charges through the neighborhood in search of donations and they eventually found themselves at my door. What I learned was that kids can now sign-up for T-Ball and such at the age of five. RUTRO! Being that Gage is less than two months away from his third birthday, I informed his mom that she now has less than two years in which to sell her rather expensive home in Pottsville and relocate to the Nord End of Wilkes-Barre.

After Sign Dude retires, it's entirely possible that he may re-emerge one day as Nord End Announcer Dude.

"Fly ball. Deep, deep to straight-away left! Way back!! That ball is GONE to North Washington Street!!! That's neat!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

I'll be back at the ballyard soon enough.