Block Party '04

Whew! What a weekend! If every weekend went like this past one, I'd be sporting quite the impressive beer gut. Bought and paid for, baby. More on that later on.

This is freakin' rich. From today's Drudge Report:


Janet Jackson now claims that her "Nipplegate" Super Bowl incident was used by the Bush administration to distract people from the war in Iraq!

Mike Slezak, managing editor of GENRE magazine, tells DRUDGE he has set the provocative Jackson interview for October's issue.


Yeah. Janet Jackson's sagging boob caused me to forget all about Iraq. How 'bout you?

Did anyone catch the recent interview with Sharon Stone? She claimed that a lesbian kiss scene between her and Halle Berry in the disasterous Catwoman flick was edited out of the final cut because of Bush's out-of-control FCC.

Okaaaaay. Thanks to Bush we missed out on a smooch between two mediocre actresses in this year's version of Ishtar???

Bush ate my children.

Did anyone catch the latest from...

...the recent sports pages?

THIS JUST IN...Bobby Cox might, just might be a good skipper after all. Who knew?

Sorry, sports fans, but I warned ya'll. The Phillies are all but dead in the water. The Marlins might still have a run left in them. Meanwhile, Chipper is coming out of his season-long funk in a big way. It might be all for not though. The Cards are looking awfully tough right now. There is no hole in their lineup, but their starting pitching gives us a slight glimmer of hope come playoff time. I wouldn't bet against them though.

There has been a constant...

...drumbeat on the pages of SAYSO calling for The Times Leader to investigate the 23 people who thwarted Walter Griffith's anemic attempts to further muck with a system of government who's future form is already tied up in the courts.

Who are these shadowy people? What are their political connections? What's in it for them? Why doesn't the Leader get to the bottom of the Gang of 23?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Leader already published our names and addresses. I guess those "educated" voters that read the Leader and vote with their speed dial don't pay close enough attention.

What the SAYSO callers all choose to ignore is the fact that the petitions themselves were incorrectly prepared and thereby easily challenged. They should have been and they were declared null-and-void by the guy who's idea it was to float them in the first place.

And therein lies the rub. Some folks are eager to run the city, or tell others how to run the city, but can't themselves follow a few clearly stated guidelines while attempting to turn the city on it's head. Does that sound eerily familiar?

Lately, in this struggling city, petitions are suddenly like assholes. Everybody's got one. But I didn't vote for any the overzealous folks bandying them about. And it's quite obvious judging from this most recent political brouhaha, that some of the folks with all of the definitive answers didn't do their homework before going off half-cocked. Again.

Our current leaders were legally elected and their current salaries were public knowledge long before they garnered a single vote. They were given a term of four years to turn this city in the right direction and I feel they should be given that chance without further interference from folks that can't follow a few simple rules. If they fail us, vote for Walter the next time around. And if they succeed to any great degree, their salaries will have been money well spent.

Who are these shadowy people and why did they thwart the latest, greatest class envy ploy?

I, for one, am a nobody. A concerned citizen that pays close attention. And all that I received for my involvement is the knowledge that I did what needed to be done.

Block Party '04

Whew! What a whirlwind of a weekend. We had a gaggle of grandkids constantly under foot. He ended up with a house full of kids. A chest freezer full of homemade ice. Prizes for games in this corner. Still others in some other corner of the house. Rebar and Healing Field flag positioned near the front door. A fridge over-stuffed with wifey's tasty creations. Furniture shuffled all over the place so as to provide more bunk space for the kids. Stacks of extra beer, just in case. My piles of stereo equipment; ripped apart, reconfigured and ready to rock. Dozens of CDs plucked from the other thousands and ready for the rotation. Barriers poised at the top of the street. Over-sized garbage cans dropped off by the city in front of the adobe. Chairs piled against this house. Tables leaning against the next. The monsterous coolers poised and waiting for the 5 barrels to be delivered. In other words, our yearly block party may come off without a hitch, but that's because of all of the painstaking preparation that goes into making it the success that it always is.

And this year was no exception. Attendance was up. There were lots more kids on hand which led to the numerous games being much more lively. Going with two tents rather than one was a great move. And, as always, there was nothing but good people on hand. After staging 15 consecutive block parties, we've never had any ugly incidents, or any interactions with the Wilkes-Barre police. We did have the cops called twice this year, but they were both concerning parking complaints from folks that do not reside on this street.

One of the two was a bit infuriating. By securing a permit from the city, we are allowed to block off our entire street. We never have. We've always left the end of the street open for the Penn Ave. folks that always park at the end of the street. One of them adopted a driveway on our street after the home at the corner of the street burned down some years back. And they also adopted the rest of the property for their unlawful day care center. So anyway, "his" driveway was blocked by parked cars and he called the cops. The only problem is he doesn't own the driveway. In fact, the city does. The city owns the entire property after it was stuck with the burned out, uninsured building.

And if that's not annoying enough, these are the same folks that do not contain their two rotweillers in any way which results in them chasing down people who walk by. Just this afternoon, a guy visiting Thompson Street climbed on top of his car's roof after the dogs tried to pounce on him. These are the folks that called the cops on us. The usual.

Anymuck, the folks that operate an unlicensed day care center called the cops on us. The folks that continuously ignore our leash laws called the cops on us. The folks that have claimed squatter's rights over city property called the cops on us. What they didn't know was that they called the cops on us and by stupidly doing so they brought some serious scrutiny to bare on their own scurrilous activities. What they didn't know when they called the cops on us was that they also called the cops on some of the city's top politicos. And being somewhat annoyed, we made said officials aware of a few things that go on down there.

I'm told that a certain mayor in attendance said afterwards that it was nice to attend an event such a this and not have his ear filled with nonstop talk of politics. Well, my son did complain to him about some of our basketball courts that are without nets, but if that's the worst he suffered through, he'll be alright. With what he's been going through as of late, that could almost qualify as a night off. Almost.

It was a real good time. We had folks willing to grab a mic and sing along with songs that they did not know the lyrics to. We had a very brief rice pudding food fight. Guess who? My son again. We had tons of folks eating, drinking, dancing, swaying, singing and generally enjoying each other's company. We had a local union honcho dancing around in a woman's dress. We had the same honcho later donning a hulu skirt and not much else while doing lap dances for some of the chickies. God! I wish I cold post those pics. I gotta get that new 'puter already.

We had a teenaged girl enter the pie eating contest and then attempt to win without getting her face dirty. I would have none of this and applied just enough direct pressure to the back of her head. We were treated to a chorus line by some women that suited up in some funky looking dresses donated by a local company. The tune? Cindi Lauper's "Girls just wanna have fun." And they did. At their own expense.

Thanks to the generosity of many local businesses and individuals, we raffled off more than fifty prizes. The biggest of which was $130 in cashola which was claimed by none other than my very own son-in-law. Nope. It wasn't fixed. I had nothing to do with the drawings other than supplying the audio equipment necessary to announce the numbers drawn.

Speaking of audio equipment, the next jolly soul that drinks ten beers and then feels free to touch my stuff is going to be the next person assaulted with copious amounts of rice pudding. You have been warned. Oh, yeah. For future reference, you do not have to scream into the freakin' microphones! No big thang.

Some of my friends that were slated to be here didn't make it, which is unfortunate. I did miss them. Others that weren't supposed to be coming dropped on by, which was a pleasant surprise. All in all, we had a mass gathering of quality people and the outcome was one bitchin' event. We've still got enough quality people remaining in this city to make it back from the edge of the abyss. And at the very least, we've still got enough good folks residing here to stage one helluva great block party. While many others continue to dwell on the obvious negatives, some of us look for the often over-looked positives and even manage to create some positive happenings all through volunteer efforts.

If the tight-knit folks on this street thought that Wilkes-Barre needed a large fork stuck in it, there wouldn't be a Thompson Street block party as those of us smart enough to attend it have come to know and enjoy. But there was a block party this past Saturday and the preliminary planning for the 16th installment has already gotten underway.

While we as a city still face some daunting challenges, it should be duly noted that the folks residing on one nondescript street have not thrown in the proverbial towel and plan to carry on despite the troubling reverse-gentrification that seems to surround us and concerns us all to a person. In my deranged mind, if you really care, you will get involved to some degree. Whether it be a political campaign, a volunteer clean-up effort, or a simple neighborhood block party that demonstrates that the folks from Queens haven't destroyed one's pride in their neighborhood; every little bit helps to demonstrate that Wilkes-Barre is still kickin' and then some.

Those of us that still call Thompson Street home have not given up on our beloved city, we do choose to get involved, and we can still party with the best of them. And we will keep on keeping on. 'Til next year.

P.S.--I did manage to sneak in some rather loud Blue Oyster Cult this time around.

How 'bout that?