1-23-2006 Make checks payable to: Skinheads for Quimby

Let's cover this real quick. I deleted my last remaining links to AOL over the weekend, which, for me, was better than sex. I frickin' hate AOL and I always did. But I had these three kids who didn't want to lose access to AOL's instant messenger. But...my Buddy list, Dad!!! How will I go on living without my Buddy list??? Freakin' spare me. That's akin to not wanting to get rid of your Yugo 'cause it's got a bitchin' stereo. Fuggit.

Anyways, I deleted AOL, including my entire e-mail address book. So, to the dude who asked me to send along that mp3 of Joe Satriani and Frank Zappa tearing up a few frets together, you're gonna have to drop me an e-mail so I can send it along. Plus, my address is now zorcong@ptd.net. No more AOL bullspit.

This high-speed Service Electric internet muckity-muck is faster than I imagined it would be. It's narly fast. It's so freaking fast, I spend the entire weekend downloading music and burning discs. I can now burn ten discs in the time it used to take me to burn a single disc. Did I mention that I hate AOL? Yeah? Okay. Like what I need is more music.

If you're still doing dial-up internet, knock off a Turkey Hill and switch to Service Electric by tomorrow. Do it. You get used to putting a penny in the gumball machine and then getting excited when that lone gumball comes rolling out. But imagine putting a penny in the thing and getting 100 gumballs--and getting them faster.

It used to take between 15-20 minutes to upload 3 digital pictures to my site. And it was impossible to upload a video using dial-up speeds. During the past week I've uploaded 2 videos and plugged them into the site in less than 6 minutes each time.

No! I do not subcontract for the cable company, so you kook libs can lose the conspiracy theory right now. I'm just sayin'. If you're still clinging to dial-up, it's time to join the revolution, kiddies.

I told ya. I fu>kin' told ya the Cafe Metropolis was in trouble. If a club wants to play host to skinhead groups with a penchant for stabbing people over improper mosh etiquette--and I'm Mayor Quimby--I'm thinking I don't want that sort of needless and senseless violence going on directly across the street from my $30 million redevelopment project. You wanna re-enact a few scenes from the Clash' Rude Boy film? Fine. Then take your stilettos and your sideshow freaks somewhere else.

And I hope not to hear from any of these sideshow kids who obviously have "best friends" instead of parents. Been there, done that. I was in punk clubs long before most of these shaven goofballs were out of diapers, so I really don't want to hear any of their gibberish. I still got my sleeveless Union Jack shirt. I still got the spikes, the handcuff belt and the leather gloves. When your band is the opening act for a German punk band, Das Conrad, touring the United States, you gotta look the part. And isn't that what these kids are doing anyway--looking the part? If any of our local skinheads ever came face-to-face with some of those Neo-Nazi skinheads from Germany, they'd beg for a second chance to take on the Greg Brady look. Who's kidding who?

It ought to be interesting when Skinhead Nation gets to firing off a few letters to the editors of the local newspapers. They had better engage one of those high-tech spell checkers, maybe even a thought checker, so as to not expose the fact that most of them have probably not progressed much past The Cat in The Hat. See Spot run. See Spot mosh. See Spot stab. Whatever, man. It must totally suck having "best friends" when all they really needed were parents.

Mom! I'm gonna shave my head, spray paint it gold and then head on over to Tommy's to practice my throwing stars, okay? Did you see my switch blade? It was on the telephone stand with my brass knuckles and now they're both gone. Fu>k! If that bitch Jody calls again tell her I said to fu>k-off and die. Later.

What? Um, that's nice, dear. Make sure you take your key. Have a nice time. Peace out.

Enough with the Nazi Youth.

I snagged this from the Citizens' Voice:

The city will do everything possible to stop crime downtown, but will not single out specific businesses like Cafť Metropolis, Mayor Tom Leighton said Friday night.

"The city will actively continue to fight any problem properties that we're made aware of," Leighton said.

Leighton insisted he did not speak with city building inspectors Friday. After being told of the inspectors' alleged findings and Dougherty's comments, the mayor reiterated no one is being singled out and justified the city's actions.

"I'm sure parents would not want their children in a property that could potentially be a fire trap," he said.

The Metropolis was not singled out? Is anyone going to believe that? I seriously doubt it, but I could really care less.

I was wandering around town on the Hummer the other day and ran into the code enforcement guys and inspectors from the fire department out behind our punk club. And out front was a camera guy from WBRE with his camera pointed directly at the club. I kind of knew what was going on.

Putting the stabbing incident aside, I have a problem with a business that contributes graffiti, garbage, cigarette butts and broken glass to it's immediate environs without much emphasis being put on rectifying that untenable situation. If your patrons are a bunch of slobs, then get your ass outside and clean up after them after every show. If your patrons feel the need to deface a publicly-owned streetlight, then get your ass out there and clean the fu>kin' thing. And when bottles get smashed, how 'bout cleaning all of it up--not just the bigger shards. Imagine what our downtown would look like if every retail concern showed this much disinterest in the appearance of their immediate areas.

I'm not interested in jockeying for position, while some garbage band belts out some sonic bilge, so in that respect, I could care less about what happens to the Metropolis. But when I wander on by that place on one of my bikes, I do take notice of what I would deem to be less than a great neighbor. If they did get singled out, they deserve it for not maintaining appearances. There's no stickers stuck all over eveything in front of Circles on The Square. There's no broken glass in front of The Anthracite. Most businesses wouldn't tolerate graffiti coming from their regular customers. Then again, most businesses don't provide an outlet for Skinhead Nation to show off it's beer muscles.

Putting aside all of my needless opining, according to the results of the inspection, this club was a tragedy waiting to happen. With no sprinkler system, no smoke detectors and exit doors that swing inward, this could have been a breaking story on CNN iffin' a fire ever broke out in that place. We've seen this sort of nightmare before. The fire erupts, the crowd stampedes towards the exit, and the next thing you know the fire department is calling the coroner's office. I wonder if the place even has an emergency lighting system in place. Jesus! It makes me wonder why this wannabe deathtrap wasn't padlocked by the city a long, long time ago. Better late than never, I suppose. I may seem like an insensitive dolt--A Republican--on most days, but the very last thing I wanna see is a bunch of kids trapped in an inferno. And that includes skinheads. They deserve a chance to grow out of that which currently ails them.

"I'm sure parents would not want their children in a property that could potentially be a fire trap," he said.

With all due respect Mr. Mayor, I doubt that the parents of the kids that frequented that club give a flying farg where their kids are on most nights. But, with that said, the Goths, the Skinheads and the rest of the counterculture kiddies do need to be protected from a not so towering inferno.



Down in Joeís garage
We didnít have no dope or LSD
But a coupla quartsa beer
Would fix it so the intonation
Would not offend yer ear
And the same old chords goiní over íní over
Became a symphony
We would play it again íní again íní again
ícause it sounded good to me
One more time!

Joe's Garage, Francis Vincent Zappa

Mayoral challenger?

Make checks payable to: Skinheads for Quimby

This LETTERS FROM READERS piece was published in the Times Leader today.

Posted on Mon, Jan. 23, 2006

Out-of-town thugs undermine W-Bís revitalization, progressThe city of Wilkes-Barre is attempting to rehabilitate itself -- especially the downtown. City, state and federal sources are committing close to $100 million dollars to develop projects designed to bring people back to Wilkes-Barre to live, work and shop in our downtown. Some money has even been used to hire 10 new police officers. This is all wonderful news for the city but there is one major problem: crime.

I donít care if they spend $100 billion dollars or hire 10,000 police officers -- people will not move to or visit Wilkes-Barre until the crime problem is taken care of. Hiring more police isnít going to do the trick. The police are merely reactionary. They respond after the shootings, after the stabbings, after the drug deals. Most criminals with common sense are operating behind closed doors, and out of police sight. The police cannot stop crime from happening, but only try to catch the criminals after the crime has been committed.

The problem is that the city is under assault by out-of-town thugs whose only purpose is to come here, sell drugs, and wreak havoc on our already frail city. They must be stopped at the gates. Being that nine times out of 10 these violent crimes are being committed by thugs from New York, Philly, and New Jersey, the city needs to pass an ordinance that bans landlords from renting to anyone trying to move here with a criminal background.

Thorough background checks need to be given to all potential renters, especially those with ties to New York and Philly, and those who have applied for Section 8 housing. Any landlord that knowingly rents to a criminal who then commits a violent crime or is caught dealing drugs from that property will then have to forfeit their property to the city, which in turn can fix up the property and re-rent it to someone with better and legal means of employment.

There must be serious welfare reform in this state. This is the root of most of the problem. Case and point: Sherman Hills and other low-income projects throughout the valley. Many of these thugs are being denied welfare in their state or area, and are moving here because it is much easier to get assistance and low-income housing. The welfare system, which was designed as a safety net, has morphed into a free for all for anyone who comes in under the income bracket, regardless of criminal background.

I work 10- sometimes 12-hour shifts and have no medical insurance. Neither myself nor my company can afford it. Yet I am forced to pay for these lazy, drug-dealing, worthless scums to get a free ride at me and my familyís expense? If you arenít afraid of being shot or robbed and/or own a bullet-proof vest, than take a drive through one of these projects. Take notice of the satellite dishes on the side of their apartments, the expensive hip-hop designer outfits they wear, and the cell phones they have attached to their heads.

Youíve probably been stuck behind them in line at the checkout line at the grocery store. Carts overflowing with hundreds of dollars worth of name-brand foods, and a shiny green Access card in hand. Meanwhile, the average blue-collar, hard-working, native Wilkes-Barre resident is struggling to pay their taxes, heating bills and feed there families. Where is the outrage? Itís our tax dollars hard at work.

We pay to feed and shelter these people. And they repay us by trying to sell drugs to our children and shooting up our once peaceful neighborhoods.

Our elected officials are too spineless to do anything about it because they are afraid of being labeled racist or against the poor.

Bill Cook Wilkes-Barre

Short and sweet, is that not the long version of I don't want no more of them ni**ers in Wilkes-Barre? Why won't the mayor close the borders already?

Any landlord that knowingly rents to a criminal who then commits a violent crime...

Doesn't work and it never will when one party rents an apartment and a whole other crew moves into it.

We pay to feed and shelter these people. And they repay us by trying to sell drugs to our children and shooting up our once peaceful neighborhoods.

Trying??? Excuse me? They are trying to sell drugs to our children? Incorrect, sir. They are selling drugs to our children. That's why they're here to begin with! Because there is a thriving market for drugs in this area. That market is our kids! Where there's demand, there's supply.

One more time: The brown folks grow it, the black folks sell it and the white folks buy it and use it. So, what should be done about it? For most, that's a no-brainer. That's an easy one. We gotta get rid of those fu>kin' ni**ers.

That's fair. (???) No racism there. Tristan and Kaitlin can get stoned at the CYC dance every other week. But that fu>kin' ni**er--Tyrone--who supplies them has got to go to prison. He tried to sell drugs to our children??? Whoa there! And we wonder why the black folks continue to hold us white folks in complete contempt.

Sorry, but there has to come a point where we stop blaming our failures on those who are least able to defend themselves from the folks (Us) looking for scapegoats for the actions of their own kids. If my kid was a youngish drug-addicted loser who had hopelessly lost his waypoint, the very last thing I would be doing would be blaming his lack of focus on anyone other than myself.

But..that's just me. What do I know?

Photos from the e-mail inbox of a Sunday morning fire on Kidder Street.

A structure fire during breakfast? Now that's entertainment!

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Dude, if you made those pics any smaller, I'd be blind by now.

Just hackin' on ya, Billy.

Infrastructure improvements

From the e-mail inbox Dear Mark: Just finished your comments on the Planters Peanuts issue. Got to say you're missing the boat. Don't you think people will come to see such a site? 750,000 visited Craylora last year in Easton, thopusands more visit Yuengling Brewery's beer museum again as many sought out the "Mr. Potato Head" museum, and the "Barbie Doll" museum...can't figure out why but only half that many went to see the "Brassier Museum" (the first "push-up" bra, designed by Howard Hughes for Jane Russell to wear in the movie "The Outlaw"), and the "GI Joe" museum, and the "Candy Museum" (Planters has a small section there for Mr. Peanut). Actually, the BIG reason I want it is that the Obicci family started a world-wide company here in Wilkes-Barre 100 years ago this year...and (side bar) "Mr. Peanut" was designed and produced here 90 years ago this year. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum, the National Trust for Historic Preservation says the building on South Main Street is "historic" and should be placed on the National Historic Treasures listing, and the National Association of Public Relations says "Mr. Peanut" is the "most recognizable icon in the world". And it all started here, on Daggobert Street, where Mr. Obicci boiled his peanuts, then pushed them up to Public Square to sell them from a push cart he wheeled around the City streets. Scranton has a coal mine museum, a train museum,. even an Houdini Museum, because they care around out history. Wilkes-Barre, where coal was first burned by Judge Jesse Fell, Kirby's 5&dime, Planters, etc., has NOTHING to celebrate our great history...except maybe a plaque to "Joe Palooka", and it's buried on a road side on the way to Mountain Top. Are we ashamed of the fact that we have a great history to build on? There's an "international" Mr. Peanut collectors club/organization, stretching from the U. S. to Japan and Europe, that meets every year to celebrate something that started in Wilkes-Barre 100 years ago...Planters Peanuts! What will we have here? Another "mini-mall". Whooopeee!!!

Jim McCarthy

Councildude, excuse me for seeming to be brave under fire as it pertains to lowly residents being directly challenged by those elected folks in-the-know, but why is it that I've never heard about the extensive, worldwide Planter's Peanut fan club that is supposedly second to none other than what the Star Trek faithful bring to bare at convention centers all over the world? You've made plenty of noise about Mr. Peanut and suchlike in the newspapers, but you've never made your case nearly as strongly as you have at my expense tonight. Why is that?

There's an "international" Mr. Peanut collectors club/organization, stretching from the U. S. to Japan and Europe, that meets every year to celebrate something that started in Wilkes-Barre 100 years ago...Planters Peanuts!

No foolin'? So why wasn't that important data reported on the pages of The Citizens' Voice or The Times Leader? Why dump that sort of stuff in my lap? What am I supposed to do with that? Google search myself sick, while hoping to prove you wrong? Sorry, but this mindless fish is not biting.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't all of this Pennsylvania Historical and Museum circle-jerking the reason that our theatres are still being built and not already open for business as we yap? You know where I'm going. The $30 million theater project was put on hold for months on end while we saw to it that ancient, collapsing buildings being propped up by wooden beams were saved because of their "historic" value to the greater community at large. If there's something historic about a former J.S. Raub shoe store, I'm failing to see it.

What's next? The push to create a Prestique Antiques museum? If you could have accompanied me when I toured those buildings filled with human waste, graffiti and tons of evidence that our fire department got off lightly, you might not be so quick to go off on the historical tangent that so many are prone to doing. Practically speaking, those "historic" facades of ours that nobody really gives a flying funk about delayed the progress we've been chomping at the bit for years now. We wanted progress, but we got well-paid guys in bio-hazard suits instead.

Follow me here: I love our city's history and I've been buried with e-mails on occasion while exploring what little I happen to know of it. The fact is, I'm a helluva lot younger than you are, so I'm kind of limited to spinning tales about Kresge's pre-fabbed Pizza, the Woodlawn Dairy, Charlie Weiss, Percy Brown's and Pomeroy's basement music department. I absolutely loved Planter's Peanuts when I was a transplanted kid from Connecticut hanging out on Public Square with my dearly departed Gramma a long time ago. Mostly, I miss my Gramma. The peanuts were cool and all, but memories usually revolve around those you loved, or where those you loved happened to lead you to. I loved her, and I loved where she led me to on most days in downtown Wilkes-Barre, but a bag of freshly roasted peanuts wouldn't be the same for me if she was not sitting by my side and telling me to feed those pigeons we've all come to love. Ahem...or hate.

And it is for those reasons that I must reject your suggestion that people from all over the world would be lining up to do what I did when I was but a little kid sitting on Public Square, circa the long-gone sixties. There's worldwide fan clubs and in-demand collectibles...and then there's memories. While there might be those who wish to revisit something they never had in the first place, there are those of us that will remember what once was...and what will never be again. Mr. Obicci done good. And so did Jesse Fell. But don't go to hacking on me because they went completely ignored by the politicians that could have, but failed to preserve their legacies in any meaningful sense. It's too late.

If you wanted a Planter's Peanut museum to be a destination rivaled only by Disneyworld, you should have spoken up about twenty years ago. You are an idea man, and your museum idea is not without merit. But you chose to share it with us when the work order was already drawn up calling for a wrecking ball. You political types turned your backs on historical properties as far back as I can recall. And now you're trying to make up for your short-sightedness. That's the way I see it.

Try this: When I can get a burger and french fries on Public Square, then--maybe--we'll get to working on building peanut museums, okay? Looking backwards to those bygone eras works for me on most days, but what we need at this point is more forward-thinking. And in my opinion, Planter's Peanuts has about as much to do with Wilkes-Barre's future as the Knox Mine disaster has to do with the future of energy in this country.

The old days are long gone. And there's nothing we can do to change that reality. But it sure is fun wondering aloud about how we can recapture that which we miss the most. Planter's Peanuts? Ain't happening. I wish it was happening, but it's not.

Sez me.

Stay in touch Mr. Councildude. If nothing else, I respect your fearlessness. No city politician other than you has ever launched e-mail salvos my way knowing full well that they would be published for all to read. While I reserve the right to take issue with whatever you might send my way...I do recognize and appreciate the fact that you're not afraid of the "dreaded" internet.


Me must go. Me tired.