2-12-2006 Let's dance

``By any reasonable measure, the United States today is a little over fifty percent socialist. That is to say, more than fifty percent of the total resources in the country, of the total input, is directly or indirectly controlled by governmental institutions at all levels - federal, state and local. Yet we in the United States have the highest standard of living of any country in the world. We are a very rich and prosperous country. It is an extraordinary tribute to the productivity of the market system that, with less than fifty percent of the resources, it can produce the kind of standard of living and the kind of society we have.''--Milton Friedman

Flashbacks? A dance club in downtown Wilkes-Barre? Funky. Sounds like just what the doctor has been ordering for the younger folks decrying the lack of a night life in Wilkes-Barre. Remember Alice A’s that sat right next to the City Center fountain? That joint used to pack ‘em in.

A coworker dragged me in there one night after closing the nearby Franklin’s on South Main. It was cool, I guess. I’d rather wake up to find my myself in the middle of a horrendous firefight in Mogadishu than be bombarded by loud disco music for longer than three seconds, but that’s just me. And it would have been a lot more enjoyable if I could have sit at the bar and minded my own business without effeminate-looking men approaching me and wanting to learn all about me. If only they knew why I kept my back to them the entire time. If only they knew how quickly an elbow can make a mess of a person’s nose. If only they knew how important it was at moments like those that they kept their hands to themselves. Phobia nothing! I don’t grope strangers and I don’t take kindly to being groped by strangers possessing the same genitalia. Whatever.

It seems to me of late that folks expressing optimism are thought of as Wilkes-Barre’s version of lepers with untreatable mental schisms. Who knows, maybe it’s a pandemic affecting the morale of the entire county. What would normally be considered to be good news by normal thinking adults is too often treated with skepticism, if not utter hostility. If the Chamber folks announced that Widgets International was going to build an 80,000 square-foot facility up the street a ways, people would bitch that the Chamber should have attracted General Motors, or Microsoft. Manufacturing jobs seem to be disappearing in this country at a rate faster than personal responsibility, but in this area those migrating manufacturing jobs will only serve to perpetuate the urban legend that the local Chamber’s principle mission is to keep you poor. I guess the movers and shakers just can’t win being that the populace has been breathing in too much culm dust for two centuries now. We obviously lack any semblance of patience and it’d help if we knew what the fug we were talking about every now and again.

I was listening to WILK this morning and the following e-mail comments were read aloud during the show: Say what you want about McGroarty, but when he was the mayor we had more police out there patrolling the streets.

That claim is patently absurd and I’m not going to prove as much for the umpteenth time here today. McGroarty did what he did, and the next administration did what it had to do--it hired 11 new police officers. But still, the negatively persists, and the blame for the minuscule rise in crime goes to the wrong administration. Somehow the perception seems to be that the druggies got to shooting at each other during the past two years. If memory serves, he had a shoot-out in the downtown that culminated in a shooting victim being delivered directly to police headquarters in broad daylight during McGroarty’s reign. Remember that one? Talk about embarrassing. Jeez.

I look at the recent spike in violent crime this way. The drug dealers and drug users are being annoyingly persistent, but so are the cops. Sooner or later the folks doing the selling are going to realize that it’s not in their best interests to do any further business in this city on any appreciative scale. The money, guns and loose chicks come real easy, but those perks won’t mean as much when a violent death, or a prison term can come just as quickly. While the upset residents bring pressure to bare on this city’s administration, it’s obvious to me that there’s much more pressure being applied to the drug dealers. If everything was going so completely good in their chosen industry, then why the shooting gallery routine?

Telling an agitated resident to cheer up and remain patient while violence pervades their neighborhood amounts to about as much as handing them a Band-Aid after they’ve been stabbed. But I can’t help but to hold in partial contempt those residents that choose to run to the press rather than standing in defiance in defense of their neighborhoods. I’m not saying we should all become Charles Bronsons ala “Death Wish” overnight, but I am flabbergasted when I read of residents so willing to state in the newspapers that they are afraid to wander out of their own homes. Fact is, if everyone sat on their front stoops and stared at the drug dealers with a cell phone in their hands, the druggies would take the hint. When lil’ Ms. Shakeya and her crew were trying to run roughshod over this street, I was out front with a cell phone, a notepad, a digital camera and a very noticeable pair of binoculars. All of my neighbors begged me too cool it before I got myself hurt. What if I had listened to them and chose to peek out through the front curtains from there on out?

So a dance club looks to be coming to downtown Wilkes-Barre, but what will the hoi polloi have to say about it? Well, they’ll probably dismiss it out of mind because they choose to view everything through their negative blinders. Nope. Nobody is going to go there because the streets aren’t safe, the mayor this, the city that and (pick one from Walter Griffith’s approved list of well-worn vote-for-me rants).

The thing is, with increased foot traffic comes increased security. Yeah, we need some more cops thrown into the downtown mix, but if you’ve got hundreds of people coming and going from a theater, dozens of people coming and going from a dance club, dozens upon dozens of people coming and going from an event at The University Center on Main Street, the Kirby Center, the new riverfront, etc., etc., etc., the criminal element--the street urchins--cannot thrive in that environment. I worked at Percy Brown’s during the 70s, and I worked at Franklins during the 80s. I’ve seen the downtown when it was still thriving. And I’ve seen the subtle changes in the downtown when it was noticeably slipping.

In an empty downtown, I could snatch your wife’s purse and laugh myself silly all the way to the liquor store. In a downtown with moderate to heavy foot traffic, I’d likely get myself decked to the tarmac by some outraged onlooker before I got very far at all. To achieve what we’d all call a safe downtown environment, we need more cops. We need the improved streetlights. We need an increased indigenous downtown population. But most of all, we need more foot traffic.

The news that Flashbacks is looking to open a dance club in our downtown may not sound like good news to the folks clinging to their negative attitudes with all of their might, but it is good news, and it is exactly the RX that our downtown so desperately needs.

Sez me, of course.

I dunno.

From The Citizens’ Voice:

Nightclub proposed for downtown City council will hold public hearing on plan at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 21


The owner of Flashbacks dance club in downtown Scranton wants to open a nightclub in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

Steven Toomey addressed city council Thursday night, asking to lease two storefronts in an empty building complex at 12 S. Main St. across from Boscov’s Department Store to open the club. Humford Equities owns the building, which is located in a Keystone Opportunity Zone.

According to Toomey, the club will hold 250-300 people and play music from the 1980s and 1990s.

“There will be a DJ booth, a dance floor and bar in wide open space,” Toomey said.

The club will create 30 to 40 full-time and part-time jobs, Toomey said. He hopes to open the club in early May. Toomey asked council to transfer his liquor license from Dallas to Wilkes-Barre.

A public hearing will be held on his request Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m. in city council chambers prior to a work session. Council is expected to vote on his request Feb. 23 at 6 p.m.

Councilwoman Kathy Kane believes a dance club would be a positive boost, which would bring more people to the downtown. With the theaters scheduled to open in June, the nightclub will give people a reason to stay downtown at night, she said. In Scranton, Flashbacks helped revitalize its downtown, she said.

“We want to keep people in town, not have them all disappear at 5 p.m. That’s the object of the streetlights and intermodal parking garage and having police walking through town,” Kane said Friday. “Once this gets moving, it spreads into the neighborhoods and people will want to stay and settle in the city.”

Council Vice Chairman Bill Barrett said he wasn’t sure if a dance club fits into the master plan for the downtown, but he supports it if it brings more people downtown.

“I’m not one to turn business away,” Barrett said. “It’s good to have more people downtown. The more people downtown, the better and the safer it is.”

Councilman Phil Latinski said as long as there is enough security and identification checks, he also believes the downtown nightclub is a good idea.

Since Alan Finlay owns the building, Latinski said he is sure he will only rent to a reputable business.

“I think it will be a plus for the downtown because you will get downtown traffic,” Latinski said. “You will have walking traffic. When you have walkers, maybe other things will open downtown.”

I‘m curious about something. There’s been a lot of recent hoopla about preserving an aged office building by converting it into a Planter’s Peanuts museum. While that project may have some merit, I think it came to the forefront way too late to have a legitimate chance of ever coming to fruition. If I’m somehow proven to be wrong, that’d be fine with me. I’m not anti-Peanut, just anti-knee-jerk reaction in a financially-challenged city.

Now, instead of getting involved in saving a local historic treasure once the wrecking balls are on their way to the site, why not invest our efforts in a proactive way and create a tourist destination that would be totally unique to the area?

The Huber Breaker

Sorry, lefties. But I had to do that. Sneak some of your son’s Ritalin and calm the muck down. I was just hackin’ on ya.

Here, follow this link. It’ll have a calming effect. If not, try beating on the puppies. It works for me.

Rocky Glen Park

I was sitting here watching the reports from the Fox News Network the other night and they were displaying all of these horrible video captures of the devastation in New Orleans, while reporting on the latest news from that city. Lemme see here. You’re reporting on the “business as usual” stuff, but you’re showing me images of the city that are easily six months old. Why is that? How can people be partying in the streets if the streets are piled with heaps of debris and telephone poles are toppled all over the place? Something ain’t right with the provided images versus the story.

So, I got to searching for available web cams coming direct from New Orleans, and the images the media keeps displaying versus the reality on the ground stand in direct contrast to each other. Then again, CNN wouldn’t be able to bash Bush with images of a hustling, bustling city on the screen, would they?

Live web cams in New Orleans

You never know what you‘re gonna find when you turn these ‘pensive gizmos on, but the last thing you should expect to see is a picture of yourself confirming your undying allegiance to the Fuhrer’s still active to this day Nazi Kayak Division.


Good reading on all of Uncle Kanjorski’s dam sophistry

The new addition, Jeremy, is barely two-months-old and he’s already smiling away. I’m not that goofy-looking, am I? Actually, he’s almost as big as Zach and Zach has two-plus years on ‘im. Is there a Skrep in every family?

Jeremy Nate

I found the following musical video at Gort 42 and I haven’t stopped laughing since. If I watch it one more time, I think wifey’s gonna hit me upside the head with a blunt instrument. Wouldn’t it be cool if comedy and parodies replaced most of the not-so-veiled mean-spirited and hateful attacks that go on in politics? Whatever.

Anywho, If you don’t watch this uproarious musical video, I hope cooties overrun your entire collection of Hustler magazines.

Flora Bush: The Child Left Behind

Oh my, look at the time.



Frank Zappa on Crossfire (1986)

Warning: Video runs 21 minutes and 17 seconds