3-23-2006 Save My Firehouse: Episode 1,077

“You got to give the firefighters credit,” said Bonnie Loftus, a former neighbor and friend of Ward’s. “They really had control of this fire. It could have been much worse.”--From today’s Voice story, City row homes damaged by early morning fire

After reading the foregoing story very early this morning, it dawned on me that the only time there seems to be any grumbling about the effectiveness of the fire department as it is currently deployed is when there’s a structure fire in the Heights. Whether a serious structure fire erupts in Rolling Mill Hill, South Wilkes-Barre, or Nord End, the newspapers accounts of the fires are kind of ho hum affairs. Big fire. Possible arson. On to Page 4 we go.

The residents of the Nord End did not make the closing of the Northeast Station their life-long obsessions as some in the Heights have chosen to do as a result of the East Station being crumped, but, then again, we tend not to leave our children unsupervised around piles of lighters and matches. We’re weird like that up here in Nord End. We watch our toddlers. It’s an old-fashioned concept for sure, but so is kissing girls these days, unless, of course, you happen to be a girl. I may be as dumb as a cup of cocoa on even my best of days, but I want to cling to this silliest of notions that I wouldn’t get to beating up on any politicians if I was all too busy to watch my kids while my special edition Harley Davidson Zippo was in play. My amazing grandson, Gage Andrew, has never torched a single structure, residential or otherwise. Why is that?

While I was humping it home on the Stomper very early this evening, I ran across some guy outside City Hall displaying a sign for the assorted passersby to spy that was a garishly prepared protest concerning the “slow” responses to the many fires up there on the hill a ways. Obviously, tonight’s council meeting is going to get a bit testy. Cool.

What I got to wondering about was how many times do you have to bang that steel plate in your head off of the curb before you get the first inkling that it’s not only a waste of time, but utterly counterproductive? Call me Gomer Pyle Jr., but isn’t it quite obvious to everyone involved or not that East Station has been relegated to the dust bin of city history? What part don’t these mental Edsels get?

We’ve all heard that tired bit about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, so why are a few of those relentless Heights folks sticking with the “Jihad for Dummies” routine? I’ve heard the theories about Denise Carey building some name recognition for a future run at a council seat, but that’s pure speculation and probably holds about as much water as a paper party hat. We all know why Mr. “I Stand Corrected,” Walter Griffith, is all over this firehouse issue. Well, that’s because he gloms onto every and any issue so to keep his name in the newspapers. If he’s an activist rather than a Republican council hopeful, then the Earth really is flat. He’s about as slick and stealthy as a tractor pull in a county where mufflers are in very, very short supply. He has become to believability what Tom Leighton is to bashing the Irish.

There’s got to be some well-meaning citizens included in this god awful mix. While they exude their laudatory community mindedness, they clearly display an alarming lack of knowledge whereas the destructiveness of deficit spending is concerned in a community of this size. If their arguments for spending money we can ill-afford to spend somehow resonate with you, then my just thought-of demand that the city purchase 20 new police cars and hire 20 new police officers to man them should make equal amounts of budgetary sense--none at all. I don’t care if we can’t afford it…I want it! Got it? Somehow, I can’t help but to think these folks from the Heights sound much like my kids did when they were but dumb-ass teenagers drooling over the latest video console release.

My reaction to their constant and absurd firehouse drumbeat varies from being annoyed with the lot of them to chuckling at the abject feebleness of their arguments to feeling somewhat compassionate for them being that their obvious bitterness is so all-consuming. At this point, I think they need a community center more than any rehabbed firehouse. They could play backgammon, shuffleboard, or Bridge. They could huddle by the jukebox, crochet gonad warmers and sway to some Perry Como. They could brag about their spoiled great-grandkids, share ancient war stories from north of the 38th parallel and raffle off homemade comforters. They could also swallow their daily cocktail of legally prescribed prescription drugs and wait for that comforting mental fog to roll on in. Then again, they could easily dispense with that which they need the most--time-consuming hobbies--and continue to make themselves miserable all over again.

To those who profess to be in mortal danger each and every time someone on council bangs the gavel, I would have to say “It’s getting’ freakin’ old.” And while I may be having too much fun at their expense, I refuse to believe that all of these folks are this completely stupid and so easily led astray of the facts. So, why the seemingly 400-year war against Tom Leighton and anyone who dares to support him? These people can’t be this pigheaded, can they? If we hit them in the sides of their fat heads with 2-by-4s, would they even notice? Are they capable of rational thought, or is this an outtake from “Return of the Sons of the Firefighter Zombies II?” What’s the deal, man? Is it the thin air up there?

Well-meaning residents aside, I think this is a coordinated effort coming from the city Republicans wearing the loudest of the activist jumpsuits. I really do. I think they were emboldened by Christine Katsock’s strong showing against Tom Leighton in ‘03, and stupidly believe that if they keep up with the non-stop “public safety” smearing of his responsible budgeting efforts, they’ll be able to upset him during the next election go-round. That’s it in a nutshell. I think we’ve got a very small cadre of pretend activists whipping the Heights folks into a frenzy so as to benefit themselves politically. I think it’s all a shameful scam, a defamatory ruse, and it’ll certainly fall well short of it’s desired results just as soon as ribbon-cutting ceremonies start happening at breakneck speeds in this city. And trust me, we’re going to be treated to a steady diet of ribbon-cutting events throughout all of ‘06 and ‘07. Mayor Leighton asked us to be patient, and our patience is about to be well-rewarded.

But, while we get to enjoying our laundry list of new amenities, the folks in the Heights will still be noisy, bitter and looking to generate even more controversy where none needs being created in the first place. As evidenced by the readers comments section of the recently reactivated Save My City drool-fest, the firehouse “activists” will continue to fully invest themselves in their prayed-for failure of Wilkes-Barre’s new attractions and enhancements. The limited ambit of their enervated thinking is that nothing will work, nothing will help and Wilkes-Barre is all but dead in the polluted waters no matter what Tom Leighton, or anyone else does. If that’s truly the case, then why stay here? Why bitch, why paint the sick looking signs and why stomp around the exterior perimeter of City Hall a half-hour before a council meeting? If Wilkes-Barre has no future, and if Tom Leighton is a clueless half-wit of a mayor, how in hell will one crumbling firehouse make any appreciable difference? If all is lost, what do we gain after dumping a quarter of a million dollars into an unneeded dump?

I chortle uncontrollably at the slapstick nature of your vacuous thought processes. You are dumb like so many horny mutts humping away on someone’s lower leg, but you are entertaining. Well, kind of. In a pathetic sort of way. Much like a dive-bombing Starling that kills itself by window pane.

I dunno. The last time I checked, triviality brought on by prolonged bouts of well-choreographed mumbo jumbo was completely legal, so having pity on these people is about all that we can do to them. All I know is, while they’re busy wasting their time huffing and puffing in front of the cameras at council meetings, I’ll be out there enjoying our soon-to-be new amenities. Life’s too short for all of this barely-veiled political tomfoolery, and it’s sad to see that so many seem so dedicated to their abject absurdity, their rashness and their financial impracticality presented as responsible governance.

The dunderheads may continue to dawdle away, but in the end, I’ll pay them little mind while I’m doing what we all ought to be doing--enjoying life.

Sez me.

From RockyMountainNews.com:

A wake for an Indian warrior photo slide show.

I’m cutting this gibberish of mine short tonight.

Fact is, I’m beat.