10-1-2006 Ozone schmozone

"The youth were surprised at the low morale of the American soldiers and realized more than before that the American soldier was a paper tiger and after a few blows ran in defeat."--Osama bin Laden, 1998

Yeah! Let’s cut and run, kiddies!

According to one of the world‘s foremost self-proclaimed climatologists--Dr. Al Gore--cigarette smoking is a "significant contributor to global warming!"

I guess he underestimated those “side effects include” warnings attached to all of the various and sundry drug adds on the video advertising box.

I remember wandering through Manhattan with my Mom some four decades ago when we encountered some thoroughly grubby-looking guy who was holding a thick black book and shouting to all who would listen on the crowded sidewalk that the end of the world was just about upon us. The exact words escape me now, but I asked her what the loon was jabbering on about. She muttered something about saying a prayer for the poor man, squeezed my hand a little bit tighter and past him we filed.

Looking back on that day, I seriously doubt that a prayer might have helped that crazed pauper turned prophet. Give Dr. Gore a soiled Mets T-shirt, an out-of-control beard and a tattered black book and there would be no discernable difference between the two. So, if you and your toddlers are accosted by Dr. Al Gore any time soon, squeeze the kids hands and walk hurriedly away. And don’t look back.

No sense taking a chance.

So, Dr. Al Gorenstein claims in his typically undeniable fashion that cigarette smoking is a “significant contributor to global warming.” Should we add cigarettes to the growing list of life-threatening substances, behaviors and natural anomalies that our overly invasion Fedrule Govmint protects us from by threats of prosecution? Will they ban cigarettes outright, dare us to consume them and then swoop on by and scoop us up iffin’ we dare defy the ban? Nah. They need the copious amounts of tax dollars the sale of cigarettes generate. But they will encourage us to treat the consumers of such as second class citizens. That ought to work.

You see, when the hurried and oft-frustrated housewives enter the mix on the freeway much like a high-velocity shell enters an advancing enemy tank, the associated road rage sure to emanate from said barely sane women is tolerated, if not fully expected. When the local radio station broadcasts language that would make any disrespecting gang member prideful, that’s apparently above criticism as society embraces the ghetto mentality by day, but fears well after dark. We must never be judgmental for fear of being harshly judged ourselves, excepting off course, for those habits and such that have been deemed to be somehow offensive in nature and fair game for all. Meanwhile, civility, courtesy, manners, all pretenses of proper grammar and a strong work ethic seem to be the stuff of a bygone era known only to those lucky enough to have been born long before the lot of us. The Soccer Mom is fully expected to throw us the dreaded finger while she hurtles on by in her overpriced van. But, a burning cigarette is just to much to tolerate. You tell me, man.

Once upon a time, women were ladylike. Men were gentlemen when within earshot of the ladies. The women did not emasculate the men. Kids mostly knew their place. Kids were still allowed to play dodge ball and not a one of them died as a result. Playgrounds were not insurance liabilities. Priests were not lurking pederasts all. Boy Scouts looked to do at least one good deed per day. Doors went unlocked overnight. Bicycle locks and car alarms had yet to be invented for lack of usefulness. Every need could be filled at the corner store, the corner pharmacy or the corner hardware store. A 13-inch black-and-white television seemed good enough. Cars were a luxury not every family could afford. Discarded bottles could be redeemed for a nickel. Candy could be had at the corner store for a penny. Three packs of cigarettes could be had for a mere dollar. And the govmint did not tell anyone to hate you if you bought some. Go figure.

I have fleeting memories of those Mayberry R.F.D. days, and the way I remember it, everyone seemed sort of content with what they had and did not feel the need to hate those who had more than they needed. And more importantly, nobody seemed to worry about changing the habits of their neighbors, assuming they even noticed or cared what they happened to be. We had the lawn darts and they had the covered patio. My Dad cussed too much while yours drank too much and had to be helped off to bed. We had three used cars and they had not a one. We all shopped at Bradlee’s and got our foodstuffs at the nearby Stop ‘n’ Shop. We all walked to school, wore yellow, rubberized raincoats and pretended to like going to church. Life was simple. Life was good. Life was good enough.

These days, far too many people seem to have a cause. Or a needless itch they can’t quite scratch. Or at the very least, they have succumbed to the incessant ramblings of others who take great offense to what damn near everybody else is doing. Some are offended by smokers. Others are outraged when the circus comes to town. A few are all upset about what the local fast food outlet uses to fry a few tasty morsels. Some think a compliment or a passing glance is sexual harassment. A few cry foul very grotesquely when a white cop dares to stop anyone other than a white citizen. Many believe everything should be fed through a religious filter before being undertaken. Others see that moralist approach as an infringement upon their rights and freedoms. Some want the same-sex people to see the errors of their ways and convert by tomorrow. And still others bomb abortion clinics. And what this suggests to me is that, as a nation, we are not a happy people.

Where once we rested or recreated on the Sabbath day, now the Blue Laws are behind us and unchecked consumerism rules the seventh day. Despite the opulence that surrounds us all, we rush off to the local big box store every chance we get and purchase all sorts of imported thingamabobs that we need not. It’s getting to the point where there doesn’t seem to be much more to life than acquiring bigger, better and more. I could be wrong, but I fail to see how fighting through the crowds of folks equally armed with shopping carts for the purposes of grabbing even more trinkets is good for the mind, the soul, or regenerative in the least. The way I see it, the acquisition of meaningless status symbols--keeping up with the Jones’--does not make for an ultimately fulfilling existence.

If we’re all so completely satisfied with our own lives, then why is it that so many of us are preoccupied with what everybody else is doing? If you’ve got the Hummer, the 300-inch plasma television, 5,000 channels, the Tivo, the surround-sound system, the ten-foot bottle cooler and the granite bar, then why the constant haranguing about what everyone else is doing incorrectly? If we can’t help ourselves, then why should you bother? And where it is written that your sorry act doesn’t need to be straightened up by the likes of us? While you were so busy being offended all of the time, you probably offended a goodly number of us. Funny how that works.

We live in the greatest country on Earth, yet, we seem filled with anxiety and pent-up hostility on an all too frequent basis. How did we get that way?

We used to be surrounded by smokestacks belching vast amounts of pollution into the sky day-in and day-out. We burned our garbage in the back yard. Trains whistled on by all day long and left a trail of dense black smoke that seemed reluctant to disperse. We had no catalytic converters to speak of. Landfills were a growth industry. Our untreated sewage spilled directly into the nearest tributaries. Lethal pesticides were applied in great amounts by people with little or no training. Deadly carcinogens, corrosives and radiological contaminants leached from aging plants all over the country and found their way directly into out water tables. Above-ground nuclear testing was a common occurrence. Illegal dumping was a phrase yet to be coined. Fast-forward to 2006.

These days, people are offended and considering direct intervention when a passing motorist tosses a cigarette from the car’s window. These days, a frustrated politician is blaming a nonexistent climate change, in part, on cigarette smokers. These days, oft-pampered folks not satisfied with their own hurried lives demand protection from an all too intrusive govmint when somebody gets the hankering for a smoke?

If happiness…if nirvana is what you truly seek, you won’t get there by being perpetually offended and demanding societal conformity by legislative decree or executive fiat. If happiness continues to elude you, look inward instead of outward for that which you seek.

In conclusion, I need a smoke and I hope the preceding verbiage was thoroughly irritating.

Ozone schmozone.

Them’s my thoughts.

Councilman Jim McCarthy submitted a bit of commentary to the Times Leader. It’s hard to argue with much of what he had to say, that is, unless you happen to be one of those folks who can only find the negative in any given situation. Although, if the proposed memorial truly is such a revolting idea, we can easily tell the private and corporate donors and sponsors to dump their money into the slot machines instead. That ought to work. Build nothing. We’ll build nothing since never has a good idea ever been thought of in this area. The status quo, baby. That’s the way we like it.

That was pretty cool the way Jim went on the internet and researched 9/11 memorials and suchlike. Gee, why couldn’t I have thought of that?

9-11 memorial for our ‘fellow Americans’…commentary Jim McCarthy

Excerpt time:

And “ruin” the park! Does it ruin the park in New Jersey where a 100-foot marble monument, emblazoned with a bronze teardrop, ruin that park?

Man, that sure does sound familiar.


From the e-mail inbox To all Susquehanna River Advocates:

For now, all is relatively quite on the inflatable dam front. The revised "Flexible Operation" plans have been submitted and are currently under review by the Army Corps of Engineers and the PA DEP. At some point soon, there will be another public comment period. I will send out a notice once that officially begins.

At the 5/1/06 public hearing, many in attendance asked what we could do to become more organized in our opposition to the proposed inflatable dam. For starters, we can support a "pro-river" candidate in his grassroots attempt to unseat Congressman Paul Kanjorski. There is no denying that politics, at many levels, play a big role in the future of this project. This ill-advised pipedream can be stopped in its tracks on November 7th. That decision is yours to make.

Change happens. I will be at this dinner to support Dr. Joseph Leonardi. I hope you can make it.


DXX (Kayak Dude)

I’m going to try to get there. Hell, if it’ll help send Paul Kanjorski back to the private sector, I’ll even eat the meatballs. If not, I’ll just send a check long and have a couple of Harvest Burgers.

Let‘s swim!!!

Wow! An “exclusive“ from the Times Leader just a month before the election. That’s interesting timing.

The company, whose address is listed as a South Franklin Street building co-owned by the congressman, filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

“I’m not going to have any comment on that,” said Peter A. Kanjorski, Cornerstone president, when contacted Friday.

A call to the congressman was not returned.

The 11th term Democrat from Nanticoke has said he helped insert in the federal budget some of the more than $9 million in funding that went to Cornerstone and a sister company, Pennsylvania Micronics.

The congressman was criticized in 2002 for the funding and said he would no longer seek federal money for the type of research Cornerstone was doing. The company then scaled back operations.

Kanjo nephews’ business bankrupt

Hmmm. Let’s see here. I’m a long-term congressman from NEPA and I’m trying desperately to create new technologies and as a direct result, bring thousands of high-paying jobs to my long-suffering constituents. So, what should I do?

Aw…um…gee…nah…I know!!! How about if I funnel $9 million in federal funding to my relatives and allow them to waste it all? Yeah! That’s the ticket!

Hey! I want to develop a sleeker, faster switchblade knife. Can I have $9 million, too?


From the e-mail inbox Mr. W-B Online,

I agree that you are disgrace. How dare you express an opinion in this time of ethnic and urban warfare. The people who know better have formed a committee to advocate your extrodinary rendition to the secret prison established at the former Coal Street pool run by the Heights firehouse police. I have pledged to support this effort by donating my alinumium cans and left over food stamps to the cause. If the water is still runningt I hope they treat you to a waterboarding. The thought police will rejoice when we are sucessful.

Why so formal? Call me Wilkes.

Maybe I am a disgrace. Assistant Principal Mr. Sallitt once told my Mom that, based on his observations, I wouldn’t do anything meaningful with my life. He was some kind of trained behavior specialist, you know…a quasi shrink. And after skipping a few hundred classes, throwing a few food items across the cafeteria, tossing a few cans of soda down into the passing traffic, lighting pyrotechnics in the bathrooms, causing an evacuation of the school in shop class, throwing a container of paint in the art room, running through the girls locker room without an appointment, bringing a buck knife to school and hanging out at Kresge’s Pizza he was convinced I’d be serving hard time by now.

Maybe I was supposed to be a serial killer by now. You know, you start small by killing cats and squirrels, then assault your sisters with Dad‘s staple gun, and finally graduate to the big leagues by skinning alive the neighbor’s loud-mouthed brother-in-law. Ah, what could have been. What a waste of a perfectly good hacksaw.

A secret prison in the Heights? Do they torture people up there? Would they force me to endure hours upon hours of loud disco music? I mean to say, based on their typically effeminate arguments, they kind of strike me as a disco crowd. They wouldn’t force me to eat well, read the Bible and then give me blankets and clean socks, would they? They’ll just create more internet terrorists, won’t they? Instead of inflaming my kind, they should run away and then make nice like.

IACs will bring martyrdom! You have no answer for Improvised Alinumium Cans filled with chartreuse paint and miniaturized super balls.

Appease me or I will destroy your Home Depot gazing balls!!!

Oh, god willing, of course.

From the e-mail inbox Mark,

I read your item about the Radnor Building tonight. That building symbolized, for me, what was wrong (or maybe is still wrong) with Wilkes-Barre. When I moved to town in 2000, it was a occupied apartment building. By the time I was covering City Hall in the spring of 2002, the holeplex was in full bloom and the tenants had been cleared out - why, I don't know. By the time I left town in 2004, it was a goner, left open to bums and the elements.

No one lifted a finger to keep in use exactly the sort of downtown housing that everyone says Wilkes-Barre needs. Good old Mayor McGroarty - zip. The circle-jerking City Council - zip. The absentee building owner - zip. The Sayso-soaked newspaper - zip. The last one is my fault, since I always meant to write a story about how a city would allow a good-looking building in the heart of downtown to go to hell at the same time every economic-development expert in the world was saying young professionals want to live in historic downtown buildings. But I never did.

I'm not mourning the Radnor - I'm sure the rehab costs were prohibitive by the time 2006 rolled around. And I'm sure the new bus station will serve its unstated purpose of getting the poor people, crazy people and minorities off Public Square and out of the Martz Building.

I read about all the improvements in the W-B, and I hope for the best. But I'll never understand how stuff like the Radnor was allowed to happen in the first place.

Hope all is well with you and yours.

(Name withheld by me)

Dude, first off, sorry to hear the latest from your part of the world. Buck up, it gets better after a while.

Trust me, that building was impeccably smart-looking when I lived in it. And contained therein were only quiet, respectful neighbors. Well, excepting myself, of course. With that said, 15 years later it was near dilapidated. I’m guessing, but I think the owner gave up on it at some point due to the fluctuating uncertainty that was the original holeplex project.

I’m not digging into the exhaustive files right now, but Tom McGroarty’s plan for the holeplex changed about as often as teenaged girls change their undersized clothes. Who knows, who cares? The point is, a perfectly good building somehow fell through the cracks, as you said, while the urban planners were decrying a lack of suitable housing in the downtown. Two steps backwards…

And I'm sure the new bus station will serve its unstated purpose of getting the poor people, crazy people and minorities off Public Square and out of the Martz Building.

Hey, bucko! Watch that sh*t. The people of NEPA do not like to be reminded of their racist tendencies, their lack of compassion or their propensity for saying “I’m not a racist, but…”

Consider where we live. If we really want the white folks from the far-flung “white flight” bedroom communities to visit downtown Wilkes-Barre, the minorities, the crazy people and the poor folk are going to have to be relocated. There’s the way it is and then there’s the way the white folk want it to be: equal, but segregated.

Then again, if we manage to remove the “undesirables” from Public Square, who’s going to give Gage Andrew the slices of raisin bread to feed the pigeons with? He’s come to expect those “undesirables” in his midst. It’s tradition, if you will.

Do white people usually carry loaves of raisin bread on their persons? Ah, probably not. Since they all ran away to the ‘burbs, they’re usually limited to carrying mace, key chain whistles and cell phones with 911 on speed dial.

And in these respects, the intermodal terminal ought to work wonders for the downtown. Well, that is, until the soup kitchen let’s out and the parolees hit the square in force.

Stay in touch.

No Jints today. Bye week. Sucks. It’s just as well since they seem to be in disarray right now. I guess I’ll have to sit here for 3 hours and watch Donovan McNabb throw 35 passes in the 3-7 yard range. Here’s the Eagles’ playbook:

1st down: Throw left, right or center to running back.

2nd down: Throw right, left or center to running back.

3rd down: Screen or delay pass to running back. Throw to wide receiver or tight end only in the event of a blown coverage or a pick play off the snap of the ball.