12-3-2006 A barrel of monkeys

Wifey and I attended the big blogger convention at Mark’s Pub last night. Recently, a guy from PENNDOT made me aware of the fact that those of us with a commercial drivers license will now lose our licenses iffin’ we consume any alcohol at all. There’s no .08 or .04. It’s one beer and out--busted. And being that none of the kids were around to make with the designated driver bit, we walked up and back. Hey, she wanted exercise and she got it.

How fair is it to be singled out only because you operate a commercial vehicle weighing over 26,001 pounds during the work day? There I was sitting in a bar surrounded by people drinking mass quantities of fermented weeds. Assuming we all got pulled over last night, and also assuming we were all well below the legal limit, I should be the only person shown the handcuffs? Gee, that’s fair. Anyway, it wasn’t a concern ‘cause we were on foot. Or feet. Never mind.

I was surprised that Wifey had decided to come along. How’s this for a pitch? Honey, do you want to go to a bar you’ve never even heard of and hang out with some people you’ve never even heard of? Who’s going to be there? Well, I don’t know. You sure got me by the mole hairs. Actually, I knew Gort 42 was going to be there and that was about it. He put out the call to area bloggers to converge upon the watering hole and attendance was not mandatory. Anybody could end up there. People who blog about politics. People who blog about their obsession with killing tree rats. People who maintain tribute sites. Maybe even somebody who blogs as an anti-blog blog. (?) Yes, we have one of those on the local ‘net. Some embittered political loser has devoted his miserable life to blogging against my blog. A future 10-43 call going on there. Hey, before you insert the gun into your mouth, slip a zip-lock bag over your head. No sense making a mess.

Anywho, we had no idea who might show up, but we figured it ought to be a hoot to meet all of the people behind the internet masks. All said and done, about a dozen or so people showed up. And near as I can tell, only about five or six of us were actually bloggers. No biggie. I got me a chair and settled in for a night of heavy drinking. I figured things would be relatively peaceful, unless somebody wanted me to explain why I steadfastly believe we as a country should be protecting ourselves, unilaterally or otherwise. Thing is, you can tar and feather Bush all you want, you can put dingbats like Nancy Pelosi in charge, you can tell our declared enemies we want to make nice like and the world is still going to be in a state of upheaval. Was it a mistake to invade Iraq? Time will surely tell. But answer me this one: Would we have invaded Iraq if the twin towers were still standing? An absence of Bush will not result in peace breaking out all over the world. Doesn’t matter though. Nobody brought it up.

I spent a goodly part of the night chatting with The Yonkster. He’s a local celebrity to a degree. He’s a former radio guy, a published author, and he makes his voice heard on WILK every now and again. Nice enough guy, too.

As you can tell by reading his account of last night, Wifey and some tattooed twenty-something did battle by way of the jukebox, or whatever it is that they call those things these days. Turns out, she was there with a local blogger who decided to watch the proceedings from afar at the bar because, as he told Gort, he doesn’t like me. Ah, poor baby. Sorry I went and ruined damn near everything by showing up. Well, not really. I think it’d be interesting to sit there and debate the state of the world with someone who probably detests me, but it turns out that not everyone in attendance wanted to do without their internet mask on this night. His loss. Screw ‘im. A couple of minutes of Patsy Cline and Chicago had him scurrying for the door. Thank Allah that jukebox thingy didn’t have any Barry Manilow tunes, or I would have been right behind him. Fire scares me, but there is nothing more frightening than someone yelling “Manilow” in a crowded building.

I recognized the author of Another Monkey, but for the life of me, I’m not sure how or why. I don’t remember him posting a picture of himself, but I guess he must have. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him none too much, but I wasn’t exactly glad-handing either. I had my spot all picked out, and Wifey saw to it that my glass kept getting refilled over and over and over again. I’m not devotely anti-social, just weird.

Maybe next time.

John Morgan

The author of The Pennsylvania Progressive.com drove all the way from Reading to partake of the meeting of the denuded minds, which seems a tad odd to me. I figure if we couldn’t stash addresses into our favorites, nobody would take the time it’d likely take to keep typing the longish address to his site. I probably gave the guy a bit too much lip at one point, only because I seriously doubt you can change the state, the country or the world with one Web site. Politics is local…real grass roots stuff. The way I see it, if you want to change the world for the better, you start right in your own back yard. I dunno.

In addition, he and I, without any doubt, do not see the current global morass the same way. He seemed nice enough. I hope he doesn’t have a CDL.

I met Pope John Paul Ringo. I think that’s what he calls himself. He doesn’t have a Web site from what I can tell, but he does post his comments on local sites. Smart enough guy, but I suspect he’s not really from the Vatican. Popes aren’t allowed to mind their Ps & Qs, are they? Or, is this the new and improved progressive church we’re dealing in here? Got me. Drink up your holiness, Happy hour is now enforced by law. Well, it soon will be if Ed Rendell figures out how he can tax it.

There was some guy there who is running for a political office. Or, was it, he previously ran for a elected office? I forget. He was a big guy. He’s a loud guy. Gort’s #1 fan was in attendance, but I forgot his name also. Thank goodness (God is now anathema) Mrs. Gort was there to keep Wifey company, because I figure my better half would not have stayed very long surrounded by grumpy old white guys sitting around bitching about politics. Hey, at least we left the pajamas home and wore real people clothes. Or, as Jon Fox would put it, we left our underwear home. I’m still scratching my coodie-infested head over that one.

I think what last night’s meeting proves is that we need more diversity in blogging. Why should only the grumpy old white guys have all the fun making imbeciles of themselves in cyberspace. Somebody dial up that cult posing as a learning facility--College Misericordia--and have them get right on that. We need a quota system or something thereabouts. I dunno. Call the Peace Center and see what all eight of it’s members can do to correct this injustice, this unholy imbalance. Besides, white men suck. Off with their alcohol-compromised heads!

Just to see what the reaction would be like, I snapped a picture during the height of the evening. You see, most people write on the internet using a made-up name rather than their real names. And the last thing they want to see is their own picture being posted on the internet. I’m not sure how things got to be that way, but I have never prescribed to this way of doing things. Here I am, this is what I’ve got to say, and if you don’t like it frickin’ lump it. It’s made me plenty of enemies along the way, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m a bugger.

Nice. Dead animals

That reminds me, yesterday--December 2nd--was my anniversary. By way of the internet, I’ve been annoying people the world over for six long years now. On December 2, 2000, I gave up on waiting to see if the newspapers would publish my comments and created a place where I could bypass the editors. In the beginning, I had way more questions than answers with my main question being: What the hell is going on in this city? I said we needed to replace our mayor and they called me bald, fat, unemployed and clueless. I said Tom Leighton was the right guy at the right time for this city and they called me bald, fat, unemployed and clueless. I said Ed Pashinski had a legitimate shot at upsetting the favored, the self-anointed candidates and they called me bald, fat, unemployed and clueless. And all these years later, they call me wirey. So, one big-boned guy got that right.

Along the way I’ve been called just about everything, most of which is not repeatable while within earshot of your grandmother. So when some anti-blog blog gets to sending insults my way, I casually dismiss all of that anonymous hogwash by thinking to myself: I’ve heard that vacuous twaddle before, dickhead.

Someone called me the “Rush Limbaugh of Wilkes-Barre.” Sue Henry once called me the “Jonathan Swift of Northeastern Pennsylvania.” I had no idea who Swift was and had to Google search the dude’s name. Gort has referred to me as being the “Blogfather” and claims I was his inspiration for starting his own Web site. The accolades are greatly appreciated, but I claim no celebrity status as all that I am is some hapless stooge who writes stuff on the internet because the local newspapers would not provide me with a vehicle to get my oft-troubled thoughts out. Any fool with an imported keyboard can do this. Another monkey, right?

While there’s no denying that I was a real pain in the ass for our former mayor, my intent was not to sully his good name. My intent was simply to get him out of office as soon as possible and with as little financial damage possible. My intent was to see Wilkes-Barre’s future put in much more capable hands. And while the effect of my prolific efforts are undeterminable, the comment that made me the most self-satisfied came from a very concerned onlooker who didn’t even live in Wilkes-Barre. I met this woman at her home in Kingston and when she recognized me she said: “You’re that one-man show that blogged your mayor out of office!” I’d love to believe that’s entirely true, but we all know a lot more played into all of that recent history than some newfangled quasi media outlet. I might have led the charge in many respects, but countless others quickly followed suit and took up the cause. And as a result, Wilkes-Barre’s rapidly fading star seems to be burning quite a bit brighter these days. That’s really all that I had ever hoped for: to see Wilkes-Barre rise from the ashes.

At this point in time, with my original motivation gone, I’m not even sure why I press on with all of this internet malarkey. Where once I had a fire in my flat belly, now all that I have is a hobby of sorts. My efforts pre-dated the word “blog,” and now blogs are literally a dime a dozen. One needs no HTML skills, no Javascripts, nor even money to publish on the internet. These days, it’s point, click and drag and all under a clever moniker. These days, those who claim to have all the answers link only to those of a similar mind. These days, much like the turbulent political scene it purports to report on, the internet is divided into opposite, warring camps in which true Centrists are treated much like a leper would be: isolated. Every blogger out there openly yearns for bipartisanship, while steadfastly clinging to their obvious partisanship. There’s black, there’s white and gray is not an acceptable option. Unfortunately, blogging has become a microcosm of the gaping political divide it supposedly reviles so completely. And with those undeniable traits solidly in place, I honesty think (with some very localized exceptions) that blogging about politics will be reduced to being totally irrelevant in very short order.

And while I can see myself bowing out of this electronic scrum at some point, I have never once regretted doing the ill-advised things that I did. Yes, I’ve made a laundry list of enemies, but as evidenced by last night’s unique assemblage, I’ve made plenty of friends along the way as well. All that I ever wanted was to live in a city I could feel proud of again. And to that end, I feel I have succeeded. So hate me, love me, throw darts at my latest glossy; I truly do not care which way you may happen to lean. All I know is, I got what I wanted, and I offer no apologies. None.

In closing, I do need to point out that I snapped approximately 20 pictures last night, they are safely uploaded and ready for posting. So, if any of my fellow internet raconteurs happen to piss me off…well, you get the idea.

I’m kidding!

Jeez, Louise!

Iffin’ you folks get the hankering for hanging out again, you can count me in. That’s assuming you’d even want me. I wouldn’t want to frighten away the tattooed rebels again.

Oh, and Gort…dude, you married well. Much like myself, luckily, you went and found yourself a keeper.

Have an aspirin and a beer and that ache directly behind your eyes ought to go away some time today. Hopefully.

As for myself, I have to go and get myself ready to have the New York Football Giants jump up and down on my horribly-mutated testicles all over again. I have no idea why I feel the need to invest so much of myself in sports, but here I go again.

‘Til next time.