3-7-2007 Pop! goes the weasel

I have never been a big fan of New Years resolutions, probably because I never felt the need to commit myself to one. When drunken revelers would ask me what my resolution might be, I’d tell ‘em my New Years resolution was to give up New Years resolutions. Worked for me.

I once dropped 50 pounds in less than four months. And the decision to do so had nothing to do with the calendar. All that it took to motivate me was my not being able to get around an obvious doughboy and to the hoop. I liked being a jock as a youngster, and I figured I might as well be one as an adult. Works for me.

Obviously, when thinking about adopting a New Years resolution, going “cold turkey” is predictably a major part of the usually ill-fated undertaking. To be honest, any resolution not intertwined with going cold turkey is probably half-hearted right from the very get-go.

But, this year was different. This year I promised myself I would go cold turkey when January 1 rolled on in. And so far, ideologically speaking, I have been completely clean and sober. And truth be told, after adopting the ingenious 1-step program I devised all by my lonesome, it’s been easy. Really easy.

And all that my 1-step program demanded of me was to refrain from listening to WILK until 9:01 am each and every morning. And I have to tell you, I feel great after shedding the counterproductive partisan baggage, the hateful, one-sided rolls of flab and the elephantine indigence that is putting one unhealthy political party on a Teflon-encrusted pedestal.

I’m leaner, I’m meaner and I am no longer prone to bouts of barking at my cheesy imported radio.

So far, it’s been a good year.

My New Years resolution?

No more Chia Kev.

You know, I figured we‘d have some last-second candidates rushing to the Bureau of Elections office yesterday afternoon, but what the newspapers had to report this morning had me scratching my dandruff.

Let’s see here, there’s bad blood between minority commissioner Steve Urban and Christine Katsock, so she’s running for a commissioners spot? Wow! So she either knocks him off of his perch outright, or seriously erodes his support. Sounds like he’s got a bit of a problem.

And then we’ve got him running for the city’s controller spot? Where the hell did that come from? He claims he’s in the running just to offer a Republican alternative to the well-entrenched Democrat incumbent, but why now? He never felt compelled to do so before, so is he simply triangulating just in case Katsock manages to torpedo his reelection bid?

From the Times Leader:

Katsock in GOP commissioner field

A festering loathing between former allies Christine Katsock and Stephen A. Urban has added a new dynamic to the Republican Luzerne County Commissioner race.

Katsock has decided to run against Urban. Urban is still seeking a third term, but surprised people Tuesday by filing a petition to run for Wilkes-Barre controller as well.

Political insiders say Katsock’s entry into the race may have nudged him into this back-up plan because there are already three other candidates and Katsock would cut into some of his support base.

Steve, I don’t want to get into making predictions at this early stage of the brouhaha, but I’ll pay you $5 an hour to WD-40 the many tools of my trade. Keep it in mind.

People who have spoken to Katsock say she felt that Urban did not support her enough in her 2006 state representative race against Eddie “Day” Pashinski. Urban has said in the past that he supported her in that race.

Audrey Biscontini, founder of the Wilkes-Barre Taxpayers’ Association and an active political watcher, said Katsock’s entry in the race could backfire.

“I think Christine’s hurting herself by running for so many things. Now that she’s doing spiteful things against Steve it’s really turning people off,” Biscontini said.

So, assuming this really is a grudge match, it would be more proof that the Republican party in this county is about as organized as PENNDOT is when the snow gets to flying in a big way.

During the early days of the home rule movement of which I was involved, Urban, Katsock and Linda Stets seemed to me to be a cohesive alliance that drove much of what the Republicans had to offer at that time. It seems as if that alliance is splintering before our very eyes.

All I know is, while this may have been unexpected, it should prove to be some fun for observers such as ourselves. And as far as I’m concerned, Katsock would be a noticeable improvement over Urban.

Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Republicans.

Who knew?

Pop! goes the weasel.

Then we‘ve got the news that one of the last-second entrants into the city council race is a son of a retiring councilman. Man, the intrigue surrounding this growing council scrum just keeps getting better and better. I can’t vote for him, but that’s the way it goes in a city rocked by shortsighted referendum after shortsighted referendum.

From the Times Leader:

McCarthy’s son eyes W-B council

Until his name came up recently, I had forgotten about Justin McCarthy. Fact is, the last time I saw his face was when “Platoon” hit the local theatre screens. 1986, I believe. Needless to say, it’s been a while. It’s been a while since I last visited the Tavern on the Hill. Which is to say, it’s not real close to the adobe, and I won’t drive after having even a drink or two. The CDL thing.

A troubling thing happened that night, though. I never forgot it, and kind of reflect on it as a personal turning point of sorts. My buddy Jon and I drove over to the Gateway Cinema to take in this Vietnam epic. Having had relatives and friends in those steamy jungles, and having wanted to visit them myself during the waning days of the war, a new movie about the war was something I would rush to see. And I did.

So, we sat there watching American boys being sliced and diced every which way for two-plus hours by--as they were described in the movie--gooks, dinks, zipperheads and what have you. As for me, I feel no ill against any particular race of people, only the people that endeavor to kill American troops. So, if any group is killing and maiming Americans for two hours at the local cinema, I reserve the right to hate them for, at least, those two hours. But hateful things can spill over into other venues if you’re not careful.

The movie was awesome, the movie ended and then Jon and I decided to drive all the way to the Heights to make a temporary claim to two bar stools and throw a few back. That’s where the Tavern on the Hill and Justin entered the picture. We made our claim, he kept the cold ones coming and Jon and I discussed what we had just seen.

I am not one for showing much emotion over much of anything, but the Vietnam conflict can emote all sorts of things from within me that are probably not in my best interests. I once had to be separated from a WWII hero because he was belittling me for not having served in the military. But being that I wanted to but couldn’t while still being sentenced to high school, and being that serving during peacetime is about as appealing to me as training to be a welterweight fighter only to never enter the ring, I felt that his belittling was completely unjustified. No, I never served, but only because of the accident of my birthday. Anyway, if I had just taken in a movie such as this one, now was not the time to start spouting off about our foreign policy, about the military/industrial complex, or how you lost your virginity to an unshaven Green Party she-beast at the last protest march.

So as we were sitting there reflecting on what we had just experienced, two oriental guys filled the bar stools next to us and got to yammering on in some dialect or other at a rapid-fire pace. Jon’s and my eyes met, we didn’t say a word, but we both knew what each other was thinking. He reached down and suggestively tapped on his nunchucks through his jean jacket at the very moment when Justin asked me if we needed another round. I was this close to ordering yet another round of frosty liquid muscles when I declined another round, told Jon we needed to move on and that was the last time I visited that establishment.

While I can never atone for what ran through my mind for that briefest of moments, I’m not even sure that I want to in the face of so much anti-Americanism from abroad, as well as at home. As a boy I was taught to hate “the Japs,” and as a teenager I was taught to hate “the Gooks.” And those sorts of lessons can have lingering aftereffects when nationalism and patriotism are thrown into the volatile mix. While there may not be a fulcrum by which man could one day end his pummeling of man, I wish there was, and I wish it was discovered long before I killed those marauding hordes of imaginary Japs in my back yard.

While settling ancient wounds or perceived wrongs by way of destructive means may be appealing to those addicted to testosterone, there’s no shortage of testosterone in the world, so the vicious cycle will repeat itself. So if one day you go to see the big epic about the war between America and (pick one), and if you settle into the Tavern on the Hill to chill out afterwards, resist the overwhelming urge to start a brawl with whomever it is that looks or sounds too foreign for your tastes. End the destructive cycle.

If nothing else, Justin, or some future barkeep will be glad you did.

Coming tomorrow: Why I resist the urge to hate Somalis.