9-19-2007 49 going on 16

Happy birthday, Mark.

Thanks, Mark.

What do I want for my birthday? Doesn’t matter since I already got it last night, my pricey Ticketmaster present to myself. Wifey and I took in the big rock ‘n’ roll show at the Kirby. That would be the Alice Cooper rock ‘n’ roll show. And it was, at least for me, perfect.

His backing band was one kick-ass, take-no-prisoners outfit. The lead guitarist is second to none and has a very energetic stage presence. Of course, there was the expected theatrics. Ghouls, a ballerina, the gallows and Alice Copper’s daughter getting into the act with a handgun.

What made it perfect for me is the fact that the play list was culled primarily from the 70s. Yes, they mixed in plenty of latter-day hits and I like them all. But the music I enjoy the most is the music Cooper laid down with his original band, the Billion Dollar Babies, way, way back when I was daydreaming my days away at Coughlin high school. That original guitar-playing tandem of Glen Buxton and Michael Bruce made me forget the rich horns of Chicago and Tower of Power, and got me hankering for more blistering guitar work. I believe this was the period when my Mom’s hair first started turning gray. She absolutely hated Alice Cooper. And I still have an audio tape of her screaming up the steps between songs, “Mark! Turn that down!” I guess it was kind of insensitive of me to be blasting Dead Babies being that my Mom never really got over losing my sister at such a tender age. I Love The Dead always got her to screaming, as if by rote. Needless to say, I didn’t turn it down. I never did.

In fact, I bought me a 300-watt amp from a kid up on Custer Street. Yep, 300 mind-splitting watts in a glorified matchbox of a public housing bedroom that would make even German cockroaches claustrophobic. It’s no wonder Mr. Condo eventually evicted us due to the constant noise complaints. Turn it down? I don’t effing think so.

Thanks, Alice.

Sorry, Mom.

Anyway, I saw the guy in ‘74. I saw the guy in ‘90. And I left the Kirby last night with my ears ringing and with a wide grin on my face.

Make a wish?

Nah, it already came true.

From the Times Leader:

Cooper’s ‘nightmare’ takes center stage review

Halo of Flies!

From the e-mail inbox Mark

I hope I am the first of your blog people to say congrats to Ebon on her coaching skills and the team. I Just read the story online, you must be very proud!


Thanks, man. And, yes, you were the first.

I am proud of her. One of her players said something to the effect that volleyball is her life. While that’s not entirely accurate, I will say that I have never personally seen a kid that was so completely passionate about a sport as she is about volleyball. To thumbnail it, she loves volleyball.

When she was first hired by the school district, she was beaming. Glowing. She was about as happy as I can remember seeing her. And then the reality of the situation hit her after about a week or so of practices. The turnout was not what she had hoped for, her players were on the smallish side and there were not what we would call “gifted athletes.” Still, she had a couple of underclassmen with a quick first step, so there was something to hope for and work on. She sought out my advice at nearly every turn, and I told her to build for the future.

After I took in a game (a slaughter) at Hazleton in September of ‘05, I wrote something about her team having too many “lard-asses,” which was a bad choice of words on my part. What I was alluding to was a clear lack of quickness. But being that the firehouse crazies from the Heights hated my ass at that time, Ebon’s players were made aware of my comments by one of the parents. (We don’t actually believe that 9th-graders read Wilkes-Barre Online, do we?) And that really pissed me off. If you’ve got a beef with me, bring it! But to undermine a kid who was well-meaning, excited, self-motivated and spending her own money on uniforms…well, that’s ugly politics at it’s very ugliest.

On a side note, I’d really like to know how an athletic director could be so completely incompetent as to put Ebon in a position where she was just about forced to spend her own funds on athletic equipment. Boy, I’ll bet the boys football team never wants for anything. Or the boys basketball team. Or the boys baseball team. Must be a sexist thing. Silly, silly girls. Why can’t they just stick to cheerleading?

Anyway, there have been many trials and tribulations during the past couple of years as Ebon’s emotions have spiked and then dropped like a rock. She was enthusiastic one day, crushed the next. Smiling one day, on the verge of tears the next. The losses piled up, but the losses never bothered her. What bothered her was that she couldn’t draw more out of her girls as fast as she wanted to. She was frustrated when she felt she wasn’t getting through to them. And she was devastated by the resistance she encountered from some of her upperclassmen in full view of the underclassmen. They openly yearned for the previous coach and wondered aloud as to why they needed to change anything.

And my advice to her? Buck up, graduation will take care of all of that.

So now they’re in the third season, she’s dealing with players that know not of any other dearly departed coach and guess what? They’re giving perennial powers tougher than expected games. They’re losing close games Ebon felt they could have, maybe even should have won. And finally…finally they got off the snide and grabbed themselves a W. A win. Not a winning streak, but a win nonetheless. And at this point, I think her players are finally starting to believe not only in their coach, but in themselves as well. And I’m happy for the lot of them.

As for Ebon, I’m not sure what her coaching fantasies may be. She may or may not picture herself as becoming the J.P. Meck or George Curry of local volleyball one day. But this much I do know. The Wilkes-Barre Area School District hired a maniacal hunter/killer of a volleyball player who will not be completely satisfied until she leads a group of maniacal hunter/killers onto a court someday. She’s a fierce competitor totally in love with her sport, and all that she asks is that those she leads into battle share in that unrelenting passion. And to that end, I might add that this year’s junior varsity squad has a winning record.

As I said, build for the future. And while that future may have seemed years and years away at times, that autographed ball the team gave to her has Ebon‘s spirits soaring higher than they ever have. And while that future may not be now, who knows? It might be coming as soon as tomorrow. As far as I’m concerned, it couldn’t happen to a better kid. Although, it can’t come fast enough for Ebon.

And after only one win, she’s a celebrity of sorts. Go figure.

From the Times Leader:

Perseverance pays off for GAR

Coach, players savor GAR win Van rose notebook

In all honesty, I have heard just about enough from the “adults” well removed from their twenty-fifth birthdays who are fighting for a skate park.

Skateboarders take park appeal to council

“You have made it illegal for us to skate in certain areas of the city, but you haven’t given us a place where we can skate legally,” Pizzano told council at last night’s work session. “We’re trying to do as much as we can, but we need help.”

Council President Bill Barrett advised the two to formulate a plan, complete with ideas for financing and maintenance. After the meeting, Gidosh and Pizzano wondered why they need to provide that information for council.

Gidosh said the city has plenty of other recreational facilities for sports like basketball, baseball, football, tennis, softball and soccer, as well as many playgrounds. He said he didn’t think participants in those sports who use city facilities were required to come up with plans and financing.

“I guess we want to know if you want a skateboard park in Wilkes-Barre,” Pizzano asked council.

Us? Us? Dudes, you’re 30-years-old and they won’t let you skate in the city?

Is it me? Can we say, grow the fu>k up?

If my son was 30-years-old and whining about a lack of skateboarding opportunities, I’d have to consider myself an abject failure as a parent. And to think that I busted his stones just for dying his hair pink.

Skating? Excuse me, but, aren’t we supposed to grow out of that right after we sport our first chest hairs? Grown men with skateboards? Grown men going before city council and demanding kid’s things? Slackers, I think they call them.

Hey, how about if he city buys each and every one of you a Spirograph and some blank paper? How ‘bout some baseball cards? A subscription to Tiger Beat, perhaps?

This is exactly why I could never run for elected office. Because if these slackers appeared before me asking for childish things and whatnot, I’d laugh them all the way back to the McDonald’s drive-thru window from which they came. City council doesn’t care about the children? The mayor could care less about the children? What?!? The 30-year-old children, that is? Get a fu>king job, you clown-like jackass! ENOUGH!!!


If you’re a thirty-something male and demanding your “rights” to be a little boy, I’m here to tell you you’re seriously off course.

Now it’s time for the politicos to stare the “grown-up” skaters and their bleeding heart supporters in the face right before they erupt into laughter.

Grow the fu>k up already!

If it’s progressive to entertain the laughable slackers, I don’t want to live in a progressive city. Yeah, take your boy’s toys, pack up and head on down to Nanticoke. Nanticoke can’t afford to replace the gaggle of missing street signs, it can’t afford a single truckload of hot patch, and it can’t afford to keep misbelieving that it’s hometown hero, Paul Kanjorski, gives a flying fu>k about his vast wasteland of a city. Oh, but Nanticoke is receptive to the idea of building a skateboarding Mecca for the children that never grew up. As if the streets of Nanticoke aren’t an obstacle course unto themselves.

Good riddance! They deserve each other.

Sez me.

From the e-mail inbox Hey Mark: OK, let's argue! Megan Kanka's Mom, Maureen, says "If we had known there was a convicted sexual predator living across the street, Megan would be alive today", adding (in re residency restriction laws on sex offenders) "Is the law perfect? No! Does it make a difference? ABSOLUTELY!". Or Keith Durkin, a specialist in sex crimes and pedophilia at Ohio Northern University "Many sex offenders, if not all, will molest children until the day they die...they're dangerous and they're going to re-offend". Or the U. S. Supreme Court, rejecting challenges to this type law: The Courts have unanimously concluded that "These laws represent a rational legislative determination that excluding sex offenders from areas where children congregate will advance the state's interest in protecting children", with Mr. Justice Kennedy adding (in McKane v Lile) "When convicted sex offenders reenter society, they are much more likely than any other type of offender to be rearrested for rape or sexual assault...and the victims of sexual assault are most often children".

In Wilkes-Barre, since the first of the year, we've already had three "incidents" involving men "inappropriately" approaching or touching our little children (one by Heights Murray School, one in Kirby Park, and one up by Sacred Heart School), two sex offenders who were arrested for failing to register where they lived (violating "Megan's Law"), and two scares of men following or approaching 13 year old girls coming home from school. No law is perfect, we still have people driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, we still have people robbing Turkey Hill stores, and we still have slumlords operating in our City, all violating existing laws...but we wrote laws saying they shouldn't or couldn't do it because they were one more level of protection for the rest of us. Ever wonder why we have any laws at all...considering how full our prisons are of persons who didn't obey them anyway. If you can find a perfect law for me, please let me be the first to know and I'll introduce it at Council. Remember, many on Council said my "Rental Inspection Law" was a terrible idea, until it drove most of the slumlords out of the City. Now they say its the best thing since Mom's apple pie. Lets join all those other communities surrounding us who have passed restrictions on where sex offenders can live...not by their kid's...and give it a chance to keep Wilkes-Barre's little ones as safe as theirs. Stay in touch...

I’ll give you a perfect law. Child predation equals life in prison or a death sentence or penile removal surgery. Not much room for recidivism there, heh?

"When convicted sex offenders reenter society, they are much more likely than any other type of offender to be rearrested for rape or sexual assault...and the victims of sexual assault are most often children".

"Many sex offenders, if not all, will molest children until the day they die...they're dangerous and they're going to re-offend".

So, why is it again that they are they being paroled?

What kind of dog-and-pony show is that? We know they are going to do it again, so we release them and then fret about their whereabouts from there on out? We play whack-a-mole with people that kidnap, rape, torture and murder our children? And when they do it, we’re not at all surprised?

And as far as “one more level of protection” is concerned, what happens to Megan’s Law violators? Allow me to guess. They lock them up for a short while and then release them just as soon as the prison becomes overcrowded. And then we’re right back to square one, chasing them around again.

"These laws represent a rational legislative determination that excluding sex offenders from areas where children congregate will advance the state's interest in protecting children",

Feel-good malarkey. Vote for me, I’m protecting the children.

If you’ve got cancer, you remove the tumor. You don’t remove it and then reintroduce it at some point.

I still say, one strike and you’re out. One little kid, one good thrust from the pelvic region and you are gone never to return. One 13-year-old girl pinned against the back of the elementary school and you are histoire.

What’s worse? More prisons, or more weirdoes wreaking havoc on our neighborhoods?

If it were up to me, I’d execute the lot of them in a very painful manner right after I had their ACLU attorneys hanged by their Marxist necks.

One thrust and you’re out.

Sez me, Judge Mark.

Gotta go. I’ve got a big, big trade in the works and my fantasy football league pals are not going to be pleased.

‘Til next time.

Ballad of Dwight Frye!