8-6-2008 Block Party recap

Last call for partiers!

Three days and counting before the first barrel gets tapped, etc., etc., etc.

Since one of it’s extra-terrestrial founders is going to be on hand here on Thompson Street, the secretive Saturday OT Committee and Operatic Society, which has cures-in-waiting for 99% of the world’s many ills, is obviously invited. No, we won’t have any race horses being put down on Saturday, but we will have plenty of other fun things worth watching or participating in. Oh, and no opera will be played by this deejay. But iffin’ you’re really well-behaved, I’ll spin some Sara Brightman.

As one of the joint chiefs of the long-running local bloggers (BLOGCOM), I would also like to invite all of my fellow BLOGCOM joint chiefs and underlings. Are you a member of BLOGCOM? Easy, are your archive listings longer than your most recent post? Yeah? Well, there you go, you’re practically a joint chief already.

Personally, I’d like to see every local blogger here on Saturday, because I think it’d be a hoot watching so many people trying to avoid having their pictures taken at the same time. Point….click…mass duck.

Here’s the policy on pictures I take of local bloggers. Since I have to provide rest room facilities and the like to the people I personally invite, so long as you don’t touch none of my stuff, you won’t get outed. Ah, but if any of my many toys go missing or get busted, you, as well, are busted. Kidding. Sort of.

A quick review for the procrastinators:

3:30 pm-Midnight. Well, the music cuts out at midnight. Malingering is encouraged.

Park in the City Mager/Polar Bear/Trane parking lot on Butler Street, situated right against the railroad tracks. Please do not park on the nearby side streets or the rear alley because the parking is very limited on those alleys, and the folks do get annoyed with us and come looking to us for relief.

It’s $15 per adult, kids under 16 get in free.

Everyone in attendance will be required to wear a colored bracelet denoting whether they are of drinking age or not.

A police officer will be in attendance (6-midnight), so be good little boys and girls.

There’s no shortage of hot and cold foods and drink. But if you’ve got some tasty treat you want to bring along hot or cold, please do. Many of the regulars do. Bugles and Junior Mints are preferred, and in the event you bring either of those two items, let me know upon your arrival and don’t tell anyone else. Yummy.

Due to the two monster tents, plenty of smaller ancillary tents, and plenty of nearby front porches, this is a rain or shine event. So pay no mind to the skies, unless you see clouds swirling all violent like and hybrids being sucked up into the sky.

Official block party T-shirts are $8, V-necks are $9.

Participation in the many games is encouraged. The kids games typically go first, with the adult games later in the evening. The horseshoe tournament usually kicks off by 5:30. And 50/50 tickets will be sold for hours on end. Since eggs, water balloons and smallish chocolate pies are a part of some games, an extra set of clothing sometimes comes in handy.

We had to deep-six the inflated moon walk because of some sort of conflict with the city-supplied permit, so don’t get your kids all pumped up and ready for it. Early on, face painting and rub-on tattoos ought to keep them occupied.

One other thing. Remember, the politicians that may be in attendance probably don’t want to talk about politics all night long. It’s a party, man.

I think that just about covers it, so, all that’s left to say is PARTY ON!!!

I actually felt compelled to call WILK talk radio on Monday. Something I have pretty much stopped doing, calling people who only want to be called by likeminded people.

I was with a customer and hadn’t even seen this front page Citizens’ Voice story: Crime prevention group wants open communication with mayor, police yet.

And when I went to work all by my lonesome on the exterior perimeter of a building and went to the headphone radio, I heard Nancy and Kevin talking about their recently ended radio conversation with Mayor Tom Leighton.

Ton Leighton called WILK again! Holy smoke! That’s, like, twice this month! Unbelievably, I missed him both times. Figures.

Just as soon as The Sue Henry Show with Rob Neyhard substituting got rolling, that story from the Citizens’ Voice pretty much dominated much of the show. And many of the callers were very supportive of average citizens getting on out there and “reclaiming” their neighborhoods. And too, too many times, the word “patrol” was thrown in there.

On a side note, the absolute worst call came from none other than Walter Griffith Jr., who suggested that the Mayor will not embrace either the crime watchers or the Guardian Angels because of the police department’s contract. A no-compete clause, if you will.

Worthless poppycock!

If I and my friends volunteer to maintain Kirby Park for eternity, that violates the terms of the city’s contract with the DPW guys. We are taking their work, in effect reducing their hours and chances for overtime, hiring more workers and good stuff like that. Fair enough.

But the police? If I agree to patrol the streets here in Nord End armed only with, say, with my ten hours worth of karate lessons, then there is less available work for the police? Is there mercury in the water supply or what? Yep, Mark and his cousin are out there after dark, so let’s layoff some of our police officers?

Ouch! My side is splitting open!

Anyway, here’s a quick rundown of what I tried to convey while on WILK:

I started by telling Rob that I have ridden with police officers three times now. And that I’ve sat and yapped with Scott Koppenhoffer twice, with one encounter being for the purposes of publishing an online interview. In other words, I’m closer to the issue of policing than your average citizen.

Then I pointed out that the Wilkes-Barre police department is comprised mostly of current or former members of the military. Still, despite that military training, they hit the streets with automatic handguns, shotguns, bullet-proof vests, steel batons, pepper spray and tazers. Why? Because their job is inherently dangerous. Yes, it can get very, very dangerous out on the streets within the blink of an eye.

With that said, where is it written that people with no military training, police training, weapons training, various weapons and serious hand-to-hand fighting skills should be encouraged to “patrol” our streets? Sorry, but that’s a recipe for disaster. That’s wrongheaded and dangerous.

We hear of police officers being injured or killed on a regular basis. Yet, we’re ready to go out on patrol? We’re ready to let the criminals know they won’t be tolerated in our neighborhoods? That’s stepping well past that “being the eyes and ears of the police” line, isn’t it? I’m suddenly picturing people pissing themselves when confronted by the criminals they sought out.

Rob asked me if I thought it would be productive to have the mayor sit and talk with the Angels. I answered in the affirmative, told him that I had told my mayor as much, but that it was not up to me. And I pointed out that Scott is not a guy I could have a beer with. Rather, Scott is a guy I did have a beer with. He’s engaging, smart and thoroughly likeable. And he also has this Guardian Angels thing down to a science. So, the local Angels do not need to have the legalities or the dos-and-don’ts spelled out for them by either the mayor or the city’s top cop. Still, a face-to-face certainly wouldn’t hurt.

So, I left Rob with this:

If average citizens are encouraged to get out on the streets and seek out crime, they might not like what happens when they find it.

Being the eyes and ears is one thing. Patrolling is a whole other thing better left to people who have been trained to deal with. Namely, the police.

And, boy, it sure was nice to call WILK and not be shouted at, belittled or hung up on. That there Rob is a true gentleman without an agenda. Imagine that, a gentleman working at WILK. Who would have thunk it?

Anywho, patrolling, er, policing is best left to the police.

Said me.

This here is actually very good news for residents and police officers alike. The last time I rode with the police department here in Wilkes-Barre, a trip to the trauma unit was included in the mix. Unfortunately, the nearest available trauma unit--CMC--was, and always has been in Scranton.

Some guys drives his Harley all reckless like and proceeds to smack the bike off the front of a truck, with his helmet-less head smacking down onto the tarmac. Rutro! Possible head trauma suggested by that humungous bulge on the back of his head. Off to Scranton the investigating police officer and Harley rider must go.

Sometimes the trauma is a precautionary thing, as it was in this case. Other times the police officers on the scene are telling the medics to “put an X on it,“ meaning somebody has suffered some serious, serious trauma and is in danger of dying right then and there. And in that event, an ambulance or helicopter trip to Scranton does not improve your chances of surviving versus the much shorter trip to Geisinger.

So, we have a better chance of surviving the horrible things we do to ourselves, and do to each other. Plus, when trauma patients suddenly appear, our local police officers will have to invest far less time following up on those reports and the like.

In addition, if you maim yourself and manage to live, you’ll be billed for an ambulance ride and not the prohibitively more expensive helicopter ride. Nice.

It’s a win-win situation for all of us.

Now get on out there and do something insanely dangerous. You know, patrol the streets after dark.

From the e-mail outbox Good morning,
An old friend of mine just asked why an old-time Republican like myself is sporting an Obama sticker. The reason is simple; While I admire the courage and integrity of John McCain I feel he is out of touch with the reality of today's world. He does not accept that the invasion of Iraq was a huge mistake. Evil as he was, Saddam Hussein, with his hatred of Iran and his fear of El Quida provided a stabilizing influence in the area. He posed no threat to the United States and might have proved very useful. With him out of the picture Iran and Iraq will no doubt form an alliance once American troops leave the country. I am afraid McCain still harbors the notion that someday the Sunnis, Shi'ites and Kurds will form a democratic coalition and live happily ever after. As a military man he cannot accept that our tremendous firepower is of little value when dealing with terrorism. El Quida and the other fundamentalist Muslim groups represent an idea. The only way to diminish the threat from this idea is through cooperation with other countries. There are one and a half billion muslims in the world and we must convince them that terroristic acts are not to their benefit. Invading a muslim country certainly did not help our cause. Untested as he may be, I think Obama has the best chance of convincing foreign governments to work with us to rein in the threat of terrorism.
We must ignore Obama's liberal rhetoric as he knows full well none of it will ever become law. As a democrat he must placate the left just as McCain does with the right. A President's greatest power lies in the conduct of foreign policy and that is, I believe, Obama's strength.

That’s your right, dude. Vote for whichever one floats your boat.


Evil as he was, Saddam Hussein, with his hatred of Iran and his fear of El Quida provided a stabilizing influence in the area.

Stabilizing? As in paying tens of thousands of dollars to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers? Stabilizing like that?

Like the invasion of Iran, which led to the deaths of millions, and the use of chemical weapons on an unsuspecting populace?

Like the invasion of Kuwait, and for no other reason that annexing it and it’s vast oil resources as a way of constricting the economies of western democracies dependent upon oil?

Like demanding that all of OPEC switch from the dollar to the euro for the purposes of petrol trading, so as to seriously damage our economy and thereby seriously diminish our military prowess? You know, economic decline foretells a coming military decline?

Like launching scores of SCUD missiles, never known for pinpoint targeting, at heavily populated areas of both Saudi Arabia and Israel?

Like using chemical weapons against unarmed Kurdish citizens, and for nothing more than their having asked for autonomy?

Like amassing the 4th largest military in the world (circa 1991) and then taking saber-rattling to a level heretofore unseen in the entire region?

Like openly calling for the destruction of Israel?

Stabilizing like that? Dude, I reject your threadbare premise.

And, Obama? His oft-soaring rhetoric is matched only by his proposed unworkable solutions. After listening to this guy bloviate on for as long as he has been, I promise, I will never bust Jimmy Carter’s chops ever again.

Foreign policy? Obama? I suspect that Rodney “Can’t we all get along?“ King himself is his lone foreign policy advisor. He’s going to make nice with the Muslims and Iran? They’re going to talk and Voila!…it’s peace, love and the Woodstock way forever more. Whoopee! Free oil for everybody!

Dude, that is naďveté fueled by gross inexperience at it’s most pronounced worst. Yeah, that’ll happen. Right after John McCain announces that he has a Vietnamese mistress.

As for terrorism, niceties will work about as well as ordering a Rum and Diet Coke with a Mentos twist. Consider the source. Some guy with a degree and a cushy life decides to devote the remainder of his life to destroying the west. He’s given up everything near and dear to him, and now trains in some dusty corner of the world known mostly for squalor. A guy who’s committed leaders regularly try to assassinate the intimidated government officials in the dusty host country. A guy who’s entire group sees catastrophic mass death events whence they dream.

Yes sir, Obama is going to swoop on in there, shoot a few hoops, and win them over with hollow talk of hope and change. Yes, these people are just as shortsighted and easily-led as are the card-carrying myrmidons otherwise known as democrats, right?

Look, I’m not convinced that John McCain is the answer. But I know damn well the untested rookie--Barack Obama--ain’t the savior some see him to be. I think he’s naďve and dangerous. And after Bush, we’re but a couple more serious missteps from collapse, missteps Obama has already promised to deliver.

As for McCain. The guy is a proven budget-buster, a guy not real big on rampant earmarking or spending. With him at the helm, I could see some serious battling coming at budget time. He’d be the one demanding the balanced budgets, with the other two branches given over to the proven socialists demanding more and more entitlement freebies.

In the short run, there might be some more economic bloodletting. Thinking longer term, he might be just what we need at this time. No matter the causes, the profligate spending has to be curtailed and soon. No matter who prevails come November, a huge dose of fiscal sanity is clearly called for. And with the socialists in charge of all three branches of the federal government, fiscal sanity will prove illusive, Iraq or no Iraq.

As far as I’m concerned, Barack Obama is the single-most clueless would-be presidential contender I have seen to this date. And I also think his once meteoric candidacy is destined to go down in flames.

The run-of-the-mill democrats seem to be very confident and overly smug at this point in time, but I think they’re in for a very rude surprise. Without Hillary Clinton on the ticket, Barack Obama loses. I think that, despite those previously long odds against him, John McCain wins this thing.

And the next time the left-leaning get to drinking the purple Kool-Aid, it will probably be laced with copious amounts of anti-coagulants.


Stay in touch.

From the e-mail inbox Hey Mark-

Today is my eldest kid‘s birthday. Yep, as of today, Peace Rebecca is 29. I have a kid who’s 29? Jeez, where did the time go?

Tell the Peace I said Happy Birthday! I just turned 39 in July myself....

I still remember the story about her in a Scholastic Contest? at the Armory when the Peace Corps were present and they went nuts when her name was called to accept an award?

I think that's the gist of it....

Also, do you go to a Chiropractor? I know your back is out of whack, I'm just curious if you go to one or not.

Hope you're feeling better soon....


No, you got that “Peace Corps” thing out of whack. When her name was about to be announced at the 109th armory for winning an art contest, Harry West of WARM radio fame glanced at her name on his card, paused as if amazed, and then said to the waiting crowd, “Whoa! Get this! The 1st grade winner from Dodson School in Wilkes-Barre is…get this…Peace Corps?”

And with that less than professionally-done introduction, very many in the crowd started to crack up. They were laughing--out loud--at the name of a little kid. I’m a lot of things, but I’m not one for embarrassing little kids who were beaming with pride just a fleeting second ago.

Long story short, I never listened to WARM again.

A chiropractor? Nah, back when I drove truck, Bevaco used to force me see their company chiropractor once a week. He’d put on quite a show, my back would feel great for an hour or so and then I’d be self-medicating all over again.

I liken what chiropractors do to what witch doctors do. You know, shrunken heads and theatrical stuff like that. Worthless hocus pocus that Medicare or Medicaid (whatever they’re called) recognizes and overpays for.

I was in severe pain for seventeen days and only called off from work twice. The way I see it, I done pretty good at toughing it out. One of my higher-ups suggested that I go and see my family doctor. Problem is, if I did that, I’d then be in possession of a note saying I couldn’t work for two weeks. And rightly so.

I’ve been through this before. What works best at getting the lower back to cooperating again is a lack of physical activity. Rest. Or, a lack of going to work. Anyway, it’s getting there. I’m feeling much better and I even enjoyed a morning bikeabout through downtown Wilkes-Barre. Plus, being that I’m on vacation as of today, I can now self-medicate all I want.

Thanks, though.

Hey, assuming you’re not afraid to leave that isolated compound you bought, the block party is but days away. Lemme know.

Oh, and a post without a taunt going Steve Rodham Corbett’s way would be incomplete.

From the e-mail outbox "Remember my words."

Are you effing serious?

The surreal becomes the sublime.

Unfortunately, I do remember your words. I remember you promising us--in no uncertain terms--promising us that Hillary Clinton would become the next President of the United States.


And then it was, Barack Obama has absolutely no chance of becoming the next president without Hillary as his vice presidential choice.


It's not necessarily a matter of your being wrong on occasion, it's an undeniable matter of your never, ever, ever being right on anything noteworthy.

Perhaps your better half, your oft-unnamed "political consultant," should seek out a profession that she has a half decent chance at being good at. Because I really hate to break it to you soy-denuded folks, but, you guys flat out suck at teaching us about politics.

Remember my words?

Now that's comedy.

Markie in Merrittville (Formerly Nord end), a dojo-free community

Oh, and this one:

From the e-mail outbox Yudichak vs. Barletta in 2010???


You know, like...DUH!!!

Like none of us have ever thought of that before!

Jesus H. Allah! You are too, too, too completely good at this politics stuff for us silly, ignorant coal crackers.

I think I'll tune into the Game Show Network from here on out.