10-28-2008 WILK: Your Polka Station

Wasn‘t it Barack Obama who said, “From each according to his abilities to each according to his needs?”

Maybe not. Somebody said it was Karl Marx. Nah, I think that’s the collective thought of the slackers supporting Obama.

Let’s try, from Markie and his abilities to the slackers according to their needs.

There, that’s much more accurate.

It occurred to me the other day that exactly 3 of the 4 on air talk jocks at WILK have been doing their level best to see to it that a democrat becomes the next president. Doesn’t matter which one, never did to them. Just as long as it’s a democrat.

Truth is, four years ago, without even knowing who the candidates would be in 2008, we already knew way back then that these loyal party hacks would be voting for whichever democrat escaped the primary season intact. Not that I’m complaining about any of that blind loyalty, I’m not.

Follow me here.

Kevin’s easy. Kevin despises traditionalists. And since, in his mind, all traditionalists are his mental inferior, that kind of narrows things down. He’s going hard left no matter the candidates or the situation. Nancy puts on this feigned open-mindedness routine, but her voting track record betrays her. She’s gone left, never to return. And Rodham-Corbett is an avowed far-far-left leftist who will vote for any other far-far-left leftist save for a black guy.

The thing is, what occurred to me is that these three people might also be unwittingly doing their level best to jeopardize their careers.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on Tuesday that the government should revive the Fairness Doctrine, a policy crafted in 1929 that required broadcasters to balance political content with different points of view.

“It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine,” he said. “I have this old-fashioned attitude that when Americans hear both sides of the story, they’re in a better position to make a decision.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee, said this week that she would review the constitutional and legal issues involved in re-establishing the doctrine.

Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), the Democratic Party’s 2004 presidential nominee, also said recently that the Fairness Doctrine should return.

Excepted from The Hill.com

That snippet is a year old, but quite a few democrats have been making more noise about reinstating the Fairness Doctrine and just within the past few months. The way they see it, if after the election they control the White House, Senate and the House, they can then do whatever they like completely unencumbered by those dastardly republicans. Free Speech? Only the free speech they approve of will be allowed.

Point blank, if the Fairness Doctrine were to be resurrected, talk radio as we currently know it and love it quickly goes the way of the Edsel. If the doctrine were to make it’s return, Kevin, Nancy and Rodham-Corbett could end up losing their present positions as WILK would likely end up dropping the talk radio format altogether.

Yeah, instead of their half-baked, one-sided brilliance, we’d probably be listening to Steelers Wheel, Bread, polka classics or the latest, breaking news in Spanish. At which point I’d have to wonder what they were thinking about as the election process trudged on.

So if they get what they truly want, if they get a Democrat in every pot, then free speech of the right-leaning variety takes yet another direct hit and they all end up blaming their lack of gainful employment on George W. Bush? Probably.

Which leads me to ask the lot of them, are you people politicking yourselves right out of your jobs?

Could be.

I hope not. But, I wouldn’t bet against it if they get what they want…a lopsided one-party government with no reasonable checks and balances to speak of. Tyranny, I think it’s called.

We shall see. A year from now, will we be listening to the AM hits of the 70s on WILK? The new WILK? WILK: Your Polka Station? Until then, don’t touch that dial.

From the e-mail inbox Hi Mark

Let me say first of all, I read your blog as often as you post. I check every night to see what you have to say and I'd say 99% of the time I agree with you. Tonight I'd have to disagree. Your words:

Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, from here forward it’s G.A.R.F.: Garbage, ashes, rubbish and feces.

New and not so improved, perhaps. But exactly what it always was. The aged repository/depository of Wilkes-Barre’s equivalent of trailer park escapees.

That is not what GAR (or the Heights) always was. It once was what North End once was. A neighborhood of good, blue collar working class people. I graduated from there in 1960 with a class of 210 good kids from good families. The largest class ever to graduate from GAR to that point. The real downfall of the Heights came with the construction of O'K T. This is where all the drug addicts and pushers tend now to gather, but they are still in other areas of W-B. So many kids today have little or no respect for authority, whether that be parents, teachers, the law or coaches. Until parents again start teaching kids respect, it will continue. I believe you even said kids should fear their parents. I agree. You're their first authority figure and there should be a healthy fear of authority.

I could go on and on here, but suffice it to say, I know how bad you feel for your daughter, I would too. You're angry, I would be too. I hope she won't give up on kids and continues to involve herself with them. She seems like a person who would be so good for today's kids.

Okay, thanks for letting me vent! Have a great day and I hope your fantasy football team continues to do well.

If you decide to post this, please don't use my name. Thanks


Well, that comment, “exactly what it always was” comes from my having very little recollection of the Heights in general until I moved into the Interfaith housing project during the summer of 1972.

Consider the mix at the time. We had Sherman Hills, my project, O’Karma Terrace and the old Market Street district, which was bulldozed when the new elementary school went up. If you consider that 3 federally-subsidized public housing projects serve as feeders for G.A.R.F., you can see where my feelings on the demographics come from.

Plus, that old Market Street section was a wild and wooly place. I think most of it didn’t even exist two years later, but those two years were very eventful and left an indelible impression.

The Zoo. The Brass Rail. Johnny’s Market, which featured the midget from Wizard of OZ fame willing to chase anyone down the street with a broom. I once saw the police summoned to the Zoo just so that the assembled hordes could rain down bottles, rocks and red bricks on that old Ford LTD.

I saw an armed robbery go down at the old Louden Hill. Trust me, we would not have gotten smart with the guy for shattering the glass out of the front door we were loitering next to had we known he was brandishing a handgun. Oops. Never mind.

What was it, Leon’s Pizza? Yeah, the place where Heights kids ordered take out pies for the purposes of tossing slices of inordinately greasy pizza at passing cars.

And that old civic center or whatever it was called on Market Street? Sorry, but I was still less than seasoned and kind of naïve at 13-years-old. What I saw there was unbelievable and not suitable for mixed company. I happened upon a gang-bang behind the pool one night. I was warned, but I didn‘t want to believe it. Yet, there it was. One girl and one-third of G.A.R.F.’s junior varsity football squad.

Oh, and on more than one occasion, I was mocked out of the assembled groups for not wanting to partake of narcotics in the park. One time, I had to fire up the fists after I refused to swallow a bottle of aspirins just to see what would happen next.

Down at the park, we were constantly being eyeballed and harassed by the cops as they searched for the latest G.A.R.F. kid who strayed way over those lines that ought not be crossed.

Meanwhile, we had to endure being mocked for being down on our luck and living in a housing project by the kids who obviously belonged in a trailer park.

With all of that said, I encountered nothing like any of this while living in the shadow of a big city--New Haven, Connecticut. Now, I hear this constant lamenting about how those big city folks are moving into town and ruining our way of life. But I’m here to tell you that in those days, at least in the Heights, it was the home-grown folks who seemed incapable of controlling themselves. Whether anyone knew it at the time, permissive parenting was already wreaking havoc on the Heights. Despite all the urban renewal going on, societal decay was setting in.

Now, I sure had my moments as a teenager. Thing is, just as soon as I got hired at Percy Brown’s, all I ever did was work. I worked until closing during the week. And I worked some long, long days on the weekends. And when I wasn’t working, I could usually be found on the basketball courts at the park.

At the urging of both of the females running the fractured family show way back then, I used Grandma’s Nord End address and spent five long years at Coughlin. And there was a noticeable difference between what the Heights kids were like versus the Nord End and Plains kids were all about.

There was far, far less fisticuffs, no gang-bangs in open fields, no armed robberies, no teenaged exhibitionism, no drugs as a way of life, no biker bars, no hair-trigger midgets, less craziness and less pent-up anger bordering on rage. The more northerly kids were into sports, sports and just a bit of teenaged hooliganism. And as it turned out, just about all of them had two parents. Go figure.

Anyway, “exactly as it always was” refers to my experiences.

Kids today? Well, far less of them have two parents. And they are exposed to way too much and too fast. Most of them seem to think that they are entitled to all available luxuries. If they were expected to do what I did at Percy’s and as frequently as I was expected to do so, they’d likely run away or consider suicide. These days, nobody should have to go through that. (?) And the single most thing that worries me the most is how completely disrespectful they are of others.

In most cases, I think they emulate their piss-poor parent or parents. Trust me, when some lady is cursing away at me from her moving van because she doesn’t think bicycles should be allowed on the streets, I usually stare back in stunned disbelief because her vanload of little kids are being provided with a perfect example of how not to act as an a adult. And if the parents make it a point to act undignified, what of the children?

You know, even if you’re a complete idiot in every sense of the word, you really need to hide it from your children until they grow up. It worked for me.

As far as coaching is concerned, too many parents don’t want their kids coached. They don’t want them pushed and prodded and motivated to be better than they currently are. They want them praised, they want their fragile egos stroked and they want them playing every second of every game. Even if they suck to the point of getting themselves humiliated or possibly injured out there.

Despite the countless leagues and games my three kids participated in, only one time did I ever feel the need to approach any of their coaches. And, trust me, he was a good, hard-nosed throwback of a coach that I respected. I reminded Ebon of this after she got back from the car wash the other night.

When she was 11, she came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. And you need to know that I commanded my kids to swing and swing hard. Get the back through the zone. Be aggressive. Hack! Conversely, most of the little league coaches at the time were always teaching selectiveness, i.e., take a base on balls and steal a base.

So, she runs the pitch count to 3-0 and then triples off the fence, clearing the bases and earning three runs batted in. And I’m standing there thinking, That’s my girl. Outstanding.

But as soon as she made her way home and back to the dugout, the coach goes off on her. The coach flips his freaking lid ala Mike Ditka at his very worst. She was embarrassed and burst into tears. And I was shocked. Stunned. Disbelieving what I had just seen.

But rather than make a scene, I bit my lip and got the details from Ebon during the walk home. Turns out, he had been barking at her for ignoring take signs from him all year long. When he was signaling her to take the base on balls, she was doing what I had taught her by swinging away. And he had finally had enough of her insubordination and flipped. So, in effect, it was kind of my fault.

So I called him at his home and told him I didn’t care for the outburst and especially at her expense. And rather than apologize, he explained that she wasn’t the only player ignoring his direction at times, he had had enough and somebody needed to be made an example of. And you know what? I was good with that.

Say what you will about that, but he produced a league championship and four all-stars that season, three of which were 11-years-old, and two of which were girls. In other words, he did an outstanding job.

If that very same incident were to happen now, we’d probably be reading about it in the police blotters, or possibly even the obituaries.

What I surmise is, if a kid is a disrespectful, unkempt, barely literate fool, the apple probably didn’t fall very far from the diseased tree.

My kids fearing me? Yep. What I always said was, I won’t have to kill them as long as they are convinced that I will. And they were convinced.

Anyway, sorry about going off on your neck of the woods. It’s just that Ebon’s very last memory of coaching at G.A.R.F. should not have been hosing feces off of her car. She didn’t deserve it, and three-quarters of those girls did not deserve her.

Stay in touch.

From the e-mail inbox Mark,

It's unfortunate that after all of Ebon's efforts, the GAR kids - and possibly their parents - chose to end her time and memories there by vandalizing her car. It's a classless act by classless and cowardly people. That's right; simply put - clueless, classless cowards.

About 10 years ago, I volunteered to become the Athletic Director for a local CYO program. That's "Catholic Youth Organization", although at the end of my tenure I questioned what the "C" really stood for. During my stint as AD, we purchased - for the first time - uniforms for the track team, obtained permission - for the first time - to field a second team in several sports so that all kids could play, and actually tracked income and expenses from the program's biggest moneymaker; the annual Christmas basketball tournament. I was told the prior AD would keep all receipts under his control and then turn in a couple of hundred bucks after the holidays were over. Go figure. Our P&L statement showed a net profit close to $1,000.00 for the tournament, even after - for the first time - we designed and purchased T-shirts for every kid competing, which cost close to $400.00 off the top. The program's bank account quickly grew to well over $2K and financially, we were able to purchase new uniforms and equipment for most of the multi-seasonal teams.

What I didn't volunteer for was the crap I had to take from parents. One father in particular was so upset his son didn't make the 8th grade basketball team that he wrote a letter using his employer's e-mail address, AND even signed the letter with his full corporate title and employer's information. Not the sharpest saw in the shed, town or county - to say the least. Fortunately, I was at the tryout to help out the new coach. I saw everything that happened. During the tryouts, in an effort to be totally impartial, he gave each kid a number to affix to his T-shirt, i.e. no last names - just numbers. This particular boy that didn't make the team was laying on the floor gasping for breath about halfway through the windsprints. He was way out of shape and was among many that didn't make the team. But, this parent felt he had the right to go after someone, and he chose me.

Once I received the letter, the challenge I had, as a volunteer and parent, was that this individual worked for a bank that my family had used for over a decade. We had multiple accounts there. Outside of venting his anger at the wrong person at many levels, he probably had violated several company policies in addition to being just plain stupid. I wrestled with how to react, as I really wanted to forward the e-mail and letter to the HR department of this bank and request a meeting with them. As I worked in senior positions at much larger banks, I know I could have made him squirm...big time. Ultimately, I decided to walk away from the issue and resigned my position as volunteer AD at the end of that year. I did give a copy of the letter to the Monsignor of our parish with my resignation, and have retained all e-mails and documents from this "pillar of the parish community" on my PC. Unfortunately, I am far less than perfect and still hold a grudge on this one.

Anyway, as a graduate of GAR - class of 1973 - I offer my apologies to Ebon. There are a lot of morally and ethically upright and decent people who graduated from and attend that school, but unfortunately, their numbers are tainted by those directionless and spineless cowards - and the individuals responsible for their upbringing - whose greatest achievement in life may very well be limited to throwing eggs and crap at someone's car.

Ebon, best of luck at ESU. Keep that fire in your eyes focused on doing well, and you will go far.

Don Williams, f.k.a. Kayak Dude

Dude, I wouldn’t coach kids today if the job came with seven figures attached. As long as the parents suck, the kids are going to suck.

I’ve mentioned this before, about my being the Chef Ramsey of my time. When I was in charge of young minds, I produced some of the most talented, toughest teenaged cooks you would ever hope to see. These kids could take just about anything, including me constantly expecting perfection and then some. They could take anything. My foot up their asses. The pressure of the high-volume turnover. The battleaxe waitresses in their faces all night. The fact that they were shorthanded. Didn’t matter. They had their case of beer iced in the trunk of a car outside, and they were just counting down the hours. Kids with nicknames like Rat, Love Beads, Mookie, Joe Sped, Joe Spiff and a few others not suitable for publishing. Tough bastards, all

And quite a few of the kids I developed climbed the ladder to management positions. And I’d like to think I helped to make that happen. But over the years, things started to change. Over time, it became harder and harder to produce those hard-edged kids who could just suck it up and perform. They didn’t want to be a part of any brotherhood, so to speak. They sought no bragging rights from their peers. Instead, they wanted less and less work and more and more pay. And if they objected to any part of the program, mommy and daddy were either on the phone, or requesting my presence out front at the hostess station.

Long story short, I could not reproduce what I did 20 or 25 years ago. No way, no how. Not with the caliber of kids available now. Try this on for size. Back in the day, I only hired conservative looking kids. No tattoos. No green hair. No Mohawk cuts. No piercing. Nothing. These days, if I excluded the kids that look like they escaped from the circus freak show, I’d be grossly understaffed to the point of collapsing.

Standards have slipped. Parents have slipped. Moreover, society in general has slipped a few noticeable notches. And that had a lot to do with my decision to forever mothball the briefcase. That’s part of the reason why I figured it’d be easier, less aggravating and much more healthy to be grunt rather than a leader of young men.

I don’t know that you need to apologize for anyone presently associated with G.A.R.F. You did your time there, and they way I here it, you didn’t rob any convenience stores, cause any murders, stone any police cars or throw any gangbangs.

It’s just sad to see kids doing underhanded, mean-spirited things to people who truly care about them. Although, with the feces stunt, I think that changed to a past tense: Someone who used to care about them.


By the way, make sure to tell your daughter for me she done real good on the documentary and the award. Very impressive.