11-30-2008 Been offended lately?

Here we go. Iím going to tell you everything you need to know about discourtesies, uncivil behaviors and the general malaise that is society at large.

I listen to people complaining about reverse-gentrification creeping into their neighborhoods. I hear people going on about kids today. And I get treated to plenty of concerns about how poorly ďthose peopleĒ with the permanent tans conduct themselves.

And then, I turn on WBRE TV and watch locals at the Target store trying to replicate that horrific scene at the Wal-Mart on Long Island in which a throng of shoppers stampeded to death a store employee. Yep, those New Yorkers will kill anyone who stands between them and deeply discounted electronic whiz bang imports. And as proved by WBRE, so will very many of you.

Whatís wrong with people, you ask, I dunno. Got me. Take a pass on the electronic gaming console and buy yourself an imported mirror.

People say Iím bad? Here a headís up: I ainít never hurt anybody as part of my Christmas shopping adventures. As a matter of fact, with the economy being what it is, I havenít spent a plug nickel on Christmas as of yet. Not a penny.

Buy, hey, itís Black Friday, you are sheep, and you have been commanded to get on there and act like imbeciles. And when you see someone else acting very badly in the name of the big religious holiday, remember, that was you just a couple of days ago.

And you wonder where your kids get it from, right?

Merry effing Christmas.

From the e-mail inbox Hey Mark,
Been awhile since we rapped. Just wanted to wish you and the family a happy and safe Thanksgiving Holiday. Yes I did say Thanksgiving and not Holiday Season. I don't believe in that crap and offending certain people for mentioning the wrong holiday. I doubt I am offending you either. Plus why would someone be offended when you are trying to wish them well, whether the holiday is one you celebrate or not? I wonder sometimes what goes through some of these brainless idiots that complain during the holiday season. Anyway, before I turn into one of those brainless idiots, have a great Thanksgiving with the family, don't eat to much because it takes space away for the beer and that would just be wrong.


Yeah, I think we need to get together, slam a few beers and solve all of the worldís problems. Again.

We did have a nice Thanksgiving. We spent it at my sonís house. Honestly, I think it kills Wifey to not be cooking and baking away for days on end when these biggest of the big holidays arrive. But, thatís the new gig with the kids all grown up and whatnot.

After dinner and some football, we brought Zach and Jeremy back here to the modest adobe for a few days of hanging out. Theyíve been playing, watching movies with Wifey and generally, being the rodents that they are. Yesterday she showed them how to make homemade glazed donuts. And they were completely spellbound by the entire process. Today Iím going to take them Christmas shopping and teach them how to break the ribs of shoppers who get in the way of the marked-down electronics.

Maybe not.

Itís funny, your reference to political correctness run amok. I was just reading a story at Real Clear Politics.com in which the writer chastises the print media for referring to what is obviously a gun-toting terrorist in Mumbai, India as ďa suspected gunman.Ē

You know the deal. You canít call an Islamic terrorist an Islamic terrorist for fear it might offend someone. Nope, theyíre anything but. Theyíre suspected gunmen, insurgents, rebels or thoroughly bored Eagle scouts. If you must label them, make it something, anything but what they really are.

Donít sweat it, though. The great healer, Barack Obama will win those terrorists over and before too long, theyíll be watching NASCAR and downing hot wings by the dozen down at the local tavern.

Nothing gets a rise out of me faster than someone muttering the dreaded, ďIím offended by that.Ē Oh, Iím offended. Thatís code for, you have been judged--by me--and henceforth you will stifle that behavior and/or free speech. If I object to it, you canít have it no more. Done.

Just as soon as someone says ĎIím offended,í my eyes glaze over and words start running through my mind. Words like effeminate, wimp or chucklehead. What a way to go through life, going out of your way to be thin-skinned all of the time.

Wanna know what offends me? A guy like Deion Sanders offends me, a pampered, coddled pro football player who is afraid to mix it up and take a serious hit. Heís afraid to lead with his helmet. He offends me.

Hereís one I find offensive, how women demand that their men be more like, well, women. Look, honey, if a woman is what you want, you married the wrong person, okay? No, Iím not going to invest 2 hours in any movie starring Hugh Grant. Nope, thereís not a movie made that can get my tear ducts to switching to on. Nah, Iím not going to get all touchy and feely and wimpy just because your dopey chick friend noticed that I donít wear my emotions on my sleeve. Forget all of that claptrap. Ainít happening.

And, no, Iím not going to apologize for liking things that guys generally like. If I jump up and toss my beer across the room after a strong safety practically decapitates a slot receiver running a slant, tough. Thatís not violence, thatís good, hard-hitting football.

And, yes, I do love watching cops beating the proverbial snot out of perps while enjoying any episode of Cops. Sure, perhaps shouting ďGet some! Get some!Ē while those televised beatings are going on is a troubling sign to some, but I ainít never beat on anyone who didnít deserve it. And neither have most police officers. Excessive violence, you say? Police brutality? Screw that! It should be completely legal to beat on criminals until the paddy wagon arrives. And most other times for that matter.

After my brotherís funeral, it got back to me that someone found it shocking that I didnít cry at that affair, as if to say I didnít care. Yeah, you got it, a chick said it. Imagine that. Criticized for not crying. I suppose it would have been preferably if I had cried like a hungry baby and slobbered all over the place. You know, much like a chick would.

In all honesty, I did cry. How couldnít I? But, I made sure to appear strong for the sake of my kids and grandkids. No one that close to them had ever passed away before, and I figured I needed to appear strong. Apparently, thatís offensive for some. This, coming from someone who would probably stomp you to death at Target on Black Friday, right?

Well, so as to not be offensive to anyone, so as to appear emasculated, I think we should call Christmas Gift Day from here forward. And weíll call Thanksgiving Turkey Day, since, Americans are rarely thankful about anything in their quest to take their unabashed materialism to dizzying new heights.

As a matter of fact, Iím not buying into the whole Thanksgiving hoax anyway. The way itís told, a bunch of dumb-assed Europeans came here and couldnít feed themselves upon their arrival. So, a group of friendly Indians, oops, a group of friendly Native Americans taught them how to hunt, fish and harvest crops. And after that, they broke bread together, they were fu>king reverent and beyond thankful. Well, that is, until those Europeans got into real estate, necessitating the wholesale slaughter of the previous owners of America.

Hereís my problem with this. Before coming to America, how did those very same lame-assed Europeans feed themselves? What, did the King over there provide for the starving masses by giving away free 5-pound blocks of cheese? Did archeologists unearth a food kitchen dating back to 1590 A.D.? Or did those Europeans already know how to hunt, fish and harvest crops before they left Europe?

Genius incarnate, ainít it? Percipiency, or what? Offensive, I know. But you tell me.

Hereís some more gunk that offends my senses.

They tell us Americans are very bad off right now. They tell us that weíre suffering because of this big economic downturn, and that weíre having to do more with less. Okay, let us examine the average nuclear family. Not us city folk, those scared white folk who ran away to the suburbs so as to avoid racial integration and the like.

Theyíve got 2.5 acres, so they need the 17,000 horsepower, 4-seater riding mower. Theyíve got a house, but it looks more like a mansion judging by yesterdayís standards. Theyíve got two SUVs that weíre built atop aircraft carrier frames. Theyíve got the coupe, two cars for the teenagers and a dual-axel pickup truck to tow the camper trailer. Theyíve got central air, a hot tub bigger tan your wading pool of old, the enormous in ground pool, a television or two that could double as drive-in movie screens, a satellite receiver in every room, high-speed wireless internet throughout, two laptops, a cell phone for everyone involved and a $1,000-a-month bill for their kidís incessant text messaging. Iíll stop there.

Now, whatís wrong with this picture?

Iíll tell you whatís wrong with this picture, too much debt. Too much largesse. Basically, too much. And with Gift Day looming, if it werenít for the big credit crunch, these people would be rushing off to the big box stores looking to max out their credit cards all over again. And for what? More? What more could they need?

Now, you can say George W. Bush did this to you, this alleged suffering. Or you could blame those evil corporations or some nameless, faceless whatever it may be. But, I donít really see much suffering going on there. And if there is some suffering included in that lavish mix, Iím thinking itís self-imposed. I mean to say, the last time I checked, it was fairly easy to stay out of debt.

So, itís not your fault. You didnít take on too much. No, itís his fault or her fault or their fault. Now thatís offensive.

Another thing that offends me is how the media reports that every single bomb dropped in anger by the U.S. Air Force somehow lands on a wedding party. Whatís up with that? Do they really expect us to believe that?

If the smartest of our so-called smart bombs always hone in on women wearing white dresses, shouldnít they be known as dumb bombs? Whoís making these stupid bombs anyway? Dick Cheney?

Also, according to the U.S. military, we never, ever bomb innocent civilians. Although, we have been known to bomb our own soldiers, ala the friendly fire incident.

What offends the sensibilities? Oh, I know. With peer pressure being as completely crushing as it is at the high school level, how in hell do we send a kid to school knowing he has two mommies or two daddies? Tell me that kid is going to have a good time if the big secret ekes out. Tell me that kid will not be tortured. Tell me thatís not a recipe for disaster. Tell me after four years of that, the kid doesnít end up in the hoosegow, or a world champion boxer. Whatever.

My kid can barely remember her 6th grade class trip. This, even though her appendix acted up during the trip and had to be surgically removed. You think youíd remember that day very clearly, wouldnít you? My kids can barely remember being at Shea Stadium. And they can barely recall spending time with my mom, even though she resided with us towards the end.

So why is it that just as soon as mommy and daddy are embroiled in some very nasty divorce proceedings, little Mary can suddenly remember when daddy used her like an inflatable fu>k doll when she was 3-years-old? No coaching going on there.

Oh, and when the Vatican is doling out big checks, suddenly, the 50-year-old can remember when his priest treated him to a bit of the old in-out, in-out when he was 7? Right!

My favorite ďrepressed memoryĒ story was that of a guy who claimed he was sexually assaulted by his padre when he was 14-years-old. Ka-ching! Whereís my sizable check to cover the damages?

Hereís the scoop. If that exact same thing happened to me when I was 14-years-old, there would have been blood splatter on the confessional walls. What a bunch of offensive hooey.

On a more local note, I find it completely offensive that the people in this city are so damned negative. There are so many positive things going on in this city right now, it boggles the mind when you consider where we were at at the conclusion of 2003.

Practically everywhere you look, something is going on. From the biggest of the high profile projects to the smallest of buildings being rehabbed, the city has improved by gigantic leaps and bounds.

Yet, all I ever hear is griping and sniping. Oh, they closed the firehouse. Oh, we need more street sweepers. Oh, and, there is that street that needs repaving. Exactly. We could probably use a few more firehouses, I suppose. And we could always use more street sweeping going on. And of course thereís always going to be some street somewhere in need of repair. One tiny problem. All of that stuff costs money. Money, by the way, that is not in great abundance.

The other thing is, name for me a city in NEPA with so much good going on. Go ahead, do it. Try. Name another city in this area that is slowly but surely remaking itself. And forget the laundry list of things that have improved, or built since 2003. Just take a gander at the ongoing projects.

Coal Street Park is, at this very moment, stripped bare and practically flat. It looks like the surveying is done and the construction of the new park is set to commence. The steel girders for the new parking garage are going up as I type. The riverfront project looks to be completed by next Spring. The theater complex is about to be sold to a company that claims it can fill those retail slots. In fact, they say they have letters of intent. The Sterling Hotel has been successfully mothballed and is waiting on a developer.

The residential/retail complex going up across the street from the Kingís College gym is enormous in scope. Itís huge. Down came three rotting eyesores and up goes the shiny new building. And behind it, along the length of the block of North Street between Main and Washington, all of the aged dwellings there have been abandoned and effectively stripped bare and ready for demolition. So, something else is yet to happen there.

The downtown is actually busy. And if thatís not enough, itís humming at night. For the first time in many a year, the place feels alive. ButÖall I ever seem to hear is the griping and the sniping.

The price of the garbage bags are going up. Yeah, thatís called inflation. Start paying attention. Watch some CNN business news, why donít you?

Thereís a drug dealer in my neighborhood. And that would be unique to Wilkes-Barre exactly how?

Thereís too many Mexicans moving in. Yeah, and they manage to take care of their properties, too. They tend to keep to themselves and they keep after their properties. Thatís a bad neighbor?

The Mayor only cares about the downtown. Stop repeating those absurd claims coming from the same 5 or 6 candidates in activist clothing. Nothing of the sort is true. If he didnít care about the neighborhoods, he wouldnít have made bolstering the ranks of the police department one of his biggest priorities.

The city is not safe. Really? Did you know that more people were murdered in Scranton this year than in Wilkes-Barre. And do you realize that the murders in Wilkes-Barre tend to be of the druggie-on-druggie variety? Do you understand that where thereís demand, thereís supply? And do you understand that Wilkes-Barre is not unique in this respect?

There is no mayor in America that can just sprinkle some pixie dust over his city and make the druggies go away. The only to do that is by resisting the urge to purchase and partake of illegal narcotics.

The funny this is, our neighbors are quite impressed with the noticeable improvements in this city. While Iím out and about applying my skills, I hear it all the time and wherever I go. Yet, the people who reside here seem to be blind to most of it. The people in this city donít seem to know how to be positive about much of anything. They dwell on the negative. They grumble no matter what.

The reality is, there is no utopia. There is no nirvana. There is no perfect city. And especially right now, as more and more of them are finding themselves severely cash-strapped.

Instead of venting on city officials all of the time, I think our residents should be much more upset with our county officials. The courthouse is like drama central anymore, with practically everyone being investigated by one law enforcement agency or another. Some say judges are going to be indicted. Some say a commissioner may be in trouble. Still others openly opine that many heads are going to roll.

Short of that, itís obvious that our county officials have dropped the ball in a fiscal sense. They canít balance a budget, and they keep taking on more and more debt. They abused their debit card privileges, ergo, they misused our money. And how about Commissioner Greg Skrepenak hiring his best buddies at enormous salaries because he said he needed quality people in those positions. How good are they when they come up $15 million short before the end of the fiscal year. And not just this year, every freaking year.

Say what you will about the decisions made by the Cityís administration, but at least they pay attention to how many beans they have at their disposal. And how, come hell or high water, they make those beans add up correctly at the end of the fiscal year.

The City sucks? No, I donít think so. And I find the constant bitching to be so completely annoying, itís become offensive. Whatever.

Anyway, Scott, give me a buzz on the portable phone.

End rant.

Check this out. I actually had the letter in the following video in my hands the other day. I was invited into the office of a downtown businessman, so we could discuss all things Wilkes-Barre and downtown Wilkes-Barre.

This guy knows firsthand what emanates from some of the downtownís many social services agencies, places I normally refer to as being ďidiot magnets.Ē Tell me Iím wrong. Actually, the last time I was on his property, one of the downtown regulars, the grubby ďpreacherĒ guy, had smashed the window out of the door at the rear of the building. And whoís problem is that? Well, itís not the problem of any of the many downtown freebie outlets. No, itís the downtown businessmanís problem.

Reach Ministries on WBRE (2:22)

Still, just the other day, we had Kevin Lynn on WILK ranting against the Wilkes-Barre Zoning Board for denying a permit to yet another ministry, Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, which was looking to open a new idiot magnet, this time on Coal Street. This particular ministry specializes in rehabbing full-blown alcoholics. I know. We could put it at Pole 86 out Harveys Lake way, no?

As part of my ongoing research, I completed one of their online courses, ďBeginning Guide to Foundation Grants.Ē And what I learned was how to score some foundation grants so that I could start my own ministry, profess to be doing good, while basically creating a good-paying job for myself. Yes, give me a helluva lot of money, and then Iíll go and find some unfortunate types who may or may not want or need my help. Then all thatís left to do is to decide upon my own salary. Neat.

If you doubt that these idiot magnets are real trouble, spend an hour or two watching these places from nearby. And turn on that police scanner. The scanner never lies.

And why would we want these types of outfits smack dab in the center of our rebounding retail hub? Why not put them in the Wyoming Valley Mall? Why not right next door to Wal-Mart? Why not? Because those aforementioned businesses would resist such a development, as would Wilkes-Barre Township officials. Thatís why.

The truth is, if youíre in downtown Wilkes-Barre and happen upon what you believe to be very unsavory types, chances are, they are there working the do-gooder, idiot magnet circuit. Breakfast at the church. Lunch and dinner at the soup kitchen. Panhandling for spare change in between. And a night of robust drinking under the nearest available bridge.

With all of that having been said, if the assorted and sundry do-gooder outfits were to move out of the downtown, their ďcustomersĒ would quickly migrate right out of the downtown. That is undeniably so.

So, the question begs, where should they be located at? On your street? On my smallish block? Next to a viable business? Or, perhaps, nowhere at all.

All I know for sure is, if somebody in downtown Wilkes-Barre asks you for some of your spare change and you oblige them, you are making the situation worse than it has to be, or worse than it should be. The fact is, there is no such thing as doing good by people who donít want to or canít do better.

They should all be shuttered.

Sez me.

Okay, itís Week 13 here in fantasy football land. In other words, the last day of the regular season. Youíre either in the playoffs after today, or youíre out.