Tube City Online

Filed Under: default || By jt3y

January 31, 2005 | Link to this story

Selected Short Subjects

Category: default || By jt3y

Alycia at Selling Myself Down the River has a theory about the Vice President's informal attire at the ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz:

Robin Givhan wrote an article about the "wardrobe malfunction" in the Washington Post. Givhan points out that Cheney was dressed as if he were about to "operate a snow blower." Well, first of all. Maybe he did! For all we know he decided to help out with the grunt work beforehand. If things took a little longer than expected he may not have had time to change clothes.

But seriously, here's my theory. Cheney went ahead with inauguration ceremonies on January 20th as planned and wore standard formal attire. He caught a bit of a sniffle afterwards and the doctors that make sure he's still breathing everyday gave him a dressing down.

This could be. And after all, the Vice President's health is a matter we should all be concerned about. If he gets sick, then George W. Bush will be in charge.


Pittsburghers may feel frustrated by the endless backstabbing, grandstanding, hackery and general buffoonery that can sometimes characterize their city government and school board. But as John at Detroitblog points out, for pure entertainment value, corruption, and incompetence, it is really hard to top Detroit City Hall:

I won’t mention the bizarre press conference Saturday with the mayor and police chief, in which the mayor said the Navigator actually was for his wife, until it wasn’t anymore, that he lied but the press made him look like he’s lying when he’s not, that this is all about racism and his earring, that even the police in a faraway city are in on the conspiracy against him, and that his wife sleeps well at night, not surprising considering he’s out clubbing and she’s got the whole bed to herself. But I won’t mention any of that.

I won't even bring up how clumsy, unprofessional and cheesy it is to allow a lame controversy to grow uncontrollably and become the focus of the media for weeks because of amateur damage-control efforts.

I'm not even going to refer to the sudden surge in negative national publicity caused by said lame controversy, greasing the wheels for more of the same a year from now during the Superbowl.

Whew! Glad he's not mentioning that.


That pesky Bill of Rights:

A Denver police sergeant is under investigation for allegedly threatening to arrest a woman Monday for displaying on her truck a derogatory bumper sticker about President Bush. ...

Ted Halaby, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, said that while he finds the bumper sticker's message distasteful, he also realizes that it's probably protected under the First Amendment.

"There are all sorts of derogatory bumper stickers that seem to be covered under the First Amendment," he said, "whether or not you find them personally distasteful."
(Rocky Mountain News, Denver)

Um, "probably"?


That pesky Bill of Rights, part 2:

"They need a new law for these protesters: 'You cross the line, you do the time,' " said Kenneth E. Boring, 80, still apparently irritated by the experience as he waited to leave Reagan National Airport.

He and his wife Dottie, 59, of Dalton, Ga., are members of Republican Eagles, the elite GOP fundraising group, but they watched the president's speech from the Willard InterContinental Hotel. The security line was too long, they said, and made longer, in their opinion, by the protesters.

"It's time to put a stop to all this nonsense, protesting and causing confusion," Boring said. (The Washington Post)

Damn Bill of Rights freaks. Who do they think they are? Gitmo's too good for 'em.


Good Carson obit from Aaron Barnhart, TV critic of the Kansas City Star and proprietor of TV Barn:

He created the modern TV talk show, with its monologue as the signature piece. By poking fun at the foibles of public officials from John F. Kennedy to Dan Quayle, Carson became the country’s de facto fourth national newscaster.

He also became comforter-in-chief. His brand of light entertainment was tailored for the bedtime hour, with a well-honed formula of prepared comedy and conversation that played especially well in the middle America where he grew up.


Sign of the Times: Seen on the Buy 'n Fly gas station on Lincoln Way in White Oak --- "Steelers Items 50% Off."

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:09 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | No comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 28, 2005 | Link to this story

Rumors on the Internets

Category: default || By jt3y

Regular readers of the Tube City Daily Drivel ... I mean, the Tube City Almanac ... know that when I write of Our Fair City, I always link to its home page at

I don't mean to brag, but thanks to those efforts, when you search for "Our Fair City" on the web, Our Fair City is consistently among the top 30 results, beating out Portsmouth, Va.; Garland, Texas; San Diego, Calif.; and Cambridge, Mass., for the honors of being America's Fair City. At least on the Interweb.

(That other city somewhat north of Our Fair City doesn't even show up in a Google search for the words "Our Fair City." Ha!)

So I was delighted to see recently that Our Fair City had redesigned its website. According to a message from Mayor Brewster, the new design was done by some students at Carnegie Mellon, and it's really quite attractive.

It also includes an interactive community calendar, information about the McKees Point Marina, and links to other Web sites in and around Our Fair City. (No link to the Almanac, but what are you going to do? We may be Number 4,322, but we try harder.)

All in all, it's a big improvement over the old site, which itself was a big improvement over no site at all.

Still, this wouldn't be the Almanac if we didn't find some nits to pick, would it?

So the first thing that I found unusual was the banner that decorates the top of the page:

That's a handsome bridge, if I do say so myself.

And unfortunately, not anywhere within 50 miles of Our Fair City. In fact, if I had to hazard a guess, I strongly suspect that it's the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge over the Susquehanna River, which is about as unlike any bridge in the Mon-Yough metroplex as you can get. And I know that only because we took a family trip out the Lincoln Highway from Irwin to Lancaster one year.

If anyone from City Hall happens to read this, yours truly will gladly contribute a picture of a suitable bridge --- be it the Jerome Avenue Bridge, the 15th Avenue Bridge, one of the stone bridges in Renzie Park, or the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge, gratis, for you to incorporate into your Web site. You know the address.

The other teensy-weensy thing that someone might want to address is this paragraph on the history page:

Um, oops. Given that he's as popular around City Hall right now as General Sherman is in Atlanta, someone might want to fix that.

We've been pleased to offer this free advice as a public service of the Tube City Almanac, where misteaks are unpossible!

There are much more egregious errors about Our Fair City to be found on the Interweb, like this one from Yahoo! Maps:

(Click for larger view.)

Let the record show, your honor, that Yahoo! is sending users over a bridge that was torn down in the early 1930s.

To their credit, they do warn people: "When using any driving directions or map, it's a good idea to do a reality check and make sure the road still exists." Well, they're not kidding!

Would it be impolitic to call them a bunch of ... yahoos?


To Do This Weekend: In remembrance of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Holocaust survivor and White Oak resident Sam Weinrab discusses his personal experiences at 7:30 p.m. today at New Light Congregation, 1700 Beechwood Blvd., Squirrel Hill. Admission is free. Call (412) 421-1017. (More in the Post-Gazette.) ... Genesius Productions presents "Monk-y Business," at St. Anthony Hall in Mon City, at 8 p.m. today and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Call (724) 258-9710. Admission is $10. (More in the Herald-Standard.)

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:51 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | No comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 27, 2005 | Link to this story

Don McLean, Call Your Office

Category: default || By jt3y

The news hit the Mon-Yough Metroplex with the sharp crack of a 16-pound ball scoring a strike on league night at Lokay Lanes.

Or the crash of a snowplow hitting a loose manhole cover.

You know, something thunderous.

Like, um, thunder.

The Eastland Mall flea market is closing, reported Celanie Polanick in The Daily News:

The venue's approximately 200 vendors have until Feb. 4 to move their spreads of wares - some of which could fill a tractor-trailer truck, one vendor said --- according to a deal struck Monday morning between Benderson Development Co. Inc. and attorney David Shrager, who handled the initial negotiations pro bono. (...)

And some of them may not even be notified properly of the shutdown, said Carolyn Weber, who sold video games and other items at the market. She estimates 150 of the vendors didn't show up Monday, and probably won't know about the closing until they show up and find the building locked.

Right before they handed out fliers Sunday afternoon notifying vendors of the closing, the landlords collected rent for the month of January --- all the while knowing the last weekend flea market of the month never would happen, Weber said.

"They made a decision that they weren't going to put any work into this place, but they played it to the hilt," she said. "They drained everybody down to the bitter end. They took whatever they could."

Weber is being kind. If Eastland isn't torn down, it's going to fall down. The last time I was at the flea market, located in the old Gee Bee's store at the east side of the mall, giant tarps and wading pools were being used to collect water from the leaky roof. One woman in Polanick's story speaks of hordes of roaches swarming in the bathrooms.

As has been reported elsewhere on Tube City Online, Eastland is owned by one of the country's largest shopping center developers, Benderson Development, which owns 23 million square feet of retail and commercial space, including some very high-end malls.

Of which Eastland is decidedly not one.

Benderson has owned Eastland since 1988, but has never done much of anything to modernize it. Over the last couple of years, the company has allowed the 41-year-old mall to deteriorate rapidly; the entire basement has been boarded up for several years, and there's no heat in most of the center.

Why allow Eastland to fall apart? Who knows? It's definitely an old-fashioned shopping mall, chopped into relatively small stores, which makes it unattractive to large retailers who want "big box" properties. At this point --- with virtually no major upgrades to its plumbing, electrical or heating systems since the early 1970s --- Eastland would be easier to demolish than renovate.

That leads one to ask why Benderson bought Eastland in the first place. Speculation is rampant that Benderson has been using Eastland as a tax write-off for its other, upscale malls; and that the maintenance ended when the tax write-offs finally ran out. But no one knows for sure, and Benderson is a privately-held company, so it's not talking. (Nor is it under any obligation to talk.)

Maybe Eastland is destined to be demolished, like Greengate Mall over in Hempfield Township, to make way for a big-box store --- a Costco? A Wal-Mart? Another Target?

Time will tell what happens; for now, Beer World is still in business, and seems to be doing reasonably well, and there are a few other hardy souls hanging on inside Eastland Mall.

But it's not like it was in its hey-day.

I almost feel moved to song. Can we dim these lights?

Thanks. (Ahem.)

A long, long time ago,
I can still remember when the Eastland Mall was always full.
From Gimbels' to the hot-dog stand,
And Woolworth's toys were really grand,
And Penney's pantsuits
Still were cool.

But through the years, it made me shiver,
Watching broken tiles quiver.
Cracked concrete on the doorstep,
You had to watch your step.

I remember how I felt the blues,
When the "Eastland" sign came loose,
But nothing prepped me for the news,
The day the flea mart died.

They were singin',
Bye, bye Mr. Baseball Card Guy,
Bought a TV for a dollar but the tuner was fried,
A smelly drunk who didn't pull up his fly,
Was sayin', "This'll be the day the flea mart died,
"This'll be the day that it died."


Did you buy some moldy pogs,
Or an 8-track cartridge of The Troggs?
Or black-market Tylenol?
Have you eaten corn dogs on a stick,
And did they make you feel real sick,
So nauseous that you had to crawl?

The hubcap guy had bad B-O,
And the bathroom faucets wouldn't flow,
We still had lots of fun,
Buying rubbish in the sun.

I was a cheap and stingy yinzer freak,
And it was the highlight of my week,
But I knew that I was up the creek,
The day the flea mart died.

And they were singin',
Bye, bye Mr. Baseball Card Guy,
Bought a TV for dollar but the tuner was fried,
A smelly drunk who couldn't pull up his fly,
Was sayin', "This'll be the day the flea mart died,
"This'll be the day that it died."

Now when we want trash, where will we shop?
For rusty bikes and congealed slop,
That once was a can of paint?
Dry and rotten rubber balls,
Folding chairs from union halls,
And old nudie mags that now seem quaint?

But while the vendors caught some Z's,
The owners kicked them in the knees,
They chained and locked the doors,
And closed the crummy stores.

As lawyers looked for last reprieves,
And children wiped snot on their sleeves,
I confess I almost got the heaves,
The day the flea mart died.

And they were singin',
Bye, bye Mr. Baseball Card Guy,
Bought a TV for dollar but the tuner was fried,
A smelly drunk who wouldn't pull up his fly,
Was sayin', "This'll be the day the flea mart died,
"This'll be the day that it died."


I saw a man who sold old tools,
He called the owners a bunch of fools,
Then he spit and scratched his rear.
I drove down to the parking lot,
Where the fried dough maker once was hot,
But no funnel cakes were sold this year.

I suspect that soon enough,
Wal-Mart will be on this bluff,
Giant Eagle or a Target,
Or a mammoth supermarket.

For now, what we don't need at all,
Empty stores and a quiet hall,
Are all that's left at Eastland Mall,
The flea mart's died.

So, bye, bye, Mr. Baseball Card Guy,
The floors were always filthy, and so was the outside,
But I'll miss the leaky roof and the walls so cockeyed,
Because this'll be the day Eastland died.


Thank you! Thank you! Groupies can gather at the stage door!

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:33 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | four comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 26, 2005 | Link to this story

Owner of a No-Track Mind

Category: default || By jt3y

I can't remember my own phone number, where I put my brown sportcoat, or to get my wage tax payment in on time. But I can remember a piece of doggerel from a column that Peter Leo wrote in the Post-Gazette 20-odd years ago. And every time I see a salt truck, my brain coughs it up:

Over hill, over dale,
We will hit the snowy trail,
When the salt trucks go rolling along.
Hitch a ride, take the bus,
Even walking's dangerous,
When the salt trucks go rolling along.
For it's hi! Hi! Hey!
Here we are on the Parkway,
Hope you brought a change of clothes along.
If we weren't such boobs,
We'd have detoured 'round the tubes,
When the salt trucks went rolling along.

Then, last night, someone mentioned the '70s pop singer Phoebe Snow to me.

I replied: "Phoebe Snow was wont to go by railroad train to Buffalo. Her gown stays white from noon 'til night, upon The Road of Anthracite."

"How's that again?" he said.

"Phoebe Snow was an advertising character created for the old Lackawanna Railroad at the turn of the century," I said. "That was one of the little poems they created to go with the advertisements." I searched Google for "Phoebe Snow" and "Lackawanna" and within a few seconds had pulled up an entire page of Phoebe Snow rhymes.

"I assume that's where the singer Phoebe Snow got her name," I said. "The railroad's gimmick was that they burned hard anthracite coal, which didn't make as much soot, so people's clothes stayed cleaner."

My friend looked at me with astonishment. "How do you know this? Did you have to memorize this for school or something?"

"Um ... no. I just read it years ago, and it stuck with me."

I can't help it! Tell me something important, and you might as well be telling it to a brain-damaged poodle. Give me some useless information, and it burrows into my noggin forever, such as the facts that there is no Winky's in Wilmerding; Y-97FM is where the Three Rivers Come to a Y; First National Bank of McKeesport became Western Pennsylvania National Bank, which became Equibank, which merged with Integra Bank and now the whole shootin' match is National City; or that to load a file off of the disc drive of a Commodore 64, you had to type LOAD "filename", 8,1.

(If you forgot to type the "8,1" the computer would think you were trying to load a program from a cassette, and would prompt: "PRESS PLAY ON TAPE." Typing "POKE 53281" and then a number would change the color of the screen.)

What in the name of the Great Gildersleeve (a character originated on radio by Harold Peary, who ultimately left the show in a contract dispute ... arrgh! I'm doing it again) is the use of any of that trivia?

I'll be sitting in a chair, minding my own damn business, when some dusty cog in my brain will slip into gear, and this will tumble out:

Happiest drivers in the world,
Don't say Olds, say Bendik Olds!
Get complete full-service care,
Don't say Olds, say Bendik Olds!
Ardmore Boulevard in Wilkinsburg,
That's the place!
You'll find satisfaction, so,
Put on a happy face, and remember,
Don't say Olds, say Bendik Olds!
Don't say Olds, say Bendik Olds!
Don't say Olds,
Make it a Bendik Olds!

"You have a mind like a steel trap," my friend said.

"Yep," I said, "nothing gets in, and nothing gets out."

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:26 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | six comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 25, 2005 | Link to this story

Something Fishy About These Emails

Category: default || By jt3y

Some how, I've been put on a whole bunch of mailing lists. People seem to think that this daily page of foo has some influence, and every public-relations bumpkin (and as one myself these days, I know of what I speak) from Birch Bay, Wash., to North Lubec, Maine, now sends me press releases.

I'm not sure who decided that a freelance writer in McKeesport (Our Fair City), Pa., would be interested in news from the Canadian National Railways, but I get it religiously. If you want to know when the assistant regional district road superintendent for Sherbrooke, Quebec, is going to get promoted to senior assistant regional district road superintendent, just let me know. (Note to the professionals at CCNMatthews: Knock it off!)

For a long time I was on the mailing list of the Ayn Rand Institute. You would have a hard time finding someone less in agreement with Ayn Rand, one of the truly overrated writers of our time (others include the execrable John Grisham, but at least he hasn't spawned a political philosophy), than I am. Nevertheless, someone at the Ayn Rand Institute decided to send me nonsense several times a month. (Sample of a recent press release from ARI: "Social Security in any form is morally irredeemable." Sorry, granny, get off the dole! Ayn Rand says you should be eating cat food.)

Those have tapered off a bit since I complained to them, but occasionally, one slips through. Apparently, the Ayn Rand Institute needs no warrant or sanction to spam away, and it's perfectly logical to irritate other people with your junk mail. But I digress. Objectively, of course.

And then there's the Democratic National Committee. The sweet, misguided Democratic National Committee. Aren't they cute? More than two months after the election, they continue to email me missives full of invective about President Bush and his policies.

If your party had lost the White House, both houses of Congress, and the Supreme Court, I suppose you could focus on building a grass-roots effort in the South and West that could get some congressional candidates elected in 2006, and possibly turn some of the so-called red states into blue ones.

Or, you could continue to spend your time and money having staffers clog up my email box with useless "ACTION ALERTS!" How's that working out for you guys so far?

This week, there was a new email pest. Something called "Conservation Wire" wrote to inform me about an effort to list the "Northern Snakehead" fish as an endangered species.

I couldn't quite tell if they was fer it or agin it, but I couldn't give a tinker's dam for the Northern Snakehead fish, unless it tastes good dipped in batter and covered with hot sauce, in which case, I'll have three, and a cold Stoney's, please.

But since they didn't offer any recipes, Conservation Wire was no use to me, and after receiving several emails from them, I wrote back, saying "Remove me from your mailing list."

Then I went to get a cup of coffee.

I returned to find 250 emails in my inbox, and more arriving in batches every few seconds. It turns out that these nitwits at "Conservation Wire" were bouncing all of the "remove" requests to all of the other people on their mailing list. Not only did I get a copy of everyone else's removal requests, but everyone got a copy of mine.

I also all got copies of any messages that were bounced from any email addresses that weren't valid any more. So, presumably, did anyone else who was on the mailing list. And then they started to send emails to Conservation Wire. Which were resent to everyone else on the mailing list. Including the invalid email addresses. Which generated new bounced emails. Lather, rinse, repeat.

This thrilled me to no end. Or at least to the end of about another 250 emails.

Then I started to get emails from idiots who received my request to be removed from the Conservation Wire email list, complaining about how stupid I was for sending email to them.

I was nice to the first dozen or so, and then I started to tell them off: "Please look at the headers of the email. I didn't send this to you. I sent it to Conservation Wire, and they sent it to you. Complain to them."

Those have started to slack off, finally, but I just got another one, from the Webmaster of a radio station in Connecticut, who wrote to inform me that his station "does not have a mailing list and did not send out this email," and that he is "looking into the problem."

Go ahead and look into it, but I weep for your radio station, Charlie, if you're the Webmaster. Obviously, your reading comprehension skills leave something to be desired.

As for the people at Conservation Wire, who don't have any contact information anywhere on their Web site, I want to thank you for clogging my email box with several hundred pieces of useless crapola. I now know more about the endangered Northern Snakehead fish than I ever wanted to know. I still don't care, however.

I do know one thing --- I hope that if you go swimming this summer, you see a Northern Snakehead fish, swimming right toward you.

And I hope it crawls up somewhere that email won't reach, and bites you, hard.


Following up on yesterday's ecclesiastical Steelers Almanac, Alert Reader Officer Jim sends along the following fable to, as he says, "ease the pain a bit." It may not be original, but it is funny:

A Steelers fan amused himself by scaring every Patriots fan he saw strutting down the street in the obnoxious red, white and blue colors. He would swerve his van as if to hit them, and swerve back just missing them.

One day, while driving along, he saw a priest. He thought he would do a good deed and he pulled over and asked the priest, "Where are you going Father?" "I'm going to give mass at St. Joseph's church, about two miles down the road," replied the priest. "Climb in, Father! I'll give you a lift!"

The priest climbed into the passenger seat, and they continued down the road. Suddenly, the driver saw a Patriots fan walking down the road, and he instinctively swerved as if to hit him. But, as usual, he swerved back onto the road just in time. Even though he was certain that he had missed the guy, he still heard a "THUD." Not understanding where the noise came from, he glanced in his mirrors but still didn't see anything.

He then remembered the priest, and he turned to the priest and said, "I'm sorry Father, I almost hit that Patriots fan." "That's OK," replied the priest, "I got him with the door."

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:50 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | No comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 24, 2005 | Link to this story

The Gospel According to St. Myron

Category: default || By jt3y

Since I like to sleep late on the weekends, and our church offers a Sunday night service, I've gotten into the habit of going then.

Guess what last night's service happened to coincide with?

I'm not saying the crowd was small, but it was hardly worth turning the lights on. We could have held Mass around the kitchen table in the rectory, and still had room left to roll in a television and catch the game.

Not that we needed that kind of temptation. As it was, I have this feeling that several people were already following the game on their Walkmans. Otherwise, their reactions to the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians --- "No! No, dammit!" --- were surprisingly vehement.

Even Father's hearing aid looked suspiciously large, though no one thought it was at all odd when he offered a petition "that the Patriots shall be fooled by the play-action fake, and that we can convert the third down, we pray to the Lord."

I'll admit, it was a bit much when Father dedicated the eucharistic prayer to "our bishop Donald, our coach, Bill, and all of his assistant coaches." And when the ushers brought up the offerings, I wish those two clowns in the back of church hadn't started yelling, "De-fense! De-fense!"

But the homily was nice, and made use of very effective imagery, as when Father called for "the infinite justice and wisdom of the Lord to split the uprights of our hearts."

Of course, as it turns out, the service ended a bit too soon. I got in the car just in time to hear the Patriots score the third touchdown of the first half.

If only we'd known, we could have stayed in church a few minutes longer, and asked for last rites.


For further meditation:

Big Ben is our Shepherd, I shall not want Maddox,
He leadeth us to the AFC Championship game,
But our receivers holdeth not the ball.
Yea, though we walk through the valley of the Field of Heinz,
We fear no Belichick, for thy Cowher art with us.
Though thy team kicketh on fourth down,
We shall not foresake them.
Thy Tunch and thy Bix comfort us.
Surely thy tailgaters shall returneth next year,
And shall dwell in the parking lots of the Rooneys for hours.


Give me the patience to accept the plays they could not change,
The courage to call the talk shows and complain about the ones they could have changed,
And the wisdom not to kick the television.

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:43 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | one comment | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 21, 2005 | Link to this story

Bits 'n Bytes

Category: default || By jt3y

Things I found on the Internet while looking for other things:

During my mediocre career as a newspaper reporter, I had many occasions to deal with local police departments. And now that he's retired, there's no chance (I don't think) of being accused of a conflict of interest by saying that I enjoyed dealing with Chuck Henaghan, the former police chief in North Huntingdon Township.

That's not to say that he always answered my questions --- because he didn't. Or that I always asked reasonable questions --- because I didn't. Yet that's the give-and-take between the government and the "free press" in the U.S. that you expect, and Chief Henaghan was always professional about it. Plus he never lied to me. You might say, "big deal," but, believe me, it is.

I'd like to think that the respect was mutual. When I told him that I was leaving the newspaper business, Chief Henaghan said, and I quote: "That's too bad. You were one of the few reporters I deal with who wasn't a pain in the ass."

I'm going to use that on my tombstone.

And, he tells great stories, like the ones he told Norm Vargo in a profile for the Post-Gazette:

"Just two weeks on the job, and there I was raiding the Pagans," recalled Henaghan, who retired Jan. 3 after 35 years on the township force, the past 14 as chief. "I was at the Mason Apartments on Route 30. Sgt. Frank Baker tossed me a shotgun and told me to go around the back of the building and hide. If anyone ran out, I was supposed to stop them. I remember thinking, 'Stop a Pagan? Me? How? Do I shoot 'em. trip 'em, or what?'"

You'll have to read the story to see what happened next. Happy retirement, Chief.


Speaking of Norm Vargo, have I mentioned he's got a book out? Shame on me.

It's a great little paperback called Stadium Stories: Pittsburgh Steelers, and it collects some of Vargo's favorite behind-the-scenes tales of covering the Steelers from the bad old days before Chuck Noll became coach, right through the present day.

Vargo, of course, is the former sports editor of the Daily News and a heck of a nice guy. The book's a quick read, and the price is right (less than $9).


Also from North Huntingdon comes word via Craig Smith in the Tribune-Review that the old Murphy's Mart near the Turnpike is about to be bulldozed to make way for a Target.

Meanwhile, Mark Belko reports in the P-G that the Downtown Pittsburgh G.C. Murphy store would likely be turned into housing under the latest redevelopment plan.

Sic transit gloria Murphy's?


For Christmas, an old friend gave me a copy of Berke Breathed's Opus, a collection of Sunday comic strips featuring the eponymous penguin from "Bloom County," "Outland" and "Opus." I was a big "Bloom County" fan, and was curious to see how the strips held up. Quite well, in fact. Better than Breathed's newer stuff, unfortunately.

In a related matter, I stumbled over this webpage devoted to "Bloom County"'s fictional Banana Jr. computer. Maybe you have to be a fan of the comic strip to appreciate it, but I found it funny.

The rest of the site is worth a look, too. It has screen captures and information about various early personal computers with desktop-style operating systems --- "GUIs," or "graphical user interfaces," in other words.


To Do This Weekend: Other than shoveling snow? ... "Acoustic Mayhem" plays on Saturday night at Perrone's Ristorante, 13380 Lincoln Way, North Huntingdon. Call (724) 863-1900. ... the Pittsburgh Jitter-Bug Club hosts the Al Lewis Orchestra (presumably not led by Grandpa Munster) at The Palisades, Fifth Avenue at Water Street, Our Fair City, at 9 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $15 per couple or $8 a person. Call (412) 678-6979.

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:06 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | No comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 20, 2005 | Link to this story

Forgotten, But Not Gone

Category: default || By jt3y

From the Tube City Almanac's national affairs desk, there's great news for Senator Yawn Kerry. Just off of a triumphant tour of Iraq, where soldiers and Marines greeted him with loud applause, Kerry is getting good notices from Democrats for his grilling of Condoleezza Rice during her Senate confirmation hearings.

Meanwhile, there's new trouble for President Bush. Fifty-six percent of Americans say the country has "gone off the track"; 60 percent say they wouldn't put their own Social Security money into the stock market; and about two-thirds think that the United States is going to have a larger budget deficit in four years. And only 39 percent of the country agrees the war in Iraq was a good idea.

Yes, it seems like Kerry's presidential campaign is finally hitting its peak.

OK, so there's also some bad news for Kerry.

What exactly is Kerry trying to accomplish? Does he think he's setting up a government in exile? Or maybe he thinks he's the minority leader of the loyal opposition, and he's going to appoint a "shadow cabinet," like they do in Britain.

Well, I've got a shocking update for him: He may be a Tory, but this isn't the House of Commons. And if he wants to set up a government in exile, he needs to leave the country.

Preferably for an island.

With no phones, TV studios or Internet access.

Maybe Kerry is gearing up for a run in 2008. If so, this could be the longest presidential primary in history --- and he'd best remember that there's a lot that can happen in three years. Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were re-elected in a landslide in 1972; less than two years later, Agnew was a convicted felon* and Nixon had resigned in disgrace.

... not that I'm saying that such a thing is likely for George W. Bush (though I do get all tingly just thinking it).

In any event, Kerry should not assume that he's the presumptive nominee in 2008. In fact, having flown his campaign into the side of a mountain in 2004, I'd hope, for the Democratic Party's sake, that he doesn't get the nomination in 2008. (Of course, they did nominate him in the first place, so how smart are they?)

I had another thought. Namely, that it's possible that Kerry thinks Inauguration Day is something like the Academy Awards.

I can see it now: Chief Justice William Rehnquist steps up to the podium today and reads from his card. "And the nominees for President of the United States are: George W. Bush, 'Texas.' John F. Kerry, 'Massachusetts.' Michael Bednarik, 'Texas.' Ralph Nader, 'District of Columbia.'"

Rehnquist tears open an envelope: "And the winner is ... John F. Kerry, 'Massachusetts'!"

The Marine Band strikes up "All Hail To Massachusetts" as Kerry walks to the reviewing stand, wearing a tuxedo. The cameras catch George and Laura Bush, smiling through tight lips and applauding. Rehnquist shakes Kerry's hand as a beautiful woman in a gown presents him with a gold-plated gavel.

And then 21 pigs fly over the U.S. Capitol in formation.

This is not to say that Kerry should necessarily drop off of the face of the Earth, like Michael Dukakis and Walter Mondale did. Barry Goldwater was shellacked in 1964, but had a long and distinguished career in the Senate. Nixon narrowly lost in 1960 and was humiliated in the California gubernatorial race in 1962, only to stage a triumphant comeback.

But at least both Nixon and Goldwater allowed their opponents to have their moments in the spotlight before they re-emerged onto the national scene. Kerry keeps acting as if Nov. 2 never happened. As Jonathan Potts puts it, "he is quickly growing tiresome in defeat."

More to the point, the time to show your leadership, Senator Kerry, was in August, September and October. There's no point rushing to the pier after the boat has left the harbor.

In the words of the old song: How can we miss you, if you won't go away?


Tim Rowland's column in the Hagerstown, Md., Herald-Mail about a streaker at Wal-Mart is one of the funniest things I've read in a newspaper in a long time. Unfortunately, you need to pay to read it on the H-M's website, but thanks to Google's cache, it's still available for a little while:

The call came across the police scanner on Tuesday, and the astonishment in the dispatcher's voice wasn't dry yet, when people were coming up right and left saying, "Hey, you'll want to hear this, there's a streaker at Wal-Mart."

Then came the cell phone calls. There must have been people in the parking lot agonizing over which number to punch in first, 911 or 5131.

Let me ask you something, why do you think I would care? What is there about some textile-challenged dude outside of a discount store that makes you think of me?

Is that all I am to you? Some doofus who traffics in lowbrow circumstance, who swims among the lowest common denominator of human existence feeding off the scraps of humanity's bottomless chum bucket?

Well, let me tell yoouuu something. I have feelings, too. I have an intellect. I have more to offer than rube commentary on a surplus of skin. All my life I have struggled to succeed. I have toiled at the wheel of journalistic ethos, logic and wisdom. And do I get any credit for this? Oh, no. All I get is, "Hey, better call Tim because there's a streaker at Wal-Mart."

I don't want to reprint the whole thing --- not the least of all because it's a copyright violation --- but it gets funnier and funnier:

By the way, too bad the guy --- who calmly dropped his pants at one end of the shopping center and strolled to the other --- didn't make it as far as the greeters, don't you think? That would have been cool. "Good morning and welcome to Wa..." and about that time the bifocals come into focus and, "...EEEEEK!" Best they could do was let him in and steer him to the aisle where they keep the underpants.

I loved the police quote, that the man appeared "lucid, at points." Which points? When he was naked in front of Pier 1 or when he was naked in front of Circuit City? Hopefully, he didn't do any window shopping; that's the last image you want to see pressed up against the plate glass.


Closer to home, the Daily News' Pat Cloonan had an interview this week with that "little nurse from Elizabeth," as she was famously dismissed by all-but-forgotten Allegheny County commissioner Dr. William Hunt of White Oak. Barbara Hafer is out of public office for the first time since 1984, but according to Cloonan, she hasn't yet ruled out a bid for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate in 2006.

* --- Correction, Not Perfection: I originally wrote that Spiro Agnew went to jail; of course, he pleaded "nolo contendere" to charges of income tax evasion, thus avoiding jail time. He was placed on probation instead. (Go back.)

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:36 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | one comment | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 19, 2005 | Link to this story

Film at 11, Firings at 11:30

Category: default || By jt3y

The TV newscast I'd like to see tonight:

ANCHOR: And the big story tonight, of course, it's the snow. NewsCenter 17's Barb Blowdryer is out at the Parkway East right now with ActionCam 17. Barb, how's it look out there?

BARB (she's wearing a scarf wrapped around her perky hairdo): What the hell do you think it looks like, you moron? The snow was 11 hours ago. Get a clue.

ANCHOR: Er ... um ... things are lot better than they were for this morning's rush, aren't they?

BARB (talking in a dumb guy voice): Duh, gee whiz, I guess dey are, ah yep yep yep. (Talking normally.) You're a real ass, you know that? I should have listened to my mother and gone to law school ... (picture abruptly goes black)

ANCHOR: Obviously some technical difficulties right now, thanks for that report Barb. NewsCenter 17's Will Uplink was out on the area roadways this morning, and he's standing by right now with the ActionCam on Green Tree Hill. What did it look like this morning, Will?

WILL: Take a look at this video we shot this morning right here on Green Tree Hill.

WILL (on tape, it's daylight, and he's sticking his microphone into the window of a stopped SUV): How long have you been out here?

DRIVER: Oh, about an hour, maybe 90 minutes. It was terrible. It took me a half-hour just to get to the end of my street.

WILL: Did you think then that maybe you should have turned around?

DRIVER (laughing): Oh, yeah, but no, I had to get somewhere today. I promised I'd go to Wal-Mart.

WILL: That makes you kind of a stupid jackass, doesn't it?

DRIVER (stops laughing): How's that?

WILL: Well, if it took you a half-hour to get to the end of your street, then you had to assume that everything else was (bleeped) up also. So only a complete stupid jackass would keep driving, right?

DRIVER (winding up window): Hey, (bleep) you, OK, (bleep)?

WILL (live again): As you can see, we had a lot of stupid jackasses on the roads this morning who didn't have to be anywhere, and once you add in the people who can't drive, there were a lot of problems this morning. Reporting live with from Green Tree Hill, I'm Will Uplink, NewsCenter 17.

ANCHOR (looks pale, but recovers): Um, thanks, Will. Well, let's go over to WeatherCenter 17 and ask meteorologist Burt Doppler. Burt, what exactly did we see this morning?

BURT (sitting in front of a bank of computers): Snow. Are you blind? It snowed. It was cold, and then it snowed. Wow! What a concept! Tonight? Maybe more snow. How much? We'll find out when we get it. I'll have a silly-ass guess about your WeatherCenter 17 five-day forecast in a few minutes.

ANCHOR (now sweating visibly): And with SportsCenter 17, here's Andy Yardlines. Andy! Big Steeler game coming up this weekend. Are the Steelers getting ready?

ANDY: No, they're sitting around watching porn and eating nachos.

ANCHOR(tries to laugh): Ha! Ha! Right. So how are they getting ready?

ANDY: What the (bleep) kind of an asinine question is that? They're practicing, you clown.

ANCHOR (slips a finger under his shirt collar): Erm ... um ... any predictions?

ANDY: I'll predict that Sunday night, the Steelers and the Patriots will play football at Heinz Field. (Theme music swells in background.)

ANCHOR: Coming up next. Are your children being exposed to harmful chemicals at school? Our NewsCenter 17 consumer reporter Yolanda Barcode has the answer.

YOLANDA (off mike, shouting): No!

(Fade to black.)

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:10 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | two comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 18, 2005 | Link to this story

Hee-e-e-e-e-e-rrre's Jerky!

Category: default || By jt3y

You know Ed, it was pretty cold today.

(How cold was it?)

Well, Ed, it was so cold that I saw a politician on Grant Street with his hands in his own pockets.

It's so cold that I saw a guy at CoGo's dumping ice cubes down his trousers to warm up.

And that's not even the worst problem Colteryahn's is having; their cows are giving soft-serve ice cream. But I wouldn't eat the chocolate.

It's so cold that the flame at the top of the smokestack at the Irvin Works is frozen solid.

It's so cold I saw someone warming their hands on a witch's ... um ... hat.

It's so cold a kid licked someone coming out of the Polish National Alliance, and his tongue stayed there.

(That's a joke grenade. It takes a while to go off.)

It's so cold that the DPW is out at Renzie Park, feeding hot sauce to the ducks at Lake Emilie to keep them from freezing to the water.

It's so cold that people in Downtown Pittsburgh are buying hot pretzels just to scrape off the salt and throw it on the sidewalks.

It's so cold that the hearts of two state legislators just melted.

It's so cold that the Port Authority has decided to privatize its transit routes --- and they gave the contract to Seven Springs.

It's so cold that the polar bears at the Pittsburgh Zoo have asked to be traded to the Phoenix Zoo for two penguins and a seal to be named later.

It's so cold that two Penguins have also asked to be traded to Phoenix.

In fact, it's so cold that the National Hockey League has cancelled all of its games on account of cold weather. Oh, wait, never mind.

But it is so cold that you can ice the pucks while they're on the shelves at Natale's.

It's so cold that for 99 cents, Sam's Hot Dogs will line your pockets with hot chili and onions.

It's so cold that White Oak has renamed "Foster Road" as "Defroster Road," while "Cool Spring Road" is now know as "Damned Cold Spring Road." Lincoln Way, meantime, is being called "Frozen Booger Boulevard," for no apparent reason.

It's so cold that States Tire is selling snow tires made from real snow.

It's so cold that ER doctors at UPMC McKeesport have just issued the following warning to high school boys: Do not attempt to write your name in the snow if your name is "Theophilus Jehosaphat Morganfield."

It's so cold that I've run this idea firmly into the ground. Anyone want to contribute their own "it's so cold" ideas? Click on the comment link, but keep 'em PG-rated.

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:20 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | one comment | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 14, 2005 | Link to this story

Local Man Held on Anti-Steeler Charges

Category: default || By jt3y


A 53-year-old North Versailles Township man was arrested today after police say he exhibited insufficient Steeler fandom.

Armed with arrest and search warrants, state police and agents from the Department of Steeler Nation Security arrested Joseph A. Stushkowski at his Greensburg Avenue home. Police said that when he was apprehended, he was peeling potatoes on top of last Sunday's special Post-Gazette section about the Steelers.

Stushkowski was arraigned at the Heinz Field Great Hall by U.S. Senior District Judge Charles H. Noll on charges of failure to purchase, consume or transport Steeler merchandise; attempted ignorance of the over-under; and possession of non-football-related library books with intent to read them.

He was released after posting 50 quarts of Hagan Steelers Sundae Ice Cream as bond. A hearing has not yet been set.

The arrest comes on the eve of Saturday's match-up between the Steelers and the New York Jets, and follows a series of highly-publicized raids on Steeler Sundays at bookstores, art museums and the Pittsburgh Zoo, where officials allege people were "flagrantly ignoring" football games.

John Fedko, chief prosecutor for the Department of Steeler Nation Security for the Western District of Pennsylvania, said agents received an anonymous tip that Stushkowski had failed to wear Steelers garb today, which was officially declared "Black and Gold Day" by Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy.

According to court documents, further investigation revealed that he had been known to go grocery shopping or set up appointments on Sundays in the fall and winter without ever considering whether the Steelers were playing.

Today's raid on the suspect's home uncovered no evidence of Steelers jerseys, caps, commemorative beer cans or foam hats, Fedko said.

"And yet we did find a hat from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats," he said. "Canadian football. It's almost as if he was mocking us."

Neighbors said they had been suspicious of Stushkowski's level of Steelers fandom for months.

"He doesn't even fly a black and gold Steelers flag on his house," said Wilson Spaulding, who lives nearby. "Just that American one. And yinz mean to tell me that he can't even bother to wear a Steelers tassle cap in the wintertime?"

Spaulding, clad in an authentic Jerome Bettis jersey, pointed to evidence of Steeler fandom at other houses on the street, including bedsheets with spray-painted "7"'s that flapped from several windows.

"You can see it doesn't take much, so there's no excuse," Spaulding said. "Between these miniature Steelers helmet twinkle lights, the flag, the inflatable Steeler player, the black and gold artificial flowers and the canvas banners, I've probably only spent a few thousand dollars."

Stushkowski's attorney, Clifford Stoudt of Columbus, Ohio, said his client's commitment to the Steelers is "unquestionable."

"He listens to all of the Steelers games on the radio, owns several of Jim O'Brien's books, an authentic cork bulletin board silk screened with the statistics of the Steelers' 1978 championship season, and an original yellow on white 'Terrible Towel' purchased by his father at Gimbels' Eastland store," Stoudt said. "I call that long-term loyalty."

But prosecutors and legal experts said that Steelers nostalgia is not enough.

"This is a new team, a new time," said Mark Madden, who holds the Pittsburgh Brewing Co. chair in the Department of Steelermania at Robert Morris University. "This is a chance for a new generation to cheer for new heroes."

The Department of Steeler Nation Security, or Stenatsec, was formed after radical cowboys from Dallas, Texas, launched terrorist attacks against Steeler Nation on Jan. 28, 1996.

Comprised of a merger between Franco's Italian Army, Gerela's Gorillas, Frenchy's Foreign Legion and Bradshaw's Brigade, the department has recently been criticized for alleged abuse of prisoners, including reports that detainees have been forced to listen to The Fan Club's rendition of "Here We Go Steelers" for up to 24 hours straight.

Yet prosecutors say drastic measures are necessary to prevent other forms of sports fandom from overtaking Steelermania. According to declassified intelligence reports from field agents of Stenatsec, there remain pockets of football resistance in Western Pennsylvania, where fans hold out for baseball and basketball, and even soccer and hockey.


To Do This Weekend: You may have heard rumors about a football game Saturday. Don't become the next statistic.

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:34 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | three comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 13, 2005 | Link to this story

Food & Drink, 641 (See Also "Meals & Table Service, 642")

Category: default || By jt3y

I worked at the library all through high school and college.

(Dork! Dork! Excuse me, I have a "dork" caught in my throat. Please, continue.)

As I was saying, I worked at the library all through high school and college. By my senior year of college, I had worked my way up to complete obscurity as a supervisor, which meant that I had a key to the building, oversaw several work-study students, and had the power to ... oh, I don't know. Turn the lights on and off.

(Wow! So you were head dork?)

Quiet, you.

Library work suits my temperament well, but as the building supervisor at night, I was a terror. I lacked only the brown shirt, the peaked cap, the plus-fours tucked into my jackboots, and the swagger stick to complete the picture. "Conan the Librarian," they called me.

No, not really. But actually, we all took our duties very seriously, as only a $5.75 per hour undergraduate with a badge can take them. By God, we were going to be efficient!

Leave your cell phone or purse unattended while you went to the bathroom, and you could expect to find one of campus police's official warning cards when you returned: "GUARD YOUR POSSESSIONS! A THIEF CAN STEAL YOUR VALUABLES AS EASILY AS WE LEFT THIS CARD." Talk too loudly, and we'd be around to hush you.

So you're a faculty member and you need this book for a class? Well, too bad, professor deadbeat! Return the 400 books you already have checked out, and maybe we'll consider it. And when the library was closing, that meant we were closing, buster. The fact that you had a term paper due the next day did not bother us in the least. Scram, you derelict!

If only there hadn't been so many books around, we could have turned the fire hose on people. (We didn't allow dogs in the library, except seeing-eye dogs, so releasing the hounds wasn't an option.)

When the Internet was new, we'd occasionally get some pervert surfing porn on a public computer; if he (it was always a "he") was doing more than just looking, we called the cops. (I wasn't about to touch them --- would you?)

We heard stories from other academic libraries where people were caught doing the nasty in the stacks, but that never happened while I was on the beat. Of course, that's not to say that some people weren't getting a little bit too involved in the Kama Sutra, if you know what I mean, but I never saw it.

The absolute big kahuna drive-us-up-the-wall library violation was eating and drinking. Some people would go through elaborate ruses to sneak food or beverages into the building, and would demurely sip from a water bottle concealed in their purses, or snack from a bag of candy.

Others would just load a backpack up with chips, pretzels, salads, sandwiches, pop, watermelon, hibachis, shish kebabs, popcorn poppers, picnic blankets and maybe even volleyball nets, and go to town. Once in a while, I'd find someone upstairs; with one hand, they would be paging through a rare 19th century volume of full-color plates depicting great Italian renaissance paintings; and with the other, they would be eating a meatball hoagie with extra sauce.

Did you ever see a cartoon where a character turned red, and steam whistles sprouted from their ears?

Yeah, our reactions were something like that.

So imagine my reaction when I finally made it over to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's main branch this week, and goggled at the first floor. They're serving coffee and pastries there. In a library. With books nearby! They have big comfy chairs to encourage you to spend time hanging out and reading. You can even eat while you read. While you read, people!

And when it's time to check out a book, you go to a checkout aisle near the front entrance, and they hand you a little receipt at the end of the transaction.

What's next? Shopping carts? A tire center? Dogs and cats, living together?

It's part of the library's effort to become more friendly to consumers. The Carnegie Library's remodeling effort was based on the look of retail bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders, which feature restaurants and areas to browse. The place was busy on a weeknight, and not just with the usual crowd of the elderly, perverts and school kids, so the changes must be having some effect.

Change is good, but it will take me some time to get used to this new attitude of permissiveness. I just hope the Carnegie Library draws the line someplace.

If any of the librarians read this, let me issue this warning: If you see someone taking a six-pack of malt liquor, a blanket and a box of prophylactics back to the area where you keep the Kama Sutra, don't wait to act until it's too late.

And if you aren't sure what to do, call me; somewhere, I might still have some of those little warning cards from campus police.

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:15 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | No comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 12, 2005 | Link to this story

Yellow Journalism

Category: default || By jt3y

Good lord. Some people wonder why newspaper circulation is dropping. Not me: Just look at the horrible photo --- in full color, yet --- that's on the front page of the Post-Gazette's South edition today.

It's not on the Web yet, thank God, so there may be time to shield your loved ones --- or in some cases, your wives and children.

Personally, I'm taking the rest of the day off; in fact, I think I might be sick. Did anyone really need to see something like that when they were trying to eat breakfast?

UPDATE: Sweet baby Jebus. Apparently, they are allowed to put things like this online. Alert the Department of Total Information Awareness. Notice the subject is caught in a rare moment: With his mouth closed. Story here.

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 07:58 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | two comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 11, 2005 | Link to this story

Tony Takes the Big Sleep?

Category: default || By jt3y

In response to yesterday's Almanac, an Alert Reader points out in the comments: "(What) used to be Sleep Mart is going out of business everywhere, at least judging from their signage and radio commercials. So, I guess, Tony's had it."

I'll throw in this for free: (Rimshot).

If Sleep Mart is truly folding up its tents, then "Tony's Got It" is yet another example of a clever advertising campaign that was an absolute failure at moving products.

Every ad had those annoying people saying "Tony's Got It! Tony's Got It! Tony's Got It!" until the phrase was embedded in our brains. But they barely mentioned what the real name of the stores was --- "Sleep Mart" --- nor did they emphasize what the stores sold --- namely, mattresses and bedding.

You may have also seen the commercials for AFLAC that feature Gilbert Gottfried returning the corporate spokesduck to the pet store. According to The Wall Street Journal, while the duck commercials have taken AFLAC's name recognition from 12 percent to 90 percent, most of the people who saw the ads still had no idea what the company sold.

For the record: AFLAC sells supplemental insurance for long-term care, or for people who might go on long-term disability after an illness or injury.

Now, if only Tony could have gotten together with a duck, and maybe the gecko from Geico, we might have been able to create commercials so horrifying that Alberto Gonzales wouldn't even allow them to be shown to prisoners.


After a hiatus of several months, Christopher Livingston's "Not My Desk" is back in business (sort of) at


"Detroitblog" blows the lid off of the life of a newspaper reporter while attending the North American International Auto Show in his fair city:

Really, as with most press days everywhere, the main appeal for people like me (press types) is the freebies --- the cocktails, the appetizers, the free lunches and dinners, the gimmicky toy giveaways, and the lovely models --- have I mentioned the models? Events like this are the one thing for journalists that almost makes up for the crappy pay, the bad hours, the large number of demented and emotionally disturbed coworkers drawn to this profession, and the utter lack of job security. So if it sounds privileged, it’s really basically a matter of “Well, you might not have a job next week, but here’s a free sandwich and a beer.”


There's lots of riveting coverage of the towboat tragedy in the local prints, including a very good piece by Reid Frazier of the Tribune-Review and a great "tick-tock" by Bob Bauder, J.D. Prose and Stephanie Waite in the Beaver County Times.

As far as I can tell, Frazier is the only reporter to get the towboat company's side of the story, while the Times' piece includes some fairly heartbreaking comments from the families of the victims.


Finally, there's hope for me at last, according to Alana Semuels in the Post-Gazette:

In October, the Cleveland Clinic was the first institution to receive approval from its institutional review board to perform human facial tissue transplantation --- face transplants --- on severely disfigured patients. And doctors in Louisville, Ky. published an article in the American Journal of Bioethics last fall announcing their intention to move face transplants from the realm of speculation to clinical trials.

I've been told that after they made my face, they broke the mold.

They also fired the mold maker, bulldozed the factory and salted the ground.

(Tip of the Tube City hard hat to an anonymous reader.)

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:04 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | four comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 10, 2005 | Link to this story

Notes, Nits and Nuances

Category: default || By jt3y

Alert Reader Officer Jim wrote in to take note of the helpful new reminders erected (presumably) by PennDOT and the Allegheny County DPW:

Have you happened through White Oak recently? At the intersection of Route 48 and Lincoln Way there are very large signs informing all that they are at the intersection of Lincoln Way and Jacks Run Road. Have I missed something? I usually miss a lot, but I thought it was still Long Run Road.

They are indeed large. Large enough to be read from a low-flying airplane, I suspect, and well out of scale with the rest of the intersection. My tax dollars at work.

The flipside, of course, is that highway signs can be too small. I was in Perryopolis over the weekend and came out of a side street looking for Route 51. Instead of the normal Pennsylvania highway "keystone" shields there was a tiny street sign on a telephone pole, like you'd use in a subdivision: "RT 51."

Other signs that caught my attention --- but which I didn't have time to photograph --- included a "Sinclair" gas station sign somewhere between Connellsville and Perryopolis, more than 30 years after Sinclair stopped selling gasoline in Pennsylvania. Dino still held his head high after all of these years, and why shouldn't he? There wasn't a speck of rust on him, as far as I could tell.


I had an appointment Sunday morning in Downtown Pittsburgh (you know, that place a few miles north of Our Fair City). Other than a handful of skaters using the ice rink at PPG Place, some derelicts, and a few people working in fast-food restaurants, I had an area of several blocks around Market Square to myself.

The old Murphy's store is a sad shell of its former self. The sight of it would be enough to make a Murphy man cry. W.C. Shaw and J.S. Mack would spit nails if they saw the flagship of the chain abandoned like that.

But the nearby buildings aren't much better. Someone had chucked a brick through one of the plate glass windows of the old Lerner Shops, and glass still littered the pavement at lunchtime Sunday. The first floor of what was The Bank Center complex is occupied by a "dollar discount" store. Several merchants had piled big stacks of garbage out for collection, but it wasn't clear when collection was going to happen, because the trash had obviously been picked through by the homeless, and scraps of it were blowing into the street.

The shiny new Lazarus store lacks only big floppy ears and a tail to make it look completely like a white elephant, and the busiest people downtown seem to be the graffiti "artists"; I could actually smell fresh spray paint in a couple of alleyways, although I didn't see anyone actually tagging.

A block or so away, I saw parents unloading cars as students at Point Park University returned to the dorms. I can't imagine what moms and dads think about the appearance of Downtown Pittsburgh, and I wonder how many of them arrive in town for a campus visit, turn the car around, and drive away.

An acquaintance who worked in Downtown Our Fair City in the 1970s and '80s, and who works in Downtown Pittsburgh now, says he's starting to get the same feeling walking on Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh as he used to get walking on Fifth Avenue in Our Fair City --- that of a business district in free-fall.

I don't care to speculate on who the next mayor of Picksberg will be. Frankly, I don't have a dog in the fight. But whoever it is will have to stop chasing the fantasy that high-bucks retailers are going to return to the Golden Triangle, and quit building multi-million dollar attractions which stand empty or mostly empty for weeks at a time, like stadia and convention centers.

Instead, the focus should be on creating affordable housing for both young marrieds and retired couples. Get people living Dahntahn --- besides the people sleeping on steam grates, that is --- and I suspect retail and entertainment will follow, organically, and funded by the private sector. Putting some free parking around would help, too (I know, I'm living in a fantasy land).

Oh, and pick up the trash on the weekends, for cripes' sakes. If I want to see corridors filled with piles of old clothes, paper goods and other junk, I'll visit my basement.


Alert Reader Arden reports that the Los Angeles Times has finally yanked the spectacularly unfunny comic strip "Garfield" from its pages. (He's fat! He hates Mondays! He eats lasagna! Laughing yet?)

According to Editor & Publisher, the Times is trying to "get some new talent" in the comics pages.

Bully for them. I hope they don't cave into complaints, though I some how suspect they will. Next, can someone take "Marmaduke" to the vet and put him out of his (and our) misery?

You know what the joke is in "Marmaduke"? He's a big dog! Hilarity ensues!

Writes Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune, "I only wish we ran the non-adventures of that charmless cat so we could yank the strip, too. What's your least favorite daily strip in the Tribune? ... Me, I can't decide between 'Hagar the Horrible' and 'Broom-Hilda.'"

Oh, Lord, he's right. Those are worse. Don't even get me started on them.


Signs along Route 30 in North Huntingdon Township indicate that the Sleep Mart location next to Hamilton Buick is closing. Does this mean that Tony doesn't got it?

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:31 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | six comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 07, 2005 | Link to this story

Boycotts Boycotted Here

Category: default || By jt3y

Several people have sent the following email in care of the Tube City Almanac National Affairs Desk, and I've gotten so many copies now, I thought I'd share it with you:

Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not One Damn Dime Day" in America.

On "Not One Damn Dime Day" those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending.

During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend any money. Not one damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn dime for necessities or for impulse purchases. Not one damn dime for nothing for 24 hours.

On "Not One Damn Dime Day," please boycott Wal-Mart, Kmart, and Target ... Please don't go to the mall or the local convenience store. Please don't buy any fast food (or any groceries at all for that matter).

For 24 hours, please do what you can to shut the retail economy down.

This is simply a brilliant idea. Brilliant! Instead of doing something tangible, just don't buy anything for a day. What a concept!

That way, to take out your anger on the President, you can hurt some local merchant instead of the Republican National Committee. So Bill, who owns the local gas station, and the old man who owns the grocery store in my neighborhood (also known to the readers of the Almanac as "The House of Rancid Lunchmeat") can be penalized, while you walk around feeling smug.

OK, Bill and Lunchmeat Guy and the people who own the dairy store where I get my coffee won't be hurt that bad, I suppose. After all, if every leftist who gets this email acts on it, then retail sales in the United States on Jan. 20 might fall by, what? One-tenth of one percent?

Wow! I'll just bet Karl Rove has been reduced to a quivering mass of gelatin by that prospect. According to the Census Bureau, total retail sales in the U.S. for the third quarter of last year were about $916.5 billion, or $10 billion per day. A drop of 1/10th of one percent would be equivalent to $10,000,000, or about what Wal-Mart does in net sales every 20 minutes, or what Starbucks sells in a day. (I did the math.)

If the American economy was shaken to its hustings like this, could impeachment of the President be far behind?

I asked one of the people who sent this email to me if I was allowed to use the commode on Jan. 20. After all, flushing the commode uses water, which helps support the water company. I didn't get a straight answer.

Should I use electricity that day? Did Duquesne Light executives donate to the President's re-election campaign? I'm not sure! People, I need facts!

Anyway, this is just the kind of meaningless pouting that has enabled the far-right to laugh at Democrats for the past four years, and mock them as incompetent, intolerant whiners; and which resulted, in part, in the 2 percent "mandate" that the President now enjoys.

So, I say "bravo" to the organizers of the "Not One Damn Dime Day!" It's oh-so-fraught with deep symbolism and evokes a couch-potato version of Marxism, while not actually requiring any real effort on the part of the participants.

I wonder only if meaningless temper tantrums will characterize the progressive movement for the next four years. And if so, what sort of "protest" will be organized for the Jan. 20, 2009 inauguration of President Santorum? National Spin in Circles Until We Puke Day, perhaps?


Other possible protest actions for Jan. 20:

Go to the Bathroom in Your Pants Day: Drunken bum? Crack addict? Or angry about the war in Iraq? Passersby won't be able to tell on Jan. 20, but you'll have a nice warm feeling ... literally!

Hold Your Breath Until You Turn Blue and Pass Out Day: A classic, updated for modern times. How better to show your affinity with the "blue" states than with a "blue" face?

Bang Your Head As Hard As You Can Against a Wall Day: Self-destructive, injurious and worthy of ridicule --- what better way to sum up U.S. foreign policy since Sept. 11, 2001?

Pound Your Fists On the Ground Day: This is best done in the aisle of your local discount retailer, and should be accompanied by shrieks of "It's not fair! It's not fair! It's not fair! It's not fair!"

Donate $20 in Cash or Volunteer Effort to the Political Cause or Group of Your Choice Day: ... nah, this actually has a small chance of helping. Never mind.


Just in case you actually haven't been moved to teeth-gnashing, mouth-foaming fury by this point, and aren't yet banging out a nasty email to me, here's an item from the Valley Mirror. Braddock Carnegie Library has been forced to cut back its hours of operation because of what is being described as "a very tight economic environment."

I can only assume that a drop in donor funding and increased energy bills are strapping America's oldest Carnegie Library.

No one asked me, but I suspect you could help by sending a check or money order to 419 Library Street, Braddock, PA 15104. Braddock's Field Historical Society, which operates the library, is also set up to accept donations through United Way; use donor code "3965."


Stories You May Have Missed: The conductor and manager of the McKeesport Symphony Orchestra have resigned, reports Andrew Druckenbrod in the Post-Gazette:

Conductor Roger Tabler has resigned as music director of the McKeesport Symphony Orchestra ... and was followed by orchestra manager Lynne Cochran. ...

"I cannot overcome or endure what I feel is an environment that's unfriendly to supporting an orchestra," Tabler said yesterday. "I don't know what direction the board wants to go any more now than before. I was told I was in the driver's seat but discovered I was a only a chauffeur for other people."

Says Tabler: "There was not really an interest in being progressive."

Shocked, shocked I am that anything in Our Fair City could be accused of being less than progressive.

Seriously, I know nothing about the situation, so I'm not about to comment. I do know that the MSO has been a vital organization for a long time (since 1959) and deserves your support; their next concert is Feb. 26 at McKeesport High School's auditorium.


Things to Do This Weekend: Frankie Carroll plays the ballroom at The Palisades at 9 p.m. Saturday; call (412) 678-6979 ... North Braddock Volunteer Fire Co. No. 3 holds a bingo, starting at 1 p.m. Sunday. Call (412) 271-1572.

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:59 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | three comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 06, 2005 | Link to this story

There's No Place Like Debt

Category: default || By jt3y

City Paper has rolled out a redesign of the dead-tree edition, and it's pretty snazzy looking. This week's cover story by Rich Lord is pretty good reading, too, and it includes a family from Our Fair City:

Look, up in the sky! It’s the Airship Liberty, one of two blimps in Ameriquest Mortgage Co.’s inflatable fleet. The other is called Airship Freedom.

And wasn’t that the Ameriquest logo -- the one with the Liberty Bell facsimile -- on the All-Star Game ballots during the 2004 baseball season? Sure was. It often showed up, too, when the highlight reels took us to Ameriquest Field in Arlington, where the Texas Rangers play.

And on Feb. 6, we’ll be treated to Paul McCartney headlining the Ameriquest Mortgage Super Bowl XXXIX Halftime Show. Ameriquest reportedly paid $15 million to snag the world’s most prestigious advertising slot. That’s quite a catch for a California company that started out in 1980 as Long Beach Savings and Loan. Back then, the firm was a bit player in the then-tiny subprime lending market, which makes high-fee, high-interest loans to people with tarnished credit or irregular incomes. The halftime sponsorship is part of what Ameriquest Vice Chairman Adam Bass has called "our long-term vision … to become the lifelong mortgage company of every homeowner in America." ...

The lending, political giving and marketing blitz "feels like it’s an attempt at legitimization. ‘We’re mainstream! We’re at the Super Bowl!’" says Kevin Stein, associate director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, which has studied and criticized Ameriquest’s practices. Legitimization is fine if the loans are fair, he says, but he fears some Ameriquest borrowers may get unfavorable terms "that they don’t actually deserve."

As part of his story, Lord interviewed a family from Our Fair City, and spotlights the foreclosure proceedings that Ameriquest has brought against them.

Consumer advocates allege in the story that Ameriquest issues high-interest mortgages for amounts much larger than homes are worth; builds in large penalties for re-financing or missing payments; misleads clients as to the amount their monthly payments will be; and then uses high-pressure sales tactics to close the deals.

In the case of the McKeesport family Lord talked to, their $43,200 home was refinanced by Ameriquest for $81,000; the monthly payments the company quoted didn't include the property taxes or insurance, which added another $300 per month; and when the family missed two payments, the company demanded $2,700 up front --- and wouldn't take installments.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me say that I worked with Rich twice on different occasions, and I admire his work greatly. And his stories on predatory lending --- including his recent book American Nightmare: Predatory Lending and the Foreclosure of the American Dream --- were much on my mind when I bought my own house.

But at the risk of sounding like the chairman of the Republican National Committee, where was the personal responsibility on some of the people who signed these mortgages? Why would anyone take out an $81,000 mortgage on a house valued at $43,200 --- in the language of the loan business, you're "underwater" on that debt as soon as you sign the paperwork, meaning you owe more than the collateral is worth.

I don't mean to kick these people when they're hurting, but it couldn't have been a secret to these folks how much their house was worth. They owned it already, after all. Even if they weren't sure, a quick call to the city tax office or a check on the county's Web site would have told them.

Lord writes that some people took out mortgages from Ameriquest at twice the prevailing interest rates through banks or FHA, which have the potential to rise to three times the prevailing rate. Who forced them to do that?

And then there's a couple that mortgaged a house valued at $139,000 for nearly $173,000. At any point did it occur to them that they were buying more home than they could afford? Or that it was dumb to repurchase their own house for more than they could sell it for? Maybe they should have sold that house and bought a smaller one.

(Look, I realize I'm sounding like a grumpy old man here. Just last night, someone asked me, "If you're this crabby now, what will you be like when you're 80?" Balder, fatter and crankier. But bear with me.)

This isn't rocket science. In high school economics, we were told that you should never be spending more than 25 percent of your monthly income on rent or mortgage payments. (See, Mr. Rozanski? I did pay attention!) Some of the people at risk of foreclosure, Rich writes, are taking out mortgages at up to 55 percent of their monthly incomes!

I've since heard another rule of thumb: The purchase price of your home shouldn't be more than two and a half times your yearly income. Do the people with the $173,000 mortgages have incomes of $70,000? If not, then it must be too much house.

Sure, although some mortgage company might be willing to loan you that much money, here's a clue: Most private businesses aren't working with your best interests at heart. They are trying to make a buck from you. Shocking!

Lest I be hypocritical, let me admit that I do a very bad job at living within my means or managing a budget. Yet it's instructive to realize that my grandparents raised two children to adulthood in a two-bedroom crackerbox house in the Westwood Hills section of Port Vue, and that my grandfather bought used cars for most of his life. When they took vacations, they stayed with relatives. And some how they avoided bankruptcy.

Finally, yes, predatory lending companies do employ unscrupulous tactics to woo people with marginal credit. No one says that you have to sign a contract with them. Shop around, for cripes' sake! Why would anyone take the first deal they were offered? Walk out of the Ameriquest office and down the street to someone else. Hand them the Ameriquest paperwork and say, "Can you beat this deal?" Walk to a third place and ask them.

If you don't know how to shop around, there are non-profit debt counselors, federally-subsidized mortgage programs, and other third-party agencies who can help you get an honest deal. (Start here.)

In the end, I sympathize with these folks. There are many reasons that people lose houses --- sometimes a run of bad luck, like a combination of a layoff, illness and a natural disaster makes it impossible to hold a household budget together. Some of these interest rates and penalties that finance companies charge border on usury, and they have lobbied very hard to prevent Congress from protecting consumers. In fact, one of the partners in Ameriquest was a major fundraiser for the Republican Party during the last election, and Congress is expected to lift state and local restrictions on predatory lenders. Coincidence? I think not.

But I just don't know if more regulation --- which some of the people in Rich's story call for --- is necessary to protect people from making terrible choices.

Rich quotes a professor at the Wharton School of Business, Jack Guttentag, thusly: "Say out of 100 such loans, 40 were the best option available to the borrower. The other 60 [borrowers] would be better off staying put, or they had a better alternative but didn’t know it ... Yes, the 60 add up to a lot of heartache and hardship, but would we want to deprive the 40 of an option that made them better off? I wouldn’t."

Me neither, frankly.

Can you believe that I've been told I'm too liberal? Now pardon me, while I go yell at some kids for playing ball in the street, and hitch my pants up around my armpits.

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:28 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | seven comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 05, 2005 | Link to this story

No Almanac Today

Category: default || By jt3y

The Tube City Almanac is not publishing today because it is the seventh anniversary of the death of Sonny Bono, and also the anniversary of the births of Walter Mondale and former CIA director George Tenet.

Coincidence? I'm not saying that it is, I'm not saying that it isn't. Maybe Sonny wasn't as dumb as he looked.

And speaking of dumb, on this day in 1961, "Mister Ed" debuted.

Also speaking of dumb, I was just too busy to pound out some drollery, so those are my excuses. Hey, you may think that writing this krep is easy, but it ain't. I sometimes spend upwards of 20 minutes.

(January 5 details courtesy Wikipedia.)

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:15 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | two comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 04, 2005 | Link to this story

From Here to Obscurity

Category: default || By jt3y

It was 11 years ago when I walked into the art department at the college newspaper and saw the managing editor using Photoshop to superimpose the school's logo over an image of a spider web.

"What's this for?" I asked.

"It's for our new home page on the World Wide Web," he said.

"The what on the what?"

"The World Wide Web," he said. "Haven't you been paying attention? It's this way where people can look for information on the Internet."

"Like Usenet."

"No, with the Web you can get pictures and sounds."

"Like Gopher and FTP."

"No, not really. Look, I'll show you." He opened a program called Mosaic and showed me a page of text. "See? And if you click on these underlined items --- those are links --- they take you to other pages."

"Ah. Hmm. OK. That's ... interesting." I wandered off to do something else. Who could predict that the Web would some day grow into one of the biggest time-wasters ever created by man?

Anyway, soon I was screwing around with the Web myself, and within a couple of months, I had signed up for a three-credit course called something like, "Designing and Writing Hyper-Text." Among the assignments? Create your own Web page. My topic? It turned out to be Our Fair City.

Thus, 2005 marks the Tube City Online's 10th year on the Web, having attracted thousands of visitors, several nasty emails, and one legal threat --- this is true --- from U.S. Steel Corp. I used to have several pages about U.S. Steel's old National Works, and received a "cease and desist" order in 1997 for allegedly using U.S. Steel intellectual property without permission. I wrote back with an explanation of fair use and the First Amendment, and haven't heard anything since. (Am I tempting fate?)

The first effort was pretty crude (I was actually looking through my dusty, musty archives for a copy of it, and haven't found a complete one yet). But I'm proud to say that after those pathetic efforts, I've finally elevated Tube City Online to its current, highly advanced state of mediocrity.

To celebrate, look for lots of new and exciting features in this 10th anniversary year!

Look for them, but don't expect them!


Unlike this site, there are a few useful corners of the Web. The Penn State Data Center, which crunches state, municipal and federal statistics, is among them. Among the features I enjoy is "Map of the Month." This month's map compares estimated population growth from 2000 to 2004 to illustrate which are the "fastest-growing" U.S. states. (Hint: Not Pennsylvania.)

The map is a PDF file, so you'll need Acrobat. But you know that, right?


Jonathan Potts links to a great Trib article by Brad Bumstead about the state Turnpike Commission's continual promises that better things will be created for better living if we just build six-lane toll roads to them ...

... and how those better things never seem to materialize, though we do get these great highways that allow us to speed from Delmont to Tarrs, thus greatly cutting down the commute time for people from Tarrs, Mendon and Armburst who are heading to the Delmont-New Alexandria metroplex.

Sarcastic? Me? No-o-o-o-oo.

Bumstead points out that while the Turnpike Commission often claims its projects are self-sustaining, traffic on the Amos K. Hutchinson Bypass, the Beaver Valley Expressway and the Mon-Fayette Expressway is running so much behind expectations that tax money has had to be diverted to pay for them.

Writes Jonathan:

How does the commission and its friends in the Legislature justify these projects? Why, they will be engines of economic development, of course. But as the Trib's article notes, there is scant evidence that the projects have boosted local economies, and certainly not remotely enough to justify the costs.

Jonathan blames the failure of these various highway projects on pork, patronage and corruption. I'm going to try and give the PTC the benefit of the doubt and say that they're not crooked. (C'mon, work with me, here. I'm still feeling the Christmakwanukah spirit.)

However, I suspect that like most large organizations that have been around for a long time, the Turnpike Commission is primarily concerned with perpetuating its own growth.

In other words, it's only natural that when you ask the Turnpike Commission how to spur economic development, they'll reply "Build a Turnpike!" As a wise friend often tells me: "When all you have is a hammer, suddenly everything looks like a nail."

It's just a shame that Pennsylvania doesn't have anything in its economic development toolbox except hammers.

Oh, and slot machines. Lots and lots of slot machines.

Ahem. We're doomed.

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 12:13 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | No comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites

January 01, 2005 | Link to this story

Slacking, Day 5 + 1

Category: default || By jt3y

On New Year's Eve Day (does that seem right, or is it a contradiction in terms?), being a party animal, I went to get a haircut.

When I arrived, a little boy of perhaps 3 years old was sitting on his dad's lap in a barber's chair, wailing. I mean fire siren quality. To accompany the steady high-pitched drone, he was twisting his head out of the barber's grasp and swinging his arms.

The barber was doing his best, but trying to cut the lad's hair was kind of like trying to thread a needle while riding a unicycle on the deck of a coal barge in a heavy storm. He'd clip a few hairs, and the tad would cry, "No NO no NO NO no no no no no no mommy! MOMMY!" He'd start up the clippers and the little boy would scream and try to leap from his father's arms.

Finally, the barber finished --- I wasn't sure if he had decided the kid's hair was trimmed close enough, or if he had just decided to retire --- and told dad, "All done!" Dad released his grip and the boy bolted from the chair, weeping and groaning.

After they departed, one of the customers waiting said, "Boy! I hate to see him when he goes to the dentist for the first time."

The barber leveled his gaze at us --- without a hint of a smile --- and said, "Actually, he's getting better. He's not kicking his feet any more."

I never suspected that barbers deserved hazard pay, but this guy works for his sawbuck.

Happy New Year to you and yours, no matter what you do for your butter 'n egg money!

Search Tube City Online

Custom Search
XML: RSS FeedXML: Atom Feed
Posted at 1:03 pm by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
Filed Under: default | No comments | Link To This Entry | Add to Technorati Favorites


Next Archive

Previous Archive