Guns, guns, the musical fruit
The more you eat, the more you shoot
The more you shoot, the better you feel
So shoot your guns at every meal!
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Nothing drives a baseball fan to the morning drink quite like a 1 o’clock start time. Nothing drives a Pirates fan to sheer lunacy quite like the local baseball club. Combine a 1 o’clock start time for a Pirates game in which a fan protest is due after the first half of the third inning, what results is a recipe for an immense disturbance.
Truthfully, some of the details regarding the so-called third inning walkout are sketchy, even those consistent with the timeline pre-inebriation. I can’t recall if Adam had somehow learned of the protest first, or myself.
All I know for certain is that the mangy Pirates were within the throes of a 15th straight losing season, and Adam grew a moustache for the event. “Pirates fans are getting out of their seats during the third inning to protest this depraved team. Totally dope! Grow a moustache.” When the day of demonstration had arrived, his upper lip was tasked with supporting the weight of something akin to a sideways Old Fezziwig mutton chop. As a Pirates fan himself, I suspected his moustache’s egregious bulk represented his burden of perennial crestfallenness.
Despite my admittedly meek facial hair, in comparison, I too was eager to exhibit my disapproval with Pirates management. In the week preceding I’d been practicing getting up and simply walking out of various high-impact situations: conferences at work, the subsequent sit-down with my boss after walking out of a conference at work, and a funeral. I didn’t want to risk being unpracticed in the ways of walking out, and spoil my one opportunity to chastise Team President Kevin McClatchy, General Manager David Littlefield and the Nutting ownership group. Hey Ho! I was going to be amongst the throng of fans abandoning their seats at PNC Park like it was nobody’s business. Pirates’ brass would be so aghast at the blizzard of disenchantment they’d respond in kind by tripling the payroll and bequeathing the city a winning baseball team.
I think that was the plan anyway. I was woozy from cheap beer by time the 11am 56-E bus picked us up in Greenfield, heading for PNC Park. Adam had suds in his a moustache.
Upon arriving on the North Side—rather than posing with Roberto Clemente’s statue or chasing the Canadian geese on the river walk—we continued the foolhardy exploits of typical twenty-somethings and sought more alcohol to funnel to ours brains’ pleasure centers. Finnegan’s Wake was the bar of choice, being only the distance between a right fielder and his cutoff man from the ball field. We perched ourselves outside on the humid cloudless day—a perfect day for a protest. We hunkered down again. Our merriment was fueled with each sip. Adam’s moustache grew due to the combination of direct sunlight and Pabst fertilizer.
A half an hour until first pitch a man appeared an adjacent corner advertising tee shirts he yanked from a cardboard box. He announced his wares like a peanut vendor. A fellow lugging a news camera on his shoulder trailed. The odd spectacle lured us. The numerous squares embossed into our asses from prolonged exposure to wrought iron patio seats no sooner vanished than the peddler stuffed our five bucks apiece in his pocket. The shirts were an intense snot-colored yellow like the business end of a firefly or a crossing guard’s loungewear. The message on the front was bold and black “I SUPPORT THE THIRD INNING WALK-OUT.” The shirts were almost gaudy enough to draw attention from Adam’s moustache.
“You’re gonna’ mow ‘em down today, Morton,” I yelled into the bullpen. The security guard chastised me for leaning over the brick wall beside the batter’s eye, and motivating the starting pitcher. Adam’s ‘stache flared in defiance causing the guard to gasp and back away. We shuffled through the crowds in the runaways, our no-nonsense neon shirts proclaiming our intentions. We eyed a few other patrons sporting the shirts; we sensed our moment was fast approaching. A couple more Busch pounders prepared us for the impending glory.
The first two innings rolled by without fanfare. When the third out was recorded in the top of the third I expected several thousand of the near capacity crowd to stand in unison and march from their seats, or blitz the Pirate Parrot and curb stomp his beak into second base. Instead, only a few others in our section rose: a boy holding his ding-dong in lieu of a good whiz and a guy who says to his wife, he says “So dat’s two ice creams, nachos supreme and a diet pop, huh?” These were not fans so enraged by 15 years of crummy baseball so much as families picnicking at a professional baseball game. Adam and I stumped away from our seats regardless. Adam’s moustache became engorged with rage at the utter lack of raw outward disgust with Pirate’s management.
The runways were eerily quiet. A tumble weed rolled by the Primanti Bros entrance. One idle soul with a television camera intercepted us while we wandered in the concessionary wasteland. “Can I ask you a question?” he asked. Besides the fact that he already had, I allowed him. “Why are you here?”
My surroundings faded and I suddenly sensed at though I was alone with St. Peter at the gate and he’d just asked me why I should be allowed to enter—an answer one prepares since their first sin. I certainly can’t recall my exact drunken response of juxtaposed metaphors but I’ll paraphrase: “Evolution is tasked with constantly seeking perfection. It will never succeed. It can never succeed. But sometimes evolution swats a middle-in fastball on the meaty part of the bat and produces a biological juggernaut like the mosquito, the hammerhead shark or the Yankees. The remainder of species is game unless they develop the means to compete. Mosquito repellant or a spear gun will not stall the mighty Yankees. A pitcher rolling sevens through nine innings or a lineup of common feeders having career nights in a fell swoop might overcome The Empire on any given Thursday night in the middle of August. But ultimately, teams that ain’t the damned Yankees are doomed over a full season. You can’t defeat the Yankees by throwing haymakers; you need to sneak up from behind firing a submachine gun and hope the bullets shred enough vital organs before they lunge. But the sneak attack must be deft, for if the Yanks hear whispering in the bushes the massacre will turn your face pale and your hair white. Opposing teams require not only shrewd strategists to design such a nimble attack but a commander-in-chief willing to sacrifice the means necessary. If Kevin McClatchy and Dave Littlefield were shepherds they’d rashly lead their flock into a werewolf caucus, and Bob Nutting would be too cheap to waste a single silver bullet in defense. Nutting understands that you can always breed more sheep as long as people pay to watch the slaughter. Why am I doing this? I’m doing this because I’m sick of evolution tightening the noose and then kicking the blocks season after season after season. It’s high time we grab the repellant, the spear gun and silver bullets and draw up the ambush. Evolution be damned. When McClatchy, Littlefield and Nutting are themselves hung for their crimes, a new Pirates regime will outwit thee. Team like the Yankees will fall. The Pirates will reign again. And I’m sure all these people here would agree with me.”
At that moment I turned to face PNC Park, motioning to the killing floor. I was greeted with the collective uproar of a troupe of fellow protesters—a triumphant way to punctuate such incoherent discourse. Little had I known Adam had gathered wandering walkouts and directed them to wait behind my back in anticipation of my call to action. To these poor people, my neon snot-colored shirt surely must have appeared like a faraway lighthouse beacon when shipwreck seemed inevitable. Adam did well. When the crowd began pumping their fists in unison at the notion of drawing their swords against evolution, I caught a glimpse of Adam. He stood stoically, his arms crossed and his eyes beaming. I swear, the sunshine reflected off his moustache and cast a majestic blonde glow over us that felt to me like a protective orb instilling tranquility to the battle-ready soldiers it enveloped.
The revelry gradually damped as the rabble-rousers began to disperse. However, one fellow with lingering awe in his eyes approached me and asked “Are you the guy who started this?” I told him I wasn’t, but he was devoted to my cause anyway. Then he asked me what I planned to do next. I said I wanted to go back to my seat and watch the rest of the game.
Since the dramatic climax passed, the day’s remainder consisted of further debauchery leading to more gross missteps than Pirates’ base runners amid a twilight doubleheader. For the sake of posterity, the missteps include: spilling my beer on a boy scout’s Bob Walk bobblehead (I gave the boy mine), posing for snapshots with wild-eyed transients at a downtown bus stop, me standing up on the bus and tumbling on to a hapless lady rider when the bus negotiated a turn, and puking in the rancid bathroom of the local dive bar sometime around last call.
I SUPPORT THE THIRD INNING WALK-OUT.
You can not maintain a rivalry while engaged on a Kennywood ride in full operation. Just swap glances with another rider, even for a tick, and it's all woots and fist pumps. Regardless of how dissimilar the personalities, a singular fleeting but genuine recognition between two thrill seekers being whipped and whirled in an unnatural and slightly foolhardy way perpetually elicits a mutual "all fuckin' right, buddy!" For that flash, the two riders are bonded in boundless excitement. And typically, the faster the ride, the more animated and jubilant the exchange.
I once saw a wisenheimer and a miser, natural enemies of the most vicious order, share a charming moment when the one passed the other on The Racers at Kennywood. Each was positioned at the helm of his coaster when the hyper wisenheimer's blue coaster nudged ahead of the wizened miser's red one, and stares met. The purple-haired punk in the Guitar Hero hoodie flashed a knuckle deep picky-nose taunt across the canyon between the tracks to the flanneled, mesh-hatted pappy in the challenging coaster, who countered with the miser's patented finishing move, the "Fist Shake to the Gods." But both combatants were soon ravaged by hysterics. For the abridged time being, they were joyously melded in their subsonic crapulence.
However, any chance meeting between the miser and the wisenheimer outside the bounds of the Racer ride could easily require the slightest misstep to erupt into ugliness. Who couldn't imagine the following?: The hood-rat accidentally bumping the crank in line at the Dippin' Dots vendor, and the crank retaliating with a facial swipe of his wooden cane followed by a brutal Dr Scholl's orthopedic walker to the back of the skull, and puncuated by a hearty "harumph, harumph!"
Globals conflicts may be settled if those involved would resort to discussing their issues while strapped-in at Kennywood. Seat members of the governing Israeli body and the leaders of Hamas in the same buggy at the Exterminator, pull the ignition handle and let those fellas talk-out their differences. You bet that by time the buggy slows to a complete stop, lilacs will begin to blossom in the Gaza Strip. In fact, World War II might have been avoided if Hitler would not have been too short to ride The Turtle on his fifth grade field trip. Bin Laden? He made the journey from Sudan ten years ago to experience The Old Mill, but learned that Garfield's Nightmare would soon be in operation.
He left pretty pissed!
You can't chop down a skyscraper. I learned the hard way.
I'd come to believe that the task would be simple. They tell you from an early age that you can do it. My first grade teacher said I could do anything if I put my mind to it. Other adults said the same thing when I asked to be sure I didn't mishear her. Anything! Chopping down a skyscraper certainly falls under the "anything" category. Television and magazines agreed—sneaker commercials and sports drink ads especially. But I was still skeptical about the prospects of actually chopping down a skyscraper. Then I saw a motivational poster on the waiting room wall at the dentist's office. It was a picture of a flying penguin; the caption underneath read BELIEF: KNOWING YOU CAN WHEN OTHERS SAY YOU CAN'T. I stopped at the library and checked-out two self-help books—Conquering the Impossible: Unleashing the Hidden You and The Superman Within. I swung by the Redbox and rented Miracle on 34th Street and Rudy. Hmmm. Maybe you CAN shop down a skyscraper. I visited Home Depot and purchased an axe. When the grey clouds broke after a nasty thunderstorm—nature's way of reminding humankind that, eventually, everything will be okay (according to my inspiration wall calendar)—I stood beside the skyscraper with axe in hand. I closed my eyes and breathed in the nose and out the mouth, allowing my inner consciousness to align with the cosmos thus harnessing untapped physical strength. Then I prayed aloud to the omnipotent god of the King James Bible who promised that ANY request would be fulfilled through prayer. Finally, I believed really, really hard in myself. I swung.
My hands stung so badly when the axe's head smacked the skyscraper. And all I did was chip some paint. Stupid everything I was told!
Sunday, April 28, 2013
The George W. Bush Presidential Center dedication ceremony occurred April 24th, 2013. The center includes a library and museum. In lockstep with the dedication come numerous editorials, columns and blogs taking the rectal temperature of George W. Bush Junior’s legacy to date. Of course, the centerpiece of the conversation is the lingering fumes of the Iraq War.
I’d like to clang my cymbals on the subject and hope my notes transcend the ruckus of noise instigated by the sophomoric glut of critics Bush Jr. has rustled since 2000. I’m going to refrain from picking the low hanging fruit and suggest that GWB’s presidential library is populated with pop-up books or joke that only a single copy of See Jack Run is available for check-out. On the other hand, perhaps a guided tour of the museum portion of the center features heaps of Iraqi civilian wax-figure corpses or tape-looped footage of Colin Powell pumping the United Nation’s snatch-wacker in lea of yanking the rip cord on Shock and Awe.
I’ll grant George W. Bush Jr. the benefit of the doubt and assume that he and his cohorts honestly believed that Saddam Hussein and his cohorts harbored weapons of mass destruction, and colluded with Al-Qaida. For the sake of this post I’ll concede that Colin Powell’s evidence of Iraq’s clandestine war machine and terrorist ties, as presented to the United Nations pre-war, was not fabricated to persuade the world to purchase a ticket for the war ride.
Regardless, no weapons of mass destruction were unearthed and no bonds to terrorists were exposed.
Ten years after the invasion of Iraq the numbers have crossed the ticker: 4,486 US soldiers are dead and 116,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. Nevermind that the cost of the war equals $2.2 trillion in 2013 and will cost $3.9 trillion in 2052 adjusted for interest.
Now THAT is a helluva mistake!
Actually, sounds more like manslaughter. George W. Bush’s honest misstep resulted in 120,486 deaths.
A few years ago a Pittsburgh-area man didn’t secure his truck’s hitch properly and his load dislodged on Route 8 and struck a van, killing a family. The perpetrator was rightfully charged with manslaughter and punished. One of his repayments to society was to honor a judge’s order—the man was sentenced to hang a photo of the dead family on his living room wall as a chronic reminder of his transgression. The punishment seems harsh at first blush, but a family is now dead due to the man’s oversight.
Why is the Commander-In-Chief of the United States of America not held to a similar standard? Where are the manslaughter charges? George W. Bush is clearly guilty on 120,486 counts.
In a just system a judge would’ve ordered a construction crew to build a hallway on the Texas ranch. The hallway would subsequently be decorated with a headshot of every life snuffed as a result of an honest mistake. Install a single toilet at the opposing end of the hallway so whenever the convicted cowboy needs to drop a deuce he’d be relegated to mosey by two miles of the frozen stares of the slaughtered.
Sounds like a fair punishment in accord with precedent.
Before the construction crew clocks out, they might as well add an addition wing to the ranch to accommodate the war wounded. Dick Cheney can spoon-feed the paralyzed, scratch the itches of the amputees and read bedtime stories to the orphans.
Monday, April 22, 2013
The recent Boston Marathon bombings have rightly awakened throngs of dozing social critics. However, I grit my teeth whenever someone grumbles a cliché like "nowadays people are more violent."
Literature exists explaining why humankind is considerably less violent today than at any point in history. Evolution dictates that humankind strives toward a peaceful existence. Survival of the fittest is a voided concept if nobody survives. However, as humankind evolves technology advances in kind. Weapons become more destructive.
Although the world's population of rabble-rousers shrinks, and becomes better contained, those remaining possess greater potential to wreak more widespread and devastating havoc. Imagine the consequences if Emperor Caligula, and only he, had commanded squadrons of F-16 fighter jets. What if Genghis Khan had controlled ballistic missiles tipped with chemical weapons? Outfit Hitler with a vast fleet of nuclear submarines and most of civilization would've been rubble and soot before Uncle Sam wiped the crust from his eyes. To avoid a future asteroid belt forming between Venus and Mars modern weaponry needs withheld from the dwindling few of those with a grudge and a spastic trigger finger. Hiccups will inevitably occur. The Boston Marathon bombing was a sad and grisly hiccup.
Not that "nowadays people are more violent," rather the violent possess more firepower.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
When I was a toddler the moon scared me witless. Imagine the pliable psyche of a two-year-old and how the colossus of the night sky can gnarl it. I hated going outside after sundown on a cloudless night. The moon was a massive shimmering face hovering amid the pitch black void. He was motionless, sure, but could lunge at any moment. His expression seemed tranquil, of course, but he was long to gnash his teeth. If I absolutely had to be outside on a moonlit night I'd run from beneath the security of a roof to the nearest asylum. No matter how fast I moved I could never outpace the moon. Even travelling 55 mph in the backseat of the family station wagon was an impotent crack at escape. The moon followed me. He departed the Lycoming County Mall when I did, traveled at my exact pace west on Route 220, and arrived at 415 Woodside Avenue the exact second the car parked in the garage. He perched above while I darted to the front door. He lingered outside my bedroom window, glaring, until morning when the sun steered him back behind Eagle Mountain. "He sees you when you're sleeping." Yeah, and he knows when I'm awake too…sometimes he escapes the nighttime and appears DURING THE DAY.
As I aged I understood that the moon was nothing but a giant boulder captured in the earth’s gravitation pull while it traveled ‘round and ‘round the globe—a kind of perfectly controlled chaos dictated by physics. The moon did not glow itself; the lunar surface reflected the sun’s rays. The face was not a face at all, rather craters arranged in such a way to deceive a young child into believing a cheerless pair of eyes surveyed ones’ every move. (The human brain is programmed by biology to recognize faces in patterns, you see.) The moon did not follow me—instead I was fooled by an optical illusion. What was once an ominous watchdog in the heavens had become a darn rock. I played with rocks in the driveway; the moon was just bigger and higher up.
A thought occurred to me recently on a cloudless night when the moon was nowhere to be seen. What if I've been wrong for the last 30+ years? What is the moon is alive? What if he's everything I thought he was when I was a child? What if he finally outpaced the car and caught up to me? Shit! What if that explained his absence in the sky? What if he's waiting for me right now, poised behind the bushes with a carving knife? What if he’s come to harvest this faithless child because I stopped believing in his authority? What if he’s hiding in my closet with piano wire measured to fit the circumference of an adult neck? What if he’s come to lead me by the hand to the rusty meat hook? What if he doesn’t come to call tonight, but he isn’t in the sky again tomorrow and all the “what ifs?” ricochet about my head again and again—every night until no nights remain?
No Matt, it’s just a rock. Just a darn rock.