"More than half of modern culture depends on what one shouldn't read"

- Oscar Wilde

Monday, August 30, 2010

Roger, Roger, Roger

Politicians struggle to grasp the first rule of managing a scandal—the cover-up usually causes more harm than the misdeed. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that the guy whose intellectual strength begins and ends with the ability to hide his change-up can not seem to understand that the lie looms as his ultimate downfall.

There is no gray area in Roger Clemens’ sad saga—he either dabbled in steroids and/or other performance enhancing drugs, or he did not. He either lied to Congress and continues repeating the lie that he did not use PEDs, or he is telling the truth. The evidence strongly suggests the former. Clemens was scheduled to be arraigned Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington on six counts of perjury, false statements, and obstruction of Congress. Those charges stem from the now infamous 2005 congressional inquiry into the use of PED’s in Major League Baseball, at which Mark McGwire ducked the great question and Rafael Palmeiro gave his finger-wagging, unequivocal denial.

McGwire later fudged an answer—he may have, somehow, at some point, used something. And for all intents and purposes it was good enough to allow McGwire a return to big-league baseball this season as a coach with the St. Louis Cardinals. Palmeiro, later suspended by MLB after testing positive for steroids, amended his denial—he never “intentionally” used steroids. He remains a baseball pariah, but he has faced no perjury charges.

The example Clemens should have followed was set by his old pal, and potential state’s witness, Andy Pettite. The New York Yankees left-hander, one of Clemens’ closest friends during his time in the Bronx, came clean, to a point, over his steroid use and was welcomed back to the MLB community with open arms. Pettite also offered a convincing account of Clemens’ admitting to using PED’s; Clemens says Pettite “misremembers” the conversations.

Clemens also dismisses testimony from his former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, who has confessed to injecting Clemens’ with various drugs and says he has the used syringes to prove it. Perhaps Clemens’ pride will not allow him to admit any such weakness. It could also be that Clemens has convinced himself that the lie is truth. He would hardly be the first professional athlete to crawl into a self-created reality and bark at the rest of world for refusing to join him. As Red Sox fans will no doubt recall, Clemens has always had a penchant for seeing things his way even if it means ignoring the facts.

Clemens’ problem is that now he is not simply trying to convince the sporting press or a public that is inclined to adore anyone capable of winning 300 games. He is venturing into the legal system, which is notoriously unsentimental. It is highly unlikely he will stand before a judge who is awed by Clemens’ World Series ring.

And if he loses this one, Clemens will not simply be allowed to skulk into history, perhaps denied nothing more than a spot in baseball’s Hall of Fame. This loss could mean jail time. Clemens still has time to avoid such a fate. He could broker a plea bargain and start putting it all behind him. Sadly, that might require more courage than Clemens can muster.

I guess my major issue is that he’s just another ballplayer. He, and many like him, used PED’s in the 80’s, 90’s, and early part of this century. I wish that Congress, and more importantly, MLB would answer his question for us. Yes, you did steroids Roger. And it is not OK to do steroids Roger. However, you are a hall-of-famer and an American icon. Learn from this. Teach those that play the game after you that it’s not good to do steroids. On the other hand, steroids saved baseball. Baseball has been able to exist without a salary cap because of the long ball. Nevermind that it’s completely ridiculous that 5 or 6 teams hold 80% of the league’s net worth. We don’t care as long as guys are still hitting home runs and throwing lights out. So we kind of owe it to steroids for saving baseball. Why can’t we just admit that and let everyone get on with their lives.

My opinion—make them legal. Let every kid with a bat and ball shoot himself up with drugs and try to smack the ball out of the park…at least it will keep the game interesting.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Financial Fiasco

Do you get the image of Bernie Madoff in an orange jump suit pulled down to his ankles (while some 6’5” junk bond white collar criminal makes sexy time with his backside without even the courtesy to give ole Bern a reach around) when you read the title to this post? The US government, in all it’s glory, made a just assessment and prosecution of Madoff to tell us that firms, but perhaps more importantly, consumers need liquid assets—something that can be used to ease transactions in general and make bartering unnecessary. It proves to us that big business needs something that allows it to pay its customers this month while having the assets to also pay them next year.

Money or short-term credit???

Unfortunately, it is short-term credit which appears to have almost dried up in the financial markets of many countries; and the injections of money into the system are an attempt to oil the gears sufficiently so that somehow the markets for short-term credit get going again. Whether it works is a big question mark that everyone seems to know the answer to, but no one will admit.

Paul Krugman, the Nobel Peace winning economist, among others, has argued for a while that the crisis we are living is not a liquidity crisis, but one about lack of capital, and if that is right (and it is) the liquidity injections will not work. He has written essay after essay about the reasons the crisis has globalized so very rapidly. He concludes that the financial markets are a whole lot more global than we have thought, or at least more global in ways we did not prepare for. They allowed the exporting of the American crisis more rapidly and efficiently (I hope you are sensing my undeniable gift for sarcasm) than many economists expected.

And then there is the sad story of the Lehman Brothers' demise—the bust investment bank that triggered one of the biggest corporate debt defaults nearly two years ago in October of 2008. Prior to the hearing, Republican members of the Oversight Committee released a report in which they concluded that deregulation is not to blame for the current trouble in the financial system.

The report went on to discuss the net-capital rule, which is a regulation limiting the amount of debt that financial institutions are allowed to take on. In the report, House Republicans argued that there should be no such rule, because bankers will just find ways around it. “Banking regulations require financial institutions to limit their asset risk per unit of capital, but writing regulations that simply mandate an appropriate level is unlikely to work for very long because it is in the interest of bankers to find ways around these requirements in pursuit of profit,” one asshole stated.

Well, don’t you think it would have at least been worth a try?

The report, which I have perused but in my ignorance of economic morals (as they are aptly called) do not fully understand, completely fails to note that financial institutions carrying huge debt-to-capital ratios contributed to the recent meltdown. I’m not smart, but this is obvious. Bush (he’s not smart either) and his genius administration, through the auspices of the Securities and Exchange Commission, actively relaxed the debt-to-capital regulation.

In 2004, the Securities and Exchange Commission loosened the rule mandating that broker dealers limit their debt-to-net capital ratio to 12:1. The five investment banks that qualified for an alternative rule—Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley. Maybe you haven't noticed but you don’t see their commercials anymore do you? They were allowed to increase their debt-to-net capital ratios, sometimes, as in the case of Merrill Lynch, to as high as 40:1.

Investment banks lobbied for the rule change because it would unshackle billions of dollars held in reserve as a cushion against losses on their investments. However, when the mortgage bubble burst, the investment firms no longer had enough cash on hand to weather the storm.

Chairman of the Oversight Committee Representative Henry Waxman (or Ole Dirty Jew, as he’s known by right-wing extremist gang-bangers in the mean streets of L.A.), a democrat from California, said this lax regulation, “proved to be a temptation that the investment firms could not resist, but when asset values decline—as the market did—leverage rapidly consumes a company's capital and jeopardizes its survival.”

Waxman, in all seriousness, is a financial genius in many respects. He and many other sound-minded individuals understand that the SEC exemption was in large part responsible for the huge build up in financial  leverage over the past 6 years, as well as the massive current unwind.

It's always interesting that the “law-and-order” Republicans are so very unwilling to approve any laws applied to the marketplace, and that they are able justify this by saying that those “clever swindlers” would just get around them. Reminds me a bit of how George Bush told us there's no point in trying to really tax the rich because they'll just run rings around the government and take their money abroad. As a conservative, it sickens me everyday to see what he did to this country and to think about how we just watched as he metaphorically stared into an aimless abyss when making key decisions about our future.

The financial markets fiasco happened because of improper oversight and regulatory rules. The housing market was paralleled to household income for nearly a century. At some point, around the mid 80’s, you put some recessed lighting in your family room and the asking price jumps 200k…what the fuck?! We did this to ourselves, but we didn’t know any better because we’re stupid. However, we are supposed to be stupid—that’s why we’re not the ones we rely on to make these kinds of decisions. You mean to tell me that a ten thousand dollar loan to upgrade an 80k house now makes it worth 220k—well shit, sign me up! The thing is—someone eventually had to pay for the inequality. But why would they let the forewarning economists make this available to everyone when all they had to do was hold their hands out and take part in the ridiculousness of it all themselves?

This country was founded on the idea of unity and democracy. It has unfortunately turned into a plethora of individuals and greed. Will it ever be fixed? No, not completely. But we can learn from our mistakes…

...somewhere along the line we seemed to have forgotten that.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Quest...

I am not afraid to die.

I am afraid of being methodically tortured and killed by another human being. The thought of torture scares me a great deal, but I’m not completely opposed to its good uses.

I am afraid of the losing loved ones because I know it will just bring complete heart break, but I think that I’ve experienced enough deaths and subsequent funerals…most of which were not the “nice” kind of funeral given to veterans of our two world wars; or men and women that led long happy lives and got to see grandchildren or perhaps great grandchildren if they were lucky.

No. The funerals that I attended were usually very sad. Young people who lapsed in judgment and caused dread, hate, and guilt amongst close nit communities. I have seen soldiers who, in one way or another, have been taken away from us by a God who allows war, yet loves all. I’ve seen children—kids—who couldn’t deal with the concept of involving themselves in life anymore, and in an attempt to come to some kind of peace within themselves, they “take the easy way out” as I’m told by less than devout Catholics. That bothered me. I didn’t understand why people with minimal knowledge, who rarely spent a Sunday morning in church, had the right to judge anyone else.

Catholicism is a great tradition in many aspects. It’s almost mysterious sometimes, but most other religions are the same. Devout Muslims—the sectors that understand worship, and want peace on Earth, and work hard, and raise their children well, and follow the passages of the Kuran that tell good stories and teach life lessons—are exactly the same as truly devout Catholics. Most of them want to live peaceful lives and have families who love and protect them, just like you and I.

And just as Catholics have had sex scandals in the church for centuries, Muslims have slaughtered an exponential amount of Jews throughout history. There are over 2 billion Muslims in this world, yet only 14 million (give or take) Jews—that is an un-fucking-believable stat. Hitler’s regime certainly didn’t help by eliminating 6 million, and destroying generations that have past and were lost. Should God have let that happen?

I am afraid of poverty and life without meaning, but not death. I am not old but I have lived long enough to know that death is a part of life. Death, when expected and accepted, must be the most peaceful feeling one could possibly imagine. It must be a truly un-explicable peace.

But the reason I am not afraid to die is because of my firm belief that there is no God, and no Allah, or Buddha, or the Mormon for that matter, who lives on a star in a different galaxy and gets to nail like 40 extremely attractive women of any type—basically Hugh Hefner, but on a star in a different galaxy…seriously?

Anti-Agnostics everywhere blindly accept things they can not prove—none of it is logical, and much of it is fairy-tale.

God and Satan were quite real to me in my childhood. I realized there was no Satan around the age of 14, but didn’t really tell anyone about it. However, God was in my life to a certain degree during high school, and young adult years. When I realized there was no devil at an early age I remember that if there is a God then there couldn’t be a Devil. Maybe a hell, but no giant red demons that lived in lava lairs and carried golden pitchforks. The whole concept was ridiculous when I really thought about it. I hated the church and what it stood for, but I remember taking walks through the woods or with the dog and praying for certain things. Most of my prayers weren’t answered—that was God’s plan I suppose. And, though my parents claimed to believe in a compassionate God, most things I learned about God made me afraid. I feared God because of his omnipotence. The sociopathic thoughts in my head were there for him to judge.

So, knowing now that there is no God and that death is merely an indescribable peace, I am not afraid to die. This conclusion has not come without doubt and effort. It has taken several years of living, contemplating, and trying to find meaning that has led to this conclusion.

I wanted the facts about our world and those who inhabit.

I’ve decided to return to college with the idea of not necessarily finding myself, but rather finding the world and, subsequently, where my puzzle pieces fit. Deciding to go back to school at 28 was the best decision I've made thus far. I am able to appreciate what I learn to a far greater degree. I study the earth, the sky, the universe, and the people and what they wrote about their pasts and our futures. I look at trees, flowers, rocks, stars, animals, and culture. I’ve read Tim Lahay, Carl Sagan, Ayn Rand, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Shakespeare, Keats, Churchill, Einstein, and Darwin just to name a few. I’ve read about the mind and the universe. And I’ve learned to appreciate the imagination as well as the science of life. I’ve read about evolutionary psychology. Violence, religion, hate, and love all intrigue me. I watch life, and I’ve been comparing these things for all these years with what I knew about God.

He didn’t fit. And if anything, he just did not make any sense. Everything else was logical—everything else had proof. Evolution and biology are proven by logic and science. People's behavior fit. Sex worked. Love and hate have been felt by humans since the beginning of man. But God doesn’t fit.

The world makes sense without him and has become nonsensical with him. How can a compassionate God create someone with inherent irreversible flaws? Why would he make humans have urges and desires that are so great and gut-wrenching, and then forbid us from satisfying them? Why do bad things happen to good people? Or what’s even more fucked up, why do good things happen to bad people?

The Bible is wrong; science, life, and human-nature have consistently proved it.

Good things don’t come to those who wait. The weak and impoverished will never inherit the Earth just because their enemies knock them down and take it from them. The evil claim the power. The selfish hold the wealth. Shouldn’t an all powerful, omnipotent, and loving God not have created a world like this one?

I’ve no doubt in my mind, there is no god. It took a long time before I had the courage to say that out loud to anyone. The first time I did I was expecting a deep regretful feeling. But I have said it many times now and I am not worse, nor better for it.

I am however grateful for my religious upbringing. The education was important because it brought me to this point. I do not fault my parents for causing me to fear or love God. Without a clear understanding of God, and my subsequent interest in other gods, I could not have proven his nonexistence to myself. And, because of that proof I do not fear death. I do not need to worry about whether or not my sins have been forgiven. Of most significant importance is that I’ve realized I do not need to worry about whether or not people who have passed before me place any blame on me for anything that happened to them in life.

I do not need to try to figure out why God allows bad things to happen in the world. I don’t need to wonder what will happen to me after I die. I hope to live a long and happy life but when it’s over I can only wish that I am met with some kind of inexplicable peace, and as the years progress the idea of peace, love, and meaning become more precious than anything else...

...but there's got to be something out there...

Monday, June 21, 2010

An Interpreted View from Afar

We are the vultures.

We certainly aren't the apex predators of the battlefield. We don't make the arrangements necessary for the death to occur, but we most certainly profit from it as it allows us to survive. Whether that stems from the fact that the person who would have driven a bomb on wheels into our front gate, or some nut with an AK-47 who enjoys taking periodic pot shots at the base, we're here to watch people die.

Living vicariously through the lens of the bird, we have collectively watched a number of very fucked up things happen.

When you watch for a long time you begin to experience a weird transference through the camera. The ammonia from ammunition stabilizers burns your eyes, the dust, the clatter of automatic weapons fire, the way the distant 30mm rounds from an A-10 Warthog sound like rain falling on a plastic sheet. The worst of it is that after you have been next to someone who was the victim of an IED or suicide bomber the smell sticks with you. The acidic stench of burnt flesh and hair, the lingering urine of home-made explosives, punctuated with the universally recognizable copper reek of blood.

Over the bazaar at 6,000 feet, you can taste the dust on the empty street as the crazies pick body parts from under cars and places them in black plastic trash bags. Synaesthesia snaps back, now you're in the Ground Control Station again, staring at the screen, condensation from the air conditioning drips down the wall, hearing nothing save the constant sixty hertz whine of cooling fans.

There have been times (usually after our longer 11-15 hour missions) where you cannot watch anymore. The brain, after having stared at the screen for what starts at seconds and winds it's way into days, begins to do funny things after so long at a perpetual state of hyper-vigilance.

Things that aren't funny become riotously amusing. You indulge in long, overly detailed descriptions of violating the cute brunette French medic with paralytics, expired chloroform, and zip ties, allowing her to wake naked and alone in your building shower room. The efficacy of various medicines and delivery systems (darts versus stabbing her outright in the neck,) are haggled over until you have constructed such a mangled version of reality that you begin considerations on how to put your plan into motion. It doesn't help when the person you are talking about this with is a combat medic who is on his second tour in Afghanistan following two other consecutive front-line infantry tours in Iraq.

Plumbing the depths of the deep wells of psychosis created by the Afghan campaign in its participants is something by which I have become increasingly fascinated.

The flight hours roll by—you still stare at the screen. You know where these shitheads are, you can call them by name in some cases.

Fuck, there are people around here we have been tracking for weeks and cannot touch.
The rules of engagement now mandate that targeting come from men on the ground, and this is preceded by a ten minute discussion concerning the closest civilian structure and if there are women and/or children in the area. The radios are constantly awash with units reporting TIC (troops in contact), requesting CAS (close air support), only to be told that the Colonel running things has to personally approve prior to bombs separating from wing. Sure, you might be taking highly effective RPG and AK fire, but you're not going to get help from on high if you're within 1000 meters of civilians or buildings.

A few months ago I would have said that there was no way this war was going to become another Vietnam. It hasn't, it has become much, much worse.

And over it all leer the unblinking eyes of the vultures and their crews. Much like those actual carrion birds, we don't discriminate between used up Americans or Afghans. All we're interested in is the fact that something died here, may die here soon, or has died here quite recently. Some of the guys over here become intoxicated by the fact they're controlling a UAV over a war zone. You can quite easily tell people that are going to be this way, and coincidentally figure out quite quickly that these people have no experience with death. Maybe a family member or two, but that is likely a memory so distant as to be rendered unremembered and unremarkable.

To some of these people, combat is something you see on television—an abstract concept akin to winning 750 million (or some similarly incomprehensible number) units of your local currency in the lottery. There is an idea of what that would represent, but ultimately it doesn't make sense because you have no honest frame of reference for what exactly the fuck 750 million goddamn bongo bucks really means. It is like staring at the sun on a bright and cloudless day, expecting to see a sharply defined circular form.

Thus, they become a lesser species of vulture. Not one that knows the role consigned to him by Genus-Family-Species, but a migratory moron mercenary made drunk by the sound of gunfire in the background of radio calls. You hate these people, every fiber of your being resonates in the expectant frustration of the peak just before orgasm at the mere suggestion that you might be able to crush their larynx with your hands and not be caught. Ultimately you do nothing, perplexed by the shallow idiocy of these combat-zone tourists.

Yes, that is automatic weapons fire in the background of the radio call.Yes, those are bad people.Yes, these are airplanes smiting those deemed naughty by U.S. foreign policy.
You still tacitly beg for them to stop celebrating in childlike wonder every time they hear or see these things.

In the end, you and the other two vultures on your four man crew talk about it in hushed tones while chain smoking on the patio, yet again suffering from insomnia. You stop sleeping at month three, addicted to the coffee, the nicotine, the dead fucking rush of watching a GBU-82 smash into a cave and remembering that the diametrically opposed forces of what was and what is now will tease you for weeks of Doxycycline dreams. Sometimes you are under the bombs, sometimes you are watching them fall from your perch high overhead. Other times the viewpoint switches just before impact, saving or damning on a lark of subconscious decision making.

I am supposed to go home in mere weeks. The mechanics of my departure are completely beyond my capacity to understand. As far as I envision the process, the helicopter will come, I will get onboard, and I will never leave. I will be here for eternity, watching overhead as countless more are ended in this conflict and the ones not yet realized. Praying for death, such that I might go on living.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tortoise Beats Hare: Political Icebergs Shift !!!

It has recently come to the attention of this journalist that the race that we have all just witnessed is indeed one for the ages! It will serve as a metaphor for purposes of Democratic and Republican comparison for years to come. These two distinct personality types have competed, with our slow and steady Conservative as the victor, while the hare’s impetuous liberal lifestyle looks to be the cause of failure. Why will this race be analyzed for years to come? Why is Aesop spreading such political propaganda throughout the forest? Let’s examine further…

Hank the Hare’s youthful virility and physical vitality make him a dreamy icon for America’s young adults. In fact, his younger cousin “Harey” Larry Hop-A-Long became spokes-bunny for the Energizer battery company in the late 80’s. Some argue that his great uncle Hugh the Hare is the original bust for Playboy’s antiquated bow-tie bunny. And was it not the late J.F. Bunnedy who shocked conservative Elmer Fudd in the 1960 Pine Grove Forest presidential election? Hank’s ancestors, the Leporidae, are sprinters by nature. They apply short bursts in unpredictable directions with the intent to thwart impatient predators. A withdrawn Fudd lamented after the votes had been tallied, “I just couldn’t catch that wascally wabbit.” This is true Elmer, but your efforts would inspire one young tortoise who was a student at Boston College in the early 60’s.

His name…Tex Tortoise. Tex served in the amphibious army as part of any elite SEAL team during the Lilly Pad war of 1968. Today we link him to that familiar stereotype of old age and tiredness. As he heads to sunny campaign stops along his travels he stubbornly never leaves his shell. He’s portable, yet stagnant…mind boggling. However, have we not always used the turtle as an image of lasting toughness in our marketing in such products as Turtle Wax? We can find him on television symbolizing “wisdom with age” in the credits of the television show One Foot in the Grave. It was actually Tex’s great-great-grandfather, Sid the Snapper, who doubled as a reliable coffee table on The Flintstones. Would wax sell so well if it were named after fish eggs? Probably not—and I’d be willing to bet that Dino couldn’t have done so well as a makeshift ottoman.

So I, as well as the rest of the forest, seem to agree on the basic characterization of these two creatures. One of my colleagues recently argued with me at the water cooler that the Chinese Zodiac refers to the rabbit as reserved and thoughtful, but I was quick to discern that this is usually only when the rabbit is enjoying solitude like on weekend trips with his family in the mountains in their cabin on the banks of Mirror Lake. I also made the point that as soon as the hare returns he realizes he is back in public spectacle. Needless to say I won the argument and Mallard the Mail Guy owes me a beer after work.

In a recent interview presidential elect and former SEAL officer Lieutenant Colonel Tortoise stated that, “…the hare’s youthful impudence matches most Conservative critical rhetoric that is directed at liberals. Liberals are demographically youth-rich and want social change, an idea which is typically chastised for being short-sighted and naïve by Conservatives like me and my wife Trixy” (no relation to that crack addict that sells cereal). Tex further stated that, “True, most of us Conservatives are older and typically opposed to certain social progress, but Democrats are wrong to accuse us of being “cold-blooded” and “old-fashioned”. One could easily agree with the triumphant Tex who is proving over and over that his story can be a source of pre-election propaganda for many elections to come, as well as a lesson in life from elder to junior. I believe it was Winston Churchill who stated, “If you are not a liberal at 20, you have no heart. If you are not a conservative at 40, you have no brain.”

The dichotomy created for the allegory that is this race has demonstrated the effective use of a metaphor as a platform for comparison. These two anthropomorphized characters, Hank Hare and Tex Tortoise, have competed for superiority to establish that soupcon of fame. Dr. Edgar Antelope from Princeton; a Tortoise supporter, law professor, and avid leaf collector; gave his insight in a brief interview shortly after the race, “Hank the Hare is left to stew in his own disgrace. He failed to heed the jurisprudence so well exemplified by Tex the Tortoise on matters of effective Pine Grove presidential racing strategies.” Well stated Dr. Antelope.

There you have it, “Slow and steady wins the race.” concluded Aesop. This lesson served by dueling metaphors will be a Conservative election platform for years to come in Pine Grove. Interestingly enough, Aesop wrote a similar story 2500 years ago. You can find me in next weeks edition of the “Early Bird” on location in the Amazon where a similar story is taking place; and those two old foes the Ass and the Elephant are head to head in yet another Darwinistic Debate. So long everyone, and happy trails!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Man, the Myth, the Legend

The Battle of the Field at Mayernik: the legend of King Jewels
Despite all the effort that has for centuries been expended in the search for King Jewels, he has continued to evade the pages of authentic history. Not only has there been a distinct lack of evidence to reveal who he really was; as yet no one has been able to prove beyond doubt that he even existed at all. Solving the mystery of King Jewels is like trying to assemble a huge jigsaw puzzle. The clues exist, but in many different forms: in folklore, archaeology and recorded history. Many have tried to complete the picture, but very often the pieces were wrongly arranged, and until recently some were missing entirely.

We are about to embark upon an historical adventure—a search for the real King Jewels: his identity, his Kingdom of Acorn, and his final resting place. By carefully disentangling the historical from the mythological, and piecing together the fascinating evidence that remains, we reveal for the first time a true story that is in every way as spellbinding as the romantic legend.

The Legend
In a far off time, when Avon upon Benjamin was divided and without a king, barbarian hordes laid waste the once fertile countryside. The throne lay vacant for a just and righteous man, who could free the people from their servile yoke and drive the invaders from the land. But only he who could hoist the atrociously robust and big-footed ogre, Prince Conor of Sunnyjims’s, over the great wall could prove himself the rightful heir. Years passed and many tried, but the fettered chunky swine stood firm and unyielding upon the ancient, weathered field. Then, one day, a young man, high-shorted and bearing the helmet of a batsman, emerged from the forest and to the amazement of all, succeeded where even the most advantageous had failed. The people rejoiced; the king had come and his name was Big Jewels of East Avon.

On accession to the highest office in the land, Jewels set about restoring the wasteland known as Northern Boroughs. After building the impregnable fortress of Acorn, and founding an order of valiant warriors, the Softballers of Emmy Inn, the king rode forth to sweep aside the evil which had beset the land. The liberated peasants quickly took him to their hearts, and Big Jewels reigned justly over his newly prosperous kingdom; bedding any fair maiden that passed with wondering eyes.

Although the great Wyvern Wivell, the bastard Prince Conor’s Grendelic rendition of a mother, ravaged the country in the time before his kingship, she was overcome by the newfound resolve of Jewels’s subjects, for they mounted a quest to discover the magic mushrooms, a fabulous array of psychedelics that held the secret cure for all ills. But as happens so often during an age of plenty, there are those whom power corrupts. Soon a rebellion tore the kingdom apart, an armed uprising led by the reincarnated Wyvern Wivell; the king’s beady eyed, red mini-van driving, poor excuse for an interior designer…was back. Yet there was one, possessed by dark forces, who lay at the heart of the strife: the mysterious and satanic enchantress, the Yount that was Amy. In a final battle, the Wyvern was at last defeated and the Yount that was Amy was destroyed by Schlumpfalufagus, the court magician. But all did not go well, for the Biggest of Jewels was mortally wounded.

As he lay dying on the field of battle, the last request by the mighty king was that a Colt 45 and two zig-zags, the source of all his power, be cast into a sacred creek and lost forever to mortal man. When the magical sword fell to the water, the arm of the Wiebe of Dave arose from the surface, caught it by the hilt and took it down into the crystal depths.

When the great king was close to death, he was spirited away on a barge to the mystical Isle of Nevilla, accompanied by three mysterious maidens, each dressed completely in white and bearing the breasts of fatherless strippers. Many say that he died and was buried upon the isle, yet there are those who believe that the Jewels’s soul is not to be found amongst the dead. It is said that he just taking a really long pot-nap, and that one day he will awaken and the world will again be free from assholes who coddle their “ne’er-do-wrong” children because of a bad past experience with Father Bob after cleaning up at the rectory following a long lusty bingo night.

always with the last word,


Friday, May 21, 2010

The Real Number 2

Despite the picture, and perfect match to my title, DD will be rocking #10 this year...not my best advice in spite of the number's last two notable number 10's. (Kordell "The Goiter" Stewart, and "Potty Mouth" Holmes).

Pittsburgh’s OTAs basically picked up where they left off at the end of mini-camp. QB Byron Leftwich worked with the first team. It looks like the order thus far is Leftwich, Dixon, and then Batch. Charlie will have a career in Pittsburgh until he’s ready to retire, which in my estimates will take place at the end of this season or next. And Leftwich is seizing every opportunity he gets to show the coaches why he should open the season as the starter while Ben Roethlisberger serves his six-game (possibly four-game, pending appeal) suspension.

It would be interesting to see what kind of QB Ben has been grooming in Dennis Dixon, but Leftwich is the sound pick. Watching Dixon last year in the loss against Baltimore, however, was impressive. A Dixon INT to dumpy-looking D-Lineman Paul Kruger sets up 24 yard field goal with just under 7 minutes to play in OT. It sucked, but it was a stepping stone in Dixon’s career.

WAYNES WORLD INTERLUDE FLASHBACK…dudaloot dudaloot dudaloot dudaloot (hands and fingers in waving gesture from chest to thigh, then repeated). Oregon at Arizona, November 15, 2007…with an 8-1 run thus far that includes wins over PAC-10 powerhouses Arizona State and USC, the Ducks sit at number 2 in the polls with a chance at a national title. In the win over Arizona State, Dennis Dixon tears his ACL, but is cleared to play two weeks later on a Thursday night ESPN showcase at the University of Arizona. The Wildcats, at 4-6, are fighting for bowl eligibility and Oregon is a 10 ½ point favorite (as I remember quite well…$50 in the toilet). Dixon reinjures the ligament, a Duck’s National Championship and probable Heisman Trophy honors are gone. The Steelers take him in the third round and Dennis wins a Super Bowl ring in his rookie season as the back-up’s back-up’s back up.

FLASHFORWARD phone booth style with George Carlin. Dennis Dixon needs to prove himself in training camp. He can run and he has great size. If he can fine tune his throws this year the job is his. Leftwich is what he is…a tough kid with a lot of heart, and a colossal canon of an arm, but we need a guy who can make plays like Ben. No QB in this league means more to his team than Roethlisberger and I see Dixon as the only other QB on the depth chart who has the relatively close ability to fill those cleats. Time will tell, but if we do start the season on a losing note a la Byron Leftwich, look for Dennis Dixon to be warming up to Coach Tomlin on the sidelines.

For now, he needs to learn the offense and work with our receiving corps to discuss and execute favorite plays and tendencies; then get on board with the O-Line to take a look at shot-gun, drop backs, and play action; and finally, he has to prove to the coaches that he can play quarterback. He has the opportunity to engage an entire city for what could possibly be six weeks this fall. The pressure is on…

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

...No Graven Image

“…No Graven Image”

Miniscule shards of marble flew as Ike Solomon delicately chiseled the pillar of grayish-white marble standing in his living room. He worked skillfully, and moved as if the hammer and chisel with which he worked were living extensions of his own flanges. These tools and his expertise had transformed what had been nothing more that a rudimentary obelisk a few weeks ago, into the jagged human shape which he now went about refining.

The crude statue rested on a low, dusty block of wood looking out the window over Central Park near 72nd street. The figure stood five feet ten inches, Ike’s height exactly. A featureless head rested atop a thick, shapeless body, with two arms at the shoulders. But for every hour Ike dedicated to the statue, the more human in looked.

Ike’s apartment was on the 35th and final floor of the Wallachian Arms, an antiquated high rise with a distinct smell and “hard” water. The place, his place I should say, was rather plain…one would most certainly conclude it was nearly a bore. The walls were a smoky grey color and the floors were made of unvarnished hardwood—the kind he remember playing on in abandoned gymnasiums while growing up in the desolate steel towns of western Pennsylvania. Ike’s furniture, which was minimal at best, was either unfinished pine or of lead-colored fabric; the pine unfinished because he simply had no guests who may fear the occasional ass splinter. In every corner stood a statue, expertly fashioned by my dear friend Isaac Solomon. Each was done is ashen marble and portrayed some figure from greater times. His was the kind of apartment where some “B” rated horror flick of the 60’s might stage a suicide. The only escape from the apartment’s drab décor were the shelves, floor to ceiling, of multi-hued volumes that more or less possessed one similar subject—the middle ages.

In his mid-twenties at this point, Ike had been fascinated by medieval times his entire life. Perhaps the only enjoyment he took more than sculpting kings was reading about them. A fortune mom and dad left him some 9 years prior obliged his obsession. He was worth roughly 47 million when I befriended him, and aside from his $1700 a month rent, subsequent utilities, and tons of marble that were easily hoisted to his penthouse by the industrial elevator that was ironically fashioned by the company his great grandfather had started in the early 20th century, he had no other financial responsibilities. Sure, he sent $2000 a month to his sister Millie who lived on a funny farm outside of Cincinnati, but that was just to keep up appearances with the board of administrators, men that had grown up taking his father’s visions and grinding them into millions of dollars and a spot near the top of the Fortune 500 List. Ike was cordial with all of them at best, but had a deep rooted relationship with one gentleman in particular. It was because of this kinship with the respected chairman that the rest unquestionably accepted Ike’s lifestyle for what it was.

Solomon’s folks were a quirky pair from what he told me, and he told me much. Linking the few pictures he had in and old Adidas shoebox with his tales of terror, I was easily able to distinguish what kind of a household in which young Isaac was raised. His father was a morbid looking man. Gangly and bald, Ike used to say his night time silhouette looked like that of Ichabod Crane in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. He married twice before meeting Ike’s mother, but never bore children (as far as we know) before Isaac and his twin sister Millie. He’s probably a gentleman who I would have enjoyed dining with; Ike told me many stories of his family and their closest “friends” who would keep some of New York City’s finest restaurants open into the mauve hours of a Big Apple sunrise. All of his wives were beautiful, and his girlfriends young. I think he thought he was probably some kind of Renaissance Man, as most New York execs probably similarly do. With his net worth exceeding 100 million at its peak moments, one could understand why. Ike’s mother was definitely the more interesting of the two. She came from old money, but acted very nouve riche. Ike said that she constantly gossiped about women who were exactly like her, hence Ike’s hatred. He used to tell stories about her drunken stupors and late night naked sleep walks through the halls and rooms of their castle in the Hamptons. “She was 42 when she shat Millie and I from her womb,” Isaac once said to me after a Jack Daniels induced “death anniversary party” (he loosely quipped), at the 5 year mark of his parents’ death. That was also the same February night in north Manhattan when Ike divulged much of the black truth that encompassed his family. But I never judged him. I liked him too much. My parents were good people so I respected him for still being sane (if that’s what you’d call it). Aside from talking to me two or three times a week, his life consisted of studying and of sculpting this fixation while living confusingly meager from his inheritance. The only time he would spend money for something other than amenities were the few instances when he could hawk a piece to some young rich interested collector. The pieces would go for about 10 grand. He once said that some day, when he dies, someone will discover his work and he will be talked about in art history books with the likes of Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Monet, Manet, and some others I’d never heard of before, for thousands of years to come. I was sworn to secrecy about his work and I never had a problem not telling anyone.

Most nights we would smoke pot on his overlook, a huge marble structure that had been put together in Venice and shipped to NYC when he moved in. It was ten million for the whole project, but he claimed it was his gift to himself for enduring the 16 years with his mother and father. Anyway, most nights we would smoke dope and drink Jamaican beer on the three ton marble deck that jutted over the corner of 72nd and 12th. We would watch people in the park with binoculars and he would rant and rave about popular music, how communism works on paper, who he thought the second gunman on the grassy knoll was, and other curious subjects of American culture.

It was the beginning of August in ’98 when he came across a Jewish owned bookstore on a daytrip to SoHo. The “Jew lady” (as he referred to her) who worked behind the counter was blind in one eye and had a misshapen left ear; like someone had ripped a loop from it years ago. She had a Schnauzer at her side that was blinder than she. It growled at him as soon as he walked in then turned around, bumped into a wall, and fell into a heap in the middle of the “Action/Adventure” aisle. Ike was the kind of guy who would provoke an awkward mutt just to let it know whose boss. By accident, he found an interesting looking hard back with some southeastern European inscription on the inside jacket that he loosely interpreted, with “Jew lady’s” help, to be a message from a history professor to a graduating student. The book was old, but in fairly good shape. At first thought he wanted to sculpt the substantial looking figure that adorned the cover. It was a book about Vlad Tepe, otherwise known as “Vlad the Impaler.”
When we returned to his fortress in the sky that evening I went home earlier than usual because I could tell he wanted to finish the book in one sitting. It seems that Tepe had been the cruel ruler of a province in Transylvania. The “Impaler” had been coined such a nickname because of his infatuation with having those who displeased him impaled on a wooden pike and left for nature. Isaac had been intrigued by individuals from medieval times before, but never like this. Vlad inspired a new and mysterious, though perverse awe in Ike, the likes of which were previously foreign to him.

In three days time the book was read and the bust for his sculpture began the following weekend after the new “mother rock” was delivered. His lawyer, who came to talk about the estate, showed up one Saturday morning with donuts and watched in awe as Ike drank espresso and chiseled the blackened marble chunk with the passion of a zealot. In two weeks time the rock was morphed from a seven foot half ton piece of stone into the rough-edged human figure that would eventually be the pride of his collection.

In August, in New York, the afternoon sunshine wanes and is gradually replaced by twilight, and then becomes reborn by the night lights of its inhabitants. Ike felt that summer gave him extra energy, but that it was also the only time of the year that he was able to sleep through the night. When he finished the basics of the sculpture one particular Friday evening, the last of August, he reviewed his workmanship, swept up the marble fragments from the floor, and leaned the shop broom on the coat rack. He spoke to himself, as Jack Daniels poured from his breath, that he would begin carving the face of Vlad Tepe the next day.

After a deep alcohol induced slumber Ike awoke at noon the next day to find that he had pissed himself in his sleep. It somehow became apparent that he must gather his thoughts and delve himself into his masterpiece. The fervor with which he had worked since beginning the effigy had cut him off from anything else that was going on 35 floors below him (even more than usual). Over the days that followed he strained feverishly to perfect his work. The 72 inch television that always blared out CNN was never on. The incessant voice of Howard Stern could no longer be heard, and there wasn’t even a sign that he had perhaps read the newspaper in an attempt to strike up a conversation with me while we shared a joint on his balcony. He, in fact, left only to buy food. It was this singleness of purpose that allowed him to get so far along in his project in such a short period of time. This drive motivated him to complete the countenance of the “Impaler” by just a few weeks into October.

The tyrant’s face was finished; Ike stepped back to admire his work. But as he gazed at the eyes, they beckoned to him, drawing him nearer. He approached the effigy slowly, thoughtlessly, allowing himself to be controlled by the marble stare he received back. As he moved, the scene in our vision grew steadily darker, until at last, there was complete blackness. The world faded away before us that night and then disappeared completely. And that’s when there was nothing for him anymore. Nothing. He talks about it now like I remember, but I don’t. I only remember the cool breeze that stroked our skin. And the sounds of traffic that began drawing nearer. There was a hazy light that materialized into a lamp post. And then the world returned to us, but we surveyed the surroundings in confusion. We were at a path on the edge of Central Park, looking past a towering oak tree, back at his apartment building. We convinced ourselves that someone had laced the weed with opium or mixed it with ‘shroom crumbs, but on the outset it was an entirely sobering experience for me and I would never spend another day with Ike again. I suppose to take his mind off the mystery he decided to clean up the mess on the floor around the statue. The broom was no longer leaning against the coat rack anymore. It was, in fact, no where to be found. He gave up on the disappearing broom, making a joke that his mother’s spirit had visited us, thus our mindboggling evening, and had flown off on it over the busy streets of Manhattan. He made us sandwiches, but complained he couldn’t find a knife to cut them in half. Again, he searched to no avail. We ate; I left; he slept.

Over the next few weeks, Ike continued his vehement sculpting of Vlad the ”Impaler.” Each day, the statue progressed further toward completion, becoming more and more life-like. But as Ike’s work persisted, so did his black outs. The mysterious lapses occurred every few days from there on. Each time, it was the same thing. The world would fade out while he sculpted, only to find himself hours later somewhere in the park. His shoes and clothes never showed any sign of a struggle and he would usually awaken mid stride; sometimes even amidst a light jog.

He began buying brooms and then claimed to lose them in his huge studio penthouse. They would disappear after black outs and he would tell himself that they were more than likely at the bottom of the elevator shaft. He stopped buying brooms, but window fixture poles began disappearing and he would come to find the curtains neatly folded on his work bench. He stopped caring. When we spoke, one brief time some two weeks later, he was only interested in telling me new things that he had learned about Vlad from the internet or some other book that Amazon delivered. During his waking hours he sculpted endlessly. And when he slept he had dreams of being Vlad, or fighting Vlad, or living with him. He would wake up in cold sweats after his subconscious took him to medieval Romania, where corpses of peasants and soldiers lay scattered across the countryside, impaled in the ground with crude wooden pikes. Each dream seemed more real than the last for Ike, but the nightmares also grew less chilling with each passing night, and more familiar.

On a cool October evening the statue was finished. Vlad Tepe stood there, looking out over Central Park in splendor. He was clothed in stately robes of milky grey shaved black marble; his hands resting before him on the hilt of a sword, its tip stretching to the floor. It adorned the face of a mad man—wide, bulging eyes staring over a long pointed nose on a thin, sullen face. Ike stood and stared into the face of the effigy; observing it and reminiscing about the bond he had formed with it over the past month and half. He eventually got up and walked about his apartment. The place was in shambles, having been ignored for so long. He took his industrial elevator to the mail room in the old building a sifted through newspaper bags to find a date on one that wasn’t anymore than a week prior. The October 6th edition caught his eye. People were dying—being murdered—being impaled on wooden broom sticks throughout Central Park. The killings occurred every few days, and each involved a derelict, or group of derelicts, that had been impaled on the ground with the sharpened end of broken broom sticks. A light went off…he began to remember.

He had hidden the knives at various locations in the park and sharpened brooms and mops and other wooden staves at random. He would search the most remote reaches of the park for his victims, usually some poor unsuspecting bum, or a young lady out for an after-dark run. After his memory had been jogged, and Ike relived the atrocities he had committed, he took the elevator back up to consult his old friend Vladdy. His demented sociopathic laugh echoed through the barren room and when the laughter passed, Ike went out once more; this time though he would be conscious.

Ike awoke the following morning with the events of the night before fresh in his head. He had killed again and it felt so natural, so simple, so right. He opened his eyes to find that he wasn’t in bed though. Before him was a pane of glass and beyond that were the trees of Central Park, painted bronze in the early morning sunshine. His body was numb and when he tried to move he found that he could not. He would spend the next few hundred years confined to that statue with only his view of the park to keep him company. The murders would never be solved and his wishes to be immortalized in the books of history would never fulfill themselves. He would become a forgotten legacy. Some would say he disappeared—ran off to some island, but I still managed to let myself up to that penthouse for a few short years after. Dust settled like dark clouds before a Midwestern twister on everything in that place…except for the statue of Vlad Tepe.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Worilds of Fun (worst title ever)

Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Analysis…Round 2

Jason Worilds, VA Tech, DE projection to (what I think will be weak side) OLB

Intangibles: 6’1” 254 lbs. Talk about perfect size—he is exactly what you want coming off the end as a defensive coordinator. His official 4.72 in the 40 yd. dash, which is less amazing (as always seems to be the case) than his 4.49 and 4.53 unofficial time, unfortunately means he will never be the next LT (I love you Lawrence—fuck the haters—keep it real on the inside), but his position on the field will rarely have him running 40 yards in a straight line very often. Or will it? Of course it will, when he’s on kick coverage, which is where he is going to have to essentially prove himself. Definitely look for him to be busting heads on kick-offs in August during the pre-season.

So why only 2nd Team All-ACC honors? Derrick Morgan, arguably the best end in the draft shared the 1st Team honors with Robert Quinn, a senior from UNC, who overcame a brain tumor in his senior year of high school (sorry, don’t do brain cancer jokes), and has spent his collegiate career in opponent’s backfields. Quinn, who has decided to graduate, is a projected top 10 pick in the 2011 draft a la 6’5” 270 lb. sack-machine stature; he will be “pray-fully playing” FOR FREE, instead of getting his ass kicked everyday in practice for the Browns or Raiders. Good choice my friend, just stay away from raggedy ass hoes because we all know what happens then (BEN?!).

Worilds will mean “worlds” to our piss-poor special teams, which was record-breakingly decimated last season. I look at that simply as a sign of laziness. To perform in such a way during our run to win SB 43, and then to play so putridly in the following campaign with nearly the same core of guys is not acceptable, but understood. Win the Super Bowl, and teams tend to take an off year. Less the Patriots and even the Colt's “Atlanta Brave-like” run each year, Super Bowl winners struggle the following season. Training camp should be long, hard, and hot this year for the Pittsburgh Steelers, bring them back down to earth, coach T.

I hear comments about us going 0-6 to start the season. I GUARANTEE THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN. I’m looking at 4-2, getting Ben back, and having a solid year with a trip to the play-offs. Baltimore will be tough, but the D is getting up there (Uncle Ray Ray). And I still never take the Bengals seriously.

But there is Cleveland! Hahahahahahahahaha. I’ve been told of recent hate mail from a Cleveland reader. You know how the Raiders are the “Assholes of the League” in almost every facet? Well you guys are like the sucky “Raiders of the League,” except you and your 11 year old franchise have never won any Super Bowls; you prevent promising young men from being gifted NFL athletes, who come out of college with the hopes that they’ll go anywhere but Cleveland. Buffalo—not Cleveland! Detroit—not Cleveland! THE RAIDERS—not Cleveland! And then you take them in the first and second rounds and ruin their lives forever.

Even Shaq’s been staying with Ben on the weekends...yeeeaaahhh, you know what that means!

Back to Worilds…he’s got a 38” vertical, run’s a 4.29 shuttle drill, and a 6.95 three-cone drill. Those last two stats should catch your eye—the shuttle time most; however, Jason was considered a top-performer in all four of the “let’s see what you got first” tests at the combine. The twenty-yard shuttle drill provides us with a better idea of how Jason will perform on defense though, and his quickness, agility, and thigh girth should mean trouble for opposing tackles some day if a nagging shoulder injury doesn’t hold him back. His upper-legs look like tree trunks, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got caught trying to out duel “Big Snack” Hampton on the leg-press machine during workouts this summer.

The Steelers defense functions around its linebackers and they can never have enough good ones. They obviously have great ones now with Pro Bowlers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley, but depth is vital; and with Harrison at 32 we need an heir apparent—Worilds could be the guy. He is an undersized end, like many others who took that path with the Steelers, including Woodley, Haggans, Porter and Jason Gildon (still got love for you JG).

“Position-wise, I don't have any personal preference,” says Worilds. “I just want to get on the field and do what I love to do. I have heard different things, and it really depends schematically on what the team runs. Certain teams that run 4-3 will have me as a down lineman in a three-point stance, and teams that run a 3-4 would have me standing up as an outside linebacker,” he concluded.

Now, we ultimately wait for that transition. Remember this draft Pittsburgh…this could be the one that leads us to a pinnacle seventh Lombardi Trophy.

back to beat lab with John C. Reilly for round 3 mix tape,


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Round One: PAHN-cey

A look at the draft…

First Round Selection: Maurkice Pouncey (a name Pittsburghers will over-pronounce for years to come), Center/Guard, Florida.

PAHN-cey, as we will dawn him, was an overachiever at Florida. His attitude on and off the field played a role in that. Considering our woes of late, a good kid in the first round who is also a versatile lineman, was a solid choice. There was better talent out there, but the front office decided to turn back to the early days of the Old Man, when our last first round center was drafted in 1937.
Mike Basrak was Duquesne University’s first All-American, MVP of the ’37 Orange Bowl (in which the Dukes beat Miss. St. 13-12), and the 5th overall pick that year in the draft. He eventually became an officer in the US Navy, and then coached high school football in Skokie, IL for 19 years, throughout the 50s, 60s, and early part of the 70s. Pouncey was never the MVP of any game for the Gators, linemen don’t receive such high acclaim as they once did perhaps, but let’s take a look at the run down.
First of all we know that he got more action from Tim Tebow than any girl on campus—Tim’s girlie hands sliding down his big prison back side…lucky guy. And now he gets to be violated by—Ben Roethlisberger! Really can’t wait for that relationship to blossom though. Jokes aside, Maurkice is the man…
He started 39 games at Florida, despite leaving after his junior season. He won the Rimington Award, which is given to the nation’s top center; the only Gator to ever win the prestigious trophy. Last year Pouncey led all SEC linemen with a 91.57% blocking grade, at which time he threw 119 “key blocks” that led to 20 TD’s. But his two most outstanding feats, as I believe, were his penalty free football (ZERO penalties in 919 snaps!), and what I love most about him= he did not allow a single QB sack or pressure in any of the team’s 14 games.
As a freshman he played in 13 games, and started 11 of those games at guard. He subsequently became only the seventh true freshman to ever start a season opener for the Florida Gators. And at Lakeland H.S. (high school football dominatrix in Florida), he and his twin brother (who will leave UF next year for the draft…nudge nudge), led the school to it’s 45th consecutive victory, 3rd consecutive Florida 5A state championship, and back-to-back USA Today National Champion honors. All they did was anchor a line that allowed for over 4,000 rushing yards…and they both graduated with honors.
“He’s a guy that we viewed as an interior capable offensive lineman with position flexibility,” (ok Johnny Cochran) said Tomlin at a draft press-conference. “Right guard first, then we’ll see what else he can do…it made it a fun and easy evaluation to watch him play against guys like Shaun Cody and [Dan] Williams from Tennessee…he communicated to other lineman, and his QB, about certain things like safety rotation; things you almost can’t coach.” Kevin Colbert added, “Florida talked very highly about his intelligence and ability to communicate...he was able to relay info to (Steelers’ first year) OL coach [Sean] Kugler…and we were all very impressed at the way he was able to sit down and nail out what all 22 guys on the field should be and would be doing.”
Mansfield, Webby, big Double-D, Hartings…PAHN-cey. He’s a proven leader on the field, and exactly what the Pittsburgh Steelers needed with their first round pick. Stay tuned for 2nd round analysis on Va. Tech’s OLB Jason Worilds…the next Greg Lloyd (sans the “gun in his 14 year-old son’s throat for a bad report card” type of incidents we hope)??? Quite possibly.
Remember this draft Pittsburgh…this could be the one that leads us, once again, back to greatness…

Baseball in the Burgh

Watching Dallas Braden’s no-no on Mother’s Day was something for the ages. It got me to thinking about the history of baseball and how much the Pittsburgh Pirates are a part of that history. The Bucco’s participated in the first World Series in 1903, losing to the Boston American League club 5-3 in a best of nine match-up (fucking hate Boston…with their tea parties, and their cream doughnuts, and their Catholics). Professional Pittsburgh baseball has been going on since 1876, believe it or not. All teams then were considered “independents,” and no one was actually officiated with any sort of professtional league; nonetheless, they were paying players and running day-to-day operations.

There was actually a small band of teams in the Pittsburgh area; the best players in that cluster of teams would eventually become the Pittsburgh Alleghenys. Allegheny City, which was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1907, is what we now know as the North Side. It seems that most of the area’s best ball players were from Allegheny City. And yes, we were called the “Alleghenys” just like the ball clubs from New York, Boston, and Chicago were call the “New Yorks,” the “Bostons,” and the “Chicagos.”

In 1890, the Pittsburgh Burghers came to light with a dramatic season that crippled the Alleghenys. Many of the Alleghenys’s stars left and joined the Burghers. That led to what is still considered the worst season in franchise history, going 23-113, and at times unable to field nine players in the bottom halves of away games. The owner through all of this: Dennis McKnight (yes, McKnight Rd.). He gave up and gave the team back to the league due to monetary differentials (a.k.a. he lost money like me at a card table in A.C.). Amazingly (and I can’t stress the sarcasm enough), McKnight was able to back the Burghers as a minority owner; however, even as a bastardized owner, he was able to repurchase the Pittsburgh National League franchise and re-charter it under a different corporate name, thus rendering the services of previous “jump-ship” players once again legal (smart lawyer jazz as I’m told).

McKnight had a knack for finding talent though it seems, and he signed a man named Lou Bierbauer (awesome fucking name). Bierbauer played for the American Association’s Philadelphia Athletics, and Philly (in their usual incompetence) forgot to add ole Lou to their reserve list. You know those game cards you fill out for beer league softball—they used to actually be important….read The Beer and Whiskey League, by David Nemec, to get a better grasp of pro ball in that era. In 1891, the Athletics, now in Oakland, CA, filed an official grievance with the league, claiming that our move was “piratical”—thus the name stuck. We didn’t officially dawn the nickname on our jerseys though until 1912.

After the 1899 season, the Pirates made what is arguably the best player transaction in franchise history when they picked up nearly all of the star players from the Louisville Colonels. Louisville owner Barney Dreyfuss (sound familiar?) had been told that the Colonels were slated for elimination when the National League contracted from 12 to 8 teams. He secretly purchased a half-interest in the Pirates, then after the season sent nearly all of the Colonels' stars up the Ohio (or Ohia, depending on whether or not you grew up in said region) River to Pittsburgh. Since the transaction occurred before the Colonels officially folded, it was structured as a trade; the Pirates sent four relatively unknown players to Louisville. Despite their nickname, the Pirates at least waited until after the season to pull off this blockbuster trade. This is unlike what happened in 1899 to the Cleveland Spiders, and, to a lesser extent, the Baltimore Orioles, who were also part of two-team ownerships. Dreyfuss later bought full control of the team and kept it until his death in 1932 (thank you Wikipedia).

The next century is history…great history.

Five titles and a lot of grief later, here we are. It’s hard to be a fan when the great players you remember are famous for being on other teams. I hate haggling with people who consistently root for them (sorry Grandma), but it is what Nixon (you love him Gram) would call “a damned shame!” We tell our fans that we are producing young talent (and we do!), but then we ship them off early June. You make money…give some back! Many like to dismiss owners—I understand their financial deviance, but operating as such is a crime.

Why does there need to be a salary cap in baseball?...because America owes it to cities like Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Cleveland. People like George Steinbrenner are a cancer to professional sports. If Bill Gates bought the Dolphins, what do you think would happen? Jerry Jones is another mogul. Build a bubble that holds 100,000 people and then demand the world show you favor…fuck off Jerry, you deserted simpleton. Professional American sports are for people from Pittsburgh. WE are the essence of what drives this country’s moral value. SO GIVE US GOOD BASEBALL!!! If you’re going to groom these Double A’ers then fine, but keep them! It is imperative that baseball stops making cities like Milwaukee, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh pay for the ongoing corruption. Give me a contender every year…something to talk about at least…something to tell others about. Give back the dream that McKnight first dreamt.

$8 for a beer=fuck you...


Big Ben's Big Boo Boo

Well, Benjamin, it’s all out. The run-a-mucking, the tomfoolery, the nipple twisting, the bill-bailing, the pubic poaching, and the gerrymandering of “just of age” Jane’s and Judy’s skinny jean button flies. It’s all out big guy…but here’s a thought—he’s obviously been acting like a jack ass for longer than any of us probably know. In high school, Ben didn’t claim the starting role at QB until he was a senior, so for this blog’s purpose we’ll travel back in time to an era I remember well.

Late 90’s to early 00’s Buttfuck, Ohio—Ben Roethlisberger—baggy jeaned and rocking Wu-Wear—has just been named starting QB at Findlay high school’s spring weight room work-outs. His prom is in two weeks, thus the pimple faced ironing board who gave good handie’s and has had her prom dress since X-mas break is again dateless, but the kind of hot still awkward girl’s basketball captain vows to lose her virginity—she’s not sure where he’s going, but she knows that in a year and a half he’s getting the fuck out of Findlay.

A senior year that’s full of fame, both on the diamond and the grid-iron, solidifies a spot on a D-1 roster somewhere for Ben. His blowjob tally just rose 100%, yet Ben refuses to distinguish himself from the other two black guys in town, but no one cares—because that shit is cool. And what’s this?! Ben, you no longer have to draw a pencil thin goat-tee with your sister’s “Pretty Paula Perfume and Make-up” set—you have your own face pubes!! You go down on pre-med coed at your first college trip to Miami…a freshman fifteen poster child—she’s definitely looking YOU up next fall.

For the next three and a half years you are literally the BMOC (big man on campus). And as a junior, you lose your opener to Iowa, then barrel through 13 straight opponents on your way to the school’s first GMAC bowl victory, where you trounce Louisville 49-28, throw for 376 yards, and 4 TD’s—what a way to go my friend. That night, you have an orgy with the women’s lacrosse team. They’re a little rough and seem to be into each other more than you, but that’s ok—some foreign exchange student from Peru is giving you a reach around while another from Austria tweeks your nipples. They all ask you to tuck your sack between your legs and do the “Charlie Brown”—you decline and they hold you down while Greta the goalie sits on your face—nothing could be better.

You’re chosen as the first pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2004 draft. We actually trade up to get you. You’re legendary before you even put on your first backward Steeler hat. Maddox tears thumb ligaments in a game against Baltimore 5 months later and, from September 27, 2004, the rest is history. In an interview after the game that day (a game in which we lost, but Ben didn’t start, thus his record 13 straight regular season wins as a rookie will never be broken) Alan Faneca told reporters when asked if he was excited to play with Ben, “Exciting? No, it's not exciting. Do you want to go work with some little young kid who's just out of college?” He would eat those words—it was the beginning of a new dynasty in Pittsburgh.

So was Ben getting jerked off under tables by high-waged hookers at the LeMont then? No, that’s not what I’m saying. He let the country know that baggy slacks and Sean John button downs were cool on Letterman, but the young man is not the new fashion guru of Pittsburgh, he’s the goddamned quarterback. He’s done a ton of charity work and been endorsed by the Pennsylvania State Police (which isn’t saying much, but looks good nonetheless). He always gives the right answer on camera—his interviews sound more like they’re coming from a professional hockey player; not a high profile NFL QB. And he plays with the passion that all of you adore. It’s true he can be an ass in public sometimes I suppose. I used to pour beer at an establishment he would frequent after home games, and I’ll admit he wasn’t always the most cordial guy, but he shook my hand and looked me in the eye, and that’s enough for me.

I’m pretty sure he was nailing one of the bartenders there too, but who cares?! She was all about it. And what dumb slut from Po’Dunk, Anystate wouldn’t hop on the chance at that? These “poor girls” should have to undergo treatment as well. To make Ben look like the monster here is bullshit in my mind. Young lady, you had the chance—neigh, the opportunity—to get the screaming dolphin from Ben Roethlisberger. Not some mullet-wearing redneck from Milledgeville, GA who works at the Waffle House, but two-time Super Bowl winning QB Ben Roethlisberger—and then you have gull to essentially tell on him?—I call bullshit.

I bet you sucked a lot of cock in your young life, Ms. Garglespit, and I’m positive none of them were as prestigious as Big Ben…so don’t ruin an entire town’s hopes and dreams because your Bratz look-a-like friends are telling you about dollar signs. At the very most, I think a text requesting ten grand not to talk would have been sufficient. You’re not a hero to women with low self-esteem everywhere, you’re just a drunk girl with too much make-up and an addiction to glam and Glenfiddich.

In the same breath, Ben—no more of this. Get married and cheat on your wife like everyone else. If the money grubbing whore decides to tie the knot with you then just let it be known that when she gets fat or cranky (a.k.a on her period) you will cheat on her, and that it will be in her best financial interest to just go along with what you say. At least then, Ben my friend, you have an alibi …