Opinions need not be feared nor suppressed.

Monday, September 26, 2011

From the email inbox

In response to an email I received, here goes…

Why haven’t I made an appearance at the last couple of BlogFest events?

First of all, declaring one’s candidacy does not automatically make you even remotely interesting or particularly knowledgeable. For some insight, consider the mayoral "race" in Wilkes-Barre. So being in an overcrowded room with a slew of people who mistakenly think they should be put in charge of anything of any importance is just not appealing to me.

Secondly, the vast majority of these glad-handing candidates have a snow cone’s chance in Iraq of being even remotely competitive on election day. For the most part, WILK and our two newspapers expose the vast majority of the clueless pretenders, so why should I have to make small talk and pretend I’m interested when I‘m not?

Thirdly, most of the smiling candidates in attendance are just looking for some free press, even if it’s of the lowly blog variety. Or as I was quoted as saying at the first BlogFest, “They just want to use us.”

As this area’s pioneering political blogger, I’m not so vain as to believe the room fills because people really want to meet me. More likely, the room would fill to curse me or worse. I seek no celebrity, I need no affirmation and I can tolerate the presence of most would-be politicians only while drinking alcohol.

During my only Fest appearance, I deliberately sat next to a high-ranking elected county leader so as to match wits with him. He not only ignored me, he clearly avoided making eye contact. And then a day and a half later he sends me a Facebook “friend” request. How completely lame is that? And you want me to party with the likes of these vapid people?

Honestly, I’ve come to like most of the local bloggers I’ve met. And I’ll spend an entire evening at the bar with them any time they like. I've already done as much. Hell, I’ve gone as far as to offer to host a kegger.

But as far as being surrounded for hours on end by the many pretenders to the many thrones, I’d rather scream a litany of racial slurs in Harlem.

Them’s all I got.


Superman whined

“I felt I got hit late. No flag, At some point something catastrophic is gonna happen. Not to blame the refs, but more precautions should be taken. I’m on the ground all the time in the pocket.”
“Every time I throw the ball, I’m on the ground, I get hit in the head. I don’t know why I don’t get the 15-yard flag like everybody else does. I’m not trying to blame the refs. I just want them to take notice.”---Eagles QB Michael Vick’s post-game comments
Since when does Superman, the leader of the quote/unquote “Dream Team”, whine?

What's wrong? Did the big bad mash unit called The New York Football Giants come to your home turf and lay a few dozen hats on you? Ah, poor little billion dollar baby.

This one was too easy to call going in. While the Eagles spent sums approaching our failed stimulus handout in signing all the sexy free agents, they neglected to seriously address their two most glaring weaknesses: linebacker and offensive line.

Yeah, they added a legendary offensive line coach. But with the lockout negating any contact with the new specimens until the pre-season, what good could that do in the short run?

And with only one exception, their linebackers would be second string at Penn State. And Asomugha Nnamdi, Philly’s new shut-down corner? He couldn’t tackle Victor Cruz, and he couldn’t cover him either. And Cruz normally keeps the bench warm for his fellow G-men.

But getting back to Vick’s whining. If the offensive line ain’t pass protecting very much, he has to get back faster, read the play quicker and get rid of the ball faster. Not stand there and hope for post-collision flags.

And as far as drawing flags is concerned, I thought the first priority was to not get drilled time and again. Secondly, he’s always been extremely slippery and illusive, meaning when he moves from the pocket, the referee treats him like a runner, not a passer. He can’t have it both ways on every play. He’s either a quarterback or a tailback.

If I were an Eagle fan (Allah forbid!), I’d be real worried after taking in Vick’s post game comments, because it appears as if he really doesn’t understand what’s happening and why.

And Coach Andy Reid? Well, by trading away the future franchise quarterback for the likes of the oft-injured and statistically middle-of-the-road but superbly athletic quarterback, he proved all over again that he’s a genius only to the fans who really don’t understand the complexities of the game.

As for Mr. “ No Flag” Vick, we’ll see him again later in the season when our starting defense will be so much closer to healthy and whole. Good luck with that. And lose the cape.

Ah, the Dream continues.



Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Sterling tour

Let’s see here, the County and CityVest more or less partnered in an effort to revitalize the Hotel Sterling. And after the passage of many years and the expending of millions of dollars, the grand old hotel seems to be all but kaput. At least, that’s what the touring engineers said.

So with the engineers claiming in no uncertain terms that we need a controlled demolition rather than a sudden collapse, it becomes the City’s problem, with many now taking unfair, accusatory shots at Wilkes-Barre’s leaders.

No matter how this story ends, people need to be reminded that this mess was not created by the City of Wilkes-Barre. What’s more, Wilkes-Barre does not have a million dollars with which it can demolish a building it does not own.

Some of you who followed some of my earliest exploits probably remember that I took an impromptu tour of the Sterling back in either 2001 or 2002. I can’t remember which and I don’t care to research the exact date.

This wasn’t the first abandoned landmark I had toured. As far as gaining access to these so-called mothballed structures goes, all you have to do is follow the drunken homeless.

During my tour, I saw the basement as well as the ground floor. It was in pretty rough shape back then, speaking from an aesthetic standpoint. I posted a few pictures taken inside on the old site, but they were less than excellent due to the darkness. Basically, I had a Maglite and the camera flash and that’s it. But I had enough lighting to see what the homeless had brought to the structure: needles, condoms, beer bottles, skin mags and camp fires. Yes, camp fires.

What I planned to do was go to the top floor and take pictures from every side looking outward. And then I’d post those pics and ask if anyone could tell me where they were taken from. The problem was I got a bit queasy about the water trickling ever so steadily down the steps from above.

If you know anything about how structures are constructed and such, you already know that nothing can compromise the structural integrity faster than moisture. Especially, unchecked water.

I went up a ways to take a peek at the second floor only to hear a rather pronounced bang from somewhere up there above me. Basically, something or other had become detached from something else and crashed with a mighty thud. Being that I did a similar tour of the old steam heat building only to have it collapse less than two weeks later, I was thinking that perhaps the lucky rabbit’s foot was becoming overmatched. And at that point, I headed for the rear alley way exit.

I know what I saw, heard and smelled almost a decade ago. And from what I’ve read in the newspapers, water has been compromising that structure ever since. That, in and of itself, is probably enough to have it declared unsafe. And when we add the recent earthquake as well as the basement flooding to the volatile mix, I would not recommend driving or walking too close to it until this mess is resolved.

The engineers claim it’s long run needs to end and end soon. To that the usual activist suspects cry foul, demand forensic financial audits and demand an “independent” engineering analysis.

While that’s all well and good and fair, I’m here to tell you that I didn’t feel safe in there back when it’s structural integrity was supposedly up to snuff. And I think turning it into a political football during an election season probably compromises the safety of those unfortunate enough to catch a red light at that intersection.

I was in there. The people claiming it is not structurally compromised were not.

For what it’s worth, there it is.


Friday, September 23, 2011

This has gotten ugly

I was there, I was at the one and only GasStock event that was staged in 2010. Truth be told, I walked something like 217 miles to get there.

And I would have been all-in for the 2011 event. But the folks who organized the well-attended and well-reported protest event, the folks who repeatedly and steadfastly claimed they had the most at risk--namely their homes and lands and water supplies--retreated back to the relative ease of protesting by way of electronic pulse. In my mind, a huge mistake.

And now, the loosely-knit, ad-hoc coalition members, so strident while walking amongst their many supporters just a year ago, are being individually targeted for financial retribution by LLCs of the gas-drilling world that came here claiming to be good corporate neighbors, but turned out to be predatory and vindictive when the last few voices of dissent refused to die quietly.

Susquehanna River Sentinel: Bloggers Beware: Chief Sues for Facebook Comments

Another Monkey: Thugs to bloggers: "Watch what you say online!"

They are the good corporate neighbors. And still, some of us are sullying their good names.

Here, kid, have a yo-yo.

And tell your father to shut the fu>k up!!!

Folks, we need some pro-bono stewardship and a renewed sense of committment. This is wrong on too many levels to list.


Markie Maceman's miscellany

So...do you really want me to come to your little blogger soiree?

Are you sure?

Markie Maceman
Nope. Ain't a toy. Forged steel.

Don't ask.

Get this: they tell me a sitting county commissioner who is on the Home Rule transition committee and who is also running for a county council seat has also applied for the county executive position. That's what they tell me.

If that's true, some of you may need to seriously reevaluate your preferences before next we vote.


Just now, a flash flood warning has been issued for Luzerne County. Oh, goodie. Just what we wanted to  hear...post-flood.

How long before some limp-wristed bed-wetter starts going on and on about Global Wetting?

Never know.

Did anyone notice how, with increasing frequency, the President of the United States is sounding dumber and dumber and dumber?

I figure that just about everyone has noticed. But I also figure that only about 60% of us will admit to noticing. That is, will admit to it just yet.

It's getting to the point with this pencil-neck, ineffectual geek that more and more people are going to just start tuning him out until the time finally arrives when they can dispatch him back to wherever it was that he actually sprung from. Hawaii, wasn't it? Yeah, Hawaii.

Oh, yeah. How's that job search going?



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Happy Birthday (perhaps)

I got a bit of a kick out of all of the many email notifications I received alerting me to the cavalcade of birthday well-wishing on my Facebook, uh, on my “wall.”

They always celebrated my birthday on September the 19th as I was growing up. But after my mom passed away and we started sifting through her documents, after my daughter’s genealogic endeavors hooked me up with long lost cousins in Colorado and California and after reviewing the many news clippings from the kidnapping days that said daughter managed to dredge up from the archives, I found that about half of what my mom told me about my seemingly fictional father’s side of the family were complete fabrications meant to put the quick kibosh to my natural curiosity about the missing fragments of my life.

Here’s an example: Supposedly, my name is Mark Matthew. But those ancient news clippings from the Florida newspapers listed my name as being Mark Joseph. According to mom, my dad wanted to name me Ugak after some Russian. Nope, that's not a typo. Ugak. True story.

For that matter, I’ve never seen my birth certificate. So, you got me as to what birth name was actually affixed to me. I’ve always believed that I was born where my mom told me I was born, in Endicott, New York, only because my long-lost dad did work at the IBM facility in Oswego.

The only problem is, he ran off with me to Florida in very early 1961, got in a heap of trouble with the law as a result (interstate kidnapping), and was never heard from again after my mom whisked me out of a Florida courtroom for the trip to my grandparent’s home here in Wilkes-Barre.

She also said he was working in Pinellas County, Florida, for a defense contractor at that time. Yet, I have in my possession an IBM newsletter from 1961 announcing that he was made a senior design engineer on a guided-missile project at Oswego.

So which was it? Was he working for IBM, or Minneapolis-Honeywell via NASA in 1961?

She told me the reason for their divorce was my dad’s wandering eye. She told me he had a girlfriend named Martha. But as those old news clippings prove, she left out the part about my having lived with Martha for some 16 months when I was that on-the-run toddler. Essentially, Martha was my surrogate mother for damn near a year and a half. That would explain why my mom seethed at the very mention of that woman, I suppose.

When she was younger, mom told me that my dad’s parents--my other grandparents--wanted nothing to do with her. The inference by extension was that they wanted nothing to do with me. So as I was growing up, I never bothered to pick up a telephone.

But when my daughter managed to reunite me with those aforementioned long-lost cousins from over there by the tsunamis, they were generally excited to have found me after the passage of so many, many years.

My point?

My point is this: September the 19th may or may not be my actual date of birth. I may or may not have been born in New York state. Further, my name may or may not be Mark Matthew, Mark Joseph or Ugak Jiggy. And my father, as well as his extended side of the family, may or may not have been ogres.

At this late date, it obviously doesn’t matter.

I just thought it was an absolute hoot to receive so many birthday well-wishes while I have a multitude of reasons to doubt everything I’ve ever been told as to my pre-formative years.

But, thanks.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Intemperate musings

Ain’t been lurking around on the blog scene very much of late.

I’ve been working too much. Fantasy football is off to a roaring start. And my nephew landed in the ICU after overdosing on something or other. Anyway, the past week wasted away faster than those so-called stimulus dollars.

What? No griping about the performance of the City’s leadership during the big flood scare? Nothing?

Wow. You mentally incontinent people are slipping.

By the way, just in case you blinked, there was a mass protest against “corruption” at City Hall. All the usual dozen or so suspects were there, including a few who spoke to the press, thereby losing even more votes.

Once upon a time, our then-fearless leader would loudly boast about all of the grant monies he would acquire, and then proceed to buy nonsensical junk with said handouts.

For instance, a two-man hovercraft for water rescues. As in, wouldn’t an actual water rescue lead to an overcrowding of the boat?

Let’s see, we went and got a couple of solar-powered emergency sirens. I think they are still in place, one at Meyers and the other at Hollenback. Funny, though, I ain’t heard them since they were originally installed and tested.

After those flood waters got to receding, I got to wondering about whatever happened to 1620 AM. Remember that? No, well here’s what I scribbled on 5-24-2004...
As far as the money we received from grants is concerned, don't believe every press release you read during the previous eight years. By his own words, McGroarty's grant totals seemed to grow faster than the national debt. A recent e-mailer asked where the $110 million in grants that McG claimed to have secured went to. First off, I seriously doubt the accuracy of McG's boasts and secondly, most of the stuff he actually got was junk we probably didn't need. We have new solar-powered emergency sirens, but we don't have many street lights left. We have an emergency radio station, WPUU, but we can't afford to hire the cops we need. We've covered all of this before.
Yes, you got it, WPUU, Wilkes-Barre’s emergency radio station. Back when it was momentarily operational, it went something like this…

You are listening to WPUU, Wilkes-Barre’s emergency radio station. In the event of an emergency…

You get the gist.

Anyway, I asked a high-ranking city official (real high), whatever became of that indispensable little nugget of ours. Well, it was out of service before he took office in January of 2004. Just like I thought.

And as for those solar-powered emergency sirens, we’re not really sure what their status is. Might have been stolen and scrapped for all we know. At this point, no biggie.

After listening to our county controller on WILK, I have to vehemently disagree with his stated position as to the status of the Hotel Sterling.

While our one-term president wastes billions of dollars on green technology companies racing each other to bankruptcy, it would somehow be a misappropriation for the Feds to pony up one million in disaster relief to remove the sagging Hotel Sterling from the landscape?

They can rebuild Shickshinny only to be flooded again and again and again, but Fedrule dollars should not be allocated for the removal of a public safety risk? What, Wilkes-Barre should spend a million-plus is does not have?

Dude, you’re losing me.

Personally, I think Shickshinny should be bulldozed, and it’s inhabitants relocated to Centralia.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Recovery Web site

Need help in Wilkes-Barre?

Follow the link...

2011 Flood Recovery

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Gaffe? What gaffe?

From The American Thinker...
Barack Obama has gone to Congress asking for more money to spend. The President, in a rambling and tedious exercise mixing blame with demands, made quite a few dubious statements in laying out the case for Congress to vote for the plan which as yet does not exist. Much like Obamacare, Congress must ultimately vote for the bill to know what is in it.

At one point Mr. Obama made a major gaffe; he identified Abraham Lincoln as the founder of the Republican Party.

Lincoln did not join the Republicans until 1856, over two years after the party was founded. The first Republican convention was held in Ripon, Wisconsin in 1854.

PBS alters transcript to hide Obama gaffe

Now, listen to me tell it.

If G.W. Bush had made such an egregious error, everybody 'cept for FOX News would have been spitting all over their DCCC talking points bulletins while instinctively lurching to criticize him.

Tell me I'm wrong, Nancy!

But, hey, this ain't Dubya we're talking 'bout. This is a textbook example of a clueless and useless boob who makes Dubya look really smart in direct comparisan.

But, being the last gasp darling of the non-productive folks---the Democrats---his repeated gaffes shall go unmentioned.

Sorry, but Mr. Teleprompter makes even Dubya look smart!

And yet, the media covers for him.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Breaking (anecdotal) news

My son, Marque, manages a local restaurant that sits high above any possible flooding.

He just called, at 2:45 PM to tell me that the restaurant was practically filled with National Guardsmen (as it has been most of the day), when the entire lot of them sprung to their feet and hurriedly headed out.

According to the waitstaff, they cited a possible dike breach in the Forty Fort area, a crumbling bridge at Wilkes-Barre, as well as another important bridge showing the first signs of coming undone for their hasty retreat from the foodstuffs.

For what it's worth, there it is.


Still crossing the fingers

This lone picture will tell you all you need to know about a wide swath of Wilkes-Barre's flat lands.

You can cruise the length of Washington St. and Penn Ave. until you hit the flood waters at Brookside. But if you head west towards the Susquehanna River at any point, you'll have to deal with the National Guard.

Mill Creek backed up in a big way. So much so, that as I type this the WBFD is conducting a water rescue on Brookside Street. And I'm having trouble understanding why anyone would choose to ignore the mandatory evacuation order when the river was predicted to crest at 41 feet.

Then again, I've always fantasized about throwing a humdinger of a hurricane party, so I should talk.

The WBPD headquarters was evacuated last night.

Last night he power went off at 6:33 PM and then came back on at 12:28 AM.

Now, they warned us that PP&L would pull the plug on parts of Wilkes-Barre at some point, but the timing confuses me. Was there more or less of a flood risk at either of those times? If I had to guess, I'd say that after the dikes were stressed all night, it would make more sense for the power to go down later, not earlier. But what do I know about all things 21 billion jiggawatts?

And there's some noise being made about a significant crack in the Pierce Street bridge. The river portal gates are all gushing water. While the river slowly recedes, we're not out of the danger zone just yet.

Stay tuned

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Watching, waiting & praying

I’m sitting here in the Nord End listening to what is sure to be an award-winning emergency programming performance coming from the staff and management of WILK. I’m also sampling the wall-to-wall flood coverage from our local television stations. And I’ve never before heard so much constant bantering coming from the police scanner as the WBPD, the WBFD, the National Guard and various other volunteers evacuate the lower-lying areas of Wilkes-Barre. In a word, this is nuts.

The evacuation order says those affected by the Agnes flood of ‘72 must pack up and get out of town by 4 o’clock today. While we watched the waters back in 1972 stop advancing just two hundred yards from here, I remember some of the sewers, the manholes, the sinks and the toilets backing up. So, while we were affected at this general location, we were not flooded per se.

Here at the modest adobe, we’ve taken a ton of water in the basement, in the front bedroom and the posts that support our pool have sunken into the deluged soil to the point that the pool appears as if it might collapse with just a bit more prodding.

In 1972, I was 13-years-old and had no idea anything of note was up until I climbed out of bed to find WBRE off the air. And when I told my mom about the snow in lieu of programming, she explained that the entire valley was flooding. So when I headed over to first Tank Hill and then North Street to have a look, I was absolutely beyond amazed to see the utter devastation displayed there before me.

We’ve had a few close calls since 1972, but after the levee system was reconfigured the way it was--raised to 41 feet--I figured that Wilkes-Barre would never again face what it faced back when I was but a struggling young sprat. Never.

But as far back as 2001, I met this guy prone to sudden outbursts of kayaking. And because of the friendship we formed, I started learning all sorts of things concerning hydrology, acid-mine drainage, storm water run-off and how replacing the forests in the higher elevations with fields of asphalt would eventually make storm water run-off an issue we’d all have to learn about at some later date. Sadly, from what I’m hearing and seeing today, that date may have arrived.

In my opinion, Wilkes-Barre has made a ton of progress since the nadir of it’s existence some eight years ago. And I do not want to see it laid waste all over again. So with that, I’m prepared for the worst, but praying on bent knee for the best.

And if you know me at all, you already know I've never been accused of being even remotely spiritual.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mental isometrics

If people think going up against the Republicans is too much of a chore for our middling president, I wonder what they think of his decision to go up against the NFL? And on opening day no less.

Jobs? A jobs speech? Another one?


Now that the big bad hurricane has moved on, it‘s been interesting listening to the week-long freak out session on WILK.

Some folks have been without electricity and all that it enables for the better part of a week. And the seething acrimony towards both PP&L and UGI has been growing in intensity, if not, in absurdity.

I was there. I was in the Back Mountain Monday afternoon. And after bouncing from roadblock to roadblock, after barely skirting under far too many downed trees supported only by wires, I aborted my attempt to reach points north such as Lake Silkworth and Sweet Valley. Honestly, I was shocked by what I observed.

Anywho, my daughter Ebon moved out of the modest adobe just last Saturday. Yep, her and my soon-to-be son-in-law have struck out on their own by relocating to the Stroudsburg area. As the hurricane was fast zeroing in on Wilkes-Barre, there we were tying a tarp down over the last of her possessions to be removed.

So, as I type this, she has been in her new townhouse for a whole week now. The twist is, she has been living alone for this past week.

See, her favorite squeeze is what I call a pole climber, he’s a lineman for Met-Ed. In other words, he’s the guy who goes on up there in the cherry-picker and plays with the high voltage while we earthbound types grumble about having to live without power for an hour. And since this past Sunday (his day off), he has been working mandatory 16-hour days.

So, for those of you that graduated from GAR, that’s 96 hours in 6 days.

While I have absolutely no clue about the staffing or commitment of our local providers of electricity in the wake of the big sh*t storm, I strongly suspect that all of the rumors, the anecdotal “evidence”, the accusations and the call for investigations are wildly off-base.

I’m just saying, man.

Since I had not typed a word for damn near a week, some have expressed concern via electronic pulses.

No, I ain’t had a sex change operation or anything like that. Ain't gone transexual, pansexual or such some goofy thing. No rare foot funguses or the long overdue brain matter transfusion.

Simply put, I’ve been cramming much like a college kid does during finals week. Yes, we held our fantasy football draft, the results of which have me brimming with confidence. But if and when the anticipated injuries take a bite out of my roster, I want a backup plan in place for every roster spot going in.

And that’s it. I’ve been studying. It’s kind of like doing mental isometrics with a beer in hand. And all for what some see as a trivial pursuit.

As far as I’m concerned, there is not nor ought there be anything so completely exulted on the face of Allah’s great earth as that apogee of organized violence…the NFL.


Let’s get it on, girlies!!!