PENNSYLVANIA was blessed this past election cycle to choose between two real winners for governor. One guy created a county wide poured drink tax to fund mass transit. A transit system that spent over $500 million on a 1.2 mile subway tunnel under the Allegheny river, 80% of that money from you and me as Federal taxpayers.

The other guy, while State AG, actually filled a subpoena against Twitter for the identity of two critics who were vocal regarding the money spent on his Bonusgate corruption trial of Pa State Democrats.

There wasn’t even a lesser of two evils. The choice was between Dumb and Dumber.

THE Republican won, swept into office because of anti-party incumbency as Pennsylvanians were tired of district pet projects and fed up with the corruption and self serving politicians that make up our bloated legislation.

As expected, he’s put a budget forward that cuts everything, including money for grants to higher education. If this were for profit schools, the Democrats would be cheering about sticking it to the man, correctly pointing out that most of the degrees that people earn from schools like The Art Institute, rarely result in making more money than a Walmartian worker but saddled with tens of thousands of student loan debt that they’ll be lucky to ever pay back. All while ignoring the no pay jobs that degrees from these public, state sponsored colleges offer like women’s studies, labor history and social work. These graduates end up with double the debt.

“He wants to shut the door of opportunity on thousands of young Pennsylvanians who just want to better themselves through education,” Phil LaRue, 22, a senior, said. “We will not let this happen.”

It’s a common refrain from students and schools as the yearly tuition costs continually climb.

But why are the ‘public schools’ increasing their tuition every year? It’s not like your average college professor or TA is seeing any of that money. These folks have been giving concessions for years. Most do it for the love of knowledge. So where is the money going?

THE dirty little secret of these “not for profit schools” is how much money the top earners actually make; the dirtier secret is who these faculty members are.

Since Phil LaRue is a student at the University of Pittsburgh, I wonder if he knows that according to the universities latest tax filing for fiscal year 2010, that men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon was paid $1,389,951 and fired football coach Dave Wannstedt made $1,010,873? The Athletic Director, Steven Pederson, draws a salary of $448,421, which is more than the associate vice chancellor for global health and graduate school of public health dean. And they typically see yearly increases. Is this what’s driving the cost of secondary education ever higher? It’s worth looking at.

Before these kids protest the state cuts, they need to turn inward and demand changes within their own university if their really concerned about access to higher education. With just these salaries, it’s clear that the priorities of the schools are all wrong and one has to wonder where else money is being misappropriated when it should be used to keep the costs down.

Routes: McClay to Foster

December 30, 2010

FROM 844, I’d usually take McClay as my jump off point. This road starts as a steady, 45 degree drop, a small trailer park on your right and a water hauling service headquarters opposite. The grade makes an abrupt change as it leveled of and cut through a wide soggy bottom bowl of stream and fields, seemingly similar to the arch-typical sterilized country scene that you’d expect to be hung between the large wooden spoon and fork in one of the trailers now behind you.

You’ll notice a marked increase in ascent wherein you pass an actual farm and a scattering of houses. There is a lot of road kill in these tighter bends as they get tighter and more frequent. I’ve killed here.

Before you lies “Big Bend” which has thrown many drivers into it’s bank of shared and soldiered yards or to the left over it’s steep side. And yet more of a climb that rewards you with a 90% recursive bend that seems as tight as it is steep; the loose gravel at the top thrown out as you bear right powering onto South Hewitt Avenue.

SOUTH Hewitt is uneventful until it becomes Rural Valley Road. Visible ahead is North Buffalo Presbyterian. It sits at the end of a huge farm field with nothing around it. On a clear Moonless night you’re just high enough to afford an unobstructed view of the north, east and southern sky. One can enjoy the parking lot and field. There is also an outdoor chapel and small attached cemetery that’s worth wandering through.

ONWARD to Taylorstown famous for having the KKK march through it back in the mid 90s.

Beyond Mink Shoals

August 23, 2010


I am no stranger to a Morgantown West Virginia run. It always seemed long and lonely through those desolate nights broken by a couple truck-stops and a Honda dealer.

BUT it is with rare occasion that I would pass the hallowed Star City sign and see it dissolve in the rear-view mirror. I always viewed it as a welcoming beacon like a lighthouse after that Honda dealer. Pushing further past it you get occasional outposts. Some big and some so small that they consist of nothing more than a gas station and a few houses that double as garage beauty parlors and small engine repair shops; each separated by one American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project after another. Around here in Western Pennsylvania, I’ve noticed the ‘cheapness’ of these projects – they seem to involve a lot of black top. A far cry from the late eighties reconstruction of I-79 and I-70 segments that involved concrete fortified with volcanic ash. Black top is the worst. It only lasts a few seasons and then begins to pit and get rippled by the braking of large trucks. I’m sure these projects will be no different.

THE Technology Corridor rises out of the wilderness like an American Hyderabad. Outhouses and humped water at hollers give way to manicured concrete modernity in Fairmont and Clarksburg. The primitive replaced by Targets, fast food and 3G. But never enough 3G to stream Pandora for any length of time. So I turned to radio as it is a great way to gauge the native by providing a taste of the local tastes and happenings.

The radio stations tended to make the trip worse.

How many contemporary Christian music stations can one place sustain? There are a few choices, like straight up fire and brimstone preaching or classic vanilla white gospel music. The later loses any novelty after more than a minute. There’s also shitty modern pop country. But I find that noise unlistenable. Any classic rock that you might hear are a handful of songs from a short list of bands. Steve Miller is really popular; as is Fortunate Son by CCR. That is until you reach Charleston. NPR is a welcome relief as is the station that plays garage rock of every spectrum and classic hard soul. At least it did when we twice passed. Hell – for all I know it may have been an NPR station.

And yet there was still more West-by God-Virginia until the East River Mountain Tunnel mouth on 77 spits you off the Plateau and into the ethereal and enchanting beauty of the Valley and Ridge section of the Appalachian mountains of Virginia.

MENTALLY, I separated the drive to Myrtle Beach into segments defined by state boarders: Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. The state of West Virginia stands apart as the longest part of the trip. I have driven across and through the state of Ohio and I have to say, driving the meaty length of West Virginia; just aft of the panhandle, might just have been the longest drive of my life.


IN the spring of 1995 I was attending the University of Pittsburgh and I regularly parked at the Soldier and Sailors parking garage in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. After class, I headed back to my car and end up somewhere on a back road in Washington in what had become a routine. One warm sun day of long wintery shadows was different, as I noticed the grocery bag next to my left front tire that wasn’t there when I parked. Could it be – a gift from the long silent Porno Fairy? Even in this burgeoning age of Internet porn thumbnails, I would have still been grateful for his pot o’ gold; in my youth found in the form of Juggs and Oui in Town Park scattered among condoms and used sharps. It turned out to be from a fairy alright; and the only silence here was equal to death. I’m not sure if it was because the audience in the city was different than that of small town Canonsburg or if his tastes had so drastically changed along with the times. There wasn’t one straight magazine in the lot. It was all hardcore full on gay anal sex and dick sucking. My smile faded to a frown as this gleaming treasure was the masturbation equivalent of pyrite. A few issues of a very different genere were there as well and they focusing on infantile role playing – where dudes dress up as babies and wear diapers…and soil them. I was definitely taking these for my zine publishing endeavor.

I also knew the potential of gay pornography to some funny end – a joke whose punch line I would probably never know.

LATER that year, the first issue of my zine included one of the infantile images. Part of a paste up that included a valley girl and associated slogans. The image of a fat ass guy with a total molester mustachio in a bonnet and bib with a giant rattle.

The stuff i never used was even better. Order forms and pictures of stuff to complete your ‘nursery’ like patent leather Mary Jane shoes up to a men’s size 15, adult sized cribs and cloth diapers. In a seperate accordian folder, manlove, cock suck, ass fuck supreme remained, literally unloved. It was always in the back of my mind. I kept thinking how funny it would be if something happened to me and the family member cleaning out my cabinet finding piles of choice ephemira with the inability to understand the worth and potential of the images, designs and texts.

“Holy Fuck! He’s a fag!”

A punch line that I wouldn’t know for sure with me playing the great comedic victim instead of an unsuspecting mark.

A few years pass and Dead Mike, my best friend at the age of 8, mentioned that his neighbor had recently moved back into his parent’s house with his new bride in tow. She was a chick a few years younger than his neighbor that graduated in our class. We used to clown her because she was dumb. And not just any dumb – you know the way a cow looks at you when you roll up to it whilst it chews cud – almost seemingly through you wholey unaware of it’s own existence? She was that sort of dumb. Cow dumb.

She was every woman in college who would get drunk at frat parties hoping to get taken advantage of. Sort of cute but sloppy with smeared lipstick and full, round titties. The guy that eventually bites to the “you took advantage of me; I love you” nuances is who she marries, has kids with and divorces. I almost felt bad for her upon hearing that she married this cock. Similar I suppose that is vaguely similar to the the way I feel about the retarded people that are exploited in fast food joints.

Terry was one of the most horrible people that I have ever known. He was the type of guy that made fun of retarded fast food workers and meant it. The type of teen that would run over a cat in the road and laugh as it tumbles end over end in his rearview. He was the most cunty cunt. Always a loud mouth yet never actually fighting. He had a douche crew of five to six dildos at any given time with pegged jeans and collar popped golf shirts that were like the gnashing pittbulls in a DMX videos. They enveloped him and were quick to jump in to any fight he’d start. Like with me, one, overweight solo punk. Every single one of them a potpourri of cliché movie characters. A judicious blend of Teen Wolf; Mike Seaver; Alex P. Keaton and Biff from Back to The Future. Chet from Weird Science in a short, Eisenhower style Chess King Jacket. I’ve often suspected that if you caught any of these fucks alone (including Terry) without a baseball bat or bike chain, the outcome would be most different. But they were never alone. And they never were without some type of weapons close at hand. I often wondered what the draw was to Terry – did he blow them or pay them?

Maybe both.

I hadn’t thought about this guy for years, and the mention of his name was like a worm hole back to 1987. Instantly I knew where the Man Love collection was going.

I select graphic images of full on, man on man anal DP and cock sucking, labeling each of the fuckers after the members of the Deuche Crue. His confusion would be high and turn to an intense anger as his rock-dumb wife would start yamering and asking those questions with obvious answers. involved, asking a million questions with an ingenuine inflection of shock: “What is that!”

A letter was also included. It utilized a font that resembling poor handwriting; this at a time when people were not as medium savvy as they are today. It was from L. Neski, another local creep that went to high school with us. Why Len? Because he had recently appeared in the police reports for chocking his girlfriend with an extension cord until she was unconscious. It was also a plus that we was crazy, like spent time in a suburban hospital mental floor and could be found walking the streets of Canonsburg any time day or night. These two diserved each others destiny:

“…rent me a room so I dont half to beat u down and tell everyone the truth that ur a faggit!”

A few years go by and I run into Dead Mike again. We left off with his neighbor and that’s where he picked up. He laughs at the gag and thinks it’s fucking great.

Twelve years pass and the name Terry comes up again, this time mentioned by a coworker. He hates the guy and his wife.

As time goes on, my coworker friend lets me in on the Maury episode that Terry’s life is becoming. Terry started fucking a “friends” wife that works for him. Suspicion confirmed when his wife asked for a divorce and he managed to record her talking to Terry on more than a few occasions. A typical call:

“I want to leave some stains in your bed for the Pig (Terry’s wife) to find.”

“Once she moves out of the house, we can get a new bed.”

Apparently he has found someone dumber than his own wife. Terry makes about 300K a year and after alimony and child support that is going to leave him enough for KOA lot fees for his Motor Home.

Adam and Bill’s wives are friends and she admits the affair to Bill’s wife and asked why she was, “not cheating” on Bill. She said that he was no good and that Terry mentioned to her that he suspects Bill’s wife “wants him and is probably jealous” that she is not “with him.” I have seen a picture of him recently and he looks like he weighs in at over 300 lbs; his hairline has receded to the middle of his head.

Wow; twenty years on and nothing has changed with this fucker but the packaging. A cool, middle age, midlife crisis package with a self opinion not based in reality. Adam did get even. He talked to Terry’s wife as well as discussed the situation with mutual friends that happened to be clients of Terry’s financial practice. Several severed ties. It seems as though it is not enough for him to handle ones assets; he thinks he can handle your wife’s ass’ets as well.

At some point, I tell Bill about the little prank that I played via the USPS and he cracks up. He thinks it’s the greatest thing that could ever happen to Terry and he wishes he had known about it when it happened. He was at the point where he was ready to move on Terry, beating the fuck out of him. Adam talks him out of it and refuses to confront Terry.

RECENTLY Terry broke off the affair with Adam’s wife. He told her that his entire life was a sham; that he actually owned nothing and all of this was ruining him and he was trying to reconcile with his wife. If that didn’t work out, he was contemplating suicide. He also fired her. Now Adam’s wife wants to “reevaluate” the divorce. She told him that she couldn’t help herself; the power of his seduction was overwhelming. Apparently it started accidentally one day when he called and asked a favor. He needed her to pick up his families dog that was left in his huge travel bus because his wife had left it with the air conditioner turned off. When she showed up the only dog waiting there was Terry; with the air running and an opened bottle of wine and vase of flowers. “It was all an accident” she told him. Yeah – I guess she just slipped and fell onto his dick. She apparently tried to make her husband feel better about the whole thing by telling him that Terry “blew his load in less than a minute.” If everything is true, and I have no reason to doubt it, Terry is still a scum bag but now, fat, balding, on the verge of bankruptcy and a premature ejaculator.

Maybe the Porno Fairy could pay him a visit and help out with that last problem.

We were making our way to Robinson via the road less traveled. This route takes you through Nevillewood; one of the first golf/private communities that I ever remember seeing here in the north. A lot of Pittsburgh Penguins have and still reside here with the cheap houses close to 400 large.

We see a sign for an Estate Sale and so we turned around and parked. I was convinced that this was someone just having a yard sale and that the real estate sale was around the corner – I mean the stuff in the driveway looked like straight up junk.

The garage was full of shit, no different than the crap that is typical to a Pennsyltucky affair – mismatched glassware, picture frames, cheap bedroom furniture and costume jewelry. We did find a cool Pyrex coffee carafe and matching glasses for three bucks in this mess. As we walked into the barroom basement, which as much smaller than I expected it to be, Gretchen said that “these always make her sad,” because of the circumstance that surrounds such a sale; death and/or debt. Something that I found unusual was that there were several portraits of, what I thought at the time, were the owner’s grand kids as well as several pieces of Judaica specifically for a Hollee Jo Schwartz. G, who is a veteran of these sales, also said that she found it odd. I’m not talking one or two items here – in this first room, there were at least 10, high quality portraits, several caricatures as well as several personalized religious items that I’m betting have to do with Bat Mitzvahs and the like.

They were even selling the half empty bottles of liquor for four bucks a bottle.
We made our way upstairs and the first thing that I noticed was how tacky the place was. Awful colors and Bad (yes a capital B) wallpaper and trim. Making our way into the kitchen, I was shocked, not just by the cheapness of the cutlery and cookware but also because they were even selling the food in the pantry. And I’m not talking canned goods, but opened boxes of raisins, spices and cake mixes were priced for sale.

The living room was also drenched in tack and horrible furniture with terrible patterns. Were my expectations too high? This is supposed to be an exclusive neighborhood and so I would expect All-Clad, Henckel cutlery; maybe Stickley, Audi & Co furniture; and not the sale of half used food.

There were other tacky gems throughout the first floor – like ‘gem’ encrusted hats and clothes, old ass soap that had experienced changes in humidity causing it to leak through the package and a bunch of half used crafting supplies. I was surprised that I didn’t see gold lamé Channel C logo shirts from the flea market. He also left his golf trophies behind. The second floor held more treasures on the disturbing tip, like the individual girls rooms full of items from their youths; more portraits, yearbooks and dolls and their little outfits from when they were babies. It started to seem as though the portraits in the basement were actually of the homeowners daughters. Selling portraits of your kids? What the fuck is up with that. G asked, “…who would buy pictures of someone else’s kids?” My first thought was, “you could decorate a room with them.” Like the bathroom in our basement if the price would have been right.

Making our way to the second floor bar area, I finally got a name to put with the house, Dr. Joel Schwartz.

As we made our way to the money table with the purchases, the man in front of us mentioned that he noticed the same thing I did upstairs to put a name with the stuff, Dr. Schwartz’s pen holder from his desk. See, that was for sale too. And Dr. Schwartz was his ear doctor and so now, a little bit of the Schwartz was with him. The woman running the sale related how this wasn’t your typical estate sale; that the fine doctor retired and left for Florida with a suitcase of clothes and was selling everything. That it was ‘a happy ending.’

“He didn’t take anything with him?”

“Just what fit in his car.”

But he was trying to sell his kid’s history, his historyI know a picture is nothing more than an image, but it is his family’s personal images and history; it’s his kid for Chrissake! I’m sure the caricatures were drawn during a trip to a fun and memorable family outing; the personalized religious memorabilia – how can you just let some greasy auction motherfuckers come in and put a price on that? And how about the scumbag that buys it looking to make a profit? These are the things that your kids are supposed to find when you die; so that they are reminded of the good times; of their kids and their own mortality. Maybe there was a rift, but the right thing is not to scatter these items to the world. These are little pieces of you, Dr. Schwartz. Moments of your life, captured. And every time you look at them they are like a time machine that transports back to a moment which becomes a series of moments that make memories. Maybe he should have burnt them like other items that hold an implicit reverence; love letters, prayers and flags. But it is to late now. They will no doubt end up in some heap to live on, meaningless to all who encounter them or worse yet, tossed into the trash to rot in a dump.
Was this really the ‘happy ending” that the sales woman said it was?

No way.

I have a theory that the position of you head while sleeping, relative to NORTH, not magnetic but generalized, can affect you sleep patterns. I’m not certain if this can be deduced empirically or proven but having suddenly experiencing alien abduction dreams upon moving to a new apartment I began analyzing these dreams. The first thought was that it was some change in my physicality. We moved from a semi rural to a rural environment. There were no power lines but there was some type of transmitter – different locals saying different things. It had a 250 ft tall tower and didn’t have any microwave dishes. There wad a noticeable hum when you were within 15 ft of it.
It was about 100 yards away. I ruled it out. Awaking on the floor with a baby crying and my wife screaming ‘What happened!?” the answer occurred to me. The only other major change was our beds orientation. The sun used to rise on my left side, it now rose on my right. Worse yet, It rose on the side of the room that had a second story window that was blocked by both wall and roof. I swear, in the following months it felt like we lived in total darkness, all day long. Much different than when we staid, briefly with my mother.

The reason I place emphases on [alien abduction] is because my experience mirrors some of the skeptical explanation for alien abductions. The alternate media so closely resembles agenda pushing that it really seems no different than Fox News. You never see the videos of how the Pat Robertson’s of ufology ‘regress’ and reprogram people reporting alien abduction experiences; turning them into something much more vivid and detailed. Are these people knowingly doing this or is it unintentional? Back to the point: I remember seeing a video where a few people were all describing abductions, and each story was pretty mundane and uneventful. “There is a man in the room, he is signaling for me to leave with him…”

Well, my guy was flashing a light outside of the window. I sensed that there were others – outside with him; I remember the illumination outside in muted purples and greens.

This occurred over several nights – happening once in a week; twice the following week; a two day break and then every night for three. Every time it happened I would wake into the twilight state between deep, relaxed sleep and consciousness. The final day that it happened I was in a near awake state. My eyes were definitely open through the last 30 seconds of it. I actually managed to throw my self at the window with an out stretched arm, fist aimed at the perceived face; simultaneously seeing the images melt back into my head as what seemed like a brief notion*, and knocking everything off the table between me and the window and falling on the floor in the process.

I realized that this was only a dream. Upon recognizing this, I no longer had dreams remotely resembling these dreams. I also tried sleeping in different positions relative to the suns trajectory through the sky. I have found that I get my deepest, restful sleep while aiming my head North.

Liza Nutal was about four years older than me and was really passionate about beating my ass. I was about seven when it started. She would call me to her, “Hey Ronnie baby – come here…” At which point I would run in the opposite direction for home, hoping to pick up a shovel or sizable stick to fend her bull dyke ass off. I usually failed as her future record setting softball base running calves would close the distance, like a Peregrine falcon against a pigeon. They were massive and think but shaven clean. She was a hairy beast at twelve and she had a mustache and unibrow that helped to emphasize her massive and manly face. She looked exactly like Nancy from the comic strip.

She probably outweighed me by 35 lbs. Pure muscle; as compared to my fat gut and big ass in my so-blue-they-looked-black Huskies and my third grade style Special Ed unbreakable eye glass frames.

This continued until I was about ten. Now I know you’re probably thinking, “what a pussy” but you have no idea what it is like to be man handled by a huge manly girl that you could tell was getting sexual gratification from giving you sailor taps until you pissed your pants. Her huge nipples popping out of her chest as she straddled you and smiled while she felt the urine in her own crotch. Kids now a days get hot teachers and MILFs – I got a pre-teen leaning toward Lesbian, built like a linebacker with tits and a face like a bulldog.

AT some point, I became friends with the Claude. She was a few years older and was an Italian tomboy. She had an older sister who called Liza out one day. She was about seventeen and she was not going to tolerate this shit going on around her little sister. It ended that memorable summer day; very similar whether wise to today in the west of Pittsburgh.

SEVERAL years went by. I was a few years out of school, having done a stint at the Harvard on the Allegheny and this particular day found me at my Grandparents house. My uncle lived with them and my aunt by marriage lived next door. Auntie popped in at my Grandparents. “There’s a friend of yours next door.” I followed her next door, “She knew you when you two were really young…”

I followed her through her door; into the foyer past the kitchen and into the living room that looked like something out of the show Clean House. I turn right and Nancy looks up at me sheepishly – “Hey…how ya doin?”

“Are you fucking kidding me, you brought me over here to see this…this fucking giant Lesbian bitch that used to make me piss on her…this fucking piece of shi-”

“Hey! That’s enough – she is my friend – you can’t talk to her like that!”

At that I see red. “Try giving me some sailor taps now bitch – bring it on!”

MY aunt chased me out of her house saying to me, “…I didn’t know; she said you were friends…” I left it at that.

Every now and then I used to say to her jokingly, “Where is that bitch, Liza at?” The last time I asked, she didn’t think that joke was funny anymore. “You know, she rides a bike 18 miles a day. She’ll kick your ass.” I reminded her that Liza was fired from a local daycare for shaking a two year old. And we never saw eye-to-eye after that point. I think she hates the fact that I told people the story. I can’t figure out why though – it’s not like she has some sort of ‘fault.’ Recently, I was told that she was sent upstate for being a mule, or small time dealing – some bullshit. Unfortunatly it’s an American prison, so she probably has a few wives and is enjoying her stay.