Monthly Archives: September 2008

Rock on but Not With a Tribute Band

Ever have one of those days at work that when you get home you just want to have some alcohol? I seldom drink but I found some wine at home. I have been telling myself someday I will totally abstain. Luckily, today was today and not someday. Some folks had an intervention for me a number of years back. Who should show up but Foster Brooks, Brittany Spears and Charlie Sheen so it didn’t quite work out. I have been looking for another alternative that would help me with the bad stuff of life like bad wealth, bad health, bad habits, bad luck and my car that has bad brakes. I get through each day thinking tomorrow will be a better day. It seldom is but I remain optimistic.

I read in today’s Warren Tribune a story about getting more racially diverse acts for the Warren Amphitheatre. Councilwoman Helen Rucker pointed out that the 14 shows in the series of tribute bands did not feature any black groups. Most acts were tribute classic rock bands “copy bands” as I’d call them. There were psuedo bands of: Queen, Pink Floyd, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jimmy Buffett, “Aeroscrud,” Rolling Stones, Journey, and Kiss. Helen should be glad no one was copying a black band, as it’s embarrassing enough we had phony half assed white bands imitating classic rock acts.

I didn’t attend any of the shows as I’d much rather hear the worst band in the world as long as they were playing originals. Here’s where I make enemies. The truth is I wouldn’t have gone to see any of the above classic rock acts even if they were the originals band.

I have never ever been a Queen fan. I could never understand how they could play a Nazi goosestep beat and sing, ‘We Will Rock You.” Not with that beat you won’t Fred. And what in the Hell is that “Bohemian Rhapsody” about? “Galileo you’re a boy scout he will not let you go.” What the F.

As far as Pink Floyd the beat to “Another Brick in the Wall” is just as bad. I’ve heard enough Floyd that I never have to hear it again. I do miss Syd Barret though. I tend to agree with a friend of mine who stated, “The best thing Skynyrd did was the plane wreck.” I thought that was way harsh until the millionth time I heard, “Free Bird.” “I’m as free as a bird who cannot fly.” Wow that’s tenth beer profound.

Jimmy Buffett, ever notice how dunk people at his concerts are? I can’t get that drunk to appreciate him. I also hate mixed drinks. Alcohol should be able to stand on it’s own without a mix or it ain’t shit. You’re drinking the wrong stuff if you need to cut it with a mix so try a shot of Jameson.

“Aerosrud” wrote “Love in an Elevator” and “Dude Looks Like a Lady.” If you didn’t know it from those lame ass songs they were using heroin. Those songs in themselves should be enough reason for kids not to do drugs. Just say no to “Dude Looks Like a Lady.” Aeroscrud has always been a third rate Rolling Stones. Who needs a third rate Rolling Stones? If we do we’ve got the last 25 years of the Stones third-rate career. Don’t “Start Up” Jagger it’s to late.

I saw Journey at the Tomorrow Club years ago. It was when they had their first album out. They were very jazzy and quite good. They soon added Steve Perry and became a boring chic band. Kiss is not a band it is capitalism exploited to the max. Is there anything Kiss related that Gene Simmons isn’t having made by 8 year-olds at sweatshops in China? What genius wrote, “Hot, hot she looked hotter than Hell?” Probably the same genius in Foreigner that wrote, “She’s as Cold as Ice to Me.”

If you went to the concerts at the amphitheater you couldn’t have used enough drugs to reach any amount of groove quotient. In the old days at a concert folks took enough drugs they thought they saw God. At today’s tribute band concerts you just look at your watch and think God when is this going to end. If I sat through such concerts I could only get a smile on my face thinking about the Koran. You know that passage where 72 virgins are promised to martyrs. Truth is I’m not enough of a martyr to sit through such tribute crap. I don’t really care for that Ecstasy drug kids now use as at my age cortisone is my ecstasy.

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Gentle Pains of Hope from a Pessimist / Optimist

I want a better world for my kids and I can be damn militant about people and things that stand in the way of that. Given that feeling I am watching what is happening with these bailouts.

The pessimist side of me (I have been known to smell flowers and glance about for a coffin) says to Hell with all of these bailouts. John Plender in the Financial Times. (9-20-08) Writes, “The capitalist class are shifting the cost of their crisis on to the backs of workers and the middle class not to mention the youth who are the future; heavy costs will be inflicted on the American taxpayer, who is now subsidizing Wall Street.” Not the kind of burden I want to see my kids facing. What happened to that conservative mantra, “Pull yourself up by you own boot straps?”

My optimist side is thinking look how fast our so called, “representatives” are racing to help the rich. This fast response by our government shows me that money chould just as quickly be able to be found for health care and education for all.

Without state intervention (read socialism), we’re being told the free market system will collapse. Let’s get past the thinking of socialism as a boogieman and realize if it’s good enough for the Golden Goose (Wall Street) it’s good enough for the people. For all those people that hate big government, I say, “Why all the self-loathing remember we are the government.” Sometimes we just have to remind our “representatives” of that.

A poem I wrote a couple of years ago to let my kids know many of us are fighting for their better world:

The Marginalized Become the Majority

What with downsizing and globalization
we, the working class, are steadily joining
the ranks of the left behind:
minorities, the poor
the homeless and the incarcerated.
In other words, the nameless,
faceless and powerless.
Together, we make up the huddled masses,
once graciously welcomed by the lady in the harbor.
The time has come for us to get in a huddle and develop a game plan.
We must not be divided,
but shout as one.
We must dialogue,
not just speak, but listen,
with attentive ears hearing truth
when honest tongues speak it.
The journey of truth is long
so while we are the huddled masses,
we cannot be the tired masses.
There will be time enough to rest
in our graves.
We must all become leaders,
leaders who ask for nothing for themselves
but everything for everyone.
Let us approach the new millennium
as if it were a new world.
A new world where ideas
like freedom, justice and equality
are as common in nature
as air and water,
forests and mountains.
We may not live to see that better world,
but it’s enough to believe our children will.
For now let us welcome
the gentle pain of hope.

Today’s myth breaker: Obama is not the most liberal senator:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qjornx-SLQ

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Community, Moat Food, Lies and the Bailout

Yesterday I saw more of my communities “common unity.” As I said, my daughter the Mac was chosen as her high schools homecoming queen. My neighbor lady who raised three daughters did a fantastic job setting Mac’s hair for the homecoming dance. Another resident had many of Mac’s classmates over (as she and her husband do annually) so they use her picturesque backyard as a backdrop for photos of the kids in their dance attire.

My neighbor was going away for a few days and asked me to keep an eye on his house. This is a retired neighbor who in the winter plows many of our driveways and won’t take a penny. This same neighbor has a big garden every year and shares his vegetable harvest with many in our neighborhood. I have been blessed with my neighborhood and it’s sense of community!

Speaking of vegetables I made some mental notes last week in the school cafeteria at my workplace. The school was actually serving buttered beets to kids. The only kids eating them were multiple handicapped kids who had them pureed or kids in wheelchairs who couldn’t get away because their brakes were locked. A note to the cafeteria staff beets, olives and sweet potatoes are not edible foods. They are “moat foods” to protect the garden’s treasures. You plant olive trees, beets and sweet potatoes in a circle around your garden to protect real vegetables like onions, peppers, cucumbers and corn. Bugs, rodents and small mammals will take a bite out of the olives, beets and sweet potatoes and vomit and run away there by protecting the inner circle of edible vegetables. I learned this technique in my favorite series of self-help books. No not those “Gardening for Dummies” books but in the “Lazy Man’s Guide to Gardening” book.

Don’t even try and convince me that sweet potatoes are wonderful when topped with butter and brown sugar. I wouldn’t eat a sweet potato if you put Handle’s butter pecan ice cream and a slice of Sunrise Pizza on top of one.

If you saw the debates and wonder who told the most whoppers see here: http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/factchecking_debate_no_1.html

A funny on the bailout: http://www.236.com/video/

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By Dammit I’m Old Enough to be Opininated

I was saddened to hear Paul Newman passed away today. For more than 25 years Newman’s Own Foundation has produced food products whose proceeds are all donated to charities. The private independent foundation has generated more than $250 million. Quite a nice legacy from a great actor and humanitarian.

Workplace Political Discussion

I had a political discussion with a workmate Friday. It’s with one of those people who won’t let you finish a sentence. She said, “I like that Sarah Palin.” It’s hard for me to take someone serious after that comment. Said person was saying the problem with the USA was people on welfare. I am always amazed that so many people in the middle-class (who are a paycheck away from being on welfare) see the poor not the corporations that own our so called, “representatives” as the problem.

I had a woman last year tell me she was outraged by seeing a woman buy a steak at Wal-Mart with a food coupon. I replied, “It’s ironic that you would shop at Wal-Mart who in 2006 received 1 million dollars in corporate welfare and bash a woman with food stamps.” Here was this woman shopping at the biggest welfare queen in the country.

I mentioned to workmate that social welfare isn’t even worth talking about because it’s always been less than 1% of the budget. It’s like spitting in the ocean next to corporate welfare and the war cost over runs by corporations like Haliburton. My co-worker did not believe my 1% figure. I walked to a classroom computer and printed out an article on welfare myths proving my point.

See here: http://www.apa.org/pi/wpo/myths.html

Please use this info to educate other welfare bashers. I don’t even think my co-worker looked at my facts as some people would rather believe what they think than the facts. In the end I may disagree with fellow employees about political and social issues but I hope they know that I respect them for the difficult job they do working with Autistic children.

I can’t think of any better reason to have a blog than to bust myths and spread facts. The powers that be fired all of their fact checkers years ago so it’s up us little guys to spread the truth.

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Laugter/tears and Homecoming Queens

A big night tonight. My daughter, the Mac was chosen as her High School Homecoming Queen!!! It did not rain, my parents and mother-in-law came and our team won the game!! On top of that our community was warm with congratulations. The thing about your kids is they either make you laugh or cry and no in between. Truth is sometimes the laughter is in bewilderment and sometimes the tears are in joy. On a good day you get to share both of these kinds of laughter and tears with your kids. Today I had such a day!!!

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Who’s the Boss?

I received this today and got a big chuckle out of it:

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transaction is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Paulson

Because of policies that our corporate owned politicians have been pushing for years, the United States is facing some of the worst financial conditions in our history. While we can’t get health care for everyone because that would be socialism the government is going to use socialism (read our taxes) to bail out the greed-head corporations. Well, where was the bailout money to save the plant that I worked at for 27 years? When it closed in 1999, the workers were trying to get ESOP money together to buy the plant. No one was around with their hand out to give us money. In my 27 years there, we went through several different owners. Each one was more incompetent than the last. They all had the worst management you could imagine. Of course each new owner asked for and go concessions from we, the employees. We Joe six packs, ended up being Joe two packs by the time the last owner came and went. I believe the employees could of done a much better job of running that factory than any of the so-called corporate types that managed it.

I wrote this piece a few years back for the IMPACT Rank and File newsletter:

Who’s the Boss?

I loved history books that tell us the unknown stories we normally don’t hear. It’s history from the bottom up as in STRIKE by Jeremy Brecher. I highly recommend it and feel its one of the best books I’ve read on labor history. One of the stories in the book that interested me was about a general strike in Seattle in 1919. Workers throughout the city went on strike. They formed a General Strike Committee that controlled and ran the city. Major General Morrison, who was in charge of the U.S. troops in the city, said he had not seen a city so quiet and orderly run. This is the point that I want to make, that workers can and will efficiently run their workplace if they are in charge.
I believe in Anarcho-syndicalism, which is defined as a worker controlled and owned workplaces. Think about the bosses you’ve had, if they’re anything like the ones I’ve had, you have proof workers could run things better. Of course every workplace has some employees that are incompetent but odds are they’ll be justly weeded out. Of course, companies nowadays, weed them out and promote them to foreman or supervisor. I can always pick out guys destined for management from their first days on the job. You know the guy who says within earshot of the bosses, “Employees here are overpaid and under worked.” They earn nicknames like “worm” or “weasel” and are destined for boss hood. Guys that just don’t have those troublesome scruples. The factory I worked at for 27 years was the kind of place where maintenance men nicknamed Bailing Wire Bill and Duct Tape Dave were destined to be maintenance foremen. A place where a guy nicknamed Blind Louie or Four-Eyes Pete was sure to become head of Quality Control. Our last plant supervisor worked his way up from the shop floor. His nicknames were Sleeping John and Sleepy. This was fitting because Sleepy was one of the seven dwarfs. We had already had some of the other dwarfs for boss, mostly Grumpy and Dopey. I personally was pulling for Happy.
The worst supervisor we ever had stared out as a laborer. He was called Little Ricky; he had a Napoleon complex and was a kleptomaniac. He stole everything and anything in the plant. On top of that he ordered supplies. His policy was one space heater for the loading dock gang and one for his garage. The last news I heard about Little Ricky was his arrest. It seems his father and him stole freshly planted trees in an area park.
At least when bosses are brought in from the outside they have an anonymity about their idiocy and incompetence. Well, at least until they have a break-in period or open their mouths, which ever comes first. Our strangest boss who came from the outside was Big Harry. Harry’s highlight was the time he defecated in the company pick up truck. He was so dumb he told everyone in the office. The employees found out because he had the janitor clean it. We hung a roll of toilet paper on the turn signal for Harry; in his case it was a useful car accessory.
Most employees I worked with didn’t want a management job. A good example of why was illustrated by a foreman who worked a month and quit. He said considering the long hours he worked, his salary averaged out to less than minimum wage. He left to be a school janitor. Only in our plant could leaving a foreman’s job to be a janitor is considered a step up…a big step up.
I am just scratching the surface on bad bosses at our plant. We had a past owner, who along with his vice-president, and our plant supervisor all went to jail for price fixing. Our last owner ran the plant into bankruptcy within a year. He had been too cheap to hire salesmen so we were only working two days a week. He finally admitted to employees, ”You guys were right I failed because, I didn’t have a sales force.” The present owner picked a bean counter to run the place. His first act was to eliminate an inspector’s job. He bragged how he was saving the company $80.00 a day. The downside was that without the inspector we now have gone from $300.00 to $3,000.00 in scrap everyday. This had been going on for over two years and all he cared about was that he eliminated a job. Meanwhile they are creating deadwood management jobs like head of special projects. For the last 100 years our plant has gotten by without a special projects department. I’ve got a special project for them; prove to employees that bosses can run this place better than they could. They can’t, that’s why we get a new owner every 2 to 3 years.
Am I saying all bosses are bad? Yes, in my experience. I had someone tell me, ”What about Aaron Feuerstein owner and CEO of Malden Mills? When his plant burned down he paid workers for a few months until it was rebuilt.” I was asked, “don’t you think this is a good boss?” I said there must be more to the story, let me investigate. I found out the mill was a 100-year-old firetrap, where workers feared for their lives from constant gas leaks. He also forces workers to put in 12-hour days. He has tried to get his workers to give up seniority, and he has a two-tier wage system where new hires never reach wage parody. I don’t care how many awards Aaron received or that he sat next to Hillary Clinton at the President’s State of the Union Address. I felt vindicated, here was another bad boss.
There’s a saying, you’re not going to be promoted to Pharaoh by being a slave who built the pyramid. Well we don’t need workers who are slaves, and we don’t need Pharaohs. We need workers who are their own bosses; they’re the guys who get the job done on a daily basis. We don’t need politicians giving tax-abatements and corporate welfare to keep companies in their district. We need politicians and communities to back employees in acquiring the means of production. We’ve got to put the operations of companies in the hands of the people that run them…. the workers.
Jeremy Brecher in his book Strike tells us those Seattle strikers of 1919 saw their activities in management during the strike as a preparation for the time workers would run society. They stated in The Seattle Union Record: “Some day, when the workers have learned to manage they will begin managing…”
Brother and sister workers that day is here.

I want to hear your worst boss stories.

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Dueling Hypocondriacs

My wife and I were off work today to take the Mac (my jock high school senior daughter) to an ankle specialist at a hospital in Akron. I love Akron because it is a working-class town like Youngstown with lots of mixed cultures. The Mac has been a soccer goalie and is a second “basewoman” at softball. In June of 2006 while sliding into second she hurt her ankle. A doctor in Boardman Ohio did surgery on the sheath in her ankle. Since then she has had ankle pain off and on. We took her to a doctor in Sharon Pa. and a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic that the Boardman doctor recommended. They all agreed that the Boardman doctor did a good job on the surgery and they couldn’t help us any further. Some custom shoe inserts helped for a while now the pain is back. The Boardman doctor recently recommended we see the Akron doc. The Akron doc also complemented the Boardman doc and told the Mac to order an ankle brace to use while playing softball. I felt really bad as the Mac was upset because she just wants to play softball pain free. The Mac plays all out in any sport and I remember being scared for her as she played goalie and would actually throw her body through the air to stop goals.

When I got home I stopped at pop’s barbershop to get my ears lowered. An old timer in the shop was talking about an area knee doc who did a great job replacing his knee. My point is that we have some great doctors and medical facilities in the local area. The area doc’s are so use to everyone thinking that the Cleveland Clinic is the end all be all that they send folks to the clinic just to prove that the valley’s physicians did all that could be done. I am so sick of everyone saying, “Oh these docs in the area are butchers you have to go to Cleveland.” They say, Cleveland not even adding clinic. Cleveland I think, you mean if I drive to Cleveland stop downtown at Sliman’s Deli and get a mile high stacked Ruben with a dill pickle spear the knee I need replaced will be instantly healed? Many hospitals of course specialize in certain things but none are a panacea for all that ails you.

While I was at the Akron doc’s office I heard what I often experience when old folks are chatting. That is, “Dueling hypochondriacs.” An oldster in a wheelchair was telling an elderly woman, “I have four screws in my ankle.” She replied, “ I have six pins in my thigh.” He replied, “pins Oh yeah, I forgot I also have seven of those along with the four screws.” The woman’s jaw dropped open. Match and point to “Ironsides.”

This all brings me to a poem I wrote a while back about my hypochondriac late Grandfather Doogie (John). On one of my trips taking Doogie to play the lottery I got the material for this poem.

Dueling Hypochondriacs

An early spring day, cloudy and wet

Dorothy was at the newsstand placing her bet.

The only way out of her financial agony

was to win the Ohio Lottery.

She saw old John and gave him a hug.

He said, “I just stopped to play the bug.”

She asked, “Seen anyone from work?” as they exited the door

“Since we retired, only at the funeral parlor

and they weren’t saying much if you get my drift.”

He added, “The cars right here, we’ll give you a lift.”

“No,” she said, “I’m going to the doctor.”

“Oh,” he replied, “Whatever for?”

Her: “My bursitis and arthritis.”

Him: “I’ve got that and tendonitis.”

Her: “I’ve got colitis and hepatitis.”

Him: “Me too and gingivitis and sinusitis.”

Her: “I just recently broke my hip.”

Him: “Ditto plus I have post nasal drip.”

Her: “I had a triple bypass.”

Him: “I had a quadruple bypass

plus constant gas.”

Her: “I had kidney dialysis.”

Him: “Ditto plus I’ve got a slipped disc.”

Her: “I’ve got so much pain and stress I’m on Valium”

Him: “You don’t know about pain until a doctor probes your rectum.”

Her: “Life’s been downhill since I had a hysterectomy.”

Him; “I had one so I’m inclined to agree.”

Her: “It’s time for my appointment with Dr.Pazack.”

Him: “I use to see him, he’s a quack.”

He said, “I was as healthy as a horse.”

Her: “So you found another doctor of course.”

Him: “You betcha, Dorothy watch for me on the Lottery Show.”

Her: “Save your money John I’m going to win don’t you know.”

That was my Grandpa to a tee.

I don’t usually rhyme poems unless they’re silly ones like above.

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