Monthly Archives: September 2010

Community (Common Unity) Revisited

I wrote my first Elecpencil blog on September 23, 2008. I had a couple of reasons for starting a blog. Like most parents I want to see a better world for my kids. I thought that pointing out the bad in the world and celebrating the good would be a small way of doing that. I thought that providing my “Armchair Activist” section I could get people to respond to problems facing our world. I hope you are doing that and send me any actions you would like to have people take.

To even think about writing a blog I had to address  my lack of skills. I know nothing about a computer and little about the internet. I am a hunt and peck typer so it takes me hours to put a blog together. I have forgotten more grammar and punctuation than I remember. I guess many people would have felt those lack of skills would have sunk any idea for a blog. I figured ignorance is bliss so two years ago I set sail on this blog voyage. I hope, I’ve proved that if someone lacking all these skills can have a voice out here in internet space so can you. What are you waiting for?

For two years I’ve blogged at least once a week. I think I’ve earned a day off. The following is the first post I ever put on this blog. I note that Mrs. E is doing much better with her Lupus. That’s thanks to the decade of care from one of our wonderful area doctors.

Community (Common Unity)

I think that the following story I wrote a decade ago and updated an opening for will show you the kind of people who make up the Mahoning Valley.

Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann has resigned because of a scandal. Dann is a Mahoning Valley resident so some folks are saying it makes our area look bad. Add his name to others before him who’ve embarrassed this area like: Trafficant, Mickey Monus, Philamena and several judges and you’re going to get some pessimists painting the whole area with a broad brush as being a bad place to live. I’d rather use that brush and a big pallet to paint a landscape of what this area is really about. That is its everyday people and how they come together to help others because that’s what community is all about.

The word community broken down is “common unity.” In our fast-paced, busy lives of today all that sense of common unity can seem like ancient history. At one time I had to harken back to tales my grandfather told me of life during the depression for any sense of true community. My grandfather worked for 43 years at the same barrel plant I spent 27 years at before it closed. He told me how during the depression, the plant was a great place to work. It was one of the few places in the Mahoning Valley that had steady work throughout the depression. Since he was working and so many of his relatives, friends and neighbors were not, he felt his payday should also be their payday. He would cook up something like a huge meatloaf and make a bathtub full of homemade beer and the party was on. Neighbors, friends and relatives would eat, drink and play cards until the wee hours. During the periods he was laid off, those he had helped reciprocated his generosity. That’s the way things used to be, tough times rallied people into a sense of solidarity, of community, a sharing that said, we all matter and we’re all in this together.

Something happened to me several years ago to make me realize those days were not over yet.

Life has a funny way of changing almost overnight if you focus on the good instead of the bad. Many times it takes something bad like the Great Depression to see the good side of people. The bad thing that woke me up to the goodness in people happened in 1999 around Christmas time. My wife was diagnosed with a circulatory and connective tissue disease (Lupus). She has to stay warm at all times so she has been limited to going outside except to doctors’ appointments, including three specialists.

My wife, Melanie, is a speech pathologist and has also taught special needs children. She works for the county so she travels between school districts. Due to the pain she was in and the exposure to cold between her travels, the doctor has ordered her not to work the rest of the year.

At work I was being forced to work long hours. So to get her to doctor appointments, I had to miss some work, which the company was not happy about. Not being a person who likes to ask anyone for help, I didn’t. It turns out I didn’t have to, because help descended on our family in a wave of mythical proportions in the form of community. This is the type of community that gives blessing to life by only hoping to serve and it grows by giving.

In-laws, neighbors and friends came out of the woodwork to chauffeur my wife to her doctor appointments. But the sense of community didn’t end there. My neighbor retired and took it upon himself to help out the other neighbors. Every time it snowed that winter, he plowed many of our neighborhood’s driveways. I can’t explain how good it feels to come home from a long days work and find you don’t have to spend hours shoveling out your driveway. Another neighbor got our daughter on and off the bus with her children. Other neighbors called and offered to pick up groceries.

My wife received a lot of cards and letters that always seemed to come at a time when she needed them the most. The substitute speech pathologist called often with questions and comments to let her know how the children were doing. My wife worried about the students so the calls were a relief. My wife’s co-workers, therapists, teachers, assistants, cafeteria workers, bus drivers along with my mother and mother-in-law, dropped in to visit often. No one came empty-handed. They brought flowers; videos, books, lots of prayers and so much food our refrigerator and freezer were always full. My wife works with so many people and so many nationalities that we sampled all kinds of international cuisine. We enjoyed everything from pierogies, halushki, lasagna to a Spanish rice and chicken dish. Melanie’s friends and co-workers chipped in money to pay for a cleaning lady to clean our house (and the cleaning woman brought us food too!).

These aren’t people who just talk about family values, but live them. These are people who have learned that giving of self is the way to true fulfillment…. spiritual fulfillment. Community my brothers and sisters is anything but ancient history. It is all around us when we need a hand or are willing to lend a hand.

Sharon Jones & the Dap- Kings: 100 Days, 100 Nights

Better Things to do

I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.  ~Edward Everett Hale

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Wings, Worship and Witches

Yesterday, Mrs. Elecpencil and I went out to dinner with our friends Patty and John. We wanted to go somewhere casual where we could also have a beer. We ended up going to my favorite working-class bar. I’m talking about the oldest bar in Youngstown, the Royal Oaks. It’s located at 924 Oak St. (Rt. 422) on the cities east side. We all enjoyed hamburgers that were excellent. They came with a generous portion of Idora Park style french fries. We also had their good size raspberry BBQ wings, which I think are the best wings in our area. They put those wren wings that Quaker Steak and Lube serves to shame. They were doing a brisk business serving food because the quality, quantity and value speaks for itself.

The “Oaks” has been owned by John and Louie Kennedy for nine years now. They only had one cook and one waitress/barmaid working but they couldn’t have been anymore friendly and efficient. Louie Kennedy came in and sat down with us and shared some alcohol induced humor making for a memorable evening. He bought the four of us drinks, so he’s OK in my book. It’s a place where people of all color can be seen getting along because together they share those working-class values that made America great.  The music I hear playing there always makes me think someone has been stealing from my vast album collection. They also get some interesting bands  to play a few nights a week. If the Elecpencil was to own a bar,  I’d model it after the working-class “Oaks.” If you haven’t eaten there make it a point and you’ll thank me.

I got an e-mail saying that Muslims are not allowed to be friends with anyone of another faith. That came as quite a shock to me and our family friend Majid a Moroccan-American who is my daughter’s godfather.

I am troubled by the writing in a holy book I find scary. I’m talking about the Bible and this kind of genocidal language:

“Kill anyone with a different religion.” (Deuteronomy 17:2-7)

“If anyone, even your own family suggests worshipping another God, kill them.” (Deuteronomy 13:6-10)

“If you find out a city worships a different god, destroy the city and kill all of its inhabitants… even the animals.” (Deuteronomy 13:12-15)

Under the Patriot Act I think we should round-up all Christians and Jews. They should all be held as suspects because their Old Testament Bible condones the above acts of murder and terrorism.

The Teabaggers are celebrating because Christine O’Donnell was able to win the Republican primary for senator in Delaware.  She ran as a fiscal conservative yet, she has not held a steady job in years, had her home foreclosed, ran up debts and used campaign money to pay personal bills and rent. Comments from campaign people who worked for her.

In NYC Teabaggers are celebrating the victory of their Republican primary gubernatorial candidate, Carl Paladino. Carl is a millionaire who spent $3 million of his own in the primary. Carl cheated on his wife and had a baby with an employee. Paladino also likes to send others e-mails of hardcore pornography, bestiality, racism and misogyny.

Yep, two real hypocritical family values candidates. These are the kind of candidates who reflect the Tea Party. The Teabaggers want their country back and to do it they are going to back the same hypocritical scum the GOP has promoted for decades. Sounds like the same old same old to me. Wanting, “your country back” is code for we don’t want a black president. In that vein, I guess backing racists like Paladino makes sense to baggers.  You baggers need to realize Obama won the election. It’s a little thing we have called, DEMOCRACY.

Maybe, Teabaggers are not just stupid racists. They could have been put under a demonic spell. Here might be the evidence of two witches who put a spell on them.

Witch #1: O’Donnell

Witch #2: Palin

Who can save us from these witches? Only one person.

Here is a list of 2010’s most crooked candidates. The list includes O’Donnell and of course our own Jimbo.

Vanilla Fudge: Season of the Witch

For Louie Kennedy. Deee-lite: Groove is in the Heart

If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.  ~Emma Goldman

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Thanking the Janitor and Questioning the Pastor

Mrs. E. and I stopped for lunch today at Kravitz Deli at 3135  Belmont Ave. Liberty, OH. It was very affordable because I had a buy one get one  free sandwich coupon from the Entertainment Book. Even without a coupon you get a lot of sandwich for the money.  We both had  a Turkey Panini with roasted red peppers. Mrs. E. said, her sandwich actually had too much turkey. When was the last time you had a sandwich and were able to say that? An elderly woman was sitting behind us on a stool at the counter. Another elderly woman came in saw her and said, ” I remember you sitting there fifty years ago.” Kravitz customer base is made up of that kind of loyalty since 1939 when they opened. They have the best corned beef around and I stop often to get their bagels. Just one more special place that makes me glad to call the Mahoning Valley home.

In July I complained about the Mahoning Valley rest stop on the turnpike to the Ohio Turnpike Commission. The bathroom was filthy and the McDonalds did not have enough people working so the workers were overworked and of course not pleasant. I promptly had responses by e-mails and phone calls from two supervisors from the Ohio Turnpike Commission and from an administrator from McDonalds.  I returned to this stop on Labor Day. I must say the bathroom was much better. The McDonalds was packed but had plenty of people working for the holiday. The manager had a smile on her face and had everything under control. I was actually amazed at how fast they were able to serve a large crowd.

I don’t want to be just someone who complains. I want to also give kudos to people who go beyond in their job. I felt the janitor, manager and staff should be thanked for the excellent job they were doing. They were doing their job and beyond which is at the heart of why we celebrate Labor Day. I e-mailed the Ohio Turnpike commission saying, “You should be very proud of these workers. Anyone who was visiting Ohio got a glimpse of how hard-working Ohioans are.” I promptly got two e-mails from the turnpike supervisors who had responded to my previous complaint. One of them said, “I will be sure to share a copy of your positive comments along with our sincere thanks with our vendor, HLW Fast Track, as well as my Division staff responsible for monitoring those plazas.” A day later I got a letter from HLW Fast Track which owns the Mahoning Valley turnpike McDonalds. They stated they were happy to hear I now had a much happier experience.

As I’ve stated many times my ultimate goal is the same as most parents. I want to make this country and this world a better place for my children’s future. To do that we’ve got to complain when necessary and praise when warranted. Don’t be afraid to speak out.

A few items about idiot Pastor Jones who wants to burn Qurans. Does he know that Jesus is mentioned 28 times in the Quran? See here.  Does he know Mary is mentioned 54 times? Did Jesus say, turn the other cheek or was it burn other faiths holy books? When evil people like Pastor Jones show up I believe  the forces of good emerge to counter act them. See what I mean here.

Downright scary people are not always far away. Here it one in nearby Stark County. Thankfully he didn’t get the party’s nomination.

To remember 9/11 I can find no one who gives me more hope than this  inspiring hero. One woman like her counteracts dozens of hate mongers like Pastor Jones.

Anti-Nowhere League: My God’s Bigger Than Your God

Johnny Cash: War

A quote from right after 9/11: “Unfortunately, at least for the near term, we think it’s going to be a good situation. Er, a dangerous situation. Good for business, bad for the people.” ~ Blaine Ober (Ober is the president of a company that makes armored vehicles).

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God, Tacos and a Capitalist Gangbang

This morning I stopped at the Nothside Farmer’s Market. It is held at the First Unitarian Universalist Church. The location is 1105 Elm St. Youngstown, Ohio. Musician, Mike Stout came from Pittsburgh to sing. If you like your rock with a social conscience, there  is no better singer/songwriter around than Mike. He has a new recording coming out soon and I will posts some music from it if I can figure out this whole “internets” thing.

Glenn Beck and FOX NEWS spent a year blowing a high-pitched dog whistle. In the end 87,000 lap dogs came to D. C. to hear mad dog, Glenn Beck pretend to be the second coming. No seas were parted and no bush spontaneously combusted. On the other hand some geese flew over head in a v formation and Messiah Beck declared it a miracle. Beck would like everyone to believe the v was for victory.

I have it on “God” authority it was a v for victims, meaning the 87,000 in attendance. I got that message from God through my car radio. Mrs. Elecpencil and I were on our way to nearby Yankee Lake Tavern for $1 Wednesday tacos. We were driving down Kings Grave Road when three wild turkeys appeared in the road before Mrs. E’s beloved Ford Taurus (recent miracle survivor of a fallen tree). I was singing along to a CD of one of my favorite songs  when I had to brake hard. The song is the Clash tune, “Radio Clash.” I was belting out (to Mrs. E’s chagrin), “Using aural ammunition can we get that world to listen?”  I patiently waited for the Meleagriss gallopavo (Wild Turkey) that I noted waddled by in a kind of perp walk. Mrs. E said, “The turkey showed up because your singing resembles a turkey call.”

At that instant the Clash CD went dead and a voice that sounded like Orson Welles (look it up youngsters) came across my radio. It said, “Listen up, this is God. Tell everyone Beck is a clown, controlled by wealthy puppet masters. Puppet masters like  FOX NEWS’s Rupert Murdock and the Koch brothers who paid to  “Greyhound”  the lap dog Teabaggers (God calls them that so I guess it’s the proper way to address them) to D.C. These wealthy soulless men know that a loud barking dog is all that is necessary to herd sheep, to the shearing and eventual slaughter. That is why the wealthy pay brainless rabid dogs like Beck, Hannity, Savage, O’Reilly, Stossell, Limbaugh etc. big piles of green Alpo to do their bidding. I don’t want to also forget to mention the bitches side. That’s where we have hate hags like: Coulter, Maulkin, Dr. Laura, Laura Ingraham, Michelle Bachmann and Peggy Noonan. Sorry, I forgot Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Palin. I actually blame these two on the supply supervisor at the human  assembly line. He ordered drains instead of brains one day and Elisabeth and Sarah left the factory with sewer plumbing instead of cerebellum.”

He continued, “I can be a bit of a trickster. Lately I’ve been playing tricks on that hillbilly bimbo  quitter Palin. Before she gives speeches I’ve been dirtying her hands. She then washes her hands and erases her notes. God, (I mean I) love then seeing that idiot wing it. I really do love America best. Where else on Earth could someone like Palin who has never read a book become a best-selling author? Has anyone on Earth figured out what purpose Paris Hilton serves? Get back to me if you have an answer because for the life (an eternal one) of me I can’t figure out why I created her.”

He continued, “Tell people Glenn Beck is  a former drug addict who frequented prostitutes. He is now hooked on power and whores himself out to corporations. In the D.C. rally he tapped into religion in the most cynical way possible and extracted his pieces of silver like Judas. The Tea Party is an astro turf citizens’ movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires. These billionaires use phony front organizations to dupe Teabaggers into thinking that they are fighting powerful vested interests. In truth,  they are being manipulated by powerful vested corporate interests who want to take over the government. You know, socialism corporate style. These corporations want to deregulate everything and gain access to the treasury. These economically and intellectually challenged Teabagger dolts and rubes (God’s terms) are being set up to help commit the suicide of the middle-class.”

I said, “Why god are you telling me this?” He said, “It’s God with a big “G’ not a little “g.” He added, “I need someone to turn a light on and warn these Teabaggers.” I replied, “God (with a big G) I don’t know what you mean about the light thing.” He bellowed, “When you turn the light on the roaches scurry away. So someone has to shine the light and expose these corporate roaches and I’m picking you.” I answered, “Listen I’ve only got this blog and I don’t think it even reaches many people. Also, I shouldn’t be blogging as I’m a lousy speller and lack grammar and punctuation skills.” God replied, “It’s not how you say things but what you say that counts.” I responded, “Didn’t you just point out that I used a small g instead of a big G when I refered to you?” “Sorry” he said.

He continued, “Your blog reaches more people than you think.” I don’t get many comments” I shot back. He came back with, “You get quite a few e-mails about it though.”  I said, “Yes, but they’re all negative.” He tried to console me, “People are way more likely to complain than agree or praise. It’s the nature of the beast.” I asked, “You created this beast called, man so was it your mistake? Also, why did you create the ability to lie?” God sadly replied, “I lack a sense of humor so I created man flawed to amuse me. Let me tell you about my biggest chuckle. It’s when humans are so arrogant that they don’t believe  that all the poisons they pump into the ground, water and air could cause something like Climate Change. Speaking of  the fore mentioned Koch brothers they and other polluting industrialists spend millions writing checks  to Climate Change deniers.  Wait until these scumbags see the  polluted retirement spot I have in store for them. As for lies,  if conservatives could not lie, they would not have anything to say.”

He added, “I am a kind God and people should know that. An example of my kindness is that I gave Ronnie Reagan and Maggie Thatcher both dementia. That is because I did not want them to suffer by seeing the  results of the greed and horrors their administrations unleashed on the world.”

I then asked, “What is Hell like?” He responded, “Imagine being on a bus for many hours with a group of not too bright misguided people who keep saying the whole ride, “I want my country back.” He continued, “Then the  next thing you have to look forward to is standing in the hot sun for hours listening to stupid B.S. by pinheads like Palin and Beck. The whole Tea Bag Party is one big capitalist gangbang. Do you get the picture?”

“I disagree with you God I think you do have a sense of humor.  But I’m not sure that I can get the message out that you want me to.” He  whispered, “You already have. Next, you’d better build a blog ark because I’m sending you the  miracle of a tidal wave of comments to flood your blog.” “We’ll see Lord” I  said quietly.  Mrs. E said, “What have you been babbling about?” I then noted how very long it took for just three turkeys to cross the road. My CD kicked back on to Radio Clash as I sang along, “This sound does not subscribe to the international plan. This is Radio Clash.”

We arrived at Yankee Lake to the wonderful beat of this song. We entered and  had two tacos and a beer each and left with a bill of $7.50. For two people that’s a miracle!

PS: “Lord, do you really think I could get through to this man or this woman?” ~ The Elecpencil

“Show the Teabaggers this video.” ~ God

“That’s great you’re a wise deity.” ~ The Elecpencil

The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party – NYTimes.com

The Clash: “Washington Bullets”

For MLK. ~ Joe Strummer: “Johnny Appleseed”

“Nirvana? That’s the place where the powers that be and their friends hang out” ~ Zonker Harris

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