Archive for February, 2021

The Science Guy

February 26, 2021 Leave a comment

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It’s the little things…

February 23, 2021 Leave a comment

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Remembering Live Aid

February 22, 2021 Leave a comment

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Mars and Ted Cruz

February 19, 2021 Leave a comment

Hey all. I’ve moved my columns over to the Substack platform. Come join me over there. Will be posting multiple pieces a week, and you’ll have access to the entire archive for $5 a month. Joining under the free plan will allow access to few columns a week.

It should be fun. Just getting started.

Today’s piece for paid subscribers can be found here…

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February 17, 2021 2 comments

I’m not a spiritual person or a religious person. Blind faith in anything has never held much appeal for me. The two biggest losses in my life were losing my parents a few years apart. They were the gorilla glue that held it all together, and with them gone sometimes it feels like we’re all just using scotch tape down here. There are still nights when a part of my brain wants to pick up the phone and hear those voices…..quiet and reserved and oh so wise. I was the youngest of 6 so it was pretty hard to throw a new wrench at them. Not that I didn’t try. They always knew what to say. And just as importantly, they always knew what not to say.

They’re laid to rest together…….in a beautiful spot…..up on a little ridge, surrounded by majestic trees, tucked away in a quiet corner of a well maintained cemetery about 30 minutes from home. We can only have one way conversations now, but when I want to dive deep I like to do it there. Onsite as it were. I’ll bring a folding chair. They feel closer when I’m there than when I am here, and that doesn’t go hand in hand with what I believe in, and I don’t know what this means other than faith is low hanging fruit, and sometimes we’re all a bit peckish.

Interesting place….this cemetery. Filled with captains and commoners, huge marble edifices and simple plates in the ground that require a good shoe to kick away the grassy edges to read in full. Civil War congressional medal of honor winners sit within spitting distance of fresh 2020 sod. Flags are endless, testament to our wars, and the dying they brought on. Fresh flowers abound, testament to the grieving that gets easier, but never goes away.

Seemingly everywhere I go in this world, there’s always somebody acting like an asshole. Loud. Obnoxious. Inappropriate. But never here. Ironic. Nobody is here. But everybody acts like they’re being watched.

My parents are surrounded by family. My Mom’s parents and siblings, each of whom could carry a novel, are a few paces away. War heroes and rogues, saints and sinners…..lives of quiet triumph and tragedy….known to nobody except those who share the same blood. What a crew they were. My mom was 1 of 13, growing up in a small house with a single bathroom, with brothers (and sisters come to think of it) one didn’t trifle with. And here comes my Dad…..gawky and poor with holes in his pants but relentlessly smitten, winning them all over with his no frills niceness and a quiet tenacity. My Mom was his only love. And he was hers. Don’t tell me you can’t die from a broken heart, because I saw it happen….my Mom sat in chair waiting to see him again, and growing so confused and anxious the blood got too tired to flow anymore.

During winters like this I can’t get there…..and that bothers me as much as the relentless show and ice we’ve been battered with. As pretty and idyllic a place as it is when the green takes over…’s desolate and wind-swept and cheerless now. There’s no place to park my chair for one thing, and the snow is knee deep. I’ve got lots to say, but nobody to say it to. Usually it’s mid-March when I get there again…..Scranton Parade time means different things to different people, but it’s always a line in the sand that folks around here understand. It means spring…or at least the promise of it. And besides, is there a easier place to be socially distant than the graveyard?

I miss them, but I’m glad they’re gone. I’m glad they missed Covid-19 and the wreckage of the last 4 years. I’m glad that Alzheimer’s can’t have her way with either of them anymore. They deserved better than so much of what this world threw at them, but they never wavered. And they never broke. When I listened to them, I became a better man. When I ignored them, I regressed.

Graveyards scare a lot of folks. Evil lurks and all that. Bad movies galore. Which is horseshit because nothing evil lurks there. WE lurk there because the circle is never closed. There’s always that thing that we wished we said, and somehow it feels better finally saying it in front of the names and the dates and the fresh flowers, with the gentle breeze topping off that gentle ridge like a cherry on a Sundae.

I’ll talk to you soon Mom and Dad.

In a bit..


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Us vs Them

February 12, 2021 Leave a comment

I don’t do hallucinogenic drugs so there’s no way I can watch any more of this impeachment stuff. At least if you’re buzzing, Trump’s lawyers might look like Gila Monsters or the Manson Girls or some such, and it might spur on some phantasmagorical trip that kick-starts the search for the elusive “middle”. But straight? Just more dumb white guys who somehow passed the bar and aren’t gonna get paid. It’s distressing and I want all of this to be over so we can get back to shoveling snow and taking bets on how long the Trump/Pence 2020 signs are gonna stay up.


To be 100% honest I lost my glasses yesterday…..which is pretty hard to do when you haven’t left the house. But I managed. Tore the house apart. Blamed the dog and the cat. Unmade the bed 3 times, and pulled the cushions off the couch twice. I even emptied the garbage. By hand. They are nowhere. They sleep with the fishes. Passed on. They have ceased to be. Bereft of life. Rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. Poof. Gone. I can read and write just fine without ’em, but other things like reading the clock on the wall, or even recognizing which kid is in what picture, elude me. Driving is out of the question, as is watching TV unless I’m standing with my nose pressed to it. I’m that guy who sits in the eye doctor’s office, and when told to read the smallest line on it, reply “what eye chart?” Always gets a laugh.


We’ve been shut in for so long. Just the simple act of navigating your cart through a grocery store can kick-start a moribund day, even if I have to squint. You notice everything. Things you never would have noticed in pre-Covid days. Noses and mouths especially. It’s become second nature to give wide berth to the ones who still haven’t grasped the masking concept. But all in all folks seem a tad more cheerful than they were back in the spring when this thing took hold. Somebody without a mask now is likely to get the same amount of eye-rolls as a shirtless guy wearing a viking helmet. And, you know, pandemically speaking at least, that’s progress. Sometimes it’s the little things, Bubba.


In cancel culture news, that country guy who was screaming the n-word outside his house last week has seen his sales sky-rocket, which is kinda awkward to the entire genre….but whatever. I mean….whadda you do if more and more of the nation not only accept things like fascism and racism, but seem to actively embrace them? And that sorta-wacky Trump cultist actress from the “Mandalorian” was dropped from the show (and her talent agency) after a tweet comparing being a Republican today to being Jewish during the holocaust. She’s made other dumbass posts as well, denigrating mask-wearing and pushing Dear Leader’s “big lie”, (although these are nothing more than middle of the road Republican dogma these days, why single her out?) but this one and its snowballing consequences makes me feel a little queasy….because while nobody who wasn’t a fucking gargantuan idiot would compare herself to Anne Frank, in her small mind I don’t think she was being anti-Semitic. She’s just wallowing in the same victim porn circle-jerk that conservatives have been hosting for years. Sometimes people are just assholes, and if we start cancelling for that the world is gonna be filled with even more out of work actors. And then it becomes more us vs them and you have a couple of super-jizzed rent-a-cops spying Bruce Springsteen accepting a shot of Tequila from fans as he drove past on his motorcycle, and the story being framed like he’s drunken David Hasselhoff crawling on the ground trying to eat a cheeseburger.


One thing 2020 did was erase the feeling that we feel younger than our age. I always felt like a bit of a cheeky kid. But now our age washes over us like a tsunami. We’re slower. More cautious. Both bedtimes and the mornings after come sooner than they used to. Things hurt that didn’t use to hurt. And the things we used to be able to overlook, we don’t/can’t overlook anymore. There’s no such things are youthful indiscretions anymore. It forced a reckoning. A growing up. For better. And for worse.

In a bit..


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February 11, 2021 Leave a comment

I’ve watched the Capitol riot footage. I watched it in real time. I re-watched it many times. I’ve seen it from this angle and that angle, from surveillance cameras and cell phone videos, and in the last few days we’ve seen never before released stuff……showing…..indisputably…..that as bad as it appeared… bad as we thought it was at the time… was way worse. There’s a particularly chilling moment when a rioter is roaming the hallway mockingly, contemptuously calling out “Naaaaancy…….Naaaancy…” and all that’s missing is the dragging leg and the hatchet. What might have happened if lawmakers had not been swiftly brought to safety is enough to stop that heart.

And it’s all there. This is not a “he said she said” moment, distorted by any partisan lens. This is all on camera, each gleeful face as clear as the selfies you save on your phone. Each sent there with a clear mandate from Dear Leader. Each convinced of their patriotism, but prepared to be a bit…er….flexible at times. I mean, they did have a guy waving the Confederate flag front and center. You may be familiar with that that was all about. And they were chanting “hang Mike Pence” repeatedly, and normally wanting to hang the Vice President isn’t part of the Patriotic bingo card. Even now, with Trump stewing illegally at Mar-a-Lago, our area is filled with TRUMP 2020 signs, but with a new twist. The “Pence” on the signs has been crossed off. So their boy is alone now….fighting the good fight…….our last hope against Jewish Space Lasers and Pizza Parlor Pedophiles and Chinese Hoaxes. But, alas, Twitter-less…..which as it turned out was kinda like slicing his achilles tendon. With the hate-spigot turned off, and his seeming unwillingness to deal with that he called the “low-class” on more….er….white supremacist friendly social media outlets, his devotees are left to wander in the desert, not sure if they should shine Mitch McConnell’s shoes, or threaten to hang him too. SAD.

And so now we have impeachment. Again. It’s not gonna happen of course. While the videos of a violent coup were being shown, Trump sycophants were sitting in the gallery with their feet up, doing their best to appear blazingly uninterested for the cameras. The same party that was mortally offended by a blow job are able to whistle dixie through an attempt to overthrow an election. They will acquit their man…..freeing him up once again to the drag what’s left of the “grand old party” through what Andy Dufresne crawled through to escape from Shawshank prison. That they consider this a politically expedient thing to do is precisely why Bruce Springsteen heading to Kansas in his Jeep looking for the “middle” is kinda like searching for Bigfoot.

Trump has had a series of legal teams lately. Who would have thought his habit of not paying his bills would catch up with him, but here we are. Reputable firms are reacting to his phone calls the way we do when we get extended warranty calls from the car dealer. What he’s left with now is 2 guys who make Rudy Giuliani look like Clarence Darrow. It’s like being defended by Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels. But at this point he could hire the 3 stooges and it wouldn’t matter. All that’s left is the vote. These people need to stand up and say, for the record, and for all time, that fomenting a coup is not grounds for impeachment. And with that, they become historical pariahs. They get to hang out in political hell with Joe McCarthy. In the short term? The Klan will cheer and Parler will light up like a pinball machine and guys like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley will consider themselves instant Presidential timbre, but the arc of the universe bends towards justice, which is something racists always forget. It’s a long, lonely life. Just ask the guy who stood in the schoolhouse door.

There can be no unity without accountability. More and more this mythical “middle” seems a place where we’re supposed to kumbaya. A place where we don’t have to take sides, because we accept that universal health care and jewish space lasers can exist on the same plane.

They can’t.

In a bit..


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Vaccine or Virus?

February 9, 2021 Leave a comment

We’re almost a year into this pandemic and I’m as confused as ever. I’m constantly bombarded with conflicting bits of information……things are getting better…..things are getting worse….open up….don’t open up….keep wearing your mask…..wear TWO masks……don’t have a super bowl party while you watch 25,000 fans watch the super bowl…..which seems……well…..weird no?

There are variants. How many? Hard to tell…..more than a few. Each is way more infectious than boring old original COVID-19, with the potential to ravage continents like a tidal wave, but don’t worry. Because the vaccine sorta works on these variants, except when it doesn’t. This publication says this. That publication says that. And if I really get stuck there’s all the Facebook virologists, some of whom I went to high school with. So it’s not like I don’t have options.

Ah yes. The vaccine.

Get a vaccine.

Which is kinda difficult ’cause there doesn’t appear to be any. Not sure who is in charge of distribution on this thing, but it may be time to check and hire somebody else. I mean….the math is pretty clear. It hasn’t changed. Pennsylvania has 12.8 million people. That’s how many vaccines we need. Yea, that’s a lot, but we’ve won wars and landed on the moon, which seems a lot harder. You can’t constantly encourage everybody to get vaccinated, while at the same time not providing any vaccinations, and not expect mass confusion. You should not need me to tell you this.

Everybody is pretty much on their own. This whole “phase” thing is ADORABLE. It’s unenforceable. I’ve never met so many new smokers in my life. So we’re directed to various lists of providers and drug and grocery stores. Phone numbers and URLs. IF you can get a live person to answer one of the phone numbers, they simply laugh at you. More likely is it rings until you get disconnected. The URLs are supposed to offer a way to get on a “list”, but all you’re met with is an immediate disclaimer that all the mystery spots are filled…..and that there are zero new vaccines available. You should “check back later”. They never specifically tell you when “later” is. An hour? A day? A week? The next Olympic games?

Governor Wolf did an admirable job navigating us through this thing pre-vaccine. He made some pretty unpopular calls and toughed it out politically when it would have been much easier to lay out. I think he saved lives. But now he seems to have gone AWOL. We’ve got a mess on our hands, and somebody needs to own it. It’s times like this when we need government the most, and it’s usually in the logistics phase when government starts acting like a helpless child.

How many more are gonna die before we figure out how to get A to B?

Teachers haven’t been vaccinated yet. TEACHERS. I know large local companies that have already vaccinated their entire workforce…..many of who work from home. I mean, good for them. Taking care of their employees and stuff. But….well….again the whole “phase” thing goes poof…..and teachers still aren’t vaccinated. How can this possibly be justified? Colleges and Universities have pretty much punted on this thing. Initially they took a lead role in testing, but now, while insisting on in-person learning despite worsening numbers, they are pretending the vaccines will simply overflow out of the chemistry beakers?

You are insisting that teachers and students come together again….but you are unwilling to provide either with a vaccine?

I wouldn’t blame every un-vaccinated teacher in the land for going on strike.

Why is there no plan for this? Why is Pennsylvania suddenly acting like it doesn’t know how to count? Or how to pack enough boxes?

For many, it’s come down to a stark question. What do I get first?

The vaccine? Or the virus?

What about the elderly who are alone? What are their options? You expect them to trawl the internet all day on their Ipods? Man multiple cell phones with speed dial to get through to some of these places? What if they are too infirm to travel to a vaccine site? What then? What’s the PLAN?

We are not all equal. Some have made herculean efforts to combat this thing. Others still refuse to cover their nose and mouth. Some of the very first to receive the vaccine were the very politicians who were calling this thing a hoax from the start. This is the new America, built in 2020. Apparently, we can now only move as fast as the slowest in line.

In a bit..


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Morgan Wallen

February 5, 2021 Leave a comment

Let me preface my remarks today by stating that you cannot out liberal me. You cannot out progress my progressiveness. I am to the left of Eugene Debs. My flank is secure.

That being said, I’m gonna have to disagree with y’all on this Morgan Wallen thing.

It feels too much to me like the Dixie Chicks in reverse.

First off, like most of you, I never heard of Morgan Wallen until this week. I guess he’s a big star. Whatever. I never heard of the act playing this year’s Super Bowl either. So there’s that. I’ve been in a bit of a bubble recently.

But I’ve done a bit of research. Morgan Wallen is another in a long line of rotating Country Bros. They all sound alike. And not just a little alike. I mean completely indistinguishable from each other. Put a cowboy hat on them and they all look alike too. Apparently Wallen is not a hat guy, preferring instead an Achy Breaky Heart mullet that makes him look like Bono at Live-Aid. Whatever.

I’ve listened to his music….and to use Tom Petty’s immortal phrase, it’s just “bad rock with a fiddle”. Songs about drinking and screwing and yee-hawing. One song has SIX songwriters listed….which might be a record. I heard it…..and all I can say is that it needs a seventh.

There’s nothing inherently BAD here. On record the guy sings on key….the guitars are tuned and the production is fine. Hank Williams has nothing to worry about, but I’ve heard way worse.

This guy apparently has a history of being an asshole. Ignoring Covid restrictions. Drunk and disorderly. He’s currently 27 years old…..I suspect we all have some asshole in us at that age. Throw a large bankroll into the mix and the quotient goes up exponentially. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted somebody with a cell phone following me around when I was in my 20s. I’m guessing Willie and Merle and Waylon wouldn’t want transcripts of all their conversations in the public domain either. None of us are as good as we pretend to be.

But there’s the video. For all to see. And hear. The N word.

I ain’t gonna defend any white person’s use of that word. Not now. Not ever.

But is this just some beer’d up insecure kid trying to sound hardcore with his boys, or the fucking grand wizard of the Klan? There is a distinction to be made here I think, and I wish it was made before the Twitter swarm commenced.

If he’s some wild-eyed hardcore racist? Fuck him.

If he’s just some dumb redneck? Is that enough?

Eric Clapton went on a wild, drunken, racist tirade onstage in the 70s. In 1979 a drunken Elvis Costello called Ray Charles a “blind ignorant n-r”. Their careers bent as a result, but did not break. Hardly anybody even remembers anymore. Both were assholes……both repented….and both never repeated the behavior. It’s hard to think of anybody who owes MORE to black artists and Clapton and Costello. And the same can be said for Morgan Wallen, who toils in a genre that would not exist if not for what blacks laid down. Hank Williams learned how to play guitar and write songs from a black man. The Carter Family was mentored by a black man. Bill Monroe was taught how to play by a black man. The banjo, a critical component to country music, originated in Africa. Whites learned to play it from slaves.

That country music became, and has largely remained white, is part of our nation’s original sin. It was all done consciously. There’s nothing secret about any of it. It was about as subtle as standing in the schoolhouse door. There’s certainly lots to talk about here……but I’m not quite sure the current conversation is moving anything forward.

I don’t know if this kid recovers from this or not. Since it happened he’s said all the right things. Apologized profusely. I don’t know if it’s legitimate or not. I would like to find out though.

He may go on the requisite grovel tour, being grilled on “The View” and “The Daily Show” until some good will is back in his sails. He may go the other way and show up on Hannity, searching for right-wing martyrdom. Or he may just slink off to play Skynyrd covers in bars…..another cautionary tale.

Can we see first?

Not everything immediately requires the nuclear option.

In a bit..


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February 3, 2021 Leave a comment

Snow is finally gone…..sorta. Woke up to more shovel-able stuff this morning….but for now at least, the witch appears to be on life support.

She may return Friday. Or Sunday. We’re promised at least 2 days of non-Armageddon, so that’s cool. Folks are still digging out, but in NEPA things like digging out can turn gangsta in an instant. Murder-suicide in Luzerne County and a knife fight in Scranton are already in the books. When we make the national news, we go hardcore.

The rowdy supporters of the Millwall football club in England originated the chant “no one likes us and we don’t care” in the mid-70s, (bizarrely set to the Rod Stewart song “Sailing”…but Rod was GOD in the 70s)…..and that comes to mind at times like these around these here parts. Just once I’d like to make the national news for something other than acting like deranged knobheads. Being the birthplace of the President helped some….but I sure wish Biden stuck around long enough to at least get arrested for underage drinking or something. You know, make some of that Scranton soil STICK bro.


I decided to go off the grid and get my weather updates from the various weather “experts” on Facebook. They all have cultist followers and exist primarily to shit on the regular TV weather guys. All of them were crowing non-stop how they “pegged” this storm waaaaaay in advance of Snedeker et al….surely proof of some vast meteorological conspiracy. I call them “Weather Bros”, and they are positively masochistic when it comes to predicting how doomed we are every time a front moves in. They appear to put lots of stock in the “European model” because whatever that is invariably predicts that most mayhem. In the end, they’re about right as often as the national weather service is….which means they’re about as right at the guys on TV….because everybody is getting their information from the same place. At the moment they are predicting a plague of snow frogs just in time for the Super Bowl, so keep your eye out for that. (One of the dudes predicted York PA to be the bullseye of this last storm, calling for 40 inches and creating an online panic that was only soothed when the residents of York got 28 inches less than that. Hey, it ain’t as easy as it looks, eh Bubba?)


The wind is whipping outside my window as I type this, which isn’t unusual at all since for whatever reason this place has turned into Kansas over the last few years. 15 to 20 mph winds are now a light breeze in comparison to the tree-gorging gusts we get on a regular basis. I’m not sure when NEPA went all-out Oz but it really pisses me off because while I can deal with rain and snow and the cold, the wind drives me to crazed distraction. Normal weather seems to slide past our flanks, leaving us with the kind of nonsense that parks itself and pulls out a 6-pack so Jim Cantore has plenty of time to show up with that know-it-all smirk on his face. And there’s always that one ominous tree within striking distance of your house…..and it’s a hoot to lay in bed listening to the gale while contemplating what room it’s gonna crash through. Good times.


2020 stole the sun, and 2021 isn’t giving it back.

In a bit…


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