Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Drunk At The Football Game

I was struck by an Indy Star report, detailing a woman's lousy experience at the Colts-Broncos game, where she was injured by a drunken fan.
The 41-year-old Terre Haute resident and Colts season ticket holder arrived at the stadium with her husband, brother and sister-in-law and settled into their terrace-level seats, waiting for the action to begin.

But it wasn’t long before things turned sour. Voils said a rambunctious group of men behind them, all drinking heavily, grew rowdier and rowdier as the game went on.

Suddenly, in the second quarter, Voils was pummeled.

“Two of the guys fell on top of me,” Voils said. The impact sent her tumbling over her seat until she hit her head two rows down.

The last NFL game I went to was a Colts playoff game, against the NY Jets. It was the last time Peyton Manning played here in Indy, before his homecoming this past weekend.
Manning's last game as a Colt. My last game as a ticket-buying fan.

Despite wearing Colts gear, despite being with three other men, the Colts fan behind me "spilled" a beer on me in the first half, and then filled the hood of my hoodie with beer later in the game. The first incident I blew off as an accident. The second? That was just stupid. I suspect my sense of chivalry prevented me from coming to blows with the fool. She seemed like she was only a day or two over 21.
Thumbs up- prior to the game, prior to the soaking of the hoodie.

I'm not a shrinking violet. I'm a much bigger hockey fan than NFL fan, and because my team is the San Jose Sharks, the closest games are in Detroit, Chicago, St. Louis, and Columbus. I go to Sharks games there, and I wear my Sharks jerseys. I've gone to playoff games, where the animosity for the opposition is tremendous, in Detroit, St. Louis, and Nashville. Only in Nashville did I have a problem, when a fan spilled a beer on me. He quickly realized he went too far, and was apologizing at least.
Playoff game in Detroit four months later. No problems, good fun.

But me rooting for the home team in Indy? Wearing Colts gear? Not provoking anybody? Yeah- problem.

I don't know how it came to be, but NFL games seem to have become a grand excuse for getting wasted and acting like an idiot. Being from Cleveland and having been in the old Dawg Pound, I can say that the stupidity is actually lower in Indianapolis, but there's still plenty of stupidity. And, I expect it.

“It was just the way Lucas Oil Stadium handled the whole situation,” Voils said. “Here’s somebody bleeding all over the place, and these guys were so intoxicated and they didn’t do squat about it.”

Levengood said he was still investigating the incident and had not yet spoken with Voils and her family when The Star contacted him Monday afternoon.

“We’re always trying to make the fan experience as good as possible,” Levengood said, adding that he only heard many of the details from a Star reporter. “What you’ve just told us is concerning.”

Blah, blah, blah. Stupidity is expected. When that's the case, that's what you get- just like anywhere else in life. My take is that security's job is not to protect the fans (protect the players? Oh, hell yeah!) to keep things from becoming riots. Individuals are going to get annoyed at the least, and a few hurt. The commotion has to be gigantic just to get the attention of security.

I concluded that it would be a while before I went back to a Colts game. Trouble is, my exit doesn't hurt the team's bottom line enough to notice. Tickets are in high demand for a good team. And truly, I don't buy a lot of beer at a game. It's overpriced to the sky, and it isn't the good stuff anyway. They probably do better to swap me out for a rowdy fool drunk.

Another solution could be to more heavily moderate the amount of alcohol fans are allowed to drink inside sporting stadiums, said Brian Frederick, a board member for Sports Fans Coalition, a D.C.-based lobbying group.

At Lucas Oil and other stadiums, fans are already cut off from drinking at the end of the third quarter. But Frederick said the financial incentives for serving alcohol make going any further an unlikely proposition.

“I think there’s just much more incentive to keep serving mass quantities of beer ... than there is to cut people off,” Frederick said. “So you end up with situations in the stands all the time.”

Yes, but to a point. Being a drunken moron is the culture of the NFL fan. Who are the NFL's top sponsors, after all? So, say they cut the sales off at halftime. So what? Ever been tailgating? A good number of fans stumble through the turnstiles blasted out of their minds. Every bar within a mile of the stadium counts on pre-game loading. The 4th Quarter may be better behaved, but watch out for the 2nd & 3rd!

I don't really know how you fix the culture, where getting drunk at the game is expected. I do know that I don't enjoy it. I also know I was not surprised to read this article. It is exactly what I've experienced at every NFL game I've ever been to, spanning 25+ years. That, friends, is a track record.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Sky Is Falling For Amtrak

Someone must have sent out a memo instructing Amtrak supporters to be at their most hyperbolic, most shrill worst earlier this week. I've seen several fairly wacky pleas on behalf of maintaining subsidies for the Hoosier State train, which runs daily between Indianapolis and Chicago.

I've ridden the Hoosier State three times in the past year or so. It's a quaint little train that tends to have two passenger coaches, and plenty of empty seats, on the average day. By Amtrak's numbers, less than 4,000 people ride per months, or 133 per day.

Think about that. We're talking about a political struggle over a train that carries 133 people a day. Glad we've nailed down all the big stuff, like the economy, the wars, our gigantic prison population, and urban decay so that at long last we can fine tune the minutia.

Two subsidies, one federal and one local, are poised to ride into the sunset. From John Ketzenberger at the Indy Star:

Now the $4 million federal subsidy is a lot of money. So is the possible $3 million state subsidy. The Hoosier State line hauls about 3,100 people up to Chicago each month, so the federal per-ticket subsidy is about $107.50. A state subsidy would amount to about $80.60 per ride.

The passenger pays between $38 and $47 for a ticket to ride the Hoosier State line. Apparently the train’s real value, though, is to haul broken cars to Beech Grove and return fixed cars to service.

In this case, Beech Grove maintains 550 good jobs and a $49 million annual payroll if the subsidy is paid. From this Indiana collects more than $1.6 million in income tax and at least twice that in income tax even if the $61 million economic impact estimate’s high.

You could argue the state realizes a net gain in the deal.

You could, but that would be a pretty lousy argument. Let's set aside for now the idea that Amtrak's main business is passenger service, and Ketzenberger concedes the strongest case is for the Hoosier State is something outside Amtrak's core business. So, I did a search on CSX's website, for the cost to transport a car from Chicago to Indianapolis. There wasn't a designation for 'Amtrak passenger coach', so I went with a plain gondola car filled with scrap metal, on the basis it would be heavier than an Amtrak coach, so I would be overestimating the cost. The Horizon coaches weigh about 80 tons, while a gon has a capacity of 110 tons, in addition to the car weight.

So- the cost? $2,443.00 per car. Unfortunately, I can't find info on how many broken cars are hauled to Beech Grove. The best I can do here is to take the cost of the subsidies, which is $7 million. That's good for 2,865 cars per year, or 8 a day. Now, maybe I travel on the wrong day, but I've never seen more than one car hauled on the Hoosier State. Maybe for each of the days I rode and failed to see more cars, there was another day each where 16 extra were lashed to the train for repair. I think I'm being generous here. Amtrak only owns 369 locomotives and 1,384 pieces of rolling stock. Am I to believe that every one of them breaks down every year?

I don't want to see the Beech Grove facilities close. I think we can do better having CSX haul broken cars to Beech Grove at $2,443 than float $7 million in subsidies- especially if we concede that passenger service isn't the best part of the passenger service.

Ketzenberger does provide a clue. If the total subsidy to each rider he cites adds up to $188.10, that's how much the fare needs to be raised to bring it to zero. No need for a political struggle, especially one that sounds so shrill.

Especially over 133 riders/day. It's nutty. That many passengers will cross I-65 in five seconds... when it's moving.
Riding the Hoosier State, wearing a t-shirt with the logo of another of rail's infamous money losers, as my daughter sleeps, blissfully unaware.

I like the Hoosier State, but nobody owes me a ride. Lose the subsidy, hike the fare, and move on.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Blows Against The Empire, Reunited

I was very pleased with how the Blows Against The Empire reunion came off. You know going in to this kind of thing that everything in the world has changed: We're more than twice as old, no longer rebellious kids, but family guys living in the suburbs. Etc. So, driving in to the studio, I actually had butterflies! I haven't had that experience in many, many years. The last I could recall was when I tried a sports radio gig at WHK in Cleveland, back in the mid-90's.

Once I saw Matt in the parking lot, the nerves were gone. We really picked up right where we left off.

There's a lot of prep for a hardcore punk show, so we ran around the WCSB music library with Keith Newman, directing him to pull this record, and that CD. Then, I even ran into Church of the SubGenius chief Rev. Ivan Stang!
The Princess, Rev. Ivan Stang, and me... with fine new programming.

Stang, Princess Wei R. Doe, and I caught up. I brought the Church's "Hour Of Slack" radio show to WCSB back in 1989. It never left, and in fact, Stang moved from Dallas to Cleveland Heights many years ago and WCSB has been the flagship for the Hour of Slack ever since.

About 5 minutes before air time, Keith let us know that it was time. We hadn't even gone over the intros or had him cue any music. Now that was just like old times! And it was perfect. It worked well enough, but not perfectly. Blows Against The Empire always had rough edges, and I told Matt ahead of the show that I would be disappointed if there wasn't any dead air, records started at the wrong speed, record stopped mid-play while live on the air, etc. I wasn't disappointed. It was rough in places, but just the right amount. Major props to Keith for that!
Keith Newman at the helm. Matt Dudas, in character.

My personal highlight was "Mike's Sexual Soapbox". This was a feature that evolved from having to read public service announcements (PSA's) on the air. It seemed there were always safe sex PSA's in the book for us to read, and I read them so often that Matt dubbed it 'Mike's Sexual Soapbox'. He would play the Buzzcocks' great "Orgasm Addict" under my reading. For the reunion? No condoms. We talked about our vasectomies.

Matt & Mike, rocking the house!

 I loved watching Matt react to the music. The old WCSB studios were very small, and Matt loved cranking up the sound and rocking, straight in my face to DRI or Misfits tunes.

To wrap up the festivities, on Thursday, Matt & I will deliver the archive of show tapes and associated papers and effects to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. I took my effects for my 'Propaganda' show there almost two years ago, but felt then that it wouldn't have been right to take the Blows Against The Empire tapes in without Matt. It was the right call. It will be a proud moment when we hand them off!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Blows Against The Empire Reunion!

Following the trend of every old rocker with half his salt, I'm doing a reunion show for Blows Against The Empire on WCSB this weekend! It's happening this Sunday at Midnight, in Cleveland, on WCSB 89.3-FM. Listen via live online streaming at www.wcsb.org

Blows was my first radio show, and really, it wasn't even mine to begin with. Matt Dudas had the show for a little less than a year, starting in one of the 4-7am graveyard shifts, playing hardcore, punk, and thrash metal. He paid his dues, and moved into a sweet time slot: Wednesdays, 3-5:30pm.

We actually had a physics class together. These were the days when I wore a punk rock haircut and t-shirts in order to find other likeminded folks. It worked. I had heard the show, and in time, Matt invited me to hang out, for the first time in late 1986.

I had a great time! Matt played some tunes I suggested, and even allowed me to say a few words on air. He had a good enough time with me there that he invited me back. I went back, and kept going back.

I don't know what you know about hardcore punk songs, but for a radio programmer, the main thing to know is that they are short songs. 30 seconds to a minute and a half. These were the days before CDs. WCSB had three turntables and two cassette decks. Hardcore programmers had to be extremely proficient in cueing records and keeping order in the studio, or it would fall apart. Having me around was a big help to Matt, and improved the show in one key sense: The lazy thing to do would be to play almost half an album side in order to buy time. With a division of labor, every song would be off a different record than the one before. It allowed us to present as many bands and recordings as possible.

This mattered, because (cue the old man laff track), in those days, there was no internet. There were limited ways for Cleveland punk fans of finding out about a hardcore band from New Jersey like 76% Uncertain, or Gilman Street bands like Isocracy, or Operation Ivy (which later morphed into Rancid), or Green Day. You might read about the Gilman St. bands in Maximum RockNRoll, but if you wanted to hear them? You'd have to risk your money by mail order, or tune in to WCSB.

Matt & I had an on-air chemistry. Matt was in control of the show, and I was the smart-ass chiming in with remarks. We developed shtick. "Stump The Idiots" was our favorite giveaway segment. In order to win tickets to see The Exploited or Fugazi, or the Pink Holes free show, callers had to stump us with a punk rock trivia question, or say something we thought was absurdly excellent. A winning stump? "How many licks does it take to get the center of a Charms Blow Pop?"

The show ran it's course in 1989 when I was really feeling the need to do my own thing, and Matt was nearing graduation.

So here, nearly 24 years later, we're going to reprise the show. I won't give everything away, except to say that we will do Stump The Idiots for a giveaway, and we will do an edition of Mike's Sexual Soapbox. We will play hardcore & punk. But beyond that, you'll have to listen to find out.

Huge thanks to Keith Newman. He does a show every Sunday night at Midnight called Crap Radio. He is graciously hosting Matt & I for this reunion. I can't thank him enough. Keith, I owe you three!

It's been fun prepping with Matt to get this put together. We found pictures and flyers I hadn't seen in decades. Many thanks to Tony Erba for supplying the flyer of Matt with a Mohawk. I can't wait to let it rip one more time!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

American Band With Visa Problems.. For Touring The USA?

Ok, it's an American band with two British members. Still.

I'll be very interested in streaming WRUW's online signal Monday 8/19 at 9:30am. The 'Defend Cleveland' show will host David Thomas, fka 'Crocus Behemoth', wherein the singer/leader of the legendary innovative Cleveland rock group Pere Ubu will discuss his difficulties in getting his current tour off the ground. From Pere Ubu's website:
"Fans have bought tickets, flights, hotels, and made plans," Pere Ubu's David Thomas said. "We will not let them down."

The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) is the latest and only remaining obstacle. If the band hands over a "consultation fee" of, at least, $300, the union will send a letter to the US Customs & Immigration Service (USCIS) objecting or not objecting to the visa petition.

Two British citizens have been in the group for the last four years. To tour in America with those British citizens, Pere Ubu must prove that the band itself, or the individual musicians, are of 'world class' caliber and have a respected international reputation. Pere Ubu provided the USCIS with voluminous documentation spanning its thirty-eight year history that attested to the group's considerable reputation and nearly universal critical acclaim. The application states that the band must also seek a consultation from an appropriate labor organization.

"It's preposterous," Thomas said. "The USCIS note on their website that a negative or even positive response from a union does not affect their decision. Why, then, are we required to 'pay off' the union?"

"I do not recognize the musician union's authority in this matter," said Thomas

For anyone who scoffs at the notion that government involvement in the arts would have the effect of government selecting 'acceptable art', look no further. Pere Ubu is recognized generally as a pioneer in experimental rock music, and their album 'The Modern Dance' widely praised. But despite the obvious credentials, what should it matter if a band should have any credentials at all? What about bands just starting out, hitting the USA for the first time? Or, what about musicians with challenging sounds, far outside the mainstream? Why does a union have any say about who plays for paying audiences here, let alone the Customs & Immigration Service?

Mr. Thomas went on to say, "I do not question the Government's duty to guard the country's borders. I just wonder what the AFM, or any other business, has to do with it. I would like to point out that there is only one other country on the planet - a small one - that has any such requirements for musical groups. Pere Ubu used to tour behind the 'Iron Curtain.' We came and went freely - not even the East Germans were in any way concerned with the musical nature of our visits. We did once run into a Swiss border guard who told us, 'We don't want your foreign kind of music in our country - we have our own music.' But he had to let us in anyway."

A proposed Congressional bill, recently passed in the Senate, speeds up the visa process for artists, but it hands over more power to arts organizations and the AFM, both already inserted into the US Government's chain of visa approval, to judge the worthiness of artistic and musical expression. The AFM lobbied for the bill's passage.

The Pere Ubu visa petition was submitted in late May. One of the two British musicians involved has previously been granted a visa as a member of Pere Ubu without an AFM consultation.

"Knowing Ubu fans, there will be a spontaneous movement to raise the $300," Thomas concluded. "Do not do it. Our booking agent volunteered the money. We refused it."

I don't blame him. This is bullshit. It's embarrassing that Pere Ubu could more easily tour East Germany than the USA- particularly when half of the band are Cleveland natives, like me.

Pere Ubu is scheduled to play in Bloomington IN at The Bishop, to conclude their tour on Sunday, September 22. I have been planning to go since the date was announced. Let's hope this is yet one more thing the Feds don't louse up.

Here's Pere Ubu playing their most accessible song, "Waiting For Mary". The late Jim Jones is one guitar, and you may recognize some of the backing singers.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Les Paul Black Beauty

I got a real charge out of seeing this post on the Gibson Spain website, where my friend Doug Gillard is listed as an exemplar of that guitar. He's listed before such nobodies as Robbie Krieger, Jimmy Page, and Keith Richards. Got your translation book handy?

Entre las figuras consideradas usuarios fieles de la Black Beauty o quienes simplemente decidieron en alguna etapa importante de sus carreras optar por disfrutar del aura y majestuosidad de este instrumento único, se encuentran guitarristas de la talla de Berton Averre (The Knack), Matthew Caws (Nada Surf), Robert Fripp (King Crimson), Doug Gillard (Guided By Voices), Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), Steve Hackett (Genesis), James Hetfield (Metallica), Mick Jones (Foreigner), Robbie Krieger (The Doors), Albert Lee (cuya Black Beauty del 1958 se la obsequió Eric Clapton), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Keith Richards (Rolling Stones), y probablemente el más identificado con el modelo—después del propio Les Paul, por supuesto, nada menos que Peter Frampton.
Rock on, Doug! The above photo was taken last month in Columbus OH, where he joined his old band Death Of Samantha to play a festival. The three below are from the Cleveland's Screaming #3 fest from July 2010, where Doug played two sets- with Children's Crusade and Starvation Army.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Foul Ball!

I recently went to a AAA Indianapolis Indians game, and when I sat down in my seat and looked out at the field, I had a memory race through my mind.

It was Spring 1989, early in a new baseball season when I sat down in the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium for a game. The seats were great- 1st base side, halfway between home and 1st. Great seats were very easy to get those days, and cheap. I think is was $6.

Indians 2nd baseman Jerry Browne came to the plate and ripped a liner foul, straight at me. I reached up with my right hand and CRACK! I stopped the ball, but didn't catch it. It fell behind me, into the lap of a cackling woman who was not watching the game. I'm pretty sure I saved her from a horrible facial injury. For her part, she looked astonished and said to her husband, "Look honey. A ball." For my part, I had two fractured metacarpals, making the rest of the game experience fairly unpleasant. No 'thank you' from the cackler or her husband. No offer of the ball. Probably no realization of any kind rattling around back there.

After the memory, my realization: I was sitting in the same location.

Sure enough, 3rd inning, a ball was hit my way, and the memory flashed again. This time, the trajectory was about 6 feet to my left, and a man stuck up his hand. He stopped the ball, but didn't catch it. It rolled over to me. I'm very sure the man saved his 8-year-old son from a horrible facial injury. Before the kid could open his eyes, I rolled the ball over to his feet. He picked it excitedly. "Look Dad! The ball!"

I asked the man if his hand was ok, and he said it was. The difference between a major league and minor league liner, I suppose. I told the boy, "This is where you say 'thank you' to your Dad". Sheepishly, he did so.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bits Of Summer, Lost

We take the kids to the Indiana State Fair every year, and most years to the County Fair. They love the animals and are undeterred by horribly hot weather and barnyard stench.

August is around the corner, so state fair time is nigh. I saw an email from the BMV for Indiana State Fair Discount Day- $5 off admission. Cool!

That date is Wednesday, August 14th.

Hmm... Now why is that date familiar? Why, that's my daughter's first day of school!

We won't miss the State Fair. It begins August 2nd, so there is plenty of time for us to go. What struck me was how the BMV and the State Fair folks are out of touch enough to have the discount date on a school day, and the schedule in general in conflict with school schedules.

I know- you can't have the prize rhubarb if you don't allow it enough time to grow. I get it. My main beef is that the summer vacation time for kids is being compressed to the point where it barely exists. Back in my day, Sonny, we didn't go back to school until Labor Day. And while my daughter goes back the 14th, there are other districts nearby that return to week before that!

Somewhere in the nether reaches of my mind, I have this idea that the school year is being extended to a full year in order to help accommodate parents. I take it as two things. 1. A greater general warehousing of kids, and 2. A gigantic failure in an attempt to accommodate parents.

I'm thinking in particular of single-parent households. These school districts are going to Fall Breaks now, some as long as two-weeks. Employers are well versed in Spring Break and Summer Vacation. It is expected that employees will seek time off then. Summer camps and neighborhood kid watching set-ups are well established. But now Fall Break also? Or, is this simply a new set of times at which the barely getting by single parent or two working parent households have to pay for child care? I see the latter much more, especially as there is no consensus yet as to when to have Fall Break.

I have friends who are both teachers. They teach in different districts than each other, and their daughter? Yep- she attends school in a third district? Would it surprise you if I said that all three have different calendars?

Some highly paid administrators are going to have to put their thinking caps on and figure this out already. Enough experimenting with the school year calendar. You aren't adding days of instruction, so what is the point of all this shuffle? Uncertainty doesn't help. And it burns my chance to save twenty bucks on admission to the State Fair.

Friday, May 17, 2013

10 Years Blogging

Yay. May 2003 saw the first post in the Kole Hard Facts. It certainly has tailed off in the past couple of years, such that I completely missed the actual 10th Anniversary of the blog.  That's a pretty fair summation of the entire enterprise.

I've always known that to be a successful blogger, you have to post regularly- at least once daily, and early in the morning, so that you make the feeds & readers. I've never been good at that.

It helps to have a couple of topics that are the drum you bang. Mass transit comes close, I guess, but I never really found those. Limiting my sphere? I've never been good at that.

It helps to talk about the issues in the pop news that everybody is talking about. OJ Simpson, Michael Jackson, Jodi Arias, the petty scandals, etc. Just like in radio, play the hits! I've never been good at that.

Being that I'm not so good at doing what needs to be done to be a successful blogger, I'm not surprised that the blog has gotten 10-20 hits/day for years. I would occasionally hit periods where I did one of these three things well, and it never really impacted readership numbers, so being that it wasn't coming naturally, I would shrink back to my very random, reactive blogging self.

I marvel at those who really do it well. Hoosiers Doug Masson, Paul Ogden, and Gary Welsh certainly have my respect and admiration.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Where's George Hits the Rails

Some of my fellow 'Georgers' do an annual Amtrak trip from NY to California. This year's trip featured a layover in Chicago, so I decided to meet with them.

Turns out, before they left Penn Station in NYC, a few of the folks I would meet were interviewed about the hobby by NPR:

When you hear the words "social network" you probably think of Facebook or Twitter. But years before either of those websites — when most of us weren't using the Internet at all — a smaller, stranger community was emerging around something called WheresGeorge.com, a 15-year-old subculture that's dedicated to the $1 bill.
At Kabooz's Bar and Grill at New York's Penn Station, Jennifer Fishinger is covering her table in stacks of ones. There are 500 $1 bills laid out.
At the next table over, David Henry has his stacks of cash in plastic bags. They're paper-clipped $1 bills in groups of 10.

Not just the $1 bill. I get some grief at home that there should be a Where's Abe? site for $5s, etc. Sorry, that's not my call.

We ended up at Giordano's Pizza, home of one of the True Chicago Style Pizzas, and David had a little ambivalence going in, as a New Yorker with pride in his local pizzas. Turned out he really enjoyed the stuffed pizza, and was a little sheepish in admitting he enjoyed it more than NY's thin crust offerings.

Good fun, good people. Be sure to check out the video attached to the NPR article. Most fascinating to consider the flow of money as relates to human movement. I can tell you from my own county hit map- the money moves along the Interstate Highways. Now, if considering epidemics in the future and how we can expect them to spread, yes, I would consider getting away from a county with an Interstate in it. Naturally, I live within two miles of an Interstate exit.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dropped The Show

It was a decisions I was struggling to make over the past several weeks, but I did conclude that I should drop the Kole Hard Facts show.

Many thanks to Gary Snyder at Indiana Talks for giving me the opportunity. I was very flattered to be offered the chance, so on the strength of his belief in me, I took a shot at it. Please continue to listen to Indiana Talks, as the lineup will continue to improve as more and more hosts take their shows live, take calls, and generally make for very relevant radio.

It has been very hard for me to balance the concerns of a heavy workload (a good problem to have), household projects, family, fitness, and frankly feeling sane, in the past several months. Something had to give, and the show was the thing that could give. I just feel buried.

I appreciate that Gary kept the door open should things change in the future. Good man, that Gary Snyder! I appreciate him very much.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Columbus Hockey Recap

Many thanks to my friend Bob May for putting a great event together. Some 20-25 guys in a party bus from Greenfield to Columbus, and as my great luck would have it, I got to sit on the bus next to Indiana Supreme Court Justice Mark Massa.

Let me tell you- Justice Massa is a big-time hockey fan. We geeked out for about an hour on the old school hockey that drew us to the game- for him, the Chicago Blackhawks of the late 60s and 70s and their greats Hull, Mikita, and Esposito. My first NHL game in 1976 to witness the Cleveland Barons host the mighty Montreal Canadiens. The Blackhawks would take on the Blue Jackets later in the evening.

The reason I was on the trip really was to play one last time. For as fun and great as the event was overall, playing really sucked. It was perfect, though. It erased all doubts about whether or not to stop playing. I mean it had it all- teammates who wouldn't pass if there was a gun pointed to their heads, opponents who would trip you behind the play even though they knew you were hurt, uncompetitive lopsided balance of talent. Yep, I've had my fill of that. It would be so cool to find a league somehow, some way, that was just into the fun of the game. Alas.
The tunnel the NHL's Blue Jackets players use to get to the ice, behind me.

Oh, did we turn it over without a pass? Time to get into the backcheck.

With Phil Partlan after the game, posing at center ice at Nationwide Arena. Phil's one of the good guys- so much so that I give him a pass for a Red Wings jersey.

If you've ever played recreational hockey, you'll love this. What's great about an event with an NHL team? The locker rooms! It's the little things: showers equipped with actual soap, and with both kinds of water; no slime on the floor; heat; adequate space. If you can't score three goals in your last hurrah (I didn't score any), you may as well have the amenities.

My non-hockey luck continued as I got to have dinner with Phil Partlan and Justice Massa, and sit with them during the game. It was a good game, too, as the Blue Jackets gave effort aplenty but came up a goal short. Loads of Blackhawks fans in attendance.

I found time in there to ask the Justice about my own Supreme Court case that was heard shortly before his appointment. With us being friends, would he have had to recuse himself? He said no, that simply playing hockey together is not nearly enough to give the impression of a connection that could prejudice his judgment. It would have been interesting, had he been behind the bench.

And now, to get my back looked at by my chiropractor.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Last Hurrah

I haven't played hockey in over a year now, thanks to a collision that left my back a mess of spasm, sprain, and general non-function. I really miss it, not the least of which because I gained 15 pounds since the injury.

My chiropractor and doctor both agree that if I play, the back will always be vulnerable. The hit was an accident in a no-check league, so I know full well it could happen again any time.

So, I'm going to play one last game and as much as it pains me, I'll hang 'em up.

The last hurrah is a pretty cool deal. The Columbus Blue Jackets offer a 'Rink Of Dreams' deal, where a group or team gets to use the NHL dressing rooms and have a game on the NHL ice prior to a regular season game, and then watch that game afterwards. Last game- Saturday, January 26, before the Blue Jackets host the Chicago Blackhawks.

I don't know if the deal is a double secret whisper campaign thing. They don't have a link on their website under group sales or anywhere else.

And- while I say this is the last time, truth is, I will hold out for one more future skate. My favorite team, the San Jose Sharks offer a fantasy camp. The cost is fairly prohibitive ($2,000 or thereabouts), so this year is RIGHT OUT. The way the economy kicked me in the balls repeatedly the past four years, it might be possible ten years down the road. But should I have that extra dough...?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Small News, Large Reflection

I found a somewhat dated (Nov 2012) article regarding some job losses at the CSX 'Collinwood Yard' in the Cleveland neighborhood of the same name as the yard. The inclusion of some history was of great note to me.
The Collinwood Railroad Yards &; Diesel Terminal at E. 152nd St. on Cleveland's East Side, was once one of the major repair facilities and freight transfer points for New York Central Railroad and later the Penn Central Transportation Co., according to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.

In 1929, the yards were expanded to handle 2,000 freight cars a day, and by 1933, about 2,000 engineers, firemen, brakeman, conductors and others worked there.
 Interesting to me- nothing was said about the steam locomotive shops. Those are long gone, of course, but those shops were a prime reason I was born and raised in the Cleveland area. As the family folklore goes, my great-great grandfather was lured from Slovenia to work in the shops. Apparently, a foreman was a Slovene. When he needed experienced machinists, he turned to the Old Country. My best guess is that my great-great-grandfather came around 1900, but certainly prior to World War 1.

Collinwood Yard seems to have lost a little bit of relevance with each railroad merger since it was New York Central property. Those locomotive shops were an enormous presence, highly visible from I-90. I had a hockey teammate in Cleveland who worked on the then-Conrail 'RIP' (repair-in-place) track in the late 70s. It's long gone too.

Technologies come and go, and steam disappeared better than 50 years ago, so I'm not surprised the old shops came down. With mergers, I'm not surprised if within the new, larger systems a more efficient place to work on locomotives and cars. More than lament the shrinking of the yard, I wonder more about our country as a place that creates huge numbers of jobs and attracts immigrants. While the way we live changes and yesterday's top technologies are replaced, our attitude about immigrants, about policies regarding job creation matter. My Slovenian ancestor wasn't lured to England, nor to Germany or Russia. I refuse to go back to Cleveland due to tax policy, as I estimate I saved an entire average year's income since moving to Indiana, just on tax rate differences.

There is much to be learned in policy in these areas.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

What To Get For Junior's Birthday?

So, I was doing my long-range planning for Ethan's birthday, and was thinking how much he loves anything automated: model cars, trains, all that. But what to get for him that would really be unique?

I love Amazon, because the product reviews are so useful. No kidding! I mean, check out this one, for a to-scale model drone.

Monday, January 07, 2013

New Kole Hard Facts Show

Listen to Indiana Talks for the newest installment of the Kole Hard Facts Show. It will air today at 2pm and again at 5pm.

Topics include New Years resolutions, the NHL deal to resolve the lockout, benefit shows for Clevelander Tony Urso (see yesterday's post) and for Norton Records (a large post coming soon!) and suspected union violence against Quakers.

Indiana Talks Widget Added

As a proud contributor to Indiana's first statewide online radio station, Indiana Talks, I've added a widget to the upper right corner of this blog so readers can check in at any moment to listen. Click the button, and you're getting the live stream!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Benefit For Tony Urso

My friend Tony Urso has been a guitarist in several Cleveland punk rock bands, including Starvation Army and Sissy, but now it has come to pass that he is suffering some health issues. I love this about music and arts scenes. He's in a tough spot, and his friends are rallying around him with support- in the form of a benefit show, with raffles and other fundraising for Tony.

Date: Friday,. January 11, 2013
Location: Now That's Class, 11213 Detroit Ave, Cleveland OH
Door: $10
Raffle Tickets: $1

Link to Facebook event page

A benefit show for Tony Urso - bands playing will be a very rare appearance by THOMAS JEFFERSON SLAVE APARTMENTS, 45 SPIDER, DUTCH BABIES (members of Numbskull), a reunion show from THE AGGRAVATORS, and THE DREXELS. Plus Jim Lanza DJing and a raffle!

8:00 Drexels
9:00 Aggravators
10:00 Dutch Babies
11:00 Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments
12:00 45 Spider

Tony is fighting cancer, and is undergoing chemo treatments, without benefit of medical insurance. He has a one-year-old son. That's one hell of a spot to be in. I am going and will chip in to support. If you know Tony, have enjoyed his fun company or his music over the years, please find a way to go and to contribute. They money is needed, and the uplift of support is so beneficial.

HUGE thanks to Jim Lanza who has put this event together. A ton of work by Jim. He also put the Cleveland's Screaming reunions together over the past several years.

Here are a couple of clips of Tony in action with a reunited Starvation Army a couple of years ago at a Cleveland's Screaming showcase, also at Now That's Class. I picked tracks that when originally recorded featured Tony as the only guitarist. For this lineup there are three guitars, Tony in the white shirt at the right of the stage.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Resolutions Broken yet?

Some of mine are. But then, when you have so many, it's so easy to do. I used to poo-poo New Years Resolutions as devices needed for weak minds, or some such. Why wait for January 1 to re-evaluate your life, move the goal posts, etc.

I still like that latter notion, but I'm not so down on doing it also for the new year. In a nutshell:
  1. Get back into the 32-inch waist pants
  2. Spend less on frivolous crap
  3. Go to at least one sporting event per month
  4. Go camping at least six times in 2013
  5. Complete repair & improvement projects around the property
  6. Don't give politics too much time
  7. Complete the digitizing of the music collection
Pretty standard resolution stuff, apart from the last two. And yes, I know, how do we reconcile #2 & #3? Well, I really enjoy live sporting events and road trips, so it works out real well. And, if I can get cheap tickets on Stub Hub or other resale sites, then I'm spending less.

I'll talk about New Years resolutions, Indiana sports highlights, a benefit for Norton Records, and more on the next Kole Hard Facts on Indiana Talks.