Sunday, April 30, 2006

I am an old man who drives in luxury

I was driving Ben up to Produce Row before I drove him to his brother's t-ball game. Ben is one of the pack of Steins that works at the Royale. Ben is the youngest that works for me. He was looking around with wide eyes at the Lincoln as he strapped on his safety belt.

"Ben, this is kind of like sitting on your couch. This is a luxury car."

There was a look of awe on his face, and he started to play with the power seats and all the gadgets. He moved his seat, unlocked the doors, opened the window and then pushed in the lighter in each of the three ashtrays in his reach. Ben reminds me of me at that age.

We talked about the ages of the different members of his family. His brother Tom is 8 and he was playing ball over at Magdellen.

"So Ben, how old do you think I am?"

He shrugs his shoulders. "I don't know. Fifty?"

"Fifty huh? Wow."

I can sense he is pulling back. Society has taught him well.
"Forty. Fortyish?"

"Wow. I guess I am an old man. I am thirty three Ben."

So I roll into the T-ball game to drop off Ben.

"Hey Steve, I got a hit!!" Tom screams at me weilding a bat. Molly comes up and hits my hand as a hello and then runs away with a smile. Peggy is coordinating the team and I go chat with DJ.

Jermaine rolls up.

"Hey Steve!"

Ben comes up to ask me a question, "Hey Steve, can I show Jermaine your car? It is so luxurious!"

They run up the field to the Lincoln to go sit in the passenger seat.

Smart kid. He is destined for great things. He understands luxury.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

RIP Jane Jacobs

Changes at the Post

Terry Egger is leaving(got canned) the Post-Dispatch after ten years. Very interesting.

I am curious to see if Lee puts in someone good, or if they put in a Katie Couric. I wonder what the Lee Syndicate is going to offer us in Saint Louis. I still have my fingers crossed. I think I am going to put in for some prayers for the future of our news watch and reporting for our city.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Detroit sold for scrap

This is a great news report from a publication that I subscribe to.

I love some Detroit Steel. Lincolns, Oldsmobiles, Buicks, Cadillacs. Old beautiful buildings. I wish I could go to the auction. I would clean up.

I have a fridge in the basement I call Detroit. I have a lot of refrigerators. I name them. Detroit is right across the way from Baghdad. I have a double door fridge in the garage that I picked up from the real Busch Stadium auction that I call Mill Creek.

"Hey Joe, go grab me some lemons from Detroit!"

Payday is coming

Friday is payday. I have to figure out what bank I am going to take Sam to. I heard that US Bank has a checking account he can cash his check against, but I am not sure that is the best account for him. I would prefer that he able to deposit and withdrawl instead of getting cash. People tell me of some of the smaller banks that can do it, but I need a bank with multiple locations downtown, north side, west end and southside. Pulaski doesn't have a northside/west end location nor does Southwest. The kids should be able to walk or ride their bike to the bank. If not, the bank does not become useful, and a check cashing joint becomes necessary. I guess I need to get the kid a formal ID too. He will need it soon enough. I think I can take him down to the Dept of Revenue south of here.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Panda AC branches out

Not only has the Panda AC have a boxing team that is competing next week in the Junior Olympics, but we are now sponsoring a soccer team on the southside. Akita is taking the reigns as soccer coach for his athletic crew of 8 boys in the 11 age range. He is honing their skills in this summer session and camp to create an elite team to tear up the fields in the fall.

Lil' Sam is going to be competing in the JOs on Thursday at Cherokee Rec, and Ben and Jermaine will be storming the field in about two weeks.

Monday, April 17, 2006

This sucks

Part One

So I have this kid that works for me. His name is Little Sam. Or actually Lil' Sam. He fights for the gym. I have known the kid since last summer. He is very friendly, a fairly good charmer and has a real go get'm attitude. He is in the eighth grade.

Sam is a particularly persistent and positive kid. It is hard to say no to a kid like that. I saw him once on a Tuesday last fall. He told me he wanted to know when he could come in and interview.

Huh. This kid must really want to prove himself. So I tell him to come on Friday at 4.

He shows up at 3:30. He took the bus. He said he doesn't want to be late.

I like that. He doesn't want to be late.

I didn't really need anyone. I was covered. SITF Pete was taking all the hours at that time. I told him I didn't need anyone, but to call me back about every week and I would let him know when something opens up. I did have him work that day to see how he did and I paid him some cash and sent him on his way.

He called me back the next week. I told him not yet, but to call me back. And then he called the next week. Again I told him the same thing. And again and again. Then he stopped calling. I didn't see him over the holidays. Then I saw him in February and I told him to keep calling. So he did. A couple weeks ago he started coming in. I talked to his mother Marsha and she is very supportive that he had a job offer and thrilled that he is working after school.

He is great. He busts it hard every moment he is there. And he is funny on top of it.

"Excuse me sir, can I get you a glass of water?"

He loves to do that when he washes the glasses.

He jumped from around the corner with the big flashlight, shined it at Jessica like it was some top secret weapon and said "My name is Bond. James Bond."

Everyone loves Sam. Jessica loves Sam. Allison loves Sam. Sarah loves Sam. Michelle loves Sam. Rose loves Sam. My mother loves Sam. Work is fun.

So he called me on Wednesday.

"I can't come in."

"Why not?"

"I lost my tax papers."

"Don't worry about that."

I had given him his tax forms and all the forms he needs to fill out to give to his mom.

"Sam, I still need you to come in today. I need to get you paid properly with a check and payday is Friday. We will fill out the tax form here. I will give you the copies to give to your mother. Some come in now."

No big deal. He came in to work that day. I needed him to come in to work that day. He needed to come into work that day.

****

I worked at a big Italian restaurant when I was thirteen My sister worked there. It was my first paycheck job. I had already been selling newspapers for cash and had been a helper for an old man named Mister Connely who lived in a big house down the alley.

My sis Jenny was working in the deli side of the restaurant and was also waiting tables. It was a lot of fun. I still see people around who I worked with. Tim Bishop. Pete Bold. It was a lot of fun. It did suck too. I got yelled at for sweating too much. I had to wash dishes in the hotbox basement room and come out into the front of house, stomp up a flight of stairs to the first floor and run bus tubs. What was I supposed to do?

But it was fun. I remember clocking in for the first time. I remember having to wear a uniform. I learned how to work with very different people. I remember having to ride my bike and rush to work. I remember being tipped out. I remember breaking down boxes and jumping up and down in the dumpster to get everything to fit. I remember the smell of the chemicals from the dishwasher. I remember taking the bus. I remember riding to work with my sister. I remember a lot of cussing. I remember asking for rides home later at night. I remember getting my paycheck. I remember the smell of the food in my clothes and hair. I remember some guy at a table giving me two bucks for pouring his table water. I remember my mom and dad picking me up. I remember the manager crabbing at me and the waitresses shouting orders at me. It was funny though. Most of the people were actually fun most of the time. Especially on the deli side.

****

Part Two

Sam came into work that day. I didn't get a chance to talk to him for I was busy. I noticed after a while, the kid was clearly gloomy. It was unlike him. I asked him what was wrong. He shrugged his shoulders and continued in his despondence. I noticed about twenty minutes later he was nowhere to be found. I looked around and found him sitting on the basement steps. This was definitely unlike him. He usually is constantly going at it and working. He is the kind of kid that asks for more shifts. He usually asks everyone if they need any help and loves to provide any assistance.

But he was all out of whack. Apparently he was worried he wouldn't get paid. He didn't know how to cash a check.

I laughed. I told him not to worry about it. I told him we would get him a savings account and he could go to the bank and cash his check. He seemed skeptical and confused. I was beginning to lose my patience, for we had a lot of work that needed to be done. I don't hire the kids to do busy work. I have real work that needs to be done, and if it can't be done, I can't keep the employee. I called in Pete to finish up some work, for we needed to set the house to get ready for the night. I told Sam to think about how I would take care of everything to get him his pay, but I needed to know in five minutes.

I went out into the patio and talked to my friend Eve while I put up some new lighting. Sam came over about a minute later and told me softly "what do I need to do?"

"Just work hard like you have been, and you will be fine. But you can't mope like this on the job. Other bosses might fire you on the spot for that. Everyone loves having you work here, and I am confident that will continue. So lets get to it. Now go help Jessica and I will get your tax forms and we will fill them out for you after you are done."

I went and got the tax forms and came back out to the courtyard and chatted with Eve. She is a high school teacher in U City. She is very in tune with the kids. I spoke with her about Lil' Sam's situation. She smiled. Sam came over and Eve and I sat down with him to fill out the forms. John Moore, a friend who is a contractor came out to talk. He also sat down with us. We all talked to Sam about taxes.

They are no fun. But get used to it. They screw you and get used to it. The taxes go to get you paid when you retire. In theory. We will see. I pay even extra money for his taxes. The roads we use, the bus he takes to work, the school he goes to, the fire department, the library all are paid in part by that paycheck. The feds take a cut, the state takes a cut, and even the city gets a taste.

He still looked confused, but he filled out his name and address. He had no idea about the exemptions. I asked Eve and John, and we figured that he should claim 1. After we finished with the forms, I went to go upstairs to make copies for his mother Marsha. I asked Eve to go over each job she had to Sam. Eve smiled and cocked her head to think of all the jobs she had. She started at her first real job when she was 14.

I came back down and I think she was only to a job she had when she was 19. She has worked a lot. Sam seemed to be more at ease.

"Payday is on Friday."

****

I remember when I was younger than him. I had a savings account. I was a paperboy. I would save all of my cash and put it in the bank. I didn't have a piggy bank. I had a bank book. I found them recently. United Postal Savings. One of the S&Ls that did not go out of business. After finding these bank books, I realized I had really saved a lot of money. I was a really good kid. I pretty much spent my extra money on baseball cards. My father was also on my account, but I really learned a lot about banking, checking and financial quirks. My father explained to me how the FDIC worked and what it meant to put the money into the bank. How it was safe. I would often go to the bank with my father, but I usually rode up their on my bike myself.

The ATMs had just started up. I learned how to deposit my cash and paychecks at an ATM when I was 15. I would do that every Sunday morning at 5am after working overnights for the Post. It was a bit overkill to go directly to the bank, for it was only $45-60, but it was a big deal to me that I was paid and that I secured my money.

By the time I was 14 I had gotten a checking account in my name (father had co-signed) and by the time I was 15 or 16 I got a credit card (also co-signed). I paid my credit card bill in full with my own checks every month. I rarely used the card, and it was tough to get people to take it for I was so young. That is understandable. Most kids if they had money, had cash. And most kids would just blow every penny they would make. I was able to save enough money to buy my first car, a 1975 Delta 88 Royale for 700 bucks. I kept working and was able to pay for the insurance which was more expensive than the car. That car was where I got the name for my business.

I remember going to SLU in my first year and being hounded by these hucksters with cheap t-shirts and bags of M&Ms to lure you into signing up for a credit card. I didn't need one from them. I already had one. I still wasn't sure how it all worked, but I was ahead of most of the kids. I was establishing good credit. Many of the kids who signed up never had a bank account, much less a job. They got these credit cards and went promptly into debt. Ignorant kids. Predatory lenders sanctioned by the Univesity, but we were adults. Fair game.

****

Part Three

Sam called me on Friday after he got out of school. Payday is Friday. He wanted to know if he could pick up his check. I usually don't get the checks until 5pm. I told him to come on down and I would make sure it was ready. He came down on the Kingshighway bus and patiently waited downstairs as I prepared the last bit of payroll. I thought about that moment I would give him his check. It wasn't a lot of money, but it was a lot of money for a kid. I decided I would personally take him to the bank that day to set it all up.

We made a big deal giving him the check. We drove up to the Bank of America in the West End close to his house on North Euclid. I figure Sam should have a bank he can walk to with a lot of locations. On our drive I repeated to Sam how the money in the bank was his, not anyone else. Never pass out your SS# unless you are at a bank or dealing with the government. I pointed to the guard at the door and told Sam that this man would protect his money. His money was important, safe and protected. Deposit your check and only pull out what you have to. Save up for something big. It is okay to spend money, but be sure to hold onto most of your money unless you absolutely have to spend it. It is your money and no one else's. He is responsible for what he does with money and the bank just holds the money. He can get it whenever he wants. I repeated myself a lot to him so Sam would remember.

I have a few accounts at Bank of America and was familiar with one of the bankers named Kelly. He was in his mid 20s, from north county and had wrestled at Pattonville. I had a conversation with him the previous week about him boxing and the program at the gym.

On our way into the bank we grabbed a Saint Louis American and signed in to speak to the bankers. We read up on the Golden Glove fights. His eyes lit up at the pictures. At the end of the article he was mentioned. He is fighting in the upcoming Junior Olympic local championships. The smile on his face for this recognition was unforgettable.

We eventually got called on in this busy Friday afternoon by Kelly. He was happy to help us out. We both went back to his desk. I explained to Kelly how I needed to get the kid a savings account. Sam showed Kelly his paycheck with a smile. Kelly smiled too. We went through the whole process. Sam knew all of his pertinent information. The kid is prepared. We called his mother so she could be set up as the custodian for the account. Marsha, Sam's mother, had an account at the bank at one time, so it was a seamless signup. I then asked Kelly how we were going to cash his check that day and how he would deposit and withdrawal. I felt it was important that Sam knew how to do all of these things from someone at the bank. It is important that Sam knows someone he can talk to at the bank.

But there was a problem. Sam can't withdraw any money. Payday is not a payday if he uses the bank. He can only deposit his money. He can't even cash his check against the account. Sam has to bring his mother to the bank if wants to withdraw his funds. This does not exactly teach or encourage a kid how to save money in a bank. This encourages a kid to cash his check. This encourages the kid to cash his check at a check cashing joint. This will encourage him to run his finances in a cash basis. This does not bring value to working hard. This is not a healthy start to his financial education. I was hoping to teach him how to save. How to bank. How to establish credit. How to pay his bills.

I told Sam this was a bad deal. I advised him not to open a savings account at Bank of America. I think I may even pull my accounts. The only reason I bank there is that the bank on Jefferson and Gravois is stately and I can go bank and look at a cool mural.

I had Sam sign over his check and I gave him cash. This is not good. Not good at all. This sucks. Sam smiled. I am not sure he really cared. He got paid. But I don't know if he is going to really learn how to handle his paycheck. How to handle his money.

I am not sure what I am going to do. I guess I am going to have to call around to the banks to see if anyone really gives out real savings accounts to kids anymore.

****

I am on the board at the Claver Works. It is a non-prof that is set up to work with at risk teens for job placement, training and financial education. I just joined and we are working together for the kids at the Panda Athletic Club. I went to the first meeting on Saturday morning, at 9am I might add. I noticed when I pulled up to the building on Kennerly over by the old Homer G. Phillips Hospital a large group of kids. They had already been working all morning and the previous day. Brian Christopher, a Jesuit Scholastic who is the head of the Claver Works, was out there talking to the kids. He was paying them cash. He would go through there job performance with each kid before paying them. It was good to see. I could only think of my experience with Sam the day before. We need to do something about properly paying these kids. One of the points someone else brought up at the meeting was getting these kids on a proper payroll. I brought up the experience I had the previous day at Bank of America. There was no immediate solution at hand. I need to find something else out before the next payday. I want the kids to get into good habits.

I really hope we get this start up grant funding for the Panda AC youth program. This would really help out all of this. We just turned in the proposal last week. That was nerve-wracking. Now I need to do a thirty minute presentation with a power point and Q&A. I haven't felt pressure to produce content in such manner since college. It was different than the business plans I put together for the Royale. That was business. This is a lot more in many ways that are less exact. I did a lot of research. The need is overwhelming. We have been doing quite a bit, but there is so much more we can do. It is exciting. I am meeting with a professional in the mentor field tomorrow on how to tweak our program. It seems to all be falling together. It is just a matter of when. The sooner the better.

Mayoral Poll

Guess what I encourage you to pick for the answer to question six.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Tough life


So I learned how to deal with a**holes when I was pretty young. My folks would let me go down to the ballgame with my friends the summer after 7th grade. Anyway, I was a kid. I usually would go with a good old friend, Konrad David Dick. Good American kids love baseball. We would pack a lunch. We would have some peanuts we would get from home and put it in a bag. We would sneak in cans of soda. Sometimes we would get caught, but not usually. And we would scam tickets or some way to get in. Sometimes we knew adults that had tickets. If not we would find our own. And to do that we hit the street outside of the stadium with the other free agent ticket salesmen. Right where the bus dropped us off. It was a day game during the week in the summer.

"Tickets?

Got tickets?

You got tickets?

How much?"

"20 each."

"Hmm. Where are they?"

"327"

"I will give you fifteen for the pair."

Didn't work the first time, but after the game started, the prices always dropped. We would always go for nosebleeds.

And we would promptly go downstairs. This seemed to be standard operating procedure. We never even questioned if this was what you did. When you go to a game, you get in and try to get the best seat.

Now we wouldn't just run downstairs and run up to the front row. The game had started. We would walk in and wait for an absent minded usher to turn their head. Or when we had some tickets downstairs, we held on to the stubs from old games and just flashed them to the ushers. I am sure this is a game that has been a tradition in baseball as long as there has been ticket admission. Kids trying to figure a way in to the game.

We would then find seats that are unoccupied. The attendance was only okay, so it ws pretty easy to get downstairs. And despite what people think, there are always empty seats at a game.

We were over by the Cardinal's bullpen when it was along third base. So I start getting jeered at a game. Konrad laughed. I was wearing my Cubs hat. It was a Cardinal fan. He started to yell out at me. A couple of people laughed. It was some drunk old guy. I sort of smiled out of uneasiness. No big deal. It went on for about a half inning. He was about two or three rows behind me.

So this guy decides to come up to me. I was kid in gradeschool. And he starts to jeer at me. I didn't say anything back, for I had no idea what to say. I was there to watch the game. It wasn't even a Cubs and Cardinals game. The guy was more just drunk. So I turn around to watch the game and the guy snatches my hat. I yell at him for a second. Some old drunk guy snatched my hat. There was no usher around. Besides, they wouldn't do anything anyway. I was wearing a Cubs hat. And then I decide to let it go. It was my hat and all, but what was I supposed to do? Go kick his ass? I was 12 and he was a grown man. And he was wasted. I wasn't going to get a cop over this. I would have looked like a pansy little whiner. So I scowled at him asked him to give the hat back again. He laughed. So I turned around and watched the game. Oh well. I could get another hat. I had a job.

So after about another two outs later, he eventually gave the hat back through someone else. So stupid. I barely acknowleged the hat. I didn't even stop from watching the game. So stupid. It was just a hat.

RIP William Woo


I used to work for Mister Woo. I worked for the paper for about a year before he got there. Woo was the editor of the Post from 86 to about 96. Interesting fella. He had quite a personal history that goes back to pre WWII China, and was the first non-inside family man to head the ship. I was never allowed to meet him when I worked there. He passed on Wednesday. I was very happy when he helped make the move to a reduced smudge ink back in 89.

Akita at Saint Als

Crone went over to Saint Als and snapped up some of the last pics of Saint Aloysious over on the Hill in an "unofficial visit." He wrote about it in his 52nd City(Book sale on Saturday 12-4 at the Royale). They are wrecking it tomorrow/today the 14th.

Boo.

Should we deport this foreign born criminal for his tresspassing offense? I think no. Let him keep his citizenship. He earned it and then some. The German is a real good guy. And really, he was just taking pictures. Not much of a criminal offense.

RIP Saint Als.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Historic channel 5 streetfights

Back in 1988 I had just turned fifteen when the Presidential primaries started. I was watching some television commercials and one spot previewed the channel 5 local news broadcast.

"Democratic Presidential ticket hopefuls Richard Gephardt and Paul Simon get into an old-fashioned streetfight in rural Illinois."

What? Huh? I had to know about this. Hot local news! But the news didn't start for about a half hour. There was no way to find out about this to verify the information. This was well before the days of the internets. I had to wait until 10 to find out about this streetfight.

During the time waiting for the newscast my mind began to race. I asked my Ma what she thought happened. She said it didn't sound right. I then imagined a video of a bow tied Simon decking smiling Gephardt. This is front page stuff. I couldn't wait.

So I patiently sat through televsion. This wasn't the first story. Odd. But there was a story about Simon and Gephardt after that. I watched in great anticipation. And then the story ended. All they did was debate. No fighting. No fists. No shoving. Huh? I watched all the way up to the weather thinking they may inform me of the fracas. Street fight does not equal lively debate. The adjective term old fashioned does not change the meaning. The only thing that old-fashioned might change in meaning is an old Queensbury rules brawl with a lot cigars, spitting and wagering. And that would have been a great fight to watch.

So I got a phone book, got the number and called up channel 5. I was a little junior town talker. The phone operator took my comments and passed them right along or threw them away or something. I checked the paper the next morning to see if there may have been something. Nothing. Just a debate, and it didn't even appear above the fold.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Rally

The rally for immigration reform was held yesterday in Kiener Plaza. I missed it for I had to work on this grant for the gym and coach. I am procrastinating at this particular moment. The Archbishop and Mayor were there. That is great to see leaders of the community stepping up. I hope to see them continue to step up even more. There are a lot of things on the city and state level in terms of law and policies that can help immigrants in our fair state. I hope to see the reform on these levels too. The city ones should be easy to change. Driver's licenses, ID cards that don't snitch directly to the INS that allow people to use banks and, very important- having the ability to talk to the police without fear of being deported. The ID cards would help facilitate this necessary safety measure without national level reform. Allowing the bus that goes to Mexico City to stop on Cherokee Street. The city may take a cue and really push creating, supporting and allowing a Mexican business district to form on Cherokee. I certainly hope that the Archbishop would reconsider shutting down the Spanish Ministry and Mass at Saint Francis and the Vietnamese Mass at Saint Thomas of Aquin last year.

GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

52nd City

JUST IN:

Your Ezine
Three upcoming chances to buy the mag in a "live" setting.
Release: Wedsnesday, April 12 @ Atomic Cowboy, 4140 Manchester, 7-9 p.m.
Book sale: Saturday, April 15 @ The Royale, 3132 S. Kingshighway, 12-4 p.m.
Free Candy: Sunday, April 30 @ Hartford Coffee Company, 3974 Hartford, 7-8:30 p.m.
Mags now available at:

Dunaway Books
Hartford Coffee Company
The Royale
Tension Head

Will add new spots as the zines go out.

Also, new web content will be going live on Wednesday, April 12 @ www.52ndcity.com.

Pinkos

I had an odd occurence the other day. I had a conference business call and one of the parties was calling in from Communist China. This was unthinkable not that long ago. I am not sure how I feel about living in a world where I can get calls from a rapidly growing Communist China. The call itself is not a bad thing. Communication is essential to break down barriers.

But what happened to the ideals cold war? Anti-communism? What happened to China?

There is a good piece on China coming up on Frontline about the failed peaceful push for democracy and the Communists who used the military to smash the peaceful move toward democracy.
The Tank Man

The Tank Man April 11, 2006 at 9pm on PBS

(90 minutes) On June 5, 1989, one day after Chinese troops expelled thousands of demonstrators from Tiananmen Square in Beijing, a solitary, unarmed protester stood his ground before a column of tanks advancing down the Avenue of Eternal Peace. Captured by Western photographers watching nearby, this extraordinary confrontation became an icon of the fight for freedom around the world. On April 11, veteran filmmaker Antony Thomas investigates the mystery of the tank man -- his identity, his fate, and his significance for the Chinese leadership. The search for the tank man reveals China's startling social compact -- its embrace of capitalism while dissent is squashed -- designed to stifle the nationwide unrest of 1989. This policy has allowed educated elites and entrepreneurs to profit handsomely, while the majority of Chinese still face brutal working conditions and low wages, and all Chinese must endure strict political and social controls. Some of these controls regulate speech on the Internet -- and have generated criticism over the involvement of major U.S. corporations such as Yahoo!, Cisco, Microsoft, and Google.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Polish Fish

Yes, the Polish Falcons Gymnastics Home is having their Fish Fry every
Friday this Lent. A classic fish fry with a full bar, a bar that has
been honoring the strike at Lohr. They have a great selection of
Polish vodkas and some interesting beers. The crew gets there between 5-7 and the Falcons are located at 20th and Saint Louis Ave.

And on a side semi related notes, notable Polish artist/sculptors
Agnieszka Gradzik and Wiktor Szostalo are having an opening reception
for their Tree Hugger Project that evening at the 3rd Floor Gallery
with 1214 Washington Avenue.

Here is their website:
http://www.treehuggerproject.com/events.html

Keep on fishin',

Steve

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Solstice is the new Fiero

"The Solistice is the new Fiero"

I said this to some guys that worked at this company. Apparently this was an offensive statement.

I don't know what the big deal was all about.
I have always liked the Fiero. It was a cool hot rod from the mid 80s. Sort of a two seater mid engine hot rod sport pony that looked unlike anything else. Maybe a bit of Euro/Italian influence, but it was more distinct. Very American spirit. It is a cool car. A little small for me to drive. I would more likely go with a GTO or a 442 if I wanted a hot rod. There is not much of a modern equivilant to that, unlike the Fiero.

The Solstice is a sharp car too. It seems to be a bit underpowered though. It took the Fiero a year before the beefed up the engine to a hotter v6. But it is priced very competetively which is great to see. And a convertible!! Pontiac has pretty much remembered what people like.

Pontiac makes cool cars. GTO, Bonneville, Fiero, Firebird, Parisienne, Grand Prix. I find it odd that comparing a highly regarded Pontiac line from the 80s to a new Pontiac line would be offensive to some people.

If I were to buy with a larger budget, I would prefer something closer to a full size. I do dig the new Marauder, although it is well outside of my price range but man does it move. It is a hot rod with the beefed up V8.

STL in the Times & Code Red

An old friend came in last weekend, and he let me know that Saint Louis had an appearance in the New York Times. I had missed it, for it is piece in the travel section. The story is called Saint Louis in 36 hours. It was cute and fairly well done, although I think they needed to dig a wee bit deeper. It is evident this was a quickly done article and one can quibble. There are simple forgivable mistake saying that Saint Louis has "German, Irish and Italian immigrants have given way to Thais, Mexicans and Bosnians." Eh, close enough huh? Where is that Thai neighborhood again? Some might say it is inside the Vietnamese neighborhood. I guess others would say it is all the same anyway right? Not at all, but I quibble. But if I am quibbling, this bit is more amusing. Also in the piece was a paragraph about Nectar. Oh Nectar! The writer Larry Friedman said "Don't even think of walking into this ultrahip boite wearing denim or any other unironic attire." And then the picture shows two of three very excited women wearing this inside the fancy Nectar:

I guess these girls dared to think of such denim. Hats off to Stephanie Cordle for finding just the right pic to make the big city, big word talkin' New York writer look so sharp. Maybe Friedman could have paid more attention, but at least Cordle did. Pictures don't lie.

The story wasn't bad, but I just hoped a NY Times piece might give me something more. Quibble quibble!! Funny funny! It was just a travel piece. It is too easy, I have to poke fun at that.

Speaking of trying to find fun stuff, check out this new fun on the Post-Dispatch STLtoday site. Code Red. It is rather amusing. The NY Times should have hired this crew. I must disclose that I am biased for I am quite familiar with the crew. But just read it. It is good and fresh. But if you want to really give yourself some hurting, read the competitors. Ouch!

(mad props to Patrick from the Belfast Crew for his heads up. Good luck on the citizenship.)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Freed

Jill Carroll was released in Iraq yesterday. I wonder how this whole thing is effecting what we hear is happening in Iraq. I am glad that she is free, but this whole thing sucks. Kidnapping sucks. Things are really f*cked up over there if the enemy is still ganking people off the street at will. The violence out of Iraq has shown to be at a sustained level to the point that we (westerners) are not safe on the streets of Iraq. I know that post war Germany and Japan were f*cked up places. And I know that post war Iraq is a f*cked up place. But in post war Germany and Japan our soldiers and allies generally walked about in a relatively stable peace as had been what was a state of war. Odd considering that Rumsfeld said "Turning our backs on postwar Iraq today would be the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis."

I sent an email to a friend in Iraq a long while ago. He was there in the immediate post invasion. This was in the first six or so months we were in Iraq. I asked him if he was able to go out into the cafes and streets of Iraq. I had heard of stories of soldiers on the streets of Iraq following the invasion. They had been welcomed by children. I was wondering if he could go to a cafe. I then figured it out. I kind of feel like an ignorant bufoon. We Americans as people and as soldiers really don't walk freely on the streets of post war Iraq. We are shot at, bombed at. We don't go off campus. We don't go into the bad neighborhood. The neighborhood is Iraq. But in post war Germany, Japan we could go into the neighborhood.

This is years after major combat operations ended.

The war is not over. We are not in a post war period. We are in a state of war, a sustained state of war with an ambiguous and undefined end. A clear resolution is not at hand. Last throes was almost a year ago. The Iraqi people who are trying to make a difference since the tyrannical days of Baathist rule are still suffering. So are the Coalition forces. There is regular conflict that results in the average of 50 to 60 Iraqis being killed daily and steady death rate among the Coalition. We need to win this war. We have to. And we can't do it by "killing all those sons of bitches...drop a nuke on them and finish it off"*


* Overheard at one of my bartending shifts at the SBAC. Also overheard were several war vets who thought that the war was "no good", "we have not business over there" and a "mistake". That was the pleasant thing about the SBAC. There were a lot of opinions floating around that place considering the homogenity of the place. There were men who had lost legs in Korea, stormed beaches in WWII and general combat experiences. We would say the pledge of allegiance before every meeting. One time after 9/11 we even played the star spangled banner. This was not the odd part, the tape player had a busted speaker, so you could barely hear the main part of the song, instead just the crashing symbols every thirty seconds or so, and then the occasional deep bass. We stood there hearing these odd noises with our hands over our hearts and saluting the old flag in the corner.


An interesting note is that guy who wanted to "nuke" them did not serve. He was relatively younger and was kind of a bum. He was on disability and would hang out at the club all the time. He didn't do much. Other guys supported the war, but there was not a feeling overwhelming support even by the supporters.


I always loved to hear stories about how they would line up all the young men in downtown Saint Louis, down by the War Memorial in front of the Keil. They drafted a certain number into the army and then they allowed others to go to some of the other branches. A draft is unreal to me, but a draft really is a reality. We have had drafts on many occasions in the 20th century.