Kate’s band played a gig Sunday, providing entertainment at a rest stop on the Tour de Ford, a bike tour/fundraiser for indigent patient care in the Henry Ford Health Systems.

I immediately dashed off a note to my old pal, hospital administrator Dr. Frank Byrne, thanking the entire health-care industry for all they do to help struggling kid bands get that all-important experience. Po is down to a power trio now, following the resignation of their vocalist, but they still sound pretty tight, and even though the other band on the bill was more of a crowd-pleaser, with their classics-heavy repertoire, Po got showmanship points for being pretty girls, and for not having to read their lyrics off a music stand. (Hey, I’d have had to read the lyrics to Cole Porter tunes, approximately the same interval of composition-to-performance as it is for a kid of today to sing “Sunshine of Your Love.”)

But perhaps the greatest thrill came at the end, when most of the cyclists had already rolled through, eaten their bananas and apples, refilled their CamelBaks and headed out for the next leg. An old woman who lives nearby tottered up and demanded that we TURN IT DOWN. You’re not really a rokker until someone tells you to turn it down. She stayed for a good half hour, bitching at a security guard about how THIS HOSPITAL IS TERRIBLE FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD, etc. To which I can only speak from experience: One, if you think an operating hospital is bad for your neighborhood, try a shuttered one, and two, obviously she was lonely and wanted someone to talk to. Poor old angry lady. Someday she’s going to be glad there’s an ER across the street.

So. Horrible-busy day, and I’m thinking we should do some tasty bloggage and dash — the equivalent of a piece of toast on the run for breakfast. Soooo…

With apologies to your aviation fans out there, I have never understood air shows. I guess it takes all kinds, but the thought of craning my neck for a few hours to watch pilots do loop-de-loops has always seemed downright boring. (You are free to have the same opinion about watching horses jump fences.) The more modern air shows, which amp up the thrills with dangerous stunts and gimmicks like extreme low-altitude “racing” — you’d have to walk me there with a loaded shotgun at my back. And here’s why. That is all.

This was a hard story to read, about the new poor. It’s hard not to believe this is the twisted root of something, and it ain’t the Tea Party and it ain’t whatever else you might think it is:

It’s hard to find some of the poorest residents in Pembroke, Ill. They live in places like the tree-shaded gravel road where the Bargy family’s dust-smudged trailer is wedged in the soil, flanked by overgrown grass.

By the official numbers, Pembroke’s 3,000 residents are among the poorest in the region, but the problem may be worse. The mayor believes as many as 2,000 people were uncounted, living far off the paths that census workers trod.

The staples that make up the town square are gone: No post office, no supermarket, no pharmacy, no barber shop or gas station. School doors are shuttered. The police officers were all laid off, a meat processing plant closed. In many places, light switches don’t work, and water faucets run dry. Residents let their garbage smolder on their lawn because there’s no truck to take it away; many homes are burned out.

A new populist revolt? I don’t see why not.

But let our hearts be light on this Monday in the still-fair month of September. Was it Moe who nominated the story about Gordon Ramsey’s porn dwarf double dying in a badger den as best headline ever? This may well top it.

Ugh, I’m growing to despise Mondays. I hope yours is tol’rable.

Posted at 1:29 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

63 responses to “TURN IT DOWN.”

  1. Dexter said on September 19, 2011 at 3:35 am

    Lots of sad video there, for sure. I have been in Cleveland during their air shows in early Septembers, but I was watching baseball in Progressive, nee Jacobs Field. Loud as hell when the military stuff flies over low. Impressive like nothing else.
    The story about Pembroke was another exclamation point on modern life’s playing out story, a living history reminiscent of the 1930’s Hoovervilles. Soon people will be starving. Groceries and produce keep taking such huge hikes in pricing, and for example, I frequently purchase a salad to go from our local Pizza Hut. For years it was $1.49, then it was $2.99 one day, and last month it jumped to $4, all the while eliminating almost half the items over the past few years. The last jump was about 34% . Who even get a 2% raise any more? Well, that’s my one example, but I have plenty more.
    I spent my birthday Sunday in Toledo surrounded by grandkids and adults, taking calls from well-wishers . We attended the St. Catherine’s of Siena Fall Festival, rock and roll band and barbecued chicken dinners, and beer for the other adults and real , not diet Coca-Cola for the birthday boy…as I let my diet go to hell for one day. I should have not accepted the chocolate cake with fudge frosting and ice cream, though…I mean, c’mon, where was my discipline? Down the hatch is where it went. Today: gruel in a bowl and not much else for me. It was a busy day with many laughs and lots of enjoyment watching the 4 dogs frolic inside and outside. Yes, I’m a rich man, that way, and maybe if the lottery tickets my daughter gave me pan out, I’ll be rich the other way, too.
    The local hospital completed ( I think) a $63 million upgrade recently. At least this community has a great medical facility for those lucky enough to have insurance or those poor enough to receive mandated free basic care (a sign says so).

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  2. jerry said on September 19, 2011 at 3:44 am

    I think I prefer the headline that’s linked on from the inflatable sex story: Ohio man facing charges for having sex with a picnic table


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  3. alex said on September 19, 2011 at 5:59 am

    Speaking of air shows, the recent tragedy called to mind this classic piece from the Chicago Reader, very darkly funny. And dead serious.

    An air show on the Chicago lakefront is a disaster waiting to happen. Glad I’m no longer living in the danger zone.

    And if deficit spending is really such a problem, then consider this (from the article):

    All right, let’s say air shows are no different from drag races. If pilots are nuts enough to fly in them and audiences are goofy enough to watch, let them take their chances. But should taxpayers finance it?

    The navy’s Blue Angels will spend $6 million this year, not counting such things as salaries and the $6,000 a day the Defense Department provides for fuel at civilian air shows. The air force’s Thunderbirds will spend $6.8 million, also not including salaries. That’s just the highest-profile air show spending, since the armed forces put on numerous shows of their own in addition to the Angels and Thunderbird schedules.

    Military air shows cost taxpayers millions in accidents alone, though no one knows exactly how much. In 1988 the Los Angeles Times conducted a year-long investigation that found the armed forces had “lost more than 100 lives and more than $1 billion in sophisticated aircraft at air shows, flight demonstrations and various publicity events since 1955.” The Times investigation wasn’t exhaustive, since the armed forces had never done a comprehensive study on the topic. They still haven’t. The Defense Department says it doesn’t have the information and directs inquiries to the navy, air force, and army. The three branches can’t even find the information they supplied the Times almost ten years ago.

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  4. David C. said on September 19, 2011 at 7:07 am

    I live in Oshkosh, WI. We host the Experimental Aircraft Association air show every year. I always find a way to be gone from the noise and traffic that week. I certainly don’t want it to go away though. It’s like a second Christmas for the local merchants.

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  5. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 19, 2011 at 7:13 am

    From Twitter, a popular NN.C commentator, Nate Silver of 538: @fivethirtyeight – Overlooked story: is Obama approval down among hipsters? Or is he unpopular enough that it’s, like, increasing, ironically?

    Also noted from Twitter and elsewhere: Arrrrrrr! ‘Tis the day of talking like that which it is freebooting along the Spanish Main, the shores of Hispaniola, and all the way north along Wall Street and into Greenwich, Connecticut! Talk like a pirate, me mateys! Time for looting and pillaging . . . or is it pillaging and looting? Arrr, methinks at least ye must burn lastly. Don’t forget. Loot, then pillage, THEN burn.


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  6. coozledad said on September 19, 2011 at 8:30 am

    When our bull escaped last summer, I explored the neighborhood some while I was looking for him. That’s when I discovered one of our neighbors has an airstrip. I previously thought the planes coming in low over our pasture were aviation students from one of the local bible colleges trying to reach out their hands and touch the face of God, or just terrify my sheep.
    I always told my wife if one of them crashed here, we’d give it an hour or so before we called the college and demand they clean it up.
    This guy’s excuse is he’s a commercial pilot, and he has to fly constantly to log the necessary hours to keep his license. That’s what he told our electrician, anyway. My theory is he’s got a severe death wish, and he’s decided to take as much petroleum with him as possible. He’s got a bright orange Cessna? that he flies at treetop level, and a motorized Bleriot hang glider you could probably bring down with a pellet rifle.

    We can’t get away from private pilots. At our previous home, there was a stunt pilot who spent every Sunday in his stubby blue biplane climbing vertically into the sky, cutting his engine and dropping within a few hundred feet of impact before cranking back up and resuming that vertical climb. After two or three years of this you begin to hope he can’t get that motherfucker to start again, or he takes up a more sensible hobby, like smoking crack.
    His absence in the sky was fairly conspicuous, as was the (Saturday ruining) guy who had purchased a Polish Air Force Trainer (a very small jet that resembled a WWII Japanese suicide rocket) and was rumored to have disappeared in the Pee Dee river swamps.
    We read in the local paper that the little blue airplane smacked into one of the reservoirs around RTP.

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  7. Sue said on September 19, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Oh my heathen god, is it really Talk Like A Pirate Day once again? Please don’t tell my husband.
    Air shows, I don’t get them in the same way I don’t get Stars on Ice or The Great Traveling Gymnast Shows, whatever they’re called. A bunch of talented people doing the same things over and over again to the point of boredom. Usually no mass casualties among the ice people or gymnasts, anyway.
    David C., you forgot to mention the darker side of the EAA show, the small death toll everyone assumes will happen. A few every year, because these are experimental planes, after all. Usually someone crashes on the way to or going home, it’s not usually at the show itself.

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  8. brian stouder said on September 19, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Happy Birthday, Dex!

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  9. Peter said on September 19, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Seeing as my son is a pilot wannabee, I have a skewed opinion of the air shows. Even so, the Reno show is an air race, as opposed to the dog and pony shows like EAA. Car races have plenty of accidents and fatalities as well – but in my opinion they have the same, if not more, boredom factor.

    And boy, the EAA is popular. A few weeks before this year’s show I was passing through and passed by the Osh Vegas campground – it was full. I asked the gas station attendant what was going on, and he said it was the air show. I told him I thought the air show wasn’t for another month, and he said they get here REALLY early for the show.

    And as for Pembroke – you have to be careful using that as a barometer for the economy. There are some places, and Pembroke is one of them, where if the unemployment rate dropped to .01 percent they’d still be down on their luck. I don’t know how to say this without sounding like Ron Paul, but there are some people who just have to be on their own, no matter what. You can’t use them as an economic bellwether. It’s the ones who are living like Pembroke that six months ago were living a typical existence with a job and a house – that’s when you know you have problems.

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  10. Deborah said on September 19, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Every year in August they have the Air and Water show in Chicago on the lakefront. It happens right outside our windows and it is super annoying. We usually try to be out of town that weekend, but our poor cats have to endure it. The noise is deafening and if you ask me it is extremely boring to watch. They say the city swells by 2 or 3 million people for the show, so traffic is extra horrible. I’m sure the restaurants and hotels love it. I’m happy that the city coffers increase during that time, but that’s all I like about it.

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  11. Vince said on September 19, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Back in the late 80s I remember well becoming enemy number one in the eyes of the Kansas Air National Guard. They did flyovers every year at River Fest. Year after year they screamed in unbelievably low over downtown. Once, we had a camera on top of the tallest building in town, the Holiday Inn, perhaps 23 stories tops if that. Lo and behold, our video showed the F-4s coming in well BELOW the level of our camera.

    Keep in mind, they were not flying over a clear runway space with no spectators. Here they performed right over tens of thousands of heads.

    Their permit allowed them to fly at 1000 feet. But we proved they were flying at less than 250 feet. We did our story after two bad airshow accidents caused fatalities. We asked the FAA for comment and it turned around and whacked the Guard commander upside the head and ordered that his pilots could only fly at 1000 feet.

    Rather than admit they’d done something dangerous, the Guard took out ads and printed 1500 T-shirts (I still have one of them) blaming me for causing the cancelation of the flyover. After spreading their lies for weeks that they just couldn’t fly, they blew over the next River Fest in a ‘grand surprise’ – at the appropriate, safer altitude.

    I never heard a single complaint that the flyover was less impressive.

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  12. adrianne said on September 19, 2011 at 10:33 am

    OK, the man having sex with inflatable objects (a pumpkin from a Halloween display? Really?) gets my vote for best headline of the year, fer sure!

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  13. Julie Robinson said on September 19, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Sounds like a great birthday, Dexter!

    I’m with y’all who don’t get air shows. I also don’t get car shows. It must be a lack of the engineering gene.

    It’s a rainy Monday in the Fort, but I am smiling because our Sarah arrived on the red-eye this morning. Life is very good. Rock on!

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  14. brian stouder said on September 19, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Adrianne, the guy didn’t have a blanket and a friend named Charlie, did he?

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  15. Kirk said on September 19, 2011 at 11:21 am

    You beat me to it, Julie, on car shows. A bunch of cars sitting there.

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  16. Kirk said on September 19, 2011 at 11:23 am

    And if that isn’t Nance Jr. whupping on that bass . . . The resemblance in that shot is amazing. Last time you posted a picture of her, I thought she looked like the mister.

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  17. LAMary said on September 19, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I don’t get air shows either. There are so many accidents, so many of them deadly.


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  18. Joe Kobiela said on September 19, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I suppose I should comment, I love airshows and air races, if you don’t tuff,I don’t like art shows,and symphoneys so guess what, I don’t go. If you don’t like airshows fine by me, but don’t try and stop me from having my fun, just stay away and leave me alone, and cooz you ever stop and think before you talk, hoping someone crashes and dies? Thought you liberals were suppose to be kind and considerate. I would guess your neighbor with the airstrip has a legal right to be there,just like you have the right to have a farm with animals that I assume make noise and have smelly droppings.
    Pilot Joe

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  19. LAMary said on September 19, 2011 at 11:35 am

    Joe, I understand people like air shows. I’m just saying they are ridiculously dangerous. I can’t find a wikipedia page lising deadly accidents at art shows and classical music performances.

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  20. coozledad said on September 19, 2011 at 11:48 am

    And I’m sure my neighbor would appreciate it if I came and looked through his windows too. Or maybe parked a semi tractor on the lawn and gunned the engine.
    I live here. He just fucks with his “man” toys out here. It’s like the deer hunters who come out and shoot in the general direction of my house, then go back to their houses in the burbs and watch television.
    I really don’t have much compassion for gearheads. They’re immature, they waste resources,and they’re preliterate. They like to watch stuff go boom. And when it goes boom with them, we’re supposed to pull out the hankies and boo-hoo. Fuck that.
    We paid for this place, and property ownership trumps all, even in your mythology, Joe.
    Don’t crash here, just sayin’.

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  21. Joe Kobiela said on September 19, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Did your neighbor pay for his place like you did or was it given to him? Bet if you went over to him and had a chat he probley would offer you a ride.
    Pilot Joe

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  22. brian stouder said on September 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I like airshows, too – but they don’t normally come to Fort Wayne.

    I’ve seen marvelous stuff at the big Dayton air show, especially including the static displays on the ground and in the museum there.

    Aside from that, fly-overs and the like from regular duty and reserve units are fine by me. The pilots have to get their training time in any case, and might as well fly over a stadium when the opportunity arises. (Generally, they are supposed to fly over at just the right moment, and from the right direction… useful abilities to hone)

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  23. Dorothy said on September 19, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Car shows, air shows, golf, high school football: all things I avoid like the plague. I don’t think anyone here has suggested that Joe or anyone else NOT attend an air show. Most of us are just chiming in to say they hold no interest for us. And Joe if people choose to live near those who farm or have animals, it comes with the expectation there will occasionally be unpleasant smells. What they DON’T expect is to have to put up with the noise of loud planes (or in my case, 3 wheeled vehicles) ruining the peaceful Saturday or Sunday when they are home on the weekends, and trying to enjoy the outdoors. Does it come down to who lived there first? Is it zoned for that kind of use? I dunno. I usually thank my lucky stars I’m not sick with a serious illness and trying to get some rest when I hear the neighbor kid roaring up and down the lane behind my house.

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  24. LAMary said on September 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Dorothy, I avoid exactly the same things. I sit across from someone who lives, breathes, eats high school football. She won’t wear blue because it’s the color of the archrival high school football team jersey. This is a 46 year old woman. Her son’s high school spends many thousands on football, thinking it will attract a better quality of applicant. It’ a private evangelical Christian school. They have a retired NFL player as a coach.

    Anyway, what you said about Cooz’s neighbor? Agreed. I would hate having a runway near my house. Cow smells don’t bother me much.

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  25. Joe Kobiela said on September 19, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    My point is coozes neighbor, if its zoned, has the right to be there with his airstrip. Perhaps, like I said before, if Cooze would go over and talk to his neighbor and explain his concerns I bet the pilot would try and work with him, perhapse taking him up for a ride and finding out where he lives and would try and be a good neighbor. Dorthey its too bad you can’t enjoy some of those things, while I agree some people take being a fan a bit far, supporting highschool sports is really a good thing to do for the community. I guess I understand if you don’t enjoy it, but what I can’t stand are the people that don’t go, then brag about it like its a badge of honor. I just think its sad that they feel they are superior, and like it or not Football does bring in students, just look at Trine University in Angola, there student population has exploded since they started a team,and the kids love it. It gives them something to do on Sat.
    Pilot Joe

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  26. Julie Robinson said on September 19, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    To Dorothy and Mary I would add ANY football. The game is about hitting each other, end of story. My dad, who probably broadcast a thousand games, always thought he could convert me if he just explained it enough. But it’s not about strategy, or teamwork, or modern day gladiators. It’s about injuring the opposing players, often to the extent of causing lifelong disabilities.

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  27. Suzanne said on September 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    I took my kids to an air show in Fort Wayne years ago. It was kind of cool; the Blue Angels flew over and did some interesting things, but it honestly did scare me. I kept wondering what would happen if one of those jets crashed, and we kept moving farther away from the action. I think I’m glad I went, but would not likely go again.

    I don’t get car shows, either, but then I don’t like cars except as a means to get me from point A to point B. High school athletics just makes me mad because of all the money that goes into it, all the parents who get half crazed at the games, and the whole mindset of people who will push their kids and push their kids to the point of neglecting everything else, for what? To get a $1,000 a year scholarship at a school the kid doesn’t want to attend anyway? So that kid can someday be a washed up somebody wannabe who lives in the past glory days? (Not always, but far too often).

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  28. Sue said on September 19, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    “A new populist revolt? I don’t see why not.”
    It may not start with the poorest of the poor. It may start with the young, educated and tech-savvy. You know, the ones Obama’s been ignoring since they helped put him in office:

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  29. Bitter Scribe said on September 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    We’re all living in South Succotash now.

    What infuriates me is that the ONLY time Republicans pay attention to economic hardship among the middle and working classes is when they use it as a political bludgeon. Other than that it’s airy-fairy formulations like “cut taxes and regulations and jobs will magically appear.” When will people stop giving them a pass on this?

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  30. coozledad said on September 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Rural living is different. It’s not Grandma Moses, and it hasn’t been for God knows. You don’t want to walk over and meet your neighbor because he might be on the witness protection plan, or cooking meth, or you might wind up in the “catacomb of precious secrets” he dug beneath the packhouse with his bare hands and his mama’s garden trowel. I don’t want to go chumming up another set of grifters who might show up at my door at 4AM asking for a loan so they can drive to the gas station and get a ham biscuit and a carton of smokes.
    I’m especially leery of airborne neighbors since we lived near the airport in Oxford,NC.
    A small plane left the runway there, and skidded to a halt about a mile away with its spinner in the ground. The farmer who went out to see if anyone was hurt saw a couple of guys hauling ass away from the scene with a briefcase and some other light luggage. If he’d gotten there quicker they’d likely have shot him.
    We also live near a lake where a number of “job-producers” have erected their weekend cokeshacks. It would be a great place to put your own airstrip if you were providing certain members of the Duke Athletic department with pink Peruvian flake. The cops up here are the filthiest money can buy, too.
    I wouldn’t know who to call if a plane went down in my pasture. The fire department? A landscaping service? And I don’t run a trauma center here. If my mules get to them before I do, it could lead to a different undesirable outcome. I just don’t want to know about it.

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  31. Rana said on September 19, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Hmm. My comments don’t seem to be posting?

    Ah. I bet it’s because there’s a link.

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  32. Dorothy said on September 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I am bragging about nothing, merely expressing some things I dislike. You’re free to enjoy whatever you want, Joe. You are just as entitled to your opinion as I am to mine. I keep my feelings about such things to myself 99.9% of the time because I know plenty of people who DO like high school football games, etc. It’s just not my idea of a fun time. I’d rather stay home with a good book or something terrific from Netflix. Baseball, on the other hand, is a different story. And basketball – I can scream ’til I’m hoarse at nearly any kind of basketball game!

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  33. Joe Kobiela said on September 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Grow up, God I would hate to be your neighbor, I imagine they think your a bitter old man, I worked on a dairy farm in highschool and also as a job during college and I have never met a neighbor like you describe. There is a old saying, “married 9 times, hell maybe its YOU”
    I end up in a lot of rural areas in the Carolina’s and Tenn, and Alabama, and these people are the nicest around, you have to be the exception.
    Pilot Joe

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  34. april glaspie said on September 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Blue Angels crash: We saw and heard this happen across the Sound from our beach. The explosion was deafening. Miraculously, no one on the ground was killed despite several houses being badly damaged. What the hell is the point? Publicize the Navy? There is no way the cost and loss of life (27 highly trained Navy and Marine officers in the program’s history) can be justified. We probably average three or four private plane crashes per year in the area. The last, the pilot tried to land on the beach and hit a guy out running. The runner died. The pilot ran out of fuel.

    Comparing football to the mindless military excess of air shows is just silly, and it’s spectacularly inaccurate to say that strategy and teamwork are not the reasons the games are played. I played football from age six through high school, and I never knew a player that deliberately tried to hurt an opponent. I also never was seriously injured, despite playing in HS at 6-1, 155 lbs. I got hurt worse swimming and diving.

    And Sue, the people that put Obama in the White House fell down on the job when it came to the reality of Congressional elections. What exactly should he do? Send Ninjas to Capital Hill? Praetorean Guard? Blackmail? Being the President doesn’t buy you a latte when the Congress is obdurately intransigent, and on top of that he takes ridiculous shit from the left, mainly because of losing public option which nobody ever mentioned in the first place, during his campaign. Getting most of the ACA reform camel into the tent against monumental odds wasn’t good enough. Should he have stood up to the GOPers on extending W’s idiotic tax cuts to the detriment of Americans on unemployment? Once, I’d like to hear somebody identify a specific thing the President could have done differently that wouldn’t have caused worse damage. The Senate is not going to confirm his appointees, no matter who they are. And I don’t want to hear about two years with an alleged Senate majority. Everyone knows that’s functional bullshit. Why didn’t those craven bastards dump the filibuster?

    Speaking of the President, I recently found myself in need of my birth certificate, which I was able to obtain from the Ohio Department of Health Office of Vital Statistics online. It would not placate a birther. It does not specify a DOB, nor a filing date. Birthpplace is listed only as Ohio, no Cincinnati. Parents birthplaces listed as New York, which is so, but my mom was born two miles from Canada and my dad in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The document is robosigned.

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  35. april glaspie said on September 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    As far as deliberately trying to hurt opposing players, basketball, in my experience, is far and away worse than any other sport.

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  36. moe99 said on September 19, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Joe, I like diving boards too but I understood when I was on the board of my neighborhood pool that we could not have one after the remodel, based on liability reasons. Airshows may go the same way no matter how much you like them.

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  37. Deborah said on September 19, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    Coozledad, Wow, good comment. If only we could all have more neighbors like you, the world would be a better place.

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  38. Dorothy said on September 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    Cooz is right about the unknown neighbors. I’ve lived in a row house growing up (cousins right next door so instant fun!), then to a series of single houses before buying the 3 acres where we live now. We had 1.25 acres in Eighty Four PA. The neighbors there were as varied as the fingerprints on all our hands. I think the more distance there is between homes, the more people tend to want to be isolated in more ways than one. I’d much rather have the kind of neighbor where I could pop in with no notice (Turtle Creek PA or in Cincinnati) where I knew I’d be a welcome guest. However where we are now I see some scary kinds of behavior once in awhile that would make me think twice before knocking, even if I was selling Girl Scout cookies. Cooz just has a much more colorful and descriptive way to describe his neighbors than I do.

    I miss having the kind of neighbor where I could knock on the door and let myself in. Sometimes that’s where I got my best inspiration about what to make for dinner that night or the next.

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  39. april glaspie said on September 19, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    The value of high school athletic programs.

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  40. paddyo' said on September 19, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    My first reporting job was for the Reno Evening Gazette and Nevada State Journal (two papers, one newsroom, since merged into the Reno Gazette-Journal), and I covered the air races my first couple of years there. As I recall, there were a couple of racer/pilot deaths that first year, but their collision/wingtip-clip was well out on the course and away from us. Some puffs of smoke out by one of the checkerboard-painted pylons, off in the distant sagebrush.

    It may have been that year, or a year or two later, that a wingwalker on a biplane, flying upside down (thus, hanging upside down himself) and very close to the ground, had the misfortune to hit a patch of bad air or something as they did a fly-by in front of the stands. Well, his head met the ground and that was that. The plane recovered and landed.

    This is not in defense of airshows or air races, or of Reno, where they’ve been doing this now for more than 40 years and until last Friday had never had a spectator/”civilian” death. It is a suggestion that races and shows differ some . . .

    Air races are the flying equivalent of NASCAR, minus the multibillion-dollar “sport”/industry. Aside from a few novelty acts, Reno was always mainly a series of air races, not wall-to-wall aerobatic circus acts. I do recall something called the Super Chipmunk, a souped-up aerobatic plane that did death-defying loop-de-loops and rolls once . . . and yes, there was that wingwalker act and, reliably, some kind of flyover/show by one or another military flying group, like Canada’s Snowbirds or the Blue Angels or that U.S. Army skydiving squad. But mostly just hotrods in the sky.
    There was/is a course, and it’s well “out there” in the brush and away from the fans and grandstands. This particular venue bore that out by a record of zero on-the-ground spectator deaths until last week’s catastrophe.

    But as we all know, shit happens. I’m no fan of NASCAR, either. I consider it a pointless round-and-round gas-wasting noisefest. The Reno Air Races are essentially that, too, although maybe with some “antique aluminum” history value thrown in. P-51 Mustangs like the one that crashed — except they weren’t really “like”; this one was amped up to 500 mph, like a hotrod dragster — flew close air support against the Luftwaffe while my dad, a tailgunner in a B-17 Flying Fortress nicknamed The Purple Heart Kid, flew bombing missions over Europe in WWII. Some of them were flown by the fabled all-black Tuskegee Airmen unit. As I said, a historical element that ramps up the appeal some. But still a lot of noisy chasing around. It’s somebody else’s pasttime, not mine.

    We also know that on occasion — rarely, thank goodness — there are NASCAR wrecks that bleed into the grandstands. An airborne racecar, a lethally stray and bouncing wheel come loose in a crash — it’s all kind of the same thing, isn’t it?

    Those that love it — the drivers/pilots and the fans in the stands — have their own reasons. There’s risk in everything in life. Air races run like Reno’s seem to me on the safer side of that line, if there is a safer side. Airshows? Less so, in my opinion.
    For whatever it’s worth . . .

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  41. Dexter said on September 19, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    moe: When I was in my twenties and my step kids were young , sometimes I would take them to the local pool , and I would swim and dive during the breaks when the lifeguard called “adult swim!”.
    It’s been over thirty years since I have been in the local pools on a regular basis like that, but I bike through the parks and over the years I notice the safety devices and safety practices being used now, and all the high-dive boards have been gone for many years.

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  42. Dexter said on September 19, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    cooz, I used to work with a man who was a legend for his escapades. He would be about 90 now if alive, and he went back to the days when men raced motorcycles on those wooden tracks.
    He also was an aviator in World War II in Europe, and when he returned from the war he bought a small airplane and started getting in trouble with the authorities for buzzing farmhouses and he also incurred the wrath of the FAA or whatever it was called then because he liked to fly under telephone wires, just for the thrill of it, I guess. He also had a full-dress HOG and he would drive it wide open throttle. In later years I would ride home with him, because we went the same way after work , and he had slowed down, way down. He would be riding that HOG and I was on my 750 Honda, but he didn’t care. He still loved speed, though, and he bought a used Dodge police-pack car at a cop-sale. He fine-tuned it and claimed he got it up to 148 mph once…I have no reason to doubt that.
    He also was a genuine classic storyteller, and his stories were such whoppers I just loved to listen.
    When he was kid around Spencerville , Indiana, the school had no regular gym. There were two rooms, however, separated by a door the size of a garage door.
    A basketball goal was set in each of the connecting rooms, and games were played, all ten players crowding through the opening of the door to get from one basket to the other.

    For kicks, when there was no game or official practice, the kids would lace up roller skates and play basketball like that.
    He said that was much more fun because it took so much more skill to dribble while skating.

    Once, after he had built his hangar and had been flying many years, and had built a licensed air strip on his property , an accident occurred and the wreckers had damaged the edge of his runway. He was licensed for the airstrip, and he sic’ed the FAA onto the county and the wreckers who had damaged the property, and they made them come out and restore the runway.

    Man, the people you run into in everyday life.

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  43. Dexter said on September 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    “For One More Day” I couldn’t resist it. I bought this Mitch Albom book, from a table sale recently. It was only a buck and it has such stiff binding I can tell it has never been read or even opened. I am sure you are all on pins and needles awaiting my review. 🙂

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  44. april glaspie said on September 19, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Gram Parsons did himself in on this day in 1973. Of course, his friends tried to make good on his last request regarding disposition of his dead body. They stole the corppse from an airport, in a hearse, took it to Joshua Tree National Monument, poured $5 worth of Hi-Test into his coffin, and lit it up. I imagine they had Sin City on the tape player. Ther is a mildly entertaining movie called Grand Theft Parsons (if you can stomach Johnny Knoxville for 85 minutes) available on Netflix for free. Or is that Qwickster (gag reflex.)

    I heard during the initial reporting that the pilot in Reno was 80 years old. I don’t believe he should have been driving a new Caddy much less a 70 year old 500 mph airplane with people below.
    First 90 seconds:


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  45. nancy said on September 19, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    OK, mom is back, and you are all commanded to stop fighting. If I have to stop this blog…

    Dexter, I’d welcome an honest review of “For One More Day.” Maybe a chapter-by-chapter French-style deconstruction. You may be a blue-collar man, but I trust your instincts.

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  46. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 19, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    Did someone already post this? I don’t recall, but I’d hate folks hereabouts to miss it – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/arts/music/nick-lowe-back-with-a-new-album-that-old-magic.html

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  47. John G. Wallace said on September 19, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I’m a little torn on today’s discussion. I normally don’t share Joe’s opinions but I’d like to think his approach to meeting the neighbors is a better way to build bridges than Coozledad’s, and everyone here knows I’ve had interesting neighbors. The way I see it is Coozledad’s neighbors can’t address his concerns if he doesn’t air them, and therefore the flying neighbor isn’t aware there is a concern.
    I’m sure there are times having a neighbor with a plane could be a benefit – case in point the lost bull. Or a niece or nephew visiting being able to score a plane ride. It’s also easier to dislike the neighbor if you first try the friendly approach and fail. I may be more fearless than most of you.
    I’m also a little biased toward aviation.I can Id most planes at a glance, fly Microsoft Flightsim, can write intelligently about aviation issues and incidents, and for a non-license holder, I’m a good stick and rudder guy with a great ability to maintain attitude- better in a plane than my real life by far.
    I also used to work for a newspaper in Sussex County NJ and up until a few years ago the tiny Sussex Airport was home to “the biggest little airshow in the world.” Sussex was aerobatic legend Leo Loudenslager’s home field – now dead, but from a motorcycle crash.
    I participated in the show’s safety briefings several years in a row, and these guys were consumate professionals. Unfortunatly the ones I keyed into as the best of the best are all dead now. I used to love seeing Jimmy Franklin’s jet powered Waco Biplane. Jimmy was a humble guy and a great performer – he died in 2005 collison with Bobby Younkin, a teammate on the “Masters of Disaster.” Hands down the best airshow pilot I ever had the pleasure of watching, Jim LeRoy, another team member died in a crash in July 2007 at the Dayton Airshow. The only surviving team member is Kent Shockley,who drove a jet powered semi-truck but didn’t fly. I usually considered the plane vs. truck portion of the show to be a loud redneck oriented event that wasted a lot of Jet A.
    I never felt in danger when I was in the crowd area back from the line of show, but I used to sneak through the woods to a different vantage point to take pictures and get closer and at some point (when Franklin’s Waco toting a bolted on turbojet was arcing down toward me) I decided to get back from the line of show.
    I really am still surprised that Jim LeRoy died – he was that good. I can use the marching band analogy – as a band parent the difference between crappy and pretty good wasn’t always apparent to me – but the very best performances didn’t need to be pointed out. If I took any one of you to see Jim LeRoy fly it would have been clear how good he was. He’s still dead.

    I came across this website that lists the many now-dead airshow greats:

    And since we’re all about opinion here – I always thought air races with highly modified WW II vintage fighters were stupid. Those planes belong in museums or with groups that can maintain them in as close to original form as possible. The P-51 that went down in Reno sacrificed handling and stability for speed. Why take a classic like that and chop 5-feet off each wing and cut the aileron surfaces down from 60 inches to 32 inches? I happen to think the people who just want to see something loud fly past in a simple pattern would be just as happy if we bolted wings onto NASCAR cars. So there are sub-sets of airshow snobbery also.

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  48. cosmo panzini said on September 19, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Who’s that guitar-playin redhead in the picture? Looks like the innkeeper here.

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  49. april glaspie said on September 19, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Great link, Jeff. I’ve been wishing for 30 years that Nick Lowe and Robyn Hitchcock would do a record together. Two Christmases ago, I bought Pure Pop for Now People for my 15 year old nephew. He loved it and his dad was angling to steal it. I got a CD copy for myself recently, with the Brit title (Jesus of Cool). Both album titles are absurdly excellent.

    Just reading the song titles on this masterpiece provides some chortles, particularly as the remarkably witty lyrics resonate in them. In the heart of the city where the alligator roam, with one of the best bass runs since the Ox (@about 1:15). And even makes good natured fun of Jackson Browne. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1N0GXnh4dI


    In the air there’s after shave lotion
    in the wake of a snake-bit Persian
    On his arm is a skin tight vision
    Wonder why she ain’t mine she is his’n

    And What’s So Funny (‘Bout Peace Love and Understanding) will be the national anthem of the new country I will be forced to emigrate too, if one of these execrable GOPers gets elected President.

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  50. Joe Kobiela said on September 19, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    He was 74 and probly in better shape than 90% of the population.
    John G, if you are ever up in Auburn look me up and we will go fly, Same goes for the rest of you.
    Pilot Joe

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  51. coozledad said on September 19, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    John G. Wallace: I used to have an interest in aviation-especially golden age aircraft like the Goshawks and the interwar trainers like the Pea-shooter. My uncle flew a Supermarine Spitfire fitted with a desert scoop (He was based in Algeria in 1944). His group was bounced by Focke Wulfs in February of that year while they were strafing the German artillery positions in the hills overlooking the beachhead at Anzio. He was the only one the group lost that day, probably his first sortie. His diary entries discuss the turn radius of the Spit, as opposed to US built aircraft. It didn’t have the range or speed of the Mustang, but you could “turn it in a bathtub”. Mustangs frequently outran their target, until the Me 262’s showed up.

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  52. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on September 19, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Somehow, today’s conversation is making me think of Pancho Barnes’ Happy Bottom Riding Club . . .


    (And if you didn’t know, the old drunk trying to cadge drinks at Pancho’s in “The Right Stuff” is Chuck Yeager. No kidding.)

    Cooze, sorry to hear your dad qualified for a spot on the wall at Pancho’s.

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  53. Joe Kobiela said on September 19, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    Nice read on Pancho she was a true legand.
    Pilot Joe

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  54. Dave said on September 19, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    We, too, were at the airshow at Baer Field that featured the Blue Angels. They flew right over the crowd and I remember thinking then that if anything at all went wrong, we’d all be headlines. I’m rather certain that the following week, or maybe the following month, there was a fatal crash involving the Blue Angels. Although I thought it was the early 1990’s, I see on this site http://www.blueangels-usn.org/accident_history.html that there were fatalities in 1999. I remember the pilots that were killed had been on the local news in a feature when they passed through here.

    Gram Parsons died 38 years ago today, April? I had only some vague idea of who he was, mostly from his brief participation in The Byrds and the Burritos, until I read a article in Rolling Stone after he died, and started seeking out his albums. Learned to love Gram, learned who Emmylou was, and all about the Gilded Palace of Sin.

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  55. LAMary said on September 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    I think you can appreciate aircraft, I’m a GeeBee fan myself, but not want planes taking off over your house. Also, Cooz has had some truly crappy neighbors. I can see why he’s gun shy.

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  56. derwood said on September 20, 2011 at 12:36 am

    Damn Joe….I was just in Auburn for the Marching Band competition. And I had time to kill too.

    I was a long time member of EAA and always wanted to get the pilots license but have never seemed to find the time. That 2k at Smith field looks like a bargain compared to Indy prices.


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  57. moe99 said on September 20, 2011 at 2:10 am

    My ex’s grandfather was a barnstormer in the early days of aviation in North Carolina (thus neatly tying in Joe and Coozledad). He was from the red neck part of North Carolina in New Bern. I’m sure the proximity to Kitty Hawk had a hand in it. Turns out his wife was unfaithful to him and he sought a divorce from her in the late 1920’s. The ex’s dad was a boy of about 11 but he had kept a diary that was used to establish that his mother was having the affair. After the divorce, custody was awarded to the mother. I understand that mother and son were not close. Son went on to be a minister, who also was unfaithful to his wife–they were divorced after 39 years of marriage, 4 years after I married the ex. Amazing how these sorts of behaviors repeat down the years.

    There sure are parts of North Carolina I have no affection for.

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  58. Dexter said on September 20, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Pilot Joe: My Toledo-based daughter’s man , the pilot, logged over 12,000 miles last week, mostly around the Bermuda triangle.
    He was in Toledo, Columbus, Rutland, Maine, and some Caribbean locations including Grenadine , where he picked up some yachters and delivered them back to the US mainland. He told me, “when you have money you can just do stuff like that.”

    He showed me a video someone took using his phone , of the landing in the Grenadines. Not much room for error there.

    When the pilot’s kids get out of high school in about 8 years , they are moving to Pensacola and they want us to move there too. We’ll see…it’s a leap, to be sure. Hell, I’ll be ancient by 2019.

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  59. alex said on September 20, 2011 at 6:43 am

    Totally off topic, but I thoroughly enjoyed this rollicking good read by Christopher Hitchens that I missed the first time around, in 2007.

    It makes me think back on the Wendy’s commercial from the 1980s that poked fun at the Soviets with a make-believe Russian fashion runway where a frumpy woman modeled dowdy duds. The theme was about having choices.

    Today service in America has become as lacking as it supposedly was in Soviet Russia decades ago, and the marketing has become as laughable as totalitarian propaganda. Being put on hold on the telephone for an hour while an annoying recording keeps repeating “your call is important to us” is the height of absurdity.

    Hitchens doesn’t mention the Soviet era particularly. It’s just what came to mind when he very aptly described how insulting American advertising has become.

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  60. brian stouder said on September 20, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Thanks for that article, Alex. Christopher Hitchens has the endearing quality of writing just the way he talks (or vice-versa!), so that one hears his voice when reading his work.

    The commercials that bother me (not to sound like my dad, although I think I recall him voicing a similar critique) are the ones that make me ask “How does that make me want to buy _________”. For example, one of the not-McDonalds fast-burger places had a campaign that seemed to be purposely revolting; big sloppy sandwiches being joylessly jammed into the mouths of lunk-headed patrons; and the discount car insurance commercials (except for Flo, for the most part) only reassure me that we’re correct to stay with our old-fashioned insurance agency.

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  61. Peter said on September 20, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Oh Alex, you are so right – I still remember that commercial: “SWEEEM VEHR….EEEVENEN VEHR…”

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  62. deb said on September 20, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Way late to this party, but re Po — as the kids say, if it’s too loud, you’re too old. Clearly.

    When are we going to see some movies of Po in action, eh? Post something now, while they’re still a trio…

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  63. deb said on September 20, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    And as long as I’m asking, how about a set list?

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