Got Mongo? Feed On This!"
Become a fan of the STORE on Facebook. Click here.
Become a fan of the BLOG on Facebook. Click Here

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

No Class Nation Tour

Don’t blame Kenny Chesney, Pittsburgh, and don’t ban him either.  Don’t blame anyone but those involved.   The mess during and after the No Shoes Nation Tour does not rest solely on Chesney.    He did not personally tell people to go to the venue, days before in some instances, and wreck the joint.  He did litter the parking lot of Heinz Field with trash.  He did not drink heavily and get into fights in the parking lot.

You did.  And by you, I mean people in the parking lot, at the event, on the water, wherever.   The issue with this kind of mess is not that we have a concert in the summer.   Pittsburgh has turned the corner from burnt out steel town.   It has topped many “Best City For…”  lists, nauseatingly, the last few years.  It has become a technology hub.  It has gone from being only about The Steelers, The Penguins, and The Pirates, to being about the cultural and the artistic.  

Pittsburgh has been given an overhaul, boasting many new venues for events.  In the last few years, Stage AE has proven to be a great location for concerts.  The old Trib Total  Media Amphitheater was demolished and is now Highmark  Stadium, built entirely with private funds and home to the Riverhounds and concerts.    We have The Rex, which has been around since 1905, the Consol Arena, A.J. Palumbo, The Benedum, Heinz Hall, Byham, the new Arcade Comedy Theater.  The list grows every year.   

And yes, we have Heinz Field and we have Starlake Pavilion for our bigger concerts  Yes, they draw large crowds.  Yes there is tailgating.   Yes, there can be a mess.   No, it’s not acceptable.

The problem is that banning one act will cascade into a series of stymieing commerce and cultural into the area.   This year, it’s Kenny Chesney, next year it could Jimmy Buffet.  Hell, it could be a Cleveland, Baltimore, or Cincinnati game.    Any number of events could result in the ridiculousness that took place this past weekend.   But, I remind you, this is also the town that started couch fires in Oakland and turned the South Side into an area of bedlam after championship sporting events.   You wouldn’t dare blame The Steelers or The Penguins for that would you?

We all want to have nice things, but there needs to be some accountability.   There was no earthly reason for there to be tailgaters at that concert as early as they were.  Boaters arrived days before.   The combination of early drinking, hot  temperatures, and natural tendencies to do bad things when affected by both led to a majority of the issues.  On the whole, they amounted to a small percentage of the total number of people on site.   Yet, everyone loves to bitch and complain when something wrinkles their upturned nose.   Soon petitions came out wanting to ban Chesney from playing Pittsburgh.  Why? 

Ban tailgating.  Ban early admission to the lots.  Increase policy enforcement of “on the books” laws against disorderly conduct and public intoxication.  Increase the availability of trash receptacles.  Increase awareness.    Police each other.   Pick something other than the thing that brings money into the city.

I’ve heard that had this been a Steelers game it would never have been that bad.   Well, who is to say?  Chances are, the same result would have happened, a clean lot the next day.   Yet, you can be sure that diehard fans with season ticket holders and a modicum of respect for their team and venue would probably do their part to inform the rest of the tailgaters to “PICK UP YO SHIT.”

But don’t start Facebook groups bitching about it.    That should be banned.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Steelers Want You To Pay For 3000 More Seats

Recently, my beloved Steelers pulled a somewhat dick move.  They want to add an additional 3000 seats to Heniz Field and in order to fund the approximately $30 million dollar effort, they want the Sports and Exhibition Authority to cover  2/3 of the cost.

What does this mean?

It means that, in order to see a home game at Heinz Field, which is 25th in capacity among the NFL stadiums in seating capacity, fans would have to pay an additional dollar in ticket price and two or three dollars to park at the stadium.

Fun facts:
When Three Rivers was imploded 12 years ago, there was still $26 million in debt on the books for it.
The cost for this addition is roughly what it cost to build said imploded stadium (1968 dollars approx.)

Now, that may not seem like much but the bigger picture is this:
Do you think that the Steelers will drop the increase on tickets or parking once the project is funded?
Do you think the fans will receive anything in return for funding this expansion?

Look, I love the boys in black and gold, and I’ve always looked at the Rooneys as doing things the right way.  If anything else, they are doing things the best way to put out a great product.   But to say:

That’s pretty bold in a lot of ways:
  • One, average attendance for all of 2012’s home games was 61,141 
  • Two, the stadium holds, at capacity, 65,050.
    Stats from ESPN.Com
That 61k counts fans that walked through the turnstiles, not paid attendance (i.e. Season ticket holders)

So, they want to add 3000 more seats when they are averaging a little less than 4000 towards max capacity.  If they have another lackluster season and attendance doesn’t change, that’s almost 7000 people who won’t go to games.

It’s not like these new seats will be cheaper, right?  If people aren’t paying now, what makes you think they will pay later?

Win another Super Bowl and we’ll talk.   Keep your players from trying to run down cops in the South Side, and we’ll talk.
Otherwise, pony up  your own money and build the seats, and then when you do win number seven, you can pay back yourselves by raising prices.   Don’t do it on the PROMISE of doing better, which you haven’t done in four years.

Let’s put it another way.

First point.
If I want to build a business or improve my home, maybe to sell it, I have to get a loan.  I go to a bank and they give me money and an interest rate.   When I’m finished paying back the loan, my house sells, maybe for a profit.   The thing is, the bank doesn’t just give me the money because I’m going to make a profit.   They want something in return.   Not the bank next to it, the bank that gave me the money.   Why should fans just give the Steelers money to add more seats that they won’t sit in?  The quick answer is the money being put back into the economy in the form of jobs (construction, retail and concessions, and administration) and taxes.   Yet, a bulk of that money never makes it to those places as it is absorbed by the organization in the form of revenue.   Not to mention, the increase becomes the norm, until the next time they raise prices.

Second point.
Forbes had the Steelers worth about $1.01 billion in 2011.  
The Rooneys also have interest in racetracks with slot machines (remember that restructuring plan that had to occur to get that off the books?)
They can finance this themselves.
Pitt fans will never fill these seats.  (side joke)

The kerfuffle lies in the language of the lease.  I can abide by the fact that the legalize allows them to classify the addition as a SEA fundable project, but don’t think this doesn’t reek of hypocrisy.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Those Quiet Moments In Time

You make plans.  You dream.  You plot out every step until you are the astronaut, actor, sports star, scientist, or homemaker you thought you would be in your mind at age ten.  You enjoy moments in your life where the world is at your command.  The room may be quiet but your mind is buzzing so loud, it could wake the dead.  Life is good.   You know when you grow up that you will conquer the world with your dreams and schemes. 

Then you grow up and those moments turn on you.

The reality is that very few of us actually end up where we thought we would and that’s OK.    There are things in my life I’d like to change.  There are decisions that I wish I could do over, as if I hadn’t taken my thumb off the page I flipped from in that Choose Your Own Adventure book called my early 20s.    But that isn’t the case.  In fact, you have to be careful not to dwell on those thoughts of what you would do over if given the opportunity.  Your past isn’t a do over. 

When you’re a kid, no one is dependent on you in an everyday scenario.   But when you’re an adult and on your own, others may be dependent on you.  Your decisions can be as important as a chess move against Bobby Fisher or even Death himself.  

I could be wrong, though.  Your life may be a world of rainbows and unicorn fluff, but for most people, it’s as monotonous and plain as your mother’s curtains.   What’s worse is when you think you’ve made all the right moves and life decides to change the game.   Doesn’t seem like much, the days go by like they normally do but then you look back and a week has gone by, a month, a year, and you haven’t moved.

It may not hit you at first.   But there are those moments when you’ve put your kid(s) to bed, you’re sitting alone on the couch, looking over some Facebook posts, and it hits you.  There are no distractions, like broken toys or spilled milk.  Panic sets in.  You think about your age.  You think about your life.  You think about death.   The quiet scares the hell out of you.   What the hell have you done with your life?  No one expected you to keep to a 20 year plan when you were a kid.   But at almost 40, just getting through the day and accomplishing one task seems like a huge victory. 

Like I said, though, you’re life could be perfect.  You could have a healthy kid and a wonderful spouse.  You could live in a home, safe and secure.   But what happens if all that were to go away.   What about some of it?   What about one thing?  What could turn your life upside down and force you to shelve all those hopes and dreams you had/have?  Can you deal? 

We live in an age where everyone is connected and yet we find ourselves more alone than ever.  It’s those quiet moments that kill.  I remember sitting in a hotel room in Nashville, alone.  I was on a business trip and at nine in the evening, I was sitting there, no television on, just being.  I had already talked to my wife and most of my online friends were somewhere else or just disconnected.   I had a brief panic attack because I was just there, invisible.  

The same thing happened to me in 1993.  I was a freshman in college.  I was at Coastal Carolina University and it was any Friday night, I don’t remember which.   We didn’t have the Internet or cell phones.   I didn’t have the money to call my girlfriend.   One of my roommates had gone home for the weekend and the other two were volunteer firemen, hanging out at the station.   I was there, alone.   No cable, only a handful of computer games, and I was in the quiet.    Granted I was 18 and my whole life was ahead of me, but it was like that night in 1993 and 2008 somehow connected to each other in the universe.   The quiet of my room in Nashville ripped open a wormhole back to 1993 and attached itself to that 18 year old in Myrtle Beach and sucked the life right out of him, leaving him near hyperventilating from panic.  

Some nights, I look for the quiet and see if it opens to another time in my life; those nights when my kid is sick and she just lies there, not wreaking havoc across the house.    I wonder what childhood moment will they attempt to steal?  What hope they will choose to supplant with crippling fear that I will have failed everyone around me as an adult?    I feel like I’m in a horror movie and the noises and distractions are like a light shining around me to keep out the evil monsters.    Then I wonder if there are others like me.  Maybe the quiet comes to them and finds their childhood moments.  Maybe we connect to each other’s moments and cancel it out.    

Life is never what we intend it to be.   It’s what we make of it.  We need to make the quiet work for us.  We need to master our own quiet moments.  We need to reverse the flow, allowing those childhood moments to come back to us.  We need that positive force pushing out the quiet.   Our lives are still under our control.   We can make it better but we have to try.   Our intent should be to augment, not destroy, though.  We still have those around us that depend on our stability.  They are balanced on our shoulders and too quick of a direction change could dislodge their footing.  We need them as much as they need us because they are part of that new future, a better one, one where the quiet is ours for the making.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I was in an entrepreneurial mood the other day and started thinking about things that we need as men.  Then, of course, I do a perfunctory search on the Internet to make sure it hasn’t already been done and lo and behold, I find these things.

First up: 

Mandles, the Manly Candles 
My wife loves having candles going while she’s teaching lessons because it covers up the fact that we have four cats.  But fresh linens, cotton towels, and unicorn ass only goes so far for us guys.  What about the bachelor pad?  What do we want to have going in our crib to let others know we have a sensitive, interior decorative side, while maintaining our knuckle dragging, MMA watching, boob loving manliness.   

We could have scents like bacon, of course, or sawmill.  Maybe pizza or wings.  What about leather or workshop scents?   Charcoal anyone?

Then, I found these…


I will not be deterred, though.  How about... 

Lazy Calendars?
It’s June 12th and I just realized that my awesome limited edition calendar from Captain Feline (shameless friend plug) was still on May.  In my defense, I was out of the office from May 31-June 8 on vacation.  However, I still was remiss in flipping from Kitty Rider (Easy Rider) to Kitley and Kewt (Aliens) until today.  So, I thought,  what about calendars that go six weeks on each page?

Us men don’t have time to remember to flip a calendar page.   The fact that we still have wall calendars is amazing since our iDevices do everything from tell time to remote start our cars.    So, when we do forget to flip the page until the 12th of the month, it would be nice to know that the current page extends until mid month, just to appease our laziness, instead of just the two days over a weekend we usually get.

Now, I haven’t found anything online, so maybe I can work on that one.  Mostly all of my searches brought back results dealing with being six weeks pregnant.   I know I gained two pounds over my vacation, but really Google?  That’s just mean.

So, I’m one for two on ideas here.  I guess I better keep working on making that YouTube money.   Almost have a dollar.  YAY! 


Monday, June 10, 2013

Traveller's Tales 2013: Why We Do What We Do

Another year and another trip to the Outer Banks has come and gone.  

As part of my YouTube experiment, I planned on doing some vlogging for the trip, but part of me shied away from it.  Mainly, because I’m not comfortable putting my big ole ugly mug up on YouTube.  It’s bad enough you get to hear my voice.  But, also, it’s still not something I am doing around people.  I get a little self conscious around my family doing YouTube stuff.  I usually slink down into the man cave/office to do my recording because I fear the eyerolls from my wife as I do or say something goofy.   Being around 10 other people on vacation and trying to record stuff made it 10 times more embarrassing.  So, I did some quick stuff and hope to put enough together to pull it off.

That being said, I thought about my usual, post vacation, entry and came up with blanks.   I’ve already done the whole travelogue about planning and what to do when you go to the Outer Banks.   But, I never really gave the reasons for why we do what we do.  Why do we go on vacation to the Outer Banks?  Why do we go to the four wheel drive section?  Why do we do any of this?  It can be a real pain in the ass.    This set the tone for my post.

Why do we go on vacation?
Let’s face it.  The economy is what it is and money is always tight.  If it wasn’t for the merch money (shirts), I couldn’t do it.  A real helper has been the inclusion of one of my mug designs in Facebook gifts.  That boosted my profit levels to better than average summer numbers. 

Still, we usually end up spending at least $1000 on our share of a beach house.  Then there’s gas and travel money.   We spend a good deal at the grocery store for our supplies (this year’s total was around $800 for the week).  And lastly, we do the tourist trap stuff buying OBX branded stuff.  So, why spend all that money?

Well, because we are helping the economy.   That’s the bullshit answer, but it’s true.   We, the middle class, are the ones stimulating the economy.    The gas we buy, the tolls we pay, the food we eat, the rent we pay all goes towards companies that employ other middle class workers.   And when you think about it, we outnumber the higher classes.  More people means more money being pumped into the economy.  

In the end, we need the time off, from life.   Yeah, the world doesn’t go away when you do, but recharging the batteries is essential to not wanting to climb a tower with a high powered rifle.    Work is still there, more bills show up, but the memories you make on vacation are eternal and priceless.

Why do we go to the Outer Banks?
Believe me, I had the history of not ever wanting to go back to the OBX, but the good has outweighed the bad over time.   I’ve been to the city.  I’ve been to the mountains.  I’ve been to various beaches, but nothing compares to the awesomeness of raw, in your face, nature.   And, it doesn’t hurt that you’re in a beach house, ocean front.    I know that sounds a bit of a hypocrisy, but I like having the creature comforts while battling all the OBX has to offer.

Where else can you go for this much adventure?  Mother Nature actually gave the finger to the Hatteras Light, forcing them to move it further down the beach.   The ocean can be rough, but the four wheel drive section is unadulterated.  No paved roads, no commercial areas, just houses and nature and woods and beach.

Yeah, it’s a 12 hour drive but we’ve almost got it down to a science.   Coming from Pittsburgh, we’ve found ways to avoid the worst parts, like the Beltway around D.C. or the cluster that is I-95 and I-64 around Richmond and Norfolk, Virginia.   We’ve have our departure time nearly optimized to avoid the bulk of the traffic.   We leave home around 1:30 AM, get everything we need, and are ready to arrive right around 4:00 PM.   At the end of the week, we leave around 9:00 AM, avoiding a lot of the departing traffic that backs up Route 12, and 158 across the bridge.

Why the four wheel drive section?
It would be easier on us to stay in Corolla or even Nagshead, I guess.  We don’t have to travel the whole way up Route 12, stuck behind yahoos who can’t figure out where they are going.   We could avoid having to deflate our tires in order to drive onto the beach.  We could avoid getting stuck and the obligatory half hour to forty-five minute drive we face once we get out onto the beach at the end of Route 12.   We could easily stay down in the Southern Shores or somewhere else with paved roads.  We could avoid mandatory evacuation worries in the case of storms, like Tropical Storm Andrea, this past week.  Granted, we were never in any danger, but the surf did get high.  We could go to the store or out to dinner anytime we wanted.

However,  you have to walk to the beach, carrying everything you need.   You have to find a place to park, usually far from a point of entry.  You have houses right up against you.  You don’t get share your property with the beautiful wild mustangs and foxes and deer that live in the four wheel drive section.   You don’t get to drive your vehicle onto the beach and take in the view of the ocean, right outside your window.  You don’t get to pack a cooler and a chair, hop in your 4X4, drive right out to the beach, and just relax with hardly anyone around you for hundreds of feet. 

OH…That’s why!
The names have changed.  Some, gone forever.  We miss those who can’t be with us,  but with each year, something new happens and it makes for a great story.  There are new quotes we get from each other and our kids.  There are photos that just don’t happen anywhere else.    To sit and listen to the sound of the surf.  To feel your heart beat in time with the waves.  To wake up and see the sunrise off the deck of your house while drinking a cup of coffee in the morning is just enough to make me do it each year.

Shredded Tweets