07 May 2007

Well, Hush My Puppies...

It was an interestingly DIVERSE crime weekend in the Summit City, starting off with an attack by two guys on a moped DOWNTOWN (Friday) , homicide number NINE, if you've got a pool going at work (on Saturday), and ending with another robbery at the Long John Silver's in the 7500 block of SOUTH Anthony Blvd (Sunday).

The homicide happened (curiously enough) on the NORTH side of town, in the 1100 block of Larch Lane. Had to check a map to find where that was (north of Glenbrook Mall). One person shot dead and the other in critical condition, so says the report.

The robbery occurred last evening around 5PM, and it doesn't surprise me that this restaurant gets knocked over a few times every few years. Look at the proximity to "those" housing projects nearby. Luckily no one was injured (robbers did brandish a gun), but I'll bet even money that the employees are thinking twice about showing up for work now. Now I find it highly IRONIC that close by this place is a street called SERENITY DRIVE, and that this street happens to have a frequency of FWPD calls to it that rivals ANY other location in the whole damn city. Whether it's a burglary, domestic dispute, theft from vehicle, or a good old, knock down, drag out fight...you can find it on the 7900 block of Serenity Drive. And you can find it most ANY day as well. Talk about a damn freakshow!

The attack by the "men" on a moped downtown makes a good argument about trying to establish ANY "new" ideas or projects, UNTIL the crimes (such as these) are dealt with...harshly. Then again, if you feel "comfortable enough" to walk around Freimann Square at 2:30AM (or anyplace ELSE in Fort Wayne), you're either overly confident of the FWPD coverage we have in the city, OR you're just plain stupid!
Maybe six of one...half dozen of the other?

I saw a commercial from the URBAN LEAGUE the other day, and I couldn't help but smirk as these leaders are saying (about violent crime) that "even ONE death is too many".
Gee...'ya think?
Isn't that like worrying about fixing the gate AFTER the horses got the hell out?
Seems like a case of too little too late, if you ask me. You guys should have been out doing THIS kind of PSA about FIFTEEN YEARS AGO!

In my opinion, there are those in "certain" places that actually WANT the dubious aspects of humanity to thrive. Let's face it, when you have rampant crime, you can get a lot more $$$ from whatever state or federal agency is doling it out this month, can't you? And if crime were to "dry up", then no one gets the dinero, hence, certain people can't afford those palatial estates OUTSIDE of the city, can they? It's basically GOOD BUSINESS to have crime...and it's one of those self-perpetuating venues, whereby as long as the demand is met, the supply will always be available, whether it's drugs, burglaries, rape, or whatever else.

When any part of any town is declared a "badlands", there are two ways to approach it; Either you go in, knock some heads and bust some perps (drawing the ire from factions that decry profiling of ANY kind, as well as the wrath of some lunatic ACLU chapter), or you take a "hands-off" approach, leaving this human flotsam to duke it out themselves, and hope that they kill each other off. And if some innocent citizens are caught in this crossfire, it becomes "acceptable" collateral damage. It's all part of "the plan", as it were.

It's just not acceptable to ME, though. See, I'm one of "those" citizens.

It sure as hell isn't easy when you feel like "cottonball on a driveway", if you get my drift. People will target you simply because YOU want to just be left the hell alone. They will take great pains to attempt to trash YOUR property, because it's driving UP the value of the rest of the hovels in the area. They will do whatever they can to get you the hell out of the area, because YOU represent some form of ORDER...something they're not used to (until they become incarcerated).

SO until things change, and crime becomes a lot less motivational to those with the vested interest in it, we're charged with trying to do what is right, in spite of the obstacles.

This is one instance where change IS needed...and in some parts of town...needed desperately.

04 May 2007

He's BAA-AACK...!

It's time for the summer blockbusters to hit the silver screens once again, and this season is starting off with probably THE movie of the year... SPIDERMAN - 3

Our favorite webslinger's third installment is loaded with everything a "spider-fan" could want. My only concern is that the filmakers might be trying to put 4 hours of story into a 2 hour movie, what with all the villains (3 of them), personal revelations, love interests AND going to college. It's touted as the most expensive movie to date, but I can't help thinking if less could be more (as the first movie was). Time will tell.
Sure there's the special effects bonanza, that are sure to give some folks vertigo (and if you've ever BEEN to New York, you'll know what I'm talking about).

Being a follower of Spidey over the decades (since issue #39 anyway - mid 60s), I can't help but be just a bit intrigued by the "literary license" the screenwriters take with the original storylines. OK...so a "radioactive" spider bites Peter Parker, imbuing him with proportional strengths and abilities of a spider (actually an amalgam of arachnoids) HIS size...I'm OK with that. No, Parker doesn't succumb to any form of cancer, and given the fact that a genetically-altered "super" spider "could" rewrite Parker's DNA to account for the new found abilities, it's not even beyond the realm of plausibility.

I tuned in to the History Channel's "Spiderman-Tech" show last night, and with very few exceptions, a person like Peter Parker "could" exist. Call it a guilty pleasure on my part, but I find it a marvelous diversion from all the "usual" happenings around town. The show explained the science behind the fantasy. An hour well spent.

Will this third movie make some SERIOUS cashola?
You bet yer wallcrawlers it will!
My beef (however unfounded) is with the deluge of movie "tie-ins"...all the STUFF you'll find everywhere you go from the cash-saving aisles of Wal-Mart to the cholesterol-strewn fast food joints, to the grocer's shelves. Spiderman pillows, slippers, sneakers, vitamins, shirts, hats, action figures, games (the Spiderman Monopoly game DOES peak my interest though), cereals...you name it, it'll have Spidey on it. Wouldn't mind having a "web-shooter" though...lol!

To me that's a tad on the OVERKILL side. I liked it much better when you had a much narrower choice of items concerning any character or movie. Hell, I have a spidey sweatshirt with the (Romita-drawn comic version) hero himself and the "THWWIP" of his web-shooter emblazoned in comic style lettering on it...and I love that shirt. It's much nicer, more original and (imho) better than what all we have in our faces today.

But we've come to "expect" all the merchandising...and interestingly enough, a lot of our problems stem from this constant overmarketing. People can appreciate it more when there is less (except for gas at the pumps...lol), but we demand MORE...and MORE...and still MORE. And of course, our tastes wain all too soon, our attention becomes diverted (after about 30 minutes) and we move on to the NEXT item or venue.

Time was a movie could run at the theatres for OVER A YEAR. I recall BEN HUR, FUNNY GIRL, SWEET CHARITY, and THE SOUND OF MUSIC all playing at various downtown theatres in Philly for well OVER a year each! Now, we're lucky if ANY movie stays at #1 at the Box Office for more than a month...our tastes have become that fickle. Same goes for music, but we'll touch on that another day. We've become accustomed to "wait for the DVD" to come out. And I confess to being just as guilty. personally, I'm holding out for the "3-DVD set" of the Spiderman movies, because I predict that's EXACTLY what the marketers will be doing soon enough (think by year's end).

These comic characters became "people" we grew UP with...the same cannot be said today, for they are just "not the same" as in decades past. We really don't have "comics" per se any longer...we have "graphic novels", costing about 5-10 times MORE than a comic used to.
Gone are the days of waiting at the drug store every Wednesday for the shipments to arrive (after school) so we could blow the week's lunch money on this month's issues AND maybe have enough left over for a chocolate soda at the fountain up front. Now you pretty much have to visit a "comic book" store.
That former ambience is somehow absent...
And I miss that.

Will that turn me off from comics?
Not really.

Spidey was one of my FIRST "Marvel" superhero comics, along with X-Men and Fantasic Four (DC's favorites for me were Superman, Green Lantern and Adam Strange), and you never forget or turn your back on those you first admired. THAT was real "hero-worship", and did us no harm at all.

We all need a hero in our lives...whether it's a mentor, a father, a teacher, or yes...even a fantasy superhero swinging through the concrete canyons of New York.

We can learn from them and their exploits, and in that process, we can become better people for just having known them.


03 May 2007

Here It Comes Again...

Anyone that picked up a paper or tuned in the news in the past several days has heard this all too often before.
Gas Prices Are Going Up.

And curiously enough, the rise in pricing follows right on the heels of one of Wall St's BEST days in years (actually a record). And are the motorists the recipients of this boon to the economy? Not by a country mile!

We're already seeing prices in excess of $3 a gallon (be happy it's not a LITER), and we're not even into the "real" season (Memorial Day through Labor Day). We're also hearing so many stories about "why" the prices are climbing.

"OPEC slowed production."
((funny, didn't hear anything about THAT))

"Oil companies are cleaning their pipes".
((and cleaning out my wallet))

"We're changing over from WINTER fuel to SUMMER fuel."
((fuel is fuel for Cripes sake...you just want more $$$))

"The CEO's sister's wedding is this weekend."
((I figured as much))

"The comapny dentist had a heart attack last Tuesday."
((and my heart skipped a beat when I saw the price at the pumps))

"Bin-Laden just farted."
((best reason I've heard all damn week))

Well, you get the idea...

We "could" bring back RATIONING (to hold prices down)...but NOOOOOooooo, that would (somehow) cut into the PROFITS those oil-mongering companies make, and we can't have the shareholders the least bit purturbed...can we? ((sure, why the hell NOT? I am right now...let's share the "wealth")) I mean if demand is THAT high...then portion it out so everyone gets a fair shake. It worked in the 70s to keep prices from sky-rocketing. It can work now. Funny thing is that the MIDWEST (along with the "left" coast) is feeling the price jump the worst. Amazing....simply amazing. EVERY time gas prices go UP...we get nailed the worst (far in excess of other parts of the nation)...could it be "price goughing"???

Of course this will hurt many that like to "get away from it all"...but others will simply thumb their (relatively wealthy) noses at all of this and do whatever they please. Personally, I like the idea of carrying a siphon pump attachment for my cordless drill and some lengths of tubing....got all the gas I would ever need. I wouldn't really do that, but rest assured there are those who WOULD do it... (Bob's First Rule of Security: Think LIKE the perps), and most likely WILL. To that, I can only recommend buying a LOCKING GAS CAP for your vehicle...pronto! There's nothing worse than filling up, then going shopping, only to find that on your way home you're out of gas AGAIN.

And with rising GAS prices comes another fun thing for Indiana...HIGHER PROPERTY VALUES (and the taxes they spawn). Seems we can't quite have ONE without the OTHER these days, can we? This "Annual market Trending" bull$hit is just that.....BULL$HIT!!!
According to Webster's:
TREND: (vt) - to extend in a general direction
or - (n) - a general line of direction or movement

Well if THAT is true, then *my* property value should be going DOWN...and it isn't (because the general direction of MY neighborhood sure isn't in the UPWARD persuasion). Interestingly enough, Allen County assessor Stacey O'Day states that these rates are based on BUDGETARY NEEDS.....OHHHhhhhh...Now I see, said the blind man, as he picked up his hammer and SAW!

SO..."if" the city, county or state needs more of MY money, then my property is worth MORE to them (as a homeowner)...I get it. It's got nothing to do with other houses in the area that are falling down around us, or the fact that my property is actually not worth as much as "they" say it's worth, but they're going to say it anyway. Boy, if that's not a f$cked up methodology, I don't rightly know WHAT is. Of course all of you living in better areas are going to pay MUCH more....so get out the Vaseline...you're gonna need it.

Whether it's at the gas pumps...or on the homefront, you can always be sure of one thing:

We ARE going to get boned....

02 May 2007

When You Think INDIANA...

You can be assured that whatever you "thought" can very well wind up about 180 degrees from what most folks refer to as NORMAL. That's not saying that ALL of the Hoosier state is in such disarray.

I recall (as a child) remembering that Indiana seemed like such a cool place....after all, they DID have the Indianapolis 500! Then again, that was back when racing WAS racing. I remember doing book reports on other states, Indiana being one of them, and back in those days, the state would send (upon request), a TON of stuff pertaining to the state...flyers, brochures, even small paperback books on the history of the state. Be nice to have them TODAY and see how much has changed since the late 50s.

With that as a preface, I just want to share some of my "personal" observations about how you can definitively KNOW that you live on the SOUTH side of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

You KNOW you live on the SOUTH side of Ft. Wayne if...

Your pistol is always next to the salad fork at the dinner table.

Your neighborhood block is referred to as "Cracker Hill".

Almost everyone (but you) walks in the street when there are sidewalks.

You have NOWHERE to shop...BUT everywhere else.

Almost all the "neighbors" have at least THREE cars, & ONE license plate between them.

You rearrange furniture by placing teflon pads under the legs & let the boomcars do the rest.

The outside of your house or garage is used as the community urinal.

You receive OVER 350 wrong numbers asking for someone at "Ray's Snackbar".

You weigh your words carefully when using "crack" and "house" in the same sentence.

Sleep has become a "lost art" in your life.

During ANY holiday, the neighborhood becomes the local "shooting range".

July 4th fireworks START in EARLY MAY.

July 4th fireworks END in LATE SEPTEMBER.

The first weekend of EVERY month is ALWAYS crowded at the grocery store.

You have a liquor store within staggering distance, no matter WHERE you live.

A YIELD sign means "keep going", & a through street means "come to a complete stop".

You value your "concealed-carry" permit MORE than your driver's license.

The area kids can describe the new "juvenile facility" to you ONE week after it opens.

You have the police department on "speed-dial".

You have the fire department on "speed-dial".

You have animal control on "speed-dial".

You have code enforcement on "speed-dial".

Memorial Day doesn't honor the dead...it WAKES them UP due to the loud music.

The LOUDEST idiot is always the LAST to go to bed & the FIRST to wake up.

You can piss off people in the area JUST by being WHITE ...and BREATHING.

You think of "bling" as a bullet that ricocheted off of something.

Every other car has a "HOT-107" sticker on it.

Every other car has a trash bag for a rear window.

Every other car has at least ONE bulb burned out somewhere.

Every other car does NOT have a muffler.

You are the ONLY one on your block that actually HAS A REAL JOB.

You are the ONLY one on your block that actually PAYS any kind of TAXES.

Even the police robot refuses to go into your area for a bomb threat.

That speedbump you thought the city installed is "just another body".

You talk to your plants because they hold better conversations than people living near you.

Even DECENT BLACK folks shy away from your neighborhood.

You take down the BEWARE OF DOG sign & put up a BEWARE OF OWNER sign.

Every decent neighbor that moves away is replaced by someone with a ghetto mentality.

The good news in your area is that the HOMICIDE rate is lower than last year.

The bad news is that all the people that NEEDED to be shot....weren't.

And that's just the TIP of the "iceberg"....More are always on the way.
Gee, that's what we say about the police, too...more ARE on the way (must have been that 14th "party-armed" call made to dispatch this week)...

Yes friends, it's not quite the 7th layer of hell...YET.
But the area is AT LEAST trying.

01 May 2007

MORE Gun Control...

Poor Paul Helmke. I don't envy his latest stint as head of the Brady Institute For Gun Control one damn bit. Then again, if former Mayor Helmke would back up and get a lot more facts straight, maybe he'd be seeing things in a lot different light. He keeps pushing for GUN control....that is NOT the issue. GUNS (themselves) are NEVER "the issue". Inanimate objects (without any human intervention at all) will NEVER be an issue. It's when "we put our 2 cents in" that most of hell breaks loose.

You might want to give this link a look-see:

Or you can always drop by the DOJ and look over their UCRs (uniform crime reports).

And if guns WERE "the issue", then we could all make debates over matches causing arson, vehicles causing DUIs, and water causing drownings (of such Biblical proportions) that not even Plato could foster a rebuttal. But we don't because we're rational thinkers (for the most part). At least I'd like to "think" we are...LOL!

In every case (with NO exceptions) it invariably comes down to the PEOPLE...the operson or persons RESPONSIBLE for these acts of crime or stupidity (usually BOTH). It is by THEIR hands that others are made to suffer unjustly (like there is a JUST way to suffer anyway???), and reap the harvest of abhorrent human behavior.

I'm all for making it harder for the (wrong) PEOPLE to GET guns when they shouldn't be able to. And that my friends is NOT "gun" control...it's ( all together now.....) PEOPLE control. Yeah, at first it sounds more Orwellian than not, but it's the ONLY way to effectively DECREASE the number of guns in the "wrong" hands. Is placing guns in all the "right" hands a definitive answer? I don't know, but it would be interesting to find out. Kennesaw, GA has a "law" (dating back to '82) that says all law-abiding people (with no criminal history) must own a gun. I'd wager crime doesn't find much time to play THERE.

If any real analysis is to be done about gun control, it has to come back to the person. Do they have a history of mental illness that (by nature) disallow them the purchase of any firearm? Are they substance abusers that just haven't been caught yet (urine tests would be inconclusive, as there are numerous ways around that as well). Why isn't there a comprehensive database already in place that can show (up front) to gun store owners these criteria?

Now that's all well and good for a majority of the populace and would go far to alleviate people such as the VA Tech shooter from ever getting a firearm legaly. And there's the rub. It always cames back to the LEGALITY of gun purchases. The ILLEGAL market for gun sales is huge beyond belief, and why shouldn' it be? After all, it's PROFITABLE six ways from Sunday! And we already KNOW that he criminal element will get a gun no matter what, no matter what the cost (to themselves OR to others).

Stricter penalties for gun crimes "can" make a slight dent in the overall picture, but it's not the "magic bullet" (no pun intended) that many hope for. If you could find an effective way to crack down on gun dealers that only have dollar signs in their eyes, that'd be a damn good first step. Just stay the hell away from the decent, responsible person. If America collectively "owns" 80,000,000 guns, then we've got about 79,999,975 people EVERY DAMN HOUR OF EVERY DAMN DAY that DO NOT cause ANY type of crime with them. That's a damn good ratio...in ANYBODY'S book! And since those guns aren't getting up and shooting themselves off at people, what is left, but the person HOLDING the gun that assumes the responsibility.

Much the same can (and should) be argued about getting a DRIVER'S LICENSE. There are way too many people on our roads, streets, and highways NOW that do not posess the ability to be RESPONSIBLE behind the wheel of ANY vehicle. And we're seemingly OK with THAT...it's just the "gun thing" that bothers us. And I never found ANYTHING in our Constitution that assured us any "rights" about driving any vehicle, no matter how much "horse-power" it had (1 or 300). We always used to say the most dangerous part of ANY vehicle was "the nut that holds the wheel".

Paul Helmke can try to assuage our fears by claiming that GUNS are the cause of all this evil. But until Paul can ante up, and speak a lot more of the TRUTH about the realities of the dark nature of our species instead, I'm just going to keep saying that..."I'm from Missouri".
In other words....SHOW ME!

Just remember...criminals LOVE gun control...it makes THEIR job EASIER!