Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Dum De Dum Dum

Last Saturday night, a man from Virginia, wearing body armor and some sort of ersatz police uniform (and a real gun and body armor) was charged with  five offenses by Maryland State Police. What happened was, a real state trooper caught him impersonating a police officer.

This man pulled a car over on I-695 - the Baltimore Beltway, on the outer loop near Greenspring Avenue. Fortunately for the motorist who had been pulled over by a non-police, the real trooper saw this fakey police car  - a black and white 2012 Chevy Impala with blue and white flashing lights - and correctly deduced something was wrong.

The man arrested is Timothy Ervin Trivett, 54, of Yorktown, Virginia, and he is facing charges on these five offenses:

  • Impersonating a police officer
  • Loaded handgun in vehicle
  • Loaded handgun on person
  • Handgun on person
  • Handgun in vehicle

Fake cop, real mugshot
For reasons that he might as well discuss in his upcoming trial, Trivett had been trying to stop a gray Honda Accord on the Beltway. That driver was allowed to leave the scene by the real trooper, and probably went home with a "You're not gonna BELIEVE this one!" story...

Trivett posted a $10,000 bond and was released from the Baltimore County Detention Center. He'll be driving back up from historic Yorktown for his trial on Aug. 21 in the fashionable Baltimore County District Court.

I have these questions:

  • How many times has he done this?
  • Does he issue fake traffic tickets? Or worse, has he committed crimes against citizens he has pulled over?
  • When he approached the car, was the plan to say, "Fake Police. License and registration, please"?
  • Why? What is lacking in this man's world that drove him to acquiring this car and uniform and gun and police regalia and pulling over random vehicles on the interstate? Did he want to be important or in charge or have power over people?
  • Wouldn't it be great to send him to fake prison with fake prison guards for a real long time?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Hand me that bull

Quick! Get your Chinese menu and see if this is The Year Of The Bull.

And if so, was 2014 also the YOTB?

I'll tell you why I ask.  It was June 13, 2014 that a steer got away from an abattoir in West Baltimore, leaped the barbed-wire fence that was supposed to keep him confined, and went for a joywalk of some two miles before Baltimore Police, in fear of damage to lives and property, ended his life in a slightly different manner than the butchers had intended.

Customers of nearby steakhouses and burger joints complained for days that their beef "tasted of lead."

AND THEN on June 13, 2019 - five years since the great Midtown Belvedere Rodeo - two steers decided to make their run for it.

Here's what I have to say about my beloved Baltimore, before I tell you how this roundup wound up.  Other cities have lower crime rates, certainly fewer murders. San Diego is just one American city where the weather is indisputably superior to our hot 'n' hazy summers and frozen-stiff winters.

Other cities have tourist attractions that dwarf ours. Other towns have better baseball teams, yea, all of them do, except Kansas City.  Only Baltimore has had a succession of mayors and public officials led away in handcuffs, and I defy any town anywhere to top the misadventures of Catherine Pugh, the mayor who wrote a series of children's books and became a millionaire overnight.

So there is a lot about Baltimore that is up for approval, and good people are at work on solutions. 

But say what you will, there is not another city anywhere where the bulls come to town and learn to leap barbed-wire fences! We could have the Beef Steeplechase right here any time. Saddle up old Ferdinand, slip into the jockey getup, and leap!
Image result for running bull

Our cattle can jump high fences. Don't come at us.

So last week, Bullroast and Beefsteak got as far as a lawn with a fence at the  Penn Square apartment building, right across from the stockyard.  City police trained in the cowboy ways loaded them into a truck and took them back.

“This should never have happened,” said Medina Gaither, who just moved to the neighborhood this past December and might now have known she was now in Dodge City East.. “You’re jeopardizing a community of people. Why couldn’t you detain this animal? They need to shut that slaughterhouse down … or relocate it and be more secure. They need to move this out of the city and further in the county.”

Hey! They don't to be here, either.  This is pit-beef stand country!Image result for pit beef stand

Monday, June 17, 2019

It's news to me

Last Tuesday evening, a crew was working on the infrastructure on York Rd in Baltimore County. Something went wrong and they broke a 24" water main, causing a hole about the size of Delaware to form in the road, a flood to ensue, and a natural gas line to rupture.

Since York Rd is the main road in the central portion of the County (it runs from Baltimore City, where all of a sudden right where my old dentist's office used to be it changes its name to Greenmount Avenue to York, Pennsylvania, which was the first capital of the United States way back when - you could look it up!) so you can imagine this caused quite a disruption in traffic. It was the lead story on the morning newscasts on radio and tv.

So why was I surprised to see the news later on that day showing people being interviewed by reporters, and saying that they had no idea about York Rd being closed to traffic?

I've heard this from a lot of people, people saying they don't watch the news or listen to news on the radio or read the newspaper.  After I finish shuddering, I always ask why they feel that not knowing what's happening in the world is a good thing.

And I'm not talking about news that causes opinions to break out. Knowing that your route to work or home will be radically different, or that a thunderstorm is coming, or a blizzard, or a severe heat wave, or that certain foods have been recalled...these are not "fake news" stories or reasons to be dubious. There's no spin on traffic information.

It scares me to see these stories in which people are interviewed and asked simple questions about simple facts of history or current events. We laugh when high school graduates are perplexed about when World War II took place ("18 hundred something?") or when people are unaware of how society works (the local government will haul away your trash and recyclables, but will not mow the grass in your back yard) but it's really not all that funny.

I googled the reasons why people might be inclined to skip knowing the news. One of the reasons seems to be that the news is an "infinite source of negativity" that "keeps me up at night worrying" and besides, "I try to stay positive."  

My stance is, and I hate to drag out everyone's favorite tautology, but the news is what the news is. A war is not good news, neither are floods and murders, but history is just yesterday's news. There are good and bad parts of every day. Knowing about both is worth the time!

I'd be interested to hear what anyone thinks about the trend of not wanting to be up on the news! 

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sunday Rerun: I guess that's why they call it the blues

I have one thing to say about this trend of young people today dying their hair blue:

I don't care.

I see kids all the time, going around with multicolored melons, sometimes variegated like a parrot, sometimes all one color. There are as many shades of blue as there are teenagers.  With colors like Air Force blue, Azure, Baby blue, Blue-gray,  Carolina blue, Cerulean, Indigo, Iris, Navy blue, Periwinkle, Royal blue, Sapphire Sky blue and all the way on down to Viridian, there are plenty of choices for the modern person who wants their hair to be some color other than what genetics put there.

When I was a barefoot boy with cheek of tan, my hair was so blonde, it almost looked white. So I didn't have to resort to the custom of dark-haired guys of my day: they would empty the contents of a bottle of hydrogen peroxide on the front of their hair to have their bangs all blond. Why they didn't just tint ALL their hair was never quite clear to me, although it did save a lot of guys from walking around looking like Guy Fieri, which would not have been a good thing even then.

But a little peroxide for guys and some frosting for girls and the occasional all-the-way to Clairol Light Golden Blonde or Pure Diamond for some girls, and that was the extent of hair chemistry in my day, and meanwhile I saw my own hair turn from that blonde to a ratty brown, and now nature has seen fit to continue using my head as a kaleidoscope, and it's gray.  Not that Mike Pence White, and not the George Clooney cool kind of gray. And not that salt-and-pepper look from the Grecian Formula ads, the ones that promise aging hipsters a chance to come back to work after vacation leaving coworkers stunned...STUNNED!...that anyone would think they wouldn't know the secret.

One of the immutable laws of nature is that no man can ever tell when a woman has dyed her hair, and no man can dye his hair at all without everyone from five-hour-old babies to soundly sleeping nonagenarians spotting it at fifty paces.  I mean, really.  Guys who dye their hair might as well wear a tiara with diamonds spelling out "DYE JOB", because it's that obvious.

But here's the point I was hoping to make.  A woman I know has a daughter in high school, a young lady of considerable accomplishment, with good grades, plenty of participation in the right activities, just one of those good kids that you know is headed for academic and personal success.  You know the kind of person I mean.  Not the sort that I, a total stranger to the honor roll review committee, was, but anyway...

Someone - some "adult" stranger - chose to cluck-cluck and shake her head and mumble some pejorative words when this sterling young woman took a notion to dye her hair blue before the start of the school year.

She did not get a swastika tattoo across her forehead. She did not get a pistol and rob a 7-11, or commit massive cheating on college boards, or steal a car and get all shahfahzed and run over a passel of orphans waiting for a ride to a fresh-air camp.  

She dyed her hair, which will grow out and flourish.

I hope we can say the same for the crabby, grumpy woman with enough time to criticize the free spirit of a fine young lady.


Saturday, June 15, 2019

The Saturday Picture Show, June 15, 2019

People with hi-class cameras seem to know how to get the very best pictures! Here's a photo of trees as magnified by a drop of water on the end of a branch.
Would anyone care to guess how many weary travelers, how many families on the way to Wally World, and how many unsanctified congresses and illicit liaisons took place over the years within these walls?
Every club has a special patriotic hat for the 4th of July. This is the Orioles version for 2019; the "B" logo is based on the one on the 1964 uniform hat, worn for that one season alone.

In this old picture of a gas station in Virginia, you see a guy wearing bib overalls. They are great for doing chores and general work around; not having a belt and worrying about droopy draws is such a pleasure. Maybe I should get another pair. Hello Amazon?
Even nature supports Pride Month.
The people who took this picture promises that it's not fake. The water splashing off the elephant's head took the shape elephant's head.
As kids, my sister and I always got some sort of food gift. She got nice sweet chocolates to match her personality, and I got these. They really were all they were cracked up to be!
Australia just took a big jump ahead in the worldwide car decorating contest!

Friday, June 14, 2019


On the rare occasion that Peggy and I forgo sleeping in the car and actually take a hotel room, I always make sure to be nice to the maid. For one thing, it's the better thing to do, and when you take time to talk to them, you will hear harrowing stories of the nastiness they get from our fellow humans.

On the more practical level, it will help you be sure to get plenty of coffee for the room and extra towels or shampoo, but that's a distant second to just being nice to people doing a largely thankless job.

People tend to mistreat service personnel, but it's even scarier when you're in a hotel room with some perv from Pennsyltucky who has seen too many pornos set in skeevy motels and he thinks this is his big chance, or when you open the door for room service and happen upon a crime in progress, or a medical emergency, or any of a hundred reasons to wish you were anywhere else right then.

New Jersey, my second favorite state, has become the first state to require that hotels with over a hundred rooms issue emergency buttons to employees. That's great!

“It means a whole lot,” said Iris Sanchez, 40, a housekeeper at Caesars Atlantic City, as Governor Phil Murphy signed the new law this week.  “I know I’m going to be able to go home at the end of the day.”

According to The Press of Atlantic City,  Murphy says hotel staff will now have  “greater security” that will let them be able to “immediately call for help, should they need it on the job.”

And this is good for all of us, not just the staffers. Assemblyman John Armato, D-Atlantic, says housekeepers are often the first people to discover an emergency situation, like a fire or a medical emergency situation.

“It’s not just for their safety, it’s for the safety of the whole hotel itself,” he said.

This law came to fruition because of the work of Unite Here Local 54, the casino workers union representing nearly 2,000 hotel housekeepers in Atlantic City alone.

And they take these things seriously in The Garden State: Hotels that do not get these buttons as required will pay a fine of $5,000 the first time and $10,000 for subsequent violations.

Nationally, large chains such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and Wyndham are promising employees to get alarms for staffers who deal one on one with guests.

Good news! Now if people will just behave, at home and away.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Blame it on the moon

In the early days of our marriage, Peggy and I really had to get to know each other.  Our engagement was so brief that we still had to go on voyages of discovery to find out how we liked our burgers cooked (rare for me, medium for her), whether she liked hominy made from scratch ("What is hominy?") and how cold was cold, how hot was hot.

We settled most of those matters. Peggy still won't touch hominy, or grits, for that matter. After lengthy negotiations, we finally figured out what thermostat settings (summer and winter) are good compromises, and most of the time, I can fix a satisfactory burger.

But there was one question I asked Peggy about that got me a look of utter stupefaction and an adamant "How could you even ASK that?"

It's the kind of thing that can be enjoyed in mixed company among consenting adults, or in homogeneity. It doesn't matter. It's pleasurable, no one gets hurt, and it gives fresh air to a body part that is all too often covered in denim.

We're talking about mooning here, and it was quite the popular sport in my youth.  Get a passenger with a sense of humor and pull up next to a car being driven by a Fred Rutherford type, have him drop trou, and hang a moon right on out the window.
1880's western style

Not that I ever was involved in such degradation, you understand, having devoted my teen years to quiet contemplation in dim salons and libraries and the "glass aisle" at the A&P (condiments, jams, jellies...) In junior high, we were fortunate enough to have a guy in our class whose brother was in high school, and from him we learned, like young seminarians from a bishop, that in wintertime when it was too cold to open the window, mooning was referred to as "pressed ham."

I heard about what was going on and I still find it hilarious, which explains why I still hold the record at the Regal Theatre in Bel Air as the only person ever to request a Senior Matinee Ticket for a "Jackass" movie.

I think that today's teens are too busy playing those video games and listening to Seven Seconds Of Summer or Z Money or whoever to ride in cars with their patooties on display, and that represents a dropoff in our culture from which we may never recover.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Tip Top

I love old jokes. Once I hear a gag that cracks me up, I don't forget it (or stop repeating it). I still like the one I got from Bazooka Joe on a bubblegum wrapper:
"Every time I'm down in the dumps, I get a new outfit!"
"Oh, so THAT'S where you get them!"

I am here to tell you that going to the dump can yield some great finds! With that wonderful precision of language, the British call what we call "the county dump" a "rubbish tip."  And a man named David Rose has found a top hat and cigar once owned by Sir Winston Churchill in one of those tips. The stogie and the topper were found with a cigar case and letters that gave up a lot of details of the former prime minister's daily life, have been valued at £10,000.  And that's 12,678.65 American semolians.

David Rose (not the bandleader who topped the Top 40 in 1962 with "The Stripper,") found this Churchilliana at work. He works in a dump and he was glad to show his loot off on the BBC show Antiques Roadshow.

The items were gifts from Sir Winston for the cook, and included a signed photo of the politician himself. The letters (200 of them!) were written by the cook to her son, and gave us a look inside Britain in Churchill's days. "She used to write to her son every day about the daily goings of Winston Churchill, what he was getting up to, how he was feeling and just interesting stuff about him," said Mr Rose.

The sad news is that Mr Rose is not giving up the location of this goldmine in a dump. He's worked there for 15 years and is squirreling away his cool haul for the future.

With any luck, he'll find a cache of Benny Hill's old getups.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

To protect and serve

We make certain assumptions in life, and most of them are valid. It's not outlandish to plan on getting hot water when you turn on the tap, and when you put the trash out at night, you can count on the county coming along in the morning to take it to the dump.  And certainly, when there's a police, fire, or medical emergency, you can be sure that the right people will respond to your 911 call.

But what about when an armed maniac is prowling through a high school gunning down students and teachers, and there is an armed School Resource Officer on the premises?  We expect that person to display the gallantry for which police everywhere justifiably pride themselves, and enter the fray to take out the killer, come what may.

Yeah, we thought that would happen, and then came the crisis at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day 2018, when Scot Peterson, the armed officer who should have responded to the 1200 Building on campus, did not do so. He stood outside the building while unspeakable carnage went on, for 48 minutes.

After a year and a half of investigation, the state of Florida has charged Peterson with eleven counts to condemn his actions, or lack thereof. One of the charges is for perjury, and it is clear that Peterson lied about how many shots he heard and what he was doing while Nikolas Cruz ALLEGEDLY carried out his murders.
All of this is obviously weighing heavily on Peterson, seen here at his arrest (left)
 and while still an active deputy sheriff (right).

Some experts see a little cloud over the other charges — seven counts for felony neglect of a child and three for culpable negligence.  There is a fine point, say some experts, between the responsibility of a "caregiver" (a parent, adult household member, or other person responsible for a child’s welfare), who has a legal duty to protect children in, say, a school, and that of a police officer. Indeed, Peterson’s attorney, Joseph DiRuzzo says his client was not a caretaker, legally speaking.

Things have changed since the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School. In those days, police were trained to wait for backup and exercise a high degree of caution before acting. But now, best practices for police departments hold that they should enter an active-shooter situation as soon as possible.

Down in Florida, they call Peterson "The Coward Of The County," which is wryly wrong, because in that Kenny Rogers song by that name, the "coward" actually rights the wrongs done to him by the evil Gatlin boys, standing up for what was right.

Perhaps a more apt Kenny Rogers song would be "The Gambler," because Peterson gambled that by cowering outside the scene of the slaughter, he would be safe and no one would ever know what a poltroon he actually is.

Humans have dealt with this "fight or flight" reflex since the first time a caveman came upon a sabre-toothed tiger way back in the day. We've come a long way since Og's day, and it says here that I can't think of a cop I know who would have turned tail like Peterson did.  We can't know how any of us would respond in his shoes, but we can expect more valor.

Monday, June 10, 2019

What the shell?

I've made some classic mistakes in my life, but I wish I had been smart enough to write down all the things (or even half the things) I heard while working at 911.

From real estate agents looking for the location of the great house they were trying to sell, to a woman who wondered if "going off with men" in return for household appliances constituted prostitution, to the kids wondering if school was open in the morning or who was James Buchanan's vice president (John C. Breckinridge).

Also, "who was James Buchanan?" and "how much is 9 times 8?" were samples of questions on the Homework Hotline, a/k/a 911.  Which is not to mention all the people who thought we were an offshoot of 411 ("Can you give me the number for ..."?) and the ones in the very early days of 911 service who called just to see if this new-fangled thing worked.

And of course, calls came in often about how the police BETTER get out here right away or someone was "gonna get smacked upside the haid" (that's Baltimorese for a violent blow to the temporal lobe). Or the old standby about someone parking in "my" parking spot on a public street, with or without snow in the way.

But I have to admit, this is a new one on me, from the bayou country down in Slidell, LA, where the local constabulary reports that a citizen called to report that a local Taco Bell had run out of both hard and soft taco shells. The department posted about the call on their Facebook page, calling it a “‘we can’t make this stuff up’ story.”

“Somebody called in to complain that the Taco Bell on Gause Boulevard ran out of both hard and soft taco shells,” the department wrote.

Sadly, the police weren’t able to help.
This is the Taco Bell in question. In case you find yourself in Slidell,
 you might want to bring your own shells.

“While this is truly a travesty, the police can’t do anything about this. Hopefully, they are replenished in time for Taco Tuesday!” the post concluded, hopefully.

The problem here, and I guess it's the same in Slidell, is that there is no other 1/2 decent taco carryout around. Chicken, burgers, pizza, there are plenty of other options.

And that is because the federal Department of Hamberder Choices makes sure of it.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sunday Rerun: "I ran so fast, my breath came in short pants"

All I know about human biology is that men ♂ and women ♀ are different. 

And that's more than I know about calculus!

But I saw a gaggle of teenaged guys the other day, traipsing through BuySumMor in that 15-year-old manner, which means picking up every item not fastened down, examining it for 1.2 seconds, and putting it back down with a chuckle.

You see, 15-year-old boys do that because 15-year-old girls look them over for less than 1.2 seconds before putting them down and running off with college guys.

It's been tough being 15 since Adam was 15.  But Adam wore a loincloth or something, not pants.

The worst thing about being a male of 15 was always that your back-to-school pants, which fit so perfectly in August when you stood there in Sears wearing long pants for the first time in two months, are climbing up your legs.  

By Thanksgiving, all those pants that were so perfect on Labor Day are useless unless you have a little brother or something. "Growing pains," kindly old Dr Pratt said, as I looked around the office for a fresh copy of "Highlights."

I learned all the tricks when I was coming up. If I had pants with cuffs, I could always turn them down for an extra inch or so of pantness, but that sort of looked like something The Darling Family would do when they came to Mayberry, so I just wound up hitting the family treasury for some new khakis.

Image result for tiny mens suitsFor a while, I was concerned, because I wasn't seeing so many young guys with calf-pants, but then I came to realize that the fashion world hath decreed that ALL men should dress like Pee-Wee Herman now in ill-fitting itty-bitty suits, so there's another problem solved.

The ill-clad man at left is probably the manager of a hedge fund valued in the billions, and yet, I wouldn't go out front and trim the hedges dressed like that.  

Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Saturday Picture Show, June 8, 2019

I don't think I would fit in very well with the California lifestyle, but you have to admit, even their bridges are pretty out there.
We've all seen the staged photos where it looks like some tourist is holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but here's someone who has figured out a new way to dress up the old monument!
In the animal kingdom, they know how to take care of each other. This family of duck siblings came to be in need of shelter and mothering, and look who stepped up to help out.
A man who has a dog who always sticks his snout into his waterbowl and spills it everywhere found a way to soak up the splash in a natural pretty way!
As a kid, I always wanted a bunk bed. I just hope whoever bunks here on the top does not have a sleepwalking problem.
Here's your free wallpaper for the week. There's a whole world of beauty out there.
I used to do a lot of meal prepping when I worked, and I understand this perfectly. Sometimes, you get sick and tired of your own sandwiches and salads and veal parmigiana and you want burgers and fried chicken. Variety adds spice!
So many pictures from England this week, and here's my second favorite: a guy who caused the Tower Bridge in London to be shut down while he took himself a sunbath.

Friday, June 7, 2019

The Compost Office

I must say, the old days, when everyone who left this mortal coil got two days worth of viewing at the funeral home, followed by a proper funeral and interment in a one-person bungalow with service handles, are coming to an end.  A lot of us plan to be cremated, which really burns me up.
Image result for human compost
And now there's this. It's out in Washington State, where Gov. Jay Inslee signed SB 5001, “concerning human remains.” Congratulations, Washington State! You are now the first US state to legalize human composting.

Of course, they're not going to call Uncle Nutsy or Aunt Thelma "compost," even though the tomatoes will never be redder or sweeter or juicier after next May, when the law goes into effect. What will happen to the dear departed will now be called “natural organic reduction.” To help the process along, a process called alkaline hydrolysis (“liquid cremation”) will also put your second cousin twice removed to work among the cantaloupes.  Or beneath them.

There will soon be a hilariously-named project called "Recompose" in Washington- the first urban “organic reduction” funeral home in the country.
It will work a lot like a crematorium, but instead of In By 9, Out By 5 like at the dry cleaner, Recompose will take a while longer to perform the miracle of "organic reduction," or human composting.

Using wood chips and straw, the process takes about a month to turn that guy down the street with the really nice hydrangeas into topsoil for his wife's second husband's hydrangeas. Farmers have been doing this for years with deceased livestock.

It'll be just my luck to be lying there as the staff enjoys a Pentatonix marathon on a music streaming service.

Come see me. Not anytime soon, but someday.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Mini Driver

There was a time last fall and winter when we got our mail delivered to the house as late as 10 pm. All the neighbors who stopped the poor letter carrier to ask why he was so late all the time found out that our 21234 PO was short staffed, so our route was covered by whoever felt like working a double shift that day (and not breaking any speed limits while doing so).

Meanwhile, there is this development: The Postal Service has started a test in which mail will be hauled across three Southwestern states using self-driving trucks. Self-driving trucks are also known as autonomous vehicles, which sounds so much better than "runaway trucks with no drivers."

A company from San Diego called TuSimple (and I'm sure it is!) says their undriven trucks will begin dragging your letters and birthday cards from Aunt Agnes between USPS facilities in Phoenix and Dallas as a test to see if it will cut down on costs and times. But they're hedging their bets! There will be a "safety driver" at the wheel in case the trucks needs something like braking or steering. Also an engineer will perch in the passenger seat, fooling with a slide rule.

“The work with TuSimple is our first initiative in autonomous long-haul transportation,” USPS spokeswoman Kim Frum says. “We are conducting research and testing as part of our efforts to operate a future class of vehicles which will incorporate new technology.”

Ms Frum says no tax money is in play here. The USPS rakes in their money from stamps and charging $39 to return a pair of pants to Mr Pants Incorporated. And TuSimple has found people willing to invest $178 million in this insanity.

To our friends in the great Southwest, these runaway mail trucks will be driving  on major interstates in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.  Maybe you should detour through Idaho for a few months.

“This run is really in the sweet spot of how we believe autonomous trucks will be used,” says Chuck Price, who holds the title of Chief Product Officer over at TuSimple.

“These long runs are beyond the range of a single human driver, which means today if they do this run they have to figure out how to cover it with multiple drivers in the vehicle.”

This is just another blow to organized labor.  Truck drivers will be getting their layoff notices delivered by unmanned trucks. But a dollar will be saved! Keep those investors happy.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

You Don't Have To Live Like A Legatee

In his lifetime, he had hits such as "Runnin' Down a Dream," "Refugee," "You Got Lucky," "I Won't Back Down," "Don't Do Me Like That,""Free Fallin'," and "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around."

Tom Petty had great success in music and is widely respected, even after his death in 2017.  There will be endless repackages, remixes, greatest hits releases and live performances that no one ever knew were recorded to keep the money rolling in for his record company and publishing concerns, but his eldest daughter, Adria, recently came up with a novel method of making the cash register ring that sweet song a few more times before people forget the leader of The Heartbreakers.

The plan did not sit so well with Adria's stepmother, Dana, who blocked it, accusing Adria of "selling out" and creating a “sad perversion of Tom’s legacy" as she ran to the nearest courtroom.

And what was Adria's idea?  Apparently inspired by the (Paul) Newman's Own line of supermarket items, she was going to make a selection of Tom Petty Salad Dressings and whatnot.

“Tom would never have permitted such a thing, he never ‘sold out’ while he was alive and refused to do any such thing despite numerous opportunities. Dana is certain Tom’s fans would also find it a sad perversion of Tom’s legacy" said one of the 2,395 lawyers who will have their fingers in this bottle of Bleu Cheese dressing by the time it's all over.

Turning up the heat a notch, Adria, 44, told a probate court that Dana has been “misappropriating” money from Tom’s estate and intellectual property for her own gain. In a counterclaim, Dana points out that she considers Adria "unhinged.”

When Petty died of an overdose at aged 66, his daughters from his first marriage, Adria and Annakim, each got a 1/3 say over the matters of his estate along with Dana. I imagine it took less than 5 minutes before the sisters Petty turned on old Dana to fight it out.

A few weeks ago, Adria filed a petition in Los Angeles probate court seeking to wrest control of Tom’s music catalogue, said to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
In happier days
Dana married Tom in 2001 and now says she should be the sole trustee of his trust.  And as she files her papers, she is also busy arguing with Adria over the artwork for the forthcoming 4-CD box set of Petty songs to be called "An American Treasure," containing songs that all his fans have on vinyl, cassette, CD and MP3 already.

It's got all the earmarks of the kind of trial that Court TV will carry - the grieving widow, trying to eke out a meager existence on two hundred million dollars worth of old songs, almost all of which were recorded before she came along to marry the singer, and the daughters, trying to chisel every nickel they can.

Dana will be able to show what she considers to be “abusive” text messages allegedly sent to her by Adria.

And Dana will be represented by attorney Adam Streisand (!), who said, “Dana Petty would have done almost anything to avoid all of this. Over the past weeks and months, however, the behavior of her stepdaughters Adria and Annakim has gone from unconscionable to unhinged – and it needs to be stopped.

“Tom Petty entrusted his wife Dana to choose how all three women could work together to carry on Tom’s legacy. But Adria and Annakim thought they could bully Dana and cast her aside. In the process, they’ve threatened, maligned and sued the people Tom worked closely with for decades.

“Her loyalty to her husband and the people he loved and trusted gave her the strength to fight, not only for herself, but for the whole Tom Petty and Heartbreakers family.”

 Adria and Annakim Petty are ably assisted by attorney Alex Weingarten, who wants it known that Dana's allegations are “completely false.”

He says that all the Petty daughters are trying to do is to do the right thing for their father, claiming that it is Dana who is difficult as she tries to take over the whole Petty-ness.

Weingarten said, “Dana and her lawyer are basing their case on smoke and mirrors. Every claim they make is demonstrably false.

“Adria and Annakim are laser focused on one thing – honoring and protecting their father’s legacy and enforcing the terms of his trust, as written.”

He concluded, "Creamy Italian or Thousand Island?"

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

"And in conclusion, all's well that ends well, and there's a divinity that shapes our ends."

This link:
will take you to the video of what we're talking about here.  It gets complicated.

It's quite apparent that what happened was that Kenny DeMoss, principal of Parkersburg (W.Va) High School, was, shall we say, a bit too influenced by a speech that Ashton Kutcher made at the 2013 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards when he composed his graduation speech.

You watch the video, and you see the unmistakable duplication of Kutcher's words.  One of his graduates had the video of the address, and remembered Ashton's words, and made a mashup video that's been seen almost as many times as the video of Billy Bush and a certain politician discussing how to meet women.

In a day and age when everything is taped and YouTubed, I have to wonder why this DeMoss thought no one would recognize the amazing similarities. Maybe he hoped no one would notice what he did, just as he hoped no one would notice a white pick-'em-up truck parked just behind the podium at the commencement (late arriving speaker?)

The principal, who now rues the day that video technology came to exist, says he didn't MEAN to use someone else's words. He also stammers that he should have cited his sources, all right, but said the ideas were his own.

Really.  In essence, he said, "The ideas I cribbed from Ashton Kutcher were mine."  Maybe Kutcher stole from HIM six years ago.  Yeah. That's the ticket!

"I did not get all my ideas from Ashton. Format yes, thoughts and ideas were from my heart," DeMoss wrote, adding that he's upset the speech has taken the attention from his graduates.

DeMoss wrote an email on Friday and said he's putting the incident behind him.

"Me and my family are the only ones being hurt here. My accuser isn't. I love kids and love this school and this will only make me better," he said.

Wood County Schools Superintendent Will Hosaflook did not immediately return a reporter's voicemail seeking comment.  I, predictably, will write to Hosaflook to ask his thoughts on a principal who says "Me and my family" instead of "My family and I."

Monday, June 3, 2019

Yeah, I remember MY first beer too...

We got to talking about school field trips the other day. Living in Baltimore, America's Greatest City*, we are close to terrific places for schoolchildren to visit as part of their academic enrichment*. Sixth graders used to go to Williamsburg, VA, for what is for many the first time they have slept away from the watchful eyes of their parents. I don't know if they still do this.

Nor do I know if journalism students go to New York for the School Paper convention held at Columbia University, and who knows if the 8th graders go to Washington DC anymore?

I remember the trip to Williamsburg very well, and I bought a paisley tie at the Columbia bookstore that I still wear, and the trip to DC was fun too. I always loved the Smithsonian Museum and all the cool stuff they show.

Speaking of being shown stuff in DC, say hi to Michael Comeau, erstwhile principal of Holy Family School in Louisiana. I say erstwhile, because he just resigned his position, about 12 seconds before he was going to have a can tied to him.

On Friday morning last at 0220 hours, District Police responded to the Archibald Gentlemen's Club for a report of “an intoxicated man refusing to pay his bill,” according to report in The Advocate.  Arriving police found Comeau “standing in the roadway, refusing to move.”

The popo asked the drunk principal time after time to get out of the street, but he was having none of it (he had already had plenty of something else). So they popped him on charges of public intoxication and possession of an open container.  All this took place within a mile of the White House, that well-known bastion of rectitude and clean living.

Back home in Bayou Country, the Diocese of Baton Rouge confirmed the incident, but took pains to point out that all the students were in their hotel rooms being supervised by chaperones while the principal was getting shafahzed in a nudie bar.

We were foolish enough to go to Williamsburg a few years ago during spring break week, meaning that we wound up in a hotel with dozens of testosterony and estrogenified 14-year-olds. One poor chaperone told us they had to take shifts sitting in a chair in a hallway, lest young Rupert gain entrance to Priscilla Mae's chambers as the clock struck 2.

I can't speak for (ex)Principal Comeau, and I don't know what he will tell his family when he gets back in LA, but I know this much for sure: the kids on that trip will have a story to tell their children's children's children.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Sunday Rerun: You never sausage a dent

Image result for footlong german sausage

I noticed this years ago when we drove to Florida.  To look around at the shops and stores, we could have been in our own neighborhood! There were Walgreens and CVS and Home Depot and Barnes & Noble and of course, McDonald's and Burger King everywhere. There seem to be no more purely local stores, or, at least, not many of them.

And apparently, the old saying about "people being the same everywhere" is true after all, just like your old Uncle Gustav used to say.

A case in point is this story from Neubrandenburg, Germany, where a man was driving his BMW too fast for a man who was trying to cross a street with his son in tow.  The angry German hollered "Stop!" as the car zoomed by, but the car failed to slow down, so the man threw a foot-long sausage at it.

The story concludes with the news that the sausage dented the back right-hand door of the automobile. sum up:  What have we learned?

  • Some Germans drive too fast, just like some Americans
  • You can dent the door of a BMW with a sausage
  • Germans have been known to walk around while carrying foot-long sausages heavy enough to dent steel

I have to admit, the same thing could have happened right here in Baltimore, Bakersfield or Beaumont.  The best idea is to drive never know what people are toting around on the sidewalk!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The Saturday Picture Show, June 1, 2019

We stopped at a Burger King on our way to Williamsburg last December and had a very tasty lunch. Just a Whopper Jr and some fries and a sparkling water and we were refreshed and back on the road. Fast food can be good. This old ad reminds me of the early days of the King around here on Joppa Rd over by the now-closed Giant Food.
SO you're a photographer, eh? And you decide to lie on your back in our cathedral to take pictures of the ceiling? Well, we just wanted to make sure you were all right.
This tub is in the mail room of a large office. Some time ago, they decided to save all the staples they wisely removed before shredding sensitive papers.
It does not surprise me that Steve Martin does not wish to stop and sign his name on things for people, nor does it surprise me that he is kind enough to have these little cards handy for people who approach him on the street.
This is downtown Baltimore, where there is both great commerce going on, and great unrest as well. Not far from here are the stadia where the Orioles and Ravens play, and Harborplace, where a nice summer evening can be spoiled by a couple hundred rampaging kids. The city government is currently in the grips of a computer hack that has slowed its operations to a crawl and now we find that the hack was developed by the NSA and somehow leaked. I do wish someone would step up and take this country by the shoulders and sit it down for an old-fashioned talking-to.
It's hard to believe that the low-speed chase was 25 years ago this month. I hope you get this.
Pictures #7 and #8 go together this week.  This is Old Bay Seasoning, and even if you don't like seafood, you would like the smell and taste of this tremendous blend of spices.
And if you like steamed crabs, this is the best use for Old Bay. This is Maryland summer in one picture - crabs, newspaper for a tablecloth and a can of beer.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Where there's no will, there's no way

There was a lot to R-E-S-P-E-C-T about the late singer Aretha Franklin, but I have to say, her attention to the legal matters that, like it or not, are part of everyone's life, is not among them.

As you might recall, it was said that Aretha left no will when she passed on last August, and now three handwritten wills have been found in her Detroit home.

Two of the new-found wills were locked up in a closet, the key for which took since last summer to find, and then they found another will hidden under the cushions of her sofa.

So now, of course, the whole matter of who inherits what from the music legend will be tied up for years and years in court proceedings. These documents are written on 16 scrawled pages. No one has even verified that the handwriting is that of Ms Franklin. And even if it can be proven that she wrote them, it will be up to judges who probably haven't been born yet to determine the validity of the wills.

One of the pages of the purported wills.
Aretha Franklin had four sons, and there is a person who has been appointed as personal representative of her estate. So all those people are lining up for their share of the soup, and it will be a while before all get a chance to dine.

Assuming that the wills were written by Aretha, they do indicate her desire to make sure all four sons are to be treated fairly. They indicate that her assets are to be divided equally among her three younger sons, with detailed instructions for the care of her eldest son Clarence, who has unspecified special needs.
Clarence is 64 and was born when Aretha was only 12. These wills deny the long-held account that his father is one Donald Burk (or Burke), a classmate of Aretha, claiming that Clarence's father is really Edward Jordan, Sr, father of another of the singer's sons, Edward, who was born to Aretha at age 14.

That will also holds this declaration concerning Clarence's care: "His father, Edward Jordan Sr., should never receive or handle any money or property belonging to Clarence or that Clarence receives as he has never made any contribution to his welfare, future or past, monetarily, material, spiritual, etc."

There will be a hearing to start sorting all this out on June 12.

Your lawyer friends, and your friend Mark, will advise you strongly to get a will made up before you die.

After that, it will be just too late.