Tuesday, March 30, 2010
It should be known that sending prisoners to war is not a novel idea in history. It’s been done before. Read about the Black and Tans. This was an early version of my idea. But for today’s purposes there would be some differences. The way I see it: If a prisoner is put away for non-sex crimes or non-violent crimes, why can’t he/she do something more for this country than rot in a cell and suck up tax dollars? The concept is simple. A prisoner will be told upon sentencing that he/she has a choice: that person can complete time in prison or be sent directly to boot camp then entered into the lowest ranks of the armed services. White-collar crimes, drug-possession, robbery without weapon, and other offenses of this nature would be applicable for this program. Example, if the sentence is 3-5 years, then that person would serve in battle for that same length of time. Said person would be trained “for the trenches” then deposited into the most desperate pockets of warfare. When their time is up they're discharged from service. If a CEO is busted for some kind of white-collar crime, but ran a successful, money-making business for decades, why can't our defense dept. find a way to use that kind of thinking? The running a successful business part.
Psych. evals.? Of course. Everything a regular soldier would have to go through to serve. But not all prisoners are nutjobs who'd unleash their war skills on society afterwards. There could be some positive gained from tapping into this sect of society. If they tried to run while at war. AWOL. Like any other soldier. Prison time awaits.
What are the advantages of a prisoner partaking in this program? The first advantage is obvious. Instead of sitting in prison, learning to be a better criminal, said person could be doing something positive, learning important lessons of discipline and perhaps gaining some self-pride from being part of the greatest armed services in the world. And maybe even have the chance to come back home as a war hero. What a change from common street criminal. Occasionally, some prisoners could decide to make a career out of the armed services, proving themselves rehabilitated then working through the officer ranks. If we believe in the power of rehabilitation, why can’t the army, navy, etc believe the same thing and give a one-time criminal a shot at something great? Like I said, these are non-violent offenders I’m referring to. If a prisoner did serve his country proudly while under sentence, maybe some kind of satisfactory (not honorable) discharge or removal of the criminal offense from his/her record could be arranged.
The truth is our society has made it almost impossible for someone out of prison to find work. This most times forces someone to return to a life of crime, thus ending up in prison again. This vicious cycle could perhaps be reduced with my idea. Remember, any prisoner that went to war or served the American Armed Services would be risking his/her life in battle, and could end up as a casualty of war, like any other soldier we send. For every great opportunity, there is great risk as well.
How would this work during peace? Well, peace time isn't coming anytime soon. But if it did there's always a need for the military. It could be worked out.
The advantages of this proposed program for us as a society are also obvious. Of course I believe anyone who commits a rape, murder, armed robbery, etc, belongs in prison, no doubt. But right now our prisons are overpopulated with small-time offenders and repeat offenders who can’t get an honest life going on the outside. This huge prison population is putting an equally huge burden on American taxpayers and creating dangerous conditions for CO’s and other prison workers. Right now the burden of defending our freedom is solely on the soldiers who have registered for service. The armed services are being stretched thin and backdoor drafting is happening all over the place. Why can’t we tap into the seemingly endless supply of small-time criminals we’re funneling through the prison system? If the armed services provide so much balance and discipline why not expose our most needy Americans to it?
I know many, former and present, members of the American Armed Services will bristle at the idea of common criminals populating their ranks. That such a thing would pollute the honor and dignity of “serving.” But come on. They said the same thing about African Americans and now they’re saying the same thing, in many ways, about homosexual Americans. The truth is we’re sending these kids, mostly poor, Southern, uneducated, to a war that is being fought so conglomerates and big business can make money. You don’t fight a war on terror by invading and occupying a country. That just makes more terrorists. You stop terror by good police work in this country. With all due respect to those on the front lines, this war’s a complete sham and everyone knows it. There’s no accountability in government anymore, at any level. Can you believe not one person was fired over 9/11? Not one! So don’t tell me about honor and dignity.
Our soldiers are being sent 30,000 at a time into this abyss to fight some masked enemy. And everyone will have a heart attack if I suggest a war tax, to make civilians feel the pain of war the same way the soldiers do. Don’t want to do that? Want to save money? Of course. And we all know the rich and well-connected will never serve a single day if they don't bring back the draft, which I say would end this war in three seconds. OK. Fine. So let’s empty the small-timers out of our prisons and put them in fatigues. You break our law, you protect our policies. Period.
Friday, March 26, 2010
This entire off season, after their amazing run to the AFC Championship game, the Jets have done nothing but brought unneeded attention to their team and organization. From Rex Ryan flipping off fans in Miami to his fat-guy surgery, it's been one ridiculous headline after the next. Last week, Jets owner Woody Johnson made a stink about some stupid coin flip to determine which NY team would open the new stadium in September. Did he have a point? Maybe. But my God, talk about a cry-athon. Now the Jets have agreed to be featured in HBO’s annual attention fest “Hard Knocks.” About “Hard Knocks,” owner Woody Johnson said, "We're going to let the fans in on something that they've never seen up close and personal. This is going to be kind of the king's new clothes. I think you can argue that there's no other team in the league right now that's kind of more interesting than the New York Jets."
Yeah right. Interesting? A loud-mouth coach who’s gotten PR because he’s not disciplined enough to lose weight the right way? That’s your coach? Your leader of men? Your symbol of discipline? A guy who can’t put down the potato chips and hop on a treadmill? As a football fan, the last place I want to see my team is on TV during training camp. That kind of thing is for Jerry Jones and the silly circus he runs in Dallas. Jones signed his squad up twice. Enough said. All this look-at-me crap never results in NFL wins. Never. And although I was happy to see the Jets go so far last year, they haven’t actually won a thing. There’s no victory parade for losing the AFC Championship game. Sorry, guys.
"This might have motivated me earlier," said a smiling Ryan, noticeably slimmer after undergoing lap-band surgery a few weeks ago. "I probably should've had the surgery maybe a year earlier. I'd be down to about 220 [pounds], and maybe I would get that opportunity to have that romantic scene with Heather Locklear one day."
Umm . . . OK.
Compare that crap to the NY Giants way. Right off the bat, our head coach Tom Coughlin is not only a brilliant football mind, he’s a symbol of sound discipline and physical fitness. Tom’s 63 years old and looks great. I guarantee he runs 5 miles a day and does 100 bare-knuckle push ups. That’s a leader of men. That’s who I want. Not some fat clown who’s making a fool of himself in the press. The only time you ever see or hear about Tom Coughlin is at the press podium or on the sidelines. When HBO asked the NY Giants to star in “Hard Knocks” after their ’07 Superbowl win, Coughlin told them to take a hike. Win, lose, or draw, Coughlin’s all business, and that’s the way I want it. His players are the same way. I’ll be the first to admit: The Giants had a down season in 2009, no doubt about it. Bad seasons happen. But before that, Coughlin took us to the playoffs 4 straight years. In fact, Coughlin's one of only 5 active coaches with a Superbowl ring. That's elite.
Sure, we had to clean house and wash away the distractions of Plaxico Burress. But I promise the Giants will be back. In fact, I think the Giants are going to win the Superbowl this upcoming season. And if you don’t think Coughlin is an elite coach, and if you don’t think the Giants have a capable squad led by Eli Manning, you don’t know anything about football. Oh by the way, don't let Osi's 2009 fool you. He's going to be a monster this year. Knee injuries always take a few years to come back from. Ask Tom Brady about that.
"I have to tell you that in all of the years that we've done this, this is the right team at the right time with the right coach, the right transparency, philosophy ... this is going to be a big hit," said HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, who acknowledged being a longtime Jets fan. "We have our Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg in Rex Ryan."
I rest my case.
Right now the spotlight may be on Gang Green, but it’s for all the wrong reasons. The NY Giants are hard at work, waiting in the weeds. The Jets may've had a better '09. OK. But don't get carried away with that. The truth? Ryan is not a good X's and O's guy. He's a bad clock manager. And these pros are only going to beat the drum for that rah-rah stuff so long. Coughlin's a football genius and the Giants are in the picture almost every year. Don't believe me? What coach leads the league in challenges won (percentage wise)? That's right: Coughlin (48%). What's that mean? It means, in part, he knows the game inside and out. The Jets have to do it more than once in a blue moon to be in this conversation. And when the interest returns to what’s happening on the field, the headlines will be with the Giants once again. Because fat-guy surgeries and crybaby owners are never as interesting as racking up wins. Not for real football fans at least.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
According to the TU: The puppy was badly burned in January after Thomas Hendricks II of Schenectady held her under scalding water and ripped out her fur, the man told police. Two other dogs in Hendricks' care were tortured to death. He was charged with three counts of felony aggravated animal cruelty and misdemeanor menacing, but took a plea deal March 17.
As for the toy poodle named Carmella. She has been adopted by a lovely woman named Arlene Conway from Colonie. Arlene has renamed this beautiful little dog Angel and is ready to give her a new lease on life. "She is in the care of a wonderful, loving new owner," said SPCA spokesman David Dean. "With the generous support of this pet-loving community, we are working toward ending similar incidents of abuse."
Ms. Conway, you've done a wonderful thing. I hope you enjoy your time with Angel and give her the great life she deserves. Reading this story brought a mile-wide smile to my face. Enjoy your life together, ladies, and God bless you both!
Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=915247#ixzz0jE3thpju
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
My opinion: tax habits!
Do I think health care and education could survive some trimming? Sure. I guess so. Do I think we should lay off 10,000 school teachers statewide in one fiscal year and under staff ER and hospital personnel in one hard shot? Hell no, on both counts. You’re robbing Peter to pay Paul. Can’t anyone see that?! My solution is tax habits. Tax ‘em to death. Beer, cigarettes, the Lotto, fast food, soda, candy. Tax ‘em all. Here’s the thing about habits: They’re habits! People aren’t going to give them up because of some new ten cent NYS recovery tax.
My vision's simple. Here it is. Let’s start with fast food. All the state’s McDonald’s, Burger Kings, Taco Bells, Wendy’s, etc, tax ‘em. For every dollar spent, add another five cent “fast food state tax.” So now a Big Mac meal at Mickey-D’s is $5.15 instead of $4.89 with the current 8% tax, or whatever. What’s wrong with that? Does anyone think that the people who actually eat this crap will stop because of some additional five cent tax? Um . . . I don’t think so. Does anyone think McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, etc will stop building restaurants in NYS? Say goodbye to 19 million potential buyers? Yeah right, try again. Do the same thing at Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, etc. It’ll mean millions of generated dollars instantly, and the state can easily write that legislation off as concern for people’s health. Yeah, that’s it, that’s the ticket. Not money. Health concern.
As for cigarettes and beer? I don’t care what state leaders do with that one. Tax it till the cows come home. Add another $2.00 to cigarette prices. Call it a “state tobacco tax.” Guess what? Smokers are addicted. They’ll pay anything to puff. So, OK, charge ‘em the kitchen sink. Beer drinkers love to drink. Um, um, um give me some good beer. Love that stuff. Well, how ‘bout paying a dollar “state beer sales tax” on top of all the other extras paid with every 12-pack or case of Bud, Coors Light, whatever? Who cares? Just give me my beer. Need my beer. Again, the state can call that an aggressive measure to make people quit. Yeah, OK. I’ve never once met someone who just up and quit drinking for no other reason besides quitting, and no dollar state tax will change that. And yes, Bud, and Coors, and whoever else will keep pedaling their product in NYS. I promise you. No doubt about that.
Soda, sugary drinks, candy? Tax! Tax! Tax! Here’s how I see it. Would you rather pay an extra dollar for your Big Mac meal with soda side and candy bar dessert or lose your job five years before retirement? Your call. And despite what I’ve said, maybe all this habit taxing will convince a few people to give this garbage up, which would do wonders for our health care costs. So now we’re paying Peter to pay Paul.
Let’s take it one step further. Double traffic fines. You break the law. You pay. Oh well. And NYS is raking in dough by the basket loads. Add five cents to every toll exit, tax flights out of NYS airports, and trains out of NYS stations. If I have to fly, drive, or train somewhere, no two dollar “state transportation tax” on my ticket is going to stop me. All these options are better than begging on the breadline. Right? Turn on News 9's Capital Tonight sometime. The state of our state. It's like a horror movie.
And this may be a primitive attitude: But this is NYS, damnit! The top state in America, right? If big business wants to come here, the Wal-Mart’s, and Targets, and McDonald’s of the world, this state should take a piece of their profits for a year or make them pay the state an upfront fee to build here. New Yorkers have the most money and generally the most power. Plus, we have 19 million people here. The chain businesses will come, and come, and come. Believe me. Yes, of course, leave small business alone, but hit the big boys up for something, anything. We need money! Now you may say we wouldn’t need money if the idiots in Albany could appropriate the billions in taxes we already send. In other words, rein in spending. But, please. That ship has sailed. Our governor basically threw away his political career for baseball tickets to "watch" a World Series game, and he’s blind! Try explaining intelligent decision making to him.
In my opinion, anything is better than thousands and thousands of people losing jobs by the basket load. When that happens unemployment gets overrun and people stop spending into the economy. Don't believe me? Check out the housing market figures. Ouch. Anyone would trade a few more dollars in McDonald’s and tobacco taxes to keep their careers. Right? And taxing habits is the answer, I believe. Would there be miles of red tape? Yeah. Will it ever happen? Doubt it. But either way, habits are habits, which means people will continue them regardless of some extra tax burden. So I say instead of wiping out elementary schools and shutting down office buildings, let beer drinkers pay another dollar for their nightly twelve pack of Bud. Seems fair to me.
Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=914453#ixzz0j5lujqBz
Sunday, March 21, 2010
So now the questions will begin: Does Head Coach Fran McCaffery stay at Siena or put his hot-commodity status to the test and try his hand at a big-boy school? Former coaches Mike Deane and Paul Hewitt both used Siena as a stepping stone successfully. Deane to Marquette and Hewitt to Georgia Tech. After Siena surrendered to Purdue on Friday my thoughts quickly turned to Fran’s future, and a line that ESPN sports reporter Colin Cowherd uses: Don’t try to be happier than happy. Might be good advice for Siena’s current coach.
For those who think Fran should cash in his hot ticket, here’s how I see it. Fran’s super senior class is graduating in May, so one would suspect there will be a period of rebuilding, even a brief one. And if you think Kyle Downey’s the answer, ah, think again. The program’s coming off three straight appearances in the Big Dance, netting two wins in that time. Last week, former standout Kenny Hasbrouck signed a ten-day deal with the Miami Heat, which means Fran’s first recruit is now in the NBA, if only for a short time. Perhaps the most exciting thing about being part of Siena basketball is the MAAC Tournament in Albany every March. The locals come out and treat the Saints like minor royalty, and Fran McCaffery’s the king of it all. A great basketball environment, no doubt. But guess what? The MAAC is no longer holding its tournament at the TU, and after Belber and the MAAC’s head man Rich Ensor butted heads in the press over the handling of security at the Championship game this year, I doubt the tournament is ever coming back to Pearl Street. So if Fran’s going to keep racking MAAC Championships, he’s going to do it in some rinky-dink gym in Bridgeport then Springfield, MA. All these reasons, combined with McCaffery’s age (50), would make one think it was the right time for Fran to jump ship and chase the big-name school, and of course, the big-name payday. After all, it may be now or never.
Don’t try to be happier than happy.
Those who know Fran and his family will quickly say the coach is quite happy with his Loudonville house and salary from Siena. McCaffery and his wife Margaret, a former Notre Dame women’s basketball player, have 2 young children. And she has made no secret of the fact that she doesn’t want to leave the Capital Region, so Fran can fight to take St. John’s or Seton Hall to the promise land. The truth is the McCafferys are treated like demigods in this area, recognized and revered wherever they go. If quality of life is a factor, it doesn’t get much better than that. If McCaffery takes a job in a large-market city, he’ll quickly be pushed to the backburner, because care level is low when there’re pro teams to contend with. If Fran were to go to NJ, he’d be lucky to valet Tom Coughlin’s car. Same thing in Atlanta, Philly, Cali, Chicago, etc. And although the demigod status would be long gone with the big-market job, the stress would be triple what it is here. Figure that out. Have you seen Paul Hewitt lately? He looks like Bill Cosby. Mike Deane or Rob Lanier? I haven’t seen either of them in years. How’s that for relevant? To be honest I think Fran could sign a lifetime deal with Siena and rack up MAAC wins and tourney tickets till the end of time. Big-market jobs? Three years to win. If not, so long and nice to know you.
Don’t try to be happier than happy.
My opinion: Stay, Fran, be happy, healthy, and revered wherever you go. But anyone would understand the competitive nature that compels a man to take the next step. Of course. The truth is he’s a great coach. In fact, I’ve never seen him outcoached by anyone, not even Pitino last year in the dance. So if a Louisville or Villanova opens up, McCaffery would have no choice but to test the waters. Of course. For now, I guess the Capital Region will keep their collective fingers crossed, and hope when next hoops season rolls around Fran’s still Siena’s front man.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I was saddened to see that North Greenbush youths, regardless of how drunk they were, would so dramatically destroy a beautiful home. But I was also shocked at the audacity it takes to crowd into that super-exclusive community 80-plus deep, break into an unoccupied mansion, and get the party started. I feel like the old sheriff in the McCarthy movie No Country for Old Men. “The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure.” Touche, Tommy Lee Jones.
When I was 17 I was arrested for busting up mailboxes. We’d grab a Louisville Slugger, pile into somebody’s crappy car, and drive around town blowing mailboxes off their blocks. One night I messed with the wrong redneck, some guy who modeled his mailbox after his house. Both the house and box were ugly, so I put an extra swing into that destruction. The North Greenbush PD brought me in and I was forced to pay $300.00 in restitution. My father, umm, not happy. Lesson learned, the hard way. My mailbox-busting days were over. Today I recognize that petit vandalism was wrong, and I’d be red hot if some punk did it to my mailbox. But, in my defense, there’s such a thing as kids being kids, and if busting mailboxes is the only offense on my rap sheet, so be it. Did you know that RAP is an acronym for Report for Arrests and Prosecutions? See. You learn something new every day.
But this new kind of crime, this extent of damage to private property? Wow! According to Chief Rocco Fragomeni: “The damage to the house is disgusting. I am appalled that these teens thought it was okay to go there and have a party in the first place. Then to trash the place is beyond comprehension.” I completely agree, Rocco. And for the record, Rocco’s the same cop who collared me for mailbox-busting way back when.
In regards to this Pond Hill house party, questions about where the alcohol came from will be asked and dozens of interviews will be done, according to reports. And I’m glad to see that the NGPD are ostensibly taking this very seriously, and it’s my belief that they’re going to send a serious message to these offenders. Can anyone say restitution?
But I must ask: would the same lengths be taken if the destroyed house wasn’t a million-dollar mansion? Are police being pushed by the fact that the victim is a very wealthy, and most likely, very powerful person in the North Greenbush community, and beyond? I mean, you’d have to have some level of serious influence to own an unoccupied house in Pond Hill, annual property taxes about 22K. And you don’t even live there. Let’s pretend the house in question is some converted-camp on Burden Lake, and the dollar value of the damage was far less but equal in scope. Is this still a front page story in every major paper in the area? Is it still the top story on all five TV-news outlets? Are police driven most by stories that carry the pressure of news coverage and public interest? I must ask.
My answer: I sure hope not. But maybe.
Case and point. A few years back when I was still living at home, our neighborhood was under the wrath of vehicle robbers. Basically, kids would climb into parked cars at night and loot whatever they could. One night they got my unlocked car for $300.00 left in the wallet. I was dumb, I know, enough said. Of course I called the cops. They made a report and that was that. Days later the vehicle robbers were overheard bragging about their conquests on the school bus. I was told this by several witnesses, including the bus driver, about this bragging. I told all this to the cops and nothing was done, not a single witness was interviewed or asked about these conversations. It was almost like the cops didn’t care. Sometime later the local media got hold of the story of these vehicles being robbed right in front of houses. Soon after that arrests were made. Just in time for the 6PM news. Go figure.
My point is a crime like this forces many questions to the surface, questions we don’t want to answer on a day-to-day basis. How does something like this happen? Why? What will become of this country’s future? Whatever happened to respect? How are police handling the situation? Where’s your kid at 11PM on a Friday night? I guess, like everything else in America, the teenage crime is getting bigger, bolder, faster. Ten years ago it was busting mailboxes with baseball bats. Now it’s breaking-and-entering then destroying million-dollar mansions. According to NGPD Capt. Robert Durivage, windows at the home had been knocked out, light fixtures and chandeliers were smashed and carpets had been urinated on. The extensive damages also included broken kitchen cabinets and wrecked counters, among other things. “The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure.”
I just wonder if that same thinking applies to all levels of society, not just the crimes that disrupt the rich and bring the biggest press coverage. I suppose we’ll wait and see. But my guess is we’ll learn the answer to that question the hard way.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Sometime that same night, a 20-year-old woman accused the QB of sexually assaulting her. She has since hired a lawyer and Georgia Police are on the case. Of course Rothlisberger and the two men he was with (off-duty cops, according to reports) all claim nothing inappropriate took place. Ed Garland, an attorney for Roethlisberger, has said the quarterback is innocent of any crime and that no sexual assault occurred. Rothlisberger has already spoken to cops, saying that he had contact with the woman but no assault took place. He has also told police that the woman slipped and fell to the ground, hitting her head. OK. Now if you think a national celebrity getting gassed with college kids is dumb, the only thing he could have done to fuel this fire of stupidity was give a statement to police without a lawyer guiding him. So obviously that’s what this idiot did: gave the statement asap. He better hope he was telling the truth, because he’s locked into that slip-and-fall story forever. But my guess is things are going to get really bad for Rothlisberger. Whatever happened that night, the fact that he was even in that place, is crazy. And, I believe, the storm’s coming for him.
Oh, by the way, did I mention that another woman is currently suing the star QB for allegedly raping her at a Lake Tahoe hotel in 2008? That’s right! He’s currently in hot water with another woman for the same kind of crime. Like the Adam Sandler movie says, “Stupidity wins in straight sets.”
Truthfully, Big Ben’s judgment’s always been up for debate. You may remember a few years back he was involved in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet. It was a miracle he didn’t die from that wreck. Then, last season he took time out of the NFL season to leave his team and host a WWE Wrestling event on TV. The QB of a Superbowl championship team risking injury in the heart of a playoff run to go rastle on Monday Night Raw. Not sure what message that sends to Steelers fans. In the end, his team didn’t make the playoffs, so Ben was able to get a jump start on his off-season training. College bars and 20-year-old girls. What can I say? This guy’s an idiot.
When playing NFL QB there is no more important character trait than good judgment. My QB needs to be the smartest, coolest dude in the room, in every room. I promise you that Eli Manning, or Peyton for that fact, would never be caught DEAD getting wasted in a Georgia college bar and flirting up 20 year olds. You may argue that Rothlisberger is a 2-time Champion, one more than Eli or Peyton. But Ben wasn’t the MVP of either Superbowl. Do you know how irrelevant the starting QB has to be to NOT be named MVP, in either game? Both Eli and Peyton were MVP’s of their team’s Superbowl win, of course. Ben is physically gifted, no doubt, but my God, the nonsense never ends with this kid. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me again and again . . . The hits just keep coming for the Steel-city superstar.
How did I know Kobe Bryant was innocent of raping that girl in Colorado in 2003? Simple. When she made her claims against the NBA great, not another woman came out on ET Tonight or to People magazine, saying Kobe did the same thing to her. Nobody. Nothing. Not a single woman! When Tiger’s nonsense went public, about 30 women came out of the woodwork, crowing to everyone who'd listen. That’s what happens when a celebrity’s on the hot seat. Everybody wants their 15 minutes of fame from it. A few months later, Kobe’s accuser dropped all charges and disappeared. I DON’T predict the same ending for Ben and his college-aged accuser. I believe we are about to see the public tumble of an NFL megastar. This story just keeps getting bigger. There’s trouble written all over this case, I’m telling you right now.
I honestly believe Ben Rothlisberger is going to end up in prison from this, if not giving into a financial settlement of some sort. So be ready for a primetime sports trial. It’s coming. And when they slam that cell door shut on Big Ben, he’ll have nothing to thank but his routinely (shockingly) bad judgment. Of course the pundits will call it the sad fall of a sports icon. But the sad fall happens when you’re the dumbest athlete in America. See Mike Tyson/Desiree Washington for proof of that.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
"I knocked over a security guard," one student said. "I hit him in the face, he fell, and I ran over him. No lie."
Even though the Times Union Center, MAAC officials, and the school itself urged the 700-800 Siena students attending the game not to storm the playing area as they’ve done two years in a row, even moving the student section off the floor and into regular seating, the students decided to do whatever they wanted to do. So, as the final seconds ticked away, storms of yellow-shirted co-eds left their seats and poured in waves down the narrow walkways, as security frantically readied themselves for the disobedient and dangerous onslaught of drunken students. The school band packed up shop, the cheerleaders headed for the hills, and the arena’s atmosphere of excitement was replaced by a palpable fear of what would happen when the final gun sounded and the celebration began. Then the gun did sound, and boy oh boy, the celebration came as Siena’s drunked-up students jumped the barriers and pounded through security people, knocking some to the floor, tossing others aside, and generally showing no regard for human safety. For several minutes they came pouring through security in waves, until the court was covered in students jumping up and down, others dancing for the news cameras, and others doing basically anything they wanted, as security, TU General Manager Bob Belber, and Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings looked on helplessly.
"I know that Rich (MAAC commissioner Ensor) is going to hate me to say this, but it was just kids being kids,'' said Times Union Center general manager Bob Belber. "Our security people are trained to let people go when it gets out of hand. We don't want any of our people getting hurt and we don't want any of the kids hurt." Are you kidding me? That's the company line coming from the TU's GM? Umm, OK. His people are taught to submit? So if I really want to rush Billy Joel's stage Thursday night, security will let me if I have enough of my friends and we're really, really determined. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. In Belber's defense I saw him personally pushing kids back into the stands, for a while at least. Then . . .
In a matter of minutes, the focus went from what this incredible Siena Saints basketball team had just accomplished to this motley crew of students mobbing the players and highjacking the moment for themselves. But the truth is this basketball team doesn’t just belong to a liberal arts college in Loudonville, overcrowded with meatheads and spoiled brats who’ve never heard the word no. This team belongs to the entire region, and it was that way a whole lot of years before these kids came here. From the chants of “You suck,” and “a*&hole,” and “f*&^k you” raining from the student section all weekend, to the beer being poured onto the arena floor from the seats above, to the drunken displays all over Pearl Street, these over-privileged snobs treated Albany and its people like their personal toilet bowl. And the truth is the behavior of these same Siena students the past few years is really (in large part) what cost Albany the MAAC Tournament. That’s the truth, whether Bob Belber and the MAAC want to admit it or not. Neutrality? Yeah right. I’m sure any good businessman would move the tourney from a place that pulled 53,000 fans in 3 days. Yeah right. Albany businesses send their collective thanks.
One Siena court rusher complained about security: "They were actually hitting us. When we tried to move, they were trying to attack." Yeah, moron. That’s what happens when you break the rules and put people’s lives at risk for your own amusement. Don’t believe me about how bad Siena fans are. After one win in the NCAA Tournament last year, Siena students gained the reputation as one of the worst, most unruly fan-bases in the nation. Google it. I’m sure Siena students will read this and think of themselves as cool. And if that’s what they need to do, fine by me. Just know I’m not trying to be the old man, blowhard, lecturing college kids about fun, that’s not what I’m saying here. Last year, I watched as the students rushed and I really enjoyed it. Then the press table began to wobble and computer monitors were turned over, and the potential for someone to get hurt was huge. But this year was even worse, because the arena took preventative steps to stop the students, and the students rushed anyway, and in doing so doubled the risk for injury. Honestly, I’m all about having fun, but it was an ugly scene. Now these brats get to graduate and the rest of the region is left with no MAAC Tournament. What can I say? It sucks!
In all this I wondered what role head coach Fran McCaffrey was playing. The same coach who said "safety" was the reason he sent his players to the locker room on Saturday before shaking hands with a dirty Manhattan team (a move I completely agreed with), seemingly did nothing to deter Siena students from rushing the court two nights later. If he's so concerned about safety, where was his voice of reason Monday night? Maybe it's unfair to blame Fran, but I thought he could've at least given the impression he was unhappy with the students and not smiling away with the chaos.
The following scene summed up the whole weekend for me. Sometime after the Siena win on Saturday, the cheerleaders, for some reason, began this huge group cry on the sidelines. Rumor was they were told they would not accompany the team to the NCAA’s, as crazy as that timing seems. Anyway this cheerleading team crying jag went on pathetically in front of 8,000 fans. Then, after the game, it spread out into the arena’s walkways, cheerleaders boo-hooing everywhere. Finally someone said to one of the cheerleader’s mothers, comforting her sad, little princess, “Can you please take this crying child home?” Yes, I agree. Take all these crying children home.Read: http://blog.timesunion.com/collegesports/students-werent-going-to-be-denied-their-celebration/7488/
Monday, March 8, 2010
If you don’t know the details of the high speed police chase, they are as follows: A 44-year-old man driving a stolen car died in a two-car crash on Route 9H in Columbia County Friday that ended a failed high-speed bid to escape police, according to State Police. The Dutchess County man, whose name was not released by authorities, drove into the path of an oncoming southbound dump truck at about 2:19 p.m. and died at the scene, Senior Investigator Gary Mazzacano said. The truck driver, George Duryea, 33, of Nassau, escaped unharmed. Police said the chase started in Red Hook, where police had stopped a vehicle reported stolen from Millbrook earlier that day. (Times Union)
At the end we’re left with a 44-year-old man dead and another driver who barely escaped death when his truck was tossed off the road and turned on its side. Police are telling us the pursued was driving a stolen vehicle, but they’re not telling us anything more. It’s “reported” stolen. Sounds like a little butt-covering to me. The chase moved through twenty-plus miles in Columbia County, at times moving in excess of 100mph. Of course I don’t have to tell you how dangerous such a thing can be for so many other innocent drivers. So again I ask: what did this guy to warrant that kind of car chase?
He was driving a car that was reported stolen in Millbrook? That’s it? That’s what all this upheaval’s about? That’s why a man is dead and so many other innocent motorists are lucky to be alive and/or uninjured? 20 –plus miles? In excess of 100mph at times? Are you kidding me? He stole a car in Millbrook? I would call for that kind of chase, putting hundreds of lives at risk, if the Troopers were pursuing someone with reported ties to Al Qaeda, or maybe someone wanted for an armed robbery, or rape, or murder. But all this for a “reported” stolen car in freakin’ Millbrook?
The first job(s) of all law enforcement officials is to serve and protect citizens. Neither job was attended to in the midst of this mess. For reference 20 miles is roughly from Albany to Saratoga Springs, give or take. The fact that NYS Troopers chased this car that far--putting everyone in between at risk--for such a petty complaint is beyond belief. At what point is it up to law enforcement officials to recognize the bigger picture and back off?
I am not suggesting that someone who steals a car should get away with it, and I’m not claiming to have huge knowledge of police procedure. But, if I were the head of a police department at any level, I sure wouldn’t want to explain to someone why their innocent family member is dead because a car chase went wrong. That's just common sense, right? This isn’t Miami Vice or the movies. There has to be a point where police are taught to disengage or back off, hope to capture this guy, and the “reported” stolen car on the backend. 20-plus miles? In excess of 100mph at times? That just seems like too much risk to collar some low-leveler for a “reported” stolen car. I don't think police would shoot up a crowded theatre to take some pickpocket down, would they?
I'll admit I don't know the whole story. I only know what's been fit to print in the papers. But what else is there to know? Troopers chased the guy for 20-plus miles. Now he's dead and the "reported" stolen car has been returned, albeit totaled. There's been nothing about this guy's criminal past? Was he a notorious outlaw? Who was he?! In the end what was accomplished? What!? At this point we can be thankful that nobody else ended up dead from this wreck.
Friday, March 5, 2010
10. Happy Days (1974): “Aaaayh!” Was there anybody cooler than Henry Winkler’s Fonzie? He was the original Dylan McKay and Ron Howard’s Cunninghams were the original Walsh family. Created by Garry Marshall, this was the show where the phrase “jump the shark” came from, and where Joanie first loved Chachi. Add Potsie Webber and Ralph Malph and you’ve got the whole gang. But the party at Arnold’s never got started till Fonzie punched the jukebox to get the music going.
9. Six Feet Under (2001): This dark comedy created by Allan Ball was about the day-to-day happenings of a family who ran a funeral parlor. In the series’ first scene the Fisher family’s father is struck dead in a car wreck and in the last season brother Nate dies. In between almost every issue is dealt with from drug use to David’s homosexual relationship with a black man. This HBO cult classic may be too good to even call television. Every episode started with an epic death scene and every episode ended with a super-cool cliffhanger. If you liked American Beauty you’ll love Six Feet Under. Hey, Six Feet Under. I get it. It’s a play on words. A FUN pun.
8. All in the Family (1971): What’s better than a working class bigot who is constantly complaining about everything under the sun? All In The Family exploded like a bomb on TV. It showed subjects that were then taboo like menopause, breast cancer, vasectomies, impotence, rape and even Archie taking a dump and flushing the toilet! Carroll O'Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner and Sally Struthers all were an amazing team that made TV history. Archie could be both hard on his family and tearfully human. It was the first time that TV was actually a real reflection of human life. It’s a classic! Plus it was the platform that introduced America to the Jeffersons. After that we were all moving on up!
7. Roseanne (1988): Being complete white trash has never been so fun. A big fat loudmouth wife married to a man who could never hold a job, and did nothing but drink beer and watch TV is why this country fought for freedom. But in the end they win the lottery and get really rich. But then (again) it was all Roseanne’s fantasy, fodder for her writing. The truth was her sister Jackie was a lesbian and her husband Dan had died of a heart attack, and of course, no big lotto win. Regardless of my rips, the show was great, good laughs, and the finale was really witty. So many times it reminded me of my own upbringing. It rang true on so many levels and the up-and-down struggles made you really care for the Connors. I still watch reruns every weekend on Nick@Nite.
6. The Wonder Years (1988): “What would you do if I sang out of tune?/ Would you stand up and walk out on me?” When I heard Joe Cocker’s raspy voice emanate from the TV every Weds. night, I’d race to the living room. My favorite memory of that show is Kevin’s green Jets jacket and big brother Wayne. The Daniel Stern narrated stories, of the Arnold family in the 60’s and 70’s, is one of the most well written shows ever. The episode where Kevin’s math teacher dies is incredibly powerful, and the series finale actually made me cry. I remember, as a ten year old being bored, when the show’s attention turned to Kevin’s relationship with Winnie. But today I still say it’s one of the best ever! What can I say? I get high with a little help from my friends.
5. Friends (1994): The ten-season epic of twentysomethings living in NYC. The storylines were sometimes lame--when Joey was trying to learn French. Wow that was bad. And Phoebe was unbearable and never, ever, ever funny, but nobody can debate its impact on society. Every Thursday night at 8PM this country came to a standstill for Friends. And this show did have its funny moments, no doubt (Ross with the super-white teeth and the tight black pants on the date). It’s the highest rated sitcom ever, and launched the careers of, well, all 6 of them. Friends is the reason we still have to stomach Jennifer Aniston. Of course the spinoff Joey was dreadful at best, but I still miss those must see TV Thursday nights with Friends then Will & Grace.
4. Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990): This is maybe the most copycatted show in TV history. When 90210 was at its peak there was nothing better on TV. Period. Dylan’s storylines, and love triangles, were always great, and Jason Priestly played the squeaky-clean Brandon Walsh to perfection. The gang from West Beverly redefined teen-TV, and the show put FOX on the map. Despite her off-camera drama and unfortunate write off, I still say the standout of that cast was Shannon Doherty. She carried the first four seasons of that show, almost, single-handed. Every dramatic scene and big episode belonged to her. She was great as Dylan’s girlfriend and even better as his bitter ex. The only thing that hurts 90210’s legacy is the soap-operaish weakness of the last few seasons, and the awful inclusion of Tiffani Amber-Thiessen’s Valerie Malone. Thiessen might be the worst actress in TV history and was in no way a fitting replacement for Doherty. Don’t believe me. SOAP every afternoon at 4PM for reruns. See for yourself. Or read about in the Blaze!
3. American Idol (2001): Already in its 9th season, Idol is as relevant and real as it has ever been. Need proof: more people phone-in votes for Idol than Americans cast vote for president. Its contestants, like Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson, are household names. There is never any contrived drama between the participants. The contest is real and every singer shows up to win and that’s it, regardless of rumors that the early-episode’s rejects are actors. They are not. The 3-judge panel (Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson) with the hooky, over-enunciating host (Ryan Seacrest) has been pathetically copied too many times to count. Some competition shows have even gone with the token British-accented judge with the bad disposition. See Hell’s Kitchen for an awful, horrible version of that once-unique concept. As far as ratings go, Idol pulls 30-million twice a week every week, which if you know anything about ratings is what Friends pulled three or four times a season, maybe. If Idol can survive the recent shakeups of replacing Abdul with Ellen DeGeneres and the talk of Simon’s jumping ship, and make it to a tenth season this strong, I would argue that Idol is one of the two or three most important shows ever made.
2. Seinfeld (1990): Seinfeld is the smartest, greatest, funniest comedy ever made. Period! From Master of my domain to the Soup Nazi, no sitcom in history has ever so aptly weaved together the stories of 4 amazingly-super characters on a weekly basis. This show was a homerun on every level. It got better every season and went out on top with a brilliant finale that tied all the show’s zany players back together perfectly. Larry David was, and is, a genius, and his partnership with Seinfeld will never be topped by any comedy ever. This show is a thousand times better than any comedy in TV history. It’s too bad that Seinfeld has now attached his name to that total piece of junk the Marriage Ref. I guess I was right when I said: Magic can’t happen twice.
1. The Sopranos (1999): "That's the guy, Adriana, my uncle Tony. That's the guy I'm going to hell for." The Sopranos is the greatest TV show ever made. It’s not even up for debate. There is zero argument on this. What about it wasn’t unbelievably brilliant? The acting was out of this world. The writing? Fugettaboutit. The directing, producing, cinematography. The god damn grip boys were the best in the business. First class across the board. Tony whacking Pussy, wow, killing Ralphie, double wow! The knock down fight between Tony and Carmella, are you kidding me? The therapy sessions! Livia Soprano! Uncle Junior! Christopher! Paulie! Johnny Sack! Every character, perfection! Every scene, perfection! Every story line, perfection! Tony killing Christopher! Comfortably numb! Creator David Chase is the greatest genius in TV history. There’s not a second of that show that is even halfway lazily done. The last two episodes are better than the Godfather. Nothing will ever touch it. “In the end you don't hear it, you don't see it, just bang and the lights go out.” Those words and that final scene still give me goosebumps. But Sopranos fans, despite the Journey song, you CAN stop believing. There’ll never be a Sopranos movie. And, I believe, it’s better that way.
Honorable Mentions: Cheers, the Simpsons, the Shield, the West Wing, Fraiser, Dallas, Law & Order, the X-Files, Twin Peaks, ER, Arrested Development, Hill Street Blues, Married with Children, Sex & the City
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
When convicted, Timothy Cole said, “They know I ain't done nothing to that girl. I don't even know that girl. Why they do this to me, mother?” He cried in his mother's arms on the floor. He's the victim in this whole mess.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Can Somebody Please Explain . . . Why so many movies depict characters stranded at the airport arguing with airport personnel for another flight when their flight has been canceled due to unsafe conditions? (See Four Christmases.) Is this supposed to be realistic? I have never, in real life, seen somebody arguing for an unsafe takeoff. I promise you one thing: If the pilot of my flight tells me that he’s unwilling to takeoff for fear that it could be dangerous, I am not arguing with anybody. I don’t care where I’m flying. If the captain says “no go” that’s more than fine by me. Argument over.
(On that same note) Can Somebody please Explain . . . Why are people in movies always fainting? I have never seen a SINGLE person ever faint in real life. But Hollywood acts like every time something serious happens, bring on the faints. For God’s sake, somebody faints in literally every other scene of Home Alone. “Ahhh, Kevin!” Faint. Ahh, get that woman a neurologist asap!
Can Somebody Please Explain . . . Why people insist on calling Olympic athletes the best athletes in the world? As great as downhill skier Bode Miller may be, and as novel as the USA Curling Team is, nobody in Canada was anywhere near the world’s best. And it’s the same thing with the summer athletes. You must realize that Reggie Bush would make every men’s figure skater in the world his personal hand-puppet. Right? OK, I will give you this: these are the best athletes in the world until Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, the Denver Nuggets, the entire NFL, and that old guy with the toupee and sweet jump shot at the YMCA show up. Until then, Olympic athletes are the best.
Can Somebody Please Explain . . . the appeal of Jennifer Aniston? Is there anything sadder than an aging, marginally-talented actress who has turned her miserably unsuccessful love life into a tabloid farce? Of course I’m writing about the former Rachel Green. Was Friends a great sitcom? Maybe the best ever. Was Rachel Green a great character? Spot on. But the 25 big-screen reincarnations of this same character since have translated into some pretty forgettable romcoms. This gal has the range of an earthworm. Add that to this really weird, never-ending obsession with Brad Pitt, and you have a pathetic 41 year old who dates and gets dumped by A-listers only. When I recently saw the US Weekly spread of her 41st birthday party, I admittedly got pretty sad.
(On that same note) Can Somebody Please Explain . . . The 1980’s appeal of Molly Ringwald? Let me figure this thing out. First, she was an AWFUL actress, absolute dead weight on screen, without a speck of relate-ability or appeal. Second, she had horrifyingly red hair and the whitest, palest skin I have ever seen on a human being. Her looks were the ingredients of my worst nightmare. Remember Chuckie?! Third, every single movie she was ever in was good, despite her. Thank Anthony Michael Hall for Sixteen Candles and James Spader/Jon Cryer for Pretty in Pink. And, let’s be honest people, The Breakfast Club sucked. And despite all that, Ringwald was initially offered the role of Julia Roberts’s Pretty Woman!!!! What?! And, wait for it . . . she turned it down!!!! Proving she’s not only a terrible actress but, off camera, maybe the stupidest human being alive.
Can Somebody Please Explain . . . The Price is Right? Let me put it this way: if you’re under the age of 70 and have watched a single episode of the Price in the last ten years it's safe to say you're not setting the world on fire. Anybody who has the time and the desire to sit on a couch and watch TV at 11AM weekdays really doesn’t have a lot going on in this life. The only thing that would make the Price is Right any sadder would be if Jennifer Aniston became the new host. Same rule goes for Good Morning America and Regis and Kelly.
Can Somebody Please Explain . . . the reason Sports Illustrated magazine still exists? By the time the magazine comes out, the sports stories are old and the stats/facts/figures are all outdated. Twenty years ago, that’s no big deal. But with all this instant-access to the sports world, who wants to sit down and read articles about big games that are gone, and, most times, not really relevant? Sure the photos are cool. But Sports Illustrated is the equivalent of reading a newspaper from the day before. I have better things to do.
Can Somebody Please Explain . . . The Point of watching July 4th Fireworks? Is this supposed to be fun? Let’s get a bunch of drunken people packed together and shoot minor explosives into the sky, while everyone goes “oohhhh” and “aaahhhh” for 45 minutes. How excited can someone past the age of five really get about this sort of thing? Watching fireworks, in any capacity, is the stupidest tradition in this country, bar none. Everything about it is annoying and not at all fun. If you rush to the Empire Plaza, and deal with that crowd, every July, you are either very, very easily amused or just really, really stupid.
(On the same note) Can Somebody Please Explain . . . Why anyone would ever watch a parade, of any sort? Besides fireworks, parades are a piece of Americana that just baffle my brain. So let me get this straight: you drive to some city street, park far, far away, fight massive crowds, while carrying your cooler and special “parade day” chair, then watch a bunch of people walk by while you clap and hoot and holler? Umm . . . OK, sounds awesome. One rule: make sure said parade doesn’t conflict with the stock car races at LebValley and the Toby Keith concert at the TU.
Can somebody please explain . . . why Chelsea Handler (Chelsea Lately) is supposed to be funny? Umm, she’s not even remotely funny. Is her show an actual talk show or is it mocking a talk show? Her humor is weirdly juvenile and just really obvious and unclever. Either way the show is unwatchable. (I actually added this to my original list about a week later than originally published. It was worth re-mentioning.)