Mewsings from Lowecat (aka Indianacat)

My rants, ravings, and overall 'mewsings' on life, the universe, and everything.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Another event ride

Today was another event ride, the annual 'Russ Dellen' Memorial Loop for Life ride. This involved thousands of us bikers ridin' the entire I-465 loop around Indianapolis. Fifty five miles of ridin', with the state and metro police blockin' off the exit and entrance ramps so we wouldn't get run over. This year, four local charities benefitted from the proceeds of the ride.
Tig, the bike, and I were one of those thousands of bikes. We did a good job of keepin' up. Fact is, I was behind a Harley Davidson Trike that reminded me a lot of Piney's bike in Sons of Anarchy. We had one operator and passenger wipe out at the start of the ride, I hope they're OK.
We had great weather, a little cool to start out with, but it got sunny real quick. So right now, I'm a little red faced! The guy I met from the 6 August ride, Ron, was there, and I got to meet other riders as well. If you're a Facebook friend, you can check outo the pics on my page.
We didn't get a lot of media coverage for this, only one station gave us a mention. The others didn't bother to cover us. Oh, well. Their loss. We started at the Marion County Fairgrounds, a boon for me 'cause we live close to that. Other riders came in from the South and North side sattelite points.
Yes, I checked out the vendors and am happy to report no bootleg SOA DVDs were on sale! Heh - heh. There were other SOA fans, decked out in the their Tshirts. No one was dumb enough to wear anything resembling a three piece rocker. There were a few clubs there who might not have taken kindly to that.
I've never been to Sturgis, or Daytona for their bike events, but can imagine this might be what that's like. The camaradie of a whole horde of bikers getting together for a common reason. Good weather, lots of room for us, good food (bagels for breakfast for me with coffee, donuts for those that wanted sugar). There were two bands to entertain us, one before the ride and another after. An honor guard from the police and fire departments presented the US and State flags, and a minister gave a blessing of the bikes and riders.
Besides raising money, and getting together with fellow bikers for a good cause, this ride gave me an opportunity to do something that I missed in April because of Tig's rusty gas tank; to ride with two of the beams from Twin Towers. Those beams led the ride, ferries by a 44 foot semi. After the ride, we got to see and touch the beams up close and personal. The beams will be turned into a monument downtown. You can find out more about this at the following link:
Just like the last ride, hearing all the motorcycle engines start up makes a body's heart and blood race. Being a part of something like that makes you feel special. People lined the street leading to the interstate (Southeastern Ave) to cheer us on.
Course, we probably pissed off a few drivers when the cops shut down the ramps for a brief period. . .but that's another story for another day.
I'd hoped maybe Uncle Mike and Aunt Sandy, who live near the loop on the west side of town might get a chance to watch us pass, but I didn't get a chance to see if they were there. I'd also hoped the DH would get to watch us, get away from work just for a few minutes, but again, didn't see him (he later reported, no, he didn't get away).
But the people who did line the overpasses to cheer us on more than made up for that opportunity. As we came around the SouthEast side of town, near the Lawrence exits, I got chills at seeing two fire trucks parked on the overpass, their ladders extended, flying the American flag between them. That's the first time I'd ever passed underneath that symbol. I damn near cried.
This was the longest ride Tig and I have taken since I bought him. He rose to the job magnificiently. Mine wasn't the only vintage Yamaha, there were two others, thought I never met the riders.
After our return to the fairgrounds, besides getting fed and wandering the vendors, I got a closer look at the beams. What can one say about them? That's me with the beams. Yes, we were allowed to touch. It was like touching hallowed ground. You couldn't help but feel completely insignificant next to those steel beams. See them made my heart hurt for the lives lost.
In just a few weeks, the 10th anniversary of that awful day will be upon us. There will be people who will piss and groan, bitch and moan about the fact that nothing has replaced the area in NYC where the towers fell. Something will eventually be built there to remember those who died. And those who lived.
May we never forget that day, and may we never become so complacent again.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Real Friends Don't Ask

I use Facebook to keep in contact with friends and family, and to meet people who are fans of various genres I enjoy.

Most of the people I've friended on FB have been genuine people, interested in sharing ideas and fun. They brighten my day, and some have become close friends, not just cyber friends.

I try to research people who send me friend requests, especially when they are what I call 'blind requests'. By blind, meaning there is no introductory message with the request. Not every gets friended. It's just how I am.

Well, recently a person sent a friend request like that. I checked that person out as far as other 'mutual friends'. The person seemed OK, so I accepted the request.

Turns out the person was more interested in the recent surprise picture that another close actual friend of mine posted on my wall. I should've known something was up when the newie asked where it came from and if I thought the actor would make one for the newbie. I responded it was a gift, and the person who had posted it on my wall had 'magic'.

That should have been the end of it. Silly me. Today I get another private message asking me to ask the actual friend to have the actor make a picture not just for newbie, but for a friend of newbie.

Seriously? You did not just ask that, did you? Yeah. You did.

How kindergarten is that, anyway?

Look, it's nice that you have a webpage for the actor. The REAL friend who posted the photo to my wall did this out of love and respect for me, knowing my liking for the same actor. It was a GIFT, and a joy to receive.

It really annoys me, former newbie FB friend, that you would approach me with such a request. I value my true friends, and would NEVER ask them for something like that, nor would I ask them to do something for someone they don't know. That's really low.

The newbie is now unfriended, after getting a very terse response from me. She may weep and wail and cry that I'm being unfair. Oh, well. Cry away, baby! It's your loss.

I'm just puttin' this out there in cyber space to let all y'all know that if you can't be real, don't bother.

And I'm gonna be scrutinizing the friend requests a lot more thoroughly in the future.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sutter Has Left Twitter

Actually, I'm not happy about this at all. But, the cover from the Bon Jovi CD 'Have a Nice Day' kinda sums out what my feelings about the media bloggers out there who led to the ultimate black hole in the twitterverse caused by the depature of Kurt Sutter, showrunner extraordinaire of FX's Sons of Anarchy.

Kurt is (I refuse to use the past tense, as the man ain't dead!) a breath of fresh air in a land of fantasy, where image is substance and substance is a void. He calls things for what they are, regardless of whose ego got skewered. Network execs, actors, politicians, the everyday man or woman received equal treatment from him. He doesn't sugar coat anything. Sometimes he used very colorful metaphors.

He never stuck to one subject, and he always took the time to answer a fan, or to retweet a fan's tweet when requested. He recognizes talent in writing and applauds those who use their talent while chatising those content to take the easy way out. The ultimate praise a blogger or critic could receive from him was to be considered c**tless. Alas, he never commented on my blog.

Because Kurt walks to a much different drummer than the establishment in Hollyweird, he's often targeted by the bloggers and journalists he considered lazy. Hell, I can't blame him, back in the days before the WWW, makin' up a story the way they do now from a line or two was frowned upon as unethical. Now it seems to be the 'in' thing.

Y'see, when I worked as reporter, you picked up the phone, made a call, set up an interview, kept the appointment, took notes (and/or made a tape if you were in radio or television), wrote the story, and there you were. Nowadays, so called journalists surf the web to take their quotes, and unfortunately, if a story isn't there, they make it up out of bits and pieces.

And that's what led eventually to Kurt deciding to pull an Eric Cartman and sayin' "Screw you guys, I'm goin' home!". Not to the fans, but having a target on his back, and having every tweet he posted dissected, taken wrong, misconstrued, and otherwise misused by every wanna - be hacker with a keyboard and a modem. He is probably tired of being the media's whipping boy, and I can't say as I blame him.

Frankly, I felt if he left Twitter, the asshats out there would parade around like the Munchkins in 'Wizard of Oz' singin' 'Ding Dong the Warlock's Dead!'. So far, they've been amazingly silent. I doubt the golden bliss of silence from them will last.

But the people who are truly hurtin' in all these are those of us fans who follow Kurt because he just lightened our day. Remember the old Anita Bryant Florida orange juice commercial? The tag line was 'A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine.'

Kurt's tweets could make us laugh when the day turned shitty. If he answered one of your tweets, you felt special. If he retweeted your tweet, you felt just as special. I have a special internet folder of the facebook response and the tweetbacks I got from him. They're more precious than gold to me.

It might be possible that he'll come back to the twitterverse in the future. One can hope. In the meantime, there's a big, black hole there where his tweets shone on the twitterverse. I hope his account doesn't go nova.

Pay Attention, Dammit!

I haven't checked the national cable news outlets, but since the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair made the world wide web (AOL news, for one), I figure it probably has been covered. That's the media for y'all, if it bleeds, it leads. So far, five people lost their lives, and over 40 people were treated at hospitals in the area for injuries.

I feel that this shouldn't have happened. It could've been avoided. Yes, I'm bein' a bit of a Monday Morning Quarterback here. BUT, I also spent time in broadcasting, and severe weather was something I became familiar with, and developed a healthy respect for, no matter the season.

Seeing the picture of that stage collapse in a the high wind gust, and knowing that people were trapped underneath was ghastly enough, and the repetitious replays didn't make it any better. It got worse when the sound was added.

The sight took me back to 1979 and the Cincinnati Who concert where people died in a crush to get into the coliseum out of the cold. The blame then was placed on so called 'festival' seating, aka general admission. Cincinnati outlawed it, and 'festival ' seating', which was similar to the mosh pits at some concerts, became assigned seating.

Now, I'm all in favor of getting as close to a favorite musician as possible. My first concert was in 1976, Roberts' Stadium in Evansville for KISS. I experienced 'festival seating'. The floor in front of the stage had no seats. It was wide open, stand up only. You arrived early in hopes of getting to the stage in order to see clearly.

Think sardines packed in a can, think a cold, blustery, November day turning into night. Think a crush of people trying to fit through two little doors. Chaos, pushing, shoving, screaming, running to the stage area, and clinging for life to the barrier separating the stage from the people. Yeah, my little teen self survived that.

I've never attended an outdoor concert, and don't ever plan to. There's just too much that can happen. Plus, I don't do crowds well. Hell, I get annoyed by the people in the grocery or department store yappin' on their cells and standin' in the middle of the aisle so I can't get around! Therefore, me in a large gathering like that is NOT a good idea.

The Indiana State Fair, like all state fairs, books big name entertainment for concerts. I don't have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is the outdoor venue. Indiana weather is too iffy for that kind of thing. The fairgrounds has a perfectly good coliseum. The only problem is that it limits the amount of tickets that can be sold.

And here, I believe, is the true reason that this ghastly event happened. The good ole bottom line. Makin' money won out over safety.

The front that caused this tragic event was preceded by a 'gust front'. Indianapolis had achieved a 90 degree day, and the cold front that moved in was proceeded by a mass of cold air, probably about 15 minutes ahead of the storm. When the National Weather Service announced the severe thunderstorm warning for Marion County, the county next to us to the West had recorded a wind gust up to 70 miles an hour!

The outdoor stage was constructed pretty thoroughly, as far as I could tell. I doubt anyone considered the need to withstand high winds. Who thinks that such a thing could happen? The wind blew, and like a house of cards, the stage went right over. What should have been a great night turned into terror for many individuals.

I'm sure that the state fair, the band, and anyone else involved will be the plaintiffs in wrongful death and injury suits that will drag for years. The people who were hurt and those who are mourning the loss of a loved one will never fully recover.

I can't help but feel that this could've been avoided firstly by holding the concert in the covered coliseum. The concert goers would have been safer and out of harm's way. In perfect 20/20 hindsight, it's almost the Homer Simpson 'doh!' observation.

Granted, there wouldn't have been as many people as an infield/dusty track area and a grandstand provided, but the concert goers would've been safe.

I also firmly believe that as soon as the weather service issued the severe thunderstorm WARNING for the county, the concert should've been interrupted, and the people not in the grandstand moved to a safe place. Would it have been inconvenient? Probably. But with a storm not far away, the concert would have been delayed anyway. Why not delay it a little earlier, for safety's sake?

These are questions that will probably come up in future court cases, and may be asked by various investigating agencies in the area. In the future, it's possible that the State Fair may hold concerts in the coliseum in the future.

Both the State and County fairs and other outdoor venues may come up with a written contingency plan for severe weather warnings in the future. I wouldn't be surprised to see something like that show up in next year's state legislature.

Banning 'special' up front seating within a certain area of the stage on outdoor venues may also be something we see in the future. Had there been a bit of space between the 'special/vip' seating and the stage, the carnage might've been less.

All this sounds like shuttin' the barn door after the prize horse has done bolted from the stable, doesn't it? But it's how I've felt since the 1979 Cincy incident. I attended a few concerts since then, and always shuddered at the 'general' seating on the floor. At least they're seats! But they were still very close to harm's way.

I don't hold Sugarland, the band that was to perform, accountable for what happened Saturday. I hold the people in charge at the State Fair who were too blind to see what might happen in a severe storm.

Indiana storms are quick, furious, and changeable. It's possible for one side of town to have a torrential downpour, while the opposite side is never touched by a storm. We can't continue to allow ourselves to be complacent about Mother Nature. Better to lose a few bucks, then a few lives.