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i won't [censored] us over
July 2008
Tue, Jul. 15th, 2008 02:58 am


Sun, Sep. 16th, 2007 05:30 pm


Thu, Aug. 9th, 2007 08:06 pm

of interest:

My band is playing at Vex Fest on Sunday. The show is at Federal Plaza in Downtown Youngstown (between barley's and the core). We are playing at 7:50 on the outdoor east stage. Other good and not so good bands are playing. The show is free. FREE. FREEEEE!!!!!

Also: Our debut  eponymous EP is finally done. A limited edition of copies will be available to buy after the show on Sunday. Or you can just corner me somewhere. 6 songs for 7 bucks. We'll have a proper CD release show/party at the end of Sept. probably.



Fri, Aug. 3rd, 2007 04:50 pm

This blogger, formerly from Youngstown, now an ex-patriot living in Austin, TX, used to be down on Ytown. But she read all the great things coming out Youngstown’s new Department of Feel Good Stuff and Public Relations and wants us all to jump into action. She’s moved away and only perceives what she reads, so I don’t blame her. I wanted to set the record straight. So I commented this:

The problem is, the Youngstown “revolution” is only trying to make things prettier and provide more entertainment options. There is nothing being done to actually bring business to Youngstown or the Mahoning Valley (and most efforts that exist are just to keep Lordstown and the Air Base IN the Valley). Sure, beautifying the city is a good step, but it won’t lead businesses to relocate to the area. And bringing entertainment to the area (if you can call Kennies Loggins and Rogers entertainment) is nice, but that should be a reaction to an existing, engaged scene, not a way to help the valley. And crime hasn’t gone down at all; if anything the crimes have become more shocking than ever. But now the gangs are black, not Italian, so nobody cares if black kids shoot black kids. Nothing is being done to eliminate the root causes of these problems. Fifty percent of Youngstown City School students don’t graduate.

Youngstown hasn’t improved, Youngstown’s public relations department has.

I wasn’t expecting to go unchallenged. In fact I enjoy a good discussion, a good debate. But Phil “Defend Youngstown” Kidd doesn’t. He decided I was shameful for having a realistic view of the Youngstown revitalization efforts. He’s disappointed in me I guess. Here’s what he wrote:


1. Despite homicide rates, violent crime is down 21% since 2000.

2. Bringing jobs? Calling centers and selling insurance isn’t an economy supporter. Neither is a lack of qulified candidates (educationally speaking)
The knowledge-based economy is what we are embracing:

The YBI is recognized as a state and national model for technology business incubation. Turning Technologies is experiencing a 330% growth rate per year and is the 7th fastest growing small business in the US. 102 new jobs with starting salaries of $58,000 are comming in March to downtown. M7 Technologies and Eyperia are about to reach similar growth in the next 2-4yrs…and this is only the very beginning of Tech emergence.
Cleveland Clinic and UH are looking for expanding toward the Valley. Congressman Ryan and Hunter Morrison are working a partnership with YSU and the local medical infrastructure.

The STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) college is one of the first of its kind in the nation (seed planting).

We have just secured $2 million to start a School of Excellent in Metrology & 3D imaging which will serve as a DIRECT pipeline for M7 Tech (www.m7tek.com), a world leader in their field.

The Regional Chamber is looking to consolidate school district administration and county government in hopes to find enough savings to provide free tution to all graduates of Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbia high schools in order to grow the pool of qualified candidates for businesses considering moving to the Valley. There is only 1 other city in the nation who has tak

Not to mention we have a U.S. Congressman who sits on the Appropriations committee, understands the important of a knowledge-based economy in Ytown, and is pumping millions upon millions into inititatives that support it.

3. You undermine the importance of enterainment and appearance. Check out Rebecca Ryan’s work, the Brooking Institution, Richard Florida or study’s on the Broken Windows theory (in general or in specific). Youngstown 2010 is recieving national and international attention. We must be doing something right? For those who don’t know about Youngstown 2010, check out their website(www.youngstown2010.com). Basically, it’s a plan which aims to finally clean up (by shrinking the city) 30yrs of blight that has accumulated so as to build on existing strengths as well as get a greater control on complex socio-economic urban issues (that which we have failed to do for the past 30yrs as we sat around and complained about the mills closing, crime, the economy, lack of entertaiment, and blight).

I could go on and on but I’m not. This is shameful. You are a highly intelligent individual in this Valley whith great talent. While I understand where you are comming from, why would you – of all people – want to be part of the problem? I am disappointed.

And so I had to answer back. FLAME WAR!


I don't have all the answers (even many), but I also don't think cheerleading is going to help any problems. When I hear you or other people hype (and that's what it is, in large part, hype) the Youngstown 2010 cult of personality that is rapidly surrounding Jay Williams, Anthony Kobak and Hunter Morrison, I can't help but cringe. What I hear coming from Defend Youngstown is "stamp out criticism and reinforce positive thinking." That to me sounds like the definition of political public relations or the work of some bullshit self-help guru. On the contrary, criticism is vitally important to any functioning Democracy. Only fascists (and Scooby Doo villains) argue, “We could get so much more accomplished (could have gotten away with it) if it wasn’t for all the naysayers (meddling kids).”

You say you are disappointed that I have the opinions that I have? I'm disappointed at your level of tolerance for divergent viewpoints. I doubt you have the same view of criticism when it comes to our current national government and projects. For example, besides Rush Limbaugh, who in their right mind would be disappointed with someone’s negative views of George Bush and the federal reaction to Hurricane Katrina. They might not agree with it, but they shouldn’t be disappointed that the viewpoint is allowed to exist. I hope that Phil Kidd isn’t Youngstown’s Rush Limbaugh.

I think there are plenty of good things about what's going on, but I also think those good things are helping to mask the bad things that are still happening. I think its great that blighted areas are being torn down. I don't think its great that some of the city's poorest may end up being abandoned in the shuffle (despite what planners say). I think its great that violent crime is down 21 percent, to use your stat (of course the population has shrunk too; is that stat per capita?). I don't think its great that gang murders (or drug related clique murders, as is probably more accurate) are still a major problem (Youngtown is still the third most dangerous city in the country, according that survey last year). I think a strong entertainment scene is good, but without the financial support of a good economy to hold it up, its going to either collapse in on itself or consist solely of upper middle class hipsters with rich parents who can afford their instruments or art supplies.

I think when you talk about a Youngstown recovery, you have to include all the information, not just the good stuff. And by being aware of how the media works and being an avid follower of media criticism, I don't think that logic dictates because the media covers it, it must be good. If you've noticed, ever since that “Governance” story came out, all the other mainstream media stories that followed have aped its tone, content and structure with little deviation. This is because most media types are lazy. When the mainstream media swoops upon a local town with a story they deem nationally significant, they look for the easy angles that will tell the best story, they aren’t necessarily looking for the the complete truth (and you couldn’t fit the complete truth in a 700 word story anyway). Further, it’s not considered unusual or out of the ordinary for an urban city to have gangs, drugs and murders, so they don't cover it. It's the classic man bites dog test. Black kids killing black kids, all high school drop outs with few future prospects, that is the dog biting the man. It’s ordinary, not news. A city trying to shrink instead of grow? That's out of the ordinary and will get covered. I'm not even passing judgment on the idea of smart shrinkage. It's a good idea and worthy of coverage. But it's not the complete story.

I consider myself working class, like most people in the area. I've worked real jobs in my life, in factories and call centers and shipping bays, beyond my stints dabbling as a journalist and musician (and in fact, I think the fact I am working class makes me a better journalist and song writer). I come from a poor family, a single mother home. My mother was on welfare when I was young; I got free lunch at school for a long time. I, like a lot of people in this area, have some proper higher education, but no degree. I'm struggling right now to go back to school because of money issues. I strongly agree that there needs to be more jobs for educated people, and the efforts to bring jobs in the area for college grads is admirable, but a simple numbers game (or peek at census stats) shows that there are more non-college grads than grads in this and most areas. Something needs to be done (what exactly, I haven't the slightest clue) to help the working poor, the blue collar people, the ghetto, the young urban black male, the kids in the Youngstown City Schools who will drop out. Show me a real effort to help these kinds of people (of whom I consider myself one) and I’d gladly sign onboard to volunteer. As fine of ideas as they are, tearing down some houses, increasing the annual number of Kenny Rodgers concerts and bringing in high tech jobs is not going to greatly help these kinds of problems.

I don't care about helping Kimmy Sue Poland and Brad Michael Boardman find a job in the Valley after they graduate from Ohio State with their degree in business. They have other options; they can help themselves. What I care about is helping the average kid on the East Side or the South Side make it past 25 without being dead or addicted to drugs or with five kids of his own that he cant afford to take care of. I don't see anybody seriously discussing these topics with the same depth they talk about 2010.

Will the year 2010 be better than 2000 was or 1990 was? Probably. Will Youngstown still have a lot of unaddressed and unresolved problems? Undoubtedly.

Defend Reality.

I anxiously await a retort.


Sat, Jun. 2nd, 2007 10:38 am

I like this version, live from around the Sandinista period. It's a little dancier than normal, though the bass is really low in the mix.  The Arcade Fire version in the post below is magnificent though. It really fits in well in the context of their new album.  Also in the post before that, of Mother, by the Legion of Rock, where these dudes play along poorly to songs they barely know with the cd in their headsets so it  will more or less synch up with the music video, i want to note the end of the original video, which i've never noticed before, though maybe cause they never showed in in MTV and i'm not exactly a Danzig archivist, the part where Danzig rips a live chicken in two and the blood drips on the belly of the babe below him and the other hot babe gets a finger full of the sacrificial sanguinary love juice and takes a taste. I find that hilarious. And if i were the MOTHER! or the FAAATHER! of a girl going out with Danzig, I would definitely tell them not to walk his way. You might get salmonella.


Sat, Jun. 2nd, 2007 10:31 am


Sat, Jun. 2nd, 2007 10:25 am


Tue, May. 29th, 2007 09:28 pm

The Nunavut Coat of Arms.



Sun, May. 20th, 2007 12:49 pm
Today marks the opening of the 7th season of the Shenangahela BASEketball League. I more than likely will be dressed as Eric Van Finger, personal trainer to the stars.

Name any celebrity in the world.

John Stamos?
Trained him.

Barack Obama?
Trained him.

Kelly Pavlik?
Trained him.

Psyche outs are assured.


Fri, Mar. 30th, 2007 09:24 am

Heart of Glass


Sat, Mar. 24th, 2007 09:13 am

Guitarless guitarists put on airs

New documentary goes inside "Air Guitar Nation."
By Chris Lee, Times Staff Writer
March 25, 2007

IN the opening moments of the documentary film "Air Guitar Nation," a performer who calls himself Bj–rn T–roque delivers a surprisingly straight-faced explanation for his virtuosity with the invisible ax. "People ask me, 'Why air guitar?' " T–roque says. "I say, 'To err is human. To air guitar is divine."

It's an appropriate enough tone setter for the loopy but humanistic film that opens Friday for one week at the Landmark Nuart Theater in West L.A.

Although "Nation" chronicles the U.S. Air Guitar Championships' birth in 2003 — before then, it was a strictly noncompetitive, bedroom-mirror affair — the movie's dramatic narrative coalesces around two contestants and their clash of passion, pride and imaginary six-strings. David "C-Diddy" Jung, winner of the East Coast semifinals, and his nemesis/runner-up, T–roque (birth name: Dan Crane), try to one-up each other in terms of stage presence and "airness" on a quest to capture for America the world air guitar championship title in Oulu, Finland.

"It's the last pure art form," says U.S. Air Guitar Championships co-founder Kriston Rucker, who also executive produced the film. "It's something you can't commercialize — because it's invisible."

The documentary won an audience award at the South by Southwest music festival, among other film-festival accolades. But its hard-rockin' soundtrack and the energetic machinations of several dozen wannabe Eddie Van Halens provide a better reason to see "Air Guitar Nation": Judas Priest's "You Got Another Thing Comin'," Boston's "More Than a Feeling" and Mot–rhead's "Ace of Spades" all get, um, aired out in the film.



Wed, Mar. 21st, 2007 09:18 am

The president of Sudan says there are no politically motivated rapes in Darfur and the U.S. is just trying to gain control of the country. If only that were the case. The U.S. should be in Darfur right now and not Iraq, helping people who need help and would welcome it.

From the International Herald Tribune:

Despite United Nation's estimates that more than 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur and 2.5 million displaced in recent years, President Omar al-Bashir accused the U.S. in an interview broadcast Tuesday of exaggerating evidence of war crimes.

"Yes, there have been villages burned," al-Bashir said in the interview with the NBC television network recorded Monday. "People have been killed because there is war. It is not in the Sudanese culture or people of Darfur to rape. It doesn't exist. We don't have it."

He accused the U.S. of plotting to gain access to the country's oil.

"The goal is to put Darfur under their custody," he said. "Separating the region of Darfur from Sudan."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday that the atrocities, including rape, are well documented.

"It's very real. We've seen it. We have heard firsthand accounts of it," McCormack said. "To try to brush this aside as mere fabrications of the United States or others is really just misguided. You can find a lot of other words for it, but I'll just stick with misguided."

The Hague-based International Criminal Court has accused Sudanese officials and militias of orchestrating massacres, mass rapes and the forcible transfer of thousands of civilians from their homes in Darfur. The U.S. has called the massacres genocide.


Wed, Mar. 21st, 2007 08:17 am

For all the talk in Mahoning County about regionalization, nothing ever really happens because everybody gets territorial. But over in Sharon, there is talk about merging the school district with Farrell, uniting them under one superintendent. The Shenango Valley tried the old consolidation thing a few years back, and it fell pretty flat, but it found the most support in Sharon and Farrell. So it only makes sense that the two cities would be the first to try something along the lines of regionalizing public services to save taxpayer money. Right now its just an idea among a couple of school board members, and it might not even be legal. But at least they're talking about doing something, and they're doing it without an automatic knee-jerk negative reaction from the haters and naysayers. More info at the Sharon Herald.

Which reminds me: when i was attending West Hill Elementary in Sharon, we had a school song that rivaled the snazzy one created in Lean On Me for Morgan Freeman. Our school song was sung to the tune of Eidelweiss. It went like this:

West Hill School, West Hill School
Every morning you greet me
Big and brick, clean and slick
You look happy to meet me

and then on 6th grade graduation day, there was the added bridge:

Now we are leaving our West Hill School
We'll have memories forever
West Hill School, West Hill School
Oh how i love my West Hill School


Tue, Mar. 20th, 2007 08:45 am

Barack Obama says he has nothing to do with this interesting commercial mash up. But he would be even cooler if he did.


Mon, Mar. 19th, 2007 09:45 pm

Back in 1991, when i was wee lad of about 10 years, Kenneth Biros met a girl two blocks from my house in Sharon. Then he attacked her, chasing her through my neighborhood before killing her and dismembering her. He said he was drunk. So now this dude is on Ohio's death row, about to be executed.

Now I'm not totally anti-death penalty. I see its merits alongside its flaws. And even though killing the guy won't really do much to make the world a better place besides save the state a few tax dollars, this guy is a prime candidate to get the needle. Still, I don't see much reason to be giddy, which is exactly how Tami Engstrom's family seems now.

From the Tribune Chronicle the other day:

‘‘I’ve heard that his (Biros’) family might not want to attend, so I’ve written to see if he will give up those seats for more of our family. He probably won’t,’’ [sister Debi] Heiss said, seated at her kitchen table Friday and feeling unusually good after a friend purchased a massage for her and within an hour after hearing that Gov. Ted Strickland denied clemency for Biros.

I can understand a sister's rage, but an execution is serious and solemn. She's treating this like its a Brown's game, trying to get extra tickets for her buddies. Hey, if they can't get in, maybe they can tailgate.


Sun, Mar. 4th, 2007 02:25 pm


Sun, Feb. 25th, 2007 04:55 pm

Martyrs Day by Michael Kelly

Spanking the Donkey by Matt Taibi

On Suicide and At The Minds Limits by Jean Amery


The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama


Sun, Feb. 25th, 2007 04:22 pm

This is from a Columbia Journalism Review article on the first Iraq war, written by a guy named Christopher Hanson (but not the Chris Hanson of To Catch A Predator fame).

"February 28 -- My priority today is to interview the soldiers who had fought in Tuesday night's fierce tank battle and to file an after-action report. But Dobson's priority is to collect Iraqi weapons from the battlefield for the regimental museum. So that, needless to say, is what we do. I take notes as Dobson and three Air Force liaison officers, with .45s at the ready, clear Iraqi bunkers (no Iraqis are to be seen) and haul off booty. From one bunker the Air Force men liberate a twenty-six-inch Sanyo color TV set with stereophonic sound.

For much of the day I ride with a young Air Force captain. He, and not Dobson, now sets my news agenda. At one point, he asks, "Would you like a Pop-Tart?" But he can't find the box. It has fallen off the back of the truck and is lost. The captain is crestfallen. As he drives along, he speaks with a consuming intensity of his fondness of Pop-Tarts, a snack with the flavor of home. Suddenly his eyes bulge. He realizes that he has blundered into a dense field of unexploded cluster bomblets dropped by U.S. planes. Slowly, with great care, he eases the truck through the field. When it's finally evident that he has pulled us through intact, he pauses and says softly, as if to himself, "That really burns me out about the Pop-Tarts."

It's unclear what my lead for today should be -- the Sanyo TV or the Pop-Tarts. I lean toward the latter."



Tue, Feb. 6th, 2007 09:15 am

The Ohio summer sun
bleached our hair blonde
burned our skin brown
filled our heads with
We tapped into that
all too common
desire for something new

But i'm not gonna cut and run
I'm not gonna cut and run from you

The whole wide world
seems limitless
I am such an optimist today

We've got the feeling we've done
all we could ever hope to do here
there is no more time
there is nothing left
So we get up and pack our bags
to leave for somewhere new

But i'm not gonna cut and run, no
I'm not gonna cut and run from you

The whole wide world
seems limitless
I am such an optimist today

But just for today.


Tue, Jan. 30th, 2007 12:44 pm

from vindy.com

Carloads of sobbing, screaming people were pulling up at the scene
Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Police were still trying to identify the victims when carloads of people began to arrive at the scene.



YOUNGSTOWN — City police are investigating a multiple murder on the city's South Side.

About a dozen marked and unmarked police cars and several ambulances lined the street in front of 548 W. Evergreen Ave. about 11 p.m. Monday. Inside the home, four people had been found shot to death.

They were the first homicides of 2007 in the city.

Sgt. Gerald Slatterly, of the Youngstown Police Department, said the three males and one female had been found in one room of the two-story home. No other description of the victims was given. He said they all appeared to have been shot execution style.

Slatterly said he didn't know the victims' names or ages as of Monday night.

Another officer, who did not give his name, said police had "a lot" of witnesses at the house and were working to question those individuals.


Officers outside the house could be seen loading individuals, some openly crying, into police cars.

Any questioning was soon put to the side as officers dealt with carloads of sobbing and excited people who pulled up trying to get to the house. Most could be heard screaming that a cousin or other relative might have been in the house.

Several neighbors were milling around across from the house trying to ascertain what could have happened inside. There were few answers.

The home is located in a residential neighborhood of mostly single-family homes just off Glenwood Avenue.

The city did not reach its fourth homicide in 2006 until April.


Cops say feud may be motive for quadruple killings
by Patricia Meade

January 30, 2007 11:00 am

YOUNGSTOWN — An ongoing feud may be the motive in the shootings deaths of three men and a woman inside a cold South Side house, investigator says.

Detective Sgt. Daryl Martin said today that there are “a ton of suspects” who been feuding with the three male victims. The dead woman’s name hasn’t surfaced in police investigations, he added.

Martin is asking anyone with information about the quadruple homicide at 548 W. Evergreen Ave. to call him at (330) 742-8250.

Mahoning County Coroner David M. Kennedy identified the victims today to police as:
• Anthony M. Crockett 23, of Hylda Avenue.
• Chris Howard, 24, of West Glenaven Avenue.
• Marvin Boone, 19, of West Florida Avenue.
• Danielle Parker, 22, of Miller Street.

The mass shooting was reported at 10:24 p.m. Monday. The victims were found in a second-floor bedroom, all apparently shot in the head and body, police said.

Capt. Kenneth Centorame said the victims were all dressed in winter coats. He said the two-story house apparently had no water or heat. Centorame said there were no signs of drug activity. One car was towed from the scene.

Anyone with information can call 911, he added.


Wed, Jan. 24th, 2007 12:02 am

This was sent to me.

DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® Gives Clubs a Chance to Expand Their Role

January 23, 2007 (Renton, Wash.) – Wizards of the Coast, Inc., the Seattle-based company behind DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, is granting dungeon masters, rogues, clerics, and halflings an exciting opportunity to enhance their roleplaying experience: The Expand Your Role Grants Program. Open to roleplaying clubs at colleges and universities across the U.S., this program – which offers a unique opportunity for gamers to further their RPG dreams – will award up to 20 stipends ranging from $50-$1,000. In addition, one lucky club will be named DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Club of the Year and its members will receive a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – to have a D&D® game designer join their club as guest dungeon master and run a campaign.

Roleplaying clubs across the country connect people each and every day. These clubs cultivate a sense of imagination, empowerment and camaraderie in their members, and transcend all age levels – childhood through adult.

“No role in any RPG is too small,” said Scott Rouse, senior brand manager, for DUNGEONS & DRAGONS at Wizards of the Coast. “Everyone works together to achieve a common goal. Since DUNGEONS & DRAGONS is the original – and most popular – roleplaying game, we wanted to celebrate the team spirit of our nation’s roleplaying clubs by providing them the resources they need to enhance their experiences.”

Expand Your Role Grants can be used to:
-- Launch a Web site
-- Advertise/promote their club locally
-- Rent, expand or accessorize a space for club gatherings
-- Send club members to gaming conventions
-- Provide food for club gatherings

To apply for a grant, applicants should submit an essay of 500 words or less, along with four photos, explaining how a grant from D&D would benefit their club, provide brief background/history on the club and describe how D&D has made a positive impact on their lives. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age, and must submit proof of their club’s affiliation with a college or university. All entries must be received by May 15, 2007. For more information and complete rules, visit www.wizards.com.

Since its first release in 1974, the fantasy roleplaying game DUNGEONS & DRAGONS has taken millions of players on imaginary adventures of epic scale. Today, D&D is universally regarded as the original game that created the roleplaying game category, and the inspiration for generations of game designers. Now in its third edition, D&D is enjoyed by millions of people worldwide.

Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE:HAS), is a worldwide leader in the trading card game and tabletop roleplaying game categories, and a leading developer and publisher of game-based entertainment products. The company holds an exclusive patent on trading card games (TCGs) and their method of play and produces the premier trading card game, MAGIC: THE GATHERING®, among many other trading card games and family card and board games. Wizards is also a leading publisher of roleplaying games, such as DUNGEONS & DRAGONS®, and publisher of fantasy series fiction with numerous New York Times bestsellers. For more information, visit the Wizards of the Coast Web site at www.wizards.com.

Dungeons & Dragons, D&D, and Magic: The Gathering are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast in the U.S.A. and other countries. © 2007 Wizards

# # #

Joe Moscone
Hunter Public Relations
(212) 679-6600, x235


Thu, Jan. 18th, 2007 05:12 pm

Primo Levi survived Auschwitz, wrote several novels, memoirs and other works, and killed himself in 1987, no longer able to reconcile his generally optimistic view of humanity with the realities of a genocidal world. As he approached his final work, The Drowned and the Saved, Levi became increasingly concerned that the lessons of the Holocaust were being forgotten in a sea of atrocities that had since taken place. In actuality, I believe the lessons of the Holocaust -- or at least some lessons of the Holocaust -- have been followed precisely, and as every new atrocity unfolds, if it does not meet the cookie cutter lesson plan of the Holocaust (and it never does, because though history repeats itself, it does not imprint a carbon copy), it is tossed aside as not as horrible enough; "He's bad, but he's no Hitler," can be heard, as if the deaths of 500,000 were somewhat less important or impactful as the deaths of six million.

“…without regard to ability and merit, power was generously granted to those willing to pay homage to hierarchic authority, thus attaining an otherwise unattainable social elevation. Finally, power was sought by the many among the oppressed who had been contaminated by their oppressors and unconsciously strove to identify with them.

This mimesis, this identification or imitation, or exchange of roles between oppressor and victim has proved much discussion. True and invented, disturbing and banal, acute and stupid things have been said: it is not virgin terrain; on the contrary it is a badly plowed field, trampled and torn up. The film director Liliana Cavani, who was asked to express briefly the meaning of a beautiful and false film of hers, declared: “We are all victims or murderers, and we accept these roles voluntarily. Only Sade and Dostoevsky have really understood this.” She also said she believed “that in every environment, in every relationship, there is a victim-executioner dynamism more or less clearly expressed and generally lived on an unconscious level.”

I am not an expert on the unconscious and the mind’s depths, but I do know that few people are experts in this sphere and that these few are the most cautious. I do not know, and it does not much interest me to know, whether in my depths there lurks a murderer, but I do know that I was a guiltless victim and I was not a murderer. I know that murderers existed, not only in Germany, and still exist, retired or on active duty, and that to confuse them with their victims is a moral disease or an aesthetic affectation or a sinister sign of complicity; above all, it is a precious service rendered (intentionally or not) to the negators of truth.’

-- Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved, pages 48-49


Wed, Jan. 3rd, 2007 04:31 pm

lennycrist: baltimora looks like that doctor on scrubs, the douchebag one
bur      ism 12: i didnt watch the whole thing
bur      ism 12: the video is stupid
lennycrist: no way
lennycrist: the video is awesome
bur      ism 12: baltimora was so much more than unsigned hype

bur      ism 12: yeah i knew who you were talking aboutr
lennycrist: ITS THE SAME GUY
bur      ism 12: lol
bur      ism 12: HE CURED HIMSELF
bur      ism 12: AND MAGIC JOHNSON


Sat, Dec. 30th, 2006 11:21 am

this woman used to be my dentist. she was the worst dentist i ever went to. she was sadistic like steve martin in little shop of horrors. i feel much joy hearing about this.

Dentist arraigned on drug charges

The Herald

Dr. Tamara Lowe appeared for arraignment Wednesday on insurance fraud, drug and conspiracy charges.

The 46-year-old resident of 1801 Roemer Blvd., Farrell, was released on her own recognizance by District Judge Ronald E. Antos, Farrell. The judge set her preliminary hearing for 1 p.m. Jan. 12, the same time as her three co-defendants.

Dr. Lowe, a dentist, was charged by the state Attorney General’s Office with three counts of insurance fraud and one count each of acquiring Hydrocodone by fraud and conspiracy to commit acquiring Hydrocodone by fraud.

Brandi Shrawder, 22, of 24 North St., West Middlesex; Tawana Robinson, 35, of 946 Sherman Ave., Sharon; and Kristi L. Brown, 19, of 898 Highland Road, Sharon, were charged with one count each of insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit acquiring Hydrocodone by fraud.

Dr. Lowe would call in to local pharmacies prescriptions for employees, patients, her fiancé and others, and she and the employees would pick up and pay for the drugs using their own prescription insurance, authorities said. The drugs included Vicodin and Vicoprofen, which contain Hydrocodone.

Dr. Lowe would reimburse employees for the co-pays and take possession of the pills, authorities said.


Fri, Dec. 29th, 2006 12:18 pm

My band is playing tonight in Sharon, PA at the Chestnutt Street Cafe on the 3rd floor bar. Show starts at 7 pm, we go on sometime between 8 and 9. It's a benefit for my aunt elaine who recently passed away from a brain tumor. She lived in california and the funeral expenses to have a funeral there, fly her home to sharon and have a funeral here were considerable. If you'll be near sharon or have no plans, it would be cool if you came out. i think there's a suggested 10 dollar donation. other bands are playing too, like Blue Ash, my uncle jim's band. in the 1970s they were signed to mercury records and later playboy records, opened for iggy and bowie, toured all around the country, and john lennon and yoko ono even went to one of their shows once. so it should be pretty fun tonight. come out if you can.


Thu, Dec. 28th, 2006 12:15 am

I'm at the last crapaoke right now. there's about an hour and 15 minutes left and then no crappy karaoke ever again. Everybody who's ever been here is here tonight. Sean O'Malley or Dan Celio should be hosting. I'm going to now reflect with a karaoke post from the distant past.

by lennycrist
originally posted 5/13/2004

Tonight’s story begins approximately one week ago. 

I am at Goodwill shopping for clothing for my upcoming internship at the Vindicator.  I come across an awesome blue button up dress shirt.  I purchase this shirt (along with several other awesome items) for about $2.99 or so.  I like this shirt very much. 

Skip ahead to Wednesday. 

I am wearing the awesome blue shirt.

It is Crapaoke night at the Nyabinghi.  There is a new outdoor patio and a new men’s restroom.  I am there with The Triforce: the lethal and comedic trio that is myself, Viz and Tino.  Tino’s girlfriend Liz comes along for good measure, so someone can drive home after we all get smashed.  I get smashed on very rare occasions, but I have just recently gotten a 4.0 for the semester and I start a new job on Monday.  So tonight I plan on getting smashed, and that is just what I do. 

At the Nyabinghi I give Jeremy The Bartender my debit card and order my first New Castle Brown Ale.  I must order at least 4 of these to break the $10.00 minimum order for credit cards the Nyabinghi has in place. 

            I go to the back to witness the craptacular extravaganza going on.  I put in my slip for Brittany Spears’ Toxic.  Viz asks if he can sing with me.  I say sure – Viz is already drunk, having gotten tanked at home to save on expensive bar beverages – and eventually it is our turn to sing.  I have finished my New Castle faster than I normally do, but I am by no means drunk yet.  We sing “Toxic” and I make sure I give the best performance possible, seeing as how I haven’t been to Crapaoke in a while and I don’t want to disappoint.  I am jumping around and dancing like a fool with Viz on stage, and then I fall backwards.  I hit my back on the black power box at the back of the stage.  It hurts a bit, but the performance must go on, so I finish my song and garner much praise (or as much as one gets at Crapaoke in the 30 seconds between singers).  I feel my back, worried that I may be bleeding because it hurts pretty bad, but I notice no blood on my fingers, so I carry on. 

I order another beer to dull the pain and continue about the Nyabinghi.  Missy, Annie, Sarah, and Chris all show up.  Hellos are made.  We make our way back and watch more Karaoke acts. About 45 minutes pass.   I go to get another beer, but Andrea stops me.

“What’s that on your back?” she asks, concerned.

“Oh shit!” I exclaim,  “I must be bleeding from when I fell.”

“Yeah, I think so,” she says.

I go in the bathroom to check my shirt.  It is indeed covered in blood, but there are no mirrors large enough for me to check my back.  I take some toilet paper and put it over the cut.  A little blood comes off.  I am bleeding, but it doesn’t seem all that bad. 

I exit the bathroom and go get another beer.  Andrea is at the bar.

“Yeah, I’m bleeding pretty good.”

“Let me see your back,” she asks

I lift up my shirt. 

“Jesus,” she says.  “That’s pretty nasty.”

I get my beer.  I feel woozy.  I don’t even notice when Jeremy brings my beer.  I can’t tell if I’m drunk or if I’m bleeding to death.  Jeremy points out that my beer is in front of me.  I take it and head off to the Crapaoke stage, determined to get drunk and block out the bloody pain.  It doesn’t really hurt that bad, but I’m drinking just to make sure it doesn’t start. 

—It should be noted here that I have a very low tolerance for Alcohol and I rarely get drunk.  The last time I got drunk was on New Years Eve, when Randy and I felt up some strange fat lady’s boob while her husband watched and encouraged us, saying things like, “It’s New Years! None of this counts tomorrow.”—

I start showing people my bloody gash.

“That looks pretty bad,” they say.

“It doesn’t hurt too bad,” I say.

“It doesn’t look too deep,” someone says.

“That looks pretty deep.  I think you might need stitches,” someone else says.

“I’m getting drunk in hopes of not feeling anything,” I let people know –several times—I think I may be repeating myself. 

“Maybe you shouldn’t be drinking,” a few of them say.  “Alcohol thins the blood.  You are probably bleeding to death.”

It is in times like this that I ask myself: WWIPD?  What would Iggy Pop do? 

Iggy pop would keep drinking, so I keep drinking.

I talk to Pat, the other bartender, and let him know that I had a dream about him the other night in which he attempted to shoot Vice President Dick Cheney, and then when I tried to stop him—though I’m not sure why I would try to stop an assassination attempt on Dick Cheney—he shot me in the hand.  We laughed.

Then I show more people my bloody gash, my battle scar, my proof that I care about entertaining a Crapaoke crowd, even if I sustain injuries, even if it is very fleeting. 

Tino has picked a song for The Triforce to sing:  Livin’ La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin.  I get another beer, drink half of it—I’m pretty drunk now—and then it’s our turn to sing.  We go up. Some strange girl decides to sing with us.  We sing.  I tell the crowd about my back and my dedication to Crapaoke. I am a retard.  Nobody cares. People just think I’m some weird drunk dude who got carried away. I probably am.  Our song is over. I get my beer and go sit down at the little seats by the “secret bathroom.”  I spend the rest of the Crapaoke there.

Rodman comes, introduces me to people, they all leave, Andrea walks by, Girl-Chris walks by, Annie walks by, other people walk by.  I have to pee. I am sitting right next to the restroom, but I don’t feel like getting up and peeing. 

Girl-Chris comes by again.  She asks me to hold her purse while she pees, but Tino is in the bathroom.  I bang and tell him to hurry up, cause Girl-Chris has to pee.  He comes out, I hold her purse, she pees, she comes back out.  She is as drunk as I am.  But she I driving home.  I hope she doesn’t die. 

Crapaoke is over. It’s time to go. Fortunately Liz is driving us home, as the entire Triforce is inebriated and incapable of making it home on our own.  We say our goodbyes and head out the door, into the car, on our way home.  Viz is really fucking drunk, way worse than Tino and I. 

Viz is the new Uncle Dave. God rest his soul. 

“They might have Mittley’s at the Arby’s,” Viz says.  “It is Thursday, they said they’d have them in by Thursday.”  Viz is talking about the Arby’s mascot “Oven Mitt” or as we affectionately call him: Mittley.  Viz is anxious to get his hands on a Mittley key chain. 

“Viz, I think it’s too early,” I say.  “Maybe tomorrow.”

We drive home.   I get dropped off at my house.  I say goodbye to everybody and then stumble up my front porch, have significant trouble getting my key in the lock, eventually get it to fit, unlock the door, head straight up stairs, go into the bathroom, take my shirt off—it’s a bloody mess on the back—and proceed to wash my shirt in a little basin with Woolworth.  I like this shirt. I don’t want it to be ruined.  Most of the blood comes out.  I let it soak.

Then I take care of my back.  I look in the mirror.  There is a large, vertical gash on my back, about 3 or 4 inches long.  It is pretty nasty. 

I wash it up a bit.

Then I sleep. 


Mon, Dec. 25th, 2006 01:38 pm
the godfather of soul has left the building.

see, james brown had been sick for a while, but whenever the doctor asked how he was doing, he'd always just say, "i feel good."


Sun, Dec. 24th, 2006 04:15 pm

Science of Santa Claus: Jolly Old Elf Really Can Deliver Presents in One Night, Says NC State Engineer

Media Contacts:
Dr. Larry Silverberg, 919/515-5665
Mick Kulikowski, News Services, 919/515-3470

Dec. 6, 2006


Don’t believe in Santa Claus?

If you’re skeptical of Santa’s abilities to deliver presents to millions of homes and children in just one night, North Carolina State University’s Dr. Larry Silverberg, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, can explain the plausible science and engineering principles that could allow the Jolly Old Elf to pull off the magical feat year after year.

With his cherubic smile and twinkling eyes, Santa may appear to be merely a jolly old soul but he and his North Pole elves have a lot going on under the funny-looking hats, Silverberg says. Their advanced knowledge of electromagnetic waves, the space/time continuum, nanotechnology, genetic engineering and computer science easily trumps the know-how of contemporary scientists.

Silverberg says that Santa has a personal pipeline to children’s thoughts – via a listening antenna that combines technologies currently used in cell phones and EKGs – which informs him that Mary in Miami hopes for a surfboard, while Michael from Minneapolis wants a snowboard. A sophisticated signal processing system filters the data, giving Santa clues on who wants what, where children live, and even who’s been bad or good. Later, all this information will be processed in an onboard sleigh guidance system, which will provide Santa with the most efficient delivery route.

Silverberg adds that letters to Santa via snail mail still get the job done, however.

Silverberg is not so naïve as to think that Santa and his reindeer can travel approximately 200 million square miles – making stops in some 80 million homes – in one night. Instead, he posits that Santa uses his knowledge of the space/time continuum to form what Silverberg calls “relativity clouds.”

“Based on his advanced knowledge of the theory of relativity, Santa recognizes that time can be stretched like a rubber band, that space can be squeezed like an orange and that light can be bent,” Silverberg says. “Relativity clouds are controllable domains – rips in time – that allow him months to deliver presents while only a few minutes pass on Earth. The presents are truly delivered in a wink of an eye.”

With a detailed route prepared and his list checked twice through the onboard computer on the technologically advanced sleigh, Santa is ready to deliver presents. His reindeer – genetically bred to fly, balance on rooftops and see well in the dark – don’t actually pull a sleigh loaded down with toys. Instead, each house becomes Santa’s workshop as he utilizes a nano-toymaker to fabricate toys inside the children’s homes. The presents are grown on the spot, as the nano-toymaker creates – atom by atom – toys out of snow and soot, much like DNA can command the growth of organic material like tissues and body parts.

And there’s really no need for Santa to enter the house via chimney, although Silverberg says he enjoys doing that every so often. Rather, the same relativity cloud that allows Santa to deliver presents in what seems like a wink of an eye is also used to “morph” Santa into people’s homes.

Finally, many people wonder how Santa and the reindeer can eat all the food left out for them. Silverberg says they take just a nibble at each house. The remainder is either left in the house or placed in the sleigh’s built-in food dehydrator, where it is preserved for future consumption. It takes a long time to deliver all those presents, after all.

“This is our vision of Santa’s delivery method, given the human, physical and engineering constraints we face today,” Silverberg says. “Children shouldn’t put too much credence in the opinions of those who say it’s not possible to deliver presents all over the world in one night. It is possible, and it’s based on plausible science.”


Sun, Dec. 24th, 2006 04:07 pm

To the tune of "Deck the Halls": (chorus) "Season's greetings in our souls," (Fred) "Yummy Fruity Pebbles in our bowls." (Barney, disguised as Santa, prepares to go down Fred's chimney and you hear the sleigh bells ring from Santa's sleigh) (Fred) "Uh-oh, here comes you-know-whoo-oo--" (Santa arrives and sings) Yabba dabba froooo-ty-licious doo." (Barney, going down chimney) "Ho, ho-ho, I'm hu, hu-hun-gry," (slips and falls into Fred's house, beard comes off, and oops, Santa is already there anyway!) (Barney) "SANTA? My Pebbles!!!" (Fred) "YOUR Pebbles???" (Santa) "'Tis the season to be sharing, Fred...." (Fred gives Barney a bowl of Fruity Pebbles) (Barney) "Awwwe, Fred...." and then they say something about part of a complete breakfast, and the commercial ends with Santa riding off into the night.


Sat, Dec. 23rd, 2006 01:17 pm


Fri, Dec. 22nd, 2006 01:07 am
the walruss is done. i need a job.

my aunt elaine, who recently died, had her calling hours yesterday.

then i went out drinking to the nyabinghi.

then i spent all day today vomiting and sleeping. i never throw up when i'm drunk. it's always the next morning, when i'm sober and can reflect on my decision to drink a bottle of Terrible.

i missed my aunt's funeral today because of the drinking, though i think that is the best way to honor her memory. drink too much to be useful the next day.

after recovering, I saw rocky balboa tonight.


Thu, Nov. 30th, 2006 03:17 am


Fri, Nov. 24th, 2006 02:57 am
before the party dream, there was Pickle.

Check out these songs on the pickle web page. The ultimate donny used to play alt-country!



Tue, Nov. 14th, 2006 06:52 pm


Fri, Nov. 10th, 2006 07:38 pm

my band is playing on saturday at the Royal Oaks in youngstown with Ouija Radio, of Minneapolis, MN.

You should come.



Wed, Nov. 8th, 2006 04:50 pm


Tue, Nov. 7th, 2006 01:14 pm


This just showed up in my inbox from Ohio Republican Chairman Bob Bennett:

“We’re receiving widespread reports today of Democrats engaging in questionable and possibly illegal voter suppression tactics at polling locations across the state.

If you experience any problems with Democrat poll observers inside a voting location or with activists outside, please report them to us by email at info@ohiogop.org.

Democrats have proven they’ll do anything to win an election - even if it means breaking the law.

* Republican voters are reporting intimidation tactics being used by Democrat activists outside polling locations.

* We’ve heard reports of Democrat poll observers engaging in illegal activity by communicating with voters as they vote.

* Some Republican voters are even being told by Democrat poll workers that they can’t cast a ballot.

Help us put a stop to these illegal efforts to suppress the Republican vote. Report problems now by sending detailed information to info@ohiogop.org.”

If you have not already voted, the polls are open until 7:30 p.m. We’re seeing high turnout in Republican precincts statewide, but every vote is critical!”

Somehow, the Republicans – just like with the Foley Sex Scandal deflection where they called Ted Strickland a NAMBLA associate and Marc Dann soft on child sex predators – have managed to turn the tables on the issues democrats should, by all rights, have locked down. Voter suppression and fraud have been alleged at the Republicans in 2000 and 2004 and there has been some worry that the vote would get stolen again.

Just read this article from The Columbus Free Press and this article from Rolling Stone written by RFK Jr. The Walruss also wrote this article about a film called Stealing America Vote by Vote.

This also serves as a way for the Republicans to contest an election they are obviously going to lose big time. It helps them save face if they claim they lost through fraud, suppression and deception.

It’s important to remember that Ken Blackwell is still the Secretary of State, still the head of elections and right now, the Republicans control all the statewide offices. The Democrats aren’t in much of a position of power to illegally influence the outcome of this election.

Then there is this troubling bit of news via AP:

James W. Marquart of Cleveland said he left an elementary school polling place without voting because his name wasn’t on the rolls even though he had a postcard from the elections board showing that’s where he was to vote.

“They did offer me a provisional ballot but I have absolutely no faith in provisional ballots,” he said. “I don’t want to do a ballot that I fear won’t be counted.”

Provisional ballots are counted later only if elections boards can verify the voter’s information. In 2004, 135,000 provisionals were cast statewide, with about 77 percent validated.

Marquart, an independent, said he took the day off work and is consulting an attorney. Elections hot lines set up by the state and voter groups repeatedly rang busy when he tried to call for help around 8:15 a.m., he said.

Marquart said he eventually was told by the Cuyahoga County elections board that records show he was an inactive voter even though he says he voted in the May primary.

“I wonder how many other people this is happening to,” he said.

The article also says there are ballot scanning problems in Cincinnati and Akron and long lines are being reported in the state’s largest urban areas.

And in Mahoning County, home base of the Walruss, there are problems being reported with the scanning of absentee ballots, according to The Vindicator. There are more absentee ballots this year because of the new provision that allows anybody to vote absentee for any reason.

–by Leonard Glenn Crist


Mon, Oct. 30th, 2006 12:12 am


Sun, Oct. 29th, 2006 11:12 pm


Sun, Oct. 29th, 2006 10:04 pm

Now I bet some of you are wondering, "Eric Van Finger, how did you get such an awesome physique?"

The answer is hard work and constant training. In fact, Eric Van Finger, personal trainer to the stars, exercises over 15 hours a day. But to keep such a strenuous routine, you need to have the right attitude, or as Eric Van Finger calls it, "a good physicalitude."

Physicalitudinicity is the art of knowing what you are going to do before you actualize it. This way you'll never make a mistake, because if the plan is flawed, you will know it before you do it. Thanks to his high mastery of Physicalitudinicity, Eric Van Finger literally never makes mistakes. And you can be perfect too if you enroll in Eric Van Finger's Personal Training For The Stars (and Everybody Else): A Course in Physicalitudinicity. Courses start at the very affordable price of $19.95 a class.

Mahatma Ghandi?
Trained him.

Robert Kennedy?
Trained him.

John Lennon?
Trained him.

Ghost Dad?
Trained him.

Eric Van Finger has trained some of the finest figures in history and he can whip you into shape too. Don't delay. Call now. Operators are standing by.


Sun, Oct. 29th, 2006 02:58 am

Tonight you shall meet Eric Van Finger, personal trainer to the stars.

With PHDs in both Pain and Gain (also nicknames for his left and right biceps), it's fair to say Eric Van Finger, personal trainer to the stars, has what it takes to whip you in shape.

Jan Michael Vincent?
Trained him.

William Shatner?
Trained him.

Whoopie Goldberg?
Trained her.

The dude who sang in Three Dog Night?
Trained him.

Eric Van Finger has seen it all, and you can see him tonight as he makes a personal appearance at the Zou's Rocky Horror Halloween.

Photos to follow.


Wed, Oct. 11th, 2006 12:53 pm


Sun, Oct. 8th, 2006 06:12 pm
From Overheard in New York:

You Can Fake the Attitude, Even the Look, But In the End, Either You Have a Horizontal Vagina or You Don't

Dude #1: She's just got this, y'know, Asian air about her.
Dude #2: Yeah?
Dude #1: She's got this, like, totally anime look.
Dude #2: Yeah?
Dude #1: Yeah, but I wish she were really Asian.

--88th & 1st

Overheard by: Beeeej


Sat, Sep. 30th, 2006 12:34 pm

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Ninth Level of Hell - Cocytus!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Level Score
Purgatory (Repenting Believers) Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers) Very Low
Level 2 (Lustful) Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous) Very High
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious) Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy) High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics) Extreme
Level 7 (Violent) Extreme
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers) Very High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous) Extreme

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test


Fri, Sep. 22nd, 2006 10:23 am

you are the war that i want tonight at cedars

with Lady Fantastic, The Takeover UK and Mimic this Molecular Dance

I think the show starts around 10ish

id bet we go right at 11.


Thu, Sep. 14th, 2006 05:15 pm

I sent this out to the Youngstown community, but if anybody on my friends list would like to talk to me about this, i would appreciate it.


My name is Leonard Crist and I’m the editor of a new alternative paper in Youngstown, Ohio called the Walruss. www.walrussblog.com

For our next issue, I am working on an article about the battle over abortion rights in Ohio and around the country. It’s easy to find talking heads who feel one way or another on the subject, but it’s not so easy to find women who have actually had an abortion, or seriously contemplated having one.


So I’m asking any women reading this who have had an abortion to contact me at lennycrist@gmail.com. My hope is that we can discuss your experiences, feelings and thoughts on abortion (regardless of whether you are currently pro-choice or pro-life) to better add the Mahoning Valley’s voice to the national dialogue on this topic.


If you wish to remain anonymous in my article, that is not a problem. As a reporter, I vigilantly protect my sources.  


Thank you very much

Leonard Glenn Crist

Editor in Chief

The Walruss


Mon, Sep. 11th, 2006 05:32 pm


Sun, Sep. 10th, 2006 08:13 am
Probably the Only Kind of Reassurance She Would Have Accepted from Him


Black man: Quit turning around and walk, bitch. I ain't gonna rape you.

White woman turns around and walks a little faster.

Black man: You ain't even my type! Too skinny! I like 'em big!

--Madison Ave


Wed, Sep. 6th, 2006 09:25 pm
Tell me two relatively recent songs that you really like. any genre. radio pop, rap, pop country even. But i'm talking no older than 3 months or so. if you can provide a link, please do so.

thank you.


Thu, Aug. 31st, 2006 10:07 pm

From the first issue of The Walruss

In Liberty Township, there’s something strange coming to the neighborhood. It’s hailed by some as an economic savior, but when you really need to boost the economy who ya gonna call – Wal-Mart?

By Leonard Glenn Crist
Illustration by Rick Muccio

There was a time, in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, when the Mahoning Valley was flying high on the home-grown success of a large discount retailer. It was a beacon in a sea of unemployed men and abandoned mills, a success story to be proud of and a decent place to shop. And if you had recently found yourself jobless with not much cash, the prices were low. Very low. At its height, there were more than 300 stores around the country. This was Phar-Mor and it was poised to be the one the biggest players in the retail game.

Sam Walton, the late-entrepreneur who, in 1962, founded the Wal-Mart chain of discount stores, once proclaimed Phar-Mor the only retailer in the country he feared. According to a PBS Frontline documentary, for a two year period in the late 1980s, Phar-Mor made undercutting Wal-Mart part of its business plan. It was the only chance the company had of succeeding. In the discount retail wars, if you didn’t have the lowest price you didn’t have the customers.

Phar-Mor was able to offer far more savings than the competition, founder Mickey Monus claimed, through a practice called “power buying.” When suppliers wanted to unload a surplus good at dirt-cheap rates, Phar-Mor would take advantage of the low price and buy as much of that good as possible, passing the savings on to customers.

With its tough anti-union stance, low wages, lean benefits packages, and reliance on overseas exports, Wal-Mart had a similar business plan, one that valued extreme efficiency and slim profit margins. And while Phar-Mor and Wal-Mart both operated on the principal of low profits with high volume, Wal-Mart’s volume dwarfed Phar-Mor’s. Between 1985 and 1987, Phar-Mor increased from 12 to 40 stores. In that same time period, Wal-Mart lurched from 882 stores to almost 1,200. Volume, volume and more volume. That’s how the massive retailer from Bentonville, Ark., achieved its low prices. This exerted tremendous pressure on the competition; most retailers either closed or found a niche that Wal-Mart wasn’t filling. Phar-Mor, however, was taking Wal-Mart head on.

Walton feared Phar-Mor largely because he couldn’t understand how the Youngstown-based chain was able to keep its prices so low and still pull a profit. Wal-Mart’s “always low prices” should have been the lowest in the market; their cut-throat brand of capitalism virtually guaranteed that.

But Monus was determined to be a serious contender on the discount retail circuit, Wal-Mart’s low prices be damned. So he did the only thing he could to successfully compete with Wal-Mart: Mickey Monus cooked the books. He was, after all, from Youngstown.

In the end, Monus got busted. Phar-Mor hadn’t earned a profit in five years and $500 million dollars had been lost. With Phar-Mor’s founder in jail and the company on the ropes, Wal-Mart took this opportunity to enter into the backyard of its once-feared competitor. Between 1994 and 1997, Wal-Mart had opened stores in Poland, Austintown and Warren. Wal-Mart also began opening stores in nearby Mercer and Lawrence Counties in Pennsylvania. By 2002, the last of the Phar-Mors closed and Wal-Mart was the biggest retailer the world had ever seen.


Belmont Ave. in Liberty Township, Ohio, has a lot of vacant real estate. A major shopping area at one time, the large plazas that formerly housed Phar-Mor, Ames and Kmart are now basically lifeless. But the town is abuzz with the possibility of a renaissance: word on the street says Wal-Mart is coming. For many of the residents of Liberty, this means they won’t have to drive 15 or 20 minutes to Niles or Boardman any longer to buy a pack of socks.

The Youngstown Vindicator reported in June that Wal-Mart is looking into opening a Supercenter where the current Liberty Plaza sits on Belmont Ave. The plaza used to house a Phar-Mor, and somewhere in the afterlife, Sam Walton is surely soaking up the irony.

According to Liberty Township Administrator Pat Ungaro, the Wal-Mart deal is virtually guaranteed. There are no deal breakers, he says, it’s just a matter of clearing the few remaining tenants. After that, the new Supercenter plan calls for tearing down much of Liberty Plaza. Ultimately, Wal-Mart hopes to have the store open sometime in 2007, Ungaro confides. “It appears like everything is worked out.”

Ungaro says Liberty needs a Wal-Mart because there is no retail left. The convenience of not having to drive 20 minutes to the Eastwood Mall in Niles or the Southern Park Mall in Boardman is worth it, he says.

“I know Wal-Mart’s controversial, and I don’t really care about that. If you get up in Boardman and you want to go to Wal-Mart, you can. If you get into Warren, you can. If you get up into Austintown, you can. We want – I wanted – the same thing for the people in the area here.”

Ungaro is a walking contradiction when it comes to Wal-Mart. On the one hand, he’s willing to concede that traditionally, when a Wal-Mart comes into an area, there are job losses. And he would like to see the company increase its wages and improve its benefits. Ungaro doesn’t even shop at Wal-Mart all that often. But he wants the company and he says the people of Liberty are behind him.

“The only people that don’t like it are some of the unions and the competitors, your Sparkle, your Giant Eagle. The people, 99.9 percent, want it. And I make that real clear what my position is. I’m not ducking from that. I know the controversy.”

“I know they’re predators.” He pauses for emphasis. “I want ‘em.”


Wal-Mart built its first Supercenter in 1988. The stores, which average 185,000 square feet in size, combine the traditional Wal-Mart Discount Store with a full service grocery department. Today, Wal-Mart operates more than 1900 Supercenters nationwide, in addition to the more than 1,100 Wal-Mart Discount Stores.

In 2005, Wal-Mart sold $315 billion in goods from its stores, earning profits of $11 billion, according to Fortune magazine. By comparison, Target, Wal-Mart’s closest competitor, sold $52 billion in goods, earning $2.4 billion in profits. In fact, Wal-Mart is bigger than Target, Sears, Kroger, Costco and Home Depot combined.

In Ohio, Wal-Mart operates 131 stores; 87 of those are Supercenters. Within a 50 mile radius of Youngstown there are 18 Wal-Marts. According to Wal-Mart spokesman Ron Mosby, between 30 and 40 new Wal-Mart stores are in some stage of development across Ohio, including the one planned for Liberty.

The three stores that Wal-Mart operates in Mahoning and Trumbull Counties employ just over 900 “associates,” the feel-good name Wal-Mart gives its workers. According to Wal-Mart, the average wage associates earn in Ohio is $9.82 an hour, though the company likes to point out that employees are eligible for performance-based bonuses. Union critics question the validity of that number and suspect it to be lower. Statewide, Wal-Mart employs almost 50,000 people, making them Ohio’s largest employer.

Almost everywhere Wal-Mart goes, controversy follows.

In March, a report released by Ohio’s Department of Job and Family Services revealed that 8 percent of Wal-Mart’s Ohio workforce enrolled themselves or their children in Medicaid, costing the state roughly $11 million dollars annually. Wal-Mart also had the second largest number of employees receiving food stamps, just behind McDonald’s. Union leaders and politicians pounced, noting that fewer than half of Wal-Mart’s employees nationwide receive company healthcare. Wal-Mart counters that basic coverage is available for as little as $11 a month and workers who are not covered make that choice for themselves.

Around the country, Democratic leaders like Sen. Joe Biden are calling Wal-Mart out on their low wages and benefits. According to the New York Times, even Hillary Clinton, who once served on Wal-Mart’s board of directors while living in Arkansas, returned a $5,000 campaign contribution from Wal-Mart in 2005, protesting their healthcare policies.

Other scandals have popped up regularly over the years. Wal-Mart’s been accused of hiring illegal aliens, locking employees in the store during the night shift, using sweatshop labor for its Kathie Lee brand of handbags, discriminating against female workers, polluting the environment and forcing employees to work off the clock

The United Food and Commercial Workers union has spearheaded a campaign to exert pressure on Wal-Mart to change its practices. The Wake Up Wal-Mart campaign includes a Web site chronicling Wal-Mart’s many shortcomings and, this summer, a 35-date cross-country bus tour. According to the group’s web site, Wake Up Wal-Mart is “taking to the streets to fight for a better America”

Mike Martino, an organizer with the UFCW Local No. 880, which covers Northeast Ohio, says that by shopping at Wal-Mart, you may indirectly be putting yourself out of a job.

“It’s important to support the good paying businesses that take care of their workers in your town,” Martino says. “You’ve got to think about the people that work in these other stores. You vote with your wallet. If you’re going to vote and go into Wal-Mart with your wallet, you’re eventually going to hurt somebody else down the street. They have a wall in Bentonville with pictures of employers on it, with yellow police tape on it. There are certain employers in Northeast Ohio that are on that wall. And Wal-Mart claims they don’t target specific companies when they move in. That’s bullshit. Their main focus is to put other companies out of business so they’re the only game in town.”


Inside Kravitz Delicatessen, a small, locally owned deli just down the road from the proposed Liberty Wal-Mart, Max Davis finishes up his shift. A recent graduate of Liberty High School, Max says he’s excited a 24-7 Wal-Mart Supercenter is coming to town because that means something worthwhile will actually be open in Liberty past 9 p.m. When you’re bored in the middle of the night, Max says, Wal-Mart is a way better place to hang out than Giant Eagle. He concedes that a new Supercenter might negatively impact local grocers, but Max can’t imagine Wal-Mart hurting Liberty any worse than it already is.

An elderly woman eating lunch with her husband overhears the conversation about Wal-Mart. It’s apparently the first time she’s heard of the plan. “They’re going to bring a Wal-Mart in?” She sounds exasperated. The woman looks to her husband. “They’re going to bring in a Supercenter.” She says this with a “can you believe this crap?” inflection in her voice. The couple gets up and leaves.

A customer comes in, another older woman. She picks up a bottle of wine, pinot noir, and takes it to the counter. She is greeted by Max’s boss, deli operator Jack Kravitz, and they proceed to have a conversation about the finer points of American pinot noirs. The woman says she read somewhere that pinot noir has a number of health benefits. Kravittz notes pinot is a little more expensive but California and Washington State pinots are good wines. After talking for a few more moments, the woman purchases her wine and is on her way. Kravitz is smiling.

Like his employee Max, Kravitz says he’s excited about the new Wal-Mart. He doesn’t think it will hurt business, and it might even help it, he says. “I think business creates business,” Kravitz says. “I’ve seen what happens in a lot of areas where Wal-Mart comes in. And yeah, it might hurt your corner hardware store. But then again, it helps your food service people. It brings more people in the area. Other stores spring up around it.”

“I guess I can point to what happened in Austintown when the Wal-Mart opened up there. New businesses moved in. They built new plazas. The whole area just built up.”

Kravitz has some experience working with Wal-Mart. His family once ran a wholesale business and sold their goods to Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart’s members-only warehouse club. “I sold to them for a lot of years. I didn’t find it any different than dealing with any other large company.”

Kravitz believes the foot traffic generated from Wal-Mart will spill over to his and other businesses on Belmont. “We’re relying on it,” Kravitz says. “Without something like Wal-Mart coming in, Belmont’s gonna die. There really is nothing on Belmont Avenue right now to bring people in.”

Is Wal-Mart going to help keep Kravitz Delicatessen afloat? “It has to help,” Kravitz says.

Will it hurt other businesses? “The North Side of Youngstown doesn’t really have that many independent people who compete with Wal-mart,” Kravitz says. “But around here, in Liberty, if you wanna buy a pair of socks, you have to leave Belmont Avenue to get it. If they don’t carry it at Big Lots you can’t get it.”

In fact, Big Lots, the Ohio-based discount retailer, is sprucing up the exterior of its Belmont Avenue store with a new façade on the front of its plaza. With Wal-Mart coming, you have to put your best foot forward.

And there is at least one prominent independent business on the North Side of Youngstown that will fall into direct competition with a Wal-Mart Supercenter: Sparkle Market.


Charles Zander, owner of two Sparkle Markets in Youngstown, is already preparing his employees for Wal-Mart’s onslaught. Inside the store, nearly every shopper has a nearby Sparkle Market employee offering to carry a bag of dog food or answer a question about where the ketchup aisle is.

“I really think that I’m gonna have some serious problems,” Zander says. “I’m going to work as hard as I can to keep it going.”

Sparkle Market is perhaps the most vulnerable business in the shadow of the Liberty Wal-Mart. Small, independent and with a unionized workforce, Sparkle Market is just the kind of grocery store that is likely to close when a new Supercenter comes in.

“The customers will dictate what happens with the store. If they think Wal-Mart is a great panacea of what their needs are, then I probably won’t be here.”

Zander has owned the store on Gypsy Lane since 1987 and he’s worked for Sparkle since 1957. With the real possibility of all that history being undercut by the world’s largest retailer, Zander has a lot on his mind and a lot to get off his chest.

“If you want my thoughts, the politicians have tunnel vision when it comes to bringing [Wal-Mart] to this town. We’ve lost how many thousands of jobs at Packard and General Motors out here? Who’s gonna buy this retail stuff? We’ve got supermarkets on this side of town. I would say probably at least two super marts are gonna have to close if Wal-Mart opens up, if not more. They won’t be able to survive. There’s just not enough retail business.”

Zander says he spoke with Liberty Township administrator Pat Ungaro twice and received little sympathy.

“Pat Ungaro pretty much told me it’s good for Liberty and that’s what’s gonna happen. And he did not say it out loud, but I got the opinion: ‘To hell with the business people that are here that are in the same business. If they’re not good enough to survive, let ‘em go away.’ If he had any concerns about the local business and about the economy, Wal-Mart wouldn’t have been on the forefront of him bringing [a retailer] into this area.”

Zander pauses to look for a letter he sent to Ungaro about the Wal-Mart situation. He has no luck finding it.

“Pat Ungaro is not one of my favorite people right now.”


There is definitely some validity to the claim that Wal-Mart forces job losses and wage decreases when it enters a community.

A study released in 2005 by David Neumark, an economist from the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that in counties that have had a Wal-Mart for 30 years or more, earnings per person dropped by 5 percent.

A different, Wal-Mart-sponsored, study showed that American wages dropped 2.2 percent between 1985 and 2004, but prices dropped 3.1 percent, meaning consumers actually increased their buying power by .9 percent.

In fact, some economists have argued that Wal-Mart’s low prices are primarily responsible for keeping inflation in check over the last decade.

According to statistics from Ohio’s Department of Labor Statistics, between 2000 and 2004, Mahoning and Trumbull counties lost 3,417 retail jobs, which amounted to a $15.98 million blow to the local economy in lost wages. While it’s hard to directly attribute one specific reason for the job losses, it would be nearly impossible to argue that Wal-Mart didn’t play at least some role. Even if Wal-Mart isn’t hurting the Mahoning Valley, it certainly isn’t helping it.

When asked about the retail losses, Pat Ungaro says “It’s possible that Wal-Mart, in being as aggressive as they are in pricing, they might have knocked out a lot of businesses. I think that’s possible, yeah. I don’t know the answer, but generally speaking, I’d say Wal-Mart. It’s gotta be.”

But doesn’t encouraging Wal-Mart to come to your city only make things worse?

“No, I don’t see it that way. I don’t think it makes it worse. I think its capitalism. It the way our econmy functions. I think you do it the way the unions are doing it. They’re putting pressure. I think that’s the way you do it.”

Is there a pressure you can exert as a township administrator?

“That’s somebody else’s problem, not mine,” Ungaro says. “I want them here. It’s pretty hard for me to say ‘Come here, build a 225,000 square foot thing, but you better get your healthcare.’ They should have done that in Boardman. They should have done that in Austintown. They should have done that at the Eastwood Mall a long time ago. They didn’t do that then and they didn’t succeed if they tried. I mean, bottom line is, it is the way it is.”

UFCW organizer Mike Martino has tried to fight that battle. Between 2000 and 2005, he helped try to unionize a small division of employees at the New Castle, Pa. Wal-Mart. Despite some initial hope, when the vote was finally taken, the employees voted 0-17 to keep out the union. His union no longer tries to organize Wal-Marts.

To Wal-Mart’s regular customers, all the bad press in the world won’t convince them the retailer hurts local economies.

In the Poland Wal-Mart parking lot, shopper Zara Rowlands says she is thrilled the proposed Liberty Supercenter will be 10 minutes from her home in nearby Hubbard.

“There are a lot of people who need jobs,” she says. “It will do wonders for the economy.”

E-mail Leonard Glenn Crist at lennycrist@gmail.com