Marlboro Man

InkedFord Wenty profile image_LI

A report from Ale 81 Inn field correspondent Ford Wenty

 

Against my better judgement I have allowed myself to be persuaded to take on a feature  concerning the marathon circuit.  It’s not of particular interest to me; it’s a story to finance my vices same as another. There still exists the very real prospect that the entire project will end in utter disaster. With enough intoxicants these displays can be endured with a modicum of sedation to make the time pass unto their merciful conclusion. At least that is the theory. I’m still testing it. 

People who will dedicate so much of their lives to running for no good reason are puzzling to me. They are harmless, I do not harbor any malice towards them, but I simply am unable to discern or appreciate their motivation. There are the usual tales of inspiration, of pushing one’s physical abilities to always rise to the next level. There is the inevitable talk of the runner’s high. I think it comes from oxygen deprivation, but if it works for you, well alright then. I suspect that there is something more to it that they are holding secret from us within their own circle.

People who line the streets of these events are….what’s the word I want here? Disturbed or disturbing? Perhaps a bit of each. Watching horses race can be fun. There is generally better seating, there is usually decent food and/or booze on offer, and with a good eye there may be a chance to make some money too. As best I can tell these marathons end up costing everyone involved. The participants, the audience and the host venue, yet ironically the food trucks seem to make money. Absent the betting the only other avenue for monetizing this lies in charging admission (nearly impossible logistically from most I have seen) or, sponsorship.

Enter one Harry “Hack” Halloran, the Marlboro Man. That’s right, it’s not a typo. I did not mean to say Marathon Man, it is indeed Marlboro Man. Harry, more than any other gaunt and emaciated veteran of the field, I found to be a true inspiration. You see for Harry Halloran the marathon is not a challenge, not a physical feat, not the next hill to climb. No, the marathon is a statement. Hack Halloran is a man selflessly dedicated to a cause.

I met Hack at the Columbus Marathon for the first time. Oh, let me be correct about this. The “official” title of the event is The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon. I must include this lest I should run afoul of the very long arm of Nationwide Insurance’s legal department. To be fair, they ponied up a lot of money for those naming rights. It’s their way of giving back. Thanks Peyton! Nationwide is on your side!

It was a frigid pre-dawn in late October at the North Bank Park. There were roughly 15,000 runners and along the circuitous route, cleverly devised to pass through only those most exclusive zip codes of the Columbus metropolitan area, there were possibly as many as 100,000 onlookers, volunteers and support staff. As the mob queued at the starting tape, casting frosty breaths into the upper thirties air, there was Hack in the very rear of the field. At 5’8″, 162 pounds this 47 year old man was hardly an imposing figure. What was notable was that he was clad from head to toe in some good quality gear, all of it emblazoned with the red, white and black Marlboro logo. I was standing on the periphery, cataloging various images and sounds that I would incorporate into the feature I had been contracted to write. Hack made his own introduction.

“Hey man, you got a light?”

“Really? Are you serious? You’re in the midst of smoke nazi central dude!”

“Yeah, I know. That’s why I’m here. Harry Halloran, but you can call me Hack.”

I stared for a moment at his outstretched hand. Truth be told, he had me at you got a light. I shook his hand and replied.

” Ford Wenty. Pleased to meet you Hack. So what’s your story?”

“My story! I’m in the fucking race man!” 

It was at this moment I determined that the magazine was going to get the drivel they were looking for. This was my story.  Hack was indeed a registered participant. He produced his little tag as proof. I wondered if he had the Marlboro gear on when arriving and picking up his card.

“Ok, Hack. Gotta ask, man, what’s up with the Marlboro gear?”

“Phillip-Morris is my sponsor.”

Did not see that coming. Phillip-Morris as corporate sponsor for a marathon? Maybe in Richmond, VA, but this? It’s a bit like BW3 serving as a sponsor of an IBS telethon.

“Really? How’d ya pull that off, Hack?”

“Well after they threw me out of the New York Marathon a couple years ago I got pissed so I wrote to the company. Took about a year, but I got them to agree to sponsor me.”

“Wait. They threw you out of the New York Marathon? Why? How’d that happen?”

“They told me I couldn’t smoke in the marathon and I said oh yeah? Show me where it is in the rules. They couldn’t, so then they made up some shit and had the boys in blue escort me away.”

“You like swimming upstream, don’t you?”

“Ha! Yeah I guess you could say that.”

“So you smoke and you run in marathons?”

“Ain’t no fucking law against it, is there?”

“Well, no….didn’t mean to imply that, it’s just that your performance might improve if you didn’t….”

“Yeah, I know I could smoke a lot more if I didn’t compete in these stupid things, but that’s not what this is about.”

Indeed. Next question. “OK, Hack, I’ll bite. What is this all about?”

“I’ll tell ya what it’s all about! I got rights too, ya know! They make excuses for all of these fat bastards stuffing their faces full of crap. Oh, you can be large and still fit…….right? You’ve heard it. Well, I can smoke and still run a fucking marathon. I’m not trying to set any records and I don’t expect to win. I just prove it can be done.”

I was instantly struck by the Quixotic nature of this man’s vision.  Americans by and large have an indefatigable affinity for the underdog. By my reckoning Hack Halloran was by far the biggest underdog in this race. The runners were summoned to the start and Hack was off, still wanting for a lighter as far as I knew. I remained to the rear of the chaos and again studied the route.

The length of a proper marathon is 26.2 miles. When one studies an aerial map of Columbus, Ohio the first distinct route to be detected is the city’s I-270 outerbelt. The total mileage of this roughly circular route is just a shade under 55 miles. One might easily have determined the course by performing a bisection of the city with High Street from north to south (aka US 23) and following the western half of the outerbelt. I’ve not performed the exact measurements, but in the worst case scenario it might have entailed only excluding one exit to arrive at the requisite distance. 

Now far be it for me to presume any knowledge about organizing a marathon. I imagine it to be a rather daunting task and my hat is off to those who would expend that amount of energy for the purpose. I simply wouldn’t do it. You wanna run? Go run then! This particular event, however, does raise a substantial amount of money for a worthy cause: a hospital for children. It’s a brilliant move on the part of Nationwide when you think about it. Any time that you are doing something for “the children” your cause is almost instantaneously unassailable. Add on hospital and there is the added implication of “sick children”. Pure teflon!

More than anything else the marathon is about two things. First, it is gild edged PR for Nationwide Insurance. Second, like Derby Week in Louisville, it’s not about the race or the runners. It’s a place to see and, more importantly, be seen. With this clearly in mind the opening of the course made a bee-line four miles straight east on Broad Street. Past the Statehouse, the Museum of Art and the old Governor’s Mansion until passing the Franklin Park Conservatory and through the gates of Bexley. Bexley is rather exclusive real estate and is an historically Jewish community. Male ejaculation within the city limits of Bexley is against the law as it exceeds the posted city-wide speed limit of 25 mph.

The route observed a disciplined square about Bexley, at the halfway point of this loop passing Capital University, and shortly after turning north up Nelson Road to return to Broad Street for safe passage back to the west. It was vital that the route pass by the hospital itself, but a direct course west from Bexley on either Main or Livingston would have entailed venturing into territory where no preening poser would be caught dead. There was still that dread mile down South 18th Street until reaching Livingston and the shadow of the hospital. It was only this one stretch of the race which passed through anything alien to the snowflake’s world. Otherwise it all remained within the boundaries of the new age urban mythos.

From the hospital the course proceeded further west on Livingston into the prototype urban gentrification of Columbus’ older communities, German Village.  The Germans are long departed, first displaced by Appalachian economic refugees and later, after their urban renewal, gays and lawyers. On a clear day one sees as many rainbow flags in German Village as might be found in San Francisco, boasting more DINK households per capita than any other in the state. The exit onto High Street at Deshler had the runners pointed north to pass and salute the Nationwide mother ship two miles distant.

This particular length of High Street is known well to me from some of the years of my misspent youth. I was able to negotiate the mindless throng to obtain a watch from a second story balcony of the venerable South Wind Hotel. I am uncertain of the current status of this establishment, but it was reputed at one time to be the preferred working place for your higher end call girls servicing clients from the nearby Statehouse and County Court. Most of that is only rumor, I’m sure.  

It was 9:40 AM by that time. The bulk of the herd had already passed this point of the course by then and I was certain that Hack would be arriving in this neck of the race at any moment.  Shortly thereafter there came a chorus of jeers and moans from the assembly of onlookers surrounding the nearby fluid station. This, no doubt, announced his presence. From my vantage point above I could look down High Street and sure enough there he was.  The touque was shed now, along with the track suit. Now a clearer image of the man, the ginger mop atop his head, the wiry frame; a figure more resembling William H. Macy’s character in Shameless than a competitive athlete. Beneath the track suit the Marlboro theme had continued with red, white and black coordinates prominently displaying the flagship of the Phillip-Morris line. And then there was also Hack’s very public and unabashed consumption of the very same. No lightweight gold label or Ultra-lights, no sir. Marlboro red, the original cowboy killer.

Hack had evidently endured his share of abuse while approaching an earlier fluid station with one of those offending sticks hanging out of his mouth. A shouting match was averted and no more harm resulted than him blowing a large cloud of smoke into their faces. It was more of a symbolic gesture in that no one could really be certain how much was actually tobacco smoke and how much steam due to the cold air. In the open with a fair breeze any smoke was almost instantly dissipated, yet the attendees had cowered as though they were being assaulted with Sarin gas. Not wishing to repeat this Hack had left course for a few minutes to visit the BP station at High and Greenlawn to purchase Red Bull and two (gasp) plastic water bottles. Arriving at the S. High fluid station Hack puffed away, standing in the street some 25 or 30 feet distant. He guzzled a can of Red  Bull and rolled the empty to the curb.

“Hey! Why don’t one of you fucking snowflakes pick that up and put it in the garbage for me, huh? I wouldn’t want to pollute your safe space with my 100% legal tobacco smoke!” He then drank half of one of the water bottles and lobbed the remainder at the  scolding frowns behind the tables of their station. “Stick that in yer recycle bin you assholes!”

Horrified suburban soccer moms rushed to clasp their hands about the ears of their children. There is certain code of uniformity in these gatherings; rather, as Jello Biafra once put it, a Chickenshit Conformity. Their conformity has evolved from the mere pretentious flaunting of gratuitous consumerism, arriving in fleets of Lexus, BMW and Range Rover. Now, too, they flaunt their public virtue by wearing all the right ribbons and wristbands, mouthing all of the right slogans, appearing at all the right events. This was but one.

For all of their self-righteous blather about soft, squishy things like tolerance and diversity, they have a decided blind spot for these virtues when it suits them. These are the smoke nazis. The smoker is the most reviled creature they know. There is to be zero tolerance for smoking anywhere! Why, don’t take my word for it. Go ask one of these shrews yourself. They’ll be only too happy to hand you the lecture, which of course is richly garnished with the “it’s for the children” angle.

I did not attempt to follow Hack on his trek north through the downtown, the trendy, hipster Short North district, or the wide ring about the OSU Campus area. OSU, like most state universities, is where the group think of the masses and the group think of the state converge. I avoid these places at almost any cost. Instead I worked my way about the streets through town out to the enclave of Upper Arlington. The city markers as one enters are practically dripping with white liberal guilt. The whole place reeks of it.

It was lunch time when Hack appeared at the fluid station near North Star and Guilford, smacking away outstretched cones of water as he lit up yet another Marlboro. There was still derision, but the fervor of the event had largely passed by this hour. The bulk of the pack was well ahead and many who had made their appearance solely for the purpose of doing so were already home. This was where they lived. 

Hack indeed persevered for the remaining seven miles and concluded his run in the mid afternoon, posting a time of 8 hours 12 minutes and 33 seconds. Hardly a record setting pace, but then that’s not what this was about. Not for Harry Halloran. In spite of his abounding love for tobacco products there is something deeper at work here. You see Hack had an epiphany at some point. He came to understand that when it becomes accepted to ignore the individual rights of the otherwise law abiding citizen for one thing, it is then only a matter of time before it will be accepted for any thing. The state sanctioned popularity contest, whether it is held for good looks or for public virtue, is an insidious evil. 

Running marathons is a dreadful habit. I really can’t recommend it to anyone. If you do not currently run marathons, then please, don’t start! If you already do, then enjoy responsibly, it’s your choice. Oddly I seem to feel pretty much the same about smoking. These two groups would appear to be diametrically opposed to one another, yet they do share one key thing. The failure of either to respect and preserve the rights of the other places their own rights in peril.

 

Yes, Kim, as it turns out you actually can get laid with a bad haircut

In all of the sound and fury of the recent midterm elections a chapter in US diplomatic history has been quickly and conveniently forgotten.  It is a story of which, although it may not yet be complete, we have been given a suitable foretaste. Much of this of course has been alternately sensationalized or underplayed, depending upon one’s voice of choice, but the Singapore Summit marked a true milestone in 21st century geopolitics. Much was reported at the time, most of which was largely speculative in nature and little of it flattering to the president. This reporter, however, was able to (through extortion and intimidation) obtain a first hand insight into what actually transpired at the meeting. The following is an account of some of  those discussions. Other segments, for concerns of national security, have been redacted.


 

Ah, Kim! So pleased to finally meet you! I’ve been a big admirer for a long time. How was your flight?

Mr. President Trump… I have been big admirer for you also! Flight was okay. Thank you again for jet fuel…

What, that? Bah! What’s a few hundred gallons of jet fuel between friends, right? We’re friends, right? Of course we’re friends! Come on and sit here with me, Kim. We have a lot to talk about.

It was most generous gift, but uh….why you no come to North Korea?

Wellll….you know, Kim, we weren’t sure it would be safe for you. I mean you’re just like me, you know? So beloved by your people and since you’ve been trash talking us for so long we thought maybe there would be some of your people – you know like maybe some of those generals – well….They might have been a little pissed off about me coming in there, you know, with the great big jet and all. Before I go you gotta come see Air Force 1, or….You know what? What the hell, right? Maybe we’ll just take a ride somewhere. Yeah, but anyway, Kim, we figured for this first meeting -this is just the first you know – it would be better to make it a neutral site.

I see. Maybe, uh, next meeting I come to America?

Sure! That would be great, just great.  You can be my guest at Mar a Lago!

Not at white house?

Oh Kim! Just between me and you, okay…that place is a dump! Really, you’ll like Florida much, much more. Nicer place, better weather, hotter babes. Really, Kim, that much I can tell you.

Oh….I, uh…..

What? What Kim? Did I say something to upset you? I’m always doing that, you know? Was it…

Oh! No Mr. President Trump! You say nothing bad, I just, uh…I like the nice place and nice weather is good and I like a hot babes! But I have a ugly haircut. Just one time I like a hot babe fuck me not because I am Glorious Leader of Peoples Republic. You big important man, you know what I mean, yes?

Kim. Kim, Kim, Kim….lemme tell you something, okay? I promise this is a secret just between us, okay? Because I like you Kim. I really, really like you. You’re okay. You see this? Up here, on top of my head?

Yes. You have a big-big hair.

That’s right Kim! And you know what else? Believe it or not Kim, there are actually some people who say that I, Donald J. Trump, have a bad haircut! Can you believe that? Me!? A bad haircut! It’s all those fake news, Kim. Hell they’re everywhere now! I found Jim Acosta in one of my wardrobe closets last week! That is one sick individual, that much I can tell you, okay?

Why you don’t just a kill him? We have a no sick individuals in Peoples Republic.

Well you know Kim, as much as I would like to things just don’t work that way in America. Besides, it’s much more fun to just fuck with him all the time! See Kim instead of just one state controlled media we have a shit ton, okay? I mean media in America is yuge, okay? And they all like making money. Their ratings were all going down, down….I mean seriously, Kim. Like right down into the toilet, okay? And then I come along and shazam! I saved all their asses!

What mean the shazam? I don’t hear this word before.

Oh right! You wouldn’t know, would you? I’m sorry, Kim….shazam is an expression from an old comic book character called Captain Marvel. You ever read comic books Kim? I recommend the Washington Post. Really, really great comics over there, that much I can tell you.

Ohh-Kay? But what mean “shazam”?

Shazam! You know, it’s like Eureka! Or Holy Shit!

Oh, Holy Shit, yes. I know this one. Ha-ha-ha! Mr. President Trump make a funny joke!

Ha-ha-ha! You like that one, did you? Oh geez, I got a million of them! Ha-ha-ha…..yeah, but seriously, Kim. Back to your hot babe problem. Sure, I get that. Look, Kim…when you’re rich and you’re famous? It’s like catnip for pussy. You gotta learn to just roll with it. Do you honestly think they really give a shit what you look like? Come on, Kim! Have you seen my wife? And she’s with me, Kim. Just think of that, huh? See you could be boning prime tail too. You’re a young man, in your prime! Hell when I was your age I was getting more ass than a toilet seat, that much I can tell you!

I think I like the Mar a Lago! But how I get hot babes in Peoples Republic?

One word for you, Kim: hotels. Lots and lots of hotels, okay? And all we gotta do, Kim, is figure out what we’re gonna do about all these nukes and missiles, okay? I mean if we can work that out then we’re talking the Pyongyang Trump Towers, Kim. It’ll fill up with Russian and Chinese oligarchs and they bring in harems of that hot east European tail.

We will work out plan to turn over all the weapons, but I still get to be supreme ruler of Peoples Republic.

Okay Kim, okay. But we gotta have all the stuff first, okay? I found out you’re holding out on us and it might not be too pretty, you know? I mean it could be really bad. Or… lots and lots of pussy. The choice is yours.

So it work to make more money for all people and they make and spend more then I make more, right?

That is exactly how it will work, Kim. Trust me, I think I know what I’m talking about, okay?

Oh! Oh! When I come at the Mar a Lago Mr. President Trump, will there be any hot Mexican babes? I want to try Mexican!

Oh, better than that, Kim. We’ll get you this nice Cuban girl I know, Carmen. Very, very nice girl. Really, really…..really great tits, you know? I mean those mamas are yuge! You’ll like her Kim.

And you think my haircut okay then?

Your haircut is fine Kim. Really. That much I can tell you, okay?


 

Any further discussions must remain classified. Ford Wenty report end, 9 Nov. 2018

 

420

 

The sad, slow and ugly death of the media, Pt. 3: Scorched Earth

Underneath it all she had always been a petulant little witch. The type of girl who at the age of twelve and a half was permitted to join the adult table, yet could not simply content herself with the honor. Instead she’d made a very special point to then lord it over her younger siblings and cousins. Solomon best described Gazette in his sage observation: woman, thy name is vanity. Now she was in the final stages, getting past the denial, working through the anger and preparing to schlepp off into acceptance. Certainly not, however, before blazing a grand exit. Even in acceptance she is a jealous pool, determined as the lover who declares that if her quarry be denied her then it shall be denied to all.

She doesn’t even bother with the makeup any more. She’s been exposed to all, to the most intimate detail, so why? She still carries the same skin, even if all of the dough beneath has settled to form unsightly bags and cellulite deposits. In her own mind she’s still all that. Where this is present in some ladies this inspires a certain admiration for such security in one’s self. In Gazette’s case it can but inspire pity, for we see not a woman liberated of her inhibitions; instead, a woman drunken on her former glories. She longs to once again feel that intoxication experienced in her heroic age, the days of The Pentagon Papers and Watergate, not realizing that this dragon will ever elude her grasp. She is one of them now, the predictable fruit of every other revolution.

We needn’t feel embarrassment for her, our pity is to be reserved for those more worthy of such tender mercies. Gazette now seeks neither sympathy nor solace. She has grown petty and thin-skinned, her only purpose now is vengeance. Throughout her sordid history she has (for convenience, amusement or both) made her bed with some equally unscrupulous characters. In her glory years these were singular encounters, a darkened rendezvous with a Deep Throat. As her star faded she had morphed into just another useful tool, until she graduated to a full on gang bang with the Deep State. Gazette’s real kink has always been about being on the inside, recipient and disseminator of rumor, gossip and palace intrigue. Being invited to and becoming the life of all the best DC circuit cocktail parties. In her day she was the Grand Mistress to all, the whore incarnate within her home circles; while posing the Madonna face to the contemptible masses, cooing her gentle, motherly scold to the unwashed curs for their ignorant transgressions against the public virtue of the day. Her manipulations were masterful, her physical dexterity superhuman: contorting to any position required that might offer an orifice to all comers. And this was how she was to be repaid? No, no, no….not her. This will not stand.

Make no mistake, my friends. This lady still has more tricks in her. One does not rocket through her orbits and not come into the possession of certain, shall we say “leverage points”. In days of old these might still hold some currency. Had she kept her circle of friends to a more exclusive membership she might still be able to survive with this play. Not so in today’s world. She has left herself too widely exposed. The parties inside of her bubble may not hear much of anything that comes from outside of it, but they certainly do one hell of a lot of talking within it. Gazette always wanted to have her cake and eat it too. She wanted to enjoy the privileges of being on the inside without having to assume any of the risks. She realizes now, too late, that with her sources compromised she is no longer any value and, by extension, no threat. She is equally compromised, fully implicated and in short: reduced to an accomplice. With neither party able to squirm the noose they will both leave scorched earth in their wakes. The fires are just being lit.

 

Face Down on the Potomac

A foul wind blows in the swamp this night. Pungent, fecund reminiscence of a time when this land was indeed a swamp; before it was claimed by pirates and other people with nicer manners, but who would still cut you for a shilling. Though it has been cleared away of the physical swamp, the modern day iteration contains denizens more fearsome than the serpents and gators who once tread these soggy grounds. No swarthy buccaneers are these, no. These are sharks in human skins, expensive suits and unlimited taxpayer funded expense accounts. Mindless eating machines, leaving trails of bloodied chum in their wake.

In the late summer heat, the already oppressive humidity further fueled by the remnants of Florence, the air is fouled by a rancid perfume of dead, rotting flesh and human feces. Not just in DC proper, mind you. The stench wafts heavily on the evening air from other quarters, seeping rather than blowing in from northern Virginia and from places as far off as Bethesda, MD.  They all knew it was coming, had probably already retained counsel, but within the last 24 hours there has been one mass shuddering of constricted sphincters followed by the largest single pants shitting since the Pilgrims’ Winter of Dysentery in 1612. 

In Washington, what you hear in the news is not news to them.  The grand fecal communion was bound to occur, but who knew it would strike so abruptly? The emergency response mechanism of DC was ill prepared for this flood of human waste, hangings and suspicious drownings. Even Capitol and Park Police have been brought in to assist with the Haz-Mat efforts. Distant howls, savage shrieks and the wail of sirens cry into the dense night air and there is a hint of yet another fragrance: panic. It is palpable, giving a visceral turn not unlike that experienced on a roller coaster, or 495 at rush hour.

The panic grows from a stark realization that the declassification of DOJ correspondence, FISA warrant applications and personal texts between Sztrok and Page, in their full and unredacted form, paints their most reliable accomplices into a corner. With this declassification there is no longer any ambiguity of redaction to seed that shadow of doubt. There is no valid excuse not to reveal the content in it’s entirety, yet in so doing mainstream media outlets must expose the fact that they have indeed been co-conspirators. They must present evidence in direct contradiction of a narrative they have fomented for over a year. The alternative, to suppress the information or distort it in any way provides no less of an admission, if only tacit in the latter case. For the deep state malefactors the one reliable smoke screen they had going for them, the slobbering lap dogs at the Times and the Post, the shameless apologists on the networks; they are neutralized. Any remaining shred of credibility they had vaporized with the stroke of a pen.

From this extends the further realization that this is only the first layer of the onion. From here it leads to the colossal farce that is the Special Counsel Office of one Robert Mueller. I’d wager a bottle of Jameson’s with any fool who thinks that there won’t be some further declassification before the midterms and Agent Mueller’s skin in that onion is the next one in the crosshairs. Once you peel that layer back you expose the putrid, molding core that lies at the center. Agent Mueller’s crimes long predate this saga. I have previously chronicled Mueller’s profile in an earlier report, The Unvarnished Truth about the Mueller Investigation: Beware when Axolotls Frolic .  At the conclusion of that report I had shared some reports of his whereabouts which have since been refuted. For myself, I won’t believe any of this is over until I find him floating, face down on the Potomac.

 

 

Adderall and Starbucks

a Doom and Reprisal report from Ford Wenty

 

There is a very special brand of stench that wafts over the ivied gates of suburbia.  It is a cult of conformity, the same cliques and posturing as the school yard, but with much larger stakes.  The peer pressure here is realized in ever expanding credit lines and homes that, while impressive from the crisply manicured curb, are not homes at all; instead hollow shells of a house-poor budget. This parade of self possessed posers are the new vassals of the shrinking middle-class, thanes of mediocrity who sell or work for insurance companies or engage in more blatant forms of thievery, like marketing. Were it not for those who might take the occasion to insert race into this report, I might refer to them as the monochrome set.

These sociological petri dishes have spawned much that has grown hideous and abhorrent about this country. A smug fog of complacency hangs permanently over the uniform lots, wreathing seductively about the community marker at the entrance. Ethereal fingertips beckon to the unsuspecting motorists who pass by on their morning commute, calling out “join us”. Cheery reminders like “if you lived here you’d be home now”. This and other notes of the siren song have played and ensnared many a man, robbing him of his jeans, his work boots and his balls in exchange for khakis and tasseled loafers. Testicles are neither required nor desired in these estrogen infused encampments.

There is one of these gelded wonders currently running for the office of Governor of the state of Ohio. No, not that bug eyed piece of worm shit that has been feeding off of the public trough for the past forty years. The other one. Where I come from we do not utter their name, the clan of wannabes who could never escape the shadow of the county landfill. The candidate was sacrificed upon the altar of public service at birth, the afterbirth mixed with an elixir to create a tonic against any future indiscretions. It is rumored that his mother distributed marijuana cupcakes to McGovern campaign staffers in ’72, though any who might remain to verify this have mysteriously vanished. 

He’s been carefully bred and groomed for higher service, inoculated against any taint of reputation, even with a brief stint as part of the Obama administration on his resume.  A walking PC billboard with that same mechanical charm of an Al Gore and almost as much sincerity. His campaign stops scrupulously avoid any kind of backlighting, lest anyone might see the strings. Never mind the political party. Let me tell you who this guy is.

Back in high school there was always the kid who excelled in all the classes and was eager to curry favor with the adults. Bright enough, talented enough, but still something wanting from the individual’s character. Think Harold Lauder in Steven King’s The Stand. The kid who couldn’t play any sports, instead excelling at other electives like drama. And when springtime rolled around for the big musical he would always land a part, a prominent part, but never the lead role. That always went to the jock, the popular ne’er do well Billy Bob. Dumb as a post but everybody loved him because he knew how to be the life of the party. You remember this guy. You can still see that smoldering scowl of envy, that one so obviously inferior in breeding should upstage him! This is the putz that had Tuesday’s homework done on Saturday afternoon so he could sit down and enjoy the Lawrence Welk show with his mommy.

These people spend the rest of their lives trying to settle that score, but never by getting their own hands dirty. They employ hired thugs like lawyers and bureaucracy for this. The candidate seems to have forgotten the blue collar place that he comes from. No beer and cigarette crowd for our boy, no sir. Adderall and Starbucks, that’s the house he plays to. 

My advice to you young people in Ohio, especially you members of Stoner Nation, is this: sit this election out.  You have NO good choices in this Governor’s race. The results will be the same either way, only a question of degree. I bless the day I shook the wretched dust of Ohio from my shoes.

 

Ford Wenty report end, 17 Sept. 2018

 

Status Interitus

The manic hype of a cocaine fueled ‘80s began to sputter about 1995. The crisp, gleaming, blow-dry polish was replaced by a meaner, uglier veneer as coke gave way to crystal and other synthetic potions. Acid washed jeans and big hair faded from memory, replaced with a new junkie chic compiled from Goodwill fashion bins and forged with self mutilation and the rise of the ubiquitous tramp stamp. For fifteen minutes gingers were actually hot, goths were still a disturbing social subtext and Disney, Inc. abandoned all pretext in their prodigious manufacture of pre-fab tartlets.

 

Somewhere within that surreal plane was sired the next generation to whom a torch of some kind will eventually be passed. Those little spores have matured now and walk among us, upright on two legs and speaking something which at times resembles our own language. Yet somewhere, deep down at a genetic level, their very DNA has somehow been altered. The American people have graduated from being frogs blithely dozing upon the hotplate to a parade of kittens being marched into a blender. It’s all the same clay between their ears, it’s just been reprogrammed. The poor bastards have been handed a boarding pass to a ship that has already sailed from the harbor. They mask their disappointment with scorn for the smoke rising from the ship’s engine. These sad dupes are being marshaled to man the ramparts against phantoms. They’ve fashioned their own nightmares from whole cloth: a fistful of solutions in search of a single problem.

 

They are tagged “the millennials”, but that has become a too convenient catch-all. It’s the new “me generation”, but with better skin, teeth and smooth shaved genitals. Smack is not just for skid row any more. Middle America has unwittingly embraced a new junkie ethic, on display in Walmart stores from Cranberry Township, PA to Decatur, IL. They kit up in restrooms of public libraries and then wander, dazed, into the streets; extemporizing upon the deep questions of the day. Things like gender identity and planetary doom, while listening to faux funk through their I-buds. Syrupy shit for people too young to get Coltrane or the Velvet Underground.

 

This is the rise, my friends, of the 21st Century Schizoid Man. We need to purge our blood of these poisons, all of them. Too much shitty music, too many shitty attitudes and definitely too much shitty dope. A high to die for. It’s tragic. Especially when you consider all of the other freaky head trips that this country has to offer. This is Alice’s Restaurant, man! You can get anything here. Unless drastic steps are taken (and very soon) to increase the supply of potent, organically cultivated hallucinogens, I fear that we are doomed. It may already be too late.

Another Saturday Night

Another Saturday night massacre over. The final rounds were spent in the dark, into Sunday morning.  In that quiet interlude, between the night and the yawning light of a Sunday morning, sleep prevails. These hours are inhabited by the deep REM dream sleep, a surreal realm where Biafra’s mythical Frankenchrist sprinkles anthrax powder upon the pillowcases of the elites; a vain attempt to seed justice where none will grow.

Needles land in littered gravel lots, in the shadow of dumpsters, to collect amid bottle caps and grease spills. Like spent shell casings falling in slow motion in some action film firefight. Some are lost within the tangle of urine soaked sheets on a hotel bed. Sad, lonely places populated with voucher recipients, the chief driver of the local gas station economy. Some are left neatly arranged upon a nightstand in quiet suburban homes. All the same: all empty, like the shell casing a remnant of their once lethal content. These are the remains from the heavy ordnance. There are also the spent remains of lesser caliber in the form of emptied or spilled pharmacy bottles. These don’t leave the big, gaping holes, but a higher rate of fire. Spray and pray.

Sunday morning and we are awakened by the chorus of sirens. As the survivors stir from their dens they discover the lifeless remains filling the space once occupied by their junk buddy. Or their boyfriend. Or mom. We’ve come so far as a society that we now have parent/child hypodermic relays.

Sidney, Ohio. A small, rural community off of I-75 just north of Dayton. Thirty years ago MADD was on the march, the greatest scourge of the county was the drunk driver. Today? Eileen Watts, age 48, recovered at the local Days Inn at 8:22 AM with an apparent drug overdose. Still breathing, unresponsive, rushed to County Hospital where she was pronounced DOA at 8:37 AM. Her son Danny, aged 22, made the call. They had kitted up together, sharing the same needle just a little over five hours before.

How does this happen? In Sidney, Ohio? A tragic tale.  Thirty years ago Eileen had been a promising young star of track and field, an 18 year old kid bound for college and the vaguely promising future that this path portends.  College was, as for many of her peers, not for Eileen. Thankfully she figured that out before she got in too deep. Eileen wanted to do something, but she didn’t have a plan.  So she stayed in Sidney and just let life happen. Just like millions of others.

Marriage to a guy from a local family with at least average prospects, followed a few short years later by motherhood, Eileen had settled for the life not unlike her mother’s. Not unlike the way things had been done in Sidney for nearly 150 years. Without a specific plan of her own Eileen spent a life going along with or acting at the suggestion of others. She committed that fatal error of so many. Coasting through life in safe spaces one never meets their demons. Safe spaces are filled with enablers who vanish at the first sight of anyone’s demons.

Sidney, Ohio today is similar to countless other rural, Midwest towns. It is inhabited by a largely graying population.  In recent years it has been noted by some of it’s younger citizens that there seemed to be a marked increase of sirens blaring on weekend mornings. The assumption was quite often that another “help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” moment had occurred at one of the numerous senior care facilities in town. This would, on it’s face seem to be a reasonable presumption. It is thankfully, while at the same time sadly, an incorrect conclusion. County EMS logs tell the true tale: over half of the EMS calls Friday nights through Monday mornings are in response to drug overdoses. Stocks for the manufacturer of Narcan are soaring.

When Eileen’s life began to go off of the rails her demons began to emerge from hiding. In 2009 the factory where her husband worked closed it’s doors with little warning. They had a little savings, but not enough to sustain a prolonged interruption of income. With two old and beat up cars in sore need of maintenance, gasoline at $4 per gallon and their removal from a population center with prospects for gainful employment, they had entered the realm from which our demons emerge. Desperation is alcohol on steroids, for no other poison clouds one’s judgement so completely.

Her husband by necessity had to take a lower paying job in Troy. Not across the world, but a commute of 20 miles at least, consuming $100 of an already depleted family budget just to getting to and from work. They managed, economizing where ever they could. Eileen took on a part time job waiting tables at the local Bob Evans. They were just keeping afloat. The drive to Troy wasn’t horrible in the spring or summer, even the fall was tolerable. It was in winter this and more came to an end.

The landscape on the prevailing north-south roads between Sidney and Troy are nearly barren in the winter months. The region is prone to ice storms, falling in the boundary where most winter weather systems turn from rain to a full blown snowstorm. It was on one of these roads that Eileen’s husband met his end on an early morning in February, 2010. Black ice underneath a drift blown across a lonely county road. They found him after daylight, unmistakably dead on impact with a utility pole.

From that one point in her life the rest all began to unravel. Husband and father lost, the primary income, the car and…. Part of their economizing had included letting their car insurance lapse. Eileen found herself being sued by the local power company for the damages and cost of restoration from the accident. From here things snowballed on Eileen until a few years later they had sold the house, gaining little but at least escaping the mortgage. She and Danny moved home to her mother’s house, she was able work up to a store manager at Dollar General. By 2014 it began to look like their lives would stabilize and they would again take up housekeeping on their own. This was not to be.

Eileen suffered a serious back injury at work when a deranged customer had picked her up and thrown her into a refrigeration case. This was all covered under workers compensation and Eileen did receive some supplemental insurance benefits from her employer, but extensive surgery and rehab were required. This, of course, included only the best pain killers that the modern Pharma giants can provide. Prior to this Eileen was a holiday beer drinker and nothing more. She had never been any part of the “drug culture”. A few cans of Budweiser had never tickled the button to release her own personal demon. Vicodin, on the other hand, was the handsome stranger that enticed her damsel to stray from the plantation.

As long as Eileen had remained compliant with physician’s instructions and all of the proper documentation was in place, the medical community and the insurance monopolies that feed it were only too happy to also feed Eileen’s demon. Once all of the protocols have been observed and exhausted Eileen is given a stamp of approval and sent on her way. Once treatment is completed you get to leave with an emesis tray, some slippers and whatever Jones they’ve handed you in the process. 

There is only so much one can do on the black market, out in the dark dirt of Ohio’s western counties, to get hands on those precious white tablets. A trip to Columbus is too far, but the slums of Dayton beckon less than 50 miles away. Here one can set up their meet by text over burner phones and within an hour drive up to a nondescript corner where for $80 a nice young black man will hand you a foil wrapper with enough heroin to get you through the first half of your weekend. No scrips, no insurance, no problem. 

And so, here today, we say “Goodnight Eileen”

Ford Wenty report end, 2 September 2018

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