Trash can status this morning.

Now that the trash mafia has won once again in Bethlehem it looks like our hauler is off their best behavior. I expect this is just a sign of more to come.

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Where am I?

Haven’t posted anything in a (long) while. I originally took this shot because I found it humorous to find a shoe on a roof and thought it might be an interesting shot. After looking at it I realized that maybe it wouldn’t be obvious to everyone else what roof this shoe is on, even though there is a HUGE clue in the background

…so here goes, Where am I? (name the roof and where I was when I took the shot.)

Bucket List 2011 Update: 50/50

Last year one of my first blog posts was a Lehigh Valley Bucket List 2011, 12 things in the Lehigh Valley that I’ve always wanted to do and was going to try to cross off my bucket list in 2011. How did I do? Well, if you can do any math and you read the title, I did six, duh. My first reaction at the end of the year was “oh crap, I really suck at this” but then realized it was actually pretty darn good considering that without this list I maybe would have done 1 or 2 of them-tops.

So here’s the original list again, with my progress (or excuses) this time around.

  1. America On Wheels Museum – This place looks pretty cool and right now there is a British Invasion exhibit. I actually HAVE to go there this month as I’ve signed up to volunteer to help take down their Christmas decorations (which is laughable because I still haven’t finished taking down the Griswald-esque display at home), but I’d like to visit as just a visitor too.
  2. UPDATE: I eventually took down the Christmas display last year, but most of our Christmas decorations are still up this year, so I kind of chuckled reading back on this one. I did go to America on Wheels to volunteer so yes, this one was completed. I was blown away by the scale of it, its a great space. I also wrote about my impressions here. I never made it back as “just a visitor” although I do want to. I still count this a complete.

    STATUS:

  3. Easton State Theatre – Everything I am interested in seeing is always sold out by the time I hear about it or the cost is not in-line with my level of interest.
  4. UPDATE: This one did not get crossed off but I did do a better job of keeping up with what shows were coming. There were only two that I was somewhat interesting in – the Amazing Kreskin and Chuck Berry – both of whom I have nostalgic memories of from my childhood. My Chuck Berry memory is me playing the “My Ding-a Ling” song off of my mother’s record and giggling like Beavis and/or Butthead incessantly.

    STATUS:

  5. Any number of restaurants in Easton I have yet to get to.
  6. UPDATE: I completed this one barely in the nick of time by incorporating it into Hailey’s birthday weekend extravaganza since we were at the Crayola Factory anyway. I decided on Setta Luna because I heard the food was good and since they had Italian food I figured could get Hailey some simple pasta or pizza.

    The food was quite good, it was not very kid friendly and the service was just eh. I don’t expect every restaurants to cater to kids like Chuck E. Cheese or Red Robin but I made three simple requests, one was denied, one was ignored, one was eventually granted after some work. First, Hailey said she wanted pasta, not pizza, so I asked if I could get a smaller serving. Denied. I was told their pasta dishes “only come in” on size. Um…isn’t it just a pot of pasta? Just scoop less out. So fine, bring me the whole thing we’ll take the leftovers home. I then asked them to barely put any sauce on it. So little sauce that you can barely tell there is sauce on it. It came back smothered in tomato sauce, so much sauce you couldn’t even see the noodles. Hailey freaked out and refused to eat it. So this time I said “Look, all I want is a small (demonstrating with my hands the size) bowl of noodles, no sauce.” She came back and said the Chef wanted to know if I wanted butter or oil. Fair question. I said “I understand this request is strange, but now that she saw all that sauce she will only eat plain noodles, no butter, no oil, no sauce.” They brought them out, Hailey still didn’t eat them, but I must say they were the best plain noodles I ever tried.

    Then Hailey ate an unwrapped, decorative candy cane, that was probably 5 years old, off of the garland passing near our table.

    Even with the so-so service I would still go back for the food. But I’d probably leave Hailey at home.

    STATUS:

  7. Godfrey Daniels – I still can’t believe I haven’t been here. It’s on the Southside and not only do they have great music acts they also have story telling sessions for kids. I have no excuse.
  8. UPDATE: Ugh. Totally dropped the ball. Almost snuck it in New Year’s Eve to take Hailey to a kid concert. Big fail all around.

    STATUS:

  9. Touchstone Theater – Again no excuse. I really want to see the Follies show they do at Christmas. I saw the kid friendly version at Christkindlmarkt in 2009 and it was a lot of fun.
  10. UPDATE: Success! I didn’t pre-order my tickets and went on the night that Mayor Callahan was the community guest and the show was sold out. They said I could wait to see if there was a cancellation and 30 seconds later I had a seat. It was definitely a full house. A very intimate theater, as I expected, I found this show very entertaining as did the rest of the crowd but I’m glad I left my husband at home, he would have hated it. Would love to check out another production this year.

    STATUS:

  11. Gio’s Italian Grill in Macungie – everyone raves about the food here. It’s just a bit off the beaten path for me. But…I graduated from high school with Tony the owner and he is hosting our 20th High School Reunion this June so that should make this an automatic cross off! (I’ve jinxed myself, haven’t I?)
  12. UPDATE: And yes I did jinx myself! Turns out our reunion was hijacked because many wanted a more laid-back environment were we could bring our kids, so we ended up with a pot-luck at a park and had a blast. No regrets, but I would still like to try it sometime.

    STATUS:

  13. Historic Bethlehem Cemetery Tours in October – I actually bought tickets through Groupon for this in 2010 but scheduled my tour during the Halloween parade. #FAIL
  14. UPDATE: Another success! I went to the ghost tour run through Moravian Bookshop and found it very entertaining and informative. My tour guide was none other than George Wacker of Lehigh Valley with Love fame and we were chased by crows and a hippie. Well, not chased by a hippie, but there was a hippie. I brought Hailey along and her complaint: “But Mommy, we didn’t get to see any ghosts!”

    STATUS:

  15. Renninger’s Antiques and Collectors Extravaganza in Kutztown. I forget about this thing every year. And they hold it THREE times a year. This is so right up my alley. Not officially the LV but close enough.
  16. UPDATE: This one didn’t get crossed off the list but it wasn’t without trying. My friend and I made plans twice to go but we had to cancel both times. This will definitely get back on the Bucket List for 2012. The wait was probably good anyway because I have a better idea of what I’m looking for.

    STATUS:

  17. Glass blowing and/or photography classes at the Banana Factory. This has been on my unwritten list every year since they opened that glass blowing studio. Well, now it’s in writing damn it.
  18. UPDATE: Well, I didn’t get this one off the list, but I do know which two classes I want to take (one glass, one photography) so I’m in better shape for 2012.

    STATUS:

  19. Visit a local vineyard – Yes, I’m lame…I haven’t done this yet.
  20. UPDATE: I got this one off my list early in the year and I visited not one, but a whole bunch, of local vineyards all in one day. Read more about it here.

    STATUS:

  21. Martin Guitar Tour – I’m not a guitar player but appreciate the workmanship that goes into these beautiful pieces. Another one that is on my yearly bucket list in my head.
  22. UPDATE: Well, I almost did this one, but almost doesn’t count. Turns out I tried to cross this one off during a big Martin’s Lover Fest the day before Martin on Main and all the tours were full. I did get to go through the museum, which was quite interesting itself. This is a hard one for me to cross off, tours are only when I’m at work and usually if I’m taking a day off its because I have other plans. I’m sure this will be back on the 2012 bucket list though.

    STATUS:

  23. Souper Bowl at Banana Factory – Last year I failed to buy my tickets in advance and it sold out. I’m buying my tickets today!
  24. UPDATE: I got my tickets in time and went to this. You can read about it here. This year it is going to be at the new Artsquest Center at SteelStacks, and no, I didn’t buy my tickets yet.

    STATUS:

Where am I?

Because the picture pretty much already gives it away, the only clue is I was on the southside when I took this. Where was I?

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UPDATE: Within 10 minutes of posting this my friend Lisa posted the answer on Facebook: It is embedded in the sidewalk in front of the old Bethlehem Steel headquarters on 3rd Street. Sorry it only took me 6 weeks or so to update this!

BIG REVELATION: I was banned because I spoke out against the trash mafia

In case you missed it, I’ve been banned from commenting on Bethlehem City Council Candidate Tony Simao’s YouTube videos. And no, I have not let this go yet.

The reason I have not moved on from this silliness is because I originally thought I was blocked as a result of the comment I posted on the video, but the more I think about it, the more I think I was banned from the beginning. And to make myself sound even more paranoid/crazy I think it all stemmed from me speaking out against the trash mafia.

Here’s why I think this:

Initially I tried to comment on the video from my iPhone. I received a generic looking error message “Could not connect to YouTube” but I was logged in and could see and play videos on my playlist. I thought it was just a stupid mobile site issue and forgot about it until later that night when I had a chance to log in from my laptop.

That night and saw that my comment was not there from the iPhone attempt that morning, as I was pretty much expecting based on the technical issues I was having. So I re-wrote my comment and to my surprise received this failure notice: You have been blocked by the owner of this video and of course I took a screen shot (see last post).

So initially I thought that maybe my earlier iPhone comment did in fact go through and it was removed by the owner of the video (Tony Simao) and I was blocked. That was my frame of mind when I wrote the last post. Then I remembered a few things.

I also “disliked” the video from my phone. When I went on the laptop later I was not registered as either liking or disliking the video, and even more importantly, the video at that time had NO DISLIKES. My dislike did not go through. But I was able to dislike it from my laptop successfully (I just cannot comment). This makes me believe it really just was a technical issue that morning and that my comment never did go through, therefore I would have had to have been banned from the start.

So why would Tony Simao ban me from the start? How does he even know who I am?

Tony Simao is on Twitter. We were following each other as recently as May when we had a disagreement. When I went back to see if I could find the conversation I quickly learned that Tony has since made his account private and he is no longer following me and I was dropped as a follower.

Ahhh, so the disagreement was about the trash mafia, right? Wrong. Well, at least initially. Tony posted a comment about Mayor Callahan going to some fancy seminar or training in DC that was more aligned to another run for Congress than his current position as mayor. He implied that Callahan was going to the seminar while on the clock as mayor. I asked him if he knew for a fact that he did not take a vacation day and was going on his own time. He basically said he did not but would be surprised if that was the case. I replied that maybe as a candidate for Council (this was just prior to the primary election) he should be sure about that before posting it on Twitter. I then said something along the lines that the position of Mayor is not a punch-in, punch-out type of position and that he spends plenty of weekends and evenings working and that even if he did not use vacation that it wasn’t a big deal. He disagreed and from what I remember we pretty much agreed to disagree and he said he’d like to talk to me in person sometime. I thought it ended pretty well. Then he came back and said “Just saw your blog and now I know why you wanted to argue…”

Based on my research this conversation happened on May 15 when my homepage would have had the first post against private haulers in Bethlehem. In fact, that post mentioned that a group of candidates for council (of which he was one though I did not mention him by name) were against Callahan’s proposal for a city-wide trash contract.

And as far as I can recall, that was our last interaction. Because he went private on twitter and twitter.com does not refresh back that far I only have partial screenshots to prove a conversation existed on May 15th (clicking on the links doesn’t help since he went private):




Unfortunately I can’t get my tweets to him to show up in the search results. I tried a few other websites that claimed to be able to find old tweets but had no luck. If anyone knows of a service or happened to take a screen shot of the conversation (hey you never know) feel free to let me know in the comments. This happened 5 months ago so my account may not be dead on word for word (outside of those I was able to get screen shots for) but I stand by the gist of the conversation. And if you noticed on the screen shots, and are familiar with tweets, it appears the first tweet about the training was sent as an @ reply directly to me, it wasn’t even me picking on a broadcast comment he made.

Oh, and I checked today, still banned:

My next move may be to put a Tony Simao sign in my yard with a picture of a person with duct tape over their mouth stating “My voice was blocked by Tony Simao” or something to that effect. Don’t tell my husband.

Banned

In case you missed it, Tony Simao and Tom Carrol posted a video on Youtube, Open Letter to Bethlehem Politicians, as part of their campaigns to oust Democratic incumbents this November.

And I’ve been banned from leaving comments on it.

If you support censorship then by all means vote for Tony and Tom.

Here’s the screen shots to prove it:

Last week (1st screenshot) I tried to post this comment:

“This is the biggest turd I’ve seen in a while. First of all what did Callahan and Reynolds (who was like 9 at the time) have to do with the demise of the Steel? I remember Bethlehem in the years prior to Cunningham and Callahan, Main St was a ghost town. We have fared better than most during the recession as well.

This video is a sham. Mostly irrelevant still photos set to dramatic music may scare simple minds but anyone capable of independent thought will see it as it is, a joke.”

I thought that was pretty tame.

They have posted a second video, Open Letter to Bethlehem Politicians Page 2, which still has the dramatic music but at least looks at current events and leaves the Bethlehem Steel demise out of it.

And guess what? I’m banned from commenting on this one too.

Two additional comments on both videos, since I can’t leave them on youtube: 1) I dislike that it is written from the point of view of someone who voted for Reynolds and Callahan. Don’t speak for me. I highly doubt that Simao or Carrol voted for either Reynolds or Callahan (even when Callahan was uncontested). 2) Where are the candidates proposals? All attack, no solution.

Plus did I mention they banned me?

Is Jeff Parks the Lehigh Valley’s Steve Jobs?

No…Jeff does not have a closet filled with black turtlenecks…the similarities are at a different level. In fact, it is more about perception and the strong reactions they generate, from both fans and critics, than about the men themselves.

Both men tend to have polarizing effects on people. There are lots of fan-boys and lots of haters, and seemingly few in between. I say seemingly because I think there are actually as many if not more who lie somewhere between fan-boy and hater, but they just tend not to be as vocal.

Both men have turned their vision into hugely successful products and both have remained synonymous with their brand. You don’t become one with your brand without being, to some extent, a control freak. Take the criticism that Apple receives for their tightly regulated iPhone App process, the whole no Flash thing, heck even the fact that you can’t just pop out the iPhone battery, and compare that with complaints about food and beverage tickets at Musikfest, what some believe was the rerouting of Musikfest over the years away from Joe’s Tavern and Ripper’s to reduce non-fest beer sales, and conspiracy theories that Jeff Parks was behind the sudden enforcement of open container laws at the beginning of the 2010 Musikfest, also to prevent non-fest beer sales.

As the center of their brands, the center of their respective universes, it is also hard to imagine their organizations without them. Critics can be found in the comments sections of local on-line newspapers calling for Jeff Parks to step down from Musikfest, that somehow the organization he built from his vision would be better without him. While I may not agree 100% of the time with the changes that Parks makes with Musikfest, I couldn’t imagine it without him behind it. The guy knows what he is doing but you will never please all the people all of the time. I see the three most probable possibilities with someone else at the helm as: 1) just about status quo (no changes, no evolution, someone takes over and they just follow the current recipe, an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude) 2) a gated festival 3) an attempt to “fix” the festival, based on critical feedback resulting in lower food and beverage tickets, an attempt to get “more relevant artists” and soon after finding that those high food and beverage tickets are high for a reason and the whole thing going under in a year or two.

We all know that Steve Jobs is stepping back from Apple. He remains as Chairman but he has health issues and eventually there will be an Apple without him at all. What will that look like? I think the possibilities are similar to Musikfest without Parks: 1) reduced innovation due to “following the recipe” 2) a new culture that is more about profit than product or 3) an attempt to “fix” things based on critics only to find that there was a method to his madness.

Of course, the hope for either would be for the organizations to continue the same vision as their founders, similar to Disney after Walt Disney died. Unfortunately while Disney shows us this is a forth possibility it is by no means automatic and is easily the most difficult outcome to achieve.

Apple has its fan-boys and its haters, as does Musikfest. Apple fan-boys see no faults, get every new product the day it comes out-camping overnight even though they can buy it on day 2 with no line and for hundreds of dollars less if they wait 60 days. They have a retort for every critic. If Steve says they should hold the phone differently, they do. They don’t jailbreak. Similarly, Musikfest fan-boys have no patience for beer bootleggers, plan their days actually around performances, performances they are eternally grateful to see for “free” and they totally get that their beer and food purchases subsidize them. Therefore, all of their food and beer purchases are with tickets and from tents. They do their Christmas shopping in Handwerkplatz and the Merchandise tent. They know the platzes by name, they use the shuttles, and if they are able to go every day, they do. Any given day of the year they know how many days there are to Musikfest. The fan-boy pre-orders both the non-light up and light up Musikfest mug (one for day, one for night) and they have a shrine of every Musikfest mug (even the ones before they were insulated with caps) in their basement. They correct you when you call “Cast in Bronze” the “Bell-Guy.”

Apple also has “one-product fans” who are not fans of the entire brand but they have an Apple product they just can’t live without. Many are PC users with an iPhone (like myself). They don’t like all the Apple “rules” but they play along for the most part because the product is so much better than anything else out there. Musikfest has similar non-fan-boy fans. They aren’t blind to the faults and they will criticize. Maybe it’s the price of tickets, maybe it’s the teenagers on Main Street, maybe they think all the main stage acts are washed up or the beer selection stinks. Whatever the complaints, there is still a product at Musikfest they cannot resist and they go. They may buy some, most, or all of their beer at local bars instead of with tickets but they will get enough tickets for a Hogar Crea shish kabob and an Aw Shucks corn, a Theo’s Gyro, and a taco from Take a Taco or the Holy Infancy Melting Pot. They stock up on salsa from the Salsa Guy too. They attend several days and go more for the hanging out, less for the music. They may have a few shows they know they want to check out, but often they are just stumbling on acts. The one product fan has a recent Musikfest mug, it may even be the current year. They call “Cast in Bronze” the “Bell Guy.”

Then there are the jailbreakers. They love the product but not the rules. They laugh when you say you can’t run Flash on the iPhone or that you have to pay extra to tether. At Musikfest the jailbreakers bring their own beer, in strollers, in cars parked near by. They know the secret free parking spots or they live close enough to walk. Many have grown up with Musikfest in their backyards and know all the tricks. Others are newbies who think they are hot shots and get busted. All pride themselves on working the system. Most get that the free shows are supported by food and beverage tickets but also know that Musikfest has already factored their jail breaking ways into the equation, let the “suckers” pay for it. Some jailbreakers are there for the music, many are there for the ability to walk around with a beer on the street. The jailbreaker has an old Musikfest mug from 2002 that his buddy left at his house. He may have drilled a hole in the lining. He calls “Cast in Bronze” the “The Creepy Bell Guy” if he knows who he is at all.

Then we have the haters. Apple haters won’t go within 100 ft of an Apple store. They have lost friends when they switched from PC/Blackberry/Android to Apple. They write posts called “Steve Jobs Exposed as a Terrorist” Similarly, Musikfest haters troll the local newspaper websites and blog for every Musikfest article ever written and complain about trash in their yards, drunks peeing in their bushes, the price of beer, conspiracy theories about Jeff Parks spending tax payers money or being in the pocket of the Liquor Control Board They schedule vacations the week of Musikfest, but not to attend-to get the hell out of Dodge. I think some haters actually secretly want to enjoy Musikfest but have been so outspoken about it they have to save face and not go. I imagine them attending secretly, in disguise. Haters don’t own a Musikfest mug, or they have one they found one at a yard sale and wrote something obscene on it with a Sharpie. They’ll swear up and down they don’t know who “The Bell Guy” is.

So there you have it. Jeff Parks is the Lehigh Valley’s Steve Jobs and therefore Musikfest is our Apple.

Where are you in the mix? Honestly I’m a bit of each of the above. Fanboy in that I take vacation every year and go almost every day, know all the platzes, buy my mugs early (no blinky ones) and I’m an Artsquest member. One Product fan in that I don’t buy all my beer in tents, I complain about the main stage acts some years (not this year) and I tend to stroll more than plan. I’m also a bit of a jailbreaker, but I won’t get into that hereπŸ˜‰. I’m not really a hater, but I will occasionally partake in weaving a conspiracy theory or two.