Thursday, April 30, 2009

Quick Links for April 30th

Sorry about the impromptu day off. BlogSpot/Blogger changed a few things with their site that hinders our regular posting ability. We're back for today, so let's knock out some Quick Links! While I contemplate a switch to WordPress.

Somewhere, Alan Pettet is channeling his inner Mr. Burns and letting out an "Exxxcellent"

So it's April 30th, which means it's the City Council's self-imposed soft deadline to have a deal in place with the Stockton Police Officers Association so they can get their budget in on time. So naturally there's still no deal in place and labor talks have ended. And, as with any milestone in this debacle, the number of planned layoffs has jumped again! This time it's jumped up 9 more officers bringing the grand total of the most optimistic budget plan to 52. The city is presumably waiting until those 9 cops have knocked up their wives or at a loved one's funeral (or in the hospital after injuring themselves disposing of that dangerous looking bag of lawn clippings) before dropping off layoff notices in their mailboxes. Of course, that number will shrink once the city offers retirement incentives to some of the older cops who have higher seniority and the resulting higher paychecks. So really, even though we're just a month away from the hard budget deadline, we're still playing the same posturing game we were playing 6 months ago. Now that's progress.

Fuck, it's always something with Tracy

Well, that Swine Flu pandemic that's claimed one whole life in the US (Note: it could be more by now, but well, I don't care) has finally (maybe) hit SJ County. Where? Tracy of course. Was there really any doubt? God's latest dumping ground takes another hit, and just as they gained a false sense of security after the Cantu case! We assume Tracy resident and one time fill-in poster BaconBabe is devastated by this news. Mostly because she hates media overkill as much as we do. Not to mention everybody hates uppity parents bitching about the safety of their children. Hey, speaking of...

This all makes a lot more sense when you realized the SUSD board of trustees is actually the student government

Ok, well at least they're acting like they have the maturity level of the students they have power over. We'd tackle each of these stories individually but frankly, we don't care. We don't have kids and it looks like all of this is just petty, political posturing. There's the guy (Anthony Silva) who's bitter that he lost reelection by one vote, and he just happened to show up the day another guy presents his case to recall the trustee that beat him out. Yeah, Silva's not bitter/petty at all. Then there's other board members bitching about one guy's vote on a seven person board, which makes total sense. And then there's my favorite story, "Tony Amato shouldn't use the rarely used district SUV that he pays the lease for, so let's pick up the tab for that and pay Amato $650 more a month." Confused? Yeah, so was the dumb broad who brought it up, now the district's out another $7,600 plus $650 a month to Amato. But it's ok, it's not like we're in a recession or anything. It's not like retarded populist sentiment is to crucify any sort of avoidable, non-essential spending, even with private money.

How do you know when your article/column is biased?

When the subject calls you to thank you for its fairness and accuracy when it was anything but fair and accurate. Apparently Randy does great business when the biggest festival of the year is in town, imagine that. He also has 3 potential buyers going through the motions with his broker. So soon, affordable food will be available in that space. But until then, you can continue paying twice the price for half the food! But really, this is all about some petty subsidy boycott. Not affordability, at all.

We're #19! We're #19!

In what can only be described as the most obvious example of link-baiting this side of Politico (a practice we encourage by the way), Christian Burkin has complied 2007's violent crime stats into national rankings in a response to Forbes' most recent list declaring us the 5th most dangerous metropolitan statistical area.

He used the crime stats for actual cities as opposed to the previously mentioned MSAs and lowered the population threshold for list inclusion to 100,000. Basically he used the stats and rules normally used when violent crime rates rankings are made instead of Forbes' lazy way of doing things. The result? Well, Detroit's not even the most dangerous city in it's state. Flint, Mich. beats by a whole extra violent crime per 1,000 people. Oakland is actually 5th behind those 2, St. Louis, and Memphis. And Stockton ranks a low, but still impressive 19th (take that Buffalo!).

Suspicious by their absence is Las Vegas, which is kind of funny considering there's not really a metropolitan area around Vegas, just more desert. But hey, math was never our strong suit so we'll trust CB on this one. But we may have to rethink our wager with Sin City now.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

An Open Letter to the Las Vegas Wranglers

Dear Las Vegas Wranglers,

First of all, nice name. Ass Spelunkers taken already? Name homosexuality aside, I love your town, even if I did drunkenly call every scantily clad woman around me a hooker that one night. Man, that was a long elevator ride...

Anyways, I'm writing you because you just evened the series against our hometown Falcons Thunder team. Now normally, I don't give a shit about minor league hockey, but you guys have something we want.

You may have heard that we're the 5th most dangerous town in America, you may not have heard that we have a reputation as a fight town (or at least that's the rep we're trying to push). We're always fighting to be at the top or near the top of as many lists as possible, this is where you come into play. See, Las Vegas is the 4th most dangerous city in America. Which is kind of crazy since I had no qualms about walking around Vegas at 4 in the morning, but in Stockton if I'm outdoors at 4 in the morning I'm running for the nearest bomb shelter and waiting out the night to avoid roving bands of handicapped militias.

But I digress, I want to put our #1 ranking in affordable homes (a list in which you came in 3rd) against your #4 ranking in dangerous cities, winner take all! Either homes in Vegas become more affordable or we get little bit more street cred. Is it wrong to bet the safety of our city on a minor league hockey team? Probably. But I have faith that the Fresno Thunder Stockton Falcons Stockton Thunder have put together the best team picking the bones of your closest rival can provide and we're going to go all the way to the "whatever the hell the championship is named" Cup!

So yeah, think about it.


Reclaiming The Title

Monday, April 27, 2009

Quick Links for April 27th

Now that I've finished unloading 3 cans of Febreeze into my bathroom to get that asparagus piss smell out of there, let's see if we can knock out some Monday Quick Links!

Oh, so that's how Stockton's population magically surpassed 500,000

Thanks to Christian Burkin's blog we now know how Stockton is considered more dangerous than Oakland even though Oakland has a higher violent crime rate. Long story short, the people who right those Forbes lists are lazy.

Basically, there's more shit around Oakland so they take that into account calling it a "Metropolitan Statistical Area". Because Oakland's in the middle of a bunch of other cities it's numbers get watered down. On our side of the Altamont, we're decidedly more spread out so our MSA is pushed to just a little under 700,000 and just past the 500,000 person threshold needed to make the list. So essentially, it's all Linden's fault.

So not only is the budget fucked now, but it's fucked 20 years from now? Sweet.

We'd be more pissed at this if we understood it, but we're not experts in medical retirement benefits since none of us is currently retired and only one of us enjoys current medical benefits. As far as we can tell, the city hasn't been saving their money for retiree medical benefits so they have to pay as they're billed or something. We basically have the Boost Mobile of retiree medical plans. So the city needs to work on saving some money so in 20 years they'll be able to pay for their own medical insurance instead of having the future/current generation do it...or something. Math's not my strong suit, that's why I got into journalism.

Where's that bottle of whiskey I mentioned earlier?

Sigh. Now that the gag order's in place the Record's got to get more creative with it's Cantu coverage. Now we get stories like "OMG, this judge has emotions!" and the gem of a story linked above. Anybody who's been paying attention has probably heard one of the many rumors flying around this story. The scene of the crime is a trailer park, it's bound to happen. None of them are printable because there's no real way to verify any of them. Although we do find it funny that the one we were able to semi-confirm, that Christian Sinclair is Melissa Huckaby's boyfriend, is the only one we have yet to see in the Record. But the Record can't let little things like fact-checking get in the way of keeping this story alive, so let's take all those little "rumors" and call them "theories"! They're basically the same thing except the second one isn't libel! "Mayyybe she was in the hospital because she swallowed razor blades!" "Mayyybe she's an attention whore!" See, the "Mayyybe" makes it news, not rumormongering. Everybody wins! Except of course for my sanity.

Fitzy's latest love is a "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" kind of situation

We did miss one other thing on Friday, something big. Something that let's you know that spring is in the air, everyone has that little extra spring in their step, birds chirping, all that crap that let's you know it's time for some good ol' fashioned summer lovin'. That's right, Fitzy's in love again! He's now apparently spurned the advances of IFG's Stephen Grossman, on the same day he bought him a Dylan/Nelson/Mellencamp concert too! That bitch!

Yes, he's spurned Grossman (from now on known as the Ex Cannon) in favor of a man who knows Fitzy's true love, downtown revitalization. Yes, in a move not unlike that one girl you know who only dates douchebags in emo bands who wear more eyeliner than she does, Fitzy has fallen hard for Revitalization Director David Harzoff. Whom you may or may not remember from this little incident. He's also known as the guy who replaced longtime Fitz love Steve Pinkerton, who left Fitzy after 12 blissful years to take a better job in Manteca and then blogged about it to presumably rub it in his face ("look how happy I am over here without you!").

What turn of events could cause Fitzy to switch horses so quickly? Well, he was wooed with some pillow talk about downtown housing that got him so hot and bothered he chased down Harzoff after the event at Casa Flores (without paying! OMG this is straight out of a Hugh Grant movie!) and said "Talk dirty to me."

Of course, all that dirty talk was theoretical because we have no money to actually, you know, do anything. But Fitzy was still fascinated and gazed longingly into Herzoff's eyes as he spouted off bullshit for him to report to the masses.

Included in that bullshit is a plan to revitalize the nicest area near downtown (Fremont Street) and tear down a state office building (which I'm sure the state would love) and replace it with more shops and cafes. And then he wants to bring in a developer to turn the B+M building into 4 different things, a first floor family style restaurant complete with it's own gourmet hot dog window, a second-floor dance club (because we don't have enough douchey Euro bars as it is), and a third floor private club (because if there's one thing we've learned from this whole thing it's that the citizens of Stockton love snooty private clubs for the rich). Sound ambitious? Yeah, he's pretty proud of himself. From the column:

"'All of a sudden, that plaza starts feeling a lit more like a district,' Harzoff said approvingly."

Sure, I guess, but this is all just in theory. Like when Bris, Duke, and I talk about buying up Stockton Stooges and opening up our own bar. But, like the downtown's redevelopment district, we're broke so those talks stay just that, talks. David Harzoff doesn't go down as easily. Again from the column:

"This sticking point is being addressed in two ways, Harzoff said. First, he is merging two Port redevelopment districts with the downtown district."

So taking money from other districts to fund even more downtown projects? Yeah, Stockton's voters will love that.

"Merging it with two districts at the port, where business is robust, gives it access to millions. But, Harzoff hastened to add, all these dollars will not be taken from the port, which is generating sorely needed jobs."

So we'll merge downtown's district with two port districts because the downtown district has no money, but we won't be taking money from the port? Makes total sense.

"The second policy shift is balance. A share for downtown, a share for the port, a share for the southside and other districts. Not robbing Peter to pay Paul until Peter threatens a recall."

(Reads that paragraph again.)

(Reads entire column again.)

(Reads paragraph again)

(Downs shot of whiskey)

Umm, what? A share of the port district money? A share of the revenue generated from downtown? A share of redevelopment money in general? A share of delicious pie? What the fuck is he talking about? (Note: We know what he's talking about, he just never actually says it in the column. Which could confuse people who don't know exactly how redevelopment funds work. Which, judging by that town hall meeting last week, is a lot of people.)

Fuck this, I'm done. Fitzy's entire column is a load of bullshit. More championing for the downtown district he's been so fond of. It's like he just ignored the last few years happened, you know, the part where everybody got fed up with the consistent flow of cash into one concentrated area. But instead of completely ignoring that, he just wants to make that concentrated area bigger so we can pump even more cash downtown, yet somehow balance that cash and send it southside as well.

Look, we're all for having a decent downtown entertainment district. We'd love to have more venues for drinking and catching some local band, but for the love of God not now. Nobody's saying let's completely abandon downtown since it's failed, what we're saying it slow the fuck down and let the rest of us catch up. And while we're catching up, concentrate on other areas of Stockton.

Downtown's future was never in doubt, we just don't know exactly what that future will entail. People will come around and downtown will thrive. It may not thrive like Fitzy or others wanted it to thrive (as a hub for the rich movers and shakers of the area), but it will find its niche that's decidedly Stockton and that's when more growth may be warranted. Smart growth, not this trial by error shit Harzoff's spouting (which is what got us in this mess in the first place).

Downtown's going through changes right now, people are realizing that maybe trying to be like other cities is a bad idea (I swear to God the next person who mentions San Antonio's River Walk is getting punched in the mouth), we just need to be like Stockton. Unfortunately those in charge haven't figured out what Stockton is yet. Once they have we can act, but until then shut the fuck up about pumping more cash downtown. We're fucking tired of it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Live from the Asparagus Festival!

12:55 Well, it's over. Bertoletti won. Chestnut got behind early and was never really able to catch up. He lost by a couple of ounces. Like 7 pounds 2 oz. To Bertoletti's 7 pds. 4 oz.

They're hanging around talking and taking pictures now. Badlands Booker beat boxed about his $500 3rd place prize.

12:20 Introductions are complete. Everybody's setting up their drinks. They're introducing the scorecard holders who are usually some the city's movers and shakers. Las year we got to heckle the Sheraton owner. Sherrif Steve Moore is here. Doug Wilhoit's a card holder. Wayne Hose ex-police chief is here. Current police chief is here. Kate Post just said some words. Shit's about to go down.

11:55 The event's starting. The guy who's name I didn't catch because he speaks fast is pimping the event and competitive eating as an olympic sport. He also introduced the World's first competitice eating themed rapper (Badlands I wanna say?) and he's rapping right now with the asparagus mascots (one who can't keep their head erect) dancing in the background. Yes, it's awesome there are multiple Joey Chestnut shirts in the crowd. Pat Bertoletti also has a vocal group of supporters.

11:35 So with 30 mins to go the crowd is showing up. I staked out a pretty good spot in front. They're prepping the trays of asparagus a half hour in advance. So they're eating half hour old deep fried asparagus. You gotta respect anybody who can do that in bulk. Nameplates are out. The media's out taking a few prep pics. Noone I recognize yet. Just San Joaquin Magazine. Don't worry, nobody else has heard of them either.

11:10So I've already inhaled my first pound of asparagus and now I'm working on some pasta. Sure, it took longer than 10 minutes but I'm not a competitive eater. They're professionally trained athletes. One of the O'Shea bros (heads of the International Federation of Competitive Eating) is here. He was talking with Festival Director Kate Post for a bit before she walked off to check on other things. The Lightening cheerleaders are over buy 104.1 the Hawk's tent. I should head over there.

10:45 Oh, did I forget to mention I'm live blogging the Asparagus Festival and the World Deep-Fried Asparagus Eating Championships? Because I am. Expect it to be on par with the EliteXC liveblog I did way back when.

It's about 10:45 right now. When I got here I beelined it for the ID wristband check, then bought my tickets to enjoy booze and asparagus. What can I say? Any excuse to drink before noon. Apparently I wasn't the only one with this line of thinking as the line was long and somebody had to come by and tell us the ticket booths deeper in the festival by the main stage were empty. Anything to drink before noon! I'm enjoying some deep fried goodness by the main stage right now where the eating competition is going to be. Somebody's already staked out some lawn chairs right in front of where Chestnut is going to be. The trophy is in the background. But the place is otherwise empty besides the band on stage doing a sound check. Exciting, I know.

Special Dangerous Weekend Quick Links!

Sorry we weren't around yesterday. We were having some technical issues that kept us offline for most of the day. And of course that has to be the one day shit actually happens this week. And a lot of shit happened yesterday. Enough to warrant a weekend post before I head off to watch the World Deep-Fried Asparagus Eating Championships. So here's a special weekend Quick Links!

See, now this is what Nationally Ranked should be about

I'm not sure what Forbes has against us, but they've put us on another one of their lists again. This time they're pimping our street cred by naming us the 5th Most Dangerous City in America. That's right, in the motherfucking nation! We may not be the champs, but we're in the hunt. Plus we're the highest ranked California city. Suck it Oakland!

Of course, like with their flawed miserable cities list, we must take a look at how they came to this conclusion. From the Forbes article:

"To determine our list, we used violent crime statistics from the FBI's latest uniform crime report, issued in 2008." "We evaluated U.S. metropolitan statistical areas ... with more than 500,000 residents."

Oh hey, that's right up our alley. But, wait, the latest crime report was released in the summer of 2008. And that contained 2007's crime stats. So we're basing this off of 2 year old data, even though the new data gets released in the next couple months. Awesome. All though I could have sworn we lost to Oakland that year.

But hey, we did beat out such illustrious suckholes as Philly and Baltimore. So they can't claim to be more hardcore than us. We're dangerous! We were ultimately defeated by worthy foes Las Vegas, Miami, Memphis, and our old friend Detroit. When the new stats come out in a couple months we probably won't be ranked as high, but until then...

We're #5! We're #5!

Now give me your wallet, I'm from Stockton. I'm dangerous.

Ok, so who booked this? And how long can I kiss them before it's considered inappropriate?

Well, this seems like a big summer concert that will appeal to people of all ages. I'm actually fairly shocked at this announcement. I mean, sure it's 3 old dudes, but it's 3 really fucking cool old dudes. And at $70 bucks a ticket and plenty of advance notice to save up for it, hopefully this concert will be well attended. Of course, this being Stockton's first concert at the Ballpark there's always some room for something to get fucked up. Hopefully nobody rushes Willie on stage like at the Morrissey show. Or the David Lee Roth show at the County Fair a few years back. Feel free to rush Bret Michaels though. Although be careful, he sweats pure hepatitis.

So, to summarize quickly. Willie Nelson, Johnny Cougar, and Bob freaking Dylan are making the last stop on their tour in Stockton and it should be awesome. And don't touch Bret Michaels.

And now, the "Asparatus" story...

Ok, so last year when we went to the Asparagus Festival, we took the Asparabus from Delta. It was within walking distance of my apartment and we intended on getting drunk enough to warrant having a bus drive us the 10 minute drive from downtown to my place.

It was your typical bus ride but my favorite part was the promo video they put on the TV screens in the tour bus. On it, one slide that was in heavy rotation (at least I think there were slides, it was a year ago after all. It could have been just one steady ad) advertised that you were on the bus heading to the Stockton "Asparatus" Festival. Yes, the busses rented out buy the Asparagus Festival played a video presumably made by the Asparagus Festival people, and they didn't spell Asparagus correctly.

We ended up telling the bus driver about the typo figuring he had been getting it all day from fellow Asparabussers. Instead he looked kind of surprised, and sure enough on the bus ride back the video was gone. So not only was Asparagus spelled Asparatus on the Asparabus, but nobody noticed until halfway through the second day.

Yes, I'm easily amused. Now somebody get me that tri-tip and asparagus sandwich.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Quick Links for April 23rd

Is it really Thursday and we still haven't done a Quick Links? Wow, that's kind of amazing. Well, let's see what nuggets of awesome we can mine from this week. Quick Links!

I told you these guys were evil!

Fuck, we made it to Thursday without mentioning this? Really? Media whore Alan Pettet responded to Don Blount's Klan kolumn from the previous week by claiming that the militia will be a rainbow coalition of men and women. If that didn't convince you the guy's a little bit off, he really cranks up the crazy in his next claim. He claims that an anonymous federal judge will swear the militia in on July 1st and then "Five minutes after we're sworn in, we oust the mayor and City Council and then we can declare martial law."

Ladies and gentlemen, the decent into cartoonish supervillan is almost complete. By this time next year we assume he will have pumped some poor cop full of lead so badly that the police department will take what's left of the body and turn him into some sort of crime fighting cyborg. That's right, Stockton's very own Robocop. It's going to happen dammit!

"Where do you live?" "I represent this distric.." "No, where do you live?" "I live on.." "Are you from the SOUTH!?" "No, I..." "That's all I wanted to know"

So yeah, that town hall meeting the mayor had in south Stockton was hilarious. I decided to attend because the mayor directly interacting with the residents of south Stockton sounded like a recipe for comedy gold. It was, for about 30 minutes. Then it became pretty repetitive. For a while most questions (a term I use loosely) seemed to start with "I moved to/was born in Stockton in 19(insert year before the 70s) and have lived here for over (insert number over 40 here) years. Things have changed a lot." Yes, for the most part it was a meeting about how south Stockton has changed due to growth. It's not like things were "back in my day". And then from there it devolved into one giant race debate. And by "race debate" I mean people accused the city of being prejudiced, even when talking about things the city had little-to-no control over. I came with the intention of asking a question but ended up not doing so. Partially because getting a word in edge-wise was nearly impossible for just Johnston and Eggman, and I wasn't nearly as passionate about my question as others were. And partially because I just felt bad for Johnston and Eggman. No answer they gave was good enough for that crowd.

One man asked why the General Fund is so depleted (because tax and permit revenues were down) and then 20 minutes later another guy complained that taxes and permits were too high. One guy even asked what the city was going to do about the racism in his union hall as if the city could just swoop in and be the racism police. (Although my favorite question was when somebody old enough to be my grandpa asked who owns all the foreclosed homes. That made me feel 10 times smarter.)

In the end it was clear that, if you weren't from south Stockton (which apparently is south of Charter Way, but does not include Charter Way), then your opinion didn't matter (hence the "Are you from the SOUTH" exchange one man had with Eggman). Which is a counterproductive line of thinking at best. The main problem is Stockton and south Stockton are like two completely different cities. Enforcing that by saying people from north of Charter couldn't possibly understand what goes on down south only hinders the progress south Stockton could make. It's about uniting communities, not enforcing petty separations. Hopefully both sides of Stockton eventually realize this and work together to lessen the discrepancies between the 2 areas.

Have we mentioned how horrible the City Council's timing is?

Speaking of the Council, we haven't seen any examples of their infamous horrible timing lately. Luckily Christian Burkin found an example in an American soldier in Iraq who also works for the Stockton PD. Can you guess where this is going? Yes, he's probably getting laid off. I'm kind of disappointed I didn't read this before going to that town hall meeting last night. Of course somebody probably would have asked what part of Stockton he was from as if it matters

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Poor Randy Paragary, if only we weren't such bitter pricks he'd be successful!

Well, we were right. Mike Fitzgerald is the last guy who should be covering this Paragary's story. It's news, and old Fitzy is too biased to treat it objectively like any newsperson should. So, for those of you playing along at home, it's time to play....
(Insert game show theme here)

Spot! The! Bias!

Yes, it's Spot the Bias, the game show where we take somebody's article or column and pick it apart and point out where the writer displayed obvious bias against or in favor of their subject! Today's contestant is Fitzy and his column about the possible sale of Paragary's. Paragary's being Fitzy's favorite downtown restaurant he will obviously be biased in favor of anything Randy Paragary says. What constitutes bias you ask? Well, it could be an adjective, it could be ignoring other factors for the one you want to push, or it could be contradicting something said in the previous paragraph with the very next quote and not saying anything about it. Yes, this will be a glorious example of damning somebody with their own words. But first, the setup!

"Paragary's Bar & Grill, the beautiful but controversially subsidized restaurant that city leaders hoped would help catalyze downtown Stockton's revival, is up for sale.

Price: $555,000, batteries not included. Hopefully neither are the restaurant's challenges."

Here's hoping he lists all of the restaurant's challenges and not just the one he always harps on, but that's all part of the game. So let's play...

Spot! The! Bias!

Our first piece of bias is a personal favorite because it involves damning people with their own words (which I love doing) and it involves this week's Out-of-Context Quote of the Week!

"'It's not a case of sell or close,' Paragary said. 'I'm exploring all options.'"

All options? Then, what about this?

"If it doesn't sell, Paragary said, he will tweak offerings to better suit a standoffish Stockton market."

Oh, hi Out-of-Context Quote of the Week. What's that? Exploring all options includes tweaking the menu for the market before threatening to take your ball and go home? Surely that's not bias. That's just bad business practices.

The bias is in calling Stockton standoffish. We're not dating Paragary's. We're not having a fight with Paragary's where we, as a city, passive-aggressively critique its hair. We're just not eating there because we don't like the expensive food and the snooty atmosphere. That's not standoffish, that's making a business decision based on the factors I just listed. That subsidy thing is old hat, we're way past that now. Even Bris, Duke, and I; the most stubborn people I know, gave up on that subsidy thing a while back and visited Paragary's with predictable results. The reason Paragary's failed is not because of some petty subsidy-based boycott. So let's stop all that talk right now. Ok?

"(The ad) refers to the $2.7 million subsidy - five years of free rent - that generated opposition and a partial boycott"

Care to quote anybody saying they boycotted Paragary's specifically because of the subsidy? No? BIAS! And just bad journalism too. At least it's not like Fitzy fed all of this to Randy Paragary during his interview and Paragary responded with "Yeah, what you said."

"'I've been told through e-mails and letters to the editor and even to my face that certain people do not go there because of what you just described,' Paragary said."

Oh well. At least he got somebody to comment on the "boycott", even if it was Paragary himself. At least people told him how they felt to his face as opposed to sneaking an ad up on San Francisco's Craigslist two weeks ago without telling the city or even his own fucking investors. But let's move on with the game, can you give us vague examples of other subsidized businesses that aren't boycotted because apparently all subsidies are created equal?

"The public has subsidized development - sprawl - in sums that dwarf the Paragary's deal. But they don't boycott subdivisions. The city gave its sports teams a deal sweeter than chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Nobody boycotts the arena."

Again, no quotes from people who say the Arena is ok but Paragary's isn't. It just is man. That arena is always sold out, and everybody supports the Thunder 100%! Oh wait, we don't. Those games don't sell out and one of the tenants of the Arena (the Cougars) are also trying to leave. So really it's the same fucking thing. But hey, when he does get another quote about boycotts, it comes from the same fucking source, Randy Paragary.

"'We,' Paragary said, "bore the brunt of subsidy fatigue.'"

Because, as you know, we forced him to take that place rent free at gunpoint. Man, will the bias ever stop?

"Other brunts poor Paragary bears:"


Poor Paragary? Poor Paragary? How can anybody take this seriously anymore? The possible sale of Paragary's is a news story. Fucking write it with some semblance of objectivity you elitist fuck!

Sorry about that, let's continue with the plight of poor millionaire restaurateur Randy Paragary.

"Retail shops never materialized on the Hotel Stockton's ground floor, and downtown is still Skid Row to many."

Oh hey, reasons that aren't subsidy based. It's nice that this is everybody's fault but Paragary's. Fuck it, let's jump to the last piece of glaring bias so we can summarize.

"Therefore, 'in retrospect, I don't think of it as a subsidy,' Paragary said, making a good point. 'I think the deal we made was truly market. Free rent in that location is market. It's just a reality. Anybody who operated in that location will need free rent for a while.'"

Ignoring the fact that he brings up the subsidy again. Think of the last time you saw a reporter remark that the quoted subject made a "good point". Can't think of one? That's because they don't. He can make a point, but when you comment one the quality of that point you're pushing objectivity to the side.

Ok, now that we got all that journalismy bias stuff out of the way, let's get to the main issue here. Mike Fitzgerald and Randy Paragary are basically saying it's our fault for the failure of Paragary's because we don't want to eat there for whatever reasons. They're painfully wrong. Randy Paragary has one person and one person alone to blame for the failure of his Stockton restaurant, and his name is Randy Paragary.

Paragary didn't study the market he was basically paid to enter. He opened a high-class ritzy restaurant in a working-class, blue collar town. Yes, nobody likes it when rich people get financial breaks, but nobody's thinking "Oh man, that guy doesn't pay rent, fuck him" anymore. It's been a while, we've all pretty much given Paragary's a shot. It's not a fit for our town. It fits Sacramento because that place is filled with douchebags who like to pretend their cowtown is some ritzy political metropolis. Stockton doesn't have delusions of grandeur (ok, well it's citizens don't. City Council is another story). We are what we are. If Paragary had done just a simple study of the new market he was getting in to (which any good businessman should do before entering a new market), he would have seen that. But instead he chose to blame everything and everybody else. It's our fault we don't like the atmosphere, it's our fault we can't afford the prices, it's our fault the food tastes like shit, and it's our fault that the customer service is inexcusably bad. And most importantly, it's our fault we're not classy enough to "get" Paragary's. Well fuck you Randy Paragary, I'm classy as hell. At least I tell people I'm moving to their face instead of having them find out via Craigslist you classless fuck.

So yeah, it looks like we were right. The last person to write this story besides Randy Paragary was Mike Fitzgerald. And even then he got help from Paragary. Which is kind of fitting, those two are class acts.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Out of Context Quote of the Week!

Fuck it, I know it's only Tuesday and I know we should wait for the actual column to come out but this one was too much. Your out-of-context quote of the week is a look into the business practices of Randy Paragary from Mike Fitzgerald's blog:

"If it doesn't sell, Paragary said he will tweak his offerings to better suit a standoffish Stockton market."

In other words, he's looking to sell before trying the simple business practice of changing his menu and/or prices. You, Randy Paragary, are a classy motherfucker. And with business practices like that, I can't imagine why your business isn't profitable.

Mike Fitzgerald is probably the wrong guy to cover this Paragary's story

In our excitement over news of the eventual sale of Paragary's and Fitzy's reaction to said sale we forgot something (I blame residual affects from yesterday's high holiday). Namely, should Mike Fitzgerald be the one reporting on it? The conflict of interest chart I keep in my wallet sadly says "no".

Why? Well, for one Fitzy hasn't really hidden the fact that he's pals with Randy Paragary. He even went as far to hold a contest on his blog attempting to name the already named roof of the old Hotel Stockton.

More recently he called our understanding of subsidies into question, because subsidies are what I take into consideration when I'm constemplating where to eat. Quality of food, service, atmosphere, and price have nothing to do with it. Plus he argued that we shouldn't hate on Paragary's because it wasn't the recipient of the biggest subsidy. Yet, he never mentions what other places received larger subsidies because all subsidies are created equal apparently.

But, perhaps most damning, is what he mentioned in his initial blog post about the future sale of Paragary's:

"I'll check this out later today. If this is legit, please consider going in with me on this venture."

He's a potential buyer! I know the Record doesn't really give a shit about conflicts of interest, but this seems like a big one. He could skew the coverage to scare away potential buyers! Which is a way more effective way to scare off buyers than talking to employees and customers (oh craigslist, you're so full of hilarity).

So yeah, as much as we'd love to see it for our own twisted purposes, Mike Fitzgerald is the last guy who should be covering the possible sale of Paragary's, besides perhaps Randy himself.

Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye

Hilarious news out of downtown Stockton today. Yesterday Mike Fitzgerald happened upon a Craigslist ad for business space that suspiciously resembled venerable snooty restaurant, and purveyor of randomly placed billboards, Paragary's.

After waiting a whole half a day for a response (and taking time to take a jab at the ABC/Garden/whoever owns it this week Buffet and it's plastic palm trees) Randy Paragary returned his call and confirmed that he is in fact a shitty restaurateur leaving.

Thank fucking God. Now hopefully somebody good will buy the space and make it useful to a majority of Stockton. I always thought a kick ass Mexican restaurant would be perfect there. Or maybe an Applebees. Bris and Duke vote for a microbrewery. Preferably one that doesn't have a menu change every time we visit (coughValleyBrewcough). Which would also be awesome.

We can't wait for Fitzy's column about this tomorrow. Will he turn on longtime ally Randy Paragary? Will he defend his friend's decision to leave even though he pays no rent and really only has to lower prices and cut the high class bullshit to be successful? Or will Mike direct his rage at the City Council for attracting multiple tenants with lucrative deals (Thunder, Lightening, Cougars, Paragary's) only to have the owners of all of them say "fuck it" and walk away? Or perhaps he'll talk to ex-loverRedevelopment head Steve Pinkerton about it! Stay tuned for tomorrow's Fitzy column which we're already predicting will be a gem.

Until next time, fuck you Randy Paragary. Nobody wanted you here in the first place.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I think my Bullshit Meter just broke.

You know a story has reached its saturation point when Mike Klocke has to devote a column to defending The Record's coverage of it. Or did you forget the time he defended the ridiculous coverage of the 20th anniversary of the Cleveland school shooting a week before it hit newsstands?

This week, Mike Klocke does a better job than I did explaining how overwhelming the coverage has been. But apparently it's all OK, because they..umm.. he never really says. Well, besides the fact that Tracy's eating this shit up, and the Record's the only daily paper in Tracy.

17 out of 19 days the Cantu coverage has been front page news. I'd guess at least 10 of those stories didn't contain any actual news. But, beyond that point, no story should take up the front page for literally half a month. Especially one with as little information as this story has had. And on top of all that, the Record has (up until this column) pretty much ignored the fact that the Tracy Press scooped them big time with that Huckaby interview (not to mention they scooped Tracy PD).

All of that coverage of informationless press conferences and videos of outside the trailer park and all it took was a fucking phone call to break this case wide open. The Record's hurling every resource they have to try and generate pageviews and sell papers, that they're ignoring basic journalistic principles. You can shoot all the videos you want, follow the police department's every move, and even present live coverage of a memorial service, but it's all bullshit if you miss the fucking story.

It's not about Tracy as a community, it's not about some woman's mental health, it's definitely not about Tara fucking Cuslidge, and it's not about The Record and how they're better than other news outlets (mostly because they aren't). This story is about a little girl who was fucking abducted, possibly raped, and thrown into a irrigation ditch. And yet here I am writing about the state of journalism for the third fucking time in relation to this story. Why? Because the Record decided to go the sensationalist route and tackle every single angle to this story but the one that mattered. You may remember it, it's the one about a dead little girl.

Luckily, while the Record was using this as an apparent exercise in the future of journalism, a 22-year old reporter (22!?) named Jennifer Wadsworth was practicing the present journalism not only broke an honest to God story, she broke the fucking case open. Of course you may have missed that amongst the stories of barbecues, useless videos, and Twitter feeds of questionable taste.

And that's why my bullshit meter is broken. Because when you cut through it all, the Record's coverage of this story has been exactly like that of the national outlets Klocke was so ready to deride yesterday. The local touch is bullshit, because the Record didn't use the local touch. They used the jackhammer so often used in national coverage. And in doing so they neglected the most basic principle of journalism, getting information to the people. Which, in hindsight might actually make them worse than Nancy Grace. I don't expect shit from her, she couldn't find Tracy on a map. The Record on the other hand should know better, they do cover Tracy all the time after all. Which is why Mike Klocke's entire column Sunday was bullshit.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I'm embarrassed just covering this.

Ok, this is just getting fucking ridiculous. I understand jack and shit went on yesterday but did we really need the front and back pages of the A section dedicated to a memorial service for a girl that up until 3 weeks ago 99% of the people that attended didn't know or care about? Do we really need a video of it?

Couldn't the resources dedicated to this be better used elsewhere? The Record's all too eager to use the AP for everything else (including the last time Tracy made national headlines in the Teen Slave case) but when it comes to a little dead girl who captured the hearts of weepy soccer moms it warrants 2 original stories a motherfucking day?

Everybody, and I truly do mean everybody, involved in the coverage of this story should be fucking embarrassed. This is why newspapers are dying. It's not the internet that's killing papers it's the blatant misuse (or underutilization) of the internet by those newspapers. Instead of chasing meaningful stories that will actually matter 2 weeks from now, the Record sends multiple members of their already thinned out newsroom (especially thinned out when you take into account the couple of folks on vacation this week) to shoot videos, take way too many pictures, and get quotes like:

"My daughter liked to skip too."


"It was wrong to kill a little girl like that."

Fuck. That is some God damned hard-hitting journalism right there. Who would have thought that two girls of a similar age would have something like skipping in common!? Or that murder is wrong!?

Of course amongst all of this shit about some little girl we've only "known" for 2 weeks being "Tracy's Angel" is an ill-timed article about Huckaby's defense attorney wanting Cantu's body exhumed so they can get their own definition of what genital trauma is. Fucking classy.

Almost as classy as Twittering a fucking funeral, which I'm pretty sure is a sign of the apocalypse. (Looks out window) Yep, that's the Four Horsemen. Nice knowing everybody.

I'm all for using the internet to it's fullest potential, but live blogging a fucking memorial service? Really? Is tact dead too? I'm not saying the memorial service didn't warrant coverage but, you know, I don't need up to the second updates on it. I can wait. Nothing says "tasteful" quite like texting updates on people's emotional suffering during the memorial service.

Like I said, fucking embarrassing.

April's Rube of the Month

Well, it's about that time again, time for...

April's Rube of the Month!

This one's more of a throwback to the original rubes in that it involves the stupidity of just an average Stocktonian and really has nothing to do with the Record outside of the fact that they reported it. And I'm glad they did. From the 911 Briefs yesterday:

"Impersonating an officer: A 46-year-old man told police he was driving west on Park Street at about 10 p.m. Tuesday when another driver pulled up behind him and turned on a solid red light that was mounted on the dashboard."

Oh sweet! Olden Polynice is in town! And solid red light? They shined a flashlight at them? I need blinking lights to be fooled dammit! Or at least some official looking radio.

"The victim pulled over, and the other man walked up to him holding a radio and identifying himself as a police officer, according to the Stockton Police Department. The man then walked the victim to the back of his car, searched him and took two wallets and cash, police said. He then drove away on Park."

You know, I always get escorted to the back of an unmarked police car when I run a red light. So I don't see any problem here. Except for the fact that running a red light is like a $250 ticket and that's it. You don't even have to really unbuckle your seatbelt to get one. This guys must have been really convincing. Let's get a description of the guy so we know what to look for.

"The robber's car is described as a white, 1989 Chevy Suburban with dark, 3-inch-wide pin-striping. The robber is described as black, about 25 years old, 6 feet tall with a thin build and short, curly hair."

Seems official so far, what about his uniform? That had to be something really convincing looking that would make the Angels of Christ jealous.

He was clean-shaven and was last seen wearing a dark, short-sleeved polo shirt and pink pajama pants. (emphasis ours)

What. The. Fuck. If someone pulls me over wearing pink pajama pants I'm telling them to kick rocks and driving off. I don't care if everything else about them says cop. They could be driving an official police car, have the uniform shirt, and even the fancy hat with rain guard. But as soon as I see those pink pajamas I'm flipping them off for wasting my time and leaving. End of story. Or I would at least play along until they asked me to get out of the car, pantsed them, and then left.

Somebody got conned by a motherfucker wearing PINK PAJAMA PANTS! So we even need vigilantes? We can all just wake up in the morning and pull people over without even changng out of our fucking PJs! And he didn't even have a gun tucked into the waistband Plaxico-style!

How did this person get a drivers license in the first places if they can't figure out that the guy walking up to their car brandishing a radio and pink pajama pants was a cop!? Isn't that like question 6 on the DMV test? Fuck that, isn't that a question on a kindergarten test? "What do cops wear?" "A. Blue uniforms. B. A hat C. Pink pajama pants D. All but C."

If you can't answer that question, you fail at life. And that's why this anonymous 46 year old man is April's Rube of the Month.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Quick Links for April 16th

So, Quick Links? Ok, yeah, Quick Links.

What's my favorite word?

So early this morning (ok, around 7, but that's early for me), I got this misleading text message from El Duke that read "Lori Gilbert + rap = comedy gold". Of course, I ran to my computer hoping to see our favorite mature fetishist making a star turn as Queen Laqueefah and was slightly disappointed when that didn't happen. Luckily my disappointment quickly disappeared once I read the headline to her latest article, "Poets slam together rap form, gender issues". Yes, my disappointment was replaced by complete and utter confusion. Poetry AND rap form? Isn't that just called hip-hop? And it's at that point I realized Lori Gilbert was going to be writing about gender issues (a subject in which she doesn't exactly have the best track record) and rap music, which is fitting considering she's probably the only writer less equipped than Tony "Dino" Sauro to write about that subject (and it shows as she pretty much abandons that topic 3 paragraphs in). In other words, this was going to be hilarious.

And it was. It didn't even take 3 paragraphs to elicit a chuckle from me. Mostly this passage:

"The broad view of rap is that it's misogynistic..."

Which is almost immediately followed by this:

"'I never heard that thing about rap,' said Gesine Gerhard, director of Pacific's gender studies program."

It's always nice when an expert in gender studies contradicts your misogyny allegations in their very first quote. Look, we're not saying there aren't misogynistic rap lyrics (after all, the answer to the name of the Too Short song about is "bitch" or more phonetically "beee-yatch!"), but to say that the broad view of rap is that is misogynistic is misleading at best. That's the view old white people have of rap. Mostly because they've listened to one, maybe two rap songs in their entire lives. They don't understand hip hop culture.

But then we get into the discussion about the differences between hip hop and rap (and there is a difference), and that takes us wayyyyy off topic. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that rap really isn't any more misogynistic than any other form of music. Like any form of music it's representative of its culture. And while we as a culture have made great strides in terms of equality, those issues are still there. We're not saying rappers who have derogatory lyrics about women are all socially conscious and trying to bring inequality to the forefront, we're just saying they're representing a part of our culture regardless of how ignorant it is.

Rap has always reflected culture, and a lot of the time it's a part of culture we're not particularly proud of. There's the racial/political issues tackled in the 80s by Public Enemy. Or there's Ice T's "Cop Killer" in which he unleashes his pent up rage at the police for multitude of reasons by cathartically shouting "Fuck the police!" Rap, hip-hop, whatever the fuck you want to call it, is fucking raw. Which is something we may have forgotten recently amongst the overproduced bullshit unleashed upon us by noted gay fish Kanye West.

The worst part about that entire rap rant I just went on? It has nothing to do with the rest of that article because it's actually about a fucking poetry slam, which besides being similar lyrically, has absolutely nothing to do with rap. So why was rap even brought up in this article? Because somebody wanted to make a comment about gender roles in what is otherwise a straight forward article previewing a poetry slam. In other words, Lori Gilbert threw in unresearched bullshit and straight up stated her opinion in an article. Which I hear may be against a main point of journalism or something. Told you she had a poor track record writing about gender issues. But hey, at least you can treat this as the piece on rap and gender issues that the headline of that article teased but didn't follow through with.

Lodi taking progressive steps towards medical pot use? Did I step into the Twilight Zone or something?

So, let me get this straight, because there are no local zoning laws regarding medical marijuana dispensaries, that gives the Lodi City Council the right to impose a moratorium on them for up to 2 years to decide create those zoning laws? Lodi doesn't have pharmacies? Or medical supply stores? Bullshit. Half that town is fucking assisted living communities. They're just scared of what might happen based on archaic views of pot being a "gateway drug" and based on what one dumbass did in Modesto (long story short, he got greedy).

And judging by the report from Lodi Police Chief David Main, they'll be citing the fuck ups more than the people who genuinely need medical marijuana and have to drive to fucking Sacramento to do so. So we're not in the Twilight Zone after all. It's just another day of typical conservative Lodi bullshit.

Using this doll, point to where this woman touched you. Even though we have absolutely no information to indicate that she may have

In what can only be described as a throwback to the initial search for Cantu's body, the Tracy police department is once again admitting that they don't know shit and are now asking the community through the newspaper if they were also "inappropriately contacted" by Melissa Huckaby. Because crowd sourcing the investigation totally worked during the search for Cantu's body. So in 2 weeks look out for some immigrant workers who will come forward and say they found three girls who admitted to being touched by Huckaby (presumably via erotic shoulder rub). God, why won't this story end? Oh hey, what's this? Sandra who?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Here's what we missed...

Sometime we get busy around here and stories fall through the cracks. Here's a couple stories that we missed (including one from today!) in a feature I'm pretty sure we call What We Missed.
Sarcasm only works in writing when the author is good at both writing and sarcasm. Don Blount isn't good at either

Bad sarcasm aside, let's move to the most important part. Where Don Blount comes from, a group of armed dudes wearing similar clothing patrolling the seedier areas of town in their cars is called the Klan. But we're not in where Don Blount comes from. We're in where Slick Diaz comes from. And where I come from, a group of armed dudes wearing similar clothing patrolling dangerous areas in their cars are called fucking GANGS.

What's that? They can't be because they're old and white? Racist!

Situations like the one surrounding the formation of the SAM are the exact same situations gangs are formed. Community members feel abandoned by the people meant to protect them so they take the law into their own hands and protect themselves and their community. Sound familiar? That's because that's exactly what the SAM is doing. And it's also how the gangs they're so hot to combat got started too.

While we can appreciate what Blount was going for, even if the entire column was borderline unreadable, likening the SAM to the Ku Klux Klan is just short sighted for multiple reasons. The biggest one being the fact that the Klan is such a lightening rod of hate that whatever argument Blount was trying to make (no matter how valid) was lost because people see the word "Klan" and go into some sort of knee jerk defense mode. Which (surprise!) is exactly what happened.

A much much much much much much (much much much ) better choice of words would have been to liken them to gangs. Or, if Blount was really set on comparing them to another group of white people, old timey gangsters. You know, the Godfather kind. Those gangs/families also formed to protect their neglected immigrant community. Sure, they're glorified now in movies and on TV, but it's still better than conjuring up images of the KKK. Doing that's almost as bad an idea as patrolling the dangerous streets of Stockton with loaded weapons and no training.

Irony alert!

While Tara Cuslidge writing about her old journalism teacher getting an award seems somewhat conflict of interesty, it's overshadowed by the hilarity of a column preaching diversity in journalism appearing in the Record. We'd outline the Record's history in diversity but if you've been reading this site (or even just the Record for that matter) you know the Record caters to one group and one group alone, rich old white people.

Ok fine, you want an example. How about the ridiculous over-coverage of minor league hockey while a popular Latino fighter spends the weekend earning a decisive victory over one of his sport's legends and only gets two paragraphs in a sports round up?

Or how about the fact that nobody's flipping out about the Cougars actually leaving town but everybody's shitting themselves over the Thunder just being put up for sale?

Or, you know, spending 2 weeks covering that Cantu case even though there was about 2 days worth of information released? Or the Record's apparent decision that the local music scene wasn't worth it and that Ian Hill was better suited standing outside a courthouse shooting video of an uninformative press conference.

And then there's always the fact that if you're a non-athlete above 17 and under 50 the only way you're getting in the paper is sending something to myRecord, while Lori Gilbert regularly writes about old people for doing shit like waiting tables and not dying (except for that one woman who actually died).

So yeah, it's ironic that the Record is writing about diversity when it's anything but. Hilarious, ain't it?

Why I hate journalism and a meandering rant about the Cantu Case

We haven't really covered much of the Sandra Cantu case here. Mostly because after about day 3 we stopped following it regularly because there was really only a handful of ways it could have ended, one of them being "found in a suitcase in an irrigation ditch". And, call me crazy, I don't want to hear/read about how a little girl was brutally raped and murdered. That's not exciting journalism for us.

We also ignored it partially because it was quite possibly the slowest developing story we've ever seen. It was frustrating to track because Tracy PD was keeping its mouth shut on fucking everything. Which resulted in multiple articles about the search continuing with no real new information aside from who's car got towed mixed in with trailer park gossip. No really, here's a list of the stories from when Cantu went missing until her body was found (roughly a week and a half):

Cantu disappears
We're searching!
Hey, did you guys do it? No? But you kissed her! On the lips! Still no? Ok, we'll keep looking.
Hey you! Let us look! Oh, still nothing. Well, we're still taking you in!
Yeah, so, we still got nothing.
But we're narrowing things down! (Note: this was 5 days before some farm workers narrowed it down for them)
We're doing a good job! Swear! But yeah, still nothing.
See! We found this t-shirt! Sure it's not Sandra's we totally wasted a day on this but it's something. Ok fine, we got nothing.
We got a helicopter! Oh, and still nothing.
Hey look! Another house searched! And another day of jack shit to report!
So still nothing, but be distracted by this creepy video of the last images of a probably dead girl in what was probably her last happy moments!
Oh my! The poor community! Oh, and still fucking nothing!
No really, poor Tracy!
Man, such a quiet search. Almost makes you think about packing it in and calling it a day.
Oh shit! They found something! Quit stalling and tellll ussssss.
OMG it was her! Quick, shoot a video of the mom's darkest hour!

That was fucking grating wasn't it? Nearly 2 weeks of bullshit. Half of those stories are "Police found jack shit". We're all for covering the search but at what point does rehashing the same story about Tracy PD not finding anything become useless? They could have skipped probably half those stories.

But Tracy PD was dicks and kept leading people on. They told us they had a handful of credible tips, they postponed press conferences with no explanation, and all of it was fucking bullshit because when it was all said and done they still had to rely on a group of farm workers who stumbled upon a suitcase in an irrigation ditch. All that shit about being close was a fucking lie. You hear about them searching the pastor's house before they found Melissa Huckaby's suitcase? I sure as hell didn't.

Of course, the Record sent a reporter out to Tracy pretty much every day for a week and a half so they had to get something back. Most of the time that reporter got nothing so he ended up having to rehash details we already knew. Which is fine once or twice. But not a week and a half of that shit.

And that's all before we got into the search for her killer and Huckaby's arrest/arraignment. The search for Sandra's killer went much more smoothly than the search for her body. Even if the avalanche of online videos increased the already borderline overkill media coverage to "contemplating suicide so I can stop hearing about this God damn story" levels.

Of course, once Huckaby was arrested, this turns into a court case so we get a whole new batch of angles to make your brain melt! Which resulted in my favorite series of stories in this entire shitstorm. The Record got ahold of deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa and found out he was going to be the prosecutor. Which would be a fine story if the other deputy DA wasn't telling the AP about the addition of rape/molestation charges! The resulting combination of those two stories was a fairly entertaining mashup (So yeah, rape and stuff. But hey look! A guy we spent half a day interviewing!)

And then there's the court hearing in which, well, NOTHING HAPPENED. They read off the charges that the DA already tipped everybody off on and everybody stood around trying to get video of some woman who's clearly at her wit's end crying. It was riveting stuff.

The saddest part (besides, you know, the whole little girl getting killed and raped thing), is that people are eating this bullshit up. Countless numbers of people who know I'm kind of a news junkie kept asking me if I saw the story about the court appearance I'm just sitting there thinking (and this is the part where, if you don't already hate me, you will afterwards) WHAT'S THE BIG FUCKING DEAL!? Yes, a girl died. Yes, it's sad. Yes, it happened close to home. But nothing's fucking changed. I see mom's reading these stories with a worried look on their face and I just want to grab them and shout "Nothing is different! Your kid was in just as much danger a month ago as they are now!" Maybe I'm just a sick human being who doesn't really feel a connection to people I've never met and never will meet, or maybe I just recognize media scare tactics

But scare tactics work. Now we can have countless News10 stories about how to keep your kid safe from the dangers of the world and everybody can get some sort of closure even though most people will forget about this case after the first episode of Nancy Grace after the gag order is in place. And in the end, what do we get? A few extra papers sold (a claim I hate making, but it fits here). A little rattled that something like that could happen in a little town like Tracy even though something like this always could have happened in Tracy (and still can in the future). Plus, we get to call some woman we don't know a psycho with mental problems to make ourselves feel better about the world in general. And, as a bonus, we get a false sense of security because now we're aware and informed about how to protect our kids thanks to the overcoverage by news outlets. Which is kind of ironic because a false sense of security is how this whole thing started.

God I hate journalism.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Quick Links for April 14th

It's time for everybody's favorite lazy space filler, Quick Links!

Isn't this how movie supervillians start?

Well, it finally happened. Alan Pettet's most credible supporter, his lawyer/friend Ron Stein admitted that his involvement in the Stockton Armed Gang Militia was meant to be satirical. Because, you know, the Record's basically an unfunny version of the Onion at this point. Yes, in a move that seems to indicate backlash from his employer/clients (or somebody just smacking him on the back of the head and saying "what the matter with you?"), Stein called the proposed militia ridiculous and is "off the ship". Which we can imagine his pal Pettet loved.

There's no way to know how this truly went down, but I like to imagine a meek Stein walking into a dark, cavernous room and saying "Al, I can't do this anymore. It's too risky." While an already corrupted by power Pettet slowly turns around in his electric wheelchair while petting the cat in his lap and says "Too risky? It's too late for too risky! You've seen the attention this thing's gotten! I'm gonna be on Limbaugh! We have hundreds of followers! Hundreds! We can't turn our backs on them now!" Then a cowering Stein says, "But, but Alan, I thought we agreed this was just a joke. It's getting out of hand. Nobody takes me seriously as a lawyer anymore." Which would naturally be followed by an enraged Pettet saying "Joke? This is no joke. It's bigger than the both of us now. You want to leave? Fine. You disgust me." Then he would turn back around and gaze longingly into the fireplace while descending further into madness.

Yes, I have too much free time on my hands.

Why must you crush my dreams Record!?

Well, after cleaning up the awards last week, this week crime statistics continue to decline. While auto theft isn't a violent crime, it does show that crime in general is on the decline. Plus, the article later states that, just in the first 3 months of 2009, violent crimes are down 11%.

This was a big list though. This isn't just auto theft rate in California, this is a nationwide list. And we let fucking Modesto beat us. Modesto. It's hard to see such a promising ex-champion fall from grace like this. Especially on such a grand stage. But we'll be back, I have faith.

On a side note, with violent crime down 11%, property crime down 21.4%, and auto thefts down 27% do we really need a group of vigilantes patrolling the streets? Crime's not exactly on the rise and throwing a bunch of dudes on the street with guns can really only raise the crime rate...wait a minute. That might just be the thing to salvage our title chances! Militias for everybody! 200+ homicides has to bring the title home. It just has to.

This might just save newspapers

Sometimes, in pursuit of an angle to a story or a gimmick, we forget things. Since we started our crusade to end the string of Lori Gilbert penned stories about old people, we forgot that in the right light old people can be downright adorable. Stories about how old people are still useful aren't adorable and are frankly kind of insulting to our county's elderly. What is adorable? Old playing video games. Serious, go look at the main picture attached to this story and tell me that old lady with her tongue sticking out in deep concentration isn't the cutest thing you've seen since myRecord.

I'm deeply disappointed there wasn't a video to compliment this story as watching two old dudes engage in a friendly bout of video game fisticuffs would have been the best thing Recordnet's ever produced. Seriously, tell Tara Cuslidge to stop acting as the word's most expensive tape recorder for reporters and have her start videotaping these bowling matches. Speed them up to double speed in post and add the Benny Hill theme, post it to the Online Blog and you've got yourself a bona fide viral video. It'll be the funniest thing on that blog since Cuslidge's "Sandra Cantu happened to me!" post, only this time it'll be intentional!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Writer's workshop with Mike Fitzgerald!

It's tough coming up with daily content for this site. I don't say this to garner pity, I say it to make a point. One of the features we came up with to help generate that content is the Quick Links, which is basically a list of multiple stories that we make fun of. We fully admit to it being lazy writing, but we can get away with that because we're unpaid bloggers who do this in our free time. If you're a paid writer who has, say, 3 columns a week, we expect a little more.

But Mike Fitzgerald's column Sunday wasn't just an example of lazy writing, it was like a lazy writing clinic. By our count, there's at least 3 lazy writing techniques in just that one column. Missed them? Feel free to follow along at home.

As we said, lists are lazy writing. Lazy writing we're guilty of but lazy writing nonetheless. Anytime someone starts a column off with "A few random thoughts." or "Some loose items for a lazy summer Sunday." they're pretty much saying "I couldn't think of anything so watch me blow smoke out my ass." Fitzy does this occasionally. Don Blount's done it already during his short but illustrious stint as the Monday columnist. Mike Klocke not only throws up random lists but also usually lists the same things (more often than not his columns are an El Guapo roll call). And of course Bob Highfill has made the meandering mind droppings column an art form. Tomorrow one of Must Be's bulletpoints will probably be "I wonder when that Nick Diaz fellow is going to fight again. It's been a while hasn't it?" (By the way, watching Diaz pretty much bitch slap Frank Shamrock for a round and a half was glorious. And the Stockton crowd was out in force Saturday night).

But anyway, yeah, lists only work when the items are related. When you're jumping from budget cuts to book shilling to a glorified obit it kind of kills any flow the column could have had. And trust me, I know all about killing the flow of a column/post.

Next, and the one I take biggest issue with, is playing devil's advocate. Presenting something unthinkably stupid and then saying "Just kidding! But it's an interesting thought, ain't it?" Fitzy not only does this, but he couples it with his populist crusade against "frivolous" government spending (OMG! They're spending money! You guys don't have any! Follow me with your torches and pitchforks!). He spends a majority of his column on this one item in which he suggests killing the Asparagus Festival and the presents and then shoots down arguments to keep it. All in the interest of playing Devil's advocate. Of course he forgot one big reason why his idea doesn't hold water, but it would kill the whole discussion right away so he doesn't bring it up. Plus it also makes his whole excess government spending crusade look bad. And we can't have that.

Anyway, the big hole in his entire argument is that, as he states in his column, the city spends roughly $526,000 on the Asparagus Festival. $300,000 of that going towards police OT. But the city's budget shortfall is $31 million. So his entire bad idea is based on the premise that the city would make up less than 1/60th (or 1/30th if you want to count the 2010 Asparagus Festival as well) of the budget disparity by eliminating one of the few entertaining events we have left since the city raped the spirit of St. Patrick. Of course, this lapse in logic hasn't stopped him before in calling for the elimination of free coffee/water for government employees (saving the city $32,938, which is such a small fraction of the budget shortfall it's not even worth calculating. Also, ironically suggested during another list column), so why should it stop him now?

And then of course there's the last bit of lazy writing, copying and pasting. Which is pretty much what he did with that part about Vernell Jefferson. Maybe I've just spent too much time at the Duke family household, but a large family is hardly a big deal. I used to know a family in Lodi that boasted 22 kids (yes, they were Mormon), so this reprint of an obit doesn't impress me at all. So yeah, saying "Hey did you catch this?" and then reprinting it is way lazy. Sure, we do it all the time. But more should be expected from Fitzy. He's a well-paid columnist in a field that's seeing across the board cutbacks, and we're just a bunch of anonymous drivel.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Out of context Quote of the Week

Blogs and news broadcasts had anticipated an arrest would be made today.

Ummm, nope. Didn't do it. Scoreboard other blogs. Scoreboard.

How to act at a bar

I go to bars a lot.  A whole lot.  So I would venture a guess that I know where to go and how to act.  Thursdays have been a no brainer of late, due to College Night, a themed night put on by the Downtown Stockton Alliance and Pacific to try and get more Pacific students out and about in Stockton. 

The first theme night was costume.  Interesting, but nothing to write home about.  The second Thursday was cocktail night.  Now we started to cook with some hot sauce.  You can't go wrong with drink specials and girls in cocktail dresses.  Yesterday was comedy night.  Definitely not the right time or place.

Now, I'm assuming whoever was preforming was absolutely funny.  But, in a bar, on a Thursday, around 10?  People are doing the two things they want to at a bar:  get drunk and try to slam some strange.  So listening to a comedy routine?  Not going to happen.  And, I assumed this was a lot of peoples first time at a bar due to how they were acting, so I wanted to help with some of the douchier points.

1.  If you pack a place for a comedy show, it probably helps if you shut the fuck up so you can hear the routine.

2.  If you stop talking to the girl for 15 seconds, I assume she will still be DTF.  In fact, those 15 seconds might be saving you from saying something stupid and earning you a date with Palmela Handerson.

3.  The easiest way to score is to be an athlete.  Or at least pretend to be one.  In fact, one of us earned a feather in the hat (or notch in the bedpost) by telling a girl he was the starting point guard for Pacific's basketball team.  However, it is still comedy gold to see girls throw themselves on an athlete.  Including those who finished ranked 334485967 in the country after losing in the semi-finals of the Diego County credit union/whatever basketball tournament.  

4.  If someone is at the bar, ordering at the bar, or sitting at the bar in general, the fastest way to a drink is not through them.  In fact, if you notice, the bartenders tend to make you wait.  Why?  So you quit bothering the guys dropping money and learn some respect and go to a place where no one is standing to get your drink.  And the louder you yell, the more pissed the bartenders are.  And I cant emphasize enough that you want to be on good terms with your bartender.  They remember your drink, refill it when its empty, and pour heavy handed.  This might be the most valuable thing you take from this.

5.   Notice if you keep having to apologize for hitting someone when your talking, you're A.  Italian and B.  A douche.  

And that's just the start of the helpful guide to a good time at the bar. 

Quick Links for April 10th

Oh hey, it's Sexy Friday. Hope you enjoyed the Michael David Smith interview. El Duke may emerge from his cave today to bring back a revamped Shit To Do post later today, so look out for that. Out of Context Quote of the Week should also appear sometime later. But for now? Quick Links!

It must be awards season. Better go get my tux dry cleaned

Sure, we probably won't reclaim the violent crime rate title this year, but that doesn't mean we can't clean up in all the secondary award shows!

Today, it was revealed that Stockton has the highest dropout rate of any California city. So, as is customary...(clears throat)

Wooooo! We're #1! We're #1!

With that out of the way we have to express our disappointment that this study is based on numbers that are 2 years old. We really wanted to make and Amato/SAT joke but he had nothing to do with these numbers which severely disappoints us. But still, graduating less seniors than we had dropouts is fairly impressive. So congrats future lifetime Delta College students. You're making us proud.

Oh, and that that Oakland!

I hate journalism

These vigilantes clearly have lost their marbles, so the next natural step of progression is to exploit them on a national level! Yes, in a move that must give the Stockton Police Officers Association a massive erection, the Alan Pettet has fielded media requests from the Associated Press, National Public Radio, and Captain Douchebag himself Rush Limbaugh. You guys already know my stance on these vigilantes so I'm not going to beat a dead horse (although SAM might come by and shoot it later).

If you have yet to read it Christian Burkin's blog entry about the SAM is a pretty good read and he offers a unique perspective as an ex-military man and a guy who probably knows more about crime in Stockton than any of us.

I really hope this story dies a quick, painless death. But I kind of doubt it will. Fuck, now I'm depressed. Let's end this on a lighter note.

Nobody pahtied fackin hahdah!

Kissing Suzy Kolber was on a roll yesterday. First there was the least surprising story about a Raider fan ever, then there was the linked post of a letter sent to the students or alumni of Holy Cross. It's pretty much one of the funniest things I've ever read. And that includes Fitzy's plan to buy the Thunder (We'd be Gods!). Although frankly, the two of those are actually kind of similar.

AOL Fanhouse's Michael David Smith talks to us about Strikeforce: Nick Diaz vs. Frank Shamrock and other MMA topics

You may not know this since the Record has yet to mention it, but local Mixed Martial Artist Nick Diaz is fighting in his first match since the Stockton EliteXC show this weekend against Frank Shamrock as the HP Pavilion in San Jose tomorrow under the Strikeforce banner. In anticipation of the event, and to give it some much needed local publicity, we asked MMA guru Michael David Smith of AOL Fanhouse to answer a couple of questions for us about the event and he graciously agreed. We were even able to slip a question about the EliteXC: Unfinished Business show in there. So enjoy the interview and don't forget to cheer on Diaz as he faces Shamrock live on Showtime tomorrow night at 7 pm. Or catch it online for the low, low price of 24.95. As always, words not written by us in bold.

Slick Diaz: This Saturday's Stirkeforce event marks the return to the octagon of both Frank Shamrock and Nick Diaz after a fairly long break. This will be Shamrock's first fight since breaking his arm in a match against Cung Le and Diaz's first since fighting here in Stockton at the EliteXC: Unfinished Business event last July. Do you expect either of them to show any ring rust this weekend? And how much of a factor (if any) do you think Diaz's legendary cardio should be?

Michael David Smith: I definitely think ring rust could be a factor with Shamrock. It's been more than a year since he's fought and he's 36 years old. I just don't know if any athlete in any sport can take a year off in his mid-30s and not lose something. Diaz I'm less concerned about because he's a decade younger and, as you note, he's got great cardio. He stays in shape with triathlons. That has to give him an advantage if the fight goes into the third round.

Slick: Speaking of the EliteXC event in Stockton, the event was largely considered a ratigns failure even though it featured the highly anticipated rematch between Robbie Lawler and Elk Grove's Scott Smith in the main event. How big of a role do you think that the poor ratings and with the low paid attendence figures for the sole CBS card to not feature Kimbo Slice played in ProElite's decision to close down and sell off their assets after the Petruzelli fight? Had the event done better would they have considered remaining open or did the positive drug test of Bigfoot Silva and the death of the legend of Kimbo Slice doom the promotion regardless?

MDS: The fundamental flaw of EliteXC was putting far too much of its promotional energy into a guy who simply isn't good at MMA, Kimbo Slice. You're absolutely right that the Stockton event didn't do very well, and because the Stockton card didn't do well, CBS officials worried that Kimbo (and to some extent Gina Carano) were the only draws they had, and then when Kimbo lost they didn't think a promotion could be built around Gina Carano. I don't think Bigfoot Silva's positive drug test had much to do with it; it's obviously embarrassing when your heavyweight champion tests positive, but he was not a particularly big draw for them.

Slick: Cristiane "Cris Cyborg" Santos makes her Strikeforce debut this Saturday against Hitomi Akano, but all anybody can seem to talk about is her potential match with Gina Carano. How much are casual MMA fans (and possibly Cyborg herself) overlooking Akano who boasts and impressive 14-5 record with 11 submissions?

MDS: Excellent question. Akano's record is very solid, and Josh Barnett, who trains her, raves about her skills. She's won most of her fights by submission (and Cyborg's only loss is by submission), and in Cyborg's last fight, she couldn't finish an opponent who was ripe for being knocked out. I think Cyborg is the favorite in this fight, and I think Akano is a little small to be fighting someone Cyborg's size, but I think that if Cyborg comes in unprepared, she's in for a rude awakening.

Slick: How much of chance of you think Nick Diaz has of fighting in the UFC again, or have his character issues coupled with his sudden departure to Gracie Fighting Championships a few years back closed that door?

MDS: I wouldn't rule out Nick fighting in the UFC again. The bottom line is that the UFC wants good fighters. If Nick beats Frank and keeps winning in Strikeforce, at some point the UFC would have to be interested. Of course, if Nick keeps winning, Strikeforce will try hard not to lose him.

Slick: Jake Shields is considered one of the better welterweights in the World, but he seems to have a limited number of decent opponents at that weight. His next fight is a catchweight bout against Robbie Lawler in June. Besides his contract with Strikeforce, what's holding him back from joining the elite welterweights of the world in the UFC?

MDS: His contract with Strikeforce is all that's holding him back. But I think he'd rather keep working with Strikeforce than try to get out of his contract and hope UFC offers him something better. And that means Shields is probably going to have to move up in weight permanently, because Strikeforce just doesn't have any 170-pounders who can really give him a tough test. So I think we'll see Shields keep fighting at catchweights or even permanently move up to middleweight.

Slick: Will Diaz ever get his hands on KJ Noons?

MDS: I don't think so. KJ Noons had a big opportunity to fight on CBS, and he decided he didn't want to because he'd rather box instead. If he likes boxing better than he likes MMA, more power to him, but I personally think he's better suited to MMA, and I think it's too bad that we won't get to see a Diaz-Noons rematch.

Slick: Diaz himself has dabbled in boxing a bit. He had his first and only pro match in 2005 beating Alfonso Rocha by unanimous decision in Sacramento. Plus he's trained with former World champ Luisto Espinosa and Gold medalist Andre Ward. And chance he follows Noons into the world of boxing to continue their heated rivalry, even if just for the one match?

MDS: That's an interesting idea. I personally think Diaz would be better off sticking with MMA, but despite his jiu jitsu background, he loves to stand with his opponents and trade punches, so maybe he would try boxing. I'm guessing he doesn't do it, but I wouldn't totally rule it out.

Slick: And finally, which brother vs. brother matchup is more intriguing? Ken vs. Frank or Nick vs. Nate?

MDS: Well, as an old-school fan of the Shamrocks, I've always hoped to see them fight each other. I doubt it will ever happen, but I pick Ken vs. Frank.

Slick (note: This is the part where I bang my head against the desk as this was a follow up question and I totally brainfarted since he basically answered this in the last answer. Luckily he's a class act and answered it twice.): Obviously the Shamrock vs. Shamrock fight would have been a much better fight 5 or 10 years ago before people were practically begging Ken to hang it up. Given Ken's recent record (2-8 in his last 10 fights not counting the Clifton fight) and his disputed failed drug test, what are the chances this match happens? Or, perhaps more importantly, do you think it should happen?

MDS: I don't think there's much of a chance of it happening. I've interviewed both Frank and Ken and neither of them seem to think it's going to happen.

Thanks again to Michael David Smith for taking the time to answer our questions and for putting up with my fucktardery.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Quick Links for April 9th

Another day another Quick Links. Let's do the damn thing.


Unfortunately the Record used the Hammertime joke already. But seeing Hammer do charity work in Stockton reminds me of an idea we had for an aborted Top 5 post.

The Top 5 was supposed to be Top 5 ways to improve Stockton's public image and, by extension, generate revenue for the city. One of the ideas (and possibly the greatest idea ever.) was for the rapper turned reality star to buy up the dearly departed local landmark Hammer Skate. You can probably guess where we're going with this but I'll continue anyway. Hammer would reopen Hammer Skate as an 80's themed roller rink that would occasionally feature cover bands and washed up legendary 80s performers. All while being documented by cameras for his new reality show "Stop! Hammer Skate!"

I know, we're geniuses and it would be a great way to get Stockton some positive PR and it would presumably also feature the city as it tried to pull itself out of the economic hole we're all in. Plus the tourism revenue could possibly be awesome because who wouldn't want to skate around and wax nostalgic while Hammer and Flavor Flav (who would naturally be involved in some capacity) battle rap in the background.

You know you would watch that show. If/when this happens I better get my cut.

Stockton finally gets a Panda Express with a drive-thru

This is the Panda by Toys R Us, right? How the fuck does somebody jump that curb? Were they even looking at the road? Was the driver my friend who starts to turn as soon as you say "You're gonna wanna take the next right" even though the turn isn't for another couple hundred yards? Stockton drivers are fucking awesome.

When in doubt, check the opinion of Recordnet commenters and pick the opposite

We're not exactly legal experts here, but when we saw this story previewed on David Siders' blog and noticed all of the commenters seemed to come out on Lori Whittaker's side (comments that suspiciously have been taken down now despite not being particularly incendiary), it kind of gave us an idea as to who's right and who's wrong in this situation. But because we're known for our hard nosed research (I crack myself up), I bravely scrolled through the 15-page legal document posted in the linked post. You know, just to make sure our instincts were correct. And well, it looks like they were.

The accusations levied against City Attorney Ren Nosky appear to be petty and there seems to be an ulterior motive with this entire suit (namely, revenge for her cousin). The extend of the sexual harassment charges are "He looked at me funny" (the "leering" charge), "He tried to make small talk" (asking about her personal life), and "he talked about me behind my back!" (discussed her with other coworkers).

Of course, I'm just one guy with zero access calling them like I see them, but all of those charges are in the sexual harassment grey area. Because, let's face it, what constitutes leering? I check out hot coworkers all the time, but am I sexually harassing them? Unless he was doing something obvious like talking to her tits instead of her face this seems like an incredibly vague charge. I can't really say anything about the personal life questions because it depends on the questions he asked. If he asked her is she went out last night then that's a perfectly reasonable question. If he asked her if it was a date or something that's moving towards inappropriate but still fine. If he asked her if she got pounded like a railroad spike then, yeah, there's an issue. And finally, talking about her body with other coworkers? I did that 10 minutes ago. People talk about their coworkers behind their backs. It happens all the fucking time. It's part of workplace culture. Unless he was trying to float the theory around the office that a new set of tits would make her perfect while she was standing right in front of him then this is another vague claim in a legal gray area that, as a lawyer she knows all too much about.

Of course, the charges of sexual harassment are an appetizer. The main course is the allegations of a hostile work environment and inaction by the city in regards to her vague harassment claims. Which, if you read the document pretty much amounts to a whiney "Nobody listens to me anymore!"

She talks about her years of service and how Nosky came in and basically went in a different direction and she didn't like it. She narcs out the city for considering the age of applicants for various jobs which, while technically illegal, is still pretty much done in every job ever. And then, she seems to be surprised that people would react negatively to that. And that's before we get to the unsourced quote of "One Rishwain down, one to go" (although the whole inclusion of the Rishwain settlement seems to be to stir up populist furor over the fact that the city spent money on something that wasn't cops) and what appears to be a half-assed apology from Nosky who admitted that he "was a real prick" to her.

I could go on, but at the end of the day it appears to me to be one giant bitching rant about how she didn't get her way after lobbing vague allegations at Nosky that couldn't be proved because it was a basic game of he said, she said.

I don't know and have never met anyone involved in this case so really I'm not the best guy to pass judgement. I could be 100% wrong, and if I am please tell me so. But until then I'm just going to assume that somebody's pissed that her new boss wouldn't let her coast like her old boss. All based on the fact that Recordnet commenters immediately backed her.

Oh, and the apparent allegation that Leslie Martin is sexist towards women (I'm assuming she's one of Does 1-50 considering she was mentioned in the document as someone who knew of the harassment shit and didn't do anything) is fucking hilarious. The only way that could have been more hilarious is if she accused Susan Eggman of being sexist. If that had happened I'm not sure I'd be posting this today. I'd be too busy laughing.