Monday, August 26, 2013

The Village of Elwood is stuck with their Intermodal Idiot.

The transportation industry sucks… That is a scabby way to begin a column, but after discovering that a deadbeat  logistics company residing in Elwood, Illinois has used up taxpaying resources; leaving this small community with a $163 million debt to repay, has this professional driver concerned about America's future. CenterPoint International Center-Joliet has become the largest master-planed inland port in North America thus, created 3800 jobs. Most of the people employed at CIT-Joliet earn starvation wages, as fat-cat developers zip around in a $750,000 Turbine Helicopter, just to get a birds-eye view of their 6500 sq foot immense transportation infrastructure. Adjacent to Interstate 55 & Interstate 80, CIT-Joliet is in cahoots with BNSF and Union Pacific Railroad as an Intermodal  Terminal. Truck drivers with rail containers, line up for miles to enter this huge transportation hub and others deliver freight to CIT's warehouse.  "The work is tiring and I kept getting sick," explained 26-year old  dock worker, Holly Kent-Payne during her interview with the Chicago Tribune. 

Holly is not the only one that is sick. In fact, this TIF district of Elwood is also sick with financial worries and used future tax money to reimburse developers for some expenses. Furthermore, CIT-Joliet has 88 million dollars in TIF notes, fundamentally IOU vouchers at a 10 percent interest rate for the next 20 years. This is a risky move to investors and now the Village of Elwood has decided to take legal recourse with these greed-crazed bastards for unpaid promises. Now, businesses like this will leave America in worst shape than it was thirty years ago.  Our interstate system slowly rots with decay, Our law enforcement has been corrupted and wages will soon be based on piecework, just like it was in the 19th Century.     

Monday, August 19, 2013

Attitude & Altitude at The Chicago Air & Water Show

55 Years of Guns & Fun Under The Chicago Sun 

The only thing louder then a thousand Marshall full stack amplifiers at a Lollapalooza concert would be the sound of the afterburners of  an F/A-18 Hornet screaming overhead at 700 mph. However, that was last years Chicago Air & Water Show. This year, our infamous leader- Barack Obama cut military funding for Chicago's 55th annual Air & Water Show. Nope, things are different this time around as insurance salesman littered our beautiful skyline with advertisements. Greed is the American way with rich gypsies and flashy millionaire Fuckballs wanting you to like them on Facebook. But so what? Everything I say will be labeled as an act of treason and I could get shot in my face on the White House Lawn. So let's move on, shall we? 

You will not see “Eddie”  (Iron Maiden's mascot)  flying this highly-maneuverable, supersonic strike fighter at the speed of sound near the city’s beautiful skyline. The sonic-boom would shatter all the windows near the lakefront, and there would be a lot of angry rich folks thinking it’s terrorists launching some type of invasion. That’s not case.  This exciting event only happens once a year in Chicago, with civilian pilots implementing Hammerhead maneuvers and barnstorming to the commercial sounds of Rock-n-Roll.

In 1959 the first show was held under the direction of Al Benedict, a Chicago Park District Supervisor at Lake Shore Park and was part of a “Family Day” celebration for inner city children enrolled in day camp programs.  The budget was $88.00, and featured water skiers, diving competitions and Air Sea Rescues. Today, over 2 million people witnessed The Firebird's Delta Team, Lima Lima Flight Team and this year's first all Veteran Parachute Team. No U.S. Thunderbirds, No Golden Knights and no Blackhawk Helicopters. Just some Bozo from California flying a Red Bull helicopter and zipping back to Gary, Indiana.

Now this would make anyone’s mood foul, and it gets even better. Some brain child at the Mayor’s Office of Special Events found a new way to fleece the rich by purchasing a reserve spot at B.Z. Lounge for $500.00 each day, that included beer, soft drinks and a barbecue buffet and is the main focal point for the show.  As for myself, I used my press credentials and was seated in the V.I.P. section where the family members of civilian pilots were seated. I was treated like an orphan when I asked them for a hot dog off the grill. "That food is for the crew," a man in a red polo shirt said with narrowed eyes. Wow, a lousy thirty cent wiener and "The Crew" would rather toss all that food in garbage, than to feed white-trash, such as myself. Folks like this can smell money and they knew I was an Outlaw journalist. 

Evil Genius & Herb Hunter
photo by: Warrior Princess
Announcer: Captain Herb Hunter.  Nice guy, but he too reeks with gluttony, stuffing his face with grilled chicken. Good old Herb. He is smooth, quintessential and has logged 24,000 hours of flight time during his career as a Boeing pilot. And remember folks, if it’s not going… It’s not a Boeing. Captain Hunter has become a household name in Chicago since 1988, when he became the city's announcer for The Chicago Air &Water Show. Indeed, I spoke with Hunter regarding the laws of gravity and a G-force. "At super-sonic speeds, the human body is exposed to a centrifugal force, explains Capt. Hunter. One G is the amount of gravity for our body weight on the ground. A combat pilot can experience up to nine G's, that's nine times the normal body weight. And when the blood becomes heavy, it reaches the brain with difficulty and could cause tunnel vision." What Captain Hunter is saying, that if a person weighs 200 lbs, they would experience 1800 lbs of gravity pulling them down inside the cockpit.

My prevailing mood took a slight change for the better, when I saw smoke trails and several people jumping out of some type of aircraft. It was too high up in altitude to make out this U.F.O and all I could see was a smoke trail looping round and round toward the ground.  It was the All Veteran Parachute Team taking their big leap at 12,500 feet with a brisk temperature of only 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  This can be a highly contagious Virus know as The Disease for Speed. This illness is like no other. In fact, it will kill you faster than Goat flu and the sad part is you’ll never see it coming right toward you.

When the human body is falling out of the sky at 120 mph, it’s time to put away that college Physics text book about Irresistible Force & Immovable Objects. For example, when a speeding automobile drives into a building, twisted metal and death is what you'll see.  Imagine what an unsung hero could do to someone's roof if both parachutes fail. The homeowner is going to need a big sponge, a bucket of bleach and shovel to clean up that mess. Okay, I am getting carried away and this is a family event, not some poorly written Hollywood movie that no one will see. So, lets move on.

Buzzing around the Chicago skyline was yet another thrill seeker that’s been affected by this airborne virus. Heli-skiing, cave SCUBA diving and flying more then a 1000 air shows, Sean D. Tucker is a rock star of the sky. Tucker’s airplane, the Oracle Challenger bi-plane is a fire breathing beast with over 400 horsepower that can travel up to 300 mph.  He is a leader in the airshow business and has received all of the industry’s highest honors for low-level aerobatics. Awards include, the Crystal Eagle Award, World Airshow Federation Champion (2000) Living Legend in Aviation (2007) and in 2008 Mr. Tucker was inductee in the National Hall of Fame.  Sean D. Tucker is the only civilian performer to ever be allowed to fly close formation with both, Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds.

When summer stops, the fun stops as well. People will be back to work, the children will be back in school and it will be business as usual once again.  The Chicago Air & Water Show is a reminder to everyone that the fun stops here. Not all Chicagoans will agree with this. Some will shoot their pistols, others will get drunk and then try to hack Facebook for some strange reason. And then we have those who believe in two seasons, Summer and Football. Until then,  let the games begin.

Evil Genius & Captain X
photo by: Warrior Princess

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tall Ships In Search Of The Albatross

Don't Give Up Your Ship!

"I pass like the night, from land to land." -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Avast, Scalawags and Land Captains. Let's talk about the good life in Chicago now, about beautiful beaches, a majestic skyline and The Tall Ships at Navy Pier. Before there were trucks, the world transported goods and services using wooden cargo ships such as Friends Good Will and Pride of Baltimore. During the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813 these incredible War Machines helped defeat and capture six British Navy vessels. Crimson blood spilled on the inland sea as Forty-One Royal Sailors lost their lives in one of the biggest naval battles of the War of 1812. "We have met the enemy and they are ours," was the famous quote from Commander Oliver Hazard Perry, and his name was commemorated with a travel plaza off Interstate 80 in Clyde, Ohio.  Today, these historic flagships are launched as fateful Tall Ship replicas for the preservation of traditional maritime skills. 

In 1916, Navy Pier had evolved from a freight and passenger ship docking facility to one of the world's top tourist attractions, drawing more then eight million visitors each year. Chicago is also the inventor of Roller Skates, Pinball machines and the Chicago Bears. Ah-but that's another story for football season. Right now, I have chosen to cover Pirates, bootlegging and The Tall Ships Adventure. For openers, this year's festival included 14 amazing Ships from Canada, Norway and the United States. "Tall Ships America is a National organization that supports Tall Ships and their programs," explained Executive Director, Bert Rogers. "We have races between the port events with more than twenty ships sailing at twenty ports at all five Great Lakes this summer", Rogers added. It was obvious that Bert Rogers had spent many days at sea, judging by his calloused handshake and Hulihee sidechops. Yes sir, this Sea Wolf is an elite member of the Noble Order of the Golden Shellback, crossing both the international dateline and World equator in the same day. Bert Rogers might resemble a rigid, salty Gun Boss or human cannon ball to land loving Sand Crabs. But in fact, Rogers is a gracious host and made this Chicago River Rat feel right at Home. 

So what in the hell does this have to do with trucking, you ask? I am getting to that right now.
The traffic signals we use today, originated from cargo ships. In fact, during the Nineteenth Century, the United States mandated that all steamboats running between sunset and sunrise must convey one or more signal lights on the open water used for communication and to avoid dangerous collisions. For example, Port has the same amount of letters as the word left. On the Port side, is a red light to warn others to stop. The Starboard side displays a green light and grants the right-of-way to craft when traveling at Sea. However, the green sidelight does not mean Full Steam Ahead and signifies an unqualified go, and to proceed with caution. There are other Coast Guard regulations, such as displaying a white masthead light and load lines applying to large vessels, and Gaff Schooners such as Red Witch that operate internationally and on the Great Lakes.

Red Witch is a 77-foot long topsail schooner that was designed by John G. Alden in 1986. Fully inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard, she is licensed to transport forty-nine passengers and weights 41 GRT         (Gross Registered Tonnage). "It's peaceful looking out at our beautiful skyline," says Captain Andrew Sadock. It's great, because you can put up your sails and don't use any fuel. Another funny thing, is road travelers assume that all drivers are sober and have a license. With us, we assume the opposite. Everyone on the water is drunk with no license."   Captain Andrew is indeed a Renaissance man, holding a 100 Ton Masters License, a Commercial Drivers License and is a PhD Candidate at Washington University in St. Louis. Futhermore, this Helmsman has over 1500 days at  Sea and learned to sail in the San Francisco Bay. During our short voyage on Lake Michigan, Captain Andrew mentioned their mandatory Hours of Service and stated that they follow the 12 hours on duty and 12 hours off rule. No regulated half-hour breaks or 34 hour restarts. Just gybing and jibing and keeping on an eye on the layline and not a D.O.T Scale Houses on the interstate. 

Next on the list of Tall Ships is the topsail schooner STV, Unicorn. This is the only all-female crew in the world and was built in Holland from recycled metals of old German submarines and salvaged U-boats. She is a 118 foot long fishing vessel with a locomotive-style 1500 horsepower diesel engine and serves as a leadership learning lab for teenage girls and executive women. Other Tall Ships include, Pathfinder, Lynx and the SS Sorlandet, that commemorated their 80th anniversary of her first journey to appear at the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago.

Aside from that, I was all jazzed up to hear tales of bootlegging from Pirate Dave of Chicago's Flagship, Windy. The sunset faded over the concrete mountains as brisk winds blew from the northeast as Pirate Dave shared his vast knowledge of Rum running, murder and the high crimes at Sea. There would, of course be no haggling over moonshine for some Sun fish- except if you had a flintlock pistol during negotiations. Sounds about right, eh? And besides, Pirates have no mercy just like the folks running The White House. Which reminds me, We are all Pirates some how, some way driving our ships to new land.  Should you find the bird of good omen, set it free and beware of the nightmares of the Sea. 

The Evil Genius & Bert Rogers
Pirate Dave & The Evil Genius

The Evil Genius & Capt. Andrew Sadock
                                                  Photographers: Bruce T. Pelletier & Ken Kope