Monday, October 08, 2001

Advocacy Group Campaigns for South Oakland Living Wage

For the last three months, the South Oakland Living Wage Campaign (SOLWC) has been actively lobbying businesses, universities, and councilmen to support a living wage bill for South Oakland. The Campaign has proposed a bill to increase the minimum wage of South Oakland residents from the federal minimum of $5.15 to a South Oakland minimum of $6.35. The movement comes as South Oakland residents are struggling to meet the needs of their daily lives.

“We're sick and tired of being denied our rights as South Oakland residents. We're tired of only being able to party four nights a week. As young adults it is our unalienable, God-given right to party at least six nights a week,” SOLWC spokesperson Allie M. Carson reported. “Some people are even struggling to the point where they can only go out on Friday and Saturday nights. Come on, does the city think we are responsible adults?”

The South Oakland Living Wage Campaign began four months ago on the porch of a Semple Street home. Residents Colin Stopple, Erin Deliva, and Julie Crass were the impetus for the movement. “We had just finished a case of [Miller] High Life, and our buzzes were about to kick in,” Deliva remembers. “I made the suggestion for a second case, figuring we might as well keep the night moving. But when our collected funds came to a total of $8, I knew we were in trouble. We would have to settle for a six pack from Uncle Jimmy's. All we needed for that case was three extra dollars. At first it was a selfish revelation, but then I started thinking about all the other South Oakland residents who were a couple dollars short, just like us. It was then I knew something had to be done.”

Deliva then started a grassroots movement throughout the South Oakland community. Her efforts included finding like-minded citizens to campaign for the bill and finding an economist to devise standards to base the wages upon.

Pitt economics professor James Tuggle volunteered to conduct a study. “The first thing I noticed about South Oakland expenditures was the alcohol disbursement. I was like, ‘holy shit do these people drink a lot.’ I mean, some of them pay more in alcohol costs per month than in rent. I’ve found this kind of thinking leaves you with two choices: either earn more money or lessen your habits. I believe the only logical choice is for the inhabitants to make more money.”

Dr. Tuggle listed several reasons why it would be foolish to expect Pitt students to lessen their habits. “For these kids, their entire social life revolves around hanging out and getting hammered,” explained Tuggle. Many of them depend on [illegal] substances to have sexual relations that may even lead to serious relationships. We're talking about the future of our society. It is our responsibility as the current leaders of society to ensure that a place is made for the next generation of professors, businesspersons, and family men.”

While SOLWC has gained support from the world of academia, opponents se the proposed bill as devastating to the community.

“A South Oakland Living Wage would essentially destroy the South Oakland economy as we know it,” Oakland Business Improvement District (OBID) head Nancy Cudrey reported. “You won't see the $4 pizzas, $9.99 Miller High Life cases, $2.50 Straub pitchers, or the $10 dime bags that South Oakland is known for. With more money in residents' pockets there will be a desire to splurge on the more luxurious Say Cheese Pizza or the case of bottled Yuengling Lager. And half-price restaurant nights might be decreased to only twenty-five percent off. It would be disastrous. Not to mention what the increase in labor costs would do to existing prices. If you thought the forty [ounce bottle] increase at The 'O' two years ago was something, you haven't seen anything yet. If a South Oakland Living Wage bill passes, you might just see forty prices rise above the $4.00 mark.”

While both parties are adamant about their viewpoints a version of a South Oakland Living Wage bill will be proposed before City Council in November. If it passes Council approval, the city could see a South Oakland Living Wage referendum on next November's ballot.

Attack On America Puts Pitt On Defensive

SGB President Jeff Alex was protected by campus police last month when the nation was at a heightened state of security following terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC. He was taken to a secret chamber below Eddies in the Lichtfield Towers where a G-4 Macintosh computer allowed Alex to run the Student Government. Alex remained in the secret shelter for approximately 24 hours until the nation eased up its security alert.

“Our first priority when we heard of the attack was to find Alex and make sure he was all right,” Pitt Police Chief Tim Delaney said. “We found him in his Political Rhetoric class in the Cathedral [of Learning] at approximately 10:11 a.m. and immediately whisked him to safety through an underground tunnel system the university installed in case of such an emergency. It was an intelligence decision based on unconfirmed reports that the William Pitt Union was a target for the attacks.”

The university’s buildings were unharmed in the attack. Emergency officials prepared for the worst, but were relieved that the university was unscathed by the offensive.

“If the Union was attacked, the results would have been disastrous. Think of the chaos and the turmoil. Every club would have been instantaneously ruined. The Pitt Program Council alone would have taken months, maybe even a year, to recover. Valuable recreation areas with pool tables, video games and ping pong tables, not to mention juke boxes, would have been destroyed. I don't know if the social aspects of the university could ever recover from such a large scale affront. You can prepare for something like that, but are you ever really ready?” Delaney pondered.

SGB president Jeff Alex seemed a little more optimistic about the possibility. “Sure, an attack on the Union would have been disastrous, but we were, and remain, prepared. The G-4 underneath Eddie’s was equipped with records, schedules, and all sorts of financial data. Maybe the [Pitt Program] Council wouldn't have been able to show Dr. Doolittle in the Union, but you better believe we had contingency plans for alternate venues. And maybe the Medieval Interest Club wouldn’t have been able to meet in 511 WPU, but you can believe that I wouldn't rest until I found them a suitable meeting room. This administration is prepared for any emergency and is ready to handle anything and everything that comes its way.”

The Student Government Board and Pitt Police have been acting in conjunction to prepare security and precautions to secure the Union in case of an attack. Emergency plans allocated $700,000 for the Union to have around the clock roving security, newly installed surveillance cameras, and barbed wire around the perimeters.

“As long as I'm president," Alex declared, "this university is in safe hands.”

Local Pet Owners Really Love Their Pets

Pitt student Melanie Ross did what a lot of students do when they move into their own apartment for the first time she bought a kitten. "I just love Ms. Puffles, she's sooo cute!" said Ross, referring to her puffy, white, cute new kitty.

Ms. Puffles, like so many South Oakland pets, spends most of her day running around the apartment, scratching up furniture, and chewing on various electrical wires. While many veterinarians suggest that new kittens receive a lot of attention and supervision, not to mention a good home, many students believe that their fast-paced lives and often squalid living situations are conducive to pet ownership.

“Irresponsible students buy these damn pets, and they keep them all cooped up in the house all day, not getting any attention. Not to mention food or water. Then they bring me these flea-infested, dirty kittens or puppies, or even ferrets, right, and they can't even pay me for the goddam check-up!” explained Dr. Roger Filmore, D.V.M., chief veterinarian at Schenley Park Animal Hospital.

“Isn't Ms. Puffles just soooo cute?” asked Ross, pointing to a wet, garbage-covered Ms. Puffles rolling around in a pile of old pizza boxes and nearly-empty beer bottles. “See--she just loves beer, too! You should see her when we break out the bong! She just lies around and gets stoned as hell.”

Dr. Filmore has seen more than his share of abused pets. “You get these hippies living here who just feed their cat scraps of pizza or blow marijuana smoke in their dogs' faces all day, too. I don't know what's worse, leaving a pet at home alone for eight hours, or getting it stoned as shit all day instead. Then there's the frat boys who think it's funny to feed their new pit-bull a steady diet of Colt 45. Morons!”

If you’re a student and want to get a pet, Dr. Filmore advises that you “wait until you’re goddam out of college, you imbecile.”

Trick or Treat!
This year's popular South Oakland Costumes

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Bush Deploys Strike Force 2000 to Afghanistan

President Bush sent a message to the ruling Taliban government of Afghanistan yesterday when he deployed approximately 75 members of the Pittsburgh Panther Strike Force 2000 to the Middle East. Prompting the move was the Taliban's refusal to give up suspected terrorist Osama Bin Laden. Bush saw the move as a way to complement ongoing air strikes.

“Last year's success of Panther Coach Walt Harris' football team leads me to believe that those gridiron warriors have the ability to tackle the Taliban. With victories over Kent State, Bowling Green, Rutgers, West Virginia, Boston College, Temple, and Penn State, the Panthers proved they were a force to be reckoned with, and I have no doubt that, once reassembled, this group can defeat any opponent. So as of midnight November 1, Strike Force 2000 has been sent to the Mediterranean Sea and is on standby, ready to attack at a moments notice,” Bush declared.

Panther Strike Force 2000 will most likely be led by former Panther quarterback John Turman. Turman threw bombs last season and had one of the highest efficiency rating of any play caller in the country.

“In the last forty-eight hours we've been debriefed on fighter plane usage,” Turman reported. “Considering the skill and accuracy I have shown at throwing 34 oz. footballs, there is no reason why we won't experience similar success with 200 lb. bombs.”

Strike Force General Walt Harris has said that while early speculation has Turman at the helm, he has not ruled out the two current Panther Quarterbacks Rod Rutherford or David Preistley to lead fighter planes when Bush calls on the force.

“Obviously, Turman has got experience on his side as he led us to victory against Penn State. But you can't count out Priestley or Rutherford. While Rod has more of a ground game, we're still letting him handle the reigns of F-18 fighter planes. He's a natural at avoiding enemy fire and is probably our most skilled pilot in a dog fight,” Harris declared. While there is controversy about who will lead the team in the air, there is better certainty about the ground game. Former Panther and current San Francisco 49ers running back Kevan Barlow is a lock for tank general as he has been barreling over defenders all year long in the NFL. Last year's back-up Nick Goings is also expected to see action.

On defense, Strike Force is hoping to continue last year’s dominance. Two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Week Bryan Knight is being sent to combat the mountainous Afghani terrain and sack Bin Laden in his cavernous protective pocket.

“This is probably the most difficult assignment of my career,” Knight admitted. “I had my hands full with Penn State's line last year where the average weight was 310 lbs. Now I've got to combat approximately 44 tanks whose average weight is 4.8 tons. While this will be a challenge, I know if I just keep up with my scouting reports and work on my foot work, I'll be able to get behind enemy lines.”

In addition to Knight's defensive prowess, Strike Force will have the defensive security of free safety Ramon Walker, who will be guiding Panther missile defense systems.

“This is perhaps America's most balanced war team since LBJ deployed the Green Bay Packers to Vietnam in 1968,” Bush boasted. “Strike Force has all aspects of battle covered, and I know 1997 Big East Coach of the Year Walt Harris will have this team ready for war. These 75 men are truly American Heroes.”

While Bush is confident in the Force’s ability, college football commentator Craig James is not so sure.

“There is no doubt that this team had its successes last year, but traditionally Pitt has not been successful on the road. You're talking about a team that has not won in the Carrier Dome in the last eight years. If the Panthers can't destroy Syracuse's 12 man front 430 miles away, how are they going to be successful against the Taliban's 10,000 man front 74,000 miles away?” James argued.

Regardless of criticism, Strike Force will be deployed to the Middle East and will be ready to “strike” at a moments notice.

Why Won't He Take the Hint?
- What the women of South Oakland are doing to blow guys off.

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Point / Weaker Point: Realness

Fo' Real
- by Stanley "The Dog" Worchonski, 18-credit student, Triangle Tech

Yo, fo' real, I'm getting my stuff together, and getting my life in gear. I may be 28, but still I'm still going places. I'm 24 credits short from getting my degree from Triangle Tech. And once I get that paper…BAM! Sho' nuff, benjamins be steady rollin' out the pocket into my bank account. My savings account is gonna have mad commas. Word is bond.

Triangle Tech is bomb yo. They got all kinds of programs for me to get my stuffs together. I can get certified as a computer repairman, x-ray technician, or even TV/VCR repair. I got all kinds of options.

I'm doing this all too, in spite of all the haters that are tryin' to keep me down. Just few weeks ago I went to see my boys at my Bethel Park High School 10 year reunion. All my old hommies be there, but they weren't showing me love, only hate. Be getting on my case about my life. They think they all that cause they got houses, kids, dogs, and such. But they don't understand, the crazy life is what the dog is about: ruff, ruff. I still be banging eight balls down, still be rolling J's. Can't be stopping my flow.

Though I may still be living the crazy life, I got my direction too. I'm hooking it up for the future. Sho' nuff. In three and a half years I'll be certified.

For Real
- by Randale Johnson, Enginerring Junior

Yo, for real, for real, things are starting to happen for me. I am moving closer to the place I want to be in life. But things have not always been easy for me. Growing up in Larimer, there are a lot of obstacles which can get in your way: drugs, gangs, sex, violence. You name it, it is out there on the streets, and it will hold you down…if you let it.

I did not. I got my life in gear. I made things happen for myself. I made the honor role at Westinghouse High School. I took advanced classes when the teachers wanted to put me in special ed. I worked hard and I made it to the University of Pittsburgh. I chose engineering. I want to be a construction site supervisor. It has been my dream since I was a little kid. And I am going to make it. In two years I am going to attend graduate school at Stanford University, one of the top engineering schools in the country. I am almost there, I can see the top, and I am going to make it.

I did it by myself and for myself, but I still want to be an example for the community. I want to show kids in the neighborhood that if you work hard, you can make it. It does not matter where you came from, all that matters is where you are going; and I am going places.

What are South Oakland Residents Thankful For?

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Ask a Boxed Wine Connoisseur

By Brian Dupris,
Boxed Wine Connoisseur

Dear Brian,

I recently began dating a sophomore girl who lives in Tower C. It's cool because she has her own room, but it's almost impossible to sneak liquor or beer in. I want to cook her a nice Swanson Hungry-Man microwavable meal, but what should I provide for liquid refreshment? I need to tap that honey soon, dude.

Signed, Fidgety in Forbes

Fidgety in Forbes,

How many times have you gone into the liquor store to buy a nice pinot-noir or perhaps a sparkling-white blanche so that you might impress your guests with your knowledge of fine wines? How often have you mistakenly bought Wild Irish Rose or King Solomon, thinking, "Wow, $5 for two whole gallons of wine!"? Or maybe you picked up a bottle of some "French" wine or another that cost you almost $30? Brian Dupris is here to tell you what you're doing wrong. "'Dupris', is that French?" you ask. Yes, as a matter of fact, it is. My great-grandfather was a wine-maker in Provence, France, and when he came to America, he began brewing his own grape delight in the sunny valleys of California. My grandfather followed in his footsteps, but during the Great Depression, he lost the business. However, the love of wine flows through my blood and the knowledge and experience of generations of wine-makers has reached it pinnacle with me. I am called Connoisseur. My answer: boxed wine. You have quite a selection out there, it's cheap, tastes better than bottled wine, and you can put it in your book-bag so it feels like a book!

Stevie Leiter's Head's Up!

Hey yinz, how's everyone this week? Me, I'm super!

Item! Everyone's favorite children's star Mr. Rogers just retired. Wow! Seems those pricks at PBS need a younger, hipper bore to put kids to sleep in the afternoon. Fred, I've been a fan for years, it's sad to see you go.

Have you tried the beer Old German? "The world knows no finer" they say.

Speaking of Old Germans, did anyone see that new Hasselhoff series? I got a bay he can watch!

You know, old Stevie's been on the prowl for something new. Now that my fave Latiff Grimms is gone, who will replace him in my dreams? I've been thinking that maybe that li’l runner Rayland Kirkley can rush on me anyday!

Oh my God, did you see that hippie dude playing hacky-sack last week in front of the Towers? He can play with my sack anyday!

Here's a scoop I just gotta share: SGB pres Alex Jeffrey secretly likes Penn State. But you didn't hear that here.

Am I the only person in Pittsburgh that's sad the Bucko's didn't win any games this season? Poor Jason Kendall, but kudos to that bad boy behind the plate for all the times he bent over grabbing for balls. You know where Stevie will be reserving his season tickets next year.

Why do some people spell the jizz word “cum” and others “come?”

Sometimes I think I'll never learn this language!

Item! Walt Harris is pissed.

People always ask me why I like football so much. "Stevie," they say, "What is it about a bunch of guys in tight pants smacking into each other that gets you going?" It's the competition. That's what it is.

Did you know that Pittsburgh Brewing Company is 150 years old this year? I hope I taste that great when I'm 150!

Now that there aren't any good bars for the frat boys to go to in Oakland anymore, I'm going to open my own bar called “Just for Frat Boys.” Circle jerk, anyone?

I was riding the bus the other day and I swear that I saw Myron Cope. Yoi! Of course, it just could have been some guy from Homestead.

Why does coffee make you want to shit?

Well, that's all the juicy news Stevie has this week. Check out my next column to find out the answer to the question about that guy that's been dicking me around (literally!). That, and I finally found out why Mr. Tickles has been burning so much lately. Till then, friends.

SGB Unveils Plan for New Statue

With the resurgence of student pride at the University of Pittsburgh following the dedication of a new bronze panther near the William Pitt Union, current Student Government Board (SGB) president Jeff Alex has decided to expand this pride further than the borders of campus.

Alex has proposed to the SGB that a bronze keg be erected in South Oakland to resurrect pride in its residents. The keg, a symbol of free-flowing freedom and merrymaking, is intended to showcase part of South Oakland's ethnicity and demonstrate its thriving lineage.

“Our University community has benefited so much from having a bronze symbol to bring out the best in all of us,” Alex said at a recent press conference. “It just makes sense to extend that feeling in the hopes that all of our students will feel pride about something.”

Alex suggested that the proposed keg be sculpted at the same establishment in Parma, Italy where the “Pittsburgh Panther” statue was constructed. The model panther was made possible from an approved allocation of $72,000 from former Student Government Board President George Mongell in 1999. The anticipated bronze keg's price-tag would be slightly more expensive at $72,000.99.

Alex denied rumors that this price was meant to secure his place in the Pitt history books over Mongell as the SGB President to spend the most money on an item to instill pride in the student body.

South Oakland residents have been receptive to the idea.

“Dude, would that keg really have beer flowing from it?” Pitt junior Troy Jarrett asked. “That would be so sweet.”

Other residents have differing opinions. Estelle Krause has lived in South Oakland for over 75 years, and still lives in the same house that she was born and raised in.

“They really want to make a beer statue? Isn't there something else that South Oakland can be proud of?” she sighed. “What about a statue of that nice Danny Marino boy that used to live down the block from me? Or that crazy painter that died not too long ago--what was his name again?”

Alex and the SGB members have not yet decided on a proposed site for the bronze keg, although they are taking suggestions from the student body and residents of South Oakland.

Taco Bell Chooses New South Oakland Spokesman

After an extensive nationwide search, the fast food chain Taco Bell has selected Forbes Avenue "resident" and veritable Oakland legend, Lloyd Hamilton, better known to the Oakland community as "Sombrero Man," as the spokesperson for their newest ad campaign.

“He's a perfect choice,” said Bill Ross, director of marketing for Taco Bell. “These ads are aimed at a low-to-no income audience that craves sub-standard Mexican cuisine at a below poverty level price and quality. Sombrero Man epitomizes this criteria. Besides... he will work for food.”

Hamilton continues to redefine homeless high culture with his collection of silly hats. His unusual attire makes him a local point of interest and a fraternity scavenger hunt photo-op. He hopes to utilize the same creativity and professionalism while pedaling Gorditas, Quesadillas, and MexiMelts to a starving nation. He's even been brushing-up on his high school Spanish, blurting out “Yo quiero annnnnny pesos?” at passersby.

Now that he is poised on the brink of super stardom, Hamilton is letting his mind wander south of the border.

“I collect about $75,000 a year jingling this little Styrofoam coffee cup,” he said, “I'll stay in Oakland during the summer, sucker these gullible college kids into giving me money, then haul my chalupas down to Cancun in the off-season. I can't wait to hook-up with some tequila-tanked sorority girls at SeƱor Frog's! By the way, do you have annnnny change?”

Oakland residents are raising their margarita glasses high in honor of Sombrero Man's newfound fame.

“I always give that dude money,” Pitt student Amy Rotello said. “I know people say you shouldn't give money to street people ‘cause they just go buy booze with it, but, hey, if some random person just walked by and handed me a couple bucks, that's what I'd spend it on too.”

While Hamilton's fame has generated a wave of adulation and support, the recent hiring has some fast food consumers wondering, “What ever happened to that cute little dog that used to be in the commercials?”

“Well,” Sombrero Man slurred, “all I can say is don't eat the new Chihuahua Jalapeno Poppers.”

The commercials are scheduled to air nationwide on Cinco de Mayo. Until then, you can see Sombrero Man live everyday in front of the KenTacoHut on Bouquet Street. Visa, MasterCard, and annnnnny change accepted.

12th Man Suspended

The University of Pittsburgh announced the suspension of the 12th Man yesterday after reports of “gross misconduct.” Pitt coach Walt Harris said the 12th Man will be suspended “indefinitely,” and may not return until next season. The loss comes at a pivotal phase in the Panther’s rebuilding process and highlights off-the-field embarrassments to the program.

“We're certainly disappointed,” Harris commented. “We are a unit, a family, and when one member of that family doesn't hold up to his agreement, it's upsetting. This is certainly a learning opportunity for the 12th Man and one which will hopefully allow him to do some growing up and soul searching.”

While university officials are not commenting on the exact cause of suspension, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has reported that the 12th Man is in violation of the NCAA's drug and alcohol policy.

“The 12th Man has not been shy about publicly breaking NCAA policy,” Post-Gazette reporter Shelly Anderson wrote. “Number twelve has even gone so far as to openly consume alcohol in the parking lots before the football games. Often times the 12th Man smuggles in flasks of Jim Beam and openly swigs it during the game. He's out of control and a menace to those around him. It's almost sad to watch the self-destruction of such an integral part of this football team. The 12th Man really needs to be taught a lesson.”

The suspension comes after number twelve was involved in a number of off-the-field incidents this summer. From large-scale brawls, public intoxication, and dangerously promiscuous sexual activity, number twelve has earned a bad boy image around campus.

“Thisss iss bwuh...bull-shit,” the 12th Man slurred. “I don't think that god-damn Harris knowsdd what the fuck he's ff-fucking talkin' bout. It's always ‘I'm the ass-hole.’ Righdt, righdt. Why doesn't that fucking NCAAARRP take its god-damn rules and put them up its pussy. That's rright. Number 12 answers to one man: number 12. Hey, anybody got a light?”

Pitt Victory Song Modified

Debate has divided the University of Pittsburgh since the omission of the “Fight Pitt Fight” (“Penn State Sucks” to the students) section of the Pitt Victory Song at the Panthers’ first game of the season. The athletic administration has expressed that the wording is an embarrassment to the program and fails to display the ethics of good sportsmanship. The students see the exclusion of a portion of the song as robbing them of a long standing tradition which brings fans together. Last evening, the university and the Student Government Board (SGB) reached a compromise.

“The SGB, on behalf of the student body of the University of Pittsburgh, has reached an agreement with the administration which will bring back the omitted portion of the Pitt Victory Song,” SGB president Jeff Alex declared. “Instead of the traditional chant of ‘Penn State sucks...Penn State sucks...P-E-N-N S-T sucks,’ we agreed to replace the lyrics with ‘Penn State's not the same caliber team as us...Penn State's not the same caliber team as us...P-E-N-N State’s not the same caliber team as us’. This alteration provides for a more fan-friendly atmosphere, while at the same time allows students to participate in the traditional rabble rousing of college football. It's a win-win situation for both parties, and it just makes a lot of sense.”

Now Alex and the SGB's job is to sell the policy to students. Administration has said the band will play the Pitt Victory Song in its entirety against Virginia Tech on November 3rd on a trial basis. If the students comply with the changes and chant the revised lyrics, then the verse will be reinstated throughout the year and into next year. If the expletive continues, then the segment will again be removed.

“Once the students see what is at stake, I have no doubt that they will follow along with the university's alterations,” Alex declared. “We're talking about years and years of history which will be lost if the students do not comply. I can see no other recourse of action[sic].”

University of Pittsburgh Athletic Director Steve Pederson shares in Alex's optimistic viewpoint on the variation. “We believe the students will understand and accept that this is a necessary policy for the university to adopt. We do not want to destroy the university's rich and storied traditions. However, in order to become a successful program in a new millennium, change is necessary. We also do not seek to ruin anyone's enjoyment of Pitt football, but believe fans can be equally exuberant about their team if they tone down their language a notch or two. We believe this to be the best course of action for all parties involved.”