Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Manhunt On For Missing Sombrero Man

For nearly a decade, Lloyd “Sombrero Man” Hamilton has wandered the streets of Oakland, begging for money.

Unlike other panhandlers, he is a beloved figure in the community. His festive costumes and “have annnnnny change?” mantra have impelled thousands of people to plunk spare change into his cup. But, for the last three months, Hamilton has been noticeably absent from his usual post outside the Eckerd on Forbes Avenue, leading many people to fear the worst – that Sombrero Man has gone to that big soup kitchen in the sky.

Peter Tooley, a Pitt senior and frequent contributor to Hamilton's cause, was reluctant to believe the hype.

“In Oakland, rumors circulate faster than a bong in a frat house,” Tooley said, “so when I heard that Sombrero Man had died, I wrote it off as bullshit. But, now I’m beginning to suspect foul play.”

Last month, Tooley and his roommate, Ben Kramer, formed the Center for Missing and Exploited Panhandlers (CMEP). With the help of volunteers, CMEP operates a 24-hour “tip” line and routinely canvasses the city of Pittsburgh with MISSING posters. By next week, they hope to have Hamilton's face plastered on every 40 oz. sold in the state.

“We didn’t think milk cartons would reach our target demographic,” Kramer explained.

Despite its anti-panhandler policies, the University of Pittsburgh is also helping CMEP in its quest to find Hamilton. From now until the end of the semester, students can dump their change into the enormous sombrero-shaped bank located on the William Pitt Union lawn.

“I can go without clean laundry for a few more weeks if it means bringing Sombrero Man home,” said sophomore Elizabeth Steinberger. “As annoying as he sometimes is, I really miss that Mexican hat-wearing son-of-a-bitch.”

Tooley and Kramer are optimistic that the vagabond will be back on his street corner by Christmas.

“Just yesterday we got a call from this guy who said he saw Sombrero Man at bar in West Virginia,” Tooley said. “Turns out is was just a Jose Cuervo spokesman, but, ya know, it got our hopes up.”

If you have annnny information, please contact CMEP at 1-800-LOOSE CHANGE.

Cumpie Enters Pack of Democratic 2004 Presidential Hopefuls

Beloved Oakland bar owner John “Cumpie” Brimley has officially announced his candidacy for the 2004 presidential race. Cumpie will enter the race as a Democrat and battle Howard Dean, John Kerry, Dick Gephardt, and Al Sharpton for an attempt to capture the White House.

“It’s time to bring America back to the people,” Cumpie declared from the steps of his Atwood Deli after preparing his signature “great white” pizza. “For too long, we’ve been under the control of a leader who doesn't have the American people’s best interest at heart. It’s time for a change, and it’s time for a candidate who does. I am that candidate.”

While Cumpie has extolled himself as the ideal candidate to replace Bush, many critics view this as nothing more than a publicity stunt to promote his Oakland establishment.

“Cumpie’s trying to push his own agenda onto the students and residents of Oakland,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Political Analyst Maeve Reston reported. “And his agenda is not tax reform, it’s quarter draft reform.”

Cumpie, however, is quick to counter his detractors. “I’m used to people telling me I can’t. When I first bought the bar formerly known as The Decade, people told me that it would fail like all the other businesses that tried to replace the rock and roll venue. Well, to my critics I say, have you been here on a Thursday night? It’s packed wall to wall with pseudo frat boys consuming multiple drafts. Just as I reformed the corner of Atwood and Sennott, I will reform the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 16th Street NW.”

Cumpie has already received political backing from the Italian-American Club of Western Pennsylvania, Oakland Business Improvement District, and, surprisingly, the Liquor Control Board of Pennsylvania. While early polls show Cumpie with only a marginal percentage of the Democratic vote nationally, locally he’s experiencing great success capturing nearly 90% of the 4.2% of Pitt students who vote.

PCNC Debuts Sober Eye for the Drunk Guy

Prompted by the success of last year's Frat Brother, Pittsburgh Cable News Channel (PCNC) will debut a new reality show aimed at the beer-swilling-set. Sober Eye for the Drunk Guy stars the Dry Five, a hip team of teetotalers dedicated to promoting the virtues of temperance, morality, and self-restraint.

In each episode, the Dry Five help transform a hopeless boozehound into a model citizen by schooling them in each of their respective areas of expertise: beer goggles, party fouls, DUI checkpoints, non-alcoholic beverages, and rehab.

The pilot episode, which airs tonight at 9 p.m., features 24-year-old Dave Reed, a self-confessed dipsomaniac and womanizer.

“We found this guy at Cumpie’s Karaoke Night – drunk out of his gourd singing Like A Virgin,” said Executive Producer Chris Matthews. “By the end of the night he was sucking face with some fugly fat chick with a mullet. It was obviously a cry for help and that’s what Sober Eye is here for.”

Matthews believes Reed is the perfect choice to showcase the groundbreaking series.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m ‘on the wagon,’” admitted Reed, “but at least I’ve upgraded my taste in women. Thanks, Dry Five!”

Book Sharing Ring Uncovered

Nationally, the book publishing industry is battling a recent trend of book sharing. The industry is looking to fight these underground organizations which purchase only one or a few copies of a certain copyrighted book and then share it among their clandestine members. Publishers argue that this sharing undermines the industry and robs writers of royalties from lost sales of their craft.

Souf Oaklin fo’ Life!!! investigative reporters have uncovered a local ring of book sharers perpetrating their illegal activity right in our own backyard. Our reporters were shocked to find the audacity of these book swappers operating so openly and without remorse.

“Yeah, it’s pretty easy to get books,” one man who readily supplied his name admitted. “All you have to do is bring a copy of proof of residence, like a driver’s license, paycheck, or bill and they will give you a card to check out a whole library of books.”

SOFL reporters located one of these book circulating hubs right in the heart of Oakland, in the shadow of the Cathedral of Learning. In a one hour period, SOFL reporters noted over 20 people coming out of this location with stacks of books ranging from one to eleven. Publishing industry losses from this one location, for this one hour, are estimated at $1,558. That is a projected loss of $12,464 daily and an astonishing $2,187,432 yearly for the authors who spend countless hours perfecting their trade.

These observations were only made of adults enmeshed in the book sharing conspiracy. Experts also suspect that there is an underground ring of children’s books, videotapes, and educational materials being smuggled through these locations. The industry has not even begun to calculate estimated losses from these materials.

These potential losses, however, do not faze the supporters of these networks.

“I love this place. One of the things I love about America is that we can have places like this where people of all income levels can exchange books and ideas,” said one book trader who tried to hide behind a guise of patriotism to conceal her criminality. “I really save a lot of money by coming here and stocking up on the latest titles.”

Local publishers like the University of Pittsburgh Press are vowing to crack down on prohibited book sharing.

“We estimate that there could be at least 21 of these book sharing hubs located in the City of Pittsburgh,” said University of Pittsburgh Press Director Alvin Leonard. “We recommend that anyone involved in this activity stop immediately. We are in the process of getting subpoenas and the proper channels of law enforcement to crack down on these ventures and issue fines to any guilty parties caught sharing books. Your free read at the expense of an author’s livelihood is just about to end.”

Oakland To Be Heated By "Natural Gas"

The City of Pittsburgh is in the midst of a terrible budget crisis. Positions within the police department, fire bureau, and other emergency services have been drastically reduced. Many critics are looking to Mayor Tom Murphy’s administration to find a way to balance the City’s budget before the beginning of the next fiscal year.

Oakland, whose large populace due to universities and hospitals, has been chosen as a testing ground for some of the Mayor’s new cost-saving initiatives. Oakland will now rely on “natural gas” to keep residents warm this winter.
Last week, Mayor Murphy announced his latest budget-cutting plan: the “Have A Heart. Lay A Fart” campaign. Murphy is asking all Oakland residents, employees, and visitors to ingest some of the myriad of spicy foods available in the area.

Restaurants such as India Garden and Spice Island Tea House have already seen an increase in business as have Mexican-themed restaurants. In addition to Mad Mex, La Fiesta, Qdoba, Veracruz and Taco Bell, Oaklanders can enjoy discounted Mexican grub at the new Baja Fresh on Forbes Avenue.

“Oakland’s future depends on your flatulence!” Murphy said before leading City Council in a spirited performance of “Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit.”

Although the aggressive campaign is quickly gaining support, not everyone in Oakland is singing along. Bob Taft, a lifelong Atwood Street resident, thinks the mayor’s plan stinks.

“It’s bad enough that I gotta smell stale beer, vomit, and rotten garbage every goddamn day,” Taft said while trying to breathe through his mouth. “The last thing I want to catch’s a whiff of some frat boy’s ass after he’s downed ten chimichangas.”

Point / Weaker Point: Working In Homestead

The Steel Mill Provides
By Istvan Laszlofi, US Steel Homestead Works Mill Worker, 1922

We came to this new country to make a living and to find our pot of gold. Across the Atlantic, people have mistaken notions of what America is and is not. Working in the mill is not easy, and it is not always pleasant, but I believe it is better. It is not better for us, the workers. We work long twelve-hour days with few breaks and physically demanding tasks. Tuberculosis is common, and accidents, unfortunately, are not infrequent. I have known four co-workers in twelve years who have died in mill accidents. Usually there is another worker fresh off the boat and a train ride across three states to fill the spot. These men don’t realize that only a week earlier the man whose job they took gave his life for that job.

Our hours are long. It seems like there is no rationale for this other than to break our backs and to make us as unthinking and unfeeling as the machines we operate. The company builds us libraries and parks, but what workers have time for these luxuries? The only respite workers know is a few hours of sleep or a few glasses of whiskey.

This leads many to rebel, to try and overturn the system, to try and make things better. While I applaud these men for their efforts, I continue to do my job because I need the money. I came here to make a better life for myself, but I realize that it is too late for me. Now I realize that I am making a better life for my great grandchildren. They will be the ones to benefit from the libraries and culture which is being built on my generation’s back.

My Job Sucks
Stephanie Lash, Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse Cashier, Waterfront 2003

I hate my job. It sucks ass. All day long, ignorant people come in and expect me to be “Miss Fix-It” because I work for $5.15 an hour scanning their home improvement items. “Which air conditioner has the highest EER efficiency rating?” How the fuck should I know? I can tell you where to swipe your card if you want to check out. I can authorize a credit sale, a debit sale, or a cash exchange. I’m not fucking Miss Bob Vila because I don a blue apron which says “Ask me about home improvement.” How the fuck should I know anything about home improvement, when I live in a goddamn apartment? I’ve lived there my whole life. If something breaks, we call the goddamn landlord. Do the fucking same and leave me the fuck alone.

And then my boss, he is a goddamn jagoff as well. He wants me to give up my life to fill these peoples’ needs. He expects me to work weekends and holidays. Yeah, fucking right. This is not my goddamn career, I’m not a home improvement technician, I’m not a Lowe’s stockholder, I don’t give a shit if I work here, the Chick-Fil-A, or at A Plus Convenience, it’s all the same money and the same shitty ass job in a different uniform. If he doesn’t like it, he can bite my ass. Just let me work my thirty-five hours a week and leave me the fuck alone.

I swear to god, I’m going to lose it one of these days. Whether it’s on one of the customers or my manager, I’m really going to go off. And fuck it, why shouldn’t I? What the fuck do I have to lose? I’ll go get a goddamn job at the Uni-Mart down the street if you don’t like what I have to say.

What Are You Doing With Your #10 Jersey?

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Real Coat Cheaper Than Beer Coat

Sophomore Jennifer Wardle enjoys hanging out with friends, talking to boys, and shopping. But she enjoys drinking beer and smoking Parliament Lights much more.

“Yeah, I guess you can say I’m a party animal,” explained Wardle. “Now that I’m 21, I love to hang out at the [Pittsburgh] Café, Denny’s and Uncle Jimmy’s. It’s cool.”

Jennifer spends almost every night at a different bar around Oakland.

“You know it’s her, just by that ratty-ass coat she wears,” explains Bootlegger’s bartender Chrissy Saluto. “I mean, it’s like ’95 GAP or something, full of holes, and the fake fur at the collar and cuffs is all coming off. Time for a new coat, sister. Also, the two shots and the beer will be $6.50.”

Wardle admits she loves bar hopping, but now that the weather is turning colder, the coat she bought last year at Goodwill isn’t keeping her as warm as she’d like. Continued Wardle, “It’s got some holes and stuff. But it was only like $5! Who needs a coat? I’m getting wasted tonight and wearing the old ‘beer coat’ home!”

South Oakland Man Gives Beer Promo Items As Christmas Gifts

Dan Bonaroti never has time to shop for Christmas gifts due to his hectic social schedule. Instead, the South Oakland resident picks through his extensive collection of bar freebies to find that special something for his loved ones.

Over the last four years, Bonaroti has amassed almost 2,000 alcohol-related items. His collection ranges from T-shirts and beer can cozies to bottle openers and key chains.

“Last Christmas I gave my little sister this cool Zima pin with a flashing green light on it,” Bonaroti said. “I might have to break into my stash of Bar 11 toys to top that one.”

Bonaroti believes his gifts bring joy and novelty to his friends and family. Unfortunately, some recipients aren’t so thrilled with their Happy Hour giveaway gifts.

“Can you believe that my son got me a Pabst Blue Ribbon mousepad for Mother’s Day?” Ellen Bonaroti asked tearfully. “I don’t even have a computer!”

“I know she deserves more,” said Bonaroti, tying a red bow around a stack of Yuengling coasters and bottle-opening key chains. “So this year I’m buying her a nice lighter with my Marlboro Miles. Too bad I couldn’t afford the sleeping bag.”

Christmas Carols in South Oakland

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Habitat For Humanity "Habi-Shack" Nicer Than South Oakland Man's Apartment

After spending a week in the Habitat For Humanity “Habi-Shack,” Pitt student Jason Miller doesn’t want to leave.

“I’ve found my new home!” Miller exclaimed.

Erected on the William Pitt Union lawn in less than an hour, the “Habi-Shack” is comprised of five pieces of plywood and a sleeping bag. Miller, a Habitat member since 2002, volunteered to live in the makeshift shelter to raise awareness about the plight of the homeless.

“This place is a castle compared to my $600-a-month-shit-hole over on Semple,” he said while doing homework by Zippo-light.

Although Habitat For Humanity was granted just one week to use the University property, Miller is settling in for a long, cold winter. After breaking his lease agreement, he moved all of his belongings, including a stereo system, a 21-inch color TV, a ferret named ZigZag and an extensive water bong collection into the tiny dwelling.

“You think this place is crowded?” Miller quipped. “Try living in the Litchfield Towers.”

Horoscopes fo' Musicians

Even though you did it all for the nookie, she did it all for the government assistance children bring. Remember, no matter how much you want to beat on her, it’s not cool anymore. Kid Rock says so.

Money is good this month: no good shows, student handouts are in full force, Hot Topic is having a sale, and PBR is running a shitload of promotions. There are savings out the ass, kids.

When a singer and a songwriter become one entity, WYEP creams their pants. This month, watch out listeners, cause pants may need changed in your life, too.

God bless America and those folks who are still on the techno train. Now is a good time to take that trip you always talked about…for an indefinite time. Don’t forget your safety sticks.

Hip Hop:
A financial burden may be in your future. Yep, that’s your baby’s mama nagging you again and your baby’s daddy’s high as a kite. Keep in mind it’s never too late to cash in your bling bling.

“Relationships, what are those?” A common question, right? Well, keep crying. Your girlfriend really is cheating and life is as bad as you think. Now who’s high and dry?

If your horoscope was known, then it wouldn’t be cool anymore.

Tower Dorm Dwellers Fight "HIppie Profiling"

Summer Morrison is tired of being harassed by intrusive Resident Assistants (RAs) just because she has dreadlocks. “This is America, 2003, you can’t judge a person based on their looks,” she argued.

Morrison has charged RAs with meddling door knocking and random, unannounced room checks on her 1408 Tower A dorm room.

“Freedom” Michael Nelson of Tower B also reports similar harassment. “They think just because I smell like patchouli, subscribe to High Times magazine, and wear a ’Legalize It Now’ T-shirt that automatically they can come in my room when they smell marijuana. Well, I got news for them. They can’t, I have civil liberties. And just because they provide me with an education and a place to live, they can’t take away my rights. My parents pay good money for me to stay here,” Nelson complained.

Nelson and Morrison have joined forces with other targeted dorm residents to fight back against this apparent hippie profiling. The group, Hippies Against Profiling (HAP), has already petitioned the Student Government Board to offer hygiene diversity training for RAs, and has garnered a petition calling for a hippie review board to investigate allegations made against RAs.

While Tower residents are crying foul, RAs are fighting back. “We have a job to do,” said Towers Resident Director Jamie Radisson. “We have to keep the Towers safe for underage drinkers by removing illegal substances from the mix. It’s a tough enough battle without restrictions. Now if the hippies’ proposed referendum passes, it’ll be damn near impossible.”

Tower hippies are quick to counter that effective enforcement need not contain a hippie profiling policy, and that if even one hippie is falsely labeled as a pot smoker, the administration is over the line.

Carnegie Mellon University to Join Big East in '04

With the University of Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College set to leave the Big East Conference, and Temple’s expulsion in 2005, the Big East has been looking for new teams to fill out the rapidly dwindling conference. While additional teams such as Marquette and Louisville add excitement to the conference’s basketball lineup, Big East football has taken a big hit. This week, declaring “Rutgers needs new competition,” Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese announced a storied football team to join the Big East in 2004: The Carnegie Mellon University Tartans.

Coming off a 5-5 season (2002), after 27 consecutive winning seasons, the Carnegie Mellon University Tartans football team seems poised to take on tougher competition. Carnegie Mellon, currently a member of NCAA Division III’s University Athletic Association conference, has been a perennial football powerhouse and coach Rich Lackner thinks his team is ready to win at a higher level of competition.

Lackner, who has an impressive 121-46-2 record at Carnegie Mellon since joining the team as head coach in 1986, is also the Tartan’s winningest coach.

“I played for Carnegie Tech in the ’70s, and we had some really good teams, but every year, the kids just get better and better,” says Lackner. “I think we’re ready to play some real football.”

“Carnegie Mellon has been a Division III school for a few decades,” explains Carnegie Mellon President Jared Cohen, “but boasts an impressive past with a Sugar Bowl appearance in 1939. We all decided that it was just time for us to move up. Commissioner Tranghese’s offer was just too good to pass up. Continental Tire Bowl, here come the Tartans.”

With a daunting schedule, including Syracuse, West Virginia, and neighboring University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon will have its work cut out for it in its first season as a Division I-A team.

“Yeah, we’re really psyched to play Pitt in December. That will be so cool to play at Heinz Field,” enthused Carnegie Mellon fullback Jeffrey Stolper. The Pitt-CMU game is already being touted as the “Forbes Feud.”

Junior Quarterback Robb Finkey has been working out all summer, raising his bench press “max” to 250 lbs. and improving his accuracy. “You never know what can happen,” said Finkey, “maybe we’ll mop up D-I.”

“Playing West Virginia or UConn in Gesling Stadium will be quite exciting,” enthused Coach Lackner. “All 500 seats will be packed – football is exciting at Carnegie Mellon again!”

Panthers Notebook: 12/02/03

Football Players Eat
Pitt defensive back Bernard “Josh” Lay ate dinner with his parents at the Hard Rock Café, Station Square, after the Pitt-Miami game at Heinz Field, Saturday. Also, punter Andy Lee joined his parents for a Primanti’s Sandwich at the Strip District location after the game. The Lee’s are known Primanti Bros. connoisseurs.

Lithuanian Sensation
2003 Pitt graduate and basketball star Donatas Zavackas has been playing professional basketball in his home country of Lithuania. Zavackas, a long-time Grateful Dead fan, enjoys his country’s tie-dyed, Dead-inspired logo. Zavackas, however, reportedly misses Say Cheese! chicken fingers with extra ranch dressing.

Majors Debacle
Former Pitt football coach Johnny Majors decried his team for a lack of heart in Saturday’s performance against Penn State at Pitt Stadium. Majors, known for his confused rambles and irate tantrums, blasted the 1991 Panthers – coached by Paul Hackett. This round’s on us.

Wet Loving
Apparently the Pittsburgh Panthers Swimming and Diving Teams know a little more about Commitment, Teamwork, and Pride. The defending Big East Champions are known to celebrate after each meet by getting extra friendly in the locker room. Post game gang-bangs are now considered “teambuilding exercises.”