Yesterday I pushed the button to turn on my iMac and it wouldn’t turn on. Luckily it’s under warranty so the Geniuses are going to have to open her up and see what’s wrong. They may have to perform some sort of surgery after maybe ordering a specialized part that may take weeks. The vagueness of the outcome of our creative tool is amusing at best, frustrating at worst.
The timing is just perfect. I say this sarcastically because the video essay is being downloaded, mirrored, shared on other blog sites, the topic of conversations amongst User Nation (social media peeps) and viewed more and more in the general population. I’d like to have a decent tool to manage the essay’s popularity and keep the focus on the topic or at the very least the two women who were the inspiration for it ( Katherine Watt and Sasha Latypova ) which is why the timing of the iMac going dark is suspicious. But it’s probably just a coincidence, along with the short nationwide grounding of all flights on 1/11/23.
The iMac is the only tool we have to podcast, create video essays and do anything truly creative or technical. I can still type on an old, outdated MacBook but it really can’t do anything else. I can’t even answer emails on it. So, until the shiny iMac can return to us we’re going to have to get really creative. No matter. We are no strangers to ingenious work-arounds. This is actually pretty common with creators who don’t have a production team, or any kind of assistance and don’t have a budget. The irony is, though, because of the popularity of the video essay some are calling us anything from establishment tools or controlled opposition. It’s almost as if they didn’t even watch the video essay: I literally take on the Department of Defense, the HHS, the FDA & Big Pharma. So, give it a rest already. If you saw where we lived, you’d think twice about casting aspersions about who we are. We’re just like everyone else, working to survive and trying to make a better life for ourselves. Actually we’re not like everyone else. We’re very … unique. Most of our followers live the kind of life we used to live in San Francisco, a life we purposefully walked away from in 2018 because we had no choice.
Right now we live in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania. We’ve lived here for four years. This is the small town, 15 minutes outside of Downtown Pittsburgh, where Damar Hamlin is from. His mother runs a daycare center here and it is the only beautiful, modern building in town actually. Many locals wonder where she got the money to buy such a modernized, nice looking building because everything else is so run down. The homes are old and condemned, the streets are rubbled out. There is one Aldi and quite a few Dollar Stores. McKees Rocks is a designated Opportunity Zone which means it is used as a tax haven for the wealthy. There’s a developer here that has a long history in McKees Rocks and over the years he has apparently promised job growth in the town, only to lease his developing land to places like the Pennsylvania Housing Authority, which has its own police department by the way, CSX and Speedway, none of which pay taxes into the local community or offer a substantial job market to improve the lives of the locals who live here. Add the smattering of non profits (tax exempt) and the many government assisted daycare centers (also tax exempt), McKees Rocks is one of many cannibalized communities that are becoming more and more popular in the Nation. I guess the millionaires and billionaires decided it was easier to develop tax havens right here in the USA under the guise of non profits rather than go overseas to hide their money in slush funds, hence Opportunity Zones. I can’t tell you how many fabulous trips the Director of Economic Development in McKees Rocks has taken while there is no actual economy he is currently developing, unless it’s to encourage outsiders to open up slush fund operations (non profits) so that they too can get kickbacks from the government. Living in an OZ (Opportunity Zone) is literally the snake eating its own tail.
McKees Rocks was once run by the mob. Compared to the indifference the non profits have for this community and the way they run it into the ground, the mob were practically saints.
Most of the daycare center owners live in other neighborhoods where there’s decent roads, no blight and better options to feed themselves than Dollar Store or Aldi. The people who work at the local Housing Authority don’t live here, so they don’t contribute to the economy either.
All that being said, though, I like the house we bought. We bought the house for the price of a used car and it needs a little work. Some of my neighbors are really nice. I can see the bus stop from my front window so it’s only a 15 minute bus ride to downtown Pittsburgh. There is a movie theater/lounge/live music venue/craft brewpub (all of this is in one building) about a One Minute walk from my front door. And next door to that is a simple, no frills pizza joint run by a guy who lives in the more hip hood of “Lawrenceville.” The theater is run by a married couple who were living in a neighboring community, sold their house to their daughter (this is a common practice in the Pittsburgh area), and bought a building across the street from the theater they run in McKees Rocks so they could be closer to the business. They live upstairs and have plans to open up a small restaurant on the ground level. This feels like progress.
Most of my neighbors live in Section 8 Housing though. McKees Rocks has the highest concentration of Section 8 housing in Pennsylvania, maybe even the country. Some of my neighbors wear ankle monitors, as part of their release from a prison program, and some are detoxing off fentanyl addiction or are in some kind of rehab. Moving from the shiny, privileged upright city of San Francisco it was (and still is) a culture shock. Our McKees Rocks neighbors live in a constant state of trauma and dependance, scapegoated by the very narcissistic, cannibalizing and unforgiving system that made them that way. I take the bus with strippers who have tattoos all over their face. I remember in 2020 a couple of them were rolling their eyes and talking smack about their driver, who was afraid of catching The Virus so he refused to drive them to work which is why they were stuck taking the bus to work. They were calling him a “rhymes-with-wussy” while attempting to put on makeup on a bumpy bus ride. I have taken the bus with rape victims, the homeless (which are growing at an alarming rate in Pittsburgh), the mentally ill, the recently released from prison, and people who cobble together three or four jobs so their kids can have everything they want.
So, when lockdowns took place and our local government representatives were speaking to the locals like they were braindead children and telling them that if they wanted to stay safe from The Virus they would have to stop going to work and stop sending their kids to school, it was a combination of incredulity, infuriation but also this strange sense of relief. We felt this palpable relief, a strange sigh out as if exhaling from a lifetime of work work work work, in the town. It’s a hard life in McKees Rocks and lockdown gave people a chance to relax and get a taste of the way life is supposed to be lived. Suddenly they didn’t have to go to all their appointments with their parole officers because of The Virus. Suddenly they didn’t have to meet with caseworkers because offices were closed because of The Virus. Children didn’t have to go to the local prison pretending to be a school because of The Virus. The children were suddenly outside a lot, playing and enjoying life. The little old ladies that would meet every week for lunch would get take out and have their get togethers outside in parking lots on fold out chairs and would live-stream their parking lot festivities on Facebook. The ex-cons got to sleep in and work on themselves and earn some money doing odd jobs for locals who had a little extra money to fix up their houses or cars. The drug addicts didn’t have access to their suppliers and they found themselves taking more walks and getting out. We met a couple people we’d never met before. We got a little closer to the locals and the kids.
A friend who is frustrated with the compliance of his neighbors and who lives in a higher tax bracket in one of the more sought after towns in Georgia recently asked “Where can I go to feel free?” I answered, “Where the poors live.”
We know the small business sector in the nation was brought to its knees as a result of early lockdown and will likely never recover. Perhaps these small businesses catered to high-tax communities that could afford their artisanal wares or specialized products. But McKees Rocks didn’t really see their small business community close down. The Italian sweet bakery, the Mancini’s bread bakery (it’s located a block from my house), the theater/lounge/brewpub, the diner, the tattoo shop, the deli, the pizza shop, the restaurant, the corner store, the woodworking shop didn’t go out of business. None of these places are fancy by any means. But….they didn’t have to close down their businesses permanently. They never actually closed in any real way, except when it was mandated, and when the local theater/brewpub/lounge could officially open its doors again it was as if it never closed in the first place.
This is why the timing of the Damar Hamlin incident is suspicious in the McKees Rocks wing of OZ. The self appointed family representative, Jordan Rooney (Is he related to Art Rooney, the Pittsburgh Steelers owner?) who I can guarantee has never spent any real time in “The Rocks” took over for the communications for Hamlin’s family and also took over the gofundme account that Hamlin started in 2020.
McKees Rocks has seen it all: police abuse, the mob, cannibalizing non-profits, shootings that seem to act as a way to keep the town in a perpetual state of anxiety but are difficult to even prove actually happened, a months long thunderous bombing campaign of high grade fireworks and explosives, working class and blue collar (factory) jobs decimated as a result of NAFTA, and a perpetual and systematic downgrade of life and opportunity, and yet the locals didn’t even have to close down one small business in the face of the biggest financial-fraud-reset the world has ever seen.
There’s something to be said about the actual resilience of a city that’s already been trounced and torn apart by wild wolves, to still remain standing while other cities’ small businesses just crumbled at the first whiff of a challenge.
But as if on cue, Damar Hamlin enters the picture, a gofundme campaign is nestled safely in the tax haven of OZ in 2020 and then three years later, the signal turns and the message is clear: it’s go time. He takes the fall, literally, and the money to this little gofundme campaign just gushes in under the protective coverings of the tax haven that is McKees Rocks.
The locals, for decades have been undermined in every way you could imagine.
But this time the undermining was more insidious and covert. They may have some understanding of the suspicious timing of the Damar Hamlin incident. And, they may think that the story doesn’t pass the sniff test. But do they have an inkling that the story itself was created to undermine their own resolve and grit? They seem to be too busy waxing poetic over Hamlin, who went to a private school, had opportunities handed to him and had very little to do with McKees Rocks itself except for that toy drive. He benefited greatly from the tax exempt business his mother runs here. He doesn’t represent McKees Rocks by any standard. But to say that out loud would be an affront to the locals, who celebrated him recently at the local school. He now has a day dedicated to him. The local mayor officially announced January 9 as Damar Hamlin Day.
On January 9 an event in Hamlin’s honor took place at Sto Rox High School, which is just a short walk from my front porch in McKees Rocks, PA. Many residents came out to honor someone who never even stepped foot in the very high school they were honoring him at. They wore their purchased No. 3 blue and white jerseys proudly, made speeches, played music and took photos of themselves with a Damar Hamlin cardboard cutout. The marquis at the local movie theater and the local music venue displayed his name and number with some sort of inspirational message.
Meanwhile, no one is even questioning the near $9 million that was raised right under their noses.
Just about every town that surrounds Pittsburgh has a fairly thriving economy with beautification efforts that have made them little destination towns for the weary urbanite who wants a day out to just get away. Or, if you’re traveling along the eastern part of the United States, these are the kinds of towns nestled in between rolling hills that are the quintessential American experience and are nice places to rest up before continuing on your journey. There are beautiful city centers with gazebos, tastefully decorated shops along main streets, park benches, bike lanes for the locals (not for sustainable development UN goals) and some version of a Pennsylvania restored and storied landmark whether it’s a fort or a covered bridge, a park, a cleaned up Riverfront or even just a famous building. McKees Rocks doesn’t have any of that even though there is history there and since it’s only 15 minutes outside of Downtown Pittsburgh, you would think it would have been the first town to receive an infusion to invigorate it. But out of all these small towns that sweetly pepper the local landscape, McKees Rocks remains abandoned, blighted, ignored, abused and cannibalized in the most obscene ways.
It seems to me The Rocks could really use that $9 million that was so brazenly raised in their own tax bracket.
But they won’t see a penny of it. Instead what they are fed is a sentimental story that acts as cover for a guy who was used as a pawn to further erode the stability of a town that’s barely hanging on.
While so many podcasters, doctors, experts and users are analyzing whether Hamlin fell from a heart attack or a really bad hit or even a covid shot, hardly anyone is paying attention to the further cannibalizing and financializing that took place as a result of this incident.
I did do a piece about this before and went into some detail about where I think the money will go, but while waiting for my iMac I wanted to follow up and write out my thoughts on this situation and how the timing of things, as usual, is suspiciously suspect.
See the NYTimes piece about McKees Rocks (It most likely lives under a paywall): https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/08/sports/football/damar-hamlin-pennsylvania-hometown.html#:~:text=Hamlin%2C%20the%20Buffalo%20Bills%20player,The%20borough%20loves%20him%20back.
I was able to get the content of the above article on the back-end, so here it is if you can’t open the above link:
January 8, 2023
McKEES ROCKS, Pa. — The marquee at the Parkway Theater and Film Lounge gave more prominence to a recovering local hero than to its latest movie showing on Sunday, proclaiming, “You Won Damar Keep Fighting” and urging him to “Get Well Soon.”
A sign at the First Baptist Church asked people to pray for Damar Hamlin, 24, and his family as he continued to recover in a Cincinnati hospital after entering cardiac arrest upon making a tackle, something witnessed by millions of viewers on “Monday Night Football.”
Churchgoers and football fans communed with Hamlin in mind, as they have done for nearly a week in this distressed but tight-knit borough across the Ohio River from downtown Pittsburgh. They have cried for him, prayed for him and gained cautious hope, embracing a native son who made it to the N.F.L. with the Buffalo Bills and then kept extending his hand to others, leaving home but never losing his connection to the place where he grew up.
As the news about Hamlin’s recovery has grown more hopeful by the day, stunned disbelief and apprehension have become “happy tears,” said Michele Turner, 48, the owner of a bakery where Hamlin’s mother, Nina, has been a longtime customer.
At the First Baptist Church, the Rev. Jay Freudenberg said during his sermon that he had been shocked to tears upon seeing Hamlin collapse. But he also said that he was heartened not only by the televised prayers of fellow players, fans and even commentators in the following days, but also by the networks that did not cut away from them.
“Something bad happened Monday night, but something great happened Monday night,” Freudenberg said. The show of prayers “didn’t get cut.” He added: “Nobody put it down. And this young man is on his way to recovery.”
At the Parkway Theater, Buffalo’s game on Sunday against the New England Patriots was shown on the main screen, while the Pittsburgh Steelers played the Cleveland Browns on another screen in front of a drum kit and a piano in the lounge area. If only briefly, talk about football pivoted from its inherent catastrophic risks to the frivolity of playoff possibilities. The Bills beat the Patriots, 35-23.
During earlier phases of the Covid pandemic, while Hamlin played at the University of Pittsburgh and spectators were prohibited or restricted from attending many sporting events, his parents, relatives and friends often filled the theater’s 45 seats to overflowing to watch his college games, said Aaron Stubna, 51, the theater’s owner.
“After getting good news about Damar, it’s almost like we’re looking forward to the game,” Stubna said before kickoff. “Regardless of who you root for, I think you want Buffalo to win to honor him.”
More on Damar Hamlin’s Collapse
- In His Hometown: As the news about Damar Hamlin’s recovery has become more hopeful, anguish has turned to “happy tears” in the tight-knit Pennsylvania borough where he grew up.
- Emergency Response: When Mr. Hamlin’s heart stopped, medical personnel could be heard making clear the severity of his condition and the efforts to keep him alive. Listen to the audio.
- Who Told Players to Warm Up?: N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t say who, if anyone, ordered players back on the field after Mr. Hamlin collapsed. The decision has sparked criticism from the players’ union.
Even so, some had avoided watching video of a seemingly innocuous tackle becoming a life-threatening collision. “It’s too personal,” said Mike Dean, 42, a local radio personality who hosted one of Hamlin’s youth football camps last summer. “If it’s a movie, I know the person is acting. This is real life. We see so much on TV about people killing and stuff. I didn’t need that. I’m cool.”
Instead, Dean said, “I prayed and prayed and prayed.”
Shortly after Buffalo opened Sunday’s game with a stirring kickoff return for a touchdown, two families from nearby townships ducked into the main theater while celebrating a birthday. When CBS showed a photo of Hamlin watching from his hospital room, Kellie Bonini, 46, said: “That’s pretty awesome. It makes me tear up a little bit that he’s sitting up, he’s talking.”
Asked if it was time for the N.F.L. to resume playing now that Hamlin’s recovery is increasingly optimistic, Bonini, a self-described big sports fan, said: “It is a little scary. I think it needs to change a little bit. But I definitely want to see him get healthy and hopefully back to playing because that’s what he wants to do.”
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As doctors have become more sanguine about Hamlin, there are signs that Buffalo is becoming something of a fan favorite in the playoffs. Sean Sprankle, who was celebrating his 44th birthday, said a friend had texted him, saying, “Now that Damar’s good, I’m thinking of putting money on the Bills to win the Super Bowl.”
On Monday, there will be a prayer vigil here for Hamlin at Sto-Rox High School. Friday was Damar Hamlin day in the schools. Students have been writing get-well cards to him, wearing blue and red ribbons in the colors of the Bills, donning Bills jerseys and those from his days at Pitt. At a basketball game Friday night at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, where Hamlin went to high school, students also wore red and blue and held aloft one of his jerseys.
McKees Rocks, known locally as the Rocks, reached its heyday in the first half of the 20th century, drawing immigrant expertise to work in the iron, steel and railroad industries. Its population peaked just above 18,000 in the 1930s, but has dwindled to fewer than 6,000 today, according to census figures. Its citizens — about half are white, mostly of Italian and Eastern European heritage; and 29 percent are Black — celebrate a mélange of traditions, but more than a quarter live in poverty.
Locals lament the influx of drugs and crime. But Hamlin has purposefully remained connected to the Rocks, which helps explain the outpouring of support for him, such as a sign on the marquee at the Roxian music venue that says, “We Love You Damar!”
His ties to home are evident in the tattoo inside his left biceps that says “Gray St.,” where he lived; in his decision to attend Pitt instead of Penn State or Ohio State so that his family could conveniently watch him play; in the youth football camps he holds; and in the toy drive he started in connection with his mother Nina’s day care center that has grown via a GoFundMe campaign to more than $8 million.
“He never forgot us,” said Archie Brinza, 50, the borough council president. “Now we’re fighting for him.”
On Saturday, Hamlin posted on social media that he had been overwhelmed by public support, asked for continued prayers and wrote that “when you put real love out into the world it comes back to you 3x’s as much.”
Local athletes are not star-struck by Hamlin; they find him approachable and knowable, said Marvin Mills, 44, the football coach at Sto-Rox High School. Before nearly every game, Sto-Rox players call or text Hamlin, and he responds with encouragement, they said. “He’s the hero of the neighborhood,” said Zay Davis, 19, who just completed his senior football season. “We all have the same dream, and he fulfilled it. He’s like a big brother. I see his mother all the time.”
Davis and friends started a clothing line called 1WayOut, and Hamlin, who also has an apparel line, called Chasing Millions, has inspired the possibilities of their enterprise, Davis said. “If he can, why not me?” Davis said.
On Saturday morning at the HardWork Sports and Performance gym in Pittsburgh, where Hamlin trains in the off-season, Morgan Lewis, 31, a trainer, turned on the big-screen television to ESPN to get the latest medical update.
Many people “think he’s OK, he’s back to normal,” Lewis said. “This ain’t nothing normal.”
Still, Lewis said he couldn’t wait for the next time Hamlin walked through the door again in the off-season.
“It’ll be,” Lewis said, “like seeing a real-life angel.”
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