Mean Gene
Mean Gene
Pittsburgh's most decorated poker blogger, which I admit is like being the best shortstop in Greenland

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My Articles

Presto, the Arlo, & the Hammer
An Online Code of Conduct
The Ethics of Ratholing
"The Professor, the Banker..."
"Ace on the River"

My Columns

Lose the Shades
If You Can't Say Something Nice
Whither the Kicker
The Lady is a Champ?
Covering the WSOP (or not)
Statistics, Luck, and Poker
Poker and New Orleans
Managing a Bankroll
How To Tell A Bad Beat Story
Telling Lies
The Power of Poker Tracker
Advanced Card-Handling

My Greatest Hits

5 Things To Do Before I Die
Cafeteria Nostalgia
Mean Gene's Dubious Dating Tips
Poker and Business?
There's No Such Thing As Luck?
Isabelle, Je t'adore
No Shirt No Shoes No Service
Well, The Food Was Good
Good Morning, Mr. Matusow!
The Weekend of our Discontent, I
The Weekend of our Discontent, II
Books That Left Their Mark
Ode to a Fish Sandwich
Bill Simmons Ain't the Poker Guy
The Sports Guy Still Ain't the Poker Guy
Again, The Media Tackles Poker
Five Years After 9/11
Hitting Pretty Girls in the Face
Sixth-Graders Suck

Fellow Poker Bloggers

Guinness and Poker
Cards Speak
Tao of Poker
Up for Poker
Boy Genius
Chris Halverson
Poker Grub
The Fat Guy
Todd Commish
Poker Works
Bill Rini
Bad Blood
Love and Casino War
Double As
Lion Tales
Paul Phillips
Daniel Negreanu
Poker Nerd
Poker Nation
Poker in Arrears
Human Head
Sound of a Suckout
Chicks With Chips
TP's Table Talk
Royal Poker
This is Not A Poker Blog
Chick and a Chair
Go Be Rude
Poker Cheapskate
Poker & Other Stuff
Seven Two
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WPBT Online
Isabelle Mercier
Cardschat Blog
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    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    How Not to Have a Parade

    Some free advice--if your hometown is about to play for a championship, urge the city leaders to plan the victory parade well in advance. The local media made serious hay about Seattle planning their parade before the game was played, and this was seen as an act of monumental hubris. In fact, this was an act of, like, PLANNING, which the parade today could've done with.

    I walked from the North Shore to downtown around 10:30, and it was already nuts. I called my friend Scott (who drove up from Baltimore just for the parade) and got a general idea where he was. Here's the first snafu--it was reported that the reviewing stand was going to be in Point State Park. It wasn't until I got to Gateway Center that I learned the stand would Gateway Center. Which is not a big piece of territory. It would've been nice if we'd known of the change before the morning of the parade. I think the reason for the switch is that to enter Point State Park you have to walk through a short tunnel, and with 250,000 people attending the parade, and the chance that many of them would walk toward the Point hoping to hear the speeches, officials realized that our city might see a re-enactment of the Black Hole of Calcutta. Massive casualties not being a good way to celebrate One for the Thumb, they changed the location.

    Why, oh why, are there so many friggin idiots in the world? I finally tracked down Scott and Neil and Vince and Ben, but crossing the last 15 feet to reach them was an ordeal. The lawn facing the reviewing stand was jammed, but people were shouldering their way through. But blocking my way was a complete jackass who'd brought one of those folding lawn chairs and was sitting right there in the middle of the crowd blocking everything up. I thought at first he was in a wheelchair, but no, he just decided he was going to sit there and everyone else be damned. He had one of those portable UHF televsions...why the fuck not just watch it at home. All he could see from his seat were thousands of asses. Fucking idiot.

    So I get to my friends. It's cold. Not bitter, but cold. The place is jammed. So we wait for about 30 minutes for the parade to wind its way down Fifth Avenue. As soon as the first hint of action occurs, people start hoisting their kids and girlfriends up on shoulders to get a better look. Completely blocking the view for everyone else. One girl, who frankly could've used a copy of Pilates for Doughballs, cut off my angle of vision to Fifth Avenue and would not get down, even as everyone behind started screaming at her behind. Once the guests of honor started mounting the stage my view was blocked by a little kid sitting on Daddy's shoulders. I searched the ground but couldn't find a rock to throw at the little bastard's head.

    The stage. The stage was not a stage. It was one of those trailers you see at festivals and concerts where they sell T-shirts and other souvenirs. It was narrow and dark and rusty and looked like shit. I mean, for the halftime show of the Super Bowl the Rolling Stones roll out a massive stage shaped like their lips-and-tongue logo with people dancing in the, uh, cavity. To celebrating winning the actual game the stage looks like something you'd see up on blocks in a trailer park. "If you needed proof the city's broke, there you go," said a wag standing beside me.

    Most of the people around us were great. Everyone was having fun and laughing and cheering for our beloved Steelers. Not that we could SEE our beloved Steelers. The stage sat at ground level, so unless you were over six feet tall you couldn't see jack (or Hines or Joey). I'm six feet tall, meaning I spent a lot of the time on tippy-toes. My calves are friggin' killing me.

    We cheered and cheered and cheered. Play-by-play announcer Bill Hillgrove says, "And now, welcome Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato!" And the crowd goes "BOOOOO!!" Onorato is fairly popular here, but as he started to speak he was drowned out by a raucous cheer of "SAVE OUR PENS! SAVE OUR PENS! SAVE OUR PENS!". He leaves the podium, and Hillgrove says, "And now, the Mayor, Bob O'Connor!!". I'm sure O'Connor knew what he was in for. "BOOOO!!! SAVE OUR PENS!! SAVE OUR PENS!!!" Jesus, how I love seeing democracy in action.

    One politico who came out very well was Lynn Swann, who is running for governor. He spoke movingly about what this win meant for this generation of Steeler fans, including himself. His words were drowned out by the crowd, but this time they were chanting "VOTE FOR SWANN! VOTE FOR SWANN!" Incredibly, Swanny raised hands to shush us and kept talking about the game. Methinks he'll do well in Western PA. I later saw our current governor, Ed Rendell, standing next to his car and cheerily greeting people and letting folks take snapshots. Seemed very nice. He's an Eagle fan. He's doomed against Swann in this part of the state.

    Hines Ward arrives to a chant of "MVP! MVP!" He starts to speak, but one of the helicopters (there were three) hovering above moves down and the sound of the rotors drowns out most of what he's saying. It doesn't help that the sound equipment is about as advanced as a junior-high PA system. The choppers fly so low I half-expect to hear Ride of the Valkyries before a volley of rocket fire.

    The Bus arrives, with the Lombardi Trophy in hand. The route through the city was as jammed at Gateway Center, and at times the crush of people forced those standing at the curb into the street, blocking the parade route. It got so bad that Bettis got out of his car and walked down Fifth Avenue with the trophy in hand. How tempted would you be to race out there and grab it? Maybe not so much when you see how big some of these guys are. Max Starks...he's a big dude. Joey Porter looked like a little kid standing next to Max.

    When the Bus finished his speech there came the deep, familiar BOOM BOOM BOOM sound of fireworks launching. They go off, but directly behind one of the buildings of Gateway Center. You couldn't see them go off. Oy vey.

    Still, it was cool to see many of our conquoring heroes...well, the tops of their heads. A co-worker lent me her digital camera and asked me to take a picture of Big Ben. I held it up over my head, pointed in his general direction, and started clicking away, hoping his freshly-shaven mug would show up in at least one shot.

    So, again, if your city is in position to win a title, get to work on the parade right away. Don't worry about providing bulletin board material, don't worry about karma. Planning for eventualities is what good government is all about. And you should be confident that your team will win and all that planning will be worth the trouble. At least get the goddam stage five feet in the air. And if you team is lucky to win and you go to the parade, fill your pocket with rocks beforehand. get this widget Please visit Pokernews site for more poker news, poker strategy articles or poker rules.

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