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John Morris


I think we agree. But, I never know with you. I often just get the impression that you just like to fight.

I notice that there is never any reaction to my idea to link Pittsburgh's region through the web and to try to build a virtual Pittsburgh that links all the Dispora together. The one thing I really liked was him putting up that website. A lot of times with jobs and investment, it's just a matter of getting the word out.

Does anyone know much about Charleroi? http://www.charleroipahsalumni.org/index.html

Sam M


Pedantic nitpicking? That has to be the most ridiculous thing you have ever written. Just accept the fact that you got caught. Again. To reiterate, you recently said that you find "everything that he is doing is laudable." To prove that has been your point all along, you referred readers to your first post. Which, among other things, called one of his policies "incredibly stupid."

As for whether I would use physical intimidation to affect the outcome of my communications, I suppose sometimes I would. Depends with whom I am interacting.

Does that mean I am going to beat my children for not making their beds? I suppose in your bizarre world it does. But to clarify my own position:

If I am dealing with a group of hoodlums on any level, I might let it be known that I am well schooled in the art of krav maga. (I'm not, really, but depending on the circumstances, I might bend the truth.)

And when I was going to backwoods bars on the Allegheny National Forest, I always ditched my dockers and opted instead for the old Levis and flannels. Once there, I stressed the fact that I was born and raised in the area. I even mentioned my dad's name quite a bit, seeing that he is a mechanic and knew a lot of the log truck drivers.

And when I interviewed for the fellowship that allowed me to write the book, I wore a sports jacket and wool pants from Brooks Brothers, both of which I got as Christmas presents over the years. And when they asked me about college, I told them I went to Yale. Becaus they care about that crap. (I once had a boss who introduced me to prospective clients as "my Yale guy." I found that over the top. But a lot of people were impressed. Should that be the case? No. But that's how things are. So was she wrong? To take advantage of an unfair bias among her listeners? I don't think so. If I were selling something to people who were impressed by something, I would hire people who possessed that something. Immediately.)

And when I was out catting about for women at bars, I often dressed differently than I otherwise would have.

When I was a bouncer, I would often spy troublemakers before they came into the bar and give them menacing looks--and continue delivering menacing looks while they were in the place, until I was satisfied that they were OK. Some of them I asked to leave. Other ones seemed to call for other means of persuasion.

And when I was bartender, I had a way of assessing what people liked and wanted to hear and how they wanted to hear it and how often they wanted me to interact with them. When people wanted me to provide constant care, I did. When they wanted to be left alone, I left them alone. Because I wanted better tips.

And do you know what? None of these things were disingenuous or fake. They were all parts of who I am. (Apart from my knolwedge of krav maga.) At different times I have had to play up different aspects of myself. Sometimes I tried to seem intellectual to the extent that I could. And yes, I tried to seem violent when the situation seemed to call for it. Sometimes I tried to seem accomodating. Sometimes intimidating. (Both intellectually and physically.)

So I use what tools I have to accent the words I am saying.

And I don't see anything wrong with that. And I would do the same in politics or business. For instance, if I were advertising a sports car to young men, I might defer to a model to do the talking. Because they are more likely to listen to her.

Or if I were describing my plans for a convention center, I might hand the mike to an urban development expert who agreed with my opinion and could further elucidate it.

And were I to deliver a message to the Crips, as the people of Braddock apparently need to do, I might choose someone who might not come across as obviously cowed by their reputation. Someone who in some way might stand a chance with them. That advantage might be an encyclopedic knowledge of gang culture. Of course, perhaps the person with the encyclopedic knowledge of gang culture is the local librarian. In which case I might just say to hell with it and send someone with an intimidating physical presence.

You obviously think these are ridiculous things to do. I don't. And in the case of a man who has to deal with the Crips and US Steel, I see plenty of natural, authentic accents to take advantage of in the person of Braddock's current mayor.

That does not mean he has to beat the crap out of a Crip, or stick his Harvard degree into the face of the CEO and say "Nyah nyah! I went to Harvard."

Any more than I walked into a bar and said 'Hey, everyone look at me! I know the local vernacular and can come garbed in attire meant to assuage your fear of outsiders! Now line up and talk to me!"

An more than Mayor O'Connor hollered, "Vote for me, I say 'redd up.'"

For the last time, such accents simply earn you a more sympathetic ear. Which is on the margins, sure. But it can't hurt.

I don't think it is in any way wrong to play up your personal attributes. Even if one of those aspect is street credential.

You apparently disagree. Fine by me. Let me know how the Powerpoint goes.

Sam M

I agree with John's last post.

And in fact, I find a lot to agree with in Sean's last. Other than the idea that calling him on his own exact words--when that is what he asked people to do--is pedantic.

Sure, Braddock is fighting against long odds. Perhaps that's why it makes sense to give a long-shot strategy a chance rather than calling it "stupid."

sean mcdaniel

well, you can look to a lot of Italian prosecutors who talked and acted tough...still caught a bullet or got blown up in their cars courtesy of the Sicilian mob. Gangsters are a different breed than assholes in a bar...and a bouncer ain't a mayor.

(just curious, in your bouncer days, did you ever encounter a group of maybe 4-5 young black men who you sized up as trouble? did you take them on alone, a la gary cooper in high noon?

by the way, clinton, JFK, ronald reagan and FDR never had to pander to local accents to connect with diverse groups of people. but whatever costume suits you, that's fine, though i'd ditch the dockers permanently.

and, once again, trying to negotiate with thugs is, in a word, stupid. this isn't dodge city, circa 1840. maybe the bully boy stuff works for you. But this is 2006 and there's no room for it at any level of politics...no matter how positive it might be in your eyes.

Sam M

Again, the non-sequiter about negotiating with mobsters. Seriously. Go back through the comments. Who ever said anything about negotiating with mobsters, other than you?

I guess for you that counts as a really good argument. Just dreaming up a really easy point to rail against. I think it's called a straw man.

Which is known far and wide as a shabby way to go.

I mean, you have said specifically--after a long bout of back and forth--that you are not trying to insinuate that the mayor of Braddock is trying to negotiate with the Crips.

So who came up with that concept? I don't think I did. I don't think John Morris did. Of course I would be happy to reconsider if you point me to a place where someone else mentioned it, other than in response to you.

See, what I think happened is that you got off an even keel again and started reading things into what the mayor was doing. And then when I called you on it you had to back off:

No no no. I wasn't saying that this guy's relationship to the Crips--which I originally said was "incredibly stupid" before changing my assesment of it to "entirely laudable"--amounts to negotiating with thugs. No. Not at all. I am just saying that if there are any un-laudable politicians out there currently dealing with thugs--not that I can immediately think of any who would conduct such negotiations in incredibly stupid ways--those are the policiticans that should not negotiate. Any relationship that this discussion has to the mayor of Braddock, the Crips and non-negotiation is purely concidental, of course, as I have always maintained that all of his actions are laudable. Except when I haven't.

A strange way to argue, I think. But at least it got you to the right spot. . No. It is not a good idea to negotiate with the Crips. Now if only we can find someone who thinks it would be, maybe we can convince them.

And here's a thought experiment for you:

Say there is a biker bar on the wrong side of the tracks. It has been known far and wide for its knife fights and other mayhem. Community groups have tried for years to have it shut down. While several patrons and servers have been arrested, the place is still up and running. You suspect it is because the police don't care. Or are corrupt. Or don't have enough resources.

But that's not up to you. You are not the chief of police. You are in charge of the board of health. And it is time for an inspection.

But you do have one choice to make. You have two inspectors. One is named Charlie. He is mild mannered, five-foot six and a little pudgy. Not to mention pasty. He has an accounting degree from Frostburg State and two years on the job. He drives a 1989 Volkswagen Cabriolet to his appointments.

Your other inspector is named Steve. He is six foot eight and weighs three hundred pounds. He was an Army Ranger--a fact he makes known through a large tattoo on his forearm. He wears a gnarley fu-manchu and drives a beat-up F-350 diesel to his appointments. He also has two years experience.

You consider each man equally capable of making the inspection. And you can only send one man, as it is the last day to complete them, and there is also a Panera at the local shopping center you need to check.

So do you draw straws to see who goes to the biker bar?

Or might it just be possible that it would make more sense to send the big bastard to the rough place? That some times, even in the political realm, it makes sense to project a physical presence?

And allow me to provide one of your favorite adminitions: no weaseling. You can't go yourself. (Maybe you are a bureaucrat who runs the office, but union rules forbid you from doing the actual inspections.) You can't send a cop along. (Resources.) And you can't postpone it.

In my mind, this is a case in which a politician is acting sensibly by projecting a certain physical robustness by sending Big Dave.

Far fetched? I don't know if it's any more far-fetched than the reality of the mayor's situation in Braddock.

The people have to deal with the Crips in one way or another. And there certainly is a possibility that someone else in the borough would have a better way to talk to them. But I certainly don't think it is in any way macho or cavalier or provocative to consider physical presence as one part of the equation. In the same way that you would be stupid to send the pasty guy to the biker bar.

That doesn't mean you are spoiling for a fight. It means that all other things being equal, sometimes it helps to have a big dude around. In the same way that, all things being equal, sometimes you are better off sending a beautiful woman to get something done.

Maybe in a perfect world thugs bikers would have a whole bunch of respect for all health inspectors, regardless of their size or history in the special forces. And maybe someday men will not be more likely to listen to women they find incredibly attractive.

Good luck with that.

sean mcdaniel

okay, so according to your latest line of thinking the mayor of san francisco should be gay...the mayor of nyc jewish...pittsburgh a yinzer...kennebunkport a bush...miami a cuban...and so on. hey, maybe the problem with dave the bar inspector is that someone made the wrong choice in selecting him in the first place...

so might i surmise that a female (unless beautiful. god forbid that she should be less than supermodel quality) would be the totally wrong person to be the mayor of braddock? try telling golda meir that woman can't can't be tough (or janis joplin).

you know, i stick to my original point...the article did say the braddocc sigh was in homage to the crips...and i'll say again...i don't think that's the right signal...and i don't think that the capability to act like a thug is appropriate for a politician. plain and simple.

good luck twisting that around.

all and all you have some pretty enlightened views, for a caveman. guess you don't think female cops or soldiers are "positive" forces...unless you can find ways to build 10,000 stipulations into your argument. gotta say, i'm surprised you let your wife out of the kitchen...then again she must be a fox who can get things done.

love to see you run the beautiful woman theory past some of your students...(not that i totally disagree with you on that point....it's just that you're sounding pretty damn sexist here.) and if sending the most appropriate person into the job is that key....why not keep everything the same about the braddock mayor...except for his skin color...far as i know, that black/white schism still runs pretty deep in america. if you don't know what i mean, try this...

will black gang members be persuaded by any white man, regardless of his ability to potentially, possibly crush someone?

i'd venture to say that it's futile for any white person to succeed in that regard.

and comparing the mayor to a nuisance bar inspector is ridiculous. mayors are expected to be above board. the bar inspector might have to engage in some undercover work...but i still don't think he should throw his weight around. that's why we do have police forces and state police and ATF agents. it ain't the wild, wild west. would vigilantism be the next step?

i don't think physical intimidation is a positive. it's that easy to explain. but maybe not so easy to understand.

sean mcdaniel

sorry about missing a few words. i've drinking too many of the last batch of the rolling rocks from latrobe.

anyway, i would love to see every little town in this region rebound, but maybe it's just the way cycle goes...but there are little towns all over that either or shells of their former selves or ghost towns...maybe braddock's time is up.

sean mcdaniel

ready to bury this one?

Sean says:

"good luck twisting that around."

Why twist, when I can get all dizzy watching you change directions. Witness these comments. In the order you delivered them:

1. I think that when you have a mayor that pays homage to the Crips is far beyond controversial...it's insanely stupidly

2. I think that everything he is doing is laudable.

3. I never said I don't like the deals Braddock's mayor might be cutting with the Crips (if he is or is thinking of it). I said that I don't think it's a good idea. Ever.

3. you know, i stick to my original point...the article did say the braddocc sigh was in homage to the crips...and i'll say again...i don't think that's the right signal...

So which is it?

Or better yet, yeah, bury it.

sean mcdaniel

okay, since you couldn't resist three last jabs, consider this as a job for the mayor of braddock...

"Chargers linebacker Steve Foley was shot in front of his suburban house by an off-duty policeman early Sunday morning." source:NYT

Foley is a 6'4", 265 pound guy. He has a shaved head, an earring and a goatee-like beard. My guess is that the cop didn't match up physically or possess beauty pageant contestant beauty. All he had going for him was a gun. Maybe all cops should be 7'1" and weigh 350 pounds, so they could crush most people instead of shooting them....until they encountered Shaquille O'Neal.

anyway, sam, let's just suppose that the CP writer got it wrong about the crip homage...maybe the mayor's point was that if something isn't done, braddock will become braddocc, or crip city. after all, as you've pointed out in other posts about other "curiously" worded newspaper reports, the words fall outside quote marks. maybe it wasn't a tribute. or homage. or anything other than a stark warning (and nice bit of theater). who knows? i guess we have to trust the writer. i wouldn't want to read any other meaning into his words than what literally appeared on the page.

but again, i still don't agree with your view that physical intimidation is a plus for a politician. take a look at the bob o'connor slide show on the PG's web site. There's one shot of o'connor standing among the other democratic candidates during last year's debates. by far, o'connor is the shortest. yet, our pint size mayor accomplished more in his seven months in office than any of the others might hope to achieve in a full term. o'connor didn't rely on brute strength, because he didn't have it. so i guess in the long run he would have failed if he tried to tackle pittsburgh's gang problem. he just didn't measure up. at least by your standards for what a politician needs to deal with a hopeless issue such as gangs.

bury it, you got to be kidding. and i own up to twisting this one around again. you have my permission to avoid the issue ... again ... with your wacky logic about brute force being a positive force in the political arena.

as you said...

"Seriously, I think that kind of presence can only be a positive thing when dealing with the Crips. And US Steel."

and honestly, i don't think he'll intimidate either group. ever. not for a second. sure, he might frighten the piss, literally, out of a USS board member on a dark street. but you don't scare these guys as a group in the boardroom unless you threaten their bottom line. and trust me, if needed, they could probably hire their own muscle to out muscle the mayor. or at least a PI to dig up some dirt. or invent it.

as for the crips, it's pretty much the same point. the mayor might be able to make an individual crip bend to his will with a little arm twisting...but en masse, these guys don't scare easily...and they get really nasty when you threaten their bottom line.

so unless the mayor is ready to go bronson on them and play out the death wish scenario, i don't see how he'll ever get rid of the crips in braddock or braddocc.

sean mcdaniel


here's the Trib's take on the sign...

The historic past of Braddock and its hopes for the future are symbolized by a lighted sign recently set up on one of the taller buildings in town.

Spelling out the last four letters of the town's name in a greenish glow, the final letter alternates between the official "k" and the "c" used in the street culture's version -- "Braddocc."

"The two c's are symbolic of Braddock moving forward," said Jebediah Feldman, one of Carnegie Mellon University students who helped with the project. "The youth of Braddock have been spelling it with two c's, so we think it represents a new Braddock."

If adopting street culture spellings is a sign of progress, as Ali G might say, the mayor deserves my respeck. fuh weal.

and oh yeah, we can all turn off the spell check function in microsoft word right now. and big up youself.

sean mcdaniel

oh damn, i meant respek...as ali g says, there's so little respek left in the world these days that he can't find the word in the dikshunery. hell, the lowest common denominator is a great theory in math. but i think in the real world we should aim higher.if the only way for braddock to revitalize is to sink to the level of "street culture," then times are tougher than we think. and who needs a university when street thugs decide proper spellings.

Sean says:

"since you couldn't resist three last jabs"

If pointing ot reality counts as a "jab," how might you characterize this:

"all and all you have some pretty enlightened views, for a caveman. guess you don't think female cops or soldiers are "positive" forces...unless you can find ways to build 10,000 stipulations into your argument. gotta say, i'm surprised you let your wife out of the kitchen"

Sam m

The real last word, complete with an image...

Imagine, oh imagine a wretched world in which people actually use their height, their dress, and other aspects of their physical bearing to make a political impact! The incivility! The barbarity!

The, er ... reality?


I suppose it would be easy to view this as horribly intimidating if we don't like the policy for which Johnson is drumming up support. Does it have something to do with Vietnam? Cuba? Appropriations?

Does your view change if you learn that the exchange depicted Johnson drumming up support for a Civil Rights bill?

I don't know which it was. And some of the possibilities I mention probably don't fit the timeline of the picture.

But the reality remains... Everyone uses physical bearing to communicate. Men who do so violently, we refer to as thugs. Women who do so for money, we refer to as whores.

Men who do so for good ends, we call "stately" or "commanding." Women who do so for good ends, we call "captivating" or "arresting."

That's life. If you don't like it, stick to the Powerpoint. The rest of us apologize for our barbarity.

mayor john fetterman

hello, all-

someone forwarded me this link and i have been reading this with great interest. people are certainly free to draw their own conclusions on these efforts.

my philosophy on braddock is this: braddock is not a distressed community; it is now an experimental one. we literally have lost 90% of our everything-houses, business, residents; show me a community that can say that. with that, i believe, crucial to try some different ideas, approaches, and chances. clearly what has been done before DOES NOT WORK.

i love my critics-i really do. i would extend an open invitation to anyone who is interested in touring braddock and hearing your views and opinions.



mayor john fetterman

sean mcdaniel

Hey, Mayor.

Before the year's up, I will take up on your invite. If you promise not to crush me. I lived across the river from Camden, NJ, for a while, and that town was truly frightening.

Hey, Sam,
Whatver Lyndon Johnson was doing in that photo, I hope you remember that his bullying led us into Vietnam and his ultimate downfall. The Johnson presidency of bullying, arrogance and insularity was a template for Nixon, who adapted for his own foul purposes.

And for the record, bullying is bullying. And damn, now who's calling women whores? What a stretch.

And for the anonymous poster...
you're right, that caveman remark was a jab...which was the intention...notice that sam followed up with a post that says "Everyone uses physical bearing to communicate. Men who do so violently, we refer to as thugs. Women who do so for money, we refer to as whores." So women who use their physical bearing are called whores. Wow, love to hear who Halle Berry or Elle MacPherson would respond. They kind of earn a living based on their looks. Let me make sure I get this straight...

Women who use their looks to make money are whores...(but I'm sure physical bearing has a different meaning than what I'm reading into this...unless more whores are phsyically forcing men to pay for sex, which would be an interesting social trend. please, set me straight, sam.)

Keep that logic flowing, Sam. Wome

Sam M

Mayor Fetterman,

Outstanding! Thanks for dropping by. I am glad to hear you are enjoying the fray. Braddock has intrigued me for some time, and i am glad to see that someone is trying to make a go of it.

Best of luck.

As for Sean,


Johnson did not lead us into Vietnam. We were already there.

As for whether Johnson's tactics were legitimate, I refer you to a biography. It's called, "Thuggish Goon Who Unfairly Uses His Physical Bearing When Communicating with Colleagues."

Oh, wait, no... It's actually called "Master of the Senate."

Oh well, luckily for you it was widely panned for glorifying his intimidating tactics...

Oh wait, no it wasn't. It won something. Some kind of award... What was it again...

Yeah. The Pulitzer Prize.

As for thugs and whores, you can twist and turn all you want and act like you don't know what I am getting at. Despite the fact that it is obvious. Luckily for you, I suspect regular readers will find your confusion believable.

But just in case, allow me to restate things more clearly, seeing that you have now appointed yourself Head Pedant In Charge:

Real criminal thugs offer one example of people who use their physical gifts to get what they want. Whores are another example of people who use their physical gifts to get what they want.

But there are different levels of use--different ways--to use ones gifts. Not all women who use their physical presence are whores. And not all men who use their physical bearing are thugs. In fact, we have different words to describe people who use these gifts in different ways.

You are the one who refuses to make that distinction when you say things like, "A thug is a thug is a thug." Yeah, except when he isn't.

Except when a person who, like LBJ, used all sorts of gifts to persuade. Honestly Sean, if a thug is a thug is a thug, should LBJ have been arrested for his tactics?

Even if he didn't get us into Vietnam?

sean mcdaniel

sam, you're right. he didn't get us into vietnam. he just mired us there. guess you don't think he had much to do with most of the 50,000 plus who got killed there.

you know, when nixon died, he was already being reconstituted as an elder statesmen.

as for those pulitizer winning bios...guys won them for the lives of Pres. Cleveland, Jackson and Taft...no one's calling them masters of anything. But their life stories were prize winning tales. All the prize means is that the writer told a good story.

for instance...a book called The Power Broker won too...it was the story of Robert Moses...does that make him a great urban planner? sometimes bullying is just bullying.

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