Whatever happened to kids?

We’ve lost our kids in the city. There are none left. They all grew up before their time. Many of them think they’re slicker than a glacier. And some sport itchy trigger fingers.The latest example: Reading police have arrested a 14-year-old boy in the shooting and robbery of a Chinese restaurant deliveryman.Such news used to give one perpetual chills and heart palpitations. But teens shooting people is not terribly uncommon these days in our town.Which is an indictment of our society.Obviously this nasty-as-a-cobra crime problem is not going to be scrubbed clean by mere rhetoric. And the authorities seem to be bringing as much muscle as possible to crime fighting.Nevertheless, the violence keeps flaring and God’s alarm keeps going off. But with all the gunshots going off, nobody hears it. Perhaps we should scan the heavens, waiting for a great epiphany like the lightning that hit Saul on the road to Damascus.

Pope's visit to America a real yawner

The pope is coming to America this week, but there’s hardly a jolt of electricity charging his visit.Why?Because unlike his predecessor John Paul II, Benedict XVI is no rock star.John Paul in his papal prime was a showman who oozed personality and vitality. All his American appearances were cinematic events of celestial magnitude. You could hear angels sing. Cut and print. Ciao, baby.Benedict, meanwhile, has all the charisma of a CPA who was up much too late the night before crunching numbers. With this pope, you can hear angels snore.Far be it from me to question God, but you would think His right-hand man here on earth would have the charm to galvanize people.After all, look how Barack Obama’s charisma has him captivating the masses. And he doesn’t even say mass while he’s preaching.

Beam me up, Scotty!

Sadly, my own dreams are constantly interrupted by reality.Three of the greatest things that ever happened to travelers were Henry Ford wrenching the Model-T from his creative mind, the railroads laying track and the Wright Brothers taking flight by ignoring all the memos that only birds can fly. But that was then and this is now.Our highways and bridges are a colossal mess as our infrastructure ages more horribly than Grandma Moses left out in the sun much too long.Trains are essentially only for commuters and cargo … even hoboes no longer hop freight cars. And our airlines are on life support … with record flight delays, increases in near collisions on runways and in the air, understaffing of controllers and safety inspectors, and now the grounding of thousands of flights that is wreaking havoc with passengers, cargo and mail — all the while throwing a catastrophic monkey wrench into a U.S. economy already shakier than a rumba band.My unrealized dream is to live in a Star Trek world in which, like Captain Kirk and his deep space mates, we can be transported instantly to wherever we’re going.No muss, no fuss.

The news that candy can fight cavities has my sweet tooth vibrating like a tuning fork

I have the worst teeth in America. As a kid, I had more cavities than pimples. And I had zits that were as big and red as Rosie O’Donnell with a bad sunburn.So you can imagine the horrific tooth decay that transformed my teeth into Chiclets even more fragile than fine china. My teeth cracked from merely thinking about chewing.My molars were so god-awful that the Tooth Fairy boycotted my house. I kid you not. I never found money under my pillow. Only all my dental bills my miffed parents put there. They were piled so high I developed a permanent kink in my neck. As I gummed my way through the decades, I wound up getting more root canals and bridges than all the folks in England combined. And have you ever noticed the British have teeth even uglier than Keith Richards? No wonder the Queen never smiles.The only reason that I sport a sexy smile today is become I invested $4.7 million in dentists and engineers. My bridges now are the envy of PennDOT. But talk about an uphill fight. I spent so much time in a dental chair that my butt turned to enamel.So why were my teeth so rotten?Bad genetics. Tooth decay tracked me like a Patriot Missile.And bad habits. I’m afflicted with the world’s most notorious sweet tooth. I think my wife should be arrested for the crime of serving broccoli too often. I prefer dark chocolate and milk chocolate as the sides to my steak.Guess what? I simply was born too soon. Born before researchers could wrench a miracle from their microscopes. Researchers who now have concocted cavity-fighting candy.What the hell took them so damn long?Lucky kids in Venezuela who ate this candy from heaven via the god of science had 62 percent fewer cavities than kids who brushed their teeth regularly.I guess this is one discovery that I won’t be stuffing away like a wrinkled suit in a hanger bag. I’m running in wild-boar fashion to catch the next flight to Venezuela to grab me a barrel of this magic candy. After all, goodies like this shouldn’t be wasted on the young.

"In an Absolut World" you can feel the heat all the way to Encino

The war between Mexico and the U.S. wrapped up in 1848. Yet it apparently seems like only yesterday to some folks whose passions remain inflamed by immigration issues.It wasn’t a good ceasefire 160 years ago for the Mexicans, who wound up getting their clocks cleaned.If that war had been a Super Bowl, it would have been a snoozer long before halftime. And none of the commercials would have been for Taco Bell. Mexico wound up ceding nearly half of its territory to Uncle Sam. This land wound up forming the states of California, Nevada, Utah and parts of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming. And that doesn’t even include Texas, which we annexed prior to the war.Of course, it sure would be a different ballgame today in North America if Mexico had kept all its land. First of all, Hollywood movies would have English subtitles. And Arnold Schwarzenegger still would be an actor instead of a girly man governor.Granted, California is rapidly becoming Mexico North with the growing presence of Mexican migrants and their descendants. Some Mexicans even use the term “reconquista” (reconquest).No wonder a vodka ad in Mexico that slapped the slogan “In an Absolut World” over a pre-1848 map has made some U.S. citizens hotter than ancho pepper sauce.

A streaker on steroids

I missed Friday’s bizarre drama on the West Shore Bypass since I was otherwise engaged being ensconced in my office cubicle.My loss.I have talked to an eyewitness, who said watching a naked man run along the bypass while blood gushed from a foot-long gash in his side definitely out-weirded anything ever witnessed by mankind.On the shock-of-my-life meter, this incident even would top sending out John McCain for a facelift and have him come back looking like Beyonce.The West Reading cops said a 38-year-old man, who apparently has had better days, climbed out the driver’s side of his minivan while it was clocking 55 mph.That, by the way, is a colossal feat in itself. Do not try that yourself, all you kids out there with driver’s permits. Because it’s a direct violation of safety belt rules. Even more astonishing, the guy managed to stand on the roof, fueling speculation that he must have been a Hollywood stunt man at one time. Wonder if the guy watched Burt Reynolds in “Smokey and the Bandit” as a kid. Equally amazing, the minivan apparently had perfect alignment. Because it held the road for a bit while he rode the roof like a surfboard before the vehicle inevitably crashed and catapulted the dude into the woods along the highway.Punctuating his Friday afternoon adventure with even more erratic behavior, witnesses told police that the guy stripped off his clothes and dipsy-doodled down the busy highway for several hundred yards.Perhaps he didn’t want the blood from his wound to stain his clothes. Perhaps he was auditioning for a porn movie. Whatever, the guy was on some sort of mission. The cops thrice jolted him with a Taser and then with pepper spray, all to no avail. They finally had to tackle him as the whole thing ended in a bloody mess.Not surprisingly, the bypass was gridlocked with vehicles whose flabbergasted occupants set the world record for most intense rubbernecking. God knows how many of them now have serious disk issues poaching upon their spinal cords. As of this post, the guy has not been charged and the Reading Eagle is withholding his name.I’m sure the cops eventually will find something to charge him with if they look long and hard enough.Meanwhile, the whole world is awaiting an explanation from the guy. Was he on something? Was he depressed? Was he protesting insane gas prices? Was he angry with himself or someone else? Or was he simply bored with his commute and figured, well, what the hell?

Wives remain domestic goddesses; husbands remain god-awful

OK, it’s hardly breaking news that wives have more domestic duties than husbands.Let’s face it, men are dogs. I don’t even know why our Creator didn’t endow us with four legs, wagging tails and a bowl in front of us.According to a new study, having a husband creates an extra seven hours of housework a week for women. Hasn’t it always been so? I think it started with Adam, paying Eve back for biting into the apple and transforming the Garden of Eden into Birdsboro. Well, maybe there is a method to our male madness. If we keep our wives hopping around like Siamese cats, it will help keep their weight down.

It all comes down to the booking

The Silo, which once upon a time was a rocking oasis of a nightclub, has become a flashpoint for violence.With the nerves of Greenfields neighbors stripped raw, the Bern Township supervisors are going to investigate operations at The Silo.Meanwhile, The Silo has canceled hip-hop shows and some teen nights, saying they were drawing a dangerous crowd.It would appear the problem lies more with the clientele than the venue.You likely could hold a hip-hop show at a Dairy Queen and still have trouble. Bad habits and bad intentions certainly brew volatile passions.Conversely, The Silo probably would become a pocket of peace if it hosted church socials and bingo nights.

My "Today" appearance with Obama is fleeting, but it leaves a tasty residue

They say everybody gets their 15 minutes of fame.Well, yours truly got approximately 1.4 seconds of fame this morning when “The Today Show” aired footage of Barack Obama shaking my hand outside the Marvel Ranch, which immediately sent the folks at rival “Good Morning America” into a panic. Of course, if you hiccupped after your morning glass of orange juice, you missed Obama and me.As you can imagine, some of my friends and family — surprisingly, I have some of both species — suddenly developed pupils the size of silver dollars when my expansive forehead suddenly filled up their TV screens for a flickering moment.So has my guest shot on national television left me with a bad case of head-dripping narcissism?Of course not!My lone concession to the succulent siren call of fame is that I no longer drive my own car. I now have a chauffeur driving an electric blue limo and wearing matching electric blue livery.And I now will wear sunglasses day and night, indoors and out.