Sunday, January 30, 2011

Not All News Is Funny

Yeah, we're easy to make fun of, especially with all the ridiculous drug-related stories. Kiss FM and late night TV have both proven that. What can't be made fun of is the very sad, unfortunate fact that in Fayette County, abuse of all kinds is very common. In just a few days, kids were removed from a home considered "deplorable," a man went to court for throwing a Christmas tree on his one-year-old daughter, and a toddler was found wandering alone in the street.

Not to mention that in our only Target this morning, I heard a woman use the word "fuck" when yelling at her kid in the middle of the store. She also told him she was going to beat his ass. Things like this happen regularly, leaving me - and I'm sure others - with the interesting and difficult dilemma of whether or not we should say anything. The sad reality is we're all pretty used to it. The only thing somewhat unusual about this is usually these things happen in Wal-Mart, which is tends to be crowded, chaotic, and frustrating. Target is usually a quiet and calm store. Just not today.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More About Weed & Babies

Not only do people's decisions with marijuana and their children make the news, but I've also had my own experience with this. And neither the weed nor the child was mine.

In the summer, my friends and I like to go rafting down the Youghiogheny River (nicknamed The Mighty Yough and deserving of its own post - so many tires), usually from Connellsville to Dawson, the stretch that just happens to have the most people who are usually very interesting, to say the least.

Of course the river is really crowded on hot days, and as a result the early part of the trip is spent pretty close to other rafters - close enough to see someone else's alcohol supply and trade them some Smirnoff for a beer, for example. Also close enough to smell their weed.

Weed in Fayette County seems to be pretty common, so someone smoking on the river isn't really surprising. Plus it's usually a pretty shallow, calm river. But then we noticed that the raft with the weed also had a baby.

The weed in the Elmo backpack and weed hidden in a dirty diaper hadn't happened yet, so we were shocked. Our whispered reactions were something like, "Oh man, why would you smoke weed around a baby?" Then we realized that taking a baby on a river, no matter how shallow, was also a pretty terrible idea.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


So the Steelers are on going to the Superbowl. In anticipation, I give you Fayette County's celebration of their last Superbowl win.

This was taken on a cell phone and sent to pretty much everyone I know.

Friday, January 21, 2011

RIP Conn-Area

So, my former middle school - which also has an elementary school - is moving into my former high school.

This means that the former building will be empty now and that Geibel will now somehow have to accommodate preschool through high school seniors, although this may not be a problem with the tiny class sizes. The graduating class of 2010 had 39 kids, and the elementary and middle school classes are even smaller.

The high school kids probably won't be happy. My class was cranky enough when they decided to add a middle school, but we didn't get any renovations like these kids are going to. We got a worse dress code with expensive uniforms that didn't keep us warm in the winter, much like the building's heat.

Among the new additions are WiFi classrooms (I'm not sure why) and an outdoor playground, which makes sense with the elementary kids moving over, but Conn-Area never had a playground anyway. Recess was outside in a parking lot. Actually, gym class was there most of the time, too. And not only will these kids have a playground, but they also won't have to worry about kicking a ball too hard and sending it rolling at a brilliant speed down the hill - a problem I didn't have because I hated kickball and couldn't kick hard anyway.

It does sound like a lot of nice changes are on the way, though, so good for them.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sometimes We Make the 96.1 Kiss Morning Freak Show

Like the Jimmy Fallon clip I posted before, this is a few months old - from October - but also like the Jimmy Fallon clip it involves weed.

A man called 911 to report that he thought he'd been sold bad weed. Kiss FM loved the story, naturally, and featured it on the Morning Freak Show, and you can listen to the full story and their wonderful comments here. The clip is worth listening to if only for the music they play in the background and the comment that the man should be charged for misusing 911 like that as well as "a Fayette County."

I'm curious as to what exactly a charge of a Fayette County is. Are all residents guilty of it by default, or do we have to do something ridiculous and stereotypical of the area?

For anyone interested in an actual news article about the incident, MSNBC has a little bit about it here.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Pechin's supermarket is hard to explain to anyone who has never been there. Most of us occasionally refer to two separate versions of Pechin's: Old Pechin's or New Pechin's, although New Pechin's has been around for just long enough now that Old Pechin's is pure nostalgia. Plus it burned down after the move. Old Pechin's was in Dunbar, with outdoor stores, a bad parking lot, and a leaky roof. New Pechin's is right along 119 in a Shop 'N' Save that didn't last and is in better condition, but is just as crowded and cheap as ever.

The prices are mainly what makes the store's reputation, and are probably why it's always busy. Fayette County has plenty of grocery stores, including at least two Wal-Marts, but no one can beat Pechin's. In fact, because of their prices, Pechin's made the front page of the Wall Street Journal in 1984 (the text of the article is here) and the National Enquirer - three times, for having 19-cent hamburgers, although I can't find the original articles.

Pechin's prices are also important to note because as of 2008, Fayette County's poverty rate was considered critical, at 16.9%. And it's common knowledge for residents that the beginning of each months means welfare and Social Security checks are out, and businesses are extremely crowded - which is also mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article. It's a pretty sad fact of life here when you think about it, but most of us are so used to it that we don't. Which is also sad.

But there is more to Pechin's than that. Like their amazing cakes, and the very interesting stories and nearly daily texts I get from a friend of mine who works there. Lately she's been complaining about the country music constantly playing in the store, but yesterday was her last day for the semester. So for a little while, she's free, but my days are a little less bright now.

Luckily, I save the best texts. Like the one a few summers ago about a man who noticed her peace sign tattoo, motioned to his own, called her a "fellow child of peace," told her to "keep rolling on with it, 'cause before you know your day has floated past and you're on a new one" and left her by saying, "Keep on spreading the peace."

Actually, things like that are pretty rare here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sometimes We Make Late Night TV

My very determined roommate found a clip from a November episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon where he mentions a news story straight from Uniontown about a woman hiding marijuana in a dirty diaper. The actual news story can be found here and Jimmy's monologue is below. It's the very last joke he tells, so if you're not a fan of Jimmy Fallon and want to skip ahead, it's around the three minute mark.

The thing is, stories like this are kind of common, and I don't just mean drugs. I mean hiding weed in bizarre or terrible places (sometimes involving children) and new uses for dirty diapers.

For example, the guy who hid weed in his kindergartner's Elmo backpack and the woman who smeared a dirty diaper on a car window during a traffic dispute while leaving the county fair. All in the span of a few months.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I'm 21. I've lived in Fayette County my entire life. As a child, I made the drastic move from Uniontown to Connellsville, and at 13 I made the drastic move from Connellsville to a little patch outside of Uniontown. Although my elementary school was technically in Westmoreland County, I spent both middle school and high school in Fayette County. I still live there (and so do most of my friends), plus I work there and try to entertain myself there. The past 21 years have provided me with plenty of stories about what goes on in Fayette County, which people occasionally doubt. Unless they've spent their lives here, too, in which case they aren't even phased.

Some things worth knowing:

  • Fayette-Nam really is the county's nickname. The story goes that crime in the county was so bad that cops dreaded working there, and started to call it Fayette-Nam. My seventh grade social studies teacher told us this and my friends and I haven't called it anything else since. We've even shortened it to simply "the Nam," as in text messages that say, "Are you going to be home in the Nam this weekend?" or "Finally, I'm back in the Nam for break!"

  • Our only Starbucks is inside of our only Target.

  • My high school is the only Catholic high school in the county. My graduating class in 2007 had about 70 kids, while my brother's class in 2010 had no more than 40.

  • We have a gay bar. It used to be called Illusions, with rainbow lettering and a marquee that proclaimed it as an "alternative lifestyles club," but it is now Club 231. The sign is not nearly as colorful.

  • We're the home of The Clarks. In "Cigarette" they mention the county fair, where they play every summer. This year, "Cigaratte" was part of their encore.

  • Our news stories are regularly featured and mocked on Pittsburgh's Kiss FM.

  • We're the home of Nemacolin Resort. According to rumor, Princess Diana was supposed to spend Christmas there the year she died.

  • We're also the home a few pretty notable people, but the only one anyone ever really talks about is George C. Marshall. He has a statue, park, and mural in Uniontown.

  • The Big Mac was invented in Uniontown.

  • We've been visited by royalty and the Clintons. I met Bill when he was campaigning for Hillary in 2008.
Plus more.