Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Power From the People

The toasty SUVs full of people enjoying the "McDonald's Holiday Lights at the Beach, Presented by Verizon Wireless" on the Boardwalk are unaware that the power required for the dinky lightbulb dolphins and such is being pulled from low-income households at the Oceanfront.

"It sucks," says Chester Ray Finch, 51, a window washer that has lived on 25th 1/2 Street in Virginia Beach since 1982.  "I can't watch television, use my microwave, or anything while that dumb thing's going on.  My daughter has to do her homework by candlelight in her winter coat."

The light show reroutes roughly 1.7 megawatts from over 2,000 Oceanfront residents - most of them between 9th and 29th St., between Pacific and Cypress Avenue.  In an email, Dominion Electric spokesperson, Mel Dodd states, "We need power from somewhere.  We can't just create it out of nothing - we're not magicians."

During late night and daylight hours, when the holiday lights aren't on, residents put up with weak power flow, sparks emitting from wall sockets, and barely enough hot water.  29-year-old pizza chef Scott Griggs lives in an apartment complex on 22nd Street and says that his complaints to the city have been ignored.  "They always say how important it is for Oceanfront businesses and families and if I don't like it, I should move.  I live paycheck to paycheck - where the hell am I supposed to go?  Maybe if they compensated us a little it would be different, but I don't know what they do with all that money."

Tidewater Log discovered that holiday light show admissions go to improving the landscaping around the 31st Street Park and King Neptune Statue maintenance.  "What a crock of crap," Scott mutters as he zips up his 2nd coat in the kitchen of his chilly apartment.  Since there isn't enough power to turn the heat on, he burns crumpled up newspapers in the sink to keep warm.  The smoke detector won't go off because he's using the battery for his alarm clock.  "Even if this place burns down, I still gotta be at work at 6 in the morning."

Mr. Dodd continues in his email, "I don't understand why these people are complaining all of a sudden.  It's been going on for years and, in addition to providing them 2 free vouchers to enjoy the event, we always hang notices on their doorknobs to remind them.  Maybe the storm blew them off or something, but they should be used to it by now.  Happy Thanksgiving."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Storm Reveals Remnants of Local DJ's Dirty Dinghy

Ruth Reedy is used to finding odd items in her backyard when extreme high tides recede, but what she found Sunday disgusted her. "It was a long, toy of some kind", she laughs.  Ruth and others living next to Lynnhaven Bay in Virginia Beach found evidence of a wild party in their yards after the November Northeaster 2009 (NoNor09) - beer bottles, Phil Collins CDs, bikini tops, even a deflated inflatable woman.  "That scared me for a minute.  I started to call the police when I noticed she was fake and it had 'Property of THE BULL' written on her back in big letters."

According to Hampton Roads history buff, Flynnwood Tyner, the decadent flotsam was cargo stowed aboard Henry "The Bull" Del Toro's party boat better known as "The Barf Barge", "The Pontoongler", or "The Poop Sloop".  Henry "The Bull" Del Toro (1958-2002) was a local disc jockey in the 80s and 90s best known for his zany on-air pranks and habitual off-air debauchery.  In 1992, he fooled listeners into believing that long simmering toxic gases in Mt. Trashmore were about to cause a massive explosion.  Nearby residents actually evacuated.

The vessel has never been located, but Tyner believes it rests somewhere amidst the fingery coves of Lynnhaven Bay.  "The Bull wasn't great at maintaining a healthy anything - especially a relationship with a marina," he says.  "He'd get kicked out of one every other week for some reason or another.  Little Creek, Rudee Inlet, Willoughby Harbor, Waterside and all the others.  They wouldn't put up with his antics.  By the time it finally went missing sometime in 2000, he was hiding it in real secluded marsh areas. He'd run it aground, put some branches on it, walk through people's yards to Virginia Beach Boulevard, and catch a cab back to his apartment in Norfolk."

Tyner is in the process of drying out and deciphering what he thinks is one of the ship's log books.  "As far as I can tell, this contains a graphic description of the boat's itinerary as well as supply and passenger lists from March '88 to July '91.  He names names that include local car dealers, business owners, news anchors, politicians, Tidewater Tides - everybody seemed to be on that ship at some point.  There's even names of bodily functions I didn't know were possible.  Really weird ones that I've never had happen!" 

Here's an example of a typical entry:

"Saturday Aug. 12, 1989.  Sunny.  Left around 1:30 P.M. with 8 cases of beer, 2 cartons of cigarettes, a box of cigars, & lots of Zero's subs, chips and pretzels.  Me, Da' Moose, the new bass player for The Boneshakers (Steve something, I think), Les Smith, Mr. Oberndorf, Mindi, Cherri, Crystal, Tanya, Becky, plus Rebecca"

I'll skip what happened on the water, but further down, in real sloppy handwriting, it continues:

"back aft 4 A.M.  Les got sunburn on (illegible).  One cigartte left.  Where the (expletive) is Crystal!?!"

Former co-worker Mickey "Da' Moose" Musalotta doesn't recall that specific outing or what happened to Crystal, but he does have several fond memories of the party boat.  "We'd get a bunch of beer and girls and have strip fishing tournaments.  The Bull and I would already have a dead fish hidden in the cooler so we could pretend to catch it over and over again.  After an hour, all the girls would be totally naked!  They never suspected a thing.  Another time, The Bull, some of AC/DC's roadies, and I tied up one of the station's new interns to a buoy and left him there overnight!"

Musalotta believes the items churned up by the storm are definitely from The Bull's boat, but the chances that it still holds some valuable cargo are slim.  "Anything of value on that thing has probably seeped out of their baggies by now.  I bet some fish felt really happy for a few minutes...before their brains exploded!"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"OBX" Rated More Suitable Name

On Tuesday, voters in North Carolina's Currituck, Dare, Hyde, and Carteret Counties passed a referendum to officially change the name of the Outer Banks to OBX.  Dawn Jakowski, chairwoman of "Outer Bankers for a New Name", said the old name has been bugging her since she moved to Duck from Pittsburgh 16 years ago.  "It's so old fashioned," the 55-year-old says, "When my husband and I first came here we wondered what it meant.  Were there supposed to be banks all over the place?  We only saw a few...and the 'Outer' always made me think of a big, gross outie belly button."  The new name, Dawn states, is "easier to say, less confusing, and more extreme".  Next year, she hopes to convince residents to demolish the outdated, unnattractive Wright Brothers Memorial and put a Target Superstore in its place.

Even with its old name, OBX never needed help luring tourists, but a slight dip (-.013%) in combined hotel, restuarant, kite, and t-shirt revenues from the 2008 summer season frightened those that relax there all year long.  Becky Weinstein, of Hatteras (since moving from Trenton, NJ a few years ago), says "It's 2009 - not colonial times anymore.  The new name makes it clear that we're a world-class destination for surfing, sport fishing, hang gliding, as well as just lounging around getting drunk and tan on the beach - plus, it fits perfectly on a sticker."

The oval "OBX" sticker itself is proving to be OBX's chief export these days.  Last year, 63 million stickers were sold to locals and tourists wanting everyone behind them on the highway to know they purchased a sticker in OBX and stuck it firmly on their vehicle.  Proceeds from sticker sales go to various OBX causes such as "Put Advertisements on Cape Hatteras Lighthouse",  "We Need a Boardwalk", and "Kate Gosselin Should Play Queen Elizabeth I in 'The Lost Colony' Next Year".

Tidewater Log located the only OBX resident opposed to the name change crabbing from the dock in his backyard on Colington Island.  Darryl Moody Midgett Baum III, 72, risks a fine of up to $150 if he's overheard using the old name.  "To hell with 'em.  I'll still call it the Outer Banks...and I ain't buying one of those dumb stickers," he says, slowly pulling up a crab nibbling on a piece of soggy string tied chicken neck.  "People can call it whatever they want.  I don't give a damn.  It's all gonna be underwater in a few years anyway."