Sunday, May 5, 2013

Lords of Johnstown

"Friendly, Safe and Clean"
-Johnstown City

What began as a brief stint in the infamous Flood City mutated and clawed its way into two Earth years of my actual (not second) life. The death grip of the Laurel Highlands brought me closer to my own mortality than would the breathtaking view atop the world's steepest vehicular inclined plane (source: Note the new hours.

While the hike up the inclined plane to the top of Mount...something (citation needed) appears to be that existential getaway you've always been looking for, don't count on the backdrop of failed industry to turn off its shitty engine for the trip: plumes of diesel exhaust, wailing sirens, and welfare fraud nip at your heels all the way to the top. During mating season, you'll literally be tripping over halfway house guys and gals having unprotected sex in the woods.

"I take two urine screens a month, girl. I swear I'm clean"
-Halfway house resident

Great, you made it to the top. Turn to page 53 to jump to your certain demise, or page 86 to collect unemployment.
No, you're too indecisive to take the manly way out, so fork over the two bucks and ride back downtown. Note the new hours.

"[something unintelligible]"
-Johnstown resident

At first glance, downtown Johnstown gives the impression of being a chief manufacturer of Hoveround(tm) Scooters who also forgot to export any.

"...bunch of Stephen Hawkings rolling around here"
Here are some quick city fun facts:
  1. Population: 20,978
  2. Welfare recipients: 20,512
  3. Erections per street corner: 1.4
  4. Median weight (in pounds): 290
  5. College degrees: 7
  6. Bus fare: $1.50 ($.30 transfer)
  7. Murders: Yes
The real class acts are the elite fighting force, the upper echelon, I dubbed the "Lords of Johnstown". These select few "bosses" suffer from ailments ranging from chronic bus-riding syndrome to ashtray miner complex to untreated schizophrenia. When you make that wrong turn down the alley to encounter a man in bulging sweat pants trying to make a collect call on an upside down cellphone without a battery, it's best to avoid eye contact. The real source of these subterraneans has never been investigated and reported anyone who lived to tell the tale.

Even the local lechers, thieves, scumbags and freaks keep to themselves and hurriedly engage in conversation about the unpredictability of the weather in the presence of the "L.o.J."

Did they arrive in the Flood? Where do they live? Are they even alive?

Truthfully, nobody will ever know the answers to these questions. All we can do is patiently wait for the next flood to wipe our memories clean. Because we are corrupted; we are decaying; we are Johnstown.

Johnstown City, Pennsylvania

"Fuck whatcha heard"
-Mayor Tom Trigona

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