a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Big bar adventures have become old, for me

Melissa Arnold of Rockwood, Pa., appeared ready to take down Pittsburgh radio personality Mikey Dougherty, shown beside his cohost Big Bob Mason at an off-campus Karaoke party last month at California University of Pennsylvania. The opposite was true. She credited his online social networking skills for alerting her to the casting call for the upcoming Batman movie, in which she landed a bit part. (Scott Beveridge photo)

By Scott Beveridge

CALIFORNIA, Pa. – It was a hot, late-August Saturday night and I was taking a staycation with nowhere to go in the Mon Valley.

So I decided to head to an off-campus bar at California University of Pennsylvania for what was about to become one of the biggest parties to hit the southwestern Pennsylvania college town in decades. (Well, maybe)

Pittsburgh radio personalities Mikey and Big Bob of 96.1 KISS-FM's The Morning Freak Show were on their Big Bar Adventure and about to host a two-hour Karaoke party there at J. Cole's Inn. It was information I had gleaned from Mikey's Twitter feed, which was ranked No. 1 this year in the region by Pittsburgh magazine.

His tweets can be hilarious.

You should read them, especially if you laugh at raunchy middle-school jokes about flatulence, hangovers or melting-down celebrities. Seriously, though, he's armed with enough connections to break sports and entertainment news in Pittsburgh on Twitter before it's noticed by reporters at the Burgh's big-city dailies or other media outlets.

These guys even got former President Bill Clinton on the telephone in November 2010, and then made national news after he joked with them about the McDonald's McRib sandwich's return to its menu and rapper Lil Wayne's release from prison.

But there in little California, Pa., their attention was fully on the college students and their singing to compete for a Coors Light Karaoke trophy. It featured a shiny aluminum can of the beer adorned with a fake silver microphone, surely a prize worthy of display and admiration in a college kid's dorm room or apartment.

Mikey, otherwise known as Michael Dougherty, appeared to dominate the show and microphone between extremely bad Karaoke performances.

"By eight o'clock it's going to be a disaster in here," he screamed into the mic before the overflowing, cheerful crowd.

Earlier I had taken a seat at a table, while Cee-Lo's catchy tune "F*#@k You," played over the speakers at a decibel seeminly louder than a fire house siren.

Tablefuls of students had gathered around me, gobbling pizza in a room where none of them could possible have engaged in stimulating, intellectual conversation over dinner.

On my table sat the large book of songs available for the singing.

Big Bob, AKA Bob Mason, walked over to say hello, as the more polite part of the act. He shook my hand and asked if I was planning to sing.

"No," I responded, and then realized I was the oldest person in the room, without revealing my role to him as a blogger.

Meanwhile, a young guy named Steve was taking the stage. He came with a group of guys celebrating his bachelor party and wearing a fake Mike Tyson tribal tattoo on the side of his face identical to the one also worn by actor Ed Helms in this summer's disappointing "The Hangover 2" movie.

I wanted to cover my ears when Steve oddly and sourly belted out "It's Raining Men," the 1983 hit song by the Weather Girls.

"It started good, but ended bad for Steve," said either Big Bob or Mikey. It was hard to identify the voice over all that noise.

A half hour of that "fun" was all I could take. I headed to the front door of the bar at 334 Third St. and to my sedan to return to the peace and quiet of my house.

It was four days before my 55th birthday, when I was about to become eligible for the senior citizen discount price admission to Kennywood amusement park in Pittsburgh.

It was long past the time for me to bring on the soft folk or jazz music, I decided on the leisurely drive home.

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