community-based, non-corporate, participatory media

About Contact Us Policies Mailing Lists Radio Video Publish! Calendar Search

View article without comments

Wetback Wednesdays: Just the Tip of the Iceberg
by by Marc Tacchini Thursday, Mar. 27, 2008 at 1:53 AM

A brief explanation on why the "Wetback Wednesdays" at the Garage Door Saloon is a bigger deal than the media is making it out to be.

Wetback Wednesdays: ...
n14201788_35600727_9678.jpg, image/jpeg, 604x453

The discussion about recent controversy over the Wetback Wednesday drink special at the Garage Door Saloon in Oakland has largely centered around whether or not people should be offended by the term Wetback Wednesday and whether the special is racist or not. Oddly, none of it seems to talk about the owner of the bar and what might motivate him to start such a racially charged drink special.

The Garage Door Saloon is one of two bars owned by South Side Sin City, Inc. The other is Casey's, on the South Side. The man who runs this company, and presumably the man who identified himself as "Mark" to the news media1, is Michael Papariella. Papariella used to be the drummer for a local hardcore band called Built Upon Frustration2. He was brought on as a replacement and then later kicked out. The rumors that have been swirling are that it was because of his espousal of white supremacy and wearing clothes with white power slogans.

Perhaps it's this ideology of white supremacy that leads Casey's to hang a confederate flag from its walls3. Perhaps it's the ideology's affinity for violence that made Papariella jump the bar to slam a customer's head into the wall because the customer "fonzied" the jukebox4. It's violence like this that fuels rumors of Papariella's association with the violent, drug-dealing and often racist Pagan Motorcycle Club (one of the "Big Four" so-called Outlaw Biker Gangs according to the feds)5. Perhaps this ideology is why he sued the City of Pittsburgh in 2003 for hiring "less qualified" minorities instead him for the Pittsburgh Police Department6. (On this count, this reporter agrees with Papariella—who could be more qualified to be a cop than a violent, racist, sexist gang member?)

This all seems to explain a lot. This drink special is obviously not so "harmless" as a racial slur uttered as a joke; it is a political statement meant to capitalize on the immigration debate—a tactic that white supremacists have been using for the last several years.


3 Flag is Visible for the last 6 seconds of the video:

\"Mark\" and Mike
by by Marc Tacchini Thursday, Mar. 27, 2008 at 1:53 AM

\"Mark\" a...
mark-mike.jpg, image/jpeg, 670x438

If you look carefully at the facial features (especially the nose and ears) of the "Mark" from the news and Mike Papariella in his Built Upon Frustration days, it becomes fairly obvious that the two are the same person.

Know Thy Enemy
by Swas Thursday, Mar. 27, 2008 at 3:28 AM

Go get a late pass

Mark is not Mike
by South Sider Wednesday, Apr. 02, 2008 at 6:45 PM

While they may look a like at first glance, the photos are NOT the same person. I know Mike Papariella casually and that is not him in the first photo. I can't confirm or deny any of the other assertions about his racists beliefs however.

Mark and Mike
by KBunny Thursday, Apr. 03, 2008 at 4:14 PM

Well, if 'Mark' is not Michael Papariella... then why is he identifying himself as the owner of the bar? And why is he refusing to give his last name?

Mark and Mike
by Paco Saturday, Apr. 05, 2008 at 7:27 PM

They are two different people, co-owners of Garage door, Mike still plays with Fight Machine once in awhile, unknown about his status with Built Upon. Mark is a good guy just trying to be a business man who made an unpopular decision. Mike is the sole owner of Caseys Draft House, where he recently opened the Wetback Bar and Grill on the second floor. He advertises it as a tequila bar. He has a confederate flag hanging in the bar on the 1st floor and exploits a Midget on Mondays and Saturdays. He hates all people of color, He joined the outlaw motorcycle group, Pagons, last year. If you see him he will be wearing black and some 1% logo on his gear or support 16's. That shows that he does not respect anything but his felon brothers. He is a white supremacist and treats women like dirt just ask his live in girl friend and his side piece, Arlana. His home is listed under his fathers name, Tony, in the Bridgeville-Cecil area. Enjoy this correct info.

by John Lacny Monday, Apr. 07, 2008 at 7:36 PM

The landlord for the property appears to be Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Inc., of 227 W. 8th Avenue in Homestead. (The address for the saloon is 223 Atwood, and the property listed on the county real estate website is 219 Atwood, but if you check the photo on the property, it clearly applies to the whole block.)

Rub-a-Dub-Dub is located at the same address as National Builders and Acceptance Corp (NBAC), a mortgage and real estate company.

dumb people
by Asian man Tuesday, Apr. 08, 2008 at 7:54 PM

you stupid aa#hole. mike and mark are two differant people. Where in the f#ck did you go to school? One is 6'4 and the other is 5'10. black people where black pride shirts so why cant a white person where a white pride shirt? Did you know that mike lives with an Asian women? wow he must be really racist. I hope he sues you punks. As for the midget he makes over $100,000 a year, has been on howard stern show, free trip to greece. and laughs all the way to the bank. i am going to find out your names and post them for everyone to see

by south side Tuesday, Apr. 08, 2008 at 8:00 PM

Yes you are so right. they both do have a nose and ears. you would make a heck of a cop. quit smoken the weed dude its frying your brain.

by ? Tuesday, Apr. 08, 2008 at 9:58 PM

maybe they're two different people.
maybe not.
who cares.
either he owns racist bar
he's co-owner of racist bar
either he has ties to white power movement
he co-owns a bar with a guy who does

Don't speak
by kdog Thursday, Apr. 10, 2008 at 2:00 PM

First of all Mark and Mike are 2 completely different people, and this is a FACT because I know them both personally. Not even close in size or tat's. Don't speak if you don't know the facts. No one needs to know the "facts" from someone who doesn't do their home work. If you don't like what the bars or slogans stand for just keep on walking. They don't need your business as they do quit well without it. You are what is wrong with the county and why everything leads to huge lawsuits, riots, and hospitalization. Take a person for who they are or not, it's all a matter of personal taste.

by kdog Thursday, Apr. 10, 2008 at 2:15 PM

bunch of idiots i tell ya.

and another thing
by friends Thursday, Apr. 10, 2008 at 8:56 PM

And if you can't just take it for what it's worth you are just a small minded person and I would much rather be around people who can be open minded and just let things that don't consern them go. No one is forcing anyone to go to a place where they don't want to, so take your money to a place where everyone has the same views as yourself, and let the bigger person just go and have fun and pay no attention to words. You obviously were taught sticks and stones my break my bones but names will never hurt me, or this wouldn't be an issue at all.

Marc Tacchini: rumor monger
by South Sider Friday, Apr. 11, 2008 at 4:53 PM

Sorry but the original "author" of this article accomplishes nothing and may even be hurting his proclaimed clause by writing rumors and then providing citations as if this were journalism.

Do I find "wetback wednesdays" repulsive? absolutely.
Am I bothered by the confederate flag hanging in Casey's? Yes.
Is there a place for this type of thing in society? I sure as hell hope not.

The problem is that in order to fight this type of bigotry, you need facts and moral ground to stand on. The author little of either.

There are so many inaccuracies and supposition in the article that it renders it useless. Aside from the facts noted above everything else is baseless and blatently self serving. The author tries to legitimize his agenda by providing references that don't hold up. How can he then claim ethical high ground?


The two people in the photos are not the same person. That is a fact.

South Side Sin City does not own Casey's. Mike Papariella owns it solely in another company name. Check out the department of state bureau of corporations. Mark is not a listed owner of Casey's.

The author cites as fact an incident where Papariella allegedly jumps the bar and punches a patron. Problem is that Papariella is 5'10" at best, closer to 5'8" I think, not near the 6'4" that is as described. Who cites a anonymous post on an obscure message board as fact?

It is alleged that Papariella was kicked out of BUF because of his racist views. Where's the proof? If the author likes citations so much, wouldn't this be the perfect instance for it? did you ask any of the other members of the band what happened?

The author readily admits that much of what he says regarding the Pagans and white supremacy is rumor and hearsay. When you are making such strong and vile accusations about someone, you have the responsibility to back them up with facts.

I would in no way defend Papariella or any one else if they had racists views, but I would never condemn them without making damn sure that that I knew what I was talking about. Tacchini's libelous, self serving and mostly inaccurate rant does nothing but call into question his judgement.

He has his opinion and wants to further his agenda, facts be damned. Funny, but from that perspective he has more in common with racists than the cause he hopes to promote.

I'm glad that people did not sit by and let wetback wednesdays go without a fight. Racism should never be tolerated. Just don't do the fight more harm than good by spouting lies and ignoring facts. Leave that up the the racists.

This is fun
by Wardog Friday, Apr. 11, 2008 at 10:53 PM

I like how some of you are mentioning height, weight and tattoos to distingish Mike and Mark apart. If you just look at the photos none of that information can be determined, except the tats on the right pic of Mike. I agree and know for a fact they are two different people but some of you are wasting your time with your evidence. Just say you know them. If you need evidence of Mike joining the Pagans go hang out at Caseys and you will see him wearing his Pagan gear. 1% and support 16's. There is no web site for that information of membership. But when you wear colors you are in a gang. As for fighting, if you want to talk to either Mike or Mark about that, ask them about the fight in 2004 which they caved a guys face in and got sued and lost in civil court. And the Midget may make $100,000 but its not from Caseys only, he has a real job which pays most of his bills. And yes Mike does live with a Asian women who he cheats on daily with. She is more of an object or property to him not a girlfriend. Thats why he is never out with her. Racism is wrong and hurtful if you go to either of these places, Casey's or the Garage Door, you are supporting it and organized crime with the Pagans, since Mike is a member. WDF-FWD

ummm Wardog
by South Sider Tuesday, Apr. 15, 2008 at 12:08 AM

Where in that lawsuit does it say anything about Papariella jumping the bar and being involved in the fight?

If you're going to bring someone down, you need the facts to do it.

by EA1 Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2008 at 5:41 PM

Based on your pictures and your comments then you sir or madame are truly and idiot, first things first, the two gentle men in the pictures look absolutly nothing alike nothing a blind man can see that. I am not sure just how they let someone with your lack of itellagence do something like this. It ois stupid people like you that cause all the un wanted trouble, and contraversy you always try to make something out of nothing, it was a simply play on words, and that is that. My advice to you is to Grow Up

by EA1 Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2008 at 5:50 PM

while you are busy spreading word about people you know oviously absolutly nothing about, you maybe should check your self. You complain about harmless word, while you go and give peoples information out and try like hell to cause trouble, well you kind of trouble is the only kind that will get people hurt, you should really think before you speak and you should definetly get your facts straight, it is sad little people like you that should be a shamed and not br permitted to speak, Freedom of speach should not apply to idiots and Jerks such as your self.

by EA1 Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2008 at 5:53 PM
course stipend

And your point would be what?

by ABC123 Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2008 at 6:06 PM

you can not be fore real. It always amazes me on how people speak about things they know absolutly nothing about. You all crack me up your so worried about, the Midget, his live in girlfriend, his veiws towards racisum, but you know nothing, The midget as you so polity referr to him, happens to be a very nice guy, who is quit happy with his job, and his friendship with Mr. Paperella. He is in no way shape or form expolited, He does nothing unless he chooses to do so, and believe me he chooses. As for his live in girl friend as you all keep referring to her as, Umm Hello it is 2008 and I dont think that there is a woman out there who doesnt handle her business, I am quit sure that he cant be treating her all that bad as you all say, cause I think she would walk away, I know she would walk away, so grow up mind your business and remember what your Mother should of but oviously didnt teach you, If you cant say something nice, Then Shut your mouth,

You clearly still know nothing
by ABC123 Wednesday, Apr. 23, 2008 at 6:11 PM

for all of you who care to know mike is not the former anything of BUF, He still is very much in the band if I am not mistaken he was and is a original of BUF FACTS people FACTS

this was fun?
by hurtful people Tuesday, Apr. 29, 2008 at 2:06 AM

thanks for having fun saying personal things about people involved having no idea who, what, and what they go through. this is about a bar not private lives of innocent bystanders. glad it was fun for you

hurtful people
by a.p. Tuesday, Apr. 29, 2008 at 2:13 AM

glad to know you have so much info on this man and his personal life but in your rant did you ever consider the innocent that you hurt? this is about a bar..... not family members or loved ones or whoever.

jealous bit(hes!!!!
by don't worry about it Tuesday, Apr. 29, 2008 at 2:35 AM

obviously the girls who are writing about the asian, live in girlfriend are just jealous as all hell!!!! are you that pathetic that u could never be her? yea, i'd be jealous too if i was into a guy who would never give me the time of day or acted the slightest interested when the girl who you are hating on gets the best of mike!!! i know this girl very well... and you stupid bitches obviously would never have the balls to say anything to her or any of her friends, instead you have to resort to stupid internet comments... GET A fucking life!!!!

remember.... this is all about his bar - he had nothing to do with putting a sign up for.... and you have to go and exploit his personal life on here probably because you like him and you know that he would never ever leave his 8-year girlfriend who's shoes you could never fill!!!!

give it up bitches!!!!

by nobody Monday, May. 12, 2008 at 3:31 AM

you have no idea what you have done,spread and who to. Get ur facts straight.....

by War Dog Tuesday, May. 13, 2008 at 6:49 AM

I hate to break the news to you all, these are facts. Maybe not something you can look up on the all mighty internet, but facts none the less. That is why people are still posting comments about the comments. Most of you know Mike have drank with Mike maybe even shot guns off inside his bar after hours drinking til the sun comes up. He has a serious attitude problem and does cheat like hell on his girlfriend and hates minorities. One person mentioned that if this was true then she would leave. Maybe you are unaware that up until a few months ago she was very sick with kidney problems and had to have a transplant. Was Mike there sure he was, but was his side piece living and sleeping in the same house and bed as his girlfriend while she was near death, you bet your ass. Again not something you can look up on the internet. One posting mentioned the innocent people hurt, well maybe its time the people who have been getting used and smoke screened by Mike realize he is not as great as he thinks he is. Also he was not an original member of BUF he just got asked to join a couple of years ago because a friend of a friend moved on and some knew he could play that type of music. I do belive he was an orginal member of Fight Machine a local Southside band, so as one person put it. Facts people facts. I am guessing that some of you on this site know Mike and consider him a friend. Some may just enjoy bitching on a site. But to the people who know Mike and are complaining about whos being hurt and why are you draging his personal life into this. My answer to you is why protect him? Why not let people know that if you patronize his bar you are giving money to a man who is a memember of the Pagan Motorcycle Gang, is racist, treats women like shit. You and others buying drinks at his bar fuel this lifestyle. Everyone has there skeletons, I gues you just hope you don't fuck up and get put in the spotlight cuz they all come out. By the way when someone who knows Mike reads this, tell his to take down that torn and tattered American flag, its a discrace to be displayed in that condition. Either replace it or don't have it up. And get rid of that other flag hanging there, it looks like shit, covering and American flag. Land of the free, home of the Brave and 1st amendment freedom of speech rights.

by ? Wednesday, May. 14, 2008 at 7:29 AM

Think about what u r doing and what u r saying. Treat others the way u want to be treated. Stop spreading gossip or even facts about people. It just makes u as bad as him. Actually worse because u have your own personal vendetta against him. Before u decide 2 keep this up 1. Y dont u Write ur real name down 2. You were friends with him at one point bc u know alot and 3. Who really are you trying 2hurt? Enough is enough .. Dont go 2 either of his bars there r plenty more 2 choose from. Yes he is an asshole but do u really think he cares? Prob not. So I doubt whatever u spread will change anything.u can't change people. I swear there r so many more important things. Ban his bars from ur own life. People will choose where they want to drink. U did ur deed....

Racist Garage Door Saloon
by UPitt Alumni Sunday, Jun. 15, 2008 at 7:58 PM

I didn't realize how far Garage Door Saloon had fallen...

In a nutshell, the owners wanted to have a themed weekday to bring in more patrons, so they created Wetback Wednesdays, which offered specials on Coronas and tacos. Students from the three Oakland-based universities boycotted the bar and were covered in local news and even in a short snippet on CNN. In reaction, Garage Door management made statements such as, "It's an ad meant to be eye-catching, and it obviously is," and, "The term refers to illegal immigrants, not Mexicans in general. It's not a racist term, it's more pro-American than anything." Irritated (and probably drunk) students eventually stole the "Wetback Wednesday" signs, and, miraculously, the replacement signs had a new name: "Mexican American Wednesdays." Wow, that QUICKLY became more respectful.

After the name change, the chaos died down. Personally, I find the new name a stab at the protesters, but Garage Door did what was asked of them with little harm done. I actually thought that maybe they had learned something.

However, Facebook did what it does best and revealed the true face of Garage Door. The group became a host of customer complaints, most of them ignorable but a few unforgettable. A friend of the owners frequents the group's wall, insulting people and claiming that action does nothing in the long run, people are wasting their time, there are bigger problems in the world - the typical, run-of-the-mill pacifism and laziness that supporters of intolerance cling to. His comments about Wetback Wednesdays mirror nearly all supporters who've voiced their opinion in the group, saying, "... so what if [the owner's] racist?"

Obviously, his attitude shouldn't be reflective of the owners. This testimonial is, though:

... I was at the Garage Door Bar Saloon on Atwood St. A student had left his ID inside the bar and was giving the bouncer a hard time about letting him back in. I will admit that the male student, who had dark curly hair and a large nose, was rude and perhaps too physical with the bouncer, but the bouncer screamed across the bar "get this fucking Jew his ID already!" When the guy's friends said that the student was not even Jewish, and also told the bouncer that even if he were it was not an excuse to be a racist, the bouncer responded that he had every right to be a racist, that he had every right to deny patronage to his bar, and that he had every right not to deal with this "fucking Jew." He used the F-word about 5 times immediately followed by "Jew." I was a few feet away from the entrance and told my friends I felt very uncomfortable and wanted to speak with the manager. My friends all agreed that it was the right thing to do, so I asked the bar tender if the manager was in. She told me "You are looking at her." I began to tell her what I had just heard from the bouncer, I told her that I was Jewish, and I told her that I found this bouncer's words very offensive. She told me "He's my husband, he was talking to me, and he said nothing wrong" She said she was sorry if she made me uncomfortable, but she repeated that she felt he did nothing wrong. My friends and I left the bar immediately.

Another girl, who was present during the argument, also posted, explaining that the "fucking Jew" was her boyfriend. The bouncer threw her out because she got upset when he started swearing at her. Her boyfriend stepped in, and that's when the yelling began - there was a physical confrontation that her boyfriend's father had to break up. Her boyfriend wouldn't leave without his ID, and the bouncer wouldn't let him go to the bar. The bartender/manager stood laughing throughout the encounter.

I didn't go to Garage Door while I was in Pittsburgh, and, after reading the above, I definitely don't plan to go again. I wish there was more that I could do, but, living in DC, this is my only option. I hope that the people who read this and are still in Pittsburgh realize how much of a problem people like this are. Neither racial stereotyping nor racial slurs are "okay." It doesn't matter who raised you, how you grew up, or who your friends are - advertisements and statements that the Garage Door boasts are never acceptable. If we let things like this go, we are saying that it's fine to hate based on skin color and myths of the past.

So, I ask that you choose from one of the many other bars in Oakland. You can find cheap beer, sticky floors, and rowdy college students anywhere else without promoting intolerance. Go to Hemmingways, where people are cool, American (open to all cultures), and everyone becomes a friend after the first beer.

Pagons, Ha!
by pointer Saturday, Mar. 07, 2009 at 8:41 AM

I have had a few run-in's with Pagons.
when it was over they knew to respect me
I can handle my self
- Ness

by childhood friend Monday, Jun. 29, 2009 at 1:25 PM

Those are two different people. Mark is part owner with Mike. I have known Mr. Papriella since his Duquesne University Days and he was not the one interviewed sonce he principally runs Casey's Draft House. I do not defend any actions- just want you to get your story correct.

wetback wendsday
by Alison Billings Monday, Mar. 01, 2010 at 8:44 AM

wetback wendsday...
39.jpg, image/jpeg, 320x229

wetback wendsday is a fine tradition and we in oakland defend it

Mike Papariella is fucking awesome!!
by Sarah g. Sunday, Jun. 09, 2013 at 5:56 PM

Mike Papariella is one of the best people I've ever known & I've known him over ten years. He's very intelligent & definitely not a racist. He just doesn't like assholes, nothing to do with race. I think a lot of people are jealous of his success & hate on him for it, those are the ones with a personality flaw/problem- not Pap! ;-)

© 2001-2009 Pittsburgh Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not endorsed by the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center.
Disclaimer | Privacy