Saturday, September 30, 2006

Menendez Jumps the Shark

If Sen. Bob Menendez loses in November, September 28 will be remembered as the day his campaign "jumped the shark." This phrase refers to an episode of "Happy Days" when Fonzie, wearing water skis & a leather jacket, jumped over a shark. Fans of the show generally agree it's the point at which the show began it's long, final decline, & so the amusing phrase has passed into the popular lexicon as signifying the tipping point for a TV show or a career. The election is no longer Menendez's to win or lose. It may now depend on his colorless opponent with the high name recognition, Tom Kean Junior, managing to avoid any major faux pax. If Senator Menendez desired the worst kind of national attention for his campaign, he could hardly have picked a more effective way to do it than to vote "yea" on S. 3930. For his vote, he receives absolutely no credit from Republicans. He's no Joe Lieberman. But for the liberal left, what he did was scandalous. For Menendez is not the President's war hawk pal or a Democrat representing a solidly conservative midwestern state, but a Senator from New Jersey, which twice soundly rejected George W. Bush for President. New Jerseyans were never bamboozled into believing Saddam ordered the attacks on 9/11. New Jersey has not elected a Republican to the Senate since 1972.

I could go into other reasons Senator Menendez is struggling. He was not a clear popular choice for Senator when Governor Corzine needed to appoint his own replacement; it was an open field. Many of us wanted some kind of primary campaign, with another candidate running to the left or right of Menendez to test him in debates, on current issues. His 13th Congressional district is urban, geographically small, controled by three of this state's strongest county machines, including the two that allied & conspired to give us former Gov. Jim "Parkway Rest Stop" McGreevey. Menendez was practically unknown to voters outside of a narrow zone bordering the rivers that divide Jersey from New York City. & he was associated, fairly or unfairly, with the Hudson County Democratic organization, the nastiest & historically most notorious in the state. So there you have it. Given one clear, beautiful & obvious opportunity to inspire & solidify his support from Democratic voters throughout New Jersey, who are already united in opposition to the current adminstration in the White House, but many of whom felt some other congressman or state legislator would have been a better pick for the senate seat Menendez is trying to keep, & he managed to blow it. He proved us correct. There were better choices.

Friday, September 29, 2006

His "yea" earns my "nay"

With disappointment & sadness, I have concluded that I cannot vote for Sen. Bob Menendez in November. Of course, I will not vote for his Republican opponent.

I had a terrible dream last night. Not about S. 3930 or Sgt. Howard or national politics. But it was a narrative & not entirely irrational dream, & in it, a pet lamb that I had been charged with protecting was butchered & roasted on a backyard grill by a family I'd invited over. A barbecue party from hell. It was a fascinating dream, but I was not amused by it as I am by some of my dreamtime encounters with scary, demonic characters.

Over in the bloglist on the right there are websites with names like Street Prophets, Sojourners, The Revealer, Preemptive Karma, Talk to Action, Public Christian. There's more in my browser bookmarks. I am not a religious person, but I visit these religion-oriented websites because I have to remind myself on a daily basis that many matters involve
morality in ways that transcend American politics; that often it's about humanity, or sentient life itself. There are moments when I do not have, nor do I even want to consider, the flexible ethics & rationales of political partisans

I know history; struggles & movements seen in context,over years, decades & centuries, through eras of progression & regression. I was raised in a religious tradition that says emphatically: The lamb dies now but it wins anyway. That hardly diminishes the horror of witnessing the slaughter. The President keeps repeating the mantra that our enemies "hate everything America stands for." But what happens when we, because of fear or political expediency, no longer stand for what we supposedly stand for?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sgt. 1st Class Merideth Howard

Dear God, what is wrong with this country? This news story is the first I read today. It made me feel sick. Another honorable, dutiful National Guard soldier killed in action. What makes her different? She held undergraduate and master's degrees in marine biology. She was the first female firefighter in Bryant, Texas. She owned a business. She was Sgt. 1st Class. She was 52 years old & the Army called her up for active duty & had her manning a turret gun in Afghanistan! Killed in the same action was a 43 year old Staff Sgt. Are we as desperate as the Russians beating back the Nazis from the Gates of Moscow? Dear God, what is wrong with this country?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Blogger has been having systemwide glitches over the past few days. Atleast I know this craziness is not my PC.

Don't say milk say Brennan's

I was delighted yesterday to learn that an old "prose" piece was being rescued from the invisible purgatory of little magazine print & anthologized in a book. The title of this piece is "The Orson Welles Guide to the Afterlife." I'd forgotten about it, & if anyone had reminded me, I would've remembered that I'd written it, & published it, but not recalled where.

There's no clear border between my prose & poems. In fact, the poems aren't clearly separated from anything else I do except where I've decided or been forced to categorize creative output. I've embedded poems in prose, prose in poems, mixed both within radio programs, newspaper columns & webpages. I've made visual poems using collage, photograpy, & animated gifs. I've done aural poems with tape & warped records, limited only by lack of technological resources or training. My long poem "Boardwalk" is also a libretto & a boardwalk. None of this was "experimental." I have no original ideas.

As a child I was fascinated by the way language was presented:
Don't say
milk say
Bren nan's

The break in Brennan's was caused by the seam in the waxy cardboard milk carton. I recited it aloud over & over while eating KIX before going to school, then I read the cramped side of the cereal box the same way. At school I was flabbergasted not to say really annoyed by burned-out teachers who filled the blackboards (which as I advanced through the grades became green, then wipe-off white) with notes they copied from their notebooks & expected students to copy in turn into our notebooks. This was both stupid teaching & bad blackboard art. On the other hand, I liked when kids had to stay after school & write "I will not talk in class" 100 times on the board as punishment. The finished work was always there the next morning, then poof, was erased like words in the sand after a wave washed over them; you could still see something, a design, but you couldn't literally read it.

I was intrigued by news scrolling in one endless line across a sign in Times Square comprised of hundreds of small lightbulbs, even turning a corner. I could focus on a single moving word & not read anything following it. Or I raced ahead of the moving script, which took me, in a sense, into the past (or was it the future?). A ball bouncing from syllable to syllable on song lyrics in sing-a-long cartoons. Taken one syllable at a time, spoken or sung language is just sound. When written, there's the visual component, one's handwriting, the typography, line breaks, or how words fit into a larger visual scheme, like a roadside sign or a magazine advertisement. Some of the favorite lines of poetry I've written are the most plainly prosaic, which is exactly the effect I want them to have in the context of the poem, like the eye wandering across the detailed facade of a church & stopping on the neon-lit phrase, "Jesus saves." In the midst of the confusing pastiche of Shakespearian paraphrases & B movie references that comprise "The Orson Welles Guide," there's the line,"If Dick Clark gives you money, take it immediately to a gypsy!" The entire sentence is supposed to have the effect of the exclamation point concluding it: You can rest here for a moment but that doesn't mean you'll understand where the hell you are. Like the mysterious break between Bren & nan's.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Took a few days to prepare the street outside for paving, but once the paving machine & steamroller moved in late this afternoon, half the road for a long block was covered & packed down within minutes. I hardly had time to grab the camera.

Yipes. Right now, if the Mets had to play the Phillies for 3 out of 5 next week, I'd pick the Phillies in 5. Fortunately for the Mets, the Phillies will be playing elsewhere or not at all.

Noxious gas cloud sickens dozens in Elizabeth N.J.
This occurred several miles east & downwind of where I live, over by the Jersey Turnpike, a localized event. Heard about it on the radio. It was near a big shopping mall & the airport. The closest manufacturing industries to me are pharmaceuticals with excellent safety reps. The only really strong noxious fumes here today were awful cooking odors coming from the apartment beneath me, I had two fans running. I try not to imagine goat's head soup.

Sir Malcolm Arnold, composer

British composer Sir Malcolm Arnold died Saturday at age 84. He's known in America for the music he composed for "Bridge On the River Kwai," a score he finished in ten days, & for which he won an "Oscar." He didn't write the memorable "Colonel Bogey March" whistled by British prisoners-of-war & Mitch Miller's Gang, just the counter-melody played by the orchestra. Hardly my favorite movie composer, but his style is instantly recognizable once you've heard a few of his scores.

Every obituary puts a slightly different spin on his life, & opinion on his worth remains divided; Arnold is controversial. That's not a bad place for an artist to be at the end. He suffered from manic-depressive disease at the least - perhaps schizophrenia. Broken marriages, alcoholism, womanizing, lengthy hospitalizations, finally deemed by a court of law unfit to take care of himself. In the decade after that 1984 court ruling he went on the wagon, finished his 9th Symphony & was knighted. Go figure. His "serious" music was wildly out-of-fashion most of his life, since it was tonal & melodic, often very personal, & occasionally goofy (I've never heard his Grand Grand Overture (1956), scored for three vacuum cleaners, a floor polisher, four rifles and an orchestra). He also dabbled in "art rock" back in the 70s. He was an insecure yet stubborn artist. But as symphonies & tonality came back into style, Arnold's reputation rose. I'm partial to a series of orchestral dances inspired by traditional British, Irish, Scottish & French music. I haven't really warmed up to his symphonies, though I'm convinced they're worth some effort & keep trying. Some of his film scores have been reissued, including better ones than "Kwai."

Malcolm Arnold's last two decades were apparently pretty contented ones. He had a devoted caretaker & friend. Two cycles were recorded of his complete symphonies. Two lengthy book biographies published, plus a film documentary. His death made front page headline on BBC World Edition on Sunday.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Keansburg NJ

Across the evening sky, all the birds are leaving
But how can they know it's time for them to go?
Before the winter fire, I will still be dreaming
I have no thought of time
For who knows where the time goes?
Who knows where the time goes?

from "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" by Sandy Denny
Hear it performed by Susanna Hoffs & Matthew Sweet

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Friday, September 22, 2006

Banning torture does not ensure justice

These 7 interrogation methods are not permitted under the Geneva Conventions:

1) induced hypothermia
2) long periods of forced standing
3) sleep deprivation
4) the "attention grab" (forcefully seizing the suspect's shirt)
5) the "attention slap"
6) the "belly slap"
7) sound and light manipulation.

I can say that 1, 2, 4, & 6 were used by coaches & gym teachers in my public high school. I didn't attend a tough high school. I know that certain teachers, male & female, from Catholic religious orders in that era went far beyond beyond an "attention slap." I associate 2, 3, & 7 with the Boy Scouts. Hypothermia was always voluntary. Neither my high school nor my Boy Scout Troop were covered by the Geneva Conventions. They should have been, because I witnessed unacceptable behavior masquerading as discipline & group initiation.

But there's more to President Bush's power grabs than what constitutes torture. Still, let us remind ourselves that torture as defined under the Geneva Conventions is a war crime no matter who does it or to whom or why. It is a crime by those who commit it & by those who order it. The Associated Press story on the agreement between Bush & the so-called "GOP Rebels" quotes Elisa Massimino, Washington director of Human Rights First: "Today's agreement makes clear that the president cannot unilaterally downgrade the humane treatment standards of the Geneva Conventions." So I wandered over to the HRF website to see what kind of organization they are - a lot of high-priced lawyers on the various boards, but it doesn't look like a neocon front group, & to their credit they haven't given up investigating the collusion between British government security agencies & the notorious Ulster Defense Association, a little-known story on this side of the Atlantic. There I found the rest of Ms. Massimino's statement, in an HRF press release, which concludes with this paragraph:
While the deal does not redefine the Geneva standards, concerns remain. The question whether the Administration’s interpretation of Geneva standards comports with the law is still open. The agreement would also make it more difficult to ensure that those whose Geneva Convention rights are violated can get justice in the courts. "Secret detentions without judicial oversight invite abuses. And if there is no forum in which abuses can be exposed, then the force of the clear prohibition against inhumane treatment will be undermined," Ms. Massimino said.
Sounds to me like she has serious reservations. If Human Rights First does, so do I.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Didn't feel like writin' today so here's another new photo.

Actually, I did write but it was over at Street Prophets.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

digital camera

I'm not certain how I did it, but managed to shoot some digital photos, save them, & transfer them by memory card to my cranky PC. No idea how I accidently shot a video of my feet. But having accomplished these simple steps, now I can study the users manual knowing that I'm not wasting my time. Jim Coleman a.k.a. Midnight Commander gave me his HP Photosmart when he decided to invest in a digital worthy of his talent & experience. For me, this basic camera more than satisfies my desire for instant gratification. I'll keep taking 35mm film photos when I expect to be out & about scenery, but this will be the everyday camera I tuck in my pocket so that when, like the other evening, I come across a smoky fire in a used car lot, maybe I can snap amusing pics of the onlookers waving their cell phones & taking photos of smoke. Every camera - even an oatmeal box pinhole using x-ray film (a WWII thing) - can give you cool photos.

a guitarist, a bodybuilder

Al Casey: Atmospheric session guitarist who worked with many leading American performers from the Sixties, including Duane Eddy, the Beach Boys, the Everly Brothers, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin. Recorded "Surfin' Hootenanny."

Mickey Hargitay: Champion bodybuilder, actor husband of Jayne Mansfield, played Vegas with Mae West, starred in "Bloody Pit of Horror" (1965), father of Mariska Hargitay. He was spotted in the Vegas show by Jayne, who, when asked what she would like to have, reputedly answered, "I'll have a steak and the man on the left."


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Celebrity Short Guys & a CSI Summary

Last week I watched Woody Allen on the Dick Cavett Show from October 1971. That was his "Bananas" period. It was also the brief golden age of celebrity short guys from New York. Woody (5'5"), Cavett (5'6"), Paul Simon (5'3"). Dustin Hoffman (5'6 3/4"). Abe Beame (5'2") was elected Mayor of New York City in 1973. Of course, Phil "The Scooter" Rizzuto (5'6") was a fixture in the Yankees broadcast booth.

My cousin (5'5" & a Ph.D in something to do with the Renaissance) was married to a woman (also Ph.D) at least 5 inches taller, it was surely a meeting of the minds, but when she got pregnant we started calling him "Tiger."

I didn't feel short in 1971; I was dating a 5'2" nursing student who had to come up a few inches to nibble my ear. Strangely, women below that height would only be with men at least 5'10".
On CSI: Miami season premiere, Caine & Delko were in Brazil to revenge murder a guy who ordered the hit on Delko's sister & Caine's new wife, who had inoperable cancer, & it was just a matter of which of them would do the killing. But first Caine's sleazy cop brother, who was believed dead & then turned up alive, had to be whacked for certain in a particularly gruesome way by the drug dealers with whom he associated, which renewed the subplot concerning the erotic & incestuously-toned attraction between Caine & his anorexic sister-in-law. So it came down to a knife fight on a helicopter pad overlooking Rio de Janeiro, & Delko got in his licks, but top-billed David Caruso got to fatally stick the personification of evil who had vowed to Caine he would "take away everything you love." Standing over the dead body, Caine gazed upward at the gigantic Cristo Redentor statue on Corcovado mountain. Then our two crime scene investigators flew back to Miami & quickly busted up a Brazil-to-Florida smuggling operation that used boys, including Caine's nephew, as drug mules. Given that much of the episode was filmed using actual Brazil locations, the only real surprise was that it wasn't stretched out as a two-parter.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Most Played Artists at WFMU

From a staff email sent around today, the most played artists on WFMU as collected from the playlist search.
  1. The Beatles 439
  2. Bob Dylan 405
  3. Beach Boys 397
  4. Ramones 391
  5. Johnny Cash 390
  6. the fall 355
  7. Elvis Presley 343
  8. NRBQ 330
  9. Ennio Morricone 317
  10. R. Stevie Moore 315
  11. The Clash 311
  12. James Brown 306
  13. The Kinks 304
  14. Rolling Stones 278
  15. Wire 274
  16. Neil Young 269
  17. John Lee Hooker 266
  18. Fatcat & Fishface 260
  19. Nina Simone 249
Given the thousands of recordings aired every week at WFMU, the pleasant surprise is how low these numbers are. I would suggest that The Ramones are the most widely liked band at WFMU. Neil Young gets the majority of his plays from a core of staff fans, including me (20 since '02). I tend make Neil & Dylan central to sets in which they are featured, while I play antique songs by The Stones & Beach Boys more casually. But my Dylan choices are nearly always from his '65-'66 recordings. Even at my rate of only a dozen shows each year, certain artists add up. I've never been much for playing The Kinks (0) or The Beatles (1). My admiration for R. Stevie has rarely been reflected through his songs in my playlists, but rather in the artists he's pointed to as influences. Fatcat & Fishface plays are inflated due to use as a regular birthday song on Greasy Kid Stuff show, & NRBQ are there entirely because of Bob Brainen's enthusiasm for the band.

These plays are only since 2002, when many DJs were still not posting playlists. But it would be interesting to see a list that adds in all the online playlists from pre-archive years, which encompassed an era of major LP re-releases in single CDs & box sets. I suspect Velvet Underground, Elvis Costello, Sonic Youth, & pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd would crack top 20. The list doesn't show the popularity of songwriters or producers, where a DJ cites an artist but chose the cut for a Burt Bacharach tune or Lee "Scratch" Perry behind the board. & the search engine won't look for a single character li e X, another venerable group.

DJ William Berger once said that Led Zep are everyone's secret fav band at the station. I asked if he meant it in a symbolic sense, that is, we all loved some popular "classic rock" group (for me, say, The Doors). He said no, he meant Zep literally. With about 90 plays, Zep is popular by WFMU standards. But Black Sabbath beats them with 111.

[Ornette Coleman 125; John Cage 89; Skeeter Davis 60; John Coltrane 134; Willie Nelson 145; Love 120; Cowsills 37; Bruce Springsteen 22 (at least double that including Glen Jones' unlisted plays) ; Camper Van Beethoven 85: Ludwig van Beethoven 14.]

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Asbury Park NJ

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

Angel Light

For the past month I've mostly been reading very entertaining if not first rate mystery novels, & couple of bestseller pot-boilers circa 1999. Chapters are short - most of these books could easily have been blogged, & were likely written in one or two hour daily installments. Which you can do when you have a contract for your next book before the current one is finished. So I thought I'd try something different, a contemporary Irish-American fantasy novel by Andrew Greeley, Angel Light. 150 pages in & the only reason I keep going is a perverse fascination with finding out if the second half is as awful as the first half. I don't know the protagonist any better than I did back on page 20, & I didn't like him or his family much then. The story is old & there's nothing wrong with recycling it; marry a certain woman within a specified amount of time & win a huge inheritance. This requires a trip to Ireland. There are angelic, or rather seraphic miracles on every other page - mostly instant gratification stuff, brought about by Raphael, who initiated contact disguised as an internet travel agent & turns out to be a rather sexy female who looks like she has healthy appetite. Greeley's take on sexuality is quaintly peculiar, & occasionally really weird, which may or may not have to do with his being a Catholic priest. The seraphim are sexual creatures in his telling, but the males are "life-givers" & the females "life-bearers," a pre-scientific view from when it was believed that male sperm contained all the necessary ingredients for creating a fetus & female womb was required only as a repository. This view carries over to the relationships between human men & women in the novel. The descriptions of women's bodies have a peek-a-boo quality, like looking through a hole in the girls' locker room wall or getting sentimental about a woman nursing a baby in public - the "maternal breasts" thing. Maybe Greeley's priest-detective novels are better.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

It's only a low pressure system centered over Jersey. But if it had a name as a Category 2 hurricane in the same location... I wouldn't want to be at Coney Island.

I like this late afternoon capture from Monmouth Beach cam.

Hoe Down

Virginia Senate candidate George Allen is holding a fund-raising "Hoe Down" in October & his ticket price levels are like fantasy scenarios one might purchase at a Nevada Ho House:

Ranch Hand $50.00

Buckaroo $1,000.00

Cow Boss $2,500.00

Ranch Boss $5,000.00

El Ranchero Grande $10,000.00

Well, a wrangler can get a "Ranch Hand" just about anywhere & conveniently without even getting off his horse. Nothing unusual about the "Buckaroo" price, yippi-i-oo. "Ranch Boss" is easy to imagine; the lady wears a ten gallon hat, brings out the spurs, whip, maybe even a branding iron. The "El Ranchero Grande" really must be something.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Rescheduled a a Dr. appt. last month because it was too dang hot so of course today a drizzle started right after I left & kept up all the way to the clinic. I was roused early this morning by paving equipment moving on the street below my window, then a front loader began literally scraping off the old asphalt - that was a sound! - exposing the interesting original brickwork pavement (wasn't cobblestone). There's at least one place in town where old trolley rails are still visible.
Tenants Run Apartment Radio (Jul, 1940)

If the Ramapo College of NJ campus-only "radio station" had a cool cat like Les Paul on the staff, I would've signed up.
Burger King is so desperate for novelties that the best it can do is keep adding on the meat patties + bacon & cheese like they're pancakes at IHOP (or razors). Now it's up to four, the "BK Stacker Quad." I estimate it to have over 1000 calories & 45g of saturated fat. There's even a buy one get one free coupon. Imagine a bunch of mooks washing 'em down with "Lite" beer. For cripes sake, if you wanna pig out just eat an entire box of 12 fudge pops, get 1200 empty but filling calories & almost no fat at all.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Today my sister has a birthday with a zero in it, so I hope she's celebrating in a spirit of wild abandonment or has plans for doing so if the bacchanale must be delayed.

The Belmar NJ cam is showing a fine early fall day today, choppy gray ocean, when it's not cutting out. One of my favorite blogs has twice frozen my Firefox browser & another keeps going down for maintenance. The hot water here is off but I was warned about that yesterday.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This is a cow.

Norman T. Holtaway was the first teacher who ever explained to me that "the word is not the thing" & discussed the dangers of using abstract language. Mr. Holtaway taught Senior English at Roselle Park High School & was the only first rate English teacher I encountered from K through 12. I thought of Mr. Holtaway last night as I turned off the President's speech about halfway through when I became sick of hearing the word "freedom" used again & again as if everyone including George W. Bush knew what-the-hell he meant by it. A person who doesn't read books is less likely to care what's being kept off the shelves of the public library than a person who does read books. I don't remember who said, "You don't understand what liberty is until you've tried taking a few." What is the difference between freedom & liberty?

On the first day of class, Mr.Holtaway held up an ordinary yellow #2 pencil & announced, "This is a cow!" The class laughed. So did I. But unlike most of them, I was intrigued. Mr. Holtaway decided to call this common thing a "cow." We called it a pencil. Why? For no reason other than he was tired of calling it a pencil & today he was saying it was a cow. But it's still a pencil. No, it's a writing instrument & it's a cow. A thing with a name. OK, let's take a vote. "Pencil" wins. so it's a pencil, not a lapiz, a crayon, a matita, or a cow. But "freedom" isn't even a thing. What does it signify?

The President also said we are in "the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century, and the calling of our generation." That may well come to be. But what was the decisive struggle of the 20th Century in 1906?

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Items

A photo, No Longer There. Jersey City looking east toward Hudson River, taken in Spring 2002.

A poem, Martin of Tours, as the Burning Towers Fall.

A sermon, Principalities and Powers, by Paul Tillich. Remembered & re-read this chapter of The New Being the night of 9/11.

Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Toward the Unknown Region, based on a poem by Walt Whitman. Listened to this the night of 9/11. (Link is to a WFMU radio archive page, scroll down for music & poem. )

Complete 9/11 Timeline at the Center for Cooperative Research.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Atlantic City NJ

Atlantic City happy crowd

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

"Obla Di Obla Da"

I haven't gone to the Jersey shore all summer, which was probably apparent in the many nostalgic postings here during August. The main reason is simply that I don't have a car. Driving down to the bayshore or Sandy Hook (beach & Twin Lights) for a few hours was a casual, often spur-of-the-moment matter for me. I always made it to Seaside Heights a couple of times. This year I might even have arranged a few days in North Wildwood, perhaps in October. Having no close friends nearby I can try to entice or beg into driving me, the only alternative is to take a train. The trip to Point Pleasant Beach has 19 stops, a transfer in Long Branch, sometimes with a 1/2 hour wait for the Bay Head local. Weekday afternoon trains include another transfer in South Amboy. Weekend trains are crowded, noisy, tedious, & often smelly, too. A journey of 1 hour & 45 minutes at best. The frustration of Point Pleasant is knowing Seaside Heights in only ten direct, uncomplicated miles south, most of it with a scenic view of Barnegat Bay. We had several weeks of temps that ranged from uncomfortably to dangerously hot, with no late afternoon sea breezes, followd by several unsettled weeks that frequently featured violent thunderstorms. So it was a summer of "maybe tomorrow" & then checking the forecasts & deciding "not today." The closing of the Asbury Park HoJos ended Glen Jones' run of live broadcasts from that venue, about the only reason I ventured into the town. I've had summers like this before, even when I had a car, compensated for by a bunch of off-season trips. Sept & Oct really are the best all-round months. But I do miss that one whack-a-doo Saturday night at Seaside when I'd invariably end up by the old carousel, with an ice cream cone, listening to the band organ, hoping it would get around to playing its loony rendition of "Obla Di Obla Da."

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I won't come right out & say that Rutgers has something of a patsy football schedule. But it sure helps when your Big East opponents don't include Notre Dame, Miami FL, Virginia Tech or Boston College.

Friday, September 08, 2006

$10,000 tip

Remember that bartender at an Applebee's in Kansas who received a $10,000 tip? She had big plans for it: Vegas vacation, help an ailing relative, a new Jeep. I thought, "Wow, she must really know how to stretch a buck, or have great faith in slot machines!" She just got her money, $6,300 after taxes. Here's some tips for her: Buy yourself a nice new pair of comfortable top quality shoes & pay down your credit cards. Forget the Jeep. You're still a bartender at an Applebee's. & do your 2006 income taxes very carefully. You know what they say about people who live on tips.

If I ran the 7-11 up the street I would immediately institute a new rule for the clerks. This rule works successfully everywhere from Amtrak ticket windows to Dunkin' Donuts to Louis Vuitton. The rule is: Take care of one customer at-a-time. Only anxious, unsmiling convenience store managers from Gujarat India don't believe in this rule. (& many doctors.) You don't really save time & keep the line moving by ringing up a second customer's Coke & potato chips in the five seconds it takes for my receipt to print, then moving on to a third customer at the Pick Six machine as you ask the second customer if she wants a bag, tearing off my receipt as the lottery tix print, then bagging the soda & chips.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

On the Gold Coast

I went with a friend to deliver some artwork to a development on Jersey's Hudson River Gold Coast, West New York near "Port Imperial[ist]." Miles of former factory & pier waterfront turning into apts & condos - huge projects. We wondered how there could be so many rich people to fill these spaces, & all in their twenties & thirties, not to mention overwhelmingly caucasian & rail thin. Well, you don't have to be "rich" - you can get a 700 sq foot one bedroom with postage stamp balcony, & kitchen big enough for a microwave, & no river view for $1,800-a-month. From there, sky's the limit. Swimming pool & fitness club membership are extra. I also saw the new tunnel through the palisades & the light rail line NJ Transit kindly constructed for these folks. The place we visited had a lobby with beautiful marble floors, nicely appointed sales & rental offices, & classical music coming out of the ceilings. Everyone was friendly to us, & why not? Just like the hard hats on the half-finished project across the new cobblestone street, they didn't live there either.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Notre Dame again hit #1 on the Princeton Review list of colleges in the "Alternative Lifestyles Not an Alternative" category, beating Brigham Young (Mormon), Wheaton (Billy Graham's alma mater), Baylor (Waco Tx), University of Tennessee-Knoxville (idiots), & Seton Hall (students too drunk to fornicate). I don't know why LGBT kids would choose Notre Dame or any of these schools, although many do. But there's another school that seems to be one big, if puzzling, alternative lifestyle, presented in this promotional video. It's hot hot hot.

This BBC headline tricked me: Canaries in record migrant influx

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The buck is passed down

George W. Bush quoted Bin Laden as saying,"Al-Qaida can cause the U.S. economy to collapse by implementing a 'bleed-until-bankruptcy plan.'" If that's so, getting the United States out of Iraq is surely one of the last things Bin Laden wants to occur. & Bin Laden is most definitely not like Hitler & Lenin. Bin Laden is a sickly old man without a country; If he had one, it would be Saudi Arabia. Whatever Bin Laden's fantasies are of a fundamentalist Islamic Empire, they break down at exactly that point where the Sunni & Shi'ite divide, & then they shatter into tribe & sect. He has no equivilant of a pure Aryan race, & he has no unifying political theory that can be imposed on disparate national groups. Unlike Hitler, he doesn't operate in the open as a leader & within an existing constitutional framework, which is how Der Fuhrer intially gained power. There's no equal of the "Red Army" either.

It's fitting that Bush should deliver his "Terrorism Strategy Update" to the Military Officers Association of America. Because in both his administration & the current military establishment, you can count on the buck always being passed down. The administration designs the strategy, starts the war, creates & encourages attitudes of fear, paranoia, the cheapness of human life, which it signals to the Pentagon & national security apparati. This is turned into the tactics of gulags, camps, torture, executions, & an acceptance by many in the officer ranks of lawless warfare. When the enlisted soldiers pick up on this & act upon it, perhaps by direct order, the buck stops with them. No one else need take the responsibility; not Bush, not Rumsfeld, not the Army brass in Washington, & not even the colonels & generals on the ground in Iraq.


fill in show

Quite pleased with how Sunday's fill-in for Glen Jones turned out. I finally figured out how to do Glen's first hour of non-stop music. Glen leaps into his shows the same way he swims in the ocean: immediate full immersion. I tend to ease into both. Doing a program with a large regular audience challenges me to hold on to as much of that audience as I can while drawing them into at least a portion of my peculiar musical universe. But I would not consider subjecting Glen's usual listeners - many of whom I've met - to, say, a dissonant quartet for strings with synthesizer accompaniment. I'm not in a mood for that early on a Sunday afternoon, either. But a little bit of Beethoven is always good for the soul. The final set of the program played out even better than I'd hoped. I usually don't know how a set will end up, but the last half-hour has to end on-the-hour with another DJ taking over, Bill Kelly & Teenage Wasteland on this occasion. About ten minutes to three, during some strangely ethereal Tahitian choral singing, I turned to Bill & said, "I'm going to drop this show off in the good place for you." By then I knew I'd not only get to the melancholy Skeeter Davis song, but also to a rousing Jan & Dean finale. Show-to-show continuity is rarely a concern of anyone at WFMU. There are exceptions. I fondly recall John Schnall's weekly "Transitional Moment" feature. & when you follow & precede the same shows week-after-week, it's tempting to get in a few jibes after awhile. Ages ago, I began using Nino Rota's soundtrack from "The Clowns" as an opening "theme," partly because I wasn't comfortable with inter-show bantering while little butterflies were jumping around in my stomach. It had live circus sounds, including a dog act. When that record wore out (an extremely gradual, interesting process in itself) I changed to any music by Rota, except when I felt like opening with something else.

Bil Kelly took vacation time all last week, & he got some crappy weather. I sympathized because the two weeks before & after Labor Day are excellent weather bets in Jersey, much better than July. Unless there's a tropical storm lurking about, the worst that usually occurs is a spell of prematurely autumnal temperatures.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Dewey Redman

Dewey Redman, an Enduring Original, 1931-2006

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Cape May NJ

Concrete Ship, Sunset Beach, Cape May NJ

This is not what you'll see now.

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

end of season drizzle

Ernesto hasn't poured torrential rain on this location but the drizzle is almost continous, there's overcast skies as far south as Ocean City Maryland, & it's sad to look at the Seaside Heights cam & see the Midway Steak House shuttered on Labor Day weekend. Yet I'd enjoy watching the churning surf & then retreating to an arcade for a couple hours of pinball. Letting go of summer is difficult at the shore if you don't live there. I used to visit my grandmother in Atlantic City the final week before school started; a few times it coincided with the Miss America Pageant, & one incredible summer the Democratic National Convention was in town & my mother ordered me home just as I was zeroing in on a ticket to see The Beatles at Convention Hall. But's that another tale.

NPR featured a story on The Raskalz, a project musician Dave Soldier has going with Harlem grade school kids using a small, portable midi studio. Soldier is an excellent teacher. Although what he does with the kids is described as "hip hop," I hear something older than that: children's jumping rope rhymes, which used to be common form of creative expression in urban neighborhoods & hasn't completely disappeared if you've ever seen competitive rope jumping or come across kids playing double dutch on a city street.

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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