Thursday, February 28, 2008

Two Johns in a Portosan

Glory be. John McCain's enthusiastic acceptance of an endorsement by anti-Catholic bigot megachurch pastor John Hagee has enraged a full spectrum of Roman Catholics from the progressive Catholics United to the execrable reactionary Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. They ain't gonna let this drop anytime soon. Catholics are the largest religious demographic in America, but it's very difficult for any candidate to woo them as bloc voters. It might, however, be possible to repulse them by the millions. Just stand at the podium with a man who suggests Catholics were responsible for the Holocaust, claims Hitler was inspired by the Catholic Church, & says Catholics are apostates. Hagee's true pro-Israel motivation is that Israel has to exist as a nation for The Rapture to occur, at which point saved Christians (presumably not Catholics) are swept up into Heaven, & Israel, & all Jews, become expendable. Hagee is a dangerous screwball. Maybe so is John McCain. & maybe he just lost Pennsylvania & Ohio.
Another bad omen for Hillary: Dave Letterman is using up all the humorous cameo bits Hillary filmed for him during her most recent guest appearance rather than be stuck with them if she drops out next week.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

800 Wins

for Rutgers women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer. M.A. Mehta byline in the Star-Ledger:
The victory was the 280th of Stringer's career at Rutgers. It's been her longest stop. She took over a foundering program and turned it into one of the best in the nation with two trips to the Final Four in her first 12 seasons.

Stringer got her start in 1973 at Cheyney State, sharing a cramped gym with legendary men's coach John Chaney. She took over a new program and in 12 years there guided the school to the Final Four and won 251 games.
Doug Feinberg byline for AP:
The victory was the 280th of Stringer’s career at Rutgers. It’s been her longest stop. She took over a foundering program and turned it into one of the best in the nation with two trips to the Final Four in her first 12 seasons.

Stringer got her start in 1973 at Cheyney State near Philadelphia, sharing a cramped gym with legendary men’s coach John Chaney. She took over a new program and in 12 years there guided the school to the Final Four in 1982 and won 251 games.

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Sometimes the magic works

"And I ask You for the last time to grant me my old power to make things happen."
Old Lodge Skins - Little Big Man
It's premature to do a post-mortem on Hillary Clinton's campaign. The debate last night invites one. She can't make things happen anymore, & the media is treating her accordingly. She doesn't know what to do. All she can do is wait for judgment next Tuesday & decide if there's reason enough to stay in the race. Hillary is well aware that she can hobble Barack in the general election campaign or put herself at the tremendous disadvantage of needing to unify a badly split party in weeks after the convention. The Democratic Party itself has a tenuous hold on the loyalty of many of Obama's supporters, who come from places unconnected to the Democratic establishment. The endorsement of Obama by a dependable tri-state politician Sen. Chris Dodd, a media blip, was really a message for Hillary. Suzette reads the signs & omens.

Note to Timmeh Russert: Obama belongs to Trinity United Church of Christ. That's why the denomination is called the UCC.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

WFMU Marathon 2008

The WFMU annual on-air fund-raising marathon is happening now. I don't know of any radio station as generous with swag, prizes & premiums, or fund-raisers with so much silliness. It's also the peak of the WFMU social season.

The DJ responsibilities for this annual circus are one reason I no longer covet a weekly program at WFMU (though hardly the only reason). Nearly every DJ produces a unique premium, most commonly a compilation CD of rare &/or unusual music featured during the previous year, but there's other amazing items.This year I'll probably go for Bronwyn's DJ Nightmare Board Game. These are much sought after collector's items, & they're not easy to do year after year. In the 90's, I pretty much emptied the barrel over the course of five compilations of beat poetry, TV jazz soundtrack music, & cheesy organ selections. I could have gone on indefinitely with the organ stuff, there's so much of it, but I'd made my point. I never had a rep as "deep catalogue" kind of DJ anyway.

I'll probably make limited appearances in the phone room, a cramped, badly lit place that gives me eye strain if I have to fill out a lot of pledge cards & spreads viruses if someone walks in with a cold, & go with the trance-inducing envelope stuffing when I visit. It's WFMU's 50th anniversary, I've been on the staff over half of that time, a "regular" nearly 18 years of it. I'm one of the handful of DJs predating the Ken Freedman management era (a group that includes Ken). This makes me a historical oddity & also a trivia question asked by puzzled volunteers. But everyone dating back to the Froeberg Hall basement studio at Upsala College now qualifies as a peculiar old guy. I particularly enjoy the marathon when DJs bring their dogs. An affection for dogs running around the studio gives you away as somebody who came over to Jersey City from East Orange.


Monday, February 25, 2008

King Pin Pinball

My apartment passed inspection. Close call. This was the third strike visit. None of the repairs were major. This has been on my mind for a full month. The possibility that I would have to find another place & move prevented me from signing up for a co-host spot during the WFMU fund-raising marathon, which begins today. I vowed to make myself a little more comfortable here.

WFMU DJ Glen Jones is awaiting delivery of a 1973 Gottlieb King Pin pinball game. When Glen moved into his Asbury Park condo last year I suggested that the only furnishings he needed were a pinball machine & a comfortable beach chair.

New Jersey Div. 1 Men's Basketball
Rider 11-5 19-9
Seton Hall 6-8 16-11
Rutgers 2-13 10-18
FDU 3-13 7-19
Monmouth 3-13 6-22
St. Peter's 3-13 6-21
Princeton 2-7 5-19
N.J.I.T. *** 0-29

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hoboken NJ


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Music for student musicians

I can't imagine a lovelier gift for composer Steve Reich's 70th birthday than when this group from a large, obscure Allendale, Michigan school showed up at the New York City Bang on a Can Marathon in June 2007 & gave a warm, accomplished sunrise performance of "Music for 18 Musicians." True, the "conductor" & several of the students had consulted with members of the Steve Reich Ensemble & met the composer. But Reich probably never expected they'd do this well. Yet, for all the sophistication of Reich's music & his international reputation, he must have dreamed of it from time to time, of hearing a reassuring echo from the provinces, that his music had made such a successful journey out & back. These aren't virtuoso conservatory kids; they're fine musicians from a large academic music department who likely had to give up some other projects & activities to make the commitment. The students are joined by a few faculty & outsiders, but it's their gig. They had to live inside the musical project for a year to bring it to this level.

You don't have to be a virtuoso to perform "Music for 18 Musicians." You do have to be part of a virtuoso ensemble performance. A full realization of the work lasts about an hour. Back in 1974, Reich brought a few of his musicians out to Ramapo College of New Jersey for a workshop. I was a student. He was working on music like this, perhaps not this particular piece. His brand new "scores" were fragments, phrases, no single phrase was really difficult, & you learned the phrases one after the other. To that point it resembled Balinese gamelan. Except it wasn't gamelan. The difficulty was jumping from one phrase to next, while listening to others, & feeling the pulse of the music. Once you started the music, you had to keep going. Our traditional backgrounds had not prepared us, & Reich himself asked which of us had played in rock or jazz groups because he felt that experience was more valuable for what the music required. Still, it wasn't something you just stepped up, read through, & played. Had you asked me then what it would take for a bunch of state college student musicians to master "Music for 18 Musicians," I probably would have replied that it would take months of living with it. So that's what they did 30 years later at Grand Valley State University.

You can hear the whole work here in RealAudio mono, not the best listening experience.

(The 1974 workshop was a pivotal experience. I was familiar with what little music Reich had recorded, & subscribed to an experimental music magazine that had published excerpts from his scores. To me, he was already a big deal. So actually meeting him - he was sincere, approachable, & direct, seeing how he worked with other musicians, was a thrill. I was typical of artists, composers, & writers my age who found "minimalism" very useful & were influenced by it but declined to associate with any particular "movement." I got the impression Reich also was looking for rehearsal musicians, not to join his ensemble but apparently to go to New York occasionally on short notice to play easier parts when he was informally trying ideas out, which would have been a need for him at the time, as his music became more expansive.)


Friday, February 22, 2008

What a wonderful world

"Unusualist" Raymond Crowe performed this brief hand shadow routine to the Louis Armstrong song on Letterman. Sentimental, but highly recommended.

Some kids from the apt building up the block made a classic three tier snowman with eyes & a carrot nose. It's the building where one of the tenants plants flowers all around the front yard. Repairs were done on my apt & I think the place has a good chance of passing but the inspection scheduled for today was postponed until Monday. Hopefully, the guy above me won't overflow his bathtub between now & then.

Final column by Tom Moran in today's Star-Ledger. He's leaving to become policy director at PSE&G, a leap not easy to figure. Sensible man of plain prose. I often wished he used a sharper knife, but could never fault his decency.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dear Valued Consumer

Thank you for contacting us regarding your disappointment with Progresso green split pea soup. As a responsible manufacturer, we strive to produce high quality products and are sorry your experience did not meet the standards we expect from our products.

In keeping with our satisfaction guarantee, we will be sending an adjustment for your purchase to the address you provided. We appreciate that you have shared your concerns and hope you continue to use and enjoy our products.


Amy Sadowski
Consumer Services
Progresso has never figured out split pea.
I don't want watery soup with undercooked split peas (the old recipe)
or thicker soup with big round soft peas that are "split" but still whole (the "improved" recipe). Both have to go through the blender. Ham is unnecessary. When I used make to make split pea I'd toss in some bouillon cubes & half a box of frozen spinach & sometimes potato cubes. Then I'd eat nothing but split pea soup for three days & throw the rest away. That's why I get the canned soup now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


This sucks:
St. Peter's College in Jersey City was reopened shortly before 3 p.m. today after a threatening note triggered a two-hour lockdown and evacuation of the campus, authorities said.

The note - found taped in the stairwell of an administration and classroom building - referenced killing and last April's massacre at Virginia Tech, as well as guns and bombs, according to a school spokeswoman. But no danger was found after police and dogs made a building-by-building sweep of the campus, according to the college.
Pete's is a small private college in a tough city, we should be grateful it hasn't folded or packed up & moved elsewhere, & that it still fields Div 1 basketball teams in a respectable conference. It's too much to expect that a campus be a safe sanctuary. That's an illusion we should have dropped a long time ago. Kids today know they must look out for themselves against muggers, car thieves, gang punks. But what's to be done about the psychopaths?

Goodbye Virginia

What a day.

Both times I was briefly hospitalized for depression (weeklong timeouts), I followed with a period at a rehab day program, Bridgeway House. There's not much at Bridgeway to interest me, but the staff is terrific, & there's some kickass old school social workers. I'm an "alumnus" & I wander over there every springtime to help out with the annual art show, since I have experience hanging exhibits & take instructions well from the art teacher who organizes it. Once in awhile I'd drop by to discuss some matter with Virginia, who had been my assigned counselor there, & was a steadfast friend & always kept her door open. She called me "Bobbalink" whenever I walked in, & would invariably ask loud enough for everyone in the art room to hear, "Why aren't you coming to art class? We miss you." She had heard every story, faced every situation you could throw at her, nothing shocked her, nothing upset her except bigotry of any type & institutional indifference. She was lovely woman, quite large, but always dressed with a flair. She was Greek Orthodox, proudly so, loved explaining the rituals, festivals, & Julian calendar (I think her church was "new" calendar).

I hadn't been over to Bridgeway since early December. I hadn't encountered anyone from Bridgeway since then, unusual to go that long without seeing Bridgeway people in the supermarket or 7-11. I went to Bridgeway around 3 today, when activities are ending but before the staff meetings begin, good time to get a staffer's ear for a couple of minutes. I needed a phone number for the Bridgeway team that helps with housing problems, & some reassurance. I looked up at the staff in/out roster by the reception desk &, ominously, Virginia's name was not even listed. I quietly asked the woman at the desk, who I've known for a long time, if there was something she needed to tell me about Virginia.

Virginia died unexpectedly on December 28th, during surgery. There's only one person who might have thought to phone me about it, the part-time art teacher, & no doubt he was too traumatized to think. Many of us adored Virginia. I don't regret letting so much time pass between visits to Bridgeway to see Virginia - that's how it is when you're done participating in the daily program. You're still family. I do regret that this tragedy got by me & I missed the funeral & being with all of Virginia's friends. They're still mourning her, & now so am I.

photo: Wisteria at Bridgeway House


While Hillary was giving her non-concession speech tonight, Barack took the stage in Texas & TV coverage immediately cut to him. Rude but effective display of his media power. He might not have done it if the plagiarism accusation hadn't broken over the weekend. Hillary's running out of ammo. The ready to be president from day one thing has been her main theme all along. When she claims that she's faced the worst Repugs can throw at her, it wasn't in her two senate races. Remember Rick Lazio? Hillary beat him easily in 2000 riding Al Gore's coattails. In 2006 she faced John Spencer - the unknown Yonkers mayor not the West Wing actor - & got 67% of the vote. John McCain is somewhat more formidable opposition. Does anyone really believe either Hillary or Barack will push through a comprehensive health insurance plan in the first year? Only if the Democrats win a huge congressional majority, & we can't count on that. It's a matter of details hardly anyone wants to examine. I don't see how she can get the double digit victories she needs in Texas & Ohio. Maybe it's time for Hillary to think about her own exit strategy, what she can do to keep from from ripping the Democratic Party apart. All Barack is doing is winning.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'll know on Friday

I can't figure out how it benefits the landlord to have the Housing Authority decertify one apartment in his building & have it go vacant until he makes a few basic repairs that he could more conveniently & profitably make with me in it. That is, I can't discern his motivation for wanting me to move out. Less than two months ago he was asking me if I knew anyone who needed an apartment that was empty here. This puzzlement has frozen me, & now we're three days away from the last chance. He's got several troublesome tenants & I'm not one of them. He has no legal grounds for eviction & if has any personal grudge against me I don't know what it could be. & he wouldn't tell me anyway. No part of Elizabeth is a prime or tight rental market. The best buildings always advertise in the free listings books in the racks at the supermarket. New two family houses with balconies & garages are always being built all over the city, even in the tougher neighborhoods most replacing old two families. There's a lot of apartment stock. There's four good buildings within two blocks of here, usually with vacancies, & if I could simply beam myself & my possessions into a new location I wouldn't be troubled by the idea of moving. I hate moving. I have no handy resources for moving. I have no idea how I would pull it off, the truck, the muscle.

The Revolution

Long ago, Cuba fell into a more or less static condition which the regime persisted in calling, with no irony, "The Revolution." Although not much was happening that could be described as "revolutionary." The past two decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union have been especially tough for Cuba. The Island's obvious market is The United States; for tourism, fine cigars, tropical fruit, culture & music. We've turned elsewhere for these. Although the people of Cuba are indominable, the infrastructure is not. With 11 million citizens in an area the size of Pennsylvania, Cuba ought to be a wealthy nation. Even a wealthy "revolutionary" nation. Fidel Castro has protected his revolution, but he hasn't prepared it for the transition to the post-Fidel era. His kind of regime is no longer viable, & never was economically self-sustaining due mainly to our refusal to do business with Fidel. It's been a sad thing, as we enriched China, opened trade with Vietnam, filled the treasure vaults in the House of Saud, & funded fascist terror regimes in Central America. Fidel accurately refers to his own generation as the "old guard." He was born in 1926, two years younger than George Herbert Walker Bush, five years older than Mikhail Gorbachev. Fidel now hands over power (such as he's willing to give up) to his brother, Raúl, born in 1931. Who takes over after Raúl? Hopefully, the Cuban people.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cut the crap Hillary

You have words with him and your future's looking dim
But these things your hearts can rise above
What would it take for me to not vote for Hillary Clinton in November?
A longshot possibility, but something like this plants the seed: Clinton camp accuses Obama of plagiarism. The alleged theft, which Clinton operatives went so far as to post on YouTube & feed to Fox, is of Barack lifting some lines & ideas from a speech given by his good friend & supporter, Mass Gov Deval Patrick. If Hillary's hunger for the nomination is so all-consuming that she'll continue alienating the Democratic party's most reliable & loyal base, African-Americans (few "Reagan Democrats" there), & the charged-up newbies Barack has pulled in, with this shit-throwing, on the assumption they'll hand her the winning margins in Pennsylvania & Ohio in November, she doesn't deserve to be the nominee of the Democratic Party.

Obama does his thing & keeps going. The man is focused. Clinton's campaign is about repositioning, adjusting the message, & now this.. If Hillary believes she's fighting for the soul of the Democratic Party, she'd better get smart to the fact that Obama is the spokesperson for at least half, probably more than half, of Democratic voters. A lot of them won't stick around for November if they feel they've been insulted, betrayed, & then kicked aside by the Clinton Machine rather than defeated fairly. It won't do for the yellow dogs to sing "It's All In the Game" after the convention.


French Existentialist Novel

I just stumbled over to the computer after getting up & taking a Tylenol PM & it's 59 degrees at 5 am. Do you know where your tulip bulbs are? & it's raining & there's a fire engine around the corner.

4:30 pm:
PARIS (Reuters) - Writer and filmmaker Alain Robbe-Grillet, an "enfant terrible" of France's literary establishment who helped found the New Novel school in the 1950s, died on Monday aged 85, his publishers said.

Robbe-Grillet became a cult figure among France's postwar intelligentsia with a genre of novel-writing that rejected conventions such as plot, characterization and emotion.

It effectively launched a type of semi-philosophical fiction in which nothing much happens but a vast amount is noticed, imagined or thought.
I've described my late night radio monologue style as like listening to a bored man with a not-unpleasant voice paraphrase a bad translation of a Robbe-Grillet novel. I felt I could do something to alleviate the sufferings of insomniacs by lulling them into trance states if not putting them to sleep. I described in detail the breakfast buffet at the Sheraton Hotel in Woodbridge NJ. without making the food especially appealing. I explained how I opened, unpacked, checked in & priced a pallet of art books at a retail store. I talked about sitting in an orange beach chair next to Raritan Bay on a calm afternoon with a falling tide & why I liked that particular beach chair. These monologues usually had no connection with the music I was airing, which could be loud & dissonant.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


My afternoon nap lasted too long. Various ingredients went into it. Lousy Saturday night sleep. Cold, clammy air the heat couldn't quite overcome but an afghan did. Quiet neighbors. Light traffic. Newsradio drone. A more literate than usual mystery novel requiring some concentration, so I put it down to give my eyes & brain a rest.

Morristown NJ

Viedt's Confectionery and Lunch Room, circa 1913


Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Platform

Sen. Lindsay O. Graham made this statement about a month ago while campaigning on behalf of John McCain:
"People of faith want a candidate who can beat radical Islam."
Let's examine the code:
"People of faith want a candidate who can beat radical Islam."
People of faith = white evangelical Christians voting Republican
want = all agreeing of course
candidate = John McCain not Mike Huckabee, a Mormon, or a Democrat
beat = utterly defeat, triumph over, kill
radical = views or beliefs other than the ones you already hold
Islam = bearded Muslim men excepting princes of the House of Saud

Friday, February 15, 2008

After the love is gone

A cautionary story for the day after Valentine's Day.
They've bickered over whether she knew he was gay, whose tell-all book would sell better, whether a poster of a nude man hanging over his new lover's bed had to come down before she'd allow their 6-year-old to visit.

Divorce has been exceptionally bitter for former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey and his wife, Dina Matos McGreevey. Unless they can resolve the custody and money issues that have arisen since their acrimonious parting, the state's estranged former first couple is heading for a May trial.
Celebrity divorce lawyer Raoul Felder, whose list of clients includes exes of Mike Tyson and Liz Taylor, doubts that the former governor and his wife will follow the script of the 95 percent of divorcing spouses who settle their cases before trial.

"She is a betrayed spouse, but worse," said Felder, who is not involved in the McGreevey case. "He turned away from her for a member of his own sex; it was even more insulting because she was made a public fool. She feels as if she was used and this is payback time."
I wonder if any of this would have been avoided if a traumatized Dina hadn't been - I presume - pressured into playing the good political wife & standing next to Jim during the humiliating press conference when he announced he was gay, & a compulsive liar, & was resigning. She looked robotic. Their dilemma was that he was unfaithful AND gay & for whatever reasons she couldn't or wouldn't see it. His problems went far beyond those. He had to explain his actions to us. That wasn't Dina's problem anymore, & Jim McGreevey should have had the decency to insist on facing the cameras alone. Instead, he dragged everyone into the spotlight in a futile attempt to turn the scandal into a gay rights issue rather than what it was; a matter of his own poor judgment & betrayal of personal & public trusts. If he had been my friend, I may not have forgiven him. But had he been my friend, I would have known he was gay, & been one of his guilty enablers.

I think Dina made a mistake letting her own prejudices into the divorce battle instead of keeping her focus on prying more money out of Jim. Now she reminds me of a guy who bitterly resents that his estranged wife is dating a wealthy man & is happier than he is. What a world.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Doo Wop Song

Oh what a night, we leaned against my car
your face lifted to mine, our eyes began it

misty suburban street in the midnight hour
the texture, movement, your lips urging mine

our mouths caught by a tender gravity
your weightless body, spring came to our planet

the heat of July is an opaque air
without your clear, concentrated warmth

Lady, your kisses are memorable

© Bob Rixon (1990)


A Valentine

St. Valentine's Day isn't meaningless if you don't have a "valentine." It just means something else.

I've saved some handmade valentines. They're all buried in a box in the closet. They were too nice to throw out but not things I care to look at again. Certain women were in love with me in certain years. Nice memories now & no more. My biographer would be amused, even curious about such creative expressions of love & devotion, as well about the handful of love poems I've written. The sweetest of those poems were written for a woman who was around for all of three months. But I was on a roll at the time, writing about departures, arrivals, regrets. & anger, & she was convenient. A poet only has to be aware of when a poem leaps from the specifics to the generalities, or from a human to a deity. If one must implore a goddess, there can be no conversation.

The name of the goddess is Aphrodite. On the tv show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys she was played by Alexandra Tydings & was first viewed far offshore windsurfing on a seashell, sailing closer & closer to the beach. I knew who she was right away. Here comes wonderful trouble, I thought. It was perhaps the most charmingly poetic image I'd ever seen on a TV series, & it wasn't on PBS. The danger with Aphrodite is that she is love without wisdom. She was never a child. Although she's smart, she ain't Athena.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We shot down The Rocket

(or maybe we didn't). You'd think the congressional suits were grilling an alleged New York Mafia consigliere or an alleged head of an international terrorist group. Roger Clemens does have an answer for everything, & as we all know from TV cop shows, that's usually a sign the suspect is hiding something. His trainer is lying. His best friend is mistaken. He's even jettisoned his wife, she's the one pumped up on growth hormones, & here's her electrolysis bills to prove it. Is this the same little chemical helper Sly Stallone was touting as the miracle behind his Rambo 2008 physique, a cross between Popeye & the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man going for rapper 50 Cent's medium security prison weightroom look?

But can Repugs run for reelection on this danger to national security? Oh, this year it's Red Alert for explosives hidden inside a prosthetic pregnant belly. Do Islamic terrorists even acknowledge that babies come from women rather than leaping fully-formed from the beards of radical mullahs? Or am I'm thinking of the Southern Baptist doctrine of Apostle Doubting Thomas & the Magic Cabbage Leaf.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Keep the ban on killing Horseshoe Crabs

Harvest ban on horseshoe crabs lifted by council
When we discuss the "harvesting" of Horseshoe Crabs, the wonderful, ancient creature that breeds on the beaches of Delaware Bay & Raritan Bay in late Spring & early Summer, let's not pretend there's some venerable, old lifestyle & culture to be preserved, generations of salty baymen following their fathers on to the water in heirloom boats. Horseshoe Crabs didn't go into serious decline until the export eel market to Japan opened up in 1980's. Japanese men crave eels because they believe eating them makes their weenies larger, they've decimated their own eel fishery, & they're not satisfied with whale sushi. Female, egg-bearing Horseshoe Crabs are the best eel bait. Killing Horseshoe Crabs became profitable. Thus began the wholesale slaughter of Horseshoes in Delaware Bay & off the coast, which resulted in a precipitous decline in the species. This, combined with the loss of the beach habitats where the Crabs deposit their eggs, endangered the millions of migrating birds that stop in Jersey every year for the sole purpose of fattening up on Horseshoe Crab eggs. Among these birds is the Red Knot. Our Red Knots migrate from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic tundra & need to eat at least 24,000 little Horseshoe Crab eggs per day. I don't care if one of the great experts on Horseshoe Crabs, Carl Shuster, approves of reinstating a limited Horseshoe Crab harvest. He says that in ten years there'll be so many of the crabs people will complain about them. Hell, Carl, people complain about them now. You're just not worried about the survival of the Horseshoes anymore, & there's a big Crab preserve off the coast named for you. But what about the migrating birds? Even if we take the coldly economic position that eco-tourism dwarfs the commercial eel & Horseshoe Crab "harvesting" business in the amount of money it generates for New Jersey, supports thousands of a jobs, & is much better industry to protect & grow.

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How to avoid a gigantic FCC fine

I rarely share WFMU staff e mail, but this arrived today:
Hey everybody, good news! WFMU now features -Three- Discrete Dumps in its broadcast delay setup!! However, these dumps are shorter in duration - 5 seconds, to be precise. So here's the practical way to look at it:

1. singer suddenly says "I'm a fucking idiot": QUICK! You've got 5 seconds to hit that red dump button and delete that curse.

2. singer says "I feel like shit about what an idiot I was": QUICK! You've got 5 seconds to hit that red dump button.

3. singer says "why don't I just fucking die": QUICK! You've still got 5 seconds left to hit that red dump button.

And now, you're out of time. You'd best be pulling that record from the air. If you hear any further curses at this point, you may not be able to catch them and dump them, unless you're really fast -- but you should try!

Please drop me a line if any of this is unclear, bizarre, or all brandy new to you.
I suppose he means it's now possible to split up the total dump memory into smaller units, so we can now edit close, sequential curses like in the same verse. But if you're a DJ & those three lines in one song caught you by surprise, you didn't audition the whole song, even though the band's name is probably something like Snot Vomit, which makes you an on-the-air danger. It can happen unexpectedly in an unlikely recording. But not often. I know from experience. Never trust hip hop even if it samples The Delfonics & starts out like a love poem. I don't really know how the dump works, I'm just careful about not needing it, since half the time I'm not paying full attention to what's going out over the air.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Something stinks in Knoxville

I saw it with my own eyes on the replay. The Tennessee game clock mysteriously paused at .2 second, a foul was called on Rutgers' Kia Vaughan when the gane buzzer should have sounded, UT sunk two free throws & Rutgers lost 59-58 although they had apparently fought back from a lousy first half & defeated the new #1 team only days after beating former #1 UConn, becoming the first team to win consecutive games against the #1, & done it on the Vols' home court. "It's unfortunate that those kinds of things happen," Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. "I'm getting used to it now." She should. The Scarlet Knights lost the opening game of the season to Stanford on two free throws with 1/10 of a second on the clock.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Lebanon NJ

Poolside entertainment at Fountain Motel.
My guess is the guy in the blue sportscoat owns the motel & the Cadillac.
It's still in business on Route 22.


Minding the cats

I was looking after Gina's four kitties this week (& two semi-feral outdoor), & she lets me have run of her house, too. Gives me a chance to catch up on the laundry, & watch large screen satellite TV. College basketball. An episode of Big Valley if I'm there at 6. Occasionally, an entire movie. Tonight I saw most of Clerks II, just a modest love story as Dante chooses his buddy Randal over rich woman Emma, with the other love interest, Becky, not convincingly true love, it's impossible to forget she's Rosario Dawson. Plus the donkey-fucking act, funny mainly because we & the characters are set up to expect it will be a woman & a donkey like a stag party version of Catherine The Great.

I also watched election coverage. An original insight from any of the "analysts" on CNN & MSNBC must be very rare. Pat Buchanan's pip-squeaking voice, up, up it goes as he becomes more agitated until I expect him to start singing "Betcha By Golly Wow." How can people watch this stuff hour after hour? Graphs, statistics, & endless yapping about what it all means.

Most exciting events on Saturday night were two loud cracks of thunder that sent one cat running into the dark dining room & then upstairs while the cat behind my head on the back of the couch simply woke up both times & looked out the window without getting up. I was for going upstairs, but I bravely controled myself.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

The inspection

A feisty new city housing inspector came through here last week. She wasn't impressed with how I live, a rather spartan, cluttered place with the "bedroom" serving as a large walk in storage area. I'm not a neat & organized person. She threw the book at the apt. At first, I thought it was my mess that done it, but I keep my kitchen area & bathroom in decent condition. All dishes washed before I go to bed, never more than a few stray coffee grinds on the kitchen table, never any wet or edible garbage, all unsealed food refrigerated including cookies. Look past the clothes carelessly tossed on the folding chair & into a large box on the floor serving as a hamper & you'll see shelves & a closet filled with laundered clothing. My former therapist noted my fondness for clean clothes & that I always shaved for our sessions. & I don't dust enough. No, the listed failures are all my landlord's responsibilities.

After a year of relatively few roaches, the bugs suddenly appeared in larger numbers. I mentioned it to the inspector because it was pissing me off, & she marked it down. She was disturbed by the stained ceiling tiles in the bathroom, where the landlord has failed to solve the problem of the guy upstairs. I don't think there's any pipes leaking up there, they've been checked & checked again; the tenant just doesn't know how to fill up the tub & take a bath, & since he's a borderline group home type, what's really needed is a talk with his social worker, & I'm certain he has one. She failed the kitchen sink counter for having some cracks in it. Those cracks existed when I moved in & no other inspection took note of them. She failed the bedroom for a "hole in the wall." This hole is actually a small piece that was cut to get at the bathtub plumbing before I moved in, & I securely taped the piece to the opening. I'd prefer that access be left there. She wouldn't have noticed it had I pushed a chair or box in front of it. & then there's the mystery of a gurgling kitchen sink drain noise, which really does bother me & started up after some major plumbling repair last year in the basement.

The major problem is that the reinspection is on Monday & nothing has been done to fix this stuff. The landlord receives a copy of the inspection report. So I'm going to flunk again. Then, he's got one more chance to do it. If not, I lose the apt, although none of these problems makes it uninhabitable. It's not like I have 20 cats, piles of empty ravioli cans acattered around, no heat, & a toilet that backs up.

When the monthly exterminator came through on Thursday, I made him do some extra spraying, & before that the bug outbreak was subsiding.

My landlord has frequently said I'm a good tenant; quiet, reliable with the rent. If I have to move - certainly that possibility is not 100% bad - this place could be vacant for several months & by law the owner would still have to do the repairs, & paint, too. So his inaction puzzles & worries me. I wonder how I would find another apt & pull together the logistics of moving in the alloted time. It took me forever to move in here. Professional movers could empty this apt out in two hours if I could afford them & had enough sturdy boxes. I had a brief talk with the "handyman" who does most of the repairs here. But he doesn't live in the building & what he does is minor work.

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Pray the suffering away

THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for the warm welcome. Before we begin the ceremony today, we turn our thoughts to those suffering from yesterday's tornados.

This is a bad storm that affected a lot of people in a variety of states. Our administration is reaching out to state officials. I just called the governors of the affected states. I wanted them to know that this government will help them; but more importantly, I wanted them to be able to tell the people in their states that the American people hold them up and -- hold those who suffer up in prayer. Loss of life, a lot of loss of property -- prayers can help and so can the government. And so today before we begin this important ceremony, I do want the people in those states to know the American people are standing with them.
Here's faith-based politics at its most callous & wrong-headed: the belief that our president's job is to tell us to pray, prayer is our civic duty, & prayer fixes things. Bush is passing the buck to us, & we're supposed to pass it to God. Good luck rebuilding the homes & lives the F3 tornados ripped apart.

The ancient Hebrews & their leaders were severely punished by God time & time again not because they didn't pray enough but because they didn't do the right thing & show justice & compassion. Later, Jesus in his rabbinical role placed a good deal of importance on prayer. But his modest (& at the time, shocking) advice was to hold the greater law of love over the strict observance of the many & detailed Jewish laws regarding the sabbath & relationships with gentiles. Jesus got into trouble for healing the sick on the sabbath.

Dammit, we have FEMA because we can't pray away tornados. Nor have we been able pray competence & intelligence into this terrible president. We can't pray New Orleans into wholeness. Prayer doesn't armor our soldiers in Iraq & Afghanistan or bring them home. Those who pray do so mostly because it makes them feel good, or because they believe it effects positive changes on the supernatural plane.

Some years ago, I had a vivid dream about my grandmother that made me wonder if she was stuck in a purgatorial existence. The dream so alarmed me that I began lighting a candle for her whenever I was in a Roman Catholic church. She was Catholic, I'm not. But if one accepts the possibility of an afterlife, it's the only way one can help someone who happens to be dead.

Suffering in Arkansas & Tennessee is another matter. As much as those places seem like a another world to me, they are in The United States, & it isn't possible for me or my state governent, New Jersey, to give much practical aid. We have a national government to act on our behalf. So don't tell us that "more importantly" we must pray, Mister Monkeybrain Methodist. More importantly, you must say what you are doing to alleviate the suffering, with the earthly powers & agencies we foolishly put into your inept care. & do it.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Heavens, according to some deep thinkers - political commentators - I've attempted to assuage my white male guilt by voting for Barack Obama. Since the other candidate was a white woman, I suppose Hillary Clinton represented another kind of guilt vote.

I was delighted that both candidates had symbolic & historic significance, was moved by it. But they were the only choices left. Either way, I would have been atoning for something.

But the six names printed on the Republican line; militarists, job outsourcers, creationists, a minor TV actor, a guy whose campaign was a 9/11 version of Bill Murray's Groundhog Day, a crazy Texan with moments of lucidity concerning Iraq, what a frightening group. You night expect that after George W. Bush they couldn't help but cough up somebody better. You might. They've had 7 years to prime the pump. Their candidates resemble a Mafia family after a RICO bust, a bunch of third rate wiseguys. John "Let's go to the mattresses" McCain. Mitt "An Italian is almost a Sicilian" Romney. Mike "I renounce Satan" Huckabee. Ron "The crazy little Don"

Now all the curmudgeons call themselves libertarians.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Nothing could disappoint me today

Unexpectedly, I became a little bit teary-eyed. I was standing at the Ward No. 3 District No. 5 table in School No. 12, signing my name when it hit me. I said to the pollworkers, "You know, I've been dreaming of this day for years."

"I hope you're not disappointed," a nice woman said as she handed me my Democratic slip to hand to the man at the voting machine.

"Nothing could disappoint me today," I said.

Then I went into the booth & voted for an African-American man who might become the President of the United States rather than a white woman who might become the President of the United States. The "X" next to Obama lit up red. I had thought, until last week, I would be voting for a white, male, southern liberal.

When I exited the booth, I said to the older fellow who had taken my ticket, "I don't know if you can imagine how enjoyable that just was." But I think he did. I think they all knew how special this primary election day was on the Democratic side.

(Rutgers women beat UConn, the #! ranked team & like the Patriots formerly undefeated & just as smug.)


Monday, February 04, 2008

One vote for Barack Obama

Every president must learn on-the-job. As long as Obama chooses his staff, advisors, & cabinet wisely, he'll have the experience he needs.

As for Obama's toughness - the "Kumbaya" factor - I think he's plenty tough. After he's in office, if he's in need of backbone support, he can get from the same rock solid constituency where Bill "the first black president" Clinton found it - African-Americans. We'll have our first black president for real. The world knows our history.

It's time for Bill to get on with the business of a former president, be it charitable work or peddling his influence. But not from inside the White House.

If the primaries had matched Hillary against Biden, Kerry, & Mark Warner, I'd choose her. But this election now has many of John Edwards' ideas & hopes riding on Obama's shoulders, & Obama carries enough of them to satisfy me. Hillary is a lightning rod for irrational hatred & contempt. It's about her & Bill & little else. She'll never get past it in the campaign or as president. It is a permanent handicap.

Hillary has the skills of a great senator; a dealer & a policy wonk. I like her. She & Ted Kennedy will make great allies for President Obama. The president leads & advocates mostly as a wholesaler. Congress is where Obama's proposals will be carved up & applied incrementally. We all know it will happen. Obama envisions cooperation & transparency. That's his prime message to the American people. Right there is a 180 degree departure from the Cheney/Bush Junta, & nearly that much from how the Clintons operate.

I've said as much about Hillary as about Barack because this is a remarkable year, & they are two exceptional people. Behind them were John Edwards, Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, even Dennis Kucinich telling the truth about the war.

I' m not sure how it happened, but Barack Obama can become President of the United States. Let's make him the Democratic nominee & elect him.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Giants win

Are we surprised, really? After the final season game & the three playoffs? By one amazing play, yeah. Eli Manning m breaking free of sure sack, tossing a pass that David Tyree catches on his helmet. That was supernatural intervention worthy of the Mets.

I came home & dumped a container of soup into the blender on the kitchen table forgetting that the blender blade part was in the dish drainer. My heavens what an awful mess. Combined with great disappointment as I was hungry. & a realization that it would take a long time to clean up, & if I didn't clean up well the roaches I keep at bay in this old building would be gathering at soon the lights went out. It's impossible to completely take away the smell of the soup. So that meant applying some poison spray around the table legs, which I rarely do. Roaches deprived of food & water tend to use their highways in the walls to go elsewhere. A low end exterminating service comes around here every month & spritzes 2 cents worth of a noxious liquid under the sinks. But I figure the bugs have been here for many decades.

Woodbridge NJ

When the prison was built, it was next to a swamp, hardly anyone knew Woodbridge, & Rahway delivered the mail. My dad worked across the street in the 50's & 60's & a couple of times prison trustees gave me rides on the tractor they used to work the corn & hay fields of the prison farm. The farm & castle entry portal are gone, the place encased in razor wire, but "The Dome" is an unmistakable landmark.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008


Anyone who thinks the Democrats are a lock to win in November has somehow forgotten about Karl Rove, the right-wing radio network, the hanging chads of 2000, the Swift boat debacle, the intimidation of black voters in Florida, the long lines of Democratic voters standing forlornly in the rain in Ohio, and on and on.

Those who may think that a woman named Clinton or a black man named Obama will have an easy time winning the White House this year should switch to something less disorienting than whatever it is they're smoking.
Bob Herbert, Lowering the Volume
You can read the Herbert column while I wade through the "issues" sections on the Clinton & Obama websites.

Repug 1: I was just over at Big Orange, Kosville.
Repug 2: Yeah? What's happening there now that Barack & Hillary are making nice?
Repug 1: You know that Democratic Big Tent?
Repug 2: What's so big? They're all damned liberals.
Repug 1: Well, bunch of clowns busy chopping away at the ropes & poles.
Repug 2: Sounds good for us. What happened?
Repug 1: I think the Edwards supporters were like ringmasters. They were a small group but everyone respected them. Now they're gone.

Groundhog Day


Friday, February 01, 2008

chicken egg whatever

NJ Assemblyman John S Wisniewki says:
"It is disconcerting to see so many New Jersey business and government professionals signing onto a plan that is still largely under construction.

"Potential supporters should reserve judgment until the full plan, in all of its minutiae, is unveiled.

"Anything else is simply putting the cart before the horse."
Oh, John. Next you'll be cautioning against comparing apples & oranges, reaching across party lines, making a difference, all while keeping your options open. Why don't you politicians use a copy of Bartlett's Quotations? I understand you're mostly lawyers now with undergrad degrees in Poli Sci or American Studies, academic departments attracting semi-literates who never crack a book that isn't an assignment. But you, John, majored in English at Rutgers. English majors are kids who fell asleep in high school because it took a month for the class to get through a Shakespeare play while we were reading the entire Star-Ledger with our Captain Crunch, knocking off 300 page lurid potboiler paperbacks over pizza & french fries at lunch, & typing no draft book reports during TV commercials (one draft if we wanted a guaranteed A). We love cliches. Can't you invert two other things? Just put the turkey inside the stuffing. It's easy. With a little more effort you could even plagiarize a British politician.

"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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