Monday, September 30, 2013

The idea that having a big, friendly, drooling, stupid dog makes one a better prospect for a relationship is undoubtedly a myth propagated by owners of such dogs, who usually allow those dogs to sleep in their beds. One of the few times I broke up with a girlfriend rather than being dumped was because of a dog. The woman insisted on getting up at dawn to go home & let her dog out. Gentleman that I am, I also got up to see her safely to her car. The only good reasons to get up that early, aside from earning a living, are to play ice hockey or work on competitive swimming. Sleeping at her house was out of question. The situation was untenable. If you kick a big, stupid dog out of your bedroom in favor of a "guest," it will sit outside the door & whine all night, if not crap on the floor in indignation. Frankly, I've never felt embarrassed to have sex in front of a cat. They are utterly disinterested in watching.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cape May NJ

Colonial Hotel & Villa

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Paul Mark - To Ryan Se

From the album "East to West" (1961). Recorded at Oasis Club, Honolulu. Paul Mark - organ, piano; Tomo Fukui- guitar; Benny Lagrimas - percussionist; Samisen Toyosumi - shamisen; Kay Mikami - koto; Joe Mullan - double bass, bongos; Midori Kawaji - vocals.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Big Stash's

Between the afternoon & evening viewings of my dad's wake in Elizabeth, thirty years ago,  my oldest brother & I drove down to Big Stash's in Linden. We should have gone to White Rose Diner, which was much closer. But Joe & I had bonded a few times at Stash's. I probably had pastrami on rye unless I got the stuffed pepper, & a couple of beers. & macaroni salad & Polish pickles, always had those. We returned to the Wake about 15 minutes late, which shouldn't have been a big deal except our next-door neighbors had come & gone during the break, which I thought was inappropriate of them, like showing up early at a garage sale. So some family members were pissed at us. But I was still there in time to greet the former Democratic Mayor of Roselle Park (who knew I'd switched sides to his party) & watch the Masonic ceremony.

As the current menu shows, the food prices are very reasonable.

Since learned - no surprise -  Stash's is a popular post-funeral meal venue for area Polish-American families. My dad's was at Galloping Hill Inn Caterers. Dad had patronized Galloping Hill Inn since high school, when it was Peterson's, the name he always used. But GHI was famous for its hot dogs  & fries, sold at  a classic wooden stand across the parking lot from the catering hall, & these hot dogs were not served at the reception.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Nothing in history suggests ...

"America is such a compassionate nation, nothing in history that suggests that churches and communities and our families would let people die of hunger, there is absolutely nothing." Kenneth Blackwell, Family Research Council, supporting "Food Stamp" cuts. What? & this guy's American ancestors were slaves!

How ignorant  can one be of both American & Christian history. It boggles the mind. We didn't get a fairly firm handle on widespread hunger in America until the Sixties. John F. Kennedy, when he was running for President in 1960, toured Appalachia at the request of some governors & was appalled; he saw children with bloated bellies. People have always starved in America. Churches have never made more than slight dent in hunger, well-meaning as they are. Most churches do little at all, or just enough to assuage the consciences of their congregants. It's sickening what happened to poor people in the United States from industrialization through the New Deal.

We are a "compassionate nation," but let's not be delusional about it.

SNAP may be the best social service program we have. It is entirely income/resource-based & has only one goal - providing food to people who lack income to buy sufficient amounts of food to feed themselves & their families. Food purchases made with SNAP cycle back into the economy, & the food industry from farm to retailer benefits so well that I can't understand how the Republicans can buck the lobbies. SNAP is not a welfare-to-work program because it is designed to also help able-bodied working people. Years ago the "middle class" didn't need Food Stamps except during layoffs or periods of unemployment, & the benefits tended to be short term for them. It is hardly the fault of the middle class that its income has declined into food stamp eligibility. Are we to order underpaid working people to take second full-time jobs because they are "able-bodied." Even with SNAP, food pantries cannot supply the demand for food. A lot of families that would benefit from SNAP are disqualified because they have too many "resources" - savings accounts, a late model car. The moral issues here are hunger & wages so low that people literally work themselves into debt & poverty.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Moon Poem

At full moon I tip my cap
toward the Ruler of Tides,
of bleeders & of poets.

 I do this courtesy
as a practical matter
as have others before me
on behalf of fools for whom
our own world is a petty orb.

 I am not the only creature
observing balls of rock & gases
dancing their definite dances.

When I dance as a gift to the sky,
I always choose my own mask,
the old rules are merely suggestions.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Seaside Heights NJ

Casino Pier fishing deck. 

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Cloistered Nuns (Versus the Realm of Realism)

The cloistered nuns are furious,
 a man has bought the land
 next to their convent
 for his new office building
 with third story windows.
 Their convent garden wall
 is only two stories high. 
"We try to understand progress,"
says an old nun speaking with an outsider
for the first time in decades,
"but this development would ruin us." 
"I am not unreasonable,"
the businessman insists,
"but stopping this project
is beyond the realm of realism. 
Does the realm of nuns tending flowers
exist outside of their garden?
Is there a useful balm from Gilead
in the compassion of their wordless prayers? 
"This land is too valuable to stay vacant,"
the businessman explains.  
"Our dead are buried here,
we can’t move," says the nun.

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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Seaside Park NJ

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Friday, September 13, 2013

The fire extended one block to the right.

I don't see any profit in rebuilding Funtown Pier, unless some outside investors - the Morey Family from Wildwood or Jenkinsons from Point Pleasant Beach  - can envision a popular amusement ride pier there,  As it is I wonder if much of Casino Pier to the north will end up being condemned & never rebuilt.

This  boardwalk was in trouble before Hurricane Sandy. Afterward, whew. The vacation rental market crashed in towns on the strip of sand north of Seaside Heights.  Whole blocks of cottages were demolished, waiting to be demolished, or waiting for rehab money that wasn't going to happen.  Hundreds of bayfront houses have to be raised up to nine feet under new codes,  Second homes are not eligible for government aid. So it's like handing much of what remains from the fairly affluent middle class to the wealthy.

The reality show Jersey Shore did no long term favors for Seaside Heights. It is not overrun with guido culture, or wasn't.  That culture is spread out all along the Jersey coast & on to Long Island NY. But the show said, "Come to Seaside & Fuck a Snooki or a Situation" &  so they came, & failing to get laid they got into fights & stabbed each other.

It's been thirty years since I went to Seaside Heights & felt the  disconnect from North Jersey I get south of Atlantic City.

If Seaside Park wasn't rethinking its end of boardwalk after the hurricane, the town may have to now.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Funtown Pier burns

The south end of the Seaside Heights boardwalk, including FunTown Pier, is burning down (the iconic roller coaster was at the north end). The amusement  Pier hadn't reopened this past summer, but dozens of boardwalk businesses in the Funtown section had. Most of the section lies in Seaside Park, the town south of Heights, & they always always correct you! The entire boardwalk was replaced. The Jersey Shore has already suffered so much, & the part from the Seasides north got the worse of Hurricane Sandy. The wind is blowing the fire north, the line of heavy showers expected there failed to materialize.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Steve Reich: Heavy Smoke from City Life

 Video by Jérôme Bosc

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Sunday, September 08, 2013

Atlantic City NJ

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Friday, September 06, 2013

What a mess, Mr. President

President Obama made two mistakes, & I thought they were mistakes when he made them. The first was making a big issue with Putin  over  Russia giving asylum to Edward Snowden. While Americans had very mixed feelings about what Snowden did & how he did it, from hero to traitor,  most Americans believe we needed to know what he exposed about the N.S.A. The President's obsession with bringing Snowden to "justice" did not acknowledge  the big problem was no longer Snowden; it was the Obama administration response to the N.S.A. revelations.   Snowden is not the dangerous man; Putin is. Snowden seems to be a jerk, & hardly makes me feel good about  privatizing  our national security. Bad enough you can't enlist in the Army to learn to be a cook anymore. We're hypocrites in Jersey; we despise rats even when we agree with what they do. It's just the way we are.

The second mistake was "drawing the line" for Assad.  I happen to agree with John Kerry that the President should not take diplomatic or military "options" "off the table." Not in public, in speeches.   We have a nuclear strike arsenal, for cripessake, & the activation codes are never more than a few steps from the President. I also think use of chemical weapons is "different." But the President should not have put himself in the situation of having no options at all. To use another cliche, he did not "get all his ducks in a row" before mouthing off to Assad. Then he dumps the serious matter on Congress - I don't basically object to that, but this congress is really  screwed up - but hasn't said he would abide by its decision if it went against him.  When the Brits - our only truly trustworthy allies in the world - wouldn't support us, that should have given him & everyone pause.

So now at a time when he ought to be seeking international unity for some form of action in Syria, with a number of "options" "on the table," & guiding the transition to a new healthcare program, he's isolated himself at the G-20 conference.  What a mess.

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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Would the act of bombing Syrian military targets be an act of war by the United States upon the existing Syria government? If it is not an act of war, then what is it? If it is an act of war, would the Syrian government be justified in retaliating? If not, why not?
 These concepts of "limited military action" or "punishment" morally confuse me. What is to be concretely gained by the action?

When the agents of Al-Qaeda attacked us on Sept 11. 2001, we considered it an act of war not only by that terrorist group but also by the government of Afghanistan giving sanctuary to the group. What are our options if Assad uses chemical weapons following our "limited" bombing? We need to be thinking several steps ahead of our good intentions.  What does it take for us to learn there is no war without consequences, without sacrifice?

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Milt Buckner - Lullaby of the Leaves (1957)


Sunday, September 01, 2013

Atlantic City NJ

The Heinz Pier

Destroyed in the 1944 hurricane. 

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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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