Sunday, October 31, 2004

Big breezy day

Big breezy day, like a big breezy day in late April, parentheses. Decided against going to the shore, put off by the 2 1/2 hours travel for what would probably have been an hour sitting by the ocean. So went to Rahway River Park, stopping by my bank on the way. Saw a former co-worker from Pearl Arts at a garage sale, that's a decade ago, now in her early Thirties I suppose, with two year old son, her marriage didn't last long. Not as many people in the park as I'd expected, mostly adults walking the mile circuit. & few trick or treaters in Rahway - certainly more of them back here in Elizabeth. A nice day to be out & around, past peak Fall color, swirling leaves. We'll have a few more days like today, not 70 degrees tho. Signs up in Rahway for Christmas Tree lighting, still four weeks off. Next week is huge WFMU record fair in NYC, the only station event where I get to wear a nametag with "DJ Rix" on it & feel a little bit important.

Add to other negatives about this apt building, tenants in apt below me cooking up something last night & today that smells disgusting, simmered goat brains for all I know, my apartment stinks but it's even worse in the hallway downstairs. Seems to be dissipating a bit. Could be why I slept lousy & woke up early. But I never sleep well here, never stretch out on the mattress, pull up the comforter, hug a pillow & just let go.

I don't know how I'm going have the money to move. I do have it, but it's locked up in the rent security. Why should I need another month & a half rent on hand? That's money for other important things; overdue bills & a decent pair glasses, & sunglasses. But it's crucial that where I live NOT be a source of anxiety; not have vermin crawling out of the walls & punks crawling around outside; that I feel safe & comfortable & not altogether isolated from friendly familiar people & places. Most of the pieces & programs are already in place to make this possible.
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Saturday, October 30, 2004

Life just passin' me by. Skipping around my shore cam short list early evening, usual nothing happening at Point Pleasant, nice crowd at Ocean City Maryland - always is even on sunny cold winter weekends, but all four views of Rehoboth Beach Delaware were packed with people Why? It's the annual Seawitch Festival, Costume Parade, & Fiddler's Contest weekend. Line at the ice cream parlor like midsummer. & me, I'm sitting in dreary Elizabeth NJ waiting to turn the clocks back an hour. I need a girlfriend - we'd have been out to a flea market today, maybe even down the shore, at least about to order Chinese takeout & watch a movie. Pointless hopes. You're alone, Bob. You did alright for thirty years, but now with only a couple of false beginnings to show for it you're up to eight years & counting.
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Friday, October 29, 2004

A few crickets chirping here & there

A few crickets chirping here & there, probably more tomorrow as temperature gets up in the high sixties. Eventually they all dig in. I don't know if they "hibernate" or slow down by stages. I've watched gulls grabbing small crabs out of shallow water on bitterly cold days, the crabs moving their claws ever so feebly, neither fully awake nor asleep. A lot of shore birds appear to migrate only as far south as they need to; each noreaster & drop in water temp pulls some birds in from parts north & pushes others on south. One warm early January afternoon, an El Niño year, I sat on Cliffwood Beach by Raritan Bay, watching dozens of sand pipers working the shoreline, couldn't figure out what they were finding to eat, assumed they were from Maine, Nova Scotia or Cape Breton Island & our temperate Jersey weather was adequate for them, no pressing need to head for Delmara & a risky Delaware Bay crossing. Enormous rafts of various duck species winter over in Jersey's bays, which become much more lively than ocean beaches. Other local water fowl, the egrets & laughing gulls, disappear altogether by early October.
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Reverse Culture Shock

Reverse Culture Shock
"Abroad, students commonly find a more independent curriculum and study style. When they return, a regime of assignments and quizzes can feel insulting." I recall feeling insulted when I encountered ridiculous freshman hazing in 1966 at Emporia College in Kansas. I lasted there two weeks. The following year, English 101 & Music "Appreciation" classes at Bloomfield College insulted my intelligence. By the time I got to Ramapo College in 1974, extra-curricular exposure to a wide range of art, music, literature, political & religious ideas, plus my girlfriend's accounts of her year studying in Oxford England had made the whole standard American classroom thing pretty unappealing. So one doesn't have to study in Europe to feel isolated among "provincial" minds. But I also began to stop associating provincialism with living outside a metropolis. You won't find a more peculiar form of provincialism than New York cultural snobbery - which most afflicts those who didn't grow up in or around the city. If one has the imagination to have an aerial view, then as one stands on the shore looking east over the Atlantic, one understands that someone with a different perspective is standing on the far shore looking west.
In today's New York Times (10/29, registration required), commentator STEPHEN J. MARMON goes through the complex scenario (& arithmetic) that would result in a Bush/Edwards administration with the further possibility of an acting-president John Edwards. Such an election might seem like a terrible thing, & it probably would be, but it also could bring about something this country hasn't had in a long time: a bi-partisan foreign policy administered by the State Dept. rather than by a secretive group of presidential advisors.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

I don't watch much prime time TV, but I do listen to WCBS AM news & both Mets & Yankees baseball, & I've heard no political advertisements on radio & seen only Chuck Schumer ads on TV. This is an advantage of being in the New York City market where media advertising rates are... expensive. No local congressional incumbents are in trouble, Sen. Schumer is a shoo in - he's a liberal to be sure but he's also been exposing weaknesses in metro New York's port & transit security since 9/11, & Kerry has to ride his coattails. I doubt if either presidential candidate's team really knows how to swing Jersey's few undecided votes to their side. So North Jersey hasn't suffered the continual, almost exclusively negative political advertising that is wearing down & angering people in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida & all those other big "swing states." During the baseball playoffs, I heard the Foxwoods Casino song every half-inning ("Life is good, life is sweet, grab yourself a front row seat..."), with the striking Atlantic City service workers getting in their message whenever a pitcher got yanked (basically, gamble at Trump's or go to Foxwoods). & I gotta say that John Pizzarelli, the great musician who wrote & sings the Foxwoods song really has trouble nailing the final note, which requires a downward interval of only a third. A vocal coach can fix that for ya, John.
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Sunday, October 24, 2004

Hear & see the scary "Monster Slash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett.

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Saturday, October 23, 2004

Excellent op-ed by Cynthia Tucker that isn't quite what the headline says.
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Thursday, October 21, 2004

One very good aspect of the approach of winter & end of daylight savings time is that I can stop trying to accomodate or resign myself to my current apartment & begin to seriously consider how I can get myself out of here at the end of winter.

The thought of moving again is daunting, but it has to happen. Even if I must stay in Elizabeth, I won't stay here; I'll go up around the corner where the neighborhood becomes Elmora. This apartment is completely wrong for me inside & out. The problems are chronic & cannot be fixed, & are so serious that I will put my belongings into storage on April First if I have to wait a month to get into another place. So over the next five months I need to sell or unload a large percentage of my remaining records & books. Wherever I land, I do intend to "start over." A macrame piece is the only art on the walls. The CDs are shelved, but just a few art, poetry & reference books are unpacked. Records, except for dozen or so set aside for a radio show, are in the closet. Everything else is pretty much as it was moved in here, in boxes in the extra room. For me, this is really a downscale efficiency hotel room with storage; I thought it would be better than turned out - which is it if you've moved here from Africa, Jamaica, or the east side of the railroad in Elizabeth. But I came here from a familiar town where I regularly walked or rode my bike to Dunkin' Donuts after 10 pm - & knew every bump & bad crack & steep curb on the sidewalks I used, & didn't require more than moderate city street smarts to avoid the few psychopaths.

Talking with Dr. K today about why I wouldn't move down the shore. First, the incidental expenses are too high - just looking for a place, arranging the lease & moving if I found one. Second, I don't want to put that much distance between me & Dr. K just yet. Third reason we didn't discuss, I'm hardly committed to staying in Jersey for the rest of my life. There's the flat, sandy, marshy Delmarva Peninsula to the south, & Virginia & North Carolina. I love tide water areas.

Christina Applegate on Leno; Dustin Hoffman on Letterman; James Carville on Leno; Elvis Costello drop kicked a Bush bobblehead doll into Kimmel's udience, & his superb keyboard player had a classic Vox organ ("The Imposters" sure sound & look like "The Attractions").
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Sunday, October 17, 2004

Two statements stood out in today's New York Times endorsement (no surprise) of John Kerry for President of the United States. The Times lauded Kerry's lifelong dedication to public service & his "willingnessness to re-evaluate decisions when conditions change." But these lines caught my eye:

"The president who lost the popular vote got a real mandate on Sept. 11, 2001. With the grieving country united behind him, Mr. Bush had an unparalleled opportunity to ask for almost any shared sacrifice. The only limit was his imagination. He asked for another tax cut and the war against Iraq."

"The Bush White House has always given us the worst aspects of the American right without any of the advantages. We get the radical goals but not the efficient management."
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Saturday, October 16, 2004

An Associated press story says: "The National Annenberg Election Survey found that 62 percent in the military sample said the administration didn't send an adequate number of troops to Iraq. And 59 percent said too much of a burden has been put on the National Guard and the reserves when regular forces should have been expanded instead.

Family members were more critical of the administration's Iraq policy than those on active duty."

But what the hell do I know from logic? Another poll has nearly 70% of active duty military personnel voting for Bush. Granted, even, that the military & immediate families are more conservative than Americans generally, this huge margin doesn't make much sense to me. & Bush is bluntly accusing John Kerry of being "unfit" to lead country.

Since the beginning of primary campaign, I have not found John Kerry enough electoral votes on the map to win this election, just because he's John Kerry from Massachussetts. But the situation in Iraq is close to what I considered "worst case" at the beginning of 2004 . That's my bleak sensibility. It just seems to me that these final weeks of the campaign must trend perfectly toward Kerry; all Bush has to do is maintain. For a contrasting, more hopeful view, check out Republican pollster Frank Luntz's assessment that Bush is in big trouble.
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Friday, October 15, 2004

A Romare Bearden Retrospective just opened at the Whitney. Unique opportunity to see this great artist's works gathered together. Runs through January 9.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Why conservatives must not vote for Bush
by Doug Bandow

Since I'm not a "Reagan conservative," I don't agree with this writer on many points. But if I were a conservative, I'm pretty sure of what kind I would be based on those conservative views I already hold, & I would be outraged by the Bush/Cheney junta.
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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Letter to: Chairman Edward Gillespie
Republican National Committee

from: Patrick Guerriero
Executive Director
Log Cabin Republicans

"On a personal note, I write you as a fellow Republican, fellow Catholic and fellow graduate of Catholic University. I write specifically regarding recent anti-gay tactics being employed by the Republican National Committee (RNC) and a number of GOP campaigns."

Arizona Republic editorial:
"If our most politically active churches were honest and had guts, they'd give up their tax-exempt status and admit to being the religiously based political institutions that they are. Unfortunately, enforcement of the Internal Revenue Service rules is so lax that, according to the Christian Science Monitor, the Rev. Jerry Falwell wrote to churches within his sphere of influence and told them to not even worry about the IRS. And they don't."
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Monday, October 11, 2004

From Baghdad
A Wall Street Journal Reporter's E-Mail to Friends
by Farnaz Fassihi

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Sunday, October 10, 2004

Why I Will Vote for John Kerry for President
By John Eisenhower

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Saturday, October 09, 2004

"Stand by for an announcement"

On my way back from WFMU in Jersey City, Newark Penn Station to catch the 8:26, trains just stopped running period, frozen "all aboard" for the Trenton local & "15 minutes late" for the Long Branch, more & more crowded on the platform, nearly an hour passed & the only announcement was "stand by for an announcement." But I gathered from an off-duty conductor that an overhead wire was down in New York ... three times in six weeks just when I've been been a passenger. Also, the PATH was arriving in Newark on a different platform. In our strange times I prefer to think these are National Security experiments in redirecting travelers. Well, I simply redirected myself on to a diesel-powered Raritan Valley Line train, got off at Union/Kean University, & rode my little bike home in about the same amount of time it would take me to walk from Elizabeth station. For all I know, all those other hundreds of people are still stranded in Newark.

Unnecessary National Security Scare of the Week: AMERICAN SCHOOL PLANS FOUND ON IRAQ COMPUTER DISK. Turns out it had nothing to do with "terrorists." Anyway, it's impossible to keep all school, hotel & hospital floor plans & schedules off the internet. Sometimes they are necessary for our public information & safety. Also, one can often figure out the room configuration of schools from outside the building. Yes, the Russian school hostage tragedy scared the bejesus out of us all. But this kind of security has to happen at the national level, at our borders & airports, & internally at the institutions themselves. & the greatest danger inside schools is the violence - battery & rape - committed by sociopathic students.
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Thursday, October 07, 2004

Why is the re-election of George W. Bush even a possibility? Shouldn't we at this point be demanding the appointment of a Special Prosecutor & giving some serious thought to impeaching the incompetent, lying son-of-a-bitch? This isn't about an Oval Office blowjob, it's about screwing the American people & causing the unnecessary deaths of over one-thousand of our young people, the physical & emoptional maiming of thousands more, & the waste of billions in tax dollars.

When did contriving a foreign war become conservative? When did this kind of deficit spending become conservative? When did the waste of natural resources become conservative? When did "outsourcing" jobs & undermining what remains of America's self-reliance in manfacturing become conservative? When did this hypocritical mockery of traditional Judeo-Christian love with an unfettered, amoral international corporate capitalism become conservative? The Bush/Cheney administration is not conservative. I don't know what it is, but I'm afraid to think of what it might be.
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Sunday, October 03, 2004

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Saturday, October 02, 2004

Millions of Americans who had known John Kerry only from sound bites & scurrilous stories circulated around work & church finally had an opportunity to see that he isn't: A. Satan incarnate & B. A wimp. This should have been obvious all along. I really doubt that the anti-christ will be an American Roman Catholic, given the fading influence of that church in the United States. & wimps did not command swift boats in Vietnam. Recall that George McGovern & Walter Mondale, both decorated WWII combat pilots, had their patriotism sullied by Republicans. As happened to GOP Sen. McCain when he dared challenge George W. for the nomination in 2000. Mondale, by failing to stand up to Reagan in a 1984 televised debate, did serious damage to the National Democratic Party.

But John Kerry did stand up to George W. Bush like he'd been looking forward to it, while our president scowled, sneered, turned his head away in disgust, appearing very much like a guy in a bar who thought he could do or say anything because his pals would stop his opponent from throwing an unchallenged left hook to his nose & settling the "Who's really more macho?" question once & for all.

It wasn't enough to win Kerry the election, he has a month to do that. But it did show a lot of Americans that Kerry has Commander-in-Chief stuff. This man fought in Vietnam & then came home & opposed the war in public, before a congressional committee, while Richard Nixon was doing everything within his power, legal & illegal, to discredit & undermine the anti-war movement. He understands more about foreign policy & world history now than Bush has learned as president. There is nothing about Kerry to indicate he is soft on "terrorism" & Islamic radicals. But the Bush family & friends swim in same sea of oil with the Saudi Royal family & are in no position to preach democratic ideals to Wahabi Muslims. Radical Islam is a wide, diverse religious movement, not a monolith, that measures time in whole generations rather than one or two presidential terms of office.

The American voter is more fickle & undecided than the polls have been indicating (remember, only about half of those polled actually vote), particularly independent women, who were alarmed by the recent terrorist tragedy at a Russian school. Hopefully, Kerry has reassured them that he can protect America, & now can move on to the clear advantages he holds over Bush on education, environment, & health.
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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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