Monday, July 31, 2006


Out for a stroll over to CVS, just a breath pushing the 85º air around. Many of the houses around here have porches & people were sitting out on a few of them even with a/c running inside. That's what porches are for. Seems less than quaint in this heat, & tomorrow & the day after will be like they say scorchers. Oddly, I bought a heating implement, an inexpensive iron. I don't need to iron very often but when you do you're really stuck if you don't have one, & I have at least two items right now that require it. CVS is an alright 15 minute browse, popular for longer than that with females for its cosmetic aisles & good lighting, as I used to notice in Rahway; the one there did a much better business in that stuff than nearby Walgreens or Brug Fair. I like the stationary aisle, all the pens, notebooks, calculators & school doodads I no longer need. But I think it's a bummer for kids & teachers to walk into stores mid-summer in 90+ temps & get smacked with the "Back to School" displays.

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The road across the bay

Until I was ten, my family always stayed with relatives in Somers Point the first week of August (read Angels At the Jersey Shore). Everyday, sometimes twice, we'd drive to Ocean City over this drawbridge & across the Great Egg Harbor marsh islands. I loved that ride, especially when the bridge was up & we'd get out of the car to look at the boat passing through. The other railroad bridge is long gone.

But this road remained something of a mystery until I got my driver's license. With four kids, Dad wasn't stopping to satisfy my curiosity. So when I was 18, I drove my Beetle all the way down just to explore it, pull over in places where I'd always seen crabbers parked. I also visited the nearby Beesley's Point Bridge, which I'd viewed many times from afar, the highway to points south unknown, Wildwood & Cape May. The Jersey shore had an immense effect on me despite that fact that I never spent more than two weeks a year there until my grandmother retired to Atlantic City. I couldn't see what I really wanted to see or stay as long as I wanted to stay. Every year I looked longingly at The Chatterbox in Ocean City as we passed by; a legendary teen hangout that was in my prepubescent mind the Ultimate Malt Shoppe out of Ozzie & Harriet or Archie Comics. If it had that effect on me, it must have driven my older sister crazy.

Somers Point was at the time a quiet place with lots of bungalows, edged by woods & cornfields. Except for a stretch of noisy waterfront bars & clubs - Ocean City itself is a "dry" town. I favored a marsh a few blocks from my Aunt's house, where I collected punks & one year picked up such a bad case of poison ivy over my usual sunburn that a local doctor said the best way to alleviate my horrible suffering was to let me stay an extra week & go swimming in salt water every day during late afternoon, so my family went home without me. Ok by me.

Circle Liquors. last chance to stock up.

Week In Ocean City: Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

A Week in Ocean City NJ

Let's go to Ocean City NJ this week.

Week In Ocean City: Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

The heat has brought out the chirping, buzzing, clicking little creatures up in the trees. They are noisy. They're also a feature of summer I like, the abundance of them & that they tend to stay outside in the trees.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Freedom's just another word for nothin left to lose?

Yes, we do have a foreign policv, so let Duh Prez sum it up in his own words.
"It’s an interesting period because, instead of having foreign policies based upon trying to create a sense of stability, we have a foreign policy that addresses the root causes of violence and instability.

"For a while, American foreign policy was just, Let’s hope everything is calm — manage calm. But beneath the surface brewed a lot of resentment and anger that was manifested on September the 11th.

"And so we’ve taken a foreign policy that says: On the one hand, we will protect ourselves from further attack in the short run by being aggressive in chasing down the killers and bringing them to justice.

"And make no mistake: They’re still out there, and they would like to harm our respective peoples because of what we stand for. In the long term, to defeat this ideology — and they’re bound by an ideology — you defeat it with a more hopeful ideology called freedom."
He never does say what's in the other hand. Wouldn't help to point out that "freedom" isn't an ideology. The stupid argument is always "We're fighting [insert enemy] there so we don't have to fight them here." Always implicit in Bush's rhetoric, often explicit from his supporters, most recently Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a mentally-challenged politician who's lost at least 75 IQ points since she quit working for the Red Cross. Rather, it's been instructive watching the weather disasters & power failures that have afflicted us over the past year: it took a week for Con Ed to restore power to a section of Queens, & then much of that through temporary generators. New Orleans remains a ruined city. I don't know why we haven't had terrorist attacks after 9/11, but I'm not going to credit the Iraq War as a magnet for lunatics who would otherwise be blowing up power transmission towers in California, subway trains in New York, or the Old McDonald Petting Zoo in Alabama. Clearly, we're still sitting ducks.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

For Ginger

In Heaven you run free again
like an albino panther
through the tangle of woods
behind a vacant lot
by a pollutted creek,
but now your bowl is always filled,
your water fresh from the garden hose,
you know where you are.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

July is a down month for me, like a summer seasonal affective disorder. I'm subjecr to the more common SAD, in late fall, although that hasn't bothered me so much the past two years. In 2003, facing a seemingly insolvable predicament, the July depression never quite lifted. That was a scary time. In 2004 I came down with a flu in early July that lasted weeks before all the symptoms were gone. I used to deal with July - the heavy air, the heat waves, the humid overcasts - by driving down to Sewaren NJ nearly every early evening, on Arthur Kill across from Staten Island, where one could get a taste of the ocean a few miles distant, look at tugboats & barges, & watch the summer sailors nearly wreck their expensive boats loading them on to trailers at the municipal boat ramp. A regular crowd gathered every day for this comedic spectacle.

To help me cope this year I bought an air-conditioner, & it's eased allergies; every so often a punk outside gets shot & a lot of crack blows around the neighborhood,it inflames my sinuses. I stopped wearing socks with my sneakers. Then I gave myself a small budget for new clothes & a challenge to see how much I could get without going over it. I did quite well & even have one dollar left. Part of the project was going through old clothes & finding any I could rehabilitate, which produced a pair of tan trousers plus a short sleeve linen style shirt that I realized could be worn in a wrinkled condition. I started looking for a PC sale; the new one's gonna be a rock bottom package. I've resisted taking the train to the shore until there's some special event or gloriously fair day worth the tedious journey. I've turned down a number of WFMU fill-ins because they were early in the day & this is capable of causing me a lot of advance anxiety; too little prep time in the station library combined with a not entirely irrational fear of unreliable NJ Transit train service. Staying on a reasonably even emotional keel through July is more important. I learned three summers ago that prescribed medications like Zoloft can make matters worse. I'm quite capable of feeling lethargic, unsociable & dull-witted without them, thank you.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Let's not kill anyone today.

"Would the war in Iraq have been worth a single life, it that single life were mine?

"Ask yourself this question. Answer it, honestly. Just to yourself. Silently.

"Before anyone supports war for others, against others, one should ask one's self this question. To measure for one's self the real value of conviction, one must know not whether one is prepared to sacrifice another's life, but whether one is prepared to sacrifice one's own. For if nothing else is equal in this world, life, the one previous, irreplaceable - if temporary - window unto its all and everything, is. Certainly one can draw no morally defensible distinction between the value of one life against that of the next. With respect to the simple all-valuable possession of life itself, if in nothing else, the Muslim, the Christian, the woman, the man, the soldier, the civilian, the president, and the peasant are equal."

Randall Robinson, Quitting America: The Departure of a Black Man from his Native Land.
During Vietnam, most draft age males were forced to declare that worth, because if we didn't, the decision was made for us. George W. Bush & Dick Cheney made the same choice I did - that the war was not worth our lives. I considered it reprehensible at the time to support the war while avoiding military service, considering that thousands of Americans were dying not because they were enthusiastic about saving South Vietnam from the commies but because they believed it was their duty to obey their government & serve their country right or wrong, which included submitting to Selective Service.

& we can now add sustainable ceasefire to the list of Bush's nonsensical & deceptive phraseology. Condi Rice says durable ceasefire, I'm not sure if there's a difference. She probably understands her meanings better than her boss. I would suggest this to the Israelis & Hezbollah: "Let's not kill anyone today." First the ceasefire. Then work on making it sustainable &/or durable.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Dad was a Tory

I remember when I called my dad a "tory." It wasn't because of any one issue, but was my youthful assessment of his overall attitudes. Usually when he got angry his eyes would bug due to an overactive thyroid condition, you could easily imagine steam coming out of his ears. But his response was different; I had cut him to the quick. This Revolutionary War re-enactor, member of Lamb's Artillery attached to Morgan's Rifles in the Continental Army; a supervisor employed by the National Park Service at Washington's Headquarters in Morristown, looked hurt & sad. He understood exactly was I was saying; that temperamentally he would have sided with British power. I'd hit a nerve. I could not imagine Dad pledging his life, fortune (if he'd had one) & sacred honor to a revolutionary cause. But I also believe he would have been a Unionist (if not an abolitionist) during the Civil War. That conflict would have been an affront to his belief in orderly & cautious change. He was not in sympathy with radical revolutionary aims & claims, left or right. As conservative as he was - even bigoted within the walls of his home, as much as he despised anti-war demonstrators & hippies, he never sounded like a fascist, & I never called him one. He lived long enough to see Reagan elected, but he definitely did not come from the religious right base of the GOP.

Contrast this with the rabid Bush/Republican apologists. They rationalize the worst ineptitudes, idiocies, war-mongering, & assaults on the Constitution by the presidential junta; worse than that, they consider them always the correct actions. It takes no great leap to imagine them as Germans supporting Der Fuhrer as he & his Nazis cranked up the levels of terrible lunacy year by year, notch by notch until it was OK that one's Jewish neighbors lost their freedoms & livelihoods & ultimately their lives; as the mentally & physically handicapped were categorized as imperfectly Aryan, therefore expendable; they would have heil'd Hitler's radio speeches while Germany's treasure was poured into a military-industrial machine obviously designed for aggression. All the while quoting Christian scripture.

Thinking about this because every-so-often I chat on the phone with a super dittohead, have to steer the talk away from anything even slightly political, & regret how the Republican ascendency in 1994 & the vicious unending attacks on Bill Clinton brought her views into the "mainstream." It still astonishes & upsets me that someone I used to love being around considers presidential peccadillos, queer marriage, & "liberal media" to be worse than Iraq, New Orleans, or any of the other tragic debacles & incompetencies of the GWB era.

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Absecon NJ

Absecon Beach Camp
Watch for the mosquitoes & green flies.
Here's another version of this folksy postcard.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

weather radar

Online animated radar is great. I was intending to walk ten minutes to the train station, go to Rahway, & walk ten minutes up to my bank. With storms in the forecast, I checked radar first. Good thing. I would've been caught in the kind of deluge here that renders umbrellas useless, accompanied by frequent fantastic lightning with near-instantaneous thunder. The storms here included a mammoth 42,000 foot cell. Another series hit Rahway six miles south about an hour later. Click on pic for animated version, just after the worst had passed. Yellow square indicates that storm cell contains hail. Small black boxes are lightning. I'm under B1 in the last frame.

Back in an ancient era when you had to have Weather Channel on cable to watch local radar, a friend & I were having a romantic dockside dinner at a small restaurant in North Wildwood. It was a lovely night. Then, a thunderstorm approached from the southwest. It poured & thundered & we couldn't have our cannoli & espresso. It ended before we were out of the parking lot. Two blocks away the streets were dry. Back on the motel TV we watched a tiny storm, the only one on the entire South Jersey radar screen, come off Delaware Bay, across Cape May, pass directly over our table, & head out to sea.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

lewdly & lasciviously living together

Lasciviousness: Lewdness; indecency; obscenity; behavior that tends to deprave the morals in regard to sexual relations.
RALEIGH, N.C. - A state judge has ruled that North Carolina's 201-year-old law barring unmarried couples from living together is unconstitutional.

The law states, in part: "If any man and woman, not being married to each other, shall lewdly and lasciviously associate, bed and cohabit together, they shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor."
So that's what I was doing all those years. Why wasn't it more fun?

There was only one woman who actually was eager to marry me, & she wasn't even desperate. I still don't understand why. I was 23, she was 21, it wasn't going to happen. All of them recognized that I was a poor prospect, perhaps as a temporary condition. But, not being a criminal, alcoholic or drug addict, I was forty years old before it was unmistakably evident. I also set the bar so low for the men who followed me that I think all the women who spent time with me could have found better husbands afterward. I made one small step seem like a giant leap.

verbum ipsum's guide to proper church attire.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

For the Kids Working at the Mall

an empty parking lot at nine pm
remembers the afternoon sun

this heavy air is ripe for slicing
with an orange moon's sharp blade

drive on through! or you'll never know
the night was hurrying ahead

until you've failed to catch it


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bad manners & Mickey Spillane

Did you have a mom who reprimanded you immediately for speaking with your mouth filled with food? I did. & two grandmothers, too. I was also expected to stand up when grownups first entered the room, & make my seat available to them. I was taught to address adults as Mr., Mrs. & Miss, never to use their first names or nicknames unless requested by them, which rarely happened. It was important that one should never be perceived to be offering these courtesies with the transparent phoniness of teenage troublemaker Eddie Haskell on "Leave It To Beaver." We used to hear that rich kids had the most lax manners, I didn't personally know any, but I believed it. So it wasn't just the off-handed & callous dinner table remarks of George W. Bush that bugged me - no deep thinker he - but also that he made them with a mouth filled with bread. I blame it in large part on Mrs. Barbara Bush, whose own manners were exposed as coldly insincere.
Things I doubt George W. Bush has ever done:
  • hard-boiled an egg & prepared an egg salad sandwich
  • a load of laundry - wash, dry & fold
  • taken his children to a small church carnival
  • read Mark Twain's "Life On the Mississippi" (even just all the first part)
  • floated in a tube around a circular backyard pool
I would never permit this president to act so familiar as to call me "Rix," a nickname reserved for old friends & radio listeners. With Bill Clinton it'd be OK. But Bill seems like the type who'd call me "Bobby." I'd call him "Mr. President." I'd also say "Mr. President" to George W. Bush but there I might sound like Eddie Haskell.

Novelist Mickey Spillane died. Mickey grew up in Elizabeth NJ. I recall when he made a trip here to look around & visit his ancient grammar school teacher. Coincidentally, last weekend I watched Kiss Me Deadly (1955), a bizarre & hugely enjoyable low budget noir directed by Robert Aldrich. One of the clues in this atomic age private eye movie involves lines from a Christina Rossetti sonnet:
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of a future that you plann'd:
Only remember me, you'll understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

The Matawan Creek Man-Eater

I will not be attempting to conserve energy over the next few days. I have this new a/c & I intend to use it to the max. It is easily 100 degrees here, miles away from open water, surrounded by asphalt. But even the shore isn't a relief in this kind of heat. When it's 100 degrees in Belmar, the beach is no escape, & to sit on white-hot sand under a blazing sun is to suffer. There's no sea breeze; one has to go into the water, & then only those portions of the body actually wet are cooled. Any exposed part of the body may be subject to attacks from green flies. At the shore, it's an afternoon for indoor boardwalk amusements or a long siesta. Head for the beach around the time the lifeguards leave.

Just over 90 years since the series of deadly shark attacks in July 1916 that terrorized the Jersey shore.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Highlands NJ

Railroad bridge over the Navesink River, the Twin Lights & the Marconi tower
that transmitted the first shore-to-ship wireless signal.
Superb postcard from the Edward F. Thomas Collection.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

an unattractive city

Elizabeth NJ is a city almost entirely without charm. Except for one old suburban section, Elmora, which starts about block over from me, this city is relentlessly ugly. The eye finds no rest or relief. It has a few interesting buildings, only one of landmark quality that I love; the restored brick Jersey Central Railroad Station & clock tower, now a restaurant. Neighborhoods that once had a lot of character, like Italian Peterstown, weren't attractive to begin with. There's no streets of upscale or possibly upscale brownstones. The river is tedious. The parks are bland - the best one, Warinanco, is 90% in an adjoining town. The area around the train station has little potential for serving as an economic focus. Sure there are uglier cities: Paterson & Camden come to mind, but those retain a few amazing attributes. Plainfield, a smaller city ten miles west I've long disliked, has a stock of great victorian homes, which are long gone from Elizabeth, either renovated beyond recognition or bulldozed for apartment buildings. There's a lot of good about Elizabeth - a strong & growing middle class, several decent retail districts outside of the big downtown. a venerable public library, but hardly any of the dynamic & creative urban culture one finds in Jersey City & Newark.

Do I love any of Jersey's largest cities? Honestly, no. I think they're unmanageable. That they don't collapse into complete chaos is a tribute to the people who inhabit them & to public sector & social services workers rather than their governing bodies.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

WSOU, Wildwood, & Scott Garrett

Former director of Seton Hall University’s WSOU 89.5 FM Pirate Radio, has pleaded guilty for embezzling more than $550,000.00 from Seton Hall University from 1991 to the termination of his employment in 2004.
He managed to lease out both of the station's FM subfrequencies without the University receiving a dime of the rent.

This is ugly. Rich at four four goes to Wildwood NJ to document the in-your-face racism of all the confederate flag merchandise sold on the boardwalk, & the people who purchase this shit. Good expose. But in doing so he reveals his own class prejudice as he recoils from the egalitarian, carnival atmosphere. Racism (& its symbols) is the reliable wedge used by the power classes to keep the underclasses from uniting & making common cause. If you say this too much & too loudly in the USA you're accused of fomenting class warfare in our classless democracy. Keep saying it & you might get whacked, like Dr. King, Malcom X, & Robert Kennedy. Fact is, black & Hispanic families do vacation in Wildwood. Drive up to exclusive Stone Harbor or down to victorian Cape May (which used to brag about being below the Mason-Dixon line) & you don't find rebel flag beach towels, but the darkest skins you see around town are the deep tans on the white people, except for some of the restaurant & hotel employees.

Scott Garrett (R-NJ5) was the only member of Congress from Jersey to vote against extension of the Voting Rights Act (HR 9). The official title of this bill is "Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks, and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

No suits, no sweaters

I used to feel a little bit sorry for guys who always had to look for $150 suits they could wear off the rack without alterations. They usually worked in places where the higher you were up the food chain, the better the clothes you wore. So there was no disguising an inexpensive suit; even a stylish closeout would be recognizable as last year's model. I knew ambitious male & female clothes-horses who worked nights & weekends at the mall so they could get an employees discount at a dept. store & dress for success. TGIF & Bennigan's were beneath them: They'd do happy hour & hope for free Hors D'oeuvres at chain hotel lounge bars between day & night jobs. I've never been a "suit."

Most jobs that require a tie are OK for sportscoats & slacks. Teachers were once the biggest market. We all recall teachers that were good at looking spiffy on a budget - Harris tweeds or Italian cuts - while others wore the same old rumpled corduroys with the suede elbow patches. Dress codes have relaxed in a lot of schools; teachers dress like students once did, & students like successful crack dealers / hip hoppers (or their hey yo bitches).

I had a couple of clothing epiphanies over the past few months that reminded me it'd been a long time since I'd thought about my wardrobe. I was invited to do a poetry reading, which I declined. But it was in a nice venue in an affluent town, not a gin mill. I certainly would've worn a sports coat for the event, probably even a tie & leather shoes. So I looked in the closet & realized that while I could glue something together, I didn't have the outfit I would've preferred. Also that it wouldn't cost much to get it. Many years ago I discovered that outdressing other poets was easy & economical, since most male poets are like those rumpled corduroy teachers. So I'd show up for a reading wearing a rayon Hawaiian shirt or the handpainted silk tie an artist made for me. This didn't make me the better poet, but it occasionally inspired me to be more entertaining, since I believe poets are related to standup comics.

Then, a few weeks ago on the PATH train, I had a full-length mirror held up to me in the form of three adolescent skateboard punks. I was on my way to doing an overnight radio program - a very solitary thing, & of course no can see you. But oddly, I didn't feel like I was dressed for the work, & I thought that baggy old jeans, an oversized WFMU teeshirt, beat up sneaks & a baseball cap didn't reflect the kind of show I was about to create - which featured, as it turned out, only one "rock" song. I can't quite explain my reasoning.

I decided I want a tan all-season blazer. I want a pair of casual brown shoes. I want more lightweight jogger-style sneakers than the heavy duty ones I wear right through winter. I really need a couple of decent leather belts. I must have a few short sleeve shirts other than tees or the excellent aloha batiks I've had for many years (& treated gently because I liked them). A friend recently procurred me a couple of Haband polyester guayaberas at a church rummage sale. I'm skipping the straw hat for now. I need jeans in my actual size. It's not too early to think of autumn while there's still some bargains: hooded burgandy sweat jacket less balloony than those favored by rappers. & a charcoal berber fleece type pullover, which will look good with the blazer, as close as I'd go to wearing a sweater. You never have to wear sweaters.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Circumcision can halt Aids deaths (BBC)

Male circumcision could significantly reduce the burden of HIV in Africa, a study suggests. It concluded that the operation could avert about six million HIV infections and three million deaths in sub-Saharan Africa over the next 20 years. The findings build on research, published in 2005, that suggested circumcision reduced HIV infection risk in heterosexual men by about 60%
This isn't a new idea:
"I believe the evidence is now compelling enough to consider adding circumcision to the limited armament we already have against HIV-Aids..."

Robert Bailey, University of Illinois, 2000

Monday, July 10, 2006

Half-million dollars for a modest
house in leafy Teaneck New Jersey
& after you move in you find out
your neighbors hire a DJ &
have big parties in their garage
on Saturday nights. Five dollars
is all it costs, they come from
all over, & one night at one a.m.
there's a gunshot in the street &
a fifteen year old boy is dead.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Ocean Grove NJ

Homestead Restaurant, Ocean Grove.
Miraculously still there. Became a Perkins, now something else, ocean view meal on a budget.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Strange day. Began with an e mail that a fine poet I haven't seen in years died suddenly last week. His photo & some of his poems were at the Museum of American Poetics website, which just turned into a page for an expired domain only a week after the Director of MAP wrote me about a new Allen Ginsberg archival exhibition - I looked that over, & about how he'd gotten some financial support earlier this year to keep that huge & wonderful poetry project going. Now the whole caboodle's disappeared. Spent a lot of time going to, waiting around for & returning from the dentist, all for what amounted to a five minute consultation we could have had by phone if her office staff had actually understood the identical letters we received from the insurance company. Later, riding my bicycle, I misjudged a curb, glanced off it, & fell over, fortunately going about 4 mph. It happened because I was preoccupied with the other stuff. In fact, it had already crossed my mind to get off the bike & walk for awhile because I wasn't feeling attentive. I almost walked out of the supermarket without one of the bags, but I stopped to rearrange the items long enough for the cashier to catch up, a nice kid for that. I decided to zone out on the Mets-Marlins game, until the lousy Mets pitcher gave up 7 runs including a grand slam in the 4th, two innings later I had a feeling NY wasn't coming back (they didn't) & switched to Bill Moyers' "Faith & Reason," got bored, went to "Donnie Darko," still incomprehensible despite the great cast, switched to "Two Rode Together" with James Stewart & Richard Widmark, disappointing, back to Mets post-game show, turned off the TV & read a mail order catalogue.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

scary stuff

Psychotic people are the scariest. They act upon the passing thought, the fantastic impulse.

What was the Lakewood NJ government doing about this for over six years?
Lakewood apartments charged with ethnic bias
HUD's current allegations include:

Non-Jewish tenants were forced to transfer to buildings at the back of the property so that Jewish families could move to the better-maintained apartments at the complex's front end.

Non-Jewish tenants received little to no maintenance compared to the service provided to Jewish tenants. For example, Cottage Manor management refused to properly exterminate one non-Jewish family's apartment.
Meanwhile, the Indian River Delaware School District, which includes lovely Bethany Beach, is courting a heap of trouble: Jewish family flees Delaware school district's aggressive Christianity. Like the Dover PA evolution battle, here's a school board willing to spend taxpayer money defending the indefensible. & like the Dover board, money will trump their religious fervor, & the support they gain from bigoted outsider fanatics won't help their cause.

Cats that look like Hitler.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I have mixed feelings about the Jersey budget crisis & government shutdown. I'm with the casino employees, not the crabby 65 year old slot addicts. It's terrible that Jersey's state parks are closed - those places are budget vacations for many thousands of people with modest incomes. Twin Lights State Historic Site overlooking Sandy Hook is a centerpiece of a great bargain date - there's no admission fee to the Lighthouse & the view is nonpareil. Island Beach State Park is an unspoiled stretch of barrier beach in Jersey. Campers who had reserved sites & cabins in parks & forests a year in advance for this week had to pack up & go home. I'm against a one cent sales tax increase, & especially against dedicating any part of that tax to property tax rebates - because I'm against rebates, which was a bad idea to begin with. But I am for Gov. Corzine's blunt attitude about state finances, & I want him to somehow prevail in his battle with South Jersey boss George Norcross III, who is not a nice man even by the rather forgiving standards we've historically applied to many of our political bosses.

Slogging through the humidity on a rare journey to downtown Elizabeth to see my lawyer (remarkably, I have a lawyer, tho not for criminal defense). For all the cheap crap offered for sale downtown, there is expensive crap that is always available in the latest, the hippest styles: sneakers. At one emporium, $49 is the low end & the moment a young man-about-town walks through the door the pestiferous sales staff moves in to steer the youthful customer toward the irresistable $80 & up selection. One might wear expensive baggy jeans with the designer label hidden beneath a simple XXL white tee shirt, all the better to disguise one's identity while in the company of other street dealers, gang members, foul-mouth bullies, & assorted early adolescent wannabes, but the sneakers - they must be seen. There is no hiding a pair of $29.99 K Mart variety footwear. It is amusing to watch a white tee shirt guy walking quickly along the sidewalk, & as soon as he's within 25 yards of his pals on the corner, he slows to half-speed & shifts into his personal saunter, presumably a trademarked gait, which must include crossing the street when a car is approaching. Sometimes they look like claymation figures. By contrast, the drug delivery boys on their small bicycles are downscale - oversized clothing is impractical. If you think this is only in the city, you're not very observant.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day

Charles Ives composed a wonderful piece titled "4th of July" that imitates exploding fireworks. Among his many other works appropriate for Independence Day, I recommend "Organ Variations on America," which would sound terrific accompanying fireworks, & "Putnam's Camp," capturing the effect of hearing two marching bands at the same time, a common occurance during parades. Both are realaudio streams.

Sticky & mostly cloudy today. Had a five minute torrential downpour that would've caused serious flooding had it gone on for ten or fifteen. The 4th of July may be my favorite holiday, but two years ago I decided that attending fireworks alone was a drag even if they were easy to get to. This year the convenient local community display was moved to a county park where the thousands of out-of-county people picnicking there all day will just decide to hang around until after dark. One of the nicest places on the 4th is Cliffwood Beach NJ, provided the green flies & mosquitoes are tolerable. Local residents bring their own illegal explosives, & you can see other fireworks across the bay on Staten Island. Boardwalks are good, too. My family always went to a park by a lake in Cranford. It's a romantic date, actually; dusk & dragonflies, & until a few years ago the 4th always brought out my nostalgic, patriotic side (listen to the Charles Ives music, his America moves me still). That was when I thought the United States would never wage another pre-emptive war based on lies, & believed the gradual expansion of human rights in this country had moved beyond the point where they could be halted & pushed back. Oh, well. Last year on the 4th I was profoundly depressed by Iraq. This year I feel resigned. I'm probably all the more in need of a modest small town celebration relatively free of patriotic bombast. & hey NBC, What's with the frequent crowd shots? When I watch fireworks, I don't keep turning around to see how the people behind me are reacting. CBS did a much better production of the Boston show. Generally superior music, too.

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Blairstown NJ

Camp Kalmia

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Trench warfare

Today is the 90th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme in France. 20,000 British died on the first day, Five months & one million casualties later the British & French allies had gained all of five miles. British commanding General Douglas Haig, instead of being relieved & court martialed, kept his job, was promoted following the Great War, made an Earl, & awarded 100,000 pounds by the government. That's what happens to a winner. The oldest surviving British soldier from the period is Henry Allingham, aged 110.

"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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