Wednesday, October 31, 2007


There were a lot of trick or treaters out tonight. On one poorly lit residential street I was stumbling over little kids running out ahead of their parents, & had to walk across lawns to avoid baby strollers. The three block Elmora retail district was so packed I thought there had been a parade, but it was just where families & friends congregated to see & be seen. So crowded that women were using the men's room at Dunkin' Donuts. With all the candy, kids still demanded donuts. Teenage girls costumed as sexy French maids, sexy vampiresses, sexy witches, sexy schoolgirls (plaid Catholic school skirts with stockings & garters) , only slight exaggerations of what they usually wear. I haven't handed out candy since I lived on the first floor of a three family.

Of course, this is really Samhain, the Celtic Pagan celebration Christianity couldn't fully suppress. All the major Pagan days are on the Christian calendar by other names, thinly disguised at that.

Trick or Treat

Happy Halloween

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Would Jesus have an iPod?

"When you mix politics and religion, you get politics."
Rev. Gene Carlson

Yet another essay attempting to explain the protestant right to the unsaved secular masses: The Evangelical Crackup by David D. Kirkpatrick in the New York Times Sunday magazine. The writers always go to the big churches, interview the big shots old-&-fading, & up-&-coming, & top-o-the-heap, with a few side comments from church-going folks.

The unity of the contemporary protestant right was always illusory as religion. The diversity of belief & practice among all American protestants is mind-boggling from one end of the spectrum to the other. In politics, the protestant right remains unified in the sense that it is overwhelmingly conservative Republican. That is, I think, how Democrats ought to view "Evangelicals." It should be no surprise that conservative protestants are disappointed with George W. Bush for a variety of reasons, or even that some don't like war. There's always been a protestant tradition of resistance to government interference, whether the Baptists of colonial Virginia fighting the Anglican ruling class, refusal to cooperate with military conscription, & opposition to forced integration. Although there's a preference for strong religious leaders & clear moral teachings, this doesn't mean all Southern Baptists are happy that their National Convention strong-arms them into a doctrinal & political conformity most of them already embrace voluntarily. For all the megachurches, there are thousands of independent or loosely-affiliated pentecostal & Bible Baptist churches & "Family Worship Centers" basically loyal only to themselves, their local preachers, & the Scriptures as they read them. Plus large Baptist associations not affiliated with the Southern Baptists, & the conservative wings of the mainstream denominations. The Methodists are very strong in the South & Midwest; they are not "fundies," & their evangelicalism tends to be expressed through local outreach ministries & church social activities rather than loud appeals to become "born again."

I'm a "culture" person. I believe that culture has a lot more impact on politics than politics have on culture, & that education & economics drive various levels of culture. So when conservative Christian culture gained enormous political influence, it was unrealistic to expect that this would result in politicians who could change the broader & stronger secular culture. Politicians (including judges, prosecutors, & bureaucrats) influence culture by imposing or removing restraints on expression: to censor or not to censor. They don't create the movies, the TV shows, the popular music. They don't write the best-sellers or design the video games. They don't control the advertising agencies. Neither do those conservative protestants (except products for their own edification) now realizing government is not a reliable proxy in the "culture wars." No president is seriously going to antagonize media giants like The Sony Group, Disney, Time Warner, etc.

The internet has radically changed the cultural landscape over the past decade. Reagan was pre-dotcom. The internet has done a lot for the protestant right, but it's also brought porno, YouTube, MySpace, text-messaging, downloads, & information overload. How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've got a laptop & wi-fi? Can't keep 'em from learning about global warming. Or stop 'em from exploring the nefarious "gay agenda" & discovering the drive to middle class banality at its heart: Ellen DeGeneres. She's more like you than unlike you.

When I see Democratic presidential hopefuls falling over each other to show who is more devout, I think, That is so 2000. They're acting like Tom DeLay era Republicans even as Giuliani, Romney & Thompson change the game, & an affable "fundy" like Mike Huckabee - more the real deal than George W. ever was - can't hardly catch a break from the old guard mullahs or the youngsters. Even Repugs can't woo the conservative protestants like they could in 2004. Run a Jim Webb or Bob Casey against a big jerk & you grab a senate seat. But conservative "values" Republicans will not vote for Hillary Clinton no matter how studious she was in Methodist Sunday School. The "ex-gay" Gospel singer headlining Obama's Southern campaign events won't win them over, either.

Evangelicals are learning that they can't trust politicians to do the work they have to do for themselves. But the middle class is the great consumer of popular culture in America. It remains to be seen if the younger, white, suburban, conservative protestant middle class demographic, with iPods, iPhones, Blackberries & high def TV, can influence that culture more than it is influenced by it. I have my doubts. Some things about the power of pop culture never change. The Jordanaires were a fine gospel group on their own, but they became world famous as Elvis' backup singers.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Toms River NJ

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Scarlet Frights

That ugly noise out of Piscataway NJ today was the sound of the Rutgers football season being smashed to bits by West Virginia, 31 to 3. At this time last year, Rutgers was undefeated. UConn beat South Florida today, emphatically demonstrating that WVU's loss to USF was an upset. So Rutgers falls out of the Top 25, which they will not see again this season. They started the season ranked 16th, got as high as 10, & then couldn't prove they were that good. I didn't set the bar so high, they did. I almost feel sorry for WVU: But for one loss to an over-rated team, they might be #1 now. Rutgers remains "bowl eligible," but frankly, who the hell cares if they play in or Meinke Car Care or even get their asses whupped by a PAC Ten or ACC also-ran on national TV? It turned out that WVU was the one school of no-doubt-about-it quality Rutgers had on the schedule, which we sorta knew anyway given that the Scarlet Knights had lost 12 straight to the Mountaineers including a thriller last year that actually won them respect. Bad day on the Old Raritan. You wanna give your love to a team, watch big-hearted losers like Louisiana-Lafayette or Marshall on SportsNet, or suffer with a fallen giant like Notre Dame.

(What pissed me off: After the game, a Rutgers player - not Ray Rice or Mike Teel, who know how to carry the weight of expectations - said, "That wasn't us out there." The kind of delusional statement makes a coach wanna slap him upside his head.)

(I had a terrible pick 'em week. Not that I spend more than 10 minutes making my selections. But I correctly chose Hawaii to score the most points in a game, & got the winner's score right in the Oregon/USC & Arizona St./Cal games, but had the wrong teams winning. )

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Not Random

If you didn't know the season here, you'd probably guess late September or early October from the foliage. Last night was the first that had a real chill in it.

Tim Dorsey: I loved Hurricane Punch, his latest & the first of his books I read, featuring a lovable serial killer, Serge A. Storms, & sidekick "Coleman." Serge is the murderer inside us, a manic savant who whacks obnoxious, bigoted people, sometimes with Rube Goldberg contraptions & always suiting the victim's offensive behavior. So I read Dorsey's first novel, Florida Roadkill, it was less exciting because he was trying out the tricks he'd use in his subsequent novels up to Hurricane Punch, & they'd already lost their novelty for me. But I have soft spot for middlebrow writers who adapt experimental, formerly avant garde type techniques. I've done it myself many times. The Florida "detective" novel is a wacky subgenre going all the way back to John D. MacDonald's great Travis McGhee series. I also like that Dorsey concluded he made a mistake killing off Coleman in Roadkill & simply resurrected him with the rationale that it's only fiction & he had the power to do it. This is a lot more honest than J.K. Rowlings announcing Dumbledore is gay when she may have known it all along but never had the courage to make it a "fact" of the Harry Potter universe. With the Potter series ended, so has Rowlings' omnipotent power over the world she created.

Brahms: Complete Works for Violin and Piano; Ulf Wallin (Violin), Roland Pontinen (Piano). Arte Nova. Feel like I pulled a fast one getting this budget double CD for the cutout price of $3.50, & it being better than I expected, a pair of superb younger musicians. Timeless, classic music that, while posing no great challenge to one's ears, reveals itself slowly, no reason to hurry it along. Beautiful now, it'll be just as beautiful tomorrow, the kind of warm music that becomes a good friend. Listen to it a few times, file it it the Brahms section by the symphonies. Welcome to my CD collection.

J.A. Jance: Justice Denied, a J.P. Beaumont Novel. I like Jance's books about Arizona sheriff Johanna Brady, not so much the ones starring this detective who works for the Washington State Attorney’s Special Homicide Investigation Team or, as it’s often called, the SHIT squad. The crime plots in this book, involving the inexplicable murder of an exonerated former street gang member, a cold case about the disappearance of corporate whistle blower during the Mount St. Helens eruption, a pattern of deaths among ex-con sex offenders, & the connection between two of those cases, are essentially 1 1/2 episodes of a TV cop show. It turns silly, but Jance doesn't play it silly. She fills out 384 pages with details of Beau's personal life, & he's not a guy I find particularly interesting. He's kind of slow for a cop who's been through 18 novels & two marriages - the second to a psychopathic murderer. Sheriff Brady, on the other hand, compares favorably with Marge Gunderson in Fargo, but less droll.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007


Monthly walk across town so doctor can ask if I'm feeling Seasonal Affective Disorder. Sure, but for me it's probably an improvement in my mood. I stopped in main library for a couple of large print novels, looked for a cheap stick vacuum in the only store downtown that passes for a legit dept. store, didn't expect to find one & didn't. Restocked on CD-Rs at Radio Shack. Closer to my neighborhood, the crappy Chinese restaurant went out of business. On a street crowded with clean, popular Hispanic cafes & barbecues featuring attractive young waitresses, there wasn't much demand for indifferently prepared General Tso's Chicken, desiccated ribs, & "shrimp" egg rolls. The space is now occupied by a Latino dance school.

The stretch of Elizabeth Ave. I walk has about 5 day labor agencies, all utilitarian places with metal folding chairs, bright fluorescent lighting, & a single desk at one end. Same day pay. The paperwork probably requires minimal personal information. If that's discouraging, there's both Army & Army Reserve recruiting stations on the same street closer to the County Courthouse. The Navy, Marine, & National Guard offices are couple of blocks over, The Marine recruiters wear the spiffiest uniforms, but the Army guys have a pimped up Humvee they roll out for street festivals & parades: Go ahead, sit in it, we'll give you one of your own, & a legal gun, too. Iraq? Hehe, that'll be over by the time you finish your advanced training in, let's see, how does Television & Video Production sound for an Army career? Yeah, last I heard the school for that was in Honolulu.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Great Falls National Park?

Led by chief sponsor Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson [NJ-8th], and a united front from the New Jersey delegation, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Monday evening designating the 109 acres surrounding the Great Falls of the Passaic River in Paterson as a national park. The vote was an overwhelming 256-122 in favor.

Earlier in the day the bill had been debated and faced opposition from some Republicans. Pascrell, who has expended much energy on this needed legislation, and in coalescing bipartisan support for it, spent much of Monday afternoon lobbying for still more votes, and in the end gained 50 votes from across the aisle. That number included all six GOP members of the New Jersey delegation. Republicans cast all 122 "no" votes.

A similar bill, supported strongly by state Sen. Frank Lautenberg and state Sen. Robert Menendez, is pending before a Senate committee. To become the Great Falls National Park the proposal must also pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Bush.

The president has put a hold on creating any new national parks. However advocates believe he may sign the bill since New Jersey has already pledged $10 million toward the project.

"The Great Falls could be transformed into an attraction for visitors," Pascrell said during the afternoon debate. "Federal resources could be leveraged to revitalize the Great Falls and the entire city."
Sounds worthy, although I don't know what happens if it's approved. Two or three Park Service Rangers with training in urban police work for a start, not a plum assignment. Bringing the Great Falls into the National Park system won't revitalize the entire city of Paterson, or even do much for the neighborhoods beyond the historical warehouse district. You don't want to wander far in that area if you're not familiar with it. The Great Falls themselves are a lot more impressive after a soaking rain, so much water is diverted upstream. My impression of the Great Falls from the first time I saw them was, "Except for those waterfalls, this place is damned ugly." It will always be ugly. Alexander Hamilton's America isn't pretty. I watched Philippe Petit cross the chasm on a high wire in 1974. Also enjoyed seeing pigeons in a natural cliff-dwelling habitat.

"Paterson NJ: America's Silk City"


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Donald Johanos and Charles Ives

Over the weekend I was thinking I ought to pull together all my vinyl LPs of music by composer Charles Ives (1874-1954), see what I had, & figure out what other never-released-on-CD Ives albums are out there I could put on a wish list for my modest collection. Surfing around, I discovered conductor Donald Johanos died last May at age 79. Johanos is hardly a well-known name to classical music fans. He never became a top tier maestro - which requires ceaseless self-promotion & political skills even greater than one's musical skills. He was music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra during the Sixties. He made a couple of notable, beautifully produced records with that group for the Vox budget label, including Charles Ives' Holidays Symphony; four movements with the titles,"George Washington's Birthday," "Decoration Day," The Fourth of July," & "Thanksgiving and/or Forefather's Day." They were composed between 1904 & 1913, & Ives didn't care if they were performed individually or as a faux symphony, which didn't matter because for the next 40 years nobody wanted to play or record them anyway. Now we know Holidays Symphony is a great orchestral work of the 20th Century.

I was working in a large record store in the late Sixties, my record budget was small, but one of my jobs at the store was taking care of the budget classical bins & shelves. The 1967 Johanos version of Holidays was about 1/3 the price of Leonard Bernstein's with the New York Philharmonic. It might been the very first orchestral music I heard by Ives. It was the only recording of the work I owned until a few months ago, when I finally got a CD by Michael Tilson Thomas with the Chicago Symphony, considered the definitive recording (so far). As I learned more about Ives over the years, & as Ives scholarship resulted in improved, less cluttered versions of his scores (Ives' original manuscripts were a mess), my appreciation of the Johanos recording grew. In addition to fine analog stereo sonics, the Johanos - Dallas Synphony interpretation sounded natural, at ease, as if they'd gone beyond the novelty of Ives, & the image promoted of him in the Sixties as a difficult, crackpot provincial genius (an attitude Bernstein - a born snob despite his proprietary affection for Ives' music - hadn't quite overcome). Now all good American conductors are comfortable with Charles Ives, & professional orchestras all around the world can perform his music. Except for a few of his more conventional works, musicians when Ives was actively composing considered his music literally impossible to play well, if at all. That certainly was an odd objection to Ives' solo piano music, because he could play it. I'm sure Ives imagined a time when his music would be performed by regional orchestras, & even semi-professional ensembles. The Johanos recording was rereleased on budget CD. But I picked up a cleaner vinyl copy for a buck at a record fair a couple of years ago.

In mono Realaudio, from an old record, here's Donald Johanos conducting Dallas Symphony Orchestra & Southern Methodist University Choir: "Thanksgiving" by Charles Ives. Think November in New England in the late 19th Century. (With thanks to Hatch, the following DJ, for the great seque).


Jersey Octoberfest

Because of new statewide regulations from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, leaves and other yard waste cannot be placed in the roadway more than seven days prior to the scheduled collection dates or closer than ten feet from any storm drain inlet.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Romney / Giuliani

A formidable ticket, the Repug version of Clinton/Gore. Two northeasterners, Rudy acting as the attack dog. Unifies most of the party base. No Evangelical third party breakaway, Dobson's uppity mullahs surrender because their followers won't follow. Run it against a Hillary candidacy. Puts four of six New England states & New Jersey into play. The negatives balance out. Repugs write off California & let the two New Yorkers scream at each other in Daily News & Post headlines that favor Giuliani, Hillary forced to spend heavily in that media market. Take Pennsy, Ohio, Missouri, West VA. We'll see if Huckabee throws a wrench into the primary machine, but this pairing could be a winner. You'll rarely go wrong underestimating American voters.

The Dem establishment is with Hillary because she represents them. Her husband was president & still has tremendous clout in the party. Anyway, how they gonna stop her unless something goes terribly wrong? Like she's exposed as a lesbian or secret Unitarian. The H.W. Bush corporatist Repugs know she's no great danger to them or the profitable Israeli-Saudi balancing act foreign policy. They oughta know after playing so much golf with her emissary, Bill. Hillary's her own person, but she's not radical, & she's hardly a populist. When she appears with Bill, the contrast is not to her advantage. She can't work the crowds like Obama & Edwards, but she has her own kind of celebrity - gets her share of excited screamers (hmm, nah, too easy) - & she's an insider, too. I'm sure there's a lot of fat cat Repugs who would prefer Hillary to a Christian Right ideologue: You can gay bash up to a certain point & then it becomes very bad for business. Likewise for anti- abortion & anti-Hollywood rhetoric, threats of boycotts, etc. The Money doesn't flow that way. Scientific ignorance is valuable when it weakens pollution laws, otherwise useless if not counterproductive. Mitt & Rudy. Think about it.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Menlo Park NJ

There really was this compact bucolic scene driving the back road to Menlo Park Mall in sprawling Edison NJ. A piece of it is still there if you forget the apartment complexes, office buildings & train station parking lots behind you & don't think about what's just over the hill ahead. You might not want to see it when you're stuck in a traffic jam.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Outing the Wizard

Harry Potter fans, the rumors are true: Albus Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, is gay. J.K. Rowling, author of the mega-selling fantasy series that ended last summer, outed the beloved character Friday night while appearing before a full house at Carnegie Hall.

After reading briefly from the final book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," she took questions from audience members.

She was asked by one young fan whether Dumbledore finds "true love."

"Dumbledore is gay," the author responded to gasps and applause.
& so, the zillionaire author, now done with the Potter series, confesses to what must be one of the biggest acts of literary cowardice ever. Applause? She should have been booed off the stage.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Strictly business

WCBS news radio aired the entire 75 minute Joe Torre news conference. The station won't let a presidential session run past two traffic/weather reports, but then the Bush Q&A is worthless. Local TV daytime dramas also pre-empted. It isn't as if many Yankee fans are reassessing loyalty to the team. The typical Yankee fan is a George Steinbrenner. For all the credit deservedly given to Torre's success, he took over the team after sanity had already returned. Four years of Manager Buck Showalter & a near-death experience for Major League Baseball done it. Yanks were in 1st place when the strike ended the 1994 season, World Series canceled, lasting so long the 1995 season had to be shortened. That was a wild card year. Joe Torre wasn't hired to rebuild a failing franchise. He came into a sweet situation & it was reasonable to expect immediate success. None of his seasons with the Yanks was a "miracle" year until 2007. So it's somewhat ironic that this season, his best as a manager, did him in.

Yankee management is looking at two years guaranteed sellout attendance regardless of how the team finishes; the last year in the old Stadium & the first in the new one. Incentives are one thing. Offering Torre a one year deal was the big insult. He deserved two years. They wouldn't even talk, so he walked. They could've done this two weeks ago.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

buzzing like mid-August

Last night, a lone cicada buzzing like mid-August. Summery weather here preventing the trees from turning, they're shutting down for the winter, but slowly.

Baseball is a sport I follow mostly on the radio. It suits summer nights, I can write & read with a game on in the background, there's a rhyhm, a good game clocks in at around 3 hours or less. I switch off between Mets & Yankees games, depending on what's happening. I really like the late games on west coast swings. Late season, I usually have lseveral ponies in the races. Besides New York, there's a number of other teams that can carry me through post-season. But baseball lost me this year. The Mets folded & the other teams were gone quickly in the first round. Rutgers' early promise, then all the Top Ten upsets piqued my curiosity about college football. I watched large portions of a few very exciting games. Every year, the same schools, USC, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida, the annual Big Twelve flops. So what? Although the standings are packed with familiar colleges, the feeling this year is that nobody is secure. I even joined a Pick'em group. I didn't imagine I'd be sort of hoping South Florida would beat Rutgers. One can only hope the BCS is a total mess.

[Rutgers 30, #2 South Florida 27. Great defensive 2nd half. Another undefeated top ten team toppled.]

What they say about the larger baseball playoff "markets" is absolutely true. There's small incentive for viewer watching the playoffs & Series without choosing a team. If you find regular season baseball boring, try post-season. The games are longer, the pitchers slow down, batters step out of the box after every pitch. The quality of pitching goes up - that how teams get to post-season, so scores go down except the occasional blowout. We get network producers & "impartial" broadcasters freaking out at the idea of five seconds with no talk or special graphics. Stats become even more arcane & meaningless ("...batted .363 with a runner on second base in all road games in which his team was behind by at least one run when the 7th inning occurred later than 11:15 pm, so yeah, I say he''ll get a green light to swing on a 3 & 0 pitch.") One cannot listen to this dribble unless one cares a little bit which of the two teams wins.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Maines of Madison Borough

If Cheryl & David Maines of Madison NJ have acted like jerks, they didn't have to be jerks. They could have been good neighbors. In a year when the noose reappeared as a symbol of violent white bigotry - lynchings, you'd think people would have the sensitivity to leave the hanged man figure out of Halloween 2007 displays. Maybe next year. If the family with the display on their home doesn't think of that, & neighbors complain, & even the Republican mayor requests that it be removed, you'd think the family would understand it's in poor taste & get rid of it, put up a Frankenstein or Dracula or something. If the son in the family, who made the hanged man, doesn't understand why, use the opportunity to teach the kid about lynching in America. But no. This family - David Maines is Madison's Supt. of Public Works - decided they were the victims, persecuted by the NAACP; & because the Maines family had no initial intention of offending anyone, gor them it logically follows that no one should be offended. Mr. & Mrs. Maines were merely clueless when they put the hanged man on display. But after seeing how they handled this, well.....

The Maines family made this a national story. They finally took the hanged man display down, & the rest of the decorations, placing a sign in front of their house: "Thanks to the assistance of Millie Hazlewood and her friends, Halloween and Christmas decorations will no longer be celebrated here." Go ahead, be bitter & punish yourself. Madison is a small, lovely college town in Morris County. Last December, a Menorah was vandalized at Madison train station, so it's not without problems. The Maines made Madison look small-minded & provincial, & worse.

(Tata also blogged on this. )

Anne's Sunflower 2007

Rahway NJ

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Faith-Based Baseball

This is cheating. How you gonna throw high & inside to the kid? No protective gear. Invisible home plate. Can the opposing team see Jesus? If so, I'd figure he's also fully human, bounce one off those bare toes & make him dance away. Nothing personal, I love the guy, but it ain't tee ball. He forgives.

I'd like to root for the Colorado Rockies, with their great finish & sweep to the National League Pennant. I respect manager Clint Hurdle, a failed phenom as a player & no great shakes in his previous seasons as Rockies manager, who had a personal epiphany concerning the relative importance of baseball. But this team plays in Coors Field & promotes an image as a "Christian" ballclub. No cursing in clubhouse, no "adult" mags permitted in lockers, even Playboy. Team chapel on Sunday - I'm not convinced there isn't pressure on players to show up & pray. They belong more in Colorado Springs than Denver.

Ownership runs a team as it sees fit. With the Bosox, Johnny Damon enjoyed his image as an "idiot" who never saw a barber, didn't own a razor, & showered once-a-week whether he needed it or not. But he cleaned up overnight when he signed with the Yanks, it just wasn't a big deal compared to the money & pinstripes, & we knew all along he was a funny, articulate guy regardless of how he looked. The Yanks don't allow a lunatic clubhouse anymore. Even banned locker room beer. But although they won't let customers buy a hot dog or keep walking to the restrooms during the singing of God Bless America, the song was composed by a Jew & the Yanks are nonsectarian. The Mets have a different way, & many superstitious fans attempt to influence the outcome of important games with vials of Shea Stadium dirt & other holy relics, & through where they sit in their own living rooms during rallies. I think the Mets ultimately lost the Division this year because in the final week the negative energies of Jose Reyes neutralized every bit of positive magic that surely would have won one additional game for them. Not the Rockies. They're a different kind of faith-based organization. But is Katsuo Matsui a Buddhist?

I'm tolerant about individual religious expression. Tell me you go to church every week, I don't assume you're some kind of wingnut. There's all kinds in every religion & denomination, even the Southern Baptist Convention. I'm not bothered when a football player briefly kneels or crosses himself after a touchdown, although you never see the same visible gratitude when a player doesn't break the plane & gets flattened into the ground by a 400 pound defender. I'm never pleased when an entire public university team forms a prayer circle in the middle of the field after a win; they can't all be faithful Christian believers at Kentucky. That's not why they were recruited.

So I won't root for the Rockies. I can't encourage all the stuff we're gonna hear & read about miracles & blessings & the virtues of front office management pushing communal prayer & clean thoughts if they win the Series. This is professional baseball, not a mega-church service. I'll go nominally with the Indians or I'll sit this one out if Boston gets in. Because I don't care. I'll have the games on TV or radio while I'm putzing around & enjoy them if they're interesting games. & when the Series is over, I'll check out how Big East basketball is shaping up this season.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

Today is an environmental Blog Action Day, & I seem to recall signing up for it somewhere. I ranted on overdevelopment last Friday. My 2004 post on little Lake Owassa is an appreciation of an older New Jersey that hadn't even interested me much. Most of the Sunday postcards are reminders of what we have lost, usually views & locations that are idyllic only to those who know Jersey. We'reall aware of small convenient ways to reduce our carbon imprint. We know we should buy Jersey produce. Before environmentalists there were conservationists. In Jersey, most of our opportunities for action come as the latter. The coalitions that saved The Great Swamp & the core of the Pine Barrens, stopped the Tocks Island Dam project on the Delaware, & prevented a bridge-tunnel linking Cape May to Delaware* were conservative movements in the best sense, preservationist & progressive. Namby (Not-in-my-backyard) local activists, environmentalists, legal experts, birdwatchers, nature lovers, & a few enlightened politicians working together. But those were causes of immense & visible importance. Preserving individual farms & wooded tracts attracts less attention yet is just as complicated a process. The Jersey shore is destroyed property by property now, rarely so through the wholesale ruination of marsh & beachfront. But if a bungalow is replaced by a McMansion, a mom & pop store sells out to absentee owners who rip down the clapboard building, a two-floor motel replaced by ten stories of condos, that's usually a bad environmental tradeoff.

More fun to hear about than Blog Action Day: American Airlines, Citibank & dozens of other advertisers bought space in a 16 page religion-oriented, pro-gay supplement included in Sunday's Dallas Morning News. Bet that ruined a lot of breakfasts. Did you know Dallas has a church with one of America's largest predominantly LGBT congregations?

*This catastrophic conception bubbled up again recently as a suggestion that the unprofitable Delaware Bay ferry service is seriously inhibiting Atlantic coast traffic flow & commerce, & hurting Atlantic City business. But it's still an outrageous multi-billion dollar scam.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Brant Beach NJ

Long Beach Island, formerly Wida's, now it's Daddy O,
promoted as a "boutique" restaurant & hotel.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The perfect Jew

"...we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say."

I used to think Anne Coulter was smart, a well-educated person, basically an affluent Heather-type who used her compulsive sarcasm - sharpened in high school & at the family dinner table (competitively challenged to have the last zinger) - as a shock humorist, applied with a certain amount of show biz detachment - which would account for her gossip page friendships with a few celebrity liberals & libertarians. Otherwise, she's struck me as a low libido, high achieving anorexic with daddy issues. Advocating the murder of liberals & mocking 9/11 widows, that's all in fun, right? But her expressions of religious belief sound more authentic, like, from the heart, not a joking matter. So it was mildly shocking to hear her reveal her attachment to the old, discredited theology from all those centuries when Christians prayed for the conversion of the Jews while simultaneously engaging in pogroms & outright genocide. If a Jew did convert, as many educated European Jews did, it made no difference in how they were treated when the deadly anti-Semites came looking for them. They weren't "perfected" enough.

It's a common enough grassroots conservative Christian view, though most of them are polite enough to refrain from expressing it in public. There is some debate among some Evangelicals over whether or not Jews ought to be proslytized. When Jerry Falwell was suspected a few years ago of adopting "Dual Covenant" theology (one contract for Jews, another for Christians) other protestant mullahs became upset, because it gives Jews a "bye." Without explicitly endorsing it, the Dual Covenant is pretty much the attitude of mainstream protestants & the Roman Catholic Church now. Evangelicals know they can't support the State of Israel by sending in legions of missionaries, so they've backed off pushing for conversion of the Jews without abandoning both the hope & a belief in the necessity for trying. They're criticizing Coulter for being uncool rather than for being wrong. Anne meant what she said, & it's not a fringe belief in her world. If she's outraged Jews & lots of others, better that we know what she's representing. She's a messenger.

But something to keep in mind: Only hardass evangelicals give much thought to converting Jews. The average person in the pew probably doesn't think about it at all. They just believe everybody is better off getting with Jesus. Even Coulter had second or third hand echoes in her head, stumbled around & couldn't cite the relevant New Testament passages, which I read today thanks to Pastor Dan Schultz at Street Prophets, & he draws different conclusions from them.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Jerseyans headed for the exit

From a newspaper editorial:
A report from Rutgers University suggests that New Jerseyans should not bother getting to know their neighbors, given the likelihood that they will be leaving shortly for Pennsylvania or North Carolina. The comparative allure of these and other states has gotten to the point that one in eight New Jerseyans -- more than a million -- left the state from 2000 through 2005.

While there is migration from other states into New Jersey, the outbound traffic was greater by about 24,000 people in 2002. By 2006, the net loss had tripled. If the trend continues, the exodus will account for a yearly hemorrhage of 100,000 residents before the decade's out.
I can think of many reasons people would want to stay in Jersey, & probably more why they would want to leave. But I can think of only three for why anyone would want to move here: You have a really great high-paying job lined up; You're an ambitious young person & New York City is across the river; You're an undocumented immigrant & your contacts gave you a Jersey address. I hear about "lifestyle" & honestly I don't see much of one for the less-than-affluent that can't be more affordably had & improved elsewhere. There's an image promoted by NJ Monthly & its essence boils down to Princeton & Hoboken with flavoring from Cape May (wealthy people at the beach) Atlantic City (wealthy people party all weekend), Lambertville (wealthy people buy expensive old stuff), plus the adventurous tastes of urban cultural attractions where there's secure - preferably valet - parking, you know, museums, classical music, authentic ethnic cuisine. Oh yeah, there's Bruce, who's been really wealthy for 25 years.

Everyone loves to read about Asbury Park, but out of Jersey's population of over 8 million hardly anyone actually goes there. Unless there's secure parking. You find the greatest nostalgia for Tillie in nouveau riche Red Bank, where they prefer lite jazz & you're more likely to run into the Springsteens on a shopping spree.

Except for the boardwalks, the Jersey I really love disappeared years ago. Which puts me among those confused folks reading Weird NJ magazine, lamenting the disappearance of corn fields & sand quarries along old Route 9, & wondering what the heck happened to all the cows we used to see when we drove west on Route 78. To find that Jersey now you have go up into the Poconos or miles south of Ocean City Maryland where they haven't yet gotten around to building luxury condos & McMansions next to the mucky tidal creeks. I love mucky creeks & don't understand why antiseptic wealthy people would want to smell them twice-a-day.

So New Jersey is losing population. But every complaint I have about the state is related to there being too many people crammed into 8,729 square miles. To fit them all in we've had to fill in salt marshes, chop down Pine Barrens, pave over pastures, & dynamite the peaks off our modest but ancient mountains.


Al wins the big one

Nobel Peace Prize. Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. is a citizen of the world now. He's collecting more awards than Dame Judy Dench. Everybody on Earth except America's crackpot 25% acknowledges he was elected President of the United States in 2000 & denied office through an ultra-rightist coup d'état. So Al is admired around the world & President Lizard Brain is loathed & distrusted. Don't press Al to run for president. It's a compliment, but he's enjoying his current line of work & celebrity. Being president of a disputatious government bogged down in two wars, his own political party loaded with candyasses - the job is just a bunch of freakin' hassles. Let Hillary deal with them. She'll have to call Al for help & he knows it.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Street Scene

If you go out the front of my building & turn right, you immediately see questionable apartment buildings & often pass some not very nice people, & a block away there's a small liquor store & dark, nasty little bar. If you turn left, one block up are some better maintained apartments , & a block later is a clean, well-lit 7-11 & very pleasant single family home streets where a friend of mine lives. I'm at a crossroads corner & I rarely turn right. In some ways, it's not much different than where I used to reside, there were nearby streets I avoided after dark. Living in downtown Rahway for so many years, I worked through my interest in street scenes. By the time I moved I was bored by the people hanging out on the benches & corners, couldn't be bothered to stop & watch police frisk & arrest bottom-feeding drug dealers & angry drunks, & I always crossed the street rather than wade through a crowd of rowdy high schoolers surrounding two kids shoving each other & screaming,"Fock you muthafocka." The same things got my attention that had always gotten it: fire engines, long freight trains, rivers after heavy rain, & attractive women. In late summer, I'd get an iced coffee & sit in train station plaza when the butterfly bushes were in bloom & attracting monarchs.

Some residents of my building sit out front on the stoop. The landlord doesn't approve of it but he can't prevent it. Sitting there for hours, of course they become familiar with the punks & creeps living in the buildings across the street, or coming here to sell the smallest available retail sizes. By craning their necks they even see some of the activity all the way down by the nasty bar. I guess it all looks rough-edged after awhile. But it's all happening to the right. Sometimes I stop & chat for a few minutes, then walk to the left. Here's what I see on the street:
1. The punks don't wear cool clothes.
2. They don't have cars.
3. They don't have girlfriends.
4. Most of them act & sound stupid.

So if you're a young street guy on this corner, you're demonstrating that someone else is dressing snappy. Someone else is driving an Escalade with tinted windows (or even an old Toyota). Someone else is getting laid at 2 am on a weekend (small, anorexic women who look like 12 year old boys are the fashion). That's not interesting. Occasionally, a higher up in whatever organization comes by in a late model vehicle to check you out, maybe to collect the money, maybe to make sure you're not high on the product. The window rolls down, heavy bass thumping hip hop on an expensive sound system. All you got is a beeping walkie talkie. Well, you can always hope. But your future is the county lock up & a public defender. You would have been treated better running numbers for the Italians.

It's hard to find a parking space around here at midnight. Over half of those spaces open up between 5 & 7 on weekday mornings. Between 7 & 8 dozens of kids leave for school, yellow buses or walking, many accompanied by a parent. That's the neighborhood, too.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

An Atlantic City Story

A peculiar political story in New Jersey: Atlantic City (now ex) Mayor Robert Levy disappeared for a couple of weeks, then resigned. He'd been mayor for less than two years. Turned out he had checked himself into a mental health facility for a week.

Before this story unfolded, I knew little about him except that he was a pal of the former mayor & had, for reasons known only to himself, lied around town that he had been a Green Beret. It's not against the law to bullshit people about one's military service unless one fraudulently obtains undeserved benefits. Levy is being investigated regarding this possibility. Why he inflated his service record is a mystery.

Bob Levy became a lifeguard as a teenager; graduated A.C. high school; married an African-American woman - unusual in the 60's. He enlisted in the Army & by all accounts had a long, diverse, & interesting career including two stints in Vietnam. He retired honorably. No need to exaggerate what he did, it's in the record. He was appointed Chief of the Atlantic City Beach Patrol, traditionally a large, colorful crew run by old lifeguards from town, then made Director of Emergency Services. He was elected mayor. Whether or not he was a good mayor, I don't know. But when he got into trouble, he sure didn't have a deep well of support on the island or upstairs in the Democratic Party. One suspects he was something of a "figurehead."

Some things never change about being mayor of Atlantic City; you have to distribute patronage, & you have to squeeze as much money as you can out of the boardwalk & "hospitality" businesses & use it to pay the bills for the rest of the city. Hopefully, you appoint competent cronies administrators to run the city departments. What has changed is that the legal gambling & entertainment industry isn't a matter of local control; casinos are too important to the State of NJ. Atlantic City Hall is expected to be cooperative, helpful, & stay the hell out of the way when the big deals go down; if you want to be a player you got to have powerful friends in Trenton, or work there yourself. So the Boss, Gov. Corzine, was of no mind to let this local psychodrama work itself out. Not when MGM was about to announce it's spending 5 billion to develop 72 acres of swamp.

So Bob Levy is out & City Council President William "Speedy" Marsh is Acting Mayor.

(Photo of Mayor Levy with former lifeguards at the 2006 ACBP swearing in ceremony. As a kid, I had to figure out which lifeguards on my beach were too quick with the whistle. An experienced lifeguard could remember the "regulars" & decide if you deserved a looser leash. They're a lot more cautious now.)


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Joe Torre Era

If it's time for Joe Torre to step down as Yankee manager, it's not because he failed to get the team to the World Series again. It's because the Joe Torre era is coming to an end. Joe brought over a decade of stability & sanity to a Yankee clubhouse that had usually been a nuthouse during the Steinbrenner years. & he was a winner every year he managed the Yanks. But George Steinbrenner is old. Yankee Stadium will be demolished after the 2008 season. Jeter isn't a kid, Mariano is aging, Clemens is finished & a hired gun anyway. Joe walks stiff-legged to the mound. He looks exhausted after every game, even the afternoon laughers. He's tough & wise, but he lacks the irascible temperament of great old man managers. It's getting very near color commentary time for Joe, if that's something he wouldn't mind doing. It would have been a great thing for Joe if the Yanks had gone to the Series this year, if he could lead the team into the new stadium, through the transition. But maybe that's for Don Mattingly or Joe Girardi. Joe became manager when Bill Clinton was president & Giuliani the mayor. He was manager at the new millennium & on 9/11 (the Yanks lost the 2001 Series to the Diamondbacks, in 7 games, in the bottom of the 9th, on Nov. 4th, it was a terrific Series). Given Joe's managerial records with the Mets, Braves & Cards, there was little reason in 1996 to think he'd last long - much less attain Baseball Hall of Fame level success - with the Yankees. But he has.

If Steinbrenner wants Joe out, he certainly could have arranged a change in respectful, valedictory manner. Denying Joe a dignified exit, treating him no better than when Trump fires a reality show contestant, is terrible. But it's George's way, the Yankee way. In Yankeeland there's no league parity, the Yanks didn't lose because the Indians won 96 regular season games & had better pitching.


Monday, October 08, 2007


At 6 this am (I looked at the clock) I got up & went to the bathroom. I heard a slow drip in the cabinet under the sink, bad because it attracts bugs. I've stopped it before by tapping on a little hose. So I reached inside & did. When I turned on the tap, the hose popped off, the door flew open & water shot out. The hose had come loose. Instant freak out. With water flying in my face (never so grateful it wasn't steamy hot) I tried to turn the hand valve. It was stuck. The hose pointed outward. I grabbed a plastic pail but couldn't aim the hose in. The floor was becoming flooded. I ran in the other room & got a wrench, grabbed some clothes out of the hamper, threw the clothes on the bathroom floor & attempted to get the wrench on the valve. No luck. I ran back in the other room, got a hammer, whacked at the valve & it started to turn. I got the water shut off. It was a disaster. My heart was racing, I was out of breath, awake yet not fully in possession of my senses. I hoped the water wasn't leaking into the apartment under mine. I mopped up the water with towels & teeshirts, wringing it into the bathtub. A hard knock on the door, the nice woman downstairs, her bathroom was wet. I apologized, said no more water was coming. 6:16 am.

The past three nights the half-wit above me overfilled his bathtub, leaking into my ceiling until two tiles collapsed into my bathtub. It happened last month. I thought we had it settled. He doesn't seem to understand what he is doing wrong; if that's the case, he probably belongs in a group home.

Handyman woke me up at 8 am. Reattached the hose (I still don't trust it) , replaced ceiling tiles, & for good measure replaced a slightly cracked upper windowpane in the other room I hadn't even noticed. I went back to bed & slept fitfully through all his work.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Keansburg NJ

[ Yahoo! Maps ]

Map of Park Ave. Keansburg

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Dear Old Rutgers

Oy. With Rutgers up by ten at halftime I figured they could at least play Cincinnati even up for two more quarters on home field. But their total third quarter collapse knocked them way out of the top 25. This was traditional Scarlet Knights athletics on display, good teams that can't close the deal. With the Carrier Dome, South Florida, Mountaineers, untested but 5-0 UConn & dangerous Louisville remaining, at best they're headed for another meaningless brand name bowl game. Thought they could win this one. Welcome to the world of the BCS. Less than halfway into the season & nobody outside of Jersey cares anymore. Take a lesson from USC & Stanford: Anybody can beat you, you can beat anybody.
Cincinnati 28, Rutgers 23. That's the University of Cincinnati Ohio.

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Beastly Behavior at BBC

Even The Rix Mix is now aware of the controversy at the world's longest-running children's TV program, The Blue Peter on BBC. They held an online poll to name the show's new kitten; "Cookie" won but the show's staff ignored the vote & chose "Socks." Only one in a long list of scandals to hit BBC, most involving bogus call-in contest winners. But the really serious offense was a documentary TV promo implying The Queen had "stormed out" of an Annie Leibovitz photo shoot in a snit when Annie suggested Her Majesty be less formal & remove the tiara. The head of the head of BBC One was lopped off for that miscalculation.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Topps Meat Company

Topps Meat Company was a privately owned family company founded in 1940, headquartered in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The company produced and distributed frozen ground beef patties and other meat products. In 2003, the company was purchased by Strategic Investment and Holdings, an investment firm based in Buffalo, New York; by 2007 it was "one of the country’s largest manufacturers of frozen hamburgers."
Now it's gone.

Atari 2600

Introduced 30 years ago this month, the Atari 2600 was truly the first widely popular "home computer." $199 list, not a cheap Christmas present. For me, it became a generation gap, what really began the slow demise of pinball, although the greatest pinball machines were yet to be designed in response to video game competition. But the millions of Atari kids wanted to play arcade versions of Atari games & vice versa, & when Atari licensed Space Invaders in 1980 & introduced Centipede, boardwalk arcade owners were certain where the coins were dropping. Then Pac-Man became the video game equivalent of "The Twist," the one that got grownups into the action, not to mention the mildly pornographic titles like Custer's Revenge. One can admire how little memory these games required. Updated versions of old Atari games continue to rake in the change.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The War and Ken Burns

Much to admire, enjoy, & think about in Ken Burn's new documentary, The War. The style seems cliche now, one tends to forget Burns polished & popularized it 17 years ago in what remains his best work, The Civil War.

The War is mostly a documentary version of the popular soldier's eye view history books that have been published about WWII over the past few decades. It also matter-of-factly incorporates important revisionist history. The Tuskegee Airmen, 761st Tank Battalion, & the Japanese-American 442nd Regimental combat team & 100th Infantry Battalion weren't in my high school history books. The forced removal of Japanese-Americans to concentration camps was given passing attention there & was definitely not a class discussion topic. (The most egregious omission in those Cold War history books concerned the Soviet Union's role in defeating Germany).

Burns packed The War with photos & film I'd never seen before. World War Two was so well documented by government, the armed forces, industry, news media, & individuals, it was no surprise he found so much stuff. It's still just a fraction. He could probably throw together two more supplementary series with what he didn't use. That's certainly one reason he decided to concentrate on only four American locations & do his digging there. Any four towns & cities would reveal historical treasures & personal stories equally touching. A former girlfriend of mine has entire World War Two scrapbooks she fished out of curbside trash piles in suburban Union County, thrown out probably by sons & daughters when their parents died or were packed off to small senior apartments. Unfortunate this documentary wasn't made a decade earlier; everyone seeing it will think twice before discarding those old photos & mementos.

Burns also didn't hold back on the blood, killing & horror. Or on what we now call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, so stigmatized in civilian life that few vets would openly seek treatment for it; even so there weren't any really good methods for treating it. It was a private agony & we have no way of knowing how many lives it ruined. Only the families know.

The personal view of The War is what I most appreciate. But it assumes we already have a general classroom knowledge of the history of World War Two.

I'm a baby boomer. I was a child in the 1950's. World War Two was not only the central experience for my parent's' generation, but also for people born in the 1930s - like the Scanlon sisters next door, two teenage sweeties who used to pick me up, carry me on to their front porch, hug & tickle me. They were in grammar school during The War. Did they have a victory garden & collect tin foil? How did they feel when a handsome young guy in their small town was killed & the Gold Star went in the window? How did that news travel? How did the neighbors treat each other. Burns thought of these questions. Fortunately, I've spent many interesting hours listening to an older friend tell me about her World War Two childhood, from rationing to the kinds of games they played, how it affected school, the propaganda, the delays in getting accurate news from the battle fronts, & how children were able to forget the war & be children. My central childhood cultural experience was the aftermath, American Triumphalism (despite the Korean War). I was always curious what it was like to live in my house, on my street, in my hometown, Roselle Park, during World War Two. I just heard the echoes. In a church social hall in Linden NJ I saw hanging on the wall a fading amateur oil painting of a WWI doughboy & a Boy Scout looking up at a blue sky filled with WWII fighter planes. It may have been copied from a popular illustration, but fighters had been built just down the road at the GM plant & flown off from Linden Airport. Imagine the sound overhead.

We need to see the broader picture of the war; the ideologies & governments, the grand strategies & great battles, the maps with the lines & arrows. We also need to remember why decisions were made as well as why they were right or wrong decisions. There's an increasing disconnect in America favoring historical hindsight bias over understanding what was known & what was considered realistically possible when events were actually happening. I knew a man who designed a piece of the atomic bomb without knowing that's what he was doing until after it was dropped. His limited view could be compared to a G.I.'s. But do we now believe we even need to learn our own history in all its breadth & depth? Or only those parts that concern our particular interest group?

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Mad George the Second

One of many reasons I support Democrats in New Jersey is their support of health care for children, & the steps they have taken to provide it. There's consensus in the party on this matter & the debate is over. That's why our governor moved so quickly to bring suit against the feds for rule changes that could leave thousands of New Jersey's kids without health care. But there must be a national solution. It shouldn't depend where a child lives or on parental choice or ability to pay. Health care for children must be like education for children. Every child must have access to health care, period. The Children's Health Insurance Program, created during a Democratic adminstration, is the current avenue toward that goal of full coverage. We're spending trillions of dollars on war & weapons, pissing it away. But our dimwit, semi-literate, silver foot in his mouth president, our "pro-life" president, is more haunted by some terrible spectre of socialized medicine than he is by all the very real sickness & death his policies have caused.

We know our Yalie prez doesn't understand irony, although he handed America a great example of it in his Child Health Day proclamation, issued on Monday. Well, not entirely, since he believes the biggest health challenges facing, say, a toddler child of working poor parents are drugs & not making the right choices.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tuesday Vigil: Witnessing

My turn at Street Prophets for the weekly meditation, so I adapted a basic writing exercise:
We tend to think of "witnessing" in the larger meanings of the word; witnessing for religious faith, witnessing for the oppressed & voiceless, witnessing in the legal sense. Somewhere I read that when two Irish clans met on a battlefield, their respective bards were sent to a nearby hill under protection. If one clan were annihilated, its history & heroic final fight would be honored & live on through poetry & song. The poets were witnesses. Such great responsibilities. But don't we often fail to witness what is most ordinary in our lives? By witnessing, & remembering those things or occasions, however mundane, we give them significance.
The rest of it is here. Hope you visit.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

No slide for Rutgers

I'm going out on a limb & predicting Rutgers will win the next three games against #20 Cincinnati, Syracuse, & #6 South Florida. I think South Florida is this year's Rutgers in the Big East, meaning they've had their upset over an overconfident, highly ranked team, West Virginia.

Rutgers is a new kid on campus in the big money brand name bowl era & has never held a national title in any era (Princeton won 7, probably beating Rutgers in every one of those seasons to do it). You have to build several college generations of winning teams. You know you're a prestige program when your failures are as newsworthy as your successes. Notre Dame & Penn State generate more sports commentary than Rutgers, & neither has won a national championship since the Eighties. But the rabid alumni of both expect to win it again, Notre Dame by firing & hiring coaches every few years & Penn State by sticking with Joe Paterno until he retires or falls down & can't get up. I enjoy college basketball a lot more as a sport, & because good teams from lower tier conferences get a chance at the end of the season to prove they really can't beat the great teams.

Outer Spaceways

I slipped into Jersey City early Saturday evening for a radio show. Almost sidetracked coming out of Exchange Place PATH station by a huge Irish street festival on the waterfront. Oh, it's my People, I nearly exclaimed out loud. Drink beer, buy green things, listen to punked up versions of revolutionary songs, drink more beer. I was even appropriately attired in my Rahway Fire Dept. teeshirt. But they aren't my people, really, I've never celebrated Irish-American culture except on St. Patrick's Day, I was in hurry, & the Puerto Rican festival in the same location is more fun, the beautiful women wear tighter clothes, the food more tempting. This festival had an unusual number of portosans to discourage public urination, the malodorous boxes lined up in front of Au Bon Pain coffeeshop patio, which was closed. It was all gone but for the toilets by the time I headed home just after midnight.

I must say, I think my first set (following the Nino Rota theme song) is masterly free form. When I arrived at the station I only had two songs in mind for a possible set, & when I started the Blues Magoos cover of "Gloria" hadn't yet decided on the next cut. My opening sets usually run about 1/2 an hour, but 20 minutes in I took quick inventory & realized I could steer it around the bend & go for an full hour. Once I make that decision, I really try to go with it. But I had to find a way to get to a long spacy cut by The Orb, at which point I could sit back & figure out how to end it. It worked out so well that I pretty much coasted through the rest of the program. I had other stuff already planned, & I'm long past the time when I enjoyed the challenge of doing an entire three hour program on the fly, like that first set.

Portions of my radio shows going all the way back to when I first started have always played with a particular idea, one I suspect came largely from comedy acts like Monty Python & Firesign Theater: What can I do that's obviously me pretending to be stoned but might trick a pot smoking listener into thinking I actually am? To do this, I have to rely on memory. I've always treated radio DJing as a job with real responsibilities, since there are situations requiring clearheadedness, like equipment failures & alerts from the National Weather Service (WFMU has a wonderful machine; a ghostly voice speaks & then it prints out the weather bulletin ticker tape style, which you rip off & read. I've had to break into programming to issue destructive thunderstorm & flash flood warnings & rouse the manager in the middle of the night to inform him of a power outtage. & hardly a show has ever passed without natural lapses of attention on my part, some of which I don't catch in time. One happened Saturday when I accidentally ejected a CD playing over the air. I believe free form ought to sound like you're sitting in the studio rolling numbers, that's how it got invented. Or so the inventors wanted us to believe. I proudly trace my free form lineage directly to two of the best who did it in 1968.

My fav music from the show: the ethereal classical piece, "Flos Campi."

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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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