Monday, March 16, 2009

two sad events

Two sad events over the weekend.

Citizen Kafka (Richard Shulberg) died following a long battle with MS. A legendary figure around New York in music & alternative radio. In the late 90's, "Sid" brought his great radio show, Secret Museum of the Air, to WFMU from WBAI for about 5 years, co-produced with Pat Conte. They found an astonishing variety of music on old 78s. The guy was constantly in motion, an ebullient personality. I don't think I had conversation with him lasting longer than five minutes, he was always headed into the production studio or on his way out the door to a gig with his wacky bluegrass band. It's impossible to imagine him anywhere but New York City.
Tragic car accident, seven teenagers from Roselle Park High School, crammed into Mazda. The car flipped over on Route 35 in Toms River Saturday evening, injuring six & killing the captain of the wrestling team. I grew up in Roselle Park, I have some idea how ripped up the town must be. A similar tragedy occurred while I was in high school.

I read judgmental comments online about no seat belts, overcrowded car, probationary licenses. Yet, the first thought I had was that a bunch of friends from RP, driving around the Jersey shore, was what I would expect of teenagers from the town. Poor judgment, yes. But they weren't gangbangers looking for a drive by target. In my era, over 40 years ago, before seat belt laws & special licenses, we did that all the time. If someone had a car on Saturday night, you gathered up friends & drove somewhere; to the shore, to a diner, to visit somebody's cousin. If you went to a boardwalk, chances were very good you'd meet another bunch of kids from Roselle Park doing the same thing. Maybe that hasn't changed much. What also hasn't changed is that RP is a small town, 1 sq mile. You graduate with classmates you've seen every school day since kindergarten. They don't live 15 miles away but literally up the street & around the corner. This kind of thing doesn't touch the community in an abstract or distant way. It's like dropping a bomb on the town's heart.

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