Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New April Fool's Day laws

Effective April 1:
N.J. drivers must make full stop for pedestrians or face hefty fines

Motorists, previously required to yield to pedestrians, will have to come to full stops and remain stopped or risk $200 tickets (double the current fine) and two points on their licenses.

Pedestrians can be fined $54 for not obeying traffic signals.
The drivers who weren't yielding aren't going to stop now. Many drivers on the streets around here deliberately, arrogantly brush pedestrians back when we're crossing at the corner with the light - the little lighted man. Drivers want to make their turns, & if they'll risk colliding with on-coming tractor trailer trucks to do it, a pedestrian is just a minor impediment. The driver may be in an old SUV, yapping on the phone, & there's a chance he or she doesn't even have a legal license, being "undocumented" in every other way.

There's also the "Jersey way" of crossing streets. This involves jaywalking across a lane, toe-hanging on the white line until the other lane is clear. Sometimes it's safer than crossing at the corner.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another noreastern

Another noreastern, another rainy day in Jersey. We had a long snowy winter & an exceptionally, dangerously wet March. Spring is definitely here but it's not the sprung spring we often have; it's a cautious spring. Even the birds sound a bit muted early in the morning, as if they're not sure what to expect. Forsythia grows as a weed here along highways & railroad embankments, & we really look forward to the yellow blooms, which can pop at any time from late February on with a few cool, sunny days in a row, when the ground is thawed. They sneaked up this year, not quite tardy, but without the "Ta Dah!" fanfare they usually have. I was startled by them in full bloom last week; I'd been distracted by the floods, which were tough on thousands of Jerseyans - not around here, fortunately - & made for fascinating photos & videos all over the news.
Why would someone buy a whole pizza at 7-11 when two blocks more on the same side of the street Bruno's will make you a good one from scratch?

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Monday, March 29, 2010

The "equipment" of Jesus

“Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment."

Huteree militia website

Equipment? Militia Charged With Plotting to Murder Officers:
The indictment charged that from August 2008 to the present, the defendants — led by David Brian Stone, 45, who also used the name “Captain Hutaree” — developed a conspiracy that they hoped would result in a war against the United States government. They allegedly decided they would kill a local law enforcement officer, and then bomb the funeral caravan. The killings “would intimidate and demoralize law enforcement diminishing their ranks and rendering them ineffective,” it said.

Afterward, the indictment said, Hutaree members would retreat to several “rally points” and wage war against the government, using prepared fighting positions as well as “trip-wired and command-detonated” bombs.
It's difficult to imagine a plan more suicidal that doesn't include the word suicide. It's not other right wing militias that would be rushing to the "rally points," but thousands of enraged cops, & they'd be trying to restrain more enraged, flag-waving Harley bikers than show up during bike weeks in Daytona Beach & Sturgis combined. This is madness. Ironic, that an agency of our "illegitimate" government stopped these lunatics . But there's more where they came from.


Anne Donovan

Seton Hall hires Donovan as women’s hoops coach

SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. (AP)—Anne Donovan is leaving the New York Liberty after the upcoming WNBA season to become the women’s basketball coach at Seton Hall.
What a great, inspired choice! Donovan had a legendary high school career at Paramus Catholic, won a National Championship at Old Dominion (during some very good years for Rutgers), three Olympic Gold Medals as player & coach, coached Seattle to a WNBA crown. Her name is a recruiting draw equal to Rutgers' C. Vivian Stringer. Both are in the Basketball Hall of Fame & the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

Two of my Women's Final Four picks are gone, Tennessee & Notre Dame. But what do I know about Baylor & Oklahoma? Still, I wish the Vols & Irish had played each other this year. NCAA website streamed the Sooners radio broadcast last night, including commercials for Norman OK businesses. ND lost in overtime.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Don't Blame Me

Thelonious Monk solo. Song by Jimmy McHugh & Dorothy Fields.

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Deepwater NJ

Bridgeview Motel

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

West Virginia 73, Kentucky 66

That's unexpected. Not that I mind. WVU won three low score squeakers in the Big East Tournament, & I didn't think it was the kind of play that would get them past Kentucky to the Final Four, especially after they lost Darryl Bryant last week. Syracuse was my choice to win it all before Onuaku's injury. Then I probably would've picked Kentucky.

Number of West Virginians on the WVU roster: One.

Big East took a beating this year. But it doesn't mean the conference is overrated. All the BE teams that made the NCAA deserved to be there, & three more lurked around the bubble until late in the season. That's the strongest conference. Big East teams are overrated compared to the top two teams from midmajors. But put Notre Dame or Marquette in the West Coast, they'd go no worse than 11-3 in conference play.

Tyranny of the Majority

Strong possibility, even probability, the Tea Party protests will fall far short of their intent. For a few reasons.

First is that "opposition" to health care reform legislation is not a unified "repeal & replace." Between now & November it'll become more difficult to sell that view broadly. "Keep & repair" is already gaining. S0me of the opposition expressed in polls was from liberals.

Second, we can count on Tea Partiers to supply news media & You Tube with a steady supply of outrageously bigoted & foolish sound bites (Today it's a rendition of "New York, New York" sure to irritate every Sinatra & Yankee fan). It's not a disciplined movement. That's why it attracts screaming knuckleheads waving placards with misspelled words.

Third, their rallies have a sameness of tone & presentation. America gets bored. Except with Sarah Palin. She has celebrity staying power, much more for celebrity than actual political popularity.

Fourth, the "tyranny of the majority" phrase is code for white conservative protestants complaining about Democratic coalition politics when the long term demographics of America are irreversibly turning against white conservative protestants. Nearly the entire history of the United States is a tyranny of the white protestant majority. One Roman Catholic president. 32 Jewish senators, most of them current or recent. 6 black senators, 2 of them during Reconstruction. Antebellum federal government was usually a tyranny of the Southern minority, thanks to the 3/5th's of a human article of the Constitution. So no matter who has the power, it's a tyranny to those who don't have it.

Fifth, the near total lack of human empathy expressed by The Tea Party movement aggravates a substantial number of evangelicals.

If you want to write off African-Americans, Hispanics, Jews, gays & their friends & families, political centrists, & most people with college educations, go ahead & try to put together a majority coalition. Make all the noise you can. I recognize the white underclass base in the Tea Party, but there's nothing new or novel about America's white underclasses being stubbornly - violently - reactionary rather than smart. Remember, no president in the history of this nation helped them more than Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The buck stops with Benedict

To be connected with the church is to be associated with scoundrels, warmongers, fakes, child-molesters, murderers, adulterers and hypocrites of every description.

It also, at the same time, identifies you with saints and the finest persons of heroic soul of every time, country, race, and gender. To be a member of the church is to carry the mantle of both the worst sin and the finest heroism of soul because the church always looks exactly as it looked at the original crucifixion, God hung among thieves.
– Ronald Rolheiser, The Holy Longing
Thanks to Fran Rossi Szpylczyn for this quote. But the Vatican doesn't grasp that the sensationalist media coverage is about real evil. So this will not do:
Vatican attacks media on 'Pope role' in sex abuse cases

The Vatican has attacked the media over charges that the Pope failed to act against a US priest accused of abusing up to 200 deaf boys two decades ago.

A Vatican newspaper editorial said the claims were an "ignoble" attack on the Pope and that there was no "cover-up".

The head of the UK Catholic church said the Pope had made important changes to the way abuse was dealt with.
There were cover-ups. They're documented. The changes were too few & too slow in happening. I can offer only a non-Catholic perspective. Rather than transparency & accountability, the Church patriarchy prefers the 19th Century way. The longterm strategy is to focus on doctrine & discipline, engage in witchhunts that have little or no connection with the pedophilia or blame it on Vatican II reforms. Any Catholics for whom this on-going scandal matters enough to leave the Church are welcome to go, even if it shrinks the Church, because they're troublemakers who will not shut up & submit. This strategy has Benedict's fingerprints all over it. It should; he was working on it long before he became Pope.

This is a political scandal in a political institution, & media is correctly treating it as such, investigating it, dwelling upon the lurid details, & placing the spotlight on the man who has the Earthly power & authority. Benedict reminds me of Richard Nixon, imperious & imperial, the man who said, "Well, when the President does it that means that it is not illegal." It's time for Harry Truman's "The buck stops here."

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

A ticket agent at the Elizabeth train station ticket window was saying the word "f*ck" so much in her conversation with the other ticket seller that I almost went over & asked her to tone it down. She was as bad as Tony Soprano. But it's not the backroom at the Bada Boom.

I went to Newark to put urine in a little plastic jar. I don't know why I can't do it at my local primary doctor & have her send it to the lab. My urologist has unpredictable office hours. In addition to being a urologist & a surgeon, he's a medical school professor. Yesterday, I learned I have the "Millie" option. Millie, one of his assistants. works in another dept in the same building when his office is closed. Turned out I could see Millie. They never told me that before. Millie is a kind & very serious young woman. She looked a lot busier in the place I was in today, but she remembered my name.

The doctor is trying, so far without success, to clear up a bladder infection. He didn't even know I had it until I showed up for another test, & he hadn't looked at the results from a standard test taken two weeks earlier. Meanwhile, I'd been on a 7 day preventive antibiotic regimen some doctors put everyone these days before they touch you. But I think the basic treatment for a known bladder infection is ten days. So I went back on the antibiotic. It was, I could tell, working. Then his office called & said I was "sensitive" to the drug - I have no idea how - & was switched to another. That one didn't quite knock it out. So I went on another. It hasn't cleared up.

Urinary infections are smelly. Women know this.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

no cooperation

“There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year.”

Sen. John McCain

How do you like that, America? There's the war hero who wanted to be President & has boasted (over the dead body of Ted Kennedy) about his capacity for bipartisanship. Now, as Congress deals with a range of short & long term economic matters, job creation, aid to states, finance reform, all of which invite participation from at least some Republican legislators, Sen. McCain says, "no cooperation." He's done.

If the Repugs want to please the Tea Party fanatics, then they should push Democrats to put a serious slap down on banking abuses. But the Repugs (like McCain) are even more in thrall to Big Banks than Democrats, if that be possible considering who advises the Prez at the White House & writes the legislation at the Capitol.

As for the Tea Party, how much more "nigger" & "faggot" can we take from those people?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Census form

I reside with my six older brothers all named for Italian composers: Nino, Ennio, Riziero, Muzio, Ferruccio, & Ottorino. I, however, as the 7th son, was named after a great Scottish poet. We are Samoans

Monday, March 22, 2010

In my email this morning

In my email this morning, the Daily Bible Verse is:
Is there anything of which one can say,
"Look! This is something new"?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
- Ecclesiastes 1:10 (NIV)
From A.Word.A.Day:
MEANING: noun: An idealized, unrealistic state; a place out of touch with reality.

Loan translation of Greek Nephelokokkugia, from nephele (cloud) + kokkux (cuckoo). The word was coined in The Birds, a comedy by Athenian playwright Aristophanes (c. 450-388 BCE). Nephelokokkugia was the name of a city in the sky, built by the birds in collaboration with some Athenians.
One cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole. -Mohandas Gandhi
& posted on Facebook wall from my distant Brit cousin, Jan, a middle class, suburban small business owner (who skipped a vacation this year due to poor economy), & frequent, grateful user of the British National Health Service:
all I can say is 'Rock on Obama!' Well done that man - don't pity the insurance companies they have had a good run for their money!
I think statements like Gandhi's tend to discourage people, but he did try to follow his own advice, so millions followed him.

Health care reform is a major step out of cloud-cuckoo-land for Americans. We can't afford to trip. We've had many, many chances to do it even more incrementally, with bipartisan support, going all the way back to President Nixon. If we don't also reform our financial institutions, it may go for nought. But a start at health care reform is absolutely essential over the long-term. We have to get used to idea that everyone can be insured, because Americans want everyone to have health insurance. Just how we expected that lofty goal to be accomplished without a national direction was a puzzlement. Our private insurers, pharmaceutical corporations, & many providers of health care services operate nationally & internationally, putting individual states at an impossible disadvantage. Juggling Medicaid benefits & eligibility leaves states with the problem of uninsured working people & those who've lost benefits through recession layoffs. I think this dilemma is like the levees of New Orleans. You don't solve it by advising people to move to Houston & Memphis.

I don't know if urban health care suppliers have the capacity to service millions of newly-insured Americans. But they're already struggling with it. They have a few years to adjust. An important test is how much, or if, this legislation lifts a burden off small business. Fortunately, that's one of the "popular" provisions taking effect sooner rather than later.

My friend up the street is barely keeping her business afloat in an economic climate where what she sells is not essential. She had three full time employees in addition to herself, plus part-timers she called in as needed. I think she's down to two full time now, & her values compel her to offer decent health coverage to both at shared expense. She could have gone to all part-time employees. Her work requires wide skills, but there are plenty of freelancers around she could hire. She can assign some of the unskilled work to teenagers or volunteer friends. I helped her out a few times doing dummy tasks on large, corporate jobs that dried up in the current economy. She thinks they'll come back if she can hold out. She likes being an employer. She doesn't like the thought of laying off her employees, closing her business, & working for someone else. Keeps her awake at night. She's gone back to school to learn additional skills she can apply to her business. She's a companionable, good-hearted person. I hope reform helps her. I'm sure she'll be studying it.

(& whattheheck has happened to Chris Matthews? I used to think the guy was smart & connected even when I disagreed with him. But he was utterly blindsided by how health reform unfolded. He had zilch inside track on what was happening behind the scenes. It was like six months ago he decided what would happen & stopped answering his phone. MSNBC ought to tell him to shape up or go.)

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Sunday, March 21, 2010


I want to thank my Congressman, Donald M. Payne, & give a special shout out to American nuns, who chose a most opportune moment to upstage the corrupt bosses Bishops.

New Jersey now has a one-term Democratic congressman named John Adler. Elected with 51.7% thanks to Obama, a weak opponent, & a huge money advantage, he's determined to lose re-election on principle, which is commendable - in the sense that Ulysses S. Grant commended Robert E. Lee. The principle requires opposition to Democratic health care reform. His "no" vote loses several thousand Democratic votes while gaining him no Republican votes. Republicans will praise his principles before voting for John Runyan, a former NFL player with a knucklehead reputation. Of course, Adler can always switch parties & take his chances.

But I don't think voting "yes" on the health reform makes incumbent Democratic reps more vulnerable than they already were. The economy & general distrust of politicians will drive the election. Failure to pass health reform would only have made the Democrats appear more ineffective. Republicans can't claim they would have done it differently, because everyone knows they intended to do nothing at all. As pundits note, you can't compare the President to Hitler & Stalin & then cooperate with him. Now they ought to at least decide if he's Hitler or Stalin & stick with the choice.

No doubt many on the right will suggest that the close vote makes it a tie in spirit. Of course, many of the most historically important votes in Congress have been decided by narrow margins along highly partisan lines.

Seaside Heights NJ

Humpty Dumpty Restaurant

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Iowa 70, Rutgers 63

Listened to game on radio. They were well-matched teams, Iowa offense & Rutgers defense. Rutgers led briefly in the second half & was in it until final three minutes, when it slipped away. Rutgers isn't the kind of team that gives up 70 points & wins. Iowa dropped in ten three-pointers, most of them in second period whenever the momentum shifted to Rutgers. Iowa went 22-28 at free throw line, Rutgers 6-12. Iowa out rebounded Rutgers 39-29. Yet, it was a close, suspenseful game. But every mistake in the second period hurt Rutgers. A few missed free throws by Iowa, a few three-pointers bouncing & going for twos instead, a different game. It was an honest loss against a very good team.

Year by year Rutgers has fallen away from the 2007 Championship Game season. Now the last two players from that team are done, next year no seniors on the team. Perhaps the weight of 2007 has kept the younger players from feeling the team is theirs. Several of them are coming into their time now. Sophomore Chelsey Lee, looks like she's developing into a go-to leader. Freshman Monique "Mo" Oliver is a sparkplug off the bench. Rutgers may be a better team next season without actually improving on this year's record, because they'll be headed up again.

Rutgers struggled all year, yet C. Vivian Stringer still coached them into the NCAA. See how much attention the WNIT gets. The Iowa-Rutgers matchup was news - insofar as the women's college game is news - because Stringer is idolized at Iowa. AP wrote it up & Yahoo-Rivals carried the story. I like that about Rutgers women. I like having a marquee coach & team in this State of mostly mediocre Div. I college programs, one of them, Seton Hall, in a condition of shameful collapse. Some Rutgers fans gripe about Stringer's stern mother hen approach. What they really don't like is her refusal to go for an 80 point offense. But I admired Pete Carill's underdog, old school defense Princeton teams, & how it used to be said, "Nobody wants to play Princeton." That could also be said of Stringer's Rutgers teams.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

A man, a bicycle, & a machete

What are the odds that a guy nicknamed "Guatemala," & armed with a machete, & riding a bicycle on Route 46 in Parsippany NJ, is a legal resident of the United States?
Parsippany police arrest man in machete attack behind liquor store

PARSIPPANY – An argument over a stolen bike Tuesday exploded into a fight at a Route 46 shopping center in which a 25-year-old township man allegedly slashed and stabbed another person with a machete, police said.

Jose Victor Santiago, known on local streets as “Guatemala,” has been charged with aggravated assault, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and terroristic threats. He remained in the Morris County jail today on $100,000 bail.

U.S. immigration officials also have a detainer on Santiago, who lives in the Lake Hiawatha section of town, police said.

Parsippany Police Sgt. Yvonne Christiano said Santiago attacked the 28-year-old Caldwell man around 5 p.m. behind the Shop Rite Liquors store in the Arlington Plaza Shopping Center. The Caldwell man was not named by police.

A witness said the victim had been drinking beers with him and other men when Santiago approached them on a bicycle that was allegedly stolen from the witness, Christiano said.

Santiago left the area after he was confronted about the bicycle, Christiano said, but he returned later with a machete.
He can be tried, possibly convicted & jailed, then deported when his sentence is served. Or the cheaper option, just deported. Either way "Guatemala" & his machete may find their way back to The United States. People like him make it really difficult to advocate reform that gives illegal immigrants a chance to stay here legitimately.

In Elizabeth, we just had this: Homeless men are sentenced for blaze that led to Elizabeth firefighter's death.

On a bitterly cold night, two homeless men from El Salvador & Guatemala broke into an abandoned house, tried to stay warm by drinking & then stupidly starting a fire. The fire spread, & in the fire dept response, a firefighter slipped on ice & was run over & killed by a fire engine backing into position. The men were initially & unjustly charged with murder. Yet, they had to take some responsibilty for the tragedy. Although I wondered how often homeowners are charged & tried for negligent "accidental" fires that cause injury or death. Does the ultimate responsibility for what occurred in Elizabeth fall upon us for not dealing with illegal immigration or homelessness, no matter what our views are?

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The Future of Publishing

Friday, March 19, 2010

Fried Bananas

Cal Tjader, a Gary McFarland tune from Cal's Solar Heat LP.

Vibraphonist Cal had a long career, recorded music ranging from straight ahead bop to well-crafted easy-listening. But Latin was his main thing, & whether he was playing hot, funky, or cool, he always worked with fine percussionists, who always sound like they enjoy playing with him. His bands were first rate. A bookish-looking man, resembled Dave Brubeck (had been Dave's drummer early on); in some of the You Tube live videos Cal is always pausing to adjust his glasses as they slip down his nose. A really likable musician. "Fried Bananas" (are they actually plantain?) is from the 1968 LP Solar Heat, which became an acid jazz classic & features Ray Barretto on percussion & Joao Donato playing tasty, subtle organ.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tournament Picks

Women's Final Four
Notre Dame
That was easy. I don't do brackets or the men's tournament. Vols-Fighting Irish would be a game to watch. Vols haven't played UConn this season. Irish have already lost three to UConn this year, but Coach Muffet McGraw wants at em again. & you never know, maybe Maya Moore will get the flu. Both McGraw (see Digger Phelps) & Pat Summitt have ambitions to end Huskie's record winning streak, whenever it happens. This could be Pat's only chance.* Despite the high ranking all season, Vols are young & play like underdogs.

Best 4 year women's basketball teams in Jersey relative to Division:

Kean University Cougars (29-2, losses to Div. I Rutgers & in Elite 8 round of Div. III Tournament)

William Paterson Pioneers (25-3, two losses to Kean & in first round of Div. III Tournament)

* The more the Huskies win, the more their future schedule becomes a roulette wheel to other coaches.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gonzo Gonzalez

Not enough college basketball? A Princeton-Duquesne game popped up my Yahoo page. What the heck is that? It's the College Basketball Invitational for teams left out of the NIT, which nobody pays attention to except students & alumni of the participating schools, or hard core gamblers. The SBI is so obscure Rivals Sports doesn't even list the games on the scores & schedule page.

Both of Seton Hall's basketball programs are in turmoil. Longtime women's coach Phyliss Mangina resigned. She had been a star player at Seton Hall, had mediocre coaching record, but the school was indifferent. Rutgers & Princeton are in the NCAA this year. Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer is an NCAA favorite. Her name alone kept Rutgers on the tournament bubble this year. But Princeton winning the Ivy title might have been more than Mangina could take.

Men's coach Bobby "Gonzo" Gonzalez was fired today. Here's some recent Seton Hall player activities:Seton Hall is like Miami North.

Perhaps most seriously, Gonzalez didn't get along with Bob Hurley, coach of St. Peter's Prep St. Anthony's HS in Jersey City & the King of Jersey high school basketball coaches. You can't recruit well in Jersey without Hurley's blessing. He knows everyone - the best players - even the underrated ones, the best high school coaches, the best college programs.


St. Patrick's Day

The televised parade in New York is not very interesting. It's a see & be seen event - politicians, firefighters, cops, Catholic high schools, clubs, pipe bands, Irish dancing schools. Let's face it, culturally it's not half so entertaining to watch as the Puerto Rican Day Parade, which has much better music & generally more attractive participants. Irish-American culture has always been handicapped by Jansenism, a puritanical 17th Century French theological movement that was declared heretical, but not before hundreds of Irish priests had been trained in France & sent home to destroy what was left of the old Celtic Church - the one that created the Book of Kells & had already been suppressed by Rome in a power grab for wealthy, independent Irish monasteries.

Thus Jansenism came to America & the Irish built & controlled - & still largely run - the American branch of the Catholic Church. When I was a kid, it was clear to me that predominantly Italian-Catholic parishes were more fun, even with their darker religious aspects. I didn't understand why.

In America, this Jansenist undercurrent manifests itself in a curmudgeonly conservative personality. There's William Donahue of the Catholic League, & of course, Bill O'Reilly. A local example is Paul Mulshine, longtime Star-Ledger columnist, who futilely attempts to mask his Jansenist Catholicism with an interest in surfing, taste for micro-brew beers, & love for Jimmy Buffett, but has written so many angry, off-the-wall crank columns on topics ranging from Bruce Springsteen to global warming that hardly anyone takes him seriously when he marshals his facts & makes a halfway reasonable argument for some conservative reform at the state or local level. His crank columns are his most entertaining. One reason I like Paul is that I feel genuinely sorry for his inability to express empathy in disposable prose.

Jansenism is fading away in American Catholicism. except in the clerical class, perhaps one reason the upper levels of the Institutional Church are so out-of-touch with laity. It's easier to decry "cafeteria Catholics" than to change.

A few years ago, I nearly fell in love with a woman from a large working class, Irish-American family (she would have been my second from that background). She was an intriging mix of contradictions, comfortably unaware of most of them - which is to say she rarely acknowledged their existence. I was too much trouble for any woman. But it was difficult for me to accept that she was contented in her discontent; the angry white underclass conservatism (similar to the current Tea Partiers), a dour Catholic rigidity applied selectively, hardly ever to herself. She did what she wanted & found a rationale. She was very entertaining, had many personal strengths I appreciated, but almost no intellectual curiosity. You could send her on a trip to Bali & she'd return with no more to say about it than that it had pretty scenery & she enjoyed herself. She would never admit pleasure. I wanted to get her on boardwalk in August. But it sputtered out before July 4th.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Great Falls Spectacular

So much water is now diverted upstream that the Great Falls in Paterson are mostly rocks on normal flow days. They're better after rains. I've viewed them on those days. But this is spectacular.

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Stormy Weekend

Passaic River crests following the stormOver seven inches of rain in Elizabeth this past weekend. That startled me. Rained hard & steadily for about 16 hours on Saturday, periodic showers through Monday evening. All-day steady rainfalls - the classic "rainy days" - are not that common in Jersey. On-off showery days are more typical. We also have tropical cloudbursts during thunderstorms. Those back up the catch basins on my corner & cause minor street flooding that drains away quickly. There was no flooding on Saturday. Just a lot of water flowing in the street gutters. It never let up. On my side of the building the wind wasn't even especially noticeable. Saturday evening, I walked up to 7-11 during what I thought was a respite in the downpour, according to weather radar. The umbrella was adequate protection until I passed the bank parking lot & was hit with a gale force gust of wind from the northeast. The umbrella held but the right side of me was instantly soaked while the left side stayed dry. I figured to drench that side on the walk back, fortunately the wind had temporarily abated.

Elsewhere, Jersey had the worst river flooding in years. Here's a terrific video of raging Great Falls in Paterson & rising flood upstream on the Passaic River, by an urban explorer.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

bracket yawn

I like women's college basketball for reasons a lot of people don't like it. It's slower, mostly old school ball. Great players stay four - or at least three - years. There's parity below elite level. The problem is that the elite group is so small, & so dominated now by UConn that there's no suspense in the NCAA tournament.

Even when Rutgers made a run to the Championship game in 2007, I didn't expect them to beat Tennessee. Rutgers is at best a second tier team, although it's a marquee program as those exist in women's ball. Rutgers actually helps the Vols & Huskies. First, by providing a regular season test against a C. Vivian Stringer defense, which gives other coaches the willies. Second, because Rutgers might knock off some pesty ranked teams in the BE & NCAA tournaments, clearing a bracket.

1995 Connecticut 70-64 Tennessee
1996 Tennessee 83-65 Georgia
1997 Tennessee 68-59 Old Dominion
1998 Tennessee 93-75 Louisiana Tech
1999 Purdue 62-45 Duke
2000 Connecticut 71-52 Tennessee
2001 Notre Dame 68-66 Purdue
2002 Connecticut 82-70 Oklahoma
2003 Connecticut 73-68 Tennessee
2004 Connecticut 70-61 Tennessee
2005 Baylor 84-62 Michigan State
2006 Maryland 78-75 (OT) Duke
2007 Tennessee 59-46 Rutgers
2008 Tennessee 64-48 Stanford
2009 Connecticut 76-54 Louisville

There's a predictable dominance in the men's tournament, rarely ever a true "Cinderella" in the Final Four (usually an over-achieving major conference school) but nothing like the Huskies & the Vols. There's no traditional powerhouse programs in women's ball, no Kentucky or UCLA; just two coaches named Auriemma & Summit.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

How High the Moon

Lola Albright performs "How High the Moon." From the television series Peter Gunn (Season 1, Episode 5, entitled "The Frog") Featuring Shorty Rogers on the flugelhorn.

Amazing. A complete jazz number inserted into a 1/2 hour TV drama series, & it probably advanced the plot. They sure don't make 'em like they used to.

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Ocean Grove NJ

Manchester Inn, Ocean Pathway
Burned down yesterday with 5 other structures.

Children's Chorus on Ocean Pathway

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Saturday, March 13, 2010


Elizabeth Fire Dept is having a bad day & night. I hear all the fire engines within a very large area. Fire headquarters is a few blocks away & there's a one truck station in Elmora. I hear all these trucks, plus the captain's SUV, the EMS, & the police car if they respond. From one side of Elmora to the other.

Rained hard & steadily all day. I reread for the umpteeth time John McPhee's brief, classic 1968 book about the Jersey Pine Barrens. Based on pieces McPhee wrote for The New Yorker, it was tremendously influential here. Although the isolated culture McPhee encounters is gone, most of the places, scenery, & flora he decribes are still there. To the extent the Barrens have been preserved & protected, McPhee can take a lot of credit. The Pine Barrens are famous now, an eco-tourist attraction. After the canoe trip, you can hear a phony hillbilly band at the folk center of the kind the old timers McPhee met didn't even have, singing Blue Ridge Mountain style with Jersey piney lyrics. I looked at the edges of the Barrens every time my family drove to & from the shore. Going south, they were miles & miles of boring woods to me before the highway popped out of them at the Mullica River, with a wonderful expanse of salt marsh, & we knew we were almost to our destination. They were depressing on the way home.

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Manchester Inn

Fire at the Jersey Shore

OCEAN GROVE NJ — At least four buildings, including the historic Manchester Inn, have been reduced to charred rubble and three others damaged by a wind-swept fire in Ocean Grove.

Dozens of firefighters are still battling the blaze, which began about 5 a.m. at the Manchester at 25 Ocean Pathway, said Michael Bascom, deputy emergency coordinator for Neptune Township.

Five homes facing Ocean Pathway and two facing Bath Avenue, which borders the block to the north, eventually caught fire. Several of the homes that burned were occupied, Bascom said, but residents were safely evacuated and none were injured. Two firefighters are being treated for minor injuries, he said.
A rainy, windy morning. These wonderful old irreplaceable structures never had a chance. Bad as it was, fhe fire could have been much, much worse. Ocean Pathway is a broad open area from the oceanfront to the great wooden Tabernacle, which is bordered by the community's famed tent cabin section.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

He's a long gone daddy

in the U.S.A.
Glenn Beck calls Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. 'anti-American' on radio show

Headline says it all. So thanks to Beck, Springsteen sells more of the album from 1984 that made him a rich superduperstar. Then maybe he records a song about a demagogic leader, using Biblical metaphors, wins another Grammy®, & sells more albums. He doesn't even have to send Beck a thank you note.

Next on Beck's anti-American list: John Steinbeck.

Library Update

I have a message on my phone machine from the Director of Elizabeth Public Library. I don't want to call & talk to the Director of Elizabeth Public Library. But I may have to, & my complaint now is that it shouldn't require a push from a city councilman & a personal call from the Director of Elizabeth Public Library to have someone on the library staff respond to a polite e mail sent months ago from a library patron asking why the website search function is unreliable & even the in-library computers freeze up. Could also add that more can be done with an interactive Facebook page than just posting "Calling kids of all ages! Join us for Fun on a String with Miss Penny Puppet Show!"

Urban libraries & libraries located near schools also have a problem with patron computer use. If you walk into an Elizabeth library late weekday afternoon, you find kids hogging all the PCs, & they ain't doing homework. At the main library, you see row after row playing online computer games. Fortunately, there's so many PCs that you don't have to wait long for a seat to open. I discovered that few kids can be bothered to leave the main floor, they probably have no idea what's upstairs. More PCs, more books, art exhibitions, & quieter rooms. They don't read books. They don't go in the book aisles. If you gave them free Kindles & downloads from Amazon, they still wouldn't read books. I figure most of them will advance & graduate high school & maybe even get through college without voluntarily reading a single book not assigned to them in a class. They'll do all their research online, & copy & paste it into their papers, which exist only on computer until printed out. They'll run spell check & the teacher will find all sorts of strange word substitutions & grammatical oddities, which will never be corrected or recognized for what are & deliberately used to entertain.

But it's not such a great change. Before the Age of http://www, you'd go into a library & find kids sitting at tables with open notebooks & stacks of thick reference books, looking baffled & doodling & sighing loudly. I was one of those kids, except I'd eventually distract myself with a newspaper.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Prom Date

JACKSON, Miss. – An 18-year-old Mississippi lesbian student whose school district canceled her senior prom rather than allow her to escort her girlfriend and wear a tuxedo said she got some unfriendly looks from classmates when she reluctantly returned to campus Thursday.

Constance McMillen said she didn't want to go back the day after the Itawamba County school board's decision, but her father told her she needed to face her classmates, teachers and school officials.
I have mixed reaction. It ought to be no big deal, & there are many places where it isn't . & yeah, she has the right. I admire McMillen's courage in a small Mississippi town. I wonder, how "out" was she around school before this? & why go to a prom just to make a statement when she knows it won't be any fun? But there's this:
A Feb. 5 memo to students laid out the criteria for bringing a date to the prom, and one requirement was that the person must be of the opposite sex.
If Constance hadn't made up her mind about attending the prom, that rule probably decided it. Nothing would have infuriated & challenged her more. It's like decreeing all tuxedo jackets must be powder blue. Adults took it upon themselves to protect the other teenagers from Constance, when she posed no threat to them. She might have needed protection. Going to the prom was her choice to make, not the adults' decision in a public school.

Every Spring there's a wire news story of a prom where a gay guy was elected "Prom Queen" or some other way teenagers treated homobigotry as an absurdity. They realize that when they just accept the gays & lesbians among them, not only does it all work out fine, they have more fun, too.

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A Capricorn Song

"Take Care - Beware (Capricorn)" By Gary McFarland
I don't know how I managed to completely overlook Gary McFarland's music during my radio years. Were none of his LPs in the station library? Did I just ignore his albums at flea markets? I'd buy a record for 50 cents or a dollar if it looked like it might have one or two radio-worthy cuts. McFarland had a really interesting recording career lasting a little over a decade - as an ambitious, acclaimed arranger, bandleader, vibraphonist in a "cool" style; then proponent of bossa nova, samba & light latin fusion; then recorded high quality & sincere "cocktail" jazz (for which he was rejected by jazz fans); & two concept albums; this one from 1968, Scorpio & Other Signs, & a musical essay on environmentalism, America the Beautiful, ahead of its time & which was nominated for a Best Instrumental Jazz Performance Grammy in 1970. He was a wonderful composer. He died in 1971 at age 38 after imbibing a drink dosed with methadone, the circumstances of which remain an unsolved mystery. There's no knowing where he would've taken his music. I've just begun exploring it. But it's easy to hear that he was inclined toward a gentle art (but with edges), & was Californian in spirit - although he was based in New York City. He didn't become a musician until he was in the Army & found an old vibraphone in a rummage shop near his base.

McFarland's wasn't a kind of music I took much interest in before I became a DJ, but he must have already been pretty much forgotten by the time I went on radio, because his music - even the "unhip" pop stuff - was a good fit for expansive free form sets.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dear Councilman Keenan

My councilman used to be the library director, replied within hours, wrote that he confrmed the problem by trying the search function, & would look into it. The problem became really inexcusable after the library made cosmetic improvements to the website without upgrading functionality, & someone on the staff created a Facebook page.
March 10 at 7:15pm
Dear Councilman Keenan;

I have just been trying to search for the author Stuart M. Kaminsky on the Elizabeth Public Library website. Not trying to use the website to hold a book or have one sent to my Elmora branch. I just want to know what EPL has by Stuart M. Kaminsky. If I can find that much out, I can call & arrange to have another Toby Peters or Abe Lieberman mystery delivered to Elmora.

The search function does not function. It rarely does.

To test & compare, I quickly searched libraries of Roselle Park, Roselle, Union, & Newark. They all worked. I found the Kaminsky books on their shelves.

I have sent e mails to EPL regarding this problem & asking for an explanation. No staffer has ever taken the time to reply. Yet, the library is quite aware there is a serious problem when one cannot even do a basic catalogue search. The librarians at Elmora sure know it.

& now you do.


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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Code Words

Glenn Beck really went over the line last week. This is going viral:
I'm begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes.
He equated the terms "social justice" & "economic justice" with Nazis & Communists. The problem is that many, many Christians - not just "liberals" - consider those "missions" integral to the practice of their faith, & define them in various ways. Even conservative evangelicals like Joe Carter are angry. Catholics are outraged. (Mr. Beck was raised Catholic. He is now a Latter Day Saint. Are Mormons embarrassed, too?)

Most of my beliefs & attitudes regarding social & economic justice come straight out of American mainstream political history & traditions, not religion. Old Republicanism, New Deal Democrats; many in my parents' & grandparents' generations were still waving those banners. In the past, nutballs like Beck were claiming big bands, then Elvis, then The Beatles, then disco & punk rock, were a Communist conspiracy to undermine the morals of America's teenagers. Before then, they attacked farmer's movements like The Grange. Even Billy Graham drew their ire for integrating audiences at his Crusades.

Beck's not just blabbing & blustering, as Limbaugh is inclined to do. Beck thinks about this stuff. He considers himself a rational teacher, a moral instructor. His program is a bizarre Sunday School. What does the guy have to say before he's deservedly yanked from the air & marginalized to the whacko fringes of small market radio?

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Monday, March 08, 2010

West Virginia 56, Rutgers 49

Three games in three days, a great but exhausting double overtime win against No. 12 Georgetown last night, the Rutgers women were tied at 25 with No. 9 West VA at halftime tonight but just ran outta gas. West Virginia had an 13-3 run in the second half Rutgers could not overcome, although they stayed in the game & had their chances. The shots just weren't falling in. So the Mountaineers get an opportunity to be UConn's 72nd consecutive victim tomorrow night. Rutgers should go to the NCAA Tournament. They're the kind of team nobody wants to meet in the first round.

UConn easily beat Notre Dame for the 3rd time this season, & may well meet the Irish again in the NCAA semis or Championship.

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Bloop Bleep

Gary McFarland's Sixties latin arrangement of a Danny Kaye novelty number.

The Merchant Plumbers Association of Los Angeles made Frank Loesser an honorary member "for his outstanding contribution to the plumbing industry by having composed the ode to the leaky faucet, 'Bloop Bleep'" - quoted from certificate presented to Loesser and signed by W. H. Nothoff, president of the Merchant Plumbers Association of Los Angeles.


Sunday, March 07, 2010

Newark NJ

Don and Billie Newcombe's Kashmir Club

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Rutgers 70, Cincinnati 44

Watched first half of this game, one of Rutgers' few complete wins this season where the women played like the team we thought they would be. Cincy has faded the past few weeks, but they beat St. Johns & Syracuse, nearly beat Georgetown, & scored more points against UConn than Rutgers managed. Early on Rutgers rushed shots, literally threw the ball away a few times. But watching Rutgers penetrate the Bearcats defense, opening the perimeter for Brittany Ray's 3 pointers, dropping in & out of Coach Stringer's 55 full court press = they wore Cincy out of the game. It was a team that could've beaten anyone in the Big East except UConn, been ranked in Top 25 all season. They looked Sweet 16. The NCAA wants a reason to invite Rutgers to the big tournament. But the women defeated only one ranked team, back in November. Then a close loss to no. 13 Texas seemed to shake their confidence & they never recovered. They get a chance against no. 12 Georgetown tonight.

Princeton women won Ivy title, undefeated in League play, whch isn't easy. 25-2 overall. Lost only to UCLA & Rutgers. They'll probably have to play a powerhouse in first round of NCAA, unfortunate, it'd be good if they were first tested against a mid-level school.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Hawg Wild with Uncle Jack

My sister has been in western North Carolina this week visiting our centenarian Uncle Jack, who still drives, sometimes wakes up 4 am & thinks it 4 pm. (he doesn't care, just watches TV), & frequently dines at restaurants like HAWG WILD BAR-B-QUE. The menu at HAWG WILD website is the "Hawg Feed." It nust be good barbecue because you couldn't stay in business down there otherwise. Jack also likes Huddle House, a franchise not to be confused with Waffle House, neither of which we have in New Jersey. But it's like Denny's with "Biscuit and Sausage Gravy OR Grits and Toast." Jack's not looking for sliced turkey breast on whole grain with arugula, vine tomato, & a drizzle of olive oil.

Jean would be delighted if Uncle Jack would move to Jersey into assisted living near her. That's a project she could plan & pull off, & Jack knows it. Although she'd hide his car keys. He'd have a home-cooked dinner once in awhile, & be an excuse for Jean to bake cookies more often. He'd have trips to the mall. My niece would visit him from NYC & he'd have two attractive women doting on him. He could reacquaint himself with White Castle, since he grew up here, graduated from Rutgers, & resided in Jersey until he retired. My sister would even take him for rides on winding, hilly back roads if he needed thrills. She's driven me through places in Hunterdon County that look like Appalachia, some of her "short cuts." I think it'd be swell for him. But Uncle Jack's not budging. Not even for an Italian Hot Dog.


Friday, March 05, 2010

Allen Zaruba, out of a job

TOWSON, Md., March 3 (UPI) -- Towson University in Maryland has dismissed a popular adjunct art instructor for using a racial slur in class.

Allen Zaruba, who said Tuesday he made a "terrible terrible mistake," told The Baltimore Sun he accepts his firing and does not plan to contest it. Zaruba said the chairman of the art department, Stuart Stein, called him Thursday, three days after he used the slur, to tell him he was out of a job.

Zaruba, an artist, has taught at Towson for 12 years as a part-time instructor. This semester, he was teaching three classes.

Marina Cooper, a Towson spokeswoman, said at least one student and one parent complained about Zaruba's language.

Adam Jackson, president of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, said he had heard Zaruba used the slur while talking about a "corporate plantation."

"I think that the university firing him on the basis of using a racially charged word is an excuse to escape criticism from across the university," Jackson said. "At worst, it could be a racially insensitive analogy, but to call the university a 'corporate plantation' would be a deep statement that directly challenges the politics of this university."
Being an adjunct at a massive education factory like Towson isn't like being "a nigger on the corporate plantation?" Maybe that's too strong a comparison with an insensitive word (only when used in any context by a white person; It's de rigueur for black stand up on Comedy Central). But we can be certain Zaruba isn't a house negro, overseer, or massa. The university could have fired him at any time for incompetence or indifference or just because, which it cannot do to incompetent or indifferent - or quietly racist - tenured professors. I feel an injustice here. So does the president of a progressive campus organization.


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Chet's wrong number

It was bad enough Chet Baker was reduced to adding his horn to Sixties pop tunes with the Mariachi Brass, one of innumerable Tijuana Brass knockoffs. His final LP with them was mostly famous Glenn Miller numbers wretchedly done in the style, & that manages to demean several genres of music & everyone involved including listeners. Chet grew up with big band music, probably inspired him to take up the trumpet, & it wouldn't have been humiliating to cover those oldies straight. Even "String of Pearls" with its original, famed Bobby Hackett solo. Yeah, they do that song faux mariachi, too. Here's "Pennsylvania 6-5000."


Wednesday, March 03, 2010

#34 bus

Taxi to station, train to Newark, catch overheated #34 crosstown bus at Penn station, which becomes incredibly packed - I mean really ghetto bus experience at Broad & Market Streets. Get off at University medical complex. Upstairs in large doctor office building, receptionist sends me right through, assistant hands me a cup, I deposit urine sample, update HMO info on way out - this took all of 10 minutes - then reverse bus to train to Elizabeth. I walked home, needed to stop at Family Dollar. 2 1/2 hours. With a car, including parking in the far reaches of the decks, it might've been 2. I was supposed to do this last week. The week with one say of sleet, two days of snow, & a day I had to stay home for an inspection, which also took about 10 minutes.

The only amusing part was a woman got on the bus who fit the description of Lulu, Trenton bounty hunter Stephanie Plum's fat ex-ho sidekick in the Janet Evanovich novels. When she bent over to sit down, her tight jeans slipped so far I saw, literally, half her butt crack. Then she turned on her cell phone, which played the most gawdawful mechanical hip hop. She had a toddler boy on her lap.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Why Norwegians ski well

New York Times columnist David Brooks is daft in The Hard and the Soft.
The United States, a nation of 300 million, won nine gold medals this year in the Winter Olympics. Norway, a nation of 4.7 million, also won nine. This was no anomaly. Over the years, Norwegians have won more gold medals in Winter Games, and more Winter Olympics medals over all, than people from any other nation.

There must be many reasons for Norway’s excellence, but some of them are probably embedded in the story of Jan Baalsrud.
He then tells the incredible, stirring story of Baalsrud's escape from the Nazis, aided through a horrifying journey by other Norwegians. You should read it. It has nothing to do with why Norway is great at winter sports except to remind us that it's a cold, snowy, mountainous nation where they quite naturally made sports of their common modes of travel. Like Moroccan camel racing or NASCAR. They also hated the Nazis . So did courageous citizens of other occupied countries.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Annual WFMU fund-raising Marathon began today.

"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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