Friday, March 30, 2012

First, win it, then tell me what you'll do with it

$640 million mega-millions lottery pot. Makes one wonder why people get so much more excited about it than a $50 million prize. Either one the odds are a decimal point followed by a long row of zeros & an unfathomable amount to lottery players.  It's more exciting to bet $5 at the race track. Lottery commercials honestly tell us we're buying a fantasy, "A dollar & a dream." "Hey, you never know." The big lottery is an optional tax on working people that they choose to pay.

If you've worked where most employees are under-valued & under-paid,  like a large retail store, you know what the lottery is about. You sit in the break room at lunchtime & the conversations are "I'm gonna do this & I'm gonna buy that." The winning numbers are announced & for a couple of days people talk about other stuff. Then it starts all over again.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hells Angels

Hells Angels: Rare and Unpublished Photos by LIFE Magazine's Bill Ray
In early 1965, LIFE photographer Bill Ray and writer Joe Bride spent several weeks with a gang that, to this day, serves as a living, brawling embodiment of our schizoid relationship with the rebel: the Hells Angels.

Here, in a gallery of remarkable photographs that were shot for LIFE but never ran in the magazine, Ray and Bride recall their days and nights spent with Buzzard, Hambone, Big D, and other Angels (as well as their equally tough “old ladies”).
I don't know anything about outlaw bikers except what I read in Hunter S. Thompson's book or seen in movies & on TV.

I used to, on occasion, encounter outlaw bikers from The Breed & The Pagans in, of all places, Dunkin' Donuts, when I was traveling late at night to & from the Jersey shore on roads like Route 9 & 34. They were totally uninterested in guys like me. I just sat at the counter next to them, drinking coffee, minding my own business.

Back then those roads were lightly used late nights & passed through long stretches of misty corn fields & dark pine woods. They were wonderful driving experiences in summer, windows down, the added time from not taking the Garden State Parkway well worth it. I'm sure even outlaw bikers appreciated it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Rich & Scruggs

Too many freakin deaths lately.  How about some more marriages & births?

Adrienne Rich, one of  the towering poets of more-or-less my parents' generation who made young poets feel we were fated to be forever lightweights by comparison, which was largely true.  A radical feminist intellectual, she could be a tough read for men, but her views were consistent across the board, on war, violence, economic justice.

Earl Scruggs, the incomparable bluegrass musician who perfected the 3-finger picking style on the banjo. In the Sixties, famous for  the Flatt & Scruggs partnership  ("The Ballad of Jed Clampett"), he refused to acknowledge any musical or political barriers between the conservative country music establishment around the Grand Old Opry & the younger generation of folk singers & folk-rockers. He moved freely between them. He played with other master  musicians like Ravi Shankar.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I reside in Elizabeth NJ, next to Newark.  Young  Black men  in my part of Jersey aren't shot by white civilian vigilantes. White civilian vigilante murders of Black men are rare everywhere in America. That's why the world  can concentrate so completely upon Trayvon Martin & his hoodie. Trayvon is about where bias intimidation goes when we pretend it doesn't exist.   It's also about "profiling," & we have to ask why police would be better at it than George Zimmerman.   New York City Police were spying on Muslims in New Jersey in clear violation of jurisdictional authority, an act that incensed even our conservative governor, not to mention that the tactic itself is questionable for the NYPD operating under the banner of "national security."*

Young Black men are killed  by other Black men. Some of these young Black men are involved in criminal activities & murdered by competitors or as revenge killings.  But others are killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, sometimes in their own neighborhoods.  They are  killed in cases of mistaken identities, killed as collateral casualties in gang assassinations or robberies of businesses. Sometimes they are killed for no apparent reason at all except  some psychopath or paths wanted to kill someone. If you're a young Black man (or woman) in Newark or my city or a number of cities around here,  a high school or college student  trying to mind his own business & you anger a gangbanger for some reason, perhaps some unintended show of disrespect, even indifference, or are considered weak for trying to avoid gang influences & scenes, you could be in big trouble. Or maybe you're just in a convenience store buying a soft drink when  a guy walks in with a gun & kills you because you're standing between him & the clerk & the cash resister. 

Over the past year there has been a growing recognition of a need for citizen anti-violence  activism in Jersey's cities. Ironically, part of this activism must include  neighborhood watch groups like the one George Zimmerman claimed to be representing, but with strict rules, no direct confrontation of suspicious activities & persons, & of course no weapons.  An immediate  goal is to pressure local police to respond to reports of possible criminal activity rather than the all-too-common unwritten policy of waiting for it to actually occur before acting.

All well & good that East Orange  NJ city council passed a resolution  calling for justice for Trayvon Martin. Can't hurt. As long as it doesn't distract from justice  for innocent victims  of violent crime in East Orange.

*Mayor Mike Bloomberg thinks he's the Premier of the  Five United Boroughs of Sovereign New York City & its surrounding vassal counties. Except when he needs help from Albany or Washington. Then he's as All-American as  a slice from Joe's Pizza on Carmine.

Bert Sugar

Glen Jones & Gina (my neighbor) with the late, great Bert Sugar at  Silverball Pinball in Asbury Park. Bert walked in around midnight one night with a local boxing promoter. He has his trademark fedora & cigar, all that's missing is his glass of scotch & water, which Gina & Glen would've supplied had they expected him. A boxing expert, prolific writer, unforgettable New York City character, for me Bert was one of the greatest of raconteurs. You didn't need to know anything about boxing to enjoy Bert. He had an instantly recognizable voice. He was the complete package. I treasured his appearances on WFAN. Bert sounded most alert & loquacious when he was on the air at 1 or 2 am.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Do You Wanna Dance?

The Beach Boys, Today! (1965) It's difficult to imagine oneself as a teenager in a small town when this special album was new & yet had the power to grab attention away from the hipper Beatles, Stones, Animals, etc. We didn't hear it in terms of the tremendous influence of Phil Spector on Boss Beach Boy Brian Wilson,  as it is always discussed now.  It was years later that I realized my love for this LP wasn't just about the incomparable music, but also that the record was so completely (& honestly) framed within a world of teen relationships  not yet afflicted by cynicism. The album has joy, anticipation, insight, & beautiful  ballads of love & insecurity. Who except poets believe any of this anymore? & we know we're fools. Last month I went back to  The Beach Boys, Today! for solace & to get some sense of the sentiment & ideals we felt & the self-contained world my girlfriend & I  created for ourselves where adults hardly mattered at all if we could help it.

The opening  cut of "Do You Wanna Dance" is brilliant. The Bobby Freeman original was one of the few Fifties songs you'd hear at parties in the mid-Sixties, & this over-the-top  version supplanted it  (Plus Dance, Dance, Dance, the side one closer & also a hit single). Dancing at private parties among friends, especially in backyards  dimly lit by strings of Christmas lights, was far more uninhibited & ecstatic than at public dances & record "hops." Brian captures it.   I have non-specific memories of arriving at  a house at twilight, hearing music blaring from the back yard (some improvised loudspeaker system), smelling the hot dogs & hamburgers, walking up the driveway. Usually some big guy or two  hanging around there who'd  nod you past. Crashers were always a concern, their bad vibes  could kill a party in ten minutes. You couldn't make a grand entry into these parties, they were bathed in perpetual dusk, crowded &  noisy, mysterious at first; you slid into them.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dunellen NJ

Chan's Garden Chinese Restaurant

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Friday, March 23, 2012


 Walked to the CVS & back, 65 degrees, perfect weather for a hoodie. I wore my gray XL.

I've worn XL hoodies on & off since high school, when it was a skateboarder thing, a practical protection against elbow scrapes. Around 1990 the XL hoodie became my cool weather outer garment of choice. Plain hoodies are cheap. XL are very comfortable, shrink little if washed warm not hot, it's like wearing a blanket. The only non-comfort reason  I have for the hoodie is that in the semi-urban areas in which I've resided in Linden, Rahway & Elizabeth, when I go out after dark, it does feel secure to pull that hood up so the occasional  opportunistic predator passing through  the neighborhood can't see  I'm a defenseless-looking older guy while he has time to make up his  mind about demanding my wallet. Some people no doubt think my hoodie is silly, but my sister is only person who ever objected to my wearing it.

In her upper middle class neighborhood, she didn't like it  when I'd wear my hoodie  while walking in broad daylight down the hill to a deli where I'd usually sit out front at a picnic table drinking coffee, picking at  a large muffin  & reading an exotic Allentown PA  newspaper the deli used to carry (maybe humming the only Billy Joel song I like), looking for all the world I like I belonged there, which I felt I did.   People said hello to me. I'd see  beat up pickups  & Bentleys in the small deli lot at the same time.   A George Zimmerman type might have resided around there. There weren't any   African-Americans, not even household help so far as I could tell, because there was no way to get there by public transit. The idea of a young black guy walking down the middle of the road in that neighborhood for any purpose was so outlandish that residents, upon seeing me - if I had the hood up, which I usually didn't,  were likely more piqued than alarmed. Who is that guy? Well, I think most of them knew I was a brother visiting his slightly nutty sister in the house halfway up the hill. As a white man, I could have walked around that neighborhood in a Star Trek uniform or probably even in drag with a five day beard & live goldfish in my clear plastic platform heels & no one would have done anything.

The only time I encountered a George Zimmerman type, the confrontation wasn't racially motivated. He was simply a guy who took it upon himself to "protect" what needed no protection, & probably all his adult life had been looking for a justification to shoot someone & get away with it. It was on a rural, public road in the Ramapo Mountains in North Jersey while I was  attending college & residing in the area. I was strolling with some friends. all of us white in our early twenties, on a nice summer day - not the only strollers on this attractive road, which I would call semi-paved. I wasn't wearing a hoodie.  There were a few scattered homes on the road, not cheap houses, obviously privacy mattered to those people & they had some money. We came upon the foundation of a house that had burned down, all the remaining superstructure removed. One friend suggested that if she examined the foundation plan, she might have an idea of how the entire house had looked. So we sat on the foundation wall, our feet dangling into the former basement. Out of the trees on the other side of the ruin appeared a man carrying what I was pretty certain was a shotgun. He didn't didn't look like a redneck. Without putting the gun to his shoulder, he sort of jabbed it in our direction & yelled at us to get off the property. I too stunned to be afraid, so I yelled back, "Is this your property?" He shouted, "I'm in charge of protecting it."  I didn't believe that for an instant, but sensibly we got up & walked quickly up the road.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The sea organ of Zadar

A young Facebook friend of mine (her name is Maggie, I knew her when she was very little girl, her parents raised her well) was upset because one of her college flatmates (they're in grad school at Newcastle University, England) told her hip hop was not music & threw a lot of jiveass learning in her face, making her feel like she couldn't argue back. If we learn anything essentially  wise about music, it's that 1. What we  don't like doesn't make it not music. 2. Music is whatever we perceive as music (an ancient concept, really), & the broader our perception, the more interesting the world sounds.

Also, the people I know who love lot's of different kinds of music tend to ask themselves why they don't like something at first. Music comes in innumerable different languages, from different cultures & creative philosophies. Often it's a problem of not knowing enough of the language of that music. I know people who grew up around jazz & jazz musicians.  It was natural to their ears.  I had to work at it over a period of years. One of the big "shifts" in my comprehension occurred when I encountered (in the classroom) cultures where music was inseparable from spirituality, & spirituality inseparable from the routines of daily life.  The idea that music could exist by & for itself was unknown, yet these cultures didn't seem deprived to me.

So Maggie just ought to say "F*ck you" to the guy, or whatever the British equivalent.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Its modesty is a ruse

Bob Dylan's first album was released 50 years ago today. Recorded on a budget of next-to-nothing, my oldest brother Joe was one of less than 3000 consumers to purchase it in its initial release. Bob was a buzz in Greenwich Village, but the record didn't expand his reputation much. I heard the record through Joe's closed bedroom door, didn't like it. I didn't like folk music anyway (I was a kid, I liked what I liked, I didn't think about it), & this was pretty raw stuff. A year later, Joe bought The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, which made Dylan famous & opened with "Blowin' In the Wind." I didn't like that album, either. But Joe announced Dylan had "sold out," & that was the last Bob Dylan album to enter our house until I came home with Highway 61 Revisited.*

When Dylan claimed he had always been "rock & roll," I  gave his first LP a listen, concluded there was some truth to Dylan's statement. He wasn't all rock & roll, but it was  present in some of the music & certainly in attitude. By then I could also recognize how much the album had gone against the slick pop-folk of its era.  Of course it didn't sell.  Its modesty is a ruse.   Dylan's version of "Pretty Peggy-O" became a favorite.

* Joe's judgment made no sense. He wasn't a folk music purist & neither was Dylan.  Joe was a contrarian. Which is fine if you hook up with some contrarian girls.  Me, I wanted to go to a prom.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Trenton NJ

Casa Lido Bar & Grill

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

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Friday, March 16, 2012

The dope didn't take the deal

Ravi guilty on all counts in webcam spying trial

NEW BRUNSWICK — The deal was on the table months ago.

Plead guilty, prosecutors told Dharun Ravi, and you likely won’t go to prison.

Ravi, charged in a first-of-its-kind prosecution linking invasion of privacy to a hate crime, rebuffed the offer, opting to take his chances with a jury.

Today, in a New Brunswick courtroom filled to overflow, the 20-year-old Plainsboro man learned the consequence of his choice as a jury forewoman spoke his fate.


Guilty of invading the privacy of his Rutgers University roommate, Tyler Clementi, by using a webcam to remotely spy on an intimate tryst between Clementi and an older man. Three days after that encounter in September 2010, the distraught teen leaped to his death from the George Washington Bridge, catapulting the case into the national spotlight.

Guilty of witness tampering, hindering apprehension and tampering with evidence.

Most significant, guilty of bias intimidation, a second-degree felony indicating Ravi targeted Clementi because he was gay and knew his actions would hurt him.

In a precedent-setting verdict that legal experts and advocates say draws a firm line against bullying and harassment in a wired world, the jury convicted Ravi of 15 counts that could land him in prison for a decade. He also faces the possibility of deportation to his native India, from which he legally emigrated as a child.
In December, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office offered him a plea bargain including probation, 600 hours of community service and an offer to help avoid deportation, but Ravi, rejected it. His attorney said he rejected it because he is innocent.

He either received  bad legal advice or, my guess,  he got good legal advice & didn't take it. He should have taken the plea bargain. I would have said, "Kid, you don't seem to understand, but they're going to try to make you the LAST teenager in Jersey who pulls a nasty stunt like this. You alone are Tyler Clementi's justice. He'll have buildings named after him, concert halls.  Your own justice, whatever you imagine that to be,  doesn't figure into this at all.  You are the message. You can be that message working in a homeless shelter or hospice & become a nobody, or  be that message in a packed courtroom, Dharun Somebody,  &  go to jail,  where saying you're heterosexual is an old joke, & from jail  you'll be transferred to the  I.C.E. detainment center next to the airport."

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Snooki preggers

"  I have a little meatball in my oven."  Snooki Pollizzi

Nowa you  knowa da miracle of  making a little meataball from a bigga sausage.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Afghan Fail

When the shock wore off after  I read about the insane United States Army sergeant killing 16 Afghans, including nine children,  my first thought was that it means the end of our effective involvement in Afghanistan.  There's already been "thrill killings" by U.S. personnel, drone bombings that don't discriminate between the "enemy" & their families; & burnings of the Koran that, inadvertent or not, many Americans including at least one Republican candidate for president treat with contempt, as if one indignity  can justify another.

We will never convince Afghans that we are not at war against Islam. Who is the enemy when a United States soldier creepy crawls through homes like a follower of Charles Manson & murders people in their beds? These were Afghans in a supposed "secured" area.

It won't do to psychologically profile the crazy soldier as a complete anomaly. When a soldier is posted to combat areas four times, suffers a physical brain trauma, has his marriage fall apart, & our military psych fitness screeners still don't pick up on something awry in the guy's head, stamp MAJOR FAIL somewhere on the process. How many other disturbed solders have gotten though it?

President Obama still has not given us a lucid purpose for our Afghanistan campaign, or  clear picture of what constitutes American success. It seems more or less a continuation of whatever President George W. Bush had in mind.

How big is Afghanistan?  Here's a page that overlays Afghanistan on five sections of The United States.  Keep in mind that only some parts of America are rugged as Afghanistan.

The Afghan people, except for some warlords & corrupt Karzai government officials, are done cooperating with us. Karzai wants us to pull back to our major bases from our many outposts. Those outposts were our ground tactics for securing areas  from the Taliban.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Firesign Theater

Thinking of the late Peter Bergman & Firesign Theater.  Firesign  Theater's best albums were popular with college potheads from 1968 to 1973. Multi-layered & cyclical,  you never quite got to the bottom of them. The world of Monty Python was absurd. The world of Firesign Theater was absurd & sinister. There was a darkness  & paranoia in Firesign's comedy, a response to Vietnam, Johnson & Nixon, assassinations, domestic surveillance of the youth countercultures by the federal government.  Firesign Theater introduced me to an intriguing historical concept:  The only explanation for the way things were was that The United States of America must have lost World War Two. Meaning the American people; along with  the British people, the Russian people, the German people & the Japanese people.  We Americans thought we were fighting for the Four Freedoms as well as the right to organize unions & collectively bargain.

So who won? President Eisenhower put a name to the winners: The Military-Industrial Complex, a loose global consortium  of corporations &  various government defense & security agencies that  controls every major government in the world.  Individual crazies want to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth & bomb Iran back to the  Bronze Age, but these end game war scenarios are dangerous & unprofitable. The long war with no clear winner is the ideal now.

The other thing was how easy it was to create visual images in the minds of radio listeners, using the cheesiest effects. If you play a recording of ocean surf & seagulls in the background & say you're broadcasting from the Jersey shore, everyone knows it's a fake, but they'll see beach & gulls anyway. Listeners have no reason to resist seeing it. I'd test it on myself. & since few listeners have ever seen the DJ/host, changing your voice changes whatever image they have of you. I had a very authentic sounding gravel voiced guy from Bayonne I brought on from time to time. His name was Gregory Ginzouac. Using sound to fool with visual images kept me interested in radio during weeks when I really felt like smoking a joint, kicking back & playing Neil Young for three hours & to hell with "free form."

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Last Cruise of the Love Boat

One of the most famous cruise ships of the modern era, the former Pacific Princess, is heading to the scrapyard, according to Italy's La Repubblica.

The news outlet says the 40-year-old vessel, recognizable to millions of Americans as the "Love Boat" of 1970s television, has been sold to a Turkish demolition company for just over 2.5 million euro -- about $3.3 million at current exchange rates.
The ship is tiny by today's standards. & contemporary, informal "free style" cruises on giant cruise ships don't encourage the busy-body, gossipy relationship situations that were the staple of plots on The Love Boat - there were three stories in every show.  Also, you're no longer expected to pack evening clothes to attend the final night Captain's Gala Dinner/dance. Or maybe you are, but hardly anyone thinks that's cool anymore & actually goes. One of the few reasons I wanted to be wealthy was so I could own a tux & have occasions to wear it. (On The Love Boat, formal attire was worn in the ship nightclub.)

But The Love Boat was sort of the era's Dancing With the Stars, a place where fading movie & TV stars & other assorted  celebrities gathered for paychecks - definitely easier than DWTS. The Love Boat signed up these guest stars literally  by the hundreds for cruises on The Pacific Princess  (although only the two TV movie pilots were actually filmed on cruise ships). So many stars (check out this one intro, Elke Sommer is a totally hot 40 year old), so much love, the disco beat & trumpet intro to the cool theme song that pulled everyone into the  living room to see  the guest star mug shots inside the porthole, & Ted Lange mixing tropical cocktails as "Your Bartender." I'm bereft.

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Trenton NJ

Apple Display, Agricultural Building,  Inter-State Fair

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

A little more Limberger

Rush Limbaugh is losing sponsors all over the place. & Bill Maher is defending him as having just made a bad joke.

 In 2007, when Imus referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team as  "some nappy-headed hos," I admit I gave  thought as to whether that remark was worth more than a sincere in-person apology & a suspension. It was an impulsive remark (hardly the I-man's first racist crack), & I also believed if Imus met & liked Coach Stringer & the team, he's the kind of person who could do a complete turnabout, fess up to his insult,  & they would have no better  supporter in the media.  Imus' insult was not politically-motivated. I decided  however it played out would be o.k. with me, even if Imus were fired.

Limbaugh was different. He went at Sandra Fluke for three days, with the same defamatory comments. This was not improvisational shock jock comedy gone wrong. It was a deliberate, calculated, libelous attack on a private citizen's integrity & reputation in an attempt to discredit a federal policy on health insurance.

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

The March '62 Nor'easter

The 50th Anniversary of the March 1962 Nor'easter, occurring over three days 3/6-8 & five high tides, causing devastation from Virginia  to Sandy Hook NJ to Long Island. The most destructive Jersey coastal storm of my lifetime to date, & had an enormous impact on me as a young adolescent, a very significant weather event. I still have the special Sunday color supplement  magazine on the storm from the old Newark News.

OI course, I didn't see it in person as it occurred.  If I had a car & drivers license, nothing except a police blockade could have kept me away at least from the Raritan bayshore. Although all the tidal estuaries that extend far into North Jersey felt & showed the impact.

The storm was a big deal for me for several reasons. First, my impressionable age. Second, the extent of the damage, apparent as it was happening even though TV news didn't have anywhere near the mobile capacities it introduced  in the Seventies. Third, the storm was not a hurricane, or even the fiercest of nor'easters. It did what it did by stalling offshore & pounding the coast for three days.  Fourth, my dad decided a week later to visit my grandmother in Atlantic City to see how she was doing. We knew she was fine. She had close relatives nearby. Dad actually wanted a look at the destruction.

Nana resided on the third floor of a small building a long block from the boardwalk on Pacific Ave. near California Ave., within sight of the Ritz-Carlton. The doctor offices on the first floor had flooded out, the street still had large amounts  of debris, including some appliances Nana had seen floating down the street. She had a view from her window partway up Belmont Ave. & claimed to to have seen waves breaking. I doubted that one, as the boardwalk would have busted the power of the breakers.  Atlantic City  didn't get the worst of it. Other boardwalks were ripped up end to end,  The barrier islands lost thousands of houses, severely damaged,  wave & wind wrecked or washed away altogether. Hair-raising stories from narrow Long Beach Island, nearly the entire island underwater, residents trapped, the storm punched a new inlet through to the bay as successive high tides piled up more water on the ocean side, pushing it into the back bays before low tide could drain the previous  high  tide. But Atlantic City got it bad enough, especially at the northeast inlet end. That part of the boardwalk was  splinters & pilings. It was there I saw a tall  apartment building with a brightly multi-colored wall; going closer, the multi-colors became wallpapers on inside walls of apartments, toilets & even a few bathtups sticking out into air. It was impressive.  There were a number of similarly wrecked buildings. The mid-section of the Steel Pier washed away when a barge crashed into it,  destroying the Diving Horse part & leaving the theater part stranded (I don't recall if it had been repaired by that summer, but the front part of the Pier was open),

So it wasn't difficult to take what I did see & apply it to the remainder of Jersey's coast & get a reasonably accurate sense of the storm's massive destruction.

We've had some pretty strong ocean storms since. The worst, I think, was Hurricane Irene last summer, but that was an inland flooding event.  My dad predicted another like '62 within 20 years. But he remembered the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 & the storm surge generated by the 1938 New England Hurricane as it passed close offshore. Jersey's beaches are better protected by beach replenishment & dunes. We have  built too much - far more than existed in '62,  & no storm has sat offshore for five consecutive high tides.  If that happens again, we'll see.

There are hundreds of photos & articles online. Here's an Asbury Park Press picture gallery & an Atlantic City picture gallery.

A Facebook friend commented that  Jersey Shore  is "overdue for another 'cleansing'." I'm not certain of that anymore.  I have no desire for Jersey's boardwalks to be ripped to pieces, that's not "cleansing." The most detestable developments are on the bays & estuaries - I've seen them built on sand islands I was certain nobody owned much less could get approval from the NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection to develop. I think it would take a  fifteen foot storm surge at high tide or three consecutive high tides with no draining to do any significant damage to them.The '62 storm was so unusually slow-moving  it caught the old salts by surprise. In time, over the next century, barring a quick switch to global cooling, rising ocean levels will  gradually push barrier island inhabitants back to the mainland & cause frequent  damaging flooding in bayside developments. Then shore communities will have to do what many Jersey river communities are beginning to do: purchase & rip down  flood prone houses & return the land to flood plain.

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It'll be Barack in New Jersey

On his Wednesday radio show, former New York Governor David Paterson said he believed Mitt Romney would carry New Jersey in November.   He seemed to have come to that conclusion based on Gov. Chris Christie's endorsement of Romney.  I think it's highly unlikely.

New Jerseyans traditionally separate national from state politics. We don't even pay much attention to our senators & congressional reps, all of them low profile in D.C.  Democrats have a voter registration advantage &  better Get Out the Vote machinery. Independent voters in Jersey are mostly centrist; independent women voters are white & educated & generally not sympathetic toward right wing "values" appeals, or cutbacks in health care & education. African-American & Latino voters will be charged up to reelect President Obama, the Latinos also in support of Senator Robert Menendez, both of whom will carry huge majorities out of Jersey's urban areas.

President Obama will make a few public campaign  appearances here when he's in Jersey for fund-raising.  Hillary & Bill Clinton will campaign  for Obama & Menendez (who endorsed Hillary in 2008). Both Clintons remain very popular with the Democratic Party base, & Bill can still excite a crowd  of college students & look perfectly at ease in a Black Baptist church.

A February 29 Quinnipiac University Poll has Obama leading Romney 49% to 39% in NJ. With Gov. Christie on the ticket as VP, Obama still leads 49% to 43%, so Christie takes no support already given to  Obama away from the President. With or without Christie, white women vote  Democratic 55% to 35%, Since Romney has to concede New York & Connecticut, those dreary numbers, although changeable,  do not invite a heavy Republican  investment of money in the expensive New York City media market, which reaches 2/3rds of Jersey voters. Christie,  whether or not he's the VP candidate, won't be campaigning much in Jersey either. He'll be dispatched to Ohio, PA, Virginia, & other potential blue to red pickups.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Shorty Rogers & Andre Previn - Collaboration (1954)

An unusual "concept" album by two of America's most talented & versatile musicians. On side one, Shorty Rogers arranges three standards & Andre Previn contributes three originals based on those standards (a common be bop practice). Side two is reversed, Previn does the standards, Rogers the originals. I like side two a little better as it plays more to the strengths of the two.  But the album is really good. The band Rogers assembled, a nonet, was comprised of young, first rate West Coast  players. Collaboration is  a  fine example of the West Coast sound, inaccurately called "cool."
Bass - Joe Mondragon or Curtis Counce
Drums - Shelly Manne
Guitar - Al Hendrickson
Piano - André Previn
Saxophone [Alto], -- Bud Shank
Saxophone [Baritone] - Jimmy Giuffre
Saxophone [Tenor, Soprano] - Bob Cooper
Trombone - Milt Bernhart
Trumpet - Shorty Rogers
Cover art by Jim Flora.

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Monday, March 05, 2012

53 smears in 7 minutes

If you find this defensible, I want to hear how. It can't even be apologized for.  Rush Limbaugh is a 61 year old man, wealthy enough to have a private jet, on his fourth marriage (no children), obviously deeply conflicted about sex, with weird fantasies about women at a Catholic university,  & cruelly misogynistic. Look at his facial expressions, his hand gestures,  hear his chortles & snorts. Women disgust him.  Sandra Fluke can defend herself against Rush, with fine legal representation &  a  $5 million defamation of character suit, given her prospects for a lucrative career as a Georgetown Law graduate.

Limbaugh can't be forced off the air altogether.  But if enough national & local market advertisers  withdraw their air spots, Limbaugh's show can become unprofitable in a major market like New York City no matter how large the audience,  &  could be dropped by WABC.

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Sunday, March 04, 2012

Last night of the two week  WFMU Fund-raising Marathon, when the party moves to Maxwell's in Hoboken featuring live DJ karaoke with the Hoof 'n' Mouth Orchestra.  I did Hoof 'n' Mouth once, in 2004, when it was broadcast from Studio A  & the only audience was whatever other staffers & volunteers could crowd into the room. I did it to undergo the same initiation rite as younger , newer DJs.  Now you gotta perform for a multitude on a real stage with a spotlight. A number of other DJs apparently feel the same way about the larger venue & no longer participate. A shame since many  DJs are not extroverts.  Radio is a great medium for people who get serious stage fright, providing intimate one-to-one communication.  Even so, I always had a small case of butterflies before a radio show,  usually led off with almost 30  minutes of music,  & even before I turned on the mic for the first break had to take deep breath & think, "O.K. here you go." After that I was fine. The reality is the better WFMU does during the the all stops out fund-raiser when everyone is pulling together,  the less the station has to rely on gimmicky money making ideas at other times during the year.


Lake Hopatcong NJ

Nolan's Point Post Office

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Saturday, March 03, 2012

I've said this before, why local police shouldn't be required to act as agents of Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). & why they generally don't want to.

ICE agents don't need the cooperation of illegal immigrants to solve neighborhood crime. The crimes of being in the United States illegally, or being illegally employed,  are very low  priorities for urban police forces, & should be. Local police need illegal immigrants to come forward when they witness or are victims of violent crime. Already suspicious of police - they come from countries where local police are corrupt, or worse, have been used by brutal regimes to crush political dissent,  they will not cooperate if the consequence is being arrested & tossed in an ICE detainment facility/prison. Simple as that.

My own views on immigration were centrist & even leaned Bush Republican  until it became wrong to have any compassion for immigrants or want to offer them a path toward citizenship that wouldn't uproot them all & destroy their families. Now my views are considered radical.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Davy Jones

Davy Jones & Frank Zappa
Davy Jones, actor, singer, member of The Monkees.
The Monkees TV show was aimed at a slightly younger audience than me. I thought it was good show whenever I had a chance to watch it. I really liked them as a comedy team.  But I wasn't hanging around the house much evenings. Probably watched it most often at girlfriend Karen's, who had younger sisters susceptible to Davy Jones' charms. You could say The Beatles were the  Monkees for my age group, the model, & the industry looked for the "next Beatles" for decades afterward.  By Sept. 1966, The Beatles were a mature group with very little teenybopper appeal. Although the idea of a manufactured Beatlesque band didn't appeal much to me, "Last Train to Clarksville" was an outstanding debut single.*  It was difficult to think of it as The Monkees rather than Mickey Dolenz & studio musicians. But the British music invasion had brought silly groups like Gerry & The Pacemakers, Herman's Hermits, & Freddy & the Dreamers. The initial image of the Beatles with those collarless suits & neat haircuts was manufactured.

The Monkees did a great service by exposing the fact that many bands routinely used studio musicians, by choice or ordered to do so by the record label to save time & money & make records better. It was more cost effective to hire an expensive group of studio cats like The Wrecking Crew for a few hours or days than to let inexperienced bands diddle around in the studio for weeks. The weakness of The Monkees was that the four members had almost nothing in common musically & never would have formed a band independently (How many albums did Blind Faith record?). They were glued together only when they were united in fighting for more control over their recordings. Once they got it, they  began squabbling over what to do with the control.

Michael Nesmith was a polished musician & competent songwriter. But more to the reality of The Monkees, only Davy Jones saw himself as an "entertainer," meaning he knew he was in show business & would do whatever it required. Oddly, this gave him more in common with James Brown than with Buffalo Springfield & The Byrds. When the four Monkees were cast, Davy most fit the need. He had the acting experience & the singing experience. He was a really good front man because he knew how to play the part, knew it was a part.  Reminded me of Eddie Brigati in The Rascals.

* Strangely, my 19 tear old sister bought the first Monkees LP. I don't think she had purchased an album since The  Beach Boys Today in 1965. Someone bought the great Beach Boys lp & it wasn't me. I viewed her very much as a pre-Beatles,  American Bandstand in Philly sort of person. But she'd had a definite weakness for Teen Idols at age 13, apparently she still had it.

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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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