stusegal: (Teutonic Highway from Hell)

Let me make this perfectly clear.  I live in New Jersey.

That’s in between New York City and Philadelphia.  New Yorkers are known far and wide for their manners, especially the cabbies and cops.  Some of the rudest people on the planet.  And Philadelphians  -  ah the the City Of Brotherly Love.  Ask any Philadelphian about the Eagles, Phillies or Flyers  -  unless it was a year they won the World Series, Superbowl or Stanley Cup , which incidentally they rarely do, a stream of vitriol like you never heard will erupt.  These people are so mean that they’d eat their own young if they had to.

Now you’ll notice I didn’t say I live between New York and Pennsylvania.  Because if you drive 5 hours west, you’ll reach Pittsburgh, which is in Pennsylvania but has Midwestern sensibilities.  And if you drive 5 hours north you’ll reach Buffalo, which is at Niagara Falls, and is on a different planet than NYC.  So again to be clear, NJ is in between New York City and Philadelphia, and is filled with people who used to live in Philly or New York, or who live here but work there.  So don’t think you need to leave New Jersey to hear someone say “Fuggedaboudit” or “Gimme two cheesestakes wit fried onions”.

Some years ago my ex-wife stepped off a curb in New York City when a traffic light turned red and it was OK to go.  She was instantly waffled by a messenger on a bicycle traveling at breakneck speed, inches from the curb, who knocked her to the ground, and left her battered, bruised and knocked senseless.  And how did people feel about this unfortunate incident?  “Shouldn’t have stepped in the street widdout lookin” was the consensus.

And this has always been the protocol where I live.  If you step out into the street into moving traffic and get hit, then shame on you.  Will the driver get a ticket?  Maybe.  Maybe not. 

And if you’re diving and someone steps out in front of you what are you expected to do?  Swerve and avoid them if possible.  Blow your horn.  Give them the finger.  Are you supposed to stop and “yield” to them?  Fuggedaboudit.

There’s a train station in my town, but there are no traffic lights right at the station, so for people to cross Main Street safely they need to walk a block or two in either direction.  Either that, or use their urban survival skills and dart between oncoming cars to get safely onto the white line in the middle of the road, then stand perfectly still (like those girls you used to see on the Ed Sullivan Show standing up against the wall while some lunatic threw knives in the wall around them) on the white line while waiting for the opportunity to dart between traffic and get to the other side.

So a couple years ago the town put in a couple of fancy brick crosswalks across Main Street, with signs that say “State Law: Yield to Pedestrians in Crosswalk”.  Yeah, right.

Last year at this time I saw our local Police Department in a major crosswalk sting operation.  I saw a guy wearing a t-shirt and dark pants, and he seemed vaguely familiar  -  turns out he was one of the local officers who had taken off his uniform shirt.  And he was strolling from the sidewalk into the crosswalk.  Half a block down was a second, uniformed, officer standing between parked cars.  When someone would not yield to the “pedestrian”, the second officer would step out into the street, wave over the driver, and give them a ticket.  (I guess we’re lucky there’s no bigger crimes in our town to deal with).  Well, I only saw this happening one morning.  Presumably, hopefully, there was such outrage over the use of expensive resources for a crime roughly equivalent to jaywalking that the police were re-assigned to more appropriate duty.

But did the city give up?  NO!  Then they managed to get a state grant for $$$??? I-don’t-know-how-much to imbed a row of yellow lights in the street on both sides of these crosswalks, and when a pedestrian wants to cross they push a button by the curb, and these yellow lights instantly start flashing.  Since there’s about 20 lights across the street on each side of the crosswalk it’s almost impossible for a driver to not see them.

And I noticed, that actually worked . . . most of the time.  Most, but not all, drivers yielded (after all, this is New Jersey.  Who says pedestrians have the right of way?  Some friggin signs?  Some damn flashing lights?)  At least it worked for about a year or so, until the flashing lights broke down, and there was no funding to fix them  -  yes, yet another well thought out government initiative.

So now to the reason for my post.  Today I was out for a walk.  And I happened, just happened, to want to cross in the middle of the block where one of these crosswalks is located.  So I looked to my left, noticed traffic coming (so I stopped knowing I would be run over if I proceeded), looked to my right and was watching traffic approach from the right while I was waiting for the traffic from the left to pass.  Funny thing, the traffic from the left never came past, so I turned my head back to the left and was shocked – the cars had stopped and were waiting patiently for me to cross??!!  I nodded a “thank you” and proceeded.

But here’s the problem.  THIS IS NEW JERSEY.  Traffic is not supposed to yield to anything.  This isn’t friggin Florida where traffic comes to a screeching halt every time some doddering old Bubby or Zayde stumbles off the curb.

I’ve got to admit  -  the older I get the harder it is to accept change, even when it is for the better.

This is the crosswalk, with the "Yield" sign in the middle of the street, and the now covered-in-orange-trashbag-so-you-can't-push-the-button activator for the flashing lights::
Metuchen Crosswalk
stusegal: (Smoke til ya Croak)
An establishment just opened in the next town, and I love the name.
Winoland Logo

What could be inside?  Is it an amusement park for winos where the logflume ride ends in a vat of Ripple?  Or maybe a day spa where you soak in Thunderbird?



stusegal: (Default)
Well this is upsetting. Interesting little video about "Kick A Jew" day at a school in Naples, Florida. Naples, Florida!!

I'm sure you'll find the below video as unbelievable as I did, so this is a link to an independent article in the Naples News that confirms this disgusting behavior and the lukewarm reaction of school officials in Naples, FL.

Am I the only one who has the feeling that if it were "Kick The Ethnic Group To Which Barack Obama Belongs Day", these little bigots wouldn't have got off with a slap on the wrist?
stusegal: (Default)

When I was a kid, and even a young adult, I had certain expectations of what would happen in the world.  This year I’m going to be 60 . . .and I’m thinking about those expectations, and realize some have happened, in some cases way beyond my imagination. . . and some have not, and may not.

Are you surprised or disappointed by “the future”?

Click here for what I thought, back in the 50’s and 60’s: )

stusegal: (Default)
Occasionally I have something to say. Usually it takes several paragraphs. I find LiveJournal is a good format.

A few months back I joined Facebook, because many of my friends who were on LiveJournal, and many more who were not, joined. I've learned FB is for the more social aspects - but whenever I actually have something to say, I crosspost a link to my LJ post on FB, just in case someone wants to read it.

Now I notice some folks crosspost their Tweets onto FB. So I know who's having coffee, who's in a cab and who took a shower this morning. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have this information - how I've gotten through life without knowing that Lamar was having his green tea is a mystery. My life now feels complete.

(BTW - now that we have gone from the paragraphs of LJ, to the photos and links of FB, to the sentences of Twitter, I wonder where it goes next. Can our attention span get shorter? Can we just send a symbol? Perhaps the artist that was formerly Prince, who was then represented by a symbol, but is now again known as Prince because nobody really "got it", was really on to something when he was represented by the symbol).
stusegal: (Stu & Rashmi)

I love carving the bird, but not so much for culinary reasons.  Years ago, my cousins Dave & Miriam Witten gave Rashmika and I the carving tools you see on our table. 

Dave, who was actually my Mom’s eldest first cousin, was a Captain in the elite Army Ranger battalion, Merrill’s Marauders.  (This was the only Army Ranger battalion active in WWII, and has the rare distinction that every soldier in the battalion was awarded a Bronze Star).  The unit was assigned to “deep penetration”, their mission being to engage enemy troops in Burma.

Dave brought home the carving tools, and the beautiful peacock handled serving tools, from India.  When he and Miriam moved to Washington, DC (in, I think, 1991) they made a gift of these to Rashmika and I.  Whenever we use them I think of Dave and Miriam, two of the sweetest, most cultured people I ever knew.

And a side note, Dave is the first person I ever knew who ever told me he was going to be cremated.  This was clearly not the norm for Jewish people, and certainly not for people of Dave’s generation.  (As I recall, Dave was the oldest of the cousins and was actually about the age of my Grandmother, born around 1910.)  So I asked him about it, about not having a headstone, and I’ll always remember what he said  -  not a quote, but it was something like  -  I’ll be happy knowing people think of me kindly sometimes.  Rashmika and I think fondly of Dave and Miriam - the music, the bread - and were enriched and influenced by them.

Then of course there’s the other Thanksgiving tradition, the Absinthe.  OK, I’ll admit it’s not exactly an established tradition  -  what with Absinthe being banned in the U.S. for 92 years, and just being legalized again in 2007.  But Rashmika, David and I are going to establish this as a family tradition, starting today  -  we’ll let you know how it goes.


stusegal: (Default)
OK,  so we're all suffering with a struggling economy as a result of the "subprime mortgage crises".  Well to understand who's responsible for this mess, you need to understand what it is . . . .

stusegal: (Show some respect!)
He's got to be kidding.

I remember it like yesterday - - in 1977 when the Imperial Stormtroopers came on screen, I SCREAMED OUT (at least, in my head) - - - HE'S STOLEN THEM FROM DOC SMITH!!!!

Now I read he actually won an infringement case in a California court (and a $20 million judgment), and is looking to enforce his rights in Great Britain. . . all over his ownership of the design of the Imperial Stormtroopers.

Excuse my phraseology, but what balls this guy has to lift the space armor from Doc Smith, then sue over infringement of his plagiarized costumes!
stusegal: (Default)

So I came home the other day, and THESE were in front of my neighbor's home:

So you could appreciate the scale, I asked Vito to be in the photo.  On a SLIM DAY, Vito is about 130 lbs - if we feed him Twinkies and pretzels he tops 140.

Poll #1-2008
Open to: all, results viewable to: all

What would you do?

IGNORE (easy for you to say since you're not living next door)
Let big Vito do what he wants (which is, incidentally, to lift his leg whenever he gets near the lions - which so far I haven't let him do)
Get bigger lions, or elephants, for our home (tell me where)
Get the kids from Rutgers to paint them red.
Run a "Name The Lions" contest (could I award the lions to the winner?)
Congratulate the neighbor on his impeccable taste and his extraordinary luck in finding such distinctive lawn ornaments.

Any other suggestions?
stusegal: (Default)
I just read there is a remake in the works (OK, maybe I’m a little slow as this news is about 6 months old), starring Keanu Reeves as Klaatu, and with Jennifer Connelly and Kathy Bates.  Sounds like a good cast.

BUT AM I ALONE IN MY OUTRAGE about trying to remake a classic (piece of modern-day art)? 

stusegal: (VICTORY)
As I drive around I see these magnetic yellow ribbons on the trunks of cars proclaiming “Support Our Troops” (OK, some of the ribbons are red-white-blue).

During the Vietnam era occasionally someone would tie a yellow ribbon around a tree - it usually meant that a soldier or a soldier’s parents lived in that home, and they wanted him/her to return safely.  Sometimes adjacent neighbors, or maybe the whole street, would tie ribbons in support of the soldier and the soldier’s family.  Very personal.  (Sort of like the Star Flags displayed during WWI & WWII).

A few years ago I started seeing these magnetic ribbons on the backs of cars, and naively thought these were families of soldiers.  Also naively I thought that the exhibiters of these ribbons might have done something (donation perhaps?) for the troops.  Also naively I assumed that whoever manufactured the magnetic ribbons must be giving the proceeds to the troops.

 Apparently I was wrong. 

  • Look online for "Support Our Troops” ribbons and you’ll find that there are indeed a few organizations that give the proceeds of their ribbon sales to support the troops – but you will be hard pressed to find those orgs amongst the many suppliers of these ribbons that just plain sell them and keep the money.
  • Then I started asking people with ribbons on their cars if they had a family member in the military.  Now I’m sure some of these people must, but I couldn’t find anyone.  (My point is – most don’t).
  • OK – so I was afraid to ask people what exactly they did to entitle them to display such a ribbon, because by that time I had realized that you could buy these ribbons in any Walgreens, supermarket, etc.

So let me put the question to you  -  what exactly do these ribbons on cars mean?  Is there a belief that by riding around with a ribbon on your trunk you are somehow “Supporting Our Troops”?  Someone please enlighten me.

stusegal: (Default)
Just listened to “Preludes”, the new release of Warren Zevon work that was culled from a stash of tapes found by his son Jordan, who decided to release some of the cuts.

The work is wonderful, and it’s great to hear “new” Warren work, and unreleased cuts of previously released work, but, I struggle over the posthumous release of work that an artist decided not to release while he was alive.  These aren’t tapes that were recorded just prior to Zevon’s passing, they are recordings he made all along the way.  Some seem to be early cuts of numbers he later released with more complete harmonies and instrumentation - - and some are numbers that he just hadn’t released (perhaps because they didn’t measure up to his standards?)

The disc was very melodic and pleasant, and an absolute pleasure, however, none of Zevon’s albums over which he had artistic control were ever so calm and relaxing – while there were always some melodic and beautifully constructed songs, there were also edgy, driving, sometimes disconcerting numbers that could tie your stomach in knots or make your skin crawl.

So while this exhibits even more fine work by an artist who I love, I have to wonder of the right (and I mean moral and ethical, not legal) of anyone to posthumously release the work of an artist, when the artist  had clearly decided to not release that very work themselves?

ps. I know this is no different than a 300 year old “unfinished” symphony or ballet, or unfinished canvas, but I question those too.

stusegal: (Default)

I’m watching/listening to a Jonn Fogerty DVD, The Long Road Home, a 2006 concert.  Fogerty at age 60 or so is as energetic, and has as strong and clear a voice as he has anytime in his life which, of course, makes me think about the difference in guys like Fogerty and McCartney, who seem to have a strength and freshness about them, and guys like Mick, Keith, Charlie Watt who seem to be pumped full of embalming fluid. 

So how come Fogerty can seem fresh and inspired doing “Proud Mary” 40 years later  -  clearly he’s done the number so many times that it’s hard to believe he’s really that enthusiastic, it must be an act, a performance . . . . or is it?  He actually may be more animated and enthusiastic than he was 35 years ago.  Well, maybe Mick and the boys, and others like them, never were very enthusiastic to start with. . . . .not so, I saw Mick, actually stood next to the stage in 1966 when he and his mates were 23 years old, and I’ll tell you, there was a time that they had passion, real passion.

It may be more obvious in artists and performers whose lives and/or work are on display for all to see, but this ability to get through life, through decade after decade, and maintain a passion for life (or not maintain it) seems to vary greatly among people.  How is it some people have the capacity to to be energetic, fresh and positive and others, who are in no worse physical condition, seem old, tired, disinterested?  Passionate or apathetic?

How do you keep passion alive, year after year?  Is it developing new interests, refining old interests, living healthy to feel good?  How do you prevent, avoid becoming apathetic?  Is it the company you keep?  What are the things that make a difference?   Are they within our control?

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