Friday, May 29, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
(MOUNT TANTAMOUNT PA.) -- There was this little thing I did for six years on the air at Bloomberg Radio: I protested the general tone of the Bush II administration by never mentioning the guy on the air, even if he was the object of the story. Even when it was a critical story. Even in a casual interview or conversation.
It started as a game. The game was "how long can we go without saying the words "George W. Bush" in that order and still do the stories we needed to about the president. Went the distance. No one seemed to notice.
Here in Mount Tantamount, in semi retirement, a similar game with the local district attorney who is running for reelection. No mention of his name not on the air, and not in this posting. He's a Republican, but could just as easily been a Democrat. Party doesn't much matter.
He's a graduate of Bob Jones University of South Carolina (famous for prohibiting interracial dating at the time Mister District Attorney attended and for many years both before and after,) which is kind of like being a graduate of Famous Pipefitters' School of Plumbing, except at FPSP, you learn something valuable and they don't care who you date.
Mount Tantamount is a college town with a drinking problem. So most of this guy's work is prosecuting DWI charges and penny ante drug deals, some of them set ups. But there's the occasional murder, the periodic student protest or prank. Not much of a big deal job. But Mister D-A is making his mark. How?
By charging student sitters-in with some quirky high crime, though they were peaceful. By trying to prosecute a young woman who streaked (that's running naked) during an annual student event that takes place at midnight on a Sunday and is billed as a "streak."
By labeling an upper lower size disturbance in town as a "riot," and lodging felony charges against the "rioters" including one guy who took pictures and whose pictures police used to identify other "rioters." (Los Angeles had riots. Newark. This was not a riot to anyone who's ever been in a real one.)
By refusing to recuse himself from a case which he personally prosecuted and in which there was the appearance of a conflict of interest.
By being the only one in the local government who didn't know one of his top assistants was a sexual harassment case waiting to happen -- until it happened.
These are not secret happenings. Everyone knows about them. Everyone.
So comes the primary election a while ago and Mr. District Attorney is running unopposed on the Republican line a primary so devoid of voters you could play tennis in any polling place without disturbing anyone trying to cast a ballot.
He won with 85 per cent of the vote. Eighty five percent. So that means 15% of the Republicans who voted opposed him. And almost a thousand of those used write in ballots to vote for themselves or their neighbors or one of the Democrats.
The Democrats had three candidates for their party's nomination. Fortunately, they didn't destroy each other during the campaign. The winner on the Dem side is no Frank Hogan, either. But next to Mr. District Attorney, she's Perry Mason.
--The real American Idol is a guy you never heard of, Bruce Gowers. He's the director of what has to be one of the toughest shows in live television, a 14 or 16 camera shoot. And word from "Variety" is that he may be leaving the show.
--What's in the air in Japan and in San Marino, CA? Women in Japan and men in San Marino have the highest life expectancy in the world, 86 and 81 years, respectively according to the World Health Organization. Maybe it's what's NOT in the air.
--Note to Jesse Ventura: we KNOW who killed Sharon Tate. So if you're going to waterboard Dick Cheney, pick something else to have him confess. How about causing the recession/depression?
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them®
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Some Bush guy tells congress the "enhanced interrogation" techniques in Iraq weren't torture. They are "borderline torture." That's kind of like borderline pregnant or borderline drunk or borderline bankrupt or borderline gay or borderline old. Where's the border? Depends on whom you ask. And it depends on the standard.
Yeah, you throw a guy into the bathtub and throw a plugged in toaster oven in after him, that's probably pretty clear cut. But waterboarding or making a prisoner watch ten back-to-back hours of "American Idol?" Maybe that's borderline. If you put a guy on the rack and stretch him until he pulls apart, that's torture. But if you only stretch him out a little, but THREATEN to pull him limb from limb, is that borderline? Dripping water on someone's forehead is certifiable torture. Maybe dripping bottled organic iced tea on someone's forehead is borderline.
Sitting in the dentist chair? That's certifiable torture. Sitting in a dentist's waiting room? Borderline.
In real life, we know where the borders are. We'll see a sign that says "Welcome to New Jersey," or the football will sail over one of those "H" shaped things at either end of the field. Or a foul baseball goes into the stands. Those borders we know.
There's a double yellow line in the road, we stay to the right of it. You jump to the head of the supermarket checkout line? Your fellow shoppers will let you know where the border is -- and they'll do it loud and they'll do it pronto. You want to sell your house? The surveyors will tell you exactly where the property starts and ends.
We're building a wall on the southern boundary where Texas and California meet Mexico. Maybe we should build a wall on THIS border, too.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
--If you work yesterday's crossword puzzle today, you'll do better than you did yesterday. That's not because you can look at the answers because you don't have to. Others have done the puzzle already and the answers are in the air.
--We have a faith healer coming to town. He's going to try to heal that stupendous pothole we keep writing and speaking of. You get to donate, but only after an independent investigation of the healing shows the ground's at last level.
--We note with sadness the passing of one Venetia Phair, 90 of the United Kingdom. As a girl in 1930 it was she who first suggested a name for what was then the newly discovered ninth planet. And that's how it came to be called Pluto.
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
Monday, May 11, 2009
Friday, May 08, 2009
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
542 Notes From New York Part II
This continues the narrative/diary/posting about last week’s trip to New York. Continued from 5/4/09
(Very) Little Italy. Honey, I shrunk the neighborhood. Mott Street? A few restaurants. Also in the neighborhood, some Malayan restaurants. But Angelo's Restaurant remains. "Hey, Angelo, you got free wi-fi?" "What. You think this is Starbucks?"
Chinatown. The "furious energy" that used to personify this place just isn't there. Neither are half the stores nor half the people. Chinatown at midday used to be an exercise in crowd self control. Not now. Nothing to control. The restaurants and fruit stands remain. You still wonder where they get those orange bags that every store here has, but you can't find anywhere else. It still bustles. Sort of. Chinatown has seeped into (Very) Little Italy. And, yes, there really is a mascot, a guy who says his name is Giuseppe Chong, about 30 and behind the counter at a souvenir stand that sells shirts that say "Chinatown NYC" and those that say "Bada Bing!" The jewelry business is, to be charitable, slow. So much so, that clerks and managers will come out and "greet" you if you linger at the window for more than a split second. This is and old habit in...
The Diamond District. They've been doing that for years. More now than ever. Time stands still here. Sort of. Ancient Hassidic Jews dressed as if this were the 18th century walk the streets, work the shops and ... what's this? They may dress that way and think that way and live their lives that way. But they also listen to their iPods and keep the Blackberry handy.
Harlem: They're renovating the Hotel Theresa at 125th and 7th. The Apollo is advertising a salute to Israel. The McDonald's is still the slowest in the country and the Sikhs still don't let you pump your own gas. The streets are crowded, but the traffic's lighter. And it was possible to stand on a corner for more than ten minutes without hearing a police or fire siren -- which seems out of character.
The Upper East Side. Unchanging. No one here would admit times are tough. It would be unseemly.
Is this town dirtier than ever, or does it just seem so after a few years away? It's interesting. It's dispiriting. It used to be home.
--The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey must have thought traffic over the George Washington Bridge generally moved too fast to maintain the mandated level of motorist torture. So they fixed things. They eliminated an entire eastbound lane on the 80/95 approach and now everything's back to boil-over normal.
--The crosstown trip on 125th street was almost a speedway in comparison to 80/95. And the Triboro Bridge was enchantingly and uniquely easy. Must have been an off night.
--In a side trip to Long Island, the good news: the motel room was spacious and clean. The bad news: it flooded spontaneously at about two in the morning. The good news: the new room is much nearer to the coffee machine and the "free continental breakfast."
I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
Monday, May 04, 2009
541 Notes From New York
First of two parts
(West 48th St.) -- This is a quiz. Who said something akin to this, when a Boeing 747 trailed by a military jet fighter flew low and slow near the Statue of Liberty on Monday, April 27th? "Holy (expletive deleted)! What the (expletive deleted) were they thinking?"
a) Barack Obama
b) Mike Bloomberg
c) Robert Gates
d) The entire population of the region and every witness
e) all of the above
Which public relations genius though up this photo op?
Some musings on and near Broadway: The Paramount has become a Hard Rock Cafe. Jack Dempsey's is an electronics clip joint. Colony Records, as we oldtimers still call it, doesn't know what it is. But while it's no longer a magnet for off-duty musicians, it still carries the sheet music they used, though not the vinyl. Brian Dennehy is brlliant in "Desire Under the Elms," and now that he as lost some weight, is a dead ringer for his father Ed, once a ranking editor at the Associated Press.
Ground Zero is a semi vacant lot, and apparently the number one tourist attraction hereabouts. It's all fenced in and on the fence are pictures of the grandiose Freedom Tower set to rise there... some year. You see some foundation work through holes in the ads for the eventual tower Across Church St., at the post office, it's business as usual. At the doorway is a fancy, embossed sign: "No Smoking In This Doorway." Underneath the sign stands a tiny woman wearing Postal Service I.D. She is lighting a cigarette. There is one newly completed building, and people are working in it. But too few to pay the mortgage.
Church St. is busy, but only because so many other east-west streets in the neighborhood remain closed.
The Subway is dirtier and smellier than some short years ago. But it's still both a pain in the neck, and a modern miracle. You CAN get there from here, wherever here or there is, and at any hour. Buses? That's another story.
The talk on television and in the papers is all about the Swine Flu. Out on the street, people shrug it off.
Hurley's: But first a word on NBC's studio numbering protocol. It's a number followed by a letter. 8H is on the eighth floor, 1A is on street level. When NBC moved in next to Hurley's on 6th Avenue in the 1930s, it was a marriage made in heaven. So much so that technicians installed an NBC telephone extension in the saloon which was generally referred to as "Studio 1H." Now, Hurley's is located on 48th near 8th. No more red-coated, white haired bartenders. It's still a good joint. Looks a little like the original and relatively inexpensive by theater district standards. But it ain't Studio 1H.
(Continued Wednesday 4/6/09)