Wednesday, November 09, 2016

I was a hopeful man. I was a patriotic man. I loved my country. This election has broken the very heart of that. The actions, words, and ideologies it vindicates. The people that it emboldens. What a mistake, and with Congress and probably two Supreme Court Justices, a very costly mistake. I am dismayed. I am disheartened. I am ashamed of my country, more than I was from 2000-08. I am scared for the future, though I know that’s only an educated guess at this point. I want to disconnect, burrow in and just stay there. I’m sure I will be back, but right now I need to think about the best way for me to “be the change I want to be” and how to best to affect that change in others. If that is something I even want to still worry about. I know I don’t want to argue about blame right now. The blame lies at the feet of the Americans who voted for him. I don’t want talk about what ifs. This is what is. How to best deal with it?

Friday, November 04, 2016

On November 8th, I am voting for First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Surprise!)

On November 8th, I will be voting for the Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States of America. I will be voting for the Democratic Party candidate for President for their 30 years experience Working for the public sector, helping millions of Americans along the way. I will be voting for them because "women's rights are human rights". I will be voting for them because they have a plan to invest in green manufacturing and infrastructure to get us off of polluting and finite fossil fuels while creating new jobs. They have a plan to have families with income up to $125,000 pay no tuition at in-state four-year public colleges and universities. I will not be voting for their opponent, the reality tv, trustafarian, real estate mogul who claims a judge can't be impartial if they are Mexican-American, because he is "building a wall".  I will not be voting for the republican party nominee that lumps all African Americans into a hellscape block of an inner city. Not for the Presidential candidate that physically mocked the disabled from the stage, insulted the families of veterans and insulted veterans themselves. The candidate from the party of "family values", "the religious right", and "christian conservatives" caught on tape saying "when you're a star you can do anything you want to them. you can grab them by the pussy". I repeat "when you're a star you can do anything you want to them. you can grab them by the pussy". I realize that was a whole month ago, on a tape from a decade ago, but think about the arrogance and mysogeny of that statement.  Now think about the bad mic work that took out Howard Dean,or the 47% line that so damaged willard in '12.  "Grab them by the pussy". And he said it while in an access hollywood bus to an interview in front of their tv cameras, which after all, is him "at work". When was the last time he was even in a "locker room"? Several more of his "alleged" victims have come forward with more stories of disrespect and sexual assault. So many that, it lead serial "I Do"er newt gingrich to freak out on fox news of all places. Of course, he was freaking out at a woman.  

It's a shame and an embarrassment that we can't seem to get to issues like climate change, that we can't go deeper into the candidate's plans for the tax code or what we are going to do in Syria, Yemen, and with Russia or North Korea. We can't get to a rational adult conversation about comprehensive solutions to the complex issues with immigration.  This is because, with little rebuttal from the republican party, the bar has been so lowered in our political discourse, by their nominee, that nasty tweets and off the wall conspiracy theories are now acceptable from a Presidential candidate. A lot of the conspiracy theories aren't even current. A quick check into the republican nominee's advisers will show you where he gets it from and has gotten it from since the 1980s. They are still fighting President Bill Clinton.  During the part of the first debate where the "fair and balanced" media said he was good, the republican nominee spent far more time on nafta than he did on the tpp. For the second debate he brought three women who had made accusations of President Bill Clinton in the '80s or earlier, along with one tied to a debunked, trumped up meme that Hillary Clinton had laughed at a rape victim's misfortune. 

I do not think the Bill Clinton Presidency was all bad, and apparently neither did the republican nominee.  I don't think we see through the same eyes (see social filters) that we did from 1992-2000. There were no major wars. There was an economic surplus. I don't think it was all good either, in retrospect, nor did I like everything at the time. But William Jefferson Clinton is not on the ballot and I do not think the Hillary Clinton Presidency will be the same as President Bill Clinton's. 

 I voted for Ralph Nader in 1996 instead of the Second term of President William Jefferson Clinton.  I was disappointed that during his first term there was little, if any, progress made on environmental issues, and this with the author of one of my favorite environmental books in college as his Vice President. The climate has changed on issues like Sustainable, renewable energy, "green" manufacturing and infrastructure, and even humans' affect rising global temperatures. President Barack Obama has invested more into the green energy industry (solar, wind, advanced batteries) than any President in history, though I think President Jimmy Carter's solar panels on the White House set a fine example. The Paris Accord is another big step forward. Hillary Clinton's plan will take it even further.  Her detailed proposals include "two bold national goals". "1.The United States will have more than half a billion solar panels installed across the country by the end of Hillary Clinton's first term.  And 2. The United States will generate enough clean renewable energy to power every home in America within ten years of Hillary Clinton taking office." That's a long way from Bill Clinton's Presidency right there. Just putting the words "Cut the billions of wasteful tax subsidies oil and gas companies have enjoyed for too long and invest in clean energy." into a Presidential, and the Democratic Party, platform illustrates that the Democratic Party is moving the direction of its policy away from fossil fuels. Yes, Hillary Clinton's plan also includes natural gas as a "bridge" from coal and oil. Her and her campaign continue to propose stricter regulation on the practice of fracking used to drill for the "shale gas". It may not be perfect, but I trust her a lot more on climate and Environmental policy than someone who thinks, or thought, climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China. A quick google search of her opponent reveals the removal of environmental regulations and the Environmental Protection Agency all together, not to mention opening more public lands, both onshore and off, to drilling, mining, and yes fracking.
Hillary Clinton's sometimes hawkish and overtly tough talk on foreign policy makes me a bit nervous, but 1. There is no VIABLE candidate who is a pacifist, and I will probably never see one. And 2. Her depth of knowledge on foreign policy and foreign leaders when compared to her opponent's is... well, there is no comparison.  

Which brings me to what has bothered me the most over the past year.  There just is no comparison. This is not the lesser of two evils.  Hillary Clinton and the republican nominee for president are not two of anything.  Hillary Clinton came from a working class family, went to Law school after graduating college, which is where and when she Started working for children.  Hillary Clinton has worked in the public sector for 30 years, with work experience in both foreign and domestic matters. Yes, she has gotten paid for it, but don't you think if she was about the money from the start she would have gone into the private sector? Her opponent, was born a millionaire, spent 2 years at one college before transferring to another for his business degree, where he obtained four student deferments from the Vietnam draft. He went into daddy's business, using daddy's money and did a little better than he would have had he put his "loans" and inheritance in mutual funds and the like. While Hillary Clinton was working in the White House, the United States Senate and the State Department, he was hosting a sometimes celebrity game show.  He was putting his name on buildings, a "university", steaks, and vodka before bankrupting the businesses, screwing workers, contractors and investors.  Always and only watching out for himself.  


People say Hillary Clinton is "the Washington establishment", a "career politician".  I agree, though I would add public servant.  I also think that if I needed open heart surgery I would go to a career surgeon, not some one with a slogan that the surgery needs to be done better. The republican choice is, in my opinion, everything that is wrong about this country. He is a arrogant, greedy, vain, thin skinned, 1%, US vs. "them", fear monger who cares only about money, more specifically his own. He is without empathy. He is vindictive. He denies science.  His running mate denies evolution and thinks people can and should be "cured" of being gay. The republican nominee takes no responsibility for himself or his own, often recorded, words. He thinks his opinions are facts and has had more scandals than anyone could keep track of. No. On November 8th, I will vote for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party slate.  #imwithher #fucktrump #fortheC
ountry

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

I'm voting Sanders in tomorrow's NJ Democratic Primary and this is why.

Tomorrow is the New Jersey Democratic Presidential Primary and this Democratic Party member will be voting in it.

I have been a fan of Senator Bernie Sanders since before he became a Senator, first listening to him speak against the bush's war of choice in Iraq. Representative Sanders voted, along with 126 Democratic members in the House and 21 Democratic Senators, against the Iraq authorization of force resolution.  He stood up against the Patriot Act, when very few others (59 Dems in the House) would. He has been a Consistent voice over decades when it comes to income inequality, the unfairness of the economy, and greedy corporate power controlling our country with Only their "personal" gain in mind.

The progressive movement has progressed.  We as a country are in a different place when it comes to social issues and economic awareness than we were eight, or sixteen, years ago.  One of my proudest political moments was being at Ralph Nader's Madison Garden Rally in the year 2000 (another was attending the First Inauguration of President Barack Obama).  To listen to Nader's speech now, you realize that it's not So different from the Bernie stump speech.  I don't mean to compare these two candidates because of any "spoiler" nonsense. Gore lost because his campaign sucked! He benched the greatest politician at the time, who had Us using the word "surplus" when talking about the economy, and then conceded quickly after winning the popular vote and the Shady going's on in jeb bush's Florida. But i digress.  We were listening to that speech and comparing it to the Sanders stump.  It may be a little more progressive, but it's pretty damn close.  To think that a candidate with This message has done so well here in the 2016 America is truly something. Bernie's decision to join the Democratic Party and run for our nomination was a smart one.  And the Democratic Party should be commended for allowing it.  Neither the National media nor the DNC/rnc Presidential debate stages give a third party candidate a chance.  Just ask Ralph.  The fact that we are here on June 6th, and Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders still has a shot in the Democratic Party Presidential Primary is astounding.  I Absolutely Love it!  From Nader to Occupy Wall Street to Bernie Sanders for President, the Progressive message for the 99% has gotten stronger, is heard more frequently, from far more voices than anytime I can remember. Income inequality and uncontrolled corporate control are real issues.  They are real problems, affecting real people.  The progress of this movement, that Bernie now leads, is proof that People have a voice, when we use it. Has it reached where it has to go? Not by a long shot.  Has it progressed forward? You're damn right it has.

My vote in tomorrow's New Jersey Presidential Primary will be for Senator Bernie Sanders.  His campaign sends a message loud and clear to the Democratic Party and beyond that We want to Act more Progressively, that every American can be heard when we stand together, and that being a billionaire shouldn't mean you have more of a say in a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people". His integrity when it comes to his message is unimpeachable.  This is a man, who wrote a book and gave the royalties to charity.  I know it's more than a long shot at this point for him to get the nomination.  That never stopped me before. Tomorrow I stand and VOTE with Senator Bernie Sanders.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Pro-Choice/Pro-Voice

You want to buy me.  I'm not for sale.  Not for bargain prices. Not for full retail. Corporations play and don't pay, fooling us into thinking they taste great.  That our only freedom is to choose what of theirs to buy. It long past time for that type of thinking to Die.  Our rights do not start and end with someone's profit.  Some boards' or some congressmen's yacht trip. Pro-choice!  Pro-voice! in a world that the only protesters that don't need a permit come from one side that shout and scream a light on a horrible situation that a private person would try and hide.  Why? Because, they don't like the choice.  The fetus attached doesn't have a voice, but once that child's born they treat its poverty as its choice.  Hiding behind a man that said sell what you have and give it to the poor they fight against any help to those in need except for themselves.

I am American.
I am Pro-Choice.
I am Pro-Voice.
I am anti-corporation.
I am filled with frustration.
As I see a political and social minority
hold up their gold plated crosses,
confusing fighting for their freedoms with forcing their beliefs on me.
Appointed robes, in charge as long as They want
growing ever more political since the 43rd president they appointed.
To these flowing gowned men corporations are people.
Employees have no rights under a master's chosen steeple.
If only the Constitutional amendment read government and not Congress
when it comes to religion's establishment.
Then maybe I could remain separate from those who believe in Leviticus.



Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Minimum Wage

A full time worker making minimum wage in New Jersey earns $14,500 annually.  That is $3,000 below the poverty line.  241,000 workers in New Jersey make the $7.25 an hour minimum wage.  Some blind, sheltered folks are quick to say high school kids are the only ones making "minimum wage", but  77% of minimum wage workers are over 20 years old. The increase in pay for these workers to help with the rising cost of Everything will not only help the working resident and/or their family makes their own ends meet (mortgage/rent, food, bills, etc), but it will help the economy through increased sales, lowered foreclosure rates, as well as other matrices.  It would be an economic stimulus.  Will businesses have to pay more? Yes.  Will this cut into their profits.? Maybe  Will 241,000 plus more people be able to spend more in small business? Yes.  My "bottom line" is, and has always been, that government's primary goal is not to maximize profits, but to best protect and serve it's citizenry, no matter their income level.  Vote Yes on November 5th to raise the State minimum wage and tie it to increases in the cost of living.  Just think about gas being $1.78 per gallon the last time the minimum wage was raised.  It's time to raise it again and it's time to tie it to cost of living increases.  Working full time at minimum wage should be enough to put a person at or even a little above the poverty line, otherwise it is below the minimum needed.

christie

 The bush-appointed, bully, blow hard.... To be fair, let's check his record as governor.  New Jersey's unemployment ranks 7th Highest in the country. How did christie try to improve NJ's unemployment situation?  He laid off thousands of public workers, teachers, and school employees. Thousands of private jobs have been lost. NJ's economic ranking nationally, comes in at a whopping 47th.  Times are tough in Jersey, child poverty and homelessness are up.  So what does christie do?  Cut tax credits for the low-income residents while giving away BILLIONS in tax credits to corporations, $261 Million to revel casino alone.  The so called/some called moderate has vetoed women's health bills passed by the legislation 4 times.  He has cut funding to family planning centers, forcing some to close.  Tolls and fares are up on bridges and tunnels.   Does that translate into much needed infrastructure spending?  Nope.  Instead Major infrastructure projects and the jobs that go with them are shot down instead, and our infrastructure continues to crumble.  His policy on Education?   Cut $2 Billion from it and demoralize and demonize teachers, reducing their benefits while further overburdening them with more testing and more redundant paperwork.  I'm sure that will provide incentive for people to become teachers and good teachers to stay in the profession.  He is a "fiscal conservative" that has overseen an INCREASE in the average property tax bill, not to mention an increase in my personal State income tax burden. His creative accounting  takes moneys from the Clean Energy program and reneges on the State's portion of the employee pension fund to fill revenue shortfalls.  New Jersey has the 4th Highest Debt in the Nation.  It is ranked by Yahoo as one of the worst run states in the Union, 47th. The current governor is a disrepectful man that mistakes calling people "idiot" and "you people" as straight talk.  Stronger than the storm? In December of 2012, 43 states were ranked higher than New Jersey in Emergency preparedness.  He is scott walker from Wisconsin.  He is paul ryan.  He can call tea partiers "whackos" all he wants, but he is damn close to them.  He vetoed gay marriage.  His economic policy helps those that don't need it and further burdens and cripples those that do.  I don't have a lot of faith that Barbara Buono will defeat christie tomorrow, but I really can't understand what so many people see in him.  The bar lowers...

Monday, October 07, 2013

Bullsh*t Down

The decision not to pass a Continuing Resolution ("CR") to keep the United States Government running timed out perfectly with the launch of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance coverage marketplaces.  Instead of the big story being the start of something that has and will continue to help tens of millions of Americans get more affordable health coverage (with pre-existing conditions, without annual limits, with 80% of premiums going to coverage and not administration, etc.) the big story is the House of Representative refusal to vote to fund the government without ridiculous, superfluous attachments, thereby shutting down Our government, or at least a large portion of it.  The inconvenient and ironic truth is the launch of the Affordable Care Act's marketplace continues to go ahead as planned.  Millions of Americans flooded marketplace sites to sign up or just for information.  Sign ups were higher than expected.   The New York health exchange website received 30 Million visits.  The savings success stories are already coming in. There were plenty of glitches too.  Those were expected. What program, especially as large as the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces, does not have glitches in the beginning?    The republican controlled House of Representatives could pass a "clean" continuing resolution to keep the US government running.  They have the votes to pass it.  But the republican speaker of the House will not allow it to come up for a vote.  Instead this "leader" and the House majority that he "leads" are letting 30 extremely rigid, in their ideology, right wing republicans lead him into a government shut down by attaching a bill defunding  the Affordable Care Act, a law which was debated and negotiated for 14 months, was voted on and approved by the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives, was signed into LAW by the President of the United States of America, was upheld in the United States Supreme Court, and was a central issue in the 2012 Election which saw the candidate that did NOT want to "repeal Obamacare on day one" win by over 5 million votes and the party that wanted the Affordable Care Act to proceed gained seats in Both the Senate and the House of Representatives.  The republicans, who back in the day came up with a lot of the ideas that are in the law, including the individual mandate, lost.

These 30 republican congresspeople, and their 19 senatorial sympathizers, will not accept the loss.  The problem (well, one of the problems) for these sore losers is after spending tens of millions on 41 votes to repeal (not fix, but repeal and/or defund) in the House of Representatives, they are no closer to repealing the existing law, that still has yet to go into full effect.  They can not succeed within our Democratic system (see previous paragraph).  So what do they do?  They attach it to something the government can not function without, a continuing resolution to fund the government.  I have heard people spew reasoning like "DOMA was the law of the land", inferring that people like me had no problem with overturning that law of the land.  True. We don't always like the law of the land, but those laws are overturned through the proper democratic channels. DOMA, for instance, was overturned by the Judicial Branch of Our government, namely, the United States Supreme Court.  A repeal or defunding of DOMA was not attached to a Conituning Resolution to fund the US Government nor was it attached to raising the debt ceiling, which is coming up in a couple of weeks.  The US Economy was not held hostage in the give us what we want or you get nothing way these republicans in the House of Representatives are using their defunding of the Affordable Care Act.  Children with Cancer were not denied medical trials, National Parks were not closed, 800,000 American Workers weren't sent home indefinitely without pay (more than Target, General Motors, Exxon, and Google combined), Veteran's Affairs, the EPA, the SEC, the FDA, NASA, the Center for Disease Control and on and on were not shuttered until the losers got what they wanted.  As trusted newsman John Stewart said "Did you see the Giants game?  They lost to the Chiefs 31-7 on Sunday. You know what the Giants didn't say after that game? If you don't give us 25 points by midnight on Monday, we will shut down the [Bleep] NFL".

The republicans are out in front of the cameras and in their silly internet memes saying they want to negotiate but the big bad President and his buddies in the Democratic Party won't talk to them.  Of course, this is after six months during which they denied 18 conferences offers from the Democratic Minority in the House of Representatives.  Not to mention the negotiations between the republicans, Democratic Party members, including the President, before the Affordable Care Act became a law as well as the last two times this republican house majority has held their breathe and held the us economy hostage to get what they want (see the sequester that is still cutting from those in need) Not that they want to negotiate the continuing resolution that they refuse to vote "cleanly" on to continue funding the government in full.  No.  They want to negotiate the 2010 LAW that was already negotiated and they can not repeal using traditional Democratic procedure. The shutdown they have caused by refusing to allow a vote on a clean continuing resolution to continue funding the government is estimated to cost the economy $300 MILLION a day and has started to effect the way the world sees Us as well.

Perhaps the most infuriating republican response to the shut down is the "what's the big deal?  A few museums are closed" line.  You may have heard about the heroes that took a trip to Washington DC to see the memorial to their heroism and the heroism of others at the WWII Memorial only to find it closed due to the shut down.  Of course, the heroes heroically bypassed the barricades with the help of a congressperson who helped to shut the government down.  Good for them, right?  As long as they clean up after themselves, for there is no maintenance staff.  Which is a good and valid response for those who ask "why am I locked out of Federal lands, just because the Federal government is shut down?"  Well, parks don't maintain themselves.  Litter doesn't pick up itself.  Trails don't clear themselves.  Information, guide and medical stations in National Parks are not all self help. Campgrounds, bathroom facilities, etc. in National Parks are also not self-maintaining.  There are many examples of work being done by American workers, Federal in this case, that are taken for granted.  Imagine if the Federal workers, commonly known as Air Traffic Controllers, were not exempt from the shut down.  All air traffic in the United States would be grounded.  Are Federal government workers necessary?  You decide.  More than anything else it's the absence of empathy for 800,000 american workers, for poor people relying on the Women, Infant, and Children ("WIC") program, for veterans, for children in Head Start that goes beyond what I would consider unAmerican.  It is immoral. I hate to once again quote News Anchor John Stewart but his response to the dis-compassionate, self proclaimed Christians in the grand Old party gleefully happy about the shut down is just too perfect.  "Fuck You!".  Fuck you, you callous, devoid of empathy and compassion for your fellow American or fellow human, insulated asshole.  Fuck you, gentle lady or gentle man from the right side of the republicans in the House of Representatives.  Fuck you republicans in the House of Representatives to afraid to break from their extreme, mostly freshmen, congresspeople who have wanted to shut down the government from the start, except when it has to do with what Americans do in their bedroom.  And Fuck you to the feckless speaker and his Freshman Senator overlord.  But what should Jon Stewart and I expect from these republicans in the House of Representatives, who voted to cut tens of Billions from food stamps for poor Americans (seniors, children, and veterans included) while continuing huge subsidies for the Agriculture Industry (see monsanto, et al)?  What should I expect from republicans in the House of Representatives who have only fought FOR tax cuts for rich and subsidies for industries that don't need them?

Speaking of tax cuts for rich people expiring, another "point" I've heard uttered is "How are we supposed to pay for these subsidies to help Americans have health insurance?".  The alternative being Americans fending for themselves without assistance, not getting the care they need and dealing with the consequences or relying on emergency rooms  (which we pay for) after something happens. A funny thing happened this June.  The United States of America posted a Budget Surplus.  A big portion of which is due to tax cuts for Americans making over $400,000 per year have expired.  That and this may explain how we can afford it.

So just to sum up, the United States Law titled "the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)" (nicknamed Obamacare by those who hope it as well as the US economy fails under President Obama) does not need to be attached to the Continuing Resolution to continue funding the United States of America.  It has been attached to black mail the President of the United States, the United States Senate, and the Democratic Minority in the United States House of Representatives.  A clean continuing resolution has and has had the votes to pass.  The Affordable Care Act and the additional laundry list of demands made by these republicans in the House of Representatives are controversial issues, which have been debated and can continue to be debated but have no place being attached to a Continuing Resolution on government funding.  They have been attached like hostages taken by a desperate criminal trying to get out of an impossible situation he/she has created.  In this case, that situation is actually governing.  It and they have been attached by those who have lost at every turn of the Democratic Process, and can no longer function within it.  Or as, [I hope] future (2020) Presidential Candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren recently put it
"In a democracy, hostage tactics are the last resort for those who can’t otherwise win their fights through elections, can’t win their fights in Congress, can’t win their fights for the Presidency, and can’t win their fights in Courts," "For this right-wing minority, hostage-taking is all they have left – a last gasp of those who cannot cope with the realities of our democracy."
Did I mention the House of Representatives is still getting paid?

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Hard times in the town I've come to love.

When I first moved to Hoboken,  I did not like my new "home".  I'm not sure if it was the culture shock of coming up from "the shore", having to get a day job and pay rent for the first time, or the fact that my railroad apartment room felt more like a hallway for my three room mates.  Nothing against my roommates. I could not have been luckier in that regard. Maybe it was that I had moved away from my friends.  The first bar I went to was the Elysian.  An old blues bar with $1.50 beers and decades of dust compacted in its antique corner moldings.  It was me, the bartender and two old guys sitting at the bar.  We watched basketball and they started to tell me stories of old Hoboken.  It was 1996 and I was starting what has been a love affair with the town that has been my home for the past 18 years (with a brief stint in JC Heights).  (Squid's Note:  The Elysian is now a beautifully restored high end French Bistro)

It's not hard to get a Born and Raised (BnR) Hobokenite to tell stories of how things used to be in town.  The stories vary.  Good.  Bad.  Scary.  Funny.  Sometimes they are scary to me and funny to the teller. They are something I can not get enough of, though.  I've worked for the City of Hoboken for 15 years, both in City Hall and at the Municipal Garage.  Not every one offered a friendly face right away to the new "yuppy", "college" kid.  It took some patience before most "cumps" started "tellin' me something" about "back in the day".  One man that did offer a friendly face as soon as I met him was Freddie Moret.  As one of his friends recently put it "If Freddie didn't see you doing anything wrong, then to him you did no wrong".  Freddie Moret loved to tell stories. During the many rides home he gave me, we would talk about Hoboken, old and current.  He had a real love for his hometown, the people in it, and the people he worked with.  Well, most of them anyway.  He would give you the shirt off his back.  A genuine, no nonsense, stand up guy, as are many I have met here.  They are one of the reasons I love this town.  Freddie was a shining example of the  "whaddya you need", "I got it", blue collar, Hoboken guy.  A family man who could operate any piece of heavy machinery and would be the first on the scene of a storm or other emergency.  He once went into a burning building to help in a rescue.  He was not a fireman.  Freddie passed away last week while on a St. Francis trip to tour churches in Italy.  A stunning event that reminds me that our time is finite.  I lost a friend and co-worker.  Hoboken lost a great worker, citizen, and "Born and Raised" Hoboken guy.

When I moved here, stick ball was still being played on sidewalks and families and friends were still gathering on their stoops.  You could almost smell Sunday's gravy/sauce in the air, and not just when the St. Ann's feast was going on.  One of the things I love about Hoboken is that old school, small town culture, where families, extended families, stay in the same town, even the same building.  The idea that your hometown is your Home town, for life.  Families gathering weekly, if not more, for a meal, or to be more accurate, for macaroni and meatballs.  "Aunt" Lena Reilly was one of those matriarchs for many a family member and friend in Hoboken.  The meatballs may have been literally handed to you, but they were always delicious and just part of "enough food to feed an army".  They tasted the way they were supposed to, the way that  you had eaten them all your life, like family.  That Hoboken small town, old school, family culture is something I feel that I long for even though I was not a part of it.  Aunt Lena passed away over this past weekend.  An example of a time going by, an open door for friend or family or friend of the family to come hang out, "eat something" or just sit for a few cans of Budweiser.  An era that proved that in everyday life, family was held and stayed closer and more dear than anything else.  Generations in the same town, building on the culture that was left them.

I moved into my sister's apartment back in '96.  She was studying fine art at the School of Visual Arts in New York.  Hoboken was cheaper than Manhattan and right across the river.  Another thing Hoboken had to offer was its arts and music community.  The yearly art studio tour would boast studios all over town, with 720 Monroe (the Levelor building) And Neumann Leather filled from top to bottom with artists.  Artists and other creative characters lived in loft spaces and old converted manufacturing spaces.  One of the last of which, at 721 Grand, where my band Davey and the Trainwreck and Nipsey practice, is closing at the end of this month. You could see live music at the Love Sexy, the Whiskey Bar, Scotland Yard, the Shannon, and Boo Boo's.   And then there's, recently named Rolling Stone Magazine's #3 Rock club... Maxwell's.  I moved above Maxwell's in August of 1998, and have been there ever since, enjoying countless shows, hosting countless after parties and making countless friends.  It has been part of my identity.  "Hi, I'm Dave.  I live upstairs".  I can not tell you how  many times I've said "I live above Maxwells'". I've been honored and lucky enough to play on that stage many times, both opening for heroes of "indie rock" and nights filled with Hoboken musicians.  I can't thank them enough.  The back room of Maxwell's, filmed in Bruce's "Glory Days", was a place for rising, debuting, and established bands to play in front of an intimate 200 person capacity crowd.  It saw bands like Nirvana, the Flaming Lips, Wilco, Queens of the Stone Age, the Black Keys and so many more on their way up and the established acts like the Melvins, Beck, the Buzzcocks, David Byrne, Dick Dale, Jonathan Richman, Junior Brown and so many more once again prove themselves in a small room with Great sound.  Maxwell's not only gave bands a place to play, they gave them dinner and most of the door.  Something I have never encountered or heard of at any other club.  Maxwell's announced it is closing on July 31st, this past week.  And with it goes a "key stone" in the foundation of Hoboken's music community.  A destination whose closing is important enough to warrant coverage by Billboard, NPR, the New York Times and the list goes on.  Local bands large and small, National acts and every band in between have one less great joint to play in the New York area.  Sorry Stone Pony, but New Jersey just lost its best music venue.

Hoboken will survive, time moves on, change happens, but what is rising seems more like an anywhere USA high end mall, complete with sports bar, food court and bouncy castle.  It could just be the reddened eyes I'm currently looking through talking.  While voting in the recent primaries, an "old Hoboken" poll worker said to me "You really have become a real Hobokenite".  I replied "if only every one that moved here did".  Maybe then the Hoboken culture I came to love would have a better chance of surviving.  Again... Reddened eyes...