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January  31

The State of Baristaville

Baristanet has been asked to deliver its own State of the Union as part of a project going on today at Radio OpenSource. You'll get Bush's version tonight. Here's ours now. Feel free (as you always do) to add your own two cents.

UPDATE: The Barista was a guest on Radio OpenSource last night. Listen here.

We live in a pretty damn good place. We have big trees, which only fall and kill people once in a while, and nice old interesting houses. The houses may be expensive to maintain and may be taxed beyond the pale, but at least they're not aesthetically deadening, and many have welcoming front porches that foster a sense of community. We're surrounded, for the most part, by smart people (though not smart enough to stay off their cell phones while driving) and, as Baristanet and the front-yard flamingo flocks prove, by people with a sense of humor. For all these things -- but for the falling trees, the taxes and the distracted drivers -- we are blessed. And to top it off, we have something like eight sushi places, five Thai restaurants and one Vietnamese.

And yet. We have turned childhood into an arms race of playdates, traveling soccer teams, SAT prep classes, and have turned the very act of growing up into a matter of serious competition. We've turned our kitchens and bathrooms into mausoleums, our parks into plastic playing fields and our graduations into orgies of fundraising and overindulgence, where money flows as freely as the alcohol it is meant to replace.

We can do everything right ( pay our taxes, vote, serve jury duty, save for college, retirement and a rainy day, fix the leaking roof, volunteer to coach the local baseball team) and buy countertops and cars that could withstand earthquakes, yet still not be able to protect ourselves from the utter randomness of fate, which allows a grandmother with no known enemies to be murdered in her home or a couple walking on a public street to be held up at gunpoint. And these things, having happened recently, contribute to a growing sense of unease. And that unease grows even stronger when our attention wanders away from the neighborhood to pictures of a 28-year-old newspaper reporter weeping on a videotape and begging for her release.

An ordinary house in these parts costs three-quarters of a million dollars, which is good for those of us who bought them a long time ago, and not so good for those who haven't bought them yet. The economy is terrific for some, terrible for others. Yet we all live side by side in a fiction of equality, and the Smiths go deeper and deeper into debt to keep up with the Joneses.

But if anyone asks how it's going, we say "ok." That's part of the bargain too. We're Americans. We smile. The State of Baristaville is ok. Fine, great, terrific even. Let's do lunch. Soon. Seriously.

January 31, 2006 in Buzz | Permalink | Comments (29)

Alito Confirmed

Get your abortions while they last.

January 31, 2006 in Controversy | Permalink | Comments (305)

Second Montclair Mugging in Three Days

For the second time in three days, a mugging has taken place in downtown Montclair. Last night, about 11 pm, a couple walking south on South Fullerton were robbed by a man who demanded their wallet, purse and cell phones at gunpoint, and then instructed them to turn around and walk back toward Bloomfield Ave. The incident took place at the corner of Hawthorne.

Nobody was hurt. Nobody was apprehended.

Montclair police say the victims described their mugger as a heavyset black male between 28 and 30, wearing jeans and a hooded sweatshirt that mostly obscured his face. Police don't think the perpetrator was the same one involved in Saturday's night's pedestrian attack on Crescent, but they are stepping up patrols in the area and warn residents to avoid dark areas at night.

Anyone with a tip should contact the Montclair Police at tips@montclairpolice.org.

January 31, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink | Comments (18)

Love It, or Lampoon It

Zephyr_devicedeparture_2 Sept_11_memorial_2  Congressman Bill Pascrell plans to introduce legislation today to designate the 9/11 war memorial in Eagle Rock part of the National Park System. "It rises above a regional monument," Pascrell said, according to the Star Ledger, and Joey D. is all for it too.

"Hundreds of years from now, it won't be developed," DiVincenzo said. "It will put us on the historic list throughout the country."

Maybe so. But the winged memorial to 9/11 has long had its share of local detractors, the latest of whom have mocked it on the front of their new record album.

We feel that aside from being aesthetically grotesque, something akin to a war memorial is an unfit tribute to the thousands of people who were murdered that day, and it is representative of America's endemic xenophobia, nationalism, and aggressiveness.

The group, called Zephyr Device, is composed of three graduates from Montclair State's honors program. Billy Gray, guitarist for the "post-punk, indie rock, and maybe rap" group elaborated on Zephyr's album cover:

The album cover is attempting to make the point that what should be a sober memorial to the dead comes off as a war memorial, and the giant bald eagle that dominates the scene is a traditional symbol of American jingoism and warfare. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington DC is a humbling and breathtaking memorial because it makes no attempt to glorify what took place; there are no generals on horseback, no men gallantly loading canons, just a black wall recessed into the earth naming the thousands who gave their lives. There was quite a controversy over this, as Maya Ying Lin, the artist behind the wall, refused calls from Washington elites to add various traditional symbols of war (the Three Soldiers statue that was eventually added is quite removed from the wall). What we have at Eagle Rock is the exact opposite, a memorial that attempts to utilize a tragedy to engender the worst in people - jingoism and nationalist hubris. This is a problem that has plagued our country throughout our history. As artists, we felt we had to respond to such a widely-known local symbol of that problem.

The guns in the image - Adam took some photographs of war memorials from the area, and modified the image of the eagle to include the various canons and howitzers that commemorating and glorifying past wars to show the gesture the artist (Patrick Morelli) made when he included the eagle in the memorial. The eagle in the cover is a photograph of the memorial itself.

January 31, 2006 in Controversy | Permalink | Comments (31)

Oh the Glitz, Oh the Glamor, Oh the Oscars

And the nominees are:

  • Brokeback Mountain
  • Capote
  • Crash
  • Goodnight, and Good Luck
  • Munich

Ready. Set. Chat.

January 31, 2006 in The Daily Chat | Permalink | Comments (28)

daily dish

January  30

A Walk In The Park With Joey D

Joey D has staked his entire political career on a strategy of improving parks in Essex County. (And having the press show up and snap pictures.) So when the Friends of Anderson Park (FAP) shot him a message that something had gone wrong, drastically wrong, it was a little like Oprah asking James Frey for a sitdown.  Essex County Executive Joseph Di Vincenzo made an appearance at the park today with an entourage of county officials and contractors to observe first hand the wacky "improvements" that have taken place. Twenty-two FAP supporters, many of them arms crossed in the official "show me" stance, accompanied the county executive as he toured the park, recently overpopulated with garbage cans and park benches.  DiVincenzo admitted there were far too many cans (ya think?), and that benches facing homes and the street would have to be taken out.


DiVincenzo also assured residents that the number of sporting events will not increase, that forthcoming public restrooms will be staffed, and that the county will actually buy some more trees for the park. Hallelujah! We'll come take pictures when it happens.

January 30, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (13)

Teacher Shocker

Mount Hebron students were shocked to learn today that one of their favorite teachers, Stephanie Ferrara, had resigned. A Mount Hebron mom writes in...

There was no notice of this whatsoever. She gave homework on Friday and the kids showed up today to be told that she had "resigned" and that they must not ask her what happened (except that they were told that "she's fine.").

When the mom called Mt. Hebron to ask what happened, she was told she could find out more by attending a meeting tomorrow at 8 a.m. at Mt. Hebron. Apparently, the only folks finding about the meeting are those who call the school asking after the teacher. Consider this a heads up for parents who may not have heard about the meeting. We hear kids were crying over the news; Ferrara started the Pizza and Poetry Club, a monthly get-together for students to share their own poems or favorite poems over their lunch hour.

Got something else to share; feel free to chat here, now...

January 30, 2006 in The Daily Chat | Permalink | Comments (59)

Sax in the City

Sax_in_the_city Glen Ridge-bred saxaphonist follows in his parents' footsteps. Story on our Happenings page. Photos (from Niewood's website, by Tracy Allan.)

January 30, 2006 in Major Dudes | Permalink | Comments (0)

Yes, We Have No Hot Dogs

A little press can be a dangerous thing. Sure, we wrote about Amazing Hot Dog in Verona. Then, Eyewitness News' Lauren Glassberg followed the trail, sampling the shop's yummy Caped Crusader. The Star Ledger's Peter Genovese picked up the scent, chiming in with this review. The result -- customers came in droves forcing the store to close up early this past Saturday night. The owners apparently ran with their tails between their legs, rather than deal with an angry dog-loving mob who would arrive only to discover the doors locked and a sign explaining how the shop ran out of hot dogs.

How do you run out of hot dogs when your main product for sale is...hot dogs? Kind of reminds us of this story. Meanwhile, if all this hot dog talk has got you hot hungry, go on over today for lunch. Then, tell them how you came Saturday night. We bet you get a free dog.

January 30, 2006 in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (36)

Crescent Mugging


Steps away from the frustrating parking chaos at the Crescent Deck, a more frightening scenario played out on Saturday night. The flyer (already being distributed downtown), alerts residents and visitors to the area near Crescent and Trinity about a mugging at gun point that occured on Saturday night.

Deputy Police Chief Perry Mayers confirmed additional details this morning. According to police reports, the victim was attacked while walking east on the Crescent. The attacker, accompanied by a driver, got out of a car (described as a Pontiac), and  accosted the victim, demanding his wallet. When the victim refused, the mugger pulled out a gun and hit the victim twice in the head. The victim fell to the ground; the mugger took the cash out of the victim's wallet and threw the wallet to the ground. He then returned to the car, which then sped away in the direction of Harrison Ave.

January 30, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink | Comments (60)

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