Thursday, September 28, 2006

Cracker with a Heart of Gold

Catchy title huh? It should be. I made it up. It's actually the title of my life story, should it ever be made into a movie. Normally I don't sit around and muse such self-absorbed notions as "what would the name of the movie about your life be" but the question was put to me in an interview I did with the Film Experience Blog.

An exerpt:
Nathaniel: They make a movie of your life. Who plays you? Who directs? What's the title? Rating?

Jay: In the movie about my life, I'll be played by someone handsome like Jude Law. Pam Grier would play my alter ego "Cookie Puss Johnston." No I'm not a drag queen, maybe just a teensy bit schizophrenic. Spike Lee would direct and the movie would be called "Cracker with a Heart of Gold."

As you can see, they even photoshop'ed a cool movie poster for "Cracker" which I just love. So go check out Nathaniel's blog and read the whole interivew. He is clearly a movie afficianado and his blog reflects his love for all things cinema.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Papal Smear

Let me start with a disclaimer: I am Roman Catholic. I'm also gay and I happen to be very liberal with my politics and my social views. I am sure there are some contradictions there somewhere, but I am totally cool with that. Who doesn't have some contradictions in their closet?

I have written fondly about my experiences at Mass in the past. In fact, I have gone to great lengths to remain open-minded about the Catholic dogma, once writing a lengthy piece about Pope John Paul's teachings on capital punishment. What the late Pope had to say about the death penalty is both enlightened and enlightening. I'm not afaid to admit that John Paul taught me a valuable and enduring lession about the value of grace and forgiveness some years back when I read his thoughts about the death penalty.

That's why It's so painful to hear the current Pope Benedict railing against gays and lesbians and the rights that gays enjoy in the European Union, where gay marriage is allowed in many places, including (very Catholic) Spain. His comment that gay marriage would "obscure the value and function of the legitimate family" in simply wrong. Not to mention ingorant and homophobic. And it's consistant with a pattern of small-mindedness the Pope repeatedly shows about other faiths and cultures.

BBC:
The Vatican is hostile to moves to give gay people civil marriage rights. A 2003 Vatican document on the issue of cohabitation rights for gay couples says "those who would move from tolerance to the legitimisation of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalisation of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil."
WTF?? This is the same Pope who watched his Church fall into one of the most shocking pedophilia scandals in modern history and he had the unmitigated gall to question my morality?!

I'm mad because it hurts. First of all, consider this: President Bush hates gays. He makes no bones about it. His party (the republicans) hates gays, even running for office on a "gay hating" platform. And many times they win. To top it off, I am rejected by the same church that baptised me. Shouldn't I be mad and hurt?

And what about the young kids out there who may be questioning their sexuality, much like I did when I was a teenager? How are the messages from the Church and government supposed to make them feel? I think with all the negative messages coming at me and my gay brothers and sisters, it seems likely that many gays (especially the young) will begin to question their own self-worth. Or worse.

Suicide among young gays and lesbians is a real problem. Attacks on gays are on the rise all over the world. Homophobes are empowered to act out when they feel their anti-gay behavior is acceptable in today's society. And judging by the words and deeds from the Pope and the President, we are living in a world where it's "open season" on people like me.

I am not one of those Catholics who grew up to reject the Church outright. In fact, I am grateful to my mom for insisting we go to Church every week. My parents sacrificed a lot so I could spend my primary school years at a Catholic school. I was never molested by a priest, I never had my knuckles smacked by an angry nun's ruler. Nothing like that ever happened to me. In fact, my heart remains open to the possibility that my Catholic upbringing is a big part of who I am right now.

Am I going to hell? Heck no. I hope it won't be soon, but when the day comes for me to meet my Maker, I'll be ready. Which is a lot more than I can say for those reliogous zealots who espouse hate and intorlerance in the name of God. Like the Pope.

(Image courtesy Mike Tidmus)

Monday, September 25, 2006

NJ Monday News Roundup

Happy Monday everyone and welcome to a (mostly) election day themed news roundup today, September 25, 2006. There's a whole lot going on this week, so let's get right to it!

  • The lastest poll suggests that the hotly contested NJ Senate race is (still) a dead heat. This poll makes one thing clear: the indepentent voter will decide the day. On the one hand we have Senator Bob Menendez, who's running on his record and a better future in America than what we've seen the past six years. On the other hand, there is Tom Kean Junior who's running on his daddy's name.

  • Speaking of names (and irony) there's this gem in the Philly Inquirer. The GOP is pissing and moaning about the Sexton/Saxton election in NJ's 3rd congressional district. Can you believe the party that's putting Daddy's Boy Kean Junior at the top of the ticket is shilling the notion that the dems are trying to confuse voters in NJ-3 with the name similarity? Are you kidding me? Given the fact that Jim Saxton has voted with the Bush Administration nearly 90% of the time, “I should be the one worrying about who's confusing who,” Sexton quipped at yesterday's Moorestown rally.

  • Women running for office in the Garden State have a harder time getting elected to public office than their male counterparts. The lastest issue of Forbes examines this phenomenon in some detail.

    "You don't play golf or drink beer with a woman," said former Gov. Christie Whitman. "You tend to gravitate toward people who look like you."

    The ex-Gov. has a good point, but there's more to the story than that. So consider the job facing candidates like Linda Stender, Carol Gay and Viola Thomas Hughes: not only do they have to do battle with entrenched incumbents, but they're also working against history. In our state's history, only five women have ever gone to Congress. Additionally NJ has never elected a female Senator. Sad but true.



  • Governor Corzine is getting better feedback from NJ residents
    . Aparently, the state doesn't see a whole lot getting done (yet) but seem pleased that the Governor is trying, which is more than we can say about his predecessors (McGreevy, Whitman, et al.) who were long on smoke and mirrors and short on results. The poll results are a "reaction to a strong leader," Seton Hall polysci Prof. Joseph Marbach said. "You can disagree with the policies of a leader, but if someone acts decisively, you respect that." I know I sure do.

  • It's deja vu all over again for Wayne Bryant. The Turd of Trenton is a wart on the face of Camden County and he should be in jail. The Trentonian is a bit more succinct:
    Actually, Bryant is more disgusting than a pig..... more of a Jabba the Hut of Star Wars fame--a creepy, slimy corrupt slug. Sen. Wayne Bryant is a slug in the New Jersey political landscape and somebody needs to pour some salt on this guy.
    No argument here. If we don't stand up to guys like Wayne Bryant, then we don't deserve to hold onto our majority in Trenton. If Senate President Dick Codey won't take Byrant to task then surely the voters will. (Note to Sen Codey: NJ voters respond well to "cleaning house" and Gov. Corzine's actions with Zulima Farber underscore this notion!!)

  • Finally, we look at the needle exchange compromise in Trenton. Times:
    That New Jersey, which we here like to think of as enlightened and progressive, trails the rest of the country in this initiative is shocking -- and has led to statistics that are as sad as they are predictable. We have the fifth highest number of adult HIV cases in the nation. Forty-five percent of our AIDS virus caseload comes from shared drug syringes, compared with about 20 percent in other states.
    The nay sayers need to get off their high horse, suspend their judgements surrounding AIDS and addiction and enact needle exchange in this state so that more people don't have to die.
  • Friday, September 22, 2006

    Army touts that it is meeting recruiting goals?!

    Of course, to do so the recruiters are accepting old men, criminals, retarded people and all manner of antisocials. But still no gays. Nope, gays will ruin the military. Note to skeptics of gays in the service: It's the president who's ruining our Military, not the gays.

    (Pam from Pam's House Blend takes a closer look)--

    The Army reports that it will enlist its 80,000th soldier this week, reaching its annual goal.

    Of course the goal has been met; it is recruiting people with antisocial personality disorder, autism, as well as welcoming in folks convicted of aggravated assault, robbery, vehicular manslaughter, receiving stolen property and making terrorist threats. (AP):
    ...the Army this year began allowing people as old as 42 to enter the service; the maximum age previously was 35.

    The Army also has accepted a larger number of recruits whose score on a standardized aptitude test is at the lower end of the acceptable range, and it has granted waivers to permit the enlistment of people with criminal records that otherwise would disqualify them. The Army says it does not grant waivers if there is a pattern of criminal misconduct or for convictions of drug trafficking or any sexually violent crimes.
    You have to have a pattern of the above to be rejected. That's reassuring, isn't it?

    And in related news, look at what the National Guard lets in -- Former soldier accused of smuggling machine guns from Iraq.
    A former National Guard soldier from North Carolina is accused of bringing machine guns from Iraq to the United States and trying to sell them to a northwest Georgia gun dealer. Robert James Clymore of Fayetteville, North Carolina, was arraigned in federal court today on charges of unlawful importation, possession, transportation and transfer of machine guns.

    U.S. Attorney David Nahmias said Clymore obtained the guns while on active duty with his Army National Guard unit in Iraq.
    Meanwhile qualified out gays and lesbians are being turned away (and arrested) from the recruiting centers.

    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    Karl Rove Strikes in NJ

    UPDATE!!!! NEW YORK TIMES PICK UP THIS STORY!!!
    ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~
    Wondering what Karl Rove is doing as election day draws near?? Aparently he's found a place in New Jersey, plying his twisted craft on behalf of Republican Senatorial Candidate Tom Kean Junior in an attempt to oust Democratic incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez. Just last week Rove was in the area at a big-dollar fundraiser for Junior.

    (You may remember the podcast interview I did with Sen. Menendez about the Iraq War. He was one of the few leaders in Congress who voted against Bush's War calling it a "war of choice from" from Day 1.)

    Anyway, campaign staffers from the republican side are posing as democrats to spam progressive blogs here in NJ. Their twisted logic is that the big media outlets will pick up the story that "liberals" are doubting their Senator on some B.S. trumped up "ethics" charges. The mastermind? The slur-meister himself, Karl Rove. The Republicans are so desperate to retain control of the Sentate that they'll do anything to win. Yeah, I know. Stop the press!!

    My other site, BlueJersey is the biggest liberal blogsite in the state. We have aparently become so big over there that the Kean Jr. campaign is making our site ground zero in the battle for this all-important Senate seat. In a way it's flattering that his top campaign staffers are paying us so much attention, we traced all the questionble posts back to Junior's campaign HQ, afterall!! But flattery gives way to disgust and anger when I realize that Karl Rove's ugly ways landed straight in my lap.

    How on earth did a nice southern boy like me wind up in the middle of New Jersey politics?

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    Needle Exchange, Death Penalty, Gerrymandering and all that good stuff

  • Today the needle exchange bill is back on the docket in Trenton. The most recent holdup as been a block in the Health Service Committee. The bill's two biggest foes: Tom Kean Jr. (whose wanton stupidity has been well-chronicled on this site) and Ron Rice Senior (whose Newark constituency has HIV transmission rates higher than most 3rd world nations.) Courier Post:
    In NJ, injection-drug use accounts for 25 percent to nearly 40 percent of HIV cases in the municipalities with some of the highest infection rates. Drug users often put their partners at risk, helping to increase heterosexual transmission, which is another top route of infection in NJ. We urge committee members to join state Sen. Robert Singer, R-Ocean County, and put aside their misgivings and useless rhetoric. Committee members should release these bills today and allow the full Senate to weigh in and, we hope, approve them. People's lives are on the line here.

  • Today's Star Ledger reports that Gov. Corzine signed an executive order yesterday creating a Division of Minority and Women Business Development "and directing all state agencies to help direct business to minority- and women-owned businesses."

    "Today I'm pleased to announce that New Jersey will be using its purchasing power to help facilitate growth among New Jersey's minority- and women-owned businesses," Corzine said.

  • While some of the hottest Congressional races of this election cycle are happening next door in Pennsylvania, the same can't be said for us here in NJ, says today's Philadelphia Inquirer. In fact, the suggestion in this article is that the Garden State has been gerrymandered into a knot and we can look forward to incumbents carrying the day for the foreseeable future.

  • Have you heard the joke about why California has the most lawyers while New Jersey has the most toxic waste sites? (The punchline: we got to pick first.) No offense to lawyers, everyone should have a good one, but the joke does make a powerful statement about the effects of New Jersey's industrial past. That legacy has reared its caustic head once again, this time in Cumberland County where a six-acre radioactive waste dump is demanding some attention now that the Shieldalloy Metallurgical Corp. is taking it's deadly ways offshore to Brazil to cut costs and avoid further stringent regulations. First of all, there's the notion that we're dumping our crap in the laps of our Latin-American neighbors, which is disgusting. Secondly, what to do with the mess left behind?


  • The movement to ban the death penalty in this state benefits mightily from an out-of-state ally. Marylander Vicki Schieber, whose daughter Shannon was violently murdered in Philly back in 1998, has become a champion of persuing less-violent alternatives to punishing violent crimes and abolishing the death penalty. Mrs. Schieber and her husband Sylvester have been in NJ with New Jersey for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (NJADP) to "win public and political support for the elimination of execution as a form of punishment in New Jersey. It is our conviction that the death penalty is by its nature unjust in application and immoral in principle."

    If you're still the least bit unclear about the moral and public-policy repugnance of capital punishment, have a listen to the podcast I did with Kirk Bloodsworth, who was the first American ever to be exonerated from Death Row with DNA evidence.


  • Finally, if you're wondering why I didn't tell you how I really feel about Ron Rice Senior's emphatic stupidity and ignorance and denial vis a vis needle exchange in this state, well this is why: (from today's Press of Atlantic City) " If you think your ex-husband (or in Newark's case a State Senator) is a lying, cheating, scamming, con artist with no conscience and no soul, you're entitled to your opinion. But posting warnings about him on the Web amounts to cyberstalking, a Florida judge has ruled." So what does this ruling mean? Press of AC:
    The case could have widespread ramifications for bloggers like Donna Andersen, of Atlantic City, whose Web site, www.lovefraud.com, dedicated to “teaching the public to recognize and avoid sociopaths contains profiles of several scamming, lying and occasionally murderous spouses whom Andersen believes are sociopaths, including her ex-husband.
  • Sunday, September 17, 2006

    Bright forcast for Achillesville

    Every since I had the big Achilles rupture last August, I've encountered nothing but complications and headaches. Fresh out of my second surgery the other day, I 'm now confident I finally know what the problem was.

    According to my new orthopedic surgeon, there was a 12-inch-long piece of teflon-coated gauze sewn up in my foot during the original Achilles repain last September. In other words, I had a foot-long headache implanted in my left heel which had been there for over a year, causing me all these problems. Normally, a full recovery from this injury takes about 3 months.

    After the gauze gets back from the lab (where it's being tested for God knows what, an infection perhaps) I'm having it made into a papeweight for my desk. Honestly, I'm just glad to be in the road to bipedalism again. It's been almost 14 months since the original accident and I am ready for a life where tennis and after-dinner walks will again figure prominently.

    If you know a good lawyer or if you have a crazy medical story to tell, feel free to share in the comments section!!
    (Image of me and my nephew Chase, one week post-op, courtesy of my brother Adam. click to enlarge.)

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    New Jersey loses 45th Soul in Iraq

    Click here to hear TAPS. It is a suitable backdrop while contemplating the forth-fifth (and latest) New Jersey soldier to die while fighting in Iraq.


    Marine Pfc. Vincent M. Frassetto of Tom's River was barely a week into his tour in Iraq when his convoy was struck by and IED in Anbar Province last week. The greater Anbar region (including Fallujah) is still widely regarded as an insurgent stronghold and has been the site of some of the bloodiest battles of the whole Iraq conflict. Since the war began, 2,672 Americans have perished in Iraq.

    The Star Ledger has a nice piece about Pfc. Frassetto and his family here.


    Family, friends, and community will come together to mourn this weekend. Visiting hours are Friday, Sep. 15, 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at St. Luke's Church in Tom's Toms River. A funeral Mass will be offered Saturday at 10 a.m. at the church.

    Wanted: a few good (straight) linguists

    (Pam from the Houseblend reports)--

    Friends at Servicemembers Defense Legal Network passed along an ad in yesterday's Washington Post (above, with my inserted edit to increase its accuracy). The Army is looking for a few good [straight] men and women to serve as linguists.

    They've already shot themselves in the foot by discharging a whole slew of experienced gay linguists. The Pentagon is also bone dry on high level skills, and this search is the result. Rumsfeld's gang actually withheld the true number of linguists expelled for being gay.
    Records obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request show that the military misled the public and discharged three times the number of gay Arabic linguists that it had said.

    The records were obtained by the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, a research unit of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Despite previously saying that under ''don't ask, don't tell'' it had discharged seven translators who specialized in Arabic the new documents show that between 1998 and 2004, the military actually discharged 20 Arabic and six Farsi speakers.
    Is this how Dear Leader conducts the War on Terror? How nice to know that such good, effective judgment is occurring on our behalf.

    Related:
    * Report on soldier with Arabic translation skills who was booted under DADT

    Monday, September 11, 2006

    New Jersey bits and pieces....

  • It's all nine-eleven, all the time in the State, the Nation, and the World. I would say it's hard to believe it's been that long, but the President has done an awful good job punctuating his every change of direction with some reference to the tragedy. Anyway, while folks like you are me are doing our best to mourn the fifth anniversary of terror attacks that killed almost 3,000 Americans, including some from Burlington County, GOP golfers will be trying to break par -- between breaks for cocktails. Read it and cringe. Or weep. Or hurl.


  • Wednesday (September 13) is the second meeting of the state's death penalty commission. It's at the Statehouse annex in Trenton from 2pm-4pm. From the New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty's website: "Join members of NJADP and other interested citizens of New Jersey as we observe the 2nd public hearing of the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission. This is a public hearing - everyone is welcome and all interested parties are urged to attend."


  • Former NJ Governor (and heterosexual) Jim McGreevy is set to launch a month-long national book tour tomorrow with the taping of The Oprah Winfrey Show. He'll be making several stops in NJ, including a book reception hosted by our friends at Garden State Equality on Sept. 19 in Woodbridge and four other New Jersey bookstore appearances on his schedule: at Barnes & Noble stores in Moorestown and Edison on Sept. 23; Watchung Booksellers in Montclair; and Here's the Story in Union on Sept. 24. No word yet whether the book tour will be making any stops at any of the state's "dirty" bookstores. Meanwhile gay escorts in the New York and Philly metro areas are praying that the ex-Gov. won't be naming names.

  • The NY Times poses this rhetorical question to Kid Kean this morning: "IF you were an employee of a company and were disgruntled with its performance, who would you want to hold accountable? The chief executive, who is popular with key constituents and wields clout over your financial well-being? Or at least one, if not two, of the chief executive’s top lieutenants, both unpopular, and presumably easy to scapegoat?"

    We know the answer to the question. It remains to be seen how Junior deals with the consequences of the Iraq mess as the campaign hits its highest gear. We can, however, be sure where Senator Menendez stands on Iraq. He outlines his unwavering position beautifully in a podcast interview with me last week. In any event, this race is still close.

  • NJ-3 Democratic Candidate Rich Sexton recently unveiled his flashy new website, done by our our own tech genius Jason Springer. Additionally, there is a really cool concert/fundraiser this weekend in Moorestown for the Sexton campaign featuring the musical stylings of Phil Roy whose tunes have been recorded by Mavis Staples, Los Lonely Boys, Joe Cocker, Ray Charles, Aaron Neville, Guster, Widespread Panic, Tuck and Patti. His songs have also been included in movies including, "As Good as it Gets", "Leaving Las Vegas", "The Mask", "Love + Sex", and "Me, Myself and Irene". Phil Roy will be in South Jersey on Saturday singing and raising money for Rich Sexton's run for Congress. Hey, if you had to choose between "Sex" and "Sax" which whould you pick? Yeah, I thought so.

    So what's on your mind?
  • Sunday, September 10, 2006

    Senator Menendez has my Vote!


    Remember I did a podcast interview with the other day? You know the one with Senator Bob Menendez? Here is his campaign ad, which I love.

    Friday, September 08, 2006

    Lassiter Spaces talks war and peace with US Senator Bob Menendez

    It's not every day that I get to interview a United States Senator. You you can imagine when I landed a Q&A with New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez. Lucky for me, Sen. Menendez is very blog-friendly. When I pitched the idea of a podcast, he was accommodating and willing to talk about the issue that's front-and-center in my mind heading into the November election: the war in Iraq.

    Senator Menendez Podcast

    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    Lassiter's Dayglow Tribute to a Tennis Legend

    When Andre Agassi lost his 3rd round match at the U.S. Open the other day, it was truly the end on a era.
    Many tennis fans (and non-tennis fans alike) are marking with retirement of legend Andre Agassi (top pic) with a melancholy and a nostalgic look-back. Let's face it, the guy's career lasted an astonishing twenty-one years... all the way back to 1985.

    What were you doing in 1985?

    James Blake (a top American star with a world ranking of #6) offered up a tribute that harkened back to Agassi's infamous "Image is Everything" days of 1990...

    In case you're wondering, that pink dayglow look was inspired by Agassi back in 1990.

    Which made me think of my senior year on th varsity tennis team at Great Mills High School (were I was the MVP I'll admit immodestly)Judging from that picture I weighed in at about 125 pounds, soaking wet. Maybe so, but we sure did dominate that year, no doubt thanks to Andre's fashion inspirations.

    ~~ ~~ ~~

    It's worth nothing that Andre Agassi is a staunch Democrat. Since 2000, he has contributed nearly $1oo,ooo to left-leaning candidates running for election. When asked at a tournament in Spain who he would be supporting in the 2004 Presidental election, he offered this reply, "Well, me, I'm voting for Kerry for sure. And I wish everybody would."

    Hopefully, he'll be running for office one day, maybe in his homestate of Nevada. In the meantime I think we can all agree that tennis' elder statesman deserves some time off with his family.


    I'll miss you Andre!! And so will millions of fans across the globe.

    Monday, September 04, 2006

    Must be getting close to an election!!

    Image courtesy Steve Sack

    Setting up our youth for failure in NJ

  • Happy Labor Day, everyone. Did you know that Labor Day has its roots in Camden County? If you're enjoying a long three-day weekend, then you have the labor mevement to thank for it. Likewise, if you're only enjoying a two-day break, well, you can thank the labor movement for that too.

  • From kindergarten to college , this is back-to-school week across the state. Our nation's budget priorities being what they are, it's painful to accept that funding for education -- at all levels -- is being compromised. Whether it's laying off teachers and increasing class size, slashing funds for sports and art programs, eliminating field trips, or deferring infrastructure improvements, NJ public schools statewide are tightening their belts to get by. Keep in mind, your property taxes aren't getting any lower.

  • While we are on the topic of giving kids the short end of the stick, it's worth noting that it's not just primary schoolkids and their teachers who are feeling the pinch. Rutgers University just announced (yet) another round of layoffs. This time 185 unlucky educations are getting the pink slip. Naturally, this will lead to fewer class options for the students, which is particularly tricky for those rising seniors looking to.....graduate. The furlows at Rutgers come shortly after the University cut its tennis and swimming programs. Don't know aboout you guys, but if I were a highschooler looking at colleges, I'm thinking to myself "anywhere by Rutgers!"

  • After the startling revealation that a childcare center in Gloucester was build atop a thermometer factory, the Governor is calling for tighter safety standards at day care centers.

    "Nothing is more important than our children's health and well-being," Corzine said. "We have a responsibility to make sure that the places we trust to care for our kids are held to the highest standards for safety."

    Note to the five-and-under set: if you don't die of mercury poisoning in preschool, you can look forward to going to an underfunded, raggedy school with no extra-curricular activities followed by four years at a college or university far, far from home.
  • Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Enjoying your Weekend? Thank a Union!

    (Julie at Thinking About...reports)--

    Who put the labor in Labor Day? We did, that's who.

    When I think of labor day, my mind first thinks of the end of summer...the crisp fall weather on the horizon, the cool weather clothes, school starting up again, the return of the good TV shows...

    Then there are the Labor Day celebrations...one last BBQ of summer, maybe a trip to the beach, the lake, or the shore...

    For some people it is a chance to get caught up with some chores around the house, to enjoy a 3-day weekend by sleeping in one extra day, maybe see some friends.

    I agree with all of these things. Not a thing wrong with any of them. But at the same time, it's a good time to remember what the heck Labor Day is...unlike our other holidays, like Veterans Day or Memorial Day, it doesn't commemorate war or those who fought for our freedoms. Unlike Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, and Easter, it doesn't commemorate any religious significance. Unlike Thanksgiving, it doesn't commemorate a coming together or the fall harvest, or the brief friendship between the pilgrims and the Native Americans.

    Instead, Labor Day commemorates us...it commemorates the worker. People who get up every day and go to work, jobs that we love as well as jobs that we hate. Jobs that we do so that we can gain fulfillment, to make the world a better place, to provide a needed service, to simply pay the bills.

    Labor day was created by the labor movement, and is dedicated to you and me, American workers. I know that many people have issues with the labor movement, do not like unions and what they represent. They claim that unions are corrupt and do very little to benefit workers, or that they make doing business too expensive for the employer. I would beg you to dig a little deeper, and look at what labor unions have given our country:
    • Eight-Hour
    • DayFive-Day Workweek
    • Health Insurance
    • Higher Wages
    • Good Pensions
    • Overtime Pay
    • Severance Pay
    • Paid Sick Leave
    • Family and Medical Leave
    • Paid Vacations
    • Paid Holidays
    • Fair Treatment for Women, People of Color and Workers with Disabilities
    • Job Safety
    • Job Security
    So even if you have never belonged to a union in your life (I haven't), let's please stop for a moment this weekend, and thank the unions for what they have given to our country. Also, take a moment to recognize the strength and character of the American worker, upon whose back our economy and democracy rests.

    And if, looking at that list, you see some items that don't apply to you, like a 40-hour work week, a pension, or fair treatment, remember that the labor movement is made up of people who have fought for these things, things that don't come easily, things that can easily be taken away from us. Fight for these things. Fight for what you believe in, and to make our country stronger.

    Happy Labor Day, everyone!

    Saturday, September 02, 2006

    Saturday's Jersey News

    If you haven't checked out the NY Times today, you're missing some good reading. In fact, the Gray Lady spilled a lot of ink on the Garden State in the current edition and it's worth a read.

    Let's start in Asbury Park. Still much beloved, although more for memories than for the here-and-now, Asbury Park is in a painful transition that seems to be evolving kinda like a slow-motion nervous break down. This is no longer the funky hamlet were Springstein and Bon Jovi cut their musical teeth, but a spot with "potential." The tension that exists between the different visions for the venerable shore town are just exquisite. And exciting. I reckon if the gays continue to gentrify, Asbury Park could possibly morph into the next Provincetown. I guess we can dare to dream.

    The Times also does a good synopsis of the bitch-slapping between the NJ Senate campaigns. If it smells like it's getting meaner out there, don't worry. Your nose is not failing you.

    Lastly, don't forget to check out the Times "Week in Review" for NJ.

    Friday, September 01, 2006