NJ Boy Scouts kick out 8-year old Joe Maldonado who is transgender. “It made me mad,” Joe, said. “I had a sad face, but I wasn’t crying. I’m way more angry than sad. My identity is a boy. If I was them, I would let every person in the world go in. It’s right to do.” [more inside]
A 600-Year-Old Oak Tree Finally Succumbs [The New York Times] “The locals say that George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette — the Frenchman who bankrolled the American patriots with cold, hard cash — picnicked in the shade it provided. Rank-and-file soldiers are said to have rested under it, gathering strength before going on to beat the redcoats. It is a huge oak tree, now estimated to be 600 years old. Arborists such as Rob Gillies consider it one of the oldest in North America. It is a local landmark, right there in the cemetery of the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church. On Thursday, Mr. Gillies sliced into it with a chain saw.”
An brief oral history of the time the New Jersey Nets almost changed their name to the New Jersey Swamp Dragons
In November, Brian Donohue of NJ.com asked for submissions to redesign the New Jersey state flag. He received almost 400. (photo gallery is in video form, with music) [more inside]
After ten years, six albums, and widespread critical acclaim, Screaming Females are still as hard working and viciously independent as when they began in New Brunswick’s basements in 2006. Such staying power is no small feat in a music industry where independent artists make less and less each year as the stars on the top absorb more and more of the entertainment dollar. Yet here’s a band that has found a way to make a small living, consistently create meaningful music, and all the while never sacrifice their ethical grounding. It hasn’t been easy. As with most jobs, achieving sustainability has meant constant struggles for health care, decent wages, and respect. We talked with the band about how they’ve taken on these obstacles, and what needs to happen to improve conditions for artist-workers across the industry.
How Capicola Became Gabagool: The Italian New Jersey Accent, Explained.
The Color of Debt: How Collection Suits Squeeze Black Neighborhoods — a ProPublica investigation into racial disparities in debt collection lawsuits [more inside]
In the weeks after the Broaddus family purchased their dream home in Westfield, New Jersey they began to receive mysterious, threatening correspondences from a stranger calling themself "The Watcher". The stranger claims a special connection to the house, which has "been the subject of [their] family for decades." The letters went on to claim of a secret buried within the walls of the house, and that a "second coming" was imminent given an infusion of "young blood". The letters also claim that the sender was familiar with the previous owners of the home, and after some digging, the Broaddus family believes that to be true. They are now suing the former inhabitants for withholding this information during the sale of the house. [more inside]
Recently, my sister forwarded me a picture taken of me in the summer of 1986. I'm standing in front of my parents' pool, holding out a fish I had caught earlier that day. I have one hand on my hip and I'm leaning to the side so as to keep the fish up. What most struck me about the picture were my socks. They cover my entire calf, ending just below my knee. Later that evening, I would sell those same socks for $10 to a guy who lived around the corner. (SLGawker)
"Wonder why Atlantic City is failing? The better question, the one asked by people who know the town: Why did anyone think it would ever succeed?"
What is pork roll most people not from New Jersey/Philly might ask? Pork roll (also known as taylor ham, though this a matter of some contention) is a form of processed meat that is a breakfast favorite of the New Jersey and Philly region. [more inside]
You may have seen stories about a magical bear in New Jersey who walks on its hind legs like a person (if not, here's a video and a second.) Sadly, this might be because it's front paw is injured, possibly "suffering a partial amputation." For another example of a bear making do with less, here is a three-legged bear walking on its hind legs at times.
"When Dystopia Rising went well, there were moments that felt natural, perfect. My first night was filled with gang warfare and hunts for a cult of radiation-worshipping Social Darwinists, but one of the parts I remember best was sitting next to a busker who played me a song from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, gave a mythologized retelling of the musical, and ended up explaining the origins of a group I believe was called the Church of Daft Punk" -- The Verge on playing in the massively complex post-apocalyptic LARP ( Live Action Role Playing) game, Dystopia Rising.
The World's Most Dangerous Amusement Park Opens Its Gates Again: (Class) Action Park, perennial MetaFilter favorite, is back in business! [more inside]
In March, Lawrenceville School Student Body President Maya Peterson, the first Black woman to be elected to that position, posted a photo to her Instagram account where she depicted what she described to be a “Lawrenceville boi”: white, Republican, and cockily holding a hockey stick. She used the hashtags “#romney2016,” “#confederate,” and “#peakedinhighschool." In response to the backlash from the photo, Maya, who is headed to Wesleyan in the fall, chose to step down. [more inside]
A Maryland gun store owner recently spent the night in his store to guard against retribution for his store's (now-reversed) decision to sell the Armatix iP1 Smart Pistol, the first smart gun to be marketed in the United States. Andy Raymond, co-owner of Engage Armament in Rockville, Maryland, initially supported the iP1 as a way to reach "fence-sitters", but backed down after receiving death threats. [more inside]
Action Park was an amusement park located in Vernon, New Jersey, (in)famous for its dangerous rides. "You'd see a kid in the summer cover in friction burns, and you'd be like 'How was Action Park?' " (13 minute documentary on DailyMotion.) Relive some of those memories with 9 minutes of commercials from 1979-80, including an actual record of people on Cannonball Loop, and almost six minutes of rides and attractions from 1991.
When Christie was fourteen years old, he heard [now former NJ Governor Thomas] Kean, who was then a member of the state legislature, speak at his junior high school. He told his mother that he wanted to become a politician; she drove him to Kean’s house and told him to knock on the legislator’s door. “Sir, I heard you speak,” he told Kean. “I think I want to get into politics. How do I do it?” Writing for The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza provides an account of Chris Christie's political history from start to Bridgegate.
The New York Public Library has released more than 20,000 high resolution cartographic works (maps!) for free, to view and download. "We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions." All can be viewed through the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections page and downloaded through their Map Warper. (Via) [more inside]
"It was one of the most effective optical illusions in American politics—until it wasn’t." Alec MacGillis, in the New Republic, describes why "Chris Christie's entire career reeks. It's not just the bridge."
NFL holds Super Bowl in NYC; NYC unimpressed. While the stadium is technically in New Jersey, it is considered equally if not primarily a New York stadium, and the NFL turned Times Square and Broadway into Super Bowl Boulevard Engineered By GMC. Visitors can kick a football, watch television, ride a toboggan, shop, enjoy a free slice of Papa John's pizza, play XBox, take a photo with the oversized Roman numerals 'XLVIII', use relevant Twitter hashtags, and more. It is not decadent and depraved, though Vice and Gothamist would tend to disagree. The Times discusses less vehement disapproval and disappointment, while Business Insider wishes ill upon the city. Ticket sales are faltering relative to recent years, with the new mayor among those skipping out.
MSNBC's Up with Steve Kornacki has been collaborating with NJ journalist Brian Murphy on some investigative journalism about the Chris Christie administration's alleged withholding of Sandy Relief funds until the Mayor of Hoboken agrees to fast-track a real-estate development. Hoboken was one of the hardest-hit communities and has so far received $6 per resident. Christie became governor after leading a US Attorney investigation which convicted NJ politicians of crooked real-estate deals.
Email Links Top Christie Aide to GW Bridge Scandal. The week of September 9, 2013, traffic was bad on the approach to the George Washington Bridge -- the busiest bridge in the world. Cars were backed up into the streets of Fort Lee, NJ, gridlocking the entire city on the first week of school. The reason? Two tollboths leading to the GWB were closed by the Port Authority of NY and NY. The PA claimed it was for a traffic study, except that the head of the Port Authority, Pat Foye, appointed by New York Governor Cuomo, was not told about the closure, and neither was anyone else. [more inside]
Apocalypse, New Jersey Matt Taibi looks at the sad story of Camden, N.J.
Inspired by the Massimo Vignelli NYC subway map and the upcoming Super Bowl at the Meadowlands, NJ Transit unveils a new Regional Transit Diagram (pdf) to help people take public transit between New York and New Jersey. [more inside]
"By figuratively sticking her foot in America’s front door and keeping it wedged there long enough for an anonymous band of war-tossed Mongols to navigate around daunting racial barriers, Countess Tolstoy not only became the architect of the Mongol “invasion” of New Jersey and the country’s first ethnic Mongolian community, she also served as the midwife for the birth of Tibetan Buddhism in America." -- tells the amazing story of how a small band of Kalmyk Mongols (all WWII Wehrmacht veterans) established Tibetan Buddhism in America, as told by David Urubshurow, who was one of them. Featuring Leo Tolstoy's youngest daughter, Cold War CIA and Ivy League intrigues, how the Dalai Lama came to America and why this was only possible under president Carter and more.
New Jersey court to allow same-sex marriages. A stay was not granted to an earlier ruling allowing gay people to marry in New Jersey. Asbury Park and Newark are already issuing marriage licenses for couples to marry at the first possible time on Monday. This defeats a long-term move by governor Christie and conservatives to push a statewide referendum rather than go ahead with the court's ruling. New Jersey is now the fourteenth state to allow gay marriage.
"In a bizarre case involving threats of kidnapping, beatings and physical torture — including the use of an electric cattle prod— two rabbis were charged in New Jersey on Wednesday in a scheme to force men to grant their wives religious divorces." [more inside]
The story of New Jersey's infamous Action Park is retold by visitors and those who worked there and Part 2
Next weekend, The Showroom, an arthouse movie theater in Asbury Park, New Jersey, presents Bruce Noir — a screening and discussion series on film noir and its influence on the life and music of Bruce Springsteen. The series will be hosted by crime novelist Wallace Stroby (Kings of Midnight), who once loaned Springsteen a DVD copy of Two-Lane Blacktop, and will include appearances by Springsteen biographer Peter Ames Carlin (Bruce) via Skype and Jersey Noir photographer Mark Krajnak. The films being screened are Gun Crazy, Badlands, Out of the Past, Atlantic City, and Thunder Road. (Not screening is Woody Allen's Stardust Memories. It's not a noir, but as the story goes, a fan spotted him alone at a screening of that film and eventually asked him to come home and have dinner with him and his mother. Springsteen agreed, making him not just a world-class rock-and-roller but also an A+ film buff in the eyes of many admirers.)
On July 1, 1913, a group of automobile enthusiasts and industry officials established the Lincoln Highway Association "to procure the establishment of a continuous improved highway from the Atlantic to the Pacific, open to lawful traffic of all description without toll charges," and to be a lasting memorial to Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Highway efforts started about three years before the first federal road act would provide funding to states to improve the broad network of roads. Never officially finished, the first transcontinental highway eventually became renumbered as various interstate and US routes. To celebrate its centennial, there was a cross-country tour in June. [more inside]
"WNYC and The Record asked, separately, for documentation of NJ Transit’s hurricane preparedness plans. Both news organizations received the same reply: a three-and-a-half page document with the words “New Jersey Rail Operations Hurricane Plan” atop the first page. Everything else was blacked out." [more inside]
BREAKING NEWS: Groundhog supervillain terrorizes NJ Little League then escapes from animal hospital. Suspect is still at large.
Every Word Handwritten is a new short film by New Jersey rockers The Gaslight Anthem centered around the lifespan of a single vinyl record. It's title comes from a line in Handwritten, a song off their album of the same name. The Gaslight Anthem have long written about the power of old music formats, from their proclamation that they're the 'last of the jukebox Romeos' on their first album to their many invocations of the mythical 'radio' on songs like Angry Johnny and the Radio and Queen Of Lower Chelsea to 45, another song from Handwritten.
The ballad of Red Buckets. "Richard Mason was a high school kid in Boston when he formed his band Insteps and recorded his first songs sounding much like the early Cure. ... Red Buckets began at University of Pennsylvania around 1982, and eventually brought Richard and the band into the context of Crazy Rhythms-era Feelies, the Hoboken music scene at Maxwell’s, Dream Syndicate passing through, and the proto-Yo La Tengo record machine."
RT @CoryBooker: "We have a shared responsibility that kids go to school nutritionally ready 2 learn"
Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, NJ, will spend a week or longer living on food stamps, in response to a Twitter user who told him that, quote, "nutrition is not a responsibility of the government." [more inside]
"The only real depression is a depression of individual ingenuity" George Daynor's Palace of Depression
"As the story goes, [George] Daynor was a former gold prospector who’d lost his fortune in the Wall Street crash of 1929. Hitchhiking through Alaska, he was visited by an angel who told him to make his way to New Jersey without further delay. Divine providence had dictated that Daynor was to wait out the Great Depression there, building a castle with his bare hands. Daynor had only four dollars in his pocket when he arrived in Vineland, NJ.... For years he slept in an abandoned car on the mosquito-infested property, living off a steady diet of frogs, fish and squirrels while he built his elaborate eighteen-spired, pastel-hued Palace of Depression out of auto parts and mud. His primary objective? To encourage his downtrodden countrymen to hold onto their hope and stay resourceful, no matter what." [more inside]
In a somewhat unusual move, the staff at Longform.org has chosen as today's Editors' Pick the Wikipedia entry on New Jersey's notorious Action Park. [more inside]
A jury found a former Rutgers University student Dharun Ravi guilty of 15 charges of invasion of privacy and bias intimidation (under a relatively new New Jersey hate-crime statute) for secretly recording his roommate Tyler Clementi, who later committed suicide.
Gov. Chris Christie vetoes New Jersey bill granting marriage equality. Meanwhile, the Maryland House narrowly passes such a bill. The MD Senate passed a similar bill last year, and no senators have announced any plans to change their votes, and Gov. Martin O'Malley has promised to sign it.
Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker Responds to Question about NJ Marriage Equality Referendum (proposed by Governor Chris Christie) (SLYT) [more inside]
When not terrorizing Mr Bond, from the late 1970s until 1994, Mike Mangino and Chris Shepard were in a basement full of musical toys, novelty space microphones, a TR-606, and a SH-09 in Piscataway, NJ recording cassettes as the band Smersh. In 1981 Smersh released their first cassette under their own label of Atlas King. They never rehearsed, they couldn't read music, and they never played live, and they contributed to far too many compilations throughout the known world. In the early eighties they established a unique sound that is known and loved, combining cheap electronics and wild guitar sounds with distorted vocals. By trading cassettes they garnered international acclaim leading to releases on dozens of other labels. [more inside]
Last Year Next Year This Year New Year [co-starring Debbie Harry] is a follow up to the classic 2006 John Roberts video The Christmas Tree [previously] both starring your Mom. [more inside]
"Driving Jersey represents and reflects the most misunderstood and misrepresented place and people in all of America." In this series of calmly paced, short documentaries featuring profiles, atmosphere, landscape, and interviews, filmmakers Steve Rogers and Ryan Bott travel 21 counties to capture some of the true character and cultural nuance of the Garden State. [more inside]
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