Posts Tagged New Jersey

New Jersey Plans April 24th State Holiday in Honor of Prong

New Jersey’s most famous residents are about to get a day in their honor.  Timed to coincide with the release of their new record, “Carved in Stone”, New Jersey governor Chris Christie has signed into law a bill making Tuesday April 24th “Prong Appreciation Day”.  Schools will be closed and all government office buildings will not be in service on that day in order that people have time to wait in what is expected to be 10 hour lines at local music stores to get the album.

Prong has derived a cult following among the thousands of gelato vendors and carnies that control the beaches of the Jersey Shore.  They are also quite popular among the warlords, car thieves and flesh-crazed cannibals that run the better part of North Jersey.  According to Armond Peterson, Head of Prong For a Better America, a Political Action Committee, the message of corporate neglect and snapping one’s fingers while snapping someone else’s neck really resonates with the people of Jersey, whose love of the band is “unconditional”.

Governor Christie, who claims he decided to go into politics after seeing the band at CBGB’s in 1990, made this holiday a cornerstone of his election campaign against former Goldman Sachs CEO and pension looter Jon Corzine back in 2009.  At a press conference today, Christie celebrated his major political victory.  “I can’t even freakin’ believe it.  What a freakin’ day for metal, huh!?!  C’mon, I mean, it’s freakin’ Prong we’re talking about over here!”

When questioned by a 9-year-old reporter from a elementary school newspaper who asked if this was going to be taking time away from creating new jobs, Christie fired back with furious rage.  “Hey, first of all, shut the hell up kid!  All of a sudden, you’re nine and you think you know how the world works?  What the hell do you know, you little punk?!?!  You think you can run New Jersey, c’mon up here.  Otherwise, go dunk a cookie in some milk and shut your face before I shut it for you.”

Tuesday April 24th is shaping up to be a great day in New Jersey.  At 9 AM, frontman Tommy Victor will be handed the key to the city of Trenton.  At noon, a parade through Wildwood will take place honoring the band.  At 4 PM, the band will be playing a concert on the roof of Newark Airport with New Jersey’s other favorite sons Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes.  At 9 PM, Victor and the boys will be taking a blood oath and be symbolically inducted into the Genovese crime family by actor James Gandofini.

Over the years, Prong has been one of the best and most consistent bands in metal.   If the new album is even a shadow of their earlier work, it will be a masterpiece that should be blasting on every car stereo from Passaic to Perth Amboy.

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Danzig Gives Birth To Identical Twin Girls

When rumors first came out a few months back about Glenn Danzig taking a break from touring because of his pregnancy, most people thought it was just a publicity stunt or a very strange joke.  However, on Friday at 5:34 AM, after being in labor for 18 hours, Danzig gave birth to two beautiful daughters.  The girls, Christina and Sistinas, both weighed nearly seven pounds and were in great health.  Danzig, overcome by the beauty of the moment, broke into an soulful, impromptu version of “Mother” as he lay prone on the operating table.

While male pregnancies are not common, thanks to medical technology they are becoming a bit less rare.  Danzig, however, needed no help from doctors in order to spontaneously grow a womb and ovaries.  He simply willed it.

Danzig, who is planning on creating a master race of Danzig children all sharing his superior DNA, knew that he couldn’t rely on his wives to help create perfect beings.  In spite of the fact that he is currently married to 64 women, including actress Meryl Streep, he claimed in a recent interview that he refused to “diminish his essence” by procreating with others.

Danzig is not a stranger to bizarre birth stories.  He was, in fact, born in a laboratory in Lodi, New Jersey in 1955.  Dr. Helmut Neumann, a German scientist who immigrated to the US after World War 2, created Danzig by mixing the DNA of blues singer Robert Johnson, Russian mystic Rasputin and an Alaskan Grey Wolf.  The result was a human who carried a nearly godlike voice, the ability to make women fall in love with him by simply breathing and the power to control the minds of feral animals.  Some Danzig fans have claimed that his sweat is capable of curing lupus if ingested once a week for two consecutive months, but this has yet to be independently verified by scientists.

In spite of the fact that they are only three days old, the Danzig girls have already not only exhibited the ability to talk, they have already learned how to deny the possibility of a full Misfits reunion.  The twins have received a great deal of attention around the nursury for their famous father and their matching devilock hairstyles.   MTV has already approached the babies about doing their own reality television show called “The Danzig Sisters” which should be on television starting in the fall.

The Danzig Girls Moments After They Were Born

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To Be And Not To Be

Sometimes simple written juxtapositions can simply shutdown the inner workings of one’s mind.  Zen Buddhism uses koans for this exact purpose.  Mediating on the sound of one hand clapping or why Joshu would bother cutting a cat in half with a pair of shoes on his head are the psychological equivalent of throwing the emergency brake on a Ford Escort while doing 110 miles per hour on the Santa Monica Freeway.  If a person pays attention and is tuned into the general weirdness of the universe it becomes apparent that these bizarre feats of language are everywhere.

This evening I found one such “accidental” koan on Yahoo Sports. It managed to make all of the synapses in my brain stop dead in their tracks.  The current sports media obsession revolves around the potential trade of basketball star Carmelo Anthony to the New Jersey Nets.  About an hour ago, I read a headline that said “Anthony To Meet With Nets”. Below it was a headline that said, with equal certainty, “Nets Not Meeting With Anthony”.

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!!!!!!!

If these two headlines are read together they can cause severe damage to one’s cerebellum.  How can Carmelo Anthony meet with the Nets while the Nets are not meeting with him?  Does this mean that Anthony is in the room with members of Nets management who are spontaneously ignoring him?  The Nets are trying to trade for him….why would they be so outwardly hostile towards him?  Imagine Carmelo busting into a hotel room filled with Nets brass watching the All-Star 3-point shooting contest.  At first, Carmelo talks softly, then he shouts and screams, but the Nets front office simply sits silently avoiding whatever Carmelo does.  They shun him.  Carmelo jumps in front of the television, he begins to sing the theme song from “Green Acres”, he pulls his liver out of his body and begins chewing on it….no response.  What am I to make of these conflicting headlines?!?!?!

I need to know how this is possible.  Maybe the two things ARE happening at the same time.  Carmelo is in an alternate universe discussing his plans to go to New Jersey while in another dimension the Nets refuse to meet with him.  Maybe there are two Carmelo Anthonys in this world and two sets of different Nets.  Carmelo A is meeting with Nets A while Carmelo B and Nets B avoid each other.  What if these two dimensions simultaneously converged upon on another and Anthony was traded to the Nets while he remained untraded?  The Nets of the Nether Dimension would have added a 20 point per game scorer while the Nets of our current universe would still be stuck with Devin Harris and a bunch of guys in the witness protection program.  What if the Nether Dimension Nets played the Carmeloless real world Nets?  Who would win?  If Carmelo scores 22 points in the Nether Dimension and 20 in the real universe, does it mean he’s scored 42 points?  How would the NBA possibly track these statistics? Wouldn’t he have an advantage over, say,  Kobe Bryant who is currently only allowed to play in one dimension?

What if the Nets got crafty and traded for BOTH Carmelo Anthonys?  This would probably kill their salary cap number but they would have added two All-Star caliber players.  I wonder if the two could co-exist?  Is there room in New Jersey for one Carmelo Anthony?  How about two?  If the Nets learn to master the art of dimensional travel it is entirely possible that they could assemble a team of all Carmelo Anthonys.  Twelve 20 point per game scorers on one team!?!?!  They’d average 240 points per game!!!!  They’d win the NBA title four or five times possibly in the same year.  What if other teams caught on to their multi-dimensional strategy?  LeBron James’ PR image issue would be gone.  He could simply sign with EVERY team in the NBA.  They’d love him again…EVERYWHERE!  In other sports this could be huge.  The Yankees would certainly go out and sign Albert Pujols 47 times.  They’d have Albert Pujols selling tickets, serving hotdogs, playing first base, exterminating bugs, and on and on and on.

Eventually, it is possible to create a worldwide army of Carmelo’s marching towards endless victory. Millions upon millions of Carmelos pulled from millions of different dimensions.  Imagine an enemy army trying to hold a city when thousands of 6’9 small forwards come racing over a wall.  Who could stop them?  They could forever change the world balance of power.  What if a foreign government got their hands on a Carmelo dimensional prototype?  They could create a nation of anti-American Carmelo Anthonys.  The thought is terrifying.

Maybe I’ve taken this too far.  I’m no longer sure of anything. I was having a perfectly normal night trying to find You Tube clips of professional boxers fighting kangaroos when this madness seeped into my brain.  Yahoo owes me a basic explanation as to how a man can be doing something and not doing it at the same time.  I will not rest until I’ve gotten one.

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George Washington Plunkitt and the Value of Honest Graft

Thomas Nast Cartoon Depicting the "Thought Process" Behind Tammany Hall

It is a rare person who can make being a scoundrel seem like a completely respectable way to make a living. Occasionally, this sort of scoundrel works his way into politics.  Most corrupt politicians today bathe themselves in the murky oil of self-righteousness.  It is quite unique to find a man completely devoid of principals and willing to make that a matter of public record. George Washington Plunkitt was such a man.

Plunkitt was a State Senator in New York during the heyday of Tammany Hall.  The Tammany political machine ran New York City for over a century by offering jobs and protection for new immigrants in exchange for votes and political influence.  Tammany produced some of New York’s most influential politicians (William Mallory “Boss” Tweed being the best known) and even counted a Vice President (Aaron Burr) and a Presidential candidate Al Smith among its ranks.

The organization had many outspoken, charasmatic politicians, but Plunkitt was probably the best at explaining “The Tammany Way”. Plunkitt’s book “Plunkitt of Tammany Hall: A Series of Very Plain Talks on Very Practical Politics, Delivered by Ex-Senator George Washington Plunkitt, the Tammany Philosopher, from his Rostrum—the New York County Courthouse Bootblack Stand” contains some of the most intriguing justifications for corruption that have ever been written.  His distinction between honest and dishonest graft is deeply flawed but amazingly compelling.

Here is an excerpt that captures Plunkitt’s belief about how the system works…

Everybody is talkin‘ these days about Tammany men growin’ rich on graft, but nobody thinks of drawin‘ the distinction between honest graft and dishonest graft. There’s all the difference in the world between the two. Yes, many of our men have grown rich in politics. I have myself. I’ve made a big fortune out of the game, and I’m gettin’ richer every day, but I’ve not gone in for dishonest graft—blackmailin’ gamblers, saloonkeepers, disorderly people, etc.—and neither has any of the men who have made big fortunes in politics.

There’s an honest graft, and I’m an example of how it works. I might sum up the whole thing by sayin‘: “I seen my opportunities and I took ’em.”

Just let me explain by examples. My party’s in power in the city, and it’s goin’ to undertake a lot of public improvements. Well, I’m tipped off, say, that they’re going to lay out a new park at a certain place.

I see my opportunity and I take it. I go to that place and I buy up all the land I can in the neighborhood. Then the board of this or that makes its plan public, and there is a rush to get my land, which nobody cared particular for before.

Ain’t it perfectly honest to charge a good price and make a profit on my investment and foresight? Of course, it is. Well, that’s honest graft. Or supposin‘ it’s a new bridge they’re goin’ to build. I get tipped off and I buy as much property as I can that has to be taken for approaches. I sell at my own price later on and drop some more money in the bank.

Wouldn’t you? It’s just like lookin‘ ahead in Wall Street or in the coffee or cotton market. It’s honest graft, and I’m lookin’ for it every day in the year. I will tell you frankly that I’ve got a good lot of it, too.

I’ll tell you of one case. They were goin‘ to fix up a big park, no matter where. I got on to it, and went lookin’ about for land in that neighborhood.

I could get nothin’ at a bargain but a big piece of swamp, but I took it fast enough and held on to it. What turned out was just what I counted on. They couldn’t make the park complete without Plunkitt’s swamp, and they had to pay a good price for it. Anything dishonest in that?

Up in the watershed I made some money, too. I bought up several bits of land there some years ago and made a pretty good guess that they would be bought up for water purposes later by the city.

Somehow, I always guessed about right, and shouldn’t I enjoy the profit of my foresight? It was rather amusin’ when the condemnation commissioners came along and found piece after piece of the land in the name of George Plunkitt of the Fifteenth Assembly District, New York City. They wondered how I knew just what to buy. The answer is—I seen my opportunity and I took it. I haven’t confined myself to land; anything that pays is in my line.

For instance, the city is repavin’ a street and has several hundred thousand old granite blocks to sell. I am on hand to buy, and I know just what they are worth.

How? Never mind that. I had a sort of monopoly of this business for a while, but once a newspaper tried to do me. It got some outside men to come over from Brooklyn and New Jersey to bid against me.

Was I done? Not much. I went to each of the men and said: “How many of these 250,000 stones do you want?” One said 20,000, and another wanted 15,000, and other wanted 10,000. I said: “All right, let me bid for the lot, and I’ll give each of you all you want for nothin’.”

They agreed, of course. Then the auctioneer yelled: “How much am I bid for these 250,000 fine pavin’ stones?”

“Two dollars and fifty cents,” says I.

“Two dollars and fifty cents” screamed the auctioneer. “Oh, that’s a joke Give me a real bid.”

He found the bid was real enough. My rivals stood silent. I got the lot for $2.50 and gave them their share. That’s how the attempt to do Plunkitt ended, and that’s how all such attempts end.

I’ve told you how I got rich by honest graft. Now, let me tell you that most politicians who are accused of robbin’ the city get rich the same way.

They didn’t steal a dollar from the city treasury. They just seen their opportunities and took them. That is why, when a reform administration comes in and spends a half million dollars in tryin’ to find the public robberies they talked about in the campaign, they don’t find them.

The books are always all right. The money in the city treasury is all right. Everything is all right. All they can show is that the Tammany heads of departments looked after their friends, within the law, and gave them what opportunities they could to make honest graft. Now, let me tell you that’s never goin’ to hurt Tammany with the people. Every good man looks after his friends, and any man who doesn’t isn’t likely to be popular. If I have a good thing to hand out in private life, I give it to a friend. Why shouldn’t I do the same in public life?

Another kind of honest graft. Tammany has raised a good many salaries. There was an awful howl by the reformers, but don’t you know that Tammany gains ten votes for every one it lost by salary raisin’?

The Wall Street banker thinks it shameful to raise a department clerk’s salary from $1500 to $1800 a year, but every man who draws a salary himself says: “That’s all right. I wish it was me.” And he feels very much like votin’ the Tammany ticket on election day, just out of sympathy.

Tammany was beat in 1901 because the people were deceived into believin‘ that it worked dishonest graft. They didn’t draw a distinction between dishonest and honest graft, but they saw that some Tammany men grew rich, and supposed they had been robbin’ the city treasury or levyin‘ blackmail on disorderly houses, or workin’ in with the gamblers and lawbreakers.

As a matter of policy, if nothing else, why should the Tammany leaders go into such dirty business, when there is so much honest graft lyin’ around when they are in power? Did you ever consider that?

Now, in conclusion, I want to say that I don’t own a dishonest dollar. If my worst enemy was given the job of writin’ my epitaph when I’m gone, he couldn’t do more than write:

“George W. Plunkitt. He Seen His Opportunities, and He Took ‘Em.”

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