Friday, January 29, 2010

The Peanut Butter Message

It's been a rough week here. Glen, Matty, and I all contracted the dreaded stomach bug. Luckily, Glen and I were not out of commission at the same time, so we were able to trade off taking care Matty; Glen was sick after I was, and so, one day earlier this week, just as Glen was able to think about eating again, he asked for a peanut butter sandwich.

So, I headed to the kitchen, and gathered the food items needed; and, lo, as I spread the peanut butter on the bread, the face of Emmanuel Shahid Avraham revealed itself. There were practical matters to attend, so I covered this peanut butter visage with another slice of bread, and headed back to Glen, who was on the couch, convalescing.

However, Glen was nearly instantly healed upon eating the sandwich. Emmanuel Shahid Avraham's peanut butter likeness heals! Praise him!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Here S/He Comes, Miss/Mister Trenton..."

I was exploring my phone's new Twitter app recently, and discovered it — hello, Big Brother! — coordinated with Google Maps, and pinpointed the exact location of other local Twitterers, at least those with their location turned on. I checked this out partially because I'm curious, but also because it seemed like a cool, newfangled way to connect with other presumably like-minded neighbors. Not only did it pinpoint their location on the map of my neighborhood, but I could click on each electronic pin and read my neighbors' Twitter timelines. Mostly (sadly), many of my Twittering neighbors are not like me, as I had hoped, but rather, aspiring gangsta hip hop stars with a dubious grasp of the English language, and a predilection for illicit drugs and misogyny.

Not long after the discovery of my Tweeting neighbors, I received notification that West Ward Councilwoman and one-of-upward-of-10-to-12 mayoral hopefuls, Annette Lartigue, was following me on Twitter. That was surprising because if I were her and had seen the not-so-nice (but warranted) stuff I posted about her on this blog, I wouldn't follow me. Plus, my recent Twitter timeline (visible below to the right, if you're reading this on the blog's homepage) consists largely of proclamations of my fears of winding up on A&E's "Hoarders," my failed exercising attempts, my crank-calling Pat Robertson, and other unsolicited commentary about farting, Rick Springfield, Dick Clark, Snuggies, and wine. I'm not sure why anyone follows me, or why I even bother to use Twitter since my contributions are at best, mindless.

But back to my gangsta rappin' neighbors: I don't want them to fail or give up their dreams, but realistically, it's not feasible for our market to accommodate 20 or more up-and-coming rappers. From Trenton. And it concerns me that perhaps the schools are not preparing the local kids for the real world, if all they're doing is hoping to become the next Fifty Cent. No matter. I hope they continue to strive, because maybe one or a few of them WILL succeed, and the ones that don't will find satisfying work in the world of music as promoters or managers or teachers, or something similar.

While it seems unrealistic to me that so many local kids would want fame, I realize I am a relative newcomer to Trenton, and perhaps do not have the best grasp of the personality of the community. I must not comprehend the mind and heart of the citizenry here, because even odder than every 20-something wanting to be a hip-hop star, is that all of their parents and grandparents seem to want to run for mayor of Trenton. I can name 10 individuals, to date, vying for the (strangely) coveted seat which currently cushions Doug Palmer's much-kissed buttocks. This is who I can name (in alphabetical order, more or less):

Alex Brown
Keith Hamilton
John Harmon
Eric Jackson
Annette Lartigue
Tony Mack
Paul Pintella
Manny Segura
Frank Weeden
and the Guy Who Keeps Changing His Name and Religion

(If I'm forgetting anyone, and I think I am, please feel free to correct me in the comments section.)

The aspiring rappers have a better shot of realizing their dreams, no? I think, though, the motives of many of the aspiring rappers and the aspiring mayors are the same: that spotlight sure is alluring. I expect egotistical performers, but find politicians with a pronounced ego and self-serving nature to be incredibly distasteful.

Adding to my sense of confusion and dismay about my fellow Trentonians is the story of a school principal by the name of Baye Kemit who plans to sponsor a mayoral debate, but will not invite mayoral hopeful Manny Segura, who is Latino. Kemit runs a private African-centered school here in the city, but I don't see that as relevant. Maybe it's easy for me to say this, as the crazy white chick on the corner, but I'd like to think that ALL people in positions of esteem and influence — like Kemit — would strive to fight injustice, exclusion, and censorship, especially since all citizens of Trenton, regardless of ethnicity, have many of the same problems. So far, Kemit is still employed, and to my knowledge, has not been reprimanded for what seems to me to be racist and unfair practices, but I suppose as principal of a private school, maybe he can do whatever he wants? Maybe no one will show up to his debate, anyway. More on this over at The Front Stoop.

So, I would like to invite the candidates to my own debate. Date and venue are forthcoming. But I'm gonna be upfront with you. This ain't gonna be like any mayoral debate you've ever seen. I'm running it like the Miss America Pageant, and mayoral contenders must excel in the following categories:
  • Artist Expression/Talent (I'm partial to accordion players and chefs, by the way)
  • Presentation and Community Achievement (should be a breeze for all of the mayoral hopefuls, right?)
  • Presence and Poise (evening wear)
  • Peer respect and leadership (Mr. Pintella, you have your work cut out for you, but don't give up!)
  • Knowledge and Understanding
  • Lifestyle and Fitness (swimsuit)
Who's judging this fantastic spectacle? Me. Because it's my idea. But I hope to have a panel of seven judges. So far I've only invited Rush Limbaugh to participate, and have not heard back from him yet, but since he likes to judge so much, I suspect he'll say yes. If you're interested in judging, please let me know.

Like the Miss America Pageant, my Mayoral Pageant is not a beauty contest, even if I am personally looking forward to the swimsuit segment. Don't worry! It will only count for 20% of the contestants' final score. There will be eliminations after each round, and the final winner of the competition will get my (very important) endorsement for the election. I don't want to get too ahead of myself, but it seems to me that elections are flawed in the city, not so much because of the democratic process itself, but because of the overabundance of candidates for any given seat and an underabundance of electorate willing to head over to the polling station unless there's something in it — immediate and tangible — for them. So, if my Trenton Mayoral Pageant goes well — and I know it will — I propose dispensing with local elections all together, and moving straight to a pageant format. This will save our cash-strapped city a lot of money, because we won't have to deal with annoying run-off elections, which are a given in this community of people who need to be bribed to vote in the first place.

Since this city is full of so much ego, I figured the Mayoral Pageant may become popular, anyway. The spotlight is calling.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bag Tax

Several North American cities now have a bag tax. If you didn't bring your own bag for your shopping purchases, and want a bag, you'll have to cough up as much as a nickel for each. It's not a bad idea, considering the life span of a plastic bag is somewhere between 300-1000 years, according to plastic experts.

I have several canvas and other durable shopping bags, which I sometimes forget to bring with me when I shop. I'm a dummy. I know. But it's easy to do, since we still get all the free plastic bags we want in these parts. So, I'm working on it. Still, I welcome a tax here in Trenton. It would generate some much needed extra revenue for the city, and it would also provide some relief in the litter around here. What I like about the potential for less litter, in particular, is that often, in the thick of cleaning up my fellow Trentonian's flattened, filthy, and often wet plastic bags, I only think of my immediate disgust. Having fewer bags to pick up will likely make me a happier person because my little corner of the world will be cleaner without as much effort on my part. But so will other corners, corners perhaps inhabited by those indifferent to litter. So, the rest of us won't have to look at that filth in those places. Our neighbor across the street does the same thing — cleans up the plastic bags — and between the two of us, I'd bet our collected bag litter for one month would stretch from here to Doug Palmer's Hunterdon County manse.*

I also have a damn black plastic bag stuck in the branches of a large tree; without leaves on that tree, I see that bag flapping, flapping, flapping, out of reach, from my bedroom window. This is a common sight around Trenton, isn't it?

There are opponents to this kind of legislation who claim it's an unfair burden on the poor, but I'm here to tell you that the financially disadvantaged — and most other Trenton citizens — don't need plastic bags since they often just let their bags fly off in the breeze upon exiting the local stores, anyway. Or, the more environmentally-misguided-minded individuals will find the nearest sewer drain, and throw their unwanted plastic items in it, thus clogging the cities pipes, and necessitating our public servants to come out a few times a year to unclog them.

Some stores opt to charge for their disposable plastic bags, even though there's no law requiring them to do so. These stores tend to be the more upscale, but that's not the rule. Some discount chains, like Aldi, also charge for their plastic bags. Bag taxes are in place in Seattle, and as of January 1, 2010, Washington, D.C., as well as other progressive American and Canadian cities. China — perhaps the biggest environmental failure in the world — has also banned the use of disposable plastic shopping bags in 2008, resulting in a savings of about 37 MILLION barrels of crude oil on plastic bag production EVERY YEAR. Many nations — an interesting patchwork of developed and developing countries — also have some sort of ban in place, including Ireland, Uganda, Belgium, Ethiopia, Sweden, and Bhutan, to name a few. The American petroleum lobby is strong, which is possibly why Americans have been slow to see changes in plastic bag usage. It just seems crazy to me to be so dependent on (foreign) oil, just for disposable plastic bags, which wind up piling up in our landfills (and occasionally tree branches) for eons, anyway.

I'm sure I'll get my ass kicked in some way or another for saying this, but if any of the throng of individuals currently running for mayor and council of this city supports a plastic bag tax/litter crackdown on his/her platform, you've got my support. Unless you're one of the crazy or slimy candidates.


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* I wonder, by the way, if Palmer even shoveled his own driveway during our recent snowfalls. In case you've been off the grid for the last week, that's a reference to Newark mayor's Cory Booker, who shoveled one of his constituents' driveways on New Year's Eve, after that person made a plea for help via Twitter. Perhaps it was just an election year stunt, but I haven't seen that kind of decency from any politician, maybe ever.