Tag Archives: New Jersey

A $250 Tax Break for Supporting Local Newspapers is a Brilliant Idea

It’s no secret that journalism in America as we knew it to be is a shadow of its former self. With local newspapers either shutting down completely or drastically reducing their staff, the information that the public is receiving is either partisan or limited at best

Roy Frieman, a state Representative from New Jersey is looking to change that. He is proposing a $250 tax deduction for subscribers of regional newspapers, whether they be online or in print. This idea is brilliant. His rationale is as follows:

“It just boils down to journalism and democracy are tied together. You can’t have one without the other,”

What we see in the news is more than the daily headlines. It holds those in power in check, reminding them who they are beholden to. Without that check, our democracy and the balance of power is forever skewed in the wrong direction.

I applaud Mr. Frieman for this proposal. If we are lucky, this tax break will one day be open to every American, not just those who live in the Garden State.

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The State of American Politics: The Democrats Messaging Problem and the Republicans Attack on Big Bird

When it comes down to it, politics is about two things: messages and action. One can say the right things, but without acting on what has been said, nothing gets done.

I am a lifelong Democrat. My first major election was the 2000 Presidential election in which George W. Bush ran against former Vice President Al Gore. For the last twenty-ish years, I have voted mostly along party lines. But that does not mean that I can’t or won’t speak when I feel the need. The problem with today’s Democratic Party is not the message. They just finally passed the Infrastructure Bill, for G-d sake. The problem is how the message is being presented. Instead of hearing that our young children will be educated, our seniors will be provided for, and our roads will be maintained, the only thing we are being told is the cost.

There were three recent elections that exemplified this issue. In my hometown of New York City, former police officer, and current Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams won handily against activist Curtis Sliwa in the Mayoral election. Truth be told, Adam’s win was not a complete given, but generally accepted that it was the obvious outcome. NYC is, for the most part, politically blue. It was not a surprise that Sliwa lost.

Across the river, current New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy won his Gubernatorial election against Jack Ciattarelli, but only by a narrow margin. Down south, the shock that Republican Glenn Youngkin was proclaimed the winner in the Virginia Gubernatorial election rippled across the nation. His opponent, Terry McAuliffe lost because instead of focusing on kitchen table issues, he spent his time on you know who. Youngkin won because he mostly repudiated the former President and spoke to the everyday problems that voters are dealing with.

While this is happening, the Republicans are making mountains of out molehills. With the announcement that children ages 5-11 are now eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, the powers that be reached out to the people at Sesame Street. Via Twitter, Big Bird is encouraging young children to get the shot.

Ted Cruz, in his usual unhelpful way, decided to attack this most beloved of characters. Instead of remembering the 760,000 Americans who have died from the virus, he is opening the door for even more of us to lose our lives. When will he get it through his extra thick skull that the only way to stay alive and return to normal is to be vaccinated?

There is no doubt that the American political scene is nothing short of a shit-show. Until we get our heads out of our asses and do what needs to be done, it will continue to be a shit show.

P.S. How is Paul Gosar still in Congress when he posted a video in which AOC is killed and the President is attacked? He doesn’t have to agree with her, but he crossed the line with the suggestion of violence.

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Filed under National News, New York City, Politics

There Has to be a Way to Re-Open Indoor Dining in NYC

In times of crisis, making tough decisions are the norm. The last six months with Covid-19 has forced these decisions to be made both on the governmental level and the individual level.

In New York City, the hospitality and the restaurants industries have been devastated. Initially, there was only takeout and delivery allowed. Then the restaurants were allowed to open for outdoor dining only. But, the revenue coming in could not compare to what was previously made when customers were able to eat inside.

Anyone who lives in the Northeast of the United States knows that we do not have warm weather 365 days a year. Before we know it, winter will be here and outdoor dining will be impossible. But both the Mayor and the Governor refuse to allow restaurants to open for indoor dining, even with limitations.

I understand why the Mayor and the Governor are still refusing to allow restaurants to allow customers inside. New York and New York City especially has worked incredibly hard to reduce our overall Covid numbers. I am also completely aware of how dense the city is.

They claim that they are waiting for a vaccine. The problem is that it will likely not be available for the general public until the end of the year or early next year. This city cannot afford to wait that long.

There are two problems with this refusal. The first is that New Jersey and the rest of the state does allow some indoor dining. Diners who are eager to go out to eat (and sit inside) and unemployed hospitality employees will not stay within NYC’s borders. The second is that the restaurant industry is one of the economic backbones of the city. Without this institution, New York City will die a slow and painful financial death, with Covid-19 being the final nail in the coffin.

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Nursing Homes: A Stain on the NY & NJ Response to Covid-19

A few years before my late maternal grandmother passed away, my family made a decision that she could no longer take care of herself. The only option was to move to a nursing home. To say that it was not an easy process is a understatement.

Across the country, millions of families have repeated this process. The last thing anyone wanted was to make it more complicated via Covid-19.

After three months of sheltering in place and wearing protection when going outside, it appears that the virus’s hold on New York and New Jersey is starting to break. Those of us who live in New York and New Jersey should be congratulating ourselves, as should those in the halls of power. But there is one issue that must be overcome before we can say we are in the clear: nursing homes.

As of the end of May, 20% of all Covid-19 cases in New York were found in a nursing home or long term adult care facility. In New Jersey, just above 50% of those who died from the virus were either lived in and/or worked in one of these organizations.

It should be considered that back in March and early April, we did not have the information we have now. This led to doing the best that was able to be done at that point. However, that does not excuse the major miscalculations that were made and the loss of life that may have been prevented.

Governors Andrew Cuomo and Phil Murphy have done an admirable job in trying to control disease that takes no prisoners. However, the fact that far too many nursing home residents and employees died is a stain on their response to Covid-19.

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Throwback Thursday: Cake Boss (2009-2017)

For those who love to be in the kitchen, baking is more than final product that comes out of the oven. It is the love and pride that comes with creating something for someone else to enjoy.

Cake Boss aired on TLC from 2009-2017. The show followed Buddy Valastro, the owner of Carlo’s Bake Shop, located in Hoboken, New Jersey. Audiences were introduced to Buddy, his staff and his family as they created edible masterpieces for their customers.

I really like this show. It is entertaining without the mind numbing feeling that comes with some reality shows. As a viewer, I enjoy the challenge of watching these cakes go from conception to reality.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Throwback Thursday-Cheaper by the Dozen (1950)

Our families are at the core of our societies. It is not a stretch to say that stories about families continue to appeal to us generation after generation.

Cheaper by the Dozen premiered in 1950. Based on the book of the same name, the film starred Clifton Webb and Myrna Loy, the film told the story of the Gilbreth family and their brood of 12 children. Living in Montclair, New Jersey in the early 20th century, parents Frank Sr. and Lillian both work as engineers. Their professional training extends to their home life, as everything is done to maximum efficiency. But this is starting not to sit well with their older daughters, who are eager to stretch their wings outside of the family nest.

There are certain movies from this period that modern audiences go back to again and again because they have a timeless quality to them. In a sense, this movie is timeless, but there are scenes that are definitely showing the film’s age.

Do I recommend it? Maybe. As much as I adore some movies from the ’50s, this film is not one of my favorites.

By the way, the movie was remade in 2003 starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. It is as bad as one might expect it to be.

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Indignation Movie Review

College, from my experience, at least, is a transitional period in our lives. We are not children anymore, but we are not adults yet either. It is that strange place when we are starting to figure out who we are and what we want out of life.

The new film, Indignation, based on the 2008 book of the same name by respected writer Philip Roth, takes place in 1951.

Marcus Messner (Logan Lerman) is a young man of Jewish descent from Newark, New Jersey. He spends his days working with his father, Max (Danny Burstein) at the butcher shop that bears the family name. Life is about to change for Marcus. He is about to start college at Winesburg College in Winesburg, Ohio.

The first person in his immediate family to attend college, Marcus is looking forward to not just the educational opportunities, but also the distance between college and his father, who is becoming irrational about many things, his son included.

Marcus develops a crush and has a date with Olivia Hutton (Sarah Gadon), one of his classmates. Olivia may appear to be healthy and normal, but underneath, she is dealing with a host of complicated issues. Marcus continues to spend time with Olivia, despite the concerns of his classmates and even his own mother, Esther (Linda Emond).

Set in a time of repression and the expectation to fit in, this film is the story of a young man trying to find his own way. While certain sections of the narrative seemed a little slow, the ending was completely out of left field. I walked out of the movie theater with the thought that my mind was blown.

I recommend it.

Indignation is presently in theaters.

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Don Jon Review- There Is A First For Everything

Tonight, I saw the writing and directorial debut of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s film, Don Jon.

Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a twenty something Italian male from New Jersey who is fixated on the external images of himself and his world. While he has no problem finding female companions, he prefers pornography over the real thing.

He meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) at a club and they start a relationship.  But Jon is still addicted to porn, despite his promise to Barbara to stop.  She also encourages him to attend night school where he meets Esther (Julianne Moore).

Included in the cast of characters are Jon’s friends, Bobby (Rob Brown) and Danny (Jeremy Luke) and his family.  His parents,  Jon Sr, (Tony Danza) and Angela (Glenne Headley) and his sister Monica (Brie Larson).

There is a first for everything. While the lead character is certainly compelling, it is a very stereotypical view of Italians and more specifically, those of Italian descent who live in New Jersey. To paraphrase another reviewer, the character is almost out of Jersey Shore.

It an admirable first film for Gordon-Levitt, as a writer and director.  But it not the best film I have seen this year and I hope he will take both the good and the bad from this film and apply those experiences to future films.

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