During this first full week of campaign work, including the first mayoral forum featuring most of the candidates, I’ve been able to imagine just how much I’ll learn and all the people I’ll connect with leading up to the mid-May election. My network will bulge anew with media, PR, marketing and advertising contacts. Yay! I’ll begin to learn something finally about how my hometown’s political structure is set up (districts and council and wards…oh my!) Giving back, providing that elusive yet amazing feeling that I’m a part of a SOLUTION rather than a passive, complacent part of the problem hovers over me. We’ve got a campaign manager now, a social media plan is imminent and our first official street canvassing effort happens tomorrow afternoon. It’s fantastic!
I left Trenton 12 years ago, not because I don’t love my hometown, but because I couldn’t afford to buy a home there as a single female first home buyer. As part of the Jim Golden campaign, I’ll reconnect with Trenton, get to know its streets, people and culture again and encourage Trenton folks to get engaged along with us. There may even be a communications director job in this for me — where I can continue this inspiring work — if Jim wins the election, which of course he will. He’s the only real candidate. I won’t repeat his plan for #MovingTrentonForward, our official campaign slogan. Check it out for yourself below, and meet me tomorrow afternoon for our first community canvas. We’re meeting at the Golden West Ward Headquarters in the 700 Block of West State Street at 1:00 p.m. Wear your sneakers and we’ll have a great time!
Part One (of Three) of the First Mayoral Forum, filmed by Deshair Foskey for his Trenton Going Global series…
My family has a lot of history there. My grandfather, William T. Murphy, Sr., was one of the first graduates of Trenton High School, which is in near ruins now to hear those who know tell about it and he was just the third Black officer hired by Trenton Police. He was the guy who kicked down doors with a shotgun over in Wilbur Section when bar fights got rowdy and the White officers wouldn’t want anything to do with it. The most recent former chief of police was trained by my granddad. My dad, William T. Murphy, Jr. was an all-city, full-scholarship basketball star who after the Viet Nam war went on to build a career with the Ewing police.
Yet every day it seems I read another report of someone being shot dead, I see more and more degradation whenever I drive through the city and now, as most New Jerseyans know, in the midst of the Chris Christie “Bridgegate” scandal, which doesn’t do Trenton any favors, Trenton’s own mayor — a guy named Tony Mack — was convicted last week on six federal corruption charges leading up to the mayoral election this Spring.
Well, there’s a reason I won’t be there “covering” the fallout from this newest city setback for any of the local papers. Firstly, one of the local papers I wouldn’t write for if my life depended on it. The other is now owned by the Newark Star-Ledger and nobody up there cares, at least as far as I can tell. Pitching them is a futile exercise at best. But that’s not why I won’t be pitching any “Mack stories.” It’s because I’m now consulting for a mayoral candidate who promises to bring positive change to the city and to move Trenton forward: Jim Golden.
He’s the former civilian police director who wants to put a stop to the cronyism and the around-in-circles stodgy thinking that’s gripping the city now and replace those with solid ideas and positivity as mayor. I’ll be wrangling press, running his social media campaigns, keeping his website current and connecting him with what’s happening on the street. And I cannot allow that to conflict with Tony Mack and his shenanigans. It’s all about Moving Trenton Forward, Golden’s official campaign slogan.
Later this week, I’ll catch y’all up with what’s happening with Ed Forchion, the “NJ Weedman,” and his legal and medical issues. We had a long talk over the weekend I just have to share. Here he is in Trenton last week, just after the Mack verdict was read, offering his opinion and following the scrum of reporters outside the courthouse. (He says his lighter quit on him and he was therefore unable to smoke weed while conducting a little “on-the-street” interview). Enjoy!
Ed Forchion, the “NJ Weedman” catching the Mack verdict…
This is for good reason. If I were a political journalist, and travelled throughout our great state researching, uncovering and discerning all that could improve New Jersey statewide, I’d be simply exhausted.
The subjects that interest me are at times political in tone or in circumstance, yet dedicating myself daily to the practice of unearthing political topics in our state’s capitol or in Washington to write about them depresses the hell out of me. The thick skin it requires I just do not have. Nor do I have the stomach for the corruption, the heart for the filth or the endurance for the constant deception politicians and their staffs are wont to unleash during their careers.
All that said, I cannot stand our Governor, Chris Christie. I’ve written about him briefly before, in a pro-Booker way rather than an anti-Christie way, for this blog. But I really can’t stand him.
He’s good at all that corruption and deception shit. Plus, any man who swings around to point in the face and scream at a woman for asking a simple question while his ignorant wife grins beside him needs to be punched square in the face. So, some friends of mine, more politically motivated than I, suggest what we can do about his new fiasco, “Bridgegate,” if we’d like to change things.
Amiri Baraka died yesterday. He was 79. He’d been a Poet Laureate. He was one of the more well-known and prolific members of the Black Arts Movement. He was proud of being from New Jersey. Most profoundly, Mr. Baraka (nee Leroi Jones) exemplified poet as God.
There’s no more maligned or misunderstood undertaking than being a poet.
Common notions have the poet sitting in contemplation, doing not much of anything, pondering his navel and musing about how terrible life is while the rest of us go out and work for a living.
Yet poetry is life. Poetry is the sum total of our wants, fears, needs and assumptions, recited back to us in a more powerful and palatable manner. Poetry is our collective alarm clock.
What bravery is this undertaking! How imperative and moving!
That’s why from Shakespeare to Maya Angelou to Anne Sexton to William Blake — I see poetry, whether literal or using every metaphor in the universe,
as the most bold of all the forms of writing, even of all the arts.
Rest in peace Mr. Baraka. I’ll miss your fire and ire. I trust you gave St. Peter hell!
Baraka’s highly controversial, “Somebody Blew Up America,” a post-9/11 poem/manifesto.
Mandy Stadtmiller (@mandystadt via Twitter) is a very brave woman.
The writer for xoJane confesses, purges and shares — in public — a great deal of her personal life for the benefit of curious readers and the occasional victim of sexual violence, as she once was. I’ve always admired women like her.
Recently, she shared about a confrontation she had with two men in a McDonald’s parking lot last week, in my hometown of Trenton, NJ no less, during which she was propositioned for sex and learned a new ghetto slang term: gully.
Well, that last part happened a bit haphazardly, but thanks to me and the Urban Dictionary, she’s got it now.
World AIDS Day (always on December 1st) saw just two events in New Jersey: one in Newark and the other in Trenton at the Mount Zion AME Church on Pennington Avenue, an area once upon a time that was riddled with crime and drugs. This area has since been cleaned up and the neighborhood health center, the Henry J. Austin Health Center, works in this community on education, awareness and disease prevention. Two camera-shy ladies, Debbie and Lenore, conducted rapid HIV antibody testing for the Austin center during the World AIDS Day festivities, which included a sermon and some outstanding music and dance. The church has always been the central meeting place for black Americans, so it makes perfect sense for a testing event to happen there. In a perfect world, however, HIV testing would happen regularly, free of stigma and shame, at the neighborhood health center or wherever else it’s offered as church isn’t always the place where many folks who need these services hang out.
And the dude has proven that he cares about his constituents by taking up challenges that no other politician does.
He’s Newark, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker and he’s going on a weeklong “Food Stamp Challenge” beginning this Tuesday, December 4th.
Earlier this month via Twitter Booker “got into it” with another tweeter, from North Carolina, challenged by Booker because she believes, as do many Republicans, that, “nutrition is not the responsibility of the government.” Well, Booker countered and now we’ll see him take on yet another harsh reality, improper nutrition among the poor, just as he did as a young upstart politician in Newark by living in the projects (that’s the ‘hood, people) for some time so as to become accustomed to the lifestyle there and, in turn, to the issues facing people who can’t pull themselves out of that environment. Pretty dedicated for a Stanford and Oxford-educated prep football star with upper-middle-class parents.
The big question that remains, however, is will he run for governor of New Jersey and unseat Chris Christie?
Although Christie is definitely soaring in the approval ratings because of the brilliant manner he conducted himself during and in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, he ain’t down in those trenches, human trenches, like Cory Booker is.
According to Politico, Booker will live on $1.40 per meal and will announce a celebrity partner who’ll take up this challenge with him. With as much weed as he smokes, it won’t be hip hop emcee and Newark-native Redman. The munchies will be just terrible when all you’ve got is $1.40 per meal to spend. And you damn sure won’t be seeing Chris Christie taking up challenges like this. For obvious reasons.
Governor Chris Christie joined Jon Stewart on The Daily Show earlier in the week, here’s Mayor Booker’s turn on December 12th…
There’s a post today by Timothy Stanley of Oxford University about the anger that’s led some people in certain states to create petitions for secession from the U.S.
New Jersey was one of these states.
We’re blue. We voted Obama. Who would want to secede?
“The recent petitions for secession have largely been part of a symbolic initiative through online petitioning where any one person or group can get a zillion signatures in support of pretty much anything,” says Darren Barany, MPA, PhD, originally from Hamilton Township and an Assistant Professor of Sociology for LaGuardia Community College at the City University of New York. “What conservatives are trying to convey symbolically is that mostly, they’re angry, and they didn’t want another four years of Barack Obama. The reasons include the Benghazi situation, the economy, and poorly channeled white resentment and racism. I think this latter factor accounts for the extent to which people are engaging in such mean-spirited rhetoric, encoded racist discourse, and not-so-encoded racist discourse. As for secession, the idea to me is really quite ludicrous. First, the president merely has to review the petitions and then either approve or veto. It’s not too difficult to predict how those will go. None of the governors are in support of secession either, not even Rick Perry of Texas. I don’t think they have really thought out what it means to secede territorially or how contradictory it is based on the libertarian rationale that’s used,” he says.
Many confused, shocked and angered by the outcome of the election took to social media for a few hours, like Donald Trump and others did. Their catharsis and venting was probably healthy and got these feelings out of their systems, even if it annoyed or offended some others who didn’t agree. There were even reports of riotous behavior at college campuses like Ol’ Miss, but no one was hurt and the incidents faded without much fanfare. However, some people would like to organize around their disagreement, which is problematic in the short and long term when it comes to a proposal like secession, due to what Barany calls political “confusion” by right wingers.
“The contemporary conservative intellectual and political movement is a sort of mongrel movement made up of libertarian laissez-fairists (economic conservatives), traditional values/religious conservatives, and nationalistic war mongers,” he says. “U.S. conservatives tend to resort to slogans and sound-bites that conform to one or more of these traditions without understanding their meaning or historical origins. In short, they want to be all of the above, even though that means passionately believing in all sorts of contradictory things. For example, a true libertarian like Ron Paul would have no problem with contraception, legalizing drugs, or pornography in the context of markets, supply, and demand. However, traditional values types like Rick Santorum would oppose such things, and yet both are GOPers and think of themselves as conservatives,” he says.
There’s another notion of secession, however. A quite populist one, but only borrowing rhetoric and style from libertarianism. It’s like we all hear when there’s an outcome some folks don’t like, such as, “I’m building a cabin in the woods,” or “It’s the end of the world as we know it.”
“These are folks who are largely white and Christian and oppose the secular state,” Barany says. “They call for a process of ‘personal secession’ and tend to home school their kids, live by the letter of their religious teachings, and live in very insular and homogenous communities. Some have demanded legal individual sovereignty rights, but again, I’m not so sure how well they’ve thought this one through. The minute one of their kids is choking on a baby-carrot or Grandma is having a heart attack, they’re going to call 911 and I don’t think they’re going to turn the ambulance or the police away,” he says.
So, no, secession isn’t the best bet for New Jersey or any other state in the union. This is an elaborate or perhaps a more militant attempt at rebellion by folks who feel cheated in the election. And not much will come of it.
“Personally, when I saw that Jersey was on the list, I kinda laughed,” says Denise Clay, from Pemberton now working as a journalist and teacher in Philadelphia. “With all of the folks recovering from (hurricane) Sandy, I don’t see it gaining much traction. But it is a manifestation of a problem that Jersey’s got and no one talks about: that we have folks that would give Alabama’s best rednecks a run for their money. I guess they’ve been activated,” she says.
For New Jerseyans and Eastern Pennsylvanians, and for the rest of America for sure, Twinkies and other Hostess snack cakes hold a special place in our hearts. The company, based in Northeast Philadelphia (a stone’s throw from South Jersey) announced yesterday that it’ll soon be closing it’s doors, which sent waves of nostalgia and a few shocks through many folks as they reminisced about growing up on Hostess items, including the not-so-healthy Wonder Bread, even if they’re not the best food choices on the shelves.
“A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Wonder Bread (white, not wheat!) is a fond childhood memory,” says Stacy LaFrance, 42, originally from Hamilton, now living in Phoenix. Oh yes, the memories of youth.
“It’s a sad day,” says Dave Piotrowski, 43, of Robbinsville. “I am buying every Ring Ding I see. It’s time I turn into a prepper. I’m preparing for a life with no Ring Dings available. The only way it could be worse is if the news reported no more pigs and no more bacon,” he says.
Surely, with all the myths and stereotypes about Ring Dings and Twinkies never spoiling because of all the artificial ingredients, we never saw it coming that the company that makes the beloved lunch box staples could be their downfall.
“In the Nuclear Holocaust, only four things will survive: tall buildings, Donald Trump’s hairpiece, cockroaches, and Hostess Twinkies,” says Denise Clay, 48, originally from Pemberton who now works as a journalist and teacher in Philadelphia. We’d better save something else in our basements in preparation for the holocaust.