It’s the end of the summer at the Jersey Shore and I am so relaxed, I find it hard not to stare out of the window, listening to the breeze in the trees, smelling the salt in the air and watching the clouds roll by letting the sun sneak through for moments of pure summer light. My mind drifts to such important matters like what time I’ll nap this afternoon, should I go for a swim now or stop procrastinating and just write. I’ll stop procrastinating, but wait, let me watch my dog sleep in the sun for just a minute.
Ok, I’m back! Since I’ve been in the Garden State all week, I thought I’d write a little bit of my News Tapas with Jersey flavor.
It’s been almost a year since Sandy took the state and smashed it to pieces and while there is massive construction and re-building there are businesses which never recovered and are not coming back. In the town I’m staying in, Bay Head, there is only one main street in town and most of the shops located there have re-opened. But there are a few that have closed their doors, choosing to take their losses and move on. This included the only hardware store, a little “mall” housed in a two-story clapboard building that was home to a coffee shop, jewelry store, elegant gift shop, and an art gallery. This building has barely been touched since Sandy. Some blame insurance problems, FEMA problems, or simply after Irene and Sandy, the owners called it quits. I have faith that next summer, every store will be open and fill with people. I’ll be here.
There is a plan to erect a $40 million dollar fence in the town of Mantoloking and Brick Township. This wall is to help create dunes that will protect the multi-million dollar homes on the beach. I have heard rumors among the local residents that the five families who are trying to stop this project don’t want their views of the ocean taken away. While I understand that, next time there is another Sandy, they may not have a home with which to have any view. Ah, rich people’s problems as my friend said!
All is not as peaceful as the view from my window. There is a battle for the open Senate seat between the Mayor of Newark, Cory Booker, a Democrat, and the Tea Party candidate Steve Lonegan, the former Mayor of Bogota, New Jersey. Lonegan is a hard right Conservative, with an amazing repertoire of outrageous and extreme positions on virtually any topic. Take his opinion on healthcare. “I’d hate to see you get cancer, but that’s your problem, not mine.” Because getting Cancer is completely your fault.
“Social Security is a Ponzi scheme and “the biggest single threat facing America today.” I’m sure my parents would beg to differ. But if he feels that way, he should have his parents decline to accept those checks.
There is his fascination with Mayor Booker’s sexuality. “It’s kind of weird. As a guy, I personally like being a guy. I don’t know if you saw the stories last year. They’ve been out for quite a bit about how he likes to go out at three o’clock in the morning for a manicure and a pedicure,” Lonegan said.
“I don’t like going out in the middle of the night, or any time of the day, for a manicure and pedicure. It was described as his peculiar fetish … I have a more peculiar fetish. I like a good Scotch and a cigar. That’s my fetish but we’ll just compare the two.”
Huh, I believe that my gay friends also like being a guy. I suppose Lonegan doesn’t understand that being gay is being a guy, unless you are a lesbian. Oh Steve, you have so much to learn.
While this may be the shortest column I have written, let me close by admitting that the guest house I have called home while at the shore is owned by a very conservative Republican. Very Republican. For 12 years, I have shared parties, dinner, boating, cocktails, and laughter with his family. They have become my summer family. I would never consider going anywhere else down the shore, always looking forward to a week or a weekend at Holly House. For 12 years, we have not talked politics, not argued our differences, not fought over trivial things. We agree more than we differ, shockingly! But it makes me think of the current Congress and the incivility of its members. The name calling, the condescension, the mean spirit and the attitude of no compromising, ever is proving devastating to the country, dividing and leaving no prisoners.
My friend and I, his wife, and their family can gather every night under the stars, making pizza in his new pizza oven, stay up too late laughing and talking and just happy to be alive and in good company regardless of our differences because here, there are no differences. Maybe the United States Congress needs a vacation on the Jersey Shore.