Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, May 21, 2011

So Far, So Good

It’s about 9 a.m. Sunday on the island of Kiritimati (Christmas Island) in the Pacific, and all is well. Kirimati is the first stop after the International Date Line. In the Chatham Islands, it’s 8 a.m. It’s 5 a.m. in Sydney, Australia, 3 a.m. in Beijing, Manila and Hong Kong, 2 a.m. in Jakarta, 2 a.m. Kaththmandu, and just after midnight in Mumbai.

People in that part of the world can sleep soundly; Doomsday is over and has passed them by. The 6 p.m. deadline has already passed further West. London, Paris, and Rome, Oslo, Moscow, and Casablanca are safe, as are Madrid, Johannesburg, and Zurich.

The Sun is making its way across the Atlantic. Halifax and Rio de Janeiro will be the first American cities to know what Fate has in storm. If the sun sets over Honolulu with no catastrophes, the world will be able to breathe a sigh of relief: it was just a false alarm.

Most of us just laughed the whole thing. Anyone who knows the Bible (or has seen Shawshank Redemption) knows that God isn’t going to alert the Media before He does his spring cleaning, tossing out the garbage and keeping what is worthwhile, then finishes the rest of us off. However, Judgment Day does give you pause to think?

On Judgment Day, is your soul going to go to Heaven or the Salvation Army?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

GOP Straw-Men

Just a reminder to Passaic County voters.  The New Jersey primaries are on June 7, and a group of Democrats running under the party title of "GOP Strong" are on the ballot to try to upset the Republican primary.  These are not Republicans.  They're not even RINOs (which would be bad enough).  When you see GOP Strong, think Gimmick Opposition Party.  We know it's hard to tell the Republicans from the Democrats these days.  But why would a Republican campaign and vote for a Democrat (Pascrell) under the Republican banner?  It's like Exxon advertising for Shell.  Doesn't make much sense, does it?

Democrats have pulling these dirty, cross-over vote tricks for years.  Voters need to wake up and smell the garbage.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Something’s Rotten in N.J.’s Passaic County

Let me begin by apologizing to my national and international readers. We have some local garbage that we have to clean up today. If you’re going to read today’s blog, make sure you spray your monitor and keyboard with disinfectant!

George W. Bush wouldn’t set foot in New Jersey. Glenn Beck laughs at us on television. We’re billed as the most politically-corrupt (as opposed to politically correct) state in the union. New Jersey political body is badly in need of deodorant and no district is more in need of some ultra-strong remedy than District 40, home of Paterson, Wayne, Montclair, Totowa, Little Falls, Pompton Lakes (of the Pompton Dam and DuPont fame), and the Passaic Valley Sewage Commission (PVSC).

Some PVSC notables include: Carmelo Scangarello; Anthony Ardis former congressional aide and one-time PVSC commissioner; Kevin Keogh, a former West Orange councilman and superintendent of special services at the agency; Chester Mazza, who retired from the State Police as a detective sergeant in 1985, had ties to former Passaic County GOP Chairman Peter Murphy and had worked for the county’s utilities authority as chief of enforcement; he was hired by PVSC in 1999 as a safety officer, later becoming superintendent of safety and then assistant superintendent of special services, with a $127,276 salary that more than doubled in the past ten years.

What’s wrong with this smelly list (besides the fact that most of them have been arrested)? They all claimed to be Republicans while making donations and volunteering for Democrat candidates.

The information comes via the Passaic County Regular Republican Organization. Murphy has organized a “questionable” Republican group called “GOP Strong.” They are fielding candidates with strong ties to District 40’s U.S. Congressman (D) Bill Pascrell. The organization was formed during the 2010 campaign, masquerading as Tea Party Republicans.

Campaign workers in the Roland Straten camp who were members of PCRRO, provided hard evidence to back up the allegations, which you can find on their links and website. GOP Strong even opened up an office, Republicans for Pascrell. In response to requests from the NJRTP, the PCRRO provided a report replete with FEC campaign contribution reports, pictures, media articles, etc. While some of the information is organized using questions, you can also download the whole report at the very end.

So let’s see how much District 40 and other Passaic County voters know about their elected officials. Take the quiz and see if you can tell the difference between the Tea Party Republicans and the RINOs. You can click on the links below to see the artwork or verify the sources of the answers. The last link at the bottom, in red, is to the complete report.  (You may not be able to see the links, though.).

Here’s a short quiz on the Murphy-backed slate of GOP Strong Candidates running under the slogan “Republicans For A Better Passaic County” in the primary this year:

1. Which GOP Strong candidates gave money to the Democrats recently? CLICK HERE FOR ANSWER

Michael McLaughlin, Head of GOP Strong ticket and candidate for surrogate. McLaughlin contributed over $610 to Democrats last year according to ELEC and another $305 this year, including a donation of $125 that occurred almost three weeks after he announced his run for Surrogate on the GOP Strong line. He is employed with the Clifton P.D.

Ernesto Sesso (GOP Strong 40th District Assembly Candidate) of West Paterson.

Sesso gave $4,750 to the Congressman Pascrell campaign last year and has in the past contributed $1,000 to Sen. Menendez’s Campaign. He also contributed $1,000 to Jon Corzine in the general election against Chris Christie while at the same time contributing $1,000 to the GOP Strong Candidate.

Carmelo Scangarello, Republican Municipal Chairman of West Milford (West Milford, Totowa and North Haledon are running off the line in support of GOP Strong). Scangaerllo is one of the PVSC stinkers. He contributed $500 to the Pascrell for Congress campaign in 2004.

Giovanni D’Ambrosio (Treasurer of GOP Strong)

D’Ambrosio serves on the Passaic Valley Water Commission. He contributed $250 to Pascrell’s campaign in 2005.

Randy Colondres (Candidate for 34th District Assembly)

A GOP Strong candidate for Assembly, Colondres is a Democrat contributor and a Clifton police officer.

Steve Farrell (Candidate for 34th District Assembly)

Another GOP Strong candidate for Assembly, Farrell is also a Democrat contributor and Clifton police officer who contributed $80 to Pascrell’s campaign.

3. Which candidate gave $4,750.00 to Democrat Congressman Bill Pascrell last year? CLICK HERE FOR ANSWER

Ernesto Sesso (GOP Strong 40th District Assembly Candidate)

Last year, Sesso was the chair of Republicans for Responsible Government. He also gave $4,750 to the Congressman Pascrell campaign last year and has in the past contributed to Sen. Menendez’s campaign. He also contributed $1,000 to Jon Corzine in the general election against Chris Christie while contributing $1,000 to the GOP Strong Candidate. The omnipresent Duffy for Freeholder sign that Peter Murphy put up in Totowa were all paid for by the “Republicans for Responsible Government” or “Republicans for Duffy”, neither of which filed ELEC reports. The Treasurer of Republicans for Duffy is Brian Burns, the brother of one of Peter Murphy’s business partners and a former GOP Strong candidate.

4. Which candidate gave money to the Democrats 3 weeks after announcing he was running for Office as a “Republican” this year? CLICK HERE FOR ANSWER

If you said Michael McLaughlin (Head of GOP Strong County Ticket and Candidate for Surrogate) you were right!

McLaughlin contributed $610 to Democrats last year, according to the ELEC and another $305 this year, including a donation of $125 on March 24 that occurred almost three weeks after he announced his run for Surrogate on the GOP Strong line on March 5, 2011.

5. Which candidate gave $1,000 in October 2009 to Democrat Jon Corzine to try and defeat Chris Christie? CLICK HERE FOR ANSWER

Yes. Ernesto Sesso (GOP Strong 40th District Assembly Candidate). Again.

See No. 3. Sesso for Cesspool Administrator.

6. Who recommends Vote for Bill A3796 NJ State Pension Reform and we will not re-elect you (pension reform bill), NJ Firefighters and Police Against Gov Christie's Pension Plan , New Jersey Teachers United Against Governor Chris Christie's Pay Freeze & Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr on their Facebook page? CLICK HERE FOR ANSWER

Michael McLaughlin (Head of GOP Strong County Ticket and Candidate for Surrogate). Him again.

McLaughlin is a former union delegate and is an outspoken critic of Gov. Christie’s public employee benefit and pension reform efforts. McLaughlin, in an attempt to hide his opposition to Christie’s reforms, recently took down most of his anti-Christie rants from his Facebook page. But he remains a member of several noteworthy liberal and anti-Christie organizations including:

Vote for Bill A3796 NJ State Pension Reform and we will not re-elect you
NJ Firefighters and Police Against Gov Christie's Pension Plan
Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr
New Jersey Teachers United Against Governor Chris Christie's Pay Freeze

7. Which of Murphy’s GOP Strong cronies ran campaigns against the Republican Party on the public dime? CLICK HERE FOR ANSWER

If you said Mike Mecca, Carmelo Scangarello and Michael Ramaglia you were right! In 2009, it was revealed through a series of emails obtained from the Passaic Valley Sewage Authority in response to an OPRA request, that Ramaglia had been using Community Development Corporation (CDC) equipment to develop political mailers on agency time. Additionally, the emails show that he joined with Michael Mecca and Carmelo Scangarello of the PVSC in running Political campaigns on work time. Joseph Smolinski ran with Ramaglia for West Milford Town Council and is a candidate running on the GOP Strong line this year. The scan is one of numerous scans that were used in political fliers. The Scan above was done at 2:19 PM, apparently during work hours, on CDC equipment and used on a GOP Strong political mailer during the Republican Primary. Ramaglia worked for the CDC as Chief of Staff. This story was reported in the Record and in the Herald & New newspapers and covered by Chanel 12 news. Ramaglia and Smolinski were sworn in to the Township of West Milford Town Council by State Sen. (R) Joseph Pennachio.

8. How many GOP Strong Clifton County Committee had signs for democrats in their yards last year? CLICK HERE FOR ANSWER

If you said 18 you’re either Mike Mecca or a Terrific guesser!

Available on PCRRO’s website and link are 12 photos of residences, comprising 18 County Committee members from Clifton, with Democrat signs on their lawns. They all ran on the GOP Strong line with Mecca.

9. Which of Murphy’s recently arrested cronies from the PVSC supported the Democrats last November and is supporting GOP Strong this year? CLICK HERE FOR ANSWER

If you guessed Murphy’s friend Anthony Ardis, you were wrong! It was Chet Mazza.

Arrested were Anthony Ardis, 56, of Paterson a former congressional aide and one-time PVSC commissioner; Kevin Keogh, 45, a former West Orange councilman and superintendent of special services at the agency; and Chester Mazza, 69, of Totowa. Mazza, who retired from the State Police as a detective sergeant in 1985, had ties to former Passaic County GOP Chairman Peter Murphy and had worked for the county’s utilities authority as chief of enforcement. He was hired by PVSC in 1999 as a safety officer, later becoming superintendent of safety, and then assistant superintendent of special services, with a $127,276 salary that more than doubled in the past ten years. Mazza also had a Dodge Durango assigned to him - Star Ledger, Wed., Feb. 2, 2011

10. Who did the teachers union give more money to, GOP Strong or the PCRRO? CLICK HERE FOR ANSWER

The Passaic County Education Association (PCEA) gave $2,800 to GOP Strong/ 0 to PCRRO

Before the confrontation between the Christie Administration and the NJEA developed, the PCEA gave to various Republican and Democrat candidates, although the largest amount always went to the Democrats. About two years ago, the PCEA generally stopped giving to Republicans. At that point, the reported donations from PCEA to GOP Strong in four separate contributions totaled $2,800. GOP Strong is a PAC that they had never given to in the past.

11. What does an Administrative Archivist do at a Sewage Plant and why would one of Murphy’s cronies put him back on the public pad? CLICK HERE FOR ANSWER

Trick Question – nobody we know has any idea what an Administrative Archivist
would do at a sewage plant, and why anyone would hire an AA in the Clerk’s Office
baffles even the Democrats (except for Duffy and LePore)

Kristen Corrado, County Clerk, ran on the Murphy/Mecca GOP Strong line in 2009 and won the primary along with three PCRRO candidates. All were elected in the General election. Corrado chose as her Deputy Clerk long-time Democrat activist and aide to Congressman William Pascrell, Peter Rendina. She also chose to give a newly-created position to Carmelo Scangarello, who was later dismissed from his job as an administrative archivist with the PVS through the efforts of Gov. Christie. According to newspaper reports, “Corrado said the state statute that governs the county clerk’s position allows her to hire a confidential assistant on an “at-will” basis, thus bypassing the state Civil Service exam and letting her write the job description.”

Bonus Question: Who tried a bait and switch routine in the primary with their endorsement of Chris Christie? CLICK HERE FOR ANSWER

If you said Peter Murphy and GOP Strong you were right!

Members of GOP Strong, after endorsing Christie, then opposed him in the primary for Governor. E-mails to and from the then chairman and then treasurer of GOP Strong, secured by OPRA to the PVSC, show that when they made the endorsement they did so for momentary strategic advantage and not because of any real support. In fact they structured the endorsement so that it could be, and was, easily disavowed.

This information was provided and paid for by the Passaic County Regular Republican organization. Glenn Beck said to show courage. In making public this information, we all stand at great risk of a) having stop signs put through our windshields (at the very least); b) getting tickets in Clifton c) having our garbage dumped on our lawns; d) waking up our neighbors to the dangers of not paying attention; e) winning the 2011 state election on a conservative, tea party-supported, hi-we’re-your-neighbors agenda.

New Jersey politics really stink, as you can see (especially in Passaic County and District 40). The North Jersey Regional Tea Party has stocked up on rubber gloves, garbage bags, and disinfectant for this campaign.

Somebody’s got to clean up Passaic County so Glenn Beck will come visit (before he leaves the New York area). We want to show him Federal Hill and the Iron Door.


paid for by the Passaic County Regular Republican org

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Republican Roulette

It’s early on in the Presidential run for 2012. But why are Republicans having such a problem coming up with viable candidates? Is it really that hard to produce an honest, reliable, conservative, virtuous candidate? Do you mean to say we can’t come up a single person able to measure up against the so-called “stature” of a socialist, cheerleading, community organizer who’s driving us into debt? Whose only claim to fame prior to becoming president was seven years as a state senator, and something like 143 days, total, was it as a U.S. Senator? Who needs the help of questionable billionaires to manipulate the economy for him in order to win.

Virtue seems to be the stumbling block to winning for the Republicans (e/g, Ahnold Schwarzenegger.  Luckily, he wouldn't have been eligible to run for president anyway). Donald Trump, until he took up the Birther issue, was the leading candidate. You have to give Trump credit for nerve. He did get Obama to produce the long-form birth certificate. But a not-too in-depth investigation revealed that Trump, ever the savvy businessman, has been in bed with the other side.

Mitt Romney is your classic, limousine candidate.  He looks presidential.  But he passed healthcare in ultra-liberal Massachusetts which makes his candidacy problematic for conservatives.  He's also Mormon.  What the big deal about that is hard to figure.  When JFK was running, religious voters were upset that he was Catholic and that the American people might be forced to bow to the Pope.  As it turns out, given Kennedy's proclivities for women, we were in absolutely no danger.  No wonder Ah-nold wanted to be a Kennedy.  As for Romney, it's all about the health care.

Mike Huckabee announced on his Fox News show that he would not be running. He had a full-term governorship in his plus-column. But there were also accusations that he accepted a speaking fee and travel expenses from a non-profit group while lieutenant-governor. Still, he was elected and re-elected governor of Arkansas. Still, he’s declined to run for president on moral grounds. Pundits say he’s doing well in his television show and has no need for the strife.

Rudy Giuliani would be another contender. He was America’s mayor on 9/11. He suffered through one divorce, from a distant cousin, and second, noisier divorce. Ronald Reagan was divorced and Bill Clinton admitted to an adulterous affair during his tenure as president, right in the Oval Office. So don’t talk to me about Giuliani. He is also pro-abortion and neither problem sits well with religiously conservative voters.

Newt Gingrich is another candidate who comes with hefty marital baggage and more accusations over speaking fees. He led the Republican revolution, but he also made nice with the Liberals and that’s a negative for the Tea Party Republicans. If he can explain himself, he might possibly have a chance.

Sarah Palin, it has already been noted, will not be running. She’d be the perfect candidate. The baggage the Liberal media claims she’s carrying is bogus; they’re the ones, it turns out, who packed her bags. Turns out, she went from school to school for financial, not academic, reasons. Let’s see Obama’s college transcripts. Then we’ll talk. However, she has a large, young family, some of whom (namely Bristol) are an image problem for her. But no one should ever have their adolescent children held against them. No one held the Bush twins against George W. For Palin, family has to come first. For now. Her biggest problem was resigning her governorship before completing her term. I understand the reasons, but it doesn’t look good on a presidential resume.

Chris Christie. He’s everyone’s favorite governor, from New Jersey, no less (take note, Glenn Beck). But he doesn’t want to make the mistake Sarah Palin made. He has to at least complete his first term. New Jersey isn’t through making a mess of itself. If we wind up putting another Democrat senate and assembly into office this coming year, we’re going to need him. His family needs him, too. Again, like Palin, he has a young family, and he and they are just not ready for the rigors of presidential life.

The rest of the pack include some promising candidates including Tim Pawlenty and Ron Paul. Most of them, except for Paul, are not yet household names. As your average pol-watcher, I can tell you names don’t mean much. In Back to the Future, Michael J. Fox’s future grandfather says, “Who the hell is John F. Kennedy?” That pretty much sums up the average voter’s knowledge of candidates. As a young voter, I knew Ronald Reagan had been the governor of California, but only because the television news smeared his name as often as they could. I had no idea who Jimmy Carter was, or the George Bushes, or Bill Clinton. I’d never heard of any of the also-rans, either.

You can be sure that all today’s young Liberal voters will know is the name the Democrats put up for them, kind of like an “Applause” sign during a television show. Let’s hope what young voters the Republicans can boast of do their homework on this election a little better.

Monday, May 16, 2011

God Vibrations

In one of the Harry Potter movies, the second I think, our heroic trio is in search of some forbidden place called the Chamber of Secrets.  Searching it out means not just that the three of them will get in trouble, but their entire house (dormitory) – which seems to me isn’t quite right.

At any rate a shy, nervous character named Neville stands up to them and tells them he’s not going to let them get the entire house in trouble and be punished.  Well, of course, Hermione, just zaps him and off they go to save the day.  But at the end of the film, when Head Wizard Dumbledore is handing out awards, he tells the students it takes a lot of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more courage to stand up to your friends, and he awards the hapless Neville ten points – which wins the House Cup for their House (Gryffindor).

When I was learning to play the piano, I wanted to learn to play like my grandmother.  She was so much fun.  She could play by ear and knew all the songs you could sing to.  That’s what I wanted to do.  Instead, my grouse of a piano teacher gave me a primer book with all minor key, classical songs, which I hated.

My brothers were jealous and locked the dog in the cellar to make him howl while I tried to learn these pieces which I detested.  Even my father complained.  I made very little progress and my piano teacher would bawl me out, marking my mistakes in red.  Finally, one day my mother came to pick me up and my grandmother happened to be riding along.  She’s the one who gave me the piano.  I was crying again, as usual.  Grandma ordered my mother to put an end to my lessons.

In high school, they had a beautiful grand piano in the choir practice room, but only the elite students were allowed to play it.  I was invited to use one of the practice pianos and I tried it, since practicing my own piano was pretty near impossible.  But I had no heart for it by then.

Then I joined the local community band as a glock player.  They yelled at me, too, at first, because I wasn’t hitting the bells hard enough.  But I persevered.  One cold rainy, parade, I hit the bells so hard (bells don’t ring when they’re wet) that the yellow head of the mallet snapped off and went rolling down the street.  Once I got the knack of it, no one bothered me anymore.  I was happy and got to be pretty good at it.

We tried various others bands.  Some had friendly conductors.  Others didn’t.  I knew in an instant, with the first downbeat what kind of director they were.  Taskmasters never saw me again, and were glad, and so was I.  We finally settled on a church band, and I was as happy there as I was with my primary band.  I had beautiful instruments and we played great music.

After about ten years, though, the conductor retired, and a new guy was hired.  I thought he was okay.  A little more insistent than the other guy, but not bad.  I thought he was reasonable, but my friends didn’t so off we went.

The next band I hated immediately.  The director had a ramrod up his spine as I saw at the very first rehearsal, where I played flute until I could find whether they had a bell player or not (they didn’t).  I suffered through the rehearsals for the sake of my friends, but I was absolutely miserable.

At last, I was allowed to retire to my beloved bells.  But even there, I wasn’t good enough for this man.  He was a professional musician and conductor.  He’s composed and directed movie scores.  I was never going to live up to his expectations.  I begged my friends to let me go but they wouldn’t hear of it.  Some nights, I went home crying.  It was like I was 9 years old again with my old music teacher.

Finally, he went whole hog in browbeating me before the entire band.  I’d missed a triangle roll.  He accused me, basically, of doing it on purpose.  I apologized and tried to explain that I had simply missed it but he wouldn’t hear anything.  He just went on with his rant.  Why had I been sitting down (well because I didn’t realize the roll was in that section and because my knees freeze up if I stand too long, actually)?  Why didn’t I look to him for the cue (because if I’d realized the roll was there, I wouldn’t have needed his cue because I can count?  I’ve been “counting” – in musical terms – since I was 9)?! 

He carried on some more but by that time, I really wasn’t listening because I knew it didn’t matter anymore.  This was it; the breaking point had come, the one I’d warned my friends about.  He’d already done this to me a number of times.  One more time, and I’d be done.

No one likes to have to “bell” their friends.  However, this was just no fun anymore.  This guy was simply too serious for me.  How many times had I had to say it to them?  I want to play on a band that’s fun.  I already have a job and this band was becoming more and more like a chore.  What’s more, I was losing my confidence, so that even on the fun band, I was hitting wrong notes and hesitating where I hadn’t in the past.

But I worried what my friends would say.  I already knew they wouldn’t support me.  Would they also “unfriend” me?  I didn’t know what to do.

So I did what I always do in those cases.  I turned to the best source first – God.  I asked Him if there wasn’t some way He could release me from this misery – without losing my friends.  But He said there was nothing He could do; that it was up to me.  In this case, I had to have the courage to free myself.  He showed me Bible verses where it says no person should be enslaved to another human being.

I was also quite hurt.  I knew that I wasn’t a first-class musician.  I’ve never claimed to be.  I’ve never wanted to be.  Yet for whatever skills I had, I still loved making music.  What made musicians the way they were?  Why do they insist on being so cruel to others?  I felt about two inches small and found myself so sad that I wasn’t considered “good enough” to make music that I wept.

Two minutes later, right on cue, Mom called.  Mom to the rescue.  I told her what happened and how I was debating whether to go to the concert or not.  I didn’t want to.  She said she didn’t think I should.  If I did, she said, the other musicians would have no respect for me, and this director would just consider it an open invitation to abuse me.
Then we discussed my friends.  But I remembered them discussing the day before how one of our members has made a decision of which her grown son disapproves.  She said that that was too bad for him; that it was time for her to do what was best for her.

God and Mom were right (and Grandma, too.  She said in a dream that I shouldn’t stay with this band, that this director is wrong.  Perfection is important but so is enjoying the music and you can’t enjoy or play well if you’re nervous all the time).  He will never respect me, no matter what.  The musicians would be appalled if I returned, thereby letting him get away with such behavior.  Nor would I have any respect for myself.

We had two concerts yesterday, the first with the fun band.  Finally, I told my friends there was no way I was going to that other band concert or in fact, going back to that band at all.  We aren’t being paid for either of these bands.  I don’t tolerate such behavior in my paid job; I certainly won’t tolerate verbal abuse from a community band director.  He’s the way he is, that’s all, and I don’t want to spend my life trying to deal with it.   I expect God made him the way he is for a reason, too.  After all, it’s one thing to make mistakes on a community band, but people going to concerts, Broadway shows, or buying CDs aren’t going to be too happy hearing an orchestra that sounds like the Hooterville Band.

His bad moods, too, are probably reflective of the fact that he teaches music in a middle school.  Can anybody say “ephebiphobia”?  Then, too, the room this community band rehearses in is in a basement and the acoustics are dreadful.  The sound bounces off the front wall, where the director stands, and goes all the way back, where I can feel the vibrations right through my fingers.  I can only imagine what it’s like for this poor guy, who gets it front and back.  No wonder he’s such a grouch.

My friends actually took the decision respectfully, possibly because I didn’t beg them.  I told them matter-of-factly.  I felt like two tons of weight had been lifted from my shoulders.  After they went on the second concert, I danced around my house for joy, getting all the housework finished that would have been neglected had I gone on to that other concert.

Sometimes all it takes is a little extra courage and a talk with God (and Grandma and Mom!).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Manual Transmission

No one really believes that the world will come to an end this coming Saturday. Or in 2012. Still, it’s a big planet and a big universe. The notion that we have any real control over it, that we can affect it in any way that it can’t reverse, or that Mother Earth can make changes that we can reverse, is childishly ridiculous, bordering on a madness of the Napoleonic Complex variety.

This past Tuesday, our area experienced a rolling variety power outage. Suddenly, all our electronic gizmos – our televisions, computers, cell phones, Ipads, DVD players, refrigerators, washing machines, and for some, stoves – were totally useless. The grid came back on in a few moments. Our rehearsal hall operated on generator power until the power came back.

But what if it didn’t come back? Look at how long it took to get power restored to Lower Manhattan on 9/11. The area was without power for three weeks. What would we do then? We’re a resilient, resourceful society. We would find a way to get our power restored. In the short term, though, we’d be in quite a fix.

What if the unthinkable happened, though? What if we had such a calamity, that not enough people survived to keep our society going? It happened during the Bubonic Plague. Hundreds of European villages were simply wiped out. The earthquake in Japan, the Mississippi floods are teaching us that we’re no match for Mother Nature.

Or God.

Last night, my mother and I were talking about the End of the World Day. If we survive this one, we should make it a national holiday, as a reminder to think and plan ahead, and not take everything we have for granted. As the prediction is for a 6 p.m. major earthquake, we decided to hold our End of the World Celebration on Friday evening instead. We’re going to go out to dinner, then come home and feast on all our favorite goodies while we watch Mom’s favorite movie – Gone with the Wind.

She asked if I had all the necessary items. Food? Plenty and to spare. Candles? No, not yet, but I’ll pick some up at the store. Matches? A whole box full. In a major quake a lot of trees will probably come down, so we’ll have plenty of firewood. Mom has all sorts of garden implements – saws, axes, and the like – and my very strong younger brother to wield them.

We all have bicycles and a bicycle pump. Plus, Mom has two manual typewriters. I just need to order ribbons for them. She says there’s a store in New York City that still services manual typewriters. I’ll have to invest in some carbon paper, by which means I’ll still be able to publish my blog, delivering it on my bicycle to my customers.

The typewriters are Remington Rands. Remington Rand (1927–1955) was an early American business machines manufacturer, best known originally as a typewriter manufacturer. Ironically, in a later incarnation, RR manufactured the UNIVAC line of mainframe computers but with antecedents in Remington Arms in the early 19th century. For a time, the word "univac" was recognized as a generic synonym for "computer". Remington Rand was a diversified conglomerate manufacturing other office equipment, electric shavers, etc. The Remington Rand Building at 315 Park Avenue South in New York City is a 20-floor skyscraper completed in 1911.

Remington Typewriters were the first to use the QWERTY keyboard layout. Remington Arms had bought the design from Christopher Sholes. The Remington No.1 was the first model released. All keys were uppercase. Remington Arms spun off Remington Typewriter Company in 1886, and after the 1927 merger, the Remington Rand Corp. continued to manufacture and sell typewriters.

If the world as we know it comes to an end in 2012, and I survive whatever catastrophes strike, I’ll be like Victor Lazlo from Casablanca, printing revolutionary tracts in my basement.