If you don’t know what schadenfreude is, you are going to become very familiar with it in the next few minutes. The people of Hazlet love this term, because only when we experience this is something exciting and noteworthy going on in this lovely, vanilla-flavored town. I just love that the Germans gave us this word and did not allow us to Americanize it like we usually do with our butchery of spoken language, because this word flows quite easily off the tongue and is highly apropos. The best definition of this word would be when people take pleasure in the misfortune of others, and I would like to expand that to actually having fun at their expense. Last night, many people were experiencing schadenfreude, when a man took a shotgun and held his wife hostage at their home in the West Keansburg section of Hazlet. Social media immediately blew up with excitement. People were just going bananas over the fact that S.W.A.T teams were called in, and men in camouflage were climbing up peoples’ houses and onto rooftops with sniper rifles so they could have a better glimpse at the perpetrator of justice. People were anxiously awaiting to hear gunshots, which would serve to cap off the night and be the icing on the cake.
I’ve always felt that the “fresh start” and “clean slate” as promised by the start of a new year was a bit cliched, but given all that has happened in the past year, especially here in the northeast, with so much damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, and most recently, the school shooting in Connecticut, there are many people in search of just that. I sincerely hope that all of those who had a disappointing 2012 will have a very happy and healthy 2013! There are so many wonderful people out there who have gotten the short end of the stick, and deserve much better.
Frosty the Snowman’s corncob pipe was taken away several years ago, and now, thanks to a hack author from Canada, Santa’s has now gone missing as well. Yes, that’s right, the politically correct, over-sensitive lunacy that has engulfed this continent has made its way to Clement Clarke Moore’s timeless tale, Twas the Night Before Christmas, as a new edition has been released with verses related to Santa’s evil pipe smoking deleted. The author, Pamela McColl, has omitted all references to tobacco, along with adding the subtitle, “Edited by Santa Claus for the benefit of children of the 21st century”, because she feels that Santa’s bad habit will negatively influence the young, malleable minds reading and listening to the story. While some may see this as harmless, I see it as a desecration of literature, much in the same way that people were aghast when Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn was edited down a few years ago, removing all uses of the N-word, to appeal to “modern audiences”. Twain, the complete reverse of a racist in real life, used such language to articulate a point, and tell a story, one which has been butchered by the ultra-liberal pansies who want to shield young eyes from the slightest upsetting remark or image. Apparently, the jolly old elf enjoying a pipe after flying around the world is so disgusting, it had to be removed as well.
Like every situation, there are many positives and negatives that can be observed. I had wanted to write this earlier but also wanted to wait, since I did not think it was the proper time to drop something cynical on this blog, when so many people needed feel-good stories to get by. So I have fixed that by combining the “jeers” with some “cheers”, so that the article is not overwhelmingly negative. If you have read the previous “Weathering the Storm” articles, than you will know my experiences with relief work have been very rewarding and positive, but there are a few things going on in our area that have slipped through the cracks, as you will see below.
I do not mean to offend anyone by referring to martial-law declared Highlands as “war-torn”, but after returning from the police restricted zone yesterday afternoon during some of our volunteer work, it was the only adjective I could come up with as a few of my students and players gathered around to ask what it was like. Not having the emotional strength to elaborate after witnessing such a horrible sight, all I could say was, “It looked like someone fought a war down there, like the pictures from our WWII class that I showed you last year, of cities leveled, houses torn apart, and families standing out on the street next to a pile of rubble that used to be their furniture and belongings.” The reason why we were able to get down there, was because we had a town resident in our car, as well as a load of supplies, that included cleaning items and pet food. Yes, we cannot forget our furry little friends, because I am happy to report that the humans in the area are being taken care of to the best of our humble abilities, though there truly is not enough that can be done to help them. Originally, we were supposed to drop the stuff off at another church below Route 36, but on the way, the three of us decided it might be more effective to go house to house—and that’s exactly what we did. One person drove up and down the neighborhoods while the rest of us walked alongside, yelling over to anyone we could see about what we had. The people were incredibly grateful, even the ones that did not take anything.
Having just returned from a clothing and other essential items drive in Highlands, I can now say that the effects of this storm have finally sunk in. The surreal feeling is now gone and has been replaced by sadness, but that cannot get in the way of what needs to be done. The message is old, and maybe a bit cliched, but every little bit counts. Please, if you have any extra clothing you can donate, or maybe some nonperishable foods, there are drives springing up all over the coastal region of New Jersey. Even more importantly, though, we need volunteers to work at these places. There are clothes that need to be sorted, people that need bags of items carried to their car, or in some cases, driven to where they are staying as their cars have been lost. Monetary donations are always welcome, but at this point, material goods are what these people truly need. The place I was at today, the church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, was inundated with clothing, toiletries, and diapers and baby supplies. What struck me the most was how considerate everyone was. People whose houses and everything they own had been washed away were only taking a few items, and when told they could take more, the response was generally, “No, save it for someone who really needs it.” If you or a friend or loved one has been affected and are reading this, please, please, please come by tomorrow and help yourself to our spread, which as of this afternoon, occupied an entire basketball court. I will be getting there around noon to do whatever they need us to.
Just when bipartisanship seemed dead in America, President Barack Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have shown that it is indeed possible to stand in the middle of the aisle to get things done. Being an independent fed up with both parties, I must say I am impressed with the actions of both leaders. Christie may have been too cautious for Hurricane Irene last year, but this year, you will see that he was spot on. I have not been keeping track of all the updates, but every time I heard him speak on the radio when the power was out, it instilled confidence in me that everything would soon be alright, and progress was being made. His bullyish, no-nonsense attitude may be unappealing to some people, but that is exactly what we need in politics, especially in a time of crisis. He is a take-charge man who tells it like it is, and I applaud him for never dancing around the situation. If I ever did reverse my decision to never vote for a major party candidate for president, should Christie run in 2o16, he very well may be the only Republican I would ever consider voting for. He has called all shots, and the the law and order in this state has been maintained as well as it can be given the circumstances. From trying to stop price gouging to signing the order to start rationing gas tomorrow, there is a sense of calm in an area that has seen much disturbance.
Call it fate, irony, or a little bit of both, but the Spy House still stands in Port Monmouth, New Jersey, not being the victim of any apparent damage, at least not that I could see from the pier parking lot, as I could not get any closer yesterday due to the property being roped off. As I was passing through the area with a friend, I just could not help but ask him to take the drive down to see if the house was still there. Sure enough, just as I knew in my gut (call me crazy, but I don’t think the spirits there would allow for its destruction), the 262 year old establishment also known as the Seabrook-Wilson House and Bayshore Waterfront Activity Center was still standing tall, in the middle of an area that was completely leveled. To my amazement, though located about fifty feet from the beach, it did not appear to even have a broken window. This is obviously great news for history buffs and paranormal enthusiasts, as the house in rich in both history, lore, legends, and hauntings. I guess it is safe to say that the house is going to be here for a while longer, its survival being a testament to how great construction was back then.
Now that the power is back on and my hiatus from blogging is over, I just wanted to let everyone know that my family and I are fine, and I also want to express my deepest sympathies for those in nearby towns that were affected by Hurricane Sandy, as I will elaborate on later. The atmosphere surrounding this event is surreal, and the area is completely devastated. For that reason, I wanted to share this Facebook movement that my friend, actor Fred Griffith, created, to begin to get the wheels in motion on a charity event for hurricane relief of the east coast. I was asked to contribute my thoughts, and I sent him this brief message:
It truly is a shame that the Republican Convention down in Tampa, Florida is being delayed because of an oncoming hurricane, because the thought of Mitt Romney and his league of racist, bigoted, old, white Christian supremacists getting washed out to sea is too titillating to ignore. Come election day, we can look back on the Republican Party after a eulogy stating, “What the hell happened?”, as we begin to plop the dirt on their casket as it is being lowered six feet under. Or no, maybe not. They should probably be interred in a marble mausoleum, because to be placed in the cold dirt next to us normal poor folks would be an impending nightmare in their last, fleeting moments of life. It truly will be the end of them, and thankfully so. Barack Obama, like him or not, is probably laughing himself to sleep on a nightly basis because his own opponents are digging their own graves. Just think, the Republican Party was the group of people who wanted to end slavery back in the 1800′s; they were probably the progressives of the lot back in the day. Today, they have disintegrated into an Aryan organization of pro-Christian, pro-wealth, anti-everything else lunatics, who used to only be on the fringe, before being welcomed into the forefront of party politics. This is the party that prides themselves on limiting government and allowing the people to have more freedom, yet they are actually sitting around in the year 2012 debating what exactly constitutes rape.