Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Glenn Carson Learns A Lesson

On a day when Congress voted down a bailout plan and Wall Street tumbled the fact that a high school senior had made a college choice would not appear to be big news. However in the world we live in it was big enough that some in the media could not wait even when we were asked to do so for all the right reasons.

Glenn Carson is a very talented football player at Southern Regional High School and many of the nation’s top colleges were bidding for his services.
A 6’3, 225 pound linebacker who also doubles as a running back, Carson was sought after by Penn State, Rutgers, Notre Dame, Boston College, Stanford, Virginia and a host of others. It’s no coincidence that all those schools have strong academic reputations because Carson understands there is no guarantee that a pro football career awaits and academics are a large part of the college experience.

Along with his parents, Glenn Sr. and Barbara, Glenn had made quite a few visits to colleges across the country and all along said he was hoping to make a decision early in his senior year. That decision was cemented Saturday night when he stood on the sidelines at Beaver Stadium and looked at the 108,000 white-clad Penn State fans in attendance during their nationally-televised game against Illinois. What teen-ager wouldn’t picture themselves being part of such an atmosphere? By the end of the weekend word started drifting out on various web sites that Carson wanted to be part of Penn State’s storied tradition….after all players like Jack Ham, Greg Buttle, Shane Conlan, LaVar Arrington, Paul Posluszny and Dan Connor
are why the Nittany Lions have been dubbed “Linebacker U.”

Yesterday I got the word that Glenn had indeed made an oral commitment to Penn State but he was asking that the announcement be held until today so he personally could notify all the schools that had offered him scholarships. In the “me-first world” we live in that shows you the make-up of the young man who had said all along the most difficult thing would be saying “no” to schools and programs he liked very much. However in the battle to get the story first some just could not wait and honor his request and by the end of the day Carson has no choice but confirm he was headed to Happy Valley.

He also learned a valuable lesson….to some in the media “off the record” is a waste of words.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Musings

For the last time today this season I lament on what it’s like to be a Mets fan where you come to expect disappointment although you’re not always sure how the road will lead you there. To be honest as I’ve gotten older I’ve become much more accepting and I realize that Sunday’s end-of-season loss will have no long term effects. You still have to get up for work in the morning and go about your daily routine and most of the sting has already worn off. Sports are for the most part a distraction from the mundane, a place to channel our emotions and an outlet for many to display a different side. The beauty of being a passionate fan is that winning is not a guarantee so you celebrate those moments because losing is always right around the corner. So if you are a Mets fan and feel like you have nothing to root for then join me in rooting against the Phillies…it’s the next best thing to hoping the Yankees lose.

The coolest thing about Paul Newman was he didn’t have to act cool…he was born that way and he died that way over the weekend at age 83. He played great roles in terrific films like “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” “The Hustler,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The String,” and “The Color of Money.” for which he finally won an Oscar. However my two favorite Newman roles were a down-and-out lawyer in “The Verdict” and a broken-down handyman in “Nobody’s Fool.” That 1994 film was the last for Jessica Tandy and the two old-timers were wonderful together. It is a terrific movie and Newman I thought was at his best. Hollywood today features plenty of despicable characters who love to bring attention to themselves with bad behavior that the media chronicles….Newman’s philanthropy and 50-year marriage to Joanne Woodward were truthfully much better stories.

Despite the weather the Borough of Beachwood held their annual community wide yard sale this weekend and we were among the many who participated. You truthfully see some strange sites and my favorites are the drive-by shoppers who never get out of their car and sometimes don’t even stop. They just slow down and glance out the window, obviously in search of a particular item because when it comes to yard sales always remember….”one man’s junk is another’s treasure.”

Friday, September 26, 2008

To Play Or Not To Play

There is probably no bigger headache for athletic and school officials then making a decision on playing a high school football game when you have weather like we have this weekend. Football is a game that was designed to be played in all kinds of elements and some would say that as long as safety is not the issue then play the game. I used to share that mentality but have softened over the years because high school football is not just the game but an event comprised and enjoyed but more than just players. You have the band, cheerleaders and other support groups who also look to perform for their fellow students and other spectators and while their participation is not a priority it’s a large part of the pageantry of a Friday Night or Saturday game.

When you think about a school usually only has 4 of 5 home games during a regular season and playing in bad weather with a small crowd can have a very negative impact. Different groups might sell refreshments as well as clothing, programs, 50/50’s and more to raise money. That money might go to help extracurricular programs or even fund scholarships and when you play a game in inclement weather it means less people and less cash.

There is nothing like a good football game between rival schools on a nice fall day or evening to help school spirit. When a few thousands fans pack Detweiller Stadium in Toms River and you hear PA Announcer Dave Correll shout “first down Indians” it’s part of an electric atmosphere. It’s not much different at Southern, Brick, Jackson Memorial and other places throughout the shore.

However when the rain is pouring down and the band can’t play and a few hundred fans are just trying to find a way to stay dry a high school football game is just a game….not an event. And that is something everyone should take into consideration.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Random Thursday Thoughts

Random notes and thoughts this Thursday morning:

Officially it’s called Digital Video Recording but more commonly it’s referred as DVR and beginning tonight it becomes a necessity, not just a luxury. I have to record The Office, ER & Grey’s Anatomy…three of our favorites which will be added to the list of programs I already have recorded which I have not had a chance to watch yet. That’s because evenings and now completely devoted to watching the Mets crash and burn which of course one must watch live….not later.

I should be the last person to question anyone’s priorities. By the time I got home last night President Bush was addressing the nation about the current financial crisis and my first thought was thank goodness the Met game is not on a network carrying the Presidents speech.

Rich Petrosino was simply one of those guys who always made you feel like the glass was half-full and he was a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. I can’t remember him without a smile and those who knew him the best probably miss that the most. The Toms River resident lost a swift battle to pancreatic cancer early in the year and now family and friends have organized a golf outing in his name with proceeds to benefit the Rich Petrosino Memorial Scholarship Fund. The inaugural outing will take place on Monday, October 20th at Woodlake Country Club and organizers are looking for golfers and sponsors. For information you can call Sean at (732) 551-0163.

Every Thursday night during the football season I co-host the AutoLenders High School Football Show and tonight will be the first of several live on location broadcasts. We’ll be at Klee’s Bar & Grill in Seaside Heights from 6-8pm and guests will include head coach Bill Hill and quarterback Kevin Gilmore of Toms River South and Monsignor Donovan head coach Dan Duddy and his son Mike, a running back for the Griffins. The show airs on the Shore Sports Network, including 1160 WOBM AM.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Password Is...

I’ve addressed this issue before but because my frustration level is rising I’m going to bring it up again. What are we going to do about the need to have a password to access just about everything in our lives? For many this started when they got their first ATM card…you probably had to create a four digit number and of course were advised not to use things like birthdays, addresses and phone numbers.

That might have been easy enough but now there is a password of some kind attached to just about everything and often I can’t remember which one goes with which item. Just this morning I needed a code to get into the building, log onto my computer and check my phone messages. That’s just for starters and for obvious reasons they can’t all have the same passwords and some require constant changing. The other problem is where do you record all of them in case you forget…..honestly I wrote them down once and put them in a special place. However I forget the place and to this day don’t know where they are although it really doesn’t matter because by know many had to get changed. That’s because when you forget a password usually you are directed to come up with a new one and that starts the entire process over again.

This is supposed to be for our protection and it is but there’s not much you can do without a password or code any longer. Check your bank statement, your EZ pass account…even read a newspaper on line and they ask for your number. Then there’s that bad feeling you get when you put the wrong one with the wrong item and you get that message in red “password not valid.”
You panic because if you can’t come up with the correct one they will force you to change and that means another number you can’t remember. So you try and finally on your third and last attempt you enter your children’s soccer uniform numbers and that’s it. What a relief….then you go home and find out one of them just a new uniform…with a new number.

This is just not going to work.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Goodbye Summer

Officially it is over whether you or I like it or not. No I’m not talking about the Mets season (although that’s pretty close) but rather summer…the very best time of year. The calendar says today is the first full day of autumn and the signs are everywhere…days are shorter, leaves are falling and bright summer colors are being replaced by browns and oranges and UGH! While the next month or so can be a beautiful time of year it’s what comes next that makes me so sad…that of course being winter.

I guess it comes down to the fact that summer at the shore makes me feel young…or at least not as old. It’s invigorating and easy…shorts, tee shirts, sandals and baseball hats. Sunrise and sunset at the beach are equally beautiful and what’s better than a stroll on the boardwalk with a cool ocean breeze providing relief? Summer is a time to barbeque and you try and squeeze as much out of a day as possible.

Now that’s pretty much over and in order to get to another one you have to go through fall, Winter and Spring. That means rain, sleet, snow, ice and plenty of cold days. Green will be gone as will flowers, replaced by bare trees and brown grass. Bright will be replaced by dull and water cooler conversation will center on things like American Idol, which is a sure sign that I and you have no life.

However in a poor attempt to sound optimistic I tell you the following….it’s 94 days until Christmas, 175 days until St. Patrick’s Day and just 244 days until Memorial Day, 2009 which of course…is the unofficial start of next summer. If you put things in perspective that’s just around the corner, although it’s a very long corner.

Monday, September 22, 2008

No Tears For The Stadium

I’m going to be honest. Yankee Stadium meant very little to me, only that it was the scene of so many moments which allowed Yankee fans to celebrate something great and remind Met fans that with few exceptions we would always take a back seat to the guys in pinstripes. As a matter of fact I’ve only been to three Yankee games in “The House that Ruth Built” and the last one was about ten years ago. However in watching the ceremonies surrounding the final game at the old ballpark Sunday night you would be foolish not to admit it was a special place that will always hold a special fondness to many. It was where Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Yogi,
Reggie, Mattingly and Jeter called home….it was where Johnny Unitas and the Colts beat the Giants in the Greatest Game in NFL history. It was for generations of New Yorkers a place that needed no introduction and soon it will be gone….replaced by a new ballpark with all the modern conveniences and a price tag to go with it.

The sad truth is that most Yankee fans will love the new place more than the old, even if it doesn’t have the history to go with it. It will have all the comforts that are important today from wider concourses to more bathrooms and you can bet most will admit next year it was time for the old ballpark in the Bronx to go.

There are so many golf outings taking place this time of year it would take me a long time to mention all. But a few hold a special place, including Klee’s Bar and Grill’s 17th Annual Outing for the benefit of Ocean of Love. It takes place on Wednesday, October 1st at Gambler Ridge and you better move fast….call (732) 830-1996 for more information.

The Brick Township Lions Club is sponsoring a golf tournament in memory of the late Hank Handchen, the longtime Athletic Director at Brick Township High School. The tournament will be hold on Monday, October 13th at Lakewood Country Club and for information you can call Steve at (732) 833-7505.

Atlantic Physical Therapy is holding their 3rd Annual Golf Tournament on Thursday, October 23rd at the Colts Neck Country Club. Proceeds from the golf tournament will benefit a scholarship fund in the memory of James Warnock and the Monmouth County Child Advocacy Center. For information you can call the Freehold office of Atlantic Physical Therapy at (732) 431-2883.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

(Note: The Hometown View did not air on WOBM Thursday so yes, there is a lot of the same material in both Thursday & Friday's segements).

Well since Shawn & Sue are talking about uniforms today this segues nicely into the second week of the high school football season where the biggest game of the weekend finds Southern visiting Brick Memorial tonight. The Rams beat Pinelands in their opener with Memorial scoring an impressive win at Toms River East and tonight’s winner figures to pose the biggest challenge to pre-season favorite Toms River North in the American Division. Another good one tonight finds the East Raiders hosting Lacey, who will be without maybe their best player in Justin Pandorf, who suffered a knee injury last week and is out a few weeks.

Our Shore Sports Network, including 1160AM will broadcast tonight’s Southern-Memorial game as well as the Saturday afternoon contest featuring Point Boro and Manasquan.

The Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore will salute Bob Novy and Ben Waldron
at their 25th Annual Award Luncheon next Wednesday (Sept. 24th) at Woodlake Country Club in Lakewood. Novy is a well known attorney in Ocean County who gives time to numerous organizations and also hosts “Inside the Law” on 1160 WOBM AM. Waldron is the executive director of the Monmouth-Ocean Development Council (MODC) which is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life and business in the two counties.

Tickets are still available for next Wednesday’s luncheon by calling Karen at
(800) 785-2090, x223. I was honored by the Girl Scouts in 2001 and the luncheon is a first-class event which supports scouting and its mission in our area. Congratulations to both Bob & Ben, truly worthy of the honor.

Manchester Township Police Department PBA #246, the Manchester Little League and Ocean County Sheriff’s Department PBA #379 will hold 4th Annual One-Pitch Softball Tournament and Family Fun Day on Saturday, September 27th at the Little League Complex on Route 571. “Just-A-Hit for Justine” will help offset medical bills and other expenses incurred by the family of Justine Applegate in her battle against Pulmonary Hypertension. Teams that would like to register can call Rich Zingaro at (732) 779-3022. Gifts and other donations are also being accepted.

Thursday This 'n That

The Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore will salute Bob Novy and Ben Waldron
at their 25th Annual Award Luncheon next Wednesday (Sept. 24th) at Woodlake Country Club in Lakewood. Novy is a well known attorney in Ocean County who gives time to numerous organizations and also hosts “Inside the Law” on 1160 WOBM AM. Waldron is the executive director of the Monmouth-Ocean Development Council (MODC) which is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life and business in the two counties.

Tickets are still available for next Wednesday’s luncheon by calling Karen at
(800) 785-2090, x223. I was honored by the Girl Scouts in 2001 and the luncheon is a first-class event which supports scouting and its mission in our area. Congratulations to both Bob & Ben, truly worthy of the honor.

Today is a big day for 107 area schools who applied for grants from the OceanFirst Foundation to improve and upgrade their libraries and media centers. OceanFirst officials will announce the recipients of $322,000 in grants later today at Eagle Ridge Golf Club at an event attended by more than 200 educators, including Superintendents, Principals and Library/Media Specialists. This is the fourth year the foundation has dolled out money to schools in Ocean and Monmouth counties through their School Library/Media Center Enrichment program and more than $1.2 million has been awarded. Today’s announcement will especially be welcome by four middle schools and four high schools who will each receive $25,000 and ten elementary schools getting $10,000 each.

Manchester Township Police Department PBA #246, the Manchester Little League and Ocean County Sheriff’s Department PBA #379 will hold 4th Annual One-Pitch Softball Tournament and Family Fun Day on Saturday, September 27th at the Little League Complex on Route 571. “Just-A-Hit for Justine” will help offset medical bills and other expenses incurred by the family of Justine Applegate in her battle against Pulmonary Hypertension. Teams that would like to register can call Rich Zingaro at (732) 779-3022. Gifts and other donations are also being accepted.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kevin's Honor

One of the best things about radio is the ability to reach people in a variety of ways. The air waves can be used to inform, educate, entertain, and motivate….at times what you hear may make you think and ponder, laugh and cry. Today I use this time to express my thanks.

Tuesday night at Eagle Ridge Golf Club’s View Restaurant, Ocean County Sheriff William Polhemus and I were honored by Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey during their 16th Anniversary Dinner Gala. The only thing better than being honored was knowing that the event would support a truly wonderful organization whose mission is to provide supportive home care services to elderly people in need and help them live independently. This is done thanks to a dedicated staff and hundreds of remarkable volunteers who give up their time to make a difference in the lives of others.

I admit to feeling truly unworthy of the Hope Award which was presented to me by my longtime friend and co-worker Bob Levy. Actually that was an honor in itself as Bob does not make a regular habit of getting dressed up (and he looked great) and going out on a weeknight. In addition I’m appreciative of my other work friends who attended to support me, especially Regina Carr and Suzanne Clark who served on the committee which put the event together.

Of course what you want most is to share any honor with your family and I was blessed to have many of them in attendance. That included my wife and daughter, mother and father, mother-in-law and two fabulous sisters-in-law who traveled from out of the area. I also know my late father-in-law was looking down, wishing he was sitting at our table which he was in spirit.

Not lost on me was the fact that I got to share the night with Sheriff Polhemus because he was a police officer in Seaside Heights where I grew up and I’ve known him and his family for about 40 years. There was no better place to grow up then Seaside Heights in the late 60’s when you knew just about everyone in town.

So thanks to Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey for thinking enough of a couple of Seaside guys to give us a special evening.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Wall Street Takes A Tumble

After a particularly bloody Monday on Wall Street and in Global markets around the world many are wondering what’s next. What I’m fascinated by are those who not only don’t pay any attention to the most recent developments but don’t think it affects them in any way. Example…a woman I saw interviewed in New York yesterday had a smirk on her face when she told a reporter that she doesn’t have any money invested in the stock market so she really didn’t care. When asked about all those who lost jobs she added….”most of them have money and will be just fine.”

More than seven years after 9/11 Monday brought the worst financial news since that tragedy and the big concern is that we might not have hit rock bottom just yet. Regardless of what you think what’s happening on Wall Street does have a major impact on just about everyone…directly or indirectly.

Of course I say this knowing that we go on with our daily routine and truthfully what we are dealing with at any given moment becomes the priority. Ask a mother of four in the morning trying to get her kids ready for the day what’s the most important thing to her and the answer is likely to be that everyone gets to school on time and she can juggle all their after-school
Activities and still have time to make dinner. We can all understand that and at times you don’t even have time to think about the big picture….a picture that is not very clear this morning.

Case in point. My daughter Alex plays field hockey for Toms River South
and last night they played at rival Toms River North. The game was scoreless and when it went into overtime the biggest concern I and most of the others in attendance had at that very moment was our team would score and send us home a winner. Fortunately for the Indians Rae Drach scored early in overtime and South prevailed 1-0. It didn’t make up for all the bad news of the day but it felt pretty good.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday morning notes and thoughts:

I don’t know where it falls on the list of milestones in the life of your child but I would imagine moving out of the home into their first apartment ranks somewhere in the top 20. Saturday we loaded up a U Haul and moved my son Brandon to Jersey City, where he’s sharing a 3rd floor apartment with a college friend who like him is working in New York City. Let me stress the fact that it’s a 3rd floor apartment because moving furniture and all his belongings up a narrow stairway was no picnic and later I would really feel it. Meanwhile my wife and mother-in-law did most of the cleaning and I’m sure the place will never be as clean as it was when we left.

One of the wildest high school football opening weekends with the consensus top two teams at the shore both being upset. Middletown North stunned Toms River North and Freehold shocked Middletown South while Brick Memorial, Wall, Ocean, Howell and Toms River South came up with wins that surprised some. Could be a sign of things to come this fall.

Speaking of which I guess Jets fans for at least a week will hold off on their Super Bowl plans.

92.7 WOBM and Gateway Toyota/Scion are once again teaming-up to honor
outstanding Ocean County High School seniors. The Student of the Week program returns today for a 13th year in which each Monday during the school year we salute a student selected by his/her school for their academic, athletic, extracurricular and civic achievement and contributions. At the end of the year one of our weekly honorees will receive a $1000 college scholarship.

The Mets are not going to make September memorable for all the wrong reasons again…are they? Fasten your seat belts because the final two weeks might be a wild ride.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Another Tragedy On 9/11

You probably expected that I would do something today on a great tragedy
and you are right. However this story is not about 9-11, a day which took the lives of thousands and changed the way we live forever. It’s about how a random act of violence took the life of a man in his prime and forever changed his grieving family.

36-year old Michael Fuccile was stabbed to death last Thursday morning while waiting for a commuter train near Liberty State Park in Jersey City.
Police say the killer was a 24-year old mentally ill man and it was case of Fuccile just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You might have seen or heard the story last week but did not pay much attention to it…after all it was not around here and did not involve anyone local…or did it.

Fuccile’s parents live in Lakehurst and he attended both St. Joseph’s Grade School and Monsignor Donovan High School where he played baseball and was a member of the National Honor Society before graduating in 1990. After that it was on to Villanova University and for the last ten years he’s lived in Metuchen while serving as Chief Compliance Officer for Merrill Lynch in Jersey City. Married and the father of three children he was active in the community, coaching baseball, soccer and basketball. Clearly he had made an impact on others as some 3,000 people attended his viewing earlier this week.

A college fund has been set up for the Fuccile Children…Michael, Jack and Brooke. Checks can be made payable to “NextGen College Investing” and mailed to the Costello-Runyon Funeral Home in Metuchen.

I found out about this story from a friend of Michael’s who was a classmate from grade school through college and he’s one of many who finds a void in his life that will never be filled. As heartbroken as he is one can’t imagine how the family must feel….their husband, father, son and brother goes to work one day and does not come home. Sounds very much like 9-11 but for the Fuccile Family 9-4 is a day that will live in infamy.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I Can't Drive 55

The other day I was driving northbound on the Garden State Parkway around mile marker 90. I was in the center lane going around 60mph which was 5 miles over the speed limit as I was in that designated area which earlier this year dropped the speed limit from 65 to 55. I couldn’t help but notice that vehicles of all kinds were passing me like I was standing still so I picked up my pace and when I got to around 65 I was finally in the flow of traffic. Of course there were still cars whizzing by me doing well over 70 but I stayed around 65 and even a bit higher for the remaining time I was in the “slow down zone” and fit in with most of the others on the road.

I guess I’m perplexed at the entire issue of speed limits, especially on highways like the Parkway. I’ve basically been told that New Jersey State Police will give you pretty much a 10 miles-per-hour buffer when road conditions are normal. That would mean 75 for most of the Parkway and even 65 in the area between mileposts 80 and 100 which reduced the speed limit because of the high amount of serious accidents. However if we can get away with 65 or even higher most of the time what good does it really do? A friend of mine in law enforcement said it comes down to the fact that there will be a large portion of drivers who will stick to the speed limit and anytime you can get some to cooperate that’s a positive. Even if only 25% of the cars on the road between mileposts 80-100 were traveling at 55mph it would be worth the change that was made.

I guess I would have to agree but part of me says if most of the drivers are going to do 65 why not make that the limit but enforce it at 65….not 75. Those that drive well over the limit with regularity will do so until they finally get caught and are given a ticket. I’m sure there are valid reasons but I do know this. If you do 55 on the Parkway between mileposts 80 and 100 you’ll get stares from other drivers as they pass you by.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

"A Glove Of Their Own"

Go into the children’s section of any major book store and you will find thousands of titles to pick from covering just about every subject one can possibly imagine. Many of them have been around for years, books and stories that have been enjoyed by those who are now parents and are passing them on to their children. Bob Salomon’s dream is that’s what will happen with “A Glove of Their Own” a book and labor of love he helped put together that hopes to teach children the value of sharing what you have with those in need. The story is about a group of young boys who despite not having any real equipment play and love the game of baseball. However a gift from a stranger teaches them the spirit of “Play it Forward” and that’s the idea behind the grassroots effort Salomon is spearheading.

The Howell resident has solicited the support of baseball players, like former Astros star Craig Biggio and Sean Casey of the Red Sox and companies like Rawling’s, Louisville Slugger and Modell’s. The idea is to not only tell the story of the importance of giving back but to raise money to help children who need sporting equipment. Salomon and the authors of “A Glove of Their Own” have set it up whereby proceeds from each book go to various charities and purchasers can even designate ones to support.

The 24-page book uses rhyme and pictures to tell a warm story of a group of young baseball players. But those involved hope it will do much more than that and eventually raise awareness and funds for children across the nation. It was inspired by a birthday party held for one of the authors children in which guests were asked not to bring gifts but rather donate baseball equipment for children for those in need.

The book comes out next month but you can reserve your copy now and learn more about the mission behind this grand slam effort by visiting their web site: agloveoftheirown.com.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday Morning Observations

What a difference 24 hours make. We got hit with plenty of rain and some wind Saturday…the first bad weather we’ve had in weeks and it forced the postponement of many scheduled outside events in the Ocean County area. We then woke up Sunday morning to blue skies and a perfect day, typical for the day after a storm.

Many baseball fans in our area are caught up in the fact that this is the final season for Yankee and Shea Stadiums and frankly I’m not one of them.
However when my brother said he had field box seats to see the Mets and Phillies I jumped at the opportunity to see probably my final game at Shea.
The tickets were for Saturday which then became the day game of a Sunday day/night doubleheader after a rainout and left a difficult decision. Yesterday was not only a great beach day but the first full day of the NFL season. However my son wanted to go to the Mets game so we did and I must say it was the worst baseball game I’ve ever attended. Mets were down quickly 6-0 and there were some obnoxious Phillies fans sitting nearby. There were two good things. First we left early, beat the traffic and got home by 6pm. Second the Mets won last night and I could watch the game where I like it most…on my couch.

HBO’s very funny and very adult show “Entourage” made its season debut last night and as always there were plenty of laughs. The show normally airs in the summer but was delayed because of last year’s writer’s strike.

It takes a few days to realize that local traffic is very much different once schools open. Drivers have to pay particular attention to not only school busses but the many children who walk to and from school. Not all of them are watching for us but we certainly have to keep an eye out for them.

Friday, September 5, 2008

60 Day Sprint

The Republican and Democratic National Conventions are over and it’s a 60-day sprint to the White House. This historic election featuring both an African-American and a female candidate promises to be a historic one with the two sides offering very different agendas for our future. Both Barack Obama and John McCain are using “change” as the theme of their candidacies even though their parties are both responsible to some extent for the mess we are in.

I do find it interesting how so many get caught up in the acceptance speeches like they are some kind of gospel. First they are largely written by those who write speeches for a living and they are practiced and delivered much like an actor getting ready for a Broadway play. Both conventions were lavish in the use of videos and backdrops to go hand in hand with the speeches and at times it looked more like an awards show. Second you have the fact that regardless of who was speaking they can’t and won’t do what they promise because politicians never do. And third you have to acknowledge that some people are just better orators than others and if that was truly a pre-requisite for getting to the White House than both Jesse Jackson and Mario Cuomo should have been elected.

Fasten your seat-belts because the next two months will be wild.

The NFL season opened Thursday Night and it was truly a chance for Giants fans to celebrate last season’s Super Bowl title. The Giants never played a home game on their way to the Vince Lombardi Trophy in February so last night was part celebration and part season opener. Early on the Giants looked super as they rolled to a 16-0 lead over Washington. Those who left early made a wise choice because the second-half was a snoozer with Big Blue holding on for a 16-7 victory. All in all though a pretty good night.

A programming note. Beginning Monday the Hometown View will move to different times in the morning. I’ll be on a 6:20 and 8:20AM, instead of 5:20 and 7:20. I hope you’ll still be with me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Salvation Army International Food Extravaganza

The Ocean County Citadel of the Salvation Army will hold their 2nd Annual “International Food Extravaganza” on Monday, September 22nd at the American Legion Hall on Church Road in Toms River. The evening will not only feature an outstanding array of food from all over the world but will honor Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher, Ken Munroe and Ed Sunday.

Kelaher will receive the esteemed Community Service Award for his contributions to Toms River as a citizen and public servant. Munroe, who owns Shore Design Landscaping, will receive the prestigious William Booth Award given in honor of the spirit of the founder of the Salvation Army. Sunday, Vice President and General Manager of Gateway Toyota-Scion will receive the “Others” award for his on going support of others in the community.

The dinner is a major fundraiser for The Salvation Army and will help fund the many programs they run in the Ocean County area. For $75 per person you will also get to sample great cuisine from appetizers to deserts as last year’s inaugural event drew rave reviews.

For information on the dinner you can call Captain Lorie Travaglino at (732)

On an unrelated note…..are you ready for some football? The NFL season kicks off tonight with the Giants beginning defense of their Super Bowl title at home against longtime rival Washington. The game starts at 7pm because NBC wants it to be done in time for them to cover John McCain’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Back To School

School bells are ringing this week and many of them will welcome students
today for the start of another school year. It’s a time of excitement, especially for those just entering elementary, intermediate or high school.
I remember walking my son Brandon to school on his first day of kindergarten and holding his hand as we entered the classroom. Many little boys and girls were crying and didn’t want to be left alone…some had their arms tightly wrapped around their parents. Meanwhile my son walked to the back of the classroom and told me I could go. I stood outside and a part of me wanted him to call me back but instead he waved me away with a look of almost disgust and embarrassment….it was his way of saying he’d be fine. He’s now 23, has graduated college, works in New York and in two weeks will be moving to an apartment in Jersey City yet I remember that first day of school like it was yesterday.

For all the criticism attached to education it is schools and teachers who mold our children and often that kindergarten teacher is the one who begins steering them in the right direction from the start. Both my children were fortunate enough to have the now retired Ruth Ogle at Beachwood Elementary School and I’ve always been especially impressed with those who taught at the kindergarten level…where do they get all that patience from?

Public Education has its share of critics and there are a fair amount of items to single out. However it also does not get the credit due for providing students of all backgrounds the ability to shine in the classroom, athletic fields, performing arts and other places. Administrators and teachers are faced with more challenges than ever before from overcrowded classrooms to a ridiculous reliance on standardized test scores to measure progress.
The system is far from perfect but I’ve always believed that a student who wants to learn and achieve can do so and parents who support those efforts will usually have the biggest smiles on graduation day.

The school year is here….make it a great one!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Goodbye, Summer

(No Hometown View on Monday, 9/1/08)
At 1:53pm Monday I left the 2nd Avenue beach in Seaside Park knowing that it would probably be the final time I would feel the sand between my toes on that beach until next year…it was a bit depressing.

For many the beach season ended on Labor Day and it was among the best that I could ever remember. The only thing that kept Monday from being another in a string of “perfect 10’s” was rough seas that are an early result of Hurricane Hanna. Otherwise it was a terrific end to what most consider the prime summer season which runs between Memorial Day and Labor Day. While September offers what might be the best month of the year in terms of weather lifestyles change and for me and many others beach days are pretty much a thing of the past.

I will miss getting to the beach early in the morning when the sand is virtually untouched after being raked by work crews. Making the first footprints while I search for the same location that I’ve made my own all summer long. Knowing the tides so I can set up with nobody in front of me….sort of a front row view of the Atlantic Ocean. Drinking coffee and reading the newspaper with the only sounds coming from the waves and birds, including a seagull missing a foot that I’ve seen every day this summer.

I’ve been coming to the 2nd Avenue Beach since 1980 and I guess I’m just a creature of habit. I see many of the same people day after day and even summer after summer. I don’t know their names and rarely do we speak but you might exchange a smile to acknowledge one another and there’s a comfort in knowing that they are there. I’ve watched families grow up on this beach and vice versa. I don’t know what draws me to this same beach although Surf Taco and the White Oak Market are just down the street and are convenient stops for lunch and snacks. A few years back I decided 2nd Avenue was too crowded so I convinced my wife we should move a few blocks. We did and I hated it….felt like a visitor and was out of my element so I returned later to my beach with my lifeguards, including Meredith Parliman who has packed her bathing suit and whistle away and will be back teaching at Central Regional today. But we’ll both be back next summer because there is nothing like that feeling of sand between your toes and the sounds of the ocean.