Category Archives: Uncategorized

Lambertville Tree Clearing Update—Coryell to Bridge, and South

March 26, 2019

In previous correspondence,  NJWSA stated they would,

“Thin-out the underbrush and small trees on the western bank and in and on the stone wall between Coryell Street and Bridge Street.”
In fact nearly every tree between Coryell and Bridge has been eliminated, and if not for citizen and mayoral intervention, the large tree near the Bridge Street bridge would have been removed. (Photos forthcoming, details below).
From: Judy Detrano
Date: March 23, 2019 at 9:53:57 PM EDT
To: Christopher Plummer, Julia Fahl
Subject: Re: Trees along the canal (info now on my blog)

Hi Chris,

I have but a bit more information which I will email you tomorrow.  I was with them as they cut away and with the help of Mayor Julia and Cindy Ege we saved the tree by the canal at the bridge alongside the Princeton Bank.   Michael A. Sellar was the Facility Manager , Delaware & Raritan Canal Office, that I spoke with on site.  <snip> The destruction of our trees in and around Lambertville has become an issue to be addressed and we need the support of a number of departments, including NJ DEP.

 

March 25, 2019

Hello again Chris,

FYI…
Upon speaking with Michael Sellar of the NJWSA on-site the day they cut down the trees from Coryell to Bridge Street in Lambertville the following answers to my questions were as follows:
1.  The cutting of the trees was to prevent them from falling into the canal which would undermine the drinking quality of the water
2.  They believe the trees and shrubs are destroying the structure of the stone wall along the canal, river side of the canal
3.  They are not fixing, replacing or relining the stone canal wall (even though the stones are there in the canal) because the budget allotment  does not cover the expense to do so.  It is faster, easier & cheaper to cut down the trees.
4.  He has no explanation for why a tree here and there was left uncut but they would be happy to come back and cut them down.  (3 trees remain by the River Horse Brewery building)
5.  He is not aware of any advance notice required to the city of Lambertville as that side of the canal falls under their maintenance obligations.
6.  The towpath side of the canal will not be sheared by them as that side of the canal is under the authority of NJ State Parks Commission.
7.  They admit that their maintenance of the canal has been neglected for close to 25 years due to budget constrictions
8.  They can be stymied by the Shade Tree Commission from cutting down a tree that falls under the Shade Tree protection.
+The NJWSA supposedly has a Capital Fund Component for Capital Improvement..where is that money and why not fix the stone wall
+They are indeed required to notify the public if more than 1/2 acre is to be ‘deforested’ with 60 days to hold a public hearing
+ I have not ascertained their responsibility to notify the City of Lambertville
+ They might have had to submit a tree cutting plan to the Division of Parks & Forestry as the property is also NJState Park property. (or should have)
+ It may be possible to demand some sort of replanting to refurbish the embankment via the Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission
+ There were no Project Updates or notices on the NJWSA website referring to Lambertville that I uncovered
+ There appears to be no coordination/integration/communication between the various commissions to control either of  committees/authority/commssions to review, supervise or hold to any aesthetics of proposed work, nor review of the destruction of wildlife habitats, particularly to bird species and bats.
+ If the DRCC has jurisdiction over the entire state-owned D & R Canal, should they have not been notified and required to offer approvals of the NJWSA ?
+ Also, where would a public notice appear that would reach the residents of Lambertville without their needing to search for such a notice.
+ And, I have heard, with no further information, explanations or confirmations, that the railroad had leased the property to which the rails are on, but that their lease had/has expired and there is no current enforceable lease at this time.  Does that not restrict them from doing anything along the tracks through Lambertville until that is made more clear and current in their authority to do so.  AND that the railroad does impact our wildlife habitats, noise and air pollution…..and what input do the residents of Lambertville have, if any, to curtail their work in our city.
Regards,
Judy Detrano

 

Concerned citizens are encouraged to contact their representatives:


The City of Lambertville
Mayor Julia Fahl
City Hall
18 York Street
Lambertville, NJ  08530
Telephone:  609.397.0110
 “Ask the Mayor”


John Hutchison
Executive Director
Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission
609-397-2000

John.hutchison@dep.nj.gov


Clinton Administration Building
1851 State Route 31
P.O. Box 5196
Clinton, NJ 08809
P: (908) 638-6121
F: (908) 638-5241

info@njwsa.org


Patricia Kallesser
Park Superintendent
145 Mapleton Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
Phone: 609.924.5705

Peace Out
— Christo

Wake up and smell the 5G — Not for me!

 

back1

Wednesday May 8, 2019— Latest Update, some new links…

1) The EHT “Fact Sheet” —Better than the printed version because all the links in the PDF are live.
2) The “Sample Code” for small city ordinances (the PDF is helpful for copy/paste if actually crafting an ordinance)
3) “Generation Zapped”— the movie I would like to get the Lambertville ACME to show.
4) “The Terrifying Potential of the 5G Network”, by Sue Halpern, in The New Yorker, April 26, 2019, recent article recommended by a #StopPennEast associate—

April 2, 2019 —Update: Verizon wants Lambertville to be a “Smart City”. Want to be smart? Learn about 5G! Lots of great information from the Environmental Health Trust.  Keep it simple, and start here:


Saturday, April 20, 2019Update: Thank you to Nancy Kay Anderson for sending me an informative fact-based link from Physicians for Safe Technology, about Wireless Technology and Public Health“.

— Christo


March 12, 2019 — My first pass at summarizing 5G…do we really want this hazardous electronic junk cluttering the streets of our quaint, historic city???

Verizon, Verizon, put away your new 5G.
No more cell towers, just leave me the birds and bees, please!

At the March 5 working session in Lambertville, I asked Mayor Julia Fahl if she had any information about the possible health threats of the 5G technology promoted by Verizon. Verizon claims “Right of Way” to add Cell Tower electronics to an unknown number of existing telephone poles in Lambertville. I gathered the information on this page for the Mayor. To avoid the conspiracy theories and extreme ideas that plague the internet, I sought information that is:

  • About 5G (as opposed to just cellular or cell phone)
  • Current
  • Fact-based (with sources),
  • Covers the efforts by industry (telecom companies) to aggressively “roll it out”.

If you only look at one thing, please watch the first 10 minutes of the video below!

Washington DC Council 5G Small Cell Roundtable
https://youtu.be/ljLynbr5iPc <—Watch the first 10 minutes. (After other speakers, Mr. Motus speaks a bit more at the end.)

Physicians for safe technology – A good written summary which contains many additional sources. There are several studies about adverse health effects of MMW (millimeter wave-length) as well as cellular (microwave) radiation established as carcinogenic.
https://mdsafetech.org/5g-telecommunications-science/

Environmental Damage— Insects, birds, other wildlife at risk? Don’t miss (or be put off by the title of) the “Insect Armageddon” 7 minute video, referred to, and with sources in the link above.
https://youtu.be/zwo2E9b9CiU

The Industry hard push for legislation to ensure adoption—“Verizon, AT&T and other wireless providers have pushed such legislation here (in California) and elsewhere to ease deployment of so-called small-cell equipment that boosts coverage provided by larger cell towers, particularly in urban areas and in anticipation of fifth-generation (5G) network technology. The bill would have granted the companies rights similar to those of utilities, leaving local governments with limited power to set fees or restrict placement on streetlights and traffic signal poles.”
http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Editorial-Gov-Brown-right-to-block-industry-12282623.php

According to Mr. Mottus (from the video, above) the National League of Cities and League of Mayors are opposed to “small cell rollout” which is promoted nationally in U.S. S3157 . <—Click here to check status and read the bill.

At time of writing, S3157 is “in committee” with U.S. Senate “Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee”.  In one committee hearing, Senator Blumenthal asks industry representatives about Health Risks:
https://youtu.be/ekNC0J3xx1w

The push by industry is happening globally. Similar discussions are occurring in Canada…
Canadian Senate Bill 637—Senator Patrick Colbeck Testifies Against 5G: Hearing 2018
https://youtu.be/j-UEuOYOED4

Despite the 5G hype, there is no clear need for it:
“What can 5G do that other systems can’t? This is where there is no clear answer,” said Hemant Minocha, EVP for device and IoT at TEOCO. There is no 5G requirement for IoT [Internet of Things], he points out, and the business case hasn’t yet been proven out for ultra-low latency (not to  mention that LTE is capable of lower latency than it has achieved to this point in networks).”
https://www.saferemr.com/2017/11/5g-wireless-technology-cutting-through.html

How many towers are we talking about?
“While early work estimated that as many as 40 to 50 homes could be covered by a single fixed wireless site, according to Rouault of EXFO, that number has turned out to be around five in testing because of the complexity of beamforming necessary to support multiple homes.”
https://www.saferemr.com/2017/11/5g-wireless-technology-cutting-through.html

What do the towers look like?
“Mystreetmychoice” is a web site in opposition to the 5G roll out in California, see the photos on their home page.
http://mystreetmychoice.com/index.html

Rarely mentioned, Data Security risk— “5G has 200 times more access points for hackers than existing networks, experts warn”, Financial Post
https://business.financialpost.com/telecom/attack-surface-has-multiplied-5g-networks-more-vulnerable-to-hackers-conference-told

Some additional links:

Scientists and Doctors Demand Moratorium on 5G

5G Wireless Technology: Is 5G Harmful to Our Health?

5G Wireless Technology: Millimeter Wave Health Effects

5G Wireless Technology: Newspaper editorials oppose “small cell” antenna bills

Cell Tower Health Effects

International EMF Scientist Appeal

An Exposé of the FCC: An Agency Captured by the Industries it Regulates

FCC: Why We Need Stronger Cell Phone Radiation Regulations–Key Testimony

Cell Tower Radiation Affects Wildlife: Dept. of Interior Attacks FCC

 

PEACE OUT,

—Christo

Authorities say Canal-side Brush and Tree Clearing in Lambertville is NOT for the Railroad, but…

Tree Stumps and Survivor Guilt on the Canal Path-011🚂 Looks Like, But is Not the Railroad—In a short section of the Delaware and Raritan Canal in Lambertville, between Coryell Street and the empty River Horse Brewery, sixty to one hundred trees, some apparently close to fifty years old, were converted to wood chips and sawdust in a matter of days. Was this part of the initiative to preemptively strike at the Emerald Ash Borer beetle? Nope, most of those trees were felled already, their trunks can be seen lining the canal path between Lambertville and FrenchTown.

And it wasn’t just the trees—shrubs, vines, weeds, saplings, and pretty much any other living thing was scraped clean from the railroad tracks to the canal bank (See photos.) So what was this all about?

Ask just about anyone in Lambertville familiar with the situation and they’ll tell you, “It’s the railroad!” To many surprised residents the recent tree and brush clearing appeared to be an effort to clear the overgrown and unused railroad tracks for the “Tourist Train” proposed by Black River and Western Railroad. BRWR hopes to run on weekends behind Clinton Street, over the “Nifti” Bridge behind Rojo’s Roastery and the Roxy Ballet Studio, passing over Alexauken Creek and proceeding to Ringoes and Flemington and back.

Despite appearances, according to several authorities, officially, the clearing work is unrelated to the railroad.

Why so much confusion? No signs, no notices—Work began abruptly in December of 2018 with no apparent advance notice provided to residents or local businesses, nor to the officials of the City of Lambertville. No signs were posted on the canal path. Similar work had been performed some years ago closer to Bridge Street, but the recent work was more “thorough”— or drastic, depending on your perspective—this time only a few trees were allowed to remain.

Concerned citizens contacted Lambertville City authorities, discovered that they had no information about the project, and were referred to the Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission.

Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission Executive Director, John Hutchison, explained “the project is being undertaken by the NJ Water Supply Authority pursuant to the 1986 lease agreement with the State” for the purpose of clearing the canal and maintaining the water flow. He explained, “Jurisdiction over the D&R Canal is somewhat complex…”

“I hope this information is useful.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Also, the Commission meets monthly to review project applications and our meetings always include a public comment portion.  The Commission meets the third Wednesday of the month at 10:00 a.m. in the Prallsville Mill Complex in Stockton.” — John Hutchison, Executive Director D&R Canal Commission


D&R Canal State Park Superintendent Patricia Kallesser met one Lambertville resident and explained that this ongoing work of the NJWSA had to do with maintaining the water flow in the canal and upkeep of the historical (stone wall) structures. When asked about the lack of communication, she explained that the NJWSA web site maintained a FAQ about it on their web site.


The New Jersey Water Supply Authority at this writing does not list the Lambertville work on its “Public Notices”, but it is explained on their “Maintenance Along the D&R Canal FAQ”.

I emailed the NJWSA (to the “Info” mailbox, as no name was available on the site):

From: Christopher Plummer
Sent: Tuesday, January 1, 2019 10:54 AM
To: info
Subject: Please consider local interests w/Canal Brush and Tree Clearing in and around Lambertville

Dear NJ Water Services Authority,

I, and other residents, merchants, and “canal walkers” were very surprised by the recent clearing of over 100 trees, some large, 20-30 years old, and the “buzz cutting” of brush and shrubs from the railroad tracks to the edge of the canal starting near Finkel’s Hardware on Coryell Street and moving North on the West side of the canal. This work adversely impacted:

  • Bird and animal life and habitat prized by many residents, businesses, and tourists.
  • Local Visual aesthetics, exposing parking lots and warehouses that were screened by foliage, leaving a trail of tree stumps and giving that section of the canal an industrial appearance that had previously been “natural”.
  • Noise – the elimination of trees and shrubs that provided an acoustic buffer to the noise from the river recreation, roads, and New Hope.

<snip>

May I suggest in the future:

  1. Inform the public with accurate information about the purpose, scope, schedule, and likely impact of the work by posting signs on the canal path and in local papers, and phone calls to local officials.
  2. Provide time and a means for those concerned to give feedback before the work is started.
  3. Please give some weight and consideration to those concerns and find a balance between the preservation of historical structures and the preservation of current flora and wildlife habitat.

Thank you for your consideration, and best wishes for the New Year.

Sincerely,

Christopher Plummer

The NJWSA provided a response (below) to my query:
From: info <info@njwsa.org>
Subject: RE: Please consider local interests w/Canal Brush and Tree Clearing in and around Lambertville
Date: January 18, 2019 at 11:24:00 AM EST
To: ‘Christopher Plummer’
Dear Mr. Plummer,

Thank you for your concerned email and our apologies for the delay in response.  And thank you for your suggestions on future public notification, which we will certainly take under advisement.

As you know, the Authority’s mission is to maintain a flow of water through the Canal to provide raw water supply for our customers.  Our Canal maintenance crews and engineers need to “see” the embankment.  Seeing the embankment often helps us to prevent damage to the embankment that may develop from tree roots or animal burrows which can lead to seepage paths or from damage when the trees fall and their root balls remove sections of the embankment.  The Authority’s needs to see the embankment are constantly balanced with the wants and needs of Canal park walkers, joggers, bikers, nature enthusiasts, fishermen, historians, neighbors, and others [My emphasis—Christo] , all of whom may have a different idea of what maintenance should look like on the 60 plus mile Canal.   We tried to provide an understanding of our work in the FAQ’s that were recently posted on the website.

 

For the upcoming winter work on the Canal in Lambertville, crews may begin again as early as the week of January 21, 2019.  The exact schedule for the winter maintenance is weather dependent, and subject to equipment and personnel availability, and will include the following (in no particular order):
  1. Thin-out the underbrush and small trees on the western bank and in and on the stone wall between Coryell Street and Bridge Street.
  2. Clearing the vegetation from the Lambertville lock walls.
  3. Felling three Ash trees from the east side of the Canal, upstream of the Lambertville Lock.
  4. Removing the trees growing from the stone wall, on the river side of the embankment, from the wing dam (in the River) and downstream.
Items #1 thru #3 should only take several days each and should be completed this winter.
Item #4 will take quite a bit of time and will most likely occur over several years depending on other emergent items that need to be addressed and may stop and restart within the same year.
Feel free to share this information with other concerned residents.
(No sender name identified)

I Guess that was the Public Notice. I forwarded a copy to the City of Lambertville. I haven’t seen any new notices or additional information about the canal work. Have you? The NJWSA is apparently continuing their work up the south end of town as described in the email.

Local railroad supporters on Facebook are urging residents not to “listen to rumors” and espousing the wonders of bringing the iron horse, full of tourists, to Lambertville to reinvigorate our little town.

🚂 Meanwhile if it quacks like a duck…  At the North end of town small crews and individuals with mowers and chainsaws are clearing the railroad tracks. They make no pretense about working for the Water Authority.

Feb. 26, 2019 Tuesday – Today NJWRA trucks and teams are clearing the rails and canal, between Coryell and Bridge, chipping as they go.

Eagles check nesting options
—By the way, the empty nest this late in the season suggests that Bald Eagles will not be nesting on the power tower over Alexauken Creek this year. In 2017 they raised three fledglings at the site, not far from the “Nifti” Railroad Bridge and abandoned rail car at the north end of the trail in Lambertville.


Residents who wish to communicate their concerns about the destruction of wildlife habitat, the need for trees and brush as a visual screen and natural noise buffer, and other concerns are urged to contact any or all of the individuals and organizations below:

 

The City of Lambertville
Mayor Julia Fahl
City Hall
18 York Street
Lambertville, NJ  08530
Telephone:  609.397.0110
 “Ask the Mayor”


John Hutchison
Executive Director
Delaware & Raritan Canal Commission
609-397-2000

John.hutchison@dep.nj.gov


Clinton Administration Building
1851 State Route 31
P.O. Box 5196
Clinton, NJ 08809
P: (908) 638-6121
F: (908) 638-5241

info@njwsa.org


Patricia Kallesser 
Park Superintendent 
145 Mapleton Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
Phone: 609.924.5705

Peace Out
— Christo

Three Days in Paris (Partie Un)

🇫🇷 The Great France Art Tour of 2017

Notre_DameTuesday

The coach lurched along from airport Charles de Gaulle past many Paris streets and squares that I thought looked familiar but probably were not. We caught a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower briefly, before the tall buildings and streets of Paris swallowed the open sky. That sounds nice. Actually, we arrived quickly at the east end of the Seine River, several long blocks below Notre Dame, near Bercy. Considering every moment in Paris precious, and anxious that we not waste any, I checked our halted progress via GPS on the “Ulmon City Maps To Go” app on my iPhone.

I could see that our relatively direct trip had stalled completely in the insane morning traffic as our off-ramp merged with one or two others, plus four lanes from various feeder streets. Every bus, auto, cab, and motor scooter, wherever it was coming from, seemed intent on getting to the other side of the stream of cars in front of it, where we were ALL headed. Caught up in the excitement of the streets of Paris, our travel cohorts were oblivious to the delay, except Donald. He was obsessed with the rising temperature inside the almost-stationary, sunbaked coach.

“Air Conditioning!!” He shouted repeatedly to the bus driver, “Air Conditioning!!”

Need I say he included no, “S‘il vous plaît.

“Air Conditioning!! Turn on the air conditioning!!”

The AC came on. I heard no one, except myself, say, “Merci!

Stopping and starting we made a few feet of progress at a time, taking about an hour to transit the single block to our hotel.

The Hotel Bercy is a “modern” glass and steel “business hotel” with several fountains and a 15-foot-tall, bright red, muscular, caped, male superhero statue in front. I could speculate, but I have no explanation for this statue. It was just there.

The female receptionist at the hotel was young (in her twenties?) and attractive with long straight brown hair, a smart suit, and dark, spiked heels—stylish enough to appear on the cover of Vogue or the New York Times Women’s Fashion magazine, although maybe not quite starved enough. This was true of all the women coming and going in the lobby. Not just the heels that is, but the stylish and attractive part too. Yes, we are in Paris.

The men? Oh, they are all thin, though not underfed, well groomed. Fortunately, very few sport the time-consuming, face-covering, trendy, hipster beards seen in parts of the USA. If these men have beards at all, they are close-cropped stubble that gives depth to their chiseled chins. The male hotel staff wear suits. Male businessmen wear typical European business attire: jeans or slightly more formal trousers, lined or solid (sometimes button-down) dress shirts, and dark leather loafers often without socks. Most wear sport coats, which in France are narrow sleeved, snug fitting jackets, the lapels held together with one button.

Nobody but the tourists, wear sneakers or running shoes. (Donald, blinding, in his bright white sneakers and bleached white socks halfway up his calves, steps off the coach trailing a wave of cool air.)

No sneakers, and thank goodness, no ties. Maybe the maître d’ hotel and the bartender wear ties. But otherwise, no ties. I don’t like ties.

Unfortunately, there is plenty of time to observe the lobby, because our rooms are not ready.

I consider the possibility that we do not actually have rooms, but we are assured the rooms are there, the Hotel Bercy is just behind schedule with cleaning. Way behind.

Several times the Front Desk receptionist walks over to our group, sprawled awkwardly on the artsy, cube-shaped chairs and couches. We rise. She hands Steve a too thin stack of envelopes with keys and room numbers. Steve reads the names and hands white envelopes to the lucky winners, who quickly leave to get settled in their digs and enjoy what was left of our “free” day. The lobby emptied a few people at a time, in this manner, the process repeated over and over.

We waited for hours. And we were, yes, the last, the very last to receive our room keys.

Before the eventual delivery of our envelope, Christine walked those of us remaining over to the charming, tree-lined Bercy Mall for a quick tour. Bercy had once been an industrial bakery, and has the red brick charm of very old buildings, but all the swag and glamour of a trendy destination for young business people and tourists. We noted the location of a small local grocer, the local ATM, the soon to be recognized as ubiquitous “artisanal ice cream” shop, and strolled along the partly shaded pedestrian promenade lined with tables and umbrellas that front the many bars and restaurants. We saw designer shops, stores with special French candy packaged in French art tins, a Surf store with surfer shirts, skateboards, and yes surfboards for sale and on display in the windows. Is Bercy near the beach? Does Bercy have quick access to mysterious Mediterranean swells? Is there an Internet “Surf Report” available for Bercy? “No,” would be the answer to these questions. (Nevertheless, I was drawn to the Surf shop, more than once, to peruse the shirts and board shorts.)

Christine escorted us down the escalator to the Metro. She provided quick tutelage in the basics of ticket purchase, the various lines, maps, and other arcane knowledge required in the underground. Important but not important, the “Purple Line” as we might call it in Boston, is not the “Purple Line” in Paris. It is the “M 14” between St. Lazare and Olympiades. But on all the maps and signs it is purple, so I called it the “Purple Line”, which was usually fine as long as we remembered we wanted to go to “Olympiades” to get back to Bercy. The ticket machines may challenge, especially if you use a credit card, but otherwise (from previous Franco-adventures), I considered myself fairly adept at Metro use. (A notion disproved dramatically a day or two later).

We popped back into the daylight upstairs, abandoned Christine and tour group to fend for ourselves in Bercy, searching for a place to lunch, and eventually settled at a little outdoor cafe. We sat next to tour manager Steve, and his wife Karen. After ordering salad for Deb, croque-monsieur for me, and two glasses of rosé of course, we got to know our tour hosts a bit.

A university academic, Steve, though well-versed in Literature (and an exemplary English Major), holds a PhD in History, the subject he teaches. Karen has a consulting business where she is engaged in multi-year research and writing projects. Their professions and interests allow for much international travel, which they have done with Arawho for years.

We enjoyed the relaxed meal and conversation, and I tried to remember what I had learned from the Rick Steve’s podcast about French restaurant protocols:

  • The wait staff generally leave you alone, for hours.
  • When you want the bill, DO NOT shout, “Garçon!”
  • To get attention, make eye contact.
  • They will come over.
  • Generally, do not tip, but ask if the check includes a service charge.

(This part is a little complicated at first. I’m sure we tipped when we should not have and vice-versa. By the end of the trip I was pretty clear about how it all works, but writing now I can’t recall well enough to explain it. Sorry. Listen to Rick Steve.)

The clouds and rain moved in, and I gradually became bothered by the drifting cigarette smoke from the tables of other diners. This was odd, I thought, the smoke, because although I had expected the worst on my last trip to Paris, in fact I had experienced very little exposure to second hand smoke.

You may know that the French were reputed to be smoking fiends until the last ten years or so. Just watch a French movie. They ALL smoke! Historically they had their “national brands”, the blonde Disque Bleu and Gauloises cigarettes, strongly aromatic and somewhat similar to the much milder American plain end “Camels”. I had smoked Gauloises when I first visited Paris. They seemed cool then. But I was fifteen.

Then there were the “Gitanes”, of many types, in my experience, made with black Belgian tobacco wrapped in slightly sweet tasting, yellow corn papers. I had tried a Gitanes just once after college at Leavitt and Peirce Tobacconists. Those fat Gitanes monsters were a little squishy between the fingers,  smelled like a bad cigar, and were known for driving away mosquitoes and other pests.

At least the smoke wafting over from the nearby tables was not like that!

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 9.15.36 PM

To be continued…
— Christo

What’s it going to be #Lambertville? 🐥Ducks in the streams? Or PIPELINE? #StopPennEast NOW!

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Vanilla Fudge is Sitting Behind Me

 

VanillaFudgeCover

Salt Lake City Airport, July 9, 2016:

Two guys with straggly long hair, one in a pony tail, and dark glasses— dangling crucifix earrings, and Harley Davidson T-shirt, two guys with that old grungy look, and a third in a kind of “Paul Revere and the Raiders” black jacket with big buttons and rolled cuffs, no facial hair, but flowing locks. Not quite the same as the other two, but from the same era. They HAD to be aging rockers.

At the gate I thought of saying “hello” to these guys. But what would I say?—”You guys sure look like rockers, but who are you?”

What if they were just from one of those zillions of “tribute” bands? THAT would be weird. So I said nothing, and they sat in the row behind Deb and I. Paul Revere behind me, an empty seat between him and Pony Tail behind Deb, then across the aisle Pony Tail’s shorter pal with the round head, dark hair and mustache.

Paul Revere fiddled on a laptop and the other two mostly zoned out for four hours, until we were approaching Newark Airport and the ride got really bumpy as we whipped through some rain clouds, and Paul and Pony started chatting about the annoyingly loud whine of the engine. Turns out Paul Revere didn’t know the other two, but after agreeing that the engine was clearly producing an “A” note, they talked about perfect pitch, and acknowledging they were both in the music business, got to know each other. Pony Tail mentioned he had just played a concert at the casino in Wendover. 

I looked over at Deb, who was also listening, and silently mouthed, “Shit! Is that Ted Nugent?” (Because we had both chatted about seeing Nugent’s name on the billboard when we passed the Peppermill in Wendover earlier that day. What SONG did Ted Nugent perform? Name one. I can’t. But for some reason his name is memorable.) But it wasn’t Ted Nugent.

Pony Tail was Pete Bremy, bassist, currently with, but not an original Vanilla Fudge band member, and the short guy with the dark hair across the aisle was Vince Martell, the original Vanilla Fudge guitarist. Pete was very talkative, once he got started. Vince hardly said a word. Paul Revere was Dominic something-or-other. He had the thin whisp of the remains of a British(?) accent, lives now in California. He was in another band, another band from the sixties, one that I had heard of, but was not familiar with, and darned if I can’t remember which one. You’ve heard of them, I want to say “Blue Cheer”, but I don’t think that’s right. The name had a “C” in it…It was a 60’s-70’s band, like the Fudge. He said he was mainly into “writing shows” now, and has something to do with the TV show “Vinyl” and is working on a musical project of his own. He made a few comments as the plane bounced and dropped, unfazed apparently as I was by that terrible feeling when you know the plane is moving down fast because your stomach is in your throat. “Oh, we can’t go down! That would make headlines!” He laughed,  “Sixties Rock Legends plunge to their Deaths in New Jersey!!”

My hands clenched tightly on the seat arms. I wanted to ask him to shut up about crashing, but he blathered on about it until the conversation turned to that favorite musician topic, “the road”.  I relaxed a bit as the flight smoothed out and listened as they traded stories about good dressing rooms, bad dressing rooms, and with a laugh, the worst dressing room—”the men’s room stall on the end”. Pete said he wished he could always play casinos, because they have great dressing rooms, pay well, provide good lodging and food and “they treat musicians like important guests” and they both agreed in an obviously warm man-moment that touring was like “getting paid to travel, while you do what you love”. Hm.

This all happened as we bumped our way downward to a landing at Newark Liberty airport. When the plane rolled to a stop at the gate, and the lights came on, Pete introduced Dominic to Vince, and they were shaking hands while most of the other passengers for two or three rows in either direction were clearly awed that these guys were some kind of celebrities—but who the hell were they? They didn’t know. But I knew, because I listened.

We disembarked to find our ride and finish the last leg of our trip, an hour drive to Lambertville.

—Christo

Vanilla Fudge Website <http://www.vanillafudge.com/index.htm>

Better Than “Pokemon Go”. Finding my wallet!

Friday evening I lost my wallet. I should have known better. It had jumped out of my pocket previously: Twice at restaurants, where it was spotted by sharp-eyed companions before it could get away. Once when I was walking on the canal path and I heard it plop to the ground behind me. Little devil. And a couple times it slipped out in my car, hiding under the seat. It’s not like it is camouflaged or anything. It’s bright orange, (because if it was a dark color I would lose it in my backpack!) But it’s a slippery devil and with all the other bionic devices I have to keep track of in middle age—you know, two pairs of prescription glasses, keys, phone—sometimes a wallet can just get away. And it did.

It must have popped out of my car right in front of my house when I returned from a nearby restaurant, onto the sidewalk, where it hid, in plain sight, in the twilight, until I realized it was missing an hour or two later and discovered it had escaped and was gone.

I was so sure where I had lost it, that there was NO DOUBT that someone had picked it up. And what were the possible outcomes? Well, let’s review the tempting contents:

  • $50 cash
  • 3 credit cards
  • Driver license
  • Business cards with my email address and phone number

Clearly the money and cards were at risk. Hours had already gone by, and no one had called. Not a good sign. Was “Wallet Finder” a good samaritan who would leave my little orange wallet with the police?

I called and filed a report. No one had turned in my wallet to the local constabulary. I checked with my bank, and there were no new charges on my cards. That was good. Rather than cancel (what a pain!) I suspended all the cards. I could wait a few days. I kept telling myself, “Have faith in humanity.”

But why hadn’t she called? If a potentially good person found the wallet, wouldn’t that be the first thing she would do? The number was there. I supposed if it was found by an only-slightly-ethically-compromised Wallet Finder, he might take the cash and throw the wallet (with everything else) in the gutter, a garbage can, or some alley. Okay. I walked up and down the street with a flashlight, peering into my neighbor’s garbage cans. Nothing. Maybe Wallet Finder pocketed it and planned to drop it at the Police later? Feeling that there was nothing else I could do, and that I had been foolish not to keep my wallet on a shorter leash, I went to bed.

It took forever to fall asleep. I imagined the events and possibilities as I thought Sherlock Holmes might, or as a forensics detective or “profiler” would. I could see someone wanting to do the right thing but not wanting to make the phone call, not wanting to be involved. Maybe a tourist Wallet Finder picked it up on the way home and forgot about it? Now he’s back in Philadelphia and remembers it – what will he do? Throw it in the trash? Mail it? Where? How would he get my address?

Earlier in the evening my partner had asked about the driver’s license. “No,” I said, “I completed the change of address with the NJ Division of Motor Vehicles, but for whatever reason, they never sent a sticker. Just a receipt. So the license has my old address—there’s nothing in the wallet with my current address.” Something about this stuck in my mind, but that’s all it did, stick. I finally let it all go and fell asleep.

Saturday morning I awoke early, resolved that the wallet and contents were gone for good and I would just accept it and move on. Despite a long line, the NJ Motor Vehicle office in Flemington was fast and efficient and provided a duplicate license. I went to breakfast, walking from Lambertville to New Hope. Paying at the restaurant, I opened my new wallet, and looked at my new license. It wasn’t precisely a duplicate, it had my current address. Hm. Should I walk by my old apartment? What if Wallet Finder had dropped it off there? I imagined someone just popping it into the door mail slot. Nah. If that had happened, my phone number was still in it. Wouldn’t someone have called by now? It seemed so unlikely, but on a whim, I called one of my old neighbors. He promised to mention it to the current resident of my old apartment. But I was not hopeful. When I got home I went for a long bike ride.

I almost fell over. The text said: “Call me. I have your wallet.” On my phone when I got back from my bike ride.  Unbelievable! From my old neighbor. The incredible journey of my escaped wallet, returned like some lost pet, and as I soon learned, with ALL THE CONTENTS intact.

The first Wallet Finder, still unidentified, picked it up from the sidewalk—and for all I know, passed it along to dwarves and goblins during the night, where it sat on the table like some temporary mascot, used as an ante in a mystical card game—who knows? But at some point, by Saturday, one mystery Wallet Finder had dropped little orange in the mail slot of my old apartment. The current resident’s daughter found it on the floor, and with no hesitation, passed it to her mother. She in turn, had just posted it on a web site when she was apprised of the tale by my old neighbor—the only one in this chain who actually knew me—Wallet Finder number Four. She happily surrendered it to him, and he called me.

It’s a tale of redemption. At least for me, in these times where every day we can hear some horrible story of some heinous act, it’s a wonderful tale of not just one—but at least four—people, maybe more, each of whom could have at any point selfishly and safely kept the money and instead CHOSE to do the right thing and help a stranger. I couldn’t ask for more!

To all you Wallet Finders, known and unknown, THANK YOU. Thank you to EVERYONE who returned it!!

—Christo