Congrats to Atlantic City for shining bright with Pink on July 12th and kudos to all involved, including the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority! I spent the time walking all over town. Everywhere I went was mobbed, and full of smiles, except on Bart Blatstein’s Playground Pier. There, the restaurants were packed: yet, below is the last picture taken before staff on the pier lowered hurricane shutters so you could not see the crowd outside. Additionally, the Pier’s observation decks were closed.
We all know the problems. To date, I can count on one hand how many locals agree the $2 million being spent on the renovation of unused bathrooms in Boardwalk Hall is a good idea, or at the least, where we should start. I can also count on one hand how many local people like the CRDA. I had the opportunity in January to meet with Chris Howard, the new Executive Director of the CRDA. I found a bright man hoping to bring change. The idea behind the CRDA remains noble.
New Jersey’s sinister Department of Community Affairs (if that is, in fact, its real name) has hired Jason Holt to assist in its work of taking over and fixing the grave mess that is the Atlantic City municipal government. This is a curious hiring decision, since, up until a few days ago, Holt had been business administrator for–wait for it–the municipal government of Atlantic City itself, which raises a question or two. Was the Atlantic City government really incompetent, as Governor Christie has repeatedly asserted? And if so, why is the State Department of Community of Affairs hiring the city’s allegedly incompetent personnel to staff its takeover team? By sheer luck, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Amy Rosenberg seems to have wondered the same thing and reports that a spokesman for Christie, “declined to answer a question about whether Holt’s hire undercut repeated assertions by Christie that Atlantic City’s government was incompetent.”
We drove to Vermont last Friday, nine hours in the car with the kids, as you do, then turned around and drove home and when we got back the seasons had changed. There was an unmistakable charge in the air, big waves thumping into the beaches, and the wind blew steadily, crisply, offshore, to the delight of the surfers. Our rental house filled up with black flies from the salt marshes. They had followed us in the back door when we tried to have dinner on Labor Day outside, and they now take turns attacking my ankles, then copulating on the kitchen table. But underneath the weather, a more palpable change had taken place.
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Donald Trump got an 83% ($25 million) discount on his tax bill after “longtime friend” Chris Christie graduated from U.S. attorney for New Jersey to governor of the state, the New York Times reports, citing public records. Christie and his big mom pants are now top advisers to the Trump campaign, which as we all know is a false-flag operation to drumpf up publicity for the Trump TV media empire, meaning we may see Christie in the barber’s chair at Wrestlemania 2018. A Christie spokesman said the small matter of $25 million, which the state had been fighting with Trump over for years, was too inconsequential and “routine” for Christie to have even noticed at the time. The Times says Christie has known Trump since 2002, Christie was invited to Trump’s third wedding (2005) and that, “They have double dated with their wives.”
… The Atlantic City airshow happened Wednesday.
Living around here can be a surreal experience at times, so we decided to photograph a few of our favorite surreal places in the county. Do you live or visit this area? Do you drive by or live near a bizarre building or abandoned lot? Do you want to know more about it? We’d love to hear from you by email, on Twitter or Instagram – we’d be surprised if we couldn’t add more to this list and we’re up for some local research. We’re pretty sure there are some crazy stories behind these crazy places.
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Socialism for billionaires, free-enterprise for the average Joe
My old friend the fat-cat retired Atlantic City lifeguard pension profiteer is in the news again in this season of “shared sacrifice” here in our fabled Queen of Resorts, this time in the pages of the New York Times, where he’s presented as a symbol, I perceive, of the outrageous greed and excess at the heart of our dilapidated republic. Novice economists might suppose this greed and excess was concentrated within our citadels of high finance, or among the titans of industry—in this case the casino gambling industry—who so enriched themselves while leaving a string of empty eyesores atop our most important natural resource (the beach and boardwalk). This would be incorrect. Our problems here in Atlantic City—generations in the making—are not the result of a concentration of political power in the hands of financiers or gambling moguls, but rather to the unrestrained avarice of our municipal working class. John Steinbeck, that great chronicler of the American everyman, once wrote that socialism never took root in our native soils because the American proletariat does not identify as an exploited working class.